The glory of gardening is having your hands in the dirt and your head in the sun.
I built a planter for my friend in California.
I hope that it gives her many years of pleasure.
there’s a handful of dirt from Red Rock country in there
I hope it gives her many years of pleasure
There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments. ~ Janet K. Phillips
For me, building a patio planter, or raised bed, out of any materials you like, is a fairly straightforward project. However, I know that isn’t so for everyone.
Therefore, in a spirit of helpfulness, here are a trio of videos showing how to make a few examples of planters you could use a prototypes for whatever you would like in your yard. As you can see, it’s a pretty straightforward project.
this easy wall planter
is one of my favourite ideas
Sitting beneath the moon and stars, with a glass of wine and thou.
To kiss you, and remember what love is.
smell the roses
feel the fire’s warmth
and talk so softly with thou
Land is the far greatest of fraudulent perpetual monopolies. ~ Winston Churchill
As it goes, and speaking as a guy with 30 odd years of banking under his belt, in the long term, financially, your beach home / house / apartment is worth less than nothing.
You may say that it’s been valued at $1,350,000 but what does that actually mean?
It means that if you sell the place, then that’s what you’ll get. Less all the bloodsucking bankers, lawyers, and realtors fees.
You’ll probably plough the $1,350,000 into a bigger place that’s notionally worth $1,450,000. And, in human terms that new place is worth even less than nothing. You will work much harder to keep it.
All you are doing is paying rent, and working harder to keep the place….. And, then you’ll die.
The only way your $1,500,000 place is worth anything at all to you is if you sell up and live in a van.
Real Estate is all about cost. Look at your monthly / annual bills and you will see that your house is costing you a fucking fortune. Any bum can have 80% of what you have for nothing. Trust me, I know, I’ve been there.
Any First Nations elder will tell you that property is expensive theft.
Banking and the real estate industry is built on the notion that your property is intrinsically worth something, and it isn’t. You can’t take it with you, and when the next Big One comes it won’t even be there.
But, even though I know that the Wizard is a fraud, I will never persuade you.
For the truth means you have too much to lose.
I thought about a school bus once,
but then I’d want a woman to share it with me,
There is scarcely anything that will drag you down like debt.
Basically there are two ways we can have more cash to spend on the things we really like, want, and desire ~ one is to go out and get more money, earn it, marry it, inherit it, steal it….
The other way to have more cash to spend on the things we really like is to spend less on ‘essentials’ ~ the things we have to buy to survive.
For if we remember our Dickens and what Mr. Micawber said in David Copperfield, happiness lies in spending less than we earn, and unhappiness lies in spending more than we actually have.
There are some tried and tested ways to spend less on the boring essentials. In my quest for minimalistic living, I have personal, (sometimes very bitter), experience of all of these following ideas:
- Live in a smaller place. Smaller homes cost less to buy, attract lower property taxes, and use less utilities; water, gas, electricity.
- If you can, switch your utilities provider to a better and cheaper company. All utilities companies are money-grabbing vultures, but try to choose the best of a bad lot.
- Drive a smaller car. Smaller cars are less expensive to buy and insure, and in general use much less gas than a bigger car with more weight and a bigger engine. If you buy a classic smaller car, as opposed to the latest model, then you won’t even suffer from depreciation.
- Switch your car insurance to a better and cheaper company.
- Learn some DIY skills. You don’t have to use expensive and useless contractors, car mechanics, cleaners, or gardeners. It’s cheaper and better if you do as much as you can for yourself.
- Cut out impulse purchases. On impulse, too many of us buy too much stuff that we don’t actually need, want, or really like. All that stuff clutters up our home and convinces us that we need to move to a bigger place.
- Don’t marry a sexy trophy wife, (or toy boy), who will also want you to move into a bigger place. A trophy wife, (or toy boy), will end up costing you most of your treasure, and you’ll end up with a broken heart.
- Don’t try to buy love. It doesn’t work, it will cost you a fortune, and you’ll end up with a broken heart.
- Control your addictions….. booze, drugs, gambling, pornography, casual sex, smoking….. All of these will all cost you just about everything you have, including your self-respect.
- Resist the urge to have the latest and most expensive technologies. You don’t need a huge TV, costly cable, the newest computer, the best tablet, the most expensive iPhone with the most expensive contract.
- Buy whole foods rather than processed, heavily packaged, and generally bad for you costly crap.
- Buy generic brands. Trust me, I’ve been into factories where the expensive labels and generic brands are actually made on the same production line with exactly the same content. Only the packaging is different.
- If you can, then buy in bulk.
- Stop going out to lunch at work, instead take a packed lunch. Those people you go to lunch with are probably boring and certainly aren’t your real friends anyway. And, if you’re an average guy the women you take to lunch are never going to have sex with you, so you’re wasting your time and money.
- Don’t join a gym. Most of the people who have gym membership never go there. For great exercise take a long walk in the sunshine instead.
- Visit thrift stores, and if you find clothes you like, then save money and buy ‘pre-loved’ stuff.
- Don’t give to a big charity. (Have you any idea how much the bosses of the big charities pay themselves? The average pay across the top 100 charities is more than £250,000 a year, plus huge bonuses.)
- Don’t spend all your time drinking in pubs and bars ~ the booze is expensive there, and nobody in your favourite pub is your real friend anyway.
And finally, don’t spend on borrowed money, especially credit cards which all charge usury rates of interest. Credit cards are NOT money. Really, really, really NEVER use a payday lender, which all charge eye-watering criminal rates of interest.
You can probably think of some other money-saving tips of your own. For a month try making a note of what you actually spend your hard-earned on ~ I guarantee that you will be surprised and shocked. Learn what you actually spend your money on, and then you can start to control your finances.
Some say that money can’t buy happiness. And that a fool and his money are soon parted. All I know is that having money makes misery more bearable.
you can take the idea of living in a tiny home to the extreme…..
Having few desires means satisfaction with what you have.
Making radical plans always has more ramifications that one first thinks. I have this germ of an idea to convert an old school bus into a camper / RV / motor home, and / or find a great plot and construct a home / holiday home out of shipping containers. One of the ramifications is that the amount of interior space is likely to be limited in either of those projects.
But, there is an axiom; You don’t need more space, you need less stuff…
Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like. ~ Will Rogers
Ergo, the first rule of living with less is to stop buying things you don’t really need. A lot of us like buying new stuff: kitchen gadgets, clothes, pictures, ornaments and geegaws, books, and other sundry unnecessary crap. Then we find our spare room and garage filled with the old stuff we have replaced with new stuff, and eventually we have to take all that old crap to the thrift store.
All this costs us time, money, stress, and heartache. Buy stuff we don’t really need and our lives are filled with clutter, and clutter is incredibly stressful. The simple answer is; ‘if you don’t absolutely need it, then don’t buy it’. If there is no clean and empty space on your tables, kitchen counters, bookshelves, dressing table, desk, and in your bathroom, then you have far too much stuff.
Clutter, junk, piles of unused stuff, overflowing cupboards, a garage you can barely get your car into, a spare room full of more unused stuff… all this is bad for your physical, mental, and spiritual health. If you can’t lose weight, you’re always tired, you’re always late for work ~ then clean up your clutter.
Instead of complications and clutter, consider simplicity and minimalism instead.
If one’s life is simple, contentment has to come. Simplicity is extremely important for happiness. Having few desires, feeling satisfied with what you have, is very vital: satisfaction with just enough… and shelter to protect yourself from the elements. ~ The Dalai Lama
Simple living will benefit your physical, mental, and spiritual health in many ways. Living simply declutters your life and your daily schedule ~ who knows if you live simply you may even make it into work on time.
Living simply with less stuff, living a clean and minimalistic lifestyle, well it isn’t something that you should attempt to achieve overnight, usually this kind of huge change takes time, effort, and determination. Take little steps, at least to begin with. Some good ideas are;
- Get rid of all your duplicates. If you have 2 of something, like 2 copies of the same CD, then you have 1 too many. Take the duplicate to the thrift store.
- Clean out your garage and spare room, (and other places you store unused stuff). If it’s been in your garage for years, and you’ve never used it, then either take it to the thrift store, give it away, or put it in the dumpster.
- Start a clutter-free area. Have a minimalistic and clutter-free zone or room perhaps your bathroom, or kitchen, and then expand that through the rest of your home.
- Travel lightly. Take half the stuff you think you will need, and twice as much money. If your garage or spare room is full of luggage, suitcases, bags… then get rid of some of them. Most airlines will only allow one bag anyway.
- Dress with less. If you haven’t worn it in months, and you don’t really like it, and maybe it’s a little worn, and it doesn’t fit you any more ~ then take it to the thrift store. Have a colour and style theme that really suits you, and try your best to always stick with that.
- Simplify and purify your diet. Go through your fridge, freezer, and larder ~ junk anything past its ‘use by date’ or is of dubious quality, or you shouldn’t be eating or drinking anyway.
- Have a £1,000 pound emergency fund, ($1,000). Money for emergencies reduces stress and makes it amazingly easier to junk stuff you don’t really need.
I live in a 500 square foot loft apartment I call the garret. The only thing I have too much of is books. My bookshelves are full, my bookcases, (2 of them), are full, and there are books stacked on the floor… I’m working on that, all of my books are for sale on Amazon. In recent weeks I’ve got rid of half my clothes, (see point #5), and replaced some with far better quality stuff. My kitchen counters and bathroom are totally clutter free, and my refrigerator is only half-full. I’m not doing too badly on being minimalistic and clutter-free.
Trust me~ discarding unwanted stuff, being clutter-free, creates a raft of good feelings.
Simplicity is the most difficult thing to secure in this world; it is the last limit experience and the last effort of genius. ~ George Sand
Good design and good quality is timeless. Always buy the best you can afford, and never buy more than you need. Remember K.I.S.S. ~ Keep It Simple Stupid… Simplicity is Good, and Clutter is Bad. Focus on what really matters to you, and don’t get suckered in to buying cheap bargains you don’t need.
Less is more. ~ Mies Van Der Rohe
Be clean, simple, uncluttered, and minimalistc, (especially in the bedroom), and I promise you your life will be better.
click on the book to find out more
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Living off the grid brings a dangerous reality.
Whether I finally end up converting a school bus into a camper / RV, or building a shipping container home in the deep countryside, the chances are that I will need to generate my own electricity. Luckily, these days this isn’t as difficult as you might think. However, modern living uses a hell of a lot of electricity, especially in America. We may be looking at an electricity usage of 30 kWh, (kilowatt-hours), every day. However, with a little bit of arithmetic, (math), you can calculate your own likely electricity consumption, and your generating systems should be installed with that usage in mind.
There are three main ways to generate your very own off-the-grid power:
- A generator powered by an internal combustion engine. Generators come in a huge variety of sizes, capacities, and prices, but a 6 kW (kilowatt), generator might set you back £1,500, ($1,800). Other than capacity, the choice boils down to petrol, (gasoline), or diesel power. Generally speaking diesel is better, (but may be noisier). With a little work you can also run generators on gas, (propane, methane, natural gas), wood alcohol, (methanol), and paraffin, (kerosene). With some work, diesel generators will run on cooking oil.
- Solar Power. Stick some solar panels on the roof, or in the yard, and you have electricity while the sun is shining. Typically, solar power systems for a camper / RV, (and perhaps a shipping container home), produce 12 volt electricity, which is then used to charge a big battery, from which power is taken when anything electrical is switched on. To step up 12 volt direct current to 110, or 230 volt alternating current you need an inverter. These come in a huge variety of capacities and prices. You can buy them at Home Depot. Larger scale solar power systems, such as may be required by a decent sized shipping container home, usually need specialist installation. You will probably need to find an appropriate contractor.
- Wind Power. Wind power for a school bus camper / RV /motorhome would be very small scale and probably part of a 12 volt system. A wind turbine for a container home would be bigger, but in the scheme of things, still very small scale. A free standing wind turbine on a mast may need various regulatory permissions before you erect the thing. Most likely you will also be digging holes and trenches, so I hope you can use a mini-digger, (tiny backhoe).
Typically, the ‘belt and braces’ type of guy, (that’s me), would install both wind and solar power systems for his Camper / RV / Motorhome, or shipping container tiny home, perhaps with a diesel generator as back-up for both.
If you haven’t realised from the above, then off-the-grid electricity comes in two flavours;
- 12 volt DC, (direct current). This is the same as you get from an ordinary car battery. 12 volt DC systems can be installed by anyone competent in DIY.
- 120 volt (USA), 230 volt (Europe), and 240 volt (UK), alternating current. This is what you get from the sockets in your home, and is often known as mains electricity. Working with AC systems is normally not a DIY job, and at some point you will most likely need to employ a fully qualified electrical contractor.
So, you are generating your own electricity. That’s only half the story. Your camper / RV / motor home, and / or your container home will have to be wired to make use of all that lovely power. Basic wiring is well within the scope of a person very competent in DIY, and 12 volt DC lighting is dead easy. Mains electricity 110 volt and 230 volt AC is more complicated and you would do well to have your circuitry checked over by a properly qualified contractor before you use it.
Of course, these days you can actually buy a fully kitted out container home, complete with connections for all services, so all the wiring would be done for you. That sort of misses the point, doesn’t it? Amazon will sell you everything else you need to generate your own electricity.
click to buy the turbine
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You don’t need more space, you need less stuff.
Back when I owned a trailer park, shipping containers often made instant buildings which could serve a myriad of purposes for me, from simple storage units, through a workshop, to a pretty nice office.
(not my office, a home made from shipping containers)
What I have never yet attempted is to use a shipping container to make a tiny home, or more likely, use several shipping containers linked together to make a decent-sized home. The place to start is to learn something about shipping containers, and then buy the right units.
Shipping containers are usually strong steel boxes with doors at one end, but they actually come in lots of versions. The standard width is 8′ (eight feet), the standard height is 8’6″ (eight foot six inches), and the two standard lengths are 20′ (twenty foot), and 40′ (forty foot). There are a whole raft of non-standard lengths starting at 5′, but a 10′ container is the more common of the non-standard lengths. The internal floor areas work out at 150 sq ft for a 20′ container and 305 sq ft for a 40′ container.
Given that most people regard 1000 sq ft as a decent size for a home, (plus a garage), then we are talking of at least a couple of containers to make anything that approximates a ‘normal-sized’ house. Container architecture is a discipline all of its own.
You obviously need a plot, the appropriate permissions from whatever building authority is responsible for all the regulatory stuff, and you may / or may not need to lay a concrete slab on which to stand the container(s) you’re going to turn into a home. (Whether or not you need to lay a concrete pad depends on the ground, and how long you expect the container home to stand there.)
It’s no good just buying a plot, plonking a used shipping container there and expecting to live in it. Shipping containers are steel boxes, and that means they are damn hot inside in summer, and bloody freezing inside in winter. To make a home you will have to line out the inside, and perhaps even clad the outside. Even if you just buy one 40′ container and are going to be happy living in 305 sq ft, you will still need to do a hell of a lot of work to make your steel box habitable.
One of the first things you need to learn is how to cut steel plate. Your box needs more than a big door at one end, you need windows, (at least), and maybe another door, and perhaps holes so you can link one container to another to make a bigger home. Luckily, shipping containers are mostly made of steel that’s only between 1.5mm and 2mm thick, so it’s easy to cut. Realistically there are 3 ways to cut steel on site, (using an ordinary hacksaw will take you aeons and you’ll hurt your wrist and hands).
- Oxy-acetylene cutting torch. These things are dangerous, and unless you’ve done this kind of cutting before, you would be best getting instruction before attempting to use an oxygen / acetylene torch. However, a cutting torch is fast and it’s easy to cut complex shapes. If you want circular cut-outs for round windows / portholes in your tiny container home, then oxy-acetylene could be for you.
- Electric jigsaw. The sides of steel shipping containers are pretty easy to cut, so an ordinary electric jigsaw will chop out your doors and windows. And, you can cut curves in steel with an electric jigsaw. This is possibly the best choice for the averagely skilled person.
- Stihl cut-off saw. STIHL is a trademark, but what we are talking about here is a big power saw of some description. Cutting lots of big holes in your containers, on site, you may well want something like a petrol powered Stihl saw, (and make certain you have the right disk for steel).
The benefits of using steel shipping containers to make a tiny home, (or something bigger), is that it’s pretty fast and inexpensive to get a weatherproof structure on site, they’re strong and durable, and you can put them down just about anywhere. A shipping container is probably the start of the ultimate off-the-grid home.
I can and have lived off-the-grid in a log cabin I built myself, (from a kit), but I would strongly caution anyone thinking of doing this concerning water. You will need a constant supply of potable water, either from the mains or from your own well / borehole. The average American uses between 80 to 100 gallons of water every day of the year. It’s possible to finesse around all the other services; sewage, electricity, gas, heating, telephone and internet, but shipping water in a small bowser on a regular basis is an absolute non-starter.
Once you have a weatherproof structure with the doors and windows installed, and you’ve made a start on connecting your services, then you can start on the really fun stuff, which is fitting out the interior to suit your tastes. The only limit to your imagination is the dimensions of whatever containers you have bought.
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