Thursday, November 29, 2012

An Asheville Break

We are back in Asheville for a little bit before we head back to Michigan for all of December. This week so far has been good to us. I really love this little town and I am so at home here.

We went up to the tiny house just to visit and to chain saw that giant tree that was in our way. It didn't actually take very long.

Mt. Matt is once again open for Business

We also ran some errands. We got a new lamp shade for an antique lamp that was given to me by my Great Aunt. It has been in storage for a while, so it is nice to get it out in to the open again.

Simple pleasures

I also got a few photos of the tiny house that might work as a book cover for 120 Ideas for Tiny Living. Just playing around with the camera settings and stuff. (BTW, these also may NOT be the cover to the book - I like to keep you guessing.)

maybe you like color?
maybe you like black and white?
While we're here we are also getting our Christmas on. I love this time of year. It doesn't matter to me what you celebrate. Or what I celebrate for that matter. I just love the festiveness of trees and lights and colors.

Happy Holidays - All of Them!
And in closing I just want to say I miss Piglet. She is staying with Matt's mom in Michigan for the week. But I also have an ideas that completely revolves around Piglet. Sometimes I like to use the Internet for its intended purpose from time to time. We all know that is "to look at pictures of cats." So keep watching this space for my Piglet-centric project.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tiny House Gift Giving Guide

With the winter holidays right around the corner, I thought it would be a good time to explore ideas for the best gifts for the tiny house people in your life. 

They key when it comes to giving presents to your friends and family who have embraced the simple lifestyle is not to perpetuate the concept of clutter. This is where the entire concept of “it is the thought that counts” can really be put into practice. Think about how we have taken this time to downsize our lives and have only the essentials in our homes before picking out a gift. With that in mind, here are some ideas to consider.

Gifts that aren't Things

This is my very favorite idea. These are things that your loved one could buy for themselves but probably wouldn’t. They make very thoughtful gifts for someone who is actively trying not to accumulate stuff.

  • Certificate for spa treatment
  • Car detailing
  • Custom playlist on iTunes 
  •  eBooks
  • Tickets to local events
  • Subscription to an online magazine or newspaper
  • Consumables (especially beer or wine!)

Gifts for the Tiny House Builder

If your loved one is just starting to build a tiny house there may be some items that will come in handy. Here are some ideas in several prices ranges.

Tiny House Books

Many people, even those building or living in a tiny house, love books on the subject. This might also be a good option for the person who is thinking about building a tiny space but hasn’t begun the process yet. Many of these are books we owned that really inspired us. 

Unfortunately, 120 Ideas for Simple Living will not be out in time for this year’s holiday shopping. If you do want to share some Life in 120 Square Feet items you can find a number of things at our store that will make great gifts.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving from 120 Square Feet

I miss my tiny house every day since we are not spending the holidays in it. I miss the simplicity. I miss the stillness of nature. I miss the mountains. I miss Asheville.

So I thought it would be appropriate to mark Thanksgiving with a post about gratitude.

Not only am I grateful for all the things I listed above, I am grateful for many more. (Presented here in the colors of Autumn because, well, why not?)

I am grateful to have a partner who is truly a partner. Someone with compatible dreams and goals. Someone with whom I can suggest some crazy ideas and he won't think I'm off my rocker.

I am grateful to have found a place that I want to call home. A place that makes me feel alive and rich with possibilities. A city that I can finally say is a place that I belong. 

I am grateful to be part of a strong and growing community of tiny house builders. We live all over the country but with the marvels of modern technology we are a video chat away from each other. 

I am grateful to be able to do work that I love. I never wake up dreading my day and wishing I could just go back to bed. I never play those games thinking "maybe I should just call in sick today" or come home crying after a particularly trying day. 

I am grateful for being engaged with my life. I love everything from emptying the gray water bucket to cooking dinner outside and relaxing on the Folk N' Ale as the sun sets on the mountain. I love going in to town whether it is for fun with friends or to do laundry at Bar of Soap. 

I am grateful for developing a taste for beer. I know this sounds trite, but beer is such a wonderful thing. I use to find it "yucky" but I just wasn't drinking the right stuff. Asheville made me love beer and beer made me love Asheville back. 

I am grateful for supportive family and friends. People who love to come up to the mountain and see what we do or willing to take us in when we visit their area. I am really glad we have such wonderful people in our lives. 

I am grateful for Piglet. Our nearly 12 year old girl has the constitution of a kitten and I'm glad she love us. 

There are so many things to be grateful for and I think we should all take time to express it all year long rather than reserving it for just one day or just one season.

If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is "thank you," that would suffice. - Meister Eckhart

Monday, November 19, 2012

Stray Observations

  • Michigan makes me road ragey. Don't get me wrong - Atlanta traffic stressed me out a great deal when I had to drive in it every day. But moving to Asheville changed our exposure to traffic. I didn't drive much while I was on the mountain, but when I did I never felt like I wanted to kill anyone else on the road. I'm not a big fan of driving in the first place so I would often freak out when I had to drive somewhere I wasn't familiar with. Asheville is a small enough town that I've managed to learn my way around by trial and error. And even if I "error" I can manage to figure it out. Michigan, on the other hand, makes me want to hit other cars with my car. 
  • Piglet is less road ragey.  Well, Piglet never drives but in the tiny house at night sometimes she would have a serious case of the crazies. We tried to take her for walks on the mountain and play with her in the house, but every night she would go a little nutty until we went to bed and then she would go to sleep. Of course, she would sleep all day too and I tried to tell her that was why she felt cooped up, but she doesn't listen to me. Now, she has room to run around and shake off some of that energy. She still sleeps all day.
  • Allergies? I've always had asthma and allergies. Interestingly enough, when I was living in the tiny house everything was pretty status quo. Since moving into this room I am much more stuffed up. And, even more strange, is that my ears are plugged up every morning when I wake up. This also happened to me in the apartment in Atlanta. I think that the fresh air in the tiny house was good for me and stale air in apartments is bad. All of those insidious little things that we don't know about lurking behind the walls and in the heating ducts - I think those are what bother me. 
  • Climbing the mountain was great built in exercise. This is obvious, of course, but because it was just an organic part of our day to walk to and from the house each day, often several times, it just became part of the routine. We've been trying to go for walks around here so we don't lose anything we gained.
  • Michigan is very flat. I find these walks extremely easy. No huffing or puffing. No muscle tightness in my calves. The mountains and rolling hills of Western North Carolina make any walk a bit of a work out even if it is to and from the convenience store on the corner. I'm enjoying our time here, but I miss our mountain.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

We're Famous in Illinois

Grant Wagner, blogger and friend of Life in 120 Square Feet, sent me this photo. I asked him if it was okay for me to share it here. It is really quite neat to see your logo on the back of a Toyota! 

Remember, if you want your very own Life in 120 Square Feet stuff, check out the store. There is a at the top of the page!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Photos from 120 Square Feet

I was just looking through some of my photos from this year. These are the ones that never made it to the blog for some reason but that I liked quite a bit. So I thought I would just do a photo post to share them with you. These are in no particular order.

It was a relatively soggy summer up on the mountain. Mushrooms sprouted up everywhere! These suckers were HUGE. I should have put a smurf near them for size comparison.

Autumn Maples are my favorite leaves.


This photo is not from the land, though I would love to grow hops. This was taken at Highland Brewery. 

This is another view of the tree that came down by the Folk N' Ale. I took this as I left our 120 Square Feet house for the winter.

This was also not taken at the house. This was at Green Man Brewery and published on a local beer website. 

Piglet on a shelf. Good storage solutions for your pets is essential. 

A friend gave us this sign. It is hanging up in the barn.

Maybe I did post this photo here before, I don't remember. Another friend gave us this and we hung it up on the front door inside the tiny house.

Mist in the morning on our mountain.This is the road leading to civilization.

Mountain sunset.

This is another sunset photo. This one was taken from the Folk N' Ale

I was also enjoying playing around with the sepia setting on my little camera.

And one last Piglet picture for good measure. Sweet dreams.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Our Nomadic Winter

Having your story published on a major website like the Huffington Post generates some pretty interesting comments. People on the Internet are often negative or, worse, hurtful with their written words. Do they realize there are real human beings behind each of these stories?

However, several readers mentioned that we don't have real tiny house cred because we built a "Summer Cabin."

Let me ask you this: Why would we have built a summer cottage as our only home? Why would we chose to be essentially homeless in the winter months with no where else to go?

Our "summer" cabin is our only home and we made some interesting choices to not winterize it. Partly because we are 200 vertical feet up the mountain without road access. Partly because all of our water is from a spring on the land and who knows if it will flow in the winter. And most importantly because we decided to travel for the holidays. We moved to the south a decade ago and we saw our families and friends only about once a year. We wanted to spend time with everyone while we could and with a location independent lifestyle, this was possible.

If we had not built the tiny house this would not have been possible. I use to be a ball of stress around the holidays because I felt pressure from my job. I was there for a long time and I always requested time off at Christmas. However, this meant that no one else in my office could take time off to travel to see their family for the holiday. This was not fair, but it was the only solution I had. Christmastime is extremely important to Matt and his family and I certainly wanted to be part of that and be able to see my family as well. This year we can spend two months in our hometown because we aren't tied to any one place. My new life has given me freedom to be wherever I want to be whenever I want to be there. It was because we took our time building a tiny house in the woods that I was able to reduce my expenses and be able to take the leap to be self employed.

This was a conscious choice and an opportunity. And opportunity to live unconventionally in more ways than one. This is our life and no matter what anyone says I am extremely happy with it.

*Edited to Add:
Matt reminded me that the tiny house is livable in the winter. It is rustic, but it is possible. But always looking on the bright side and not letting the internet trolls get him down he also reminded me that we made the choice to travel during the winter because we can. I am not going to let the haters get me down. This is the life I've built for myself, not for anyone else. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

New Features

Hello and welcome to Life in 120 Square Feet. If you're new here I hope that you will enjoy the story that we have shared about our journey to living unconventionally. Feel free to ask any questions and we will answer them as best we can.

If you've been around a while, you'll notice some new things here at Life in 120 Square Feet. The most obvious is the new logo at the top of the page. Designed by my best friend and graphic designer, Jill. She is multi-talented as well - you can check out her writing blog here.

You will also see our brand new online store! This was born out of my own desire to be able to wear the pretty new logo on a t-shirt and put a sticker on my car. I figured I might as well open the shop up to the public. You can get to the store here. I also have a link at the top of the page.

I want to thank everyone who has made our story a success. To our friends and family who helped us build. To the rest of the tiny house community who helped us get our story out there. Today, our story was shared at Huffington Post in this great article by Amy Maturana.  I am truly grateful for everything that has happened to me in the last few years and wouldn't trade this experience for anything.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Some Observations Upon Returning to "Civilization"

We've temporarily moved out of the tiny house to spend some time with family in Michigan. I find myself in a small apartment bedroom that is actually a little big larger than the tiny house to begin with. I am learning a couple of things about myself living here and we're only a few days into this part of the adventure.
  1. I miss the chores. I never thought in all my life that I would say that. And when I lived in a conventional home it took me forever to get up the motivation to vacuum or clean the toilets. But there was some quiet joy in some of the new and different chores that we acquired while living in the tiny house. I use to take short breaks from my writing to go out and empty the bucket into the gray water system and fill the Berkey. I kind of find myself wondering how to take breaks now. My brother suggested I simply fill up a bucket and pour it back out again. 
  2. Television is my kryptonite. I will never be one of those people that acts all superior because I don't have a television. But, I don't. This was a conscious choice for moving into the tiny house. And it was a hard one for me - I love television. But I didn't need it. I use to find myself parked in front of the TV watching reality programming as well as catching my favorite scifi shows. Most of those hours were not productive. They didn't provide a cure for boredom - they were the manifestation of boredom. Well, when I find myself bored here in the apartment, the television is only a click away. I can turn it on and tune it out. Its going to be a long two months if I keep doing that. I should start going for walks instead.
  3. I've been productive with writing. I decided to take this month and work on the 120 Ideas for Tiny Living book that I promised to have out by the spring. In spite of the distractions, I've been doing really well with it and I think I like it. I'm nearly done with the first draft and then I will let it sit for a bit before going back to revise and edit. It'll be an eBook and will feature some tiny house living ideas along with lots of photos. Stay tuned for more information!  
There will also be a bit of a change on the website and some additional new fun stuff coming soon. Trust me, you'll know it when you see it. I'm really excited about it and have to give a shout out to a very good friend for helping me out with it. And by that I mean pretty much doing all the work.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Welcome to "Winter in 180 Square Feet"

Well, we have arrived in the Mitten State - for better or worse.

Matt and I drove separately so we could each have a car since we'll be here for two months. I had Piglet in the Element with me and she was a super good girl. She mainly slept.

On the way, I was listening to my iPod on shuffle and thinking about spending the holidays here with friends and family. Being able to work from anywhere in the world certainly has its perks - even if we do use that freedom to vacation in Detroit of all places.

I already miss the tiny house and my Mountains. Michigan is very flat.  

While I was driving, this song came up on my pod and it made me happy to be heading north for the winter. Being from south east Michigan will always be a part of my DNA. It made me who I am. For whatever it is worth, I have a connection to this place that I can't ignore. I also wouldn't call myself a Kid Rock fan, but this song is beautiful - especially this acoustic version.

But then it happened. We hit the Michigan boarder and were both stopped in the traffic jam of all traffic jams. Matt was ahead of me and called to let me know what was happening. He was stuck in it for over an hour when he decided to get off at an exit and try to make his way around it. I stayed with it thinking it couldn't last forever. After a couple of hours, I learned that they had shut the entire expressway down and were routing people off on an exit that led to a two lane gravel road and snaked about 11 miles back to the I75 only two exits north of where we got off in the first place.

It wasn't until this morning that I learned the cause was a fatal semi accident and not just construction traffic. Certainly makes you put things in perspective. The 14 hour drive wasn't so bad - at least I am here safe and sound.

So, welcome to our Winter in 180 Square Feet. That is an approximate size - we didn't measure. But the room is pretty square. We are staying with Matt's mom. The room we're in doesn't have its own bathroom or kitchen, but we obviously have access to the ones in the apartment. In the room, though, we have a make-shift desk (a board over some drawer units) and our inflatable but extremely comfortable bed. That is where Piglet is right now. She doesn't have any adjustment period any more when we take her strange places. She just goes with it.