Category: Small House Living

Going Solo at Our Little House

We spent an absolutely beautiful late summer evening last night in town eating at a new Italian restaurant.

It was a real treat after yoga. Not only was the food surprisingly good, we had a good time and a nice drive home through the mountains.

It reminded me of our first fall here 4 years ago. I would meet Dale in town after work on Friday evenings and we would eat at the soda fountain diner, which was the only game in town then.

We were excited for our new lives here, but at the same time, we were also missing our friends and family in Kansas City.


My Un-Labor Day at Our Little House

I love holiday weekends.

Dale gets to spend more time with us at Our Little House and time slows to a crawl.

This was an especially nice weekend weather wise. The hot and humid temperatures broke on Sunday. Up until that time, we were still having 100 degree days.

On Monday, we decided on ribs and potato salad for dinner, which means I got to finish my part of the meal early. Potato salad is much better when it sits in the fridge all day.


Living Large Tip of the Week: Cardboard Chair Mat

Inside of Belle Writer's Studio Photo courtesy of Mother Earth News by Kevin Pieper

When we were moving from the house in the city, it was quite evident that the plastic chair mat that had rested under my home office chair for a few years wasn’t coming.

It was cracked and breaking off in chunks.

I had carpet in that house, but Our Little House has all laminate, even in The Belle Writer’s Studio.

When the studio was completed in 2008, we went to the office supply store to purchase a new chair mat. They were near $100 and at the time, we really couldn’t afford that.

Our solution?


Linguistics at Our Little House

A  conversation between friends the other day on Facebook about lingering Boston accents long after they’re no longer living there reminded me of a conversation I had with the husband not too long ago.

“You’re picking up the accent,” he said.

“No, I’m not,” I retorted. Nothing against our southern friends, I think it was more a habit reaction than anything.

My dad, being from Arkansas, never lost his southern drawl. I grew up in a decidedly Midwestern city saying, “Y’all,” and was constantly told I had a Southern accent.

I was even told early in my corporate career by a boss from New York, who had a very deep New York accent, to try to lose my “twang” once for a presentation.


Thank you for Two Great Years, Living Large Community!

Our Living Large blog community was launched two years ago this week. When I launched this blog, I envisioned more of an interactive community that could learn from each other on living smaller, greener and a happier life.

This has been that and so much more. I’m glad we continue to post and share.

The norm for blog anniversaries is to take a look back at favorite posts, but since I did that not to long ago in the blog ring post, I’ll just limit it to saying thank you to everyone in our community.

I am posting links to some of the tips I’ve written on specifically living in a smaller abode on our Facebook page. If you haven’t “liked” it yet, I hope you will jump over there and take a look.

I’ll also be posting new posts on Wednesday, Thursday and our Living Large Tip on Friday this week, so y’all come back now, ya hear!?

If you have a favorite Living Large memory, please comment and share!

Living Large Tip of the Week: Throwing out Plastic Containers

School is in.

I don’t have to worry about packing kids’ lunch, but I wondered how parents pack lunches in safer and greener containers?

It isn’t like they have metal lunchboxes as many of us did.

42 percent of the world’s wood harvest goes to produce paper, making paper lunch sacks just not very environmentally friendly.

Dale carries his lunch in a small plastic cooler that’s probably over 20 years old now, but what about kids?

I found this website, EcoBags, which offers a wide variety of lunch bags and all kinds of totes (hint, for your grocery outings too!)

A year or so ago, close to the time we tossed the microwave, I also decided we were going to do away with plastic containers.

We went with the Pyrex glass (pictured above) and my husband did fine with them until last week when he did drop and break one at work while putting it into the fridge.

That also made me realize that glass containers aren’t a good option for small kids (and sometimes not for husbands), but this site, The Soft Landing, has all kinds of containers. Some are plastic, but they’re also BPA free. There’s also stainless steel containers on the site, something I will consider for Dale for his salads.

No reason now not to toss the plastic and go with greener and safer food containers.

Have you tried any of these products? Have you thrown away the plastic containers at your house?

Shots in the Dark

The other night, Abbi, our Huskey mix began pacing and acting restless, as if she wanted out. I don’t allow the big dogs to roam at night since losing Emma, so I tried to calm Abbi and told her to lie down.

It was time to take Molly and Dakota outside before we went to bed.

Just as they finished their business, pop, pop, pop!

The dogs perked up and the noise startled me so that I hurried them into the house without even trying to assess what it was or where it was coming from.

“I just heard noises outside,” I told my husband. “Pounding or something.”

He rolled his eyes and headed out the door, convinced I had scared myself with the latest episode of one of those ghost hunting shows.

I picked up the phone and called my aunt to see if her husband might be out in his garage hammering on something. I doubted it at 9 o’clock and I was right.

As Dale hung out on the party deck listening and then moved to the covered front porch, I finished getting ready for bed.


Living Large Tip of the Week: Saving on Gas

There’s nothing I hate worse than burning money in the gas tank. Although I love driving my Baby Blazer, we’ve learned to conserve, not only for the environment, but for our budget.

How can we save money on gasoline, thus reducing our imprint on the environment?

There are a lot of ways, including buying a car with higher mpg. That’s not realistic for most of us, so here are 5 ways you can help the environment and save yourself some green in the process:

  • Combining trips: According to Consumer Reports, starting the engine cold each time you make s short trip reduces the mpg by as much as 4 miles. At $4 per gallon, that’s up to $16 additional you’re burning for each short trip. As well, a cold engine emits more pollutants than a warm one. It takes some forethought and planning, but we get 6-7 errands all done in one day (typically a 6-7 hour trip on the weekends. Make an errand list, bundle trips. You might not really need to go to the store today, the post office tomorrow and the bank the next day. How about waiting until that third day to make all of those trips? Do you really need to take the kids to school and pick them up, idling your car in those long lines in front of the school? Can you make a fun family trip to and from school by walking or biking? Can they take the school bus, which is running anyway? Challenge yourself to cut one short trip per week, when you accomplish that, challenge yourself to cut two and keep it going. Note how much you’re saving in gas.
  • Let the wind blow through your hair: Around town, using the air conditioning reduces your mpg by 3 miles. That’s $12 extra in your pocket. I’m rarely on the highway and I like driving with the windows down. I can always comb my hair.
  • Drive the speed limit. I know. We’re always in a hurry, but driving the speed limit could save you 5 mpg in gas, cutting from 65 to 55. If you increase to 75 mph, it further decreases your mpg by 5. Is it really worth up to $20 more to drive fast?
  • Eliminate the unnecessary from the trunk and the back of your truck. Extra weight may be needed in really bad snowy or icy weather, but if you don’t need that weight in your trunk or pick up bed, take it out, as it is costing you and costing the environment.
  • For a complete list: Go to the FTC website, which has a complete list of tips, including keeping your engine in great shape and your tires filled properly.

What are some of the ways you’ve been able to save on gas?