Living Large In Our Little House

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.


Mom’s Bean Pot

We have been enjoying the bounty of summer with cucumbers, organic sweet corn, tomatoes, green beans and new potatoes coming on almost faster than we can eat them.

One summer treat my husband loves is baked beans.

When we moved to Our Little House, I knew we would be grilling and doing some entertaining in the summer months and our summer dinners on The Party Deck aren’t complete without baked beans.

To me, baked beans would not be the same if they weren’t cooked in my mom’s bean pot.

When downsizing to a small space, if you have things that are sentimental, they must also be functional as well (like my antique bedside lamp).


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.


Living Large Veggie Enchiladas

I typically don’t cook a lot of heavy foods in the summer, but my sister in law brought us some of our favorite corn tortillas made locally in Kansas City when she visited last weekend and Dale is getting tired of variations on salads, so I decided to try some vegetable enchiladas.

When we were in Kansas City for our last visit, we made a couple of stops at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants, Panzones, and I was delighted they had added a whole section on their menu for vegetarians.

I had the vegetable flautas, which were yummy. I yearned for that same taste and it got close when a new Mexican restaurant opened here. They didn’t have vegetable flautas, but their veggie enchiladas are almost the same (and maybe even healthier since they are not fried).

Mexican food is an area where I say I’m 90% vegan. It’s of course, all about the cheese. When I eat out, I cannot control what they put on it, which is a great thing about eating at home. I do eat dairy cheese on the Mexican food I cook (the “fake” stuff is really bad), but not nearly as much as I used to.


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.


The Seven Year Itch

Our former house in the city

I had to laugh when I read a post by The Minnesota Farm Woman a week ago entitled, “The Seven Year Itch.”

I’ve followed Chris (the farm woman) and her adventures of moving to rural Minnesota for a while and we’ve even become friends on Facebook. I think it’s serendipitous that we both embarked on our journeys at the same time.

I had been planning this post for this month and had the same title attached to it, so I hope Chris doesn’t mind if I still use it. Great minds do think alike!

It was 7 years ago yesterday, June 23, that we loaded up a moving truck, trailer, my Blazer and our pick up and headed south for our new lives in rural Arkansas.

We put in storage things I thought would later be moved to a 1,000 square foot house we planned to build here, loaded the three dogs (we arrived with four, Sade found her way to us) and two cats and were on our way to our Big Adventure.

And what an adventure it has been!


Living Large Vegetarian Red Beans and Rice Recipe

Summer has arrived, it is hot and humid and this year, I’m loving every moment of it.

It was a long winter and a cool, wet spring. It was still cool and rainy last week and I got hungry for some classic red beans and rice.

I had a friend in college who hailed from Louisiana and she made the best jambalaya I’ve ever tasted.

After she moved and I raided the freezer of the last of the huge batch she made me before she left, our red beans and rice and jambalaya have consisted of the boxed variety.

I know, but that was before. This is now.