Kentucky Home

After we decided to move on from our Indiana life, we began looking around to see if there was any land within our financial reach that we could handle on our own.  Having spotted a couple of places on the “interwebs” that looked promising, we inquired about the ones we found online. The realtor we were connected with was really awesome at explaining what may or may not work based on what we were looking for.  One of the spots had a little cabin on it which coincidentally, was in almost the stage of build that our a-frame was in! Laura, our rep kindly let us know that the place it was in may not always be passable in inclement weather, and it was such a large plot of land that it might not be the best place for us, who would only be there on weekends.  She said that it would be very likely that folks would wander through when we were gone. Thanks and no thanks! 

Once we narrowed down the list, we set up an appointment to go look at a few of them.  The first stop was to look at a house on a little more than acres of land. It was explained to us ahead of time that the place needed some work.   I was expecting the worst and totally did not want to get my hopes up since both the price and the location seemed perfect. Surely, it would not be what we wanted, but it seemed like a great starting spot.  

The Farmhouse

About a week later, on my birthday, we took the hour and a half ride down the AA highway in Kentucky to take a look. It was a drizzly morning, but pretty warm for mid-December.  It was apparent from the landscape that were in Kentucky. The hills and rushing streams escorted us the entire way there. Our first glimpse of the property included a short ride up the perfectly level gravel driveway- a far cry from the steep, choppy driveway that we had to navigate each time we went to the cabin..  It was a dream! The house was white with a green metal roof- probably the same roofing material that we used on the cabin. Was this a sign? Once inside the house, we could see the remnants of years of history. Wallpaper and paneling lined the walls, old encyclopedias were stashed in the corner of one of the rooms and an old farmhouse staircase led to the upstairs.  

Nestled on a touch over four acres, the property lines were defined by an old railroad track on one side and a rushing creek along an open field on the other.  There was a barn with electric and water in addition to a mobile home and a couple of other “out” buildings.  

We had the pleasure of meeting the son of the previous owners, who had passed away not too long ago, but who had lived into their nineties.  He shared stories about growing up there and how they used to farm tobacco in the open field. His dad raised pigs in the barn. The feelings and memories were warm.  

After the tour, our realtor took us to see some other properties in the area, based on what we were looking for.  We saw some beautiful acreage with some spectacular views and they all had the ability to add electric and water pretty easily.  One of the properties even had an old log cabin upon it, which had been discovered when the owner started demoing the house. The wood, by our realtor’s account isn’t even around anymore; it is extinct! There was even an old stone fireplace with arrowheads embedded in the facade.  

All of the properties had no restrictions, meaning that we would be free to build, say, another a-frame cabin or put an amish barn on them.  They all had a minimum purchase of about 10 acres and had a nice mix of woods and open field. We went home with a top three but the farmhouse was the one that spoke the loudest, and in fact is still on center stage right now.  We made an offer!

Homework: Keep Moving Forward

Be ready to turn the page. You need something to look forward to.  Life is to short to mull over the past. Learn from it, but then move on.  

After we got home from looking at all of the different properties, all we could talk about was all of the things we could do at the farmhouse.  We could plant flowers, grow vegetables, host events, and do Airbnb. We can bring the cats, like right away if we get it! There is plenty of room for or family to sleep there with us when they come to visit.  The list just goes on and on! Leaving the cabin was a hard choice to make, but having a plan for the future that we can visualize is what really gets me excited!   

Keep searching for those things that make you want to get up in the morning.  Those goals are the ones that get you through a hard day at work or help you face a difficult situation that you would otherwise avoid.  Currently in this holding pattern, it has been hard getting through some recent weekends when I am missing working on challenging projects. To help me along, I ordered some seeds that I will plant at the new place and we have been dreaming up a storm about the things we can do at our little farm, if we get it.  That, my friends, is what got me up this morning. Stay tuned!

The Gamblers

We spent a weekend in Las Vegas not too long ago and it was ah-ma-zing!  The hotel we stayed at was Mandalay Bay in a gorgeous room. For thirty bucks a piece we scored a day pass in their beautiful spa.  Call me sheltered, naive, or uncultured, but in my opinion, it was magical. You got a giant robe and sandals to wear while visiting, along with a locker and all of the towels you could want.  There were greek or roman looking fountains spilling into hot tubs and a cold tub at the center of the spa, all surrounded by lounge chairs. We spent our time going between the dry heat room and the eucalyptus steam room, then to the cold pool to bring it all together.  

We went once in the morning to have a coffee and a sweat, then again before they closed after a day on the strip. It was perfect.  

Spa lobby, no cameras allowed inside!

We did not gamble that much, but threw a few dollars into some video poker, keno, and a Goonies movie themed slot machine, which at least gave you some extra steps to complete in between spins to extend your money a little bit.  

I ate some of the most delicious macaroni and cheese from the hotel room service menu and we left a half eaten plate of shoestring french fries because we could not finish them all!  What happens in Vegas… Our last stop of the night was to surprise some friends who got married that weekend at their hotel. We took the bus to Circus Circus, gave them a hug, then headed back to our hotel only to miss our stop and walk a mile back after getting to see the Welcome to Vegas sign.  

Perriee is the absolute best travel buddy I could ever dream to have.  We just have so much fun together everywhere we go. I know that anything that life deals out is automatically going to be easier and better if she is there to share it with.  

Saying that, I can now share that we are going to be leaving our spot where the a-frame cabin is standing.  Over the last year, it has become clear that although the exact spot where the cabin sits along with the tipi is absolutely magical, it is not the land that shines, but our energy when we are there together.  When we have thought about our future there and the things we want to do there, we have had some difficulty envisioning it in alignment with the what the other family might want to do in the future. 

We started poking around on the internet and have found that it might even be possible for us to find our own place.  I had not even considered that as a possibility since we started this journey over two years ago. Because of that, we are moving on.  We were at a point where we could invest a good amount of time and money into the cabin, but decided to first talk with the group about some things that have been weighing heavily on my mind for a long time now.  I have not mustered the courage to bring it up until now. Once the words were out it was clear what the best move should be, and it is, which is to leave. We are all adults and have found ourselves to be different in ways that just won’t mesh as a lifestyle and it is ok.  It is neither good nor bad. We are different and are all mature enough to recognize it. Things are a little raw at the moment, but I truly am looking forward to watching us all grow from this, even if it just through an Instagram post. I know Perriee and I feel a great sense of relief over it and I hope everyone else does too. 

We don’t have any regrets.  Our time there has brought us so much.  It has been one, very long, team building session for the two of us and we have emerged stronger from it all.  And it is not ending! We are still Making Time for Tipi.  That is not ending. In fact, it is very active as I sit here writing this post right now.  We can’t wait to take you on the next leg of the journey.    

Homework

Trust Your Gut:  Over the last couple of years I have found myself in some situations which were uncomfortable to me.  I am working on building up the courage to speak up for myself so eventually I was able to get out of them. The real practice is to have the ability to not get into those situations in the first place.  

As a child, I was constantly reminded to suck it up and deal with the situation at hand, no matter how uncomfortable it may have been.  My childhood was a bit of a roller coaster so I mastered the art of “grin and bear it” amidst some pretty heavy stuff. At the time, that was super useful.  I was a kid and had little control over decisions that were made on my behalf so a good survival technique was to make the most of a bad situation and keep pushing forward.  

In my new found forties (42 now, thank you very much), I am realizing that as an independent adult, I don’t have to just “go along” with things that I can literally feel eating away at my gut.  I need to recognize that feeling early on and learn to say, “no” with intent. For those situations that I miss the signs, it is imperative that I face the discomfort head on, and move away from it as soon as possible.  That is so hard for me!!

Life is too short to waste on negativity that is doomed to persist.  Whether it is a toxic person, relationship, environment, or whatever, we need to be able to see that some things will not change no matter what.  That takes courage to do and is super scary for people like me. Hopefully a lot of you don’t have this courage deficit that I have. If you do, just practice.  Put yourself first. Know that the feeling of the freedom from that toxicity in your life is so much better than the feeling of marinating in it. Save yourself!  

As 2019 comes to a close, I can say that I feel pretty good about how it ended.  Last year on New Year’s Eve I made a promise to myself to have more confidence. Good job me.  Leaving the partnership with our friends where our spot is, Camp Good Enough, was one of the most difficult things that I have ever done but it has already opened up a space for better things and I am proud of that.  

I don’t know what lies ahead, but I will make sure it is interesting.  Happy New Year everyone! Happy new decade!  

You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em 

Know when to walk away and know when to run

You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table

There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealing’s done

The Gambler, Kenny Rogers

Heaters and fires and woodstoves, oh my!!

The temps are dropping for the season and we love staying in the cabin at now (as opposed to the tipi), so after our last night at the a-frame we decided to move forward on a heating solution. We settled on the Dyna Glo 20,000 btu propane space heater.  We believe it will be more than enough to heat up the cabin, once we get it up and running.  

Once again venturing into unknown territory, we did our YouTube research and bought a few parts that we thought we should use to get the propane flowing. Although we are clearly amateurs here, I guess I should not discount our experience with the one-pound propane green things, and Perriee did hook up our gas grill this summer.  But this time is all about indoor gas in a house.  We really don’t have a lot of room for error!  

What we noticed upon our research was that most people kind of half-assed their installations.  I mean, they did not have propane spewing out of their hoses or anything, but their processes were pretty far off of the manufacturer’s recommended instructions.  There was one kick ass family though, who rocked it out!  Really, the whole video is awesome from start to finish.  The guy gave a great supplies list demo, his partner (a bad ass woman) threaded it all together with their beautiful baby on her hip, and ultimately, did the final walkthrough to make sure he did it all right.  Ok, I don’t know these people, and I am making a lot of assumptions, but damn…

Per usual, we found our sweet spot somewhere in the middle of doing it “by the book” and doing it half assed!  We chose to hook up the propane hose that connects to the propane tank to a flexible gas pipe which connects to the heater.  Once we figure out for sure where the pipes need to be routed to, we will re-run some the gas lines with solid pipes. For now, however,  we can just push the propane hose through the roof and connect it to the pipe inside.  

When we went through this process, it sort of worked, but when we tested the leaks before firing the heater up (the ole dish soap and water trick).  We quickly found our line was not sealed. Perriee turned the gas on from the outside and I immediately heard the hissing of the gas on the inside. We soon came to understand that we were lacking a fitting and it would require a trip to the hardware store.  Being about 6:00 pm, I was miffed. It was already dark and the temp was dropping.  

For some reason, I was not feeling like sitting in the tipi for the night to keep warm by the wood stove that already had a nice fire burning within it.  I jumped into bed and covered myself up. Pouting, you may say. Luckily we had stopped back home in the city before heading to the cabin for “Big Blue”, the blanket.  Big Blue is this super heavy comforter that is what I imagine a weighted blanket to be like. It is both warm and heavy. So, I knew we werent going to be cold, but I was mad that we were stuck without a ready solution.  Perriee suggested that we make a fire outside and enjoy the evening. That was the tall glass of lemonade that I needed.  

I drug myself out of the bedand we collected some sticks and branches from around the homestead and made a beautiful fire.  The best part of it all was this video I took once the coyotes started howling in the night. They sounded a little too close, but it was spectacular to be witness to.  

In the morning, when I finally poked my head out from the cover of “Big Blue” ,  we huddled back up in the tipi for coffee and cast iron oatmeal. It is so funny how we are able to tolerate extremes when we need to.  I can’t wait until we get the heater going and have a warm space at the push of a button. That is fact. What I am worried about, is that once we experience the cabin with those comforts of heat-on-demand, we will feel like we can’t be comfortable in there anymore if we don’t have it.  

Enjoy the Best and the Worst

Totally digressing here, but it reminds me of the time that a friend of ours tried to fix our bathroom tub faucet.  He cranked it so hard that it broke the pipe. This all happened during the height of the recession- I think it was 2010 or so, and Perriee and I were consequently also super broke at the time.  To shut off the flow to that water, we had to shut off the water to the whole house. We had no money for a plumber and therefore no water. 

It was also really rainy at the time, so we started catching water in containers outside to supplement with bathing and such since it was there and plentiful.  We were like, “We don’t need water! We can just collect it all!” Once we finally saved enough money to call a plumber, fearing the cost would be out of our range of affordability, the water was back on.  It was awesome, and I cannot imagine collecting it all again to service the house. How quickly we adapt. I guess it is good that we are fast to adapt to either end of that spectrum of comfort.  

Homework: Women Can Build Shit Too! 

Expose girls to the home improvement projects, new construction, landscaping, D.I.Y. world from birth.  I truly hope you watch the looks of wonderment from the baby in the gas line video. She was soaking it all in and watching her mom hold her while she threaded the gas pipe moved me.   It was the best example of model parenting i may have ever witnessed.  

I am convinced that women should be exposed to all of the things that men are in order to form the baseline connections needed to utilize those brain cells, if needed, in the future.  I am not criticizing my upbringing by any means. I do remember my grandpa letting me hang out in his workshop and I watched him make some cool things, but I wish i had more knowledge to inform the things I am doing today.  I feel like it would all come a bit faster than it is. Yes, sillly, do the same for boys. Reinforce their desires to nurture and coddle like you do with the girls. Give everyone a fighting chance to be their best. Don’t limit children to those roles of,  “boys do yardwork and fix things while girls wash dishes and clean the house”.   

I understand that I am likely preaching to the choir here.  Lets face it- gender is a shaky construct getting ready to collapse.  THANK GODDESSES!! Lets just scrap all of those dumb buckets of his and hers and just teach all people to be their best.  It will be a simplified curriculum and so much more powerful for everyone.  

And remember: Women can build shit too! 

Off Grid Living

Cabin life is coming into focus, one screw at a time (we really are partial to screws as opposed to nails.  Amateur tip: they come out easily when you make a mistake!). We installed one of two small windows on the front of the house which will be topped off with solid triangle window panes. We have also started to dive into the whole process of finishing the roof off with fascia, j- channels and soffit stuff.  With the miracle of YouTube, the process is starting to look pretty easy! I think once that is done, we will be darn close to sealing off the ports of entry for the mice.  CLOSE. Not done, but damn close. 

As far as power goes down at the cabin, our main goal is to be fueled by the sun.  I think that is a very realistic goal, considering how much time we spend there currently and for how beautifully the sun hits the roof for a good part of the day.   We are in the market for the Goal Zero, Yeti 1400 which, after some research, we found out will support at least two pots of brewed coffee per weekend.  That, my friends, is amazing. Yes, we could walk up to the house to brew a pot, and we have. Yes, we can make a fire to boil water for the french press, and we have.  Yes, we can boil that water on a grill. Let me tell you, non- coffee drinkers, there is nothing more wonderful then pouring water into your coffee pot and flipping the switch for a fast cup first thing when you wake up.  No walking, no waiting, just brewing. It really is priceless. Be sure to click this link to see how powerful a coffee pot is compared to say, a full-size refrigerator.  A coffee-pot is small, yet mighty! 

Other than a coffee pot, other things we need electric for are simple:  phone and computer charging, power tool battery recharging, BioLite BaseLantern (our source of light in the cabin) recharging, and in the future, maybe a t.v.  We are going to need to be spending some serious time there for a t.v. to be given the gift of our precious electricity.  We are not quite set on a way to heat the cabin yet, but it will either be from propane or wood. 

What about refrigeration? We have recently been talking about getting one of those small cooler-type refrigerators.  Camp Addict has a good rundown of a few options.  But really, when the time comes, we may be best served with a mini-fridge running off of the solar powered generator.  We can go into more details about that later, but for now, we just pack a cooler. Over the summer when it was super hot, it was challenging to keep things at the right temps with a cooler full of ice, so recently we have been to trying to pack more food that does not even require refrigeration and it has been fun trying to come up with different menu options.

Below are some ideas of things that you can bring with you on your next off grid camping trip!  The freedom from ice is so liberating! The only catch for the things you cook, is that you might need to eat it all so you don’t take up any small cooler space for the leftovers! 

Shopping List:

We do have a small stash of things that we keep there in jars within a sealed plastic tub: Oatmeal, coffee, italian seasoning, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, cinnamon, some jarred nuts, and a few bags of tea.

Here is a basic list of things we bring there on occasion:

Apples:  Apples and pears pair so well with so many things.  Cheese and nuts are some of our favorites.

Slice a tomato and toast some bread, and you have the breakfast of champions.  In cool weather, butter can be kept nice without a lot of refrigeration which goes great with toast. 

Oatmeal:  all you need is some hot water!  Top it with nuts, brown sugar, and raisins or any other dried fruit.  Don’t be afraid to try some steel cut oats to change it up a bit. You can make it savory with some sauteed greens and a fried egg.  

Peanut butter! Peanut butter is delicious and filling and oh so shelf stable.   It is good for breakfast, lunch, snacks or dinner.  

Farm fresh eggs:  the beauty of fresh eggs is that they do not require refrigeration unless you had already washed and chilled them.  They come with a nice coating on them called a bloom which keeps them fresh without the need to keep them cold. It is amazing! Pair it with some corned beef hash instead of bacon or sausage if you need some breakfast meat with your meal.  

Tortellini, vacuum packed,  with a marinara made from some canned tomatoes and sauce.  Yes, you can just buy your own jar of spaghetti sauce, but as a grandchild of an italian immigrant, I am not allowed to recommend that.  You could boil any type of pasta, but the tortellini is a bit softer to start with so it cooks nicely when your heat source is a little energy sensitive.  

Speaking of cans, my dad would always make Dinty Moore beef stew when we went camping as kids.  It has been forever since we have had it, but I might need to try it again for old time’s sake.  He also made canned La Choy chow mein.  

Other food in cans: Tuna (you need some mayo), all beans (make a bean salad), soups, veggies, and fruits.

Last but not least, don’t forget the fresh fruits and veggies. They really don’t need to be refrigerator cold if you are going to be eating them in a timely manner: Potatoes, onions, squash, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic, apples, bananas, pears, peaches, citrus.

Homework: Try to use less energy. 

Turn a light off when you leave a room, unplug some dead energy like a stove, microwave, or computer that is not in use.  Adjust a thermostat when you are not home to enjoy it. I am totally preaching to the choir here because I need to do these things more too.  It is not only good for the world, but good for your bank account too!

P.S. It is beautiful at our spot in the fall.

October, 2019

These are a few of our favorite things…

There was no cabin to build last weekend because we stayed in the city to hang at Blink Cincinnati.  Blink is a multi day event in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky full of art installations in the form of light projections, sculptures, and performances that blanketed the area for the second time since 2017.  

We were able to go to the opening parade on Thursday night, then we went back on Friday and Saturday to explore the different exhibits.  It was so much fun to take the bus downtown each night. Because they had so many streets closed off, they moved the big bus stop at Government Square to the tunnel underneath the city.  It is one of my favorite places ever. It was the best surprise when the bus turned down to pull down the entrance ramp into the beautifully white and red tiled corridor. It really felt like the emergence into a big city to come up the stairs onto the sidewalk.

Last I heard, over about 1.5 million people made it to the city over the three and a half days that Blink was here.  There are only about a million people in all of Cincinnati so you could definitely feel the volume. On Friday night, Perriee and I went to check out the Roebling Bridge, which was lit up and had music playing to accompany the color.  You could walk across on either side of its walkways, and they had street closed except for small people movers zipping down the center.

The Roebling Bridge Experience

When we got on, it was crowded, but it was moving. By the time we decided to turn around it was almost gridlocked. It was packed to the point that you could not pass the person in front of you unless you pushed your way through.  I was trying to do the mental math regarding how many people would exceed the posted weight limit. I never figured it out. I was never so happy get back on land! Afterwards, we both shared with one another how it reminded us of the My Favorite Murder episode about the hotel bridge collapse!  The following day, we heard that they had to even close it down for a while to thin out the foot traffic.  Luckily, everyone made it through safely.  

The Roebling Bridge, Cincinnati/Covington, Friday, October 11, 2019

I would like to take a moment to brag a little here.  Not about me, but about every human who went to Blink this year (2019).  The City of Cincinnati reported one arrest all weekend for 1.5 million people! That is spectacular!  It was so crowded downtown. But is was also peaceful.  People really appreciated the art and maybe even had some healing from it all.  I really hope it comes back in a couple of years and I hope we can be there for it.

Neither of us are from here.  I am from Cleveland and Perriee is from  Chicago. I think it is safe to say that we both love living in Northern Kentucky.  Perriee and I love living so close to the city, so to round off this post, we brainstormed five places each that we enjoy in the Cincinnati area.  I will have to elaborate on them all sometime, because they all are pretty rad in their own way.

Perriee’s Picks 

Marietta’s Picks

Homework: Take the Bus

The bus is so much fun,  One of our first dates was tp take a bus ride to the Cincinnati Public Library.  I asked Perriee to take me because I had yet to ride the bus since I lived here and really wanted to try it out.  It was also my first time at that library, and even got some kisses in the stacks.  Finally, being a dork paid off!

During Blink, I actually felt a little bad for everyone I saw driving downtown last week while we enjoyed our leisurely walk to the bus stop each night (well, we had to run, once, but you know…exercise!).   For folks who may live pretty far outside of a local bus route, you can even benefit. Towns (like Newport) have park and ride stops, so you don’t have to drive all of the way into the city and deal with finding a place to park (or paying for one). The parking lots are likely a pretty direct shot right into where you are trying to go. Busses are pretty affordable, you get to watch the world go by, and its good for the environment. Just try it once.  The more you know…

A Win is a Win is a Win!

The Vocal Yokel Merch business is going, well…slow.  But it is going. There is definitely a lot to learn. Just this second, Perriee had the bright idea to send an email to our mailing list! We kew it was an option to do it, but had sort of lost sight of it in the midst of working on other aspects of the site. Worth a shot, right?  Even though it feels like it isn’t moving, we at least keep trying to learn something new about it and try something new whenever possible. Once we crack the code of ecommerce, watch out! It really is something we both enjoy, so I am sure we will get somewhere with it once we have a little more time to dedicate to it. Until then, we will forage ahead with the cabin whilst I daydream about working on our business, side by side from our a-frame’s shaded deck.    

After getting within a couple of thousand dollars of paying off our basement waterproofing that we financed five years ago, we decided to divert our cabin money towards paying the bill off.  I think we can say we are within three weeks or so of getting there so we are feeling really good about that part of life at the moment.  

We had our basement waterproofed several years ago and are just about to pay it off.  At the time, a ten year loan did not sound so bad but three years into it, and I was ready to wrap it up. Don’t get me wrong; we both agree that it was an amazing investment.  Our house was built in 1911 and she had a musty under-carriage. Having it waterproofed and ventilated gave us the opportunity to use the space as a type of rec-room which came in really handy when we starting hosting through Airbnb.  As a matter of fact, I am typing this post while sitting in it, right this very moment. It is going to feel good when we can say that we own this fresh basement air.  

In spite of the temporary diversion of cabin funds, we have really been able to make some progress on getting the cabin weathered in before the first snowfall.  We had enough materials on hand already to knock out several things and still have things to do. The front windows are framed in, we covered the front with plywood, Tyvek is up on the front of the house, and we are getting ready to put in windows and doors.  We already have the back windows in, but will be putting in the window above the door opening this weekend and will be trying our hand at retrofitting a steel hollow door. Once we are back in savings mode, we can get ready to purchase the rest of the windows for the front of the house (and maybe a door, if this one does not work out).  

The current plan is to get two big-ass triangle windows which will be installed on either side of the door.  That journey in and of itself has been a big to-do! Because we are going super custom, and we are doing them ourselves,  we have been in contact with many different places. Some do them, some don’t and there are other factors like delivery and price which have varied quite a bit.  We are finally settled on Lowes, but I will keep you updated because there is a great chance that could still change.  

Homework

Recognize your wins.  

Of course we want to report through the roof merch sales, and of course we want to report that the cabin has a door on it, and we will.  But for now, we can focus on paying off this basement bill five years early, We can also celebrate not running into another long-term loan and work really hard to keep it that way.  Building a solid financial future is just as important as building a home and I think that is something we do really well together. Good job us! Good job you for that thing you rocked out!

Perriee napping in the rec-room with Mr. Mittens!