Sunday, October 9, 2016

When are you moving?

That is such a good question! And I really wish I could give you a specific answer. In fact, I'm pretty sure I care a lot more about the answer to that question than any of you do right now. But . . . I don't know for sure because the answer to the question of when I am moving is: when my house is done.

And when will that be? I don't know.

Last time I saw my tiny house it was two framed walls, not connected to a trailer.

And as far as I know, it still looks like that. However, that was four days ago, so there's a possibility that my builder has made some progress since then. On the other hand, he is also working on three other houses right now. Here's some pictures of one house that's about the same size mine will be.

One thing that has caused a little bit of delay is that there was some trouble with the way my trailer was registered. When you buy a tiny house, you can have it registered as a travel trailer, a park model RV, or a standard utility trailer. The trailer for my house was registered as a utility trailer, which is not ideal because that makes it harder to get the right kind of insurance for my house and to park it at an RV park, should I ever want to do that, which I very well might.

So. There's that. The house in the pictures above was actually built on the trailer that mine would have been built on, if it had been registered the right way.

I'm trying to be as patient as possible through all this. I keep reminding myself that I have waited a whole year to make this tiny house dream happen (not to mention the four years before then when I was seriously considering it as a future possibility). So a few more weeks won't hurt anything. But on the other hand, I am so excited to get back to California that any delay at this point just feels like torture.

The good news is that Friday was my last day working in the office, so now I am totally ready to move from a work standpoint. I'm really excited about working full-time remote. I know there will be some challenges and things to adjust to, but I'm just so grateful to have a job with the kind of flexibility that allows me to go wherever I need to in order to live the life that I really want to live—in a tiny house, in California. 

I will keep you all posted on the progress of my house, but right now it's looking like I won't be moving until the 22nd or 29th of October. And for Utah people, I'm still planning to hold a tiny open house before then, so I'll let you know when that might be happening too. Although, with everything so up in the air it'll probably be a really last-minute invite, like, "Hey! Who wants to come see my tiny house TONIGHT! For one night only!" I'm sorry in advance about that.

Another good thing that's come of me building this house (even though it's tiny and even though I'm not actually building it) is that this process has definitely taught me a few lessons in how to be flexible and patient. I generally think of myself as very easy-going and chill, but even I have my limits, and I think it's good for me to be tested on those limits every once in awhile.

It's just really hard to be patient when life is about to get a million times more awesome!!!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Would you like some help decluttering?

If you had told me when I started this blog that I would become the tidy, minimalist person I am today, I would’ve laughed in your face. Ask my parents; ask my siblings. They will tell you that I have never been a tidy person. I didn’t care if my bed was made. I didn’t care how long I let the dishes sit out on the counter. I didn’t care how much stuff I had stuffed in my closet. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a total slob, but I definitely was under the impression that my creative, whimsical nature couldn’t be bothered with the organization and maintenance of all my many boxes of random things.

Well, folks, I have changed. And at this point, nearly 18 months into my new tidy lifestyle, I think it’s safe to say that the change is a permanent one. 

Turns out I actually really like tidying. I do it automatically now. All of my things have a place and for the most part, they all stay in those places. I won’t say that my cleanliness is perfect. My bathroom counter tends to stay a bit messy and my jeans sometimes sit on the floor overnight, but that’s a far cry from the giant piles of dirty laundry that used to creep into the corners of my room and the endless array of knickknacks that once cluttered up my bookshelves.

The thing is, now that I’ve dramatically downsized my possessions, I’m finding that my love of tidying has outgrown the actual amount of tidying that I can do. That is to say that I’ve physically run out of things to tidy. There are, after all, only so many ways you can rearrange your closet.

So with that in mind, I’ve decided to look elsewhere for decluttering opportunities to satisfy this new urge. And this is where you all come in. If you have a tidying/decluttering/organizing project that you need a little extra help tackling, would you be willing to let me try helping you? I’m definitely not a professional organizer and I don’t have any kind of certifications in this area. I don’t know if the approach I used will work for everyone, but it has certainly worked for me. And I would love to tell you more about how I made this lifestyle change and hopefully help you change your life too. Just think of me as a tidying mentor/coach person.

For now I just want to dip my toes in the water and see if this tidying stuff is as much fun when I’m helping other people as it is when I’m doing it for myself. Eventually, if I like doing it, I might try to earn some type of certification and turn it into a side business or something. But that’s a little farther down the road. 

Also, I have no idea what to charge for my services in this area, so I’m just going to leave that up to you. Propose a project to me and if you have money and want to pay me for it, that’d be cool. I can tell you that anything I earn from this will go directly toward paying off my tiny house (since I had to borrow money to build it). But if you don’t have money to spend on this, and you just need help, that’s fine too. I am here for you, and I'm just looking for some experience.

A few final notes: 

1. This offer is primarily for Bay Area people, but if you live somewhere else and have an extra room I could sleep in for a week or so (or even just a couch I could crash on for a few nights), I’m open to that idea too, depending on who you are, where you live, how well I know, how annoying your kids are (kidding, mostly), and what kind of project we’re talking about. 

2. I am not sure how soon I'd be able to get started, since I still don't know the exact date of my upcoming move to California. But I figured I'd post about this now to let you all think about it and so that we can start setting up tidying sessions for future dates. I'm guessing I'll be settled in from the move and ready to get started working at the beginning of November, but I could possibly do something earlier than that if you're up against a deadline (like you need your house to look good before the neighborhood Halloween party).

3. If you are interested, send me a message on Facebook or comment on this post. I'd love to schedule a time to chat with you about your needs and figure out if I'd be a good fit for your project.

4. I am generally a nice person and I would never force you to give up anything you truly love.

Final disclaimer: I very much dislike this sell-y type stuff. I am genuinely doing this because I think it will be fun. That's how much I'm into tidying these days. But I hope no one reading this will feel put off by it. And the most important point I want to make about all this is that I don't think you're a bad person if your house is not tidy. This blog is a no-judgment zone. If you are happy with your current level of tidiness, that's awesome. More power to you. But if you're unhappy with your house/room/apartment or how much time it takes you to keep it clean and organized, I think I might be able to help you with that. And I think I would enjoy helping.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

No more TV?

That's right, people. I am currently living through a dearth of television. Ever since my mom failed to renew our family Netflix account a few weeks ago, all I've been able to watch is Youtube. That means no movies, no shows, nothing but vlogs and late night comedy sketches.

It's been . . . interesting. If I weren't about to move home to my parents' house where they have an actual television with an actual DVR, I'd be seriously looking into my online subscription options. I don't want to own a large television myself or pay for cable. But in spite of my ultra minimalist lifestyle, I'm not a total Mennonite. Not yet, anyway. And I still want my TV shows. (No offense, to actual Mennonites, of course. I really admire many things about your lifestyle.)

Granted, there is some great stuff on Youtube. And I have definitely enjoyed the extra time to live my life without the temptation to binge rewatch Stranger Things. So I wouldn't say that the loss has been entirely a bad one. But I will definitely be happy when I can get back to my regularly scheduled programming, as it were.

What am I doing to in the meantime to make life bearable?

1. The New York Times Crossword Puzzle.

I treated myself to a one-month subscription to their app, and I've been loving it. I'm even getting the Sunday puzzles done, which is really saying something. Of course, it helps that you can reveal letters and words and check your answers. And Google helps a lot too. But I try to do as much as I can on my own before relying on cheats.

Though I will admit to some heavy cheating this past Thursday when the puzzle clues were all anagrams. It was a nightmare. And I like anagrams.

2. Knorpp and South

You guys, I am obsessed with this family. You HAVE to check them out. They have nine kids, five of whom they adopted from China. They're LDS. And they're currently traveling around the country in an RV. They are basically the coolest people ever, and I want to be just like them when I grow up. Plus their kids are totally adorable! They post videos as they go, and it's so fun to follow their adventures. Big Youtube score.

3. Good, old-fashioned reading

I started rereading Little Women the other day and fell back in love with it. Such a classic. I also reread Louisa May Alcott's lesser-known first novel, The Inheritance. She wrote it when she was seventeen and it's fun as a writer myself to see her learning to put a story together. It's like hanging out with the real Jo for an afternoon.

4. Getting outside!

It's early fall here and that means that the temperature and weather are perfect for spending hours and hours outdoors. Lately when I leave the office for my lunch break, I've been having a really hard time convincing myself to come back indoors to finish working in the afternoons.

And of course, our sunsets are always gorgeous. That's one thing I'll definitely miss when I move to California.

I also managed to squeeze in one last summer roadtrip to Colorado a couple of weeks ago with one of my very best friends. That was a blast. I should've taken more pictures because we drove through some really pretty scenery, but here are just a few.

5. And of course, lots and lots of writing Tiny Talks 2017.

As much as I enjoy writing these books every year, I'm always so relieved when they're done. I will freely admit that one of the reasons I love having a deadline is that I know that once it's passed, I'll get to go back to being lazy and only writing when I feel like it.

Speaking of Tiny Talks, though, I actually do have a proof I'm supposed to be going through this weekend, so I should probably get to work on that.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Are you getting rid of EVERYTHING?

Blog! I missed you! I've been so busy writing Tiny Talks 2017 that I haven't had a spare minute for my blog in weeks. But the manuscript is done now (as of last night around 8:00 pm) and that means I'm going back to my normal reality.

And that means I'm getting ready to move to California, finally build a tiny house, start working remotely, and figure out what's coming next in my life.

In case you haven't heard yet or you were a little confused about the details, I'm currently planning to move from Utah to the San Francisco Bay Area at the end of September or beginning of October. The exact timing of the move depends on a couple of things. One is my tiny house, which I'll talk more about in a minute, and the other is a personal history project I've been working on with my grandma (not my history—hers). I've been helping her put together a book with some of her writings and photos and I'd like to get it at least mostly done if not completely done before I move.

To be clear, I am SUPER excited about this move. If I could, I would move tomorrow. But I also want to make sure that I act like a responsible adult and take care of the things that I need to take care of here before I go.

Now about my house. I am well aware that there are many people who would really love to know exactly when my house will be done and exactly what it will look like and how big it will be and all of that stuff. And let me just say, I am also one of those people. Heh.

I don't know for sure when the house will be done. The builder that I'm working with has had some unfortunate setbacks recently, and since I'm not on a tight schedule, I've just decided to go with the flow and let him take the time that he needs. For one thing, it's not like I have much of a choice. There's nothing I can do to make him go faster. And for another, this gives me more time to save up money to put down on the house, which ultimately will mean getting out of debt faster and that's a good thing.

As far as the design, I went through several rounds of changes and ultimately came back to my original idea, which will look something like this house.

I'm really excited about seeing how it all turns out, and I'll definitely post more updates and pictures as the build progresses.

I'm also really excited about sending it to The Hideaway in Ramona, California, for the first few months that I own it. The more I consider this plan, the better I feel about my decision. I think it'll be a great way to own a tiny house and have that security of knowing that I own something without having to worry about what to do with it in my immediate, still uncertain future.

In the meantime, I've been trying my best to prepare for the move and for my eventual transition to tiny living by downsizing some more. You would think that by now I'd have gotten rid of everything except the bare essentials, but you'd be wrong. I still have lots more books than I need, for one thing. However I have almost entirely eliminated the unnecessary craft supplies, bathroom products, and miscellaneous items. My clothes at least are close to being done. I'm actually down to three pairs of shoes at the moment after giving away a couple pairs of sandals last week. But I'll likely invest in another pair soonish. Four seems to be a good number: one pair of running/walking shoes, one pair of flats for church, flip-flops, and something casual like a pair of slip-ons. Right now I'm missing that last one.

In the photo above, you can see almost all of the clothes I currently own. I roll up my skirts and dresses and keep a drawer full of shirts, one drawer with socks and stuff, and another drawer for PJs and workout clothes. One of the nice things about working from home is that I'll be able to dress more casually (except when I need to be on a video conference call) so it'll be nice to be able to get rid of some more clothes when I don't have to dress up for work every day.

Since I didn't really answer the blog post title question yet, I guess I'll clarify that I'm not planning to get rid of EVERYTHING. But I honestly feel like there's a minimizing cycle where the more you get rid of, the more you realize you don't need all the things you've kept, and so that prompts you to get rid of more and re-evaluate again. I'm sure there will come a point at which I'll have to stop eliminating things, but I haven't quite reached it yet, and I'm not going to stop before then. It's really a great feeling knowing that things are just things and I don't need to plan my life around how much stuff I have.

Anyway, I could go on and on about how much I love getting rid of things, but I'll save that for another day. Like I said I'll keep you all posted about the house and everything. For people in Utah, I'm hoping to have a "tiny" open house sometime before I move away, so once I figure out the feasibility and date for that, I'll make some sort of announcement on social media.

And for people in California, I'm excited to see you all soon!

Hope you guys had a great Sunday and you're looking forward to a good week ahead like I am.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

What's next? (part II)

Well, I was planning a lot longer post to announce this, but then this morning I found out that the Primary theme for 2017 was announced and now suddenly all my writing time needs to go to Tiny Talks instead of to my blog.

So I'll just give you the short version of this and fill you in more later.

I have three kinds of news: good news, bad news, and great news.

The good news is that I found a place to park my tiny house. (Finally!)

The bad news is that it's not a place where I can live in it. That means I won't be moving into my tiny house when my it's completed in two to three weeks.

Here's where my house is going:

It's a tiny house hotel and farm! And it's totally adorable. It's also in Southern California, near San Diego, so if you live around there and you're curious about tiny houses, you should totally check it out.

I would be way more disappointed about not moving into my house if it weren't for the great news, which is that in order find a more permanent spot for my house my boss has said that it's okay for me to move out of state and work remotely, which means that at the end of September, I'll be moving HOME!!

I have seriously missed the Bay Area and I could not be more excited about returning to live there. I'm not sure at this point how long I'll stay in the area, but I'll keep you all posted as I figure out more of my immediate and future life plans.

In the meantime, I have a book to write and tiny house things to finalize and a move to arrange and all sorts of details to deal with that I'm sure you guys wouldn't want to hear about even if I had all day to blog.

So instead I'll leave you with this picture of the beach. California here I come!!!!! (In seven weeks! Can't wait!)

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Glasses? Really?

I've been putting this off for almost a year now, and to be honest, I'll probably keep putting it off another month or two, but I think the time has come to accept my fate: I will soon need glasses.

I have no trouble seeing up close, but distances have become fuzzy and bright lights at night when I'm driving are especially bothersome.

So if anyone reading this is a glasses-wearer can you please tell me what I should expect? I've only had my eyes checked professionally once, when I was a child, and I don't remember loving the experience. But I also don't remember it being that traumatic. Is it awful? Will they poke things into my eyes? Will it hurt?

Speaking of poking things into my eyes, I get really squeamish about that idea. I have a hard time with eye drops and I don't think I'll ever be able to handle contacts. Luckily I don't mind glasses, and sometimes when I've tried other people's on, I actually think they make me look cool. What's so great about contacts anyway? I don't get it. But then again, I've never really had to consider all this before. So if you want to chime in about glasses vs. contacts, feel free. 

Oh, and here's another question: how do you find an eye doctor? Is it basically like finding a dentist? Is it super expensive? Do you have to keep going back often? I don't know any of this stuff.

Aside from all of my questions and fears about this unknown world of optometry, I've also been putting off getting glasses for another reason: because it makes me feel old. I know I'm not really that old, but lately I've started to feel like my body is breaking down and now any little thing that comes up is just one more item to add to the list of ways in which I'm falling apart.

The latest was a knee injury that's had me limping for the past two weeks. The sad part is that I don't even have a good story to tell. I was at church (of all places) and I just twisted it the wrong way and there was a pop like a dislocating shoulder and then a second later it popped back into place, but it got all swollen up and stiff for the next few days and it's still a bit sore and hard to bend in certain ways. Luckily there doesn't seem to be any lasting damage. But it still makes me feel like I'll never be quite the same again. 

I know that I'm blessed to have a (mostly) functioning body. I suppose when things like this happen, it should make me more grateful for the times when I'm completely well and healthy. But I will admit that my typically optimistic, Pollyanna-esque nature tends to break down in the face of illness or injury. When I don't feel well, I'm much more inclined to plop myself in bed for a week of Netflix and pity parties than I am to try to find some kind of silver lining. 

Tangent: I was looking for a different photo to add to this post when I suddenly realized how obsessed I've become with photographing clouds and sunsets. I blame living up here on a hill where you can see the clouds for miles all across the valley.

Though that doesn't explain why I took this photo of clouds in Stockholm.

Anyway, speaking of silver linings, the only good part about this knee experience is that it's given me a perfect excuse to not go for any long walks in the 100 degree weather we've been having. I love summer, but I wish it would cool off a bit more here at night. I also feel like I might walk more if my neighborhood weren't on a steep hill. I can walk for miles on a flat surface, but inclines are a different story.

Man, I am just a wealth of complaints today. 

I guess I could also complain about one more thing while I'm at it. I've been having a really hard time finding parking for my tiny house. I wish that people would get back to me when I call or email them. It's the professional thing to do, especially if you are offering a service and someone wants to take you up on that offer. Sigh.

Because of my increasingly tight timeline, I've basically given myself a week and a half to keep looking around here before I have to pursue other options. I've also told my builder that I may need a little more time, and I'm lucky that my grandparents aren't kicking me out or anything, but it's definitely frustrating. So yeah. My timeline says 30 days till tiny today, but it may need to be adjusted again. This makes me sad, but I know that I'll still get there someday soon. 

One way or another, this will all work out for the best. I just need to keep doing everything I can do and then leave the rest up to the Lord. I'm sure He has a plan. I just wish I knew what it was.

I'm guessing that's a sentiment most people can relate to for one reason or another. So since it's Sunday, I'll leave you with a scripture that's been bringing me comfort amid my complaints and uncertainty. I hope it helps with whatever you are currently unsure of or complaining about.

"Search dilligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly and remember the covenant wherewith ye have covenanted one with another." —D&C 90:24

And if you need a little more encouragement and comfort, you might want to try listening to this talk from Sister Tanner. 

Happy Sunday, everyone!

I'll be sure to keep you posted about my house and what ends up happening with that. And in the meantime, if you have any advice about acquiring or wearing glasses, I'd love to hear it!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Anybody want some free books?

UPDATE: All of my free books have now found homes except for one copy of the What Do You Believe? journal. Let me know if you're interested in that one. And thanks to everyone who took books! My offer below still stands for severely discounted books. Just comment on this post or send me a message on Facebook to let me know what you're interested in purchasing.

Dear readers,

You knew this day was coming. You probably saw it on the horizon long before I did. And you were right. The fact of the matter is that I have too many books to fit into my tiny house. Ah, the curse of being an author.

However, in my defense, I would like to point out that there are many ways in which being an author and living in a tiny house work perfectly together.

1. Authors don't make much money. Tiny houses don't cost much money.

2. For the most part, writing is a very minimalist-friendly hobby. All you really need is a laptop, and you were probably planning to own that anyway.

3. Living in a tiny house means less area to clean, which is great for all those times when you're so frantically writing that you don't even notice you've been wearing the same clothes for three days and there is clutter on every single flat surface in your house (and some of the not-so-flat surfaces too).

4. Or in other words, less time spent on house maintenance means more time for writing and other fun stuff!

5. Many authors like to travel around so that they can write authentically from perspectives that are unlike their own. Tiny houses can be mobile, so you can move often and more easily.

But, as you might suspect, there are also some ways in which being an author and living in a tiny house just don't work out.

And this is one of those moments. Just look at this mess!

In preparation for my upcoming move into a tiny house, I have been minimizing (again) and organizing and letting things go. You would think that I'd be done with this by now. I got rid of a TON of stuff before I moved to Salt Lake last year. And I kept getting rid of things for months as my tiny house move-in date inched closer and closer.

However, there some things you just can't in good conscience give to DI or Goodwill. And I draw the line at my own books. I'll give other people's books away, no problem. But my own? The ones I wrote myself? I worked hard on those! I can't just send them off into the abyss to be sold for fifty cents or less!! Even if it is for a good cause.

So instead, I have decided to give my extra books to you all. And I won't even ask you to pay me fifty cents (unless you want to).

Currently I have . . .

11 copies of 1, 2, 3 with Nephi and Me!
9 copies of Liam Darcy, I Loathe You
3 copies of Time to Share
2 copies of What Do You Believe? teen journal
2 copies of Tiny Talks vol. 14
1 copy of Tiny Talks vol. 15

If you or someone you know would like to claim one (or several) of these, let me know either on Facebook or by commenting below.

As much as I love my books, I have accumulated far too many extras from various author events and now I just need to get them out of my storage and into the hands of people who will enjoy them.

(Plus how many copies of a book do I really need? Even if they are my own books! Don't worry, though. I am keeping one archive copy of each book for myself. I think that's plenty.)

So anyway, if you live in Salt Lake City or near it, I'd be happy to deliver your books or arrange a time to meet you somewhere. You don't have to pay me anything, but if you want to make a small donation to my tiny house fund in exchange for the books, I won't necessarily say no to that.

If you don't live nearby, I would love to send the books to you! However, in that case, I would appreciate a donation to cover the cost of postage. (Usually no more than five dollars, depending on how many books we're talking about.) And if you want to donate more than the cost of postage, that money will go directly into my tiny house fund.

Thank you all for your interest in my books! And thank you for supporting me in my tiny house dreams! Only 67 days to go!


PS–I'll give away the free books listed above on a first-come first-served basis, but if I run out of something you really want, let me know and I might be able to get some more copies for you at a very discounted rate, with any sales proceeds going to my tiny house fund.

PPS–On the off chance that someone wants to donate to my tiny house fund but doesn't want any books, I would just like to say thank you sooo much. That is really, really generous of you! However, I am not currently accepting donations of that nature because I feel like that would cross an uncomfortable line for me. I want to be able to say that I bought this house myself and that I am a financially independent adult. So if you want to donate, you'll need to take at least one book off my hands. That way I'll feel better about accepting your money.

PPPS–Ugh. Enough of that. "Gentlemen, I dislike all this money talk. It isn't refined." Name that movie line!