Category: homesteading


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anarchist kitchen tiny house and land

Tiny House and Land

1 I am The-Brightest-of-Stars

our podcast Cake Or Death Radio

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So after a year and a half of paying rent again I’m over it. It was pretty much like I woke up one day and was just over it. and that’s apparently how i function in this world. I run my life on major amounts of repetition. Overall I prefer to do, wear, eat and move through my day doing almost the same as the day before. If you look at myfitnesspal I seriously eat the same foods over and over; pasta, bananas and chocolate are the staples of my diet. If you look at what I wear it’s the same Carnival Barker “ice cream freak” shirt 29 out of 31 days. So on and so forth. Because no ones forcing this level of repetition on me I’ll get on a quinoa kick and that will replace pasta and there’s an ebb and flow to it all. I’ll get into small pockets of enchantment where all I’m bathed in magic and feel a tingling & pulse of life everywhere and like everything else in my life it gets replaced almost of it’s own volition. Working out and (these days) dumpster diving food are the standard trying to pump myself up about it but it’s the type of chore that’s enjoyable but always excusable.

To review I’m content with a simple life but just like a light switch going on changes happens in my life often. I think the precursor to change is saying “i don’t want”. Someone asked me if I would ever do a tiny house again and I felt hella embarrassed to admit that I did not want to. For the last 1.5 years I’ve been decompressing from 17 years of work and have reasoned a “real” job isn’t for me. For many people (like my husband) life is very solid and black & white. For me everything is relative which is why I beat around the bush when trying to explain anything, all details are crucial factors.

Scavenger Life podcast (about selling on ebay) mentioned Mr Money Mustache. Mr Money Mustache’s blog really flipped the switch on many areas of my life that I had in the dark. I’ve NEVER thought about retirement and had an “out of sight, out of mind” attitude about it. I think that if something doesn’t matter then it’s fair game to look it. If you have an area of your life that you don’t want to look at because you say it doesn’t matter then talking about it should be easy. If an area of your life is challenging to look at that’s totally fine, we’re complicated humans but it’s unfair to write something off with white wash statements of unimportance because those are just not honest statements. Unimportant things shouldn’t make you clam up.

This is my absolute favorite video right now because it addresses our crazy behavior which branches out from our ideal and the reality. There’s a level of disconnect it seems we humans may always have in our lives. i want to write a blog post on cognitive dissonance.

So I didn’t want a tiny house and a job but now I do. MMM’s blog got me thinking about my future, thinking about what I wished I had given my current self and what I want to pass on to my future self. I think a job will be the fastest way to my goal and like any worth while goal there’s a timeline attached to it.

Having this last 1.5 years away from traditional work has been an eye opener. It seems that time and money are often influx. When I’ve had the most money was I was working a lot and had very little free time. When I was busy one of the main things I wanted was the freedom to go to sleep and wake up when I wanted. Now I have a lot of free time and no money. I get as much sleep as I like and wake up when ever I want but I have very limited options on how my life can play out while maintaining this ultra low income. When we had $24,000 saved we could move where we wanted and could come up with a different arrangement for our lifestyle, options we don’t have now. We don’t want a lifestyle overhaul, we don’t want to live on someones land in exchange for housing and Mark doesn’t want to live in a van. We want to live very much like we live now but smarter. Paying $550 a month for our 2 bedroom, 2 story apartment is not the end of the world but it’s also not smart. We have some of the cheapest rent in Dallas while living in a tiny apartment complex in a nice area and I’m not at all taking that for granted. I am 100% grateful! However paying rent is money we’ll never get back. If we financed a home and payed $550 a month on it then we’d get the money back if we sold the house. I’m just feeling trapped with rent and now that I have serious goals I feel constrained a bit by the trap.

   My goal is to retire in 10 years or at least be very close.

“Time or Money” seems to be the dance most of us are doing. One without the other feels unbalanced and I’m concluding that I really need both. My retirement plan is 100% about having the minimum amount money coming in while having the maximum amount of free time while maintain a lifestyle that isn’t constrained by either.

LIFESTYLE the numbers: Last night I asked Mark to spell out exactly what his lifestyle would look like if he didn’t have time or money constrains. He has one life to live and I wanted to know what his ideal life would look like. Ideally Mark wants to drink top notch coffee that he brews on a top notch machine at home daily. He wants the option to go out to eat (nothing too fancy) about 3 times a week with me if he so choices. He’s like to buy 1 really top notch pair of shoes (a couple thousand dollars) or a few slightly less nice shoes a year. He’d like a few thousand dollars to put into hobbies a year and have a larger budget for buying fancy beer. add in a nice vacation and we concluded that $17,000 a year would cover his lifestyle preferences. $17,000 in very doable! Either I’m some sort of saint or have poor persons mentality but I don’t have any real list of lifestyle wants. Maybe I’d get into permaculture (which cost money… wait, or does it save money?) Or I’d use the tools he has in his hobby budget to create art. Plus most of this shit i think about (going for bike rides, going to the gym, chit chatting with friends) is all hella cheap stuff. Well I do have entrepreneur blood but we’ll not focus on that for now.

RETIREMENT the numbers: Let’s assume that when we retire in 10 years we own (debt free) our home. Let’s say it’s a tiny home and property taxes are $1,600 a year. We build efficient in combination with alternative energy and our utility bills are ultra low.  We eat on the cheap and may grown some of our food. Gasoline, internet, insurance, etc. Maybe we could get by with $10,000 for our livelihood (remember we’d already own our home). So $17,000 for lifestyle and $10,000 for livelihood would require us to have $27,000 as our household income. If we saved $3,500 a month we’d have $615,991.86 in 10 years (8% compound interest). The $615,991.86 would produce $49,279.28 in 8% interest a year so if we just scraped 4% off of the interest that would give us $25,000 to live on while maintaining safety margins and accounting for inflation. This however doesn’t account for taxes ($5,000 a year at 15%), health insurance or unforeseen disability. While these numbers are not perfect they do create an outline on what the approximate steps would be to get from poor to retired.

SAVING for retirement: In order to save $3,500 a month (for 10 years!) or $42,000 a year I’d need to make $42,000 to save plus the cost of living $13,000 would require me to bring in $55,000 net income. While that is a bit of stretch for me to do that all on my own I do have plan. I want to get a full time waitressing job ASAP. If I could earn about $120 per shift and do 6 shifts a week then I’d bring in $37,440. The remaining $17,000 could likely come from ebay because my sellers dashboard shows that i’ve done over $15,000 (gross) this year when I was just dumpster diving and selling $10 items. Plus i’m not leaving the ice cream shop, I love carnival barkers and just making $3,000- $5,000 a year there helps out a lot! Again these numbers are not perfect or taking taxes, health insurance or unforeseen disability into account.

SAVINGS BONUS: my off the cuff savings plan is coming from the point of view that i’m doing all of the work. Marks in school so maybe I can kick some ass, do my best and save a bunch of money. Then in 4 year from now Mark will have a grown up job and we can put 100% of his money into savings. Let’s say he starts out making $45,000 after taxes and within those 4 years of his school I’ve accumulated $194,018.42. Then we add in 4 years of 100% of Marks paycheck then in 8 YEARS WE COULD RETIRE, two years early!!! say what!?! after 8 years our grand total would be $633,442.51! or if we just commit to the 10 years then those extra to years would give us a new grand total of $909,399.02…. almost a million dollars in 10 years. so Marks contributions would double my efforts! that’s a bonus!

This is where the second tiny house comes in!

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RENT the numbers: Our rent is about $6,600 a year. In ten years that’s $66,000 and that same $66,000 could actually be more like $96,798.72 if I could invest it (at 8% compounded interest) instead of giving it to our landlord. When I look at those numbers it makes me want to move in a $2,000 van and reclaim the $550 a month in order to invest it. Our first “tiny house and land” cost $8,000 for the land and about $5,000 for tiny house. <— that’s about the same amount of money we will have spent in when this second lease it up!

If you google “building costs house calculator” there are websites which will show the break down of everything (foundation, roof, plumbing, etc) as well as separating the material costs from the labor costs for whatever basic house design you have in mind. I have my heart set on building another tiny house but a bit different from our last one. Tiny houses are attainable. While they’re more expensive per sqft the overall price can be significantly less if you keep it simple, find affordable appliances and do what you can where you have the skills.

Since this post is long enough I will simply state that it’s now starting to sink in that we actually lived in 150 sqft with no plumbing in the woods for a year. holy hell! We need plumbing and more than 150 sqft, I understand that now. We don’t need it like it’s life or death but i’m no longer trying to live like life or death are my only two options. I’m also willing to admit that I no longer have a desire to move to the woods. I like cities that are under 100,000 people but I live in Dallas and honestly shit is fine out here too. It would be ideal if we could get a small city plot, have our tiny house and do urban homesteading. If we could do urban homesteading in walking distance of friends that would be epic but I’m not hearing anyone say any of that. Urban plots are expensive but right now i’m seeing the value. We’re talking about a 550 sqft floor space with a large loft. I can see us having a shed for Mark’s projects. I can see an epic amount of landscape design for beauty and function.

Besides a lack of money being an obvious derailer for this to come to fruition there’s other issues. I didn’t realize how good we had it zoning/permit wise on our last piece of land until til I started looking through permit requirements just in our area. There are so many requirement it’s hard to absorb it all. Plus “If you want to make god laugh then tell him about your plans”. right on.

 Have you seen this new tiny house TV show? I’m all over it! Mark doesn’t like it but i do.
http://www.fyi.tv/shows/tiny-house-nation

LOGOour podcast cake or death radio

anarchist kitchen tiny house and landTiny House and Land

1 I am The-Brightest-of-Stars

Our photography

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i wrote this article and it is awesome. dig through it even just to look at the pictures. ENJOY!
http://brinkoffreedom.net/politics-and-economics/dumpster-diving/Image

i’d like to start this out by saying that i think the word free is shitty.

yeah, when i was 17 i thought free shit was rad. i started working when i was 14 because it was clear that no one was going to just hand me things in life. i didn’t get birthday gifts (i remember my mom giving me 50 cents once on my birthday so i could get a soda at school, you know, to make the day special.) around 17 i dated a hippie and had a momentary laps in working. during that time i felt like there might be some magical world of free out there. that some how i had closed myself off to it and that i needed to just say yes to “free” and be open to it.

i got over that quickly. after hanging out in a crowd of mooches i had to get the hell out of there, i was lacking responsibility and perspective for the rest of humanity. i got a job and hadn’t looked back since. i got super jaded about consumerism and all the glory involved in that. i still thought that free stuff existed but shunned it because the origins didn’t reflect my value system. a few more years went by and i became a GM of a small salad shop on the food court of a prestigious medical school/bio-medical research institutions. how it didn’t click until that moment is beyond me. i had placed many orders as an assistant manager, it wasn’t like i thought things come out of  thin air. but it wasn’t until being a GM when i gained greater responsibility which brought in a bigger perspective. every napkin and every fork, the slices of lemon and the extra refill of tea became hard numbers at the end of the day. the bulk bins at the health food store no longer seemed right to sample from. the cool cashiers that would throw over-priced health food in my bag without charging me made me uneasy. at that point nothing felt free any more.

when i saw daniel vitalis he talked about a lot of things including our language become anamorphic or perverted. that people think the word free means something for nothing. that really struck a cord in me….

now that we all feel bad for raiding the chocolate covered almonds from the bulk isle let’s get back to my real intention. as i stated in the blog post the hard knocks of starting a business i’ve been wishing that people who don’t want to pay for my ebook would ask for a copy at no cost. i care more about people reading my ebook and getting value out of it than me getting rich. Pay What You Want isn’t a new thing. the company who emails the downloadable links for my ebook & videos to the customer doesn’t offer a fill-in-the-blank option for payment. instead of bending over backwards and changing companies i spent a short 4 hours trying to figure out the second best option. in the end i created a FREE button as well as a $2,$5, $7 & $10 donation buttons for those who can pay.

the last thing i want is someone who is unable to pay to feel shame or guilt for accepting my offer of FREE. seriously, this is an ebook about improving your life through homesteading, tiny house living and/or living within your means. who doesn’t want to save $24,000 in 18 months like we did!?!  read the book, apply what fits your personality and lifestyle and call the rest good. share my website with friends and family, why not?

here’s a little story about my very good friend nada:

19for years he was really into spirituality. he seemed to be most attracted to eastern philosophy. as an artist, nada has been self employed for the last 12+ years that i’ve known him. he’s always been a struggling artist with lots of friends but super poor. when different spiritual leaders would come to dallas to give talks nada could never afford the entrance fee. he ALWAYS called the events telling them that he didn’t have money but he’d do any service they needed (cleaning or putting out chairs, or passing out fliers, etc). all but one person said no money, no entrance. for someone who has little money he has always brought the most energy, the most creativity and been the reminder to everyone he meets to “just give what you’ve got”. he’s a very giving person. he printed out stickers that said “LOVE IS FREE (give it away)” and handed the stickers out. he’s spent his hard earned money on putting together multiple musical albums and they’re all free to download, donation not required. i am not even close to doing nada justice by explaining what an amazing friend he’s been in my life and so many other peoples life.

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AND he’s funny as hell, champion sense of humor!

do not take yourself too seriously around nada

do not take yourself too seriously around nada


this video is my last attempt to capture nada from 5 years ago.

anarchist kitchen tiny house and land

so here it is, 3am and i’m already reneging on turning this 6am bedtime around to 10pm. I feel like life should NOT be a guessing game. I’ve seen many people just allow life to unfold in a mess, they don’t understand what the next step is and just wade through ‘an unknown’ in their life, waiting for the answers of unformed questions to be revealed to them (as the train wreak gets worse). the sense I make of dealing with chaotic times appears to be rooted in not being ready to understand something. do you know what i’m talking about? where you can’t even form the questions but there’s a strong feeling of wanting some guidance….

what i’m trying to say is, “i’m above confusion, I know the name of the game and the ball is in my court.” and now that I’ve got the smoke screen up i’ll take you around back and fill you in on what’s really going on.

WHATS GOING ON: Sorrentino Woodcraft   &   Sorrentino Photos   &   Tiny House And Land

these are 3 main sources in our life that we spend all day and night thinking about.

well, Tiny House And Land is more on the back burner. it’s a pdf documenting how we saved money & bought a tiny house and land. it’s pretty straight forward but when I started it in January it wasn’t. the challenge was, “how do I know what’s a fair value for it?” i asked folks for their input on what they felt the value was. everyone had a different price limit, the numbers were all over the place. in the end i settled for $30 for a 33 page pdf file with 3 short videos, instant download, no shipping. I’ve paid more money for less quality so $30 seemed fair for what i had to offer. after many rounds of my website getting traffic from other websites promoting us i felt moved to lower the price to $5. i sold about as many ebooks at $30 as i did at $5 but ended on settling with $9.99 (actually it’s now for free, donations optional) where it is today. i don’t loose sleep over. did i learn any lessons from tinkering around with the price, no. it reconfirmed my point of view which is, “people buy what they want within reason”. i wish that people who want to read my ebook but can’t afford parting with $10 would ask me for a free copy. i think the pdf is legit and anyone who wants to read it should, regardless of the money situation. zero sleep lost in this department.

Sorrentino Photos is my love. i love, love, love, capturing little sublet things. i will take pictures of everyone and everything. i started this business because how else am i going to capture the sublets of strangers AND get paid for it. again, like my ebook, it’s a service i would give for free. when we decided to start a photography business mark wrote a friend from high school who is a very successful (natural geographic’s!) photographer asking for some advice. mark was a little disheartened to hear what he had to say. the friend mentioned the lackluster of turning a passion into a job and that starting out we’d be competing with $60 headshots (where as his prices starts at $200, digital files not included). i internalized the advice and said, “fuck it, i’m in”, so the ‘war of worth’ is out the window. i will take the lowest pay, i just want to take pictures. now that we’ve been taking pictures professionally for these last few weeks I see all of the work that goes into it after the shoot is done. on average i take 300 pictures to get 20-60 good ones with 3-10 gems. now that Team Sorrentino is taking pictures together we have 600-800 pictures (per shoot) to go through, one by one, then we resize them and present the best ones. it takes hours to go through 800 pictures, “which one is better? is that one blurry even when you zoom in beyond humanly necessary?” each picture gets a handful of questions. I LOVE IT. i can’t sleep til 6am because i’m too pumped on happy chemicals to put the pictures away. no problems here, just need more clients.

Sorrentino Woodcraft is marks love… and worry. mark is very talented. ask him, “how do you know how to build a guitar” and he will laugh and say, “it’s easy”. <—- see!! natural talent. marks not a salesman, he’s a very shy woodworker. we had a booth at the farmers market in Arkansas and the sales were up and down one week to the next (in a town of 2,000 people). now that were in dallas/fort worth we’re moments away from setting up our farmers market stand again. because this is our sole focus we took the time to actually make our booth reflect the beauty of the crafts we’re selling, no more slobs here. we went to world market to get some display items to hold our woodcraft. originally we were going to handcraft the displays our self (& already bought the wood for it) but i could tell that we’re already spreading our self too thin with all the woodcraft on our to-do list. we came across olive wood spoons for $5! we’ve been selling our spoons for $18. i picked up the spoon and turned to mark, “hey, why don’t we sell these for $18, they’re already made”. that left a bad taste in my mouth. usually i think don’t say shit like that because i find it in bad taste but i was feeling a bit defensive when i saw the price tag. the joke was really bad. it’s like asking Nick Baxter to not bother expressing himself through painting his incredibly moving pieces of art and instead resell something cheaper, all ready done junk. fuck it, it’s just retail, no self expression here. FYI: mark selling his spoons is not a retail job. the craft imparts something of him that can not come out any other way. yet at $18 how does he compete with the $5 mass produced stuff? at $18 a spoon, with his current tools and skill level i bet he’s NOT even making $5/hour after cost. seeing that $5 spoon makes me want to lower our price, i haven’t talked to him about it yet but it’s all i’m thinking about at 4am.

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pricing, that’s really the struggle of where we’re at right now. mark had been making wooden guitar pics for a few years when i first helped him hand sand one smooth. within 15 minutes of sanding i got a new perspective on what it means to handcraft something. for some reason i’m willing to lay down and take minimum wage but mark struggles with maintaining a value. maybe because he’s the one putting in all the work.DSC_0004

with all that said, i hope that everyone understands that i’m talking honestly about our joys and passions. we love what we do. any insight or perspective is much appreciated. DSC_0003

TO SEE SOME RECENT PICTURES I TOOK  CHECK OUT: https://www.facebook.com/SorrentinoPhotos/

i’d mentioned on my interview with the survival podcast that our future plan is to get land with some friends. shortly after that interview we put our land on the market. within 2 months our land was sold. we sold our land for almost double the price we paid but in the end came slightly short of breaking even once you include all the work we did to the land. maybe we lost $500-$1,000 but we got a taste of living our dream for a year. plus all of the accomplishments that were achieved along the way, starting our own business & raising chickens. another way of looking at it is that we’d spent $500-$1000 on a years worth of rent to be fully engaged in a lifestyle that was so different from anything that knew.

the couple that bought our tiny house & land were a perfect fit for it. they were artists and woodworkers. when they stepped into our tiny house the first thing they said was, “wow, this is a mansion!” they called our tiny house a mansion, that meant they were going to buy it. “…compared to what we live in now.” when they looked at the work shed the wife started naming off wood working tools that they’d put in there. hearing all that was a good feeling. they have plans to hand build a house on the land. they really did get a sweet deal. the land was cheap and the location is perfect. they’re 10 minutes from a tiny artsy town in the mountains while living in the woods. i loved that land & our tiny house, leaving it all felt surreal.

we left our land because it was all rocks and trees. in order to do the things we want (raise animals, plant food forest, woody beds and permaculture) we’d have to cut down a portion of trees and bring in all of the soil. bringing in soil isn’t the worst thing ever but there can be some problems with bring in soil. plus the amount of money it would cost to turn rocks and trees into a functioning homestead would doesn’t makes sense. why not buy a piece of land that’s already suited for our needs. our rocks and trees will never be lush pasture for ideal animal husbandry unless we invest a lot of time and money.

a year and a half ago when we signed the deed and gave our hard earned money to buy the land we had made a mistake. we looked at the land and saw beautiful woods. we saw the land for what it was and not what it would be. we were so pumped to get out of the city the thought processes was like this, “tree/nature = good. city/concrete = bad”. we really weren’t thinking of the bigger picture. we figured we cut down some trees and the process would unfold and that was a mistake. now we have a better eye for what we need from our final piece of land. how can we create a thriving ecosystem, put more things into the system without having to take what’s there out? that is question. animals are an important part of my future vision. different animals need different things. some need pasture while others need forest. so to belabor my point, i can’t have ALL rocks and trees… i need more.

i haven’t talked much about our friends but we’re getting land with a small group of homies. as that unfolds i will go into that a bit more.

we’ve moved into a house my parents just bought to help them with their mortgage while we’re in transition. the town we live in has a population of 8,000 but feels much smaller than the town of 2,000 that we just left. smaller in the sense that community spaces and community feel is next to nothing here. part of that is because there’s no economy here, people just sleep in the country and drive to the city to work. eureka springs was very alive. here we’re an 20 minutes away from anything alive. but i’m glad to be here. i’m glad to see my parents and help them out. i’m super glad not to be living in dallas though we drive out there regularly.

our backyard is now a cornfield.

we’ve started a photography business *SORRENTINO PHOTOS*  and have been very busy with that.  (recent pictures we’ve taken below)DSC_0125resize copy

we have a thousand new wood working ideas. we’re doing our best to be 100% independently employed.6 copy

not having a standard job right now has really been healing. i’ve had bulk herbs for YEARS that i’d barely touched. now i’m brewing up almost a gallon of tea that i drink chilled daily. i’ve been working out at home (yoga, jump rope, jumping jacks, modified push ups) and tracking my calories to make sure i’m getting enough.6DSC_0233resize

i’m completely pumped about photography right now. all i want to do it take pictures of everything i see. we need more paying clients. we need to take pictures of  beautiful food. we can’t drain our land money to pay for the gas to capture the pictures i long to take.cDSC_0427resize

i miss peeing outside. i miss squatting to take a shit. i miss the stars and the trees. i like the ease of washing dishes with plumbing. i don’t like the toilet but i do like the bathroom.4 copy

we’re still Tiny House And Land just in transition. our next tiny house will be hand sculpted i imagine.z copy

i’ve been seeing a pattern in my life. this pattern is called, “letting the perfect be the enemy of the good”. after 18 months of doing a “good” job of fulfilling a time line and detailed expected markers of accomplishment i took it to the max. the pattern in my life is this: if i can be disciplined at doing a good job then lets become disciplined at doing a perfect job. in my brain that really seems to be the natural next step. i’ve got a 13 year history of restrictive eating that illustrates doing a good job of clean eating taken to extremes. perfect is extreme.

*if anyone needs a reminder, here it is: IF IT AIN’T BROKE DON’T FIT IT.

so we saved money $24,000 in 18 months. it’s was almost 3 years ago when that 18 month period started. what we did was really, really good. it almost feels surreal because we didn’t struggle, we didn’t stress. every time we got paid the savings portion grew. then we moved, things changed and all i wanted to do was make shit perfect. i didn’t organize, i could comprehend moderation, i went to extremes. i worked really, really hard, earning $20,000 in 6 months of waiting tables. i worked all of the time, hey i loved my job, my boss, my coworkers, the owner and his family, why not? it’s soooo obvious that burn out is inevitable but i was ignoring the signs. perfect is an outlier so all of the signs don’t apply, right? but they do and i had to take a step back.

so here we are starting from scratch, taking two steps back and taking my own advise. i’ve often wondered where i would be in life if i stayed on a more steady path instead of all these extreme starts that end in extreme stops.

here’s the original video i made for friends & family that is included with my $9.99 ebook. watch it for free, take notes, we’ll get there. all of us. write me if you have any questions.

it’s never too late to begin a goal.

anarchist kitchen tiny house and land

 DSC_0031   i grew up in the small village of owego in upstate new york. i walked and biked a ton growing up.  the only muscles i have are calf muscles and they are huge as a testament to my love for walking and biking which i started as a wee little youth in USA. i spent just as much time outside as i did inside watching tv. every poor person i know owns cable so apparently we were just too cheap to own cable. my dad thinks our (tv) culture is a joke. he’s never told me that but the guys in his 60s and has NEVER worn a pair of jeans in my lifetime. dress lacks all the way. my neighbor owned cable and i spent most of my sitting hours at her house. i hated stupid kid show. what’s the point of watching some kid run through a lame ass obstacle course to get slimed in the predictable end? i did however absorb a shit load of MTV. there’s a term for youth who think that kid shows are lame while soaking in racy, dirty sailor young adult shit; “older younger”. “older younger” is where the cool toys and clothes for young kids looks lame compared to what the older teens are being marketed. part of my “older younger” trip included wanting to be gangsta. me and my elementary school friends would walk around the village spray painting shit, talking about “picking a fight” and smoking cigarettes, age 8. in my mind i was new york city. when i was 12 we moved to the dallas suburbs which is over a million people i felt like i had arrived. my parents would drive by this grandys that sat next to this alley near the “black neigh hood” and in my youthful mind i could see bone thugs n harmony creeping out of the shadow…just like the MTV “thuggish ruggish bone” video!!! these days when i read a book about junk and sex being marketed to children i connect the dots to how indoctrinated i was in to the MTV culture which makes me pause & step back. MTV doesn’t acknowledge the difference between the real world and the system. actually if the system had a slogan it would be “we’re the real world, i promise”. DSC_0036 no supermodels for topsoil or rapper for hand built houses. living in the country was off my radar. years after disconnecting from MTV culture i was still indirectly consuming the messages. blah blah blah… we move to the country. i knew we had to move to the country and homestead but i was REALLY nervous that maybe the country life wouldn’t be for me. turns out the country is the life for me and feel cheated out of my piece of mind that i wasn’t able to maintain while living in the city.DSC_0104

my pros & cons basically look like this: i’ve meet a ton of really awesome people living in the city but i’m no social butterfly and end up hanging with coworkers or classmates. no city is required for that. in the city i’ve seen a handful of really good shows whose band that would never play in the country. every 6 months i wish i could go to an indie theater but quickly get over it. i hate that i have to drive to get into town. i wish i could walk or bike around and feel like a piece of me is missing because i don’t adventure like i used to. i feel much more relaxed not taking the bus or walking pass street harassers to get where i’m going. i do not feel like my guard is sky high. feeling more relaxed makes me more sensitive and intuitive. in the small town i leave near no one is a redneck. everyone is either an artist or an art collector. many of the people are from other cities and have wealth of life experience to add to the community. it’s crazy to have one big community. in the city it’s basically you & your friend and everyone else just comes and goes. while at work in town co-works will point out folks, telling me their claim to fame is. it’s like everyone matters. plus when someone gets hurt or gets cancer the whole town raises money to help out. all the folks i met have gardens or chickens. everyone seems to be connected to the real world. oh and i seldom see MTV culture in town. folks just seem real, for better or worse. did i mention that when i’m at home i never imagine someone kicking my door down? i’ve got a good job and i’m not sure how likely that is for country living. when i lived in the city i felt more in a fantasy bubble about life (the mystical spark?) and how it works.

i think the country and city are extreme and suburbs & small towns come closer to the middle.

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in the end there’s this eternal quest to “know thy self” and my place in the world. being in the city was over stimulating and distracting. i like living in the woods and vacationing to the city. most people do it the other way around.

 

info & pictures of our tiny house & land

anarchist kitchen tiny house and land

reasons to own a tiny house

these reasons don’t apply to everyone all of the time.

1. affordable!
a tiny house isn’t always 150 sqft like ours. the shed people who built ours could make a shed (home) as large as we wanted. they can add a loft, divide rooms with walls and even add a second story. digging through tiny house books, i’ve seen tiny houses from 400sqft to under a 100 sqft. really, at this stage in the game if your house isn’t an average of ###### then it’s considered small, and tiny is a small step away from that. if 150sqft ~ $3,000 then a 1000sqft “house” would be about $20,000. well, i’m guessing that’s the case but if you really want the numbers then dig around on the website i got my shed from. pictures and prices included.

2. shed people take payments
even though i’m pretty committed to paying in full, avoiding interest and living within my means, it’s absolutely worth mentioning that a person can finance one. after we moved into ours, it dawned on me that we could have bought one on loan, though maybe it would have been $5k or $6k instead of $3k for the same home but the year that i was living in the city saving up to move to the country cost us $4,600 in rent anyway. that money i will never get back. lets do the math, $4,600(rent)+$3,000 (home)=$7,600. fuck! i could have saved money even if i had bought our house with interest and would be further along with living my dream lifestyle. *side note: i make more money at my new job, moving sooner would have been worth it & would have saved us living in the car.

3. portable
because our tiny house is 150sqft & mark’s woodworking shed is 64sqft we have plans to move them to our final piece of land as soon as it’s picked out. we bought our current piece of land with the intention of forever. now that we have some country living under our belt we have a deep insight on what we’re really looking for.

4. put your home in storage
strange idea but it occurred to me that if we sold our land before we had all of the chips in place, we could technically put our house and shed in storage. i’m guessing it costs a ton of money to move a shed any real distance. so if we were in transition and were not ready for the big move, we could keep our home and shed safe and pick them up when we are ready. less than ideal but options are always good.

5. transition
i think a tiny house is a champion transitional home. it’s better than an apartment because you’d own it. you’d have the freedom to decide when you’re truly ready for what’s next vs. making decisions under financial pressure. i currently think i could live in my tiny house for a very long time because i’m comfortable even though i know we’re going to build our house when the time is right. no pressure feels really good. our last apartment was only $386 a month (and i NEVER felt pressure about paying rent) the light feeling of the weight off my shoulders is hard to put into words…. and because more people pay for space to go to bed at night, i’ve yet to hear how that feeling is expressed.

6. permanent
as a place to live in while building a home it is also valuable in that you CAN take your time on your final home, building everything right the first time rather than doing things half-ass so it gets done quicker. a guy we met mentioned the value of not moving into a home until it is truly finished. i’ve heard some folks get a tiny house so that they have something to live in while building their dream home, and as time goes on they realize that they’re happy with what they’ve got and no longer find their dream house worth the price tag such a dream.

7. extra space
who couldn’t use extra space? a guest house is one of the first things that comes to mind. my friend’s husband has a shed that he turned into his work-from-home office. extra space, i’ll let you fill in the blank.DSC_0003

8. tiny houses are cute
major book store chains even carry picture books of tiny houses. hundreds of pages of the cutest houses you’d ever see. plus people who live a tiny house lifestyle tend to be more experimental. with little money to lose and having a creative vision, a tiny house is something to impress even the more in-the-box soul. the picture books alone got me pumped way before i even took the idea seriously.

9. no rent = more time
when we first moved into our house, i figured freedom from rent was the reward. a short time later i found the real reward was my husband being able to purse his woodworking dreams. i have a vision for my lifestyle, not a vision for a career. mark however has career goals. he wants to build lots of custom designed guitars and basses for people who want high quality instruments. never in a million years would i have thought removing such a nominal monthly bill as rent would open up the space for something so fulfilling. i guess when we had rent to pay i just turned my mind off what was really important to him. now i would jump through hoops to make sure that he can live how he wants to live. he lives his life with passion so he has the energy to ensure the same thing for me.

10. easy to maintain
our roof is metal but if it were shingles that needed to be replaced, think of how cheap that would be. we made the mistake of buying cheap windows and the condensation coming from them may lead to a mold problem down the road if left unchecked. it would be affordable and easy to fix the problem because it’s such a small space. we bought a huge wool rug that is great insulation but horrible at keeping clean. it would be a day project to remove our rug and replace it with whatever we deemed a better fit. tired of that old wallpaper? we could re-wallpaper the whole house fast and affordably. if one day we wanted plumbing i imagine that would be a snap.

11. heating & cooling
a really awesome home is designed to need no cooling and little heating, that’s what the experts say. our house is not that. we have the smallest size A/C window units ($150) and a small little plug in space heater ($60). they get the job done. it doesn’t take much to heat or cool a tiny house.

12. tiny is simple
we pretty much do not bring things home unless something else is being removed. with less stuff to manage there’s less stuff to clean. we’ve fallen in love with our library. we don’t own movies, we borrow them. if i buy a book i give it to the library when i’m done which contributes to nationwide inter-library loans. i’m a huge fan! less mental management & “attachment”.

13. no rent = new priorities
i’ve said that mark was able to follow his passion full time but that’s about time. i don’t have more time because i still work my day job but i do have more money. i’ve felt empowered enough to resolve life-long health challenges (which i’ve written about) because of our lifestyle change. it can’t be underestimated that having one less bill to pay (even an affordable one) is absolutely liberating. at least for me, while having rent to pay, i felt like it was too risky to explore money-suck-holes like looking into health issues. i didn’t want to over-commit in case something happened. survival first, thrival later.

14. freedom by stair stepping empowerment
action replaces complacency. most of us know that we need to unfuck the world and that means change. the big changes that we need in our life and our world are scary to address. stair stepping to empowerment may impress nobody but i promise each personal victory is huge. personal improvement is hard to start and fun to follow through. each step that i followed through with (save income, buy land with hard earned money, quit my job, rent a moving van, etc.) felt like a huge victory. at some stage in the game i will have that same sense of freedom when i’m feeding myself from my land.

by no way is a tiny house the end-all-be-all of living, maybe an earthship is. for me it’s a tool to get me closer to my homesteading dreams while improving my health and my marriage. my ebook Tiny House And Land is the most A to B, step by step instructional on exactly how to do what we’ve done.

anarchist kitchen tiny house and land

i know people want to change. i want to change.

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with each birthday that brings me closer to my 30’s, i see more of the veil over my mortality. when i turned 26 a few of my friends parents either got diagnosed with cancer or died from it. i look at my aging parent and think about own future.

i had this idea that how i go into my 20’s will set the tone for my 30’s. how i go into my 30’s will set the tone for my 40’s…so on and so forth. soon enough i will be my parents age, mid to late 60’s. elders should really be our role models and i’ve always felt like something was missing because i didn’t have that. when i got into robb wolf’s shtick he talks about the amount of muscle we age with being an indicator of some good stuff, not a direct quote, clearly. that planted a seed which started with recovering memories of 2 different times in my life that i thought i had lost fat-weight but now realizing that it was mostly muscle-weight. so i’m picking and choosing what i’d like to build towards because i’m starting at the beginning.

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when i fantasize about what my best life would be i see a few things that all come down to living like a real human.

1.MY DAILY FLOW. from a month of trainhopping i gained insight into this other porthole of time that does not exist by the clock. having that brief experience of timelessness really makes my civilized self feel like a machine version of a human. it’s hard to put that in words. (vacations do not feel like i’m tapping into anything real just another facet of my civilized life.)

2.MY BIOLOGICAL PRIORITY. really what i’m saying is nature over conditioning. i want to unschool my job-self. when i’m tired i sleep, when i’m hungry i eat, when i’m thirsty i drink, when i have to pee i do it. i don’t want to have to schedule in a 5 second break on the grounds that i have to pee now or else the machine will not go on. i don’t want to feel so second to my services in life. ****that’s the mental side.

****then there’s the physical side. trees, plants, animals, stars, grass, sun, rain, community, etc.

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when i think of childhood books where the story is set in the forest with an old grey man living in a hobbit home, WHY, why does that seem so right? my childhood stories did not discuss issues with daily flow or holding your pee til you’ve got everyone elses luxuries (that they’re paying for) addressed.

part of me going into my 30’s means i need/want to build muscle. i need/want to stretch on a daily basis. i need/want to just be able to breathe. my current lifestyle does not support the long term vision of how i see my future unfolding. i’m a workaholic. i’m not on my final piece of land. i’m not getting any younger.

seeing the cob cottage totally put me back into my childhood dreams. whether disney conditioned me well or there’s really something to it, seeing those humble mud cottages in the forest felt right and that’s what i’m going on. i really don’t mind putting the work in but only for a short while. the food forest that our parents never built us requires the extra effort before we can begin but i’m changing my life soon.

here’s an interview that i found super inspiring. 2 people i find very integrated into the natural world:

http://www.rosegoddessbliss.com/ecstatic-parenting-part-one

http://www.rosegoddessbliss.com/ecstatic-parenting-part-two