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Things That Shouldn’t Impress Us Anymore

Recently I came across a great article from Joshua Becker (read it here) which captured a set of ideas that had been swirling around my head for a while.  The article was called 7 things that shouldn’t impress us anymore.  It talked about status symbols and how they shouldn’t be held up to such a high importance for us.

organizational-debtI think what struck me about most of the list is that ironic thing about the brand name of your clothing, big diamond rings, fancy cars and a big house is that most folks who these things are important to, can’t afford them.  Most – read 90% of Americans – folks achieve these status symbols through accruing debt.  I have a distinct memory of my neighbors who were very concerned with the things on Joshua’s list, one day fell on hard times.

The house of card fell very fast for them, their cars were taken because they were on lease, the home ended up in short sale and my neighbors lamented to me about all the credit card debt calls they got.  While this is just one story about a neighbor, it is really the story for many people today.   The truth is the average American household carries $15,762 (source) and 76% of Americans live pay check to pay check (source).

What is more, conspicuous consumption shouldn’t not impress us any more, but it should evoke a very different reaction – sadness or empathy – because it is almost always done on the back of debt.  People are extending themselves in ways that has been shown to break up marriages, bring massive amounts of stress and leave people in a hole they often can’t get out of.

Think about it, not only should they not impress us, but depress us.  What does it say about the status of our culture when people are willing to take on crippling debt just to impress a stranger?

Obviously I’m preaching to the choir here, tiny house folks focus on small spaces to get out of debt, we re-evaluate our spending choices and have taken steps to shed our consumer culture.  Inherently having nice things isn’t bad, even having brand names, nice cars etc isn’t a bad thing; we just need to know the why behind all of it.  The trap is when people say “that’s what I thought I was ‘supposed’ to do.”

Live your life with intention, with purpose behind each decision, each choice.  That choice could be living in a tiny house or it could be a 1,200 square foot house with a fancy car.

Your Turn!

  • What things do you think we shouldn’t be impressed about anymore?


The Things I Miss Most

There are all the good things about living the tiny life and then there are the things that I miss most. Of course, you don’t have to miss these things! It all comes down to design and what you deem necessary to your well-being and happiness in your living space. After nearly two years living the tiny life, here is what I’ve started to pine for.

aofuro1. Long, luxurious soaks in the tub. Yes, I’ll admit it. I love to fill up a huge tub with water and just lay there. At a Permaculture workshop I attended we played an icebreaker game of confession where everyone in the class went around and fessed up about their most non-sustainable guilty pleasure. Mine was a bath.  I know it’s wasteful and most certainly a luxury but I can’t help but crave those relaxing times spent in steaming water surrounded by bubbles! Any time I house sit, the first thing I look for is a tub. I actually looked in to the Japanese ofuro, a traditional soaking tub that you sit instead of lay down in, but I was told it wasn’t a practical addition to the size bathroom we were building. I think it’s a plausible addition to a small space if planned for early on in the design and I would love to see such a tub  incorporated in to a tiny house!

2. Stability in my living situation. We’ve moved our house 3 times in 2013 and while mobility was a plus when we built La Casita, I never saw us moving quite so much. While it is much less of a hassle than moving in or out of a regular home, it definitely has it’s challenges and feeling settled can take awhile.

Acraftroom3. Craft space/room. Not only for working but also for material storage. We don’t have the space in 98 square feet to meet this need. I really pared down my art materials when we moved in to La Casita and while one solution could be to rent a separate space, that’s not a financially viable option for me right now.

4. Comfortable sleeping room for guests. I miss having a space for friends and family to stay when they visit. We used to host people all the time in our other homes but in La Casita folks either have to sleep on an uncomfortable bench downstairs or camp. With winter not far off in Vermont, camping won’t be an option for much longer. Sure, there are nice B&B’s and cozy hotels for folks to stay but it’s just not the same. I love waking up in the morning and making coffee for guests and a plate of popovers! It’s the best!

5. Having huge potlucks in my living room. This was my favorite activityapotluckpicture and what I miss most about living in larger spaces. I love filling a kitchen with delicious food and cheerful, hungry people! While I have found other outlets and friends who enjoy doing the same in their homes, I miss being able to offer that hospitality.

While all of these needs have creative solutions, which I’ve explored in various posts, I still find myself daydreaming of bubble baths and bright, expansive indoor spaces for shared meals and guests. Perhaps it’s just the American in me trying to break free or maybe this is a normal process of living the tiny life. Once in a while you are going to wish for things you don’t have. It’s only human right?

Your Turn!

  • Is there anything you miss most living in less square footage?

Get Rid Of Your Crap

I started watching this video today and was floored by not only how good it was, not only how true it was, but also how much it just resonated with me.  I think every tiny house person should watch this and even non tiny house people.

The quotes that stood out for me is “if you don’t answer this question [what does freedom mean to me] there is a corporation, company or product that is happy to answer it for you”

what does freedom mean to me

Three Things I Am Having A Hard Time With

So in a few short months I am going to be moving into my tiny house and there are three things that I am really having a hard time trying to figure out how I’m going to handle getting into my tiny house.  They are things that I use very rarely, but there isn’t a good option to not having them.  I thought I’d air my metaphorical “dirty laundry” out for everyone to see, and just maybe I could get some ideas from you all.

So the three things things that I have been having a hard time paring down on are

  1. Tools
  2. Camping equipment
  3. Reference books and materials for my job

Going through this list I obviously still need my tools for building my house and I have several smaller projects to do after the house, so as of right now I use them every week, but what about after?  I have quite a few power tools that I’d really like to keep, but there is really no place in a tiny house for all of them.


Half of my current tools

I wrote about this a little bit in this post and I have been thinking I’d like to build a tiny house office in the near future.  Basically the tiny house office will be for me to shift my job to a work from home job 100% of the time, I think it is important to have a separate space to work in so you can leave it behind when you need to.  My tools take up about 30ish cubic feet right now, so in the grand scheme of things not a whole lot, but too much to pack into the house; they are something that I do want to keep.

Camping/backpacking is one of my hobbies that I have have done since I was 12, I have literally backpacked a few thousand miles with a 40lb pack on my back.  I love the views, the time away from it all, and the time spent with friends.  The gear for this hobby is quite specialized and pretty expensive. As I have curated my “perfect system” over the years I have gotten down my weekend pack down to an impressive 24 lbs including my water!  The trouble with camping things like tents and sleeping bags, you have to store them loosely to not damage them.  Loosely meaning it takes up a lot of space, not ideal for a tiny house.


Me a 14,000 feet

I’ve thought about selling it and then renting it when I need to, but honestly the idea of renting a sleeping bag that others have hiked all day and then slept in is not something I could handle… pretty gross.  Besides my gear is markedly better than what  they have for rentals around here.

Finally I have quite a few materials, books and other things that I need to do my job.  I am a very big proponent of digitizing things, minimizing, streamlining, but in the end, you need the tools to do your job.  This is an interesting difference between me and a lot of other tiny house people.  To add to the difficulty I am doing two jobs right now, the one that I’m doing and then the one I want to be doing full time.   While there are quite a few that live and work from a tiny house, their jobs seem to lend themselves to it.  My current job doesn’t so this is in part why I am considering building my tiny house office.

So that is my conundrum at this point, I’ve been wrestling with this for a while and haven’t really come up with a good answer.  Thoughts?


Tools of the trade – Permaculture

Bikes, Bikes, Bikes

DSCN3866As we’ve come to find out in La Casita, it’s not always easy to find a balance between small space living and adequate storage. As avid cyclists and tiny house dwellers it has been a challenge to find solutions to keeping our bikes protected from the elements. Charleston is a humid city, winter or summer, and between the ocean and sand, it’s hard enough to keep bikes in decent shape. The best option would be indoor storage. As much as we’d like to have our bikes inside, it’s not possible for our space so we’ve come up with a solution that, so far, is proving helpful.

For purported material reducers, we have a lot of bikes. Cedric has a road bike and an extra-cycle. I have a commuter Bicyclebike, a visitors bike and we bought a tandem this past spring. I’ve also got a new road bike arriving in March. It’s rather ridiculous to have 5 bikes between us and a 6th on the way but cycling is our passion and we can’t seem to help ourselves.  We’d been keeping the bikes locked to our trailer but the wear and tear of the elements has proved harsh and we’ve finally had to come up with a better way to protect them than just throwing a tarp over them. Between the rain and the wind a tarp wasn’t doing the job. We were also keeping bikes stored in our car but now that we have a dog we need more space in order to store Asher’s kennel.  Our neighbor offered us space to store a bike or two but we use all our bikes on a regular basis and the convenience of walking out our door and hopping on our bikes is invaluable to us.


One solution Cedric and I had considered were awnings.  We had every intention of making awnings this past summer but, instead, we decided to go on a 3 month bicycle tour. So upon our return we still did not have a decent outdoor storage space for our trusty steel steeds. This holiday season we finally made it happen. A friend of ours found amazing vinyl material on the side of the road that looked to have been a huge pool cover. Cedric cut it up, pounded grommets in to it and we strung it with para cord to hooks on the side of our house and connected it to the apartment beside us. We had a cold front move in a few days ago with lots of driving rain and wind. The awning worked like a charm. It not only kept everything dry but also well protected from flying debris.

Besides being a bike cover, the awning is a vast improvement to our outdoor space. DSCN3870If we need to work outside or want to relax out of doors we have a space now, rain or shine. It will serve as a protective cover from the sun in the summer and it creates a much more enjoyable space to entertain outside the house. There are other options out there for folks who wish to store their bikes indoors. There are great bike hangers that can work well which can be bought or made. I really like the idea of a bike mount attached to an outside wall of the house, which a friend of ours is doing on his tiny house. It’s really about planning a space for items as bulky as bikes although a folding bike is another option and there are some excellent models out on the market these days. The best solution is one that best fits your daily needs. I’d love to hear what you’ve come up with!

Your Turn!

  • How do you store cumbersome belongings in a tiny house?
  • Any suggestions on better bike storage in tiny spaces?


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