Determining wants and needs through my tiny house/living fascination

Tiny_house_in_yard,_Portland
If this house looks familiar, that’s because it belonged to Dee Williams!   Photo taken by Tammy Strobel.  Attribution:  By Tammy – Weekend with Dee, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11211685

 

I’ve been obsessed with the idea of living simply and living in a tiny house for many years now, way before it became trendy. Thinking about living in a tiny home helps me to stop myself from buying things I “want” but don’t necessarily need. Kind of like when I was getting ready to move cross country.  The way I made decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of was to ask myself, “was there room for both this thing and my animals in the car?”  The animals were definitely going – that was not even a question.  It was more a question of whether there was room for this additional thing.

So now I sit and think to myself – is this object I’m perusing, be it a second-hand shirt or pillowcase, or whatever, something that I would definitely want to move into a tiny house when I finally achieve that dream?  Or when I move into a small bachelor-type apartment? If I can’t picture it, I don’t buy it.  Do I already have something at home that can fill the “need” it would otherwise cover?  Usually, the answer is yes.

When I first got out of law school, I should have done what I advise all students to do now.  When you get out of school, don’t live any differently.  Continue to live like a student while you pay off your debts and get started with your life.  Just because you’re no longer in school doesn’t mean your home needs to look like it just walked off the pages of Dwell magazine.

So these days, I live frugally.  Like a student.  I have a roommate and it’s a one bedroom apartment, so my bed is in the living room and I’m totally fine with that.  Every morning when I wake up, I look at the Sandia Mountains to the east of Albuquerque.  It’s a beautiful view, especially when the clouds are so low they obscure the tops of the peaks. I have a large picture window that lets in lots of light.

Speaking of beds, mine is on a platform of milk crates. Guess what?  It’s pretty supportive on my back.  It’s also a good way of creating some built-in storage in a very inexpensive way.  My mattress cost me all of $129 from Walmart, and I bought it online so didn’t have to deal with transporting it in my small car.  It came in a box and once it was opened, my roommate rolled it open, and voila, in an hour or so, it was ready to go up on top of said milk crates.  And instead of buying heavy, hard to move bookcases, I have, guess what?  Milk crates!  When you have to move, you just turn them, your stuff is in them, and voila, no need to get lots of extra boxes to pack your stuff in, because it’s already packed!

You  know those plastic white bin type of drawers you can get at Walmart or Target? I bought those to organize my stuff in the fifth wheel I owned in Utah.  Still got ’em.  The old me of several years ago would have gotten rid of them as soon as I could afford a nice “dresser.”  But you know what?  It’s hard to move heavy furniture on your own and when you have a small hatchback type car.  Plus, these white drawers can be configured in a multitude of ways.  I can see everything I have in them.  When they’re too full of crap, it’s time to downsize.  Looking at them now, I see that yes,  it’s time for me to get rid of stuff again.  You really do only wear 20% of your stuff, 80% of the time.

I’ve been thinking of what I would want in a tiny house.  I honestly don’t need much, aside from room for me and my animals. I think about whether I would want a flush toilet or a composting toilet.  To not have to deal with a black tank would be awesome, so I’d likely go with the composting toilet. I’d like to do solar and have as  much of my energy needs filled off the grid.

Would I want my tiny house to be on wheels?  I sometimes think so, but then realize a shed that could be insulated, etc., might be a more economical way to go.  Just have to find a place to put it (and oh yeah, be able to afford that place/land.)  So I have begun to save.  It’s a small amount right now, but that online savings account is named “Tiny Home.”

You might wonder how all of my animals will fit into a tiny home.  If my roommate and I go our separate ways, Morgan will likely stay with him.  She does very well with training – her brain likes to be challenged, and she helps him in a great therapy-type way.  He has PTSD and a few other problems from having been in the army and Iraq.  Also, since Snuggles is so possessive/obsessive of me, he has become “her human.”  (It is a trait of weiner-dogs to be super possessive.)  Morgan adores him to the moon!   Yes, I’m her momma and the one who feeds her, but he’s the one who takes her on lots of walks, and snuggles with her and plays with her in the yard during the day when I’m at work.  When he is feeling down, she stays close to him.  Every time she hugs him, I see the bond that has formed between them.  It makes my heart feel good.

So in closing, if you started reading my blog because of my tiny house posts, never fear, I’m still very interested in them!  I still watch tons of YouTube videos about simple living and tiny houses.  Yes, I used to live in an RV and that one didn’t work out for me, but I feel like a tiny home is different and can be made much stronger and much better insulated than that fifth wheel was!  I haven’t given up on the tiny living dream, so don’t give up on me!

And yes, in case you’re wondering, I don’t like that they’ve become trendy and that the prices have increased so drastically over the past few years.  I think they can still be built economically, and I’m willing to put in the elbow grease on mine, if someone is willing to help me figure out what the hell I’m doing!

Are you interested in living more minimally?  In a tiny home?  Or an RV?  Let me know what you think, what you would prioritize, if you’d want it to be on wheels, etc., in a comment below!  And if you’ve liked the post but prefer not to comment, please hit that like button or share it! 

And as always, thank you for reading!

 

Why I Like Living Small

the view from Scout's Lookout on the Angel's Landing Trail at Zion
the view from Scout’s Lookout on the Angel’s Landing Trail at Zion

I was going to write a post about living in an RV, but then I thought I would write about why I like living small instead because I think a lot of these ideas or reasons can easily be applied to both. I’ll write a separate post about living in an RV later.

  1. Contained.  This is the sense I get – everything I have is easily contained. This doesn’t mean that necessarily everything is in its proper place at all times, but it does mean that everything can be contained within a small structure (small in the sense of relative to the average size house in this world. My RV is 30.5 feet long.) When I start to feel the urge to buy things to make it feel more like “home” I am reminded of the space allotment I have, and that’s usually enough to have my brain switch to “no thanks.”
  2. Neatness. It is really forcing me to be neater than I have ever been before in my life. Maybe it’s also because I do a lot of cleaning up after animals at my job as well, but there is nothing worse than coming into a small space and seeing crap strewn all over the place. Even if it’s the crap you really love and value. When my place is neat, I feel like I can breathe much easier.
  3. Makes me feel financially safer.  I’m now paying about 25% of what my old rent used to be, back in Boston. I was paying for room that I didn’t need.  Because of this, I get excited thinking about how fast I can pay off the RV I currently have, so that I can work on saving money so that I can pay for something smaller, with cash. And how I can fit all of my pets and myself in something much smaller, comfortably. Yes, it would make sense to do something like a Class B, but those can be very expensive unless it’s a lot on the older side, and in that case, I would worry about it breaking down a lot. Guess I should set myself up for an auto mechanic’s course….
  4. Makes me prioritize what I really love and do not love.  I’ve been looking at my closet and thinking that even though I downsized it to get to here, it needs to be downsized even more. I have heard of folks who live in  RVs who get rid of anything that they have not used in one month, and if I follow that rule, there are definitely things that I can say good bye to, however, with the change in seasons, I am not as sure.
  5. Makes me want to go even smaller. The funny thing about downsizing is that now I want to go even smaller. I see lots of Casitas and small travel trailers now, as well as teardrops, in this part of the country, and I look at them wistfully, and think what if I could get all of my possessions into something that small? Wouldn’t that be great??
  6. Less motivation to buy stuff. Because it’s small(er) than my old apartment, the motivation to buy stuff just isn’t there. If I do buy anything,  I then have to bring it home and find a place for it, and that can get kind of tiring. Better to not have to worry about it in the first place.
  7. Makes me want to get out and experience the outdoors. Or maybe that’s just the location. Either way, I prefer to not sit inside all the time! (The above picture is proof.)

Have any of you downsized recently or want to downsize your living quarters, and how has it gone, or why do you want to downsize? Please drop me a line below! (And as always, if you’ve liked the post, please hit like or subscribe or share it, and thanks for reading!)

Simple Things I Love

Now that I’ve been in Utah for a month, I thought I would take a moment and write about the simple things I love about my life. These are the things that make me smile inwardly and outwardly every day.

  1. Seeing all of my animals eating every morning and every night.  I now understand the passion behind my mom’s statement we heard while growing up: “I would take the shirt off of my own back for you or give you the food out of my own mouth – you will always be taken care of.” (That may not be the exact wording but you get the idea.)
  2. The quiet time I have every morning to write. Everyone else in my RV park is asleep at that time, so it’s just “me” time.
  3. The beautiful view I see on my drive to work every morning – seeing the cliffs and canyons surrounding my town. It’s something you can’t put a price on.
  4. The feeling I get when chopping up veggies for a good healthy dinner, or chopping up bananas to put into a healthy smoothie. I’m doing something good for myself, and creating, and it feels really good.
  5. Looking at a clean and empty kitchen sink and counter with no dirty dishes or extraneous “stuff” laying around. (There’s just something about an uncluttered counter that is so calming.)
  6. Talking to my best friend on the phone and feeling like she’s right there next to me, not over 2500 miles away. She’s so smart, generous and giving. I am so glad to have her in my life and can’t wait to see her again next spring. 
  7. Opening up my pantry cupboard and seeing it full of food, knowing I can provide for myself, and knowing that if I were to just need to live off of that storage for the rest of the month, I could, and that it would make me get creative with my meals.
  8. The feeling of waking up naturally, not to an alarm clock. Feeling well rested,and seeing so many of my animals dozing on the bed near me.
  9. Using pencil and paper, realizing that even though I have a much smaller salary now, I can still afford to pay off things or save a little, every month. All it takes is a little discipline.
  10. My nightly walks with little Osito.  We walk past the big RV park and look at all the big fancy rigs, and I wonder where those people may find themselves the following day. (I love sitting at the airport and realizing how far all these people can travel in a single day.) We like to go around sunset so it’s not so hot.  On our last walk, she met a 9 year old boy and continued her simple way of being an ambassador for dogs everywhere, just by being her super sweet self. 🙂
  11. This shows you how much my world has changed – Utah is definitely not Boston in some aspects. I just got contacted by the recycling guy and I’m going to be able to continue recycling – this brings me so much joy, you have no idea.

What are some simple things that you love or make you happy in your life? Please drop me a line below and let everyone know! And as always, if you have liked this post, please hit like or subscribe. 

Things and People That Inspire Me

Osito. She inspires me to be a better person.
Osito. She inspires me to be a better person. I just realized I posted this pic in my last blog post too. Clearly, I love it (and her!)

Some days, I just get the urge to write. Like today. Yesterday, I felt the inspiration to get rid of crap in my apartment. So today, I thought I might share with you some of the videos, stories, etc., that inspire me, and hopefully you can take away at least one good thing from this post. And if you like this type of post, let me know. Maybe it’ll become a regular thing? 🙂

I don’t have TV so I only catch up on TV shows on netflix or the internet. I do watch a lot of youtube videos, though, because I feel like I can always learn from other people, whether it be in terms of my attitude, or skills such as fixing the chain on my bike), how to eat better, or how to save money and be better disciplined while doing it. The ways to learn are just endless. And of course, there are the cute animal videos that we all like to see. (If you don’t, well, personally, you might want to go to the doctor because it’s quite possible “you’re dead inside.” LOL)

This morning when I got up and was puttering around the apartment, I went to my Favorites list on youtube, and started listening to some of them and really thinking about why they inspire me. I’ve listed a few below.

Minimalists: Living with Less (from The Feed channel) 

Exploring Alternatives: Going against the Grain Can Be Hard. They also have a blog you can see here. They are a young married couple that have a van all set up to live in full time. They are super down to earth, and the first time I saw this video, I really needed that encouragement. 

Carrie LeighAnna, What I Eat and How I Meal Plan. She used to overeat, and I have found myself doing that over the past year. No more!  She has inspired me to eat better. 

Becky Schade, who writes the blog Interstellar Orchard. This video really hit home for me. She realized something was wrong in her life and did something about it. And now, she’s written a book which launches in just two days!!  

A friend of mine posted the following story on Facebook earlier today: The Radioactive Man Who Returned to Fukushima to Feed the Animals that Everyone Else Left Behind. How amazing is he?

And sometimes the inspiration comes from an image a friend sends to me:

This is from the Story of Stuff Project page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/storyofstuff.
This is from the Story of Stuff Project page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/storyofstuff.

I hope that these inspire you today – please share your thoughts about what inspires you in the comments below, and thanks for reading!

If you’ve liked this post, please hit like or subscribe.

Defining (and choosing?) priorities

I just had to snap this photo of little Osito when she wore her new parka for the first time. She seems to really like it as it keeps her ears warm!
I just had to snap this photo of little Osito when she wore her new parka for the first time. She seems to really like it as it keeps her ears warm!

Editor’s note, written a few hours after the post was first published:

I had a follow-up appointment with my doctor’s office to see how I’m doing and feeling with cutting my Wellbutrin dosage in half. I’m happy to say, I’m doing pretty well, I think. And having cut out the Singulaire I take for my allergies-induced asthma, I’m breathing really well and clearly. Even ran outside yesterday and didn’t experience any wheezing afterward, like I used to do.  There is a medical student working there now, and she is from Seattle. She told me I can definitely can get work out in that area, and that yes, it really is possible to find a place to live there for about $700. She said things are definitely cheaper out there, and after having talked to her, I’m so jazzed, and leaning toward the PNW again. But I know, I need to keep an open mind and think everything through.

*******************************************

So, one thing I have learned over the past year or so is that I change my mind. Sometimes a lot. Enough that I am now somewhat making fun of myself when I tell my friends what my “newest” plan for next year is. I go from wanting an RV, to just having a tiny apartment, to wanting an RV, to wanting a tiny apartment or small place to rent. And well, after I put my post up about so many RVs to choose from, I spent a good week or so watching my animals, and I mean really watching them. Watching how they interacted with each other, when they seemed to be the most content, and how far apart from each other they might be at that time. And I realized a small travel trailer just isn’t going to be enough room for them. Not if I don’t want them to be in a constant state of stress, and if I don’t care to alleviate that, it makes me quite selfish and a horrible fur mom.  Two things I never want to be.

I’ve changed my mind about what I want to do with my life a few times – for about two years,  I thought I wanted to be a personal trainer. Enough so that I took two certification tests (the second being known for being extremely hard.)  However, I have realized that while I do like working out, and occasionally helping out friends, I don’t think the lifestyle is for me. It would have me inside all the time (or a majority of the time) and it can get kind of boring to do just do one-on-one training all the time. I see that in the face of my gym’s trainer.  (He’s a great trainer, don’t get me wrong, but I can imagine it gets boring to work with the same types of problems day after day.) Plus, I find it hard to justify spending the money myself for the sessions (and I get them at a discount) when I’m trying to save money and pay off debt. So how could I then be asking people to pay for my services?

On a sunny day like this one, you just HAVE to be outside even if there is a brisk chill in the air!
On a sunny day like this one, you just HAVE to be outside even if there is a brisk chill in the air!

I was interested in going to an outdoor awareness school at one point (in the PNW) but then, of course, reality started to set in. The program was $10K or so, and involved a few trips that would require me to leave the animals for at least a week or more. That, and while I love the outdoors, I really do like some creature comforts, like, a warm bed. One that doesn’t involve sleeping on the ground, constantly worrying about bugs crawling over me as I try to fall asleep. You get the picture. So that idea went out the window, but the one thing behind it stayed the same – I love to be outdoors, and it would be awesome to live in a place that values the outdoor lifestyle. And if I could find a place to work where I could be outside, or teaching others about nature, so much the better.

So my thought is now to work with animals. That’s always been part of my plan – to do more to help them, but now I want to make it part of my future career, to the extent I can. I have been researching into what it takes to be a veterinary technician, if I need to have an associates degree, etc. I’ve been looking into the various AVMA accredited programs and their locations, cost of living, etc. Still have a lot of research to do on that, but hey, it’s what I do!  If I do go that route, I want to cash flow it as much as possible and would plan on applying for as many scholarships as I am able to do.  And I hope that I can start to volunteer at either a vet’s office or clinic or even work with the livestock that the Animal Rescue League of Boston have at their Dedham location, so I can see what it might be like to work as a large-animal vet tech.

I’ve thought about living in the southwest, like NM, and the Pacific Northwest, and just last week, Colorado. What do they all have in common? Yep, the weather is better than in the northeast, and they all value outdoor lifestyles.  The weather is certainly different in all three places. But one thing I have held fast to, and even more so, as we have just changed our clocks back to not be on daylight savings, and as I saw *snow* flurrying this past Sunday along with 40 mph wind gusts, is I’m DONE with the New England weather and winters. DONE. When I rode my bike to work that morning (it’s either that or walk since the buses don’t run early enough), it was sleeting outside. It hurt my face, not to mention the wind was out of this world, making me very glad my bike has a motor and is a bit on the heavy side. And I thought to myself, yep, I am DONE with this weather. It’s way too early for this crap.

So, here are my priorities:

  1. Live simply. Regardless of what the home looks like, it’ll be just what I need and nothing more. It’ll be a lifestyle that allows me to take care of myself and my animals, and pay off my debts (eventually).
  2. Live someplace where an outdoor lifestyle is valued and desired. And where winters don’t force you inside for months on end because the weather is so miserable and nasty cold. There are so many things you can do for free in the natural world, hiking, running, biking, etc. Why sit inside and stare at a TV or computer screen when you can experience all of that?
  3. My animals need to be happy and have enough space to be so. I have found that most of the time, we are all within the same room and a half (my living room and bedroom alcove), with usually 4 of them being within arms’ reach of myself. So I think a place that is about 400-500 square feet is going to do us just fine. Maybe even someplace smaller.
  4. Find a community of like-minded people. People who are somewhat liberal minded and don’t care so much about appearances or that the almighty dollar is the thing to be worshipped. Living in the NE, I think it’s hard for some people to understand why I would leave a good paying job to do something that makes so much less, especially with all of my degrees. I don’t want to constantly feel like I have to explain my decision to do so.Around here, and especially where I work, I work with very driven students and people who have always strived to be at the top. Many are proud of saying the name of our institution and hearing people go “oohh, and aaahhh.”  The name of my employer means nothing to me. In fact, I even ask people to not hold it against me sometimes, as it can also have a negative connotation, at least in my mind. It can conjure up images of wealth and prestige and power. All things that I simply could care less about.

So, these are my priorities, and while I may change my mind about what I will ultimately end up doing, and where I may be, from time to time, I’m holding fast to them. If anyone knows of any places that fit the bill, I’m all ears, so please drop me a line or comment below.

And, as always, if you have liked this post, please hit like or subscribe! Thank you for reading.

Oh, and just one more pic of Baby O below because she is always just too cute for words, and really makes everyone smile when they see her on our walks.

This is her "old lady" red sweater, complete with flowers and everything. But, it's the perfect weight and thickness for the mild fall days when there is a brisk chill in the air.
This is her “old lady” red sweater, complete with flowers and everything. But, it’s the perfect weight and thickness for the mild fall days when there is a brisk chill in the air.

Sorting it all out

Looking up at the clouds through the trees
Looking up at the clouds through the trees

Maybe it’s the stress of the craziness of the fall semester weighing down on me, but I feel like my mind is all a jumble some days. So, I’m writing this post today in the hopes that it will help me to sort things out. The more I write or blog, the more I want to do of the same. That’s a good thing in my mind. Read more

Little Things for Which I am Thankful

ceilingtub ceiling

Tiny House at Boneyard Studios
Tiny House at Boneyard Studios

jayjayCan I be honest? I’m so thankful this week is almost finally over! There, I said it!

As you can tell, I haven’t been able to do much writing or posting this week. But, this is my favorite post to write, so here it goes…. Read more