Friday, September 28, 2012

Vague Overview of Plans

I've had a handful of people ask me when I'm hitting the road, and where I'll live.  Good questions... ha ha

Things are still gelling up, but here's as much of a plan as I have so far - and subject to change I suppose:

List my house for sale in October 2012. (Check)

Before, during and after the home sale, sell pretty much everything I own...

Have my version of an estate sale on November 3rd, 2012.

Rent a garage apartment or a tiny studio apartment for 6-12 months.  This time will be used to save the money to build my tiny house, to structure my new career, and to do research.  I'll need to research which tiny house plan I am going to build, what utility items I am going to put in it (stove, fridge, the ever-inquired about toilet,* and shower set up, water supply, and climate control.

Fall of 2013 take time off to build my new house - and then launch my new career in some tiny house related capacity.  Those details are still being determined...anything could happen!

A few months after that I hope to be in my tiny house and off the grid  And then -- I will find out how big of an oyster this world really is... 

* All hail the Thunder Bucket -- sooooooo laughing!!!!

Tiny House Community

My friend in North Carolina mailed this to me - an advertisement for a tiny house community!  Their sample house in the photo has an amazing path to the front door - makes it look like it's a tree house..

Thanks for mailing that, Leslie!

Meeting with Realtor

I had a realtor over last night.  She was my realtor when I bought my house 3+ years ago, so it feels as though we are friends, and I just love her, and trust her opinions.  She asked what my plans where and I showed her the Tiny House book... and she said she's been wanting a similar house - on a shared property with her family when she retires.  It seems like lots of people have a tiny house dream hiding in the back of their minds.  So interesting.

The meeting lasted two hours!  But - I learned most of what I needed to know.  Namely, what do I need to do to my house before it's on the market, and what furniture should stay or go for staging purposes. 

It was so strange waiting for her arrival.  I was nervous, excited, sad.... a mixed bag for sure.  I only got a lump in my throat twice (once when telling her how special my street is - the neighbors, and the little Tudors... and once when I was telling her all the history of the original owners of the house...) and I didn't let one tear roll!  Silly I know, but that was an accomplishment.  I get a lump in my throat just typing about it.  But!  Even though I have a bit of sadness, my excitement for the future far outweighs it.

To prepare for the sale, mostly what I need to do is a bit of painting.  Not bad at all.  And then we talked about staging, and now I know what furniture I need to take out.  She says we are going for "sparse."  I get that - make the smaller house look more spacious.

I'll look to have my big "sell everything" sale in early November.

Let the games begin.  

Thursday, September 27, 2012


I'm having some anxiety today.  I know that I have a solid plan, and that I am going about it in a very methodical way - but nonetheless - anxiety.  As Tom pointed out, the "unknown" is the worst.  And I'm getting ready to step off a pretty big freakin' cliff.  But as cliffs go, this jump is voluntary, and methodical.  I am trying to focus on acting from a place of calmness.  I chose this, and I am going to be SO happy.

And, this morning - I finally told my parents about all my new plans.  Via email.  I know - email sounds harsh - but really, it's the best way.  (1)  Immediate.  (2) My dad can't hear well, so telling them on the phone would have been fruitless.  So... yes, email.  I need to mail them some color photos of the tiny houses so they don't envision something awful.  LOL

Tonight the realtor who I used when I bought my house is coming over to tell me what needs to be done to my house to prepare it for sale.  Last she and I spoke, I told her I wanted to list it in January.  Now I'd like to be out of the house by the end of the year.    Surprise!  LOL  I'm not sure I can pull that off, but we'll see.  

She is also going to talk with me about furniture, and staging.  What needs to go, what needs to stay... and then I can start selling stuff.  I am laughing, because I have a few friends who are going to come over with post it notes, and tag what things they want.  I love that.  The first one is coming Saturday, I think... So if you are one of those -- early birds and worms, my friends... LOL

Meanwhile the last round of contractors doing post-hail storm repairs came on Monday.  And among other things, painted 9 of my 26 house windows a "new" color.  As in, a color that doesn't match anything else on the house.  Awesome!  Um, no.  The main general contractor is coming by in the morning.... I asked for an in person meeting... ahem.  I know he'll fix it - but c'mon, can we just be done with all this??  The storm was JUNE 13th!  Stop the madness!

The happy news?  The Texas State Fair starts tomorrow.  And one of my very best girlfriends is flying in for a few days on Sunday!  So happy Sunday for me!

Or let's be honest, this is probably more appropriate...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Little Yellow Door is Done!

Ella finished her tiny house!  She will be moving it to San Francisco to live.

I've been following her blog for months - eagerly awaiting photos and updates of decisions.... she did an amazing job of documenting it all.

I hope that I can say that when mine is done!

The Lusby

Here is one of the Tumbleweed houses that I really like:

Photo courtesy of Tumbleweed Tiny House Company

 The features that make me love it?  A full bath.  A porch.  And it's on wheels. 

Click through the photos - isn't it dreamy? It looks so much larger to me than 117 square feet!

Oh, to click my heels and be there...

San Francisco Micro Apartments

Looks like SF is getting in the game as well - not houses, but apartments...

And I found this YouTube link in the comments - it's about an apartment that has moving walls and can turn into 24 different rooms!  I'm intrigued by the bath tub that converts into seating...

Monday, September 24, 2012


If this is your first time here, welcome, and thanks for coming by.

You know, dreams are fragile.  And when I started poking my toe in the water on all this change, I was pretty guarded about who I told.  I still am.... but not quite as much.

 But now that plans are gelling up, and ideas are bolder, I am stronger - I'm starting to tell people what I'm doing.  I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that I am gathering courage and strength from my friends and family who are being really supportive of me -   Thank you!

I'm finding that as I tell people a few things happen:

1) The dream becomes more real as I say it out loud.

2)  The dream seems more attainable when I talk about it, and I have less fear.  (Fear?  Well  yes, of course I have some fear.  Look what I'm doing!)

3)  People are so enthusiastic, and frankly, I like to think, a tiny bit jealous.  (I'm sure some are just too polite to tell me I am crazy, and I'm actually grateful for that, too.)

4)  People want to be involved.  They want to be a part of it, and to help. that's so amazing!  And I'm so grateful.

I'm still not ready to be peppered with a million questions, though.  Mostly because I don't have all the answers yet, and that is frustrating to me.  I'm working through things - I know where there is a will, there is a way, and I know that other people are already living small.  So I'll figure it out.  That's what the coming months are for - research, and planning.  In the mean time - 

Ecosattva ::: Egosattva

Ecosattva - Be kind to the earth
Egosattva - Be kind to yourself

I turned 46 (I actually had to think about how old I am -- that might be a first --) this past Summer.  That's sort of a horrifying number in the abstract, although I don't feel 46.  

When I turned 40 I threw out all the chemicals in my house and began my journey of "going green" in earnest.  Having surpassed the 5 year anniversary of that landmark, it seems like it would be good to review where I am, and the areas in my life where I could be greener.  When I say "green," I also include items such as how I reduce my carbon footprint, ways that I give back to the earth/environment, and habits that I have which I consider healthy or eco-conscious.

How am I doing?
I don't use any chemical lawn fertilizers or pesticides.
I clean my house with natural cleaners:  vinegar, Bon Ami, etc.I live within 5 miles of where I work.
I buy from the bulk bins at the grocery store when possible.
I maintain a "no shoes" home.
My body products are paraben free (no petroleum ingredients).
I either compost my vegetable peels, egg shells, coffee grounds, etc.
I try not to buy products that are over-packaged.
When getting doggy bags in restaurants, if they use Styrofoam, I ask for a piece of foil instead.
I use re-usable shopping bags at the grocery store.
I'll pay a little extra to support a local independent business vs. a chain or mass producer.
I use a broom instead of my garden hose to tidy my sidewalks and driveway.
I rake and compost leaves, etc. 
I use biodegradable dog poop bags on walks (and do not individually bag from the yard.)
I installed gutters and rain barrels for rain water conservation.
I mostly buy organic produce and food items.
I got rid of all rubber-backed rugs in my home.
I got rid of some concrete surfaces at my home and planted plants instead.
I am vegetarian all the time, vegan most of the time.
When I do eat fish, I try my best to be sure it's wild caught.
I frequently hand-carry store items, declining a bag.
I grow my own organic herbs.
I provide a butterfly/hummingbird friendly environment.
I built and put up an owl shack!
I got rid of my microwave and use a toaster oven.
When I buy interior paint, I buy low or no VOC.
I feed the birds and keep a bird bath full of water.
I support animal rescue.
I drink out of the tap e.g. I do not buy bottled water.
I store used batteries and burned out light bulbs, and do a twice a year trip to a disposal center.
I buy CFL light bulbs when available for my fixture.
I wait as long as I can to use my central air conditioning.
In the winter, I reduce furnace bills by using an electric blanket.
I very very rarely drink sodas.
I'm a label reader: generally if I cannot pronounce and identify ingredients on a label, I likely won't eat the product.
I try to buy clothes made from natural fibers.
I drive a tiny car and its paid for.
My electric service at my home is 100% wind energy.
I opt out of junk mail, and call to cancel catalogs.
I re-purpose and re-use whenever I can and rarely buy furniture new.
I try not to buy leather products (shoes are my only downfall)

What can I do better?
Some of my make up is still not organic -- eye shadow, mascara, etc. -- although I rarely wear it...
I wash my car in the driveway - but I do use biodegradable soap
I still use traditional toothpaste/mouthwash as opposed to a natural brand.
I sometimes accept plastic bags at Target - I should bring my own bags in.
I could use more attic insulation..
My house needs new windows.
I'm addicted to my iPhone.
I buy the very un-natural Beggin' Strips for my dog!

So those are the things that I do that I can think of off the top of my head.  Over all I make these choices because they make me feel better.  I feel better physically and mentally, and I feel better that I am being responsible in my corner of the world for the environment, the world around me and being good to myself. 
Now I'm making the largest step ever - selling my house and majorly downsizing.  My footprint will be hugely reduced!  Not only how I live and what I live in, but the impact of the materials going into my house to construct it as well as the impact what is leaving my house (chemicals, refuse) will be very small.
I try not to preach my ways to others -- I just do what works for me.  I do happily observe though, that sometimes the way I live raises the awareness of friends and neighbors -- and at least provokes thought and sometimes lively discussion -- and that's fun.  I have had a lot of people in my life who have raised my awareness, and I'm grateful for that.  I learn new things all the time about ways I can change - I like the challenge of finding new ways. 
Do you have new any suggestions for me?  How sustainably are you living?

Leaking the Word Out

Friday my friend Kelly and I had a conversation about how  f a s t  things suddenly seem to be moving.  Not things like traffic (ha) but energy.  Ideas.  Things have a sense of urgency.

Friday night when I realized my letter needed re-working, I was thrown for a bit of a loop, because I felt like it HAD to go into FedEx on Monday.  (Not happening.)  Mark told me it wouldn't be going out Monday.  It would go out when it was ready.

I see articles online about tiny houses, and the word is getting around.  Sure, maybe it's just getting around in my circles, but man oh man a LOT of people have emailed me the articles. 

Saturday morning I woke up feeling compelled to start telling neighbors of my plans.  I tried to shove those voices in my head down under.  "No, I'm not ready.  They aren't ready."  By the time I was out running morning errands, the voices were shouting at me.  I literally had to pull over and text my next door neighbors - "Are you around this morning?  Can we chat?"

An hour later I found myself in their front yard, blurting out, "I'm sure you already know this, but I'm moving."

Feathers.  Feathers could have pushed them over, slack jawed.  They hadn't known.

Tears were followed by high 5's - encouragement, excitement, awe.  And then brainstorming on selling the house, selling the contents, renting a place.   I'm doing it.

I did feel better after I told them.  Plus, they are realtors, so they can be facilitators in a number of ways.  Bryan thinks he can sell my house before it's even listed.  And he's going to watch for a garage apartment for me - so far superior to a studio apartment... no shared walls.  But - I can do anything for a year, so we'll see what works out.

Friday, September 21, 2012

What if Someone Beats Me to It??

A friend emailed this article to me today... tiny houses are showing up in New York City!

It's irrational, but really I don't like sharing with groups of strangers what I am conjuring up.  I'm worried that someone will beat me to the punch in Dallas.  That's probably irrational, but I feel like I am not moving forward fast enough.  I suppose I can rationalize that I am further along in planning than most, but -- still.  Worried someone will get there first.  Not that I couldn't use help.... : )

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Knock Knock

I drove to Old Home Supply in FW today and bought the door knocker to use in the delivery of my letter to Tumbleweed.  It's pretty cool, and it was only $28.00

They also had this one - which I really love --

but it was about 18 inches tall - a wee bit enormous to give to the founder of a tiny house company! LOL I have a 4 inch version of this one at home, but I can't bring myself to part with it, even for this purpose.

I'm pretty happy with the one I got, though.  I'll mount it on a piece of weathered wood.   I'm going to wrap my letter in plain brown paper, tie it up with twine, and tuck it under the knocker. And then?  FedEx, baby.

My plan is to ship on Monday; I'm still tweaking my letter. A friend read it for me and is suggesting a total re-work.  Hmmm.  I've forwarded his comments to H, and I'll see what she says. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Another Enthusiast

I found this blog earlier this week:

It's written by a couple who is building their tiny house on a gooseneck trailer.  They are doing a really great job of documenting their build, and also of explaining why they are making the choices they are making - super informative to me.  Since I haven't been to a TTH workshop yet, I suspect that in my mind I am underestimating the task of construction; so it's a good eye opener for me.  Am I daunted?  A little bit.  Is it enough to make me change my mind?  Not yet!  I still believe I can do it, and that it's the right path for me.  I will definitely need help with construction, though.  I don't believe I can do it alone.

Career Workshops

My career (transition) workshop is a group of 8 people, and we meet every Monday evening for two and a half hours.  That is quite a time commitment, at least for me, and we also have homework to complete in between.  It has just been a phenomenal experience!  I've met people I never would have met otherwise, and I've learned so much about myself...

A greatly simplified explanation of the process is that we have been working steadily using a variety of methods to identify our skills, our passions and our talents. After that we brainstorm and come up with three potential new careers that match up with what we have learned.  I sort of cheated on that part, because when I entered the program I had the tiny house idea in my head already.  (My other idea is construction related.)  I remember telling my coach when she passed out the list of careers that matched me, "I am pretty sure that my career doesn't exist on any list anywhere yet.  It's probably something that I am going to make up."  She was completed unfazed by that - in fact, she encouraged it.  She said when she started her business of coaching people through career transitions that nobody was doing that at the time, either.  So - onward! 

But what the workshops have done for me is to validate that I do indeed have the skills and talents for a career involving tiny houses, and that those skills and talents are somewhat unique. That sort of surprised me, because I thought everyone could do the things that I can do - I really didn't think they were unusual. The workshops have also given me the foundation to see how I can turn the tiny house into a life style and an occupation.  It's so exciting!  

I went to college to be in the legal field, and I've done very well in legal. But I am ready to try something new.  My coach tells me that being an engineer would have been ideal for me, but when I was choosing what to pursue in college, nobody ever uttered the word "engineering" to me, and I don't recall taking any type of assessments to see what I would be naturally good at.  (And I cannot see myself going back to school...)

After we identify potential careers, we research people and companies in that/those field(s) and then contact them.  We aren't necessarily contacting them to be employed by them, but more to gain knowledge about the field.  I chose to first contact Jay Shafer, the Founder of Tumbleweed Tiny House Company.  You really can't say "tiny house" without saying "Jay Shafer."  More to come!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Letting a Dream Go

Today is bulky trash day... and I'm putting the "old" (not even a year old! But damaged by the hail) rain gutters out for pick up.  It was sort of hard to do - for a couple of years I've been dying to have old gutters to build a vertical garden.  I was going to make visual "stops" in my yard with them.

But now?  No time for that - with the plan to sell.  And certainly no motivation.  Hmmm.

UPDATE:  The gutters were on my parkway for about 12 minutes before someone loaded them into their truck and drove away.  I was hoping that would happen.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Blog Name Origin

I call this blog "A Bed Over my Head" because when I am in my tiny house, my bed will be in a loft.  I can't take credit for the cleverness, though.   I give credit to David Kittrell of Kittrell Riffkind Art Glass ( who came up with the catchy phrase and gave me permission to use it.

We were chatting about junior high shop class (he was a teacher) and power tools, and my plans to live small, and he followed up with an email.  I loved the phrase so much that I asked to use it.

He also says he will craft the stained glass window for my sleeping loft for me - won't that be beautiful?!

Anyway, thank you David!

Where I Live Now ...

This is my house that I live in now...

Isn't it charming? :::grin::::  I bought it in May 2009 and moved in in June.  I.  Love.  It.  It is in a conservation district, and it was built in 1929.  It's 1,148 square feet, and a 2 bedroom, 1 bath.  By most standards, small.  By Dallas standards, certainly small.  Oddly, I really only live in about a third of it, if that.  I always envisioned converting the huge attic into additional living space - just because I could - but I realize now that I don't need that extra space.

And although I love it, it's time to go.  I guess I had to buy a house, and start renovating it, and start filling it with things (Hello -  American way!) to realize that it really isn't for me.  I mean, I do love having a cozy space with room for guests.... 

And you can't really see the porch in the photo - the shrubs hide it, but it's the most amazing space!  I have furniture out there now, but with or without furniture it's always been "the" gathering place for friends and neighbors.  Lots of laughing, and coffee, and wine.  The porch is probably the thing that I will miss the most - because I've forged so many new friendships and strengthened so many old friendships out there.  But as my dear friend Kelly pointed out to me, "BA, you have had a sacred space every where that you have lived.  Even in apartments.  You will create another one, where ever you are."  I appreciated her pointing that out - and looking back I see that it is true.  I can already see me with my feet up on the little porch on my tiny house!  It's fun to think about where that will be, and who will be sitting there with me...

I also really love having space that I own, as opposed to a rental.  I can paint, and renovate, and plant, and nobody can tell me that I can't do those things.  I do love a good project!   And I was never one to do or not do things because whomever lived there after me might not like them.  I planned to live in this house until I died - literally - and so I really poured my heart and soul into it and really made it mine.  And I totally Feng Shui'd the whole place!  LOL  Everyone who comes over tells me that it has such a "good" feeling - so comfortable, so balanced, so calm....

Ultimately it turns out I just really love a good project.  Indoors, outdoors, my project, someone else's project,  it doesn't matter.  I like the dreaming, the brain storming, the creating, the start, the problem solving, the working with my hands, and the finish. And all of the things I love about my house now, I can also make happen in my tiny house.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

How it All Began

Honestly, I'm not even sure how it all began.  Having my tiara for the Queen of Rationalization firmly affixed on my head, I can rationalize starting my story as a child - a child growing up in Minnesota, spending summers in small cabins on crystal clear lakes and cranking our own vanilla ice cream.  But that would be a very long story and I'd probably lose you along the way.

I could jump ahead to my love of camping and the outdoors. But camping stories?  Endless rabbit trails, and we'd never arrive at our destination.

Or I could start with my lake property.  I had been a renter for years.  And then after a small financial windfall I leapt out of my box and bought 3 lakefront lots, intending to build a weekend cabin.  Ohh the fun!  I spent weeks pouring over cabin books about building small. Ultimately, after a great bit of education I sold the land, and at a profit.

And then the interest rates dropped, and buying a house started to seem like a good idea.  Friends and family encouraged me - "you should buy!  Rates are so low!" 

"But I love that nothing is tying me down, that I could just pick up and leave at any time!"

"But you never do.  You've been in the same area in the same job for years." 

[long silence]

It was true.

And so I bought a house and began small renovations, and furniture buying and lawn mowing and gardening.  And then...

Somewhere along the way, I found the tiny house movement, and the more I read about it, the more it called to me.  On my old 1929 Tudor blog I see an entry I made on July 18, 2011 wherein I was musing about Tumbleweed Tiny Houses...

My boyfriend of ten years (ten! TEN!) has long wanted to be in an Airstream camper, on the road.  He jokes about buying a sack of potatoes and disappearing.  For a while he tried to convince me to join him but I was steadfast in my refusal.  "I need dirt to dig in."

"You can have whiskey barrels of plants on the back end."

Mmmm .... not enough. 

But when things culminated - the last of which was the beat down of the June 13th hailstorm when I lost all the landscaping I had so lovingly nurtured... and I kept reading more and more about tiny living...I knew that my life needed an overhaul.  A big one.

Meanwhile, a head hunter I'd been working with recommended a career coach to me.  A woman named Helen Harkness ( who specializes in career transitioning and has owned her own business for over 35 years.  I called her, and honestly?  Fairly skeptical after our initial telephone conversation.  But feeling so discouraged, and yet so determined to keep putting one foot in front of another in some small way, I agreed to go for the free consultation.  It take long to be mesmerized by this woman who made all things seem possible.  I had the power.  I could have freedom. I could make a new life plan.

I should not be rashMake a plan. YOYO she said. 

"You're On Your Own."

I signed up with her in May 2012.  Change was coming.