The tiny house “craze”

More than a decade ago I was living in the Dallas area and reading the Sunday paper when I came across an article about Jay Shafer (founder of I’ll admit my eye was initially caught by the reference to Northern California’s Sebastopol – mostly because of my own love of that area of Northern California – having lived in Rohnert Park, just north of Sebastopol and Petaluma, just south of it.

My interest piqued, I was then enchanted by the concept of minimalist living – the tiny home he had built appealed to my inner child as well as my responsible adult self – as I could see how there would be far less resources used, and energy required to live in such a small home.

My interest in sustainable living had been firmly planted in my psyche from this one article – although I had been avidly interested in ecology and cleaning the environment even as a preteen.

Today I write about tiny living, have reduced as much as my family can, and continue to reuse, and recycle actively.

And I’ll be doing more writing on this and the zen of living smaller in 2019. 🙂 I hope you’ll stop by and share your experiences, as well.

Power Outages and You

No matter where you live, or what size house or apartment you live in, you should be prepared in case the power goes out.  Especially if you live in an area prone to extreme weather!

Preparation is the name of the game and can contribute greatly to your survival!

So before the big snowstorm, or the hurricane season, or the tornadoes hit – here are some things to get ready, if you can.

Take into consideration the amount of space you have for storing some of these items, many of them can fit in a large backpack, or plastic storage tub, which would fit into a closet easily enough (and also make it easier to grab and take with you, if you need to evacuate) – so let’s look at the stuff you can pack ahead of time, first:


  • a roll of duct tape
  • pocket knife
  • waterproof matches in a waterproof container and some candles
  • paper and pencil
  • small fire extinguisher
  • two signal flares
  • photocopies of: your pets vaccination and license records; any prescriptions for your family and/or pets; your ids (drivers license, passport)
  • a bit of cash (you decide how much you can set aside – just know if no power, no atm or ability to run a debit/credit machine.
  • a list of shelters/hotels that accept pets
  • emergency phone numbers (if your phone battery dies…)
  • toilet paper, tissues, sanitary napkins or tampons, diapers, if needed. a roll of poop bags for the doggydoo
  • extra leash and collar (if you have dogs)
  • manual can opener
  • utensils
  • flashlight and extra batteries
  • 3 or 4 pair of clean socks (they can be used as mittens, in the cold. Or as potholders, in a pinch – if you are heating something up on a camping stove).
  • first-aid kit and antibiotic cream
  • if possible, a radio with batteries or hand-crank for power (something like this – click here)

If you have cats, keep your cat carriers with your emergency kit in same place. That way you can grab everything you need and go.

If you are a regular camper, keep your camping stove and camping gear stored with your emergency kit.

Also – if you are staying at your home, having these emergency supplies in one place makes it easier on you and your family.

Now the perishable items:

  • Try to keep a 3 day supply of water  available. That would be 1 gallon of drinkable water, per person or pet, per day. So 2 adults, 2 children and 1 dog = 5 gallons of water per day, times 3 days = 15 gallons of water. You can buy bottled water, or save plastic gallon containers (washed out of course) and fill when you a preparing for a storm that you know is coming. Another trick to consider is filling those gallon jugs, and setting them outside to freeze (in winter) then using them in your coolers to keep your food cold, if the power is out.
  • Check your pantries to be sure you have at least 3 days of non-salty non-perishable foods.  You can stock up on canned goods, granola and granola bars, dried fruits, protein bars, nuts and also remember things like peanut butter and crackers.  Don’t forget to stock up on baby formula for your baby, and pet food for your pets.
  • Make sure that if any of your family has a special dietary requirements, you have enough food to accommodate that.
  • When ever you have warning of a weather event on its way, double check your family’s prescriptions to see if they need to be refilled, and do so, that way you won’t be stuck without critical medications!

If the power goes out in winter, designate one room for everyone to “hang out in” and “camp out” there. closing the doors and blocking drafts, put blankets on windows, to conserve the heat in the room. You can leave a south facing window unblocked to get natural light and some warmth of the sun from there, but block it after dark.

If you can afford it, and you live somewhere that the power goes out frequently – you might invest in a generator. There are several small ones that recharge through a regular outlet or car battery or a solar panel (usually special for that generator), but on the plus side there is no gasoline required or loud noise or fumes. You can see a sample of one of these generators here, and its associated solar panel is here.

I know that you all cannot always afford to have all of these items ready and sitting in your closet, but this list can give you a head start on gathering what you DO already have into a single “kit” (plastic storage box or backpack) so you have something ready in an emergency.




Best wood to burn

As it starts to get colder (and I know it is already cold up in Wyoming, where I heard it was -4 already) – you may be ready to start using your wood burning stove.  Or if you have a fireplace, you may be ready to stoke that up.

You want to make sure you know what kind of wood you have or are getting – the harder woods burn longer and produce better heat and leave a nice bed of coals at the end of the burn. Good woods include: Sugar Maple, Beech, Oak, Hickory and Ash.

Stay clear of softer woods, especially the resinous woods like Fir, Eucalyptus, Pine,  and Alder because they produce lots of smoke and can coat your flues with creosote. Unseasoned wood can produce the same issue.

If you are gathering it up yourself – best to season it for a year to be sure it is dry enough; or if you are buying your wood,  look for USDA certified kiln dried wood with a low moisture content (also known as MC).




Almost September 2018

I have been ruminating for months trying to figure out a good niche for this blog and my interests. In watching the culture and the economy, I am struck by how many niche areas there are and that I cannot be all things to all people.

Here are some I am still focused on and have some passion for:

  1. Downsizing – as in decluttering and/or living in a smaller space;
  2. Making ends meet – living on minimum wage and/or side gigs or just limited funds;
  3. Living in a tiny home – build it yourself, or buy one already built or rent one;
  4. Sustainable living – less grid, no grid, raise your own or source it from local farmers;
  5. Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle – getting the most out of everything.

Of these, numbers 1, 2, and 5 are my favorite – partly because I was a Foster Parent for awhile and these are topics that can help any young person who is recently emancipated be more successful in their independent life.  As well as helping those of us already on the adventure we call “adulthood”.

And so in the rest of this year, I will be focusing in on those three areas and I hope to get this blog jumpstarted for a wonderful 2019 filled with regular posting and hopefully, an ebook or two. 🙂



Living on minimum wage

Wednesdays are my day to put out budgeting tips, and I do this mostly because living smaller is not a choice for a lot of folks who have to live smaller because it is the only way they can live.  So I offer this article, which is pretty good:

I would add some additional hints (take it from someone who has lived with nearly nothing) –

  1. Take your “pride” and put it away, remember that and take help when it is offered. You can always “pay it forward” when you are able to.
  2. The library is your best friend – for movies, cds, books and for research if you are going to try side hustles.
  3. Find out where, when and the requirements for your local food banks…sometimes your choice might be “Pay a bill or eat” – knowing if you can get emergency provisions from a food bank (and where it is etc) can keep you from drowning in late fees for your bills.
  4. Talk to the people you owe money to – yes, even the utility company and the cell company…if you know you are going to be late, call and find out if you can get an extension or if they will please waive the late fee this one time…if you call BEFORE it is late, you may get consideration. And you may not, but at least you will establish you are a responsible person – and they may not ding your credit if you are letting them know ahead of time.
  5. Use free apps to determine where the cheapest gas is, if you have a car and plan accordingly.
  6. If you have a job where your clothing is important, find a good consignment shop and get high quality clothing that is gently used.
  7. Save your spare change somewhere and every so often (usually once every three months or so) roll it up, take it to your bank and PLAN to either pay off a bill or treat yourself to something. You may only have a few dollars, but it is good to treat yourself to something like a movie or a lunch out with a friend once in awhile or you will get depressed.
  8. Recycle and bring the plastic and aluminum cans to a place that will pay you. (If you are obsessive about it – you will wind up with a cleaner neighborhood, too, since people seem to toss water bottles everywhere).

If you have some hints on living on minimum wage (or close to minimum) – please share them in the comments. Life can be hard, but it is better when we share.