Tiny Homemaking

Tiny House Living book on steps

Last month I mentioned my plans to spend some of the summer reading about log cabins. The plans to read have, perhaps inevitably, fostered plans to build. I found a fantastic book about the tiny house movement that resonated with so many of my thoughts about living well, it felt like a hundred disparate thoughts all finally tying together. I’ve joked for years about running away to build a cabin in the woods. I now realise that by mentioning it so often it’s shifting from an impossible dream to a determined goal. Other people do it, why can’t we? Heck, my Grama did it, so it’s in my blood!

The drive to consume (information, fuel, electronic goods and more) is thrust at us from so many directions that resisting it feels subversive. But the tide is changing. I regularly come across people sharing their stories of cutting the clutter from their lives. I’m inspired by the conscious choices people share, about what fills their houses and their days. I like the idea that building something with our own hands make us conscious of how we live and what space we need. It would be a privilege to live well outside of the mortgage trap, to find out how little we can live on and grow our lives from there.

I’m in the middle of reading Klein’s book, This Changes Everything, and boy does it. She presents information in a compelling way that demands we pay attention and be informed about our part in the global picture. I’m only a short way through, so I’ll spare you any misinformation, but I really would urge you to read it.

I hope that the trend towards minimalist design goes beyond style. I hope we are becoming more conscious about what we consume, how we travel, where we spend our free time. I hope that I can be more conscious, informed and brave. And while building a tiny house is a pipe dream for now, I can certainly start by reducing the unnecessary ‘stuff’ in my house and being conscious of the wider impact of my choices.

Wild Summer Reading

Feral book by George Monbiot, sitting in the grass

June’s read became July’s, readily interrupted by the growing pile of ‘how-to-sort-your-dog’ books (embarrassing, I know). Once I recovered from my brief hiatus into behaviour modification theory, I relished returning to the Appalachian woods where Kingsolver’s ‘Prodigal Summer’ is set.

If you want a dose of fresh air and organic thinking, I’d heartily recommend this book. It weaves ideas on our relationship and responsibilities to the natural world in to some very readable fiction. Kingsolver creates beautiful sentences and charming characters (the grumpy old man being my favourite).

Tom and I are off this weekend to indulge in a fresh pile of books for the summer break. We’ll be out in the Island countryside for much of the holiday so I’m sticking with the wild theme and choosing Feral for one of this month’s read. I also want to buy a book on log cabins; I won’t be building one any time soon, but it’s fun to entertain the thought.

Any holiday reads to recommend? Let me know on Twitter or Instagram. Join in with Laura’s Year in Books here.

Alphabet 15: The Halfway Edition

Rusty's 2015 Alphabet Year

For the second year running, I set out with 26 goals and ideas to see me through 2015. Now I find myself the wrong end of June realising half the year has already passed. The business of setting up a business has cram-filled my days, with the demands of ‘D’ filling in any spare moments. We’ve decided to stay close to home for the summer break, so I’m looking forward to having some of those stretchy, timeless days where I needn’t always be thinking of tomorrow.

I started my year Brushing the dirt off, and riding my Skateboard round the city. I hadn’t anticipated B to be quite so literal, but sprawling in a heap to general public amusement and getting back up again does feel good practise for doing the same with the other shit in one’s life.

Tom has really nailed the Homemade pizza, thanks to a great Smitten Kitchen recipe and some kneading know-how. I Played the Piano and learned this tune (it stands up to repeated playing.) I Made a mini movie, Quit sugar (for maybe 48hrs) and did some simple carpentry (nothing I would sit on).

This summer is for Wild camping and catching up on some long-dreamed-of afternoon Zzzzs. I’ll be trying a new craft (with this pattern) and watching the garden Grow. The Running and Juggling might just have to wait for the autumn; it’s far too hot for any of that nonsense. But really, the Yoga should be happening now (I think I’ve managed 10 minutes total this year.) Maybe I’ll blame it on Y being late in the alphabet.

Blogtacular is brought to you by the letter C.

Blogtacular balloons

Blogtacular was a flurry of colour, friendly faces, and words of encouragement, just as expected. I didn’t expect it to take me days for everything to percolate down to words on the page. Most of it still lingers in the corners of my mind, just out of reach. So, for now, just a few of the things that caught my eye…

Blogtacular photo collage

Creativity: an oft overused term that felt perfectly justified in a building filled with people sharing new ideas and generally making stuff that rocks. Marte really inspired me with her persistent focus on the things she felt passionate about in life and ability to carve out a career by focusing on her three great loves: travel, food, photography.

Connection: to walk across a room and be able to give a cheery hello, be it to a stranger or a friend, is so refreshing after the many winter months when we only connect with each other online. I’d be inclined to say it was lovely, but that was one of the ‘banned words’ on Mollie Makes’ talk.

Community: Blogtacular builds a sense that we’re all part of something exciting, even for those joining in through the weekly twitter chat, or the virtual conference. Grace Bonney‘s reminder that there is room enough for everyone only added to a sense of camraderie. We all have our unique and valuable perspective. Community is always better than competition.

Collaboration: I was inspired by the collaborative efforts of Judith De Graaf and Igor Josifovic, sharing their passion for house plants with a growing online community, with a focus on giving back to the huge international group of urban jungle bloggers they have brought together.

Coffee: I was pleased to join in the early morning photowalk with Xanthe and a group of other bloggers wielding cameras and bright balloons. It was so much fun to coordinate shots as part of a group. I’d never before come across #instagrammerdown or that clever person-repeated panorama trick (you know the one, right?!)

Getting to the photowalk in time required a 5am start, so the day was full, and requiring of much coffee. Top tip for next year – pack Jelly Beans. I wouldn’t Walk the Wight without them, and a full Blogtacular day requires just as much stamina.

I was glad I’d taken my bike to London; the slices of fresh air I squeezed in to my day (through St James and Hyde parks, round the back roads of Mayfair and Soho) were just what I needed to polish off a colourful day.

Anthony Burrill on stage at Blogtacular

Finally, the many conversations I shared over the weekend convinced me to close comments on my blog. I love having conversations with people who read my posts and it’s so much easier to properly chat on Twitter or Instagram. So, do please say hello!

Blogtacular Photowalk Staircase

The Year in Books: 2015 So Far

Book cover photo collage

Last year I accepted Laura’s challenge to read at least one book each month. I enjoyed the prompt to write about books and read recommendations from others. Somehow it fell by the wayside this year. I’ve lost the daily hour of reading that my old commute carved out and have struggled to find my reading rhythm without it. Despite this, I’ve enjoyed some beautiful books this year. This rainy day seemed the perfect excuse to read through my book of books and catch up on the year so far.

Last year I discovered a love of nature writing, which carried me in to January on a dark musky trail in pursuit of badgers. I now spot many more tracks and setts, but haven’t gone to the same lengths as Barkham to spot the animal itself.

In complete contrast, I read about the history of women in skateboarding and felt outraged and inspired in equal parts, by the prevalent machismo and the success of many women regardless.

It would be hard for The Goldfinch to live up to all the hype, which made me hesitant, but I wasn’t disappointed. It really was a delicious big fat read, full of life and love in its many facets. Both The Son and A Fine Balance offered up grand swathes of life on opposites sides of the globe (Texas and India) whilst Lemon Cake was a little quirky slice of a child’s life in LA (with the added magic of tasting emotions in food; what a burden!)

Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver

Despite the storm that passed through our town last night, I am optimistic in my reading, and have chosen The Prodigal Summer for this month’s read. Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is one of my all-time favourite books, but I’ve never before read any of her fiction. I’m looking forward to getting started. What are you reading this month? Why not join The Year In Books?