Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Living Small

I'm sure that people wonder why Mark and I chose such a small house to be our first (owned) home together. In the Age of McMansions,  purposefully buying a small house may seem odd. But if I've learned anything these past nine months, it's this simple truth: living small is a challenging task that possesses unexpected blessings.

Why we choose to live small:

  • Living inside our means. Mark and I happen to live in one of the most expensive regions in the country. Cost of living is pretty high here, at least compared to the Southeast. I know there are regions with much more expensive price tags on their milk and bread, but, in my own experience, this state is pricey. And pricey milk and eggs means that your buck only buys so many square feet of real estate. Well, you could buy more space...but that space might crumble from beneath your feet when you walk onto it and may or may not come with critters and scary, loud neighbors. Sure, we looked at several larger homes--including one breathtaking Victorian in need of a little elbow grease and grace--but this tiny townhouse is what caught our hearts. Most importantly: we knew we could easily afford the mortgage. We wouldn't have to toast our beautiful finishes over Ramen. After paying rent for two years, an easily affordable monthly payment sounded oh so fine.
  • Learning to organize. Having a small house means every inch of space must perform some task. You learn to sort, hang, and categorize like no other. In no other room is this more important than in the kitchen. The value of baskets, wall hangers, open shelving, magnetic spice tins, and stackable Tupperware becomes immeasurable. The lovely world of Apartment Therapy becomes your idea-center and life-saver. Anytime that I've thought "Man, I wish we had--" I can go to that website and instead exclaim "Oh, duh!" 
  • Learning to do without and realizing you have enough. A small house prevents you from buying unnecessary items. When you're at a department store, drooling over two pairs of shoes--the work flats you know you need and those amazing stilettos your inner diva just wants--the question "Where am I going to put all these shoes?" holds a lot more weight than "I don't need those." (Because we all know wants always beats need when sexy pumps are involved.) Living small forces you to consider what you do and don't need, what's essential and what's just extra fluff. You can't take it with you when you go, so why bother with it now? Trust me, my closet has never been so lean and organized.
  • Living on top of each other. This aspect of living small has also been a real lesson for me, one that I'm still learning. When you have a small house, you're always within distance to speak in conversational tones. (I just tested this out, while typing this post. It's true. A normal conversation pitch works, even though I'm on the top floor.) This smallness then brings you physically closer. You can't have "my space" and "his space." The whole house has to be "our space." One person can't dominate the whole design scheme; you have to make decisions together, compromising whenever possible. If you're going to be packed in together--it has to be a space you both love. Now, here's the other part of this bullet-point: a tiny space also means you can't have a fuss and then stomp off to cool down in another, distant part of the house. What are you going to do? Turn around and stomp a few feet away? Ban the other person from the living room? The bedroom? The bathroom? That last one sure isn't going to work in a one bathroom home. No. Instead, you have to put your big-girl panties on and deal with it. (The panty metaphor obviously refers to myself, not my husband.) Your tiny home demands it. So, for the sake of space, you also learn the importance of diffusing fusses before they get started. (Not that that's always successful, but its important to always try!) 
  • Less time cleaning. Need I say more? 
So, these are the reasons we love living small, so far. I'm sure I'll have more as the journey continues. 

If you really want to see "small," check out these tiny homes: herehere, and here
Also, check out the Tiny House Movement. I love the ideas behind this movement. 

What are your thoughts on living small? Do you think you would like it? What would be the biggest challenge for you and your family? 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks

A few weekends ago, Mark and I went to our first Major League Baseball game together. The Washington Nationals vs the Atlanta Braves. Mark's turf vs. my turf.
To be honest, though, I cheered for the Nationals. Now wait....before you drag me from my home, carry me around the city, and shout me a traitor...Let me state my reasons:

1. I come from a avid football family. We bleed George red and black. From August to February, we live and breathe in the name of Herschel Walker, alternately cuss and praise Mark Richt, fly our colors proudly, and rally like no other. We say dawg not dog. And a car without some Georgia love--whether it be flag, sticker, or tire cover--belongs to no Bulldawg. the face of all that foamy-mouthed ferocity... no other sport really mattered. So, no, although I grew up red-clay stained, I was not raised a Braves fan.
2. My husband lived and worked in Washington, D.C. And we still reside in Nats territory, so when in Rome...
3. That Bryce Harper is a lovely looking fellow and, man, can he clobber a baseball.
4. Papa Johns gives 50% off pizza every time the Nats win by 7. If nothing else will convince you to buy peanuts and cracker jacks in the name of Natitude, cheap pizza will.

Convinced? Yes, no, maybe so?
Convinced enough to grudgingly stow away your torches and ropes? Thanks.

Here's the thing about Mark and baseball: he stays until the last possible second. It doesn't matter the score, it doesn't matter if more than half of the stadium has given up and left. You stay until the ump has given the signal, and you cheer your bloody lungs out. If the board says charge, you yell charge. If it says make noise, you make noise. If it says stand on your head, you stand on your head.

Because you never know when the seemingly impossible comeback will happen. And that's another thing I love about my husband: he cheers loud, stays loyal, waves his fists like a maniac, and never gives up.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Playing Catch-up

Fall and winter in black-and-white.

1. Solo grew in leaps and bounds. He turned from a wrinkly, big-eyed, bumble-footed baby into a handsome little pup.
2. Mark took me to New York City and endured a day at the Met.
3. We smiled until our cheeks ached over the holidays. Also, lighter jackets were possible in Georgia.
4. It started to snow in Frederick and never stopped. Also, we found a creepily beautiful old house.
5. Solo brightened the glum weather with silly antics.
6. The trees stood naked and bare. There's just something starkly and defiantly beautiful about a winter wood, don't you think?
7. Sky and ground were uniformly grey--which is sometimes beautiful and sometimes as depressing as depressing can get. But, the sun persisted and warmed up Maryland's old cold bones.

That time when we fell off the end of the earth....

You may have noticed  that Amp and I have been missing for the past...
well....six, almost seven, months. 
This unplanned but much needed break from blogging was 
due to two very good reasons:

1.) grad school. The time-consuming behemoth.
If you've been down that dark path,
 you know what I've seen....and it ain't pretty.

2.) home renovations. In the midst of the hullabaloo
of buying a 100+ year old home, I let blogging fall by the wayside.

Then, one day, I remembered this little space. I thought
"Jeez, I forgot it again." And I entertained the thought 
of just deleting it. I mean, after all,
who really reads it? 
But then I remembered how much fun I had sharing
 our weekend photos, DIY projects (good, bad, and ugly), and
the occasional bit of roughshod writing.
So, even if no one reads it...
and even if I have to take the occasional break
(since sometimes living and moving is 
more necessary than writing)

I think I'll stick around.
And keep flinging bits of self out on the wide web,
for who knows who. 

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