Ridgway House: February 2017

Last fall flashed by before I could get any progress photos of the lot. Our mid-February spring weather stretch has melted all the snow off and I had an unexpected chance to catch up.

Sprocket models in the middle of our views to the east… hello, dear Cimarrons, I love you so. The sun comes up from behind those lovelies and they light up with alpenglow almost every night. There will be a coffee porch facing them.

Here’s a shot of the property looking southeast from the alley:

Looking northeast from the alley: the house will be in the center of the photo up by the street. Note that the dirt pile is gone along with all of the assorted logs and wood that were scattered on the property.

Here’s a (very skewed) panorama looking north from the property line.

And then, finally, a couple of views from the street. I’m going to try to be better about taking photos like this as things come together!

Small REAL Houses

Guys, I’ve done it.

I’m at the point where I need to pick a plan or hire someone to design a plan for my house. Once I do this, I can get bids and look for someone who can break ground in the spring. Basically, until I start making some at least basic decisions, there’s not much more that I can do (except keep saving money).


The first thing about this is that it’s terrifying. I’ve done so much thinking about what I need in a house and I know that I don’t need a big house. I don’t need a bathroom for each of my bedrooms. I don’t want it to be ugly. I don’t want it to be sterile. In some ways, buying an already built house suddenly seems appealing because fewer decisions. The reality in this area is that I can’t afford to do that. Somehow it’s still cheaper to build plus get something that doesn’t need to be remodeled, efficient, and small.

The other frustration is that I want both small and a real house.

If you get on Pinterest or browse any Tumblr of adorable small houses, at some point you realize that they’re not really lived in. The words “guest house” and “studio” and “sleeping quarters” or “cottage” start appearing.

When they do, you realize there is either a a giant 4,000sq ft monstrosity to support it just outside the frame. Or, they often have bedrooms so small they don’t have closets because they’re vacation homes where their owners store all their clothing. If you do manage to find a “full” house, in 2016 apparently “small” means less than 2,000 sq ft. TWO THOUSAND SQUARE FEET. I grew up in about 1,600 sq. ft. with a family of 4 and we had a whole giant formal living room and a big entry way we never used (and the dining room was barely touched). 

I’ve lived in 930 sq. ft. with another person and a dog and I know that we had so much wasted space. I don’t want to go too much smaller and I’m willing to consider plans up to that size but I really really don’t want to go bigger.

Strawberry Jam

It’s strawberry season in the Northwest! And that means it’s finally jam time! I grew up eating only homemade freezer jam—I remember one time that we ran out of jam when I was a kid and tried buying Smuckers or something and, well, my whole family hated it. The last time I made jam was when we lived here in Oregon in 2009; in the meantime F’s grandma and my mom have given us a couple of jars but overall we’ve been trying to make do with the store bought… stuff.

If I’m really honest, that’s basically meant that I have skipped eating jam entirely for years. Since we have freezer access and it’s fruit season, it’s jam time. I bought a flat of Hood strawberries and got to work.

I used SureJell pectin and made two batches of the regular type (aka high sugar) and tried one of the Low/No Sugar pectin packets (the pink ones with a lot less sugar). I sampled both and they’re delicious. I love how freezer jam just tastes like fruit.

We’re now stocked up with strawberry jam for the year but I’m looking forward to making raspberry and blackberry jams later in the summer. I also think I’m that since the standard commercial pectins (SureJell, Ball, and MCP) all include dextrose I’m going to try Pomona’s Universal Pectin this summer. (Seriously, what’s the point of making low(er) sugar jam when there’s already a sugar in your base?)

But, mmmm… freezer jam on vanilla ice cream? Best.