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TinyHomes.com

TinyHomes.com

Happy 2014 to all you folks reading this! One of the things that has me excited about the year ahead is, of course, tiny houses and all related phenomena. So much good stuff going on in the midst of planning for my summer 2015 build — from helping organize the Greater Boston Tiny House Enthusiasts meetups  (you can find us on Facebook, too) to connecting with other tiny housers like the amazing Vera Struck. I’ve hit a $5,000 milestone in my tiny house savings, and my parents just bought a house with some land upon which I can locate my build site!

One of my favorite new things related to tiny houses is TinyHomes.com, a totally awesome new website started by Lina Menard and Kenny Bavoso. It’s a treasure trove of tiny house community — you can connect with other folks in the tiny house movement, peruse tiny house musings, and feast your eyes on some tiny house inspiration. I may be biased in my excitement, since I’m going to be a monthly blog post contributor, but it’s already shaping up to be an awesome virtual community and resource.

If you’re interested in what I have to say about tiny houses over at TinyHomes.com, check it out on the 14th day of each month! (And be sure to check it out on all the other days, too, for tidbits from folks much wiser in the ways of tiny houses than me!) My first post was a playful list of how to build a tiny house, and I just finished a post for January entitled “Can’t Have It All.”

What would you be interested in reading about over at TinyHomes.com? (And here, for that matter, where I’d like to post more regularly in the coming year.)

Over the past couple months, I’ve developed a new mantra. When I’m stressed out, when I get daydreamy, when I feel antsy, this is what comes to me:

Tiny house. Tiny house. Tiny house.

I think the first time I learned about tiny houses—the kind that are less than 200 square feet, that are built on wheels—was this video:

I was enamored with this tiny house. Over the years, I’ve quietly explored tiny houses online in admiration, but it’s only this year that I’ve started doing so with a more serious purpose: I’m going to build one myself.

Why tiny?

Well, for one thing: why not tiny?

There are so many reasons that a tiny house appeals to me. I’ve always been drawn to cozy spaces. As a kid, I loved reading in my closet with a flashlight and building tiny forts. More than that, I loved the feeling of home. I moved a lot as a kid (not to mention as an adult), so that feeling was sometimes elusive, many times interrupted. At the same time, it’s hard to imagine being tied to one place permanently. A tiny house is an elegant solution: I may move, but my home comes with me.

And my home will contain just exactly what I need. Part of the process of planning and building a tiny house is figuring out just what that is. I know I have too much—and unnecessary—stuff. And it’s weighing me down. I want to have a lighter footprint. I want to get down to the essentials. Make room for other things in my physical and mental and emotional life.

Like community. The tiny house community (so many amazing, enthusiastic people!) and the community I will build around my tiny house. This was a big topic of conversation that Dee Williams brought to the table at a workshop I attended (more on that below). I’m not going to have every single thing I need in my tiny house. Which is actually a beautiful thing. It means reaching out to other people, developing practical and meaningful two-way relationships. I also don’t want to live in the middle of nowhere all by myself. As I think about where to build and where to park my tiny house, I’m thinking about people and connection.

I used to dream of a big house with a big library—a big desk surrounded by shelves upon shelves of books, a ladder to reach them all. Now I dream of a tiny reading nook with a small bookshelf and many fruitful trips to the library—and a ladder to reach my bed.

“Growth can mean simpler lives and more livable communities. It takes work and doesn’t just come by itself. It takes labor and development of a different kind. Part of what functioning, free communities like the Occupy communities can be working for and spreading to others is just a different way of living, which is not based on maximizing consumer goods, but on maximizing values that are important to life. That’s growth, too, just growth in a different direction.”
—Noam Chomsky

But how?

I started with an amazing workshop in Portland, Oregon, with Portland Alternative Dwellings (PAD). They’re a tiny house company (check them out on Facebook, too)—owned and run by totally awesome women—that offers design and build workshops. I highly recommend them to anyone interested in tiny houses. Dee Williams, PAD founder and a leader of the tiny house movement, is one of my sheroes and a total inspiration. I learned so much at the PAD workshop, about building principles, tiny house ethos, zoning and code questions, and more. And it was really during that workshop—learning about all the details that go into building and living in a tiny house—that my thoughts went from “It would be so cool to live in a tiny house” to “It’s going to be so cool living in a tiny house.”

The hand-decorated tool belt my dear friend made for me that I shall use to build my tiny house!

Tool belt—hand-decorated by a dear friend—that I shall use to build my tiny house!

Next came:

  1. Started spreadsheets! I named my Google doc spreadsheet “Tiny House Scheming,” and it currently has nine worksheets, from “Heart-Swelling Inspiration” to “Budget”
  2. Began following all sorts of inspiring tiny house folks, like Lina Menard, who you can find over at thisisthelittlelife.com, and Chris and Malissa Tack of the Tiny Tack House, over at chrisandmalissa.com. They all presented at the PAD workshop I attended, and I can tell you that they (1) totally know their tiny house stuff, (2) are super friendly, and (3) are awesome people.
  3. Paid off my credit card debt, started a tiny house savings account (with no debit card to access it), and began direct depositing a bit from each paycheck into it.
  4. Registered and am currently taking a tiny house e-course with Tiny r[E]volution to explore even more of the details of building a tiny house, to keep the inspiration flowing, and connect with other folks who are into tiny houses.

It’s going to take me a few years to save up enough money to build my tiny house, but that really works out perfectly because it gives me ample time to design and plan.

In the meantime, here’s some of that heart-swelling inspiration I mentioned before:

How I shall welcome the new year:

  1. Clean dishes
  2. Fresh bedsheets
  3. Reflection
  4. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Once More, with Feeling”
  5. A new word
  6. Many words
  7. Intention
  8. Nourishing food
  9. Pristine, perfect calendars
  10. One achievable goal
  11. Several wild dreams
  12. A bit of dark chocolate
  13. A tiny bottle of prosecco
  14. A red dress
  15. Appreciation

Tell me yours!

Last night I had a big cooking adventure. And when I say big, I am overstating in the minds of most. I roasted a chicken and some root vegetables—but it was my first time on my own. I’m trying to get back into cooking good meals for myself and trying to expand my horizons a bit. Been eating out too much and not well too much lately. In preparation for the little big adventure, I knew I needed some spices for flavor enhancement, and realized I had no idea what herbs and spices are packed away in my cupboard. So I took an inventory. Now, I know fresh herbs are better, but cooking for one and only limitedly within the herb-and-spice realm lends itself to the dried variety.

Spices and Herbs—out from the cupboard and into life

Spices and Herbs—out from the cupboard and into life

Here’s what I found:
ground turmeric
garlic powder
ground cumin
stick cinnamon
ground cinnamon
vanilla powder
whole cloves
whole allspice
paprika
chili powder
garam masala
ground coriander seed
ground nutmeg

Highly reflective of the chickpea masala I’ve made a couple times and a mulled cider recipe I tried out once.

Which left me to buy at the Co-op yesterday:
parsley
sage
rosemary
thyme

Yes, yes, I know. The song. Cheesy. But a great reminder of herbs that are good for chicken (especially soup, which shall be a future adventure). I’ll spare all my vegetarian readers a photo of the cooked chicken. But let me say that it was all very good (and will be for the next couple days as I savor the leftovers). Any recipe suggestions involving any of the spices above most welcome!

It’s been knitting weather lately—grey and raining and hole-up-in-your-apartment-ey—and I’ve been picking up the needles to work on my mason-jar cozy queue (it keeps growing!). There’s something about working from my own familiar pattern, the movement and rhythm and sound of the needles, and the texture and smell of the yarn (I’m currently using wool yarn straight from Mile High Farm in Vermont, and it smells like the best things about a farm) that is ultimately comforting.

In 2007, I began knitting mason-jar cozies for a dear person in my life who wanted a handy holder for her mason jars, and since then have been making them for friends, the occasional random person out in the big world, and even a small batch to sell at a local coffee shop (the lovely Dottie’s in downtown Pittsfield).

Cozies in action at Monument Mountain summit tea party.

Cozies in action at Monument Mountain summit tea party.

I mostly take my time, enjoying the process and experimenting with new designs—and delighting in new yarn. The newest yarn I’m excited to work with is this zebra-striped brown-and-white yarn delivered from the cozy-inspirator herself, from the Guelph Farmer’s Market (Canada!).

Zebra-Striped Delightfulness

Zebra-Striped Delightfulness

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