Clearing the excess in our lives helps us clearly see what brings us joy. Simple living isn’t the easy road, actually, it often means more work, but work of a new sort. The reward is a deeper connection to ourselves, each other, our community and this land.
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
We recently had visitors who were on a whirlwind tiny house tour, and it was super-fun to be included on their tour. One thing they noticed about our house was that we had more stuff than most tiny house folks. I guess we aren’t totally minimalistic, or kids mean more stuff. I don’t know. But I do know that managing stuff is a constant job in our home. Yesterday I finished pulling out my spring wardrobe, then I carried all the storage bins of winter clothes to the shed. I often walk up and down the hill carrying stuff–loads of laundry from the washer to the clothesline, bins of clothes, empty mason jars, full mason jars, canning supplies, food, garden tools, etc. The sheds are an important part of our daily lives, making our tiny home function and giving us a place to keep stuff we still use but don’t need in the house. If you wonder how on earth we can live in this way, then the answer is “the sheds.” Pictured below are the sheds that support our tiny house. The second photo is a collage I made over a year ago, but the sheds are the same. The shed up the hill is sided with local hemlock and is 10’x 10′. It houses our washing machine and pressure tank for the well as well as camping gear, tools, canned goods, canning tools, potatoes, chicken feed, and Christmas decorations. It even housed our chicks, ducklings and seedlings this winter. The shed behind the house is a salvaged walk-in cooler. It houses the dryer (which we use in winter) as well as baking pans, large pots, a vacuum cleaner, and arts and craft supplies. You will notice that the big house is missing from the image on the bottom right. Amazing changes have happened on our property in a year and a half! 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
In order to fit four wardrobes into our 8′ x 21′ tiny house, twice a year I hold the great clothing roundup. Yesterday was the day. This is the time when I switch out our seasonal wardrobes. Ideally, no one is home, but if they are, the weather has to be nice, so we can be outside. During the great clothing roundup, I pull everything out of the cabinets one wardrobe at a time. The house is unlivable for a few hours since I stack clothes on all surfaces including the deck. I sort them into piles: Clothes that are out of season, but still useful. These go into storage bins which we keep in the shed. Clothes that we’ve either out grown or worn out. This pile gets separated again: Clothes still suitable for donation. I take these to our local thrift store or hang on to them for clothing swaps. Clothes not suitable for donation become napkins, dish rags or fabric for other projects. Switching over our seasonal wardrobes is something I dread, but once it’s done I’m really glad. I relabel all clothing bins, and everything is super-organized. It always feels good to get rid of stuff we don’t need. The whole house takes a deep breath. We are ready for the warm weather! 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
We welcomed a lovely crew from Yahoo! Finance to our tiny house this week. Here’s the video and my thoughts on the experience. Thanks for watching/reading and enjoy! I enjoyed filming today. The sixteen year old me who wanted to be famous was jumping up and down. They were at my house to film my family. What I kept wondering was why? I asked Farnoosh what she thought about it. “Why are we interesting to the media?” She said “You are normal people. This is something people can relate to.” It’s funny last time we were outrageous, or at least what we are doing was outrageous. Now, we are being filmed because we are normal people living in a tiny house and the “general public” can relate to us. I guess because we’re “normal” (what is that anyway?) you might be able to relate to us and then be more inspired. Here’s the thing: we really do live this way, and it’s really awesome. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s fun. It gives us something to do, keeps us entertained, challenged and gives us the satisfaction of a job well done. “Living with less is so much more.” Farnoosh says on her video. It’s true. There is a richness to living simply that I wish everyone could feel. Scaling down is something we can all do, and believe it or not, our family can do more. From where you sit right now, look around. What are you doing with your consumer life? What can you scale down? I know living in a tiny house isn’t for everyone. I know it seems slightly impossible, but if you think about most things too long before doing them, everything can seem impossible. In order to accomplish anything large or tiny, we have to set a goal and keep moving toward it. We don’t seek perfection; we just set a goal and try, and then stay focused enough to follow-through. Our goals have been to grow a garden and build a tiny house. I am not the best gardener; I am just learning. I learn from my friends and community. I ask a lot of questions, and then I dig my fingers into the dirt and try. Now, my garden grows. I did not know how to do that perfectly, but I put seeds in the soil and watered them. Now, our tiny house is built and we’ve lived in it for a year. We did not know how to do that perfectly, but we bought a trailer and raised the first wall. Of course it isn’t enough to start, we have to follow-through, even when nothing seems to be happening. On the dry weeks, when no seeds are popping up, I water the dirt with faith that those seeds will sprout. When we were building the tiny house, and there was two feet of snow on the ground, Karl still drove to the property with a small propane heater to heat the inside while he taped up vapor barrier. We start, we keep moving (follow-through) and we have the vision of completion. Clearing away the clutter and focusing on one or two goals at a time has given us the clarity and focus to accomplish a lot. All of the unnecessary items we keep (both tangible and intangible) keep us from achieving our dreams. When there is less clutter, there is freedom to do what you really want in so many ways. By focusing on what really matters, getting rid of what doesn’t and stepping out of the consumer culture, we have stayed out of debt. We are free to make decisions that might not even be options if we carried consumer debt. For example, Karl and I both changed jobs recently, not for more money, but for more time and satisfaction. Now, there is time for me to write for the blog, tend to the garden, and play with the kids, and there is time for Karl to find salvaged materials, and great deals to build the first phase (16’ x 24’)of our small...Read More
With spring right around the corner, I am thinking about entertaining friends on our deck. I am remembering the last deck gathering I hosted and am celebrating how much I’ve grown. If you are overwhelmed by your current situation, I want to give you encouragement. Sometimes, letting it all go is the only way to go (grow)! Blessings. . . At the end of August, 2011, I had a group of women over for breakfast on the tiny house deck. We had just moved in a few months earlier, and I was passionate about giving my in-depth tiny house tour. As I was lifting one side of the couch to say “This is where we keep our dirty clothes.” I remembered our 1500 sq. ft. house where I spent at least a whole day cleaning before company arrived. It never felt like I wanted it to–and the laundry was certainly never part of my tour. I’ve never been much for house cleaning. I have always thought ” Why make your bed if you’re just gonna get back in it.” Luck would have it, I married the most hard-working, clean and neat guy around. We had many arguments over the cleanliness of our home. Our big house overwhelmed me–dusting, mopping and vacuuming all came AFTER putting away the stuff. And we loved stuff. We had decorative candles, ornaments, platters, memorabilia. I had shelves lining our bedroom just to hold sentimental collections of dust. Once we opened our restaurant, I gave up totally. When company came, I blamed the restaurant, but felt stress knowing my home was not a cozy space for entertaining. I was embarrassed, yet resigned to the mess, because I was taxed to the max–nothing left in me to give to creating a cozy, neat and clean home. My home was out of control and running me. A series of unfortunate (now fortunate) events, including losing our restaurant (2008) and losing our big house (2009) have led us to this new and improved life. I will, with time, share more about how we made this transition. What felt so great as I gave tours of the tiny house last August was knowing how much I’ve grown. My husband and I no longer argue about the order of our home–it’s rarely out-of-order. We got rid of most of the clutter through a series of yard sales and donations. What we kept for our future small house is boxed up and in storage. Living with only the things we use on a regular basis has freed us from the task of putting away clutter. Part of what makes it fun to give tiny house tours is saying “This is where we keep our plates, this is Brother’s clothing cabinet, this is where we keep our shoes,” and opening up the doors to expose the insides. There’s nothing to hide! We have put a lot of thought into how we live, what we use daily, and how to make this small space livable for our family. This intentional lifestyle has grounded me and freed me from the stress of too much stuff. I feel satisfied knowing my home is in order. Thank you, unfortunate (now fortunate) events, for leading us to our new and improved lives. 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
I bought a shower curtain this week. It occurred to me one day while I was having a moment to myself and looking at our old white shower curtain. “I want a new shower curtain,” I said to myself. “I deserve a new shower curtain. A new shower curtain would make our home feel so much cozier. This white one is dingy and has clay stains and we only have so many opportunities to decorate—the shower curtain could make a better statement.” In our small town, there aren’t many choices for shower curtain shopping, which I like. But, I made my way into Dollar General one morning before school to check out the shower curtain stock. When I told Papa I was going to buy a shower curtain at Dollar General, he smiled and said, “Do they have those there?” “They should, they have some bathroom stuff.” I said. Walking into the store, I feel a bit defeated since I try to stay out of stores where most items are made in factories with low low wages and unsustainable materials. I just want a shower curtain, I think justifying the fact that I am in Dollar General. I look through the surprising wide variety of shower curtains and pick one. It has a print I can deal with and even some hooks (we already have hooks, but I like the pattern the best, so I pay the extra money for the hooks). There’s no way around it; I don’t need this stuff. I get home and hang up the curtain right away. It looks flimsy and plastic and lifeless. There is a stark contrast between our hand-built home and this shower curtain. I leave it up for a little while and tell Papa not to shower with it up, while I decide what to do. I think about just keeping it, remembering the days when I’d shop for fun and buy things because they were cute and on sale. Many of my purchases would never get used ending up in a yard sale or donation pile. I peeked in the bathroom again, and decided to take it down, pack it up, and take it back. I had slipped away from my mission, although briefly and not completely, it happened. It happened because I am American. I was raised in a culture and time where we shop to fill voids. We find it exciting to bring home something new as if it will bring new life. For a moment this week, I fell back into the mindless pattern of walking into a store and buying a packaged product to fill a need. BUT-This time I caught myself. I saw how out-of-place it looked hanging there and realized that I forgot I could make do, that the white shower curtain could be washed, that I could paint it or make something I really like. I washed the white one and hung it back up. Tiny House deserves something beautiful and handmade, so I made a curtain to hang over the white one. It is perfect and adds beauty to our home. Stripping away the mindless matter—the stuff that doesn’t belong, has had a noticeable effect on my personality. I have become clear about what I want my space to feel like. Since it is so small, every single thing has to be just right. I see myself doing this in other areas of my life as well. If a situation doesn’t feel right, I turn away, create a boundary and find another way to feel good. I see with a clarity I haven’t seen before. There is a parallel in creating a simple, organized home to an inner simplicity, clarity and mindful way of being. I highly recommend scaling down as a way to free you from the burden of mindless matter. What stories do you have to share about the relationship between stuff and happiness? 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...Read More