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New Jobs And Garden Growth

I know its been a while so I’ll try to keep all my updates relatively short.

Firstly! I got a second job!. This one is at a recycling company, and its a retail position. The company has made three store fronts where you can buy products made with recycled materials, or products that are designed to have extended lives and which can be recycled. Customers can also bring in things like old computers, styrofoam, and batteries for recycling. It’s a very reduced pace from starbucks, and once I know what I’m doing (today will be my 6th day at work), I think I will be fine. They gave me keys to the place on my 1st day, and on my 4th day they had me open and close the store by myself. Stressful, to say the least. I love the woman that I work with (she’s actually the mom of a girl I was friends with in college), but she’s extremely scatter brained so my training has been greatly spread out and reduced. I honestly don’t know how to do anything; I can’t believe they left me completely alone in the store on Monday.

In other news my starbucks career is slowly coming to a close. I’ve decided to work there 2 days a week, just to get my work week up to 30 hours. My new job pays 13.25, essentially 30% more than the 10.04 I make at starbucks. As of right now I’m not quitting starbucks but that’s mostly because I’m not sure if my new job could give me more hours. The woman I work with closely at my new job says that there are definitely more hours available for me, but I haven’t heard anything from my manager yet. I would rather work a 9 hour day at my new job, than a 4 hour day at starbucks. I plan on essentially using my starbucks pay to survive on every month, and then everything else I make will go straight into savings.

I dog sat for a friend last weekend and she lives on a large piece of property only 11 minutes away. It would be absolutely perfect for building a tiny house on, so I asked her about it. Her husband is thinking about it, but so far it sounds like he’s leaning towards yes. Building could begin as soon as next year, so I need to come up with about $10,000 before next spring. He thinks I will be able to get it completely closed in and moveable by the end of the summer, at which point I would need to move it off their property. They’re going to be building a second house to rent out, so the coming and goings of materials and the loud noise of power tools will blend right in. I will have to call the city to ask if it’s really going to be ok, but I don’t think it should be a problem.

Also! This summer was the summer of projects. So far I have completely set up the sprinkler system for my garden, so everything has been getting watered this summer. I cut the pieces for 4 bat houses and am waiting for my mom to paint them. I want a fun design on all of them, but I should’ve known better than to ask her to do something like that. I haven’t seen her finish a project like that in 15 years. If she takes too much longer I think I will just paint them all black myself and put them up. I also have done a lot of hive part construction this year, making 4 hive bodies with windows and half frames for 4 warre boxes. Oh, and I made 3 internal hive feeders! I forgot about those. My last project (probably) of the summer is a pathway connecting the patio to the stairway into the garden. Essentially what I’m going to do is build a picture frame out of some pieces of 2x4s and then lay it on the ground and pour concrete in it. The stepping stones made will look like pictures in a frame, and the empty spaces left by the 2x4s will be filled with compost and planted with some sort of creeping ground cover. It should help reduce the amount of dirt the dogs bring into the house, and make using a wheel barrow easier.

Next year I plan on being the year of the tree. I want to bring in at least 4 fruit trees (apple and plum for sure, and I haven’t decided on anything else). I also want at least 3 native trees for wildlife. I haven’t quite decided on those, but I want at least one of them to be an Oak tree. I went to the pickering barn (the place I interned two years ago) on Monday on my lunch break (my second job is just minutes away) and I’d forgotten how much I really love having trees around me all the time. I never seem to truly remember until I’m somewhere where the sky is all but completely blocked out by trees. I’m also planning on ripping up about a third of my lawn and making it raised beds. I’ve spent a few hours researching all of the plants I want to grow next year and I won’t have room for all of them in my current garden. There’s no reason not to grow them when I have the space and infrastructure for it. That said, I won’t add any more raised beds if my friends do end up letting my build the tiny house. I won’t have any extra funding for projects other than the tiny house.

I’m sure I’m forgetting a few things here, but this post is already too long so its probably for the best. Until next time!

I’ve been meaning to post for over a week now but haven’t seem to have had the time to get around to it. So I’ll just do a little summary post instead.

The pond is doing well and the little floating trip-leaved things that came in with the cattails have reproduced prolifically. The cattails have increased in number from 3 to 7, and an 8th shoot is trying to grow down into the bottom of the pond. I haven’t decided if i want to move it to the other side of the pond or get rid of it entirely. The water is staying very clear, and there is almost no algae at all. I have a feeling that that would change if I put fish in the pond but I haven’t quite decided about those yet. A PNW tree frog showed up a few weeks ago and stuck around for a couple days, though I haven’t seen them since then. It got up into the 90s so I don’t know if they’ve been really good about staying tucked away and only come out at night, or if they’ve moved on to a better garden.

I built 5 bird houses using a new table saw I bought. I was tired of not owning any power tools beyond a drill, and it was the only saw my neighbor didn’t own, so I bought one. It’ll come in very handy when i build a tiny house I think. The bird houses are all very plain, but they have a floating floor that you just push up and twist to remove so you can clean the house out. They’re designed for chickadees and another bird of the same size i can’t remember the name of right now. The chickadees usually get to the houses first, but they tend not to raise young in the same house twice, so if you put several houses in your garden then you’re likely to get both species.

I went to a tiny house convention in Portland this weekend! It was extremely tedious and long, but I got to meet some other tiny house minded people, and that was really nice. I stayed in the hotel the convention was being hosted in because I didn’t want to deal with the drama of staying with family and because they lived 20 minutes away from the hotel. The convention didn’t teach me much of things I didn’t already know, it just gave a couple little hints that I hadn’t thought of before. Overall I don’t think I would go again, simply because it cost so much. $450 for the hotel and $280 for the tickets. Plus $30 in gas, and $50 for food. So… about $810 for the weekend? or basically a months wages for me. On the bright side I got to see a couple of tiny houses up close! They are definitely smaller than what I had originally thought, but if anything that makes me want them more. We saw a house that was 18ft long and it was super cute. The owner didn’t build out over the wheel wells so the house was narrower than most, but it fit 8 people in it at a time comfortably. it had 10 in it at one point, because a couple of people climbed up into the loft.

The woman sitting next to me at the convention just happened to be house sitting for the woman who built The Lucky Penny, which is a famous tiny house in Portland and one I really like. The house has an arched roof and a skylight that runs about a third of its length. It also has a fold down porch that covers the tongue of the trailer, which is really interesting to me. I think i’ll do something like it with my tiny house. The Lucky Penny is entirely copper themed, and doesn’t have a loft. The bed is on the back wall (the door is right over the tongue) so its the first thing you see when you walk in. Its normally folded in half, and then when you want to use the full thing you slide the slats underneath it out over the kitchen counter and a support beam on the opposite wall and fold the bed out into a queen sized bed. Despite this house being wider than the one we viewed as a class it was much more claustrophobic because the kitchen counter took up so much space. Across from that was a Japanese staircase dresser, which led up to a storage loft that the cat slept in. The entry way of the house had the shower in it (behind the door if the door was open) and a regular dresser for the owners clothes. The bottom of the dresser also hid the cat’s litter box, which you couldn’t smell at all.

The Lucky Penny is a part of a tiny house community, and one of the other owners was gracious enough to allow us to see inside her house. I’m not sure how long the house was but it was definitely my favorite house of the three. It had a spacious loft and a huge great room, and 7 of us fit in without any problem. The woman who built it was a quirky witch who had artwork everywhere. She wasn’t too happy showing us the house because she was kind of ambushed by it, so she didn’t give us the full tour, but I liked her instantly. She had a poster of Appa from Avatar the last Airbender hanging in the middle of the wall and that was the first thing I noticed, haha. Her doors were made out of the long windows you see on the either side of large doors, and she combined them to make very small french doors. Extremely cute. The house had fancy throw rugs and a full fridge, and a small shelving ladder to get into the loft. Three skylights and two windows, which she advised us to only place on the north side of the house. Super cute! If she had been in a better mood, and not busy making jelly from the plum tree that grew over her house, I would’ve loved to talk to her. I left her alone because she didn’t seem like she wanted to be bothered too much.

All in All it was a good weekend and I definitely made at least one new friend. Today is Monday and I’ve got a phone interview in nine minutes so I really should stop blogging. After that I have to run to Kent to pick up the bee boxes my aunt finally finished, and then I need to check on the hives there before rushing home to shower and head to work at 3:30. This week is going to be insanely busy for me. My boss scheduled me incorrectly so I only get one day off (this is the second time she’s done this to me) and I work close to 40 hours which I’m not happy about. I also have some guys coming to blow insulation into the house on Wednesday which makes it my longest day of the week. I work 3:30am to 8am (yes, 3:30 in the morning; we’ve decided to open an hour earlier) and then have to be home by 9 to spend 6+ hours supervising the insulation process.

Did I mention we caught a flemish giant rabbit that was on the loose on Friday? My sister has decided to adopt it. Its grey and as big as my smallest dog. Absolutely ridiculous.

Anyway, I have to run!

My sisters dog is notorious for peeing on things, with his favorite spot being the center of my bed. He peed on it very recently and then again a couple days ago before I’d even got the clean sheets back on it. Long story short, my bed was completely ruined. He managed to pee on my sheets, my pillow, and still leave a very very large puddle in the middle of the bed. I’ve also always been uncomfortable with that mattress, finding it much too soft. So I decided to go to the complete opposite end of the fluff-spectrum and get a very firm bed. There is an organic mattress/futon place in Seattle, and my mom has bought all of her beds there for the last 30 years. I went and bought a shikibuton there, which is the traditional Japanese mattress. Its only about 5 inches thick and requires tatami mats (mats made of woven reeds that smell wonderfully like green tea and grass) to be underneath it for support. Its an exceptionally firm mattress and I can fall asleep almost instantly on it. I’ve only had it for a few days, but I’ve gotten more rest in these last few nights than I ever did with my old bed.

When I went to Japan when I was 13 I slept on one of these and found it very comfortable. I also slept with a pillow made of wheat, and thankfully this mattress store had buckwheat husk pillows. I bought a small one, because I really only use a pillow if I’m sleeping on my side, and its been very nice. It shapes perfectly to where you need support, and if you like laying on your stomach its great because one side is made of organic latex.

This set certainly wasn’t cheap though. Along with the shikibuton, the tatami mats, and the pillow, I also bought a mattress cover made of organic wool. The bed itself is made out of organic wool and covered in organic cotton. If I had only bought the shikibuton it would’ve been cheaper than a regular mattress, but with everything else I spent about $1,600. For the amount of rest I’ve been getting from it already though, it was definitely worth it. I only slept 3.5 hours the night before last and I ended up staying awake from 3:30am until 9PM. At which point I promptly fell asleep and slept for 13.5 hours, lol.

I definitely feel reenergized ever morning though, and I feel really awake and ready to start my day every morning. Finding a mattress that works for you is important!

A New Store

I never seem to have the energy to post anymore, which is kind of unfortunate. This last month I switched out of my old starbucks and into a brand new one. I got to help open the doors, that’s how new it was! My old store was too toxic for me to remain at. This woman there bullied everyone and I finally decided I’d had enough, because my boss refused to do anything about it. It was extremely stressful and I hated working there. My new store is so much fun though! Everyone is friendly, polite, energetic. And our store is a drive through so we have moments where there are 11 of us on the floor. At my old store the most you could ever hope for was 5, and we never had enough to do. This store never allows you to stand still for more than a few seconds. Its always busy. We’re still so new that people keep moving things around though, and that’s kind of frustrating. Nothing is ever where it was a second ago. Everyone there is such a comedian that it doesn’t even matter in all honesty. I have fun every day and I’m always laughing.

That said I’m still discontented with where I’m at in life. I need to find a higher paying job so I can build my tiny house. I would love to go on a road trip once I have enough saved up, and just go adventure around for a bit. But that probably won’t be for several years, and by that point I’m sure I won’t even want to do it anymore. I’m not sure what I’m going to do, but making $700 a month is not working for me. If I could find a $40,000 a year job I would be perfectly fine. My tiny house won’t cost me very much to maintain, and I plan on having it be fully self sustaining so that they only thing I really have to do is buy myself food, and water if I’m on the road. My monthly expenses will be insurance for the truck to haul it around, the house its self, my phone and internet bill (which I’m sure will be substantially since I’ll never be wired for it), health insurance, and that’s about it. I’ll have to pay for food obviously, but I would love for the truck I get to be biodiesel so I can just make my gas from vegetable oil while I’m traveling. It’s all very good in theory of course.

Anyway, I’m off work today so I was hoping to go do something fun. I think I’ll go to a nearby national park and take the dogs for a walk. Or I could go to Seattle and buy myself some rings… Meh, a day in the sun sounds like more fun.

Mushroom Update

I have even more mushroom pictures for you, with the most drastic and interesting of them actually being from yesterday and today! You’re supposed to mist them every day, so I checked them like normal before work yesterday. This cute little blob had exploded out of one of the holes I had cut!

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I left for work and came back to find it had grown half again as big within the last 12 hours.

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Those pictures were all taken 6 hours apart, with the last one being only 18 hours after the first one. The dark brown things that are sticking out of the container (which is that cat litter container I told you about) are paper towels I stuffed in the holes to make sure the coffee grounds wouldn’t fall out. The towel is almost completely hidden in the last picture. Each of the dark spots on the mass of mycelium will become a mushroom. I don’t know how I’m going to eat all of them!

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Here’s a less intimidating picture of some cute baby mushrooms that have sprung up elsewhere on the container. The mycelium on top of the container is still mostly white, but a few patches of pinning mushrooms have shown up. I’m very excited!

Spring has come so early this year! The cherry blossom tree is already in full bloom, and the tulips are all ready to pop open. The local tulip festival has been pushed up a full three weeks to accommodation the early flowers. Rain levels are low too. We’ve already declared a drought in three counties in WA state. I’ve planted 7 trees in my garden this year to help with shading and flowers. My county has a “conservation district” organization that hosted a plant sale and I managed to accidentally order 60 plants instead of the 8 that I meant to. I didn’t realize everything came in groups of 5 and 10, so I ended up with 30 trees, 20 shrubs, and 10 ferns. I kept about 25 of them and gave the rest to my aunt to plant in her garden. Everything I bought was native, and I got a variety of things to feed the birds and the bugs. It will take a few years before anything is big enough to make a real difference, but I’m excited I’ve finally got a few important things like willows and red flowering currants in the garden.

I’ve got some “mushroom” pictures for you all! I started growing these on… March 11th. I bought 2.5lbs of oyster mushroom spawn from a company online, and mixed it in with coffee grounds from work. I put some in a big cat liter container I got from my cousin, and the rest went in a small yogurt container so I could really watch it grow. All I did was mix the spawn in with the grounds, adding a little bit of water and some wood chips every so often, and then I put them in the containers and kept them covered. Here’s a few pictures!

The myceilum started out by slowly colonizing the grounds, doubling in size each day until the surface of the container was covered in white. The larger container (which is the green thing in the first pic) took a lot longer to be fully colonized, and I actually started poking holes down into the grounds to make sure it was wet enough. I misted the surface every morning before work and every evening before bed. I also shot some water into the sides of the container where I cut holes for the mushrooms to grow out of. After I poked holes in the middle of the coffee grounds I filled them up with water. mycelium has grown in those holes so quickly that water no longer soaks into the grounds. I’ve poked a few holes elsewhere in the grounds to make sure the middle of the container is filled with mycelium too. It will be another few weeks before I actually get any mushrooms, but its been really fun to watch this all grow. The mycelium feels very similar to a mushroom, but its a little more fragile and slightly softer as well. Its crazy to see it grow soft hairlike patches some days and then others it will be a solid mass of fungus.

I’m sure I’m not growing these the best way possible. Coffee grounds are so easy to come by for me that I wanted to use them simply because they wouldn’t cost me anything. I think next time I’ll try a different growing medium and see how that works. Now that I’ve got the mycelium I can pretty much grow these mushrooms for ever. I accidentally broke off a piece of the mycelium that had grow high up onto the container when I took the lid off to water it, and I just put it on a spot of grounds that hadn’t been colonized yet. The next day there were small hairs sprouting all over the broken piece and it was working its way into the exposed grounds. It’s so fascinating to watch!

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