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The Tiny Life’s Goals – 2016

It’s officially 2016 and with that, many folks are looking forward to this new year and planning what they want to do. I’ve written a lot about this topic before. I’ve shared my goals in years past and even written how goals and New Year’s Resolutions aren’t effective. You can read some of the older posts here on goals. This year it isn’t just me here at The Tiny Life, so Amy and I each wrote a bit for this post and shared it below.

Ryan:

ryan1I have to be honest, this year I have been struggling a lot with what the future looks like for me. I have concrete things I want to do, but they don’t feel like lofty goals that I must strive for, but just something that I need to put in the work for; work that I find interesting, fun, and achievable, but nothing that is going to push me to my limits. I’m in a very good place with my tiny house, with my career, with the relationships that I have, and with other important parts of my life, but there is something I just can’t quite put my finger on.

Tiny houses force you to ask some tough questions and the answers are often complex, open-ended, or spur larger questions. Tiny living leads you down a road of introspection and spurs existential questions. When I think about two years from now or five years from now, I don’t really know what else I want to do and what I do now, I quite like.

Perhaps I’m circling the root problem with what many call “achievement culture,” which is the idea that we have to always be chasing the next shiny thing, to always do more, do better, and do bigger. Maybe what I need to consider is not what I want to do, but instead focus on how to be content with what is. Writing this makes me think of this story:

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The truth is, the happiest I’ve ever been in my life was during the times when I was most grateful. I also learned a valuable lesson: happiness is a hard won thing that comes from within when you’re willing to do the work. Barring having a home, food, and health, you can’t buy happiness.

So with that in mind I have come up with a few things I want to foster in my life for 2016. They’re a little vague at this point because I feel like I’m only touching the soft edges of what is a deeper truth, one that is within me, but I haven’t fully brought to light.

My Goals for 2016:

  1. Learn something totally new, try a new hobby or dig into something complex
  2. Take a class, go to a conference, workshop or other learning event
  3. Seek out situations outside my comfort zone
  4. Talk more to you, my readers
  5. Teach/mentor/coach
  6. Test things to foster gratitude
  7. Do more trips with friends and family
  8. Read a book on stoicism
  9. Book time with no phone or internet, preferably in the woods

My Long-Term Goals:

  1. Sail from Florida to Mexico, arriving to see the Giant Sea Ray migration
  2. Do a river boat tour down the Danube or Rhine
  3. Go see the fall colors in New England
  4. Go on the Trans Siberian Railroad in luxury class
  5. Learn to play the harmonica
  6. Continue being self-employed
  7. Pay for my next car with cash

Amy:

amy1I love this time of year, because I get to do two of my favorite things at once: set goals and make lists. My friends can attest to how much I love New Year’s resolutions – last January 1st, I holed up in my apartment and set goals the entire day, and no one saw me leave my room until dinner time.

Last year was also my first time taking a new approach to goal-setting. I followed Chris Guillebeau’s method of conducting your own annual review, which you can learn more about here. It helped me analyze what went well and what didn’t in 2014, and helped me chart the course toward a more productive 2015.

I didn’t accomplish everything on my list, but in my defense, I had one heck of a whirlwind year. From an insane winter in Boston, to the Tiny House Conference in Portland, to moving down to Charlotte and starting a new life, I’ve learned how to recognize opportunities when they arise – and more importantly, how to grab onto them when they do!

This year had a lot of ups and downs, and I had to grow and adapt very quickly. I like to tell people that it’s been a crash course in “adulting,” but it has certainly changed me for the better. After a year and a half of living in transition after graduating college, I feel lucky that I have a new city to call home and put down some roots. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me.

Here are some of my resolutions for 2016.

My Goals for 2016:

  1. Quit eating sugar for one month
  2. Read twelve books
  3. Purchase my tiny house trailer
  4. Bench press my own body weight
  5. Create five finished art pieces
  6. Do one input deprivation day per month
  7. Write five handwritten letters

My Long-Term Goals:

  1. Build a tiny house (but you guys already knew that)
  2. Live in Japan for at least 3 months
  3. Learn to play the violin
  4. Road trip across the US in a hand-built camper
  5. Play Hamlet
  6. Deadlift 400 pounds
  7. Write, illustrate, and publish a graphic novel

Your Turn!

  • Did you accomplish your goals for 2015?
  • How do you like to set (and keep!) your New Year’s Resolutions?

How to Decorate Your Tiny House for the Holidays

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For me, one of the best things about the holiday season is decorating. When I was a kid, breaking out the Christmas decorations each December was almost better than Christmas itself (…almost). There’s nothing like the feeling of decking the halls with garlands and bows to welcome the holiday spirit into your home.

When most people think of holiday decor, they think of plastic tubs stuffed with tree trimmings and specialty candlesticks and outdoor light-up Santas. If you live in a tiny house, you probably don’t have the storage space for decor items used only once per year. But that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the decorating fun just because you live in a small space. All it takes is some extra creativity! Here are some of our tips for festive tiny house holiday decorating.

1. Miniature versions of existing decor

If you can spare the floor space, a tiny Christmas tree looks even cuter in a tiny house.

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Or if there’s no floor space for a tree, go even smaller with a tabletop version.

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Even the tiniest rosemary wreath will add seasonal color and scent to your tiny house.

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2. Utilize vertical space

Any sliver of wall or window can become a prime location for some holiday decor. If your door has divided lites, hang up some paper snowflakes! It takes up no space at all, but it makes a big visual impact.
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This DIY washi tape Christmas tree couldn’t be easier to make and takes up no floor space.

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And don’t neglect that overlooked swath of decor real estate – your ceiling! Hanging ornaments, paper crafts, or garlands can make your tiny house feel extra magical.

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3. Compostable decor

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to buy a single disposable plastic thing made in China in order to decorate your house beautifully for the holiday season. Greenery, fruits, herbs, and spices are all beautiful options that can return to the soil once the holidays are over.

These DIY pomanders are a traditional holiday decoration that will make your tiny house smell amazing!

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Pine boughs in jars, lined up near a window, are simple and elegant.

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Not much of a holiday baker? Tie cinnamon sticks around candles with twine and fake the scent of baking pies.

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4. Lights, lights, lights!

Twinkle lights are the perfect way to add ambiance to your tiny house; and once the holidays are over, you can use them for auxillary lighting year round. Use LED string lights for the smallest electrical draw.

Hang lights everywhere – in your loft, around your loft ladder or stairs, above your kitchen cabinets, around your windows, or hang them from the ceiling and around door frames as seen below.

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Use branches and lights to outline a beautiful Star of David.

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And don’t forget to decorate the outside of your house too!

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For more ideas on how to decorate a tiny space for the holidays, be sure to follow our Tiny House Holidays Pinterest board!


Your Turn!

  • What are your favorite small-space holiday decorating ideas?

Happy Thanksgiving from The Tiny Life

The_Tiny_Life_ThanksgivingIt’s Thanksgiving once again, and we wanted to wish a happy holiday from us here at The Tiny Life to those who celebrate. How can you celebrate the tiny way?

  • Tell your loved ones how grateful you are that they are in your life, and what it is about them that you’re thankful for.
  • Avoid the Black Friday crowds if you can! Put the money you’d otherwise spend tomorrow toward a goal (your future tiny house, perhaps), or spend it on a fun adventure with family and friends.
  • Donate to one of your favorite charities to show them how much you appreciate the work they do.
  • Put down the phone and enjoy a face to face conversation with someone.
  • Start a daily gratitude journal – write down three things you’re thankful for every day.
  • Take a moment to appreciate how far you’ve come toward reaching your goals, rather than constantly focusing on how much needs to be done.

“When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” -Lao Tzu

Your turn!

  • What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving?
  • How are you planning to spend the holiday?

How I Wasn’t Able To Break Into My Tiny House

I’ve been back and forth on whether to post this for a while now, but recently Jenna and Guillaume of Tiny House Giant Journey did a post about how to break into your tiny house and it couldn’t have been a better push to share this rather hilarious and equally embarrassing tiny house story.

Here is Guillaume breaking into his tiny house while his partner, Jenna, encourages him while filming. My story does not come with a video for reasons soon to be revealed.

It all started like most mornings. My alarm went off and I made my way down the ladder and blearily began my morning routine. I grabbed my towel, put on my flip flops and headed to the shower. The thing is, during the summer months I always opt for my outdoor shower, which I think might be my favorite part of my morning routine. Being situated on a huge private lot of 26 acres, I don’t really worry about being seen, I just kick off my drawers in the house, walk outside and hop on the shower pad which I have yet build any walls around.

This is my morning every day, but then something strange happened…

I dried off and went to go inside, when the door handle didn’t seem to work. I have a key-less entry, so I thought to myself, “no problem, just enter the code and open sesame!” HOW WRONG I WAS. The door started doing all sorts of crazy beeps and refused to open. I tried again and again, nothing.

I was locked out of my house, butt-ass naked with only a small camping towel, no keys, no phone.

naked and afraid

A million thoughts flew threw my mind: “How am I going to get inside?” “OMG I’m going to have to go to a neighbor and ask to use their phone with a towel so small I’m going to have to strategically prioritize what not to show,” and “This can’t be real! Seriously? This couldn’t be more ripped out of every sitcom that has ever existed.” At that point I just had to laugh and proclaim, “What the f$#k am I going to do now!”

After a good bit of laughing at my own predicament and a fair bit of cursing, I hunkered down for a game plan.

Step 1: Kick the sh!t out of the front door

At this point I had moved beyond all the options of finessing the door open, so we quickly moved on to plan B: kicking the living sh!t out of the front door. A dozen mule kicks to the door and I realized it wasn’t going to un-jam the lock and it wasn’t going to pop open without tearing out the door jamb. To tear out the door jamb, I was pretty sure I’d have to break something in my foot because I had purposefully reinforced that section of the door frame to prevent anyone from doing exactly this.

Step 2: Try to pry a window open

Next I moved onto the windows, trying to get my fingers to have enough purchase to pull them open. The problem was the windows were built so well, the gaps were very small, only large enough for a flat head screw driver to be inserted. I was able to access my tools, so I grabbed a flat head screwdriver and tried to force open the window, but no luck. The window locks were just too strong and I wasn’t able to get enough leverage. I also tried a crowbar, but the gaps were too small to fit.

Step 3: Shimming your door lock

Initially I had avoided this because I knew I was going to mess up my door frame, but I was pretty desperate. I tried inserting a thin flat piece of metal into the door jamb to push the door catch open, but the door frame I had built was so perfectly fit, the metal kept bending. I eventually got it worked into place, but since the door was so tight to the frame, there was too much friction to wiggle it into place.

Step 4: Smashing a damn window

hulk smashSo after all that, I had been trying to break into my tiny house, naked, for over an hour at this point. It was then I came to realize that I was either going to have to go meet the neighbors in a very naked state or smash a window. I wasn’t willing to destroy my very expensive windows until I realized something. My front window had been delivered damaged and I had a replacement already sitting at my tiny house, and I just hadn’t got around to putting it in. That meant I could smash the window, get in, then just swap the sashes. Bingo! I had a way in!

I figured if I was going to break a window I should do it right, so I went over to my tool box and picked up my claw hammer. I walked up to the window and took a swing…. I was expecting a crash, but all I heard was a hollow thunk noise. My hammer bounced off the window. I figured I just didn’t hit it hard enough, so I swung again. Nothing. I slammed it into the window. Nothing! I began to wail on that window over and over again, slamming it with all my might. Nothing!!!! My hammer just bounced back off the glass over and over again. Then I got really mad and just went straight up hulk on that window. After a while I was exhausted, out of breath, and I had to take a break. That’s when I realized something: I have tempered glass! It was made to withstand impacts like this!

Step 5: Giving up

It was at that point that I gave up on the house. I had resigned myself to taking the walk of shame, to say hello to the neighborhood in only a towel, and beg for a phone call to my family members to bring some clothes and a lock smith. I started to walk down the driveway towards the neighbors wondering which house I should impose upon when I saw my car, it was then I remembered something: I have a manual key that might still work, but it was locked in my car!

Step 6: Breaking into your car

I had no idea how I was going to get into my car. If I couldn’t get into my tiny house, surely I couldn’t get into my professionally made car! I figured it was worth a shot. I started by trying to shim the windows open. No luck. I slid a long flat piece of metal into the window crack to get at the door unlock button. No luck. I finally popped the door open by sliding a scrap piece of molding into the window gap, through the door handle and the pressing down against the floor, bowing out molding so it lifted the handle! I was in!

I’m not sure what to think about how I was able to MacGyver my Smart Car open with such ease. While it did take about 30 minutes, I would assume a car made by Mercedes would be harder to break into. At that point I didn’t care, I had the key!!!

Step 7: Unlock the door

I rushed over to the door with the key, slid it in the slot, and turned. I then turned the handle and… Nothing! It was still jammed! I repeated Step 1 a few times, kicking the door and wiggling the key. Then, finally! It popped open! I was in!

Step 8: Do a happy dance: clothing optional

happy danceIt was true, I hadn’t felt so thankful for such a simple thing in a very long time. There might have been some happy dancing occurring, it only seemed like the right thing to do. I was in my tiny house! Once the celebration had subsided, I realized that I had worked up quite a sweat in my many attempts to break into my tiny house, so I went back outside, left the door ajar, and took yet another glorious shower. This one seemed to be just a little better than the last.

In Closing

I couldn’t but help share this story. It is instructional, embarrassing and hilarious all rolled in one. People always ask about tiny house security and now I feel like I can adequately say that my tiny house is certified against any naked burglars that might come my way. My car, not so much. I have since hidden a key in a lock box outside my house and no longer keep a spare just in the car, because you never know when you’re going to be locked out of your house, butt-ass naked.

Things That Will Happen To You Once You Move Into A Tiny House

It’s a funny thing. You work for a long time to make it to living in a tiny house and then, one day, you do. The big question that I had and many of you will have is…now what? While that will be different for each of you, there will be some things that will most definitely happen to you.

Things That Will Happen

1. You will forever be introduced as the guy/girl who “lives in a tiny house” in every social situation

2. Half of people will tell you that they could never live in such a small space

3. The other half will tell you that they totally could live in a tiny house, but you can tell they never really would

4. You’ll begin to ask bigger questions of yourself, your life and its meaning

5. You’ll become way more laid back and find yourself just enjoying the here and now

6. You’ll own a nail gun and aren’t afraid to use it

7. Everyone will compare your house to their bathroom or closet and all you can think is, “I get it, it’s small”

8. You’ll go to the grocery store or farmers market a lot. Tiny fridges only hold so much

9. People will email you telling you what’s wrong with your house and how you should fix it, without you asking

10. You’ll find dinner parties seem way more intimate and interesting in such a small space

11. You’ll notice that conversations with other tiny house people seem deeper, richer and more valuable

12. People will point blank ask you about how you poop or other intimate details

13. Your bank account will grow and it feels good!

14. After taking on building a tiny house, other things just seem easier

15. Trying new things won’t be as scary

16. You’ll still feel like you have too much stuff

17. You might just end up leaving your job to start your own thing

18. Living in a tiny house will feel normal and you might start to feel like your house seems big

19. There will be days you don’t like living tiny and that’s okay

20. Many days you’ll be grateful

 

Your Turn!

  • Which do you look forward to most?
  • What else would you add to the list?
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