I previously brought up the subject of meal plans, and promised to expand on it.
So, here are some reasons why YOU (yes, YOU!) should consider becoming an obsessive meal planner like me.
NB: I try to do a monthly, rather than a weekly or fortnightly plan – this is the most challenging but I think the most rewarding!
Reasons To Make A Meal Plan…
1. Health One of the things that came out of finding myself a singleton in my early 30s was the degree of control I had in my diet – around March I decided to start exercising and eating to lose weight, as I was gaining an ironically ungainly pot-belly. It was tough.
Unable to eat most of it, I became OBSESSED with food. It took about half a week of instant soups before I was looking up ridiculous man-vs-food eating challenges on the internet, slavering at the screen. But as time went on, my searches became more creative.
I realised that better home cooking was the key to making nutritious, low-calorie and above all FILLING meals – because I had power over the ingredients that went in, I could remove unnecessary fat and carbs without removing flavour! And thankfully lots of people had posted great recipes I could use.
But here comes the meal planning aspect – knowing that I had a pre-set, and in most case pre-prepared, meal to come back to at the end of the day meant that firstly I could balance the other meals of the day and indeed the week.
NB: This can be even more powerful when planned in conjunction with exercise. Recently I have start to plan ‘carb days’ when I can indulge in my beloved pasta, bread and rice and know I’ll come up on the right side of the ledger!
Secondly, it meant I wouldn’t be tempted to binge on snacks when I got through the door, or be lazy and get takeaway. Which brings us on to…
This blog is not really about Tiny House Living, more just about me settling in – but I hope you enjoy it all the same!
Also I must mention (not by name of course!) my very generous friends who fed me a roast dinner on my first night at the new house so I didn’t have to cook – I realise I left them out of my first blog so many many thanks for that 😀
I’ve left out the majority of my activities this week which can be summarised thusly…
‘I blurrily stumbled from one room to another, causing objects to move slightly
and sweeping up hay and rabbit poop’
…but you can pretty much take that as read for every week.
Monday Monday was a day for lots of cleaning and tidying, so naturally I spent it doing something completely unrelated and made a cardboard and tissue-paper light-box. This is a bit meta-textural really as I will be using it to make all sorts of nice-looking photos for this blog! Look at this metal tape. Doesn’t it look professional?
Tuesday I actually did do some tidying today, making the front room more guest worthy. I also did some more exploring in my local area of Alvaston, and was delighted to see the number of small businesses around the place, looking happy and healthy – I couldn’t go into any of them of course, because by that time it was evening, but all the same I was cheered. I think I’m going to like it here.
Wednesday Wednesday night is Derby Maker’s night at the Silk Mill Museum! I didn’t actually do much making today as I was busy writing some ‘I’ve Just Moved House!’ postcards to my family – I like sending physical things to people in this age of internet (the only problem is that stamps cost money, which I have very little of):
However, I did get to participate in a rather fun photograph – taken by photographer Tim Mitchell and based on the famous paintings of Joseph Wright of Derby, the idea is to create a modern symbol of making – my photo here is part of the prep, and doesn’t do anywhere near justice to the ambience of the true result – I’ll post a link here when it becomes available!
Today was also my little brothers’ birthday(s)! HOORAY! They are both awesome and I am totally gutted that I couldn’t be with them and the rest of the family today.
Thursday Did I say it was brothers’ birthday(s) on Wednesday?
Did I also mention I’m a terrible person and had to send out their cards late?
Well I am and I did. But I did do my best to make them swanky!
I do loves me some DIY cards and when Christmas rolls around I promise I’ll do a blog all about different cards you can make!
Friday Friday I was treated by a lovely friend to an equally lovely meal at Bistro Pierre (go there if you are feeling a little flush – the food is absolutely fantastic!) and we spent some time designing a BUNNY PALACE for Effie and Oreo. This will be a big project for later on so watch this space!
Saturday The first free weekend in the new flat! And so I decided to fill it with stuff – first some proper exploring in Alvaston & and nearby Allenton!
There was something almost continental (provençal, if you will) about the little village on this sunny Saturday, and I had a very enjoyable browse round the local charity shops. It was also one of the days (Friday and Saturday) of Allenton Market, which was a treasure trove of all sorts of things – including some potential fixer-upper bikes which I have my eye on!
I was also very happy to discover a PROPER Green-Grocer where I bought this amazing specimen of spring veg for my little bunnies:
Not only that, an independent bakery with an ATTACHED CAFE. Which will appear at some point on my other blog, One Sip Cafe Club at some point. As I say, I think I’m going to like it here.
But the real business of the day was ahead – I had decided I wanted to have a cycle adventure! I had been tipped of that Carsington Water was a wonderous place to be, so I plucked up my courage and set out! It was a 34 miles round trip, and was difficult but totally worth it – the whole write up will appear soon, again one for another blog, this time The Intrepid Cyclist! For now here’s a few pretty pictures…
The only other thing of note was that the girls got their first excursion to the garden! As there are quite a few kitties around I wanted to leave this momentous event until I could stay with them the whole time. The transfer was a little bit stressful (I had to take them out in their carriers, which they DO NOT LIKE) but after a while they were nibbling the grass and loafing around as normal. Hoorah!
Sunday Another full but fabulous day – starting off with some baking! I haven’t had a chance to meet my neighbours yet which will be a big goal for next week, so I decided to make some Welcome Cookies for them as an ice-breaker. Those will appear on THIS BLOG very soon – again, here’s some pretty pictures…
There was also a fair on at the nearby Alvaston Park – being broke I couldn’t really interact as it were, but I did have a very lovely walk around with a friend and saw some very fun things – the best thing was some model boats, including one from the Alvaston Pirates!
And while other folks were having barbecues and drinking, I decided a good wind down would be to clean my bike.
Well, that’s pretty much it- thanks for reading my ramble, I promise something with a little more direction next time! At the end of this week things are definitely looking a lot better – my front room is nearly guest worthy (yay) but my bedroom is still kind of…arg.
Yeah, that will be NEXT week’s (or month’s, or year’s) task.
Now, I don’t claim to be a de-cluttering expert (although one day, fingers crossed, I’ll have my own TV show and book series pretending to be one) but I thought that some of my recent experiences might prove useful to other people wanting (or having) to downsize to tiny-house living.
These cover both downsizing itself and the moving in particular – hope you enjoy ‘em!
1. Free That Furniture!
The absolute number one thing you can’t take with you will be (the majority of) your furniture. To put this in context, here is the furniture I took with me:
1 x foldable (gateleg) table
4 x foldable chairs
That’s it. I suppose you could also count a small folding table of this kind too, but even so.
(Full disclosure: my tiny house did come with a sofa, a small table and bed so I didn’t need to bring any with me).
What did I get rid of? Everything else. Wardrobe, sofa(bed), chests of drawers, bookcases, more chairs, desk, you name it, it was removed.
And that made me move OVER NINE THOUSAND times easier – even as I was rapidly running out of surfaces to pile things on (always a hazard with rabbits around – nothing should be left on the floor!) I breathed a sigh of relief that I wouldn’t have to lug these things around any more.
Start shifting furniture EARLY, and if you have a huge, heavy, unwieldy thing that you are absolutely dreading moving…DO IT FIRST! I did mine (a huge wardrobe which needed to be negotiated round a banister and down the stairs) until LAST. That was a headache I didn’t need – and neither do you!
2. Adopt A 3-Tier System Of Stuff Removal
I think throwing away good stuff is unethical, and even if you disagree, there comes a point when you cannot fit anything more in your bin, and skip hire is expensive. So don’t chuck it…at least at first!
1st Tier – Sell!
It can seem a hassle to sell stuff online, but most websites like Gumtree and eBay have now streamlined the process to make it easy. An evening taking photos and entering particulars (what was the exact height of that wardrobe, anyway?) may be tedious, but it will pay off.
And of course it doesn’t have to be in a digital environment – a carboot is also a fantastic place to go, if you have a car and can afford the table hire.
NB: I have to say early on I used PreLoved for some stuff, and it was a total washout – moved the items to eBay and they sold like hot cakes! Avoid it is my advice.
2nd Tier – Offer and Donate
A LOAD of my old clothes, crockery and other bits went to charity shops – but not just charity shops! I am lucky enough to live in a city (Derby) which has the Play and Recycle Center, a fantastic resource which takes scraped materials, especially craft stuff, and gives it to school groups, organisations and hobbyists. Lots of my crafty bits went there, and I am very glad of that. If there’s something similar near you, I urge you to do the same.
The Local Libraries got a whole load of books too – now anyone can read them! Hooray!
Another BRILLIANT way to get rid of stuff you can’t take with you are FreeCycle or Freegle – these forums and mailgroups allow you to offer stuff for free which people can collect. You will be surprised at the things people need, and again it just feels good to know you’ve helped someone out! I am slightly regretting Freegle-ing my desk fan though – phew it’s hot!
3rd Tier – Chuck
If it’s failed to sell and you can’t even give it away. it’s okay to put it in the bin now.
3. Don’t Be Precious About The Following Items..
It’s hard to get rid of some things. But it needs to be done. There are things you own that you think are important and beautiful but you are just NEVER going to use/wear/look at again. You don’t have to shift them all, but the sooner you get rid of most of these you’ll feel better, and most likely never think of them again.
Books You’ve Already Read or Won’t Ever Read
Old Receipts, Paperwork & Bills (take a photo if you need to! That will do for the accounts)
Shed Junk (you are NEVER going to need half a pot of woodstain)
Old Birthday Cards, Xmas Cards and Wedding Invites
4. Transportation – IKEA Bags and Cardboard Are Where It’s At
It can be very tempting to keep (or even invest in new) plastic boxes to move your stuff from point A to point B. And of course keeping a few around is a good idea. But the problem is, when you get to point B, you now have a lot of empty boxes taking up premium living space. Therefore I pin my star to two things – firstly…
Big Blue IKEA Bags.
I don’t think I could have done the move without these. That is how great they are.
And I absolutely cannot take credit for using them – a very lovely friend of mine gave me a hand moving some stuff to the dump and, on her visit, leant me a dozen of them to help with anything I didn’t have a place for.
At first a little skeptical, I had soon changed my tune – my clothes, towels and loads of kitchen stuff got bagged and emerged safe on the other side – and as soon as they were emptied, they folded away again- perfect!
Second, the old and these days oft neglected staple of CARDBOARD BOXES.
I am a registered member of CostCo, and for the weeks leading up to the move I must have been the cheekiest member in the whole history of this wholesome wholesaler.
I went in, sought out the delicious free samples on offer (this is what I pay my membership money for, gosh darn it!) and walk out with nothing but a huge stack of empty boxes from the cardboard graveyard which accumulates throughout the day of trading. I’d sheepishly grin at the Mighty Receipt Masters who guard the exit (if you’re a member of CostCo, you’ll know what I mean)
‘Just empties today!’ I’d laugh, feeling a surge of guilt, compelled to explain ‘I’m moving house!’
Then I would creep out into the air with my shame, their eyes burning into my back (that’s not true, they were all very lovely).
So anyway, what’s so great about cardboard boxes?
Well, like the bags, after use, they can be folded away and recycled – good for your space, and good for the environment too! Plus you can write on them with a marker to tell you what is in them and where it goes – bonus!
5.Have ‘Troublesome Boxes’
While you’re packing away, are you noticing certain…nuisance items? Things that keep turning up? Things you can’t get rid of but which don’t really FIT anywhere? Well, stop fretting – the step to this is 90% psychological.
Bring out a cardboard box from your pile (or a Big Blue IKEA bag) and designate it a ‘Troublesome Box’ (or Bag). Whatever these things are, chuck them in there – these are almost always non-essential items anyway, and you probably won’t look at them for weeks after you move.
5a – First, pull your all-nighters early. I sweated FAR MORE in the penultimate week of moving than in the final one, which allowed me to not only pack but organise all my stuff for the move. It is a huge load off one’s mind.
5b – For the weeks leading up and following a move, do some Meal Planning! I am very much an advocate of this – and I will very soon be sharing the meals I made to tide me over this stressful time.
I hope that has hoped a little for all you soon-to-be Tiny House Dwellers! Please do get in touch or leave a comment if you have any further ideas!
I recently got into meal planning in a big way – this was a few months ago, before I had an inkling that I would shortly be moving to The Tiny House, but these two life strategies meshed perfectly – one of those little serendipitous things that make life worthwhile!
I will be discussing meal planning extensively in a future blog, to go through it’s many advantages and fine points, but for now let’s concentrate on the recipes!
NB: All of these are 100% vegan too, so everyone can tuck in!
I realised that in both my pre-move packing-up and post-move packing-away, I would need as much time as possible focussing on the main task, and rather not be cooking from scratch every night or, much, much worse, be stuffing myself with ready-meals and takeaways.
So I decided that meal planning this time would be several large, eintopf dishes which I could freeze, refrigerate, reheat and general stretch over this busy and stressful period.
Eschewing the internet for once, I checked a little recipe book called ‘Easy One Pot’ I’d had for a long time -it’s one of Marks & Spencer’s – and found four things I thought I could make nice and easily.
Friday 8th – The Night Before The Move I took a psychogeographic walk around my native Chaddesden for the last time. It’s strange how I’ve only really started to appreciate this place now I’m leaving – I won’t be going far, but there was a tug on my heartstrings as I ached for all the things I didn’t do here. I am so so excited about moving to my tiny house, but even so – that is the true tragedy of life. It is so full of wonder, and our time is so limited.
Saturday 9th – Moving Day Well, this is it.
Now. what’s the thing every mover dreads? Rain. Soaked. To. The. Skin.
Yes, a torrential downpour greeted the moving efforts – I’d say it was a baptism of fire, but it was exactly the opposite – my (wo)man with a van and her husband were great sports though. There was a terrible moment when we thought the washing machine wouldn’t fit through the kitchen doorway, but that was soon surpassed by discovering that a) it could and b) we had to get the darned thing up the steps when, due to the rain, it had less surface friction (and therefore less grip-ability) than a greased-up teflon snail.
This was compounded by the fact that I had decided to cycle to various locations to help the moving effort – in the end my trousers were clinging so closely they looked like they were painted on, and I could feel the water sloshing round my poor wet shoes like personal puddles.
When it was done I discovered that I had accidentally left my towels and tops (i.e. the things I now needed most) at the house of my friend – to whom I had also given my tumble dryer! Also I couldn’t use the power shower (specially installed in the house at my request – thanks guys! :D) as my bath was FULL OF STUFF, as was everywhere else.
Thankfully I had used some towels to wrap glassware, so I dried off, changed into pyjamas and napped – I awoke, feeling like a butterfly emerging triumphant from the chrysalis. I love my tiny house. And then I had reheated pizza. Bonus!
Sunday 10th – Day 1 In The Tiny House A day, predictably, of tidying and sorting – but more importantly, testing the water. It is time I revealed – I did not come here alone!
With me are two little rabbits – or rather, not, because the terms of my contract specifically state they they should not be here. So they’re not. And any photographic evidence to the contrary is clearly forged. So here are Effie and Oreo, the two beautiful rabbits who are definitely not residents of the Tiny House:
It was my absolutely biggest worry that they would react badly to the move, especially as they had the run of the old place and now have to spend most of their time in their cage – but since coming here they have been absolutely angelic and relaxed. Clearly they like this place as much as I do! They got their first run around in the front room today, and as you can see they are both very blase about the whole thing.
I visited my good friend Britta who received my old tumble dryer and (accidentally) my towels and tops – she helped me get the vital stuff back to base camp, and stayed to see the buns and have lunch. It is my ultimate goal to have LOTS of guests round here, so another important testing-the-waters moment.
Monday 11th The main point of interest today was plumbing in the Washing Machine and getting it working – my wet clothes and the bunnies towels were getting a little close for a small space, so it was a welcome achievement when I heard the water rush and my trusty metal friend starting up as it did before. A deeply frustrating fatigue has been plaguing me these past weeks, so an evening visit to the old house for some making-good absolutely wiped me out – it needs to be done but it is a singularly joyless task. After all, most of the time when you tidy up, you know you’ll reap the benefits – not so in this case!
Tuesday 12th Thank goodness the weather held up – now with no tumble dryer (or airer for that matter) I was making do with the bathroom as a laundry room, hanging things on the shower-curtain rail, but a good outdoor airing was possible in the sunshine. Another visit to the old place for more exhausting final operations. The phrase ‘spreading yourself too thin’ is making sense to me now. Fatigue is different from tiredness. It feels like you’ve been stretched out, like a paper-thin veneer of yourself, grey and colourless, without strength yet heavy as lead. It is, to put it bluntly, no fun.
Wednesday 13th My phone and broadband are now live! Thanks to Utility Warehouse, the procedure went incredibly smoothly. Despite a good start to the day, after work couldn’t face going out again to the old house so I spend the evening in doing chores, and felt thoroughly refreshed. I needed to get an early night too – Thursday I had plans…
Thursday 14th I had already planned to take the day off from work – I was schedule to have a dental appointment (fun times!) with no idea of how long it would take, and I decided that what with loads of housework (both at old and new place) to do, it would be sensible to have free time. Whereas regular dental appointments are boring, I decided to combine this one with a visit to a famous bakery, a lovely local cafe and a MINI CYCLE ADVENTURE! You can read all about both of these on my other blogs, the Intrepid Cyclist and One Sip Cafe Club. Enjoy!
Afterwards I did a LOAD of window shopping – I am ludicrously, stupidly, vibrating with excitement about all the things I’m going to buy for my new house, so I visited lots of places like the Derby Eagle Centre Market, Clearance Cookware, and Sound Bites, plus some bigger stores like Lakeland, Wilkos, Home Bargains, ALDI …all of which will get mentioned later on in this blog! Unfortunately I couldn’t buy it all as I’m on a thrift drive at the moment (being broke) – I did buy some stuff, probably too much – but I now know the best places to get what I want!
I couldn’t avoid another visit to the old place, too, but this time it wasn’t nearly as wearing – only a little left to do. As it was a Thursday I also managed to donate a load of craft stuff to the Play and Recycle Centre – a great resource that we are lucky to have here in Derby!
Friday 15th Out of work and straight to the old house for making good. It was exhausting but productive – I got all my old wood ready for transport – some to go to the dump, some to the East Midlands Wood Recycling (where I got most of it in the first place – what goes around comes around!) and some for me. I sawed a few bits off some of the longer beams – in their previous incarnation as part of a set of craft shelves, the rabbits had nibbled them. You could be forgiven, looking at the damage, for thinking that my pets were beavers rather than bunnies.
I also threw away my Gordon Freeman/HEV Suit which was an old costume project – I felt very bad about it, but there was no space and in any case I was planning a ‘Mark 2’ at some point.
I got back at 9:00pm and determined to go to bed at a reasonable time. True to form, I stayed up until midnight making food…what that was I will tell in a future post – look out for it soon!
NB: I finally discovered the location of my PAYG electricity meter! It was hiding behind the shed all along.
Saturday 16th On Saturday I bid the last and fond farewell to my old house, the making-good completed, the final possessions removed – the huge unwieldy wardrobe was Freegled, a load of wood taken to Raynesway and East Midlands Wood Recycling, lawn mown, carpet hoovered, hardwood steam-cleaned. A good friend helped me move everything big, and all told it took about five hours to get things finished – it has been a long difficult few weeks, first the move and then shuttling back and forth, but now it is done.
Returning at nearly 8pm, I collapsed into bed for a nap, and found myself once more eating reheated pizza for supper – a welcome reward indeed! Everything I brought back was unceremoniously crammed into the shed – but not for long!
Sunday 17th I was up with the lark to clear the shed – I am determined to start as I mean to go on, and make sure this is as spick and span as it can be.
I dragged literally everything out onto the lawn, disposing of everything left by the previous tenant and gave the place a jolly good sweeping. To an arachnophobic this particular would have probably been a nightmare as the eight-legged folk were out in force but as I am generally fond of spiders all was well – however abandoned webs and spider corpses were quickly dispatched in great dusty clumps, along with the (far more objectionable in my opinion) slug graveyards which had apparently accumulated over the years.
I tried to replace things as logically as possible, with as much access to useful things – the Christmas stuff went at the very back and the bike stuff at the very front. I discovered that I am the proud owner of 53 pieces of wood – not impressive for the true woodworkers out there, but for the on-again off-again hobbyist like me, quite a good haul – I’ll be needing that for lots of projects soon, I hope!
Of course, everything that had to come out of the shed was, de-facto, placed in the house, so after a week of trying to tidy things…er…doesn’t look much better…
From then on the day was idyllic. I visited a friend. I cycled through the sunshine. I even had the incredible good fortune to run into some fundraisers for SusTrans, the cycling charity, whom I had been planning to sign up to next month – one of them got my paperwork sorted there and then, and earned a commission which would have been absent if I’d done it online. Happy days!
And finally, a toast, a little to the old house but much more to the new – even after only one short week, this place truly feels like home.