Sunday, October 26, 2014


If you still haven't seen it yet, please please please take an hour and watch the movie TINY: A Story About Living Small.

You don't have to be downsizing or living small or tiny to benefit from (or enjoy!) this movie. (Oh yeah, plus the music is great and the scenery gorgeous!) Maybe your heart won't jump as much as mine did, but I found the ideas in this movie remind me to be thoughtful about my life, how I live it and what I surround myself with.

Where did we go wrong? When did we start believing in entitlement and greed over reasonable living and using our excess to take care of one another? What are the ideas behind why we have 4,000 square foot houses in our country and big lawns that we don't use and lots and lots of stuff we don't need or even enjoy? Maybe if we can get back to that moment in history when our values shifted, we can start to repair the damage that's been done to our society by us hording our overabundance.

Fine, those are my big questions. But ideology aside - what's important right here, right now, for me (and, I argue, for you too) is how do I live my life differently? How do I use what I have (not just my possessions but my time, my strengths, my energy) to benefit others? How do I make my life bigger than just me? How do I raise my kids to live like this (and better) too?

I don't have all the answers. I have some ideas for myself. We've given away probably a third of our belongings (and more to come, hopefully!). We've tried to be resourceful in how we build - reusing and repurposing materials wherever we can. We've tried our best to open our home to others to come enjoy the beauty of the mountains and the fresh air of the Adirondacks. We want our home to reflect the peace and awe of the natural lands around us and be a respite from busy lives for friends, family and others. It's our house, but we didn't buy it just for us.

But I know there's more. There are other ways and better ways to do this living small thing!

I'd love to hear ways you have come up with to live small, whether for you that means physically downsizing your belongings or your home, or living with less or sharing more, or ways you've developed that keep you from expanding unnecessarily. I encourage you to share one thing you did today that helped you live small.

Maybe you'll be inspired while watching Tiny!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Why We Live Small

I found this post today and I felt it really gets to the point of some of the deeper reasons we decided to downsize. It's not just about living with less. We traded our space for more freedom over the long run: fewer financial constraints, fewer responsibilities and fewer ties to a home we have to spend time, money and energy keeping up.

And who doesn't love the idea of retiring 10 years early?!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Significance of Chocolate Chip Cookies

No matter what the size of your house, there is one thing you should never, ever be without: ingredients for chocolate chip cookies.

In the midst of moving and settling into a new area - ours rural and relatively quiet - baking chocolate chip cookies has been my way of making this our home. If there isn't already, there should be a scientific study of the effect of warm, homemade cookies on the brain. Warmth, comfort, peace. Yum. I said I wanted to cook more when life got smaller, so I've held to my word!

Turns out, I also crave baked goods when I'm pregnant. Yup, we're duplicating! Smaller house, bigger family. We found out 5 days before we moved! All I can say is this: thank goodness babies are born small! (And we're only having one!)

As I write my own, I've been looking for and reading up on stories of families who raise kids in small houses. A woman I know raised 5 kids in 900 square feet (what!). Remind me to ask her more about how she did it. My great aunt Nancy raised four kids in the 1950s in about the same space. If you have a story, please share in the comments or link to your own blog post below.

We have some ideas already. We don't have a ton of toys. Playing outside with nature's toys - dirt, sticks, rocks, leaves - is a highlight of our daughter's day. She's always wanted to do what we do anyway, so when we're cooking or baking, she gets a spoon and a bowl. When my husband is working on the house, she gets out her toy hammer and "helps".

We didn't invest in a ton of baby gear. A sleeping space (co-sleeper, then crib), a walker, a Bumbo seat, and lots of social interaction worked for us. A carrier for walks and hikes was a life saver - more useful than a stroller when you live in the mountains! (Though we currently have two of those and have to decide which one to keep.)

A few years ago I would have never considered sleeping in the same space as my kids. I had the mindset that we are all entitled to our own room/private space. My view is slowly changing, partially out of necessity but also because it seems that it's too easy to hide in your own space physically and emotionally, and (in general) Americans don't socially interact enough to be humanly healthy. And, there are studies showing long-term benefits to social sleeping. We've got a method down for our daughter, but two kids is going to be interesting! We'll see how it goes, or if one of us ends up on the couch now and again!

And now for the most important part of this post...

My recipe for chocolate chip cookies - modified from the Joy of Cooking revised paperback edition:
Preheat oven to 375F.
1/2 c butter

1/4 c brown sugar

Beat in
2 eggs
1/2 t vanilla

Slowly add
1 c flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking soda

Mix well, Add
1 c chocolate chips (I use Ghiradelli 60% cocoa)
1/2 c pecans
1 c oatmeal
1/4 c shredded coconut

Bake 10 min. on a baking stone or greased cookie sheet.

Happy baking = happy home!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Socks, Pharmaceuticals and Rock n Roll

It's been almost a month. We made it! No one moved out, including the cat. Pull out that bottle of wine and celebrate with us tonight!

While you're living it up on that Montepulciano, read on and use your wine-fueled creativity to help me solve a few dilemmas that have come up in our downsizing process.

I found a surprise when I was sorting through my lumpy piles of clothing that represented half of what I used to have. I have over 30 pairs of socks. Seriously! There were so many I lost the ambition to count them all. Do you know anyone who needs 30 pairs of socks?!

I did a little research, and you can actually recycle old or unwanted socks. I like to be inventive, but I'm not good enough to take old socks and make a scarf that anyone would want to put around their neck! Nice Laundry  sells pretty sweet looking recycled socks and will accept old socks for recycling. BLACKSOCKS has a similar program.

I parted with some socks that my grandmother had given me. Actually, she gave me a gift card and I picked them out myself. But they were still from her. They were stretched out and bare in the heels and I hardly ever wore them anymore. But they were from her. It's tough to realize that, someday, I might not have any thing that will connect me to her. Things are slowly wearing out, breaking, and losing their purpose. It's important for me to remember our connection goes way, way, way beyond the thing.

Ahem. Sorry. Got sentimental again. Moving on. And please recycle your socks!

Grandmothers, or just about everybody, tend to have lots and lots of prescriptions. With my husband having Crohn's Disease and a slew of naturopathic remedies acquired and tested over the years, we ran into a lot of fun when we went through the bathroom closets. I ended up with an entire basket of pill bottles to dump somewhere safe... the toilet? Ugh! Isn't our water supply contaminated enough?! The garbage? Same problem... There's not a ton of information out there on this but I was able to bring our outdated medications to a secure drop-box at our local police department. My husband scraped all the personal information off the labels, leaving the medication information in case it was needed for proper disposal. If you are downsizing and find unwanted prescriptions, please please PLEASE dispose of them properly!

Okay, public service announcement over!

So the other dilemma I've run into - and haven't been able to solve completely yet - is all the wonderful, artsy, weird, music I have on CD. Music from college, music from before college, music from pre-iPod era. What in God's green earth do I DO with all this stuff?

I found Pandora when it first came out and I've hardly looked back since. I don't know if I've listened to an album in its entirety all year. Sad. I love music, but between work, my daughter, my husband, and the business, I barely have time to catch the news each day. I get a respite when I drive back to my hometown. It's a 3 hour drive and I can listen to anything I want! Fugazi. Hank Williams. Brainwash Projects. Wilco.

So, for the moment, my CDs sit in a box downstairs in the basement, along with our DVDs that we can't seem to part with but hardly ever watch. Ugh. A downsizing fail.

But at least we're not in the 8 track era anymore...

There's always something to be thankful for!

Happy Monday everyone!