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DIY Photography Soft Light and Reflector

Lately I’ve been so uninspired by my pictures from the kitchen. I take a photo (almost) every day of Kiddo1’s lunch so I can post it in order to motivate me to make good lunches with a variety of foods. It’s hard to get a good shot in my kitchen because there isn’t a lot of natural light in there. And now heading into winter, there isn’t any natural light when I’m actually packing lunch so I need a little brightening up.

Thank goodness I found this tutorial for making a photography soft light from The Tip Toe Fairy. I highly recommend reading her tutorial first since that is what I used to make my own light. The only difference with me is that I’m super cheap, so I even made my own box for the light (The Tip Toe Fairy uses a lamp shade). Therefore, I wanted to share how I made the box and everything just in case you’re as thrifty as me.

DIY Photography Soft Lights

Here’s what you need:
Cardboard – enough for four 8-1/2″ x 11″ pieces plus one 6″ x 6″ piece
Piece of letter-sized paper for making a template
Glue
Aluminum foil
Duct tape
8-1/2″ clamp light, it looks like this and you should be able to find it at most hardware stores:
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Also a good quality light bulb (I got a LED bulb that’s equivalent to 100w, but it cost twice as much as the clamp light! It also has a warm light and I’d rather go for something a lot more cool next time.
And a scrap of clean white fabric that’s at least 13″ x 13″

Here’s what you do:
First, make a template from the letter-sized piece of paper (that’s a regular 8-1/2 x 11 piece) Use scrap paper cause this isn’t going to be part of the finished product.

Just take the piece of paper and fold it in half “hamburger style.” The grab the outside corner and fold it back at an angle like this:

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Once the two sides are folded at the same angle, unfold the middle of the paper so it looks like the above picture. Now you have a template to make four identical sides for the light box.

I found a cardboard box in the garage that I could use to make the light box. I just traced the template on all four sides of the box and cut them out.

Then it was time to glue.

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I put one of the box sides on the counter and ran a line of glue near the edge, the stood another box piece on its side. I used a mason jar to support the box piece so I didn’t have to stand there with it.

I did this for two pair of sides:

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Then ran off to play with the kids for awhile. The glue needs to dry so just leave it in a place where it won’t be disturbed. If you have children and pets, check every now and then to make sure no one has disrupted the creation. I left mine for about an hour.

Once the pairs were ready, it was time to combine them, like so:

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More mason jars in action. The box will want to tip until the glue sets, so support the sides like this again and run off to play with kids. Or clean something if you want.

Once the glue was set I used duct tape to reinforce the connections, just in case. Just a little bit of duct tape like in the above photo.

Next it was time to make a piece of cardboard to seal up the back end of the box. I just tipped the light box over (once the glue was dry, of course) so the more narrow opening was down on a piece of cardboard. I traced around the light box so I had a nice square to cut out.

Then you need a hole in the center so the clamp light can go through. To make the whole, I just found the mid-point of the cardboard square, then guessed at the hole size. This is not exact science. Unless you don’t have any more spare cardboard. If you don’t, you might want to do a little measuring so you don’t waste your piece.

The end cap should look like this. I’ve also already added the lines of glue needed to secure the end cap to the light box.

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See how my pictures are turning out blurry with the crappy light in my kitchen? Maddening. I made the hole in my piece a little big so I just used some masking tape to make it slightly smaller.

To know how big the hole should be, you’ve got to take apart your clamp light. The big aluminum shade screws off the light ballast. The black ballast (the part that holds the light bulb) is what needs to go through the hole. You don’t have to remove the clamp – that will be on the outside of the box anyway. There’s a picture coming up of the ballast secured in the box top, but for now we just want to make sure the ballast will fit in there.

Anyway, now stand the light box up on the end cap to set the glue, like this:

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One last time… take off while the glue dries. Give it 30 minutes at least.

Once the glue is dry, do some more duct tape reinforcement between the box top and the sides. I add the tape on the inside and outside of the box.

Now the inside needs to be covered in aluminum foil so the light bounces around a bunch in the box. I used that same paper template from making the box sides to fold the aluminum foil before trying to secure it to the sides. It made it so much easier! Just lay the template down on the foil and fold:

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Now you can just slide the aluminum foil in the box without too much of a struggle. Once you’ve got a piece in place, pull it back a little and use some folded-over tape (homemade double-sided tape) to secure the aluminum foil down. You can also skip that and just tape the edges of the foil onto to inside of the lid. Also fold the foil over the outside edge and tape it down to the outsides of the light box. When you’re done it should look like this:

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Now you can put the black ballast from the clamp light into the hole and thread the aluminum shade (the one that came with the light) back on.

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Almost done! Put in the light bulb and plug in the clamp light to test that it works. If it does, we can move on to installing the shade (ie scrap of white fabric).

At this point you have a choice – you can secure the fabric with duct tape like I did or you can use Velcro like The Tip Toe Fairy did. I used duct tape because I don’t think I’ll ever change the light bulb in this baby (LED bulbs last for years). Plus this lamp isn’t anything pretty and I left lots of extra fabric so I could pull off the tape or even cut the fabric off if I really need to. There are pros and cons for both methods!

The fabric helps defuse the light so it isn’t as harsh and spreads over a broad area. Make sure the fabric you choose is clean and stain-free so you don’t have spots of shadow. Even the smallest stains can make noticeable shadows in your photos.. I used an old t-shirt. The front was stained, but not the back! So I cut out a sizeable piece – mine was 20″ x 20″ but you want at least 13″ square so there’s enough fabric to fold around the box opening and secure with duct tape (or with Velcro if you go that route).

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Now you can see how the ballast of the clamp light stick out of the box lid. It isn’t a pretty light but it does the job! Here it is in action:

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I love the clamp because I can secure it to my kitchen cabinets and change the angle until it’s just right. The light is small enough I can stash it away or just turn the shade around so I don’t splash it while I’m cooking. Things can get crazy in the kitchen!

So that’s how you make a soft light. Do make sure to read The Tip Toe Fairy’s tutorial so you have the background on where I’m coming from for my tutorial. I think it will really help. Unless you like to just wing it, in which case, go for it.

But wait, there’s more! I quickly discovered that the light alone is not enough. I also need a reflector to bounce light around within my shot, otherwise one side of my subject is in dark shadow. A reflector is 1000 times easier than the light box. Here’s how to do it.

DIY Photography Reflector

Here’s what you need:
Cardboard
Aluminum Foil
Clear tape

Here’s what you do:
Well if you’re me the first thing you would have done is photograph the cardboard before wrapping it up in aluminum foil… but this reflector was so easy to make that it was over and done before I thought to get out my camera! Oops! All I have is are photos of the finished product…

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Find another piece of scrap cardboard that’s in decent shape. It doesn’t have to be a specific size (mine isn’t even symmetrical!)  but ideally the cardboard already has a bend down the middle of it so it can stand up on its own. Tear off a couple sheets of aluminum foil that allow for about an inch of overlap around the sides of the cardboard.

Secure the overlapped edges of the sheets of aluminum foil to the back of the cardboard with any tape – it doesn’t have to be clear because the back won’t face your object. The clear tape is used to secure the sheets of aluminum foil to each other so it looks like one big sheet of aluminum foil.

Here it is standing up:

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A reflector can also be something as simple as a white piece of paper. Whatever you can find that will bounce light back unto your subject.

Here are a few test shots!

This one is without the light or reflector, just the lights on in my kitchen. See the harsh shadows and how it seems a little blurry?

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Just kitchen lights on

Next I turned off the kitchen lights and turned on the soft light, but I didn’t use the reflector. It looks so much more in focus! The shadows are less harsh but they’re dark.

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Just soft light on

And here’s the full set-up with kitchen lights off, soft light on and reflector in use. There’s very soft, light shadows and true color. I took all three of these photos with the exact same camera settings.

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Soft light + reflector

Now my pictures are much less frustrating to take because they don’t turn out blurry all the time! I can take one or two pictures instead of 10, trying to get just one that isn’t too blurry. This has cut down on my lunch prep time!

But wait… there’s still one more!

One of the first pictures I took with my new soft light was this:

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A loaf of the best gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, nut-free bread that I’ve made in the three months that I’ve been trying to make allergy-friendly bread. And I’ll be posting the recipe in just a few days! So go make your soft light and reflector and come back soon to learn more about bread!

Weekly Lunch Wrap Up #7

This week I almost didn’t post lunches. I don’t know what happened! I forgot to take a picture of Tuesday’s lunch and I think maybe another day’s photo got deleted? Or I forgot to take two days’ worth. I don’t remember which! But, I thought, I will still post them, mostly because I didn’t want to have a gap in weekly lunch posts! But also because it’s nice to see that people are human. And forgetting to take the picture is better than forgetting to make the lunch! I’m proud that we haven’t yet had to run a lunch over to school because we forgot it!

I wish that’s where the drama ended, but it doesn’t. When I actually remembered to take pictures, they were rushed and the lighting was super weird! It’s inspired me to step up my photography a bit, though, so not all hope is lost! I made a soft light so I can take better indoor pictures (there’s no daylight when I pack lunches). I think it turned out pretty good! I’ll post a tutorial of how you can make your own soft light later this week.

For now, lunches!

Monday

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Not a bad way to start the week – a little ham, a little leftover quinoa. Our carrots and broccoli came straight from the neighborhood Farmer’s Market, yum! We also packed some vegan ranch dressing (apparently he just can’t eat the broccoli without it) and organic applesauce for dessert.

Tuesday

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Leftover turkey stir fry, a “salad” of organic cucumbers, carrots, and broccoli with more vegan ranch. Organic red grapes for dessert.

Wednesday was going to be sweet – Kiddo1 had leftover tacos. Taco Tuesday is becoming a thing in our house, though, so you’ll see another leftover taco picture next week.

Thursday

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I’ve been able to sneak a salad into the lunches a few times now. I’m thinking it might be a regular occurrence, cause the plate comes home clean (and he says he eats it!). He does prefer the lighter lettuce though. This one is romaine and some leaf lettuce with ham and lemon cucumber. He also has the standard carrots and broccoli with some raisins for dessert.

Come back next week! It’s going to be awesome!

 

Diet Changes Are Hard, Part 3

The struggle is real! Some things are getting easier, some are still difficult.

Recall from parts 1 and 2, we gave up processed and over-refined foods at the beginning of the year, then we gave up diary, eggs, wheat, and peanuts about three months ago (for the background story on that later restrictions see this post).  Here’s an update on our progress…

First, the good. Dinners have become much less of a struggle than they were a couple months ago. We’ve found a few meals that are guaranteed hits, greatly reducing sorrow from both the diners and the chef. Kiddo1 has also been slightly more willing to try some foods, as long as each meal is served with at least one thing that he likes already. He’s much more willing to try a vegetable if it is served alongside the chicken he loves. And we found a vegan ranch dressing with which he’ll eat almost any veggie.

There are still nights when we butt heads a little, mostly the meatless nights. We’ve had Meatless Monday going for awhile now, but I just added Meatless Thursday (or leftover Thursday, depending). It is a struggle to find meatless meals with at least one thing that the kids already like, but it is good for us (both our physical health and financial health!). I’m sure they’ll get used to it just like the other changes! But it is really hilarious to see Baby2 get excited on the nights when we do have meat. She says, “Meat!” in this very excited voice and points to her empty place for me to pile it on.

Lunches are great. We’ve been very successful at putting together a healthy lunch for Kiddo1 to take to school every day. I’m sure that posting the lunches weekly has helped with that. Of course, I still struggle to get up from my home office computer and build myself a healthy lunch, but Mr. Handsome has helped – either by making my lunch or reminding me to eat on the days he can’t make something for me. I’ve found the key to successful lunches is making a bigger dinner than I think we need so that we have leftovers at the ready. That, and having a lunch fallback for the days there are no leftovers or the plan somehow falls through. Our go-to on those days is a lettuce wrap “sandwich” – ham and cucumber wrapped in a romaine leaf with a raw veggie side – usually carrots or, if we’ve got vegan ranch on hand, some broccoli.

Another good thing lately is that Kiddo1’s appetite has been super strong in the past couple months. I have to think that has something to do with eating foods that his system can handle well. Before we started these diet changes, he hardly ate at all. Now he’ll eat twice as much food as me and still ask for dessert. And a bedtime snack. At the beginning of the school year he complained that he had too much food for lunch, but now the lunch box comes home totally empty. Between meals he’s always asking for snacks and while that’s driving me nuts and wreaking havok on the grocery planning and budget, I couldn’t be happier that he is finally eating like a teenager. (PREEEE-teenager – I hope he didn’t hear that “teenager” slip! He’s only 11! But wants so desperately to be 13 already!)

Now the not-so-good… As much as I complain about the family’s willingness to try new foods, I’m probably the biggest “defector” of all of us. Confession time! Sometimes when I’m out of the house by myself, I go to Dairy Queen. I know! Now, I’ve already admitted this to the family and have made amends with them about it, but I still feel guilty. Although the guilt is not much in comparison to how my tummy has felt the last couple times I’ve had any kind of dairy. When I eat it, about three hours later I’m back to where I was two months ago – unable to do anything but lie down and wait for the pain to end. So now I don’t stop at Dairy Queen anymore. Damn you, Snickers Blizzard. Damn you.

Eating out in general is really difficult. Sometimes it seems like everything has cheese. Even gluten free hamburger buns have eggs. Meatballs have bread crumbs. There’s no getting away from all the allergens when we go out, unless we all have salads (and even then, the salad dressing could have cream, eggs, cheese, etc). We have been great at cooking our food at home, and the allergy concerns are a good motivator for that. Yet sometimes we want to go out for a special occasion or just because we have a free evening, but we have to be careful and plan ahead to find a place with a few items on the menu that we can have. That hunt is almost more difficult than just planning a special meal at home! But then we still have to do the dishes.

And as long as we’re on the not-so-good stuff, I’ll tel you that baking has been a struggle. After my first success with a bread mix, I went rogue and tried to develop a flour blend of my own that would work. The result? I found out it is really hard to do that! I must have baked 10 loaves of bread before deciding it was the flour mixture that was the problem, not the ratio of xanthan gum to flour, not the ratio of non-dairy milk to flour, not the baking powder vs baking soda (baking soda alone made the bread super gross!). But now I’ve changed my flour mix and the results have been better. Still not 100% awesome, but at least my loaves aren’t turning out super gummy anymore. The item that really got my confidence back up are the apple cider donuts I posted a few days ago. I’d still like to come up with a simpler flour blend for those, but for now I’ll bask in my victory.

Slowly but surely the new diet is getting easier. As it gets easier I find myself wanting to make more changes for example: I’d love to get us off sugar and I wish we’d eat more fermented foods. Perhaps I will make strides on those by the time I’m ready to post another update!

Vegan and Gluten Free Apple Cider Donuts Recipe (GF, V, NF, AF)

Apple Cider Donuts! The baked good that got me out of my baked goods slump. This is adapted from mydarlingvegan.com to make it gluten free as well as vegan.

Apple Cider Donuts (gluten free, vegan, nightshade free, allergy friendly)

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Here’s what you need:
For the donuts:
1 cup Pastry Blend flour mix (my own recipe)
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup apple cider
1/4 cup applesauce
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 Tbsp oil (coconut or olive is what I use)
1 tsp vanilla

For an optional glaze (omit if you want to keep this sugar free):
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp apple cider

For a sugar dusting (substitutions for sugar free*):
1 Tbsp sugar* (I use a vegan organic granulated sugar)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
* for sugar free, brush donuts with oil or Earth Balance butter, then press the donut into this sugar mixture but substitute coconut sugar or sucanat for typical sugar

Tools:
Measuring cups for quantities listed above
Stand mixer (I’ve also mixed these with a wooden spoon when I was too lazy to clean the Kitchenaid)
Donut pan (I like my stainless steel one from USA Pans)
Spoon for guiding batter into donut pan
Cooling rack
Small bowl for mixing sugar dusting (needs to be just bigger than a donut)

Here’s what you do:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and oil the donut pan (I use coconut oil or Earth Balance butter).
2. Mix all dry ingredients together in a big bowl.
3. Add the wet ingredients to the same big bowl and mix with dry until combined.
4. Spoon batter into donut pan, filling each about 2/3 full.
5. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until you can lightly press a donut with your finger and it bounces back into shape.
6. Let the donuts cool in the pan for a couple minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool for about 30 minutes.
7. Mix together the glaze in the stand mixer; mix together the sugar dusting in the small bowl.
8. Dip the donut tops in the glaze, then immediately dust with sugar mixture. (Again, for sugar free, brush donuts with oil or Earth Balance butter instead of using the glaze, then press the donut into the sugar mixture but substitute coconut sugar or sucanat for typical sugar)
9. Set aside the dipped and dusted donuts in a cool place so the glaze will harden.

Yields 6 donuts.

Gluten Free Flour Blend Recipes

In my quest to perfect survive gluten free baking, I’ve experimented with a lot of flours. Now I’m no where near as experienced as more serious gluten free bakers, I just do this in my spare time. But since my family has stopped eating wheat, dairy, and eggs I have taken it upon myself to make the treats we can no longer easily obtain from a store. Bread, cakes, cookies, pancakes, pastries, and donuts have become something of an obsession. And to make those I need just the right blend of flours.

The biggest thing I’ve learned about allergy-friendly baking is how important it is to have good flour blends. There is no one perfect blend that will work for everything, especially if you are able to sometimes add eggs to you mix. I have been using slightly different blends for bread, cake, etc. Soon I want to post all those recipes, but they’re not quite post-ready yet. In the meantime, I offer you some of my experimental mixes. I will probably update this post as I keep experimenting, but might as well put this out here now so I can refer to it as I post more.

A couple things to keep in mind about all the mixes:

  1. All blends yield about three cups. If you need more, just multiply the quantities by the number of batches needed.
  2. All flours are measured by weight, which is much more accurate than measuring by volume.
  3. I find my baking is more consistent if I weigh and mix my flours when they’re at room temperature. Flours should be stored in the freezer over the long term to prevent them from going rancid (source). I’ll usually pull my flours from the freezer the night before baking. Gluten free baking requires a little more advance preparation but the trade-off is getting to enjoy treats similar to the gluten-filled counterparts, so I’m willing to put in the extra effort.
  4. I get all my flours from Bob’s Red Mill, mostly because their certified gluten free facility and bulk foods store is about 10 minutes from my house. It smells really good there. And sometimes I sneak in a gluten free vegan cookie from the shop. Shhh, that’s our secret. You can find Bob’s Red Mill flours online if they aren’t available in your area.
  5. For more information about mixing gluten free flours, I like this post by Gluten-Free-Girl.

Rice Flour blend (good if you can use eggs with it since it turns out gummy with all egg replacers I’ve tried)

100 grams Brown Rice Flour
100 grams White Rice Flour
100 grams Sweet Rice Flour
80 grams Tapioca Flour
2.5 grams Xanthan Gum (or 1 teaspoon), in addition to what’s called for in your main recipe

 

Bread Blend #1 (no gum, no rice, good with egg replacers like chia seeds)

100 grams Sorghum Flour
100 grams Millet Flour
100 grams Oat Flour
80 grams Tapioca Flour

 

Bread Blend #2 (a little lighter than BB #1; no gum, good with egg replacers like chia seeds)

100 grams Sorghum Flour
100 grams White Rice Flour
100 grams Oat Flour
80 grams Tapioca Flour

 

Pastry Blend (no gum, good with egg replacers like chia seeds and a little lighter than the bread blends)

I’m still working on this one – I hate having more than five ingredients in a flour blend. But in the meantime….
50 grams Brown Rice Flour
50 grams White Rice Flour
50 grams Sweet Rice Flour
40 grams Tapioca Flour
100 grams Oat Flour
100 grams Millet Flour

Weekly Lunch Wrap Up #6

Here’s what Kiddo1 took to school for lunch this week! I thought I might write a little bit about where we get these foods from too, so each day will have two paragraphs of explanation. I don’t know if I’ll keep up this format, but I’m giving it a try this week.

Monday

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We’ve taken to eating chicken on Sundays so Mondays are becoming chicken leftovers days for Kiddo1. He also had grapes and cucumber, mashed butternut squash and a homemade brownie.

The chickens we get directly from a farmer who is committed to pasture-raised animals who are not fed soy or GMOs. The chicken is tender and delicious, with fat little legs that obviously got a work-out on pasture (as opposed to those factory chickens with tiny legs because they don’t get any exercise!). The veggie produce (cucumber and squash) are from the farmer’s market we go to every Sunday. The grapes are from the local grocery store (not a national chain, and of course they’re organic like all the produce we buy). The brownie is actually a mix from Bob’s Red Mill. I haven’t gotten to making my own recipe from scratch just yet, but I’ll get there!

Tuesday

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We had some interesting vegetables to use after finding romanesco (the green pointy one) and purple cauliflower at the Farmer’s Market on Sunday. Kiddo1 also had carrots, slices of ham, raisins, and another homemade brownie. The pan of brownies lasted the whole week! I’m so proud of us for pacing ourselves.

The carrots came from the same farmer’s market as the romanesco and purple cauliflower. Man we love that market so much. The raisins are Sunmaid – I’m sure there’s something better out there… maybe we could make our own raisins!

Wednesday

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Oops, another rushed and blurry picture! Oh well! On Wednesday Kiddo1 had leftover turkey stir fry with a bed of romaine, skinned and sliced cucumber, carrots, and, you guessed it, another brownie.

The ground turkey is from our local grocery store, the produce items are all from the farmer’s market and the brownie is still made from the Bob’s Red Mill mix.

Wednesday bonus!

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My pictures were so rushed this week! I need better lighting… and more time! This “lunch” is actually Kiddo1’s dinner on Wednesday – his after school class when on a field trip until 7pm so I wanted to make sure he didn’t get too hungry. He had snacky foods that he could munch on whenever he had an opportunity – sticks of ham again, cucumber pieces, cantaloupe, blue corn chips, and a brownie.

Once again all the produce is from the farmer’s market. The blue corn chips and ham came from the local grocery store.

Thursday

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Thursday was our Friday because there was no school on the real Friday! Kiddo1 had a four-day weekend (so there will only be four lunches next week, and probably a Wednesday snack too). Lots of repeats today (clearly we needed to get to the market again!): more ham, more cantaloupe, more cucumber, plus carrots, roasted acorn squash seeds, and a final homemade brownie to end the week.

Except the meat and brownie, all the food from this lunch came from the farmer’s market.

More lunches to come next week!

 

Living in a Small House

We are a family of four living in less than a thousand square feet (960 square feet, to be exact). We have three bedrooms, one bathroom, a one-car garage and a fifth of an acre lot. It’s been a full year that we’ve been living here so I thought it’s a appropriate time to reflect on how it is working out for us.

In short, I love living in this small house. Here’s a list of all the reasons why small is great for us:

  • It’s easier to keep ourselves from owning too much stuff. Clutter becomes apparent quickly so we’ve learned to let go of things a little easier and go through our possessions more often. Clutter simply cannot hide because there’s no where for it to go but right in front of us!
  • You can carry on a conversation with someone and still walk around the house putting things away, fetching things, getting stuff done, etc.
  • No one gets “lost:” Baby2 can wander around between rooms and we never feel like we’ve lost track of her. It’s easy to hear if she’s getting in trouble (or too quiet – also a sign of trouble!). Our “pre-teen” Kiddo1 can’t get himself too isolated, either. Having one main “hang out” space forces us to see each other on a regular basis which is really nice! And if we must spend some time alone, there’s always our bedrooms or the big backyard.
  • If you do keep forgetting things in another room, you don’t have to walk far to keep retrieving them.
  • Low utility bills!
  • Our mortgage is affordable, even on one income, and our taxes are the lowest of anyone we’ve polled.
  • Low remodeling project costs. I want a nice new bathroom floor, preferably hex or penny tile in a fun pattern. That tile work can be expensive, but I only have maybe 30 square feet of floor in my bathroom so we can afford a nicer material than we might normally choose.
  • Cleaning doesn’t suck – only one toilet to scrub, only 12 square feet of counters to wipe down, only one garage stall to organize, etc.
  • Maintenance costs are super low. We recently thought we’d have to replace our plumbing drain pipes (dodged a bullet on that one), but even if we had the main drain pipe is only 30 feet long and it’s mostly one long section (with only one turn into the main sewer line), which makes the plumber’s job easier, which makes it faster, which makes it cheaper.
  • We don’t need to buy a bunch of furniture to fill up the rooms. We don’t need a bunch of decor items either.
  • We spend more time outside than we normally would since the yard functions as a second living room most of the year.
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Our little house

Of course it is not perfect. There are a few “cons” to living in a small house:

  • Not a lot of privacy. The most private room in the house is probably Kiddo1’s bedroom because it is at the end of the hall and only shares walls with the bathroom and the master closet. I like that he has the most privacy – he’s probably the one that needs it most. Teenagers do need to get away from their families sometimes. Adults do too, of course, but I know when I was a teenager a little alone time kept me sane enough to handle family time too.
  • No room to grow in the existing house. If our family ever got bigger (another dog, relatives that wanted to stay with us, perhaps even a third child) we wouldn’t be able to give them a space of their own. Of course we haven’t started room sharing yet and that could be a possibility if we really needed it. And we do have the yard space if we wanted to add another room to the house!

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Here are other ways we “make it work,” although I dislike that term. I don’t think we’re “making” anything work, I think it just works for us!

  • Our yard makes up for a lot of the indoor space we don’t have. Extra room for the occasional party, friends over, space to hang out, all that can happen in the yard most of the year. And we can grow so much food in our yard! Just in one little corner we’ve got 100 square feet of raised beds and more than enough room to double or triple that without cutting into the kids’ play space or our patio. We bought this house because of the yard and we are not regretting that decision!
  • We are considerate of our time in the bathroom. We ask others if they need to use the bathroom before we shower. We don’t “hide” in the bathroom (you know what I mean if you’ve done it!). We don’t all get ready at the same time of day so we don’t have to fight over someone taking too much time. I would love just one more toilet, a half bathroom, but most of the time we really don’t need it. Plus we only have one toilet to clean! Did I mention that yet?
  • We have flexible furniture. We have a dining room table that has a folding table top so it can be a small table when we’re not using it and when it’s dinner time we expand the table top so we have plenty of room for plates and serving dishes. We have an ottoman that also functions as a toy chest so it is both sitting furniture and storage furniture.
  • We only have one car so having a one-car garage is no problem. We love having one car. It saves money on insurance, gas, and maintenance. We had two cars at one point (Mr. Handsome’s parents gave us one) but it truly was more hassle than it was worth. In our 12 years together, Mr. Handsome and I have only had two cars for maybe two of those years. It works out really well for us because I work from home and Kiddo1’s school is just a mile away.

For us, small house living really is the way to go!

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