Living Small

It’s interesting how with intention comes purpose. Our intention was always just to make this house work for us because, well, honestly, it was all we could afford. Now with California prices for houses, rentals, and condos, thru the roof, we are grateful for this place we call home. Our mortgage is less than any rental would be in this area. Most rentals for 2 bedroom 1 bath run around $2200. That’s a lot of money and with only living on SS, it wouldn’t be possible. We have had the very occasional thought to sell and we could get a decent amount for this place, but we couldn’t buy again with the proceeds and then the rental cost would be very high. This August we will have lived here 27 years so I think that this is it for us.

So with intention, we plan to live here until we die and make this work. That gives us the purpose to make this place ‘aging in place’ friendly. We have a step at the front door which could be changed to a ramp if necessary/ and or a rail for support. The house is just one level except for the stairs in my office /catio area. That couldn’t be changed but I suppose some creative solution could be found or I/ we wouldn’t go down to the office area. We plan to change to a propane “wood stove” in the next few years so there would be no wood burning or for B processing wood. All of these things would simplify things and I think as we age we either can’t do what we once did or we don’t want to. I certainly don’t want Barclay using a chain saw when he’s 80!!!

Living in a small house has forced us to be creative and look at things differently. We’ve had to find creative storage solutions and declutter to make this house function. There are still ideas I have about rearranging things but for now, the way things are arranged works.

Probably the biggest asset for me is the outside space. Living in a small house is fine but if there was no outside space, personally, I would find it hard. I need to have outside space and some expansion around me. The main draw to this property was NOT the house which as I’ve said was in terrible condition but the land was amazing even though it was overgrown and had huge piles of crap EVERYWHERE. Being on top of the hill we have sky 360 degrees around( not views but sky thru the trees.)There were multiple buildings that the ‘old man’ had built for his assayer business and we had to tear these down. There was also the barn. This is not really a ‘cool’ barn but a barn he must have put up in the early 50s for his mining equipment. Barclay and my son have worked hard to make the barn more stable and usable. My son has lots of his tools for art and video production out there and it does give us the storage we don’t have in the house for camping equipment, seasonal stuff,etc. Since we’ve decluttered out there so much we don’t have a lot( us meaning B and I) out there. My son is a bit of a hoarder and does have a lot. I’m okay with that since it’s his stuff and he’s an adult and can make those decisions for himself. Plus he sleeps/works in the Tuff Shed Studio that was our original home school. So that’s cool. He likes to build things and has all kinds of tools to do that.

Living small has:

  • made life simpler
  • helped us focus on what’s important
  • made us be creative with our space
  • allowed(forced) us to accept that the house has limits(no, a baby grand piano DOES NOT FIT!!!!!
  • showed us decluttering non- essentials is ESSENTIAL
  • helped us become minimalists( to some degree)

House Lessons

There is any number of things I could say our small house taught us but here are some.

This house was sold ” as is” by the nephew of the owner who had died at least 3 yrs before, so it was in a very neglected state. Plus Mr. Clark was 90-something when he died so the house was already neglected due to the fact he was so old and couldn’t do any repairs. The bathroom was pretty much ruined by water damage. We had to gut the tiny bathroom and even the subfloor had to be removed. The prequel to this story is for another post.

It took a very long time for me to understand that this was a very small house and only so much could realistically fit. ( I know, I know, it seems only logical). BUT I didn’t learn this for many years We had moved from a 1500 sq ft house to under 700sq ft. I tried to cram in all our stuff and for years( at least 15) just kept moving stuff around. So the first lesson was the house is a container and the container can only fit what it can fit. It is too small for 2 couches, a piano, a large oak table and on and on. I tried but it really was too much but I still tried. It really wasn’t till I started doing Flylady( around 2010) that I began to understand the relationship between clutter, stuff, collectibles, furniture, and SPACE. What I wanted was a house that worked for me with less stuff, less cleaning, less dusting of collectibles, moving piles of stuff constantly, etc.

Secondly, this is an OLD house and will never have the amenities of a newer house. Our floors creak and the foundation certainly needs some attention. Old houses are harder to keep clean and are always in need of some sort of upkeep that newer houses don’t require. Accepting this house was OLD just helped me get on with the actual living in it.

Thirdly, the layout is really just awful and I’ve had to adjust to this. There is no entry wat to speak of, You come into the kitchen after stepping into what is the front door where Barclay has his desk to one side and on the other is a low metal locker for odds and ends. This room was a porch we enclosed. If we had money, I would have repositioned the front entry in a completely different way. Of course, back then in 1995, with the little money we got from the sale of our house we did redo quite a bit including all the plumbing and electrical. Still, we never changed anything structurally or added on ( like a second bath or bedroom). We just didn’t have the money then nor now.

Four, finally this house taught me to SIMPLIFY everything. Living small is possible if you remove the excess and that is what this house taught me. There’s no question, that if we had money, I would have done remodeling and building but that is not the case so, it’s do what you can with what you’ve got.

If anything, this house taught me to be a minimalist in a way that works for me. It may not be ‘minimalist’ enough for someone else but I’ve pared done to the essentials of what I need and use and love.

There’s more to the story but that’s for another time.

Frugal Friday

We went to Costco an that was over $400. Granted, lots were items that will be used for all of July and beyond. The sale items are where the deals are and I got the giant Windex bottle, Cholula 2 pack, San Marzano tomatoes( the best for pizza sauce), and lots of other pantry staples. Some of those things will last a year( think the giant jug of Windex), and others will last 6 months (think Cholula). So, all in all, it was good. The store was busy as usual and I sort of thought with the issues with gas prices and inflation there would be fewer people but that didn’t seem to be the case. We also filled the Chevy truck up with gas at Costco as that’s the cheapest anywhere.

We’ve had all our meals at home and some tasty ones. Last night even with our heat wave, I used the Weber and cooked BBQ Chicken. It came out great. I don’t know what it is with that small gas Weber, but everything comes out excellent. Maybe it’s the control dial. Anyway, if you’re looking for a great tabletop BBQ this is the one and worth the price. One night we just had egg salad sandwiches, and another night was just some hot dogs with homemade potato salad. Simple meals when it’s this hot.

I stopped at the library yesterday to pick up a hold and picked up a few more books. It is such a nice library and the self-checkout is convenient.

Today’s another hot day and in a little while, I’ll close all the windows to keep the cool in. I’ve been turning on the coolers around noon. I usually start with just the one cooler in the entryway and then the front room one later.

Visual Clutter

I’m not exactly sure when I made the connection between how I was coping with things and the visual clutter around me but my guess is in 2012 although it may have been shortly after I relapsed in 2010 from my STC transplant and was on Revlimid. Revlimid is oral chemotherapy extraordinarily expensive as most of the Tier 5 drugs are. Fortunately, B had excellent health insurance and I believe our co-pay was @ $60 for a 12,000 a month drug. Now it is even more.

I think I felt more stressed and of course, there was the dreaded Dexamethasome weekly as well. Maybe I had just reached a turning point, Who knows? and really I don’t care about the Why just that it started to make my life flow better.

But I had started the Flylady system and was going thru each room in the house and something just snapped. I couldn’t stand to look at all the stuff everywhere. It was all too much. I was working, happily, at the library at the job I LOVED, and I started asking my co-worker if she wanted anything I was giving away. She like Bric a Brac so she became the recipient of many things. At the time, I must have done a hundred trips to the Salvation Army( that was still in Auburn) and Goodwill which had only recently opened. I think it was only Salvation Army at that time that was in Auburn if I’m remembering correctly.

Some of the collections I gave away:

vintage Pyrex

a vintage button collection in 4 jars

Vintage Fans

Navaho Rugs

Excessive furniture( antique trunks, futon, ???

some antique Sterling silver ( some sold on eBay and some given to the Cancer Thrift store

SO. MUCH. MORE.

I’m quite sure that the term minimalism was not in my vocabulary then but decluttering was and Flylady’s system. What struck me about her system was the less you had, the less you had to clean or deal with and that’s what hit the mark for me. Also, she starts with keeping your sink clean, free of dishes, and doing it every day. From there with the 15-minute rule, I followed her zone cleaning and decluttering. Now, I don’t do most of her stuff daily as it’s been done but I do the weekly zone cleaning.

Plus, I make sure daily to keep my counters clear and do a bathroom swish and swipe. On Mondays I do a whole house reset and dust, wash mirrors and the glass on the Heywood, and little things that add up.

I also set Monday as towel day. We each only have one towel and that’s it. Plus I do sheets on Sunday and we only have one set of linen sheets for our bed.

I certainly still have books in the bookcase and other visual decorations but it all has a place and is loved, beautiful or useful.

Probably our most minimal area without any visual clutter is the bedroom. We have our bed, a vintage Heywood dresser, and a Heywood bedside table that holds my nighttime medications. That’s it.

Journeying into minimalism has been one of the best things I have ever done. It has simplified my home and allowed me a different perspective. I am more intentional about what I do and what I bring into my home. I don’t think the journey really ends. It just evolves. There are still things I’d like to change up and make different but for the present it’s fine.

Simple Sunday

Well, the clocks went back an hour so it’s now only 7am and we’ve walked and I’ve done some banking and now I’m eating a bagel.

I’m planning on starting the kitchen zone in a few minutes and getting that done. Then I plan to get a bag ready for the food bank and drop it off in one of the Food for Families bins.

Yesterday, I shopped at the new Trader Joe’s and it’s a lovely store. The layout is different so I had to kind of zig-zag to get stuff but it was fine. I picked up some Thanksgiving things like cornbread stuffing and some premade turkey gravy. Since we will be arriving home the day before Thanksgiving I need things to be as easy as possible. Of course, my son and daughter will be here to keep things running smoothly like letting the chickens out in the morning and in in the evening. They’re both working all the time we’re gone so they can keep up on the chores. It’s a big help really.

I’ve been reorganizing a few drawers of things like tools and will finish that up today too. B is taking a load to Goodwill so a few more misc things out the door.

The week ahead isn’t too busy. I have an annual visit with my PCP which is annoying to me since I see Dr. L every 8 weeks but I guess it’s their policy. Still a PITA. One is Sutter and my oncology is Dignity so I guess they don’t really communicate.

Since we’re having a no-gift/minimalist Christmas it has been very interesting to go into Target and look at all the stuff and realize, I don’t need to buy anything!!! ( well, a candle but that’s all the time). I’m determined to see how this plays out and if I like it or not. We have never had a Christmas with no gifts so this will be a new experience. Besides, we all get what we need/want anyway all year long. I will send my sister something( usually Harry and David’s pears) and my brother I just give cash to. Since we have no other relatives to exchange with I guess it does make it easy.

Simple Sunday

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

A nice homemaking day.

I have an Instant pot of Potato leek soup cooking, and I made a pork roast in my Staub. I added potatoes and carrots and onions from the farm. I don’t usually do this with pork and usually just do pulled pork but I wanted to use the Staub so I looked for recipes online. It looks good. I guess the test will be later on how tasty is it.

Then I did my morning reset around the house. The Flylady zone this week is the entryways and my office. I don’t need to do much in either area, but I’ll wash the windows and tidy up some.

I went into Micheals to get some worsted yarn to make socks with my new little sock loom. I bought 2 different types of wool and can’t quite tell which is the right one to use. I plan on using the thinner wool first. This is a little wood contraption( loom) that you knit on. My hands can’t do the repetitive knitting action or they cramp up so this is what this loom is for. I guess we’ll see how it goes.

It’s all clouded over now whereas this morning we could see stars and Orion’s belt clearly. Rain is forecast for tomorrow.

This week I have my mammogram and my appointment with Dr. L on Wednesday in Sacramento. I plan on swimming Tuesday and Saturday if I can. The new Trader Joe’s just opened in Rocklin so I want to stop and check it out. I’m excited that it’s that much closer to us and the exit is where Target and Walmart are. ( well, Walmart is on the opposite side of the freeway). Everyone has wanted TJ’s to come into Auburn but I think the demographics weren’t there.

We’ve been having nice evening fires on the patio. The weather has been perfect for sitting out for just a bit after sunset.

Simple Sunday

Our skies are still smokey and the sun is a red orb in the sky. It did clear up yesterday afternoon but it’s back in this morning. We had a good walk though although ‘he who shall not be named was there’. My God!, He is always there. I don’t think he’s taken a day off in the last year. Even I, OCD that I am, try and take a rest day.Oh well, he doesn’t bother us(right??after all that)… and does stay out of the way.

I went to Safeway to get the rest of the camping food for B and Sachi. One night spaghetti with garlic bread, the next night tofu burgers. It should be easy for them to handle. Then we went to Starbucks to get a pound of coffee ground for the press. It’s easier than trying to grind a large jars worth of coffee. We shared a tall Italian Roast coffee.

I finished the bathroom zone. I had bought new shower curtains last week so I put them up. With a claw foot tub, our shower needs 2 curtains to go around the ring at the top. I replace them about 3x a year due to mold issues. This time of year with everything so dry there isn’t much of a problem but in the winter it is more so. Still I cut the bottom off @3 X as well and wash in bleach.

I ordered the new Rosamunde Pilcher’s book.

She is one of my favorite authors. Will see if I like it. I have no qualms about returning a book if I don’t like it. I’m sure Amazon doesn’t want you doing this often but I have when I’m not happy with a book or a purchase.

This coming week will include swimming 2x, my labs on Friday , and taking Buggie in to check this wiring issue. The running lights on the left are not working and even after changing the fuses and bulbs it’s still not working. So we need to get it fixed as we drive out in the near dark at 5:45 am and the lights are not on. The brake lights work fine though. B needs to try and reschedule his IGIV for sooner as he is really feeling the fatigue. The anti-rejection drug he is on is causing his immunoglobulins to drop too low. Unfortunately, he will need to be on this drug a while so this is the treatment. At least it works. The cost is shocking at $41,000. Really?? I guess you’d just die if you didn’t have insurance.

I’m thinking seriously of painting our floors in the front room and bedroom white. I’ve always wanted white floors, very Scandish. But it would require some logistics as we would need to do half or a third at a time so we can access the bathroom and my daughter can get out of her room. Plus what I read is that it takes at least 2 coats maybe 3. We’ll see how it goes when the weather is cooler. It’s too hot now to do anything.

I think what I’ll do first is go to the Benjamin Moore paint store and find out about paints that can be put on a floor. Is it just regular paint and then a coat of varathane over it?? I’ll check.

Further minimizing…

So, as you know I’ve been going thru more things and getting rid of more things. Sometimes hidden or just in a box or vintage suitcase in my case. I’ve also sold some Waldorf toys.

First off, a few miscellaneous.

So random things in the Heywood, nobody has used. The two candle holders are Hearth and Home and they were cute but they take a small candle and I generally never have them. The glass is probably my son’s but it hasn’t been used so it’s going. ( update, B said it was his from some trip to LOng beach and he didnt care).The hurricane top was because I bought 2 for when power went out and then I bought a spare top. Who knows when I’ll need that so it’s going. The pyrex is going because I have too many.

The Waldorf things include:

Goose girl, oak tree and pond with bridge.

That kangaroo and baby retail for $40.

Both of these sets I sold for $100. Ostheimer toys are all out of stock everywhere and very desirable. But they only took up room in my Heywood drawer so I’m glad that they are going to a good home with young children.

So what have I discovered? Getting rid of things and clearing any space feels great and opens up that space. Even if it’s only one or two things. I love space more than things.

Minimalism is certainly a journey as is decluttering. I think there is a point where it feels just right but I still have things to get rid of. It’s really layers of things and when I get to the next layer, things I didn’t see before, are more visible and I don’t care about them anymore.

Case in point. I bought an Instant Pot airfryer about 2 years ago, maybe 18 months. We had lots of fun with it the first 6 months and then slowly nobody wanted to get it out and use it. If we had a choice we used our toaster oven, which we love. ( Breville). So I decided to donate it and now it’s in the pile to get dropped off at Goodwill. That opens up that whole area under the Heywood. I don’t have anything in there at the moment and plan to only put something there if it fits and the space works.

The thing about decluttering is just start and then just keep going. Little by little, inch by inch, row by row….

How to do a morning home reset.

The concept of a house re-set is from the Youtube vlogger minimom. She just recently stopped doing her youtube channel and she is missed. A honest, forthright person who is a minimalist and has 2 young children. She talked about a morning reset and an evening one. So I’ve adopted the idea as a house reset in the morning.

Basically, you go thru each room and pick up whatever doesn’t belong there and put it away and tidy each room. You’re not really cleaning as such, just being sure things are where they belong and the room is ‘set’ for the day. I don’t do an evening reset myself as by that time everything is done except maybe emptying the dishwasher which B does.

I usually start in the bedroom. I make the bed, tidy any books I’ve been reading and take out the laundry basket from the closet.

This is looking out to the north side of the house where the iceberg roses are blooming.

I keep one orchid in this room on the crate that was mounted on the wall. I put B’s collection of Dylan books inside the crate.

Next, I do the bathroom reset. Empty trash can, swipe the sink and swish the toilet bowl. That’s usually all I do. We only each have a towel and those are on hooks.

I use two of my pinecone ware mugs for Q tips.

The front room usually only needs a pickup of anything that might have been put on the table. This doesn’t happen too often unless there’s a project going on.

My office area can get messy with papers but i put them in a crate that I really love that has a hinge. So I can open and close it.

This is my “office” box.

The kitchen also is just reset so everything is off the counters, breakfast dishes done and in the dishwasher. If I’ve been making bread or cooking , all that gets cleaned up and things put away.

Overall, the reset may take me 10 minutes, maybe 15 depending how the kitchen is.

Having become more minimal is definitely a key to a simple clean house that doesn’t require lots of hours of work to maintain.

Right now I have my VW loaded with another load for the thrift store. Stuff just adds up and how I look at what I need changes so things get decluttered.

Ideas for 2021

Actually, I never set goals.

What I do is have a running list of things that are of interest to me and then consider setting them as priorities. Goal setting or resolutions, like losing weight or exercising more, just doesn’t work for me. I do better with an idea like ‘walk in the park most days’. Since I’m pretty structured I don’t have a problem accomplishing that because it’s just part of who I am. Or losing weight. I just eat healthily and even though I could easily afford to lose 20 lbs, I honestly don’t give a flying fig. We eat healthy and always have. We eat very little sugary stuff and a good basic vegetarian diet with meat on the side so to speak. So, my idea would be maybe adding new recipes into my rotation at least 2x a month. If I do great if I don’t’ meh.

Now that neither of us works at a job, we live a quiet life with the occasional camping trip(when we’re not in lockdown or dealing with a deadly virus).

I do plan on making some camping reservations so I guess we’ll see how that goes. We had really hoped to buy a newish closed in RV but honestly I’m not sure we feel like we have money to do that. So I guess that’s a goal or at least getting out camping is a priority.

other ideas may include:

Finding some new places to walk.

having coffee dates once we can

update: ha ha, half this blog didn’t post, and of course I can’t find the original so I’ll try and do a rewrite.

Modified edition:

I don’t do RESOLUTIONS as such like New Years resolutions.

I do set some goals such as Just Keep Walking! But putting down resolutions of lose 20 lbs or exercise more ,as I said, doesn’t work for me. Probably, because it doesn’t motivate me or interest me. But when I did the Just Keep Walking Project, I walked EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR 5 YEARS. It was only when I ended up with a hairline fracture in my foot I had to stop 😦

I do set FINANCIAL GOALS such as NO CC DEBT which we have kept to in all 2020. Also, trying to add little amounts to our mortgage principal. We,unfortunately, still have a mortgage but such is life. I’d like to reduce the principal. That way when we’re gone the kids( we have everything in a trust) they would have more equity if they want to sell and move somewhere else. But since there’s not a lot of wiggle room in the budget it is small amounts to add to it but still every bit does help.

I read a lot so read more doesn’t make any sense. I would like to be more creative but cooking is my creative outlet so that’s good. I enjoy knitting but my arthritis in my hands kicks in and causes some cramping after a while so I don’t do that often.

Anyway, other goals or things to try and accomplish are:

Replacing the 2 bedroom windows. They were replaced 25 years ago but since redoing my daughter’s windows and seeing how much better they are at insulating I can see those 2 need doing.

Next, a modified kitchen redo. The window, and the sink and counter. That all depends on whether we want to take on ripping all that out. We couldn’t afford to have someone do it so it would be what can we accomplish ourselves. So that’s up in the air.

After weget vaccinations and can travel, I ‘d like to try and go up the Oregon coast again. Just slow and camping here and there. But it all depends on my Velcade shots and how soon I can go do those things. So again, kind of wait and see sort of thing.

Finish the fences in the front and out by the barn. That’s doable and we can budget that in.

So, it’s some goals mixed in with wants and a to do list.