That Time I Hated My Tiny House

There have been some times over our years of living tiny that Xaver and I have faced some really crazy schnitzel together.  Dominant culture tells us that having a lot of stuff equals wealth.  And yet, there I was looking around at my tiny house and realizing that I had a fraction of the stuff I used to have.  So… does that mean I’m poor?  People that knew our living situation sometimes treated us as if we were poor, but were they right to do so?

Culture tells us that a guy with a nice house, a nice yard, and a couple of nice cars is a pretty good guy.  A woman with an expansive collection of shoes and handbags, and a business empire is really something special.  And Billionaires are gods.  They must be smarter, wiser, or maybe they know some secrets the rest of us don’t know or they wouldn’t be wealthy, right?  And yet we’re seeing day-by-day proof in our political arena that wealth does not equal wisdom and human value can’t be measured by the mathematical equation of net worth.  I knew that a wealthy person wasn’t worth more than me in my head, but somehow my heart wasn’t getting the message.

There we were in our tiny house, living out some sort of intentional homelessness.  Sometimes it felt like we were doing something revolutionary.  Screw the system!  Sometimes it felt like we were being naughty because when people don’t understand your steps outside of conformity, they sometimes pull out the disapproval.  But I don’t have to live by their standard.  I have to live by mine.  When we stayed grateful (which wasn’t always) then it was an amazing and liberating experience.  And when I focused on what I didn’t have, it was awful.

Xaver and I have been through some battles that brought us back together at the end of the day feeling like the world had chewed us up and spit us out.  In fact, we had a client with a three million dollar project decide that they didn’t want to pay their bill for the work we’d done for them.  We actually had to take them to court.  It was one of those David and Goliath moments, and believe me, it wasn’t fun.  What made it worse was that “Goliath” was a congregation with the meanest pastor I’ve ever met.  I’m also a person of faith.  Church folk aren’t supposed to act like that!  What made it worse yet was that we had earmarked that money to pay a bill… and since that money didn’t come – our other bill got bigger and bigger.  The legal battle took forever!  We were demoralized, hurt, and angry.  There were times when I looked around at my tiny house, and I looked at our clients with their expansive 3 million dollar church renovation project… I felt very small and very poor.  There were moments in that season where I hated my tiny house.  It was a reminder of what we didn’t have.  And dealing with lawyers and the legal system only accentuated the sense that “justice” was beyond our grasp.

I was stressed out.  We both were.  In that season we created some new habits for ourselves that really helped.  These little habits helped us move from the poverty mindset into purposeful simplicity to make our home a haven.

Turning off the Screens

And we’d turn on the news and it would be some crazy “sky-is-falling” stuff and on top of what we were going through.  It felt like too much!  Twitter or Facebook would be flipping out over this or that new scandalous event.  We turned off the screens. We’d make a great meal, and open a bottle of wine left over from the restaurant.  We’d light a beeswax candle and put on some nice music.  Then we’d pull out the cards and play games for a while.  Without really meaning to, we were changing our focus away from the big bad world beyond the walls of our tiny home and placing our focus on the wealth of love that we shared.  It was amazing how much it helped to enjoy a lovely meal and unwind together.

Rituals

We also have some little rituals that have helped us.  When we’re really feeling low, we go outside and brush the negativity off of each other as if it were dandruff or dog hair.  Sometimes we go inside after a long day and wash our hands to wash away the cares of the day.  We pause to say a prayer before our meal and thank God for getting us through another day.  These were small rituals, but they have helped us make our home a haven.

Connection

In cases where we’re really struggling, but for whatever reason the problems we are facing need to remain closely held, that isolation can become a real challenge.  In fact, tiny houses are a great help it keeping isolation at bay!  I didn’t realize how great tiny houses were at keeping us connected until much later.

In January one year, the host of our favorite AirBNB invited us to stay at his place for a week.  He and his home hold a very special place in our home so of course we were delighted to visit.  I spent some time in the kitchen baking apple pies.  There was a glorious huge TV in the kitchen, so while I baked my pies, I listened to a documentary on minimalism. Do I know how to party or what?! LOL!

Xaver was in the next room, reading a book. Later I mentioned to him something I’d noticed in the documentary, and he didn’t even know I had the television on! In a tiny house, if the TV is on, everyone hears it! In fact, as that week progressed in that huge house, I began to feel more and more isolated. I was surprised how the vast empty spaces of a beautiful home could make me feel so alone. I was so happy to get back home to our tiny cozy space. That reality of being connected and close is one of the things I love about our tiny home. We’re together. We’re connected. We can hear each other without raising our voices. That isolation just can’t hang out with us. We’re close. Literally. The fact that the space is small and cozy really does focus our connection in a way a big house just cant do. This is to our advantage. We stay connected and bring friends and family into that space through hospitality, and isolation doesn’t stand a chance.

The Dove Family

doves

Years ago I heard a guy talking about a family of doves that lived in his porch.  When the family fought, the doves would leave.  When the family lived in peace, the doves would return.  I suppose that’s true no matter what size your home is.

Through a very difficult season of our lives when our tiny house accentuated our sense of poverty, we learned a few things that helped us remember that our choice to go tiny was about purposeful simplicity.  We learned to turn off the screens and enjoy a lovely meal together.  We learned small rituals that had meaning to us.  And we learned to stay close to each other.  In this way our tiny house became our haven-home.  It really is possible to use the tender walls of a tiny home to create space that is sacred, restful, and healing.  

Peace be with you,

Signature Tiny House Foodie logo

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

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

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

The Tiny House Foodie Kitchen

I enjoying taking some time over the holiday weekend to make some progress on my tiny house kitchen.  I’ve removed the doors and painted the upper cabinets and the window and it is a vast improvement.  THF Kitchen Progress 1

Soon all the base cabinets will come out and we will be installing small fridges and new kitchen cabinets below.  I can’t wait to show you the green oak kitchen cabinets, I think they’re lovely!  THF Kitchen progress 2

The plan also includes some salvaged Carrara marble that went through a house fire.  It remains to be seen if we can get enough of the smoke/water/fire stains out to make it salvageable for a counter top.  We shall see.  Finally, I have some beautiful tile for the back splash.  I’m really excited about seeing this cute little kitchen come together so that I can share lots of great food with you.

Are you building a tiny house or do you currently live in a tiny house?  Post photos of your tiny house kitchen and the food you make there on the Tiny House Foodie Group page on Facebook.  I’m totally looking forward to meeting all of you that are following along and seeing what food we create together.  If there is one thing I know, it is that Tiny House Folks are incredibly creative and resourceful and I can’t wait to see your kitchen and hear all about your favorite dishes.  Let me know what challenges you’re facing with your tiny space and that way I will know how to add value to these video sessions for all of you.  See you in the Interwebs!  =)

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