Tell us about your home and the family that lives there.
My husband and I live in Portland, Oregon with our three daughters, Libby (5), Julianna (3), and Éowyn (15 months). We have an 880 square foot home with three bedrooms, and one bath on a 5,000 square foot lot. We are also graced by the presence of two cats, a dog, eight chickens, and two goats. Our oldest daughter loves to dance and bounce on her yoga ball and draw. Julianna loves the animals and playing with her friends, and Éowyn loves playing with her sisters, especially if they are playing ball. I try to keep our home spacious to accommodate their interests and physical needs, yet also make sure it’s vibrant and full of life and learning. One of the ways I do this is downsizing my own personal possessions and choosing only to keep the most important things.
When we purchased our home it needed a lot of work and little by little we’ve been able to fix it up and plant the yard with edible landscaping and gardens. It’s not a large home and it’s not fancy but everytime I see the things we’ve fixed or planted it makes me smile because it’s our handmade home where we’ve been learning to fix things ourselves.
You’re home is small but you are developing an urban homestead and rearing animals for self sufficiency. How does urban homesteading make your life simpler and how does it make it more challenging?
We are attempting to build a self sufficient (or at least as close as possible) urban homestead on our property. We have chickens and goats and are working to increase our garden production using intensive methods, and are planning to add rabbits this year. Some of the great things about this is we have a lot of our needs taken care of right on our own property. Sometimes it’s like grocery shopping in the backyard. We’ve been able to reduce our financial needs and our dependence on the car, which frees up more time to enjoy together.
The downside is it can be a lot of work and sometimes it takes some balancing on my part to make sure the animals and the kids all get their needs filled. Sometimes it feels like everyone wants to eat at the same time. Other days I feel like all I do is clean up poop. I do really love it though, so for me getting out to the animals and the garden is worth adding extra things to feed and clean.
Three children at home full-time and your husband and yourself both work from home. Your house has so many functions and needs – how do you manage all of them without accumulating lots of things? Do you have a process for deciding what comes into your home?
I am ruthless about getting rid of things. About once a month I go through the entire house and evaluate if we’ve used things enough to make storing them worth it, check for broken things or things we have duplicates of. I try to only keep things that are beautiful or useful, but I prefer to make my useful things beautiful and cut down the only beautiful clutter. I always have a box or bag in our shoe closet for give away stuff so it’s easy to drop things into it throughout the day. Even the furniture and appliances get a critical eye if we don’t use them frequently!
If I have to replace something I try to make it as multipurpose as possible. I also try not to go shopping in stores if at all possible. When we go to the grocery store and thrift store we stick to the list, but I try to buy as much as I can online. It’s harder for me to impulse buy when I jump online quickly to order something specific than if I am wandering through a physical store.
Right now my middle daughter is not okay with giving up any toys, but I feel very strongly that too many toys is upsetting for them and it takes my time away from them so we’ve compromised. Four times a year I box up any toys they haven’t used over the past few months and put them in the garage attic. The kids like to go shopping for “new” toys in the boxes that I pull down and it keeps the picking up and the putting away manageable. I hope eventually she will be okay with my giving away some of the unused toys but until then I think a trusting relationship is more important than my personal ideals.
Name three things that make you happy.
My family, (including the furry and feathered members)
Reading fantasy books