Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Be a Consumer of Experiences

Dee Williams, author of the new book The Big Tiny, was the key note speaker at the Tiny House Conference back in April. She was a dynamic and inspirational speaker and it was well worth listening too.

One of the things she mentioned is that tiny house people, herself included, aren't suddenly immune from wanting things. Just because we choose to downsize our lives and have fewer possessions doesn't mean we don't want anything.

In fact, in some ways, tiny house people are all about things. They just happen to be different things and may serve multiple purposes. For instance, I finally upgraded to a smart phone so I could combine my phone and my iPod into one gadget. Now I only carry one handheld computing device with me everywhere I go. I wanted it, so I bought it. I use it for streaming video, reading books, checking up on the internet. It is useful to me.

Siena Italy: a favorite destination
But there has been one specific area of my life where my need to consume and my drive for simple living actually converge. They feed and compliment one another.

I am a consumer of experiences.

When I get an urge to spend money or to acquire something I redirect my energy. Instead of saying "what can I buy?" I say "what can I do?"

Some of theses experiences are free or cheap. Others require my full evaluation about the time I will spend earning the money to afford them. In either case I am rewarded not only with a thing but with an adventure. I meet new people, I try new things, and I am a better person when it is over. And I can sit back and recall all the amazing things that happened and enjoy the experience all over again.

Experiences and tiny living are a perfect match. Our simplified lifestyle often means we have more time to explore new things. We save money by not having a mortgage or high energy bills. And we don't want to fill our tiny homes with lots of additional, unnecessary stuff.

So next time you're thinking about the things you can spend your money on consider an experience instead: a trip to another place or a local event like a concert or art festival. Use this opportunity to expand your community and do things you never thought you would do. Be a consumer of experiences.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Let's Go For A Walk

When we talk to people about our house we say that we built our tiny house half way up a mountain with no road access.

We built here on purpose. We liked the spot on our mountain and we loved the idea of having a nature hike built into our every day. 

I thought it might be nice not to just tell you how far it is but take you on the walk. Let me tell you - it is not easy to film a hike up a mountain using an iPhone - and narrating at the same time, but I did the best I could. I hope this can give you a little perspective into our tiny life.

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Tiny Table: Best Green Beans Ever

I had to share this simple tiny table recipe. Simple is the name of the game in our tiny house and cooking.

I found this amazing green bean recipe on Pinterest, but the star of the show here is not the beans but the sauce that goes on them. I am now imagining using this sauce on all the things!

Here is the jist:
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha
  • Fresh ground pepper
That's it.

We had bought some green beans and I expected that we would just toss them in some olive oil with garlic, salt and pepper. I decided to look up some recipes really quick instead. We had all the ingredients to make this happen so I whipped it up. It was so delicious. Now I want to make the sauce for fish and meats and stir fries!

We paired the green beans with salmon and it was a delicious, easy to prepare dinner that can be made on the grill (for the fish) and with the camp oven.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Laundry in the Tiny House

I was recently asked about how we handle laundry in the tiny house.

The answer for us was pretty short and simple. We didn't want a washer and dryer in our home. Instead we planned early on to go to a local laundromat and we built that into our weekly expenses.

These are just the pale ales and IPAs
When we first moved into the tiny house we began to go to the closest, traditional landromat and we wondered if we had made a mistake. Bright florescent lights beat down on us while we listened to the sounds of the washers and dryers and tried not to think about the heavy smell of fabric softener in the air.

I did not like it. I hadn't been to a laundromat since I was in college and I had forgotten what it was like.

But then we stumbled upon the BEST THING EVER. And yes, I'm shouting.

We learned about Bar of Soap, a laundromat/bar located in North Asheville. It is about a 20 minute drive from the tiny house and well worth the trip. We quickly learned that we had time for one beer while the washer was running, one beer while the dryer was running, and then we were ready to fold our laundry and go. We got to know the bartenders and we became Tuesday regulars. The bar features all canned beers and when fully stocked have about 80 to choose from.

Check out this local podcast featuring the owner of Bar of Soap.

Full disclosure - I now work for Bar of Soap one day a week. It was such a great place and I got to know everyone there that they offered me a job. It is as much fun to work there as it is to hang out. 

One of the biggest differences a laundromat/bar made in our routine was that laundry became an "entrainment" expense rather than a utility. I know this sounds like picking nits but going out to the bar is a big part of our social experience so we were able to combine a necessary chore into an afternoon enjoying beers.

Laundromat/bars are starting to gain momentum across the country, and the world. If you don't necessarily enjoy laundry but you enjoy going out to the bar you may want to search your town for a similar business.