Happy Tuesday, ya’ll!
For the next installment in The Small Life, we’ve got Travis and Jenna of The Eco Travelers. Travis and Jenna bought and moved into their Airstream in July 2014. They aren’t traveling yet, but they leave for Minnesota on November 28th and will be on the road for at least a year. I’m so excited to follow their journey. Take it away, Travis and Jenna…
We owned a house for three years and loved making it our own. But we didn’t like the ongoing battle of what appliance will break next or who’s going to mow this jungle we call a yard. So we decided to sell and go tiny. We sold all of our furniture, got rid of the majority of our belongings, and bought a 1967 Airstream Globetrotter.
Living small for us is about living with intention. When we buy things they have a real purpose, or many purposes. We called ourselves The Eco Travelers because we live it: we buy organic and local food, we shop consignment, and we live in less than 125 square feet.
Happy Monday everyone! Today I am happy to announce a new feature on the blog entitled, drum roll, please, “The Small Life.” “The Small Life” will feature people from across the globe that live a small life in an Airstream, a bus, a van, a tiny house or other unconventional spaces. The first feature is from Todd. Todd is taking an unimaginably difficult time in his life and is turning it around with small living. Take it away Todd. – Melanie
After a couple of months, with the unconditional love and support of family, I decided to set out and find an Airstream to move in. Fortunately, one turned up in Florida and within a couple weeks I was towing it back to the mountains of Asheville.
Getting the Airstream, I hope is only the first step of many to creating a new life for Wyatt and I. As a result of moving into 153 sqft, most of my worldly possessions needed to go. After much thought, I realized that it was just stuff. Sentimental items are merely items that remind of us a specific memory. I will always have the memory, which takes up less space than the stuff. Clothes are still being widdled down to only the bare essentials. If its not my most favorite thing to wear or if I haven’t worn it in the last month, it gets donated. Even new stuff gets intense scrutiny; does buying this thing move me in the direction of getting me on the road full time, does this limit me financially from exploring, traveling and creating new adventures, is this something that I simply want? Only items that facilitate adventure and create epic memories, makes the cut into 153 sqft.
By no means am I free of “stuff”, but I’m getting down to the essentials and a couple more rounds of purging, and I will be there. Free of most clutter, allowing my mind to focus on just being.
Ironically, soon after I got the Airstream, the one thing I did want to buy was a t-shirt that exemplified the spirit of the Airstream. Unfortunately, I found none. With the help of my sister, we set out to design our own t-shirt and so “Itinerant Shirts” was born. I don’t have any grand visions of getting rich, but rather spreading and sharing the itinerant spirit with others. I hope to release new editions every so often show casing other’s art. The first edition is available on Etsy under itinerant shirts. I should mention that I’ve only had 1 sale and that was from my sister. No worries, if they don’t sell, every single one that I made is in the exact size and color that I would want to wear.
Hope my verbal “snap shot” gives you an idea of why I’m living small….to allow focus on what really matters, just being.
It’s not quite the end of the season, my pepper plants and my tomatoes are still producing (!), but I wanted to give a little update about my garden. Remember when I thought I couldn’t grow anything. Remember?! REMEMBER?! Well, I am beyond excited to report that my brown thumb has turned green, ya’ll. And today is your lucky day because I have a run down of the costs of my garden and, AND the cost if I simply went out and purchased the food. I am on fire.
|Price of Seeds||Cost at CSA* or Harris Teeter||Amount Produced||Price if purchased|
|Heirloom Tomatoes ($1.79) (unavailable at Home Depot, link to similar product)||$2.99 (for 2)*||46||$68.77|
|Squash ($1.35)||$2.99 (for 2)*||0||$0.00|
|Zucchini ($1.19)||$2.99 (for 2)*||16||$23.92|
|Bell Peppers ($1.59)||$1.99 (for 2)*||86||$85.57|
|Banana Peppers ($1.59)||$0.43||97||$41.71|
|Sunflowers ($1.35)||$2.29||7 (about 2 cups)||$2.29|
|Brussels Sprouts ($1.59)||$3.49||0||$0.00|
|Potting Soil (used sparingly to start seeds, previously purchased) $0.00|
|Gloves and a trowel (given as birthday gift) $0.00|
|Plow (borrowed) $0.00|
|Fencing to keep out critters ($34.97)|
|Garden Safe Insect Killer ($5.79)|
|Garden Safe Fungicide ($5.47)|
|Miracle-Gro Shake ‘n Feed Fruits and Vegetables Granules ($12.47)|
|A cucumber plant when my other cucumber plants died (gifted from my FIL) $0.00|
|Total Spent||Total Produced (plus tax)||Total Savings|
Garden Start Up Costs
I kept my start up costs very low. I didn’t create raised beds and my garden was by no means
“pretty.” I can’t keep up with Martha here. This isn’t rural New England!
Quite a few people around the blogosphere make a big deal about the start up costs of gardens. There’s very low start up costs if you keep it low. And yes, there is no guarantee that anything will sprout (just look at my squash!), but if you are successful, growing a garden can be a fun way to save on grocery costs.
I used my CSA’s veggie pricing when available because I think it more accurately reflects the pricing of local produce. When not available, I used the pricing of a local grocer, Harris Teeter. (Yes, I know veggies might be cheaper somewhere else, this is just a good estimate, ya’ll!)
I think it’s also important to note that I am totally a beginning gardener. This is my first time keeping anything alive– including houseplants! I know there will be bad years and good years, but I believe with experience my vegetable gains will increase, thus increasing my savings.
The time factor
Yes, growing a garden (even a small one, like mine) takes time. Most weekends I was out there pulling weeds. I watered the plants almost every day (unless it rained). P.S. We have well water, so there was no cost for the water. But growing something, ANYTHING, keeping it alive, then eating something I grew with my own two hands has been one of the most rewarding things that I have ever done. EVER! And that includes getting my Master’s degree.
Have you ever planted a garden? If so, were you successful? Do you think it saved you money? Did you make an insane chart like I did? Let me know in the comments!
Throughout this photo shoot, George kept reminding me that my hands looked like claws. I have no future as a hand model. I clamp everything with a death grip and getting just one ladylike photo out of this shoot was painful. I also never get manicures because I pick off all my nail polish. One chip and it’s over. My hands will be polish free in an hour. Death grips and compulsive polish picking. I am a gem.
Ok, so I’m not really a gem, but this ring is! I created this ring with my second For The Makers kit. For the Makers is a DIY subscription service that sends small (girly) projects to your door each month. You can read about my past experiences with For the Makers here.
The kit can be bought here and the directions are free on their website.
What subscription services of you love? Let me know in the comments!
How long does it take to get paint out of one’s hair? I still have paint in my hair from two weeks ago and I’m doubtful that it will ever come out. It took way more coats of paint to cover the walls than we expected. We had to use a primer, two base coats and a top coat to cover the icky, dated walls. But at least now the airstream now has a floor and painting is complete. We also installed a “real” toilet. No creepy camper potties for us! (TMI?) Anyway, what I’m trying to say is “we made some serious headway, people.”
If anyone is curious, we ended up using Kilz Premium as the primer, Valspar Contractor Finishes 2000 in Ultra White as the base coat and Valspar Paint and Primer in Ultra White as the top coat. We also put a coat of Kilz on the floor before we laid it to ensure the floor was sealed. If you can’t tell, I want the Airstream’s interior to be as bright white as possible.
Our budget is getting a little tight as we are progressing through this project. Flooring is expensive! We chose laminate flooring to keep the cost down and keep the airstream light in case we ever wanted to tow it. And again, we had to buy much more paint than I ever imagined. It can be cheap, fast or good, but it can’t be all three– is that how the saying goes? Le sigh.
We’ll definitely be reusing old lumber from previous projects and trolling Craigslist for free stuff. My friend already found us a 3/4 size fridge for $75 bucks on Craigslist and I’m hoping to score a few more steals! (Gabby, you are awesome!)
Does anyone have any tips for acquiring free fabric or lumber? I need both! Let’s hear them in the comments!