Saturday, March 30, 2013


Even the workers had much fun when we drop off our donations..

donation worker in chair

Friday, March 29, 2013

Purgatory Pile

Purgatory Pile
At this point  tossing comes natural and quick, but there are things that go into what I call the "purgatory pile". Here are the purgatory pile items that survived the last donation purge:

A letter that defines me.
There is my high school letter. I regret donating my son's football jersey with his name on the back. I should have thrown it in the garbage. Now I feel creepy our name is probably on the back a Halloween costume.

Reunion reminder.
Underneath the letter is my college yearbook. I have tossed all the high school ones except this one. I have no reason to keep it...thus purgatory.

This book is juuuuuuuust right.
The three bears is one of my kids favorite books. It lasted many years and traveled around the world with us. Our third child arrived and tore a page out of this book. She still gets shamed for this action and the book shown here is a "new" version of the book my husband replaced it with. If it was the old one with the torn page, I may have considered keeping it. 

Diver's log doom.
The divers log has all my scuba diving dives logged into it.  I am not so fond of scuba diving, but I became certified with my husband 20 years ago. My last dive in Belize after a 12 year hiatus.  I was adjusting my ancient goggle on the boat and my goggle strap snapped into two pieces. Luckily someone had an extra as I was frantically adjusting it while flipping backwards into the water. Here is the kicker...we didn't even bring the book along to for a dive signature, so what's the purpose?  Actually this needs to be shredded.Now.

Oh the places a slide can go.
Finally there is a folder full of slides that have already been scanned into digital images.
I went to a craft show and saw these slide lampshades. Now who would buy these shades that didn't show their own slides? Maybe I could make slide garland with lights behind them. I am allowed one nonsense craft project that will never come to fruition. Just one. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Tiny house gone bad

When checking local MLS house listings, the smallest amount of square footage that I could search online is 500 sq. ft.  I thought to myself there needs to be a real estate site that just lists tiny houses. There is such a site and it's called

 The listings started off a bit extreme with this converted bus for sale.

Followed by this yurt.

Was this the reality of what is available on the market for a tiny home?
After looking through over 50 listings I came to the conclusion that not only does a tiny home need to be small , but it must also have an element of design to it.

Take the popular trend of using shipping carts in this beautiful wee house.

A red shipping container was listed, but it was not beautiful.

Nor was the one listed with a luxury pool.

They got the simple part right on this listing.
A shipping box, a door and a window.

Where is the listing of a square house with a metal roof that uses flower boxes and interesting windows for whimsy charm?

A square house was listed with a metal roof and no charm.

The interior should reflect simplicity and give a sense of calm.

Not my teenagers room.

 I can understand why people shake their heads at me and question why I would ever want a small house. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

"You Can Buy Happiness (and It's Cheap): How One Woman Radically Simplified Her Life and How You Can Too." by Tammy Strobel

My discovery of an article about Tammy Strobel and her journey of downsizing, led me to purchase this book. The video shows Tammy and her husband logan in their 128 sq ft house on wheels.

Tammy describes three methods she used to simpify her life.
1. Give away 10 belongings a week. When I started letting go of my stuff, I started with one room at a time. At first the idea of giving away my things was overwhelming because I had so much. I found that giving away 10 belongings a week -- in the beginning -- propelled my downsizing process. We gave most of our belongings away to charity and sold a few items on Craigslist. It turned out that most people didn't want to buy our old stuff, so giving it away was a better option. Plus, it made us feel better!
2. Pay off your debt. If you are anything like me, this process will take time. But don't fret, you can do it! Sit down and make a list of all your debts, including credit card bills, student loans, car loans, your mortgage and more. Focus on paying down your debt a little bit every month. It took us years to pay off my student loan debt, but it was worth the wait. When I was stuck with so much debt it wasn't possible to change careers or move to a new city. Without debt, I had the freedom to make a broad range of choices.
3. Prioritize people in your life, not stuff. Rather than going shopping, pick up the phone and call a good friend. Go out to lunch with her, go for a bike ride, a long hike, or make a fun dinner with your partner. Making time for people you love is incredibly important. Interestingly, happiness research has shown that having strong relationships is correlated with a happy and healthy life.

The book contained many interesting motivational facts and studies.
Tammy and her husband started in a 1,200 sq ft apartment, 
then reduced their belongings to a 800 sq ft. apartment. 
It took them five years and three moves to fit into the 128 sq ft home on wheels. 

Tammy used the book,  How We Decide, by Johah Lehrer as a resource.
Lehrer discovered that,  "the desire to avoid anything that represents loss often shapes our behavior, leading us to do foolish leaving a wedding ring in a jewelry box for years without wearing it." My house and life are FILLED with zillions of these things that are kept for when my kids move out, or to hand down from generation to generation. 

This house on wheels is parked on a section of a backyard Tammy and Logan rent. 
They shower at the gym and do laundry at the owners house.

I found this study included in the book interesting.
A psychology experiment from the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology explored the connection between people, their stuff and their sense of security.  
People value their belongings because "ownership of goods promotes feelings of security". 
When asked the value of a pen or blanket, those who felt loved and accepted placed a lower monetary value on the possessions, than people who did not. 

Below, furniture is pulled out as needed.

Tammy mentions participating in a project called 333
It is a movement that asks one to try and create their wardrobe out of 33 pieces.
I have begun my decent into this project.

Imagine just hooking up your house and traveling somewhere new.

My favorite quote of the book was from Yongey Mingyour's,  Joy of Living

"Ultimately, happiness comes down to choosing between the discomfort of becoming aware of your mental afflications and the discomfort of being ruled by them."

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Shannon Estlund's, "Fertile Grounds" tiny house sculpture

sculpture of a small wooden house by Shannon Estlund

Have you ever walked down the streets of Hopkins Mn, and wondered if Dorothy's house from the Wizard of Oz landed right before the movie theatre?  This wooden sculpture by  MCAD student Shannon Estlund is part of the Hopkins artstreet collection.

Estlund's inspiration was from an abaondoned house, overgrown by vines and trees. Shannon told me more about her process. "I was thinking about the aesthetic of newer suburban homes in contrast to the aesthetic of woods and natural spaces.  I wanted to put the two together in the same place, both to create an imaginary space with a potential narrative, and also to investigate ideas about use of space, and how value is determined when considering places like homes, woods, empty lots, sidewalks, etc. "

For more of Shannon Estlund's work, check out her website.

Wooden sculpture of a house with branches poking through by Shannon Estlund

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

10 tips to living in a small space by Erin Boyle

In New York space comes at a premium so it is no surpise to me that this video which includes living spaces at 240 sq feet, 300 sq feet and 105 sqaure feet are found.  To read the whole article from Shine from Yahoo read here.

In her blog called readingmytealeaves Erin Boyle details how she and her boyfriend survive in this tiny space.

She documents survival techniques. My favorite is,  "treat the city like it's your living room." Her boyfriend and her have spent many nights having picnics in parks, toasting wine glasses on church steps and strolling down streets.

They live in a 240 sq ft Apartment and give 10 tips to living in a small space.

1).   Hide clutter
2).   Seek out smaller versions of items
3).   Be creative about storage
4).   Buy beautifuul things
5).   Be selective about art
6).   Cut back on garbage
7).   Keep windows clean
8).   Put things away right away
9).   Limit what you buy
10). Make the city part of your lviing space.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

DIY house built for under $3500

Everytime I watch a video of someone living this simply it makes my intention of a house under 1000 sq feet seem totally reasonable. Interesting parts of this video for me was the how the roof lifts up in the loft. Her use of scrap items was resourceful. The chamber pot is not on my list for simplicity..nope,nope,nope.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The rings of suburbia

I now know where Target must've gotten their inspiration for their logo from.

suburban neighborhood in a circle

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Olli Enne

Olli Enne is a student in Finland who goes to Aalto-yliopisto and is studying architecture.
The link I was sent was all in Finnish, but I google translated the goal of his thesis. He is studying how to create very small and reproducible houses. The interesting twist is that they would be built on other peoples land/garden. Often times I will read about those who have built their 128ft house on wheels only to find that zoning rules don't allow such a small structure on land so they end up parking them in the backyards of peoples houses.  Here are a few screen shots from his video.

The main concept is to build these on unused areas of the owner's property.
Ollo Enne architecture
Instead on one house per plot, his sketch blanks having multiple structures

Ollo Enne architecture

The only word I understood on the video was "sauna". 
Even in the smallest of structures that is one thing that is incorporated.

Ollo Enne architecture with sauna

In America we will often have sheds that are bigger than this!

Ollo Enne architecture

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Birthday haul

Birthdays at this house involve thinking and creating, more than buying.

Each year for my birthday, my husband bakes me a chocolate cake.
No returns, no storage space... just pure sugar.

This year was the chocolate cake and a request.
This hard boiled egg slicer made the kitchen drawer cut a few months ago and then sprung a cord during the holidays. I asked my husband to repair it as my gift.

For my husband's birthday we have been using this  "Incredibles" bag for over 8 years. 
It doubles for father's day and can be used for "in a jam" wrapping on anyone else's birthday.

Monday, March 11, 2013

333 project with the help of a Nordstrom stylist.

I discovered this wardrobe concept while reading Tammy Strobel's book called, "You can buy happiness (and it's cheap). How one woman radically simplified her life and how you can too.  It's  a commitment to downsize your wardrobe and it's called  Project 333. The core idea is to narrow your wardrobe to approximately 33 items including clothing, accessories and shoes. The site provides inventory help and information to guide me along my path.

They even have a Pintrest board and a facebook page.

Yesterday the Nordstom catalog came in the mail and this was on the inside cover:

After filling out the request online,  I will be meeting with Nadine this week. 

Hopefully a monthly visit will purge the bad garments while adding a few things to create a useful, wardrobe that will constantly change, but always remain minimal.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Tiny Homes by Lloyd Kahn

Tiny Homes Simple Shelter by Lloyd Kahn is a collection of over 150 builders. 
The maximum size house allowed in the book is 500 ft.

The book starts out with this snowboarder's haven by Michael Basich.

Michael used rocks and wood milled from the land.

What an amazing picture window.

Cathy Johnson designed a studio that was based on building with a small budget and a lot of recycled supplies.

Scott Holmen's large covered deck creates covers more footage than the shelter.

This tree house ceiling is made from thrown out picture frame samples.

Kay House was created out of 99 percent pure salvage. 
Tiny Texas Houses feels that there is  presently enough building supplies in the USA to build much of the next generation of housing. 

Tiny Homes Simple Shelter by Lloyd Kahn is a great resource book for inspiration and finding alternatives to using recycled materials. After reading this book I am inspired to find a plot of land and just start creating.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Jessica Helgerson

Jessica Helgerson is an interior designer in Oregon.

Without adding on any square footage, Jessica Helgerson took this 540 sq foot home and remodeled it using reclaimed materials. I love the tree bursting through the deck and a swing hanging from it.
The roof has moss and ferns collected from the land.
Jessica Helgerson designed this 540 square foot home with reclaimed materials
The sofas could double as three beds.

How interesting that the bookshelf are the only "things".Jessica Helgerson designed this 540 square foot home with reclaimed materials
The kitchen has windows that almost touch the floor.
The beautiful wood backdrop was found on site in one of the barns.
Jessica Helgerson designed this 540 square foot home with reclaimed materials

Hard to imagine a children's room this clean and white. 
With a beautiful five acres to explore, who needs a play station? 
There is a full bed for guests and the closet pulls out for saving space.
Jessica Helgerson designed this 540 square foot home with reclaimed materials
I love fresh flowers.
Beautiful bathtub.
Jessica Helgerson designed this 540 square foot home with reclaimed materials
Take off your wellies and welcome!
Jessica Helgerson designed this 540 square foot home with reclaimed materials