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It’s been awhile since I posted.  Things have changed a lot.  My ultimate goal has been to get my cost of living down, enjoy more outdoor “living” space, and simplify my life.  When I started this blog I was living in a condo I owned.  Since then, I bought a house.  It’s actually larger than my condo.  However, it was considerably less expensive.  $400 a month less.  It’s in a smaller city about 30 miles from where I was living before.

Cost of living–This goal is achieved.  I work from home and have the leisure of living wherever I can get a good internet connection.  That was actually a problem I was wrestling with when I was planning the tiny home.  I couldn’t find any land where there is internet available. I have a goal to get this house paid off in 15 years instead of the 30 I got the mortgage for.  If I’m prudent with my money this is quite reasonable.

Also, I noticed that so far my utilities are lower in the house.  I thought they might be a bit higher but not so much.  I attribute this in part to spending more time in front of the TV.  That 32″ beast sucks a lot of energy.  I’ve been outside more and don’t have cable any more.  And I don’t miss it.  Also I haven’t used any air conditioning.  Well the house doesn’t have any.  It has a lot of shade trees and windows.  I moved in after it started cooling down so we’ll see how that is in the dead of summer when it’s over 100 degrees.

Outdoor space–I have a lovely (lovely here = overgrown or feral) yard.  Not too big, not too small.  It’s set up very well for entertaining.  I love entertaining so that is important. My dog is also loving the yard.  She can run around without having to be on a leash with me all the time.  I also live very close to several trail heads to the local trail system.  I go hiking or trail running several times a week now.  Also I have tons of windows.  I feel much more a part of my outdoor living space just because I can see out every direction.

Simplifying–Larger?  I don’t need more space.  It’s still a smallish home by modern standards.  The main floor has 950 sq ft and the basement which is about 90% finished has another 475 sq ft.  So almost 1500.  It’s like a mansion compared to what I was planning.  I’ve done some thinking and checklists for what kind of space I need and will use.  This is a lot more than I need.  I am going to try and get a roommate because that will lower my costs with the added income and I feel guilty having all the space in the basement wasted.  In the month I’ve lived here, I’ve only been down there a few times.

The house is a bit of a fixer upper so I do not feel like I have simplified my life much yet.  Fortunately most of the fixes in the house are just cosmetic.  Someone before me painted the entire thing, ceilings to floors, green.  The yard is what needs more work.  It is obvious someone at one time took care of the place and was a gardener.  It has not been tended for a least a year and everything has gone wild.  However, I think after I get it back in order, it will be easier to maintain than in its current status, so it will be worth the work put in now.

Also, I have not been able to sell my condo.  Fortunately I have an acquaintance that is going to rent it.  It’s still a weight in the back of my mind that if she moves out I have to find another good tenant or make the payment myself.  I’m hoping the market will turn around just enough to break even in 6-12 months.

On the other hand, I did take moving as an opportunity to get rid of a lot of stuff.  You find things in closets that you haven’t used in years. Also moving stuff sucks, so I was highly motivated to get rid of it.  Most of it found new homes with people who needed it or at non-profit thrift stores.

Summary

I do have the trailer and I would still like to build a tiny house.  There is not space to park one at my house.  I am thinking right now I’ll use the trailer I have for more of a summer house/cabin.  It might be a couple of years out.  So my plans have changed but I’m still going to continue to try and increase mindfulness in my daily life.  There’s more to mindfulness than living in a tiny space.  I think it does help you realize what you do and do not really need, but I’ll just make extra efforts in the house I have.

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Floors and a door

It pays to be aware of family members who are remodeling.  I snagged my parents backdoor.  They’re remodeling the kitchen and got a new one.  Also if the countertops are not totally broken after they are removed I can have that too.  I only need a 4′ and a 2′ piece so I’m hoping I can salvage that much.

They are also replacing the flooring in the family room.  The laminate is only 2 years old, so I’ve staked my claim.  I’m not sure how far it will go, but I was thinking of doing the bath & kitchen in a vinyl tile anyhow, so I think it will cover what I need.

So as of today, I have a door, partial floors, possibly countertops, and a trailer and I’ve spent $0.  The plan is to move the trailer to my sister’s back yard in March and get going, as long as we can get some decent weather.  Until March, I’m keeping my eyes peeled for cheap or free windows.  Once I have those I can finish my blueprint/design.

I’ve been using Google SketchUp 8 which is available for free from Google.  I should be able to get a rough count on all the boards I need before I build.  It’s nice to be able to build it electronically and get a count so I have an idea how much to buy.

Reference sites

I’m moving from the dreaming phase into the designing phase.  I’m realizing building a tiny home on a trailer is going to be a lot of work but I’m committing to doing it.  The more I learn about how to do it, the more confidence I feel in my ability to do it.  I’m going to need some help, but if it’s nice enough weather in March, I think that’s when I’m officially starting.

Here is a list of the websites/blogs/videos that I have complied as references.  Some are how to’s and some I just found inspiring.

Websites/blogs

http://www.tinyhouseforum.com/

http://ourweehouse.com/

http://tinyhouseblog.com/

http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/blog/

http://www.tinyhousedesign.com/

http://www.tinyrevolution.us/

http://thistinyhouse.com/

http://www.tinyfreehouse.com/

http://www.designboom.com/contemporary/tiny_houses.html

http://jaystinyhouse.com/

http://tinytexashouses.com/

http://www.resourcesforlife.com/small-house-society

http://kevinsmicrohomestead.wordpress.com/

Videos

http://www.youtube.com/user/millionaire1963?feature=watch

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mADv0HeaSBc

http://www.youtube.com/user/collinandjoanna?feature=watch

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UB-MhZkYVo8

Books

The Small House Book by Jay Shafer

The Tumbleweed DIY Book of Backyard Sheds and Tiny Houses by Jay Shafer

The Not So Big House series by Sarah Susanka

The Not So Big Life by Sarah Susanka

Mini-fridge follow up

I tried to just use the mini-fridge for one month.  It was hard.  I cleaned out my regular fridge and found a lot of leftovers and stuff I wasn’t using or had expired.  I also found that I use a lot of condiments/refrigerated ingredients.  I like to make a lot of international cuisine, so I have a large variety.  Rather than throw it all out as waste, I left most of it in the  big fridge.  I just tried to plan meals from the foods I actually stocked in the mini-fridge though.

One theory I had was that I would eat a little healthier.  Since there’s no space for any luxury items, I thought it would be a lot of fruits and vegetables.  Which it was.  One issue that came up though were my boxed salads.  I prefer the boxed organic salads but it barely fit in the fridge and it took up an entire shelf.  So basically half the fridge was just the salad.  I’m trying to remember the size, but it’s slipped my mind.  It’s 3.something cubic feet.

A plus is there is less waste because you can only fit a couple of meals worth of food in it.  This required more frequent, smaller shopping.  Eating fresh foods is excellent, but I found with working full-time and being in school it was hard to make more trips to the store.  Also, the nature of my urban region is sprawled to the point that walking to the store is not reasonable.  It’s at least 40 mins walking.  Biking is possible, but I’m a fair weather biker, so fall/winter biking doesn’t really happen.  Also I get off work after it’s dark so it’s also dangerous.  That means I was driving more than usual.  I would love to live in a neighborhood laid out more for walking to a small local store, but I am where I am for now.

My fridge has a separate freezer.  It was adequate.  Where I’m single, it’s hard to make meals for one.  Also as part of my healthy eating planning, I usually freeze part of the meals I make for future use when I’m in a hurry.  I didn’t freeze any meals really because there wasn’t enough space for that.  Well, I guess I could have ditched the ice cream, but it’s my one luxury food item I indulge in.  I don’t overdo it, just a serving (1/2 cup) at a time.  Someone with a stronger will could make this work.

All that being said, the fridge I currently use is larger than I need.  It’s not gigantic but I could go smaller.  I don’t know what size it is, but I’d guess around 20 cubic feet.  I think I could get by just fine with half that.  I around 10 cubic feet and I think I could fit my box salads, weird international sauces, food for a week, and leftovers.  That sounds luxurious after using 3ish cu ft.

Mindful kitchen

I have been logging all the kitchen appliances I use this month.  I think I’m going to continue for 2 more months before I get rid of anything though.  So far the toaster is winning.

I’ve been trying to shop and eat the same, but I think I’ve been more conscious of waste.  It’s hard to not think about something on purpose.  I’ve just been better about using what I have already.  Starting next week I’m going to move to only using the 3.3 cu sq ft fridge.  I may need a week to transition because I hate wasting stuff.  I’ll have to plan some meals with what I have then I’ll get started when everything fits or close anyhow.

I haven’t had to throw out a lot of leftovers or spoiled food but I have had some.  I also traveled 2 weekends this month so that affected how I shopped as well.  I know that I normally throw away a lot of leftovers and produce I never get to using.  Not a lot really, but more than I’d like.

 

Trailer

Well, I have a trailer.  I’m still not sure if I have anywhere to park a tiny home on wheels or if I think I can adapt to the life change, but I have a trailer.

I forgot I had an car that isn’t running.  I was offered a trade for a 23′ trailer for the dead Corolla.  I was like, ya!

It’s a camper trailer that is half taken apart already.  Some of the windows may be salvageable and I may have a furnace.  There are also lots of cushions I may be able to repurpose into some kind of bench or couch or something in my “office”.

It’s a bit larger than I would have preferred, but basically it didn’t really cost me anything.  I’m rethinking my building plans.  (Yes, I’ve already been planning the style and floorplan for one).  I have the plans for a Tumbleweed Popomo, but I’d kind of like a loft space.  And I think I need some kind of steeper roof so the snow won’ t pile on in the winter.  It may be a pretty big tiny house.  It’s no micro, that’s for sure.

I just have to get the trailer moved to my building site (sister’s backyard).  Then I can start tearing down and cleaning up the trailer frame and measuring for exact dimensions.

I’ve been trying to embrace mindfulness in various parts of my life.  It started with just being mindful of movement and the body in yoga.  I started using mindfulness in eating.  I actually find eating, movement, and just everything I do with mindfulness is so much more enjoyable.

So what do I mean by mindfulness?  To me it’s sort of approaching any thought or action with intention and attention or awareness.  I tend to focus a lot on the future.  Somewhat on the past.  Definitely not enough on the present.  As I mentioned, I’ve been working on it on all aspects of my life and I’ve had positive results.

I’ve been following the Tiny House movement for a couple of years.  I’ve sort of been fascinated but didn’t ever really think I could live in a home that small.  Recently I’ve thought more about it.  The aspect that really appeals to me right now is how if you live in a home that small you have to be mindful of how you use space, what you use that space for, and all the possessions you own and how/what you use them for.

Am I going to build and move into a tiny house?  I don’t know.  But I’m interested.  The first step I’ve taken is to go through all my possessions and think about how or if I’m using them.

For instance I have a log sheet in the kitchen where I am logging each use of each appliance for the next month or maybe longer.  If there is something I don’t use in that time or only rarely, then I can decide if it is really necessary.

I also just bought a used 3.1 cubic square foot refrigerator.  I don’t know what size my regular one is, but it’s pretty average.  I have had that thing full just by myself at times.  One whole shelf is just condiments.  I do like to cook in multiple cuisines so I have a lot of different kinds of cooking ingredients.  However, I have like 3 or 4 different salad dressings.  Do I really need that many?  Can I recall all the foods in the fridge right now?  That’s a no.  I don’t know exactly what I have.  Lots of stuff.  But how often have I gone to the fridge and not seen anything to eat.

So, I’m going to shop and eat normal (or try to be normal, it’s hard now that I’ve planned this) this month.  If I’m really scientific about this, I’ll track the groceries I buy, what I eat, spoilage (how much I end up throwing away), etc.  Then I’m going to clean out the fridge so everything I keep fits in the small fridge and use that for a month.

The questions I have are:

  • Will it change my dietary habits at all? –change they types of food I eat, more produce or more carbs?  More canned foods?
  • Will it change the amount of food spoilage I have?
  • Will I need to shop more frequently?
  • Will there be a change in how much I spend monthly? –it’s often cheaper to buy larger sizes/volumes.  However less waste could also equal less spending as well.