Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Little Stint In Livin' Large

Avoiding one another at the big house...
This past week, Dan and I did some house-sitting for his parents while they enjoyed a vacation on the West coast.

Lucky ducks! They picked quite a great week to get the heck outta here! We got more snow dumped on us and some of the coldest temps and strongest wind chills I've seen since living in RI. While we were happy to help and allow Dan's rents to go off on vacation worry free, I was surprised at how much I would rather have been home!

It's hard to explain- I just felt kind of drained staying in such a large space. I'm big about energy; each of us and every space we inhabit carries energy. I almost felt like my energy was diluted by the space. There were rooms we never visited, except to clean. It might sound silly to some, but I think others living in tiny houses would understand. There's a certain loveliness about being in a space that is efficient, multi-functional, and specifically suited to my interests and needs. I truly have embraced this way of living, and after this week at a large traditional house, I wonder how I will adjust when we inevitably move on to a larger (not by much!) traditional space. 

Despite the unlimited electricity and internet, the running water and fully equipped bathrooms, the appliances like the microwave and dishwasher...none of it swayed me. I still, unequivocally prefer The Pod. No doubt, other challenges of the week helped this along. Due to our current pickle with our propane tank, we are still rotating 20 pounders that last typically 3 days. WELL- with this ridiculous weather- the cold and the wind- those tanks went a lot faster, resulting in me having to visit our house nearly every other day while managing a larger house too. Twice that week, I returned to the Pod to find that the tank had run dry and house was quickly approaching outdoor temps. One day it was 32, the next time it was 36. I was not a happy camper. Half of my plants died, and thanks to the winds, the small, yet long, path leading up to our house was nearly non-existent. 

Wading through snow up to your hips in the whipping wind, only to find your house is barely warmer than the outdoors can be quite trying. Those who know me, know how much I love my plants, so that was particularly upsetting. On top of this juggling act, we adopted a second bunny named Walter the week before. We got him from this great little rabbit rescue place called Sweet Binks. But the bonding process met a few hitches.

One of Deek's tiny structures at the RI Flower and Garden Show
Bonding bunnies can be a tricky task, and it's not always a quick or consistent process either. Hauling our basic clothing/bathing/food needs over to the big house for the week was cumbersome enough, then add on the crates, the food, the litter boxes, etc for two rabbits. Sheesh! Had me feeling like we need to downsize our crap yet again! The switch in environments also caused some havoc for the bunnies. The progress they made towards being friends seemed to back track in the new unknown environment. We had some scuffles and I worried for a moment that maybe this bonding wouldn't work. 

Annnnd one more thing to add on to the week of challenges- I arrived at the difficult, yet exhilarating decision to leave my current job. It is a very demanding travel job, that was quite a ways from where I live. I've come to face the fact that this job was not going to take me in the direction I ultimately want my life to go. It doesn't align with my passions, nor leaves me much time or energy to pursue my passions. Thanks to the tiny house and the financial changes we have made in day to day habits, I have the breathing room to make a decision towards improving my chances at career happiness. Although I don't have any particular leads as of yet, I find myself excited and rejuvenated in ways I didn't think possible, simply by choosing to leave behind something that did not make me happy. I know I want to eventually end up owning my own business, but I'm realistic and know it will start as a part time venture.
Best buds back at home... :)

Another of Deek's "relax shacks"

So, all in all, it's been quite a week! But it concluded in the best way possible! We returned home, settled back in, and it was like the bunnies flipped a switch and are back to being calm snuggle buddies once again. PHEW. Then we decided to head on over to the RI Flower and Garden Show, and as luck would have it, we showed up just early enough to catch Deek's presentation. Meeting Deek (of Relax Shacks) was awesome, and I am so pumped to make one more connection in the tiny house world. He even asked if we would like to come hang out at his next workshop in May! Conveniently, it's just 15 minutes from where we live. What! We might even speak a little about our experience as full on off-grid tiny house dwellers. AWESOMENESS

It's Deek! EEE!

I also checked my email to find a sneak peak at the Rhode Island Monthly Magazine feature of us and the photos are so great. I cannot wait to officially share with you all! WEE!

And with that--Thanks for reading!
Like Us On Facebook

Green house out of recycled soda bottles! 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Keepin' It Tight - Even In A Tight Space

Our tiny house gym can fit most anywhere.
Everyone, meet our tiny house gym.

Staying fit and active has always been a big part of each of our lives, and moving into a small space certainly wasn't going to make that change. I once had an excess of exercise equipment, and honestly, I think I had so much because I had a "spare" room. Don't we all imagine it will be a home gym one day? HAAA. "Part time use and full time debris" is a phrase that comes to mind. I think I tripped over the stuff more often than I used it. The equipment included a full size exercise ball, several free weight sets, resistance bands, stepping blocks, stationary bike conversion kit, ab cruncher, etc. I got rid of a good chunk of it as a "set" on Craigslist. I was several items lighter and $20 richer, and this cute, little petite lady- who spoke barely a word of English- looked so happy she could die. :)

I digress. After working a traveling job for several years, and researching all things portable and compact, I've come up with a very effective trio of tools that take up minimal space. I actually got two of the three items for Dan for Christmas. It's pretty remarkable the results we have seen since then. 

Our Tiny House Gym

4. Outdoor Cardio! -Running, biking, roller blading, hiking, snow-shoeing, SHOVELING

This combination of tools, plus basic floor exercises, like lunges and push ups, allows us to hit pretty much every major group of muscles- AND- with functional movements which are several times more effective than the typical isolated movements seen with machines. Through working at a physical therapy office, I learned that any movement with an added layer of instability, became incredibly difficult and effective. Results were also swift and unparalleled. Ever since, I have searched for tools that add the element of instability.  I really hope to get a Bosu ball at some point, but I have more downsizing to do if that's the case! 

Dan and I typically do a floor routine 3 times per week. Dan has his own regimen of various push up positions using the Push X Pros that activate all areas of his arms, chest, and back. I do some push ups, planks, and windmills with them, but my strength isn't quite there yet. We both do a few sets of ab rolls, lunges, squats, and various resistance moves with the bands. I focus on my shoulders when using the bands. 

On occasion, Dan will even use our water bricks as weights. They are an excellent way to add a challenge for squats and add some instability (due to the sloshing water)! For cardio, we enjoy doing a great deal of different activities, lately it's just been shoveling. I'm ready for spring. I can't wait to do yoga at sunrise on our deck! Glorious!!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Simplification: A Continuous Practice

My jewelry box was a thrift store find,
jazzed up with some paint I had around.
Even in a tiny house- there can be excess.

Dan and I have lived in the Pod for 15 months now. We can both easily say we have fully adjusted to living in a tiny house, but old habits and old notions can take time to fade. At times, we still find ourselves with chaos, disarray and a feeling of having too much crap. Life comes with a certain level of messiness which the OCD child within me has painfully begun to accept, but the day to day hustle and bustle of not putting away the pajamas as we run out the door to work, is not the same as having too many dang pajamas-- which I consider a different kind of messiness...usually goes by the name of clutter.

Maybe it's the new year; maybe it's just my typical pattern as I eagerly await spring, but I find myself wanting to weed out even more of the dwindling unnecessary. It's pretty remarkable that we have downsized our belongings by about 70% or more, and here I am still inspired to have less. Human beings have an astounding capacity to adapt. I've come to really enjoy the thrill and weight-lifting sensation that comes over me as I get rid of stuff.

Wow! I can actually reach in a pull out one piece
vs a knotted wad of chains and dangles!

I spent a lot of time toward the beginning of this journey getting rid of stuff. And at first, it was tough for me. But the more I examined the situation and asked myself what value the stuff honestly had, I found that it rarely amounted to anything that could deter my desire to be financially free and living a  simple sustainable life. It has been several months since I have taken stock of my belongings and asked those questions. In that time we have had holidays and other gift giving celebrations, and so surprise! Life just has a way of quietly tacking things on if you're not vigilant. 

I've realized that to live minimally, for me anyway, must be a constant practice and series of questions. How many purposes does this item serve? How often is this item used? How often is this item in the way? What sentimental value does it hold? A new rule I have taken on for clothing and accessories is "One in, one out". If I get a new top, I have to pick a top from my closet and donate it. If I get a new pair of boots, I donate an older pair of boots. This has been one of the most successful rules I've put into place. It allows me to gradually, perpetually update my wardrobe without it increasing in size. Recently I had an urge for a purge, and combed through my closet with far less emotion than I used to- quickly removing five items. These, I don't plan to replace, so I will be slowly downsizing my overall wardrobe as well! 

See ya later!

This weekend, I set my sights on my jewelry. I realize that I barely wear any these days, so there was no need to have a jam packed jewelry box- which is out in the open by the way. I moved through that quickly too, getting rid of about 60%. I set aside pieces that might be worth something at the pawn shop, and put the rest in a baggie to be donated with the clothes. 

Part of this was also inspired by a series of TED Talks I have watched, mainly about living simply and getting out of debt. Check them out! 

A Rich Life With Less Stuff -A story I can relate to..

Sell Your Crap. Pay Your Debt. Do What You Love.  -Really love this guy's message!

The Less You Own, The More You Have

The Ten Item Wardrobe

Checkout Project 333 as well! Very cool concept. I hope to get to that point soon!

Good luck to each of you making your way to a tiny life, whatever your inspiration or motivation may be! Start getting rid of your stuff and be mindful of gaining new stuff! You will be that much closer to your dream!

Thanks for reading!
Like Us On Facebook

Monday, February 2, 2015

Cozy Through The Storms

Just checking in real quick!

We've been keeping pretty busy just keeping a path cleared to the tiny house! We made it through the first storm no problem, and I sit here nice and cozy as we ride out the second. I think all the snow around the base of the Pod is helping keeping us a bit warmer too. 

We are certainly loving our deck from a whole new perspective! I can't imagine thrashing around in snow up to my hips and then walking directly inside! I'd take a pile of snow right in with me! I think one piece I do miss about larger homes is the entry way or mud room. You don't realize how useful they can be until the first mud season or good Nor'easter. But we make do! We hand our snow dripping clothes in the bathroom and place a towel on the ground. 

Not much else has been going on here! Dan is in full swing with work and school, and I'm trying to adjust to having so many free nights. I am determined to get back to guitar and painting on a regular interval, so I'm making the most of it. Who knows- I may even start a quilt for our bed. I have decided on a pattern- simple, but still pretty and bright.

We were eager to see if the power would go out in either storm, but alas, it did not. I don't know why we are so tickled by it, but we are just so happy about being totally solar power based. I've also started noticing solar panels left and right, in all sorts of uses. HOORAY!

In other news- we are giving Wendy "free range" times and working towards letting her be a free range bun all day long. We are also very excited to meet tentative bonding partners for Wendy this Saturday! We've read a lot about the benefits of rabbits being in pairs, and they are less likely to get bored and be naughty. I've really learned a lot about rabbits and gained a much deeper appreciation and respect for the little fluffy creatures. :) We are going to visit a great little specialty shelter dedicated just to rabbits. It's called Sweet Binks and they are great people. I was astounded by how many rabbits are dropped off at a shelter or just abandoned each year. The biggest culprit is Easter. So many parents buy their children a cute little baby bunny with no regard for the 10 year commitment a rabbit can be. I read about an Easter present bunny that a couple girls "set free" in the heat of July. The poor guy was found collapsed in the beating sun, and nearly died of dehydration and heat.

I'll be the first to say I love dogs above all other types of pets. No question. They have qualities and a level of connection that no other animal can match, but Wendy has opened my eyes to respecting, loving and connecting with any little fuzzy creature. What's the point here? I didn't have one really, when I started, but I guess it would be: If you are thinking of getting a little chick or bunny for your kid for Easter, remember that's a life you are taking responsibility of! Make sure your child is ready for that level of responsibility or just get them some candy*!
 (*In this instance I condone candy.)

Thanks for reading!
Like Us On Facebook

Where does she immediately go? To investigate the blockade for weaknesses.