Could You Live in a 120-Square-Foot House?

Posted by Rebecca

What about 250-square-feet?  Or 360, or 450?

Several of my friends and I have made the leap.  I live in a palatial 450 square feet, while one of my friends lives with her husband in around 400 square feet, another is with her husband in 360, and another with her son in a little over 300.  One of my single friends shares her 232 square foot 5th wheel with her chubby cat.

How do we do it?  Organization, practice, and learning to live with less.  Why do we do it?  This article from yahoo.ca mentions 4 great reasons:

Low (or no) mortgage. ‘This can be freeing both financially and personally. “My life is less expensive, which gives me more time to enjoy it,” says one of the individuals interviewed.  He uses his extra free time hiking, writing songs, building guitars, and growing food in a small garden.’

A few of my neighbors found their trailers for free (yes, free!), paid for renovations as they made them, and are left with no house payment, just a small monthly space rent.  I paid $5,000 for my trailer, and put about $4,000 into it.  Pretty cheap for a lovely home!

Lower utility costs. ‘Tiny house dwellers have several options for utilities. Those who are eco-conscious appreciate not just the lower utility costs but the smaller environmental impact. Electricity or a water heater that is fueled from a solar panel can be a great option.’

If you don’t have the resources for solar energy, electricity and water can still be very inexpensive in a small home.  My electric bill is around $20 in the summer and $80 in the winter.

Trailers often use propane as an energy source.  This can be affordable for cooking appliances, but may run a little high for furnaces.  For this coming winter I’ve decided to stop using my central heat, which is run on propane and can be extremely expensive in the cold months.  After a lot of research I’ve decided on an infrared heater.  Here’s hoping it does the trick.  I’ll keep you posted.

Artwork by Zan Packard – this note card can be purchased at her etsy store. Click on this photo and check it out! 🙂

Less clutter. ‘A smaller living space pushes the homeowners to cut down on their possessions, but that means they have fewer belongings to maintain and spend less time searching for lost items. “It’s amazing, we just don’t need all that room or that much stuff,” says another individual, who’s previously lived on a sailboat.  Another says, “I’m still winnowing my belongings down, but that is a liberating process.”

‘Unlike a huge house with endless rooms to fill, a small home acts as a deterrent for buying more stuff. Everything in a tiny space has to be functional.’  If it’s not, see if you can part with it.

Financial freedom.  We all know people who are never around to enjoy their big houses because they are constantly working to pay for them.  Just think of all the free time you would have if your cost of living was greatly reduced, and you didn’t have to work so hard to pay for it!

Be sure to check out the full article here.  Some of these tiny home inhabitants have even found a way to live without electricity or running water….  But let’s not go crazy now, I’m not quite ready to give up hot showers or my flat iron!

Rebecca Knabe

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The Eight-Step Home Cure

Posted by Rebecca

Spring and autumn are great times of year to clean out and re-organize your place.  Summer is too busy, and winter is for cozy days wrapped in a blanket.  The other two seasons are transitional and perfect for repairs, preparation and elimination.  Well, the days are getting shorter and crisper, and autumn is in the air.  Time to get busy!

Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, creator of the Apartment Therapy blog wrote a book entitled Apartment Therapy: The Eight-Step Home Cure that will help you to “create a home that works for you – physically, emotionally, and spiritually.”  The book promises to “guide you to treat common problems, eliminate clutter, and revamp even the tiniest space.”

I’ve done the mini cure that Maxwell featured on the blog a couple of seasons ago.  It was a nice way to break in to the idea of the cure, without the heavier commitment.  However, starting October 1st, I’m going to do the complete 8 week program, and chronicle my progress on trailerchic.

If you would like to join me on this step-towards-a-happier-home journey it would be a great idea to pick up your very own copy of the book.  It’s available on Amazon.com and you can purchase it by clicking on the book below….

….Or you can just follow along with my shortened instructions that will be listed weekly on this blog.

I’m excited already!!  Are you?

Rebecca Knabe

Get It Together!

Posted by Rebecca

I’m a little behind on my Glamour magazines – I’ve had a subscription for several years and lately I’ve got an unread stack of random issues that’s piling up in the corner.  A few days ago I found an article in the November 2011 issue about getting your stuff together.  It had some great suggestions about streamlining your work-life, finances and “your 5 organizational black holes.”  It wasn’t written specifically for small spaces, but the tips really do translate to those with tiny homes.

1.  Your makeup bag (or for small-space-living guys, your toiletries) – “You want the daily things at your fingertips….  Toss out anything that’s old,” (a ‘sniff test’ will help with this) “then put the five to 10 products you use daily in a basket in easy reach.”  The point is, make sure your daily primping products are accessible and contained.

2.  Your front hallway (or entry area, landing pad, whatever) – “Create storage where stuff lands….  If you keep dumping your bag on the floor by the kitchen, make a spot for it there.  Designate drawers or baskets for your keys, wallet and cell phone, and always put them back.”  To keep your sanity in a small space, it must be efficient and tidy.  This will definitely help.

3.  Your fridge – Many people “neglect the fridge, but you are in there a few times a day….  Organize by drinks, lunch and dinner fixings to save time.  A twice-a-month wipe-down will keep bacteria away.”  And look through the fridge at least once a month to toss expired or weird items.

4.  Your purse (or man-purse or briefcase or duffel bag) – “Have a designated place for everything.  Use the zipper pocket for keys… tuck anything else like your ‘just in case’ extras – Band-Aids, Tylenol, your nail file – in a spare makeup bag” (or a manly zip-lock).  When your carry-around stuff is organized, you are going to feel much more put together on a daily basis.

5.  Your closet – This is a big one….

– Purge smartly – “Lose everything you haven’t worn in a year.  For things with emotional value, limit yourself to major milestones.”  Maybe it’s time to let go of your wholly T-shirt you’ve had since college, but you want to keep the baby bonnet your great-grandmother knit when you were born.

– Sort what’s left – “File items by type (shirts, pants, dresses), then color.  Go light on the left, dark on the right….  It’s easier for your eye to find things.”

– Streamline – “Store seasonal pieces on overhead shelves.  Install hooks on doors for jewelry, scarves and belts.  And no wire hangers.”  Mommy dearest does not like wire hangers!  😉

So there you go – straight from the mouths of the stylish Glamour editors.  You have probably seen a lot of these suggestions before, so maybe it’s just a good reminder.  But if you are anything like me, you need all the help and reminders you can get to avoid getting bogged down with unnecessary stuff.  These reminders give me the chance to make the most of my small space, and love it even more.

Rebecca Knabe

My Kara

Posted by Rebecca

You have probably heard the statement that friends come into your life for a reason, for a season, or for a lifetime.  This makes a lot of sense to me.  Friends for a reason fulfill a mutual need, perhaps based on a shared experience.  Friends for a season mark a certain time in your life, like the friends I made during my rock climbing phase or my vintage hat phase (incidentally I no longer have rock climbing gear nor vintage hats in my possession, or the friends that came with them).  And then there are the friends for a lifetime – ones with whom you have a special connection; someone who ‘gets’ you and you ‘get’ them.  These are the friends that are harder to find, and the friendships that you want to make a real effort to maintain.  These are the friends that remain a part of you forever.

Last week I mentioned that my life had been challenging lately.  That is because last week one of my ‘lifetime’ friends moved to the exact opposite end of the country – Orlando, FL.  Sigh!

Kara and I met in 2004.  My future-husband and her husband were cousins, and we met at a family anniversary party.  I liked her from the moment I met her.  She was funny and sarcastic and smart – 3 of my favorite qualities.  A year later when my then-husband and I moved to Reno, I knew the move would be great, in large-part because I already had someone there that I was sure would be a close friend.  Our new friendship was never awkward or required much effort.  We just hit it off right away and have been super close ever since.

During our friendship we’ve both been through ups and downs, and we have been there to help each other during the hard times and rejoice with each other during the happy times.  She was a willing shoulder to cry on during my divorce, she was a cheerleader when the pink trailer was purchased, and an eager demolition crew and construction worker when my trailer was renovated.

Kara’s husband accepted a job in Orlando last spring, motivated mostly by the lack-luster job market we still have here in Reno.  Kara spent the next several months preparing for the move, tying up loose ends, and enjoying everything she could think of during one last summer in Nevada.  We camped at the lake, floated the Truckee river, spent warm evenings on the patio, and did our best to have a great summer.  And it was great.

But of course the day came for the move.  It was heartbreaking and emotional.  And not just for the two of us – Kara has a ton of friends and family here that are really going to miss her.

Reno boasts 300 days of sunshine a year.  However, I can’t help but think Reno is now a little gloomier with Kara gone.  Yet, I know that because of her, Orlando will soon find it is sunnier than ever.  xoxo

Rebecca Knabe

P.S.  We’re both going to be ok, though.  We are determined to keep in touch regularly because we know we are ‘lifetime’ friends.  And Kara is keeping herself occupied, searching for the best ‘gator viewing spots in Florida, so that when I get a chance to visit I can get some fantastic photos of the local reptiles!  😀

P.P.S.  Here are a few photos from Kara’s pink flamingo-themed Going-Away Big Night Out.

Kara and her gum (I love this photo)

On the Green Road in Banff

Posted by Rebecca

Photo of Moraine Lake taken from Parks Canada website

On the Green Road is a blog by a couple of Canadian ladies who have simplified, greenified, and are travelling around the continent in an eco-Airstream hauled by a bio-fueled truck.

Yesterday’s post was a picture-heavy introduction to Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies, as well as a list of things to see and do while you are there.  Banff holds a special place in my heart….  It’s just down the road from and shares a mountain range with Jasper, Alberta, which was my home for a couple of years in the early 90’s; I spent a lot of time in the park when I was growing up – camping, hiking, and skiing; and it was the location of my very first kiss (don’t tell my dad 😉 ).

Take a look at their lovely pictures here, and check out the rest of their blog for some great info on sustainable living, inexpensive travel, and life in a tiny trailer.

Rebecca Knabe

Big Sky Country (no wait, that’s Montana)

Posted by Rebecca

Life has been a little challenging lately (more on that later).  But I wanted to post some pictures to let you know I haven’t forgotten about you and tiny spaces and this blog….  Here are some landscape and sky photos that I’ve taken around town in the last week or two.  I love the skies here – huge and open, and usually full of sunshine.  But occasionally some clouds sneak in and make the most amazing photo-op….

This is Virginia Lake, just a few blocks from the Pink Trailer, and home to jillions of seagulls, ducks, geese, and the occasional swan.

The early morning sun, hidden in a sea of contrails.

Another contrail highlighted by the evening sun.

Here is a late evening and early morning shot of the recent blue moon.  If you missed it, the next blue moon is August 21, 2013.

And here is my favorite shot of the bunch, and one of the best sky shots I’ve ever taken.

Rebecca Knabe

Street Food

Posted by Rebecca

Hot dog stands and ice cream trucks have always had the monopoly on mobile street food.  Just one note of the familiar ice cream truck soundtrack, or one glimpse of a hot dog vendor’s colorful umbrella lets you know treats are close and available.  In fact, I heard an ice cream truck barreling down the street just the other day, blasting an ice cream truck version of Silent Night.  Which I thought was very strange.

As of late, however, other food trucks are popping up all over cities and towns, offering delicious variations on convenient street food.  In Reno this summer, someone came up with the brilliant idea of gathering the food trucks together once a week to create an outdoor mobile food court.  And it has been great!

Most Friday nights since June, Idewild Park along the Truckee River has been host to the Reno Street Food event.  The collection of food trucks has varied, but the scene is the same – about a dozen restaurants or catering establishments offering delights, a grassy field for the masses (bring your own blanket or chair), and some sort of live background music.

I’ve been a pescetarian for 4 1/2 years now (a vegetarian who eats fish occasionally), and sometimes the variety of what I can order in restaurants is pretty limited.  Although almost no fish is available , the options here have been pretty good.  I’ve enjoyed vegetarian burritos, falafel, savory crepes, pizza, garlic fries, italian ice, and a Reno Street Food favorite – Mexican corn.  Mexican corn is a roasted cob, covered in a thin layer of mayo, a generous layer of parmesan cheese, and sprinkled with cayenne pepper.  I know it sounds weird, but it is so tasty that the food truck sells out of it every week.  Yum!

For carnivores the options are endless with tri-tip sandwiches, award-winning chicken wings, huge juicy burgers, bacon and Nutella crepes, and the super-popular Pig Pops, which are some sort of barbecued pork loin something-or-other.

The first Friday of every month from April to October is a little different.  The food trucks gather elsewhere, at Center and Fourth Street for Food Truck Friday.  I haven’t been to that event yet, but I’ve heard great things, and I hope to get a chance before the end of the season.

Do you have anything like it in your area?  Maybe it’s time to check it out.  Long live the delicious mobile food movement!  😀

Photo by my lovely friend, Ng Gutierrez

Rebecca Knabe