Sunday, August 12, 2018

Treasures: the Under The Sea Crochet Project

My Under the Sea blanket in process.
I am working on a special project. I am making a crocheted blanket for my oldest grandson. My ideas for personal crocheted blankets for my youngest two grandchildren came easily. But I just wasn't sure what to make for my oldest. Finally, I saw a sea turtle blanket pattern, discussed ideas with my son, and decided to an under-the-sea blanket. 

I am enjoying this project and I wanted to share the patterns I've found with you. My crochet skills are beginner to moderate so it is important to me to find easy-to-understand patterns and tutorials. And these patterns fit the bill.

The Ocean Waves Blanket

I chose the Gentle Gradient Ripple blanket tutorial and pattern by Underground Crafter because - once I got started - it was a very easy ripple for me to complete. And the finished product has more of a "wave" than a "zigzig" ripple appearance.

For some reason, I had a complete mental block at starting with the "multiples of 14 plus 12" beginning. But once I got past figuring out the math to get the width I wanted for my yarn, gauge, and hook size, the pattern was easy peasy.

My project isn't yet finished but I am including a photo so I can also list the colors (in part so I don't forget if I want to make a 2nd blanket).  The blue and green on the right will mirror the browns on the left. Then the blanket will be finished.

RedHeart Super Saver Yarn colors left to right: Cafe Latte, Buff Fleck, Denim, Real Teal, Jade, and Turqua.
hook size:  K

nearly finished under the sea blanket

*This article may contain affiliate links. If you shop via one of the affiliate links, I may earn a small commission - at no additional cost to you. I am very appreciative of every reader who visits my articles. Thank you.

Crocheted Fish Applique Pattern

I wanted a simple and not too cartoonish fish applique. I have great difficulty with flower applique's so I wasn't very optimistic about being able to do the applique's for the blanket.

But this crochet fish applique pattern by Crochet Jewel: Amy's Creative Creations was exactly what I was looking for AND easy enough for me to do. Her tutorial includes the written pattern as well as a video tutorial. 

This is one of my finished fish (mine is 4" long).

Caron Simply Soft yarn: Grey Heather and Snow Sparkle
hook size: F

my finished white fish applique

Crocheted Sea Star (aka "starfish") Applique Pattern

I wanted to crochet a "star" that looked like a star fish (my grandson corrects me... they are called Sea Stars. Smiley face here). I wanted the star fish legs to look like star fish legs, and not the point of the star.  

I got the look I wanted with the pattern by Crafty Little Chickie in her crochet large star video tutorial.

Caron Simply Soft yarn: Baby Sunshine
hook size: F

my finished star fish applique

The Blanket Pattern by Mandy That Sparked My Blanket

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the blanket that really got me motivated about this under-the-sea project. 

Made By Mandy has a crochet Baby Sea Turtle Blanket pattern that is ADORABLE! Her beach, waves, and ocean colored blanket with the baby turtle applique's was what helped me visualize my blanket version. 

On my version, I may or may not add the turtles. I also may or may not add some seaweed. I will try to remember to update this post with a photo of the finished project.

My oldest grandson loves sea creatures. He's already a walking encyclopedia about sharks, urchins, fish, and virtually every underwater creature you can imagine. I am thrilled that I finally have a blanket in progress for him and I hope he enjoys it as much as I've enjoyed creating it for him.

 *This article may contain affiliate links. If you shop via one of the affiliate links, I may earn a small commission - at no additional cost to you. I am very appreciative of every reader who visits my articles. Thank you.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Making Homesteading Dreams Come True - Visualizing and Positive Thinking, part 2

My homestead dreams are coming true.
Of all people, I am not one that should be a land owner. But I am. Being this far along in the process of making my homesteading retirement dreams come true has happened in large part through visualizing and positive thinking. I am convinced that I am currently buying my land through the law of attraction.

In part 1 of Visualizing and Positive Thinking I tried to give a brief introduction to some of the general ideas of visualizing, positive thinking, and the law of attraction - and gave links to the experts. I am no expert on these things. And frankly, my personality tends toward anxious and grumpy. If there is a disaster that could occur, I'm often fairly convinced that it will occur. That fear is sometimes paralyzing. And I believe that fear attracts more disasters than it prevents. I'm slowly trying to move away from that type of anxious and negative thinking in general.

I believe The Shack is proof of my moving away from claiming disasters and toward allowing the law of attraction to work in my life.

Land Owning Daydreams and The Shack Visualized

For years, I have "daydreamed" about buying land and moving back to a rural setting. Over those years, I spent much free time looking at the realty sites that show land for sale. I had thoughts such as "If this was mine, I'd put the barn next to that grove of trees" or "if this was mine, I'd build the house there."

Through regular, almost daily, looking at the land for sale ads, I became aware of locations, prices, availability, and etc. I knew which areas offered parcels of land that met my needs. I narrowed it down to four or five counties across West Virginia. Some people would say this is mere research. That is partially true - it was research. But it was also more than that. I book marked my favorites and looked at them several times a week. I visualized living in the future on a piece of land.

The Shack was one of those bookmarked favorites. And it sat empty, listed in the land-for-sale ads for a long time. I now think it was waiting for me. As it sat empty, I imagined living in it. Day after day I thought what it might be like to have that place - and those views - to myself. I looked at the online ad for The Shack and imagined where I'd put the garden, imagined where I'd put the house, and imagined shoveling snow there. I imagined different floor plans that would be perfect for that ridge. As each season changed, I imagined living in that season on that ridge.

But I was just day dreaming. Passing time. I was in no position to buy. Sometimes I berated myself for wasting time looking at something that could never be mine. But usually, I happily imagined being there.

I dreamt of living in the country. But these views were beyond my wildest dreams.

The Shack Manifested

For years I daydreamed only. Then things suddenly changed. My income didn't increase. My bills didn't decrease. My credit score was still garbage. But my job changed which meant a move with my 401k. I talk about that a bit in previous posts, so I won't rehash it here (you can find the link at the end of this post). Please know that I am NOT advocating you cash out your retirement plan. But I needed to. And because I needed to, and because I had visualized my other retirement plan, I did buy land for my future with part of that money. 

I had already been daydreaming about land in West Virginia for years. 

I was choosing West Virginia for the following reasons:

  1. low cost per acre
  2. availability of unrestricted land
  3. proximity to Maryland (I could still work and commute if needed)
  4. closer to family in Indiana than Baltimore (where I currently live)
  5. mountainous

My deal-breaker must-haves
  1. little to no building restrictions and community rules (unrestricted was my preference)
  2. able to have chickens (hence the wish for unrestricted)
  3. space - no neighbors on top of me

And I needed inexpensive land. In fact, financially speaking, I had no business thinking about buying land - I was not (and am not) in financial position to buy land. But things are working out and moving forward.
My rock. My land. 

I swear, in hindsight, The Shack sat empty and waited for me. It met my must-have list and more. I only had to visit in person to immediately know that it was meant to be. I physically claimed it as mine that day - and garbage credit score be damned - The Shack became mine. 

Dropping the Worry, Guilt, and other Negative Thoughts

One very important thing I had to do was drop the worry and the guilt. The worry that I couldn't do it (i.e. imagining the disasters) and the guilt that I didn't deserve it. Somehow I think other people deserve to live their dreams but that I don't deserve it. But thankfully, in relation to The Shack, I've dropped that guilt. I deserve it as much as the next person. Period. Not more than the next person. But the same as the next person. We all deserve to have our dreams come true.

Dropping the guilt and negative thoughts makes room to enjoy life. Without the worry I am able to notice the beauty in the world and the good things that are happening. Dropping the negative thoughts allows the good things to continue to happen.

This butterfly landed on my door and watched me, as I watched it.
Be sure to take time to watch the beauty around you.

Law of Attraction and the Doing

Now, the naysayers of wish boards and laws of attraction sometimes say that these approaches allow people to think that they can stick a wish board up on the fridge and sit and wait for it to happen. 

But it's not like that. Not for me anyway. I looked at my wishes, over and over and over. Then, when the door opened to the possibility, I walked through. I did the work. I contacted a realtor, I physically walked the available parcels of land, I worked with the bank, and I bought the land. 

I don't believe the law of attraction and visualizing is about sitting doing nothing, and waiting for things to fall in your lap. I believe that it is about visualizing your dreams - whether your inner worrier lets you think it's feasible or not - then being prepared when the law of attraction opens the door. And responsibly walking through that door.

I do believe that the law of attraction led me to the correct realtor, the correct bank, and somehow greased the wheels to being approved for a loan. I believe that the law of attraction kept The Shack on the market for me. 

I wanted a yard with bluebirds. I have a yard and bluebirds.

Why I am Attempting to Share this Way-Out-There Topic

I am writing this because I want others to feel more confident about claiming their dreams. I am a firm believer that if I can do it, you can too. I do not have access to extra money. Financially, things are tighter than skinny jeans - and without that spandex stretch! I've been living paycheck to paycheck (or less) for my entire life. I'm anxious. I worry. I do not have the make-it-happen personality. All of these things could hold me back. If I let them.

I watch people say that their dreams (homesteading specifically) will never happen because they are too old, too fragile physically, and too broke financially. I hope to encourage them to dream. To visualize. And to move toward their dreams. 

Of all people, I should not be a land owner. But I am. It is happening. Because I'm dreaming it and doing it, the laws of attraction are at work.

Related Link:

The year 2015 was the year of enormous changes. Of beauty and blessings that are beyond words and of heart-wrenching sadness. I ended that post with: 

"There was not a nice and tidy linear timeline of events as each change completely intertwined with the next. Each event led me forward to today. And today is full of promise and love."

It was the year The Shack came to me. And today continues to be full of promise and love. Life is good. 

Read the brief summary of that year here

*This article may contain affiliate links. If you shop via one of the affiliate links, I may earn a small commission - at no additional cost to you. I am very appreciative of every reader who visits my articles. Thank you.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Making Homestead Dreams Come True - Visualizing and Positive Thinking, part 1

Someday, this will be my everyday view.
There are some important but intangible pieces to the process of making my homestead dreams come true that I'd like to share. However, it is far easier for me to try to describe the tangible things - which is why I wrote my post "Making Homestead Dreams Come True - Claim It" before I wrote this post on visualizing it. Describing the act of putting a rock in my pocket is far easier than trying to explain my beliefs about visualization. However, in the order of things, the visualizing came before the claiming. And visualizing was (and still is) a very important piece of my homestead dreams journey.

I don't think I would already own my land without first visualizing it. But first, a bit more about visualizing dreams in general - from the experts.

Vision Boards and Wish Boards

I am not certain, but I believe vision boards originated the the book The Secret (published in 2007).  I hesitate with attributing that book as the origin of vision boards because people have saved photos of things they dream about of for my entire life (i.e. brides-to-be saving photos of their dream wedding gown is a quick example). But for the purposes of this writing, I am going to use The Secret as the origin.

The Secret

The idea in The Secret is that with the law of attraction, we attract things to us based on what we project. We can focus our thoughts on things/dreams and that helps us move ourselves toward those things/dreams. Those things/dreams can be a dream job, car, and in my case my dream home site and retirement plan.

There are MANY naysayers to this philosophy. Over the years I've read that it is victim-shaming (i.e. what about people with cancer... did they not put out good enough thoughts?) and that it is lazy (i.e. paste pictures to a board then sit and wait... staring at the pictures and doing nothing) and that it is all a money scam - making the writer of books such as The Secret rich (true - it has sold many, many, MANY copies).   I can completely understand those points but I am not in the naysayers camp.  

I think there is a good bit of truth to the visualization and positive thoughts/law of attraction. We all know the people who make a complaint every time they open their mouth. And we all see that those people have more things in their lives to complain about. We all feel that those people are a drag to be around. They bring us down.  I don't see that as a put-down. Frankly, I tend heavily toward the complainer type. I am anxious and my tendency is to focus on the negative "what-ifs". But it is a fact that when I spend time with less focus and energy on the complaints and the negative "what-ifs", life goes better. If I have a vision board, it is easier to focus on the good possibilities and goals, and stay away from the negative thoughts and complaints.

Be a critical thinker and form your own opinions about The Secret. And choose the path that is the best for you. That's what it's all about.  

The Secret website is here.

I took this photo when I had the thought that 
someday my "camping" trips to The Shack will not have to end. 
Someday I won't have to look at it in my mirror as I drive off.

The Chopra Center

The Chopra Center focuses on self-awareness and using that awareness to "close the gap between who you are and who you want to be." Deepak Chopra, David Simon, and friends also practice and preach the philosophy of the law of attraction.  

There are many, many articles, videos, and events to choose from on their site. I'm finding myself getting lost in things I want to see and read. Again, I am FAR from being expert in the law of attraction and if you are interested, I encourage you to read those articles that have been written by others. 

Their brief article Vision Board 101: How to Use This Manifestation Tool explains how to think about and use a vision board. 

Another brief article Intention, Attention, No Tension: 3 Tips to Master the Law of Attraction very much captures how it went with buying my land.

The Chopra Center website is here

Prayer and Faith by Religion

I witness a good number of people who use prayer and their faith in a similar way; putting out good vibes and claiming positive things. I am not very religious. So I hesitate even trying to describe what I see with those who are. And I'm not referring to the judgemental folks who are focused on my sins. I am referring to those who are faithful, content, and living their best lives; putting out those good vibes to all of the rest of us.

The best example of this is a guy in a gardening/homesteading group I belong to. He spends his days planting his garden, visualizing what it may look like and praising God with how well it's turning out. This man does not complain about the floods nor the heat waves. He is just filled with faith that things are awesome and he continues about his days. And his days are awesome. 

I think people like this are excellent examples of  people quietly and honestly living in faith and visualizing the good in their days. And I am convinced because they focus on the things they are thankful for, they end up with more things to be thankful about. If that makes sense.

I am Convinced that Visualization and the Law of Attraction Helped me Buy The Shack

I have not even scratched the surface about the law of attraction and how the experts use visualization, positivity, and faith to move their lives in the direction they want to go. You will have to decide for yourself if visualization and positive thinking will help you reach your goals in life.

I believe 100% that visualizing my dreams and having positive thoughts about my goals have been a huge factor in getting me to where I am. I don't believe I'd already own my little piece of land and The Shack without visualizing and the laws of attraction.

Because I've yammered on for a long time already, I will try to describe how I use (and used) visualization and the law of attraction to get where I am in the next post.  And frankly, I was using the law of attraction without thinking about it.... and only in hindsight am I realizing how powerful those behaviors were.

*This article may contain affiliate links. If you shop via one of the affiliate links, I may earn a small commission - at no additional cost to you. I am very appreciative of every reader who visits my articles. Thank you.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Tales: If the Creek Don't Rise by Leah Weiss

Reviewing If The Creek Don't Rise
If the Creek Don't Rise is a fiction novel about Sadie Blue and the handful of residents of Baines Creek, North Carolina in 1970. Life in this remote and impoverished Appalachian town is terribly hard. Relationships are even harder. 

I found myself reading in every spare moment; while waiting in lines, first thing in the morning, and until I couldn't hold my eyes open any longer at night. This story had me hooked from the first shocking paragraph to the last paragraph that made me cheer aloud. Really.

About the ending, a reviewer describes it the best with: 
"The ending is the cherry on top of the best sundae you've ever wanted to have. After a carefully concocted blend of flavours, it ends with that bit of zing you weren't quite expecting"  - Cheri on Goodreads

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The story begins with Sadie Blue and how at age 17 she found herself married, pregnant, and the wife of the devil.

Sadie Blue

The story begins and ends intimately with Sadie Blue. With all the chapters in between glimpses of what others think about young Sadie, her abusive husband, and what it's like living life in Baines Creek. Each character distinctly different. 

We learn that Sadie's mother left the family while Sadie was very young. Her father, while he still speaks to her, has passed away. She was being raised by her grandmother when Roy Tupkin smiled and her heart fluttered. It wasn't long until she became pregnant, and with his hand on her belly the baby kicked.  
"Right then, with one baby kick, that man with the dark soul grinned, and it turned his face into something beautiful I never seen before. A light shined in his face on this cloudly day and wiped away shadows that lived behind his eyes"
That Thursday, they got married. They gathered her things and she moved in with him. 
"Now I stand on wobbly legs and whimper like a hurt puppy cause I can't help it. Today was beating number three since I got legal. I figure Roy don't need a reason no more. I close the trailer door against the chill, then shuffle to the bathroom to wash off the dried blood." 

Roy Tupkin

The villain is Roy Tupkin. He's a typical abusive, womanizing man.  Still a boy really. Good ol' Roy is easy to hate - then we get a peek into his life. While nothing excuses how he treats others, we get a glimpse into what causes him to be so maladapted. I didn't like him any better but I did understand where his problems began.

Roy isn't the only resident of Baines Creek who is maladapted. But most of them are likable - perhaps even lovable. Eli Perkins is the preacher who brings Ms. Shaw from the outside to teach the children. Prudence is his spinster sister who has secrets. Billy has a not-so-secret crush on Sadie. And so on.

Each character tells their story one by one in alternating first person narratives. Each voice is clear and memorable

The Author: Leah Weiss

If the Creek Don't Rise is a debut novel by Leah Weiss. This is a character-based story rather than plot-based. We get to know each of the many characters intimately and because of the glimpses into each of their lives, and each voice was easy to recognize. I was determined to know what comes next as soon as possible.
"The first stories I wrote were about my mom, Lucy, and her life on a tobacco farm in the 1930s. She was one of fifteen children living in an unpainted house without running water or electricity. She and I found a special bond talking about her childhood, which she thought no one care to remember. I didn't know that in a few months Lucy would die of cancer and I wold be left with grief and amazing fodder from those conversations." - Leah Weiss

To me, that explains how she got the voices of strong women who live in poverty in isolated, rural areas so correct.  I nearly didn't read this book, half expecting the usual condescension or trivialization that happens when outsiders try to describe lives such as these. But Ms. Weiss hit it spot on.

I will remember Sadie Blue, and who saved her, for a long time to come. 

*This article may contain affiliate links. If you shop via one of the affiliate links, I may earn a small commission - at no additional cost to you. I am very appreciative of every reader who visits my articles. Thank you.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Travel: Conowingo Dam for Birding and Fishing Day Trips

Conowingo Dam and the Fisherman's Wharf area.
I have visited Conowingo Dam fishing area multiple times over the years. I enjoyed each day trip to the area whether I'm fishing or birding (or both at the same time). Today's visit wasn't spectacular in the birding category, but it was a good visit all the same. When I move away from Maryland, this will be one of the spots that I will miss immensely. At the risk of sharing my already not-so-secret spot, I decided to write about Conowingo Dam so that others can plan their own visits. 

Also, the Fisherman's Park of Conowingo now includes a wharf and stairs system that allows everyone (including children and families) to enjoy the area. Bring your cameras, fishing poles, family/kids/friends, and a picnic lunch and have a wonderful day.

Birding and fishing in one awesome spot

Conowingo Hydroelectric Plant

Conowingo Hydroelectric Plant opened in 1928. It is in the lower Susquehanna River, approximately 5 miles south of the Pennsylvania-Maryland state line. It is located near the Maryland small towns of Conowingo, Darlington, and Port Deposit. It is one of the largest non-federal hydroelectric dams in the US. 

It is an easy, but rural, drive just off US 1 or I-95.

The view from under the dam

Early morning view of the island where birds congregate

The fisherman's wharf is a beautiful system of stairs, rails, and concrete seating ledges. When I initially moved to Maryland, the fishing area at Conowingo was only a parking lot, and rip rap along the shoreline.  The fisherman's wharf was built in 2009. Many times, I am not a fan of building up natural areas, but in this case I am glad someone had the idea and carried this out to fruition. 

Wharf stairs and multiple overlooks

Multiple ledges for seating

View from a portion of the wharf

There is also a boat launch for small boats. However, it was closed today - I believe the sign said due to higher water. 

Bird Watching at Conowingo

This area has become a well-known Bald Eagle viewing area. A large population of Herons also are in the area. Today, we spotted many other bird species. I am not at all reliable at identifying bird species, but I am certain we saw Bald Eagles, Great Blue Herons, Cardinals, Crows, Osprey. and Black Vultures. We also saw what appeared to be cormorants, gulls, ducks, and swallows. We certainly heard a Pileated Woodpecker. 

There are many articles online written by more experienced bird watchers. For more accurate bird information, please consult those articles. My intent today is to increase awareness of the ease of access to the Eagles and other birds while I am still becoming better at viewing and identifying.

Bring your binoculars and camera and enjoy the day with the birds.

Bald Eagle spotted today

Great Blue Heron flying - and I need a zoom lens

Fishing at Conowingo

Before the wharf was built, I came to the area to fish for catfish. And I caught several. 

Information shows that people fish the area for bass, shad, catfish, walleye and more. Today, we watched folks walk out with large fish - a mixture of bass and catfish. The question, "any luck?" was not needed. Their catches were obvious. I was happy for them and found myself wishing I had brought my pole.

I saw mostly large rigs (poles and crankbaits) being used in the cast and reel quickly fashion. But I also saw some poles propped up and waiting for the tell-tale bobbing of the tip of the pole indicating "fish on".  That's more my style of fishing. And I saw plenty of that style too. Whether you use a lure or bait, crank or bottom-fish, there was someone having luck at it today.

A lovely morning to go fishing

Fish on!

Be Aware and Beware  

There are important signs regarding safety around the property. Read them and heed them.

* * * * * * * *

photo by W.L.S - with permission
Be aware that the red flashing lights and sirens indicate the dam is opening and releasing more water. It does not open suddenly, but it does create a higher water level. You should be aware, gather your things, and move to higher ground.

Signs indicate that the vultures may damage vehicles. This is NOT an understatement. The numerous Black Vultures in the area perch atop you car and in our case, removed the rubberized portion of the windshield wiper. 

Related Links:

Conowingo Fisherman's Park brochure - general information about directions, fishing, birding, and phone numbers for more information.

A very detailed article of interest to birders is provided by the Harford Bird Club. It was originally written in 2002 by Rick Blom but shows that there have been updates since. 

*This article may contain affiliate links. If you shop via one of the affiliate links, I may earn a small commission - at no additional cost to you. I am very appreciative of every reader who visits my articles. Thank you.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

3 Reasons I Want to Build a Small Home

The Shack 
There are many reasons to build or live in a very small home. There are as many different reasons for living tiny as there are people who are doing it. The three main reasons I want to build small are: lower cost, less clutter, and lower negative impact on the environment.

Over the decades, I've always tended to live in smaller spaces and I guess as a result, I am more accustomed to smaller spaces. As an adult, I've only lived in two "large" homes (meaning, over 1,400 sq ft).  Over my lifetime, the American Dream seemed to be that big house with the picket fence. So I felt a little strange about admiring and dreaming about the small homes.  

Fortunately, somewhere along the way I decided to live my dreams - whether it was popular or not. And somewhere along the way, small homes became the America Dream for more people.

This is being written during the process of planning for retiring off-grid. Or being on-grid but as self-sustainable as I am able to be. I have purchased my land with a currently off-grid, dry, hunting cabin that I lovingly call The Shack. 

This is more about the three reasons I am planning on building small.

1. Low Cost - Moving Toward Debt-Free Living

Please be clear that I'm not knocking people who live in large homes with large price tags. There are many reasons to live in a large home and a lot of people dream of living in a large home. And I think everyone should live their own dream. Some people choose to buy a large home in a desirable area as a retirement investment. I think that's a fantastic idea for some people. But that's not for me. 

My plan had been to pay off the land, then pay cash as I go to make the improvements; the septic, water, then the house.  My plan was to do this over years and be debt-free when I retire. My idea of the American Dream is to retire with no debt and very low monthly bills. A very small (or no) mortgage would help this happen.

As time goes on, and my desire to be there sooner as opposed to later, my plans change. I may not get up there debt-free, but I still want my debt to be as low as possible.

I am not able or willing to remodel or build my own home. So I'll hire someone. That will increase the cost. But even so, building a modest home at less than 800 square feet carries a much lower price tag than building a large home.

The current house plan I have in mind is approximately 640 sq. feet. If it costs $100 per square foot, my 640 sq. ft. home would cost $64,000 while a 1400 sq. ft. home would cost 140,000. I really like the difference in those price tags!

2. Preventing the Clutter and Excessive Consumerism

Oh my gosh, I am my mother's daughter. She was a hoarder. And probably could have been a guest on the hoarder tv series.  I'm not quite that bad. But I easily could be. And living in large spaces only invites buying A LOT of things. 

I like to have things. But I think overall, Americans overdo it in regards to having "stuff". I personally want to live in a small space in order to help keep that excess consumerism from setting it. I don't want to buy a bunch of things I'll use once or twice then have to make room to store for the rest of my life.

I'm certainly not a minimalist. But having less things makes me happier than having a literal ton of things.

Reduced Time Spent Cleaning?

Related to the topic of clutter, some tiny-home advocates report that the time spent cleaning a tiny home is significantly reduced.  I'm not completely sure that I buy into that argument 100%.  Yes, it takes less time to mop a kitchen floor that measures 6 x 10 than it took to mop my old house kitchen that probably measured 10 x 14 (or larger. It was a HUGE country kitchen). But, I think that keeping everything in it's place in a small home, with multiple use spaces, is also time-consuming.

For example, when camping at The Shack, I get all of my bedding out of the mouse-proof containers and make my bed. Then I put the bedding away, into the storage containers. Because where my bed is made is also my "living room" floor. Every time you have a "multiple use" space and have to spend time storing things away, it takes some time. 

So I think the reduced time for cleaning may or may not be true depending on the area. If there isn't an overabundance of things that need to be stored, getting them out and putting them away each day won't be as time consuming. 

3. Low Environmental Impact 

When people refer to reducing the environmental impact, they are usually referring to having a small carbon footprint. 
"A carbon footprint is historically defined as the total emissions caused by an individual, event, organisation, or product, expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent" - wikipedia
My desire to live in a really small home has to do, in large part, with a desire to keep heating/cooling/energy costs and usage as small as possible. Reducing that carbon footprint. I previously owned an older, 1,400+ square foot home and cringed at how much energy it cost to keep that place remotely close to comfortable.

I also think of low environmental impact in the aspect of visual pollution. Personally, I don't like seeing the farm land that was turned into a subdivision of 100 homes. I don't like seeing forests cut down to make way for manicured yards.  Again, I'm not insulting people whose dreams include living in those situations. Live your dreams and love it. Don't try to please anyone other than yourself. However, it's not for me. Those sights are usually visual pollution to me. As are homes that are built on the top of a mountain or ridge and can be seen plainly from the valley below.

My plan to build a small home in place of The Shack has a lot to do with not interrupting the view from below. If I plan this right, my small home will be invisible from the valley below and that thought makes me happy.  I want the neighbors to gaze upon my trees - not upon my house.

Related Small Home Links:

Small home plans

The Big Book of Small Homes Plans is FULL of awesome home plans under 1,200 sq. ft. This book has given me many great ideas for the inside layout options and exterior options.

Lancaster Cabins

Are you interested in a tiny house on wheels or a park model?I toured Keystone Kabins (now named Lancaster Cabins) and LOVED, loved, loved those cabins. If my land was unrestricted, one of these cabins would already be parked there. They are a must-see for tiny home lovers. 

The Shack - A Quick Peek

And here is a quick peek (and a first video attempt) of the inside of The Shack during the before stage. 

*This article may contain affiliate links. If you shop via one of the affiliate links, I may earn a small commission - at no additional cost to you. I am very appreciative of every reader who visits my articles. Thank you.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Making Homesteading Dreams Come True - Claim It

I claimed it with this rock in my pocket.
I am not yet living on my "homestead". But each day I am getting closer to making that dream come true. Frequently, I witness others saying they have a homestead dream but they think they can never make that dream come true. I want to say to them that if I can do it, anybody who wants it can do it too. I am no expert on buying land. And I am not yet living on my land. I may never live on my land. But I am one step closer to making my dream come true. And meanwhile, camping on my land brings me much joy. 

I want to share the steps I'm taking so that maybe someone can feel more hopeful about making their dreams come true. If I've found a way to get this far, you can too.

It's Your Dream - Claim it. 

My first piece of advice is to claim your dream. Physically do something that symbolizes claiming your dream. I didn't realize it then but that was exactly what I was doing the day I put a rock in my pocket.

Looking back, I claimed my homesteading dreams in many ways. But the most significant (and physical) "claiming" was that silly little rock.

The rock in my pocket happened in 2015. The portion of time that has to do with physically claiming my land happened from approximately August to October.  I wrote a post about that year, the extreme ups and downs of the second half of that year. It's still all pretty surreal and you can read about that hereWith the circumstances during that time period, it seemed that there was no time like the present to invest in some land for a retirement plan.

In August, I began working with a realtor in West Virginia to find land. I drove to look at many small parcels. Off-grid was fine. A low price tag, a roomy feel (i.e. no immediate neighbors), and the ability to own chickens was my "must" list. Everything else was negotiable.

I fell in love with 5 acres. But it went under contract almost by the time I drove back to Baltimore and thought it over for a day or two.

I looked at more land. Then I mentioned to the realtor that I thought I'd really like that little "red" house on the hill... but the HOA doesn't allow chickens. Or so I thought. My realtor let me know that the "restrictions" on that land did not exclude chickens and small livestock. We agreed to go look at that little hunting cabin on the hill, and some other pieces of land.

As soon as I parked on the edge of the road in front of that little hunting cabin, I knew this was the place. Thank goodness I hadn't be able to buy that five acres! I couldn't believe I had actually cried over losing the other place. I finished the day and went to look at the other parcels of land we had lined up to see. Just to be sure. 

Then I asked my realtor if I could just go sit on the top of the hill at the little "red" house (it looked red in photos but it is really a dingy brown).

I went alone and sat there. I felt it was already mine. It felt familiar and like it was where I belonged. I picked up a rock and put it in my pocket. And intended to carry "my" rock in my pocket until the land was mine.

taken during a subsequent visit - the rock was already in my pocket

As I drove back down the switchback road to get to the highway, a bear slowly galloped across the road in front of me. I took that as a good sign (although, I'm not completely sure why it felt like a really good omen)

The realtor said she told the owners about my bear sighting. And they reported to her that they'd never seen a bear. I was afraid they thought I was lying. But it didn't much matter and I felt like that bear intentionally crossed in front of me.

I made the offer and waited. Then I worked at finalizing with the bank and getting through the closing process. It took nearly 2 months of waiting. And I carried that rock in my pocket every day.

I had to work to not be anxious while waiting. Because of my "blemished" credit and a history of being turned down by some banks through my lifetime there was a chance I'd have problems. I half expected to be sabotaged in some way but I carried my rock in my pocket. 

On October 29, 2015, I signed for my land. And I put the rock back where it belonged. Well sort of. The rock is on the window sill at The Shack.

I am convinced that doing something physical to claim my dream helped my dream begin to come true. I am convinced that if you physically claim your dream in some small symbolic way (not outlandish ways.. I'm not advising you to lock yourself in the bank vault in order to have your dream of riches come true!) you will move closer to making your dreams come true.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  

P.S. Is it coincidence that I'm a farm girl from Indiana and I found these rocks during subsequent visits to The Shack?  I think it's no coincidence at all. 

I think they are more signs that I am on the right track.

P.S.S. My game cam has since caught photos of a bear on my land. You can see those photos and more from my game cam here

*This article may contain affiliate links. If you shop via one of the affiliate links, I may earn a small commission - at no additional cost to you. I am very appreciative of every reader who visits my articles. Thank you.