Our Basement Apartment: A family of six in 700 square feet

We’re coming up on the one year anniversary of being in our new house and looking back on these pictures from our “transitional housing,” I hardly remember the 8 month season in my parent’s basement.

Quite frankly, at the ages of 31 and 32 we didn’t expect to be cramming ourselves into my parent’s unused, lowest level for a year. When we moved into our town home two years prior, we knew that it would just be for a season. Our goal was to get out of debt and then to buy our forever home in the country.

That was the plan.

What I didn’t expect was for my husband to come with this idea (OUT OF THE BLUE) to make a stop back at my parent’s in between selling our town home and buying forever home.

My Third (& Final) Stitch Fix

The goal with my wardrobe is simple: I want it to be thoughtless.

I want to walk to my closet in the morning and know within 15 seconds what I’m going to wear for the day.

With this said, I still want to look nice, respectable and for my clothes to look current.

What I don’t want:

  • anything that I don’t feel comfortable in or that is uncomfortable to wear
  • to have to try on multiple outfits in the morning
  • clothes that are high maintenance to launder (like hand wash or dry clean only)
  • to feel guilty about items I’ve purchased and never worn

Last summer I had three dressy tops and a handful of casual t-shirts and tank tops. I had two pairs of dress bottoms and a few pairs of shorts. Plus one denim dress:

A week in my sister’s minimal home

Admittedly, one of the barriers keeping my husband Tom and I from going on a “real” vacation was child care. With four kids ages 2, 3, 5 and 7, it isn’t for the faint of heart. My newly married, twin sister Diana and husband Princeton accepted the challenge graciously and stayed at our house with the kids for the week.

Here is what Diana had to say about her experience in our minimal home:

When my sister and her husband left for Hawaii (the first real vacation since their honeymoon), and left us with their four kids (ages 2 – 7), my new husband and I felt oddly confident.

While well-meaning friends and family jested “I bet you’ll never have kids now,” we experienced an invisible order and quiet calm that kept the world turning for 7 nights and 8 days.

A Dream Come True

Through the magic of Facebook we’ve seen just about every friend and family member go on some sort of awesome (usually tropical) vacation in the nine years since we’ve been married.

And while we are happy for them (mostly ;) its always a reminder that we don’t “get” to do that.

Instead we’ve used our money to pay for a house flip that flopped, a business loan for a business that didn’t succeed, student loans, hospital bills and day to day life so that I could stay home with our kids.

Not glamorous stuff, but we know that whether we’ve gone on fancy vacations or not we are blessed and VERY fortunate.

But, I still sometimes looked enviously at other’s vacation pictures.

Reader Question: How do we put a stop to the overwhelming amount of toys that enter our house for birthdays, Christmas (& everything in between!)?

Question:  I’m a mom of 4 and we are far from minimalists, though it would be a dream to make a move in that direction.  We have a ton of family, and they all love to lavish my children with gifts: Christmas, birthdays, Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving they find any reason to buy my kids MORE.  I’ve politely asked them not to, I’ve moaned and groaned behind their backs and even tossed and donated much of it.  But I feel guilty, because family comes over a lot and my children tell on me, and family notices some how in our sea of toys that their most recent gift cannot be located.  How can I put a stop to this?  I need a creative idea here.


I totally get it. We have four kids age 7 and under and they are the only kids on my side. Their grandparents and aunts and uncles LOVE to spoil them and seem to bring them something almost every time we see them.

Something from the Dollar Store, another thing from a garage sale, this thing they couldn’t pass up at Target, a souvenir from the trip they took and oh look! We just found this when we were cleaning the basement! ;)

It is overwhelming for my husband and I at times, but it can be overwhelming to the kids, too.


How I Store & Organize Kid’s Clothes

It still strikes me at times, that our problem is excess when the majority of the world lives with so much less. Even my mom never had this problem of WAY too many kid’s clothes.

So let’s not be too hard on ourselves if our kids grow before they have a chance to wear things we bought  or if we sometimes go overboard at the Target clearance rack or garage sales. And lets also extend grace to our well meaning friends and family who contribute to this “problem.”

We’re all working to figure this out.

How much clothing do kids really need anyway?

How I’ve Simplified Dinner with an Instant Pot + My Favorite Weeknight Recipes

Since I simplified our kitchen a few years ago, I’ve noticed I cook at home more and find it more enjoyable. But, life is still busy and unpredictable at times, so having quick and easy go-to dinners is always helpful.

I first noticed the Instant Pot on Pinterest. Posts about quick dinners and making healthy eating easier caused me to take a second look, but it really looked like a glorified crock pot. I don’t have a great history with small appliances, I used a rice cooker once and then gave it away and store my crock pot in the basement because I just don’t use it that often.

But as I read more about it, I realized that it was actually quite a few notches up from a crock pot and started to think that maybe it could make cooking quicker and easier.

Our New House: Kitchen Makeover Before & Afters

“Welcome” to our home! You’ll quickly see that what drew us to this little oasis just south of the Twin Cities was not the condition of the home, but all of the space! Room to garden, grow sweet corn and hay, to have a few animals and to let the kids roam and explore.

The quarter mile long driveway brings you to a classic little barn that we hope to use for chickens next summer.

My First Stitch Fix Experience

(This ISN’T a sponsored post!) Early on in my minimalist journey I pared down my wardrobe to the essentials. I created a “capsule wardrobe” intuitively before it became a fad ;) A few basic bottoms and a handful of versatile tops and I was content mixing and matching.

Now, as I’ve entered the professional world once again, this approach still works, although I’ve found myself desiring a slightly more trendy wardrobe. I’ve often thought that it would be nice to mix in a few current pieces each season.

Should I even bother making a New Year’s resolution this year? 3 resolutions worth making

I’m guessing when it comes to making and keeping New Year’s resolutions, we’re in the same boat: we’ve failed at more than we’ve achieved…and at the moment, I can’t actually think of any that I’ve actually kept…for more than one week.

And most often I would say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So let’s not set ourselves up for failure yet again and just skip over this silly resolution tradition.

Except for this: If you’re also like me, there are things in your life that need to change, and if not now, then when?