Tag Archives: tiny living

Lesson 1172 – Tiny Living in a Big House – Tiny step: Holiday Battles

I started a post yesterday and then I got called away with a meeting, then a project was returned that needed immediate edits, then the kids came home from school, and then all the afternoon driving began. In short, the day got away from me.

So today I’ll put up two posts.

This first post is about living tiny in a big house.

The holidays are not kind to people who tend to collect things. Our basement is filled with tons of decorations from years past – important when the kids were little, but that are now simply waiting for me to find the time to send them off to a new home.

Of course, I would never get rid of the items that hold favorite childhood memories like the plate, cup and letter to Santa we use for his cookies.


But I have started to go through things like boxes and boxes of ornaments. The ones with meaning stay, the ones that were simply given or collected along the way (like the 1998 CVS Snowman?) we have decided to re-home.

Here’s the problem though, my kids have inherited my “give everything meaning” philosophy. Our tree is one of those very old artificial trees. We got it when we first moved into a home from a condo. While it’s served its purpose, we (I) am getting tired of digging it out each year and then spending what seems like days matching the individual branches to the correctly colored levels.

We all agree that a new tree is in our future.

But one of my sons has called “dibs” on this Christmas tree. He wants it for when he has his own home. As the one who couldn’t bear to see the tree come down each year, it’s his, he claims. A charming thought but it means that we will need to store this tree somewhere in our house for the next few years. While we store a new one.

Hardly the idea of tiny living.

And then we have the jokesters. A son (actually, it’s the very same Christmas tree guy) thought it would be funny to decorate our then bare tree with a giant porch candy cane ornament. Funny. We left it on the tree for a few days until we could get it properly decorated. Once that happened, I put the candy cane in the give-away box.


The beer can is actually an ornament from the Budweiser Brewery in our town.


The next day it was back on the tree. Three times I have tried to get rid of the candy cane and three times it has returned to the tree. “It’s now a part of our history,” I’ve been told.

It is me, fighting against a storm composed of 7 other forces.

Even if your desire is to live tiny, you still have to learn to pick your battles. From the basement I moved out two boxes of no longer used lawn ornaments … and the candy cane on the tree remains.




Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

Like what you read here? Consider subscribing to this blog so that you’ll never miss a post. And feel free to share with those who may need a little chicken love.



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Lesson 1132 – Tiny Living in a Big House – Tiny step: Releasing the Small Stuff

Sometimes tiny steps are so tiny they don’t *look* like you are making progress, but when you step back you can see that even though small, they have the potential to change your entire outlook.

It’s easy to do a big step like go into the way back of a closet and come out with coats, hats, gloves, and scarves that can be donated to others. In a matter of minutes you can fill the back seat of your car with stuff that is no longer used or needed. It’s one of those steps that can make a big dent.

But what about the lovely little trinkets you’ve collected that hold dear meaning to you?

I am a “thing” person. When I go on vacation, I collect stones and pine cones and “things” that remind me of what we did. When someone is sick, I stick a totem in my pocket, a tiny metal angel, a coin with a blessing on it to remind me to think of that person.

When I write, I like to have muses surrounding me. Some have been with me for years and I could never part with them, while others have served their purpose and are now just hanging around, reminding me of a project already finished.

What do you do with the tiny things that you love?

I’ve decided to set mine free.

The other evening Marc and I went out to dinner and I tucked a gratitude totem under a plant’s leaves. A summer bead bracelet was placed hung on a fence near a high school hoping to catch the eye of the girl that it should now belong to. A wooden Christmas tree ornament found in a Christmas cracker at the end of a family holiday dinner now sits in a corner of a store’s wooden shelf waiting, just waiting for the right person to find it.


Maybe these little items of mine will find new homes, maybe they won’t. But by releasing them into the universe, I freely share my blessings and memories of good times with others. I am truly letting go. Continue reading

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Lesson 1119 – Chickens in the winter – how to care for your flock

IMG_20140118_115558127We’re heading into the colder months and new-time chicken owners are already starting to have anxiety attacks. “How, oh how will I be able to keep my babies warm?” they fret as they look into expensive heaters and even sweaters knit for chickens. (Go ahead and ask me how I know. I was once a first time chicken owner too, you know.)

Chickens have always known what to do in cold weather, as the owner you simply need to provide the basics (and nope, no matter how cute, a sweater is not a basic.)

I had one reader contact me to ask about winter preparation, she wanted to use hay on the floor of the outdoor run and she wanted to put tarps up to protect her flock from wind and snow in the run (the birds all had access to a fully enclosed coop from the run area.)

Before you do anything, I told her, just take a deep breath. I live in New Hampshire where we also have very cold winters. Your chickens will be able to figure out how to survive even the coldest winter on their own. Continue reading


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Lesson 1117 – Manna Pro Treats

At the Mother Earth News fair, there were many  vendors. When I was walking by the Manna Pro booth, a woman working at the counter asked me if I had chickens.

Well, if there’s ever a conversation starter for me that’s it.

“Yes, I did,” I told her. “Tell me about what you have.” She told me about the Manna Pro feed options and then she handed me sample bags of Harvest Delight  and Garden Delight for poultry. Filled with seeds, dried fruits, and oils, this stuff looked good enough for me to eat. Instead of eating it though (my eyes were on the mashed potato bar), I filled out a form requesting more information and then tucked the samples into my bag.


“Here take this one too,” she said as she handed me another bag of treats. Continue reading


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Lesson 1116 – Thin shelled egg question


I recently got this question from a reader and thought I’d pass it on.

Question: We got two new Marans this spring, to add to our older Maran and our two leghorns, who are the oldest. We now have the situation where every single white egg, possibly only when laid in a laying box, is smashed. It is opened on one side, sometimes with a smaller opening on another side; not flattened, though. Is this the aggressive move of another hen? What can be done about it? The white shells are much thinner than the brown but the browns do not appear to be tampered with.

Answer: It’s interesting that you only have problems with the white eggs. Because of thin shells I would first question the amount of calcium your flock is getting, if they are free ranging, they might not be getting enough. We typically use 5 pounds of crushed oyster shell to 50 pounds of feed. Make sure your chickens have access to some source of calcium at all times.

If they are free ranging, also make sure that they are not feeding near yards or gardens that have been chemically treated as this can sometimes thin the shell. Continue reading

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Lesson 1115 – Reflections on the Mother Earth News Fair

This past weekend I attended the Mother Earth News fair held in Seven Springs, PA. It was an 11+ hour drive down on Friday with an 11+ hour ride back on Sunday, but you know what? It was totally worth it.

If you have never been to one of these events, do consider going. It was my first time and I didn’t know what to expect, I mean I knew there would probably be some vendors and I had seen the flyer and knew that there would be some workshops, but I HAD NO IDEA.

The first thing you realize when you get to the fair is that you can breathe just a little easier. You realize, as you look around and see people wearing jeans, canvas jackets, and cotton that you are among your peeps. These are all people who are interested in what you’re interested in – a healthier and more vibrant life.

A Mother Earth New fair is not a fair so much as it is a cosmic event. Located at the Seven Springs Conference Center it covers area inside the center as well as outside.

IMG_20140913_153320040_HDRHere’s a view from the 10th floor where my room was located of just what was going on outside (and even this doesn’t cover it all as there were many vendors around the corner.) Inside the center, you’ll find conference room after conference room filled with presentation stages and vendors who want to share their expertise with you. Continue reading


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Lesson 1113 – Gregory Maguire, Egg & Spoon, and Lego Mama Hen

Last night at our local Barnes & Noble, I went to see author Gregory Maguire. He was just starting the book tour for his newest “crossover” (which means it’s for young adults as well as adults) book – Egg & Spoon – described by Maguire as “like The Prince and the Pauper, but with girls – meets Frozen, but the world is melting.”

eggspoonI went with my daughter, son, and my Lego Mama Hen. Honestly, when Gregory walked to the front of the room, I could barely contain my excitement. I mean here was GREGORY MAGUIRE – right in front of me!!!

Screw being a professional journalist, last night I was a giddy, breathless mega-fan. O.M.G! O.M.G!

You might be saying, who the heck is Gregory Maguire and why do I appear to have such an intense author crush on him?

Gregory’s written many books, but you might recognize him from a little book he wrote a few years back called “Wicked.” Yup, *that* Wicked.

NOW DO YOU SEE WHY I WAS SO JAZZED TO SEE HIM????? I remember when I got my copy of Wicked one Christmas many years back. I sat on the top stair in order to be hidden from the kids so that I could read. I stayed up late, I took the book with me into the bathroom (again to get away from the kids), I read and read and read and when I was done, I continued the story in my mind.

And then I read it again.

How, I thought, as I turned page after page, does one person write such an intelligent and compelling story that makes so many spot on observations about society and politics? I am still awed by the splendor that is Wicked.

Gregory first gave a talk and then he did a reading from Egg & Spoon (and when Gregory does a reading, he puts his heart and soul into it, the man loves his acting.) He then answered some questions (he said I asked an “excellent question” – it was a chicken/egg question.  Note to budding authors, if you ever have a book tour, tell someone that they’ve asked an excellent question and you will absolutely make their day.)

Afterward, he signed books and took pictures with his fans. Being the Good Egg that he is, this is what he did when I asked him if he would pose with my Lego Mama Hen.


Le sigh – such talent, such grace, brains, passion, and humor – the world can simply never have enough truly shining authors like Gregory Maguire.

for Wendy!  Very best clucks to you!

for Wendy!
Very best clucks to you!



Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

Like what you read here? Consider subscribing to this blog so that you’ll never miss a post. And feel free to share with those who may need a little chicken love.


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Lesson 1112 – Wisdom for Hen Keepers Book review + giveaway

Just yesterday I wrote about how all you really need when keeping a flock is one good chicken care book, (and a good egg recipe book) the rest you can find out on the internet by reading blogs, writing on boards, or joining online communities.

wisdom hensAnd then I was sent a chicken care book to review.

I have to say that Wisdom for Hen Keepers – 500 Tips for Keeping Chickens by Chris Graham (Taunton Press) is a book*I’m* going to be keeping on my chicken shelf for a long time (I’ll also be bringing it with me when I teach my chicken workshops.) Reading the book is kind of like hearing your grandfather talk about his experiences raising chickens. If you don’t have grandparents around, then all the more reason for this delightful and informative book.

Organized in short, little “tips” form, this book covers:

• Getting Started with Hens
• Hen Keeping equipment
• Choosing your birds
• Basic Run set up
• The Right Housing
• Feeding and Welfare
• Good Husbandry
• Hatching and Rearing
• Tackling Common Problems
• Exhibition and Hen Rescue

Each of the 500 tips is presented in roughly a half-page layout. Short, quick and to the point and with advice on things like: “Be aware of the “bird flu” and how to protect from it”, “There is a bird type for everyone just find yours”, and “Discourage your hens from roosting in the nest boxes.” Each time I turned a page, I learned something I hadn’t known. Continue reading


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Lesson 1111 – Creating a chicken support network


I’m getting ready to give my two chicken workshops for our town Adult Education program. The first workshop covers chicks to coop, while the second workshop covers how to maintain an established flock (food, precautions, basic first aid, eggs, and culling.)

One of the first things I usually tell both classes is that you don’t need to buy every single chicken book out on the market in order to learn about chickens. Get on the internet; ask people who have had chickens before (like your grandparents or the lady down the street (me!) who has a flock.)

Because I think it’s so important to join a chicken community, I’ve come up with a few suggestions for new chicken owners, as well as for those who are more seasoned on ways to have a better backyard flock experience:

1. Get to know your feed store clerks – We have to get chicken feed almost every weekend (a little less in the summer when our birds are free ranging.) We’ve gotten to know the people who work at our local feed store and as a result, we’ve learned from some pretty seasoned chicken owners about local predators, when chicks are available, and what works and what is a waste of money. Chicken owners love to talk to other chicken owners (kind of like new moms like to talk about their babies.) Start a conversation with “I’m planning on raising chickens this spring, any words of wisdom?” or something like “Our birds have made it through that rough winter…” trust me, when you combine weather and chickens, you’ve hooked a conversation. Continue reading

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Lesson 1110 – Tiny Living in a Big House – Tiny step: Guilty Personal Storage

Tiny steps are good until they lead to bigger steps.

In August, one of my sons left for college. He took only what he needed and (lucky for us) he left everything he didn’t need behind – most of it in our foyer near where he had done his packing – he likes to lay everything out on the porch and then repack. For weeks, whether despondent over his leaving or because we got busy ourselves with school starting, we’ve been living around his unpacked and piled up supplies.

Although I applaud the fact he’s realized he doesn’t need to bring a lot of things to college (that he’s in a military college certainly helps drive home that attitude) it doesn’t help me much with my goal of tiny living in a big house when someone uses your space as their personal storage area.

This weekend, I decided to start cleaning up his mess (the foyer proper will be another post as that is a rather intense tiny step.) My son had left a box containing 2 canning jars on the floor against a wall. He had been using the jars to make sun tea and for collecting herbs in the nature classes he had taught during the summer. That’s all well and good, but he couldn’t put the jars and box away before he left? I mean how much effort would that really take? And this was an area that saw heavy family traffic, what was he thinking?


Oh well, I set to my task.

In the box I also found a book I had been reading (I had wondered where it had gone to), some junk mail, and a trinket box of my son’s.

I threw the mail out, shelved the book, put the box in my son’s room, and put the canning jars in the kitchen. This is going to be an easy tiny step, I thought.

That was until I moved the box. Ah, so *that* was what he was thinking. This is why my son left the box with two canning jars on the floor. I suspect his racing bike that he’s parked in our living room all summer. Continue reading

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