Category: Small House Living

We Could use a Lot of Rain

This tree I took a photo of last fall is already turning brown and losing its leaves this summer


This past weekend when my father in-law was visiting from the Lake of the Ozarks, he noted that many of our trees here are already shedding leaves as if it is fall.

Indeed, it has been a terrible year for any living thing here in the Ozarks.

While we had a really nice and mild spring, something we haven’t had many of since our move here, it has been blistering hot for weeks.

The weatherman predicting the forecast the other day had the same thing to say about Thursday, Friday and Saturday. “Mostly sunny and hot, lows in the mid 70s and highs near 100….” He sounded like a broken record.


Summer Reading List

The dog days of summer are here. It was 104 degrees here on Monday and today, they say it will reach above 105.

In these kinds of temperatures, it’s even too hot to go out on the boat, so what is a writer and book lover to do?

Well, first thing is write. I’m under contract to write a true crime round up of some of the most shocking murders in the history of Kansas.

Strangely enough, there are a lot of them. The book is tentatively titled, “Blood on the Prairie: The Most Shocking Murders in Kansas History,” and it is due to be released winter 2013.

All work and no play is no fun though, and reading helps me keep my skills as a writer sharp.


The Sights, Sounds and Smells of Summer at Our Little House

The tomatoes and pepper plant (middle) look good


The other morning, I put on my new $2 flip-flops I bought for watering, turned on the garden hose and got more than water flowing.

When the water spurted out, that smell that accompanies hose water caused me to flashback to my childhood.

The distinct smell of that water, whether we were playing in it or I was helping my mother drench her vast flower and vegetable gardens, is one of the true signs of summer.

Yesterday was the official first day of summer, the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. Sites on the Internet had been posing the question: What makes it summer for you?


Paying it Forward Tiny House Project

Today, we have a guest post from Mark Brumbill, a teacher in Georgia, who, as of July 3, will be officially homeless as his mortgage company forecloses on his home. Mark has a great idea, though, to not only help his own family, but to create a community of people who can help each other attain their dream of building a tiny debt-free home by paying it forward. Please consider just giving a dollar if you can.


One of the plans Mark and Sheri are considering

We’re an average middle class blended family with four kids to care for, a mortgage, and way too many bills.  Like many others, we were barely making it when disaster struck.

Last year, my wife, Sheri, became ill and unable to go on any longer as a hair stylist.  After that, what was left of our lives began to unravel.


Crazy Dog Lady Chronicles




Several weeks ago, while taking Abbi to one of her many vet appointments since she came to live with us, I couldn’t help but notice a man signing the release to have the dog that was with him killed. (Note: I only use the term ‘euthanize’ when it is done to relieve the suffering of an animal).

The dog seemed timid, but I could tell she was young. I couldn’t help but notice she had recently had pups, very recently.

He came to the counter and shaking, signed the form. He had tears in his eyes. I wasn’t going to ask but was glad when another woman there with her dog did.

The man said that the dog had wandered up to his farm a couple of months prior. They soon realized the dog was pregnant. He and his wife had taken her in, named her Blair and taken care of her puppies. The litter was barely weaned, but he said he felt he had no choice but to “put her down” because she was chasing and killing his chickens.

As he was led to the back, I paced the waiting room and worried about this poor dog, her only crimes being abandoned and then following her instincts with poultry.

We were led to a room fairly quickly and I barely heard what the vet had to say about Abbi’s latest medical issue.

“Are y’all really going to put that healthy dog down?” I asked.

“Are you interested?”


What Guests can Teach us at Our Little House

We had a great weekend this past weekend as my friend, and Living Large community member, Kathleen Winn, paid us a visit.

Entertaining in a tiny/small home is always a challenge – especially when there are six dogs underfoot – but I think Kathy had as good a time as we did.

She good naturedly allowed the dogs their “wild time” as they always get very excited to see people other than me and Dale (although I gave her free reign to tell them, “enough”) and said Our Little House didn’t feel as small as 480-square feet sounded and didn’t feel cramped, but rather, “cozy.”

As well, we didn’t spend a lot of time at Our Little House, as I wanted to show her around the area too. We took long walks on our road, visited a couple of my favorite retro/antique stores, ate a nice Asian lunch (I had sushi, Kathleen had Chinese at the same restaurant), spent some time on our beautiful lake, ate a nice dinner of bacon wrapped shrimp and even did some target shooting.

When we were home, we made use of the Party Deck. It’s always good to have outdoor living spaces in a small home.

It’s also great that we have The Belle Writer’s Studio, which is equipped with a fold down futon and its own bathroom, which gives us and guests plenty of privacy.

We don’t entertain overnight guests a whole lot, maybe a couple of times a year. I like to give our guests a B&B feel when they’re here, which means setting them up with refreshments in the studio, complete with coffee for the next morning and cold drinks in the mini-fridge.

Unfortunately, I think the biggest glitch to the weekend was that we forgot to turn on the hot water tank to the studio before her arrival. We use it so occasionally that we typically do not pay to keep it on, which also saves energy.

She described her shower on Sunday morning as “tepid.”  Oops.

I love having guests come and stay with us at Our Little House. Last week, I wrote that our first five years here had been full of mixed emotions literally rooted in feeling homesick for our hometown.

Showing Kathleen around Our Little House, the beauty of our area and what our new home has to offer made us appreciate even more our move here. This is a side benefit of seeing good friends again. Acting as a tour guide, it allows one to see their home in a new light too.

I also immediately made a master “to do” list of everything that needs to get done before someone else comes to visit. Maybe they’ll even get a hot shower.

Do you have a small space? How do you accommodate guests or what is the biggest benefit, aside from seeing friends and loved ones that you’ve found when they come to visit?  



At Home at Our Little House

Kansas City


We visited our hometown, Kansas City, over Memorial Day weekend.

It has now been five years since we moved to Our Little House, and it has been interesting for us to see how we have reacted to going “home” throughout the years.

When we first moved here, Dale remained in Kansas City for three months while he trained his replacement at work and sought the job he was after here in our new town.

My first friend here owned an antique shop in town. She had moved here with her husband from another large city several years prior. It was a little disconcerting to see how unhappy she was living in this rural area. While she had tried to build a life here, she didn’t ever seem settled.

That was not the best summer for me either, just months after my mother died, living here alone in a new place; far from friends and activities I enjoyed all of my life in the city.