Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Shopping for Inspiration

We took a little outing to this gem of a store in Kingston, NY. The pictures on this website don't even compare to the wondrous mountains of dusty old treasure that can be found inside the store. There are 4 floors of everything from claw-foot tubs, stained glass windows, every 1950's kitchen appliance, old wooden crates, doors of all sizes, pot-bellied stoves....Rooms so full you can hardly fit through the isles, and stacks so tall you'll never reach the top. We went looking for old door hinges for the bathroom door, or something that can be turned into kitchen cabinet doors. We ended up leaving with nothing though, maybe because of the overwhelmingness of it all. It was definitely worth the trip, and I'd love to go back with more time, and a camera!
 I love old wooden boxes and really want to do something like this table for counter tops in the bus. But I think I'll have to wait for some flea markets to find good deals on old boxes. By the way, that is a pretty awesome blog for "upcycled" furniture and stuff. They just opened a nice cafe in Northampton, MA and it's decorated with all their handmade tables and cabinets and salvaged treasures.

Not many pictures this week, so sorry.
The majority of the bus work we did, was getting it officially registered and insured, which was a BIG headache for a while there. Its a bus that is not technically a passenger vehicle anymore, a home that's not completely an RV yet, a large vehicle that's not really classified as a big truck. There are so many unclear rules and loopholes and it took a lot of work to straighten it all out. But we can officially and legally take it on the road now, so we are happy.

Also this week we cemented in the hearth stone and are still waiting on the wood stove to come in...should be this week? fingered crossed.
Frosting the Cake.
More pictures next week, I promise!
In the meantime, 10 points to anyone who knows what kind of mushrooms these are that are growing near the bus...I don't know the answer so its an easy 10 points.

And here is another food pic:

Bus tortillas, for our black bean and sweet potato burrito lunch. recipe

Friday, March 25, 2011


"You're gonna do what with your poo?" 
We are going to compost it! That's right. No septic system or gray water tank with this bus, and instead of buying an expensive RV-sized composting toilet, we built our own. It's simply a wooden box with a toilet seat on the top and a 5 gallon bucket inside, and the lid of the box lifts to remove the bucket when it is full. The buckets will be dumped into a compost pile that we will set up on the farm, and along with straw and leaves, it will sit untouched for one year after the pile is full, generating heat and breaking down until it becomes disease-free, nutrient-rich fertilizer. When composted correctly, human waste, or "Humanure" can be used on flower and vegetable gardens to add nutrients to the plants and is actually really good for the soil and safe to use. When the composting toilet and compost pile are properly maintained, by covering with sawdust and straw, there is no smell. This is something that can easily be set up in any backyard, and is an excellent source of (free!) fertilizer if you are a gardener.
     There are a bunch of videos over at humanurehandbook.com explaining in detail how to get started with the toilet, making the compost pile and maintaining it, and using the compost on your garden.  There you can also see how they build their toilet boxes, or order one for yourself. 
This is ours:

More on plumbing:
The water tank arrived, and it fits under the bed nicely. We also got a pump and an accumulator, and Phil has been working on getting all the pipes in place and glued with a horribly toxic smeling glue that chemically bonds CPVC to CPVC and nothing else. Weird stuff. 
Here is the 40 gallon fresh water tank under the bed.

Accumulator and water pump.

"Plumbing for Bus Nuts" has been a pretty helpful book, full of diagrams to get you started with any RV plumbing project.

Food: We have been cooking many meals on this awesome little stove now that its all hooked up! This is sauteed tempeh with red peppers and onions and purple rice, with home made hot sauce from home grown peppers using this recipe. . Now, I can't wait to bake something in here.
I wish I made more hot sauce!

Question for the Readers (is anyone really reading this?): What should we do with all these beautiful little tree slices? They are about 4 inches in diameter and the darker one has been sanded and oiled to bring out the color of the rings. We have a whole bunch of them and I want to use them around the bus. What do you think? Tiny corner shelves? Coasters? Wall art? We want to hear your ideas!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

counter tops and other things

little baby garlic sprout.
     Well, the snow is finally melting and its starting to feel a little like Spring out there. I've been enjoying doing some bus work out in the sun instead of making sawdust clouds in the bus (again, we picked the wrong time of year for this, I know). And also, THE GARLIC HAS SPROUTED! We planted a little bed of garlic on this land last fall when I was planning to farm this field. I think its not a bad idea to have extra garlic planted all over the place. You never know where you'll end up and you want to be sure there's garlic there.
This is the time of year when I really can't wait to start getting my hands dirty and seeding all the vegetables we are going to eat this year!
Bus there is still a lot of work to do, so.....

 More progress with the plumbing...We are still waiting for the tank and water pump to arrive, but Phil installed the sink drains, cut and connected the CPVC to the shower and sinks, and started installing the shower head.
He also installed the kitchen and bathroom sink and made counter tops for them.

 We were given a bunch of lovely handmade clay tiles, and a small roll of copper flashing, and we have been thinking of creative ways to incorporate them into our bus. So after Phil made the counter tops, I made some back splashes using the donated goodies. I think the color and texture combination of the wood, copper and clay works really nicely together.

Polyurethane pine counter tops with copper and handmade clay tile back splashes.

How To Polish Copper: Cut a lemon or lime in half and rub it over a small area of the tarnished copper. Using medium sand paper, scrub the citrus-juice-covered copper until the clean color comes through. Wipe with a towel and then with the lime wedge again. Repeat with lime and sand paper until its all clean. Then use fine sandpaper to smooth out the scratches you made. Wipe clean and try not to make fingerprints or get it wet. Spray with clear lacquer to prevent further tarnish. Outside!
Here is the art desk at the front of the bus being worked on.
I like making little shelves. This is in the shower room by the sink.
Eats:  Trying to use up the tomatoes I froze last summer for freezer downsizing, I made lasagna with layers of home made tomato sauce with veggies, and tofu blended with garlic pesto (also made last summer and froze). 
Phil installed the oven in the bus by drilling a hole in the floor and running the hose down and out to a propane tank outside. I love our little stove, all the burners and oven work perfectly. It really was a great Criagslist find. 
I didn't make lasagna in the bus oven. but I did re-heat it in the bus oven for our lunch.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Water and oil

This is the driveway to get to the bus. It's 2 feet under water! I tried wading through but the water was too deep for my rain boots and I didn't want icy wet feet all day.
 The water will go down in a few days though, so hopefully the bus won't be trapped here. Otherwise we may have to revise our design for a house-boat-bus.

In other water related news, Phil finished most of the electric work and he started plumbing. We are going to use CPVC pipes and we ordered the fresh water tank, pump, and accumulator. So far we just have sink drains installed, but more on that later, when we actually have something to show....

I made some more progress on the walls. Sanding and oiling the bedroom and bathrooms. We are using boiled linseed oil only. I like the natural look of the wood, and the oil really brings out its beauty without drastically changing the color or making it too shiny. This is also a much less toxic way of treating the wood, which makes me happy.

Here is the bedroom doorway, with temporary light fixtures. The wall on the left has a coating of linseed oil and the one on the right hasn't been oiled yet.

And here we have the almost finished composting toilet room.

I took a trip to the ReStore in Springfield, MA and got some funky old light fixtures. I'm not sure if we will use all of them or not, but its a fun store to shop at. All this and a toilet seat for under 17 bucks (not including the cat, who just can't resist a photo shoot).

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Its Electric!

One month to go! We originally set the goal for April to start living in the bus because I wanted to be living full time on the land where I will be starting a farm. But plans have changed and I will be starting a new job at the Farm School (farmschool.org) in northern MA in April. So now we HAVE to finish the bus so we can move it to MA and start living in it before April 1st! There's still SO much to do and time is ticking....

The biggest new thing this week is the wiring. Phil wired almost the whole bus so now we have lights and outlets in the walls. No more extension cords all over the floor while we work, we can just plug right into the walls!
He put outlets under the bed too, so when we install the water tank and heater and pump, they will have a place to plug into right where they are stored.
There is a breaker box on the wall in the closet and we are still using electricity from a house, but we  plan on using solar panels eventually.

Phil used stranded wires that he fed into a flexible metal "greenfield" (empty, no wires inside) jacket. We went with this method because we don't want mice-chewed wires. And when living in a bus in the country, there will be mice!
He then cut a bunch of holes in the walls, ran jacketed wires inside, and installed all the outlets and lights.
 We used over 100 ft of the jacketed wire, and we will have about 10 lights with switches and 6-8 outlets throughout the bus.
Under the bed where the water tank will go. The water heater and pump can plug in here.

Here is the kitchen pantry in progress. I used some of the left-over 9" paneling from the bedroom to make the shelves and they are supported with scrap pieces of 2x4s. They actually seem pretty strong. Now I just need more white paint and we are good to go. Yes, we piggies need a lot of space for food. snort.