30 September 2014

Living on Less: Portland, Oregon

by Aaron Leitz for The New York Times

Although this article came out last January I have not seen it making the social media rounds yet, so I wanted to share it.

I am so inspired by the living simple movement and finding ways to live in a more green way. This article from the NY Times shares the story of a couple who designed and built their own 704 square foot house despite many people questioning their judgment.

They really do have plenty of space and everything they need although I think it would work best for two adults. With kids I think there might be some wise redesigns here and there and the need for a few hundred more square feet and another bathroom.

I love what they did with the roofs of the home and the small sheds in back as well as yard. Outdoor living space and good storage seem to make this more possible and doable. They found so many smart ways to save on utilities too.

The most amazing part to me is that once they pay off their mortgage, which was planned to happen right about now, their monthly living expenses for the home will be less than $400! That's amazing. Can you imagine living in a house with a yard for $400 a month? Crazy to even try to fathom when living in a city where a 700 square foot apartment will start out at about $2300 without factoring in utilities of any kind.

If I were going to do something like this for my own family I would want/need to do a few things differently. First we'd need bedrooms with doors, preferably an en suite bathroom in the master. Two bathrooms at least, because one just isn't enough sometimes.

I would like more counter space in the kitchen, maybe just an additional island, but theoretically you could have a roll out island than you could be stored under a counter top and pulled out when needed. When you weren't using it, hidden away it would keep the space opened up.

Of course more space also changes all the considerations for heating and cooling as well as more infrastructure costs. One thing I didn't seen in this article is any solar power. I would love to have a solar roof to allow us to get electricity and heated water from the sun's power, especially if we lived here in California.

Okay, how about you? Imagine you are going to build a super pared down house. What would your must-haves be and how small could you go?

29 September 2014

Now Is My Time #37: A Weekend Alone


This is how I'm feeling at the end of this weekend...but also happy, cheerful and thankful. It's not often I get a weekend alone at home, so I made some plans when it looked like it was happening this past weekend. I was having visions of eating bon bons, watching cheesy chick flicks on the couch, wearing pajamas all day. At the same time my brain was percolating with all the things I could get done while the family was away.

Topping the list were The Bug's room needing a complete overhaul and reorganization, going through two boxes of file boxes of paper that needed to be sorted, thrown out or filed, changing the sheets on all the beds and cleaning my bathroom.

I also wanted to take some time to do a creative project of some kind. I have found it such a blessing to do something even for just hour every week to feed my creative soul. We did art with friends last week.

Some weeks I bake or make a new recipe for dinner. A few weeks ago I worked on my new vision board. I have been wanting to make something with wood and I'm not at all sure why, but it's a want right now. But the project I chose was perfect.

I think a Saturday in pajamas watching Hallmark Channel movies or HGTV is a fine pursuit a few times a year. I always find some project to work on and make at least part of a day out of it. I had decided I would work on our 25 Days of Christ box and get it all done in plenty of time for the holidays.

These fantastic countdown to Christmas kits put together by a dear friend of mine are already available here. They sell out quickly EVERY year so it you are interested, get one fast. I'm going to do a full post on 25 Days of Christ later this week so I'll share more then.

I decided to work in concentrated segments. Get one cleaning project done, then relax and watch a movie or a couple of TV episodes. Here's how it actually worked out.

I did eight hours in The Bug's room until about 4:30 am Saturday. I had the energy, knew i could sleep in the next morning and I figured "Oh just keep working." So I did. I rearranged where her clothing is stored, the furniture, and bookshelf items. I hope the new system will work for her. We'll soon find out.

While I worked when I could sit down and sort things, I started to watch season three of Call The Midwife. I have really enjoyed that series although at first I wasn't sure I could handle watching all those baby births. Wowzers.

The next morning I got up and blazed through cleaning my bathroom from top to bottom while listening to inspiring talks online. I tidied up our bedroom and changed the bedding. I cleaned up my work area, speed cleaned the kitchen and was about ready to collapse just as I needed to get into the shower before I met a friend.

I got a little surprise when The Man was able to come home for the weekend. He got in minutes after I left to meet my lovely friend for dinner and attend a church activity for women. You can learn more about that here. The talks were very inspiring. I had one of my very favorite salads for dinner. Great food for the belly AND the soul.

Saturday night late I went on a date to the gym with The Man then we stopped at the grocery store on the way home. Happily he had arrived home with leftovers from a training he went to that day so he had a bag of fantastic sandwiches, chips, cookies and cake. Later we had a picnic in bed and watched a movie.

Not surprisingly I didn't make it through much of the movie. We started watching The Ghost And The Darkness which I had not seen before. All night I was feeling like there were massive lions following me or about to jump out and tear me to shreds. Restful! Haha.

I didn't get to my two boxes of paper that needed sorting. I didn't do any art projects, but I was inspired to do some research and planning for some new art for our home. I may buy some art and make some art. Haven't completely decided yet, but I'm excited to find something that will work with our family vibe.

I take my weekends home alone time seriously -- I make a plan for myself and try to use every moment to my advantage, whether that be in hard work or relaxing. Having The Man come home unexpectedly was a good surprise I'll take any time. And seeing what I had been working on for the weekend he took on a few reorganization and cleaning projects of his own. A win-win!

I still have a couple of boxes of toys & kid junk to go through. That includes sorting two boxes of Legos that are mixed in with other small stuff. Good times. Hopefully I'll finish that up in the next day or so. I also have a bookcase still to go through.

This Monday morning I will take some time for myself to catch up, relax and rest. I'm looking forward to it. Just have to get a kiddo off to school. Oh, Saturday night I had some inspiration about what I want to have for my theme for 2015. It is so simple and so beautiful. I am excited about it and I feel really ready for it. Just saying it to myself gets my energy soaring. I'll share it soon, as soon as my thoughts are more solidified.

So what plans did you carry out this weekend? Any home projects or were you out and about? Have a great week! Thanks for coming by.

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