Life has been very busy as of late with lots of new things coming down the pipeline for us here at The Tiny Life, but when I saw how nice it was going to be this past weekend I knew I had to close the laptop.
It takes work to break yourself away and make time for relaxation with friends. In a world as fast paced as ours, we need to keep sight of what’s important. The work will never be done, but time with friends and family is a precious commodity. This past weekend I decided to take advantage of the perfect weather by having a cookout and campfire.
They say the best way to clean your house is to throw a party…it’s so true! But in a tiny house, that takes me all of 15 minutes of work! It was going to be a small group, but still bigger than I could seat in my tiny house. So when the invite went out I said BYOB and BYOC (bring your own chair). We had a mix of meat eaters and vegetarians, so we had burgers and hotdogs for the meat eaters and veggie patties and veggie kabobs for my vegetarian friends.
Because of the number of folks, I decided to host it entirely outdoors. I had my grill all set up, plus I brought out a folding table that I’m able to keep tucked away most of the time and bring out when I need some more working room. With the table setup, I laid out everything we would need to keep folks outside the house. I left the door to the tiny house propped open, as people inevitably want to check it out.
Amy and my friends Caroline, JR, Jared, and Lauren came over for food and to hang out. Amy brought the veggie kabobs and tried her hand at grilling for the first time; we all got together, chatted and grilled. Once we filled our plates we moved over to the fire.
After eating and chatting, Lauren broke out supplies for s’mores, but instead of marshmallows, she brought Peeps. So we roasted the poor marshmallow chicks over the fire and ate s’mores. All in all it was a great time, grilling and sitting by the fire and enjoying the stars after dark.
What type of tiny house party are you going to throw first?
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.
I 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:
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:
Learn something totally new, try a new hobby or dig into something complex
Take a class, go to a conference, workshop or other learning event
Seek out situations outside my comfort zone
Talk more to you, my readers
Test things to foster gratitude
Do more trips with friends and family
Read a book on stoicism
Book time with no phone or internet, preferably in the woods
My Long-Term Goals:
Sail from Florida to Mexico, arriving to see the Giant Sea Ray migration
Do a river boat tour down the Danube or Rhine
Go see the fall colors in New England
Go on the Trans Siberian Railroad in luxury class
Learn to play the harmonica
Continue being self-employed
Pay for my next car with cash
I 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.
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.
Or if there’s no floor space for a tree, go even smaller with a tabletop version.
Even the tiniest rosemary wreath will add seasonal color and scent to your tiny house.
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.
This DIY washi tape Christmas tree couldn’t be easier to make and takes up no floor space.
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.
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!
Pine boughs in jars, lined up near a window, are simple and elegant.
Not much of a holiday baker? Tie cinnamon sticks around candles with twine and fake the scent of baking pies.
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.
Use branches and lights to outline a beautiful Star of David.
And don’t forget to decorate the outside of your house too!
For more ideas on how to decorate a tiny space for the holidays, be sure to follow our Tiny House Holidays Pinterest board!
What are your favorite small-space holiday decorating ideas?
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, and 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.
A million thoughts flew through 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 I 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
So 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! But 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
It 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.
I couldn’t help but 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.