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Daily Life In 288 Square Feet

Saturday, March 18, 2017


When we first decided to get a tiny house, we were mostly focused on the cost aspect. Along with either selling or renting our house so the mortgage is taken care of, the tiny house will be a relief of an otherwise huge financial burden monthly - smaller payments means more that can be allotted to our property and farm. It was a means to an end, but we embraced it, because it was also a push into this long-winded "dream" we had of having less and living on our property. The biggest part of which, was to live on our property.
 
 
And to avoid redundancy in this part of the conversation, it just made sense for the point we were at in our lives. Last October, we needed to make a decision. We bought a tiny house, with help. And finally, months later at the new year, we moved in. It's been three months since we moved into our 288 square feet of love on our 46 acres. Before I've shared lessons we learned in the first month of tiny living... But now I want to share about daily life in 288 square feet. How do things work, in a 12x24 ft house... With a one and a half year old?! It's actually not as "bad" as you may think. In reality.... this small space is a huge blessing.
 
To start on the topic of daily life in a tiny home... Here is a rough list (not schedule, but simply a list) of everything we do during the week in this space:
  • Wake up + make breakfast
  • Play, read, clean
  • Do laundry in the tub
  • Go outside to play, clean property, and hang laundry
  • Nap time! During this I clean, read, write, take care of grown-up things like bills, etc
  • Snack time + play outside when Taylor is up again
  • Watch our shows or read + relax once Taylor is asleep for the night
  • Eat, eat, eat.
The weekend looks a little different: we spend the majority of it outside on the property. Sometimes we go to a local festival or market, sometimes we go out of town for the day to see family. But we keep it all pretty simple. And we like it like this. Right now, things are fairly slow.. But we know that will change soon, when we start really going with starting our farm.. We will be at markets on the weekends and planting, cultivating, or harvesting the produce on end during various seasons. So we are enjoying now, because we know life comes in seasons, and it won't always be this way.

But back to tiny living a bit. With a few pictures for reference (and a reminder of the Q+A tour I gave of our home the other month) here is how we have things situated...

Everything is pretty much one big 288 square foot room. It truly is, but it really isn't. And here's what I mean. You can tell that there are different spaces. For instance, the kitchen is against a wall. The closets are across from each other. Our beds are next to each other. And the bathroom area has the same curtain color for the whole length.

If that doesn't make any sense, hopefully this does: we have a space for everything. The entire house doesn't feel like our bedroom, because we have a comfy chair and a dining table to divide up the space. The entire house doesn't feel like a bathroom, because we have beige curtains over the whole area so it blends in to the walls. The entire house doesn't feel like a kitchen since it's along a 12 foot wall, and an island or pantry doesn't protrude into the rest of our space. And the entire house doesn't feel like our closet because we have patterned curtains and storage cubes to make it decorative and functional.

Daily life in a tiny home is pretty simple... which is in reality a huge blessing and comforting change of pace... and we like it that way. And, 288 square feet? It sure doesn't feel like it. It feels bigger, though I'm not sure how much bigger, come to think of it. There is corrugated metal on the curved ceiling, which makes the house (room) feel larger. I don't think of it as 288 square feet. Or if I do, I reference it as our 288 square feet of love!
 

GUEST BLOG: Small Beginnings For Natural Living

Thursday, March 16, 2017


Today, Bella from Over the Teacup is taking over the blog to share about how she has taken small steps to begin natural living. You see, you don't have to have grand plans to start a fully functional farm and you also don't have to even have a backyard to search for ways to live more simply. Sometimes, all you need is an itch for your own garden- be it herbs, vegetables, fruits, or flowers - and to find a way (or a window or balcony) to do it. As Bella shares, you can begin to see how you can start small in your own way--- and maybe get some ideas, too!
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Small Beginnings for Natural Living
 
 
When I was a little girl, my family lived for three years in Hobart, Tasmania. One thing I remember vividly about my time there was our backyard. The house we stayed in had this garden with all varieties of fruits and vegetables – strawberries, apples, peaches, cherries, spinach, potatoes and beans. I was also given a little patch of ground to call my own, where I planted carrots along with snapdragons and sunflowers. And so, a love of gardening was born.
 
Fast-forward to the present day, and my garden isn’t looking as spacious or plentiful. You see, the only place my husband and I can afford at the moment is an apartment. It’s a nice apartment, I must say, but the balcony is tiny. Pitifully tiny, I mean hardly any space to stand up. So the potential for tending a garden or growing my own food is rather limited.
 
 
In my current situation, I can’t grow my own vegetables or collect scraps for a compost heap. I can’t create a wildflower garden or plant trees. But, I’m not left with nothing. Around two years ago, my mother gave me a beautiful gift. Some planter boxes, some soil and a few herbs. I planted these herbs – parsley, thyme, mint and oregano – and I had the smallest beginnings of a garden again. Since then, my garden has grown to include quite a few more herbs, some aloe vera and cat grass (my cat loves it as a special treat!). I’ve also planted a fern garden for that part of my balcony that gets no sun.
 
I may not be able to eat home-grown fruit and vegetables yet, but I love using my herb garden when I’m cooking. If I’m making a pasta sauce, I can just pick a few sprigs of basil and oregano, or put some fresh rosemary leaves in a casserole. I give them a little wash to rinse off any dirt, but I know they don’t have any nasty chemical surprises. Fresh herbs taste so much better than dried ones, and growing my own works out much cheaper than buying them from the supermarket. Creating a little corner of greenery in a concrete maze is healthy for my soul, too. Looking out my window and seeing a garden brings peace, if only for a moment.
 
Do not despise small beginnings
It says in Zechariah 4:10 do not despise these small beginnings. We hope one day to buy our own home, a place where I can expand my horizons when it comes to gardening and natural living. I’d love to grow my own vegetables one day. But that may still be a few years off. For the moment, I have only my herb garden – it is a small beginning, but it’s something.
 
Maybe this is you as well. Maybe the idea of self-sufficient, natural living appeals to you but circumstances just don’t allow it at the moment. You may not be able to do much, but there may be some small, humble ways you could make a start.
 
Just a few ideas include:
  • grow a herb garden on your balcony, window ledge or wherever your little plants can get some sun
  • cook from scratch using natural foods – the food will be healthier and you’ll cut down on pre-packaged waste
  • make your own skincare products using natural ingredients
  • start a small compost heap if you have your own backyard
  • set up a drying rack on your balcony instead of using an indoor dryer
I am determined to grow and tend my little corner of nature. Even when the hot Australian summer has parched the soil and caused the leaves to wither. Even when my heart longs for open space. It’s not much, but these are my small beginnings.




Bella is a newly married Christian woman living in Sydney, Australia. She loves God, her friends and family, tea, gardens, books, and food. She is a part time Special Ed teacher, housewife, blogger and small group leader--- living to shine God's light by His grace. You can get in touch with her at her website, Over the Teacups, or on her blog's Facebook page.

Cloth Diapers: Why + How We Use Them

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Y'all, there are so many facets to living naturally in this home that I am going to cover on this site. There will be a lot about the farm, a lot about living simply in a tiny home, and a lot about making the most of our resources and things. One way to cover this last area mentioned is the use of cloth diapers at home. Yes, I said cloth diapers. And as you recall.... we don't have a washing machine. I'll get to that part too!

So, why + how in the world do we use cloth diapers?! It's a lot simpler (+ easier) than you may think...

WHY
 
1. Cloth diapers are better for baby's sensitive skin.
Cloth diapers are just that... cloth.. and they don't contain any harsh chemicals. They don't contain little balls of gel that expand when wet, and if wet enough, seep out of the part of the diaper onto the skin (yes, this has happened before. Regular diapers have exploded because of Taylor playing in his pool before. Where did that goop on my baby's skin come from, and what is it made of? Terrifying!) Also to that, cloth diapers double as swim diapers!
Taylor's first cloth diaper at 2 months!

2. Cloth diapers produce less non-biodegradable waste.
You do not throw away cloth diapers. You wash them. So in that... well... there's no trash. For disposable diapers, every single diaper goes in the trash, every single day. That's a lot of waste which just goes to a landfill, or maybe burned. For cloth diapers, you just dump solids in the toilet or compost (depending more on how whole baby eats) and throw it in the hamper, then wash when ready. The only waste would be the water you use to wash it, although you'd be using that same water for laundry anyway. It's incredible, when you think about it, how much trash we are saving each year, by using cloth!


3. Cloth diapers are incredible for our budget!
We have about 6 covers and 30 inserts. We go through them all in a few days time, meaning we wash all the diapers generally twice a week. Y'all. Go to the store and buy two bags of 30 diapers twice a week, every week, until potty training. Diapers are generally around 50 cents each, which comes to $15 a bag. You are spending $30 a week... 52 weeks in the year...That's over $1500 a year that isn't being spent!

The initial investment: It really isn't as bad as you may think. I mean, what is the initial investment for a crib, or for baby clothes? Cloth diapers are an investment and it lasts, unlike disposables--- it's not just something you use and throw away every day. Each cover we have gotten cost around $10-20 and inserts cost around $3 each, depending on the brand. There are so many brands out there, so do your research for what best fits your life + budget. Although I've found that the more initially invested, the better the product kept up and longer it lasted (one and a half years later!)... so it may be a good idea to go for the couple extra dollars. We have about 6 covers and 30 inserts, which means... the initial investment is around $150 for cloth....and from then on, its simply the cost of water to wash. Seriously, look at the numbers---in just under a month and a half, you are spending more on disposable diapers than you would on cloth diapers for over a YEAR! Wow!



Taylor at 5 months, happy in cloth!
4. Cloth diapers are more absorbent --- especially when you add an extra insert
Because of this, they can also be used as swim diapers!! A little more on #1, they double as swim diapers and the gel or stuff in the diaper that would regularly expand in water and get on your child's skin.. simply wouldn't! For everyday use, we have less cloth diapers a day as opposed to if we used disposable diapers at home. They last a little longer each time because there is more material that immediately soaks up the wet. Inserts are very useful to use for overnight (with a thick liner as well) and don't cause Taylor to wake up every time he goes through the night. So helpful.


5. Cloth diapers are much cuter!!
They come in cute patterns and they work essentially the same as disposables :) Although there are now diaper brands that have cute patterns, the cloth ones you can use (+ enjoy those adorable patterns) again and again. Disposables-  you can't! I love the patterns that the Thirsties brand has, best. (Also, the best brand in my opinion!)


HOW

1. We wash our diapers in the bathtub
Yes, you read that right... We wash our diapers (and all our laundry, for that matter) in the tub. For diapers, as mentioned before, I generally wash all the diapers twice a week. That's maybe 3 or so covers and 10 or so cloths. First I fill the tub with hot water and soak the diapers, using our washing wand to rinse through them (Taylor LOVES to help with laundry! It makes it more fun and less a chore for the kids when there is actually something to do, rather than let the machine do it for you. If you have trouble in this department, try changing the way you do the laundry - or any chore, really- and see how it changes things) The water looks kinda nasty at this point, so once a good first soaking is done, I drain the tub. We repeat again, just rinsing with hot water, a second time. Then when we fill the tub again we add the detergent and give it a good plunging. I may do this another time depending on the condition of the diapers. Lastly, we fill the tub again for a good rinsing and to be sure the soap is out. When it's done, I drain the tub and squeeze any excess water out of the diaper before I put them in a plastic bag to take outside to dry...


2.We hang dry the diapers on the clothesline!
Taylor loves this part. When I'm putting the diapers in the bag, he reaches in the tub and keeps handing them to me. So we take them outside and just clip them on the clothesline. Today I actually took down a load of diapers from the clothesline. Depending on the weather, they take half a day up to a full day (or night) to dry. Last week, it rained on the diapers on the line, so it took an extra day and a half to dry since they were soaked - yet very refreshed! I don't mind the extra dry time when it rains on the line because that just means the clothes are getting an extra good cleaning thanks to nature itself. I am considering getting more line for outside so I can do more laundry at once, since now we have a system down and it's going a lot quicker...



3.We use cute covers + thick inserts.
The covers you can use again and again (until #2 appears on the covers!) and each diaper change you simply change the insert. This means that if we have 6 covers and 30 inserts... We usually run out of inserts before we run out of covers! The econobum inserts are very thick and as mentioned before, they generally hold a lot more, which means that we change less diapers a day. Overall, cloth diapering is a huge saver of waste and money! As mentioned before, I LOVE Thirsties brand diapers- from the 4 brands we've tried, they hold the inserts and everything the best, and they are the cutest, too! I get all my diapering things on Amazon, as well.



WHAT OTHERS SAY:

Lauren @ Bellows in the Berkshires: I LOVE using cloth diapers. It's my favorite. I simply used them because of money but I ended up loving how they looked, felt, etc.... It took a huge burden off of us financially. We had three in diapers once with foster care and the cloth saved our bottoms when we had a sudden placement and no time to buy disposables. I love cloth so much. It is cuter and they were cheaper for us!

Rebekah @ Surviving Toddlerhood: I have a bunch of kinds. I love my Kawaii brand for pocket diaper but I also have flats and prefolds- i don't remember the brand but they are organic cotton- with an assortment of covers. Some are from different etsy shops and other are branded. I love them all for different stages of baby and toddlerhood.



FOR MORE INFO CHECK OUT:

Rebekah's post on cloth diapering in cold weather @ Surviving Toddlerhood.

6 reasons why cloth diapers are better than disposables @ Mama Natural.


What do you think.... could you cloth diaper your little one?!

 
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