Tiny House, Tiny Living, The Tiny Life.

My Minimal Wardrobe

As of late there has been many articles about how Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Barack Obama all keep a very minimal wardrobe; I was also glad to see a few articles about how women could achieve this too.  A minimal wardrobe is, in my opinion, easier socially for men to achieve than women, but certainly possible and many do.

There are many reasons to have a minimal wardrobe, for me its about saving time and reducing decisions.  Studies have been done that show the more decisions we make, the worse we become at making good judgements and the more it wears on us.  So things like “what shirt should I wear today” can actually impact our abilities later to make the right call on critical decisions later in the day.

So here is my wardrobe:

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This is almost everything for when I’m traveling, when I’m at home its identical, but instead of 7 days of clothes, I have a total of 1o days.  The only thing not shown here is one jacket, a pair of dress socks, a button down shirt, and a pair of dress slacks.  I dress up once a year, so I keep those items in a garment bag in a hard to reach storage space.

  1. 7 charcoal grey short sleeve shirts
  2. 7 white undershirts
  3. 7 pairs of socks
  4. 7 pairs of underwear
  5. 2 pairs of jeans, 2 pairs of shorts, 1 winter hat
  6. 1 blue long sleeve shirt
  7. 1 workout shirt, 1 pair basket ball shorts
  8. 1 shirt to sleep in, 1 pair of flannel sleep pants

This has been a really great setup for me because I can just reach into the specific drawer and without looking, grab what I need in a flash.  The shirts I get are very comfortable, they are plain so they don’t have graphics or logos, and they aren’t too expensive.  At worst they cost me $10 new, sometimes I can get them on sale for a little at $1.50 from Khols.

Other things to note are I have all the same socks.  This means I don’t have to pair them during laundry, I know I can grab two socks and they’ll match.  For shoes I have one pair of sneakers, one pair of hiking boots, and one pair of dress shoes.

I’ve also have washed these clothes individually with hot water and a “color catcher” sheet, this let me remove any dye that might bleed into the whites.  So now when I do laundry, I can do it all in one batch.  Once or twice a year I’ll run an all white batch and bleach it heavily to keep the whites, white.

When I am traveling, I use packing cubes which keeps things neater and makes it easier to find things.  They’re really just square/rectangle mesh bags that you sort into them.

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I travel a good bit of the year so having this translate to a easy pack is important.  The plain shirts and jeans help me blend in a little bit better as a local versus an American tourist.  The packing cubes I use are made by ebags.  I’ve heard good things about Eagle Creek too.  My suitcase is an Osprey Porter 65, which is suitcase that has pull out shoulder straps to become a backpack.  I like it because instead of being top loading like a backpack, it opens up on the front panel so when you put it on the ground, it fully opens and things are very accessible.  The backpack straps also tuck in so they are out of the way so that when in the airport, the straps don’t get caught in rollers etc.

 

 

Living In The Moment

This past weekend I had the fortune of watching my sister get married it was an amazing weekend, but the week leading up to it started off pretty tough.

I had been working for weeks to get ready for the Tiny House Conference because once I saw my sister walk down that aisle, I was off to Portland.  It meant that I had to have almost everything in order before then.  I was feeling good, a little stressed, but good.  I had nailed my to do list and was even doing some bonus things when I walked to my car…

IMG_3379The window had been smashed in and quite a few things had been stolen.  I had hidden my backpack under the seat, but apparently the thief still spotted it.  In that bag was $800 of really important things for the conference, my check book, but thank goodness, not my laptop.

I was angry.  I was upset.  I didn’t have time to deal with this right now.  What I had been working so hard for during the past year felt threatened.  Not that the Conference was in jeopardy, but the bag stolen symbolized one thing to me: my tools to write, to podcast, to build the movement.  I felt like these tools and what I do were cheapened; what cost me $800 of hard earned dollars to do what I loved, was being hocked at a near by thrift store for a few bucks.

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This was compounded by the fact that since I was leaving so soon, I might not be able to get the things I needed before I left and once I left, I didn’t know exactly where to have things shipped.  Needless to say, emotionally I was in a bad place.  A darker place than I’ve been in for a long time.

Anger-Quotes-14This angered me even more, because in the end it wasn’t just money, it wasn’t just the tools for what I love doing, it was the worry, the fear, that I would carry that anger into the weekend where I would not be able to fully appreciate and be fully present in the biggest day in the life of someone who I care about.  I felt like that was what was robbed from me.

 

 

It was then and there that I resolved myself to not let that person who smashed that window take this amazing moment in time from me: seeing my little sister walk down the aisle.

I had no idea how I was going to do it, but I knew I had to figure it out.

I took some time, of which I really didn’t have to take, to think about this.  How do I deal with this anger?  How do I deal with this fear?  How do I deal with having to spend $800 plus few hundred for the car to be fixed?

I remembered a person from my past who once shared the notion of Paradoxical Gratitude, the idea that when something bad happens to you, you look at the positives of what surrounds it.  An example would be: if a loved one dies, you focus on the fact that you have living friends and family that are there to support you in your time of need.

I liked the premise of this and it stuck with me over the years, a tool in my tool box to help me be grateful for what I did have.  It was time to use that tool.

I thought to myself:

  • How amazing it was that I had built a life for myself that I had the money to weather this storm.
  • How I patted myself on the back for my ability to roll with the punches and get things done.
  • How thankful I was that my mother had time to drive down to the car dealership and we then spent the afternoon together.
  • How cool Macy Miller was about me saying I needed to take a few weeks off from the podcast when I shared the files of 5 podcasts and all my podcasting gear had been stolen.
  • How fortunate I was in life, how I had a house, a job, a car, friends and family.

These were the thing I repeated to myself over the following days.  I had to make a concerted effort to push myself out of that darkness and into a place where I focused on gratitude.  It was hard.  It is easy to fall into a place of anger when we feel like we have been wronged, but I knew the stakes were too high.

Then came the day of the wedding.

My sister and I are pretty different people:  She loves clothes and shopping, I buy multiples of the same shirt and hate every minute of it.  I went to a liberal arts school that shunned greek life and had no real sport teams; she went to a bigger school and joined a sorority where she went to all the games with her sorority “sisters”.  Despite all our differences, we get along well and I’m proud to call her my sister.  She would correct me and say “your favorite sister” a running joke because I only have one.  So I was very excited for her because I knew how important this day was for her and thus, it was important to me.

I was standing outside, looking down at grounds where the wedding would happen and was mindfully saying what I was grateful for to myself.  The wedding was about to start and then something clicked in me.  The focus on gratitude had paid off.  I was standing with my brothers, my father, the groom and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect; it was a great day!

The wedding kicked off and I saw my little sister, my favorite sister, get married.  She struggled to hold back the tears as she said “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward”  and I wasn’t much better.

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My parents, my sister and her now husband.

The night went quickly after that, sitting for dinner, being rushed back out for more photos, going back in for the first dance, and then getting to see so many family and friends.  My face hurt from smiling when my head hit the pillow at 3am.  A good day…. no, a great day.

So I wanted to share this story to encourage you to live in the moment, to foster gratitude in your life, to making conscious decisions in your life to deal with the anger, the fear, the doubt, the negativity and go to that place of happiness.

– Ryan

 

Cargo Trailer Takes Off-Grid Off The Radar

With growing uncertainty in the nation, global strife, the fall of the American currency, and a host of other scenarios, the rise of the Prepper is growing as well. And for each prepper seems to come an idea of what housing for an emergency situation might look like. That coupled with the discontentment of RVers for where they have to stay may very well be the incentive for folks like Bill Southworth of Hybrid Propulsion for building what is now becoming known as the stealth camper or travel trailer. His particular build ended up being one of the slickest 80 sq. ft. transforming cargo trailers to date.

Stealth 1Turns out the precipice behind Bill’s build was – as he puts it – “Traveling with a Rottweiler means you stay either in really awful roadside motels or very high end hotels that treat the dog as a guest. He “decided that we needed a way to carry our hotel with us on our journeys. I checked out all the obvious travel trailer options and decided that they were either too large, too ugly, too inefficient, or too poorly constructed. I decided that I could do better.” And better he did. At just 16′ long this former horse trailer nicknamed “Son of a Buggy” is a solar powered gem that features some of the most clever and multi-faceted interior options one could imagine.

Stealth 2The walls, at first site, seem blank and sterile even. But interior designers would call them Scandanavian-inspired in that they are minimalist with high function yet little decor. The idea Bill insists is to make the space appear larger than it is by keep lines clean and make all furnishings and adornments invisible. The walls themselves are made from a honeycomb-type material that is recycled cardboard and covered with a thin birch veneer. The floors are recycled, compressed Mulberry bushes from Sustainable Flooring of Boulder, CO and is actually more durable  and more hard the Teak.

Stealth 4To make the trailer more comfortable and homey the sleeping arrangements are for a king size bed while the bed consists of one stationary twin which doubles as a sofa. When the bed is stowed, a drop down table can be slid into place to make a dining area for four. The entertainment system is a 26″ Samsung LED TV swings out above the bed for Apple TV or HD DirecTV. The printer , computers and WiFi storage is in the cabinet next to the TV. This level of technology is something that is becoming more predominant in tiny houses as even Tim and Shannon’s tiny house features a retractable movie screen with a HD projector and a surround sound system.

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Southworth designed and built his little cabin on wheels to use solar, battery, and power management and it’s designed to store for on board storage so that Bill and his wife can go for weeks off the grid and even off the radar!

Your Turn!

  • Would you want to disappear entirely with your tiny house?

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If I Had $1M To Further The Movement

what if questionI was sitting on the porch of my tiny house the other night thinking about tiny houses and the movement when the question floated into my mind: “If I somehow became the steward of $1,000,000 to further the tiny house movement, what would I do?”  It’s an interesting question and I really like thought experiments like this.  So, here is what I’d do:

I think an important first step would be to establish a tiny house proof of concept with a city and create a model that other cities could follow.  I would most likely start in my hometown of Charlotte, mainly because I know the codes better and have some good connections with folks that I’d need to leverage in order to make my plan successful.

I’ve had some preliminary conversations with some community development leaders, developers, lawyers and a few political figures at the point, but have yet to take it much further because the later phases of execution would require funds that I simply don’t have.  So I’d start a dialogue with some key people and then also contract the services of a few people, primarily lawyers that have experience doing community development.  I don’t think things would need to get pushed into the court room, but a few of the lawyers I have in mind know the landscape better than I do, they have the personal connections, they know what meetings you need to show up for, they know who other follow on votes and they know the process.  These things are valuable to the execution of the plan.  I figure it will take about $50,000 in contractor fees, mainly because most of the people would be lawyers ($200-$300 an hr).

Running Total: $50,000

From there I’d work with these people to start conversations with the city about getting a program started where we would essential do a trial run on a particular piece of land for a tiny house community.  I figure about $5,000 in fees, filings, paperwork, etc.

Running Total: $55,000

land_for_sale_29cConcurrently I would be shopping for land, somewhere in the 10-20 acre range of which I have about 5 locations that would be ideally suited for this project.  The key here would be land that could be rezone for a cluster housing setup and located within a 30 minute drive of downtown Charlotte.  The location would be key.  Most people today want the amenities of a city and Charlotte is a decent sized city to meet that need, plus land is relatively cheap and still available.  For the land I’d be looking to spend up to $250,000 which would be the home of the community and a common house that would also later be used to run training events, meetings, etc.

Running Total: $305,000

Next once we had the land and the city’s support, I would work the land (grading, access, roads, parking), install infrastructure (water, sewer, solar, internet, gas), then begin construction.  For this I’m assuming $75,000 to meet city requirements.  I’m also assuming they’ll require us to install storm drains, side walks, and a retention pond because of the number of people, it would be similar to an apartment complex in their eyes.

Running Total: $380,000

How-To-Build-a-Great-Team

Once I had the land secured, I’d put out a call for residents.  There would be an application, interview, and selection process.  The goal would be selecting people who would be good stewards of the first location, would have the ability to interface with the public and the media very well, and people who could help us put a good foot forward in the community.  The group would also have to function well as a team, because I would want a community, not disparate individuals that just want a place to put a tiny house or live cheap.  I envision the people selected would go through a lengthy interview process, jump through a lot of hoops and prove that they are the right people for the mission.

With that group I’d want to do some team building, some communications training and community building.  There will also be some media interface training, so that they can keep calm when a reporter tries to pull a “gotcha”, when a detractor speaks out, or when something goes wrong and they need to operate under pressure.  For that I’d budget about $5,000 for various activities and facilitators.

Running Total: $385,000

 From that point I’d design the houses with each of the people using some tiny house designers I know.  The plans would be used to build the house and then either given away or sold as a revenue generator for the non-profit mission of this incubator.

Established Revenue: $1,000 / month

Each house would be designed, built and paid for by this project, but each person would enter into a 2 or 3 year lease on that house.  I’d guess between $200-$400 for rent and utilities a month.

It might be possible that some of the paid work needed to be done by this project could be paid to these members if they had the required skill sets for the job.  This could also aid in keeping the project accessible for low income individuals.

I would want 10 houses to on the property, half to be people bringing their own house, half built onsite built with about half the labor done by the people themselves.  I figure total cost per built house would be $40,000 for the five built on site for a total of $200,000.

I would also have a common house built (about 2,500 square feet).  I figure about $200,000 for that building.  That building would have a large room, community kitchen, a guest bedroom, laundry and toilets.

In this space I’d tried to save a lot of costs here by doing workshops where people come for the week and get hands on with building a tiny house.  Tickets would be pricey because of the time, meals, organizing etc.  I figure $1500 a person.  This would help offset the costs of the houses.  For the common house I’d try to do that with straw bale or ob and again, make that an event that we would sell tickets to.

Worst Case Running Total: $785,000
Target Running Total: $600,000
Established Revenue: $3,500-$5,000 / month

 This would close the initial phase of the first location.  From here the idea would be to document the entire process and produce some high quality materials, media, and website.  These could be used by tiny house people and by municipalities.  I figure there will be some coding, design and material fees with this $5,000.

Running Total: $605,000
Established Revenue: $3,500-$5,000 / month

The next phase would be taking the revenue generated and building that revenue to become a self sustaining non profit.  The hope here is that with the initial $1M we could build an engine that could pump out tiny house havens and develop training for DIYers, Builders and cities to elevate the community.

The remaining funds to kick off the next location and essentially do lobbying on behalf of tiny houses.  I would also look into tiny house financing, developer partnerships and tiny house insurance.  We would develop tiny house codes that municipalities could plug and play for cities and we would help them in that process.

I’m also playing it safe with the budget because things will inevitably be more expensive, unexpected costs will come up and there will be some staffing costs.

Final Total: $850,000
Revenue: $13,500-$15,000 / month

So that is how I’d move the movement forward with an infusion of $1M.

Your Turn!

  • How would you use the $1M differently for the movement?

The Octagon Tiny House Is At Least 8 Shades of Amazing

Yurts are typically thought of as Mongolian round huts that can easily house a family through the harshest of conditions. But there are a new breed of yurts that appeal to those looking for luxury in a smaller size. One of those is Maui’s ‘Octagon Studio’ at the Aromatherapy Foundation of Maui. How are they different? Unlike the Nomad Yurt the Octagon Tiny house has no wooden bone structure and the roof is made of wood and shingles rather than a roof covering with a compression ring to keep it tight. In fact,  the one room yurt in Maui is more of a cottage or tiny house or even a studio than a true yurt. No matter though as it The provides guests with a charming accommodation and an incredible opportunity to get away and escape from reality. Coupled with sensational views from each window the beautiful wooden house is nothing short of relaxing and rejuvenating.

Yurt 1The cabin, if you will, accommodates 2 people in a 1 bedroom/1 bathroom setup. The bedroom features wood ceilings, a wooden bed frame, nature inspired linens, wood flooring, and an incomparable set of floor to ceiling windows that overlook beautiful fragrant and edible gardens. In addition the bedroom has drapes that surround the bed acting as more than mosquito repellants but rather as privacy curtains from anyone passing by in the gardens and potentially looking in.

Yurt 2While the studio cabin is in a rather remote location removed from society it does has electrical outlets, WiFi, a pool, and a hot tub. It also feature a small kitchenette that allows for food preparation and basic sustenance. It includes a small fridge, a 4-burner range, and a small sink. But with so many exotic fruits and vegetables as well as native meals available cooking may be the last thing on the mind of someone in Makawao (the Upcountry where the studio is located).

Yurt 3As with all houses though – small or large – the room most asked about is the bathroom and this Octagon does not fall short.

Yurt 4With appears to be stained and finished Oak the bathroom is spacious with its almost overly-exposed views. The only thing separating the person bathing and Mother Nature is glass and some beautiful white drapes. It allows for a true natural feel with access to unlimited hot water, great water pressure, and rainfall pressure.

NOTE: The Octagon Studio is located in the beautiful area of Olinda just a few miles above the quaint cowboy town of Makawao. The air at three-thousand feet is fresh and vibrant and the pine and eucalyptus forest above the house provide great hikes and adventures. The cottage is located on an aromatic farm and the mesmerizing scent of rose geranium and lavender is always present. A beautiful 20 minute drive down the hill will bring you to Baldwin Beach near Paia for swimming and beach time and two miles north of Paia are the famous windsurfing and kite-surfing beaches of Hookipa. Both Makawao and Paia provide excellent shopping and dining experiences.

Your Turn!

  • This studio brings up the question of how small is too small? Could you live in this size space?
  • Do you like all the floor-to-ceiling windows?

 

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