Frugal Friday: Are you willing to have less to gain more?

Airstream through the trees copy Often times people tell me, “Oh, I could never do what you do.” “I could never be a minimalist.” “I could never live in 188 square feet.” But what I really hear is, “I’m not willing to have less stuff to gain more time, money or pursue my other dreams.”

Since we moved into the Airstream, I’ve found myself less preoccupied with household chores. Don’t get me wrong, I still have to cook and clean each day, but instead of cleaning 1,000 square feet, I only have 188 to clean.

Since we moved into the Airstream, I’ve saved about half my paycheck each month. That’s huge. Prior to living in the Airstream I spent every cent I made, and sometimes more than that. Now I have emergency savings, a 401K and a Roth IRA. I didn’t even know what those things were two years ago!

Since we moved into the Airstream, we’ve also been able to support my husband’s dream of being a full-time artist. Paying rent just wouldn’t be possible (at least in the beginning) with the unsteadiness of the artist’s paychecks. We don’t worry about that now. Whatever money he makes, he invests back into the business or saves. We don’t need that money to live.

Moving into the Airstream has also given me a chance to think about my own dreams– whatever those might be. Two years ago I didn’t even allow myself to dream because I was broke. What’s the point in dreaming when you know you are going to have to get up and go to work each morning until you’re 65 or 70 just to support yourself?

By living in less and with less I’ve gained so much more.

What are you willing to give up to gain? Let me know in the comments!


Link Love: 29

Link Love It’s been another snowy one this week, so I’ve had the chance to binge watch TV, binge read books and binge pin pins. Check out the best of the best:

This camper has an insane tub and a rabbit!

This couple has lived in their Winnebago for 7 years! Their story had originally inspired me to live in an Airstream and they are still going strong. I also adore their candle company!

One of Bambi’s favorite activities is visiting Lowe’s. But there’s so many other dog-friendly stores! I’ll be filing this away for when we are on the road.

The bottom cabinets in this picture are my inspiration for the van. (Originally seen in Elle magazine.) Now we only need to source a bunch of old barn wood.

Tiny home living without a tiny home.

How do you travel on a budget? A good discussion.

It sounds weird, but I’ve been getting back into knitting after binge-watching Outlander Season 1*. Claire (the main character) has the best knit ware!

Have you seen the sneak peak illustrations for the new illustrated Harry Potter? They are brilliant, of course. Preorder the illustrated edition: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: The Illustrated Edition (Harry Potter, Book 1)*

Every kid in a park: Love this! I can’t wait to visit all our national parks.

Why am I not doing the thing I want to do? Gah, so relatable and such good advice.

An addict’s guide to overcoming the distraction habit.

*Affiliate links.

Happy Thursday! Stay warm out there!



Tuesday Thoughts: Let Alone

a man is rich

How many things can you let alone? Can you let alone greed and indifference? Can you let alone self-destruction, ill thoughts and mean words? Minimalism isn’t just about letting physical things alone, it’s also about letting behaviors alone.

And that kids is something to think about.


The Small Life: Amber’s TinCan

Amber's tin can snowy exterior

Today on “The Small Life” we have Amber’s inspiring story. After divorce and debt, Amber and her “TinCan” are picking up the pieces and in the process, making a simple and lovely home. Take it away, Amber!

Amber's Tin Can Interior Living Room

Hi, I’m Amber. I am 42 years old, and I live and work in central Arkansas. I am a bookkeeper and I work in HR, Safety and Compliance. On the side I am a photographer, artist and blogger. I would love to eventually transition to do these things full-time or at least into something I can do more flexibly while traveling. For now I work for and with some great people at my day job. Since work is stationary, my home is too. I currently rent a space in a local RV/Mobile home park. It isn’t my dream location, but it works well for now. My goal is to be able to spend more time traveling in the future (either on the road in the TinCan or by using her for my home base for even further destinations). Simplifying my life and living in the TinCan is enabling these dreams to become much more attainable hopefully in a year or two. It is amazing how much freer I feel having embraced this simple lifestyle and letting go of so many unnecessary things. I want a life full of moments and experiences not things. I think I always wanted this kind of life, but I didn’t always recognize that I did. Fear of losing my “sense of security” and asking to many negative “What ifs” held me back.

Amber's Tin Can exterior

So then how did I actually end up simplifying and living in a vintage, 1970 Airstream? Let me just say it took some life upheavals to get me on the right track. Several years ago I found myself picking up the pieces after going through the dreaded d-word…divorce. I relocated to Arkansas and spent a couple of years trying to keep up a similar lifestyle to what I was used to. I made some not so great decisions and accumulated more debt than I like to admit. After a few years, I worked my way up to a better job, but I was working all the time and not happy. I realized that I could keep working ridiculous hours to achieve what society says is normal, or I could make new choices that would allow me to be much more in control of how I spend my time. I really liked the sound of those new choices. Therefore, I downsized; first to a studio apartment and then to my beloved TinCan.

Amber and her Tin Can

I have long drooled over Airstreams, but never really thought I would be brave enough to embrace living in one full-time. That changed with a find on eBay and a quick drive to Ohio in April 2013. I had researched a lot online about full-timing, but I had no actual experience of ever even camping in an RV. Thus, the drive to get her was a little nerve-wracking. What did I get myself into? However, it was love at first sight. From the moment I stepped foot inside her, I knew I was home. Fortunately, the previous owners of my TinCan took very good care of her. She was in lovely shape for her age and didn’t need any extensive repairs. I did spend a few months painting, decorating, replacing window seals, stripping clear coat, and simply making her more my own before moving in October 2013 when my apartment lease was up. I’ve done a few more projects over the year and 4 months I have lived in her. I still have a long list of projects to be completed as time and the budget allow. I find it is a pleasure investing my time, money and energy into something that is mine instead of throwing away rent every month.

Amber's Tin Can Interior

My only regret about embracing this simple life and moving into the TinCan is that I didn’t do it sooner. It has been one of the very best decisions I have ever made. My free time is much more relaxed, and I am able to spend more time on things that are important and fulfilling. I am happy to share my story in the hopes that it might help others gather the courage to simplify their lives and reach for the lives they really want. I know reading the stories of others helped me gather that courage too.

Thanks, Amber! I admire your courage, tenacity and grit! And that’s what small living is all about! If you want to hear more about Amber’s story, check out her blog, Auntie Am & Her Big Tin Can and check her out on Instagram @airstream365. And remember, if you have a small space that you want to share, email me at asmalllifemelanie at gmail. com. -Melanie

Frugal Friday: 5 Ways You are Wasting Food (and what to do about it!)

Photo c/o Wikimedia Commons.

Photo c/o Wikimedia Commons.

Happy Friday! The following is a post by my friend, Mallorie George. Mallorie is an avid camper, a fellow frugal gal and has one of the most gorgeous families I’ve ever seen! Today Mallorie is here to talk about how to save your hard earned pennies and combat waste at the same time. Take it away, Mallorie!

Let’s face it. We live in a society of overabundance, too large portions, and a sad acceptance of food waste. We’re all guilty of trashing food, and though we wince every time, it continues to happen. It’s a glum reality that humans have been trying to fight since the first caveman made a batch of woolly mammoth jerky. So we remind ourselves to cook smaller portions and buy only what we need. But those steps only fight the most obvious causes of food waste. Read on for five ways you’re still throwing good food in the trash.

Apples: They’re wrinkled, they’re mealy, they have spots- and yet they still hold immense and delicious potential. Instead of tossing them in the compost this time, why not whip up one of the following: Apple cake, apple sauce, pork chops with apples, caramel apple ice cream topping, apple muffins…the list goes on. Your old apples still taste amazing after they’ve been cooked, so get creative! At the very least, slice them up and freeze with some lemon and cinnamon sugar for baking later.

2. Bananas: Same concept. They’re starting to scare your toddler and an army of fruit flies is en route as you stare at them rotting on the counter. So use those puppies! Banana bread, banana cake, banana muffins, banana smoothie, banana ice cream. Brown is beautiful, folks. Again, if you’re not ready to use them now- slice them up and freeze them for later.

3. Stale bread: No one in your family eats the heels? Your teenager still doesn’t fully comprehend the concept of a twist-tie? Not all is lost. Cube those leftovers and throw in the oven with some olive oil and herbs for homemade croutons. Feeling lazy? Throw your stale bread pieces in the food processor and voila! Breadcrumbs for the next time you make meatballs or oven baked chicken strips- get wild and add some spices for a kick. An airtight container will keep breadcrumbs safe in the freezer as well.

4. Citrus: Oranges, limes, lemons.. invariably there are two or three sad looking fellas left in the fruit bowl. Be proactive and squeeze them before they turn- freeze this juice for the next time you need a few tablespoons and there’s not a lemon in sight. Or if the juice is dried up, fill a small pot with 2 cups of water, slices of citrus, and a few cinnamon sticks or cloves. Let this simmer on the back burner of your stove and your house will smell one of grandma’s hugs. Don’t forget to keep an eye on it, and top off the water if needed.

5. This final tip covers more than one food item, but they all serve the same purpose. Broth. This kitchen staple is one I cannot live without. It is also hugely overpriced in most grocery stores. Not to mention the preservatives and excess sodium some companies dump into their products. If you get nothing else from this article, hear this: make your own broth. It can be made from 90% ingredients that you were going to throw away anyways! Here’s how to do it. You roasted a chicken and shredded the meat for chicken salad. Save those bones! Toss the roasted bones and drippings from the bottom of the pan right into a freezer bag if you don’t have time to wait for broth right now. But if you’re going to be home all day, throw them in the stock pot with those two withered carrots and that limp celery that’s been hanging around in the crisper. Throw in a few bay leaves, onion, and garlic; salt to taste and leave it on to simmer as long as you can. And here’s a tip within a tip: every time you peel an onion- don’t trash the skins! I keep a baggie in my freezer dedicated to onion skins. Just keep adding, and when you make broth, grab an extra handful out of the freezer. Not only does this really bring out the onion flavor, but the skins create that perfect golden color in your broth. If you prefer, leave out the chicken bones and just make veggie broth, or use your beef bones or fish instead. The possibilities are endless, and what you used to pay $3 or more for a quart now only costs pennies, is healthy and homemade, and it’s waiting patiently in your freezer to impress your dinner guests. And when they want to know the secret to your chicken and noodles? Just tell them you found the recipe in File 13.

You can find Mallorie on Instagram @okinca and on Pinterest at: Thanks Mallorie!

Link Love: 28


It’s still snowy and icy around these parts so I’ve been off from my full-time job all this week. It’s been just the thing I needed. I’ve been diving deep into some Amazon Prime movies and TV shows and a few books, of course. I already feel 1,000 times better than I did on Sunday night. And I’ve been scouring the web for the best of the best, of course. Here’s my favorites from this week:

These cute, small houses were built in just 3 weeks!

This pull out “walk in” closet would be great in a tiny home.

This log cabin and camper combo is my dream! And it’s in NC!

This laundry pod is intriguing. Perhaps for use on the road?

I quit the thing that defined me. I just found this series and I love it!

TMI! Being too open about money can hurt you. Hmmm. I’m not convinced.

I’m getting pumped about having a garden again. I can’t believe I didn’t think to start seeds in pots made from newspaper!

Also, this greenhouse made from old windows is f’in adorable.

I can’t wait to start hiking again this spring. I’m on the lookout for some cute, inexpensive hiking boots. Is that even a thing? This is the pair Reese Witherspoon wore in Wild and I love them. Perhaps someone will get them for me for my birthday? Hint, hint, nudge, nudge.

I’m breaking out my Crock Pot again! Here’s one of my favorite recipes. And 30 Whole30 slow cooker recipes!

Hope your week has been just as delightful.


Tuesday Thoughts: Going Back to a Simpler Life

Going back to a simpler life is not a step backwards Yes, going back to a simpler life is a choice, but it is not a step backwards. It’s a step in the right direction. It’s a step towards happiness. It’s a step towards the life you truly want to live. It’s a difficult step, but it isn’t a backwards one.

Happy Tuesday, friends.