Moving Along…

25 Mar

Hello friends. Thanks so much for supporting this blog over the last couple years. It’s been a LONG time since I’ve written here and I haven’t felt right about posting here for much longer than that. Within a year my thinking evolved a lot around the topics of consumerism, especially responsible/conscious consumerism, so the old content and title of this site are no longer relevant, and are even slightly offensive to my new perspective.

So I’m retiring it. Check out my new digs over at where I’m allowing myself a lot of room to grow (literally & figuratively). A Sustainable Mind is primarily a space to discuss the mindset of sustainability. I’ve been considered (by others) to be a tree hugger for years and it was only when I reflected on my principles and realized that I truly AM passionate about the environment that I started taking conscious action to be eco-friendly. Before that it was just recycling because it was the right thing to do but I was still somehow disconnected. Now I believe that true & consistent sustainability starts with core beliefs and not just with individual actions.

I will also be interviewing sustainability enthusiasts on a regular basis starting in April. Writing at ASM is an exciting challenge and I hope you will join me. See you on the flip side!

Marjorie Alexander

March 24th, 2013


What’s the Deal with (tiny house) Roofing!?

10 Sep

I’ve been spending a lot of time considering what kind of roof I will have.

My tiny house design with a Box Gable Roof

In my design I have a pretty traditional gable roof or a box gable roof technically since it hangs over the open porch. I feel like I want to go with the typical symetrical slopped roof because I think it might be a bit more aerodynamic and may be easier to drive through areas with low lying trees. I’ve seen the Lean-to roof that Macy is building and blogging about over at

Macy’s Lean-to roof at

Then there is Jay Shafer’s Fencl design which features a Dutch Gable roof or should I say double-Dutch (no pun intended…really).

Jay Shafer’s Double-Dutch Gable Roof

Or the gabled roofs with a raised gable roof pitch in the center or a gambrel roof like these.

Gable roof with higher pitch in the middle (left) and a Gambrel roof (right)

At the moment I like my design but #1 I have yet to actually step foot in a tiny house to feel it out and #2 I want mine to be a bit more aero dynamic because I will be traveling a lot with it. I can’t really get a feel for the interior space, headroom, various window heights and door positioning without being in one so I may take a trip to the nearest TH with occupants willing to give me a tour in the next month or so.

What are other people’s experiences with roof shapes? Is there any wear on the hitch side of the roof edge where the wind hits it? In this picture there is a roof end cap but I see a lot that don’t appear to have any extra protection there.

Is high speed wind conditions an issue or no? Obviously there are hurricane or tornado winds much faster than my highway driving speed but when you are combining high wind and highway travel say on the drive between Los Angeles and Palm Springs where they have a HUGE wind farm (which is obviously there for a reason) or along the Grapevine on your way north out of Los Angeles County where high wind is an issue for any vehicle. I’m not worried about the entire structure because well…it’ll be 7-8,000 pounds. But I just wonder what the best roof shape and installation practice is for these situations to ensure it wont loosen over time any more than normal roof wear and tear.

I mentioned a youtube video where a gentleman’s tiny house survived a tornado and it held up very well. his roof looks like this.

It may be a bit hard to see (couldn’t find a better or clearer angle) but he has end caps and a ridge cap on top. He does not have anything on the bottom edges and I don’t even know if they have anything to put there but it is something I’ve thought about.

Anyway, does anyone have any advice, thoughts or considerations for tiny house roofing.

Also Please check out my new voluntary simplicity documentary film Simple by Design and please donate to and help spread the word about our Kickstarter Fundraiser. I will be raising $28,500 to build and filming the construction of my tiny house as well as interview other voluntary simplicity supporters and create day-in-the-life segments of them. Learn more about the film and the project at

Thanks for your support!

Getting (re)Inspired

8 Sep

Somehow in all my Kickstarter madness I put all my eggs and dendrites into the ‘go project go’ basket that I forgot, if only for a moment, to let myself be inspired. One thing that I so loved about rediscovering tiny houses and falling in love with voluntary simplicity back in February of this year is the wealth of examples of people that have come before, done what I want to do and lived to tell the story: blog about it, take pics, have tiny conversations in abbreviations, acronyms and incomplete sentences via Twitter and Facebook…you know…

I’ve been so consumed with my new 9-5 and getting the exact science of getting a Kickstarter fully funded that I forgot to have fun, take breaks, feed my tiny house obsession daily and occasionally…eat.

I’ve consumed 2 packs of gum in a week leaving the right side of my tongue completely raw. I felt like a chain smoker, getting the other one primed and ready before I was finished with the last. I don’t even like gum! Nerves I guess.

Other than picking a college, going on Semester at Sea or deciding to move to Los Angeles I feel like this is one of those defining moments for me. No huge immediate change, but you’ve made the jump and things will never be the same. I’m excited, nervous, emotional and giddy as all heck.

Anyway, I’m remembering what it feels like to search 20 variations of “tiny house on wheels” on Google instead of “final cut 7 FX render error” or “Kickstarter statistics”.

So what am I inspired by this morning? Let me show you…

Jenine Alexander’s tiny house cost her less than $3,500 to build. I’ve read her story a dozen times but now that I’m on my way to raising the money I’ll be re-examining how she did it and scouring Craig’s List for my own share of free or almost free recycled building materials.

Macy Miller, who’s been out of commission for a bit, is back on her feet and working on her tiny house…and a shopping bag hammock. Very cool. Glad to see you up and on your feet again Macy! and their entry “Learning to Slow Down“. It’s a hard lesson for me and one that most people I’ve lived with, worked with or dated probably don’t even believe I am making headway on but I have. I’ve learned to say NO to a lot of things, be a little more patient and get out a bit more. This blog is a good reminder to do that.

This is the home of blogger, entrepreneur and creator of, Tammy Strobel and her husband

This is one of the first tiny houses I’ve seen that has a front that looks almost identical to my design: the covered porch, using the above area as interior space (I’m surprised how many tiny house designs don’t do this), windows flanking the door and a gabled roof. This is the home of the creators, awesome site.

Small House, Big Adventure is a blog written by a grad student who is building a tiny house as part of her Master of Science in Environmental Policy and Management. I love this website because I’m very engineering minded and they really outline and take pictures of everything, all the nooks and crannies and typically “boring stuff” that I totally dig.

Becoming Minimalist – pretty self explanatory but I really appreciate the sincerity and relatability of this blog. Just good, REAL people. Not all blogs are like this so I think if you are new to simplicity/minimalist culture this is a great start.

A friend once told me to spend one hour each day doing something for me. At the time I wasn’t making any disposable income and simply watching tiny house videos online effectively made my day so that’s what I did. For one hour each day I would just ogle and drool on Tiny House Swoon, Tiny Rev, Tumbleweed (even though I’ve probably memorized every single page on that site), browse Alex’s Tiny House Talk archives and surf the tiny house blogosphere.

Somehow in the planning of my dream I forgot to actually dream. Now that I’ve got my groove back I am officially redeclaring myself a tiny house geek. (almost) Everything else is filler.

– Half-Price

And we have liftoff!

7 Sep

Oyi,vie! What a month. Finally got the kickstarter up and running. It’s taken a lot of resources to get it launched so I will be back to my regular posting sometime this weekend. Stay tuned!

PS. Thanks to Jonathan for my very first donation. Thx Jonathan!

The Simple by Design Kickstarter Project Page



Kickstarter, a step in the right direction

25 Jul

I dont know if I have ever been so nervous in my whole life. Possibly because this is the first time in a long time that I feel I am on the road to something good; that simultaneously feeds my soul, helps others and is an outlet for my creativity. I finally took the plunge and started the Kickstarter process (and it IS a serious process, even just to get the project live takes a long time) which has seemed to be the release for a blockage for everything else in my life. I’ve been using work, editing, transcribing, general fidgeting and fiddling, to avoid starting and the second I decided to GO everything else fell in line. Two new clients, got offered unexpected money from someone else…things are just moving right along…

In terms of the house, my design is done although over the last couple months I’ve considered modifying it a bit more. The budget is as accurate as it will be considering I’m using as many recycled and green building materials as possible. I’ve made a few visits to the local Habitat for Humanity Restore. By the way…they have AWESOME stuff. Some of it’s brand new, left over I assume from large orders at nearby building sites. Recessed and track lighting in perfect condition. Doors and windows galore. Sconces in unopened boxes. And I’ve got 3 resources for recycled lumber for interior and exterior siding that I have yet to visit.

This is the camera we used on a project I produced back in ’09. I’m hiding behind the camera (you can see a sliver of my brown skin & blue shirt, lol). For my upcoming doc I’ll probably choose something a bit more manageable 😛

As for the project, it has grown so much bigger than I could have ever imagined and I still have yet to start the fundraising! What started out as me documenting a building project with my filmmaker friends has turned into a full fledged go-green/sustainable living documentary, with a growing list of interviewees, a good friend and AMAZING cinematographer has signed on to shoot it, and I’ll be taking the house on tour to teach sustainable workshops in LA communities and schools starting next year. Things grow fast when you’re on the right path!

So anyway, lots more to do with the Kickstarter prep but I’m a lot less nervous since I had a gift brainstorming session with a friend. So there will be some REALLY awesome stuff in addition to the typical finished DVDs that most film Kickstarter projects offer.

As for interviewees my lips are sealed at the moment for who I’m contacting but if you or anyone you know personally or in the tiny house/sustainable living blogosphere might be interested in sharing their story please do let me know. You can read more about the film specifics here. Check it out and see if your story is a good fit for the film!


26 May

Something overcame me last night, a moment of weakness, and I watched a film that seemed…just kinda angry. Well, not the film but the characters. It was funny, honest, sad and quirky but definitely like watching a war of the classes in a microcosm. I fell asleep halfway through and finished watching it this morning. Then I received a rather unpleasant text, kinda angry…just like the movie. What a downer…

These days I am a decently happy person. I’m pretty even keeled, some would call me mellow and although I am told I’m a difficult read, I’m standing somewhere on the more happy half of the emotional scale most of the time. But I remember the first time I realized I was an unhappy person. Not angry, just an angsty teen, turned hermity college student, turned workaholic LA resident. There was a point, I honestly can’t remember when, either way it was was several years ago, at which I became more happy and therefore noticed more often when I was in fact unhappy. The juxtaposition of existing resentfully and living joyously, even if only for moments few and far between was enlightening and I’ve been mostly-effortlessly evolving into a more happy person ever since. I look back on that moment and I am grateful.

So after finishing the movie and receiving that text I first decided that today’s movie would be something more optimistic, The Future We Will Create: Inside the World of TED, which has been in my Netflix queue for a while. Second, choosing to stew in my totally freakin doneness with the whole situation for 10 minutes, I punched out a few paragraphs on my laptop to vent and simply ignored the text.

 All the while I’m having an internal dialogue with my Higher Self:

“My communication is the response I get. The text topic is relevant and actionable but the tone has nothing to do with me. Nothing happening in this moment has anything to do with this moment but is past experiences being projected onto this moment. But each and every moment is a new moment and there is an infinite number of possibilities for how I can respond, what I can say and the actions I can take. With all these things in mind what will I choose to do next?”

It reminded me to simply be more nice, more often. There is a moment in every situation, whether it be talks between nations, in businesses interactions or between family members, where communications can either stay negotiable or can jump to a more emotional, tense interaction or totally fall apart and become hostile. There is always a decision made on the part of an individual, group or between groups that takes it to that next level, good or bad.

What if I chose to respond in the same tone I was approached with? The possibilities and ridiculousness of it all actually makes me giddy to think about. To be so intensely conscious of myself and my thoughts in that moment I imagined myself and that relationship after a negative response…it didn’t look good even though I would have felt vindicated. Then I turning the channel, so to speak, and in living out the higher choice decided to take action and correct the issue, half of which had nothing to do with me and just not respond to the text. I’ve been all smiles ever since. And the great thing about it is that it IS a choice and all choices have a chain reaction. After this choice I reacted to 3 other communications this morning that had the potential to become negative or tense or difficult and just decided to be nice, generous and grateful. And hopefully those positive interactions will multiply.

I look back on the last week and I’ve had these “higher choice” moments a few times but was unconscious that I was doing it. Which means that I am integrating it. And that makes me happy…

There are an infinite number of possibilities of what you can do today, what you can say and how you can say it. And whatever you do will cause a chain reaction that will affect this planet more that you know. What choices will you make?


Tiny House Film & Furniture

27 Apr

I’d almost forgotten the allure of being on a film set; the butterflies the night before Day 1 (I could never get a decent night’s sleep for fear of sleeping through my alarm and missing my call time), the build up to “Action” and then the silence as the camera rolls, the beauty of a finished film that took dozens of individuals and often years of hard work to bring to life. All wrapped up in a seemingly neat little 80-120 minute package. It’s been over 18 months since my last real film project and I haven’t really missed it. I’d been scarred by narratives too many times and decided to go industrial/corporate for a while. Oddly enough I’m now on set three days straight working for friends in LA.

When I posted my Tiny House Plans on my Facebook page I got a very warm reception from friends and family, found out an old acquaintance was also planning to build her own tiny house and even got a few offers from friends to help out. I was very surprised. This combined with the fact that all my friends are creative types, mostly filmmakers, and all will probably want to document it at some point, I figure…why not just go ahead and do what I do best: Produce a movie.

Work is good, income is great, working on projects I care about…Priceless. So with that in mind I have some plans in the works to bring my love of film and my obsession for tiny houses together. I have a lot of meetings to schedule to make this project go so more on that later.

Lucky for me in the midst of all my busy-ness I have a MLHP unposted entries backlog. The post below is from Friday the 13th.

Yesterday was a long and tiny day. I did admittedly spend all day creating floor plans on Icovia, researching furniture, fixtures and appliance sizes…really just trying to get all my measurements down so I could settle on a general floor plan. I also have a few pages in my idea journal devoted to tiny house add-on & efficiency ideas: hidden storage and storage tips, ladder designs, skylight ideas, multi-use interior design aspects, furniture, etc.

Speaking of furniture…I found a lot of awesome seating options along the way…and a couple really great blogs. The first blog, Small Space Living, is now defunct but still has all the old content up, including the 3 designs below, and is a really great resource. The other, Ikea Hackers, has great ideas about how to mix & match, modify, etc. to create exactly what your space needs and not just what the catalogue dictates. Two thumbs up.

I was introduced to cubed furniture yesterday through my blog surfing and two designs really caught my attention:

The first one is a tad big, about 28 x 28 x 28 in. if my approximate measurements from the picture are correct. Since it’s only 3 furniture pieces and all seem to be geometrically straight forward a properly equiped & patient DIY type would be able to put this together in a couple long weekends. Plywood, wood glue, nail gun & compressor, jigsaw and your other run of the mill tools along with a steady hand could get this done no problem.

The second is smaller, more efficient in its design size to seat capacity ratio and way more complex. Would be much harder to recreate and probably worth simply buying. It would also make a great ottoman in its constructed form if you have a cushion for the top. If my math serves I believe it’s just small enough to go under the square ottoman covers that Ikea sells.

At the end of the day I probably wouldn’t use either but it was interesting to consider. Now here is one that I think is actually worth a serious look. Pretty great.

A word on couches. I found a lot of places selling day beds, futons, convertible couches…but none seemed to really fit what I was looking for. In this video you see a tiny house with a bathroom on one side and kitchen on the other (which makes for a more narrow hallway). With a typical shower stall on the left that makes the left wall space 36+” deep which when a couch or bench is introduced in the main area you dont feel like you lost any space because the couch, typically 34-38 deep, is flush with the hallway wall. In my design (bathroom on the hitch end, 24″ deep kitchen on one side & 24″ deep storage on the other a typical couch or even a “wall hugger version” seemed a bit obtrusive. So an idea for a convertible couch popped into my head. I dont think it super unique but I haven’t found one like it yet and certainly not in the size I want. 30″ max from wall, 6 ft wide. It would convert to a queen sized bed. And a second design popped in my head earlier this morning that would be very easy to assemble with some welding knowledge and scrap metal and still convert to a queen sized bed…so I looked into classes and there is a workshop a few miles away that does evening classes at a reasonable price and has open workshop days. AWESOME! This may actually be my first successful tiny house project since I’m still in search of a building location (interior or exterior) and gathering funds. I wonder what else in my tiny house I could weld…wall sconces for the interior, porch light housing for the exterior…maybe the railing on my porch can be a custom design or reworked ornate fence pieces instead of wood….ohhhhhh! Good idea! All this can be made from scrap metal and lots of elbow grease.

With a basic welding class and a few trips to the hardware store and a local scrap yard I could make this couch frame for under 100 I think. Foam for cushions I’ll still have to research and I have a few friends that can sew me cushion covers with zippers. Or I could just give the specs to someone else and have them make it for me. But what’s the fun in that?! I build myself a house to suit my own needs but not my a couch? I couldn’t back away from such a challenge.

~ Half-Price