Saving the Environment, One Trailer at a Time

Posted by Rebecca

Most trailers weren’t built to be environmentally sound structures.  Mine, for instance, has weird super-hard pink plastic walls in the bathroom.  I have primed and painted over them so they look fine, but when it comes to decomposing, I’m sure my bathroom walls will lose the race.  And while it is possible to deconstruct an old trailer and use its parts elsewhere, most of what a trailer is made of is here to stay.  So why not apply the 3 R’s to trailer living – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Reduce – Most trailers are smaller than most homes.  They force you to downsize and simplify, and condense your living space.  By doing this, you are reducing the space you use up on this planet.  Pretty clever.

Reuse – As was mentioned, trailers don’t really ever go away.  Learning to reuse what is already available saves time, energy and money: time and energy in the constructing of new houses, and since trailers are a fraction of the cost of stick-built houses, your hard-earned money can be spent elsewhere.  There are many trailers and trailer cocoons just sitting around waiting for a loving occupant to spruce it up and fill it with life.

Recycle – Recycling is the process of turning waste materials into new products.  This is done when a run-down, dumpy old trailer is gutted, salvaged, and saved.  Did you know there are many old trailers like this available for free?  Check your local Craigslist and peruse older trailer parks in your area to get an idea of what is available.  I have a few neighbors who did this, and ended up with beautiful homes that on the inside look nothing like the trailer they used to be, complete with drywall, heated floors and recessed lighting.

I know that living in an old trailer isn’t going to save the planet, but fixing up an eye-sore in your own community will improve the look of your neighborhood and your city.  You can take your renovation one step further by utilizing local construction material re-salers like Habitat for Humanity, for items like flooring and lighting, and everything in between.  And you never know – you may just fall in love with the simple trailer life.  I know I did.

Happy Recycling!

A lovely painting by American artist, Leah Giberson.

Rebecca Knabe

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Tank You, Tank You, Tank You!

Posted by Rebecca

“Tank You!” was a staple in my impersonation of Lawrence Welk.  My teenage friends and I would giggle as we waved a “conductor’s stick” and uttered phrases like, “Let’s go, let’s bugaloo till we puke.”  When I look back on clips now, his German accent is minimal and he clearly says “Thank You.”  But I prefer how he will always sound in my mind and my memory, with a thick and sharp accent, introducing the hottest accordion players of his time.

So, on that note – tank you, tank you, tank you, everyone!

My article on my decision to live in a trailer was featured this week on Tiny House Blog.  It’s the same article that was published on CNN iReports.  (And one I had actually originally written for Tiny House Blog.)  This article features more photos, and as a response, a plethora of love, encouragement and commendation in the comments.  It is truly overwhelming!  This is the sort of stuff you lovely strangers have expressed:

I really admire your spirit and creativity.  I believe that you are a great example of how to respond to what happens when our lives take a turn in directions that we didn’t plan!

This is an AMAZING story!!  I am in love with this trailer.

Lovely ~ you show that trailer living can be elegant, healthful and, most important in these times, low impact.

I think you’re amazing, and your home is beautiful! Truly, you’re an inspiration!

You have given me a new hope!

Just stunning, like you and your pup.

Delightful! Inspiring!

You are my hero!! Your story couldn’t have come at a better time in my life and it shines a much-needed beacon of light filled with inspiration for me.

This is exactly what I want. Beautiful, just beautiful.

I might just have to look into buying a single wide trailer.

I’m thinking of buying one (a trailer) myself, and your amazing transformation got me so excited about it.

People judge by outward appearances but your home clearly has the heart of a castle!

Well, as us wild Texas Women say,
“GO BIG or GO HOME”!
Honey, you went BIG and you are HOME!
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!

best.post.ever.

This outpouring of kind words has left me choked up and speechless.  I didn’t start this blog to inspire others, but as a form of therapy for myself.  I had just been through a rough patch, and needed an outlet for my feelings, and a way to share my renovation with far-away family.  The fact that it is reaching others is an incredible and unexpected bonus.

I cannot say it enough: Tank You, Tank You, Tank You, for your lovely response, and for your wonderful encouragement.

Rebecca Knabe

 

Movies in the Park

Posted by Rebecca

Every July, Reno is Artown.  Artown is a month-long festival that celebrates the arts – gallery shows, music and dance performances, plays, and movies.  It’s great!!

This guy and his cool-cat pups are a fixture at the Reno summer festivals.

Friday nights all month feature Movies in the Park in downtown Reno.  This last Friday the movie was Strictly Ballroom.  Some friends and I packed blankets, chairs, food and drinks, found a spot on the grass, and enjoyed the evening. The film is a fantastic Australian movie, about a ballroom dancer who pushes the boundaries of “acceptable” routines and, despite much opposition, follows his dreams.  It’s funny, quirky and inspirational.  If you haven’t seen it, check it out.

The best line, and the real theme of Strictly Ballroom is this:

“A life lived in fear is a life half-lived.”

I’ve spent a lot of my life being fearful.  Fearful of making bad decisions, displeasing others, failure, plane crashes, germs, poisonous South American frogs….  Needless to say, I was an overly cautious child who had once viewed a very ominous National Geographic on the creatures of the Amazon.  My fears, though, have been in vain.  They haven’t made my life better, or prevented bad decisions and moments of failure.  They have just wasted my time and energy.

But, with a lot of hard work, I am learning, slowly, to leave fear behind.  And to live my full life, not just half of it.  I am a work in progress.

A nice little Fred Astaire routine kicked off the evening.

Rebecca Knabe

Money Does Buy Happiness!

Posted by Rebecca

Not really….  Everyone knows that.

An interesting study was published in 2003 by psychologists Van Boven & Gilovich on the subject.  Their findings were consistent with writings by Aristotle, admonishment of Jesus Christ, and studies of individuals like philosopher Fromm and economist Scitovsky, “that materialistic people tend to report lower subjective well-being than nonmaterialistic people.”  And I’m sure you’re all thinking, ‘right, I know that.’  But bear with me.

What they also found, however, is that there are some cases in which money can buy happiness.  Experiential purchases – “those made with the primary intention of acquiring a life experience” – do increase one’s level of happiness over a lifetime.  They concluded, “Our research suggests that individuals will live happier lives if they invest in experiences more than material possessions.”

Well, that’s good news!  Especially for someone who lives in a tiny space, and doesn’t have room for more stuff.  So, let’s say you have a wad of bills just burning a hole in your pocket….  Can you think of some things you could spend your money on that would improve your life experiences?  Of course there are the obvious travel purchases that enrich your life and give you a whole new perspective of the world.  But what about things you could purchase at home, in your city, that would make life better.  Here are a few I came up with:

– A bigger barbecue or patio set, or a re-do of your yard that would allow more entertaining.  Perhaps you long for summer evenings spent enjoying kebabs and sangria with loved ones.  Even if your inside is small, maybe your outside would be a great place to hang out with good friends.

– An annual membership to a museum.  I’ve done this a couple of times, and I love it.  On cold and rainy days or afternoons where you just want to get out of the house, a museum with revolving exhibits awaits, to keep you mesmerized for hours.

– An improved entertainment system.  Maybe you would love to throw the world’s greatest Superbowl party for you and a couple of friends, but are worried your 1993 Sanyo will konk out just as the game catapults into overtime.  A new TV might be just the thing you’re looking for.

– A fancy dinner party.  One of my roommates of old talked endlessly about an amazing party she had thrown in her previous town.  She purchased and prepared all the food, had everyone dress up, painstakingly decorated every inch of the yard, and held a dinner party that I’m sure all 50 of her guests will remember for a long time.  The fact that she reminisced about it so much was proof that the money was well spent and the experience was priceless.

– A really great bottle of scotch that you can share with a friend or two.  My dad once said, while we were perusing the aisles of a liquor store, that if he had a bunch of money to blow, he would love to buy that bottle of Louis XIV scotch listed at $1,400.  A frivolous purchase that he would treasure, and sip, for months, maybe years.  Even better when you have a good friend and scotch snob to share it with.

– A gift for someone else.  There is more happiness in giving than receiving, and watching someone open an unexpected, thoughtful gift is worth a million bucks.

The report went on to urge communities to make an abundance of experiences available to increase the contentment of its citizens.  The last sentence of the study is my favorite, “Both individuals and communities would thus do well to heed the slogan of the Center for the New American Dream: ‘More fun, less stuff!'”  And as the pink trailer will attest, that is my motto too!

Here are some photos of me experiencing other people experiencing art at the MOMA – Museum of Modern Art in New York City.  That was $25 well spent!

Rebecca Knabe

 

 

Lake Extravaganza – Tahoe! Days 3 & 4

Posted by Rebecca

Here are more pictures of beautiful Lake Tahoe and the second half of my camping trip.

The dogs were happy to be there.  So happy, they could hardly stay still.

Our view from our spot on the beach for 3 days.

Looking the other way.  The broken dock in the far distance.

Straight ahead.

A few of the girls, paddle boarding and kayaking.

The girls, and some amazing beach hair.

An up-close campfire view of the beach hair.

And a final one of my Cassi.

….and a quick story about how much she loves me.  I’m sure my friends are sick of hearing me brag about this story, but for those who haven’t heard it….

I was paddling around in a dingy with a couple of the other girls on one of the beach days.  The rest of our group had left the beach and headed back to camp.  Cassi was on the shore with our campsite neighbor, who was just making sure she didn’t wander off.  Usually when I’m in the water, Cassi will follow me up and down, along the shore until I return.  She’ll wade in the water a bit, but she hates to swim.  Well, I guess she lost track of me, because I looked over and saw her swimming out to the middle of the lake.  She was looking for me!  This dog, who hates water, loves me so much that she was willing to perform a water rescue if I needed it.  And that’s why I love her so much back.  🙂

Rebecca Knabe

Me and CNN Are Like This (*insert crossed fingers here*)!

Posted by Rebecca

Vetted:  Of or pertaining to an investigation; a process of examination and evaluation; to fact-check.

So, I had something exciting happen over the weekend.  I had an article about (you guessed it) the pink trailer vetted on CNN.com.

They put a call out for individuals living in small spaces (500 square feet or smaller) to submit an article about their decision to do so, and their experiences pertaining to their tiny home.  And so I did.  All articles submitted are available for viewing, but just a few are approved and endorsed by CNN, or vetted.  And mine was one of them.

Here is my article, and here is where you can submit your own story about your small space life.  And thanks for reading!

Rebecca Knabe

P.S.  This is one of my favorite photos of Cassi and I, from just over a year ago, and it was taken by the amazing Eden Rose Photography.

P.P.S.  A couple of the facts in the “Producer’s Notes” are confused from the email interview I had with them, but you get the idea.

Lake Extravaganza – Tahoe! Days 1 & 2

Posted by Rebecca

I’ve lived in a couple of places in my life that just felt like home.  Not because I was from there, or raised there, or even because I lived there for long, but because I just had that feeling inside where all the pieces fell together and I was home.

The first place like that was Jasper, Alberta.  I lived there in my late-teens/early twenties.  If you’ve never been, at the very least google it.  The scenery is breathtaking, the mountain air is crisp and clean, and it is like no other place in the world.

The second was the west-side of Bend, Oregon.  I lived in Bend from 1996-2005, but it was my years on the west-side of town that felt right.  It feels like this quaint mountain-y community where everybody knows your name.

The final place that gives me that “home” feeling is Lake Tahoe.  I love it there.  My heart feels happy when I visit.  And I love that it is a mere 30 minute drive from the pink trailer.

So my lake extravaganza last week continued on with 4 days at Sugar Pine Point State Park campground.  The days were filled with swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, reading, sunning, eating (lots of eating), friends, family and fun.  Here are some pics of days 1 & 2.

The first view of the lake, on the first day of the trip.  Ahhhhhhhhh….

Ehrman Mansion – on the banks of the lake, overlooking the water.

The sun peeking through the trees.

Day 2 lunch preparations – fresh ceviche.

Here’s how we made it:

Chop green cabbage, cucumbers, tomatos, avocado into fairly uniform small pieces

Mix in fresh shrimp and crab (or fake crab – that’s good too)

Top with lots of cilantro and fresh squeezed lemon and lime juice and a little salt and pepper

Mix well and let it sit for a bit

Enjoy with tortilla chips or tostada shells

YUM!

Me and Erica enjoying the sun.

I need to make friends with someone who owns a Lake Tahoe sailboat….

Usually, one of my favorite things is jumping off the dock into the water.  But this year it was out of commission, due to a gnarly winter storm that literally broke the dock.

The evenings were spent sitting around the fire and having lightsaber tournaments.  🙂

Rebecca Knabe