Archive for the tiny living Category

Living the home-cooked life out of a mini-fridge

Posted in tiny living with tags on 10/01/2014 by Fox

You don’t need a silver fork to eat good food.
~Paul Prudhomme

The first thing in my house to break down on me was the fridge. The only appliance that was not covered by the home warranty. And buying a new one would involve depriving me of the last of my emergency fund, or now that the final car payment has been sent off, siphon off the first of the funds that would replenish it.

Luckily, a friend was kind enough to allow me to borrow a mini-fridge. Not only that, but he’s in the middle of a full kitchen remodel and his wife wants a new fridge. They’ve promised me their old one. The mini-fridge, while still small, is a better size for me, except the freezer isn’t nearly big enough. And since I’m running tight on funds, I’m cooking about 90% of my food right now.

Yes, I’m cooking 90% of my meals while using a mini-fridge.

It’s not so bad, actually. I do batch cooking, which seems like something that wouldn’t lend itself well to the mini-fridge life, but it works. I go to the store, buy the ingredients I need, then come home and cook the meal. There aren’t any loose veggies or trays of chicken sitting about in my fridge. It’s all cooked and portioned out so I can Fridge-Tetris it nicely in there amongst the other obligate fridge items.

I store my sodas for work, the tea and beer for at home, the condiments that need refrigeration, and a week’s worth of food in the mini-fridge. There’s still room for my water pitcher, too, believe it or not. There is not, however, room for TV dinners or leftovers from eating out. Good thing I’m not doing any of the former and extremely little of the latter. I still wonder how the can’t-cook-won’t-cook crowd survives.

Now, the freezer is a problem. I normally portion out chicken breasts into singles, but without the freezer room I have to cook the chicken pretty much immediately for lack of space. This weekend I’m making enchiladas and chicken penne gorgonzola. I have to decide if I want to split a whole tray of chicken for these recipes, or if I want to use beef for the enchiladas and pre-cooked chicken for the penne gorgonzola. It depends on how small of a chicken tray I can get and how much the beef and pre-cooked chicken costs. And just forget about my tendency to hoard bread. There’s no way I can fit even one loaf in that little thing.

What I need is a fridge slightly larger than the mini-fridge with a freezer that’s almost as big as the refrigerator itself. But nope, they don’t make those. They just make really big refrigerators. And then even bigger refrigerators. I suppose if you have a family you’re feeding, but I don’t need that much room. And I cook!

Why Fox is going for an RV and not a tiny house

Posted in tiny living with tags on 11/26/2011 by Fox

There is no dependence that can be sure but a dependence upon one’s self.
~John Gay

Tammy Strobel of Rowdy Kittens has recently moved into her tiny home. Her tiny home in someone else’s backyard, which I personally find a little…stifling. If I recall correctly, her tiny home lacks a bathroom and a kitchen, forcing her to rely upon someone else for cooking and showering and taking a piss. Of course, her fridge is a cooler, so I suppose she could just set that outside. But even if she goes raw she’s still infringing on someone else to perform basic bodily functions. Hopefully whomever she’s living with is either gone a lot or really really really likes company.

Not to mention her tiny house won’t be moving around very often. Why’s it on wheels then? To get around building codes devised to inflate property values by forcing homeowners to build a minimum square footage. Her friend, Dee Williams, supposedly has a special dispensation from the City of Portland to live in her own tiny house. But from what I’ve heard, just putting on wheels may not be enough. Tammy may find herself in legal trouble if the city ever finds out about her tiny house and decides to go after her.

I, however, have absolutely no desire to infringe upon someone else for basic necessities, (I don’t care if it “creates a better sense of community” or some other flowery excuse), remain in one place, or attempt to flaunt the legal system. Fuck all that. I’m going to move into a Class C RV. Not nearly as unusual, or shall we say, trendy. RVs have kitchens and bathrooms, however small. RVs can be moved with very little effort and time. It’s harder to break laws in an RV. You can also obtain used RVs, which helps to negate some of the financial and environmental burden. It’s also easier to find someone to fix a problem in an RV should said problem be beyond your abilities. Tammy’s alleviated some of that by going without the bathroom and kitchen, the major problem areas. But I’ll take the need to repair those over relying on someone else. Fuck community, I’m about independence. And being able to live somewhere other than someone else’s backyard. For god’s sake, the woman makes her living online…she’s in a perfect situation to be location independent. But I guess some people just like to be where they’re at. I don’t.

I’m all about where I’m going next. And right now, that’s Colorado, mother fuckers. I’m itching to leave again and I just got back from Alaska in September.

When tiny living sucks

Posted in tiny living with tags on 11/14/2011 by Fox

The trouble with simple living is that, though it can be joyful, rich, and creative, it isn’t simple.
~Doris Janzen Longacre

My downstairs neighbor gave me his futon frame. I was originally going to give the bottom panel of mine to Dargon, but neither of us could remember to get an Allen wrench to take it off for a while. And by a while I mean a couple weeks. And then when I finally got around to it, a screw was stripped and he didn’t feel like jacking with replacing an assembly and the bottom panel, so I put it up on Freecycle instead.

The point is, I had a futon frame taking up a considerable portion of my living room for the better part of a month. Considerable as in I had to pull in my desk chair so my roommate could get to the front door.

And then yesterday, I was cooking chicken tortilla soup in my crock pot. I was cleaning up after prepping everything and putting it on to cook. There were crumbs beneath the crock pot, and I moved it a little to get at them. Now, the only open plug near a counter in my kitchen is just barely within reach of the cords of most small kitchen appliances like toasters and crock pots (you may already see where this is going). So my precariously positioned crock pot, when adjusted slightly, lost balance and nearly fell straight off the counter.

As it was, I just ended up with half of my soup all over the floor and in the cat dishes (yum!). I put what had been caught in the lid back in the pot, set it back up, swore a little, swore again, and then started cleaning up the mess. And then swore some more for good measure.

Thankfully, the part of chicken tortilla soup that’s expensive is the chips and sour cream that weren’t involved. I did lose quite a bit of chicken, but I only add one breast. I’ve got half an onion, some cilantro, and celery left over, so I’ll just make a fresh batch when I eat this up. But still, losing all that food rather sucked.

Add in sharing a bathroom with a sometimes bizarre Chinese woman who insists on hour-long bathathons and doing her laundry in the bathroom with a very small washing machine, and, well, sometimes living tiny just sucks.

On the other hand, of course, I can vacuum the entire apartment in less than five minutes.

Fox’s tiny living future?

Posted in tiny living with tags , on 06/18/2011 by Fox

We should all be concerned about the future because we will have to spend the rest of our lives there.
~Charles F. Kettering

I’ve been reading a lot of stuff written by people who live in RVs. One thing that caught my attention was the idea of parking someplace, working for a while while saving a bunch, and then wandering about until the money ran out and it was time to work again. Sounds like my kinda life, and one I could easily live considering my very minimal financial needs. Doubly so if I had the RV paid off.

Of course, my biggest concern is the fact that such a life makes saving for retirement improbable. Temporary jobs don’t often pay well, nor do they come with the benefits that long-term jobs have…such as retirement plans.

So the question is…do I live like I am, saving my ass off for retirement and in hopes that I could save enough to invest enough to enable me to work very little? Or do I live like I want to live, and put very little away for the future? If I had a decent job, I’d go with the former. But without that job, the question’s not so easy.

Right now, my answer is to go for it, and live like I want to. Life is short, and I don’t want to be sixty-five and full of regret. I can always change my mind and settle down if I want. And this won’t be happening for several years…in order to pull this off, I have to be debt-free, and own an RV. Which means I have some serious saving to do, even if I decide to deal with the debt, buy the RV early, and live in it while making payments.

The RV will be used, of course. Some of the ones I was looking at cost $100,000 new. After taxes…yeah. If I search enough, maybe I can find a relatively new one in the hands of someone with buyer’s remorse.

The other issue is my (now) three cats. That’s a lot of cats to live in one RV. But I’ve got a few years to figure that out, too. Luckily, two of them are already accustomed to living in relatively small spaces, although not as small as an RV.

But there’s a lot that could happen between now and then. I can make plans, and try to see them out, but how things will pan out ultimately is anyone’s guess. If you would like to help out financially, though, you can do so via Paypal. For the few, the proud, the ones who have already donated, you are all the most fucking amazing people on the entire planet, even if I don’t notice your donation for months until one glorious day and thus I forgot to thank you. D: You guys rock something AWESOME.

That’s right, donate and you, too, could feel the gratification of having me tell you how awesome you are in public.

Greening the home theater

Posted in green living, tiny living with tags , on 05/07/2011 by Fox

Home computers are being called upon to perform many new functions, including the consumption of homework formerly eaten by the dog.
~Doug Larson

I’ve never been a fan of elaborate and expensive home theater set ups. I’m also single, which means the only person I’m typically entertaining is myself. And so in my own style, I’ve managed to accumulate a pretty minimalist and at least greener home theater stet up. Greener, of course, being the key word. Home theater set ups, like most forms of technology, are not green. In this case, going green means consolidating components and choosing items that will last longer.

1. Chunk the TV. Or make it your computer monitor and throw that out. This, admittedly, works better for people living alone than those who live with others who might want to do something on the TV at the same time you’re dicking about on the computer. But being able to run all of my stuff through one device instead of two is so much easier. It also keeps you from multi-tasking too hard…it’s much more difficult to have the TV running constantly in the background if you require it to also get online.

2. Go with a desktop. Laptops are portable and cool and all, but desktops are easier to get into and repair or expand. Being able to easily remove a side panel to vacuum the cat hair out is lovely and makes my computer last longer. Desktops are also cheaper. Why have a computer for your home theater set up? Well, they play games, DVDs, CDs, and digital copies of all of these. Why own a game console, a DVD player, and a stereo when you can get something that does all three very well?

3. Fuck console gaming. I’m a reluctant console gamer…I do own two consoles (a PS2 and a Wii, which was a gift), but they’re typically gathering dust at any point in time. Why buy consoles when I can play most games on the PC? Why buy new consoles when you can just wait for the current generation to become the older generation and then pick up said console (and all the games) used for much cheaper?

4. Go with digital media. It doesn’t make sense to own hardcopies of music, movies, or games. Sign yourself up for a Steam account and watch for sales. They’ve started selling classic Sega games cheap, and there’s always something that’s at least 50% off. And unlike a console, if your computer becomes obsolete, chances are high you can simply replace a few components and voila! You’re set for another couple years. And again, there’s very little that doesn’t get ported to the PC. Or at least very little I feel like playing that doesn’t get ported.

5. Choose peripherals wisely. My TV-turned-computer-monitor has quality sound without requiring external speakers. And surround sound? We’re going for cheap, green, and minimalist here, not Best On the Block. Sell it on Craigslist. I use a corded keyboard and mouse for the sake of cheap and easy. If you decide to go wireless, be careful…most wireless keyboards and mice are horrible battery-eaters. Spend the money and go for the high-quality wireless keyboards and mice, or stick with the corded ones.

6. Seriously?

My little home theater set up is a 22-inch HDTV monitor, a sturdy desktop in dire need of an overhaul, a corded keyboard and mouse, and two game consoles collecting dust in the closet. It does everything…if I’m at home and not asleep, chances are good you’ll find me parked in front of my computer for one reason or another. I don’t need a separate TV or DVD player or stereo system, or even the game consoles. My desktop does everything but play Okami and Zelda. I need to invent a way to turn a game console into something you can install on a computer like a disk drive. But that’s just too out of my league. I’ll stick with yelling on the internet.

Book Review – It’s All Too Much

Posted in book reviews, simple living, tiny living with tags , , on 03/07/2011 by Fox

‘…so what you’re telling me is that hoarding photos for [your son]‘s future is more important to you than giving him room to play today?’

It’s All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff by Peter Walsh

I read this one mostly out of curiosity…I don’t really need Mr. Walsh’s help. On the clutter bell curve, I’m on the side with the 100-Thing Challengees. But I was curious, mostly because a book about decluttering is somewhat of a novelty, or at least it seems that way.

Despite what Mr. Walsh says, I wouldn’t recommend giving this book to someone unless you want to piss them off. “Here! You’re a slob, read this book!” Not really a happy message. However, it is a great book to read if you’re the one wanting to declutter. Yes, the information contained within is the same stuff you’ll read, for the most part, on the many minimalist and decluttering blogs out there, but it’s rather refreshing to hear it out of the minimalist context. Never once does Mr. Walsh espouse minimalism…he stays firmly in the realm of keeping you from being on an episode of “Hoarders” and that’s all.

And I think that’s my favorite part of the book. Gone is that particular tone unique to bloggers, gone is the insinuations of the minimalist movement. It’s just a book about rescuing you from having too much crap. For people who haven’t spent a lot of time reading minimalist and decluttering posts, his discussions of the psychological reasons for “stuff” will be very enlightening. Because he’s right…it’s not about the “stuff,” it’s about your attitudes toward “stuff.”

Overall, I highly recommend it. I’d get it from the library, but I get everything from the library, so yeah. I can see some people might want to keep this around as a refresher when the “stuff” starts to encroach again. Minimalists and people who have their “stuff” firmly in hand are better off sticking with the blogs, though…this book will be nothing new.

Finding your tiny apartment

Posted in tiny living with tags , on 02/26/2011 by Fox

May your home always be too small to hold all of your friends.
~Author Unknown

By far the easiest way to live tiny is to just rent an apartment. But the challenge posed by picking an apartment out can be daunting…especially in a college town where the apartments are thick.

1) Be prepared to search. The best apartment’s not always the first one you look at. I found my current place after hours of searching by car and on the internet. I checked out dozens of places.

2) Don’t be fooled by the cost per square foot. It’s a good indicator, yes, but your goal is tiny, not best value per square foot. I’ve had apartment complexes try to sell me on bigger apartments with this argument. And they were better deals, but what am I going to do with 1200 sq. ft. when 600 is too big? Going by sheer square footage isn’t a good idea, either. Instead, decide if the apartment as a whole, both in size and in layout, is right for you.

3) Decide what you have to have and what you can live without. I have to have ceiling fans and windows I can leave open all the time. I don’t need a dishwasher or my own washer and dryer. This may be a trial-and-error thing. There’s a good chance you may need something you didn’t even think about or that you can live without something you thought you needed. This is doubly true for tiny spaces, which can exacerbate seemingly minor details.

4) Location, location, location. Do you want to be close to work? Close to a park? Far away from train tracks? Know what needs to be close, what can be far away, and how much you’re willing to sacrifice to have these things at hand (or far far away). Is location a dealbreaker or do you care if the dream apartment is a half-hour drive from everything?

5) Know the prices. Tiny apartments should be relatively cheap. Most people these days want big apartments with lots of closets. My current place is one of the cheapest in town. In order to fill the units, they have to keep the prices low to entice people to live in small apartments.


7) Look for older apartments. They’re not as nice, but as houses got bigger, so did apartments. Older apartments tend to be smaller than newer apartments.

8) Avoid taking something that’s “okay.” If you’re meaning this to be a permanent or semi-permanent residence, you don’t want to live somewhere you aren’t in love with. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make a trade-off or two, but you should be able to say with confidence, “This is it!”


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