Category: Small House Living

Work is Done Time to Party on the Deck

I’ve written often about how much we enjoy our outdoor spaces on the covered front porch and the party deck.

For us, outdoor spaces are a very important part of our lives, we would love to have a fully tricked-out outdoor kitchen, but that will have to wait awhile.

Another benefit of living in a small house is that it doesn’t require much maintenance, not as much as our bigger home did in the city, anyway.

We have smaller spaces to care for routinely and smaller spaces to paint and with most of our yard being left to the natural beauty of the woods, not a lot of lawn care.

There is some maintenance, however. Last year, we had to stain the house (we have to do this about once every 10 years) and the west side of The Belle Writer’s Studio, which takes a beating from the afternoon sun.


My Letter to Trader Joe’s Would be that I Never Felt you From the Start


When we visited Kansas City during one of our trips home last year, I was so excited to shop at the city’s new addition: Trader Joe’s.

For years, I had heard about what a fantastic store this was, especially if you are eating healthy. I had even received some fair trade Trader Joe’s coffee one year for a gift.

We brought coolers and I was prepared to fill my cart with fresh organic produce and shop for healthy alternatives that our rural, locally owned natural food stores don’t carry.

When I lived in the city, we did have a Whole Foods, but I had long boycotted them for a myriad of social infractions, including how they treat their workers and the fact that they (at the time) would not support labeling GMOs or inform people when their products carried them.

Our Trader Joe’s stop was our last errand on our way out of town – I wanted all of those good foods to remain as fresh as possible – and so I entered the store with great expectations.

(Insert fail buzzer here).


Basement or Tornado Shelter a Must in a Little House

Photo from the University of Minnesota


Sunday was one of those days that those of us familiar with the threat of tornadoes dread.

For days, the weather people had dire predictions that severe thunderstorms were likely, some of them bringing damaging hail and tornadoes that could stay on the ground for miles.

Ask any person who grew up in or lived in “Tornado Alley” and they will tell you days like this bring jittery nerves.

When I was growing up, we lived in a small bungalow until my teen years. The house was built without a basement, but even after my parents had one added, we always went up to my Godparent’s house when the sirens started wailing.

On one such run up the street when I was a baby, my dad, who could literally sleep through anything, slept right through the tornado, which twisted an oak tree in the front yard.

The tree survived, but the oddly twisted trunk in our front yard was always a reminder to take these storms seriously.


Spring Has Sprung at Our Little House

Wren eggs on our covered front porch


Spring has finally sprung and around Our Little House, that means the return of mosquitoes, ticks, fleas and other unwanted critters, which in my view, is the only downside to spring and summer.

It also means the return of the beauty of greenery, the brilliant colors of flowers and the addition of baby wildlife around us.

For at least the past four years, we’ve had a returning mother wren, which likes to set up her home on our covered front porch.

We’ve tried to discourage her by using the porch when she’s building and removing anything we think she might nest in, to no avail.

It isn’t that we aren’t happy to host her and her little family, nor is it that we feel inconvenienced in not using the porch while she is here, we’re just always afraid the dogs might think they are all snacks.

So far, that hasn’t happened and this year was no different than last.

The little wren started building her nest in a broken yard ornament that was once a bear. I put it outside for Dale to throw away, but before he could, the wren had already started nesting.


Our Midlife Crisis

Kansas City


I wrote “Life is a Journey” before my break in January not knowing we too, were unconsciously entering a psychological change in our own lives.

As I’ve written more than once, this winter was a little brutal on us here at Our Little House, not just with the cold, ice and snow or the multiple sprangs of wrists and ankles or bruised elbows and tailbones from falling in said conditions (because dogs still have to do their business and work has to be done no matter the weather).

Last year, we missed a lot of happenings with our loved ones back in our hometown. We try to make it back for as many landmark birthdays, anniversaries, showers and weddings as possible, but sometimes we can’t make them all.

Add in a good friend who had a heart attack last year, another who had to get a pace maker, the loss of Dale’s mother (while we made several trips to KC to be with her in her last weeks, we were not there when she actually passed, something I think my husband regrets), the death of a former neighbor, my godfather, a couple of former classmates and the arrival of the decade of my 50s and we have the making of a mid-life crisis.


Living Large Takes a Rebel Heart

Maia aboard her family's sailboat. Photo by Diane Selkirk


Thanks to all of you who have been patiently waiting and watching for more posts here at Living Large.

I didn’t intend on taking such a long break, but my favorite saying since moving to Our Little House has been, “Life is something that happens while you’re busy making other plans.”

It was a long, cold winter here, as it was in much of the country. It was the roughest winter we’ve had since we moved here.

I’ll be posting more about that on Friday.

In the meantime, I’ve watched with interest (and sometimes shock) to the reactions to the story of Charlotte and Eric Kaufman, the sailing family that last week had to be rescued from their foundering sailboat, the Rebel Heart.

(If you haven’t heard the story, catch up here)


Life is a Journey

A Holiday Dinner at Fred & Rae's


The winds have literally been whipping over the plains and down to our Ozark Mountains in the past week, so I guess it’s appropriate that the figurative winds of change are also blowing on our mountain.

Expected changes are afoot, such as the light lingering longer before falling to shadows in the evening, but there are also some other changes in our little corner of the world.

Our neighbors put their house on the market a couple of months ago. When they told us beforehand, it was a quite unexpected move since they had been working on their Dream House for the past decade and expected to retire there.

They had looked for land for some time, as many do, after vacationing here and began building their home about ¾ of a mile down the road shortly after we finished construction on Our Little House.

Since we were all “weekenders” we had little interaction with them until we moved here nearly seven years ago.

The biggest thing we had in common was our hometown, we all moved here from Kansas City. It was good for us to have someone near us who understood the culture we had lived in all of our lives.

After we moved here, we enjoyed dinners at each other’s homes, including many holidays. I went down to let their dogs run when they wanted to take day trips, Rae taught me to can and we shopped in town together, particularly when my Baby Blazer was parked after my crash.