The Yurt

The Yurt

About 8 years ago I came across an ad in the newspaper selling ‘authentic Mongolian yurts’.   Intrigued, I showed the ad to Molly.  It gets a little cramped in our 1,100 sf  home when we have visitors and a yurt sounded like it would make a perfect guesthouse for us.  ( A yurt is a large circular tent- about 300 square feet.  Nomads use them as their housing moving them as they follow their herds across the steppes of Asia.  They are actually called gers in Mongolia but we’ll stick with the term westerners are more familiar with.) » » »

Kitchen Budget Breakdown

Your budget is the most important aspect of any remodeling project, calling all the shots from the get-go and often vetoing any frills or perks that aren’t absolute necessities. Before you start making big remodel plans—or even worse, spending money—figure out a kitchen remodeling cost you know you can work with and stick to it. There are a number of mistakes to avoid when remodeling your home, but going over budget is the biggest one. » » »

Quick Tips- How to Tile a Floor

We’ve been thinking of things to cover the floor of Molly’s studio.  With that we thought sharing how to tile a floor might be of interest to you all.

How to tile a floor from

Stuff You Will Need:

Floor tiles  (wholesale tile can be a real money saver)
Diamond disc tile cutter
Safety kit (goggles, leather gloves and ear plugs)
Spirit level
Profile shaper
Tile saw
Tape measure
Serrated trowel
Chalk line
Piece of hosepipe
Lint-free cloth
Floor sealer

How to Make Your Own Shingles

Almost exactly a year ago my sister Heidi, her boyfriend Alan and his daughter Ellen came out to visit.  Never ones to miss an opportunity to advance a building project we put Alan to work helping to put a roof on what was just a papercrete ring at the time.  It was a big push and as they left, I promised that I would finish covering the roof so that all our hard work wouldn’t be in vain.  Alan, it turns out, isn’t one to let an opportunity to go by either.  In the past year he managed to finagle Heidi into agreeing to marry him and produce an exact replica of himself.

Alan and Gordon

Congratulations on the cloning efforts guys!

» » »

Papercrete Greenhouse Phase 4

Last weekend we held a papercrete making workshop. It was divided into two parts. The first half we cast some blocks and the second half we added to the walls we started last year.  The weather was perfect and we had a great time. About 10 people showed up.

Mike: I had no idea how many people we would have, whether it would be 5 or 55…

Molly: 10 was a great amount.  Not so many we were overwhelmed and not so few that we felt like the workshop had no draw.

I have to admit there was a Tom Sawyer aspect to this class.  It worked out quite well.  Everyone got to try stacking blocks while I kept them supplied with mortar and advice.  We got the rest of the walls completed in a couple hours!  The first half took us most of a day.

Molly: It felt great to make a big push on the greenhouse project.

Mike: What should we teach next?  How to cover a yurt roof?

Molly: YUP!!!! » » »

Papercrete Greenhouse Workshop

This Saturday, May 5th, we’re putting on a papercrete greenhouse building workshop In conjunction with Homegrown New Mexico.  If you’re thinking paper whodiewaha?  Check out these posts on papercrete where I go over what it is, how to make papercrete blocks and how to make your own papercrete mixer.

The greenhouse has been a work in progress for the past three four years.  Every year around plant starting time I’m kicking myself for not finishing it.  I’ll bet we get a bunch done this weekend though.  Hopefully the momentum will carry forward and the greenhouse will get finished this year. » » »

Re-vamped Studio- Part II

We have four outbuildings that serve as storage and workspaces.  One started life as a carport/privacy screen from the neighbors and later turned into a full fledged building.  We call it the garage though there are no cars in it.  It does double duty as Molly’s fabric/project storage and a small shop for Mike.

Another building started life as a shed for a biodeisel plant Mike was going to build but ended up becoming the home for the CNC machine instead.  Recently the CNC machine moved down the road to his inventor’s club co-founder and buddy Rick’s house.  With it gone we decided to rethink the outbuildings.

Currently Molly does most of her projects in the living room.

Molly:  It’s not a terrible situation but if I only have an hour to work on something it’s tough to get it all pulled out just to pack it back up again.

Mike:  We’ve decided to have his-n-her’s studios.  Molly will take over the old CNC shop and move her stuff out of the garage.  I’ll reconfigure the garage to make it into my workshop. » » »

Re-vamped Studio

We like to brag about our double wide.  How great it is that we only need 1,100 sq ft in which to live our lives.  We are so high and mighty about how we don’t need all that space and anyways who really wants to clean all those extra bathrooms?

But our dirty little secret is that we have more square footage in our outbuildings than we have in our house.  We sprinkle hints here and there that we have hoarding tendencies which we will go into further at some point…maybe.  For now we’ll leave that tucked away in one of our ‘buildings’.

Juliette (Molly’s friend): No, I think one can tell when they walk in your front door.  You have lots of ‘things’.  Things you use but lots of things, piled.  Neat piles, but piles.

Molly:  Really Juliette?

Juliette:  I benefit from all your piles.  When we come over there’s always plenty to play with! » » »

The end of the re-beginning of the Yurt for now

If you’re new to this series this is a segment of a long story about how we bought a yurt.  It was ravaged by our climate and started to die.  After some deliberation we decided it should be reborn in papercrete.  Check out the links for the back story.  Up to speed?  Great.  Moving on….

When we last left the yurt the walls were built and there was a start at getting a roof designed and constructed.  My sister Heidi had been instrumental in getting enthusiasm going for the project again.  We think she was ready to stay in a guest house instead of on the couch when she came to visit. » » »

Yurt Reborn!….slowly….in stages

When we last left the yurt it was still standing but was decaying and in serious need of repair.  The outer weatherproof cover had deteriorated again and the smell of mildew was pervasive.  The mice were ransacking the interior and the flooring was starting to rot.  The yurt needed help and lots of it.  For a while (quite a while) we just let it sit while we considered a strategy to deal with all of the yurt’s needs.

The first step was to take it down before it deteriorated any further.  In the spring of 2008 Molly and I disassembled the yurt and packed it up.   Most of the platform and the outer covering went to the dump.  Now we just needed a home for the rest.  Storing a building sized tent as well as the furnishings inside of it was a challenge but we managed to shoehorn it all into our various other outbuildings.

Molly:  It was a sad day when we took it down.  It had been this thing of beauty and now it was…not.  

Mike: Yeah, one more face lift was not going to recapture her lost loveliness.  It was just going to make her look permanently surprised. » » »