How We Pared Down Our Belongs to Fit in 460 Square Feet!

When Seth and I were first married we rented a two bedroom apartment in town with a lot of space and a tiny yard. It was such a pretty place! And we filled it with all our things. The second bedroom became a pottery studio, we had a dining room with a little writing nook and a bright front room full of plants.

Then we found our beloved land and we jumped into off-grid life in a one room yurt. A lot of things had to go before we could move into our tiny new house, and we had no idea how to go about reducing our belongings!

Because we were going from a conventional apartment to an off-grid yurt, we could easily give away everything that depended on electricity: mixer, toaster, curling iron.. but what about all the clutter?

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If Konmari had been around in 2010, I would have been all over it! But it wasn’t. And honestly, minimalism wasn’t even on my radar. But we needed to downsize in a major way.

First, we took a close look at our new space. Or, the floor anyway.. our yurt was so delayed in production that we were actually tenting on our land for a week before we could set it up, with all our things tucked in a second-hand shed we threw up as quickly as possible. But we walked the platform, and decided just what we really wanted to have in our tiny, new house: a bed, the little rattan couch, a table to eat at, some shelves, books, a counter to work at and an altar. Everything we were uncertain about, or divided on stayed in that rickety old shed or was sent off to the donation box.

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We had so much extra space in that brand-new yurt and we loved it! So many things that seemed so essential in the apartment were never moved into the new house. We didn’t want to clutter up it’s fresh interior with things that we didn’t actually miss. And so they stayed tucked away in the old shed until winter came and the snowload crushed the roof of the shed and all it’s trinkets were damaged in the rust and wet of snow and metal.

Kind of wasteful..

if I’d been more thoughtful and intentional about this move, I could have donated all that stuff and saved the mess. But I wasn’t. I was new at all this and careless. I still have some of the shed to tear down, actually.  We’re going to use the old metal to re-roof the outhouse and build a pig-shed. So we’re salvaging some of the waste!

You don’t have to know what you’re doing to move into a tiny house! You just go with it and maybe realize 3 years later that you brought in too much stuff, or got rid of too much. It’s an adjustment – most of us are learning to live counter-culturally, against the consumerism we used to know. And that can be super hard. Don’t make it harder by thinking you have to do it all at once, or do it right the first time. You don’t. We certainly didn’t!

We went tiny by giving up about a third of our belongings, donating books and appliances, gifting friends with some of our extra dishes, papering the outhouse with old poetry books, and leaving lamps for the new renters at our old apartment (we asked them first!); we moved about a third of our things into the yurt and ended up culling more than half of those original belonging again a few years later; and we wasted a third, mostly books and burnable wood furniture (thank goodness!) by storing it for a while in hopes of finding or building a home for it.

If I were to do it again, I’d give up more and save less. But that’s what houses are all about, they grow with us. They embrace our attitudes and intentions, and flourish as we truly get to know them. Journeys aren’t everything, but they’re amazing ways to learn.

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End of Winter Burnout: Homeschooling During the Dull Months

March has been such a hard month these past few years! Winter never ends early anymore, we have all the blizzards and grey skies in March now and keeping our motivation in schooling is hard when all we want to do is sleep, drink coffee, and cry over each new foot of snow.

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But we’re working through it. We’re midway through Lent – Lent is all about self-discipline and we are building ours together! But “working through it” doesn’t mean we grind all our joy down in the pursuit of a consistent education, so we do take time out to rest and restart.

We try to keep a consistent daily reading schedule: Bible, catechism, history (we’ll be jumping from early American History, which we’ve been slowly working through for the past two years, to Ancient History! I’m excited to see how the books we found work out.), nature, saints, and some small fairy stories. Or if it’s a really lazy day, at least we read the Bible and some fairy tales. The consistent morning reading helps us connect and focus a bit even if the rest of the day is casual.

But in March, we don’t always do focused work everyday. Math, copywork, grammar, etc are subjects we might chose to pass by for the sake of a tromp in the snow, a painting day, or just a slow day of reading and play. These little breaks help so much to keep our motivation up and not fall too deep into the late winter blahs.

Today is one of those slow days.

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We read in the morning, and then I left the kids alone to play for a long while. They spent some of the time outside in the snow, some of the time watching Seth build the chimney at my parent’s cabin, and then some time reading together downstairs at their grandparents’ house. Late March is a wonderful time for Seth to get caught up on projects at the vacation cabin, and my parents will be up at Easter to celebrate with us, so the more he can do in Lent, the better!

I like to give the kids a break from schoolwork on days that Seth is working because they love helping him build. They’re learning something tangible and valuable by building or painting with their daddy. And the lazy days help us renew our delight in schooling. It’s lovely to build a schooling schedule around the seasons, letting the slow late-winter times inspire a bit more hygge and a little less industry.

Do you struggle to stay motivated homeschooling, homesteading, or in some other aspect of daily life? How do you deal with burnout in the cold months?

Exploring Natural Make-up

I don’t really like natural, hippie makeup.

At least, not on me. I like lots of blacks and greys and a bit of intensity.

Not too much..I’m sort of ‘yurt-goth’, I guess.

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kinda…

like all aspects of my life, I like to classify my make-up under the term Cyganeria – a sort of artistic bohemia that allows me to be both expressively dark and grounded in nature. My make up, style, domesticity, writing, and even homeschooling all fall under this sort of impressionistic translation of cyganeria.

But back to make up… I don’t want a palette of peaches, pinks, and salmons to spread on my face. I shun beiges and taupes. I like cool colours, dark colours, and intense pigmentation. And yes, I’m finally insisting on ethical, sustainable, small-scale production, ideally from people I can see and know and engage with. People who will be mixing up their colours without the help of underpaid workers in China or Indonesia.

And so far, I’m finding some awesome products!

I’m kinda surprised., honestly.

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I didn’t expect to be so impressed. But my two favorites right now are Moonrise Creek – – and Rituel de Fille. Moonrise Creek is an Etsy shop, I’ve tried (and loved!) their liquid foundation, concealer, and powder. It’s hard to find a good, natural, ethically made foundation. Before transitioning away from problematic companies, I was using Kat von D’s very-full-coverage foundation, and I loved it. Moonrise Creek’s products are very different. They cover differently and they feel different on my skin. The texture was one of the first things I noticed about their products – the foundation feels amazing – nourishing and smooth but not at all heavy or oily. It doesn’t cover as fully as Kat von D (but really, what does!) but it does provide a smooth and consistent coverage. I use the concealer primarily under my eyes and it brightens and covers as well as the drugstore brand I used to us!

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Rituel de Fille is a more prominent brand than Moonrise Creek – I think they’re even sold at a department store – but the quality and intentionality seems impressively intact. I bought three of their eye soots a couple years ago and they’ve become staples in my little make up box. Recently, I added Rituel de Fille’s Eclipse and Ghost Light pigments to my collection, as well as two of their lipsticks. I adore these products, I can feel the quality and I’m thrilled with the simplicity and witchy-intentionality of the ingredients.

 

Both brands fit with my cyganeria style, can handle our ‘out in the elements’ lifestyle and manage to avoid violating my ethical intentions! I’m still in search of some good mascara that won’t clump or feel chemically near my eyes, but I’m pretty sure I’ll find one! The world is full of people trying to build a cleaner, kinder culture by improving all the little things!

 

(This is not a sponsored post, just a personal opinion. I tried these products, liked them, and thought you all might be interested. I get nothing from anyone if you click on any links! But don’t let that stop you. Check them out!)