Introducing Vinnie #3

We’re back on YouTube again, this is our second time on Tiny House Expedition’s YouTube Channel.  This time it’s a detailed tour of our Skoolie.  Isn’t this fun?  Christian Parsons and Alexis Stephens are amazing documentary filmmakers!  And since they’ve discovered how nice the weather is out west, we don’t get to see them nearly enough.  lol!

Our Skoolie looks different than this video after we added the stone on the kitchen countertop.  Every time we post a photo or video of our little home on wheels, another project will take shape and it will evolve again.  I’ve got plans for curtains, cushions, and lighting… just for starters.

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And if you missed the last video from Tiny House Expedition – it’s here.  And if you’re considering going tiny, pick a vehicle and get started.  You can do it!!

Behind the Scenes

BTW, I’m starting a Patreon Community where you can follow along behind the scenes as I make updates to my website, make videos, and write books.  If you ever wondered what goes into the life of an author behind the scenes – especially if you’ve been considering writing a book yourself… then you’ll want to check this out and become a member of my Community on Patreon.  More information coming soon so stay tuned!

Let’s make today fantastic!

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A Visit with a Cinematographer!

TH ExpeditionA while back, documentary storytellers Christian Parsons and Alexis DeHart Stephens were coming through the Shenandoah Valley in their tiny house (Tiny House Expedition) and they stayed with us a few days.  We had so much fun hanging out with these interesting people who have been hard at work inspiring & empowering folks to redefine home & rethink housing.  I’m a fan, can you tell?

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Photography by Christian Parsons of Tiny House Expedition

Last week they released a new video on their youtube channel, AND IT’S ABOUT US!  And it’s not about our public faces, so to speak.  They really did a great job of capturing us just being us!  They put us at ease and we had a great time!  Christian has some killer cinematographic skills and Alexis is great at asking great questions and it was interesting to see how they work together.  It was fun to be the subject of their work, and now we are so happy to share their spectacular work with you!  And believe me, Christian had some serious editing to do because when we get talking, we can be a little long winded!  lol!

We made pizza on the grill while they were here.  This is one of my favorite things to make, it’s pretty easy and adding fire into the pizza equation is a really really good idea!  Crispy crust with melted cheese and a few toppings?  Yes please!  Maybe slightly burnt here at there?  Even better!  If memory serves, Xaver also made crepes one morning, and that was also fun.  He’s really great at making crepes and I always know I’m in for a treat when he starts mixing up crepe batter!  Delicious!Pinterest 1

Drop over to YouTube to see the video, and make sure you subscribe to the Tiny House Expedition channel while you are at it.   They release a Tuesday video on where they are currently parked, and a Friday video with lots of great tiny home inspiration.  Thanks so much, Christian and Alexis, for doing such a great job sharing our story!  We really appreciate it!

Watch the Video.

Visit their website. (They have one of the most beautiful websites I’ve ever seen!)  They’ve got tons of helpful resources available for anyone considering going tiny!

They will be doing a tour our of Skoolie soon, so make sure you SUBSCRIBE TO THEIR YOUTUBE CHANNEL so you don’t miss it.  Christian and Alexis are consistantly putting out valuable content!  They are a great resource to the Tiny House Movement and anyone considering going tiny!

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BTW, It is my intention to post a blog post each Thursday morning.  To see that post when I finish it – instead of waiting until Thursday morning – become a member of my Patreon Community.  In addition, you’ll get to go behind the scenes with a published author on the making of a new book!  If you think you might also like to write a book, then you might find it interesting to follow the process.

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Christian and Alexis, I hope our paths cross again soon!

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An Unintentional Manifesto on Simplicity.

product-brandingI’ve been thinking about branding a lot lately.  The advice I got early on was to keep my “brand” very narrow, to just talk about our tiny house experiences and not to talk about our work as Pipe Organ Conservationists, and not to talk about how much I love to write, paint, and weave… etc… because all of that is “Off Brand”.  Here’s the thing… that’s just plain not working for me.  So I’m throwing that advice out the window as well as the idea that I’m here to build a brand.  Ok? I’m replacing that with the reality that I’m just here to talk about our lives.  It’s not a brand – it’s just us.  Period.

I am passionate about helping people navigate the transition to a simple life in a smaller space!  Embracing minimalism for a season is a great way to shake ourselves loose from materialism and consumerism.  It’s also a great way to begin to shake ourselves loose from the idea that we can gain meaning and significance by owning a thing – which is a message that dominant culture sells us that is damaging on every level.  Shaking ourselves free of these things is important self-work because we deserve to be free.

Here’s the thing.  If there is a mountain between here and where you want to be, and you find the tunnel through that mountain… you spend your time and focus on that tunnel for a season.  But if you don’t move on through the tunnel, instead of camping out there, then you’re not going to experience the wide open spaces of the valley beyond.  And that would suck.

tunnelsMinimalism is the tunnel.  Minimizing the mundane things in your life is a really important thing to focus on – for a season – moving through the tunnel.  But at some point we gain traction and something really great begins to happen.  This is the very best part.  All that time and energy we spent on working the job that was required because of the big mortgage… not to mention all the work it took to maintain that big life… when that’s all out of the picture and things are simpler… space opens up.  It’s like coming out of the tunnel into the valley beyond.  Now, I’m not talking about heaven, lol!  I don’t want to misrepresent minimalism as a once-and-done king of thing – because it’s not.  For many of us it’s a path to freedom that we will need to stay on.  What Simplicity offers is the opportunity to spend much less time on mundane things – and that opens up more time for purpose and meaning.  In short – Simplicity is a key to the good life!

IMG_6054So here is one thing that gives us a sense of meaning:  Xaver (the name is pronounced Xavier, but his name is the German spelling without the “i”) is a Certified Pipe Organ Builder and that means he is able to diagnose a malfunctioning instrument and create solutions – even if they have to be made from scratch.  He’s also trained in piano, guitar, and violin/viola/cello/bass instrument building and restoration. However, we only take on pipe organs and pianos since that is what most interests us.  In the United States we are losing authentic pipe organs to the fake electronic instruments.  Every day we can tune, voice, and restore an authentic instrument to keep it at peek performance is another day the skilled salesmen don’t get to rip another pipe organ out and replace it with a glorified stereo system.  Some days this feels like a rescue operation, some days it’s just simple respect for a remarkable art form.  Pipe organs are amazing, complex machines, and being in the sanctuary where one is being played well can be an incredibly moving experience.  It is for me, as I grew up Mennonite and it is rare to find a pipe organ in a Mennonite church building.  Pipe organs were created to inspire worship and that is our focus and the mission in our work.  This work matters to us, it’s very intentional and important work to us.  It’s not especially lucrative because we keep our prices affordable for the sake of the congregations we serve.  Therefore, Simplicity becomes a key part of the way we live in order to live this dream and do this work that matters so much to us.

Fuchsia Ad 2I have had a dream for many years of being a published author, and living in a tiny home and embracing Simplicity is what made it possible for me to see that dream come true.  And in time, I became a published author.  YAY!  That means the world to me.  I made a list a year or so ago, and there were 25 books on that list of books I want to write.  Twenty five.  That’s crazy, but I’m on it.  Some of them are partially written.  And Simplicity is a key part of the way we live that makes it possible for me to keep writing books and creating resources to help other folks find Simplicity.  This feels missional, since materialism and consumerism have become so dominant in our culture.  I believe we all deserve to be free.  That’s what keeps me writing.

2 UsXaver and I are creatives.  He’s got an amazing inventive engineering mind.  I’m an artist and I love color, yarn, and painting.  These are the things I do to keep a balance in my life.  When I get a little overwhelmed with working with words and crafting messages, then I have to go back to the colors and textures of painting and weaving to recharge.  Being an artist is both self care and self expression for me.  And every time that Xaver gets to create and invent and do something purely for the sake of developing an idea… that’s also energizing for him.

As you follow along with this blog, you’ll see some pipe organ stuff, some creative stuff, and no matter what photos you see on Instagram or whether or not you pick up my book to read it… I want you to know that Simplicity is the tunnel we walked through to find this amazing life that we’re living.  Simplicity is what keeps us working, innovating, and doing restoration work in the world of pianos and pipe organs.  Simplicity is what makes it possible for me to weave, paint, and write books.  We aren’t getting rich doing any of this, but we do enjoy a meaningful life and that’s where it’s at for us.  True wealth is doing the work that matters most to us, when it’s lucrative, and also when it isn’t.

Purposeful Simplicity is the tunnel through the life-constricting mountain of materialism into the valley beyond where we get to live a more meaningful existence.   We have not arrived, I don’t want to even make it sounds like it’s a once and done thing – not at all.  We’re on this journey and we will keep at it.  You are welcome to walk with us on this journey and I have written some resources that will help and you can find them in the “sales” section of this page if you’d like – and if not – you’re still welcome here!!  Simplicity is powerful stuff, Y’all!

Love,

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Random Things I love about the Tiny House Community

We really enjoyed the Mid Atlantic Tiny House Expo this weekend in West Friendship Maryland!  We’re back and making a fast pivot to Pipe Organ Conservation, but wanted to take a few moments and share some thoughts about events like these. Please excuse my bedhead and the fact that I’m moving pretty slow this morning.  OH, and I forgot to use my microphone, so please turn up your speaker and hopefully you’ll be able to hear my thoughts.  I just wanted to give you an authentic moment in the life of a tiny house speaker and author, and I’m sorry, but I didn’t even comb my hair to do this.  I share a few of the things I love most about an event like this one and the community that makes these things possible.

Fuchsia Ad 1My very favorite thing is watching people come through and experience tiny houses – sometimes for the first time.  Most people can’t afford the $100K buildings that are sometimes at these shows, and that’s fine.  What I love is when a college student explores the inside of a Sprinter van, or a box truck, or a DIY tiny and they look around.  I got to see the light go on for a few people in those moments – you can almost see them realize that this is something they CAN do.  And if you can live in a van/bus/tinyhouse/whatever it is… and live simply?  There are so many opportunities and so much freedom suddenly available to you.  And I love seeing that happen!  I love seeing the moment when people start to realize that this life IS within reach!  You CAN do it.

A tiny house isn’t going to change your life – the simplicity that you HAVE TO LEARN to make the tiny house thing work?  That’s the game changer part of all this!  I love tiny houses, I went tiny in 2014, and I’ve been to a lot of tiny house festivals and toured many beautiful homes.  It’s not the house that will change your life – it’s Simplicity that is required to live comfortably there.  And I suppose that’s why I’m still here talking about Kitchen Simplicity (Both my book – and the broader idea) of really embracing Simplicity – no matter where or how you live – or whether your home has wheels or not.  In the end the mindset is everything – and that also happens to be my favorite part about my first book – Kitchen Simplicity!  (Which… by the way… I noticed the Kindle book was available on Amazon for only $2.99 – and it’s usually $4.99 so if Kindle is your preferred way to get a book then this is good timing for you!)

Unfortunately, sometimes my ipad malfunctions and I can’t upload my photos anymore – but I can still upload them to Instagram so pop over there and see photos and video from the Mid-Atlantic Tiny House Expo.  It was great fun!

And remember, you can go tiny, embrace simplicity, and still eat really well!

All my best,

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