Vinnie Vlog #2 Another NEW BUS?!

It’s true, we bought another bus! We happened upon another one that we liked better because it’s longer, therefore it will be a more spacious home for us.  Plus, it’s also in great shape mechanically, and in even better shape cosmetically.  Yep, we’ve got a bus for sale!  lol!

Thomas Jefferson's tiny HouseOur new (older) bus used to be a shuttle bus at Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson.  This is fitting because one of my favorite folks in the tiny house movement is Thomas Jefferson!  lol!  I’ll bet you didn’t know he was one of us tiny house folks, did you?!  He bought land, and built a tiny one-room house that was 18 x 18 feet, and moved right in.  This little home became known as “The Honeymoon Cottage” when Jefferson married Martha Wayles Skelton. They lived so happily there that they soon welcomed their daughter Martha to the family.  Enjoying the perks of tiny house life, they worked on another house on the property – Monticello – a project that would be in progress for the rest of Jefferson’s life.

Stay tuned!  We’ve got the ceiling hatches sealed and we’ll be getting those seats out and putting down a new floor soon, it’ll be great!  I’ll bring you all the gritty details, so stick around!

I’m Carmen Shenk reminding you that we can go tiny, embrace simplicity, and still eat really well.  Thanks for watching, I appreciate it! 29c45-1a2bcarmen

 

Happy Birthday Bekki!

A birthday message for my friend Bekki that is an excerpt from chapter four of my new forthcoming book, Kitchen Simplicity.  In the video I mention visiting a lovely yarn shop, Baa Baa Sheep in Norfolk, Virginia… and I mention a skein of Embrace yarn from Raywa Fibers which is 100% yak down and is amazing – for a number of reasons.

I’m Carmen Shenk reminding you that we can live tiny, embrace simplicity, and still eat really well.  Thanks so much for watching, I really appreciate it!29c45-1a2bcarmen

Introducing Vinnie #3, our new Bus that wants to be a Skoolie!

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Interior of Vinnie 1

I’m starting a video log for our Skoolie project so here is an introduction to Vinnie 3.  Vinnie #1 was a van that I made into an RV back in 2010 or 2011 or so.  I fully intended to be a van-dweller and quietly live in plain sight but along came a handsome gentlemen and that was that.  I named that van “Vincent, my Van that Goghs” because I thought it was funny and artsy, but in time he became simply “Vinnie”.  Vinnie and I had many wonderful adventures together and I was sad to sell him, but he went to a traveling band of young musicians in spandex and big colorful hair.  So I know he is happy with his new family.

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A cup of tea in Vinnie 2

Our tiny house of 125 square feet became Vinnie #2, and we’ve been enjoying that one since the fall of 2014. We’ve been parked in various places around the area and have really loved our little haven home.  We’ve been though a lot in the last three years, but no matter what happened in a day, when we turned our car toward home, we were always glad to be back together in our haven home.

Thursday I decided I really wanted to consider the idea of a Skoolie a little more, so I took a look around Craigslist.  I texted a guy and made a plan to visit him the following morning.  I mentioned it to Xaver and away we went the next morning to meet Vinnie #3.  It was love at first sight for me, but Xaver walked around it complaining that it needed new tires and it was going to cost a fortune to put six good new tires on it.  The gentlemen lowered the price.  Xaver complained some more, and the price went down some more.  It was all I could do to keep from squeeling “SOLD!” but I kept my mouth shut tight with heroic effort.  Naturally we bought it.

IMG_20180118_171653038_HDR (2)I’ll keep a video blog of the process so be sure to swing by YouTube and subscribe so that you don’t miss a single episode.  Thousands of ideas, two artists, and one bus.  It’s going to be a real adventure!

I’m Carmen Shenk, the Tiny House Foodie, reminding you that we can live tiny, embrace simplicity, and still eat really well.  And we’re building a Skoolie where we can do just that.  Stick around, it’ll be fun.29c45-1a2bcarmen

The Rest of the Appliances – Day 23

1 New BeginningToday we wrap up the Right-Sizing your Kitchen video series by taking a look at the rest of the kitchen appliances.  We’ve already talked about the food processor, blender, mixer, toaster, and microwave… today we cover the rest of them.   What are your favorites that I haven’t mentioned?  I’m curious to know what other folks are using on a weekly basis that they’ll want to save space for in their tiny house.  We’re all different so our collections will be different.

In my experience, less is definitely better in a tiny house.  Ours was on the smaller side at 125 square feet, so we really kept a very minimal collection of things in our tiny house kitchen.  And there were still things we kept that we didn’t use, so we could have even gone tinier – so to speak.  And we’ve just bought a bus that is slightly smaller so we will go through the collection and weed out more things all over again.  I love cooking great food simply.  It brings me so much joy because the food is more crafted.  When I don’t need an appliance to make something it feels more like a work of my own hands, and that is very rewarding to me.  In the end the most important things in my kitchen have always been the knife and cutting board, the dutch oven, and a few favorite plates and glasses.  Having fresh fruit and vegetables close at hand – usually right on the kitchen counter – is always very satisfying.  We keep less around, so we eat fresher food, and that’s one of many reasons why tiny house living has been such a lovely adventure for us.

I’m Carmen Shenk, the Tiny House Foodie, reminding you that we can #LiveTiny, #EmbraceSimplicity and still #EatWell.  You may not think that you can go tiny, but I know you can.  Thanks so much for watching,  I really appreciate it! 29c45-1a2bcarmen

 

Microwave – Day 22

We’ve come a long way.  Our equipment has become very sophisticated and very powerful.  We can now make food very quickly.  With all the great inventions and new technology, we’ve managed to make food faster.  However, we have not managed to make food better.  That’s why it’s no sacrifice to me, to get rid of a microwave.  It’s no sacrifice to skip the freezer section of the market where the overly processed microwave “food” is found in all that packaging.  It’s no sacrifice to cook great meals and reheat them in a saucepan on the stove, or by heating them in the oven.  It’s no sacrifice to make real popcorn, and buying popcorn kernels is much cheaper than microwave popcorn, and doesn’t come with all that extra packagine.  It’s no sacrifice to make a fresh cup of coffee rather than reheating an old one.  Find out how to brew Tiny House Coffee here.

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Xaver’s Tiny House Coffee

In a tiny house situation, the power a microwave requires may also be a problem since it may overwhelm the system or cause a breaker to flip.  Trust me, that always happens when it’s cold, rainy, and after dark and then one of us has to go out in that weather with a flashlight to get the breaker turned back on!  lol!  In an off-grid situation, running a microwave may not even be an option because they are such energy hogs.  So part of becoming comfortable with tiny house living may include finding other ways to cook food without the use of the microwave.

Finally, there are some very real health concerns in microwaved food.  I’ve read the results of various research on the topic and I’m convinced there are valid concerns.  However, I’m not interested in debating any of that.  I’m not a scientist but I do respect what scientist do.  For me it’s much simpler to cook without it to remove the question, and the concern – and even the debate.  I really don’t want the debate!  In fact, I am willing to be ridiculed on this topic (and have been – at length!) rather than even engage in the battle.  I love peace.  I love people, even when we disagree.  I’m very secure that the choice I’ve made is the right one for me and of course I recognize that some folks won’t agree.  And that’s actually fine with me.  I choose not to eat microwaved food and I prefer not to eat in restaurants where I know the food will be microwaved.  Food artists don’t cook that way anyway, so that’s hardly a sacrifice.  No problem.  In short, I lose nothing by avoiding a microwave.  I skip the health concern and I eat better food.  Where’s the sacrifice?

16 mealsIf you have a microwave, take it out and look it over.  It’s an automatic toss if it is damaged or malfunctioning.  Put it in the garage or other distant room of the house for a while.  Clean the spot where the microwave was and consider your kitchen without it.  Make a contest of it and see who can go the longest without using it.  You have nothing to lose.

What you “need” is based on what you’re used to.  Change what you’re used to, and it will change what you need.  So the best way to make a real change in your kitchen is to simply dive in and get going.  You may not think that you can “go tiny”, but I know you can.  And from my years of experience living in 120 square feet, I can honestly tell you that what you gain makes every “sacrifice” worth it.  (Otherwise I would not have purchased a short bus where the living space will be 110 square feet!)  In time you might even find that none of it was actually a sacrifice, at least that’s how I feel.

I’m Carmen Shenk, the Tiny House Foodie, reminding you that we can #LiveTiny #EmbraceSimplicity and still #EatWell.  Thanks for watching, I really appreciate it!29c45-1a2bcarmen

 

Toast (And Panini) – Day 21

IMG_20161112_145725260Today we talk about the toaster in the Tiny House Foodie kitchen.  There are a number of ways to make great toast – in a toaster, in a toaster oven, or in a skillet on a burner.  Consider how often you enjoy toast, and pick the method that is right for you and the space you have in your tiny home.  Here I show how to toast bread in a skillet so that a toaster is no longer needed, and it’s delicious.  Toasting bread in a skillet is my favorite toast because it’s crispy without being dry, and it’s wonderful with a drizzle of honey.  I consider toast made this way a real treat.

If you love sandwiches toasted in a panini press, then build your sandwich and add a thin coat of mayonnaise to the outside of each piece of bread in addition to whatever dressing you put on the inside.  Heat two skillets, put your sandwich in the first, and top it with the second hot skillet.  Press or add a weight to flatten your sandwich even more.  The mayonnaise makes the bread toast up beautifully and of course the melted cheese of a panini press sandwich is always amazing.

Pull out all your toasting equipment – and since toasting can be such a messy endeavor – give it all a clean.  Donate what you no longer need and put back what you intend to keep.

In our tiny house we have a toaster oven instead of a range oven, so we use that to toast or melt some cheese and even to bake off a tray of cookies now and then (keeping the rest of the dough in the freezer until we were ready for a few more fresh warm cookies).  In our much larger Tiny House Foodie kitchen there is no space for something like a toaster or toaster oven on the counter top, so we use the skillet method to make toast.  I’m not sure what we’ll do in the Skoolie, once it is finished.  That depends mostly on whether or not there is a oven in the space and I don’t know that yet.  We’re still in the design stage of the build.  As it turns out, I’m working at this right along with you.

Thanks so much for following along with this series, I appreciate it.  We finish up this series this week with a conversation about the microwave and then one final session is sort of a “catch all” about the other appliances you may also have in your kitchen.  We’re on the home stretch.  Well done on all your hard work to make your kitchen a place of simplicity and order!

I’m Carmen Shenk, the Tiny House Foodie, reminding you that we can #LiveTiny #EmbraceSimplicity and still #EatWell.  Thanks for watching, I really appreciate it!29c45-1a2bcarmen

Mixing and Whipping – Day 20

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Kitchen Aid Still Life

Today we tackle the tools that mix and blend including the stand mixer, the hand held mixer, and various hand tools.  Pull out all your tools that serve these functions and consider the redundancy in your collection.  Choose your favorites and make changes as needed.  Then move the rest to the donation box and clean out your kitchen cabinet and return the remaining items neatly.

Xaver and I have just purchased a short bus and we’ll be building out the interior for our third tiny home so I’m considering the usefulness of each item right along with you.  Since we’ll be going from 125 square feet, down to 110 square feet – and it will be configured very differently – it’s not going to be a huge adjustment and we are very excited about the places we’ll visit and the people we will meet along the way.  This also serves as a reminder of why we continue to work at downsizing and it helps us to reinvigorate our efforts.  Perhaps you would appreciate a reminder of why you’re going to all the trouble to downsize or right-size your kitchen.  Today take a moment to remember the goals you had when you began this process and remember what you stand to gain.  The more we focus on the simplicity and order we gain from this process, as opposed to the losses of downsizing, the more we’ll be able to enjoy the transition.

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VINNIE 3 – our new short bus

Recently I scrolled through social media looking at photos taken by folks who have only recently gone tiny and over and over again I’m reading the joy they have in this journey.  I saw again the sense of accomplishment and enjoyment these folks have their small cozy spaces.  I have been at this for a number of years so it’s easy to forget how exciting and joyful it was at the beginning.  The feeling hasn’t changed, just the sense of newness has left me.  This new Skoolie project will bring back the sense of newness without giving up the perks of living tiny, in fact, this bus is more road worthy than any of our other homes (lol!) and I look forward to traveling the country in it.

Keep on working toward your goal.  You can do it!  I know you can!

I’m Carmen Shenk, the Tiny House Foodie, reminding you that we can #LiveTiny #EmbraceSimplicity and still #EatWell.  Thanks for watching, I really appreciate it!29c45-1a2bcarmen

Blender & Juicer – Day 19

14 RicerToday we are talking about kitchen tools that blend, puree, and juice – which covers a variety of tools.  Pull all of these items out of your kitchen cabinets and take a look over them.  Remove redundant gear and consider what’s best for you in your tiny house.  I chose to keep a small blender – the one and only appliance that made it into my tiny house.  Consider what you’ll actually use on a weekly basis, and what alternatives there are in your community.

Alternatives to keeping the gear:

In some cases, visiting a great local shop that offers fresh juices may be more of a treat than keeping an expensive juicer that is a space and energy hog.  In my case, instead of juicing each morning, I enjoy a 2 ounce glass of NingXia Red, a superfruit smoothie product that has more great high-nutrient foods in it than I have time to eat in a day – or even a few days – and certainly more than I’m willing to buy at the market and haul home and feed to the machine.  Juicing gets expensive in a hurry!  Shaving products and Christmas gift setNot to mention the clean up because the juicing process is messy.  All of that was just too much to bring into a tiny house, so instead of focusing on what I was losing by living tiny, I find an alternative that works great for me.  These days I have simplified my life by buying NingXia Red on the Young Living auto-ship program which makes it crazy-easy.  Therefore I no longer need a juicer.  The benefits I have experienced include better focus, more stamina, and less cravings for salt and sugar which accidentally led to weight loss (score!!).  NingXia Red has made such a difference for me that Xaver and I literally tell perfect strangers about it!  lol!  Lots of information (including purchase info) is available at this link.

All that to say that you may find creative alternatives to keeping big expensive gear in your kitchen that make it more palatable to part with big energy and space hog appliances.  In this manner we remove the sacrificial quality of downsizing, keep our favorite items, and retain only the gear that serves our purpose in this season of our lives.

Are you enjoying the process of transforming your kitchen into a place of order and simplicity?  I hope so.  This is day 19 out of 22 so you are on the home stretch!  Pat yourself on the back – you deserve it!

I’m Carmen Shenk, the Tiny House Foodie, reminding you that we can #LiveTiny #EmbraceSimplicity and still #EatWell.  Thanks for watching, I really appreciate it!29c45-1a2bcarmen

 

Food Processor – Day 18

14 graterToday we get out all the tools that grate and slice.  Clean out the storage space and consider which items to return to the cabinet.  Think especially in terms of removing redundant tools and keeping in mind the weight, space, and power restrictions of living tiny.  If you are moving into a micro unit, you may only want to keep the knife and cutting board.  If you’re headed for a small space you may appreciate having a grater/slicer with a lid.  If you have a larger kitchen with no power restrictions then you may enjoy having a small food processor.  The “right answer” for you depends on the purpose you have in this season of your life.

Tiny House communities are really great places to have a lending library of tools that most members won’t need often, but might like to have access to now and then.  This is an excellent opportunity to create such a library or donate tools for use in such a library.  Consider your favorite charities that create food for the homeless, or maybe talk to someone at the local daycare to see if they need equipment you no longer need.  Continue to think of creative places to donate these larger kitchen appliances where they serve the needs of the community.  And donating an appliance that is in good condition to the charity of your choice is a great way to support a cause that matters to you.

How does your donate pile look by now?  Have you been removing items from your kitchen that you no longer need or wish to store or care for?  Congratulations!  Share a photograph with me using the hashtag #KitchenSimplicity or tweet to @TinyHouseFoodie on Twitter or Instagram, and follow me on Facebook.  I look forward to hearing from you.  Leaving a comment is always welcome.

I’m Carmen Shenk, the Tiny House Foodie, reminding you that we can #LiveTiny #EmbraceSimplicity and still #EatWell.  Thanks for watching, I really appreciate it!29c45-1a2bcarmen

Herbs, Spices, and Essential Oils – Day 16

Today we tackle the spice cabinet.  Take everything out, clean the cabinet or spice rack thoroughly.  Then go through the herbs and spices and remove old products that you don’t use.  Compost the product and recycle the container for items you no longer need.  Anything that has MSG in it is an automatic toss – inspect the salt & spice blends and flavor packets especially.  A good rule of thumb is to get rid of anything you have not used in the past year.

Shrimp Rohini

Shrimp Rohini by Chef Carmen

This is an excellent time to transfer all the bottles over to uniform glass or take advantage of a new space saving spice storage system.  Store spices away from heat and sunlight which will damage the quality of the product.  Then put everything back as you like it and step back to admire the transformation.  Well done!

If you are intrigued by the idea of using essential oils for their remarkable fresh flavors, and aren’t sure where to begin – allow me to suggest Young Living as my brand of choice.  They are the best in the business and I have enjoyed using essential oils in my food very much.  See how I made layered mints here, and if you’d like to learn more about essential oils in general – I have a wealth of information over here and when you begin a wholesale membership and become a member of my “oily” family, you’ll quickly see why everyone is talking about essential oils these days.  Essential oils are one of the secrets to tiny house living to me, these little space saving potions are useful in so many ways.

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Shrimp Rohini

No matter what your favorite flavors, today is your day to get them out, clean them up, and put them in order.  This is another rewarding task and bravo to each of you who have continued through this process to simplify your kitchen and prepare for living tiny.

BTW, here is a recipe I created that features some of my favorite spices: Shrimp Rohini.  I recently heard from a reader who switched out the shrimp for chicken and she loved it – so there’s a variation you might also enjoy.

I’m Carmen Shenk, the Tiny House Foodie, reminding you that we can #LiveTiny #EmbraceSimplicity and still #EatWell.  Thanks for watching, I really appreciate it!29c45-1a2bcarmen