When the Tiny House Movement isn’t for you

Many people in my generation are being swept away with the notion of tiny living. While the idea of living with less sounds appealing to me, the reality of tripping over my kids would keep me from ever doing this. Also, I am claustrophobic and would not be able to be in that close of quarters. The thing is that people in my generation are being forced to think about this mainly because the American dream is just not attainable for a lot of us.

Here we are in our 20s and 30s and strapped with student loans. We want to travel, but we also would like to retire before we are 80. The job market keeps changing, and the jobs that were in high demand when we were in college are now gone. For those of us with kids, we add the burden of wanting our kids to have it differently than we do…as in we would like to help them with the ever-rising costs of higher education but not at a detriment to ourselves down the road. For some of us, the cookie cutter lifestyle is just not attainable. Then there are also those of us that just don’t want that lifestyle at all. So what are the alternatives?


Well…you could do the whole tiny house thing, OR you could look at what doing what my family is doing. We bought a house that needed love and decided to invest in our new community. For about the same price as some tiny houses we were able to buy a house, and even after we finish with the renovations, we still will have less invested in the house than some have in their tiny house. The best part is that we are investing in a community that wants to grow. So how do you get started on something like this? Well here is what we did.

When we decided to start our adventure here, we originally thought of getting a house that was as much or more than our old house in price. However, we found that there were many houses for much less that required a bit of love. My husband and I had many discussions about this because you need to be aware of what you are getting into and need to think long and hard about what you can live with and what you cannot. My husband desperately wanted to look at this one house that was dirt cheap and needed work thinking we might be able to live in part of it while we worked on the rest. I made it through two rooms of that house before I just walked out the door saying “Nope, Nopety, Nope. Nope.” For me, I could do something that needed some work, but boards across some of the windows and trying to live in the house while renovating a place that needed extensive help was out of my comfort zone.

We looked at others that were half finished. I bailed on one because I could see outside from the basement. It made me a bit uncomfortable. We looked at some that needed updated but were structurally sound. Those are the kinds of houses that are great for if you plan on living at the house during the renovation. You can move there and go room by room. That is kind of the route we chose. Our house was procured cheaply because the garage is falling apart, there is a walkthrough bedroom which we plan on fixing, it needs some updating, and the house really needs some tlc. However, this house is in a friendly community that is up and coming. The community gets together and works on improving the neighborhood. There is an AMAZING park practically in my backyard with trails, playgrounds, and a golf course. Plus, we live 10-15 minutes from great shopping. It is a wonderful location, but not well-known for that. Instead, it was known as being in the city, even though it is right on the edge. We had originally crossed it off our list the first time our realtor suggested it because we knew nothing about the area.

If you are willing to think outside the box and research neighborhoods, you might be able to find a gem in a neighborhood that you may not have thought of looking. You obviously want to make sure it is a safe neighborhood, but if you find a neighborhood that is on its way to bettering itself, you might be able to find a good property for less. If you invest in it, you not only can make a dream home for yourself for a lot less, but you are investing in your community. Investing in your community can give you a sense of pride to in knowing that you are helping make your area a better place. Just make sure:

  • The place you choose is something you can live with for years and also during any renovations
  • If you are renovating, choose a home that can be adapted into your dream home without pouring a ton of money into it. It defeats the purpose of doing this over buying a traditional finished home.
  • Choose a community with amenities that appeal to you. If you are going for city living for example, find a neighborhood close to the things you like.
  • Realize that not everything will go as planned and be prepared to be flexible.
  • Get involved in your community. I cannot go to a lot of events in my community, but I at least keep up with the latest news. Also, I have made more of an effort to get to know my neighbors. By the way…I LOVE my neighbors.
  • Talk to your realtor about what you want. The day we chose our house, we actually looked at a finished home. He took us aside and asked us what we wanted. Did we want the more expensive home or did we want to take a chance and put a bit of sweat equity into something to end up with something that might cost less in the end? We chose the latter because we also would like to have the flexibility to travel eventually. That is something we wouldn’t have with a more expensive house.
  • Finally, what are your long-term goals? Do you want to travel or maybe help with your kids’ education? Do you want to be debt-free at an early age? If so, the kind of house we have might be right for you!

While I know the idea of a tiny house sounds like something that would help with financial freedom, the truth is that it is not right for all of us. Plus, a tiny house is hard to try to do if you want to have a family someday. Investing in a budding community by buying a fixer-upper is a great alternative to the tiny house movement and will give you great satisfaction as you invest in your potential dream home and the community in which you live!


Easy Paper Christmas Ornaments

These Pretty Ornaments are easy to make and can be used on your tree, around the house, or on a banner!

These Pretty Ornaments are easy to make and can be used on your tree, around the house, or on a banner!

One of my favorite things to do during the holidays is to make crafts with the kids. The other is to eat my weight in Christmas Cookies. We make these ornaments every year and use them to decorate the tree, hang on doors, and even use in banners and decorations to hang from the ceiling. They are easy to make and require only a few supplies.

suppliesFor this project, you will need:

  • cardstock (I used a holiday pack from my local craft store)
  • scissors
  • stapler or tape
  • twine or ribbon
  • stickers, buttons, or some sort of embellishment
  • ruler

First, you want to take a ruler and make one inch lines on the back of the paper and then cut the paper into one inch strips.

cut paper

Then you want to take two strips, make a cross and then use tape or a stapler to put them together.

3Take two more strips and place them over top the first two like shown below and then staple or tape.

4Then take your sticker, button, or other embellishment and place in the middle to hide the staple.

5When done, cut a piece of twine or ribbon to hang your ornament.

6That is all there is to it! I do suggest using bigger stickers or buttons than what I used to have a more polished effect. I must confess that I went with the sticker choices my kids wanted, so they are a little small.

Looking for more Christmas ideas? Over the next week, 25 bloggers will be sharing their creative ideas with you for recipes, decor, crafts, printables, and holiday traditions. Each day 5 new posts will go live so make sure you come back to check them out! At the end of our 25 Blogs of Christmas, we will be hosting a HUGE giveaway for a $250 Amazon Gift Card! Click on the link below to check out all the other fabulous blogs!




Easy to Make Reindeer Food DIY

I was experimenting in the kitchen with reindeer food for tonight, and I came up with something that will take two minutes and be lotsa fun!


1 C Oats

Red and Green Decorating Sugar or glitter (note: decorating sugar is not as messy and will not leave your sidewalks looking like a bomb went off…just sayin’)

reindeerfood1Pour the oats (used Quaker Oats for this batch) into a bowl. Add the red and green sugar into the bowl until you can see some of the sparkles. That’s it. Let the kids sprinkle it outside Christmas Eve!


Hope you enjoy making this for your kids! Be sure to join me on Facebook for giveaways, tips, and fun discussions!



Easy Homemade Sugar Scrub!

I have been under the weather for the past few days, so I am just feeling kind of blah. Because I have been abusing the hand sanitizer to keep from spreading germs, my hands are really dry, so I thought it might be a good time to make this really easy homemade sugar scrub!

Here is what you need:

1/4 cup Olive Oil. I used extra virgin so my scrub is a little on the green side

1/2 cup sugar

4-5 drops essential oil (optional). I used Eucalyptus oil because it was handy, and I have a cold.

Pour the sugar into a bowl, add the Olive Oil and mix. Then add the essential oil. It feels so good. Your hands and other dry parts will thank you!

Here is what mine looks like, it is not pretty, but it works. It also makes a great gift. All you need is some ribbon and empty baby food jars!

easy homemade sugar scrub


Wine rack Re-purpose

As much as I love a glass of wine now and then, I don’t usually have the opportunity to use my wine rack for the purpose of entertaining as much as I would like. We also have been needing a bit more counter space, so I thought it might be fun to use it for my morning coffee. It also made a nice display for my mommy friends when we had our holiday party this past weekend.

Here it is:

coffee bar

coffee bar2

The nice thing about this particular wine rack is that I can still store my wine bottles for a grown up evening. I also have enough room for coffee mugs as well. I can now have my coffee maker, latte maker, syrups, teas, cocoas, and everything all in one place. If you would like to have a coffee bar, you could also use a simple buffet table or re-purpose an old dresser.

So what kinds of DIY projects are you working on this week?


National Get Organized Month

By Stefanie Slater, Bear Haven Mama Contributor

January is National Get Organized Month!!! Have you started cleaning out your closets, making piles to donate old toys and clothing? If you have not then join in with millions others who are taking the step to get organized. Being organized will help you to be more productive in your home. Does your five-year old daughter still need that baby rattle? I do not think so. Grab the trash bags now and write your local donations name on it to start filling them up!

So now that you got the motivation, where will you start? I like to tackle the kids rooms and the basement. Those two link together because the basement is where most of the kid toys are. The holidays are a time where many spend time with one another, but it is also a time when your home is filled with more toys, toys, and more toys! So if you are bringing in the new, make sure you are getting rid of items that can be donated.

There are many products you can buy to help organize your child’s rooms and toys too. One item I LOVE and definitely thinking about buying more than one is Closet Maid’s Stackable Cubicles. They come in a few colors, but I always prefer white myself. I think when you buy the fabric bins in the bright colors and mix them up they really pop! Coordinate with other fun colors for a basement playroom and your children will never leave!

If you are like me then you have several toys that are small, and can be lost in a regular toy bin. Using the fabric bins in the cubicle is a great way to stay organized, and be sure to grab your label gun! Hey, being organized also does include labeling too. I know many moms are getting super excited about just being able to label things. Plus, this is always a great learning process for your children too. They can learn to spell out the word of a toy or a piece of furniture as they are using it.

So Happy organizing in 2012! I hope to hear about your organization projects you are taking on!