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A bed is just a bed unless it’s not!

15 Apr

From the “why didn’t I think of that?” files;

There’s this guy who has decided that the best furniture encompasses every need in one small footprint package. His name is Roberto Gil and he calls it “Urbano”. After looking at his work, we think he’s pretty darned smart.

His forte of late seems to be “loft beds” where your bed is actually perched on top of your other bedroom  furniture to maximize room space. Now, it should be noted that we build loft beds into containers all the time, but I have to admit that his system makes ours look like something cobbled together in shop class by comparison.

They say that “good things come in small packages”. In this case, they hit that nail square on the head.

Measuring 119 inches in length and a width of 83 inches, with the furniture system topping out at 107 inches, you can see where I’m going with this. Let’s do some math, shall we? (Not that new “Common Core” crap. I don’t possess enough patience, crayons or even paper to do arithmetic that way!) Let me see, carry the one, divide by hammer-struck thumbs and a few splinters and you get an entire bedroom suite in an approximately 9’11” long x 6’11” wide x 8’11” tall package.

The Urbano system, based on a King sized bed is the largest furniture unit in Roberto’s “Casa Collection” line. It features interior and exterior closets, dressers with drawers, shelving and a desk underneath its bed. The clearance under the bed platform is tall (almost 6’4″) and that’s enough to enable most people to walk under it without stooping or hitting their heads. The cool part of this system is that you can purchase it with either ONE or TWO staircases depending on your needs. Each staircase has built in storage drawers. To make things light and bright, mirrors and lighting are installed.

As intriguing as this is, it does make me wonder what this format would look like tucked into the bowels of an ISBU bedroom.

Imagine a suite of “sleeping rooms” built from ISBUs that had these units installed. Imagine three containers placed side-by-side, with the outer ones being “sleeping rooms”. Now imagine the center one being a shared “Hollywood” style bathroom.

If you were to build a gable roof with a decent pitch (say 6/12) over these (I’d build that roof on a kneewall of about 3’… and run the single staircase configuration on the inside walls (to take advantage of the gable height) you could do something pretty cool. It would also allow you to utilize the top of that “bath” container in the middle as a shared loft. The best part is that the kneewall floating that SIP (structural insulated panel) roof could also have integrated glazing to allow you both sunlight and ventilation.

You knew I was going to slip SIPs into this conversation, didn’t you? Hands down, SIPs topped with a waterproof membrane and SSMR (Standing Seam Metal Roofing) are my alltime favorite. I’ll mention them every chance I get!

Think about this;

If you used 20′ High Cube ISBU containers to do this you’d have (2) King Sized bedrooms and a large, spacious bath suite tucked into a 20’x24′ footprint. Okay, so you’d be just a little cramped in the headroom department on one side, but by using high cube ISBUs you have a ceiling height of 8’9″. Couple that with a kneewall and this is actually doable.

It the Urbano bed system is just too much for your needs they even have a smaller Arca system that might fill the bill.



Unlike the Arca series of beds, the Urbano beds really do have the whole shooting match installed. They feature interior and exterior closets, dressers with drawers, shelving and a desk underneath the loft bed.

roberto-gil-casa-collection-urbano-loft-bed-4Roberto knew that one color wouldn’t be enough so both the Urbano and Arca beds are available in two color options and prices start from (hold your breath) US$15,000 and $6,000 respectively and you’ll wait about 10-12 weeks for your units to arrive.

Look, I warned you to hold your breath…

You CAN buy these in the United States, but I’m thinking about something else entirely. Wait, I’ll tell you about it after I catch my breath. That price tag had me hyperventilating… LOL!

Okay, I’m back…

What if you went to a big box store like IKEA and purchased prefab cabinets and such and then cobbled this together yourself? Look at the photos. You can SEE how easy it is. Heck, a couple of carpenters could build a similar unit for a lot less than $15,000.00. (Well, unless maybe they’re Union Carpenters!) LOL!

(I know, I know… please send your hate mail to 🙂

After passing the photos around here, I’m thinking that we might just have a go at building something similar, based on ready-made “catalog” cabinet kits. No offense to Roberto (because quite frankly his idea is pretty darned good) but we don’t know anyone with enough extra cash laying around to shell out $15 grand for a bedroom set for the kids.

Stay tuned.

PS. ALL of the images for Roberto’s bed systems were collected from Why? Well to be honest, I don’t have $21,000.00 to go out and buy copies of these bed systems! That’s actually more than it’d cost me to build the ISBU structure for the three rooms we’re talking about!

(But I have to admit that I wish I did. I think they’re pretty spectacular!)

2 is better than 1! ;)

28 Nov

We work, we toil…

… and the piles of paperwork, reports and plan sets just doesn’t get any lower!

In fact, they’re getting higher as the year draws closed! 🙂

Mailbag time!

Dear Ronin,

I’ve been watching this blog for a while. In fact, we’ve been thinking about you for years…

(That’s a lot of Tylenol I owe you, I suppose…)

We have a rather crazy and unique problem that you may be able to solve.

Um… I’m not a psychiatrist, but I’ll try.)

We’ve come into a piece of property that has an existing small cabin on it. Somewhere along the last four or five years, one wall of the cabin was consumed by fire. The fire started in the kitchen and then razed the kitchen and attached half bath.

Subsequently, the “burnt out wall” was supported by installing an new header and a couple of “jack studs” and they just put plywood over it to close it off. I’ll assume they just figured that whoever inherited it would resolve the conflicts they left…

Long story short;

Brother inherited property, took one look at remains of cabin and location of land… and punted.

It’s located “very rural”. 5 acres. Graded road in summer – impassable by anything but 4wd in winter. No services. Well, water tank (tank farm), septic, generator and batteries.

We bought it for a song from him, literally. It will make the perfect “getaway” for long weekends and a week here and there in the summer.

We closed on it last week.

What I’d like to explore is something you talked about early on, in the blog;

Using ISBUs to form ADDITIONS to existing structures.

I cook. My wife does dishes. Nothing “sexist”, it just works out better that way.

I’m a “trained” chef, if you count some school and endless hours of the FOOD Network…

(Bought one of those “on-line” bogus diploma/transcript sets, did ya?)  😉

If possible, we’d like a layout that allows both of us to work simultaneously, without stepping all over each other. We’d also like a breakfast bar, as it’s a tiny cabin and it would eliminate the need for a dining room table. It’d only need to seat two adults.

(If we have guests, we’ll simply eat outside on the screened porch.)

WE really DON’T want an island kitchen. We don’t feel like we have enough room for it.


Warm light colored woods / low maintenance solid surface countertops and backsplash.

Farm Sink, not a double sink made out of stainless steel.

GAS oven, not electric.

The most energy efficient refrigerator we can find.  Refrigerator just large enough for a weeks groceries, please.

We’d also like to rebuild that half bath as we plan to demo the antiquated full bath in the bedroom, to enlarge the bedroom space. We’re going to build out a TUB Bay in the bedroom. “Kinda hokey”, but we think it charming. The wife has always wanted one.

We have a 22′ opening on one side of the kitchenless/bathless cabin now.

The installed header (simply to shore up the building “for later”) can be removed and moved UP to create an opening up to 14′ high.

What we’d like to explore is building a kitchen and bath into a 20′ ISBU and then hauling it out there to set it into place once it’s finished, just lke you’ve been talking about. In fact, we got the idea from YOU…

You’ve talked about doing exactly this several times… so now we’re calling your bluff.

Can you help us?


No Kitchen, No Bath, No Glory…

Dear NoKBG,

Sorry. Can’t help ya. Nope, not gonna do it. 😉

Seriously, it’s a easy fix.

On many occasions I’ve talked about how modular ISBU builds are.

We’ve discussed on the blog the idea of using ISBUs as a base for Home Additions, simply by fabbing your box in another location and then transporting it to site, to plug into a demo’d wall waiting to receive it.

You have a lot of ambition and approximately 160 square feet to work with. Let’s see what we can do;


  • Dedicated Cooking Area
  • Dedicated Dishwashing Area
  • Half Bath
  • Breakfast Bar with seating for two
  • Ample Storage and pantry area for vacation use.

Here’s what I’d do;

[insert 20′ kitchen/bath sketch]

You don’t have building codes, so you have some “liberty/flexibility” in the design process and execution.

Now you have 2 separate kitchen prep areas. You have your side, she has hers.

You have the ability to use that sink faucet as a pasta faucet or to shove pots and pans directly into.

The Wife has a large farm sink and some countertop to pile drying dishes.

Using a High Cube ISBU means taller cabinets – “Mucho” pantry and storage space.

As the kitchen opens to the main room, you don’t feel “hemmed into a tight space”.

You get easy access to the half bath – which is really nice sized so you don’t feel like you’re doing your business in a closet.

You have a breakfast bar that can also be used as additional cooktop prep space if required. It’s also a good place for spectators to perch while you dazzle them with that “Iron Chef Morimoto” knifework you’ve probably been using…

Window placed to allow ample lighting to both sink and range, so you won’t get bored staring at each other. 😉

If you want to pursue this, you know where to find me.

Start by clicking HERE.


We seek “ISBU Independence”

4 Jul

It should be noted that I cannot say anything today that will overshadow the majesty of the fireworks we will observe as our eyes and hearts lift to the sky tonight, as we remember all those brave men and women who stood… and those who fell… to carve out this great nation.

You have all heard the Declaration of Independence, complete with it’s majestic ending… a Declaration worthy of a long life measured in “forevers”.

It was a Declaration carved into stone by iron men wielding wooden sticks, men who used their sweat and blood to build this Republic by selflessly sentencing themselves to death as they drew lines in the sand… in the face of their oppressors.

This Declaration is still hurled towards the bones of long past monarchs, men like King George the III, a monarch long dead, a man like many before him who uttered such words as “better 50 year of English rule than all the cycles of Cathay.”

To those who sought to oppress, to subdue, to control, I say…

This is America. It is OUR land, our beloved nation, a land where once citizens built and Congress followed.

You have all heard the history of this nation from the first to present day… from our beginning… from the Revolutionary War through the days of great struggles and great triumphs.

There are many challenges ahead, both from within and without… but we will faithfully face them  with the determination of our ancestors, our forefathers… as we maintain and re-armor this cradle of Democracy.

ISBU Independence

CampCo’s Steel Farmhouse. A Home built BY Americans… for Americans.

May G_d bless this beloved Republic and… every one of you.

Alex Klein

July 4th, 2015

Fly me to Corten Country!

17 Jun

People have asked me how to approach Planning and Zoning authorities to test the waters when considering building an ISBU (Shipping Container) home.

Remember that to most of these “official” guys and gals, your ISBU home will simply be an “abstract”. Many of them will simply have no idea what you’re talking about. What they’ll visualize is those depictions of graffiti covered “Corten Shanties” so prominently displayed in apocalyptic Sci-Fi slasher films!  You know the ones that I’m referring to, those dilapidated steel shells surrounded by zombies and burning 55 gallon drums filed with trash… LOL!

You need an ice breaker!

Consider doing a series of renders of your proposed ISBU project and include a “fly-by” if you can. With the tools available to us now (even free programs like SketchUp, etc…) it’s pretty simple to do.

Here’s one that someone recently sent to us that was pretty slick;

Additionally, I never use words like “Shipping Container”, or “ISBU” when talking to Planning and Zoning guys. I prefer to use words like “prefabricated steel framing” or “modular steel frames”. Shipping Containers are simply steel building blocks.


I’d like a “short stack” and Ice Water please!

7 May

First, sorry for the absence of new posts lately. We’re just getting swamped here at Corten Central.

As you can probably imagine, we are busier than bees right now, getting ISBU Home builds tracked out and running smoothly. It’s the time of year when building  projects pile up faster than Corten boxes next to a Container ship being unloaded!

Beyond that, there’s some very interesting news in store for you guys as we explore new opportunities that will allow us to spread the Corten Gospel across the planet!

I want you to stay tuned for that because it’s gonna blow your minds!

And since we’re talking about mind-blowing. what if you dropped a short stack of 20 foot boxes onto a CMU (concrete block) root cellar by a  creek? Just take (4) 20′ High Cube ISBUs and add water…

ISBU Micro-Condo - 1stISBU Micro-CondoNow add photovoltaic panels. solar hot water and a dish (for TV) and you have a remote retreat ready to sooth the aches and pains of city life!

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Corten Cats. Who knew?

5 Jan

Sometimes life lived in Corten brings the need for problem solving.

For instance;

Got cat?

A pal of mine has cats in his Corten Cabin. In fact, when we talk about him being “p***y whipped”… we’re really talking about CATS!

(Oh stop it. We’re all adults here… Well, most of us, anyway…)

It’s easy to tell he has them too. When you walk into the house, the smell hits you right in the face.

And worse, a trip to his “powder room” comes with a “POW!” as the litter-box smell beats your senses like Mike Tyson on a bad day…

Now, several of us have suggested that he teach his cats to live in the barn, but…

… he just called us bad words and pouted like a kid peering into the bottom of an empty “Happy Meal” box…

So for “after-Christmas” we’re giving him THIS:
cat cave
We got the idea from Claire Armstrong, over at Flickr.

It’s as easy as; “1, 2, 4…”

  • Assemble a cheap Ikea storage cabinet.
  • Cut a hole in the cabinet door for said cat to enter.
  • Frame hole with molding.
  • Insert litter box inside cabinet.

Wanna get “geeky?”

Put a fan in the back of the cabinet venting to someplace outdoors.

(A small CPU fan connected to a Radio Shack power supply will work.)

No muss, no fuss. And, you don’t see the cat doing his/her business anymore, either.

That’s goodness.

May your Corten be Merry…

11 Dec

In the beginning, there was Corten Steel…

ISBU (Intermodal Steel Building Unit) homes, also called “Corten Container Homes”, also known as “Shipping Container Homes” are often called much more…

(And most of it is even printable!) :)

When you talk to your neighbors about ISBUs, they immediately envision Apocalyptic Sci-Fi fantasies painted with a canvas of burning oil drums in the street, wrecked vehicles in the distance and Zombies crawling toward you  to eat your  brains.

When you talk to your brother-in-law (you know, the one that works in Construction) about ISBUs, he’ll tell you that they’re unsightly, complicated and expensive.

When you talk with your architect about ISBUs, they’ll usually tell you that they have a drawer full of renders and floorplans, but they’ve never built one.

Despite  the fact that we’ve been building ISBU Homes and Buildings since 1977, less than 1% of Architects and Builders have ever constructed one of these Corten Clad beauties.

When you talk to your local planning and zoning office about ISBUs, they’ll either embrace you with open arms, fascinated that you’re  about to build  a Corten Ark for your tribe… or they’ll slam the door in your face and race to the water cooler as fast as their fat little legs will carry the, trying to try to knock back the rapidly forming sweat over their eyebrows.

When you talk to families who have actually “coveted the Corten” about ISBUs… families that have actually built Corten Castles for their clan, you’ll hear stories about sustainability, affordability and a monumental strength that usually only come from textbooks or Grandparents  as they remind you about the pioneering stock of Americans who expanded and then built this great land. They’ll tell you about determination and dedication and hope and dreams…

And, if you listen to them ALL, you’ll start getting an idea about  what the road to “Corten Coolness and a life lived within ISBUs” is paved with.

Are there potholes along the way? Sure.

There are always bumps in the road less traveled. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it! The key to navigating these roads is to have a goal, make a plan, involve the right people  and then communicate your project clearly and concisely with all the participants.

We teach our Corten families to push their boundaries by integrating well thought out and proven architectural and interior design disciplines  into construction practices that implement affordable, space and time saving techniques that fortify and protect a family’s building budget.  By re-using, reclaiming and repurposing cast off materials, we’re  building incredibly efficient affordable homes while actually “acting on green initiatives to promote wellness both within and without our own yards.

The goal isn’t to simply build a metal structure, or even to publicly reclaim or repurpose old cast off materials…

… the goal is to build a HOME where wellness and comfort thrive as “person and place combine” to create an environment of sustainability and positive growth.

You’re building a “Corten lifestyle” where that ISBU “home and hearth” participate in your lives on a daily basis, symbiotically.

You’re  building a low maintenance, high efficiency, sustainable, (even – GASP!) GREEN home that works with you to shelter and cradle your family securely as you face the pleasures and perils that life brings to our porches.

If this idea, if this “lifestyle” interests you, you might just want to stick around. We’ve been “sticking around” since 1977. We didn’t “re-invent ourselves” to explore another niche as the economy drop-kicked us. We didn’t just suddenly shift gears to embrace an emerging trend on TV. We saw (early on) the potential for these “weathering steel beauties” and we started exploring the road with our own hands (despite the nay-sayers).

It’s funny… when we started this trek, we were “young, foolish, simple idiots helping hippies”.

Few actually saw the merit in the road we were traveling. Now, 35+ years later, we’re suddenly “Green Gurus, Geniuses and Pioneers”. In all that time, you want to know what’s changed about  us  (besides the position of our hairlines)?

Nothing, except that the tools have gotten better.

We’re working with the same kinds of families – with the same concerns and the same kinds of care.

Our mission remains the same. Every family deserves a safe roof over their heads.

In three decades, we’ve built a lot of them. We have a lot to share on the subject.

Stay tuned as we introduce some of our newest projects;

  • A 900 square foot 1BDRM/1 Bath Corten Cabin in the mountains…
  • A 1,200 square foot 2BDRM/2 Bath Corten Cottage perched by the sea…
  • A 1,600 square foot 3 BDRM/2 bath Corten Castle sailing the prairie of Kansas…
  • A 2,250 square foot 4 BDRM/3 bath Metal Meadow Manse fit for a King and Queen…
  • A family owned and run ISBU Island Destination Resort so cool that you might not ever want to come home…

…and a few more projects that you might find pretty interesting.

ISBU Farmhouse 440 Concept - web
All of these ISBU projects share something in common;

In every one of them, we’re going to push the boundaries of “normal and expected” to places rarely imagined. We’re talking about homes where energy efficiency, integration and affordability combine to create monuments to families dedicated in living out their days cradled firmly by Corten comfort… by creating a new style  of “lifestyle luxury” for demanding families with small budgets.

Stay tuned.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Would you like a Corten Cathedral?

7 Dec

As you can probably imagine, we get questions about Shipping containers and “tasking”.

“Can I bury one?” they ask.


“Are you sure?” they plead.

“DO I need to beat you? I said NO.”

“Can I stack them up in a tree?” they wonder.

“Yes, but it better be one helluva tree.”

(We’ve built “treehouses” out of containers. It’s the very definition of “Corten Coolness”. It usually takes more than ONE stout tree.) 🙂

“Can I really insulate ISBUs using special paint?” they ask. “I’ve seen it on the Internet so it must be true, right?”

“Have you read my page on Ceramic coatings? Please email me again when you have  located your brain…” is my usual response. Actually, that’s not true. I deleted the extra words because this blog  is a family show. 😉

They send photos. You know, “Can I do this or that?” kinda photos.

After a reader sent me some photos of some metal roofing material “turned sideways”, I followed the links and saw these little steel cabins on the web.

They’re produced by a company called (what  else?) “Arched Cabins” out of Texas.

They wanted to know it this “style” of cabin construction could be incorporated into small ISBU cabins. They loved the way that it looked.

What's not to like?

What’s not to like?

Well, I love the way they look too.  Essentially, it’s just an insulated metal shed. But it made me think about HOW we build our cabins out of 20′ Shipping containers.

What if you built out your boxes and them towed them to a site where you’d then erect this arched “roof” over them?

3It’s really nothing more than a stylized metal A-Frame.  We’ve actually built A-Framed ISBU cabins and homes in the past. We insulated the roof shell instead of the boxes, using the roof to envelope the ISBU  cabin structure.

Can you mount containers on pilings supporting a deck?

Absolutely, if you use good design practices and good materials.

A “hybrid” home combining ISBUs and this arched roofing frame built in a manner similar to this would still sit up on pilings off grade, so it would shed well. If you built a “roof” like this that went almost all the way to grade, you could really have some fun with your ISBU cabin. Incorporating windows would be fun and fairly straight forward. They’d look terrific inset into that framing.  You could easily encompass any crawlspace height you desired as long as you provided a “landing place” for your roof framing.  That means you’d still have semi-protected storage areas under your cabin.

Is there anything about it I don’t like?

Okay, in the “high country” I might think about turning the orientation of the ribs of the metal siding to vertical so that they ran up and down instead of horizontally. That way water and more importantly snow would shed easier.  I wouldn’t want ice loading up and holding on all those horizontal rib surfaces. It would also allow for some really cool water retention surfaces.

Extend your arched roof out beyond the boxes and you get a really nice, sheltered and sturdy covered porch.

This is an intriguing idea and it’d go up pretty fast. If you built your boxes remotely and then trailered them to the site, you could erect this roof over them in a few days, with just a few friends helping out.

I also like the idea that if you put some thought into it, you could reclaim the created cavities for storage and even mech space.

Reclaimed Space

The yellow outlined areas could easily be reclaimed for use by the homeowner. I’d put a loft at either end, open up the middle creating a modernistic “vaulted ceiling” (complete with chase and track lighting or ceiling fans) and then use the areas on each side for storage. I’d even use it for protected structural storage of gear and perhaps a canoe or kayak.

You could easily get almost 500 square feet out of this design, if you thought it through.

Stay tuned.

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I hate Crafters. Really, I do…

4 Dec

Building and living sustainably means recycling. The coolest thing I do is to take something that is cast off, something that others deem worthless…  and then turn it into something useful.

That said… I hate Crafters. I hate ’em!

You know… as winter rolls in, many of us are forced to stay indoors staring at our hovels, thinking about how we had planned to do some “freshening up” in the “Fall that never came”.

Meanwhile my little boy, who has just started public school (he was homeschooled until now) is coming home from his new friend’s houses, complaining that HIS house doesn’t smell like “Christmas and Pine cones and other sparkly crap”…

Okay, in an old farmhouse with poor ventilation the house smells more like “feet and farts” most days. You know… a “Manly House”.  It’s not an issue. The smell of wood smoke and burning food usually covers up most of it.

We don’t eat crumpets and drink tea, we practice Kung Fu and eat meat (and that’s after we kill it in our own yards).

But where was I? Oh yeah…

It’s not just a “birthday party” thing. You know, those events that sound of raucous noise and squeals and smells of little kids feet, vomit and band-aids.  And I can’t avoid this because, for the first time,  Joshua is (a) living in town, and (b) getting invited to birthday parties at other kids houses. As a result, he’s being exposed to this  double  overload of “criminal Christmas”  activity.

I swear that there’s something sinister happening at those homes. He’s getting brainwashed by Moms decked out in blinking LED Holiday sweaters who deck the halls until they’re ready to burst as they throw birthday bashes for their young’uns in multi-tasking feats that are maddening to those of us who..well… you just never mind!

I mean, it should be one or the other. Pick a theme, pick a party and then stick to it. Nobody like a show-off. I mean… really. I wish they’d just stop it.

Apparently while the Thanksgiving Turkey was cooling, they were already throwing trees up in their living rooms like a freakin’ reforestation project.  The “pumpkins chucked” (the evidence of that is on rooftops all over town), they were already dragging Santa out and harnessing him into positions of bondage in the front yard with poor inflatable reindeer forced to witness the December  degradation of their beloved master.

(High winds and snow = “Santa Bondage”. Deal with it!)  🙂

I hate these “ho ho ho!” types. They make the rest of us slackers look bad. It’s one thing to see it and know you can just drive by rolling your eyes. It’s another when your kid comes home and convicts you of “Holiday Hooliganism” as you try to convince him that Santa just won’t land in the yard of a hunter for fear someone will shoot and then eat Rudolph.

And that’s just on their yards! Cross their thresholds and it gets worse! There’s treachery afoot, I tell you…

I’ll admit at this point that my version of “Christmas” is more like just tossing a festive candy cane into my cup of hot coffee to kill the bitterness of the triple portion of caffeine I just threw in there.

But there’s an enemy among us, folks. There’s a group of devious terrorists out there called “Crafters”. They sit in their sewing circles armed with ammo cans filled with glue guns and sparkles, plotting and scheming, making a list and checking it twice… filled with the names of people they’re going to shame with their “St. Nick Nonsense…”

Case in point;

We just had to move at the last minute. Weather, finances and circumstance have delayed our farm project  and we’re still in town. Between illness and travel, we haven’t even managed to unpack yet. Due to the fact that we’re not going to be here long, I see that as a “remodeling or refinishing would be a waste of time” excuse waiting to happen.

But try to explain that to a kid who comes home asking if you’re P.O.’d at Santa.

(Before you start frothing and sputtering, know that while Dad is Jewish, we run a multi-observant household. I want Joshua to feel everything and then… when the time is right, he’ll decide which path his heart leads him to walk. I don’t want him to miss out on anything. His life is challenging enough.)

So, with a straight face, you just look at him and smile while you try to change the subject with a mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows in it.

But he’s tenacious. He’s like a Great White when he locks onto something.

He asks again; “Dad, WHY are you mad at Santa?”

So, I asked him WHY he thought I was mad at Santa.

“Dad, we don’t have a sleigh in the potty.”


I almost burst out laughing. “What? What are you talking about?” I asked, trying to keep a straight face.

“Kohl’s mom has a sleigh in the potty. It’s for Santa,” he says as he crosses his arms authoritatively.


I think he’s pulling my leg, but he’s quite insistent.

Now… My “Spidey sense” is tingling like Athlete’s foot. I mean, it’s gone off like an alarm bell at a fire station. Gotham is in trouble and I’m the only one standing between treachery and tranquility. Kohl’s mom has become the enemy. I’ll teach them something about making lists… Muwahahahah!

Okay, this I gotta see. Punching in numbers on my cell like I’m entering nuclear launch sequences, I’m determined to get to the bottom of this.

(“Potty?” “Bottom?” See what I did there! Huh?) LOL!

Sure enough, Kohl’s mom describes (while texting images in “Multi-tasking Mom” mode) 8×10 glossy pictures covered in circles and arrows… that demonstrate that she does indeed have a “Santa Sleigh Potty Room”.

That’s just demented. I mean, they make medication for these kind of situations. 😉

At this point, I’m thinking that she is making the whole thing up as “torment piled on the shoulders of yet another poor defenseless single dad”.

And then… she sends me a link.

“I got the idea from this place. It was easy. You should do it… but wait… you can’t, because you don’t speak ‘crafter’! You need to possess the creative passions of a woman with kids to pull off something this cool.”

Again, WTH? I mean, I’m thinking that over the course of my life I’ve been forced to get up in the middle of the night (moonlight, rain or snow) so many times to go buy tampons and other assorted feminine hygiene products that I should have gotten those skills by osmosis. 🙂

So I clicked the link.

And then, Santa used that “Crafting Siren of sleigh-bending”  to smack me right between the eyes;

recycled sleigh-shelf-7343Some sinister soccer mom of a siren with way too much time on her hands cruised the neighborhood in her mini-van and robbed somebody’s garage and absconded with a precious family heirloom… Grand-dad’s beloved sleigh.

It mattered not that an entire lineage remembered the legacy of that poor sleigh as Grand-dad risked life and limb to chase after little joey and stop him before he crashed into that big tree in the yard. In fact, Uncle Joey still walks with the limp he earned that terrible day in December…

And then… shamelessly, she hid that sleigh in the potty.

Not satisfied to just use a PVC or cheap Chinese tubing rack over the toilet, she took that sleigh of precious memories and turned it into a purveyor of butt-tape and murdered tree branches.

Because nothing says Christmas like pine needles dropping onto your head while you’re  trying to poop out a fruitcake that was baked  in 1934.

Apparently, it was pretty easy to do. The sleigh mods… not the fruitcake elimination. Pay attention huh? These posts don’t write themselves.  Jeez… LOL!


First, swipe a piece of siding off your neighbor’s old barn. Heck, they won’t care. It’s Christmas, right? 🙂


Secure the barn siding you pilfered between the runners to form shelves.

Secure your butt-tape with some cordage. I'd have used Paracord, but this one was made by sissy girls... LOL!

Secure your butt-tape with some cordage. I’d have used Paracord, but this one was made by sissy girls… LOL!

Secure shelves to wall by using wall anchors and screws.

Secure shelves to wall by using wall anchors and screws.

You know what’s even worse? I have one of those sleighs hanging from the rafters in my storage shed. Maybe they’re right. Maybe I’m just jealous.  Maybe I need to start dating again… Oy. That’s a trainwreck waiting to happen…

To all my Gentile friends, Merry Christmas! May the holidays surround you with love and laughter and bring you joy.


RR Avatar  All images owned by: “Funky Junk Donna” In the world of Crafters, I suspect she’s royalty. .

Surf’s UP! Where’s that Shack?

2 Dec

One of our readers forwarded this video to me and asked for an opinion.

Derek “Deek” Diedricksen of gives us a tour of a Shipping Container Surf Shack built and designed by Hartman Kable. Located south of Seattle, this container home is ultra-modern and employs some very clever transforming and space saving techniques.

Okay, time for the critiques;

I really hated the music score. Bleah! I nearly turned off the video a few ties just to get away from it. 🙂

I don’t see the GEORGE LUCAS connection at all (that some people have implied). George would have been more dramatic (that’s a good thing).

Not big on his choice of particle board/melamine cabinetry because it just doesn’t last. Save your money and use real WOOD cabinets and doors. You may hate me now, but you’ll love me later…

I understand that the builder was going for “ultra modern chic” but in my view, he took it a little bit too far. It’s too sterile. It looks like an art gallery or museum room. It needs COLOR!  I felt like I was looking at a Dental office. I never got that “warm fuzzy feeling” a home requires.

I kept hearing “OCD” screaming in the background.

I was relieved to see that the builder used “aluminum pipe” to simulate… say it with me… aluminum pipe. LOL!

I got a good chuckle out of how proud he was of that bar stock. LOL!

On a One to Ten, Ten being best, I give this little beach-side tiny house an 8.  Great use of space, lots of coolness (if you can get past the white and the fake wood) and well executed.


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