Minimal Mail

mailbox
“Sometimes it’s better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission.”

When I moved the tiny house on to my land I didn’t know how to go about getting an address. All I had was some parcel numbers on the deed. I called the post office they sent me to one of their locations, which sent me to another location, which told me I need to go to the county offices fill out a bunch of paperwork, which I never got around to doing. 

Instead I decided that I would essentially make a semi educated guess as to what my address might be, slap it on the mailbox and see what happens.  Well I did just that and a couple days later there was a typed letter from my mail lady explaining that the mailbox would not be active until I listed the names of the residents on the back of the letter. I grabbed a pen, scribbled my name and a quick note and put it back in the mail box. 

A few days later I received a thoughtful gift (a battery extender iPhone case) directly from ebay to my mailbox.
It worked!! 

I love getting mail, mostly because I’ve been able to evade spammers. If your fed up with junk mail you can sign up to stop it at https://www.dmachoice.org/dma/member/home.action

Another fantastic site is https://www.yellowpagesoptout.com This site has you put in your zip code and it displays all the phone books in your area (my folks had 5) after a quick register of your address you can pick which one you would still like to receive if any.

Getting rid of the junk leaves more room for good.

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Categories: Tiny House | 7 Comments

Tiny Gingerbread House on Wheels

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Categories: DIY | 4 Comments

You are enough

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“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.”~Mohandas K. Gandhi”
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With Christmas fast approaching I keep getting asked by loved ones “What do you want for Christmas?” Which I really truly have no answer but it reminds me of a great story.

At a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island, Kurt Vonnegut informs his pal, Joseph Heller, that their host, a hedge fund manager, had made more money in a single day than Heller had earned from his wildly popular novel Catch 22 over its whole history. Heller responds, “Yes, but I have something he will never have . . . Enough.”

It’s a powerful story and the chances are if you are reading this, then you too have enough. If you’re like me everyone you are buying gifts for this holiday season also has enough.

How many people can even recall everything they received last year, or how many couples are resentful when their partner doesn’t get them the ‘right’ thing, and how many more pick out exactly what they want with their partner in order to avoid the former?! So what’s the solution to gift giving for the person who has enough (which is all of us)?

Give the gift of memories. My parents took this advice and instead of giving each other ANYTHING they’ve decided to go on a weekend trip to Boise, experience something new together and go on a sleigh ride. No resentment, no pressure, and not another useless gadget taking up space.

Plan B if you are not giving an experience be sure to make it thoughtful, if you must give a tangible gift it should be personal. Just yesterday I received a beautiful custom shutterfly coffee table book in the mail from a friend, filled with pictures from the Sturgis motorcycle rally that I attend for Danny Gray Seats. It contains so many wonderful memories bound in a book that I will cherish forever.

More importantly not only do you have enough, you are enough.

Are you giving something thoughtful this year or opting out of traditional gift giving in leu of a experience? Do you have an idea or a tradition that controls massive consumption?? If so let us know in the comments below.

Merry Christmas to all y’all!

XO

Kristie

Categories: Philosophy | 7 Comments

Tiny Victories

“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”-Oprah
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Ahh it’s the little things like running water, installing propane lines for the first time, cutting through the wall to connect the two structures, that make you want to celebrate. Looking through my phone today I noticed several little video snippets of those little accomplishments and decided to compile them.

Sidenote: I’m going to start a ‘Ask Me Anything’ segment. So if you have any burning tiny house, DIY, sewing questions, email me at here

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Categories: DIY, Tiny House | 6 Comments

Odds & Ends

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ABOVE: My first year of property taxes :)

Lately I’ve been fortunate to pair up with some incredible folks in the tiny house community. Frankly two years ago when I built mine I wasn’t even aware a such a community existed. It’s really exciting to connect with so many people who are trying to simplify and in turn lead a more meaningful life.

Below are some blogs I’ve been featured on lately, each one of these sites are a phenomenal resource for anyone interested in the tiny house lifestyle:

Macy Miller of Mini Motives (say that 10x fast) is also a Boise gal as well as an architect in training. She’s on the home stretch of her tiny house and has documented every step of the process, even breaking her back (ouch!).

http://minimotives.com/?s=Kristie

I also did a guest blog on Tiny House Listings as well about building on a budget. They have a ton of inspiration posted almost daily on their Facebook as well so be sure to like them as well.

http://tinyhouselistings.com/paying-cash-for-my-slice-of-the-american-dream/

Most recently I had the pleasure of doing a podcast with Andrew Odom of Tiny Revolution. Andrew & his wife Crystal along with their daughter are perfect examples of not only how a family of three can not only survive in a small house but thrive in one. You can listen to our chat here:

http://tinyrevolution.us/2012/11/29/november-29-2012-podcast-interview-with-kristie-wolfe/

And kind of an off topic an interview that I did with Tony Gonzales of The Tennessean this summer when I was traveling/working/couch surfing in Nashville for CMA Fest. If you haven’t heard of couch surfing its a pretty cool social network for travelers who tend to be a little on the granola side. I’ve used it several times always coming away with a new perspective. You can view the video of the interview below:

http://www.tennessean.com/VideoNetwork/1680346390001/Couch-surfing-pairs-Nashville-songwriter-Idaho-traveler

Categories: Tiny House | Tags: , , | 9 Comments

Peacock Christmas

The Gilded Cage

“I can’t do nothing just a little.” -Dolly Parton.
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My Dad is a Speech/English teacher at Century High School in Pocatello, ID and last year the school had another less than par showing at the Festival of Trees in turn he volunteered me to decorate the tree this year. Which I of coarse jumped at the chance to spend someone else's money on shiny objects. The school only had a $200 budget which I went over $29.14 (I just couldn't resist).

It took a little convincing but I went with a peacock theme which is in keeping with the school colors. We blew $55 at Hobby Lobby on 5 beautiful peacocks and from there we searched out 2 birdcages at Tai Pan Trading for $26. For the remaining 3 peacocks we took to the thrift shops where we scored 2 diamond shaped wood wall art ($4) which would have been hideous in any other application but it worked perfect for our tree. My favorite though, was a leopard lined Victoria Secret jewelry box at Idaho Youth Ranch for $4.

Another amazing find was at the Dollar Tree where we got crazy, cool ornate hand mirrors which I snagged 6. I decided to go with a crown tree topper but wasn't able to find one in Pocatello soooo I made one using a metal flower stand ($2 at thrift store), gold glitter 3" ribbon ($4 at Walmart) and a dollar store ornament. A couple other ways we saved were we spray painted glass goblets gold as well as made fans from some fabulous purple sparkly wrapping paper.

It turned out Super GAUDY and I love it!


$6 Crown tree topper

Categories: DIY | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Tiny Addition


30 days into the tiny addition

“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.”
-Alphonse Karr

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When I bought some land this summer on the outskirts of town, I knew I was going to need to add a kitchen. Since moving to Boise I’ve been a huge supporter of the valleys variety of restaurants, so much so that I didn’t put a kitchen in my original tiny house plan. I also knew that because I wanted to make my tiny house permanent and off grid I would need to put in a fireplace to heat it.

On October 1st my mom and I set out to do what we had done 20 months earlier and build an addition onto my original tiny house, doubling it’s size to 220 sq. ft. This time around we faced some additional challenges, no power, no water, plus being a ways away from anything at all. It’s far from being finished, but in 30 days we were able to get the place buttoned up for the winter.

I’m a big believer in the ‘get what you give’ philosophy, however, in the course of the last month the scales have unequivocally been tipped in my favor. Nearly every day I have been astonished by the kindness and generosity of others, from building supplies to food, that near strangers have brought by.

The reason my land was so cheap is because it had no utilities to speak of. I plan to do solar so electricity was a non issue. My family has had to put in septic and leach fields before, so that was doable as well. However, getting water was a big question mark, but I went ahead with the purchase knowing that everything is figureoutable. A couple weeks ago as my mom and I were dutifully chipping away at our to do list, a truck pulled up and I was introduced to Jay (the mysterious owner of all the cheat grass covered land that surrounds my property) and Dan (a resourceful Angus cattle rancher, who needed a place to graze his cattle). They were inquiring about the water situation and I explained all the dead ends I had run into: a caved well, water being 400′-600′ deep, grandfathered in water rights etc. As it turns out that “caved well” was nothing more than a clogged pump and the next day they were putting up fence and building a well house and offering to run water to my house if I would keep an eye on the cattle. ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING?? If I had one wish it would have been for water! If I had won the lottery I would have spent the money on getting water! I would have bottle fed every last one of those cows had they asked, but instead I simply needed to notify Dan if I didn’t have water because that meant the cattle didn’t have it either.

Seriously, simple as that, and on Nov. 1st my 30th birthday, I was able to turn my faucet for first time in 5 months and see water rushing out.

Categories: Tiny House | 12 Comments

Pattern Changer

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“I learned to GIVE not because I have much but because I know exactly what it’s like to have NOTHING.” -Anonymous .
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A few months ago I was stopped at a busy 3 way stop, on a 6 lane road, in Boise. I noticed a heavy set, middle aged woman, in a mini van, looking to be having car problems. I could feel her desperation and watched with the dozens of other bored motorists as she got out of her vehicle and popped the hood. She was blocking the only turning lane that lay between the 4 lanes of traffic. I was as far away as you could be, going the opposite direction, but when the light turned green and still no one had stopped, I knew I had to turn around to see if I could help. It took me several minutes to maneuver my way back through traffic. I was certain that after waiting at two more lights, surely someone would have pushed her to the side of the road, lent her their cell phone, something! By the time I rolled up she had hopelessly returned to the driver seat with her emergency lights blinking, hood still up.

Now don’t be quick to sing my praises or to write off the people who didn’t stop, as complacent, self involved jerks.
You see, I knew that what I was experiencing was the “Bystander Effect”. Also known as the “Genovese Effect,” named after Kitty Genovese, who was raped and stabbed to death in her NY neighborhood street. This happened in the sixties, while 38 people watched from their apartment windows, yet no one stepped in to help her, or to even called the police for nearly 30 minutes. WTF how could this happen? Research shows that the more people present when someone is in need, the more likely you’ll assume someone else will help them, which is exactly what happens when we spot a stalled vehicle. We think, someone’s probably on their way, I’m sure they have a cell phone, I’m not a mechanic so I won’t be helpful, someone is bound to help yadda yadda yadda. The reverse is true as well, if the street was a little more desolate than the more likely you would be to stop.

Turns out, the lady was on her way to visit her elderly mother whom health had taken a turn for the worst. She was distraught as she had ran out of fuel. I just so happened to have a full gas can in my car that I was intending to use to mow the lawn with. She thanked me through her tears as I poured the gasoline into the tank annnd I was thankful that I knew about the bystander effect, and now so do you: )

Categories: Philosophy | 5 Comments

Do Things Don’t Own Them

Picked up this little truck for $500 a couple days ago.

“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.” – Will Rodgers

One late night downtown Boise I was rounding up inebriated friends outside the Grove Hotel. Now if you’ve had the pleasure of being a designated driver you know that this process at the end of the night is the equivalent to hearding cats…loud cats…that can’t walk straight…wondering where one of their shoes went.

It was one of those kind of nights and as I pulled up in my beat up 92′ Volkswagen Jetta and hollered to my buddies to get in. One of the partygoers frustrated with my attempt to break up what I’m sure was a very enlightening conversation hollered back at me
“Why didn’t you save twenty grand on your tits and buy a new car?!”

Say whaaa?? Annnddd it hit me – this guys alchol lubricated tongue had said outloud what I’m sure many others have thought for years. I’ve been driving p.o.s. cars since I got my license, in fact I have a philosophy on cars; I won’t spend over $500 on a vehicle then I proceed to run it into the ground, zero maintenance required. I don’t worry about potholes or loose gravel and when it dies I recycle it at the scrap yard often making back the initial investment. Some only last 8 months others have lasted years. The Jetta lasted three years and had it’s fair share of memory making quirks, like every time it rained the battery would die restarting my clock constantly which is how it got its nickname, or the front bumper that would sometimes fall off, or the missing passenger door panel.

While my peers are spending there Saturdays washing and vacuuming their vehicles, cursing every inevitable ding and chip and working their 9-5 jobs to pay for the pleasure, I am able to use that would be monthly car payment on something I enjoy doing.

There are many studies on happiness that prove experiences make you happier than material possessions. The research shows that when you make a big purchase, say a new TV you get a rush of dopamine and you think “we’re going to enjoy this for years,” then next month a bigger, higher resolution TV is released and yours is outdated (Waa Waa Waaa). Let’s say you spent that same money on a 4 day vacation you get the same rush of dopamine planning it but here’s the kicker for the rest of your life when you so much as reminisce on the memory’s created on that vacation you get that dopamine release again! Indefinitely!

That’s the moral of this little blog post my friends, when you have the choice choose the experience over the possession. As for my response to the drunkard on the street, I snapped “They’re REAL and it’s a Time Machine A**HOLE!!!”

Categories: Philosophy | Tags: , , , | 14 Comments

Educated Dropout

“I never let my schooling get in the way of my education.” -Mark Twain

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I am made up of contradictions; messy minimalist, skeptical spiritualist, capitalistic hippie, but by far the most controversial is that I consider myself an educated drop out.

No, I didn’t drop out of college, I dropped out of high school (gasp!) If I could do it over, I would have quit a year earlier (now just breathe). As always, when I reveal this information, I follow up with a disclaimer that I wasn’t doing drugs and I wasn’t pregnant.

The first question I get is, “What did your parents say?” Frankly, I don’t remember it even being a topic of discussion. My dad is a beloved high school teacher, now near retirement, and my mom instilled in me the passion of reading to learn from a young age. Thankfully they’re both intelligent enough to know, that being a high school dropout doesn’t mean you are destined to flip burgers, just like having a MBA doesn’t guarantee you a high profile job that you will love.

Pretty much everyone can agree that college does not equate to learning. We’re taught to believe that it’s just something you have to do to get a job. I’ve never had to lie about my lack of formal education. Most interviewers, supervisors, and suitors, just assume I have a degree, and when the topic eventually comes up, they think I’m kidding. I then get to explain that instead of paying someone to teach me, I took jobs, started businesses and got paid to learn the things I wanted to know instead.

People will argue, “Well what about the college experience?” To that I explain that I don’t feel like I missed out on the college experience, I dated the football star, hosted costume parties, went on spring break vacations, and lived on my own without cramming for finals, memorizing useless facts or racking up debt.

I believe 18 is way to young to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life, thus explaining the ridiculous amount of people who change majors, or go back to school. My advice is, if you think you might be interested in a field, go get a job doing that thing in an entry level position and get a feel for it while getting a paycheck as well. Then, if you love it, and it requires a college degree to advance in your chosen field, then go for it but only if the difference in your wage will be large enough to pay for your tuition.

Categories: Philosophy | 8 Comments