Living Large In Our Little House

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.


Happier and Healthier at Our Little House

There is typically nothing that can make one’s day any better than to see an old friend and have them start out by saying, “You look GREAT! How much weight have you lost now?”

That’s what happened this week when I met up with our former neighbor down the road who moved to town a few months ago.

I gave up on fad diets a long time ago, but used to embark on them regularly. The only one that worked well for me and gave me the longest results was Weight Watchers. That’s because if you do what they tell you and focus on eating healthier rather than losing the weight, the weight comes off and stays off.

Of course, you have to stick to the routine and who wants to spend their life weighing food?

I’m not on a fad diet, but last year, Dale had to rush me to the ER because I thought I was having a heart attack. After being sent home with a prescription for high blood pressure medication and a heart monitor, it woke me up to my family history of diabetes and heart disease (my paternal grandfather and father died before they were 60) and I was convinced I needed to do something.

Our goal when we moved here, afterall, was to start living happier AND healthier.


If You’re Fridge is Running, You’d Better Catch it!

You remember the old crank phone call gag when silly kids called people and asked, “Is your refrigerator running?” When the person on the other line said, “Well, yes,” the response was, “You better catch it before it gets away!” Click.

I know, it was funnier when we were 12 at slumber parties.

If we had gotten that call this past weekend or two other times in the 11 years since we built Our Little House, our answer could have been, “No!” maybe with an explicative thrown in because I personally think having to buy 3 refrigerators in 11 years is a bit excessive.

When we rented our first duplex in 1985, we bought a store brand from Montgomery Wards, along with a 2 year extended warranty. Sometime in the spring of 1988, just after the warranty expired, we went on a weekend camping trip only to come home and find the refrigerator completely warm and all of our food ruined.

I called our local “Monkey Wards” (as my mom used to call the store) to complain and chided myself for going with my husband’s family’s preferred department store instead of sticking with Sears Kenmore, as my parents always had.

Since the warranty had only been expired for a couple of months and the manager agreed that an appliance should last more than 2 years anyway (besides probably feeling a little sorry for a young, newly married couple who just lost their entire refrigerator full of food), he sent out a repairman who replaced the entire compressor for nothing.