Ocean Deck

While we were visiting family in San Diego over Christmas we did what we typically do when we visit family…build something. ¬†It’s actually quite fun and cheap entertainment for us (not so cheap for the family member buying all the materials ūüėē ). ¬†The weather was absolutely glorious so when Mike’s dad, Grandpa Craig, asked if we would build them a deck we didn’t hesitate to say yes. » » »

The Decline of the Yurt

About five years ago we bought a Mongolian yurt¬†¬†(real Mongolians would call it a ger but you’d have no idea what we were talking about). ¬†It was a very cool guesthouse and people loved staying in it. ¬†The inside was decorated with a (tasteful) mish-mash of eastern furnishings. ¬†Pakistani lamps, asian rugs, furniture from China and Thai silk pillows all complemented the traditional painting on the interior woodwork . ¬†It was our little exotic hideaway but like all treasures it started to tarnish over time. » » »

Coop de Steve

Have you ever thought of having a chicken coop?  Maybe just the coop and not the chickens?  I understand- it keeps it romantic (no poop), clean (again, no poop) and coops are just cool objects.  A little architectural folly for the common man.  I love to see what people come up with to house their chickens.  There is such a variety out there.

Nogg chicken coop

A made to order coop from Nogg

» » »

Antilope House

This is the story of how we we built a really cool house on Antilope street and¬†ended up deep in debt. ¬†It could/should be under the money category but…it’s not.

The house on Antilope street

The house on Antilope street

In 2005 Mike and I had just come off our high (horse) of selling our first ‘flip-it’ house in Albuquerque. It sold after being on the market for only 3 days. ¬†We were g-o-o-od. ¬†We were so¬†talented, had great taste and we were sure every one would want to pay for a house we had designed.

After our Albuquerque success I decided to try flipping a house in Santa Fe. ¬†This project was my baby with Mike, encouraging me like he does, convincing me I could do anything I put my mind too. ¬†I found a¬†Realtor¬†and we started looking. ¬†It was bad. ¬†I don’t know how it is in your community but in the city of Santa Fe building permits were not required until the mid-eighties. » » »

The Saint House

Years ago, back in 2005, Mike and I were newlyweds.  Pistol and I had just moved up to Santa Fe from Albuquerque and I had closed my design business.  I was looking for a way to make a living in a new town.  The housing market was hot Рflipping houses seemed like a good fit.  Mike had years of construction under his belt and I was a scrappy DIYer with a background in building theater sets and welding.  Mike was going to school at the time so I took the helm relying on him to help me on the weekends.

After shopping the Santa Fe fixer-uppers it was clear that this market was out of my budget. ¬†I drove down to Albuquerque which hadn’t quite caught on to the housing bubble yet. ¬†We found a great fixer-upper on Saint street. ¬†It had everything you could want in a house to flip; good bones, only cosmetic damage and the eye watering stench of years of cat pee. ¬†The best part was that it had a bomb shelter-who doesn’t want their own bomb shelter?? ¬†It had potential. ¬†It was in a good neighborhood on a street where people kept their lawns mowed and trash in the containers. ¬†The layout of the house was decent, it just needed was a ¬†make-over. ¬†We spent the next few months ripping out the old cat pee carpets, re-tiling everywhere, painting, landscaping and generally fixing the place up.

Saint house » » »

How to Make Papercrete Blocks


Never heard of it? Go here.

Up to speed?

Great, Let’s get going.


Papercrete mixer

Block molds (mine are made from 2x6s and scrap siding)




Paper (used of course)

Shredded plastic (if you want)

95 lb bag of cement (cement not concrete- no rocks or sand in the mix) » » »

How to Make a Papercrete Mixer

There is a lot to love about papercrete as a building material. It’s made out of readily¬†accessible¬†and inexpensive materials: water, used paper and cement. To make papercrete you have to be able to grind up lots and lots of paper. In order to do that you need a mixer capable of shredding paper. A regular cement mixer won’t shred paper it will just stir it around. Luckily for us a guy by the name of Mike McCain¬†invented a papercrete mixer that you tow behind a truck.

Papercrete tow mixer

The plywood top looked good but it didn't work that well

The McCain mixer is sheer genius in its backyard engineering¬†brilliance¬†and simplicity. It consists of a trailer made from a truck rear axle with a stock tank mounted on it. The axle is rotated up 90 degrees so that the end where the¬†drive-shaft¬†would normally attach is sticking up through the bottom of the tank. A lawn mower blade is mounted on the differential stub so that as the trailer is towed it turns the lawnmower blade creating a giant blender. » » »

I Love Papercrete

Papercrete Wall

Papercrete?? ¬†What’s that??

That’s the response I always get when I’m describing my favorite building material. ¬†Not surprising since it occupies a spot in that backwater known as ‘alternative building materials’. ¬†Papercrete is just what it sounds like actually. ¬†It’s concrete made with paper. ¬†I tell people to think of it as industrial paper mache. ¬†It’s inexpensive to make, amazingly sturdy, lightweight and insulating. » » »