Last Month I decided that I would make a bigger commitment to living with less by starting the 30 Day Minimalism Game created by The Minimalists. After my last post I got a new job and have been preoccupied with learning new material and adjusting to my new 7pm bed time and 3am wake up call. But life is starting to slow down again and I'm starting the Minimalism Game TODAY! I know it's not the 1st of the month or the first of the year or anything neat and tidy like that but life doesn't always schedule itself neat and orderly and I'd rather start today than wait another couple weeks to improve my life!
So today - on Day 1 - I have decided to get rid of this candle holder and the tea light candles that go in it. I bought it when we first moved into our tiny house about 8 months ago and we've used it exactly twice. I'll have to think about what to get rid of tomorrow. I don't know how long we'll be able to play the game as we don't own that much stuff. I do however want to challenge myself to really think about the value I place in objects and consider if they're really adding to my life or if it's just 'stuff'. So March 11th, 2017 is the goal. Hope I can make it at least halfway! Follow my journey on instagram @thistinyhousewife or on twitter @tinyhousewife16!!!
Allison Bost, MSW
This Tiny House Wife
According to Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus, self named 'The Minimalists,' minimalism is a lifestyle that is centered around asking the question "what adds value to your life" and simplifying or clearing the path so that everything in your life meets these values. I find this to be simple and beautiful. To clear the path of 'stuff' and find out what truly is contributing to a purposeful life. I first stumbled upon The Minimalists around February 2016. I started by reading their book Everything That Remains, a book about their journey from 'maximists' to minimalists, from debtors to financial freedom. And it sounded like the key to happiness.
My husband and I were hooked. We sat down and took a hard look at our lifestyle. We found a lot of excess. We had credit card debt. We were renting a 2 bedroom home for just the 2 of us. We were spending over half our income on home expenses and we had no savings. There's no one way to start on this minimalist path and we chose to first focus on getting our finances in order. We worked hard and paid off our $8,000+ credit card debt within 3 months. After that we needed to make a plan for how to reduce our living expenses. This is where we discovered the tiny house movement. We continued to work and save and within 3 more months we had a down payment and moving expenses and purchased our first home - a tiny home. We ordered it from a company who had it built in just 6 short weeks.
With the tiny house coming in such a short amount of time it was time to tackle our physical belongings. Over those 6 weeks we reduced our belongings by about 90%. From a 1,011 sq ft home to a 399sq ft home.
First went the clothing, a huge amount of the clothing donated hadn't been worn in months if not years. The jeans that did fit, the dress that makes me look fat, the t-shirts that have holes in them. All found homes at local charities or were recycled. Next we went room by room asking ourselves the question "Does this add value to our lives?" Now we only had 6 weeks to accomplish this task so we did our very best to contemplate what we really would need as quickly as we could but I was afraid that because we had to decide so fast that we would end up getting rid of things we would need in the new home. My fears were unfounded. It's been 7 months in the new tiny home and we haven't had to replace anything that we gave away/sold/recycled. In fact I would argue that we didn't go far enough. Over the past month I have come back to reevaluate what we have left that still contributes value to our lives and have found several things that are not needed. I ended up selling the 20 or so books that I had originally kept along with about half of my remaining clothing.
To further commit to creating a purposeful life I will be doing 'The Minimalist Game' starting March 1st, 2017. The game goes - Get rid of 1 thing on day 1, get rid of 2 things on day 2, 3 things on day 3 and so forth until you either no longer have anything that doesn't add value to your life or reach the end of the month. Some people compete with one another to see who can last the longest but we are doing the game as a family. Since we did just reduce our belongings 7 months ago I am unsure how many days we'll be able to play the game but we will go until we are confident that we only posses things that add value to our lives.
If you'd like to learn more about minimalism and this value centered lifestyle I would recommend starting with The Minimalists Blog or by watching their documentary on Netflix.
If you'd like to play along with my family this March on our minimalism game please leave a comment or email me directly!
Have a great week!
Allison Bost, MSW
This Tiny House Wife
I first came across the idea of zero waste while researching the impact of the animal agriculture industry on the environment. Learning that animal agg comprises 51% of green house gases, amazon deforestation, and numerous other detrimental environmental effects I became even more committed to giving up my part in this cycle by going vegan. Zero waste came into the fold when I finally put two and two together and realized that I, like most Americans, was ignoring the other 49% of environmental devastation. What could I do to reduce my footprint further. Well, my husband and I downsized into a 399sq foot home back in July 2016. That was something but was it enough? After researching the zero waste movement I became inspired to do everything I could to eliminate wastefulness in my family's life.
Things in the zero waste movement have changed since I was in elementary school learning 'Reduce, Reuse, Recycle'. The movement has taken this a step further. There are now 5 R's which are in order:
Refuse - single use items, straws, plastic bags etc.
Reduce - what you need
Reuse - what you have including repairing items
Recycle - when you have to
Rot - compost what you can
Armed with this new pyramid of information I decided to start small and make 5 changes to reduce my family's waste this February.
This month we:
1. Switched from plastic to mesh/cloth produce bags
2. Switched to a safety razor and eliminated need for disposable razors
3. Made our own laundry soap and liquid soap
4. Switched to bamboo toothbrushes
5. Canceled catalogs and got on the 'no junk mail' list
Allison Bost, MSW
This Tiny House Wife
I first met my husband in the spring of 2013. We shared a meal at...Texas Roadhouse. I believe we both had steak. Fast forward 3 years and oh how the tides have turned! In November of 2016 Jerrod, the husband, decided he wanted to lose weight and being the supportive (and also obese) wife that I am I decided that I too would try and lose some weight. I vowed to cook healthier meals. After a couple weeks browsing healthy recipes online I came across a few vegetarian and vegan cooking blogs that I fell in love with. One was actually the blog of a good friend of mine, Cookie + Kate. The others are The Minimalist Baker, Love and Lemons, and Oh She Glows. If you haven't heard of these bloggers go check them out ASAP!
After trying recipes from theses sites it finally dawned on me that animal products are completely unnecessary for healthy whole food meals. Light bulb! At this point it was the beginning of December and my husband was starting to ask the dreaded "where's the meat?" question and so I had to confess...I am going vegan. He was upset, and not just a little upset, but irrationally upset. I had changed the game on him. The girl he met, and fell in love with over countless meals of steak and ribs and roast is giving up meat? And not just meat but cheese, eggs, milk, all of it? He was shocked.
I had to help him see how this was the best way we could be healthy. I started by doing my own research on plant based diets and the animal agriculture industry. I was shocked. What started out as a health kick had turned me into an advocate for animal rights, the environment, sustainability and the American health crisis. I had to show my husband what I had found out. We watched endless documentaries like Forks Over Knives, Cowspiracy, Planted Nation and many more. I talked to him every day about the evils of processed foods and brought up the gruesome facts about animal slaughter on a daily basis. He remained adamant that he's still a meat eater and that he hates the word VEGAN and associates it with 'extremist weirdos'. Easy fix, we no longer say meals are vegan, we just refer to them as Plant Based. It was incredible. Not only does he enjoy his new plant based diet he has even started singing it's praises to those he works with.
It took a long time, a lot of education (on both our parts) and persistence but we finally found a balance we can live with. I cook only plant based, animal free meals and he loves them. Then if he still wants meat he can either make it himself or he can order animal products if we go out to eat. Compromise, the key to a happy marriage! Then, just as I was settling into the idea that my husband was at least going to be vegan 90% of the time we went out for a treat to a bakery. I have been craving donuts for months. Going vegan I gave up my once a week donut habit. My husband then googled vegan bakeries and we were off to Green Goodies in Oklahoma City, about a 20 min drive from our home. We got there and unfortunately they didn't have donuts but I did get a really good cupcake and the best part of the trip...my husband chose a vegan cupcake over the traditional ones! Happy dance, this is working! He admitted that it tasted great "just like the real thing". I saw my opportunity so the next day we went to breakfast, he let me pick and I chose a vegan friendly coffee shop, The Red Cup in Oklahoma City. And again he chose the vegan option all on his own! He's still singing the praises of the vegan burrito and has declared we'll be going back next weekend!
I am not so naive as to think he's never going to eat animal products again but he's given me so much hope. He obviously believes in the things I've been saying and is doing an amazing job of respecting my beliefs when he eats with me. He admitted he can't even remember when the last time he ate meat was! I know he would never have come around to the plant based diet if I had declared that it was my way or starve. I am pretty sure the biggest influence on his new perspective of plant based food is that I make sure that we are having a variety of healthy and delicious dinners almost every night. This way we are enjoying the experience of trying new things together and learning what we like as we go. So my advice to all those meat-eater partners is patience, education and acceptance of your partners choices.
Are you considering detoxing for health, happiness, wellness, cleansing, mindfulness, superpowers....all of the above? Can juicing your fruits and vegetables really accomplish these things? As an new 'health' convert I decided to find out for myself if this juicing fad was all it's followers claimed to be. I started by watching the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, a full length documentary about the world of juicing and it's many health benefits. The film follows it's creator, Joe Cross, as he goes from "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead" to a healthy weight and body as he does a vegetable and fruit juice only diet for 60 days followed by several months of a whole foods plant based diet. Over the course of the 60 days Joe manages to lose about 100 lbs and is well enough to be taken off all his medication for his chronic condition. The movie also follows the juice fast of Iowa truck driver Phil Staples as he too juices for 60 days and loses over 100 lbs. The documentary is very motivational and both my husband and I had a powerful 'we could do that!' reaction to the juice fast diet.
After watching the documentary (and it's sequel Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead 2) on Netflix I did some googling on the health benefits of juicing. I went first to the popular blog The Blender Girl and found her touting the major health benefits of a seasonal 3 day juice cleanse. She offers guides on how to cleanse for each season.
In the end I have found that there are just too many conflicting opinions on the subject to say definitively if Juice Fasting is everything that it claims to be. We decided to give it a try and see for ourselves.
On February 6th, 2017 my husband and I embarked on what we hoped would be a 10 day juice only fast. I started by purchasing a $5 juicer from our local Goodwill (second hand is best for the environment!). With juicer in hand we began our journey. I also checked out the book Reboot with Joe: Juice Diet for recipes and motivation.
- Day 1 - We opted to start the fast with the drink made famous in Joe Cross's movie - The Mean Green. The juice consists of apples, cucumbers, celery, apples, kale, lemons and ginger. More veggies than I've ever had for breakfast! Review - Not Too Shabby. While you can discern each individual flavor in the drink they somehow all work well together. The apples lend a sweet quality while you get a kick of spice from the ginger root. This drink remains to be my favorite of all the juices we tried. Day 1 was difficult for me emotionally. I didn't have any temptations, I wasn't around any other food, even opting to skip my coffee shop routine in favor of staying in bed to work and read in peace, sans croissant and doughnut temptation. But even without distractions my body craved food. I wouldn't have called it hunger, but more of a deep desire to eat something solid.
- Day 2 - Woke feeling refreshed, had a relatively good nights sleep. Ready for my breakfast of another juice. This time it was a delicious concoction including pineapples! Breakfast was the highlight of my day, after that I quickly plummeted into a dark mood that wouldn't lift. That night I barely slept at all, maybe getting a sparse few hours sleep leaving me with no energy the following morning.
- Day 3 - No energy. Horrible mood. Yearning to eat something, anything. Late in the afternoon I started to experience sharp jabs of pain in my lower abdomen. I googled pain and juice fasting without any search results. With the support of my husband and my online community I decided to power through and continue with the fast.
- Day 4 - This is the day all the resources said I would feel a turn in mood. Enlightenment and joy would fill me up. Perhaps my expectations were too high. I felt nothing like enlightenment and joy. I felt hunger, anger, resentment, and I was exhausted. By 11am I had hit my limit. I immediately called my mother and arranged to have lunch. I showed up at her house at 11:30, devoured a delicious green apple then proceeded to feast on vegan thai curry. And it might have been the best curry I've ever eaten. Ever.
So I made it 3.5 days on my juice fast and my husband decided to end his fast that same night. We toasted our good effort with homemade gluten free/vegan flatbread pizza and it was divine. What did I learn from this experience? I learned the following things:
- The human body is truly an amazing entity. It has the power to heal itself and the power to express what it needs to function.
- That I can do anything with the help of my support system. If I had only listened to my husband and online support group I would have continued on with the fast for at least a while longer, I instead chose to follow what my body was telling me, but I am grateful that I had the support of so many strong independent men and women cheering me on!
- Fasting is not for me at this point in my health journey.
- I will make having a homemade juice a part of my everyday routine in order to boost my fruit/veggie intake, while still eating a balanced plant based whole foods diet.
- If you are planing a juice fast my rookie advise is to get a support system in place first. I wouldn't have made it past Day 1 without mine!
Have a healthy day guys!
Allison Bost, MSW
This Tiny House Wife
Hi guys! Thanks for stopping by. Today I want to tell you about all the exciting things I have planned for the month of February!
28 Days TV-Free!
Starting Feb 1st I am giving up watching all television/movies/documentaries for the month of February. Since leaving my job in December I have noticed I spend MOST of my day either watching television or at least doing other things while the television is on in the background, calling to me, distracting me. I am very picky about what I watch on TV and almost exclusively watch the Food Network Channel. Since becoming Vegan I have had more and more difficulty watching Food TV. Rarely do they have tv episodes that are vegetarian friendly and vegans have almost no presence on this channel. I just can't watch a chicken get 'broken down' anymore. I can't watch chef after chef describe how 'juicy and delicious' a cut of beef (COW!) is with this technique or this recipe. So I am detoxing from ALL TV. The goals I have for this project are to removing as much advertising as I can from my life, read more, work more on the projects that I have a passion for (website, cooking, budgeting, working on my health goals) and become more mindful that ALL my choices alien with my beliefs, even the choice of television show to watch.
Zero Waste Home
Next I am dedicating this month to the start of my Zero Waste Home journey! I have been reading Bea Johnson's book by that title and I am really inspired to reduce my household's environmental footprint. I will be challenging my wasteful habits, make better choices about purchasing things that are reusable, making some of my own staples in the kitchen and the bathroom, and starting a compost pile in my yard. Steps I have taken so far include a) using mesh produce bags, b) purchasing a safety razor instead of disposable razors c) purchasing bamboo toothbrushes and d) making my own pantry staples - vanilla extract, mustard, tofu, yogurt, almond milk etc. I'm off to a solid start but each day I have new opportunities to find ways to reduce my use.
Downsizing - Round 3
I did my families first downsize back in April of 2016 and got rid of over half of all our belongings. All the things we never used, that we just had because we were supposed to have one, that were gifts never appreciated etc. I did round 2 right after moving into the tiny house and realizing not everything we own would fit in the tiny house. Well folks it's time for round 3. Not because we accumulated much more over these last 7 months but because when we moved in we crammed as much as we possibly could into every spare space of the tiny house and it's time to evaluate if we really did need all the stuff we hung onto. For example I made sure and kept all my kitchen equipment because I could fit it all in, now I'm planning to go through and pare down anything I haven't used since moving into the tiny house.
The one area of my home that actually has increased since moving is my wardrobe. I have bought SO MUCH clothing over the past year. Not only that but then my sister gave me some of her old clothing in December. I am constantly doing the laundry and the laundry is constantly a headache for our tiny bedroom. It's time to pare down what I really love from what I just 'have'. I'll be going through my clothes and taking the pieces I want to let go to either consignment stores or to Goodwill depending on their condition.
My husband and I have decided to try our very first juice fast beginning this Sunday February 5th and lasting for 10 days. We got inspired to try juicing after watching the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead on Netflix. The powerful health benefits of juicing were made pretty apparent so I did some research into this popular practice and we want to give it a try. Yesterday I bought an old juicer from Goodwill for $5 that was just missing the plunger part. I went to the website to order the plunger and discovered this juicer model was recalled in 2001. After calling the recall hot line and talking to the company they offered to send us a replacement juicer for my recalled one! So we are getting a new juicer sent to us next week and until then I will be juicing using a blender and my nut-milk bag to strain the pulp. I haven't decided yet what I will be doing with the extra pulp but I want to reuse it the best way possible. If I can't find a reuse for the pulp I plan on putting it in my new backyard compost pile.
So there you have it! This month is over-flowing with positive changes and I'm excited to see the improvements in our health, sustainability, and happiness. Check back in soon for updates on these topics!
Have a great day ya'll,
Allison Bost, MSW
This Tiny House Wife
Over the weekend my husband and I spent a lot of time watching documentaries on Netflix about food (Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead), sustainability (Cowspiracy) and GMO's (GMO-OMG!). And then we started making our own pantry stables! The take away from these documentaries is enormous and I encourage everyone to learn more about our food system and it's impact on our health and the health of the environment. I have decided that I am going to try and completely eliminate processed foods from my diet. So over the past 2 days I made my first batch of almond milk, homemade yogurt, oil-free granola, sour cream, 2 kinds of mustard and started the process of making my own cheese! (all Vegan of course!)
I'm using the recipe book The Homemade Vegan Pantry by Miyoko Schinner. Her recipes were incredibly easy to follow. Each staple has very few ingredients. Some of the ingredients I had to find online as I couldn't find things like Magnesium Chloride or Agar Agar in my neighborhood grocery store. Other ingredients were much easier to find.
For this Dijon mustard I just used white wine, apple cider vinegar, whole brown mustard seeds (which you can get in bulk from Whole Foods) water and salt!
This homemade sour cream was a breeze to make by just combining non-dairy yogurt with coconut milk and letting it rest at room temperature for a couple days.
This morning I am going to attempt to make my own tofu and a batch of whole wheat artisan bread. I can't wait to get started! For now here are the photos from this weekends pantry stock.
Thank you for visiting and stop by again tomorrow for more pantry staples! Bye!
Allison Bost, MSW
This Tiny House Wife
Recently I have been becoming more interested in the food choices I make for myself and for my husband. About two months ago I gave up all animal products and adopted a vegan diet. For my husband this meant he was giving up about 90% of the animal products in his diet with the exception of milk in his protein shakes and the occasional tuna fish sandwich. We are both obese individuals and made these changes in order to loss weight. Very quickly after adopting this lifestyle we began seeing results. For my husband he's lost almost 30lbs in the past 2 months and for myself I've lost at least 15 lbs just by eliminating animal products.
Earlier this week I picked up a copy of a new magazine called Forks Over Knives and it really got me thinking about the amount of processed foods we still have in our diet. I was curious enough to watch the Forks Over Knives movie on Netflix and I will be forever changed.
This movie presents powerful information about the link between health and diet. The documentary centers around two doctors, Dr. Caldwell Essesltyn and Dr. Colin Campbell. Experts in their field they lay out the correlations between animal products and processed foods with poor health. The film debunks the myth perpetuated by the animal industries that people do not need meat for a source of protein, nor do we need to obtain calcium from animal milk. In fact they presented information about how drinking animal milk causes excess acid in the body which the body balances by leeching calcium from bones. There have found to be more cases of hip fractures, a sign of osteoporosis, in countries that consume the largest amount of animal milk.
Another powerful message was the link between animal fats and heart disease. The fats from animals build up in the arteries and cause blockages. If people are willing to undergo heart bypass surgery, an extremely dangerous surgery, why aren't more people willing to adopt a whole food plant based diet? We are a nation of Fast Food and Convenience Food and that is what is killing us.
Lastly a very small portion of the film hit on the environmental impact of the current Stand American Diet (SAD). Some facts include that we have destroyed 20% of the rain forest in the last few decades. And it takes 10 times the amount of fossil fuel to produce 1 calorie of animal food than plant based food.
If you haven't seen Forks Over Knives I cannot recommend this film enough. It's on Netflix right now. Go. Watch. Be enlightened, and make smart choices!
This Tiny House Wife
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Hello again interweb!
I'm back to muse about my tiny living journey. We have been in our tiny home for almost 7 months and I absolutely love it. It was cool in the summer and it's been nice and warm this winter. Minus the couple nights w/o hot water due to pipe freezes. It's just the right size for myself, my husband and our 2 dog babies. I've been thinking a lot recently about my families environmental footprint and I'd like to share these thoughts with you.
I started my tiny house journey by just watching tiny house t.v. shows. That expanded into long hours searching tiny house living on the internet. We then ventured to an Earth Day Fair in Dallas, TX and toured some of the tiny houses and got to attend a panel on living tiny. After that we made our decision. We were really going to do this tiny house thing! Excited! So we found a tiny house company and hired them to build our tiny home. We opted not to build ourselves for financial, and convenience reasons. I didn't want to learn how to build a house, nor did we have the out-of-pocket cash to buy supplies. But I did want one and I wanted it NOW. So the company put us on EXPRESS and we had our tiny home built and delivered within 7 weeks!
The downsizing process was invigorating. I was donating EVERYTHING we didn't use to charity and feeling great about it. This was it, we were really helping out the world by going tiny. Fast forward to 4ish months into the tiny house living. Did we like it? YES. We love it. It's easy, we only have what we really need and don't buy a lot of unnecessary things. But there was something missing. We have this tiny house, our energy bill was ridiculously low, our water usage was ridiculously low and we have been saving to buy our own land. But is tiny house living enough of a change? Nope.
We could take much better care of our health. Right before Thanksgiving last year my husband decided he was ready to concentrate on losing weight. We are both obese (terrible word but the truth none the less) and we needed to do a complete overhaul on our whole diet. My husband opted to try one of those meal replacement programs, in his case it's the Herbalife Shakes, and I opted to go....VEGAN. I thought it was just a way I could cut a lot of extra fat and calories out of my diet and eat more whole fruits and vegetables but what I've learned these past 3 months has been not just weight changing (down at least 15 lbs) but LIFE changing. I had NO IDEA how bad the meat/dairy industry is for the environment! That's not to mention the killing of living beings just so I could have extra flavor here and there??? I'll share some of my new-found knowledge with you on another post but for now let's just say I have had my eyes opened. For the past 3 months I've been cooking up a storm and I'd like to share my whole foods journey. Stay tuned for more on my new vegan life journey!
Sorry for such a long absence. We have been busy bees trying to set up our new tiny house! You may be thinking the same thing my cousin was when he asked me "well how long does it take to move into a tiny house anyway?" And I know what he was thinking, tiny house = less stuff = quicker move in. Which, okay in some respects it is quicker to move less belongings. On the other hand finding the right places to store those needed belongings has been a challenge. Where does this go? Where is a space left for this? It becomes a game of Tetris just fitting everything you need into the 400 sq ft you have to work with. We have been moved in since the second week of July and we are just now finishing up. We still have to hang a few things (spice rack, pot holder, home décor) but we have finally found places for everything we needed to keep (example, where do you store the tool box if there are no closets??). We ended up having to down size once again after the move when we realized it all wasn't going to fit. We took another 3 full boxes to Goodwill and I still have one more to take before we're through.
When we aren't finding homes for all our belongings we are cooking up a storm! I want to talk for a minute about our oven. One of my biggest concerns when we bought the home was that it didn't come with a full sized oven. I am a huge fan of cooking and baking so I didn't see how I could possibly work with just a toaster oven. The plan was to buy an apartment size oven and find a spot for it. Finding a spot for even the smallest of conventional ovens turned out to be a fantasy. The house is just too small. It fits exactly what we need and NO MORE. So I broke down and purchased a toaster/convection oven. And I am glad to say that it has worked perfectly for our needs. We decided to buy the Black and Decker Counter Top Convection Oven because it comes in extra wide so we didn't have to replace our cookie sheets and cupcake molds. I got this model at Target when it was on sale for $49 last month. I would highly recommend this product to others who need to downsize. While it's taken some getting used to, things take a little longer to cook through, and you have to adjust the temperature from the recipe to convection temperatures, it's well worth the cost of extra space. I also have a strong suspicion that we are using less energy with our tiny oven than we would had I gotten the conventional apartment sized oven.
Over the past few weeks I have made cupcakes and batches and batches of sugar cookies! I've also used our new oven to make lasagnas, enchiladas, and meatball subs. I will be posting more about what it's like to cook in a #tinyhouse. I recently learned to decorate sugar cookies like the pro's with royal icing and food coloring. I need more practice but the congratulation cookies I made for my husband's work promotion turned out looking nice. Saturday morning my brother came over and we made even more cookies. He too was impressed with the power of the tiny oven. We made cookie football helmets, footballs, and tiny poodles! I always have more fun cooking with friends and family.
This weekend my husband bought his first grill and we had our first #tinyhouse cookout! With this small grill he was able to cook up a dozen brats, 5 or 6 chicken breasts and 2 beautiful and delicious steaks. We feasted on the steaks last night and now have left overs for weeks! Hazah!