Save $1,000 Challenge

I am not really one for gimicky challenges, especially when they come from an online source. However, with the economy on a downward trend and extreme socialism about to be instituted in the US (if Obama wins), I think it is important for everyone to spend their money in smart ways.  The Save $1,000 in 30 Days Challenge might just help us out.

While a little late starting, the challenge has already offered 4 tips that may or may not inspire you.  The best one I think is packing your lunch for the rest of the week.  Typically, going out to lunch will cost $7, whereas a healtheir lunch can be had from leftovers or a trip to the store for $3.  This will save you $20/wk ($4/ day times five days).

I would encourage everyone to at least take a look at the tips offered.  After all, 54% (315/640) of respondants surveyed are willing to spend an hour per day to save money.  Let’s see how this comes out!


Goodbye Summer!


This summer has certainly been interesting. From my travels, the death of my mom, flight simulator releases, triathlon training and my award winning recipes, I feel like my summer has been full of extremes.

The highs include traveling to Colorado and visiting Rocky Mountain National Park and having lunch with the elk to winning “Best Meat Chili” at the company cook-off for the second year in a row.  The lows were extreme in their own right.  I laid my mom to rest after months of heart disease and visits to the doctor. I also decided not to participate in the local triathlon this year, feeling that I was not quite ready. 

I look back over the entire experience with a long list of emotions, but look toward the future with optimism and happiness.  Afterall, this November we get to get those icky, destructive, Republicans out of office.  I will continue to train for next year’s triathlon season, studying up on productivity and leadership, and keeping you all informed of my reality and the flight simulator world! 

As I look forward, I offer these images of summer as a point of reflection.


Boats on the beach near Santa Barbara's harbor.
Boats on the beach near Santa Barbara’s harbor.



The USCG cutter "Blackfin" in Santa Barbara Harbor.

The USCG cutter "Blackfin" in Santa Barbara Harbor.


To The Future! Cheers! 




A Cool Shed Office Conversion

After bringing your attention to Shedworking, a blog for living and working in small places, I had to post this link to an article I stumbled upon over at LifeHacker.  One of their readers, Brian DeHamer, solved his lack of office space in his house by constructing a toolshed behind his garage and converting it to a state of the art office!  The office is fully insulated and complete with multiple monitors, carpet, track lighting, and plenty of storage space. Check it out.

This is very inspiring for my own shed living project.  My plan was to have one of three shed units be a combined sleeping, office space.  One thing I really like about the design above is the ability to isolate yourself from the rest of the living space.  In my current living arrangements, my office and sleeping space is combined, which can make it difficult to work while the wife is trying to sleep.  It might be time to rethink the office/sleeping unit.

Shedworking: A Great New Small Living Blog

For those of you who have been following the painfully slow development of my tool-shed living slash dog-trot paper model, you would know that I am fascinated by living efficiently in small spaces and have set a goal to own 200 acres, but live in a sub 1,000 square foot structure.   One day, I did a google search on small living, or something similar and stumbled upon Shedworking, A lifestyle guide for shedworkers.  While focused on those that work in sheds in the UK, the author offers a fascinating collection of “sheds” and the community that surrounds them.

I for one am inspired by the variety of designs and will use some of the ideas as inspiration as I develop my own “shed” design… something more along the lines a dog trot shed (or is its sheds, plural?).  I hope everyone else finds inspiration as well…

Happy Reading!

Ye ‘Ol War on TV, The Simple Dollar Style

One thing I struggled with for many weeks and even months, was turning off the television and focusing my mind on other tasks.  This battle became known as “the war on tv” in my household. Some of you might remember my post, Things to Do, No TV, where I discussed some of the activities that I have done in place of tv watching.  While partially successful in the regards that I have drastically reduced the amount of time I watch TV, the war on tv became more of a reality check of priorities and the meaning of life.  Since starting the war a year ago, I continue to tell myself that TV is nothing than a marketing tool to brainwash the masses into parting with their money and wasting time.

And now, the war just heated up a bit.  The financial blog, The Simple Dollar, recently posted an article discussing the advantages of turning off the television, titled Ten Financial Reasons To Turn Off Your Television – And Ten Things To Replace It With.  The author also discusses activities to do in its place.  While my decision to go to war with the tv was not financial, The Simple Dollar points out that one can save a bundle by getting rid of the cable bill and saving electricity that the tv is no longer using, about $760/year. In addition, you’ll have more time to cook, more time with the family, and more time to devote to your business.

Overall, I found the article to be a nice refresher as to why I am trying to get totally off TV.  The financial ramifications are certainly positive and I would love to start my own side business. A little less stress would nice too.

Papermodel “Dog Trot” Kit v0.2

I spent some time with my pencil, paper, and ruler and measured out a basic kit for the “dog trot” papermodel toolshed living unit I designed. I started typing this post offline, but before I knew it, it had exploded into a mini documentary of what sustainable living is and how this design fits into it. It was way too complex for what I wanted. I simply wanted to present the model, it being what it is. I even lightly colored the base paper with color pencil to show the ground layout; the brick along the front and down the “breezeway”, the black represents the parking area, and green is grass.

One thing I must note is that this design is NOT a dog trot living unit. A dog trot design has all rooms under a single roof, with the breezeway being half the width of the front rooms. Since the pictures below show three toolsheds, this is simply a dog trot inspired design.


The Front View


The Front Perspective


The Back Left View


The Back Right View

I have not decided if I will make this version of the model available. The roofs are currently not part of the kit and it looks rather rough. I think I might refine it some more before releasing it. If anyone is interested in such a kit, please leave a comment. It might inspire me to work harder on it!


DogTrot Papermodel Update

I’ve noticed over the past few days that arealityofmyown is getting a lot hits from search terms relating to papermodels.  In particular, the post “A new paper model project” has seen most of those hits.  This is the post where I announced I was working on building a papermodel of the toolshed, dogtrot, style sustainable living compound that I designed a few summers back.  An update is in order!

I designed it using Visio, which is a windows only program.  After printing it out, I measured and started drawing the papermodel kit in Photoshop. Developing the basic walls and placing the doors/windows was not hard and before I knew it, I had the walls built.

Unfortunately, this is where I got stuck.   I had a hard time visualizing the roof.  I wasn’t quite sure if I was going to maintain three separate toolsheds, requiring development of three roofs, or designing it with one big roof over the whole thing.  I always visualized the compound as three toolsheds with somethings like a champa or pavilion type roof over them.  The advantage of the champa/pavilion is that the could be covered with solar panels and/or “green roofing” while providing an expanse of shaded outdoor space and even carport.  For some reason, I just could not visualize the final design, the double roofs seemed like a waste of resources, and I couldn’t how the champa/pavilion roof would integrate with the three units if I didn’t use stock toolsheds.  Then there is the possibility of making the whole thing using straw bale.

As you can see, my mind went nuts with ideas on how to refine this compound.  I love the dogtrot style, I love the idea of living units, and I love the idea of protected outdoor space.   Back the drawing I went, but then the holidays came up and I haven’t gotten back to it.  To make matter worse, my guinea pig attacked the model that I built previously, destroying it.  I think it was sign from above to rethink the whole project  However, I migrated to an iMac (I love it!) and no longer have access to Visio and the files it produced.  I am shopping for a simple Mac based, free CAD program, but haven’t found anything yet.  I might return to old fashion pencil and paper and risk poking my eye with the pencil or dying of an infection from a papercut.  Skethcing it out on paper, with full elevations would make it easier to build from paper! duh!
Overall, the first version was a great exercise in visualizing the details and going through the process of possibilities.  Please stay tuned and be patient, the project is moving forward slowing.