Monday, September 23, 2013

The minimalist goes to college

I could not believe my eyes when I walked into Bed Bath & Beyond a few days before I moved into the dorms. "Dorm Essentials" filled every aisle. I learned that apparently a college freshman can't live without a personal blender or a multitude of beanbag chairs.

There I was, overwhelmed among the piles of stuff, wondering, what do I really need? For me, the answer was: things I can see myself using in the long-term. That ruled out the personal blender (I'll buy a real blender eventually) and the beanbag chairs (I hope my future home has real furniture not made of styrofoam "beans"). 

So, we started with the thrift stores. What could I get without the plastic smell of new stuff? As it turns out, a beautiful vintage bowl, quirky dishware, and a director's chair to name a few of my favorite purchases. 

Every time I picked something up I asked myself if I could see that item in my future home. If I couldn't make room for something in my future it had no place in my present. I think of my dorm room as a boxy and ill equipped tiny house which I want to fill only with intentional things. The money that I saved by shopping thrift can go towards my weekend trips to the farmer's market (on my spiffy new bike) and nights spent swing and blues dancing with my new friends. 

Of course, there were things I needed that we bought new. A high quality tea kettle, a mini-fridge (that will maybe have a place in my tiny house), a desk lamp, and a comforter were all purchased new. But, each of these items I see lasting a long time. I didn't buy an extra-long twin sheets (we luckily had those) because I only expect to live in the dorms for one year. I don't think that justifies buying a whole new set (or two) of sheets. I picked out a new bike that suits my commuter style better than the one I left in Washington. I plan on carting this one with me until it falls apart- and even then I might just have it welded back together. 

A few weeks ago I peddaled myself back out to Bed Bath & Beyond to return a few things. The first was a powerstrip. Certainly a "dorm essential" but I don't see it as too much of a challenge to reach down and switch chargers when necessary. The second was a clamp bed light. What future bed will I need to clip a lamp to? And I even brought my trusty headlamp all the way to Colorado and I might as well use it. 

College is when we gain the credentials to say things and have people really listen. I want to say that living simply is possible no matter the circumstances. Clip lamps and beanbags aside, let's focus on what we truly want to spend our time doing instead of what we want to spend our time buying. Live small to live large.

Enjoy today,

Friday, August 2, 2013

Those redwoods

A few weeks ago I finally got to fulfill one of my dreams. Ever since seeing the Planet Earth episode where they show you the biggest, most beautiful redwood trees I haven't been able to get them out of my mind. So, when the idea of taking a senior trip with my significant mister came about, I was quick to suggest we journey down the road to California. The reservations were made and a few months later we zoomed down the road in my mini.

Our first hike was the Boy Scout Tree Trail. This trail led through amazing old growth redwoods and I had to be careful driving down the dirt road to the trailhead because I kept getting distracted. Strange, I thought, how I could easily ignore my phone while driving but when faced with big trees I suddenly became a "typical" teen driver. Boy Scout Tree was enormous and possibly the largest tree I saw on the whole trip.

A note from my journal: "Each tree seemed so powerful to me. I wanted to pause and touch each one so maybe they could share the history they hold. At the end of the trail was an especially big tree with many knots. It felt as though he was the guardian of the forest, an old man. I put my hands on the trunk of the tree, looked up towards the branches, and thanked him for letting us visit his forest." When I looked up, this is what I saw:

We also went on the Damnation Creek Trail which led us to a beautiful beach where we ate lunch.

Our campground was the Del Norte Coast State Park Campground (Mill Creek). There are three state parks reasonably close to each other in the north, and we picked the one in the middle. It was quiet, never felt overcrowded, and had some amazing campsites (fire ring inside a hollow redwood- I was jealous). It had been logged, so the trees were not as large but small enough to allow us to get some sun. Crescent City was 7 miles north of us. The beach there was very foggy and chilly but the surrounding hills kept the fog away from our campground and the trails. I was glad for my cozy hiking boots when we journeyed down to the beach.

We got to visit so many great places on this trip and read lots of books. I enjoyed living out of a backpack and packing light on camping gear (we could only take what fit in the mini). I sure appreciated the things I had, like my warm hiking boots, my trusty bamboo utensil set, and the pillowcase I stuffed with clothes so I could sleep comfortably. The one thing I wish we would have done was to swim in the Smith River. The owner of an antique shop told me it's one of the cleanest rivers in the country!

I miss those big trees and hope to see them again someday. I really felt at home in those forests. What a beautiful experience.

Enjoy today,

Saturday, July 13, 2013

5 things I learned from my bicycle

1. Sometimes you just have to stop and smell the roses. 
This week I started biking out to the farm in Fairhaven, about a five mile ride each way. On day three, as luck would have it, I rolled over a big piece of glass about 3/4 of the way there. I got to push my bike up a huge hill and realized that it might have actually been better than riding up it. I snapped a few photos of the cool neighborhood around the farm on my way there. I noticed plants, houses, and animals I never would have seen while zipping by on my bike (let alone in a car).

An overgrown garden path

Beautiful front door(s)

A house that used to be something else. Maybe a church?
2. Be thankful
I was oh so thankful for our beautiful waterfront trail that allowed me to walk my bike two miles from the farm to the community bike shop. It was nice to not have to walk on the hot sidewalk next to speedy cars. Silly me for not having a patch kit!

The South Bay Trail, connecting downtown B'ham and Fairhaven. It has beautiful greenery and lovely views of the bay.
3. People are nice
Just like the friendly bike shop guy that taught me how to patch a tire. Again, it was silly of me not to have a patch kit, even though I did have a bike pump attached to my frame. I couldn't use it without a patch! I was also thankful that the hole was small (though the glass chunk was big) and I didn't have to buy a new tube.

4. Hills are hard
All I have to say is after riding 10 miles a day, uphill for about half of it, my legs are tired and sore. I got some good use out of our hot tub this week. It made me rethink not wanting a tub in my tiny house if I'm going to get around mostly by bike.

5. When the going gets tough, imagine your supporters
When I woke up on Thursday with tired legs, windy weather, and a few hours less sleep than I would have liked, I sure didn't want to ride my bike. It's so easy to hop in the car, protected by the wind and propelled down the road by the slight push of a pedal. But if my goal is to go car-free in college I have to stick to it. So I imagined my bike cheerleaders. First, there's my friend Jessie who bikes insane numbers of miles in a day, just to train for a bike race twice that distance. Then there's Lina, a tiny house enthusiast like me who gets around mostly by bike and some bus. And finally, Tammy Strobel and her husband, Logan, who live car free (in a tiny house, of course). I just picture them cheering me on as I take off from my driveway and pedal my way towards the farm. By the end of the day, I'm happy to fall into bed tired, knowing I earned my shower and most certainly my dinner. But I sure can't wait until biking becomes habit and I don't have to force myself to roll out of bed early for my 30 minute commute (instead of 15 by car).

If you're considering commuting by bike- do it! I started with biking to school (even in the rainy winter) and progressed to grocery shopping, volunteering, restaurant eating, and picnic going- all by bike! While living car free may not be possible for everybody, think about making small trips (1-2 miles) by bike. You'd be surprised at how easily a bicycle can turn a boring errand into an adventure.

Enjoy today,

Friday, July 5, 2013

What I'm up to

I am so grateful to have so many great opportunities this summer. There's nothing like kicking of my newly-graduated adult life with a few months of excitement.

I started off the summer with a 4 night trip to the Oregon Coast with my friends. We filled up three cars and journeyed the 8.5 hours to Sunset Bay in Coos Bay, Oregon. It was great to spend some quality time with my buddies. I finally learned how to use a camp stove, the importance of a sleeping mat, and why long underwear is still a must-have for camping in June (especially in the PNW). We took along this stuffed giraffe (he was actually a stowaway) and he became our mascot.

This week I started a few exciting projects. First, I had my first few days at Bobbibrook Farm volunteering for Common Threads Farm. This is the organization that I was volunteering in the elementary school garden with this spring. They do great stuff, providing garden educators to public schools during the school year and hosting great programs for kids during the summer. This week was supposed to be my first week with kiddos, but it was cancelled due to low enrollment. Instead, I got to spend three hours weed whacking one day (sore arms), ditch filling another (dusty shoes), and organizing the shed on the final day (yay!). I can't wait to start programming with kids next week. If you know any elementary aged people that would love some farm time, send them our way!

I also started on a super exciting project with a dietitian. Later this summer I'll be helping with a nutrition class to kick of a 12-week healthy eating program. I've begun collecting sweetened beverage containers (apple juice, vitamin water, soda) to show the participants just how much sugar is really in those things. I'm most excited to plan the cooking demonstration. Needless to say I can't wait to really dig into this project.

The reality that I only about six weeks until I leave has started to sink in... Even as I write this I'm taking a big *gulp* as it sinks in even more. What am I doing leaving this wonderful place?? Fingers crossed I'll settle in and find my place in Colorado. Stay tuned, I'll most likely be hopping on the plane home for Thanksgiving and asking the pilot to fly extra fast towards Washington. I'm hoping to find some sort of tiny house community up in Fort Collins though my preliminary research googling "Fort Collins tiny house" drummed up some pretty measly results. I'll continue my research but if any of you readers know of anything, let me know please. Pretty please. With a cherry on top. 

I hope all is well with my fellow tiny housers and simplifiers. Enjoy the sunshine (I know I am).

Enjoy today,

Thursday, June 13, 2013

On being an introvert

I am happy to admit that I am most certainly an introvert. Put me anywhere with "chatting" is the main activity and my soul shrivels a little on the inside. Even if I don't have to talk to anyone, sitting in a crowd of people I don't know is enough to exhaust me. These past few days have challenged me more than I ever thought they could. You see, college orientation was not built for introverts.

First, they stick you in a theater with 200 of your new classmates and best friends. Then, the overly peppy orientation leaders welcome you and lead cheers- "I'll give you one more chance... how are you really doing today??!?!?!?!!!" (insert cheering... half hearted from me).

Though I actually made a few friends from my small orientation group and from girls I forced myself to ask to sit by at breakfast in the dining hall, I still spent most of orientation feeling alone. I was surrounded by a sea of people who were (or pretended to be) extroverts. They sat at tables with people they just met, laughing away as if they had always been BFFs. They danced at the dance. They volunteered to participate in the improv show. I sat quietly with my new shy friend as we discussed the lights in the theater (she is a fellow stage manager and lover of all things tech theater).

I felt out of place. Things like this are always led by the most spirited and extroverted students and they feel the best way to make everyone feel welcome and included is to stick them in the extrovert's paradise... and the introvert's living hell. By the end of day one I felt exhausted. After going to a club fair where I was surrounded by people I didn't know, I cried. Sometimes it feels as though the world was not built for shy people, that I do not fit.

I am so happy to be home. Though actually being at college, going to classes, and making friends doesn't scare me, the four day orientation after move in day sure does. But after that, I can stop having to be who the orientation leaders and advisers insist every college student wants to be. I don't have to go to football or basketball games. I don't have to be proud to associate myself with my college mascot, I can just be proud to be a college student, a privilege few in this world get.

If only they would take everyone into consideration, make it a little more introvert-friendly, maybe I wouldn't feel so left out. I can't wait to go back and see the friends I made during preview orientation and make even more new buddies. But, I also plan on trying to leave the orientation festivities and just wander around on my own, just how I like it. Because I like being an introvert, it's how I am.

Enjoy today,

P.S. One of my favorite bloggers, Susannah Conway, is a self proclaimed introvert. She has been part of my inspiration to be happy with my hermit self. Read her take on introversion here.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The minimalist goes to prom

Nobody loves getting dressed up more than I do but with prom season always comes the itch to buy new shoes, a dress, jewelry, fancy dinner, and spend hours obsessing over every stray hair. My goal for my senior prom was to stay as simple as I could so I wouldn't have to worry about anything but having fun.

The Dress:

I was super lucky to find this dress at a bridal outlet store in town. I loved the bones of the dress and had a few ideas how to make it perfect. With some tailoring it turned out just as I had imagined (see the photo on the right). I was going for classy yet original and I think I nailed it. This is one of those dresses that I would wear every day if I wouldn't get strange looks but the likelihood of my going to another formal occasion is slim to none. Since I love this dress more than any of my other semi-formal attire I already have, I'm planning on having it all shortened to semi-formal length and then purging my other shorter dresses. Win win!

The Accessories:

It's customary to have a corsage or boutonniere for a formal dance but that seemed like an added expense and throw-away token that my significant mister and I weren't really interested in. Since he wants to be a librarian I had made him a book boutonniere for homecoming in the fall and we decided to keep up the trend and have him wear it for prom as well. I wanted some sort of flower to match, so I made another one and hot glued it to a hair comb. These flowers held a lot of significance to us (more than store-bought ones would) and saved us a pretty penny to put towards our road trip this summer.

As for jewelry, I wore my usual rings (a gift from my grandma) and then decided to wear costume jewelry (earrings and a necklace) from my grammy to represent both sides of my family. I wore what I had and didn't need to buy a singe thing! My purse was also something of my grandma's that my mom lent to me since I don't have any formal bags. 

I've been really lucky to find three pairs of comfortable formal shoes in black, silver, and bronze. These three pairs have gotten me through almost all of my high school formal dances. They match everything and I never have to worry about finding a pair of shoes at the last minute. I'm keeping them until they fall apart (and since they're higher quality brands that is likely to be a while). 

The Hair & Makeup:

I spent a total of about 20 minutes on my hair and 4 minutes on my makeup. That's it. Simple as could be. On any given day, I usually wear no makeup. For prom I went all out with mascara, eyeliner, sheer eye shadow, and blush (all used in very small amounts). I even curled my hair before putting it up. I'm so glad I chose to stay simple because at the end of the night I looked about the same as at the beginning: mascara in place, dress not smudged with foundation, hair not a hairspray helmet. I felt comfortable staying natural and was more confident because I wasn't trying to be a made-up version of myself. 

The Totals:

What I bought:
  • A dress
  • A hair comb for my flower
What I re-used:
  • Boutonniere from homecoming
  • Shoes
  • Earring & necklace
  • Rings
  • Purse
What I'm getting rid of:
  • Multiple semi-formal dresses once I shorten this prom dress
How I felt
  • Grateful
  • Beautiful
  • Loved
  • Confident

I'm so glad I kept it simple. What a wonderful night :)

Enjoy today,

Monday, June 3, 2013

Thoughts on graduation...

My graduation is impending (t-minus two weeks) and I have mixed feelings. I am so excited to be done with high school. It seems that each time I approach the end of an era (elementary school, middle school, and now high school) I look back at the underclassmen and don't know how I can be in the same school with them. We go through so much change, especially within the short four years of high school, and I feel so distant from the 15 year old freshman that I once was. I'm ready to move on.

But, college poses its own set of challenges. I don't really want to be a freshman again and I don't want to have my life sucked away by hours of studying. Though I'm glad that I'll be in the honors program at Colorado State, I do worry that the smaller and more challenging classes will be too much. Or maybe my participation in the honors undergraduate research program will take too much time. It will be a lot of work to keep my life in balance. I keep reminding myself not to not worry about it for now, that if it's too much then I'll "cross that bridge when I come to it" as my mom likes to say. For now, I'm trying to stay in the moment and focus on enjoying the end of high school and my summer before I worry about college.

Like almost every teenager leaving home I'm already suffering from home sickness. Okay, maybe that's not so normal. I love hanging out with my parents (I think they're pretty cool) and unlike many of my friends I love where I live, rain and all. This makes it way harder to leave. If only CSU could move to Washington! I'm darn happy here with my parents, my cat, my city, my friends, and my significant mister that I can't believe I made the choice to leave. The whole thing about simplicity is living in a way where you are choosing to be happy and I'm choosing to leave the things that make me happy. I'm keeping in mind the family I'm so excited to visit in CO and all the great opportunities and friends that await me. I know I'll find my place and that my happiness will step off the airplane with me in August, I would never leave it behind.

But I've also been peeking around at my options should I decide that my place is back here. It's nice to know I have options, even if I never utilize them.

At the end of 2012 I picked my word for this year: brave. It's time for me to live away from home, even if just for a little while, and prove to myself that I am brave and I can take on this challenge.

Enjoy today,

Friday, May 31, 2013

Tiny house inspiration of the week

Click the pictures for links
Murphy Desk Plan and Components
I'm loving this murphy desk- I'm hoping to DIY this one soon!

Adorable shelving.

A fold-up porch so I can take back the square footage normally used for a porch.

I'd love built in bench seating... maybe even a tiny booth

Enjoy today,

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A box of clothes: gone

In my previous post My closet overfloweth, I told you all about my love-love relationship with clothes and my love-hate relationship with having lots of them. Though I enjoy having a full wardrobe with many choices, I recognize how much easier it is to get dressed in the morning when all I have are favorites. Every outfit makes me feel good and I never have blah days where I'm wearing something uncomfortable or something I just don't feel good in.

I do feel guilty about the clothes that sit in my closet hardly or never worn. So to them I say: it's not you, it's me. And then I send them on their way. I try to always buy quality clothes that will last, so what I get rid of often has quite a bit of life left in it. It's nice to know that though I didn't benefit from the long-lasting quality, someone else will.

Last time, I gave you a list of everything in my closet. This time, I give you a list of everything in the first box on its way out.

Box #1:
  • 3 pairs of gloves
  • 1 hat
  • 1 pair of fuzzy socks
  • 2 tank tops
  • 1 pair of running shorts
  • 1 sleeveless top
  • 2 long sleeve tops
  • 1 belt
  • 1 old sports bra
  • 1 pair of spanks (shorts to wear under skirts)
  • 1 tankini top
  • 1 bikini top
  • 3 athletic t-shirts 
  • 2 headscarves
  • 1 bra
Grand total: 22 items
Updated closet total: 178 items

As of now, I'm not sure what my goal is. Ideally I'd like to reduce my clothes and shoes to 100 items, but college is getting in the way. While 100 items (or less) is completely doable in the mild Pacific Northwest climate, I have to account for cold and snowy winters in Colorado as well as really hot summers. For the next four years (minimum) I may have to keep a few extra items hanging around like the winter coat that I do not yet own since it really doesn't get cold enough here. I'll do my best to scale down as much as I can. Besides, I can only take to college what clothes will fit in a few suitcases. 

Enjoy today,

Sunday, May 26, 2013

My closet overfloweth

After reading the book The 100 Thing Challenge and reading about Lina's 200 thing challenge I decided it was high time I tackled more of my stuff. I have already donated and given away much of my things during my last purge but I feel the need to clear out even more.

I vary from the norm of most young adults as my life dreams don't involve a large house or even an average house (about 2,300 square feet in the U.S.) and I don't have much desire to buy things. My generation seems to follow in the footsteps of the one before us by focusing on stuff. I have peers who go shopping every weekend but I can hardly remember the last time I bought something while shopping. I think it was at our farmer's market where I bought a baseball shirt with a tractor on it from the info booth. I'd been coveting that shirt since last spring when they ran out of my size.

Needless to say, I'm very picky about what I buy now. I didn't used to be, especially in middle school. But, I've grown to know my style and better be able to predict whether I'll actually wear something before I buy it. As a result, my wardrobe has reduced way down in size. Last weekend I did an official count and (counting socks and underwear as one each) found that I have 201 things just in my wardrobe. That sure sounds like a lot to me, especially when people are living with just 100 things by choice and often much less by necessity.

Here is my clothing breakdown:

  • Undergarments- 11 items
  • Accessories (not including jewelry)- 42
  • Dresses (including formal)- 13
  • Tops- 45
  • Pants- 7
  • Shorts- 6
  • Skirts- 5
  • Exercise clothes- 14
  • Sweaters- 12
  • Outer wear- 7
  • Pajama- 11
  • Swim wear- 8
  • Shoes- 22
A few notes on the list above: I counted my exercise and regular black socks as one total item, but my knee socks as individual items because they are more like accessories. I did not count the amazing jacket that I "borrow" from my mom to bike in because it does belong to her and I'm "not allowed" to take it to college. I also did not count the sweater and sweatshirt that I have been long-term "borrowing" from my significant mister since they also do not truly belong to me and will be begrudgingly returned before I leave for college. 

So basically, I have too much. Who needs 45 tops or 12 sweaters or 21 pairs of shoes? I'm pretty sure I don't. Stay with me as I attempt to significantly pare down this list. It should be exciting. Anyone in the market for some clothes? I definitely  have enough to share. 

Enjoy today,

*Update: read about my first box of clothes out the door here

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Feeling the love

As you know, a few weekends ago I visited Portland for a weekend of tiny house dreaming, scheming, and learning. There, I met lots of wonderful people who shared my passion for living tiny. One of those people is Lina, a graduate student in Portland who lived in the same tiny house that I visited and now lives in a yurt as she prepares to start her build.

I think Lina is super cool and she'll for sure be invited to the grand reveal of my tiny home in the future. She even has a blog (like me!) where she writes about living tiny. Visit it at This Is The Little Life for some great writing and inspiration!

While in Portland, Lina admired my etched mason jar that I use as a to-go drink container. I sent her one as a thank-you for the wonderful weekend and she wrote this glowing review of her new jar (and me too)! I'm definitely feeling the tiny house community love. She also wrote this post about the Portland workshop (I'm hiding in the back of the group picture!).

Lina's new jar!
I strongly recommend that you check out Lina's blog here, as it has become an instant favorite of mine. Also, if you would like to check out my jars (and maybe help fund my tiny house dreams!) visit my Etsy site here.

My jar at fancy hotel for my good friend's birthday. Making tea with the in-room coffee pot and using my jar cozy is one of my favorite things to do when away from home!
Lina also inspired me with her 200 things challenge to continue to tackle my stuff. I decided to start with my closet and discovered that I have 200 things just in my wardrobe (socks and underwear count as one each). Uh oh. Read more about my journey to pare down my wardrobe... coming soon! *Update: read about my great closet overhaul here

Enjoy today,

Thursday, May 2, 2013

DIY: Cord station

Everyone has it. That big, unruly tangle of chargers and cords and headphones that never finds a proper home. It's almost impossible to organize a tangled clump of electronics. I came up with this simple project and completed it within a few hours- problem solved.
What you need
  • Thin wood (found near 2x4s and such, I think labeled as craft wood)
  • Screw gun and a screw
  • Small nails
  • Vinyl decals (I made my own with my scrapbook craft cutter, but you could find them online or draw/paint something onto the wood)

What you do:
  • Coil all of the cords you want to organize and lay them along the wood. Mark with a pencil where the nails are going to go
  • Put your decals on the wood, about an inch below each nail spot (so that they center within the cord loop)
  • Gently hammer in the nails at an upward facing angle (so they hold the cords)
  • Find a stud, and screw it into the wall at the top (I got the screw started on a flat surface and then held it against the wall)

    And that's it! A easy, quick, and functional DIY project. 

    Enjoy today,

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

My morning view

Join in on instagram: #mymorningview
Read about Tammy Strobel's project here

Enjoy today,

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Why tiny?

There are people who love tiny houses, people who actually live in tiny houses, and people who just don't get it. Why live in such a tiny space? Something only 120 square feet plus a loft is about the size of my old bedroom, but that size seems just right to me. In this post I'll give my story; why I want to live tiny.

I'm not sure what got me obsessed, but I do know that I first found out about tiny homes from my parents. My dad had found Jay Shafer's tiny house online, and we couldn't stop talking about how cute it was.

From then on, tiny houses stayed in the back of my mind. It wasn't until a few years ago that my driven interest really began. After staying in Brittany Yunker's Bayside Bungalow for the weekend with my dad, tiny living seemed like it could become a reality.

From then on, I began to look at my things in a different way. Instead of shopping I began to get rid of things and be more mindful of what I brought into our home. Away went the junky souvenirs that gathered dust, the "stylish" clothes that really weren't my style and never would be, and the shelves of books from my childhood (don't worry, I kept my most favorites). I began to realize that the less things I had, the more I appreciated and valued my possessions. My room takes much less time to tidy and I'm rarely hunting for things to wear as my wardrobe is made up of just my favorites.

But tiny living isn't just about living with less things. To me, it promises a life of more freedom. Instead of becoming tied to a mortgage and having to commit to a full time job, I'll be able to work a job that I love even if it pays less. And, without debt hanging over my head, if I hate my job I might just be able to quit. This free time and monetary flexibility will hopefully allow me to create a life where I can volunteer, spend time with others, and devote time to my hobbies instead of setting them aside for retirement as many Americans do.

I must mention sustainability because it really is a great reason to build a tiny house. It uses less materials, energy, heating, water, and natural habitat than a normal home meaning it is certainly quite green. It will be a weight lifted off of my conscience. For me this is truly just an added bonus.

Tiny living is a lifestyle that I want to have and somewhat already do. You don't have to have a tiny house to live tiny. Take a minute to think about your water usage, your stuff, and your life to see where you can pare down. How can you simplify?

Find one way to live tiny and be sure to let me know how it goes. I hope that it brings you the same joy that it brings me. (I really do want to know. Comment on this post or send me an email because tiny living is all about community!)

Enjoy today,

Monday, April 29, 2013

Tiny house workshop weekend

I just had the best weekend. My parents (they're the best) signed me up for a tiny house workshop in Portland this weekend. We drove down Friday after work and I spent the weekend learning while my parents explored Portland. I can't cover everything in one post, but for now I'll focus on how I tried to make this weekend as eco-friendly as possible!

We really wanted to take the train to Portland. It's a five hour drive from Bellingham and it gets less exciting every time. Plus, that's a lot of gas. Unfortunately, the train schedule was horrible (one train a day) and we would have had to leave Friday morning. None of us could miss school or work, so we ended up driving.

Parking the bike in the room since our car was parked outside where it wouldn't be secure
When I picked the hotel, I wanted somewhere that was close to the workshop. I used google maps to find a close hotel and used the bike directions tool to make sure I could easily get there. It ended up being perfect! The hotel was on the edge of town (not within walking distance of much) but it was a few blocks away from a MAX line (tram). My lovely parents took the challenge and learned Portland's public transport to find their way downtown! Our car parked at the hotel when we got there and stayed until we were ready to leave (with a stop for a tiny house tour on the way).

A tight squeeze in the hotel elevator (and quite a few funny looks from strangers!)

The tiny house! More details on tiny homes to come :)
I'm really happy that I decided to take my bike. It got me moving twice a day which was nice since I was sitting in the workshop the rest of the time. I also had a good adventure trying to navigate around using the GPS on my phone and saw bits of Portland that I would never have noticed otherwise. I'm glad my parents tried out public transport and we were able to offset a tiny bit of the 10 hours of driving we did to get there and back.

If you are interested in tiny houses (even just curious!), here is the link to the company that I took the workshop with:

I'm excited to tell you more about my exciting weekend and all the inspiration I received!

Enjoy today,

Monday, April 15, 2013


Every once and a while I find myself grumpy, anxious, and just not feeling good. Generally I'm able to snap myself out of a bad mood, but these times I wake up in the morning with lingering negativity.

Days like today, when I feel blah and yuck, generally lead to thought. I think, why do I feel this way?! And it's always the same answer. Have I been exercising? No. Have I been eating healthy? Not as much as I'd like. Am I keeping up with my projects? Not so much.

Just like in the Aaron Carter songs of my youth, in my mind I hear that 90's errrrruh of the DJ stopping the record. And I reset. I go back to what I know makes me feel good. I'm not perfect so I forget what I need to do, but I'm never too far gone to get back on track.

So after school today I made myself a tasty snack, indulged in some Pinterest, and then kickboxed for 30 minutes. As I write this, slightly sweaty, I think about how grateful I am for good moods and how thankful I am to be able to create them.

As of now, a rare Bellingham thunderstorm is rolling in, and I'm in the mood to enjoy it. I think I might make some tea.

Enjoy today,

Monday, March 18, 2013

Pea plant

My newest acquisition is a little pea plant that a lovely lady gave to me at a co-op community shopping day. I love watering it every morning and watching it grow in the window sunlight. It slows down time for just a moment when I stop to see how it has changed.
What little things bring you joy?

Enjoy today,

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Slowing down for details

I have a car and I love my car, but I frequently choose not to drive it. When I walk or ride my bike, I find lots of small yet beautiful things that I never seem to notice from behind the windshield of a car.
I always feel accomplished after biking somewhere, especially if I braved the Washington rain along the way. I'm lucky to live only a mile from school and downtown, so I can get most places I need to go with just ten minutes of biking or less. I love the excuse to get outside and I love the hidden exercise. Since I don't think of it as "formal" exercise, I often get an extra fifteen minutes or so of activity per day just by biking to school. That way I know that even if I don't have time to work out later, I'm still maintaining an active lifestyle that keeps me happy.
I've included some photos from my walk to school a few weeks ago. These are all things that I would never have noticed from my car, and even some smaller things I would never have noticed from my bike. It's nice to sometimes slow down and see what beautiful things we pass by every day.

Enjoy today,

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Smoothie: Banana Chocolate PB "Milkshake"

My new morning obsession is smoothies. I have one every day for breakfast and I love them because they fill me up but aren't too heavy and they're a great way to get some fruits (okay... and maybe some veggies too) in the morning.

Here's a recipe for my new favorite- banana chocolate peanut butter!

Step 1: In a blender combine: about 1 cup milk (I used chocolate coconut here, you can use any kind you like), 1/2 cup yogurt or cottage cheese (non-dairy yogurt would work as well), 1 spoonful peanut butter (or other nut butter, try roasted and shelled peanuts for a more chunky texture), and 1 Tablespoon flax meal/ground flax seeds (you can't taste them and they add fiber and omega 3s!). Blend these together until the consistency is smooth. 
Step 2: Add 1/2 of a banana and a few handfuls of spinach. I promise, you can't taste the spinach because the flavor is way overpowered by the banana-chocolate-peanutbuttery goodness. The spinach just adds a dose of veggies (one serving for the day that you don't have to worry about) and makes the smoothie thick- just like a milkshake. Blend these with the first mixture until it gets smooth again.
Step 3: Add 3-5 ice cubes depending on how thick you want it, and blend until smooth again (or until your blender stops making clunky ice-chopping noises). I usually add five cubes because our blender chops them up really fine.
Step 5: Pour and enjoy! My mom is always happy to drink the extra smoothie (especially this one). This is seriously my new favorite thing. Next time I want a milkshake, I'm just going to make this. It's like a milkshake without the heavy-yucky-sluggish feeling afterwards. 

Next time I'm going to try this with frozen coffee cubes instead of ice cubes for more of a mocha "milkshake" smoothie!

Enjoy today,

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Reorganization! (one of my favorite things)

I wanted a way to simplify this blog. All of the posts were jumbled together and each one had numerous different labels. After thinking about it for a while, I had a brain blast. Now, I am excited to introduce to you the new style of this blog.

Everything that I want this blog to be about can be summed up in four genres: healthy living, joyful living, creative living and simple living. Sometimes, posts may overlap multiple themes, but everything I write can be organized into at least one of these categories. 

At the top of this blog, you'll find tabs that take you to a page for each section. Each page contains all of the posts for this theme. 

These four categories represent the four focuses in my life. I can't wait to continue to share with you.

Enjoy today,

Monday, March 11, 2013

DIY: Stained tank to hand-stamped tank

I really don't like to throw things out, or buy new things when what I have is in good condition. So when I noticed a stain one of my basic camisole tank tops, and the white one at that, I figured I could do something to cover up the stain. This characteristic in me most definitely comes from my grandmother on my mom's side- she sews buttons on her shirts and pants to cover bleach stains.

This is my tutorial for the modern take on button-covered bleach stains.

Step 1: Acquire target stain.
 Step 2: Pick a design. I thought balloons might be nice, and they would make an interesting pattern peeking out from under a shirt or sweater. Cut the design out of craft foam sheets using scissors and/or an exacto knife. I bought the thickest foam for maximum stampability. Make sure you're aware of how your design will look when reversed, or put the "up" side against the wood of the stamp later if you want it to look just like it does now.
Step 3: Using thin hobby wood from your local home improvement store (sold in lovely pre-cut pieces like this one) measure how big you would like your stamp to be. Make sure your foam piece fits on the wood you are going to cut.

Step 4: Cut the wood! I used our hand crank clamp and a Japanese saw. After cutting, check and make sure you still have all ten fingers. Yes? Good, let's move on.
Step 5: Get out your handy-dandy glue (I used Gorilla Super Glue) and glue your stamp to the cut wood piece. Make sure you know which side of your stamp gets glued so you don't reverse your design.
 Step 6: Brush on fabric paint. I use a brush because it gives a uniform coat, unlike dipping it in paint which can leave blobs oozing where you don't want it.
Step 7: Test stamp on paper. This one is self explanatory, I think.
 Step 8: Begin stamping, reloading your stamp with paint each time. I put thick paper between the front and back of the top just in case the paint bled through. It didn't, but better safe than sorry.
 Step 9: Finish your design, making sure that you covered any stains (if that was your goal to begin with).
 Step 10: Add additional details with a paintbrush. I wanted my balloons to have strings, but then they needed something to attach to. So I painted a fence all the way around the top (including the back).
Step 11: Allow to dry as recommended on your paint bottle, wash as recommended, and wear!

I love how this tank top turned out. It looks cute on its own with yoga pants for a Pilates class (as shown above) or layered under a shirt for school. The only thing I had to buy for this project was the foam, everything else I had as leftovers from various projects. I've already used the leftover foam for a Valentine's Day project, stamping hearts onto the envelopes of Valentines for my friends.

I'm so happy to have saved a tank top from being tossed away and to have saved the stress of finding a new one (they don't carry them anymore where I bought it). I certainly love a project as well.

Enjoy today,

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