How to Dye Fabric to give it a Whole New Life

This weekend I dyed a bunch of cotton shirts and washcloths that were looking kind of grungy and it gave them a whole new look!

My Austrian is a pipe organ builder and therefore he works with wood, stone, metal, and a whole bunch of chemicals, plus he loves to work on his vintage cars.  All of that is hard on t-shirts and these were starting to look pretty stained up.  However, the cloth was still in good shape and so it was time to give them a new look.  Now with the new color the old stains just vanish into the natural texture of the hand dyed cloth.  They’re good to go for another few years now! WIN!  My favorite kind of recycling is to eliminate the need to replace an item by extending it’s life!

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My handsome Austrian in his (old) shirt that has a whole new look.

I love using handkerchiefs instead of tissues, napkins, and paper towels!  It’s a great way to save money and it’s good for the environment!  Zero Waste for the WIN!  I love skipping the paper products in the grocery store!  I don’t need to find space to store any of those bulky things in my tiny house – WIN!  Not a single roll of paper towels at my house – not one!  No tissue boxes either!  I use washcloths for all the usual things, plus… I use them in place of paper towels for the gross tasks and they work beautifully!  I have plenty of them and I use them only once, then hang them to dry.  When they are dry they go in the laundry hamper and they wash up beautifully.  I know it sounds like it would create an extra load of laundry – but it doesn’t.  It’s all part of the routine around here.  I’ve been making my own laundry soap for a few years now also.  I’ve had these handkerchiefs and wash cloths in the works for about eight years now.  I can’t even imagine how much money it has saved us to use them instead of paper products!  Plus… a well worn cotton handkerchief is incredibly soft and lovely.

This is a fast forward introduction to this topic and if there seems to be interest in this, then I’ll make very detailed instructions to walk you through it step by step.  It’s not difficult at all, and I think it’s loads of fun!

TIP: All of these chemicals are considered dangerous so it’s important to wear gloves and handle soda ash and the dyes with great care!  I’ve got a weird skin condition so I pay much more attention to this than I used to.

Let me know what what you think.  Would you try this?

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Kitchen Simplicity

IMG_3744My cute little book is ready for the world today, and I’m so pleased to make it available far and wide. This has been a long time coming! Find your copy on Amazon. I can’t wait to hear what you think of it!

4 ways to share this book - BIG

The Shareables are here!

And thanks so much to each of you! This sweet little book has been a labor of love for me, and to hear you all responding with such interesting and thoughtful reviews and comments on social media has just been incredibly gratifying! Over and over again I have been moved by the way people respond to this little book and I appreciate all of you so very much!!! ❤

All my best,

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#6 Vinnie Vlog: Choosing the Right Oven for our Skoolie Kitchen

breville-smart-oven-air-oWhen a retired pastry chef and restaurant owner chooses the oven for her Skoolie… which one does she choose?  Ha!  It took me a while and a stack of research, but here are the reasons I choose the Breville Smart Oven Air (not an affiliate link).

  1. Since it will be the only oven in the Skoolie, it needs to be able to actually bake things.  In other words, it needs to be more than a toaster oven.  We had a glorified toaster oven in our first Tiny and it was good for many things but sometimes the limitations were vexing.  I read the product material and the reviews until I was confident that this oven could handle any baking challenge we are likely to throw at it.
  2. Size: It’s a small oven that is roughly the same size as the larger toaster ovens on the market.  It takes less space than a small size range, and since our Skoolie will have less than 130 sq ft of living space, that was important.  It still has enough space inside the oven to roast a 14 pound turkey, as long as the turkey is square.  LOL!  Just checking to see if you’re paying attention.
  3. Power: It takes less power than a small range.  It may still require more power than a small solar power system can handle, however… we have plans for an off-grid bread oven outside.  No worries.  And this will still be great for those times and places where we are able to plug in an umbilical cord.  I won’t use it at the same time as a hair dryer or curling iron (obvs, as I don’t own those things) or when the heater is on.  We already have that habit so that won’t be a problem.
  4. Features: This oven has some really fancy features!  The one that really caught my attention was the dehydrate function.  When we sold the restaurant, the new chef/owner wanted my Excalibur dehydrator and so I gave it to him.  I’m still kicking myself – can you tell?  I’ve missed having fresh yogurt, kale chips, and pineapple flowers (among other things).  Now FINALLY, I can do all of those things again – without an additional appliance in my home.  SCORE!  As a bonus – there is an “Air Fry” function and I think that might be fun to explore.
  5. Price: The Breville Smart Oven Air is $399 pretty much everywhere.  I checked.  This is not a cheap item but there are cheaper oven models in the product line.  Less bells and whistles = more affordable.  It is still a better value than buying a full size (or even a fun sized) range.  And we already have a induction cook top.

NOTICE: There is a lot included in the box with this oven, so wait to purchase bits and pieces until you’ve seen what comes with it.  I didn’t realize that and now I have an extra air fry basket that I don’t need.

MONEY SAVING HACK: I bought the oven using the ibotta app, so I got money back on my purchase making the price $339 instead of $399 – every bit helps!  Referral link: get your $10 bonus when you sign up and get started.  I have loved using the ibotta app at the grocery and online stores.  I have gotten $134 back since I downloaded the free app 47 days ago.  YAY!

Xaver and I will enjoy using this cute little oven in our new haven-home!  I think it is the right oven for us and I can’t wait to move in and get cookin! 29c45-1a2bcarmen

Right-Sizing Flatware – Day 8

9 flatwareGood morning, it’s time to take a look at your flatware and choose your favorites, then add the rest to the donation box, and clean out the drawer or containers.  Again, don’t allow marketing to lock you into ideas of formal and casual, or make you feel that you have to keep sets or pieces you don’t use just for the sake of some notion about “value”.  If you have grandmother’s silver, take that out and access the situation.  Choose the pieces you appreciate and enjoy, choose the pieces that feel somehow special and allow the rest to go to the donation box or give to family or friends.  You’ll end up setting a table where each element has meaning and function, and that will be a delight for the senses.

I choose miss-matched silver pieces, some from my family, and some I happened upon at a lovely antique mall where Xaver and I had a great time exploring all the different patterns and choosing the individual items we liked the best.  Using these beautiful knives, forks, and spoons is so special because they are each beautiful, and because of the memories we have of picking them out and enjoying them together in our tiny house.  These beautiful details remind us that living in a tiny house is a purposeful choice, and not a sacrifice.  We are very blessed.

How are you doing on these challenges so far?  Leave me a comment and let me know your favorite parts of the series so far.  And as always, thanks for watching, I really appreciate it! 29c45-1a2bcarmen

Making Vanilla Extract

It’s so easy to make vanilla extract!  And the best part is – it’s homemade so you know exactly what’s in that bottle.  Same with DIY mouthwash – instead of vanilla beans, add cinnamon sticks.  It’s an intense refreshing mouthwash that tastes heavenly.  It’s also a great flavoring for a variety of things.  I’ve got some projects coming up in the new year that require some beautiful vanilla, so I’m looking forward to using this extract.

Christmas Layered Mints

I make a number of Christmas treats each year, and this one is so simple and fun, and it’s always so fun to see how people respond.  This year I really stepped it up a notch using a transfer sheet to leave a design on the chocolate, and I’ve also upgraded to Young Living’s Vitality line of essential oils – spearmint and peppermint – and the flavor is fresh, complex, and wonderful.  This is such a fun quick project for the holidays and I hope you try it and let me know how it goes for you.  And as always, thanks for watching, I really appreciate it!29c45-1a2bcarmen

Tiny House Kitchen Tools

Egg BeaterIt’s December in the Tiny House Foodie kitchen and we’re thinking about gifts for the tiny house folks in your life, or perhaps we’re considering some of the tools you might like to have around if you love to cook and find yourself short on square footage and power.  Or maybe we’re just looking for some simpler options.  There are lots of ways to go “old school” with your cooking.  But why try?  We, with our grand technologies, have managed to make food faster, but we have NOT managed to make food better.  Taking a step back in time with our gear and our techniques will help us regain nourishing food that is good for our bodies, and comes with a sense of accomplishment.  It matters, and you’re worth it.29c45-1a2bcarmen

Refrigeration in a Tiny House

I’m back with a video on refrigeration in a tiny house – or in any dwelling that happens to have wheels.  Any time you can unplug your house, that includes unplugging your fridge.  So it may require just a little extra consideration when moving your tiny haven-home around the county or the country.

There’s a little sneak peek of me and the Tiny House Foodie kitchen a few months back before we removed the big monster energy-suck fridge and gave the place a much needed makeover.  It looks better now, don’t you agree?  And the color of my hair is always changing, so you will always be able to tell when I mix up new and old footage!  lol!

fdcd503e4785febee7dee3a6e1bc3d95Keeping foods out of the danger zone in your tiny house is really important so that you don’t get sick.  This applies to cooked foods and proteins such as meat, eggs, and dairy products.  Most other things (aside from a thousand and one plastic salad dressing bottles) don’t require refrigeration – aside from beer and white wine, obvs.

Have you noticed how many tiny house folks are vegan or vegetarian?  I have.  It really is so much easier when traveling especially, to keep those things to a minimum so that you don’t end up throwing away expensive products when you don’t know how long they’ve been in the danger zone, and also so that your health isn’t at risk.  Have you ever looked at a piece of meat and wondered if it is ok or not?  Chances are, it’s fine.  But nobody wants to be wrong about that!

And when you are… that’s when my little friend Digize comes to the rescue!  There have been a number of times when I could tell I was eating something that was not cooked properly, but I didn’t want to offend the host and hostess.  Sometimes you can tell when you bite into a nut or seed that they’ve gone off and the oils are rancid – stop eating immediately!  I’ve even been served some fish that had an ever-so-slight smell… you know the one.  And again… I knew it wasn’t going to sit well, but I did what you do when you love the cook and his or her good intentions.  Sometimes the food doesn’t have to be off for my stomach to freak out over it, just a different cook in a different kitchen with a different set of bacteria.  So I keep a bottle of Digize with me, ESPECIALLY when I’m traveling!  It’s a blend of essential oils formulated for digestive support for those moments when something you ate just wasn’t… right.  More info on the Digize blend of essential oils at Anoint-Ed.com.

In addition, while we are on the topic of cold storage and happy digestion, here’s a handy little chart for cooking various proteins so you get it “done” without turning it into something slightly more flavorful than the neighbor’s driveway. Meat-Temperature-GuideAs always – rules are made to be broken.  Sushi is our very favorite thing and there is a place we love to visit where the Sushi chef has become a friend of ours and he always makes something special and sends it over to our table.  I never know exactly what every component is, I just know the colors, flavors, and textures are divine!  It’s so much fun to see someone who enjoys making food for the flavor and the art of it.IMG_20170312_123415130 I hope you learned something today that will help you as you transition into tiny house living.  Thanks for visiting my blog, I appreciate it.  Stay safe out there and know which risks are worth taking, and keep a bottle of Digize close wherever you roam. 29c45-1a2bcarmen

 

Creativity & Adaptability in Tiny House Living

larger cake photoWelcome to this week’s video on creating great food in small kitchens, I’m delighted that you’ve joined me again!  This week I faced an interesting challenge.  I wanted to make a wedding cake as I have so many times in the past… only I downsized my cake pans and no longer have the professional kitchen to work in!  So how do I make a great cake without all the stuff I think I “NEED!”?  The truth is, what we think we need is often determined by what we are used to having – not on some authentic understanding of NEED.  As soon as you change what you’re used to, that will change what you need.  So going tiny is one of the best ways to find the liberation of not needing so much stuff!

IMG_20171105_122533692Then you get in the middle of a potentially frustrating situation when you no longer have the STUFF… what then?  I no longer have cake pans, so I could either borrow some (which I did) or rent some (it’s an option for some things) or I could find a different and creative approach.  In this case, I baked thin layers of cake on large sheet pans and then trimmed them to the sizes I wanted.  It was lots easier and there are no big pans to store in my Tiny House Foodie kitchen (or my actual 125 square foot tiny house for that matter).  This is just an example of how you can find creative solutions to whatever situations come up in your tiny haven home.  Simply get intentional about being creative and adaptable, and you’ll be fine.

Where there’s a will… there’s a way.

I promise.

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Oh, did you happen to notice in the video where I used Lemon Vitality Essential Oil from Young Living to flavor the icing?  Seriously, that lemon buttercream was the BEST PART of the cake!  If you’re interested in learning more about that and the other Young Living products I use in my tiny home and in the Tiny House Foodie kitchen check out one of my other projects: Anoint-Ed.com.  Good things are happening over there and if you love simplicity, wellness, and value like I do… then you should pop on over and have a look around!  XOXO

Tiny House & Simple Living Jamboree

I’m back from the Tiny House & Simple Living Jamboree in Arlington, Texas, and I had a great time!  I met so many interesting people and I think my speech went ok.  It was such a great adventure and now I want to go to ALL the tiny house festivals!  lol!  Ok, maybe not all of them (yes, all of them).  I am very happy to be back home and do a little introverting!  lol!

Derek DiedricksenI made it to the hotel without any problems and got on the elevator and there was Derek Diedricksen standing there, and he was very charming and funny.  He’s the author of Microshelters: 59 Creative Cabins, Tiny Houses, Tree Houses, and other small structures and I’m sure it’s as witty as he is.

Later I met Jay Shafer, and that was pretty amazing.Jay Shafer  He’s a gentle soul and is the father of the Tiny House movement.  His book, The Small House Book really rocked my world when I read it back in 2011 (it came out in 2010) and I loved his focus on beauty, simplicity, and quality.  All of that totally resonated with me and clearly it resonated with a lot of other folks as well – because look around – the tiny house movement is HERE!  (And it rocks!)

Then I stumbled across Susan Schaefer Bernardo (poet) and Courtney Fletcher (artist) who created The Big Adventures of Tiny House which is the most charming children’s book ever created (except for the other ones they’ve created) and these women were also just as lovely as you’d expect them to be given all the wonder and charm of the books they create.  PLUS they introduced me to the couple who own the tiny haven-home that the tiny house in the book is based on (visually).  What a pleasure it was to meet all of them!  And why didn’t I get a photo?!

Dee Williams

Don’t you love the face she made?  Hilarious!

I was getting pretty bummed by Sunday when it appeared that I was going to catch my flight home without meeting Dee Williams.  I read her book The Big Tiny: A Built-it-Myself Memoir and let me tell you, this woman is fierce!  I reviewed her book on my other blog a while back.  Let’s just say I am a fan!  (I am!)  I knew I would be at the airport when she and Jay Shafer were on the main stage, but that morning when I was wondering around hoping to soak up the last bit of tiny house goodness, I stumbled into her session in one of the smaller side rooms and let me tell you… and that quickly became one of the highlights of the event for me.  Hearing her speak and watching her engage with the audience was such a respectful and life affirming time, I HATED having to scoot out early to go catch my plane.  Still, I was so glad I had been there to catch some of it.  She asked the questions: 1) who/what do you love? 2) how do you want to spend your time? 3) what do you want to have in your hands as you die? (People/stuff) and then I watched as the audience participated with her by telling their own stories.  There was sacred space in that room.

It was also great fun to visit the tiny houses, skoolies, vans, and other creative dwellings around the property, especially the DIY homes, and ask the home owners how their food habits have changed since they started to live tiny.  It was fun to hear that their answers are the same as ours so I think my book is very much on target to help other folks walk through this transition.

If there is going to be a tiny house festival near you – GO! Even if you have to make a real trip out of it.  It was so much fun and I’d do it again in a heartbeat!