Sunday, July 15, 2012

Is building a house realistic? I'm not sure at this stage in my life!

My little dream home!
I've held on to that dream for so long that it's hard to let go but I'm having second thoughts. My health isn't what it once was and I'm not sure I could take care of the landscaping and maintenance. Time for another reality check, is it?

I also wanted a house that was from 800-1000 sq.ft. (which the above plans are) and trying to find land that doesn't require something bigger is proving to be a challenge. Did I mention that it also needs to be affordable? Quite a dilemma it is!

I'm presently living in an apartment that is approximately 500 sq. ft. Nice for just me but when I have family here, it's a little tight. Not good for entertaining that's for sure and talk about hobbies! There isn't room for my sewing stuff!

Sigh - what to do?

I've considered moving to Ohio. I just insured my car and it's outrageous. Just across the border in Ohio, my son has two cars insured full coverage for less than a third of what I'm paying. It would make quite a difference on my limited income! Still, land there isn't cheap either.

I've considered a mobile home but what I could afford would require rehabbing. I'm not up for that! Sounds like the next best thing would be a condo or apartment with two bedrooms.

Guess I've talked myself out of building....sad, sad!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

It's called getting a grip

I have a few things to take care of in my personal life - nothing major, mind you. Just getting my shit together, fast and big time!

The last six years I've faced major financial difficulties. Became ill and couldn't work - faced homelessness and all that comes along with it. It was an eye opener and believe me, it can happen to anyone. Even me.

After being in a shelter and then living in a county home, I finally was able to get a section 8 to help with housing expenses. Hard to talk about and even harder to admit to anyone let alone the whole world on the net.

I think it explains my obsession to own land, a house or even a mobile home. I also have to be realistic. I'm now on SSDI and have a stable income even if it is at the poverty level. Still, it's better than the $262 per month I received on state disability. How do you live on that? It was difficult to say the least.

I am starting to come out of a relapse. I'll never be 100% again and I've come to terms with it. Never be able to work at a job I loved and went to school for which was the longest three years of my life. Up until my last relapse in February, I thought I could do something to bring in an income but between this illness and the resulting relapses, I've finally realized it's just not going to happen. Evidently Social Security knows that too now because I was finally awarded my disability.

So given my circumstances, where do I start? Coming to terms with my present situation - that's where! I have a stable income now but I own nothing besides a little furniture - which was free - and the clothes in my closet.

Yep - that's it! And it's a sight more than I owned a few years ago. I'm not feeling sorry for myself but I do want my life in some semblance of normalcy. The question is - what's that?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I have this idea about a home....

I've wanted my own home as long as I can remember. I worked as a nurse and started traveling in 2001 to save money to buy land and build. Well, illness got in the way and I was side tracked for a while.

Now I've seen an opportunity to buy a lot cheap in northern Michigan. I live just between Detroit and Toledo off of I-75 at the moment. People in this neck of the woods frequently travel to the northern part of lower Michigan on the weekends for recreation. I think I'll be one of those people but I'm going to live there.

I'm going to do a site plan and build in stages. First would be getting the utilities, well and septic there and then I'm going to build a garage apartment to live in. After the house is built, I can use it as income property. I guess I can't do that after all!

The garage/apartment plan is at and is called Comfortable Cottage or plan 10-156. I've been checking into the simple life and this would certainly fit the bill for a while.

I've looked up the building requirements and am impressed and surprised at all the regulations. No white siding - it has to have a natural look with earth tone colors. The lot is treed and you can't simply tear them down - each tree removal has to be approved by the POA. A section of the restrictions:
and to minimize the cutting of healthy trees. Building details consistent with this character are moderately steep roofs, moderate overhangs, brick, stone, stucco, wood or wood-grained siding, softer colors such as earth tones, and avoidance of
plain rectangular shapes. Other buildings on a Property Unit should be architecturally similar to that of the residence. Landscaping, including replanting of trees, should maintain the maximum number of healthy trees consistent with good forest management, safety and providing reasonable light for plants and ground cover. The Association has the authority to determine conformance with these guidelines as described in the above paragraph
POA Restrictions POA Website, MOA Building Manual.

Thank goodness I like the area and the thought that has gone behind these reg's! The minimum size home to build is 1200 sq. ft.

No dwelling shall be permitted on any Property Unit in the Restricted Property unless the living area thereof is at least 1,200 square feet with a minimum first floor living area of at least 1,000 square feet. The site plan shall include provisions for at least a two-car garage.
No building on any Lot within a plat or divided land for use as a single-family residence shall be erected nearer than 50 feet to the front Lot line (side facing the street) or nearer than 20 feet to the side Lot line, or nearer than 35 feet to the rear Lot line unless otherwise specified in the individual declaration for the Land Development in question
because of unique conditions for that Land Development
More on the sewer and septic restrictions:

all septic tanks and tile fields shall be located on the roadside or front of the dwelling to facilitate hookup to municipal sewer when it becomes available or, because of site limitations, with the specific approval of Northwest Michigan Community Health Agency, in an optional location.
3000 sq. ft. huh? I wonder what my lot is?

the area of the septic tank and tile field, excluding the area of all required lot boundary required setbacks, driveway areas and required setbacks of septic tank and tile fields from house, shall contain not less than a “net” area of three thousand (3,000) square feet of surface land area suitable for installation of septic tank and tile field. The purpose of this requirement and restriction is to provide for adequate space in which to relocate a septic tank and/or tile file in the same general area in case of failure of same
 shall require as a condition of such approval the above referred
to three thousand (3,000) “net” square feet of land for septic tank and tile field area. This requirement may be modified or waived by the Northwest Michigan Community Health Agency
I've looked at quite a few POA reg's but this is the first I've seen that specifies the size of the well:

water wells drilled on individual Property Units shall utilize a casing of at least four-inch outside diameter and the well screen in each case shall be installed at least 100 feet below the land surface and at least 50 feet below the water table unless
otherwise approved by the Northwest Michigan Community Health Agency
It further goes on to tell you that you have to draw a permit for well and septic before any clearing, driveway installation begin. Also, you have six months to get the outside finished from the time of starting:

All buildings erected in the Restricted Property shall have their approved exterior finishes completed within six months from the date construction of such buildings shall have commenced.
You know - I'm not sure why but this just doesn't sit too well. These restrictions I would have chosen myself when building - right down to the well size - but having a governmental agency tell me that I have to is a little unsettling.

Would I move there though? You betcha! They will also protect my investment and prevent it from becoming an eyesore. 

Resources for building in cold weather climates: - an owner-builder site giving instruction from start to finish. A self-build site.
Building America Cold Climate Guide - best practices using energy sciences.
Affordable Zero Energy Homes - from National Renewal Energy Laboratory.
Building Profile Very Cold Climate - from
Building Science Pontiac Plans - I don't care for the plans themselves but I can use the details to make sure I get it right!
Comfort in a very cold climate - ditto on the plans!
Green Building Advisory - an article about drafts.
Cold and very cold climate publications - from Building America.

I'll update this post with the site plan after I've completed it!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Cleaning out my closet - where do I start?

Nothing worthwhile is easy!
I've long held on to clothes that don't fit, look good nor are in style - whatever that is. When I didn't have an income, I saved all clothes that fit me - whether they were flattering or not.

I'm moving soon and think it's time to clean out the closet. What do I keep? How much do I really need? I started purging my closet a few months ago but I know I still have a long way to go.

I want to reduce my possessions down to what I can realistically manage, what I need and love. How am I going to do this? I'm not sure yet and will need to do research!

I've started reading the Simple Living Blog and Becoming Minimalist. I've had a change in life style in the last five years and it reminded me of what's truly important. Possessions and "things" aren't what's important in life - it's looking around and appreciating the simple things. The everyday things you may be taking for granted because you're working so hard to get ahead.

When was the last time you watched a sunrise? Listened to the birds early in the morning without having to rush around for work? I've found that I didn't stop to appreciate the beauty around me and although I didn't have much else at the time, a perfect sunset or sunrise made my day. How sad it is when you're so busy getting ahead that real life passes you by without notice.

When my kids were home and I was younger, I didn't take the time to set goals, identify values or prioritize my time and activities. I was so busy just raising them that living intentionally wasn't a thought.

Now I'm older and hopefully wiser. Living with less is important to me so that I'll have time to live intentionally. That's where cleaning out my closet comes in - it's the first step for me to live a simpler life intentionally.

Project 333 is something new to me - living with 33 things - garments, accessories and shoes for 3 months? Pack up the rest and put it away? Hmmmmmm, could I do this? I'm not sure. I wonder how others have divided up the most essential 33 items in their closets?

They suggest that you keep only the things you love, that fit and that's flattering. If you've lost weight - alter it or get rid of it. Okay.... I won't have much left in that case! I think I would have to pull out my most favorite things, make outfits with them and go from there. Another blog about minimalism that I think you'd enjoy: The Everyday Minimalist.

Wish me luck!

Six Years Later and Here I Am!

I have other blogs - one about sewing and another about God knows what! I need a place where I can write thoughts on no particular subject.

I've deleted old posts of the family and about my adventures of being a travel nurse. The pics of the family have no business being here even though they are on Facebook and other social sites, I'd rather not have them here.

My days of a travel nurse are long over and I don't want reminders. Don't get me wrong - I loved traveling but my life is completely different now and reminders of the past are sometimes painful. This is one of those times.

You'll find recipes, my struggle to live a minimalist life and whatever else comes to mind here. Thoughts - opinions and ramblings of a general nature. No scripts - no following subject matter - just whatever pops into mind.

Sounds good to me!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Starbucks Copycat Recipes

Anyone who knows me well knows that I absolutely love Starbucks. I'd be rich if I had invested in stock a few years ago. You may also know that I've adopted a more frugal lifestyle so that I can build my house.

I found this website and I haven't tried any recipes yet but I will when I have time. I didn't want to lose the link!

Starbucks Copy Kat Recipes

Saturday, January 21, 2006

I Watched a Rerun of Ghost Last Night

Ghost was a popular movie right after my husband passed away. I remember watching it in the first months after he died and I cried from beginning to end.

Tears welled up a few times last night. Tim's death was unexpected as well. Maybe it's one of the reasons I'm still single - he is a hard image to live up to. I don't think of him as often as I did when it first happened but when I see this movie - it still affects me.

I guess it's because I know that could never happen in real life. It's as if I'm living the loss again when I see that movie! I don't believe in ghosts but once in a while, it's a nice fantasy.

Right after he died, I had this dream that was as real as if he were there. A very personal dream and I remember it well.