Category: Small House Living

Funny Farm at Our Little House

At the beginning of our Summer of Fun, we purchased an ATV. Yes, I wanted one to ride on nice evenings, which helps me relieve stress, but it has practical purposes too (more on another post about equipment one might need in the country).

For one, I use it to go up and get our mail. The digital miracle of direct deposit isn’t always offered self-employed contractors and I do sometimes receive paper checks. There are also days I am waiting for other packages and such.

Our mailbox is two miles up the road and Dale typically doesn’t make it home before businesses close that I might need to contact, especially on the east coast.

Truly, I’ve always loved motorized recreational vehicles. My older cousin, Mark, who was always staying with his dad, my uncle and my Aunt Kathy, during the summers we visited them in  rural Kentucky, always had a dirt bike or go-kart to ride.

My aunt, who now lives down the road from us, still tells the story of the time when I was about 10 and got on the go-kart and began riding.


Universal Design Could Help you Later in Your Small Home


When I posted this photo of a cute tiny house on the Living Large Facebook page the other day, one of our Living Largers wrote, “Unfortunately, you couldn’t get a walker through that door.”

That’s very true of many of the tiny houses I’ve seen.

Having written stories on retirement, I knew about Universal Design construction and when we moved to Our Little House in 2007 and initially planned on building a 1,000 square foot home, I was going to ask our builder to use Universal Design.

Since it was going to be our home through retirement – and hopefully the end of our lives – I wanted to do everything I could to ensure we could stay in our home even if we became disabled.

That was the plan anyway. As a John Lennon once said, “Life is something that happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.”


Is Minimalism Just Another Way Stuff Rules our Lives?

Most of this stuff will be going bu-bye! But we still won’t qualify as minimalists

Minimalist is a word used frequently in the Tiny and Small House Movement. We take it to mean someone who doesn’t have more possessions than they absolutely need. Some go as far as defining it by saying you can have no more than 100 possessions.

This past weekend, I saw a link to a blog post in my Facebook feed entitled, The Problem with Minimalism.

The writer defines the problems as:

  • Minimalism is for the rich who can simply use smaller (high priced) digital gadgets in favor of a backpack full of items (such as an iPad that can do the work of a notebook, address book, cheaper/older laptop, etc.)
  • Minimalism still makes stuff the focus of your life.

I’m not sure I totally agree with his first point, but can see his argument.

On his second point, I do believe that trying to cut your life down to fewer than 100 items or whatever your definition of minimalism is, does still make stuff the focus of your life.

I see it in the same vein as someone who tries to define the Tiny/Small House Movement in square footage.


Summer is Drawing to a Close

It’s almost time to get the winter wood stocked

It’s not officially time to pull the plug on summer just yet, by the calendar, we still have until September 21, nearly a full two months left of summer. Even if we go by the official last party of summer, Labor Day, we have more than a month.

My aunt’s garden is still producing an abundance of veggies, they haven’t even started canning yet and are sharing the wealth with all of the neighbors, including us.

It has been one awesome summer here at Our Little House. We’ve had friends and family in for visits, been on the water a few times, saw the Little River Band in concert and given that it has been unusually cool, have been enjoying many nights with the AC off and windows open.


Getting Exercise in a Little House

If you’re over 40 and intending on downsizing to a little house, there is an often overlooked downside to small space living: Getting plenty of exercise to keep your bones and muscles strong.

When we lived in our split level 1,100 square foot home in the city, I had no problem getting exercise. I’d climb the stairs it seemed a millions times a day. If I wanted something when I was downstairs, it was usually upstairs and visa versa.

Getting into our house required climbing stairs, which gave us plenty of “Stair Master” type exercise, especially when lugging heavy groceries. Of course, cleaning gave me lots of exercise, as did running up and down the stairs of our tall deck.

I was also more conscious of taking the dogs for daily walks in the city as our large dog, Emma, needed lots of exercise and we had a pretty small backyard.

When we moved to Our Little House in 2007, I was in pretty good shape. I got myself up to walking 4 miles per day, even in the heat of summer. After losing my mother that year, I felt as if I was sweating the grief out of my pores, so the more I walked, the better I felt – physically and mentally.


Living in a Tiny House with Pets Takes Planning

Our dogs enjoy sunning on a warm afternoon, but they are all inside pets


When we moved to Our Little House in 2007, we arrived with 4 dogs and 2 elderly cats. Living in a small space with pets is not easy, just like with everything else in a tiny house, it takes a lot of planning.

After watching the third episode of Tiny House Nation on the FYI channel on Wednesday night, let’s just say I was more than disappointed.

As the host was looking at the pile of clothes on the bed to be donated, he said, “As I look at this pile to donate, I can’t help but notice there is a cat sitting in the middle of it. Have you decided what you’re going to do with them? Because that is a big concern.”

The couple, who was downsizing to save money so they could travel the world, had one dog and two cats. The 8-year-old cats didn’t get along with the dog and they had them separated in their large house by keeping them on separate floors.

I was disappointed in the show, but not surprised. After the host asked the family last week if their dog could “become an outside dog” I knew it wouldn’t be long before someone on the show gave up their pets to live their tiny house dream.

(The family in that episode said that their dogs could not stay outside due to the rural location and they were afraid for their safety. This is just one reason a pet conditioned to living inside should not suddenly be exiled to being an “outside” pet).

The BIG thing I have a problem with in this last episode was that the cats were being presented as things that needed to be dealt with like the clothes and the guy’s home brew operation that he had to give to a friend.

As a matter of fact, the show’s host even called both the home brew operation and the cats a “sacrifice” that was going to have to be made.

PETS ARE NOT DISPOSALBE inanimate objects. They are living, breathing beings.


A Respite From the Heat

It has been unusually cool at Our Little House this week, but we’ve been enjoying the fall-like temperatures, which have allowed us to open the windows and be outside more.

I’m still struggling with container gardening. I expanded it a lot last year with no more success than I had with just a few pots. This year, I only have one larger tomato and one cherry tomato plant.

I also grew cilantro earlier.


Building a Small House Starts With Planning

Zack Griffin Tiny House


We watched the premier of Tiny House Nation on the FYI channel the other night (FYI was formerly the Bio channel).

The show focused on helping a young married couple with a toddler build a tiny house.

When the crew arrived, which included tiny house builder Zack Griffin, the couple’s local builder in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee told them he didn’t have any experience with building such a small space.

With a budget of $30,000, the team got to work, designed the inside and by the end of the show, the couple had a comfortable, beautifully designed tiny house.

One has to wonder, though, what would have happened if the show did not bring a design team in since the couple and their builder seemed a bit puzzled over how to fit everything the couple needed – including where to split the rooms – in the space that was already framed in.

It didn’t seem like the design of the interior was thought out by the couple or builder at all.