Storage Wars

Storage Wars

My days have gone into hyper-drive and are pressing me to accomplish goals because long anticipated deadlines are in view.  The youngest graduated high school with high honors, family visited, there was a delightful home stay from my daughter who has been living in New Zealand and has now relocated to Colorado, and my house is up for sale.  All of this adds up to “Go” time!

The goal is to be living full-time in the tiny house by September, which means I want to have the interior as settled as possible.  I’ve lived in homes that were never quite finished (missing trim is always a common thread), and with the size of this house I am determined to completely finish it out.  Since the last blog post there has been good progress.

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LifeProof Vinyl Flooring is done.
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I built a little entry deck.
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A large tree that was threatening the main house came down.
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Tiny woodstove is ready to go!
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Sink is ready for the plumber.
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Happy with my window trim!

I’ve been taking full advantage of the cool weather (hoodies in July!) and working as much as my body will stand because I know once the heat hits I’ll want to kayak and hike in the high country. My latest puzzle piece has been the storage stairs to the loft, which I constructed out of 3/4″ birch plywood. They are proving to be sturdy and solid, and a handrail on the wall should up the safety factor. The last step is designed so that I can sit on the loft edge and my feet hit the stair tread.

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Working my way down…still need lots of trim and finish work.

There is a surprising amount of storage in the little house and I will have everything I need and want.  My current home is slowly but surely emptying out and I have been giving many items away in what I call the “Freebie Project”.  The project caught the eye of Sandpoint Magazine and I was invited to write an article, you can read it on the last page of  Sandpoint Magazine here.

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I am committed to stay true to the minimal amount of items I choose to keep as I hope to never go through this process again! Eventually someone has to make decisions about what we have chosen to buy, store, and fill our homes and garages with.  I’ve given away almost 200 items and made countless trips to the thrift store.   Dump trips bring the greatest awareness the impact our consumption has on the earth.

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The metal pile is two stories high.

Focus, determination and small attainable goals continue to propel me towards intentional living.  The kids and I are all learning lessons about letting go. Letting go of childhood and becoming young adults, learning to parent in new ways, selling the house that has great memories attached to it for an unknown “new normal”.  Letting go of job positions to focus on new work, it is definitely a season of transitions.

May your summer be filled with good books, good food, great company, adventure and a stellar nap or two.

Be Kind to yourself…

Hillary D.

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Dishwater Tears

Dishwater Tears

This winter of snowdrifts and deep cold has been a blessing.  Like all big winter years I’ve had some challenges, my furnace became stingy with heat output and the hot water heater took note and is withholding hot water.   I even climbed up in to a very awkward attic space to look at the furnace (thank you yoga!) thinking there might be an obvious part lying on the attic insulation.  There wasn’t,  and if there was I wouldn’t have the faintest idea what to do next, but it was an adventure!  I have no idea how that furnace will someday be replaced with its given location.

These normal home owner issues always bring my head back to the tiny house, and the potential issues that water and heat might face.  The extra time indoors has allowed me to research and plan. It reminds me of pre-trip planning when I’m traveling somewhere new, it’s part of the journey and can save you many headaches before arriving to the destination.  If I had jumped right into building the plans I had purchased I wouldn’t have the redesign that better suits me.

I spent my Friday night tackling the craft cupboard, which holds many clues that we were a former home schooling family.  How wonderful that I work for a school that has two amazing art classrooms, a pottery room AND a Makerspace…I know exactly where all these cast-off art supplies can be put to good use.

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Piles of extra art supplies

Doing dishes over winter break started to get under my skin.  The dishwasher seemed to be endlessly full as well as the sink and the dish drainer … we have too many dishes. I emptied all the cupboards and started a new discard corner in my daughters empty room.  My kids will each receive a box of really pretty items when it comes time to set up their own living space.

I won’t have a dishwasher in the tiny house, so after bringing down the sheer number of dishes we use I decided to go on a dishwasher ban to see how washing dishes by hand day in and day out sits with me.   I ask Alexa to play some music, light a candle on the windowsill, and fill the sink with hot soapy water (when the hot water heater is feeling generous).  Turning this daily chore into an opportunity to think has turned doing dishes into therapeutic motion, there are days the dishwater mixes with tears.

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My therapy office.

I’ll be just fine without the modern dishwasher, both my dishes and my emotions will get a good scrubbing.  I will however need a good supply of this awesome product as my hands take the brunt of cold and hot.

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The best hand cream ever!

Thanks for all the great support and feedback as I share this trek, looking forward to posting my first construction photos in the summer sun.

Be Well Friends.

Hillary D.

The Good Life

The Good Life

My lovely, bitterly cold winter break has come to a close and I feel energized and rested all at once, which I believe is how a vacation should leave one feeling.  The weather is North Idaho cold. Snow drifts are growing with every shovel, plow and windstorm that blows through.  It’s beautiful outside with all the sparkly snow and sunshine and it entices me to enter into the scene outside my window. The icy reality sends me back indoors to my steaming mug of hot tea.

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Everyone has ice sculptures hanging from the house.

The gift of days and days of uninterrupted time was priceless.  I’ve taken great pleasure in the ordinary; cooking, cleaning up the place, reading, continuing to downsize,  and joining fellow winter travelers who are healing bodies bent from shoveling snow in the hot yoga room.  There was leisurely time for meals with friends, long phone conversations, nights of rowdy music and dancing, board games and hanging with my boys.  My dog is in heaven, he follows me through the house so happy I’m here and he learned how to share his space with a puppy.  The school I work for has taken on a Golden Retriever pup who will become a therapy dog (I think she already is!) and I co-parented her for an energetic week.

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Vita and Goliath

This was an awesome opportunity to redesign the tiny house to better suit me and I dove headfirst into Google SketchUp, learning the program and having so much fun living virtually in my future home.  The efforts reinforced to me again that a simple life is a very, very good life.

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The tiny house is taking shape…I love it!

My unstructured days are coming to a close. School resumes and we jump right in to a busy 2nd trimester. My task will be to carry the energy and renewed focus into my open, bright, puppy filled office.  Spring is slumbering under the frozen landscape, but the daffodils are there and will make their grand entry signaling a new season bringing a whole new trek.

It’s storming again, stay warm friends.

Hillary D.

 

Simple Is A Feeling

Simple Is A Feeling

It is the day after Christmas and I feel content.  My family cooked together, watched Bob Ross paint a winter scene on Netflix (sounds boring but we laughed and laughed and were amazed) stood around a fire in the snow with the dogs, listened to music, attended a candlelit solstice yoga class at Sandpoint Hot Yoga , walked, worked a puzzle, shared meals with friends and enjoyed each others company.  It was a simple and beautiful winter scene.

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Stunning snow covered Lake Pend Oreille;

I am grateful to my friends and family that understood that both my kids and myself don’t need much.  Gift cards, a paid month at the gym, a massage, books, Christmas money and music were some of the thoughtful gifts received.  Nothing needs to be exchanged, and we do not need to find closet space to house a giant haul of gifts. With all the recent purging it feels exactly right.

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A gift of tiny succulents, perfect for a tiny house!

Occasionally here in North Idaho we will experience earthquakes, nothing terribly devastating, just enough of the ground shaking to look at one another and say “Did you feel that?”  It catches your attention, provokes some conversation and we move on with the day.  This week while I was finishing another collection of items for the donations pile, I stopped and had that same earthquake sort of moment.  Suddenly I thought, “I can feel it.”, the house actually FEELS lighter.  The realization stopped my busyness and I thought … this is it …. this is what simplicity feels like.  The house is gaining space, some of it hidden in drawers and behind closet doors, but the open space is there and I can sense it.

I am also noticing that since the house is already free of much clutter, keeping it that way takes very little of my time.  It’s nice to come home and have a tidy space to greet me.  This week my kitchen will receive some attention,  digging into the corners of the cupboards, pantry and fridge. My guy has a habit of dating jar lids when he opens them, which at first I thought was rather OCD, but now I know exactly how long that favorite salad dressing has been sitting on the shelf and really should be tossed!  Sounds like the perfect detox for the new year.

May your season also be filled with simplicity,  the people you love, and the miracles that surround us every day.

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With 2017 right around the corner, pour love and light into your world …

Hillary D.

Reality Check

Reality Check

Sometimes, the road ahead is blocked, but clearing the way becomes part of the journey. Learn to tell when it’s time to let go, to surrender, to search for another road, a different path, another dream.  But also tell, when it’s time to move forward, through obstacles if need be, because the dream is electric, charged by Divine energy and love.  Melody Beattie

I’ve purged, and purged, given items away, had garage sales and dropped off garbage bag after garbage bag of clothes, books  and random household stuff.  The hard reality is I am not even close to being where I need to be.

Let’s talk clothes.

I am not an aggressive shopper, I like a new skirt or pair of shoes but shopping is not how I fill my free time. It’s why it is easy for me to live in a town that does not have a mall, at least not the kind of mall most of America would consider worthy. Our mall here has ONE clothing store (JC Penny’s) and the boutique shops downtown generally are priced higher than I am usually willing to pay for clothing, as a matter of fact some of my favorite clothes were a thrift store score.

Folding a recent load of laundry the reality set in that I still have way too much clothing for a tiny house closet.  I want plenty of time to experience living in a minimalist fashion before moving in so that I have one less adjustment to make.  Curious as to where I really stand with clothing I took inventory and it looks like this;

Hoodies (9), Fleece (5), T-shirts (30), Long Sleeve T-shirts (20),Sweaters (18), Sweatshirts (2),  Tank tops (16), Shorts (12),  Shoes (27),  Skirts (17), Dresses (3), Jackets (7), Coats (7), Hats (9), Scarves (23), Belts (9), Yoga Clothes (23), Workout clothes (5), Pajamas (5), Jeans (7),  Capris (6),  Slacks (10), Tights (9), Winter Layers (6), Blouses (24), Vests (4), Jackets (7), Coats (7) … God forbid, have I missed anything?

That totals up to 312 pieces of clothing, after what I thought was downsizing.  This has me seriously looking at my lifestyle and what clothing I need to support the life I actually live. Twenty seven pairs of shoes … there is no way I will be able to store that collection in the tiny!

I have to keep coming back, and keep coming back to my WHY. Why am I  taking such a hard look at my belongings and my life.  It is a growth process of figuring out what I value the most and removing anything that distracts me from those values.  I remind myself that minimizing my belongings is not about what is being taken away, but more about what it will add to my life.

It’s the Christmas season and a tough time of year to buck the powerful system of consumerism that is prevalent in our country. I had to take my fast growing teen son out to get some clothes today.  We dropped off bags of our discards at a local thrift store and went inside.  He found 3 pairs of pants that fit perfectly, were stylish, and cost us all of $10. I managed to peruse the racks of clothing and found several items that were loudly calling my name, but I remembered the bags we had just dropped off and the 312 pieces of clothing still in my closet and walked away feeling mighty about resisting the urge to buy.

I am challenging myself to a ban on buying (except for gifts for others), and will let you know how long I last before some material item causes me to spend. It won’t be long until spring and then the tiny house buying spree begins!

Thank you to those of you who are reading, commenting and encouraging me … I need you!  There will be more updates as I to learn to let go (220 items and counting) as I march towards the tiny house.

Enjoy the Trek, and Love Abundantly.

Hillary D.

Tin Can Tourist

Tin Can Tourist

Once I got past the sale of the family home, (which I managed without hiring a realtor) and disposed of all the leftover stuff, summer rolled in.  Growing up in Colorado birthed a never-ending love of the mountains. The quiet, pristine scenery fills me in so many ways and I am surrounded by beauty at every turn here in the Northwest.  I love my lightweight, 2 man tent and have found the RV scene a curious one whenever I am in a campground.

 

My son and I took a spectacular weeklong backpacking trip into the Eagle Cap Wilderness, and at the end of the trip I had rented a yurt in the state park. Walking out of the wilderness into the RV city was overwhelming, one family actually brought a U-Haul full of stuff deemed necessary for camping.  People rolled out carpets, strung lights around their sites, hung their favorite football team flag and there was every toy imaginable on display. One campsite had a chalkboard menu of their planned gourmet dinner, which spiked our hiker hunger.  We found humor in the campground after spending days of not seeing other people in places like this…

 

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Mason taking in the beauty of the Eagle Cap Wilderness

 

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A 9 mile ascent brought us to Ice Lake

 

 

As the idea of building a tiny house was forming, I started to think that a small camper might actually be a great addition for the travel that the house was going to afford me. A tour of the National Parks is high on the list of wanderlust.

 

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What a great road trip!

 

I don’t need anything to large or obnoxious, but a roof that would keep me dry for extended trips started to resonate. If you’ve ever camped in the rain you understand, and it rains in the Northwest …frequently.  Instead of a yurt at the end of a backcountry adventure, there would be a small camper, (my son has voiced his concern about using a microwave on camping trips, I assure him that microwaves and TV are not on the camping agenda!)

I fell into a sweet deal on a sweet truck. A one owner 1997 Ford that was loved, garaged, fully loaded with a tow package and low miles …

 

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My 20 year old truck!

 

Then my boss at the school decided to sell her family camper as she no longer had a truck to tow it with….the universe was aligning!  I jumped on the opportunity and landed another great deal on the perfect little camper. At 16 feet it would be easy to tow and was just enough space to get out of the weather if needed.

 

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My National Park travel trailer.

 

My boss did honestly reveal that the back window had a small leak.  I knew enough to know water & campers were not good friends.  Upon further inspection I found this…

 

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Water = Rot

 

And so the restoration began and led to this …

 

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Let the demolition begin.

 

Bill took on rebuilding the back end while I ripped up all the flooring, painted the interior, made new box cushions and curtains, butyl taped all the windows, and installed new J-rail.  Needless to say the learning curve regarding travel trailers was substantial and as the deconstruction began I knew that this was great for camping but for full-time living I wanted the solid construction of a tiny home (so many staples hold these together!)

 

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My workshop

 

I spent a lot of time in this tight, cozy space and began to understand more of what living in a tiny house might feel like.  At the end of a work day I would sit at the table and make notes and think about the first trip I would take in my little gem.

Bill and I set a deadline for the camper restoration with a trip to Lolo Hot Springs where his band was playing.  Like most construction efforts the project was bigger and would take longer than we thought and after a long trying day to make it doable, we ended up in a tent for the trip.  It was late September and the first night brought a hard frost and VERY cold sleeping conditions, making the travel trailer all the more attractive.

Come spring I hope to get the trailer project finished (we are close!) so that I can focus on the tiny house build and use the camper to get out of town and decompress when the build hits roadblocks or fatigue…and it will.  The little camper will also serve as overflow space for those times when I may need to house more than 4 or 5 people I love, or the kids want to stay up late making noise.

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Renovated interior…looking forward to sipping coffee, writing and seeing new places.

 

Thanks for following The Trek to Tiny, and until next time Be Kind, Life Is Short …

Hillary D.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tradition Transitions

Tradition Transitions

People have asked, “How will you manage holidays with your family in a tiny house?”  The question is easily answered as our holiday traditions have already begun to take on a new life.  I grew up in a family where you knew how the holidays would behave.  Easter brought colorful Easter baskets, egg hunts, honey baked ham and church.  Halloween was costumes, carved pumpkins and hot spiced wine for the adults hauling kids door to door (those were the days!) Thanksgiving was all about grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins gathering for the traditional over consumption of turkey, potatoes and pie.

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The end result of a family pumpkin carving session in ’74

Christmas was my mother’s favorite.  She loved decorating the house, the tree and hanging stockings. She made food gifts for friends, neighbors and co-workers. We had a family photo taken every year and stacks of handwritten holiday greetings would flood the mail. This holiday was made for shoppers and my mother did her part supporting the economy.  Christmas Eve commenced with a noisy gathering of family, many of them who we only saw once a year. There was always food and we congregated around the piano to sing off key carols.  The morning dawned with full stockings, the comforting smell of  cinnamon rolls and eggs fantastic filling the house while we settled in around the tree to open gifts.  The unwrapping of gifts would end with a family photo in our PJ’s holding our new loot, and a trip to church. The house would be cleaned and more food prepared for a family of close friends who would spend the evening with us. Husbands and grandchildren were added to the mix and the cycle repeated itself year after year.

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My sister and I in our new robes, Christmas morning 1972.

Change is inevitable and forces the traditions to change as well. In her early 50’s my mother lost the hard fight against breast cancer. Cancer continues to be a contributing factor in the Trek to Tiny and will have an appropriate moment in time to be addressed. My mother’s death was the first major life event that disrupted everything.  Nothing would be the same going forward, a new way of celebrating family and holidays was forced upon us.

Time does it’s thing and marches on. My dad remarried, my family made less frequent trips from Idaho to Colorado and my sister’s family took over much of the holiday duties with the extended family.  I worked hard when my kids were small to create our family traditions, some of which were carryovers from my own childhood.  The accumulation of stuff at Christmas was becoming a silent battle way back when the kids were little.  We went without a constant glowing TV for 12 years, so my young kids were not bombarded with marketing regarding the latest/greatest thing they had to have,  but they were still kids who loved toys and clothes and art supplies and Legos.  I do remember the year my daughter asked for a ream of paper and her own roll of duct tape…a home schooled kid at her finest!

I started to realize early on in my parenting that I didn’t love everything about the holiday season, especially Christmas.  It felt way too busy, the bank account took a hit, and the majority of the work to make it all happen fell upon me. The day the tree and decorations came down and the house was put back into order brought feelings of relief.   You might be wondering where the “reason for the season” is in this scenario and just like Cancer, Jesus deserves his own spotlight in this blog.

The holidays look much different now.

A couple of years ago I asked my kids how they felt about a Christmas tree, and the surprise was NO ONE CARED if we had a tree or not.  Honestly, that was music to my ears as putting up the tree  sent me into a bad mood as I wrestled with lights and taking it down usually required an extra glass of wine. The last couple of years I’ve hung a string of lights on a potted Norfolk Pine, displayed some of the favorite ornaments and everyone is OK.  Last year I watched a new neighbor haul out an alarming number of storage bins and erect every inflatable, spinning, lighted yard ornament ever created.  It was amusing to watch and looked like my own personal worst nightmare.

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My kind of Christmas tree!

I gave away all of our Halloween fodder at a garage sale last summer and much of the accumulated Christmas decorations are the next to go, except for the extra special items that have sentimental significance….although writing that I wonder. “Where will I store those?”  I am closing in on that day when my kids will not be coming home for Thanksgiving or Christmas, I will already be missing one of them this year.

So back to the question, “How will you manage holidays with your family in a tiny house?”  I hope my children intrinsically know that just because I am drastically pairing down our things doesn’t change the fact that they are always welcome in my home, no matter what the square footage.  That the sharing of meals, and celebrations, and family time will continue.  I also don’t discount the reality that I will be able to travel to them and with them, and we will find new ways of making life meaningful not just on holidays but everyday.

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Summer 2016 – Memories in the making

I  will relieve the people who love me with the task of finding the perfect gift as there won’t be anywhere to put it.  Let’s strive for shared experiences and time together.  They don’t have to be expensive or extravagant to be meaningful. A meal, a cup of coffee, a glass of wine, sitting in a park, taking a hike, a great night of music or a fire in a beautiful campground are all experiences that will create memories that last much longer than the new sweater.  I promise to be mindful of the gifts I give so that I am not covertly contributing to others overflowing closets which eventually have to be cleaned out as well.  Don’t be afraid to tell me, “I don’t need anything.”  I totally get it.

Hope you all have a lovely Thanksgiving, a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and a stress free season.

Trek in peace.

Hillary D.