Category: Small House Living

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?

Yoga is Part of my Wellness Plan at Our Little House

Clipart courtesy of



I finally started yoga again yesterday.

Before we moved, I began yoga, realizing I was hurtling toward middle age quickly. After watching my mother whither and die of complications from 65 years of smoking, I wanted to get into better shape and stay that way for as long as possible.

My mom began yoga, at about the same age I am now and while she remained thin and fit through most of her 70s, she regretted not sticking with it, especially when she began having balance issues.

I love it, because it not only provides exercise for the mind, but also the body and spirit through relaxation and breathing.

When we moved here, I left my yoga classes behind. I bought DVDs and had my mat, but I hadn’t been doing it that long in my classes and learning a pose that sometimes has you upside down while watching a television screen is pretty difficult.

As well, I didn’t have an instructor there telling me if I was really doing it correctly, thus accomplishing my goals.


Ghost Hunting Away from Our Little House

View from 4th Floor Balcony at The 1886 Crescent Hotel

This weekend, we had the opportunity to go to Eureka Springs, about a two-hour drive from Our Little House. Dale and I have been there several times and my parents always vacationed there when I was a kid.

I was on assignment from three different publications to write about haunted hotels. I love these types of assignments. I’m fascinated by history (especially American Victorian Era) and by the paranormal, so these assignments are truly fun for me.

I’m also a chicken, so Dale gets the job of being my protector on all night ghost hunts and is also tasked with taking notes of our surroundings while I shoot the camera.

Until this weekend, I would say the most fascinating assignment we had ever been on was staying the night at Jesse James’ boyhood home in Kearney, Missouri. I was there as a reporter for the Associated Press to write about one of those paranormal investigations. Unfortunately, the only thing we experienced were raccoons in the attic, which led to an unworldly smell.

Reportedly, one of the most haunted (some would argue THE most haunted) hotel is the spectacular 1886 Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, where we stayed Saturday night.


Living Large Tip of the Week: Remembering those Cloth Bags

We've been using the same cloth bags for two decades

I’ve blogged that converting to cloth grocery bags is one of the easiest ways to help the environment. In over 20 years of using cloth bags, we’ve calculated that we’ve saved over 10,000 plastic bags from being produced and thrown into the landfill.

Cloth bags also helps you reduce clutter/trash that you bring into your home and it could save you money at the grocery store as many stores gives you at least .05 cents for every bag.

When I blogged about this before, readers lamented that they have tried to convert to cloth bags, but they cannot remember to bring them each trip.

Here’s some tips on remembering your cloth bags:

  • Keep them in your car under the seat where they will be out of the way, yet still visible when you go to grab your purse.
  • When making your grocery list, write”cloth bags” at the top of your list as the first item each week until grabbing them becomes a habit.
  • If you clip coupons, use some scrap bits of recycled paper, making “coupons” for your cloth bags. Keep them with your coupons until this easy way to save money becomes second nature. .25-.50 cents a week may not seem like a lot until it adds up to $13-$26 per year!
  • If you shop with someone else, remind each other about your bags. This could be a fun game to play with your children and a way to help teach them about saving our planet.

This post is part of the Patchwork Living Blogging Bee over at Attainable Sustainable.

Do you use any other methods to remember your cloth bags?

We’re Closed at Our Little House


We finally closed on our home refi yesterday.

You might recall I wrote back in February that we began trying to refinance our house. Moving to a smaller house does release many people from a mortgage all together, but the recession set us back, as it has many people.

Little did we know, that even with near-perfect credit and stable job histories, how discriminatory banks are against little homes.

We sought a refinance, not only because of the lower interest rates, but to get us off the Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMS) we were on for Our Little House and The Belle Writer’s Studio.

ARMS can be costly and dangerous. If you cannot get them paid off, you continually have to renew them, costing more closing costs each time. Also, if interest rates rise, you may suddenly find yourself priced out of your home.

We also didn’t feel like we were making headway in our goal to be debt free within 7 years.