Well, it’s been a little while since I did a blog here – mainly because not a lot interesting has been happening. With the house, I mean – plenty of other interesting things have happened elsewhere, which you can read about on my other blogs – but due to one thing or another (money and time being most critical) I haven’t had much to say about my tiny dwelling and its evolution into a perfect living space.
But now I do!
I loves me some sewing. But for a while now my sewing machine, fabric, threat et al has been banished to a corner gathering dust because the only tables in my house are in my front room and there isn’t a suitable place for a permanent set up – at least, not when troublesome bunnies are around to nibble!
So one day, lying in bed, it suddenly struck me that a whole bunch of floorspace was already being taken up in my bedroom by random bags, many of while contained sewing projects. Why not just make a table in that space?
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…
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!