Grow

Here we grow a garden of food to cook, share and preserve. We grow closer to who we are as we get more in touch with this place we call home. We grow a homestead and a life of earth-based joy.

Expert Interview on Mint.com

Posted by on Apr 14, 2015 in Grow, Recent Posts, Simplify | 0 comments

Expert Interview on Mint.com

I was recently interviewed by Mint as part of their Expert Interview program. In our eCourse, we guide participants through an intensive look at money and help them to align spending with core values. Sharing our strategies for mindful spending, radical saving and zero-debt living makes me happy. Watching clients’ lives change for the better as they regain control of their spending and save enough to start their own mortgage-free homesteads is just awesome. When Mint contacted me for an expert interview, my heart jumped. More people to help! They asked some thought-provoking questions, and I’m happy with my answers. Click here to read the interview and let me know what you think! Simply, Hari P.S. Enrollment for the Summer 2015 session of our eCourse, Creating Your Path to Mortgage-freedom is now open. Open enrollment closes on July 15, 2015. Read about the course here! Sign up for our newsletter to be informed of open enrollment for future sessions and receive our seasonal newsletter. Share...

Read More

Growing Sacred Economy

Posted by on Mar 8, 2015 in Cultivate Community, Grow, Recent Posts | 2 comments

Growing Sacred Economy

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know how I feel about community. I still remember sitting at our dining room table in our purple house in Florida making a must-have list for our future place, that place where we would put down roots, and slowly build our homestead. We wanted mountains, local food, music, and enough land for our kids to roam, but at the top of this list was community. I dreamed of being part of a large circle of people who work together toward common goals. I dreamed of having friends to share the responsibility of raising kids. I dreamed of working in gardens and helping each other grow. The amazing thing about getting super-clear on intentions is they have a way of working themselves into reality. Setting clear intentions is one of the tasks I ask the participants to do in our course, and it’s working for them, too. So here we sit in this place we dreamed up. This place that has roots of community deeper than my old white oak up the hill. There’s something deeply moving about finding a place where you belong. There’s something deeply satisfying in knowing you are there because your people are there. Do you live in a place that stirs you this deeply? Are you in love with your place? Do you mark time by the buds on the trees and the familiar bird songs–the ones you can’t name…yet? I hope so. What a world this would be if we all loved our place so deeply that we wanted nothing but to nurture its growth. The more we nurture our communities and the greater community of folks around the world making a shift to local commerce and self-reliance, the more profoundly we will impact the world. It is with the intention of nurturing community and sacred economy that I share the project of our friends and community members, Scott and Cassie Pierce. We met Scott and Cassie shortly after we moved into the tiny house. We noticed a familiar entrepreneurial spirit in them and quickly found out that they also planned to build a mortgage-free home (It’s been fun building alongside another family, but that’s another story.) We weren’t surprised when they announced that they were opening a kombuchery. What is a kombuchery? you might ask. It’s a place where kombucha is brewed. Here is an article about kombucha. Inspired by the idea of sacred commerce, they decided to start their business with cash and grow it in the slow and steady way that all things with good roots grow. “It’s easy to imagine a world where businesses lead the shift to a sustainable, authentic workplace for all when you live in a community where local business owners practice living an inspired life.  With so many mentors in Floyd County, we felt supported in implementing practices in our own business that reflect our deepest values.  We weigh each decision with true intention, from our glass bottles made stateside, to the hand written mantras affixed to each glass fermenter.  Sacred Commerce launches the idea that commerce can be a vehicle to raise consciousness, allowing for a collaborative community to swim collectively in the spiritual current.  With this in mind we create, market, and sell our kombucha to you ~ a complete, unadulterated lovefest of a product born from our truest Selves.” –Cassie Pierce Now, they’ve reached a milestone. They’ve outgrown their equipment and they are ready to take this labor of love to the next level. I’m inspired by their willingness to ask for help after working their business to the point where it naturally needs to expand. Check out their Kickstarter video and their website. These guys are so close to reaching their goal on Kickstarter, but if they don’t reach it, they get no funding. If their story resonates with you, if you like kombucha, local business, sacred economy or just want to give some good folks a hand up, please consider donating $5 (or more, of course!) It feels good to help others reach a dream. Thanks...

Read More

Camera Dreams Come True

Posted by on Nov 3, 2014 in Grow, Recent Posts | 13 comments

Camera Dreams Come True

I remember taking my first picture. I saved up my points from one of those school fundraisers to buy a 110 camera. I held the tiny box to my eye and snapped a picture of my cousin Kelly who was visiting from somewhere far away. The image was crooked and blurry and I thought hmmm that’s not what she looked like. I’ve taken tens of thousands of photos since then. It’s something I love to do. It started as a way to document the moments of my life for some future me and then for some future kids. But it’s grown into so much more. It’s become a way to express myself–an art medium. I like to compose images to remind myself of the beauty in the natural world and in humanity; when I share my photos, I hope they help you to see the preciousness of life. This Saturday, like many of you on the east coast of the USA, I woke to at least two inches of snow blanketing our hillside. Happy November 1st! I thought about rolling over to snuggle up for a bit longer, but then I saw the soft light and the snow resting on the branches in the woods, and I had to bundle up to capture the earliest snowfall we’ve experienced in Virginia. Taking pictures gets me outside and the photos help me connect with so many people from around the world. I’m grateful for the camera; it’s a powerful tool. I’ve come a long way from that first 110 camera. For the last year and a half, I’ve taken pictures with the SONY Nex-5. I bought this camera with the earnings from my weekly letter*. It took me over a year to pile up those $5 bills but it was worth the wait. Thank you, Weekly Letter subscribers! *The weekly letter was an experiment in writing for a small audience. Subscribers paid $5/month to support the project and receive the letters. I made some good friends through the project and realized how much I enjoy working closely with people. My first book, Coming Home: Letters From a Tiny House, is a compilation of these letters. This project also planted the seeds for the eCourse. I’ve enjoyed the SONY. It was a huge step up from the tiny Olympus I was using prior. Thanks to all of our readers and social media followers, I have a new camera now! You reading the blog and following us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have helped us gain the attention of Nikon. The story awes me as much as the camera itself. I didn’t pay for this camera! In early October we were contacted by a casting director for Nikon. After a few phone calls, they asked us to be an Eye of our generation for the #IAmGenerationImage campaign. They sent their newest camera, the Nikon D750 along with the Nikkor 24-120 lens in exchange for sharing our images and our story. Thanks, @NikonUSA! Pinch me! This is a dream come true. I watch those folks around town with their big cameras and even told one or two that I wanted a big camera, too. I might have joked a little bit, but I was also totally serious. The only thing I’ve coveted is a camera–one that will actually take a picture the way I see it. And now I have one. I just have to learn what all of these buttons do. I’m delighted to share this journey with you. Woohoo! Follow your passions, people. Keep on keeping on. You never know what’s around the corner. Here’s the announcement on Facebook. Post by Tiny House Family. Simply, Hari P.S. Enrollment for the Summer 2015 session of our eCourse, Creating Your Path to Mortgage-freedom is now open. Open enrollment closes on July 15, 2015. Read about the course here! Sign up for our newsletter to be informed of open enrollment for future sessions and receive our seasonal newsletter. Share...

Read More

Dear Garlic, We got it right this time!

Posted by on Jul 19, 2014 in Grow, Recent Posts | 11 comments

Dear Garlic, We got it right this time!

It’s such fun to learn through trial and error, and there’s no shortage of opportunity in the garden. If you read my book, you know that I planted my first crop of garlic upside-down, because it’s fun to just go for it as a beginner. I was so sure the little green sprout wanted to send a nice root down into the soil, but that green sprout was the first leaf. It had to work a long time to curve around itself to reach the light that first season. I grew cool umbrella-shaped garlic, but the cloves were tiny and, well, I learned how to plant garlic. The side of the clove with the roots that look like little hairs goes down. Planted one of my favorite crops yesterday. Got it in the right way. Soil is better than ever. Planted at the right time.–All things I learned by asking lots of questions and learning from my mistakes. Now, it’s up to the earth. -Facebook post, Oct. 14, 2013 Garlic in spring. 2014 garlic harvest Garlic roots Happy garlic Yum I was sure to plant it right-side-up on year two, but an extremely wet season caused a lot of rot. To add to that problem, when I pulled it out of the ground, the bulbs were so dirty, I washed them clean with a spray nozzle–sure to power water into all the possible crevasses. It was so pretty when I put it up to cure, but actually I set it up for a good rotting. Garlic needs to be as dry as possible at harvest to allow for curing. We managed to eat a good bit before the rot set in, but we had to throw out about 1/3 of the second season garlic. After two less-than-stellar garlic harvests, I decided my beginner’s mind needed some help, so I reached out to my community. I asked my friend Davis (who grows the biggest bulbs of garlic I’ve seen) if I could buy some seed garlic from him, and I asked him for his garlic-growing wisdom. This third crop was gonna make it. Here’s what he said at planting time: Plant in mid-October (for our region–Floyd VA is in USDA Hardiness Zone 6b) Plant with the little furry roots pointed down and the single sprout or point of the garlic clove pointed up. (Okay, he didn’t say this. I learned this the hard way.) Pay attention to spacing–plant 6 inches apart. Garlic is a heavy feeder–add plenty of organic matter/compost in fall. I used Harmony Organic Fertilizer (composted chicken manure). Keep the beds weeded, as garlic doesn’t compete well. His advice made me consider a few things about my gardening so far. I haven’t paid enough attention to spacing. It’s funny–I know plants need a certain amount of space, but I insist on crowding. I’m learning that less is more in yet another area of my life. Since Davis said to space ’em 6″ apart, I found a stick that measured 6″ and used that as my guide. The cloves sprouted before the ground froze, and I mulched them with leaves and wood chips. I kept the beds free of weeds as part of my morning coffee-in-the-garden walking routine. When the scapes shot up, I researched the right time to cut them–wait until they make their first curl. I pureed the scapes with olive oil and froze the mixture in ice-cube trays. Scapes are a great addition to pestos, dressings and salsas. Time to cut the scapes Ready to process Pretty garlic scape curls Archer with a scape mustache. A little food processing factory. Archer is getting garlic scapes ready for the blender and Ella is hulling strawberries. The curls on the scapes made for some kitchen fun. Trim the scapes into small pieces and blend with olive oil. The leaves started to wilt and yellow a tiny bit in early June, so I visited our local organic gardening supplier, Seven Springs Farm. I can’t say enough how lucky I am to live in a place rich with such knowledge. I talked with the farmer there about the...

Read More

Exposing Home – Reflections on the Tiny House Tour

Posted by on Jun 25, 2014 in Grow, Recent Posts, Remember | 8 comments

Exposing Home – Reflections on the Tiny House Tour

Last month, we opened our home to the public as part of the SustainFloyd Tiny House Tour. We were happy to share our home and help an organization we believe in all at the same time. What an amazingly full day it was. The tour sold out, and 260 people toured the five homes. Some folks drove a whole day to get here! This is a testament  to the growing interest in simplifying life and paring down to what really matters. Hooray for that! We met so many kind and enthusiastic people who loved our home and were grateful to us for opening it. We even got a thank you letter via snail mail. Thanks, Nancy, for taking the time to honor us with a real letter. There were people all over our hillside. My dear friends sat on our parking pad, asking for names and email addresses and directing folks to walk into the woods to see the Grandmother White Oak we are blessed with. At one point, I sat down on the deck, and looked around at all the people wandering our property. Whoa. This is not quiet and private. I’m a quiet and private person, so spending a full day exposing all the nooks and crannies of our home took it’s toll on me. I wasn’t uncomfortable sharing–I mean we all have underwear drawers, but the amount of interaction took me down. After six hours of tours, we went to dinner and then viewed the awesome and inspiring film, TINY: A Story About Living Small at the Floyd Country Store. Then we sat on a panel with our fellow tiny house dwellers. Hari and Karl as part of the SustainFloyd Tiny House Tour panel discussion, May, 2014. View from the big house upstairs window. Archer entertains. Karl answers questions outside while I give the tour inside. Deck full! The tour guests take the hike up our driveway. Meeting familiar faces. Shoes off in the tiny house! The panel discussion was a highlight for me. How cool to sit on the stage with our dear friends and talk about living our lives. Even though the introvert in me had to hide out in a clam shell for a week to recover, this experience was delightful. I never imagined we’d have a home that people would want to tour, let alone one we built with our own hands. At the end of the day the traffic slowed down, and some guests asked me a deeper question. It got me all philosophical. I think it was something about why would you want to build a bigger house when you are living so well in this one. I thought about it out loud, “Well, we make this work, but it’s not easy, and there are things we love that we can’t fully explore while living in this house. We want friends to visit and have a place to stay. We want our kids to be able to retreat to their creative spaces to paint, dance, play music, etc. We want to have space for sleepovers and potlucks, we want to host music jams in the dead of winter. It’s funny, our world was pretty big when we owned the restaurant–we hosted and entertained people everyday. After the restaurant, our world became quite contained in this little house. It’s been a great learning experience–helping us examine what matters most. As the big house grows closer to completion, I feel our world changing again. Moving into the big house will immediately give us a tiny house to share. We look forward to hosting bed and breakfast guests, to using the tiny house as a teaching tool, and to having more family and friends visit.” The tiny house has exposed me in ways that I never would have been exposed otherwise, and I’m so grateful for this time of growth. And now I’m ready to grow into something new. I have this image of me unzipping myself from the tiny house. I step out and stand on top of the tiny house with my...

Read More

It’s Growing Season

Posted by on Apr 30, 2014 in Build, Grow, Recent Posts | 2 comments

It’s Growing Season

Welcome Spring! Every fall I  plant garlic. This year, the green shoots popped up before the soil froze, and I covered them with a layer of mulch. Once the snow melted and the soil warmed, the green leaves shot out of the ground. There’s a lot of excitement around the homestead this time of year, “Mommy, the garlic’s up.” “Hey, guys, the potatoes are up!” “Have you seen any peas yet?” We stare at soil and wait. We sink our fingers into the moist ground and bury seeds. We plant flowers and watch the first butterflies drink their nectar. We watch the fruit trees bloom and with the rest of the county, fear this season’s crop might be lost by a late hard freeze. We’ll know soon enough. We’ve lived this life through the cycle of the seasons for three years now. It’s our slow and steady mortgage-freedom walk. People ask us all the time–when do you think you’ll move into the big house? We’ve said, “In about a year.” for two years. Now I say, “I don’t know.” And that’s okay. It’s good to stay longer than you think you can, to watch your children grow to take up more room than there really is. Because we realize just how much we can handle, and that even when there’s really no more room for anything, there’s room for joy. There’s room for a wild dance in the living room with the lights out, even though our arms hit each other as we swing them in time with the beat. It hurts a bit, and we’d dance more often with more room, but we still dance. But, man, I’m saving up some big moves for the big house. It’s funny sometimes some tiny house purists on some blogs will comment about how we’re doing it all wrong, that the tiny house movement isn’t about a stepping stone to something bigger, and that’s fine. It may not be for them. But for us, we’re growing bigger. Our home is growing with us, and when this little house just can’t contain us any longer, we’ll spread our arms and leap through the big house. But the tiny house won’t leave us. It will be part of our family, growing and changing with us. Maybe it will house our parents, or our friends, or bed and breakfast guests from around the world. It will continue to teach us how to live simply and together. It will help us teach others that it is possible to contain giant things in small spaces and it will stand as the view from the big house reminding us always of the years we spent in 168 square feet, moving slowly and deliberately through the seasons. Simply, Hari P.S. Enrollment for the Summer 2015 session of our eCourse, Creating Your Path to Mortgage-freedom is now open. Open enrollment closes on July 15, 2015. Read about the course here! Sign up for our newsletter to be informed of open enrollment for future sessions and receive our seasonal newsletter. Share...

Read More

Watching Life

Posted by on Dec 2, 2013 in Grow, Recent Posts | 4 comments

Watching Life

I raised seedlings last February when ice covered the ground and winds howled. Karl rigged salvaged shop lights in the shed 8 inches above a shelf. I planted seeds in the tiny house and carried them slipping and sliding on the ice. I set the seed flats on sheet trays with rope lights curled underneath. The bottom heat seemed to do the trick, because the seeds sprouted to life. I needed that. In the darkest days of winter, seeing the seeds break out of their seed pods gave me hope that I would sprout again, too. But those early days were touch and go. The seedlings reached quickly for the light and began to fall over. I had to baby them, raise them closer to the light, monitor their water, make sure it stayed warm enough, turn the light on and off for the right amount of time–a surrogate sun. The weather warmed and I placed them outside only to have them get snowed on. What a relief to finally reach the safe zone and plant them in the garden. They leapt to life and grew bigger than I imagined they would. I felt proud. They were my babies, but also my saving grace. We helped each other find the life we needed. It rained all spring and early summer. My tomatoes got late blight and I ripped them out of the ground. They were black and I was sad. They gave it the best they had. Sometimes weather just wins. It’s always worth it to put myself out there, to work to coax the life into a seed, only to rip it out with disease. There are the plants that make it to the glory days of fall, when we can say,  “We grew all the food on this table. Those green leaves in the garden, I shared with the caterpillars and bees and bugs I can’t name, yet.” Those plants become my family, the kind of family I can tell secrets to while laying on my back dreaming into clouds. I don’t want them to leave me. The flowers in fall are perhaps the hardest to let go. I want them to flower into winter, to shine their red beauty to the sky. It want them to last forever. Then comes a killing freeze. The end of the growing season. And winter’s darkness sets in again with seed pods and fake light and flowers in my heart. I will do it all over again. Simply, Hari P.S. Enrollment for the Summer 2015 session of our eCourse, Creating Your Path to Mortgage-freedom is now open. Open enrollment closes on July 15, 2015. Read about the course here! Sign up for our newsletter to be informed of open enrollment for future sessions and receive our seasonal newsletter. Share...

Read More

Build Community with a Crop Mob

Posted by on Oct 27, 2013 in Grow, Recent Posts | 2 comments

Build Community with a Crop Mob

It’s as simple as this: Invite several friends who share similar lifestyles and ideals to come together once a month. Our group includes five families. This is a good size for a crop mob–more would be difficult to cook for (especially in our tiny houses), and we can accomplish a lot and keep everyone busy. More people=more food and more planning/management. Small is good. Decide how long to work. We meet on a weekend day and work from 2-5 pm and then enjoy a meal together. Take turns working at each home. The host family prepares a meal for everyone. The host family organizes all projects and work for their day. We send an email to the group a few days ahead of time with a chore list and any needs such as extra wheelbarrows, tools, etc. Commit to one work day a month for the warm months. It is important to have a group with a solid commitment, or the momentum could be lost. Working together is affirming. We share ideas, tools, and love with each other’s land. When we come together in this way it is so much more intimate than just a dinner party. We share dreams for our homesteads and we have a hand in making each other’s dreams reality. Some of the projects we collectively accomplished this summer/fall are: Built a wood shed Built a deer fence for a new garden Mulched Landscaped Dug garden beds Finished siding on a house Painted front doors Demolished a spring house and salvaged the cinderblocks Painted a pump house Harvested, washed and dried potatoes, carrots and other crops The work we got done at our place was so helpful, I feel like it is the start to my best garden season yet: next year’s. Our September date was a great time to get the garden ready for winter. We dug in compost, mulched the pathways, weeded and prepped beds, I was able to plant my garlic right on time because of all the help I got at just the right moment. Work is so much more fun with friends; the momentum is inspiring, and I work harder than when I’m alone. The sum is definitely greater than the parts. Try it for yourself. You’ll be investing yourself into your community and the results will astound you. Simply, Hari P.S. Enrollment for the Summer 2015 session of our eCourse, Creating Your Path to Mortgage-freedom is now open. Open enrollment closes on July 15, 2015. Read about the course here! Sign up for our newsletter to be informed of open enrollment for future sessions and receive our seasonal newsletter. Share...

Read More

Building a Family Seat and Cultivating a Sense of Place

Posted by on May 17, 2013 in Build, Grow, Recent Posts | 3 comments

Building a Family Seat and Cultivating a Sense of Place

In my last post I introduced you to Virginia, a dear reader and correspondent. In her letter she didn’t just talk about setting the day in your mind, she also talked about how we are creating a family seat here on our land. That term intrigued me. Here is a bit of her letter: My family seat is down below Sparta, NC. I say family seat, but I don’t even live there. It is home to my family since 1773 . That is what you all are building on your land. Family seat is an old English term. Not just a house or home but hopefully a seat for your family to have and come to for generations to come.  You can be so proud of what you are doing and how you all are working so hard to make it happen. I wrote her back and told her the term family seat intrigued me. I told her that I find many folks have lost touch with the sense of place. Her response was: I never realized so many people have lost a sense of place .  A lot of the kids growing up today have never really truly experienced a sense of place and with so much divorce and moving about they just do not know what it is. I read a lot of genealogy and I kept coming across that word. I used to remember a great-aunt using the term family seat. She was adamant that we never sell our land, and I’m glad we listened. Another thing she always used to say is your land is your wealth–always keep it. I really never knew what she meant ’til I  was much older. It made great sense with this economy. Like you guys are doing you picked up and came to a piece of land. You live small in a small house, but the land is your home. You can grow part of your food,  live and build your house. I share this bit of correspondence with you because what Virginia brings up is so important. Knowing our place is important. It gives meaning to our lives and instills a deep care for the land. I hope we can keep our family seat right here. I want my kids and their kids and their kids to sink their fingers into this soil I cultivate. I want them to taste the fruits of our labor. Where is your family seat? Where would it be if you chose the spot? Any tradition you build to create a bond with the land is a good start. Maybe camping in the same spot every year, or hiking the same trails, or learning the names of the trees in your yard–maybe you already have a deep sense of place–tell us, what does that mean to you? I’m one of the kids Virginia talked about. I moved a lot growing up and didn’t have a clear sense of place, but I’m building it now. My friend and fellow blogger, Fred First said in his recent TEDx talk, “Home is a place where you consciously choose to grow your roots.” So even though I’ve lived in many places. I’m home now. Maybe we’re even building a family seat. Simply, Hari P.S. Enrollment for the Summer 2015 session of our eCourse, Creating Your Path to Mortgage-freedom is now open. Open enrollment closes on July 15, 2015. Read about the course here! Sign up for our newsletter to be informed of open enrollment for future sessions and receive our seasonal newsletter. Share...

Read More

My Love Affair with Cardboard

Posted by on May 10, 2013 in Grow, Recent Posts | 4 comments

My Love Affair with Cardboard

This whole tiny house journey started as part of a much bigger plan. We wanted to live as free as we could from the confines of mortgage and corporate food. As we’ve lived on our land, we’ve been growing a homestead. Slowly, our virgin garden is showing signs of fertility–earthworms wiggle out as I am transplanting the seedlings, the shovel sinks in with little effort, there are less and less rocks to remove. Oh joy! You might laugh at me, but I stopped everything and took pictures the first time I saw earthworms in the garden. This brings me to cardboard. I’ve recently fallen in love with this free and plentiful resource for use in gardening and landscaping. Last year, I injured my fingers yanking at weeds all summer. My pathways and then my beds exploded with weeds. It got so bad, and my fingers hurt so much, that I stopped pulling them altogether. This year, I decided to put major effort into a new (to me) approach that was working in my friends’ gardens–sheet mulch, a popular permaculture gardening technique. It’s so easy and effective, I wish I’d thought of it a long time ago. How I Sheet Mulch My Garden Paths (The article I linked to above has more technical details.) Lay cardboard on the pathway. Remove all tape from the cardboard. Weigh it down with rocks. If you are going to immediately cover it with mulch, then skip this step. Cover cardboard with four or more inches of mulch.  I’ve used free wood chips from Asplundh, a company that clears trees from the power lines. They dump the chips and allow the community to load it up for free. Check your local recycling center or landfill to see about free mulch. I also use leaves which decompose into a lovely black layer. The cardboard breaks down and becomes easy to puncture, so you can poke holes to insert plants where ever you want. My plan is to let the pathways breakdown and then incorporate that matter into the beds. There are more steps to this process, if you want to create a bed right off. I’ll get to those as time goes on. What I’ve Noticed about Sheet Mulching Earthworms started showing up last year, and this year they are so plentiful that one crawled into my sandal when I was working out there yesterday. Freaky, but exciting! The soil under the sheet mulch is amazingly fluffy–those earthworms have been busy. The garden is retaining more moisture. Since the paths are covered in such thick mulch, the moisture is also staying in the beds. There are no weeds in my pathways. Places where I spread wood chips without first laying down cardboard are already growing weeds–so the cardboard is a very effective weed barrier. Here’s to free and effective renewable resources! Cardboard, I love you. Simply, Hari P.S. Enrollment for the Summer 2015 session of our eCourse, Creating Your Path to Mortgage-freedom is now open. Open enrollment closes on July 15, 2015. Read about the course here! Sign up for our newsletter to be informed of open enrollment for future sessions and receive our seasonal newsletter. Share...

Read More

Hooray for Progress!

Posted by on Apr 11, 2013 in Breathe, Build, Grow, Recent Posts | 6 comments

Hooray for Progress!

Thank you so much for supporting my work by buying my book! I am enjoying this feeling of accomplishment, and your encouraging words fill me with joy. I am also grateful for the support of other bloggers. Here are links to reviews of my book on Tiny House Blog and Tiny House Talk as well as some link love from Rowdy Kittens. Thanks, guys! Ella was sitting in the garden planting seeds when she said, “Mommy, remember when we didn’t have a fence around the garden?” I smiled at her sitting there in the purple hat she found at a Roanoke yard sale. She is so good at keeping me present and helping me appreciate my life. “Yeah, I remember that. The deer came in and ate my peas and sweet potatoes. We went straight to tractor supply and bought the fence material.”   Archer was on the other side of the fence totally in love with his chicks and ducks. One by one he picked them up and held them to his chest, then held his hands out and let them flutter off. I never imagined we’d have 19 chickens and 6 ducks but we do. Archer says he wants to farm. It’s heartwarming to see him with his animals.   Last week, in the snow, Karl and I walked up into the woods and looked down on the little homestead. He grabbed my shoulders and pointed me at the big house. “Look what we’re doing. Look how far we’ve come.” He remembered his Dad. “That’s one thing my dad taught me. Sometimes, you gotta step back and admire your work.” We were under the giant white oak–I looked up to take in the season–still no sign of leaves, but somewhere in there she’s doing the inner work–getting ready to leaf out. I snapped a picture and then got a text. It was from my cousin, Danny. “I love the book so far. Super proud, for sure.” “Karl, I did it! I really launched my book.” “Of course you did.” On Sunday we measured and cut the second story floor joists for the big house. Karl put them up (on his own–let’s hear it for Latvian ingenuity!) while I spread mulch and planted seeds. We are moving  toward our dreams–one board, one seed, one book launch at a time. It’s important to acknowledge how far you’ve come, even if it’s only a few inches. And, of course, the true mark of success is standing present and aware for the moments of your life. What are you moving toward? What small signs of progress can you detect? Share in the comment section! Simply, Hari P.S. Enrollment for the Summer 2015 session of our eCourse, Creating Your Path to Mortgage-freedom is now open. Open enrollment closes on July 15, 2015. Read about the course here! Sign up for our newsletter to be informed of open enrollment for future sessions and receive our seasonal newsletter. Share...

Read More

My Book is on Amazon! Coming Home: Letters from a Tiny House

Posted by on Apr 3, 2013 in Breathe, Grow, Recent Posts | 10 comments

My Book is on Amazon! Coming Home: Letters from a Tiny House

Today is April 3rd. I marked this day on my calendar a couple of months ago as the day I would launch my book. I picked April 3rd because it is an auspicious day for our family. I birthed our first child, Ella, on this day 10 years ago, and 6 years ago on this day, we opened our dream restaurant, New Day Cafe. April 3rd is a good day for new beginnings like birth, New Days and new books. In late February, when there was snow on the ground, I slipped on the ice moving laundry from the washing machine in the shed up the hill to the dryer in the shed behind the tiny house. As I lay there staring at the starts, that voice–you know the one–that crusty inner critic–spoke loudly, what do you think you are doing? Why would anyone want to read about your mundane life? I sat frozen, and I’m sure you could tell. The blog has been silent for a while now, but I haven’t been totally still. I’ve been editing and birthing this book into the world. It is here–just in time for spring and the letting go I see all around me–the chicks emerge from their eggs, the seedlings crack out of their seed pods, and the ground thaws. We are so much a part of the nature around us. Never have I known this so intimately as I do now, after spending this cold and dark winter in the tiny house. But alas! It’s spring. I imagine my book flying through the air like these sweet birds who’ve returned to my window to eat sunflower seeds. I’m awed by and grateful for this opportunity we all have to share honestly person to person. Who would have imagined that one could publish like this even 10 years ago!? This opportunity we have to really help each other inspires me. So, I’m asking you to help my family by buying my book, Coming Home: Letters from a Tiny House. In turn, I hope it inspires you to come home to your best life! Thank you thank you thank you for the love and encouragement. WE really can build a new world with the choices we make every day. So much love. xo Here is a little excerpt from the book’s introduction: Through my letters, I expose my own vulnerabilities, fears, desires, and dreams. I don’t pretend to have the answers, although reading my letters may lead you to your own answers. Life in the tiny house is still life and full of mundane activities like washing dishes, doing laundry, scrubbing the toilet, cooking, eating, entertaining, caring for kids, and sleeping. It’s true; there’s an outward requirement to fitting in a tiny house: downsize your belongings to only the most necessary. That’s clear at the onset. We all know how to get rid of stuff. Most likely, you’ve done that your whole adult life. What wasn’t clear at the onset was the internal requirement to fitting in to a tiny house; the mechanics of emotion, self-acceptance, and communication were something I didn’t fully anticipate. Our family has gained much from our time in the tiny house: namely a deep connection to ourselves and each other. We’re a stubborn bunch. There are loud moments when we’re neither listening to nor respecting each other. There have been awful moments when we didn’t think we could take another minute of living in such close quarters, but those moments served to propel us into a study of nonviolent communication and mindfulness practice. Archer said it best after closing his eyes and listening to a chime while breathing deep. “I feel a lot of space.” There is infinite space available to us if we know how to turn within to find home. I present my weekly letters as a study of one family’s journey to understand our basic needs—how we stripped away everything else and found joy. Simply, Hari P.S. Enrollment for the Summer 2015 session of our eCourse, Creating Your Path to Mortgage-freedom is now open. Open enrollment...

Read More

How We Can Food in Our Tiny House

Posted by on Nov 7, 2012 in Grow, Recent Posts | 13 comments

How We Can Food in Our Tiny House

On Sunday, I posted a picture on Facebook of the apple canning I did this weekend. One reader thanked me for posting, because she was just telling someone, “A small home doesn’t mean you cannot can food or live a ‘normal’ life.” I like how she put normal in quotations. It’s true. Life in the tiny house is life, and from my perspective it feels pretty normal. Even though there are moments of frustration when I have to adjust my activities to this tiny space, exercising my creativity to find a solution brings unexpected rewards. Turning a bushel of local apples into twelve quarts of jarred applesauce last weekend challenged me. In summer, we do all of the canning outside on a turkey fryer burner. Since the propane tank was empty, and it was cold, I decided to make the applesauce inside. A bushel of chopped apples fills a 40 qt. stock pot. That’s a lot of apples, a lot of chopping, and a lot of pot on a small stove. I hand chopped the apples, since they were late-season apples with some bad spots. Luckily, I bought a food mill this season, so I didn’t have to peel or core the apples. After finishing the chopping, I added enough water to cover the base of the pot and turned on the burner. The main challenge at this stage was stirring, but the reward was an unexpected bicep workout. Keeping the lid on between stirring helped the apples to break down faster. Once they started to soften, I stirred them more often. This took about 40 minutes. Smaller batches go faster. I started the apples late in the day, so when I finished saucing them, it was too late to start canning. Our refrigerator is an under-the-counter bottle cooler, so there is no room for a giant stock pot. I knew I had to get the apples cooled down to 41 degrees, hold them above 140, or risk spoilage. When Karl got home, I had just settled on putting them in the oven which meant I had to take the sheet pans, skillets and rack out of the oven and place them in the shower. Chef Karl to the rescue! Food safety is his game. Lucky us. “Holding hot food for longer than six hours is dangerous,” he told me as he got online to check the weather. “It’s going to be 38 tonight. Let’s put it outside.” He went up to the shed and came back with our giant stock pot. This stock pot is so big the kids play in it by getting inside and rolling back and forth. “Do we have a lid for that pot?” I asked him. “We do now.” He said. I went outside to find the round toboggan upside-down on the giant pot with the smaller pot on top to weigh it down. Problem solved. With more surface area exposed in the giant pot, the sauce cooled nicely overnight. In the morning, I ran the sauce through my new food mill. What a time-saver! It separates the sauce from the skins, stems and seeds. I fed those to the chickens and put the sauce back on the stove to heat. Meanwhile, I walked up the hill to get the jars and lids. Walking outside in the cold air, I heard the rooster from a neighboring farm, and watched the sun peer over the ridge. Having to retrieve the jars from the shed forced me out into nature, and it was a sweet moment, indeed. Back in the house, I set a small pot of water on the stove to boil. While the sauce was heating, I sterilized the quart-sized jars one at a time and lined them up, awaiting the sauce. We invested in another new tool this summer—a pressure canner*. The pressure raises the temperature higher than the boiling point which shortens the processing time and allows canning of non-acidic foods. Until now, we used water-bath canning. Karl walked me through the steps, and we finally canned that sauce. It is delicious, even if it...

Read More

My First Blog Post: A Year Later

Posted by on Aug 22, 2012 in Breathe, Grow, Recent Posts | 21 comments

My First Blog Post: A Year Later

I am enjoying an online writing class with Tammy Strobel of RowdyKittens where I am reminded of how much courage it takes to click publish and share with the world. Thank you, Tammy and classmates! It’s been a year since I first clicked publish on TinyHouseFamily, and what a ride it has been. I remember posting about how I’d like to get someone to come over and take a video for me, so the camera wouldn’t be so shaky. I never thought it would be two cool guys straight off a plane from the Anderson show. Or that we’d fly to New York and share our tiny house on national television. All of this publicity has been exciting and fun, but when I read my first blog post I remember why I started this blog: I wanted to share how simplicity has brought me a deep level of connection and peace. In honor of bloggers everywhere who are brave enough to click publish for the first time, I share my first post: Making Pesto As I walked through the garden this morning, I thought about our blog, and how much I think about what to write. I’ve wrestled with where to start. Do I go back to when we had a 1500 sq. ft. house and a stress-filled life? How do I start without telling the whole story? Being present with my vegetables brought the answer: Start Where You Are – a title of one of the few books on my bookshelf. Sure, our story has a past and a future, but as I strive to live mindfully in the present, it makes sense that I should start where I am, standing next to this huge pile of rocks looking at the basil, which is about to go to seed. I decide to make pesto. I walk through the garden gate, creatively crafted by my honey with salvaged materials and a few leftovers from tiny house construction. That quote I put on our homepage pops into my head, “We are happy in proportion to the things we can do without.” I wonder what feelings Thoreau had when he wrote that, I wonder what he was doing when those words came to him. I like the sound of them. As I spend time in each step of pesto making, I ponder what this quote means to me. Doing without creates a vacuum, a space for creativity, and being creative brings happiness. Now that the basil is harvested and clean, I need to dry the leaves, but we decided to get rid of the salad spinner. I’ve seen them at yard sales and could easily replace it–certainly would make drying greens easier. But, if I had a salad spinner, I never would have learned to BE the salad spinner. How happy I feel when I wrap the basil in a towel, twist the ends like a candy wrapper, step outside and wind it up like my middle school buddy, Amy, did when she threw a fast pitch. I watch the water spin out, splatter the deck and feel it sprinkle my face. I smile unwrapping totally dry basil. I am happy without a salad spinner AND it doesn’t take up space in my home. Being the salad spinner, I am totally present and enjoying my life. Making do makes me happy. In the process of being creative making do, I slow down, and settle into mindful being. Slowing down brings joy. Now that the basil is dry, I need to chop it.  The recipe calls for a food processor. Looking at my harvest is a bit daunting. “Chop all of that by hand?” “Yes.” “Okay.” Now, I become the food processor. I settle into a rhythm: CHOP-CHOP-CHOP, SCRAPE-IT-TOGETHER, CHOP-CHOP-CHOP, SCRAPE-IT-TOGETHER. . . My mind goes to Thich Nhat Hanh’s essay, “Interbeing” in Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life. Looking into the basil, I see the sun shining in the bathroom window warming the seedlings in March, as I anticipate moving into the tiny house and growing a garden. I hear...

Read More

Garden Summer Garden

Posted by on Jul 3, 2012 in Grow, Recent Posts | 14 comments

Garden Summer Garden

I planted my garden from the far side toward the house without a plan. I figured the point was to get the seeds in the ground, so they’d grow. When Karl bakes bread without measuring anything, he calls himself a free-baker. I guess I’m a free-gardener. Now, it’s time to harvest the garlic, new potatoes and some of the onions. It looks tired on the far side of the garden, but in the earth is a bounty I’ve never harvested from my own garden. Last weekend, I dug up about five pounds of new potatoes to take to my grandma’s 84th birthday party, where I cooked the family meal for the first time. Today, I will dig up enough new potatoes to bake scalloped potatoes for one of my former student’s 9th birthday party. And, tomorrow, I will dig up some more. My free gardening worked out well since the tired looking side of the garden is hidden from the tiny house deck by tall Kennebec potatoes and tomato plants trellising on locust posts. It looks lush and happy. I’m proud of myself for going for it even if I didn’t know exactly what should go where. Even if it could be better, it is perfect. Last night, I wound some wire around two more locust poles that Karl harvested from the forest when he made way for our bigger tiny house. (Locust will last a long time when used for poles; it’s a natural “pressure treated” wood. Lots of folks use it for fence posts and trellising. One of our friends even built his house on locust poles.) I wrapped the cucumber vines around the wire and will continue to train them to trellis the wire. Soon, I will make pickles. Even though the cabbage worms were racing me to the finish line, I am happy to report that we have six nice heads of cabbage, ready to harvest. I can’t wait to harvest and taste Karl’s Asian slaw made with my homegrown cabbage. Today, I am going to dig a bead for basil. I love pesto, and will plant almost the rest of the garden with basil. Basil is the first thing I ever grew successfully, and pesto is easy to make and preserve for the winter. It’s a delight to pull a jar out of the freezer (wait, we don’t have a freezer) in the middle of January for pesto pasta. So, I have a confession. I want a freezer. I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. It’d be so nice to freeze some of this bounty, rather that having to can all of it. I don’t know if we’ll actually buy one, I guess that depends on craigslist, but it is something I think about. Not a big freezer, just a tiny one. What’s happening in your garden? What’s your favorite thing to grow? Share in the comment section. Happy summer! Simply, Hari P.S. Enrollment for the Summer 2015 session of our eCourse, Creating Your Path to Mortgage-freedom is now open. Open enrollment closes on July 15, 2015. Read about the course here! Sign up for our newsletter to be informed of open enrollment for future sessions and receive our seasonal newsletter. Share...

Read More
Google+