why I don’t live in a tiny house.

less is the new more

When you want to change your life, you first have to accept where you are right now. I talk a lot about my goals to live zero waste and become more minimalist. While I’m not perfect, those two goals have shaped most of my decisions and efforts for more than a year, and that alone is progress.

However, I don’t want anyone to think I am hiding anything or being hypocritical. I don’t want the fact that I don’t yet live like a minimalist to detract from talking about my eventual goals. We all have to start somewhere. I’ve read about couples who decide to become more minimalistic and one day they sell most of their possessions and move into a tiny home or an RV. I read their blogs and follow their Instagrams! The beauty is they can work less, and live more. It sounds like the dream. I live vicariously through these bohemian spirits from my big ol’ suburban rambler and wonder why I didn’t find this inspiration earlier.

But I think the thing is, you have to have an “enough is enough” epiphany. And usually to get there, you have to have hit a point where your life just doesn’t FIT YOU anymore. And then, when you share that life with others, you have to compromise until those others have the same moment (if ever). It will be a long process for us, and I am accepting that.

So here’s the deal.

I have a 3400 sf house in the ‘burbs. Because a couple of years ago we finished our basement in time for my brother-in-law’s family to stay with us, we now have 6 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, and 1.5 kitchens. We have a 3 car garage, two vehicles, a big fifth wheel camping trailer, and 3 tvs. We are not exactly living the minimalist lifestyle I daydream of constantly.

Believe it or not, though, it was actually a practical decision to buy this house. Our mortgage is now our only debt (as of last year). This house was government-owned when we bought it, and needed a LOT of love (despite being a few years old). But it was steal, we had equity from our last fixer-upper, and we knew it was a good investment. I don’t think I ever thought we’d live here for long. But now that we are closing in on our house being “finished,” and realizing that with a finished basement, this house is ridiculously huge for us, we’re in a weird place. At least in our area, we cannot downsize any time soon, without paying MORE. We could downsize and downgrade, yes, but ideally we would want to live in a smaller house with a bit of land, in a safe neighborhood. That criteria doesn’t much exist unless we wanted to have a larger house payment than we currently have. It doesn’t make sense for us any time soon, because we are in such a good situation financially with our too-big house. It’s a weird (First World) “problem” for a wannabe minimalist such as myself.

I think we’d make the switch for the right place. Even if we weren’t getting the square-footage bang for our buck we have with our current home, we’d do it if we loved the house, neighborhood, school district, etc. At least I would. But so far we haven’t found that. Perhaps one day.

In the meantime, I don’t want to feel like I can’t still chip away at my goals of having a simpler life. Just because I have more house than we need doesn’t mean I need to fill it. When we finished our basement, we doubled our square footage, but we only bought a couple of items; and I’m even in the process of selling off some small furniture pieces we have had stored away. We will have two completely empty bedrooms, and many of our other rooms will be pretty sparse. I’m ok with it. I like the space, and feeling like everything can breathe.

Even though I get overwhelmed and impatient sometimes, I like the process of easing into a more minimalist life: decreasing our possessions, increasing the value of our home with our DIY-spirit, committing to less, focusing on our long-term financial goals. All of those things will make us more free to jump on an opportunity to downsize when the time is right, whenever that may be.

315,532,800 seconds

weddingTen years ago, I married my BFF. It’s hard to believe it’s been a decade already. I don’t know if I’ve done any wedding-y posts (a few anniversary shoutouts, yes, but no details) so our ten year anniversary seems like a good time for a wedding story.

We dated through nearly all of high school and college. I graduated in December 2004, and we were engaged in February of 2005. The whole thing was a pretty good indication of our future relationship: One afternoon we decided to get married, and I chose my own modest ring. That’s the story we will tell our children, and while it may not seem very exciting, it’s perfect to me. There was something very feminist about making a joint engagement decision and choosing my own ring.

In a few months, with the help of our moms, we planned a low-key outdoor wedding. We chose a nice reception center that handled most everything, and we outsourced the flowers and cake to some budget-friendly local businesses. My dress was maybe $400 off the rack, and my bridesmaids dresses were cute little sundresses off a clearance rack at Macy’s. (Trust me, it’s a better alternative to custom, spendy, and usually terrible bridesmaids dresses!) No engagement party, rehearsal dinner, wedding dinner, bachelor/ bachelorette parties, open bars, etc. We’d have skipped most, if not all, of the traditional wedding stuff if we didn’t feel a bit obligated to do it for our families. We were ok with the compromise. After some quick Googling, I found out the cost of the average wedding in 2005 was $31K. I’d be shocked if we spent over $5,000 on ours and I still felt it was a little indulgent! wedding2

We did spend on hiring a good wedding photographer (I was concerned about preserving memories from the day more than anything), and I’m so glad we did. I love looking back at the photos, and as I’ve been working on Project Life I have been enjoying them again. We also tapped a talented cousin of my husband’s to take candid shots and he did not disappoint. (He also made us a cute wedding slideshow with photos of the two of us growing up and then our dating/engagement photos- SO fun. I still watch it from time to time).

Our Honeymoon was in Vegas – we road tripped it down and had some fun on our teeny-tiny budget. We came back to our teeny tiny apartment and started our lives together. ♥

5 yearsIn ten years we have had two homes we put a LOT of work into (after that teeny tiny apartment), been on lots of fun trips, raised two puppies into spastic-but-sweet fur-children, and had one beautiful little girl who makes the world brighter for both of us. I look around daily with so much gratitude for my life. I’ve worked on my education and career, and am now lucky enough to take a hiatus and be a full-time-mommy/work-from-home part-timer. While I have days I stress about work, or guilt about failing at total mommy-perfection (it happens), overall things feel really in balance. Hubby and I have both worked so hard over the years (at our jobs, fixing up our homes and yards, pinching pennies). There have been grueling times. Stressful times. But we’ve been in it together and that makes all the difference. I plan, he navigates. Weekend warriors. Team Mom and Dad. You know life’s good when you feel like high-fiving your spouse at least once a day. We are lucky. Hawaii

If I have any wisdom on achieving marital bliss, it’s mostly this: pick a good one. 🙂 And then.. live in the present. Don’t dwell in the past or wish away the present. Plan, have adventures, be spontaneous, be goofy, have fun. Make your current situation the best you can. Practice gratitude for each other, focus on the good, make memories. Keep it simple and authentic – don’t try to compete or compare to how others do it.

We are celebrating by going out to dinner when we can swing it – probably this weekend sometime. We rarely have/make time for just the two of us anymore, so I am looking forward to it!

Happy ten years to us, and many happy more to come. ♥

i heart new york.

It is bizarre to think I was in New York just a bit over a week before Hurricane Sandy and the devastation in the east. Watching the news and seeing the flooding in the subway stations, boardwalk, and Battery Park, I was thinking.. I was just there. It somehow solidified the feeling that I left a part of myself there.

The big, pulsing city. Somehow being there, among the art and diversity and culture and the most well-off and the most down-trodden, I felt more American. There’s the symbol of the opportunity in this country mixed with the bleak reminder of the evils of terrorism and the corruption of capitalism. It’s all there: the ugliness and the hope.

And the art. I love being in a place you can see an original Warhol, a limited edition Prada bag, and the best street graffiti in one day {cuz I did}. It’s visual and inspirational overload for an artist’s soul like mine.

We did all the essential things. MoMA, Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty. And the quirky things. Off-Broadway, Coney Island (we tried). But I suppose I felt less self-conscious of my tourist-ness than I usually do. Maybe because there’s no “right” way to be in a city that diverse? Or maybe because the city is important enough to warrant photo-documentation.

The city doesn’t need us. It doesn’t care we were there. Except maybe the homeless guy we bought some food for, we left no mark. It felt more like I was understanding rather than observing. It all sinks in and you feel a part of something.

Maybe that’s why the east coast weather these past few days seems surreal to me, all the way back in cozy, safe Utah. You can’t visit New York without feeling how the city has endured. It wears its scars like badges. The “survivor trees” at the Twin Towers 9-11 Memorial were sobering and poetic. In the entire block, a few trees were all to survive the destruction and they were nursed back to health, blocked off and protected as living monuments.

Battery Park was also recently flooded and suffered some damage. This is where we boarded the ferry to Liberty Island. The park is the new home of this sculpture, which was moved from the Twin Towers wreckage during reconstruction to keep it safe. No restoration was done to this statue, so scorch marks, dents and all, this piece of art had a really somber effect on me and I wondered about how it fared the storms.

My favorite part of the trip was wandering around Brooklyn. It’s got that you-know-it-when-you-feel-it soul. I sort of thought I would feel more of that during the trip but every neighborhood really had it’s own atmosphere and to me, Brooklyn felt like it could be home. There is art in its crumbliness.

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge is a must-do. You can see everything while still being fully part of it.

We tried to go to Coney Island, but it was closed for the season. I took photos from outside the gate because I love creepy signs. Abandoned amusement parks stuck in a previous time. It’s the perfect setting for a horror flick.. or a really offbeat and awesome wedding reception.

It’s strange, the things about a place that can stick with you the most. For me it was a general feeling of blending. Somehow we all fit in, and it’s hard to remember that in the suburbs. I’m probably meant to be a big city girl, but it will survive without me.

NYC instagram

I’m the worst blogger, and an even worse travel blogger. I have the best of intentions, but when I get back from a trip I generally am exhausted and behind at life (duh) and the last thing I want to do it edit photos and write a blog post. Isn’t that so sad? Vacations deserve documentation, after all. So, I promise I will get around to recapping some of the highlights from our NYC trip last week. It was a great time, and an amazing city.

For now I will post at least some of my favorite Instagram shots (sorry for those of you who already follow me or see them on Facebook).

We rolled into the city at 5:30am on the red eye, and took the world’s spendiest cab ride to Time Square. This was the least crowded we experienced the city the entire time.

We stayed in a hostel called the NY Budget Inn. It was located in a great area so it was well worth surrendering the frills (and hot water). Any legitimate hotel in the city would have cost 3 times more. We barely spent time in our tiny prison-cell room.

We took the subway all over because it was the most cost effective way to get around. I loved that every stop had different art and flavor. This stop had mosaic eyes all over – dozens of them, all different.

The view from the Empire State Building was breathtaking.

Central Park was one of my favorite things. There’s a large area paying tribute to John Lennon. Yoko Ono paid for the restoration of the area and for the cost of the tribute. It was beautiful.

This was one of the lakes in the park.

Pizza everywhere! I loved this vintage-looking signage.

We went to see Avenue Q, an off-Broadway show, that was totally hilarious. It was in a cool little theater called New World Theater that had the best mod art. I liked how this mural looked with my graphic umbrella.

We took the ferry to Liberty Island. So fun! I loved seeing Lady Liberty in person. It really is surreal.

A few of the city from Liberty Island.

The American Museum of Natural History was awesome. We had to skip so much because it’s easily an all-day event if you wanted to see it all. I loved the dinosaurs and the Universe exhibits the most. It made me realize how I need to brush up on my astronomy one of these days.

Brooklyn was my favorite neighborhoor, by far. So artsy, old and full of character. Great buildings. We wandered around all day.

Under the bridge.

We took the subway alllll  the way to Coney Island, only to find it was closed for the season. It made for creepier shots. What a kitschy place.

The MoMA in NYC was a bit disapointing, honestly. The Frida Kahlo pieces were all gone, and there’s a huge chunk of modern art I just don’t appreciate or understand. I was drawn to the really graphic and text pieces mostly, like this one.

Time Square in the daylight. This one actually gives a sense of the crowds everywhere. It was pretty insane as expected.

Fun vacay! And hubby was a trooper as always, for trecking the city and keeping us from getting too lost. Most of the time. Lookit those bags under my eyes! Successful, exhausting trip.

instagram weekend & october detox check-in

What a great long weekend!! I was fortunate enough to have Columbus Day off {whoop}! I’m only 8 days in one the month of vegan eating// October detox, but it’s been a blast. It has rejuvenated my cooking rut and I’ve gone out for a couple awesome vegan meals. I can’t wait to try some weird ethnic and gourmet cuisine in NYC next weekend. So far I’ve made: apple sauce, butternut apple soup, apple crisp (can you tell we were hooked up with a serious apple surplus?!), smokey black bean tacos, pumpkin spice lattes, spicy hummus, pumpkin cookies, pasta with Field Roast sausage marinara sauce, red beans and rice, beet burgers, lentil and quinoa salad…. phew!

My life’s not ALL food obsessed and it was a great weekend. I felt like re-capping the 3 glorious days via Instagram.

Friday night, hubby and I went to SLC for dinner at Sage’s Cafe, which is an awesome vegan joint. I had the seitan tacos and hubby had the mushroom stroganoff. 😉 This Marilyn mini tag-art was on a wall near the cafe.

Then we hit the much-anticipated (by ME) Garbage show, which was postponed from last April! It was phenomenal. Much like seeing Fiona Apple, this was almost surreal! This band made up the soundtrack to my early teen years when I was just starting to care abut music. When you’re a weird kid, music can be your best friend. And.. I was pretty damn weird. Somehow seeing this band live made me realize I was just cool before my time. 😉

Saturday morning I made a run down to Whole Foods for some vegan cooking staples, and also hit the new Lululemon store. I loved this store window there. “Do 1 Thing A Day that Scares You.” I think that’s pretty damned good advice {and a good 30 day challenge… hmm.. just sayin’!}. (PS: Love my new Lulumon Studio Pants.)

The Whole Foods haul! Lots of goodies for my month of vegan cooking. OH!.. I was also on a fact-finding mission, as I’m writing a paper on Whole Foods services strategy. I know how to party.

In between studying and paper-writing I made that yummy sugar scrub on Sunday. It’s lovely!

Those vegan pumpkin spice lattes! I made a huge batch of the pumpkin mix from this recipe, to make a latte every day for the rest of the week. They are soooo good.

Monday I spent more of the day studying for my Tuesday night Corporate Finance final. But I did manage to sneak out for a few more cooking supplies at the Asian market… and snapped a picture of their awesome front door. 😉 I’m weird like that.

AND got a much needed haircut at the Cherry Bomb Salon in Ogden. Wanted to sneak that in before our trip next weekend. I’ll definitely be going back!

Monday night’s dinner is Tamarind Tempeh and Sweet Potatoes (from the Appetite for Reduction cookbook) and this purple cauliflower I picked up at Whole Foods. So pretty! So delicious! If I had to pick a favorite veggie it just *might* be cauliflower, but purple cauliflower??! WHA WHAAA!!

I hope everyone else had a fabulous weekend and has a great week!! Do tell.

back with a mac//catching up//random thoughts

Well, friends, I am back. After making a valiant but fruitless effort to replace the hard drive in my old Dell laptop, then considering the option to get another cheap PC to hold me over until I get what I really wanted, I just went for it and got myself a MacBook Pro. It’s taking some getting used to, but I know I’ll just love it! If anyone’s got tips for me, please send em’. I’m learning the WordPress photo uploader is a total no-worky with Safari (Apple’s browser) and I’m resorting back to Firefox. Sheesh! First World Problems, eh?

I missed a Practically Free Friday post and I know how sad you all are about it (hehe) so I’ll be back with two next week. I’ve actually been doing lots of fun projects since I’m on a break between classes (start back up August 13).

I can’t believe it’s August already. I know, I said the same thing about July. July 1 I started a kinda new job (my Government contract is in the hands of a new company). I’ve been busy getting a handle on my new and ever-growing list of work-tasks. I am just NOT good at handling work-stress. I overeat, under-sleep, don’t hit the gym, and drink too much wine. Subsequently I have felt like utter crap for weeks (duh) and the fit of my jeans tells me it’s time for damage control in the form of good ol’ healthy eating, yoga and gym time.

Which reminds me (hijacking my own post – awesome!) – if I started a blog of the healthy eating, fitnessy and natural hippy-dippy home remedy variety would you read it?

Welp, here’s what else I’ve been up to {Instagram is the laziest best way to document life, amIright?)

Finally! A long overdue date night this weekend!

@ City Creek in SLC. Just liked this shot.

My friend Matt is moving to the UK and he bestowed his paint stash on me – Whoop! Here’s my now quadrupled, co-mingled collection. Um, can I take a week off of work? I think I need a paintcation.

My sister-in-law planted my beet seeds {I ran out of room}. Look how pretty they are!! I am having lots of fun making weird garden-inspired meals. Today we are having these beet burgers from Post Punk Kitchen. I made them yesterday, doubled the recipe, and had 8 burgers to freeze. They look and smell delicious!

How cute are these dolls (@ Target!)? I want one!! But I got it for my niece instead.

Happy Sunday!

5 year bloggiversary.

I started blogging exactly 5 years ago today. This was my first ever post {I still kinda crush on Anderson Cooper – is that weird?}.

So I thought I would look back over the blogs for some of my highlights {in my very humble opinion ;)}.

Favorite Posts:

Favorite Projects:

Favorite Challenges:

^ Also 5 years old ^..this pic. Whoa. Such kids!♥