Category Archives: small house living

Three Things I Don’t Need (Since I Bought a Small House)

The greatest lesson the Cozy Cottage has taught us is the lesson of letting go. Letting go can be a joyful thing. Letting go feels like removing weight from your shoulders. Each day, we’re walking a little lighter and more freely in our little house. I’ve compiled a list of three things I can do without. I don’t need them! I’m free!

1.) Microwave To be honest, this one scared me. I mean, who doesn’t love the smell of microwave popcorn? Or the satisfaction of heating water for your tea right in the mug? And what about re-heating leftovers? No, I definitely wasn’t ready to give up the microwave. And still … it took up precious room on the counter. And how much did we really use it? So I carried it down to the basement. It wasn’t plugged in, but it sat down there, just in case. A week went by. One night, my son brought it up to heat up some water for hot chocolate. But then I showed him how to heat it in a saucepan on the stove. It didn’t take that much longer than the microwave. Mind. Blown. The microwave is gone now. I make popcorn on the stovetop. It’s delicious. I make tea in a kettle. And leftovers get re-heated in a pan. Except for pizza. Have you ever re-heated pizza in the oven? It’s heavenly. Try it. You’ll thank me.

2.) A Fence Our dog Baxter is an active guy. He loves to chase squirrels, rabbits, and squirrels. Oh, and squirrels. Our last house had a nice yard that was entirely fenced in. The Cozy Cottage does not. Before we moved in, we thought, “Of course, we’ll have to put up a fence for the dog.” Well, we haven’t, and we’re not going to. We love the way our back yard opens up to our neighbors. We’ve had so many wonderful conversations with the folks on either side of our house, and many of those conversations wouldn’t have happened if we had a fence. Also, we walk more. Baxter refuses to let us laze on the couch. When he’s gotta go, he’s gotta go! So we get up, and we take a walk. A lot of times, my husband and I walk together, and we have uninterrupted conversation! Or sometimes I’ll grab one of my kids, and I love hearing what’s going on in their world. Best of all, sometimes I walk alone. I have real thoughts, and I can finish them. I’m getting closer to solving the planet’s problems and world domination. Fence? No thanks.

3.) Master Suite In the near future, I’m going to devote an entire post to our “Master Bedroom,” because even I can’t believe in our bedroom setup. Our house has two bedrooms. That’s right! So it’s taken a little creativity to make sure everyone has a comfortable place to sleep. I used to think I wanted a giant bedroom with a sitting area, maybe even a couch and a desk, and an adjoining bathroom with two sinks so my darling husband could brush his teeth at his sink while I washed my face beside him in my sink. Our reality is nothing like that. Our Cozy Cottage has one bathroom, and sometimes it gets a little crazy, especially when five people are trying to get ready at the same time. But our little “master” bedroom is just enough for our queen-size bed, a lamp, and a little bookshelf. We have one closet and no dresser (but thanks to IKEA, our bed has four spacious drawers beneath it). You know what? My tiny bedroom is awesome! It’s pretty easy to keep neat, and there isn’t room for a lot of extra junk in there. Therefore, it’s a very relaxing place to be. When I go in there, I know I have a lamp, a book, comfy pillows, and my jammies. Turns out I don’t need the other stuff.

 

 

 

The Reading Porch

Living in a small house means a little less privacy. Since buying our little house, we’ve had to reconfigure the way we live together as a family. For instance, three of our kids now share one bedroom, so there is no such thing as anyone here being alone in my room.

Most evenings, we are in our living room, doing a variety of things: homework, catching up on shows, knitting, practicing instruments. I like the way our family time is more concentrated in the small house. In some ways, our physical proximity causes some obstacles: Can you turn off your music? I’m trying to read. Or, Can you stop practicing? I’m trying to listen to my show. But I’ve watched my kids get better at communicating with each other as they work around the problems that arise. They are getting better at offering compromises, and seeing things from the other’s point of view. This show ends at 8:30. Can you wait and practice when it’s over?

For this reason, the best room in the house is just off the living room, in the back. I call it the Reading Porch, because that’s what I like to do back here. But it’s also the Writing Porch, the Homework Porch, the Mommy-and-Daddy-Have-to-Have-a-Private-Conversation Porch. The light streams in during late afternoon. On summer evenings, the windows are all flung open to allow in the warm breeze and the sound of crickets and cicadas. In the Fall, we turn on our little heater and warm our feet and wrap ourselves in a blanket. The fact that it’s not really weatherized is what makes it special: Sometimes it’s too cold out there during winter. Then, we can only look through the sliding glass door and look at it longingly, hoping for a warmer day.

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There’s an autumn chill in the air today, but the Reading Porch is still warm and cozy, which is why I’m out here instead of doing adulty things like errands or laundry. Those things can wait. It’s quiet out here, and I have a few chapters I’ve been wanting to read …

Learning to Get Lost

Let’s get lost
Lost in each other’s arms
Let’s get lost
Let them send out alarms
And though they’ll think us rather rude
Let’s tell the world we’re in that crazy mood …

IMG_2677We weren’t really lost this weekend, but we did take the wrong subway. For the second time in as many months, my husband and I, like giggling teens, packed an overnight bag and got on a Metra commuter train for a weekend getaway in the city. And despite the fact that we love Chicago, and we consider it our city, we are just as suburban as one would expect. So when it was time to get on the “L” to reach the theatre where we had tickets to see my favorite comedian, Maria Bamford, we were a little out of sorts. Can we use our debit card at the ticket station? Do we even know how to transfer from the Blue Line to the Brown Line? Was it Division Street we wanted, or Diversey?

 

Our new house, the Cozy Cottage, is responsible for all of this. Moving to a smaller house has given us a smaller mortgage, and a smaller list of worries, but we are thrown into a big new world of re-learning how to do things. After so many years of putting off our own dating life in lieu of child-rearing and bill paying, Cozy Cottage has freed up some of our time. And so we find ourselves, holding hands, sweating in the August heat, laughing that we must look like tourists, studying the map, checking our GPS.  I’m not even ashamed that I stare up at the skyscrapers and gasp. I feel small and insignificant. I’m learning to get lost. I like it.

via Daily Prompt: Learning

Starting Over

I love calendars, and crisp new calendars with empty squares gets me feeling all tingly with the thought of new possibilities and open-ended adventures.  We are five days into a new year, and I’ve already pored over my calendars: all of them! I have iCal, Google Calendar, then the good ol’ paper calendar that hangs on my kitchen wall. We call that one “Command Central.” But all those open squares! I want to fill them with new experiences.

I’m taking a firm stance on New Year’s Resolutions—what are they, other than a checklist for my future failings? I won’t make any resolutions. Instead, I’m just taking my first step into 2016 feeling positive that something will happen. I just hope that whatever happens, I’m ready for it.

IMG_1347 All I know, is our family’s decision to move to a small house has been life-changing, which is what this blog is all about. The less space for living has allowed more space for living. It’s been eight months since we’ve moved to our little house of less than 1,000 square feet, and already, I can breathe easier. I feel better about the future, and find that my smaller house is opening doors for bigger adventure. As I write more about specific changes our family has undergone to declutter and pare down our belongings, I hope to connect with others on the same journey.  Even more, I hope to give encouragement to someone who is feeling overwhelmed right now and are ready to make a change. You can do it! It’s never too late to start over.