Jumping Creek Pottery Tiny Studio

studio

By Chillia Zoll

What can I tell you about being a builder?  I can tell you that I love to toss numbers around in my head and figure out how to stretch lines into curves.  A stationary nail connected to a string and tied to a pencil sets an easy arc to any piece of wood.  This is usually how I start dreaming up rounded buildings and figuring out how wind, gravity, sunlight and snow will react.

Carpentry in Canada seems always to include late Falls in trenches, pouring concrete foundations.  Gravel slipping into my wet carpenter’s pouch, rusting my common nails, losing my drill bits, and ruining my tape measure.  Construction means numb fingers, blossoming pain tolerance and callused feelings. Continue reading

Life with TOW-Wanda: Navigating Grief, One Campfire at a Time

rv lifeToday I’m excited to share a guest post with you by Ginny McKinney. Ginny completed the Tiny Transition + Downsizing E-Course a few months ago (which is now open for registration for the session beginning on March 1st!) and I’ve asked her to share her story because it is downright brave, inspiring and fearless. Ginny has turned a sad situation into a brave adventure.

If you want to join the 8-week downsizing bootcamp and join a lifetime group of friends and comrades on a similar journey towards simple living (either in a tiny house, camper, cabin, or even downsizing in place) – you should join us for the March 1st session of Tiny Transition + Downsizing. You’ll get 8 weeks of practical lessons and challenges, guided step by step help, lifetime access to the private class forum, accountability, support and motivation from me and your classmates, and the tools you need to simplify your home and life.

I’ll let Ginny take it from here:

The morning dawned with the typical bluebird skies of Colorado. Mr. Virgo and I had been knee deep in negotiations as to how we were going to spend our looming retirement years. We finally settled on getting a travel trailer and to start practicing early. Why wait for retirement to have some fun, right? We had a leisurely breakfast then headed out to go trailer shopping. It was a lovely drive. We discussed the merits of different size campers and floor plans. We definitely wanted something big enough to take the kids and grandkids with us. We held hands and planned. It was a perfect day.

Until… We were standing in the fourth trailer, trying to decide which one we liked best, when my sweetheart suffered a massive heart attack and died. He was 62. In a moment, the life I knew, the life we had planned, was just…gone. The next few days…ok, the next YEAR, was a blur. I went to stay with my kids for a few weeks. It was spring break and my older daughter said, “Mom, we’re all yours today. What do you want to do?” There was only one thing TO do. We went out and bought a travel trailer!
I instinctively knew I needed to put something joyful in front of me or I wasn’t sure I was going to get through this. I remembered seeing a story somewhere about a group of women who were trailer enthusiasts so I started searching. Sisters on the Fly is an outdoor adventure group that encourages women to bring out the girl in them and go play. They were exactly who I needed to drag me through the darkest of days.
travel trailer
 About two months after Mr. Virgo died, I took off for a three month trip on my own, exploring every corner of Colorado and points in between. I camped nestled between big rigs. I ventured far out in the boonies where no one could hear my anguished cries as I yelled at God for taking my man. I met my new Sisters along the way and my healing, albeit slow, began one campfire at a time.

I was warned against making major decisions in the first year of widowhood. For quite some time, I had been feeling like a slave to the big box that was my now cavernous home. I had a mortgage that wasn’t going to be paid off till age 89. I yearned to be free of the responsibilities of lawn care and home maintenance. I was feeling the weight of my genetic tendency to hoard junk that no one in their right mind was ever going to want or appreciate. My children had long ago told me they were just going to bring in a dumpster (or two!) when I’m gone so why wait? I consulted with my realtor. I had a home staging company come in and give me some advice and I set my sights on purging 40 years of STUFF!

It was not easy. As a matter of fact, it was physically and emotionally painful. My younger daughter came to town and helped me one day. It took ten hours to clean one closet! I was reduced to tears on many occasions but there was only one way to eat this elephant and that was one bite at a time. Every box of stuff donated, sold, given away made me lose another 100 pounds!

I found I was tripping over what I wanted to keep so I rented a storage space. A word of warning here. Make sure you rent at a reputable, secure site…preferably with cement walls between storage units. I tried to save a buck and ended up getting about $9000 worth of items stolen, all replaceable except Mr. Virgo’s golf clubs. So sad.

Once the house was staged and on the market, the waiting game began. I moved into my little 16′ camper, partly to keep from having to clean the house constantly, and partly because I wanted to try my hand at living in a tiny home. I had been following the tiny house movement for quite some time. I was definitely interested in the lifestyle, but I wanted the flexibility to move frequently. I loved it, but the configuration of my space wasn’t really conducive to full time living. I started looking for a bigger, well built, travel trailer to buy once the house was sold.

I knew I needed to downsize in earnest. “Be ruthless!” became my mantra. I whittled away till I got a three bedroom house down to 25 boxes of stuff that I just HAD to keep. I paid to have it moved to my grandparent’s farm where I was going to care for an elderly aunt. As fate would have it, that didn’t work out for either of us so I bowed out gracefully.But, now what to do with the 25 boxes of stuff I “couldn’t” part with? I have been the caretaker of the family archives since my mom died eleven years ago. My first job was to scan 10,000+ photos and documents onto an external hard drive. And back it up on a second external hard drive for safe keeping. It took six weeks and was quite the trip down memory lane. It was emotionally draining and there were a ton of potholes on that road. Once I got the photos all scanned, I packed up the originals and shipped them off to the families of the subjects. Brilliant. They’re happy…I’m happy! Win-win.

interior
Once I sold my house, I traded in my Ford Expedition for an F-150 pickup and traded up for a 29′ Starcraft Launch Ultra Lite with a slide out dining area. It feels like the Taj Mahal after being crammed in my first camper. It does have a few disadvantages. I can’t pull into small, intimate campgrounds as easily. I’m a little less inclined to just hookup and go like I did with the little trailer but I’m hoping that gets better with time. Backing up is certainly interesting. I’m 42′ from nose to tail…there’s a learning curve. And, you had better be prepared for sticker shock at the gas pump! When I moved to West Virginia in October, I averaged 8 miles per gallon cross country and gas was over $4 per gallon in some places.
large trailer
 It’s winter now and bitter cold so I can’t really go through the rest of the boxes just yet. I’m spending my time organizing my little house on wheels in preparation for the next phase of this journey. I cannot stand the prefab, plastic look of the brown interior that all RV’s seem to have so I am changing the decor to something that suits me. Even though it’s 4 degrees outside, I am snug as a bug in my tiny little home. And best of all? I’m free. It’s paid for. I will carry only what is useful and loved. I can live wherever I want. And that is the most empowering thing I have ever done for myself.

Mr. Virgo would be so proud! <3

You can follow Ginny as she travels with TOW-Wanda…her home on wheels. www.facebook.com/marshmallowranch

Ginny is a former student in the Tiny Transition + Downsizing E-Course. If you need a step by step plan to get your life downsized and get out from under your “stuff” – you can join the next session of Tiny Transition + Downsizing right here.  Class starts March 1st!

The practical weekly lessons and private student-only forum allow you to make progress at your own pace within a group of like-minded friends on the same journey. I’ve been told that the group is a catalyst for lifelong change. That’s because we not only go through how to eliminate all sorts of crap from your life and space, but because we fundamentally change your relationship with “stuff”. It has the cascading effect of positively influencing every area of your life. You can learn more about Tiny Transition and Downsizing and register here.
e-course banner

Tiny Transition and Downsizing e-course

Tiny Transition E-Course Banner CometCamperDotCom

The next session of Tiny Transition and Downsizing, the 8-week e-course, begins on March 1st, 2015. You can register for the class and see all the details here!

Tiny Transition + Downsizing is the 8-week course that fundamentally changes your relationship with stuff and helps you de-clutter, downsize, and clear out your home and mind, in a step-by-step zero-overwhelm environment. Registration is open for the session beginning on March 1st. Preparing to transition into a tiny home, RV, trailer or cabin? Just want to clear your space and get some sanity in your current home? This is for you.

I’ve been getting emails from students who have completed the class, and I keep hearing this one thing that’s really stood out to me:

“I’ve tried everything before – read books, articles, blogs, bought all the containers – I’ve been trying to downsize for YEARS. But nothing worked until I took this class. This was totally different. It finally clicked.”

I love that. It really gets to the heart of what this course is all about: it’s NOT a bunch of downsizing and organizing tips  – it’s a paradigm shift in how you think about stuff, clutter, mental space and physical things. It changes the way you think about “stuff” so that you can get EXCITED about getting rid of what you don’t need and start living the way you want to.

When I started the Tiny Transition and Downsizing class, I hoped that it would be helpful and motivating, but I had no idea that teaching it would allow me to witness the absolutely amazing things the class has accomplished.

Tens of thousands of items purged.

Money saved and dollars kept in pockets, instead of spent on “stuff”.

Bad habits broken and replaced with good, healthy ones.

Unfulfilling jobs and relationships told to hit the road, to make room for the new joys of living simple.

We’ve had students leave corporate jobs, hit the road in an RV, and go part-time at work so that they could spend more time volunteering or working with animals. People have cleared out ad sold their homes during the 8 weeks and actually moved into their tiny home shortly after.

I’m literally floored by the courageous and incredible things people accomplish within the group. The combination of motivation, accountability, friendship and step by step instruction that the course provides is a powerful force.

I want to invite you to be a part of the next session of the Tiny Transition and Downsizing course.

When you sign up for Tiny Transition + Downsizing, you get:

  • 8 weeks of downsizing lessons and challenges (it’s like Downsizing bootcamp!)
  • LIFETIME access to the private class forum
  • Accountability, support, motivation and camaraderie from me and your classmates
  • The tools you need to simplify your home, mind, and LIFE starting right now.

I’ve been told that the group is a catalyst for lifelong change. That’s because we not only go through how to eliminate all sorts of crap from your life and space, but because we fundamentally change your relationship with “stuff”. It has the cascading effect of positively influencing every area of your life.

Here’s what some recent students had to say about their experience:

“This was the most helpful and inspiring course I have ever taken! I have learned so many things, gained new friends and have become more inspired to downsize my life. My life is forever changed (all for the better) after this course! Thank you for taking the time to create and make available to us this information to improve our quality of life!” — Shelby

“This class has single-handedly changed my thinking and life. The email course is rocking my world with the “how” to do this, the access to the associated group forum is invaluable. You could lurk and never post with this group and it’ll change your thinking and life.” – Andrea Mortensen

“In fact, I am more convinced than ever that taking this course to figure out how to ease into the whole downsizing process thoughtfully and gradually was one of the best moves I could have made, especially because of all the incredible support that this group provides in so many ways.” – Jack

“Mariah’s Tiny Transition E-Course was fantastic!  She provides tons of useful tips on how to start your downsizing journey and her encouragement and support are truly amazing.  One of my favorite things about this course was the incredibly supportive and engaged online community.  This course helped me jumpstart my own downsizing journey and gave me the confidence I needed to pursue my dreams.  This course will help you overcome obstacles, it will provide encouragement and it will help you succeed on your own downsizing journey!”  – Lora Higgins

“I took the challenge and am so glad I did. Even if you never “live” in a tiny house I found that the course helped me to look inside myself and found out all kinds of things about ME! I am truly grateful for the experience. You will find yourself very proud of what you will accomplish!” – Diane

Downsizing is HARD. But you don’t have to do it all alone.

The process requires you to think critically and intentionally about what you want your life to look and feel like, instead of just going through the motions of work-sleep-spend money-repeat. 99% percent of the people you meet won’t accept the challenge.

Will you?

You can join us in the next session of the Tiny Transition and Downsizing E-Course by registering here. Class begins on March 1st! I hope to see you there!

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The Great American Tiny Home Building Contest to be held in North Carolina

What does a tiny house or small house community look like? Does it have a community center? Can you grow a garden? Can you have chickens? It is near a pedestrian friendly city? Who knows? The conversation has taken place in a number of forums, on a number of platforms, and around many a campfire. Towns like Spur, Texas have launched large scale marketing campaigns to bring out tiny house enthusiasts and posture themselves as tiny house friendly towns. But for one reason or another none have truly been as successful as anyone would hope and this is especially true on the East coast. I think that is why I am so personally excited for the Great American Tiny Home Building Contest (click here to read more about the contest or if you are a builder and would like to enter) held at Coral Sands Point Recreational Village near Lexington, NC.

Coral

Coral Sands is a park model tiny home resort located on the Abbot’s Creek section of High Rock Lake near Lexington, NC. Established in 2008, they were literally “tiny when tiny wasn’t cool.” I first came to know about the community in 2010 or so. Coral Sands offers deeded, waterfront lots for sale (or lease) for park model, RV-style tiny homes under 400 square feet. They have the land, you bring the tiny home. They do occasionally have lot+cabin packages available and currently have two. One is 298 sq.ft. with a sleeping loft (no bedroom) and the other is a 398 sq.ft. with a full sized bedroom (no loft). The community currently has 21 tiny home lots for sale or lease.

Coral 1

In addition to being able to own your land, each site has its own private pier and floater and is allowed the use of the concrete boat launch, swimming area, bath house, and other amenities not available to other High Rock Lake homeowners.  Continue reading

Tiny Houses and Blending In

Tiny House Magazine Issue 26

While looking through this month’s issue of the Tiny House Magazine this thought came to mind: several of the houses featured in this issue just seem to blend into their surrounding landscape.

Starting out with a video produced by Kirsten Dirksen showing Cape Cod dune dwellings that just seem to melt into the dunes. Another article tells a story of a family who are living on a sailboat out of necessity and their home just fits into their watery environment.

Cargo container homes are decorated with rustic elements and fit well into a city lot. A motorhome tiny house blends into almost any campground across the county and each place can be called a temporary home.

Nan Fischer even has an article titled “Casas de Camouflage” with a subtitle that reads: “Home Exteriors That Blend With The Surroundings.”

These stories and so much more are included in this issue of the Tiny House Magazine. Enjoy!

Purchase Tiny House Magazine Issue 26 Here!

Tiny House Magazine Issue 26 inside pages