20
Feb

My Minimalist Journey

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

17
Feb

5 Things I'm Doing to Reduce My Waste This February

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

What are you doing to reduce your waste this month?
If you're interested in following some great Zero Waste Bloggers try visiting Going Zero Waste, Zero-Waste Chef, Be Zero, and Zero Waste Home.

Allison Bost, MSW
This Tiny House Wife

15
Feb

Married to a Meat Eater

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.

 

13
Feb

Juice Cleanse - A First Timer's Experience

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

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2
Feb

28 Days of Changes

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.

Juicing!

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

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