Kera's Tiny Fortune Cookie - Tiny House Blog

Kera’s Tiny Fortune Cookie

Guest Post by Kera

I happily blame my friends, Adam and Suzi, for making me take an honest look at being more earth-friendly. It all started with cutting back on packaging, then a hard look at the foods I ate, next a deeper understanding of what businesses I was supporting… it goes on from there.

I think when you decide to take a more ‘green’ approach to your life it ends there is a snowball effect. You see how everything is connected, from the planet, to the people, to the life you are choosing to live. I realized I had a choice to make. Going back to being a mindless consumer was rather unlikely, so I started making active choices that were better for me and the planet.

All of this came to a head. I had this 1100 sq. ft. house and I had to live in the garage in order to make the mortgage payment. I rented out the rest of my rooms to try and cover expenses. I was unhappy and trapped in a job I hated because I had a house I could not afford. I felt really overwhelmed and I just could not do it anymore.

I realized I wanted a small, portable home. For a few years I had been drooling over the Tumbleweed Homes, but later realized I wanted something a bit different. I found that Dee Williams had started Portland Alternative Dwellings (P.A.D.) and reached out to her directly.

She was very helpful and gave me a tour of her small house, but had advised that P.A.D. was too busy to take an additional contract. I had mentioned in my first contact with her that I wanted something like a Tumbleweed Home that meets the stylings of a gypsy vardo. She sent me to Abel Zimmerman with the recommendation that he would do a splendid job and that he specialized in vardos. I was ecstatic.

I ended up quitting the hated job, selling the house, using what money I had saved up to take a vacation and to contract Abel Zimmerman to build my beautiful home, The Fortune Cookie. Abel did a fantastic job, and I love my house!

To learn more about Kera visit her blog.

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Laura - November 11, 2011 Reply

What is the weight of something like this?

    Abel Zimmerman Zyl - November 12, 2011 Reply

    About 6500 lbs… More or less a good bit. We didnt have a chance to haul it through the scales on the way out!

    Abel Zyl Zimmerman
    The builder

Grant Wagner - November 11, 2011 Reply

That is the most original tiny house I think I’ve ever seen. Very beautiful.

Mel - November 11, 2011 Reply

I love it! What a work of art. It would be a pleasure to go home to that home everyday. - November 11, 2011 Reply

That is an amazing home. I wood love to see it in person. We live across the state from each other. I wood like to vist Dee as well. Great job very unique .

Bob H - November 11, 2011 Reply

Generally I do not like tiny houses on trailers, however, this one is very unique. Fantastic.

michelle, hornby island caravans - November 11, 2011 Reply

There is so much that I love about this little home- the use of natural materials, the fact there there is hardly a straight line to be seen, the gorgeous custom window, the rounded door, it’s all so gorgeous! Congrats on a beautiful job Abel and congrats on your beautiful new home Kera!

XsTatiC - November 11, 2011 Reply

One of the best tiny homes I’ve seen. Well done, the details are fantastic.

prairie rose - November 11, 2011 Reply

absolutely beautiful and unique! Thank you for creating a piece of art as well as a gift to the earth. will read your blog to hear more of your story. thanks for sharing!

alice - November 11, 2011 Reply

The best of A frames and vardos in one gorgeous package. The quartered window is spectacular, the kitchen layout looks very functional and the loo is quite elegant. What was used for panelling?

Featured: Tiny House Blog | Dreadnaught Darling - November 11, 2011 Reply

[…] Tiny House Blog I want to send a huge thank you to Kent Griswold of Tiny House Blog for featuring me today.   I have been following Tiny House Blog since I first because interested […]

marty - November 11, 2011 Reply

Stunning and absolutely beautiful! I love it!

I am in the middle of building my own tiny house and I’m working very hard at the balance between function and form. The shape of this house makes for a lot of very hard to use space but visually it is a pure pleasure!

    Abel Zimmerman Zyl - December 30, 2011 Reply

    The interior space is not as tricky to use as you might think. Walls are vertical about 2 1/2′ off the floor. The drawers are slightly different lengths in the kitchen. Of course, cabinets need rounded backs… This is the fun part though.

Josh - November 11, 2011 Reply

This is definitely one of the most unique little structures I’ve seen. I’m curious what the total cost to put something like this together is.

    Abel Zimmerman Zyl - November 12, 2011 Reply

    Well, i wont tell you how much i charged Kera. But now that i know what im in for with this shape, $33500… Includes all systems, hot shower, etc.

    I build all the doors and windows myself.

Kera - November 11, 2011 Reply

You can see pricing for this structure here:

That is Abel Zimmerman’s site. 🙂

Tim - November 11, 2011 Reply

I have to agree with the above posts, this is one of the best looking tiny homes I have seen, beautiful!!

MJ - November 12, 2011 Reply

Thank you for sharing your story, showing that it is possible to progress from learning to doing to radical and positive change (and end up with a gorgeous living space too!). When people think ‘I can’t get there’ they need to read stories like this!

Thanks, Kent and Kera!

Hazel - November 12, 2011 Reply

First, Kera is to be congratulated for seriously examining her life and then making changes. Many people just do what other people in society do, and keep doing what they’ve always done.

Second, the choice of tiny home is delightful! Again, Kera considered what she wanted her home to look like and didn’t follow the typical style of the tiny house movement.

Boaters have a saying about loving how your boat looks when you walk down the dock. Kera must be so joyful when she returns home to her vardo.

Personally, I would use some contrasting colours inside to ease up the wood thing that’s going on, but that’s just personal choice.

It’s fabulous how it looks so perfect nestled in the trees. Love it!!!

Terri Belford - November 12, 2011 Reply

Wow-Kera. That is gorgeous. Congratulations on examining your life and the impact it makes on the planet in so many ways. May you experience peace and happiness in your new home.

Terri Belford - November 12, 2011 Reply

Kera-are you planning to stay parked in one spot or move your home frequently? is this something you could comfortably drive on the freeway if you wanted to travel in i?

    Abel Zimmerman Zyl - November 12, 2011 Reply

    They are road worthy, however, due to their height, drag, and size, are a bigger responsibility to deal with than an RV. You have to take everything a bit slower… And watch your overheads when off the main roads.

    You’d also want a pretty capable truck and tow setup if you were planning on taking one on an extended journey.

    Abel Zyl Zimmerman

      Kera - November 18, 2011 Reply

      I’m actually planning on relocating again after Thanksgiving, closer to Olympia. This should be an epic undertaking at this particular time of year.

      But I don’t plan on being mobile full time anytime soon. As I am trying to push my business and settle in for the winter. Going forward, that is harder to say.

      I really want to travel the U.S., which is part of the reason I wanted a mobile house, but gas prices and costs to the environment make me rethink it a bit. So, I am still debating how and if I can do that and remain relatively low impact. Thus far I haven’t come to any solid conclusions.

Benjamin - November 12, 2011 Reply

Doesn’t look like a fortune cookie. ;-]

But it sure looks good!

Is that a heater to the left of the door in the exterior shot?

Claudia - November 12, 2011 Reply

What a lovely home! I especially love the curved lines and the workmanship is outstanding.

Kim - November 12, 2011 Reply

I went to your website, Kera. It looks great! Is there a way to sign up for your blog?

    Kera - November 18, 2011 Reply

    Thanks Kim!

    Yes there is a way to subscribe! If you click on the orange button for RSS feeds, it will let you subscribe. Or the link below should put you on the subscription sign up.


BigGoofyGuy - November 12, 2011 Reply

I like the style of that tiny house. It is like a modern version of the A-Frame house.

Speedmaster - November 13, 2011 Reply

Very cool, I like it! 😉

sesameB - November 14, 2011 Reply

Original and just excellent.

When imagination works, everything works!”
(Bachelard, 1884-1962)
Living in rural Arkansas

Victoria - Ozarks Crescent Mural - November 14, 2011 Reply

What a success story!

margaret - November 21, 2011 Reply

Hi there,
Love the shingled siding! Any concern with them coming loose while towing??

    Abel Zimmerman Zyl - December 30, 2011 Reply

    No problem at all. Sawn shingles are rated for something like 150 mph winds when properly applied. The curve might lower that rating slightly. But the stainless staples i use should increase it. Their pullout resistance is enough that if you yank a shingle it removes two chunks of wood from the shingle (instead of the staples coming out).

    Also, ive never had a singlew shingle blow off of anything that i have applied them to this way.

    More trouble comes from overhanging tree branches (when towing)!

di - December 20, 2011 Reply

Very interested…

I’d prefer more expansive windows, especially in the kitchen.
A portable stovetop may offer more kitchen counter space.
A standard-sized kitchen sink may be more practical.

I’ve been to your website – where are the floor plans?
I’m elderly and cannot climb into a loft…

    Abel Zimmerman Zyl - December 30, 2011 Reply

    I dont have floor plans up yet. Maybe soon.

    As far as the bed goes, id advise going for a slightly longer structure, and just putting the bed in one end. I have a project that is on hold that is laid out this way… Round window one end, bed nook the other.

From the home front: Fortune Cookie portable home, ‘Tiny’ documentary, Daniel Aragon’s tiny 20-sided home, Derek … | - December 21, 2011 Reply

[…] built by Abel Zimmerman of Olympia, Wash.The Fortune Cookie: Kera of the Dreadnaught Darling blog writes at Tiny House Blog about her tiny home, Tumbleweed Tiny House’s Vardo model, which she named the Fortune Cookie.  Hers is the […]

Donatella - March 15, 2012 Reply

This is utterly exquisite. A work of art and love. I have been having fun reading Kera’s blog, she has quite the personality! 🙂

An idea I want to throw out there for the builders of these lovely houses; perhaps you could consider financing part of the cost; so take a down payment that covers your materials costs and some of the labor, and then let people pay off the rest over time; you would then have that monthly income (hide a GPS unit in the thing if you’re afraid people will drive away with your equity!) and many more people would be able to afford them then. I could come up with a few grand and more money over time, but not the whole 30K or so that these tend to cost when a true craftsman does the work. Something to think about?

Kera - Dreadnaught Darling - March 20, 2012 Reply

Thanks Donatella (and thanks for following my blog!)!

What stinks is most banks WILL NOT finance one of these beautiful homes unless it is from a manufacturer of large proportions. Additionally, as it doesn’t have a foundation that presents some issues too. I agree that if there was financing that this would be a lot more viable for most people.

Abel Zimmerman Zyl - March 23, 2012 Reply

I am open to ideas about the financing thing. I would like to offer more of that, but i pretty much live on a sparse budget these days…

I have a friend that has wanted to co-invest in a build lease collaboration, but nothing firmed up yet.

I do offer a version of my archtop house (look up Abel’s Vardo) on this blog for 22,000. $24000 with hot water and a shower.

Abel Zyl Zimmerman - July 27, 2012 Reply

This was put up a while ago. If you are looking for some beautiful photography of the Fortune Cookie and its interior, go to Kera’s own blog:

And my site (just put up some new galleries with interior photos):



Exciting News! | Dreadnaught Darling - August 1, 2012 Reply

[…] post.  Merete was even sweet enough to link to my blog post on Facebook.  Which then Kent from Tiny House Blog also shared my blog post on Facebook. You’re both rad, thank […]

Tiny Fortune Cookie | Tim - February 17, 2013 Reply

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