Showing posts with label Tiny House. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tiny House. Show all posts

Jul 6, 2016

Surprise! We Bought a Homestead

There's been something I've been dying to tell you. It's been in the works since last fall, but my
husband asked me not to blog about it until it was a done deal. Because, frankly, it seemed almost too good to be true.

The fact is, we won't be in our tiny house motor home for much longer. Because we bought a house.

Don't worry. It's still a little house in the big woods. It's still the foundation for our homesteading dreams. But God made it possible for us to live those dreams without struggling to live in a tiny house motor home. (Hallelujah!) Here's how it happened.

Back in 2014, I was looking at rural properties in our area. We knew it would be tough for us to afford something in our county, but were completely willing to sacrifice a nice house if we could get some land. But as I was doing this, unbeknownst to me, my husband was thinking. Thinking of a way to get us out of our expensive, more restrictive county, closer to family, and onto rural land where we didn't feel closed in by neighbors and could have animals, an orchard, and so on. His idea was for us to move into a motor coach on some rural land his parents were willing to give us.

The view from our coach.
You can read about my initial reaction to this plan here. That was were I started - with the thought that he was craaaaaazy. How were we going to live in a motor coach as a family of four? How would I be able to stand the close quarters, especially since one of our children has behavior problems? As I prayed about it, though, peace settled onto me. You can read about that here. In the end, I realized that many people in the world have far less than a motor coach for a house. We would be okay.

Then we started thinking about how we'd create a more permanent home on our new homestead. Initially, hubby thought we could build, or maybe put a manufactured home on the land. As we researched more, however, we realized permitting alone would cost us our savings, and there was no way to get a manufactured home, or even a trailer, onto our land without cutting a road right through my in-law's yard. Um, yeah, not happening. I also confess that the idea of starting completely from scratch was exhausting to me. In my 20s or 30s it would have been no big deal, but today, in my 40s and with two autoimmune diseases dragging me down, it seemed like too much. I just wasn't sure I was up for it.

Nevertheless, we figured God would find a way, and we prayerfully plodded onward, because we felt this was the path God wanted us to take.

The view from the house's kitchen window.
Trouble was, my husband wasn't exactly jumping on getting the house fixed up. It took a long time to find a shipping container to use as our storage container, and then...well, nothing was happening; I was frustrated.

Then, last fall, we learned a certain property my husband was familiar with was rumored to be going on the market. My husband was instantly excited because he'd been neighbors and friends with the sellers and loved the property so much he once told them, "If you ever sell this place, come to me first. I want it!"

Honestly, we didn't think we could ever afford this property, but my husband went ahead and called the owners anyway.

There are wildflowers everywhere.
Most people who live in a rural areas like their privacy, and it turned out the owners (I'll call them the Jones') had recently asked a real estate agent over to give them the market value of their home and land...only to discover the agent told potential buyers about the property, who were now driving up the Jones' private road and driveway. The idea of selling without having to put their property on the market and have strangers tromping through was of keen interest to the Jones'. Plus, having been neighbors with my hubby for years, they liked him a lot, and loved the idea of a young family taking over their land. We set a date to come see the place.

I remember that day both vividly and vaguely. We'd returned from an out of state trip to see my Dad only the day before, so I was pretty exhausted. (Later that day, we also learned my Dad-in-law was in the hospital with a deadly serious but unknown disease.) We drove up the gravel road and saw a rather plain saltbox style house. Then we walked in...into the kitchen, as it turns out - and my memory from there gets pretty vague. That's because there was virtually no kitchen - just two tiny counter tops in the corner. I was in a sort of shock because the one thing I really wanted was a good farmhouse kitchen. I never imagined this house would have virtually no kitchen.

I hardly remembered the rest of the house, but it was certainly big enough for us - though it had it's quirks. The upstairs was unfinished, but it boasted an amazing view. Downstairs, you had to walk through a closet to get to the bathroom, and the living room was way too tiny for entertaining, let alone for our family to hang out together...but then there was the outside.

The mature orchard, with tons of apples, plus cherries, plums, apricots, pears, fig trees, blueberries, and more. The little greenhouse, where the Jones' grew tomatoes even through winter. And acres upon acres of forest with lovely views everywhere. And the price? Way more affordable that what we thought it would be.

I was willing, and my hubby couldn't wait to buy the place - but I was concerned about how we could afford it. So we sat down and made a list of our current bills. Then we crossed off the ones we'd no longer have (like a water/sewer bill), and added additional expenses (like the fuel for my hubby to commute an hour and half to work every day). We thought it was do-able.

So we agreed to buy it. Amazingly, the Jones' said they would wait for us to make an official offer until our house was on the market. Really, a miracle, since we were months out from doing that.

We immediately set to work fixing up our suburban home and getting it on the market. It took longer than expected, but we did it. Our house sold...then the sale fell through...then we sold it again and had many delays...until finally we had funds from our house to give to the owners of what is now our place!

Because the Jones' needed more time to wrap things up before they moved out of state, we moved our motor coach and parked it at my in-laws. Then, once the new property was officially ours, we moved the coach there, a bit away from the house. We've stayed here for about seven days, trying to give the original owners some space to get their moving done, but also getting tours of the various trails on the property, walking the property lines, and so on.
Our parking spot on our new property.

Every day, when I walk out of the motor coach, I felt amazed - at peace, and so relaxed. This place is gorgeous. Better than I remembered. It's private, and lovely, and warmer than I anticipated. It feels miraculous. It is miraculous!

And let me tell you, our motor coach only made me more appreciative. As the weeks passed and we came closer to living full time in the tiny house motor home, I found myself praying a lot about how I was going to keep my sanity in that little bus. God's answer wasn't what I expected. I didn't expect a house. And later, I didn't expect our house sale to fall through. (If it hadn't, it would have meant months of living in the coach.) But as my in-laws frequently say, "God's timing is perfect." And he loves to give good gifts to his children.

In fact, the story of how we got this property is full of miracles and gifts. It all began with an inheritance from my brother; this allowed us to fix up our in-bad-shape suburban home and make it more valuable. It also allowed us to buy the coach. Another gift: Our newest suburban neighbor was a contractor who loved bartering; he did the work on our home in the suburbs that my husband and I couldn't do ourselves. (In exchange, my husband worked on his vehicles.) It was also something of a miracle that we had enough money left over from the suburban fixer-up that I could hire someone to paint the exterior of our home. By that time, I was utterly and completely exhausted from doing all the packing and much of the fixing up; I was also coming down with a virus - yet we needed to finish the house and get it on the market or we feared we wouldn't sell the house in time to buy our new one. Then we sold the house within three days of listing it - definitely a miracle. It's true that sale fell through, but until then, the sale gave us peace in our hearts. Also, the sale falling through gave us far less time in the motor coach, for which I'm grateful.

Then we sold the house again, within two days. It was never a smooth sale; I told my hubby that was Satan trying to discourage us. But the house did sell, finally, and at the top of it's value. And let's not forget the fact that my hubby knew the Jones' - because if he hadn't, chances are we would never have had the opportunity to buy this property at all. And the price? That's definitely a miracle. If we'd try to buy this place in our old county, it would have been $200,000 or more than our sales price. Even in the county we now reside in, I feel we got an amazing deal. There is no doubt in our minds that this place is a gift from God. And we are thankful.

Jun 20, 2016

Tour Our Tiny House Motor Home

Some have asked for tour of our tiny house motor home. So, here's a peak.


Jun 13, 2016

Home Sweet Home...and Some Misadventures

I'd intended to simply title this "Home Sweet Home" and post a photo of our tiny house motor home.
But this morning, we had a little adventure, so I guess I better share that, too.

The children and I are officially moved into the motor coach, which is temporarily parked at my in-laws' house - which, it turns out, is a very good thing.

Moving was exhausting, and the motor coach was filled with boxes, so last night the kids slept in my in-laws' guest room and I slept in the coach. (My hubby continues to stay at our suburban home for a few days until the new owners move in. He also, it turns out, is sick with a fever.) There were a few minor hiccups moving in, but nothing major. The solar panel stopped working, which is a bummer, but until it's fixed, we can plug into my in-laws' power. And I discovered that while in storage for a few months, my happy place - the master bedroom (well, actually, the only bedroom) - suffered some minor damage.

After all the work I put into making that room beautiful, I was sad to see this. (You can see the before and after of this room here.) But the good news is, now I can just step outside and see THIS, my new happy place:

Anyway, this morning the children and I were in the coach, unpacking. Both of them commented on the bad smell. I don't have a very good sense of smell, but when I concentrated on it, I thought it smelled like gas. I was mildly concerned, but I've sometimes found that places with gas stoves smell slightly of gas, and I didn't want to call my husband and ask about it because I thought he might still be sleeping off his fever. So I continued unpacking. Then a loud alarm sounded.

I called my husband, who confirmed it was the gas alarm.

I hustled the kids out of the coach. My hubby told me to go get his dad...forgetting his dad happened to be out of town for the day. So, with my cell phone cutting out now and then, he gave me instructions on how to turn off the gas. I'm pretty worthless when it comes to anything mechanical, and I had trouble opening the outside compartment that houses the gas valve. And when I finally did get that open, I couldn't turn the gas valve off - not for the life of me. It was too tight to even budge.

Hubby had me unplug the coach to reduce the risk of a spark that might make our tiny house explode. (!) Then he wisely got off the phone with me and called one of my in-laws' neighbors, asking him to come turn off the valve. Thank goodness for neighbors, because I'm sure it would have taken a while for emergency services to arrive out here in the woods.

The coach is now sitting with the door open, airing out. Hope no rats sneak in. Ugh.*

But we're all well and safe, and the coach is still standing. Hubby won't be able to fix it until the weekend, so we are thankful I can pop into my in-law's house to cook. And thank you, Lord, that the gas alarm works!

Now I think I will go outside and enjoy the verdant view, the sound of the birds, and the deer taking their morning walk across the yard...

* Later, I remembered I could use the screen door. Hopefully, nothing icky climbed into the coach in the meantime.

Jun 9, 2016

Moooooving on Out!

So. Our suburban home is supposed to close, be no longer ours, belong to someone else June 17th. I planned to spend this week finishing the packing, then clean the house the following week, then pack suitcases for the kids and I and get on a plane to go out of state to see my dad, who hasn't been very well. But yesterday, hubby tells me he wants us out of the house by this Sunday. Color me flustered!

His reasoning is logical. There is no way we can move, sign closing paperwork, and get to the airport on our closing date. What was I thinking?? Of course, something could still go wrong with the sale of our house...but we are praying for smooth sailing.

So, I'm frantically trying to pack. But hubby moved our tiny house motor coach to our new location already, so I need boxes to pack the things we'll need for everyday living, as well as for long term storage. I don't have enough boxes! So I feel scattered, packing a little here (with what boxes I have), cleaning a little there.

To top it off, we had to change the final move date to this Saturday, instead of Sunday, because there is a family birthday party on Sunday. So I get to do this all. by. myself. while hubby is at work.

I'm trying to focus on the fact that I'm so very thankful. Thankful to not be sitting in a nearly empty house with nothing to do. Thankful the weather has cooled down. (It was 90 degrees, and all our fans, AC, and anything else we could have used to keep us cool was hours away in storage.) Thankful we'll soon be out in the woods. Thankful that we're going to be a huge step forward in living our dream.

But also bummed that I'm so exhausted from not sleeping well the past week or so. (Weather, and too much on my mind.) And bummed that hubby has to stay behind so our house doesn't sit empty...That is, until it's no longer ours!

Up, down, up, down, goes my mood.

But, really, I just intended this post to say something along the lines of: I won't be blogging much over the course of the next few weeks. But when I do blog, you'll get to start reading about (and seeing) our new homestead. Whoop!

Apr 25, 2016

Is A Tiny House Right For You? 6 Things to Consider

In a few weeks, we'll be living full time in our tiny house motor home.That's right. 180 sq. ft. and four people. It will certainly be an adventure! We don't plan to live in our tiny house forever...but we know many people who do want to live forever tiny. You might wonder if tiny living is right for you. Here are some things you should consider.

1. Do you have kids? Tiny houses are great for couples or singles. But if you have kids, a tiny house can be far more challenging. This is not to say you can't live in a tiny house and have children; it's just that you'll need to plan carefully so you don't feel stacked one on top of each other. (Want some inspiration? Click over to Homestead Honey, where my friend Teri blogs about tiny house living with a family of four.)

2. Where will you spend your time? If you have young kids, you'll want your tiny house on enough land that your children will mostly play outside. Because a tiny house is not a great place for children to play. The adults in the tiny house will want to pursue outside activities, too. For example, if you work from your tiny house, you might get some serious cabin fever unless you plan to be away from home (or at least out in the garden) several hours each day.

3. Do you have money to build or buy? Despite the fact that tiny houses are diminutive, they aren't necessarily affordable. Tiny houses generally cost $200 - $400 per sq. ft., or $23,000 on average, and most folks have to pay cash, since it's difficult to find tiny house financing. So if you don't have that much cash laying around, you'll need to get creative. Maybe you have a fantastic source for cheap building materials, or maybe you choose to live in a motor coach or RV instead of a house.

4. Do you have land? Land itself is expensive, but if you don't own land where you can put your tiny house (check zoning laws!), you'll have to pay a monthly fee to park it somewhere else. Even that can be tricky, since not all RV parks accept tiny houses. Your best bet might be a Craigslist ad asking to rent rural property to park on.

5. Can you get insurance? If your tiny house is an RV or motor coach, this won't be a problem. Otherwise, you may have trouble finding an insurance company willing to cover your tiny house. Which is even more of a problem because tiny homes are easy to steal. On the other hand, maybe you're willing to take a risk and do without.

6. Are you ready to save money? Assuming you can get into a tiny house, you have a great opportunity to save money. No mortgage (68% of tiny house owners owe nothing on their house) and lower utilities and taxes equals more cash in hand. In fact, one source claims 55% of tiny house homeowners have more savings than the average American - almost $11,000, compared to the typical $3,950.

Sep 1, 2015

How Color Coding Makes Housework Easier

It's no secret that organization makes homemaking easier. However, when you're living in a tiny house, organization is the difference between absolute chaos and reasonably contented living. So I've been doing a lot of thinking (and some research) on how best to live with children in our tiny house motor home. One wonderful resource is a series of YouTube videos by the Norton family. If you think there's no way you could live full time in an RV with your family, you must watch these videos. The Nortons live with six children in their RV! (They even home school in this environment.) And while I don't have six little blessings, there's a lot I can learn from the Nortons. And even if you don't live in a tiny house, I'm betting you can glean some great ideas from them, too.
My favorite Norton idea is to use color coding to simplify housework. It is revolutionary - and I'm not exaggerating! Mrs. Norton specifically uses color coding in the kitchen, but I think this is a trick that works well for other parts of the house, too. Here's how:

In the Kitchen

Give every person in the family a plate and bowl in their own special color. For example, Mom might have a red bowl and plate; Dad uses blue; and child #1 uses green. If I recall correctly, in the Norton tiny house RV, each family member has only one plate and bowl. If you're not living in a tiny space, you might consider giving each family member two or three. The beauty is that now you know who's put their dishes away (or not!), and who's deposited their plates in the dishwasher. And there's no way children can claim they've put away or washed their dishes when they haven't. Brilliant! I think you could easily turn this into an easy way for children to learn to wash their own dishes, too.

You may wonder if you're going to have to buy a different set of dishes for each member of the family, and give the extras away (since most dish sets contain at least four plates and bowls in a single color). The answer is no. Instead of buying a box of dishes, you'll want to shop somewhere that sells dishes and bowls individually. This could be an import store, The Dollar Tree, or even a thrift store. (My favorite dishes came from St. Vincent DePaul's.) Or, you might consider a set of Feista Ware, which sometimes is designed to have every dish be a different color. (Similar to this.)

Now you want to do the same thing with glasses and cups, giving each family member one in his or her own color. This way, nobody looses track of which glass is theirs (leading them to grab a fresh one, which results in a pile of glasses in the sink). If you don't want to use plastic glasses, consider using stainless steel travel mugs with colored plastic on the outside. Or, you could use colored rubber bands to individualize each clear glass. I challenge you to limit each family member to a single glass; they are easy to hand wash! For those who drink coffee, tea, or another hot drink, you might consider also assigning each person one cup or mug.

If you wanted to, you can even take color coding one step further and get utensils in each family member's color.

So, following this plan, you've:

#1. Reduced the number of dishes that need washing (saving on water and energy).
#2. Ensured that everybody takes responsibility for their own dishes/cups.
#3. Limited the amount of space used in your kitchen cabinets.

In the Bathroom

Another way you can implement color coding in your home is with bath towels. One problem many families have is that people get confused about which towel is theirs - which leads them to grab a fresh towel from the linen closet, rather than use a towel that's hanging up. This causes a lot of extra laundry, which not only eats up Mom's time, but adds expense to the budget by devouring extra water and electricity.

A solution is to buy each family member two towels and two washcloths in their own color. Now everybody knows which towel is theirs and there is no more wasting time and money washing towels that don't really need cleaning.

What About Guests?

You may wonder how to deal with dishes and towels for guests. Here are some ideas:

* Keep one set of dishes just for times when you have guests. (Lots of us already have "nicer dishes" for guests, anyway. Just keep them.)

* Entertain casually, using paper plates and cups.

* Add to your existing color coded dishes by buying some extra dishes in yet more different colors. When you have guests, every single person will have a different color plate. It makes for a fun, cohesive dinner set.

* Keep a set of towels just for guests. I recommend using white (because they are so easy to distinguish from your family's colored towels, and because they are easy to clean with bleach.)

Easy peasy! What other ways can you think of to use color coding to make housework easier?

Aug 28, 2015

Making (Slow) Progress on Our New Homestead

Do you remember how sloooow time went when you were a kid looking forward to Christmas? That's how I feel, waiting for us to get moved to our new homestead. So I cling to the progress we have made. So far, we've:

* Purchased a shipping container to use first as a storage unit, then (once we have a house and aren't living in our tiny house motor home) as a shop for my hubby. It took forever to find one in our price range. (Don't believe the news stories that say shipping containers are plentiful and cheap! For most of the country, this isn't true. We were happy, however, that our container is one of the few not from China. Ours is from Japan and was used to ship motorcycles here. That made my hubby smile.) So, the shipping container is delivered and placed on top of a moisture barrier and blocks. Yay!

*  Got the shipping container insulated. We looked into buying a shipping container (or maybe a refrigerated truck) that was already insulated, but it was less expensive for us to add the insulation ourselves. We looked at many ways to accomplish insulation, and finally decided it made the most sense to hire a pro to spray foam into it. A bonus: This method uses up less space than other methods of insulation, so there's more room to store things. (Wondering why we bothered to insulate the shipping container? Because without it, changes in
temperature would cause weeping inside the container - which would lead to moldy books, papers, fabrics, photos...and a ruined piano.)

* Started packing and moving things into storage. For years, my husband used a small cargo trailer for storage, so everything he had in there is now in the shipping container. I've also started packing up the one room in our house that needs some repairs...and my husband has transferred those boxes into the container, too. (Incidentally, hubby says we have only two types of boxes: Books and fragile. So funny because it's so true!)

The past couple of weeks, I've paused in packing because it was just too much for me to start homeschool and pack, too. I will get back to it this weekend. Once the room is clear, we'll repair it. Then we can fix up the rest of the house - mostly paint, I hope.

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...

Jul 25, 2015

Weekend Links - with an update on our Tiny House Motor Home

Making progress with our move!
In which I share my favorite posts from this blog's Facebook page.

 * The House votes to ban states from labeling GMO foods.

* Many parents are aware that artificial food dyes can lead to behavior problems. But did you know certain natural food colorings can also be a problem?

* How to tell if your fresh garlic is from China and treated with bleach and other chemicals.

* Meet 38 companies that donate to Planned Parenthood.

* I recently posted an interview with author Tricia Goyer. Now check out my review of Tricia's newest book "Prayers That Changed History".

* For those of you not familiar with the many facets of Common Core, this is a good introduction. Something you might not have known, for example, is that the "sex ed" information given at every grade level is mixed in with other curriculum, so parents can't chose to opt out of it. 

* QUICK TIP: Love stuffed sweet peppers but hate how long they have to bake in the oven? Try this easy method, which requires only about 5 minutes of baking! Cut the tops off the sweet peppers and de-seed them. Bring a pot of water to a boil and carefully add the pepper bottoms. As soon as the peppers hit the water, start timing 5 minutes. Remove peppers with tongs and set aside to cool slightly. Fill with cooked stuffing. (We like cooked ground beef; sauteed onions, sweet bell pepper, and garlic; cooked rice, canned green chilies; shredded cheese; finely chopped canned tomatoes (without the liquid. Warm up before stuffing the peppers); and salt, pepper, and oregano.) Sprinkle cheese on top. Place in a baking dish in a preheated 350 degree F. oven and bake until the cheese is melted and the stuffing is heated - about 5 minutes.

* UPDATE on our Little House in the Big Woods: Our shipping container has been delivered! The delivery guy drove it to the top of the rural road, and my hubby moved it deeper into the woods with a backhoe, along a rocky, narrow driveway. This weekend, he figures out whether we're going to hire someone to install spray insulation, or whether he will do it himself, using another method. So many steps to getting our little house in the big woods!

May 22, 2015

When Life Gets Difficult (and an Update on Our New Homestead)

It's been about six months since we decided to sell our house in the suburbs and move into a tiny house motor home in the country. But getting out of the suburbs and into the Little House in the Big Woods (as I've come to call it) has seemed excruciatingly slow.

My husband determined that we needed to fix up our truck (and old beater) first, so we could haul things safely. Next, we'd buy a shipping container to have on the property for storage (because we do plan to move into a regular house eventually - plus the container can be converted into a shop for my hubby once we're done using it for storage). Then we could start moving things out of the house, to make it easier to paint and fix up so we could get it on the market. I hoped we'd have the house on the market by now, but...

My husband seemed to be dragging his heels. I didn't feel he was doing what needed to be done to get us out of here (and oh! how we all long to get out of here!). I was frustrated. Until finally one night he confessed: "I'm not 100% sure this is what we are supposed to do."

My jaw dropped. I said nothing - because I was afraid of what I'd say. After the emotions I went through when my husband announced the moving plan, I could hardly believe what I was hearing. "Lord, help me!" was all I could think. Eventually, I told him I'd pray for him to know with certainty, one way or the other. And I did. (Even though I thought he was already certain!)

A few weeks later, he said, out of the blue, "Well, I know we're supposed to do this now. Otherwise Satan wouldn't be making every step toward it so difficult." (The list of obstacles and difficulties is long, but let me give you an example: He needed a part for our trailer, which we'll be using to move the things we want to put in the shipping container. He took the day off work to fix it, as well as several other things. He drove 30 minutes away to a place that sells trailer parts and made to sure to ask if the part he was buying included a certain do-hickey he needed to go with it. The guy making the sale said yes, it did. Then my hubby drove a half hour back home...and when we he went to use the part, the do-hickey was missing! So he drove another 30 minutes back to the store to return the part and go someplace else to buy what he needed. And, of course, he spent another half hour or more driving home. By now, the afternoon was gone. So weird and frustrating. And this type of thing occurred over and over and over again.)

But whew! I was thankful he felt certain about the move. At last. Hopefully permanently now. But while I didn't say anything, I was thinking, "When I experience obstacles, I'm more likely to think, 'God must not want me to do this, or it wouldn't be so difficult.'


"Satan doesn't want things to be hard for us when we are following his plan. He only wants things to feel tough if we are following God's plan."

Yet not long after my hubby made the connection between tough times and walking on the path God's made for us, a friend loaned me the book Give Them Grace. It's a parenting book, but really, what hit home with me applied not just to parenting. It was what the authors had to say about the obstacles in life.

For example, the apostle Paul. Now, here's a guy you'd think would have stunning success. I mean, Jesus visited him personally - his glory so great Paul (then Saul) was temporarily blinded - and he gave Paul a very specific mission. If Paul followed the mission Jesus gave him, things should be easy...right? Nope. Not. At. All.

Paul constantly suffered hardship and failings. He had to sneak out of towns like a criminal. He lived through not one, not two, but three shipwrecks. He lived through a poisonous bite from a snake. He suffered countless beatings and stonings, often bringing him near death. He was arrested and spent years in prison without trial. Other Christians criticized him. In short, just about everything he did was really, really difficult. Obstacles were everywhere.

Satan doesn't want things to be hard for us when we are following his plan. He only wants things to feel tough if we are following God's plan. So when life throws us difficulties, we can rejoice. Rejoice that we are on a path Satan hates. Rejoice in our weakness. Rejoice that we can rest fully in Christ, because he says, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." (2 Cor. 12:9) Amen.

Feb 23, 2015

Update on Our Tiny House Motor Home and New Homestead

Let me begin by saying we are so anxious to get moved to our new homestead, we can hardly stand ourselves. Our hearts are 100% there...but our bodies have to stay in the suburbs for a while. We've had a series of frustrations and events that sometimes make us feel like we'll never get to move - but we're working hard on waiting patiently for God's timing.

Here's what's happening:

* We are waiting on a shipping container. We will not be getting rid of nearly everything we own in order to move into our tiny house motor home.We'll be getting rid of a lot, to be sure. But since we eventually plan on building a home - not a huge home, mind you, but also not a tiny house - we think it would be foolish to get rid of things like beds and dressers, only to have to buy them again later. However, we don't want to pay to store our stuff, either. Our solution is to store our things ourselves in an insulated shipping container - which can later be made into a shop for my husband. But, contrary to what you hear in the media, shipping containers aren't super cheap (even when they aren't insulated) and they aren't all that easy to find, either. So, we continue looking....

* I can't start packing until we have a place to put things (i.e., a shipping container). We literally have no storage at our house and because my time is already so limited (homeschool, working from home, etc.), I really only want to go through the rooms once. So while we have given a lot away already, I haven't done any major decluttering, packing, or cleaning.

* Although I really wanted to clean and make pretty the entire motor home before we moved, our local  government got in the way of that. It seems it's against city ordinance to have any vehicles parked in your front yard, except in driveways. Our motor home does not fit in our driveway. The city planner drove by our house and told us we had to move our motor home; since there was no other legal place to park it on our property, that means we had to put it in RV storage.

Yes, I do think this ordinance wrong. My neighbors all think it's wrong, too. But what's really inappropriate is that our city, our neighborhood, our very street, is full of people parking vehicles in ways the city says is illegal. Most of them have not been cited or asked to move their vehicles. Heck, I have a neighbor who not only has two vehicles parked on his lawn, but he has three vehicles parked in the mow strip - the piece of land between the street and sidewalk - partially blocking the sidewalk. The vehicles in his driveway also mostly block the sidewalk. And while this is illegal in our city - and actually a safety issue since it forces pedestrians into the street, the city planner doesn't care about it. In fact, she informed my husband she was making a stink about our motor home because "things get back to her." She's been told my husband has criticized her.

So we have city employees wielding power inappropriately - showing favoritism to some citizens and applying the law inequally. Nice, eh? Can't imagine why we want to leave this place...

Long story short, I will be unable to finish making the motor home a home until we actually move into it. And now we have another monthly bill.

But it's okay. We're just trying to focus on one step at a time, and enjoying walks on our gorgeous, forested property. It's going to be an amazing place to live.

 All photos courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
(Nope, that's not a photo of our forest, but it sure reminds me of it!)

Jan 5, 2015

How I'm Feeling About Our Tiny House Motor Home NOW

The RV's living room, in all it's brown and blue "glory."
As you probably remember, I wasn't thrilled when my husband announced his idea for tiny house living. And when he bought our tiny house motor home, I was even less thrilled. But a little time and a lot of prayer has passed - and things have changed.

First, I want to make it clear that most of my objections to tiny house living had to do with the fact that I hate surprises and change. My husband is a thinker. He'll thoroughly think and pray things through before he makes a decision. (In this case, I'm pretty sure he's been thinking and praying about our tiny house motor home for a few years!) But he didn't share his thoughts with me until days before purchasing our motor home. I needed time to process the change.

But now, I believe the pros far outweigh the cons. Are there going to be aspects of tiny house living I won't love? Yep. But there are going to be so many good - really, wonderfully good - things about it, too. Unfortunately, the best things I can't share with you yet. But suffice it to say, this change is going to give our family more love, more support, and more freedom than ever before. That is what life is about, folks!

And call me a slow, but I'm learning I'm a pretty fortunate woman to have such a great man as my husband. The common advice is that wives shouldn't compare their husbands to other men, their lives to other people's lives - but in my case, recently doing so has made me more fully appreciate my life and the man who wears the ring I gave him 14 years ago. The struggles of the past few months have taught me that my husband has greatly grown as a man of God, and that he wants nothing more than to please God - and me - in that order. He is faithful, honorable, and trying. Yes, trying. He's not perfect - but he strives to be the man God wants him to be. What an awesome thing! What more could I ask?

So yes - I am all for this change of lifestyle. In fact, I can't wait to move into our tiny house motor home!

Dec 31, 2014

Most Popular Posts - for 2014, and for all time!

The most popular post!
It's always fun for me to see which posts are most popular on this blog. (They are never - never! - the posts I imagine will most interest readers!) Oddly, what shows up as popular depends upon what source I look at; but studying stats from Blogger, Pinterest, and other top sources, it's easy to see which posts are all time favorites and favorites for the year. And since recent months have brought a great many more readers to Proverbs 31 Woman, I thought it would be fun to share these lists with you - especially since many of the posts are from years' past. It's a pretty eclectic list; enjoy!

(P.S. Want to see more popular posts from Proverbs 31 Woman? Check out the Pinterest page "Most Popular Posts at Proverbs 31 Woman.")

Top 5 Posts for 2014:

1. 52 Simple Sewing Projects for Kids

2. 10 Things I Learned During Our Tiny House Test Run

3. The Letter of the Week Series, especially Letter R

4. Free Art History Curriculum: Claude Monet

5. Walmart Savings Catcher: Hit or Miss?

Top 10 Most Popular Posts of All Time:

 1. How to Train Chickens  (it completely cracks me up that this is the most popular post among readers!)

2. 6 Ways to Teach Kids the Books of the Bible

3. Best Free Apron Patterns on the Net

4. How to Clean a REALLY Dirty Stove

5. Best Ideas for Upcycling Jeans

6. Canning Pickled Green Beans (Dilly Beans)

7. Harvesting and Making Your Own Chamomile Tea

8. How Much Money Can You Save Gardening & Homesteading

9. 52 Simple Sewing Projects for Kids

10. Easiest Fruits & Vegetables to Grow

Dec 30, 2014

10 Things I Learned During Our Tiny House Test Run

It will be several months before we sell our conventional house and move into our tiny house motor home, but Christmas gave us a wonderful opportunity to do a test run in our tiny space. We took the motor home to my in-laws and stayed for several days. This not only gave us the opportunity for a nice visit, but it let the kids (and grown ups!) get a bit of a reality check on what tiny house living was really like. No, we weren't all moved in, and no I didn't cook, and yes we knew some of the things I mentioned below would probably be an issue - but it was still a helpful test run. Here are a few things I realized:

* Shoes need a home. We took off our shoes and placed them on a mat in front of the door...but they were definitely in the way, and made the rug a muddy mess. (Yes, the rug is white - it came with the motor home; trust me, I'll be changing it soon.) Once we are living in the motor home full time, we'll set up some sort of covered, outside area for our shoes.

* If one person is awake, everyone's awake. Sleeping in the same room, around Christmas, in our new home, was super exciting for the kids. They didn't do much sleeping, and their talking and moving kept us awake. But even my husband, trying to be quiet, woke me up - because when he walks through the motor home, the whole vehicle moves. Ha!

* We'll be plenty warm. A lot of folks said we'd freeze in the winter. But our motor home is built better-than-average, and we stayed plenty warm, even through a pretty strong storm.

* Sleeping bags are my friend. You may recall that I was initially disappointed that our tiny house motor home didn't have permanent beds for the children; I didn't relish putting up and taking down beds every day. My husband's solution was to have one child sleep on the rather substantial couch and another sleep on a convertible ottoman. To make up the couch, I remove some pillows; to make up the ottoman, I pull off the cover and easily unfold it. (My children aren't quite big enough to do the unfolding themselves.) Then, instead of piling on bedding, my mom-in-law had a wonderful idea: Sleeping bags! The arrangement worked well.

*  Having one bathroom is an adjustment. In our current, conventional house, there are two small bathrooms. But in our tiny house motor home, there's only one. I have a daughter who tends to dilly dally in the bathroom, so this was a bit of a challenge.

* Our redecorated bedroom was a hit. My husband and I both felt it was comfortable, cozy, and soothing.

* Our bed is nice! I was worried we'd have trouble adjusting from our humungous king sized bed to the motor home's queen sized bed. But it was no trouble at all. And we both find the motor home mattress more comfortable.

* The tiny shower is liveable. We did "camp showers," meaning we used the water in the motor home's water tank, got ourselves wet, turned off the water to soap up, then turned the water back on to rinse. It wasn't terrible. 

* Stuff piles up QUICK. Organization and picking up immediately are going to be key in our tiny house motor home. We didn't bring any toys (except for stuffed animals for the kids to sleep with), but Christmas toys - even the very few we allowed into the motor home - clogged everything up very, very quickly. Ditto for garbage and laundry.

* We can think of it as home. My husband and I smiled at each other when our kids, worn out from all the excitement at Grandma and Grandpa's, asked to go "home" to the motor home. (Yay!)


Dec 22, 2014

Our Tiny House Motor Home Bedroom: Before & After!

It's taken me over a month, working in bursts between homeschooling, working, and housework, but I finally finished painting our tiny house motor home bedroom! It was a lot of work...but worth it. Even my husband - who, although he was okay with me painting and decorating as I wish, said he really liked all the wood cabinets, that he didn't like "light and bright" and preferred a dark house, that he really didn't like blue for the walls...even he says the room looks brand new and relaxing.(Yay!)

The process of transforming the bedroom was a long one for several reasons. For one, I don't have a babysitter (and of course every time I tried to work on the motor home, the kids started fighting). For another, the space around the bed is meant for laying on - not cleaning and painting. I spent a lot of time in weird positions and on my very sore knees. Finally, the cabinets were really dirty, and much of the stain came off when I cleaned them. I spent much more time cleaning than sanding, priming, or painting.

Now, let's start with some before pictures:
This bedding came with the motor home and made the room look darker. You can't see it here, but the finish on the wood was uneven and really worn in many places.
This is after washing everything and sanding it down.
The first coat of primer.

And now after:
Notice that the side tables were originally covered in faded baby blue formica. I sanded the formica, primed, and painted.

A little note on the paint. I had a very specific shade of blue in mind. I never did find it, and almost every paint chip I looked at had a gray undertone - not at all what I wanted. We get a lot of gray skies, so I wanted something that would brighten the room even when there wasn't much sun out. I ended up with a color called Clear Blue Sky - and now the room does have the feel of blue sky with white clouds...even on a very gray day, as it was when I took the "after" photos. As for the cabinet paint, I used INSL-X Cabinet Coat and I highly recommend it! It's very forgiving and brush marks don't show. The color has a pinkish undertone.

P.S. My husband just walked by and saw me posting the before and after pictures. And what did he say? "Guess which one I like better? The before." Phooey.

UPDATE: My husband wishes to clarify that he doesn't like the "before" because of the bedspread, or even the colors chosen for the room. "I just like lots of dark wood," he says. 

Nov 17, 2014

Practicing Thankfulness

I wish I could report that fixing up the motorhome is going smoothly and well. But no - not so much. I have started, though, and that's something. I'm working in the bedroom, which is at the back of the bus, and the lightest and brightest room. But before I can paint, I have to prep all the woodwork. There's a lot of it - and it's really dirty. I'm not exaggerating when I say I'm cleaning one side of a 14 inch cabinet door for 15 - 20 minutes before it's clean. (And yep, I'm using a good TSP cleaner.)

As I scrub and scrub and scrub - often in uncomfortable positions, due to the small size of the room - I'm focusing on two things. One: Even though this is the most tedious and difficult cleaning job I've ever done in my life, at least I'll know it will be really clean when I'm through. And two: Instead of focusing on how hard the job is, I'm focusing on what I like about our tiny house.

It occurs to me that this last part is a good reminder for any homemaker. Because I've met women who live almost literally in shacks and women who live in what I consider nearly-mansions, and all of them can point to things they hate about their homes. It's not emotionally or spiritually healthy for us to focus on what we hate about our homes - so making a concerted effort to think about and thank God for what we have is a good thing.

So, I find myself talking with God as I clean, thanking him that I currently have two homes: One that's keeping us currently cozy and will hopefully soon sell and get us started on our new homestead, and one that will shelter us in the near future.

I also thank him for a tiny motorhome house with:

* Real wood cabinets. Sure, the finish is pretty worn out, but think how nice they'll be once they are painted.

* A sunny, comfortable bedroom. There are three large windows in this room, and the closet doors are mirrored, so there's plenty of light and cheer here. And, unlike a lot of RV bedrooms, there's actually room to climb out of bed and use the restroom without disturbing my husband. (Or vice versa.) Score!

* A bathtub. It's not huge, but it's there.

The bedroom.
* A gas stove. It keeps the motorhome nice and warm, and it looks like a real fire. I like the ambiance!

* New flooring. And it's not carpet! I think it will be easy to care for, and I'm grateful.

* Lots of storage.

* A gas stovetop. I've never used one, so I'm thankful for the chance to give one a try.

I'm also thankful for a husband who is pretty much letting me do what I want with the motorhome, without complaint. (Yes, he was a little shocked I wanted to paint the real wood, but he didn't argue with me. And when I ordered some bedding only to have it be a different color from what it looked like online, he didn't complain when I returned it and ordered a rather feminine, flowered set instead.)

And so I keep scrubbing, scrubbing, scrubbing. And soon (I hope) I'll be sanding, sanding, sanding - then painting, painting, painting...and I'll only have the bedroom done. But I'm trying to see all this work as a great opportunity to practice thankfulness and give God his due credit.

Nov 10, 2014

The Tiny House Movement Comes to...Our Motorhome

I have big, scary (to me) news: We're moving into a "tiny house."

You may have heard about tiny houses before; they've been the topic of many magazine articles, books, and documentaries - all of which seem to feature absolutely gorgeous houses of about 400 sq. ft. or less, with cute little lofts and really clever pull out tables and hidden drawers. Yeah, they are cool. But our tiny house won't be like that. Our tiny house is...a motorhome. This one, in fact.

When my husband first proposed the idea of living full time in a motorhome, I admit it - I cried and said, "I don't want to talk to you about this right now. I need to go talk to Jesus!" For years, I've thought the tiny house movement was interesting. But I also always thought, "Maybe when the kids grow up. I can't imagine living in a tiny house with two young children."

But my husband's thoughts were persuasive. If we could move into a motor home - at least for a little while - our living expenses would drop dramatically. And that would let us save more money for our dreamed-of homestead. Which we could then possibly pay for in cash.

Even so, it's tough for me to think of moving into about 180 sq. ft. when my current home's kitchen is already frustratingly small. Still, millions of humans live in places at least as small as a motorhome. But after years of living in a house that's been in disrepair, I want to live someplace reasonably pretty. Motor homes are many things, but most are definitely not pretty.

Nonetheless, I told my hubby to go ahead and look at some motorhomes on Craigslist, and I'd pray and think on it some more. Almost instantly, he found a deal that seemed to come from God. It was a high end motorhome - albeit from the 1980s - at a ridiculously low price. (Much lower than any tiny house I've seen. Did you know tiny houses generally cost $200 - $400 per sq. ft., or $23,000 on average?) Why was this motorhome priced so low? Turned out, the engine wasn't working right. We actually think the seller believed the motorhome required a new engine, though he never came out and said that. But my husband is an extremely talented mechanic, and he knew the fix was an easy one - no new engine required. We bought the motorhome, even though I hadn't seen the inside.

The day my husband showed me the inside of the motor home, I cried again. I hated it. Really hated it. It was so ugly. And there was no place for the children! There was only one bed - and not even a kitchenette for eating or doing schoolwork. And did I mention that the one thing I'd told my husband the motor home had to have was permanent bedding for the kids? Sigh.

But I continued praying, and kept hearing, "Be anxious for nothing." So I tried to breathe. And I remembered that if I wanted to, I could tell my husband, "No way. We aren't doing this and that's that," and he would  acquiesce.

But instead, I started looking for ideas on how to cram our family of four into a 180 sq. ft. motorhome. Accidentally, I ran into RV makeovers on Pinterest. Amazing RV makeovers. This made me feel better. Although I didn't want to throw a bunch of money into our motorhome, I was beginning to see that, with a lot of work, I could make the thing more homey, bright, and cheery. Others live with so much less. Surely this is do-able.

So now the motorhome is working well, and I'm scheming about how to put beds and an eating area into it. I've figured out a way I think I can live with the strange lavender/powder blue tile, tub, and bathroom sink. And last weekend, I started cleaning the filthy cabinetry in preparation for painting it. (I spent 3 1/2 hours cleaning the cabinetry on just one side of the bedroom.)

Yes, I'm concerned about privacy. Not just about the type you're thinking about, but also the type that introverts require (there are three of them in our family). I'm concerned about the fact that anyone who stirs early in the morning is going to wake us all up...and I'm already so sleep deprived. BUT God is working on me. Stretching me. This is do-able. Sometimes I can even laugh about this; I'm starting to call it my mid-life crisis.

It's not what I dreamed of. But it will certainly be an adventure.

And as we prepare the motorhome for full time living, and as we learn to live there, you can be sure I'll keep you updated. This tiny house thing. It's more than a trend.