Welcome To Living Simply Free

Welcome, to my online home where I share with you my life in my 300 sq ft apartment living and my goal of saving my corner of the world one day at a time.  As New Year’s is a time of change,  Living Simply Free needed a bit of a new course as well.  I hope to provide a bit more structure while leaving a little room for flexibility.

  • Monday’s I will share with you some good news I heard concerning the natural world and the environment
  • Wednesdays, I will continue in the challenges of Change the World Wednesday with Reduce Footprints.
  • Fridays you will find my Friday Faves containing link to the  articles I found most interesting or thought-provoking.
  • Saturdays you may find an occasional guest post.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are a bit of a pot luck where the subject may be anything from upcycling items to natural cleaning or holistic health all with the goal of living lighter on the earth.

I would like to start a new feature sharing your projects.  You can send me pictures of your organic gardens, a green DIY, or even pictures and stories of life with a small footprint and you don’t have to be a blogger to join in.

Thanks for stopping by, please grab a cup of coffee or tea and stay awhile. I love to hear from each of you, let’s share ideas and make 2014 the year we end the waste and make a difference in the world.

Good News Monday

Yes, I know today is Sunday, but I have something different for tomorrow and wanted to still share some good news with you.


You would think because I was off a week I would have a large list of news for you today. Not the case, I have been drowning in bad news for days now.  Here’s the good news stories I found for this week, please add your good news to the list in the comments.

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Guest Post: Something To Admire

One of the best things about blogging are the things I get to learn.  Last week Wendy mentioned her friends from Vanuatu. I was curious what this island looked like, the above image is what I found.   Wendy’s mentioned her friends before but this time I felt a bit more brave and asked her if she would write a guest post and not only tell me more but allow me to share what she has received from knowing these particular friends.  Wendy was gracious enough to accept my request!  Wendy, for those of you who might not know, blogs at Quarter Acre Lifestyle and is such an inspiration to me.  Let me introduce Wendy now.

Thanks Lois for inviting me to do a guest post on your wonderful blog!

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nighttime in downtown

I’m back home but have mixed feelings.  I wanted to title this post Stress and Fun or something similar, but realized stress wasn’t the right word.  It was more of an inconvenience and indecision.

I left home Saturday to meet my bus which was supposed to arrive at 1:20 in the afternoon.  When 2:30 went by I called the closest office and asked if the bus left on time.  It hadn’t, the bus had broken down and would be delayed.

No problem, I could wait.  It was raining steadily and chilly but I was prepared and had a small shelter of a bus stop.  I also had a book and a new crochet project with me. By 3 I called again and found it would be close to 4:30 before the bus would get here.  Not wanting to inconvenience anyone by asking them to pick me up and close family having gone out for the day I decided to wait it out.  To make a long story short the bus arrived shortly after 7 pm.  Six hours sitting outside in the chilly rain.  My son arrived to pick me up at 9:30, rather than the 4:30 I had previously scheduled with him.  But he was good natured about the whole thing even letting my granddaughter stay up past her bedtime to see me for a bit.

Of course things didn’t go much smoother on the ride home last night. We hit road construction which set us back delaying my arrival time by an hour and a half.  Luckily, for me I don’t let inconveniences bother me. I got where I needed to be and that was all that mattered.

baby shower

My visit was lovely.  The baby shower was a blast and I had some quality time with my granddaughter — and her mom and dad ;-)

During the baby shower my daughter-in-law asked me to stay for another week, her best friend shrieked and asked her why she would want me there so long.  My daughter-in-laws answer was she loved me.  Her friend knows me well and knew I wouldn’t be offended and I wasn’t.  If anything it reinforced to me how close the two of us are.

That didn’t stop my sweet daughter-in-law.  Once most of the guests had left and it was just us and three of their closest friends she made a push to convince me to move down there.  This isn’t the first time, maybe it’s pregnant mommy feelings but she has become pretty insistent.  She began by telling their friends I lived in a studio without a separate bedroom and didn’t have a refrigerator or a stove.  One friend was stunned, while I informed her it was by choice.  We then delved into a conversation on how few foods actually need refrigeration.  My daughter-in-law had to stress I didn’t have a stove either, the response was surprising.  All three of their friends felt living without a stove is easily do-able, but a fridge, no way.

Some of how we spent our early mornings while mommy slept in.

Some of how we spent our early mornings while mommy slept in.

When I had to say good bye, my granddaughter told me no and began to cry, it broke my heart.  On the ride to the bus stop my son and I had some alone time.  He stressed he would love for me to move there as well and had plenty of reasons why it would be good for me. He even stopped and dragged me into a couple of apartment complexes which would be in my price range.  I left telling him I would give it serious consideration but not to count on anything.

The pressure was on. His reasoning was:

  • I could always move back when I wanted to spending a few years in each city to have the bonds with all the grandchildren.
  • I’ve spent six years with the oldest grandchildren and now the youngest should have some quality time with me.
  • There would be more to do in his community.
  • Snow, there is considerably less so I wouldn’t be stuck indoors all winter like I am where I currently live.

My answers were:

  • I need outdoor space where I can play in the dirt
  • I need a farmers’ market
  • I need accessibility and the greater metropolitan area where he lives isn’t known for being accessible.
  • I had no answer to his remark about quality time with his children or a comeback about winter.  This past winter is still fresh in my mind and the cabin fever was pretty bad when winter finally departed in April.

I did some research and found he was right, there are many more things in his community I would like to participate in that aren’t available to me where I currently live.  There is a farmers’ market less than a block away from the apartments I liked the best, the library not only has a larger and better selection of books and resources available (including free movies which mine doesn’t offer) but has evening entertainment such as live music where people can bring their homemade beer to share once a week. There is even a farm that offers a CSA (community supported agriculture) where I could play in the dirt and get a weekly box of food.  Basically, it’s a small town with amenities only a larger city usually has without the winters I have accepted as part of life.

On the extended ride home, I had time to think,maybe too much time.

Why was it as a teen fresh out of high school I was more than willing to live away from my home town? I had no compunction about leaving family behind and felt no homesickness.  Now as an adult, with no dependents living with me, I have the hardest time making changes that would upset the relationships I have with family.  Something fundamental changed in me when I became a parent.

I am so close to the oldest two grandchildren I know it would break their hearts if I were to move and see them on the irregular basis I now see their cousin.    At the same time, it breaks my heart to leave the youngest after only a few days’ visit.

playing with Nama

playing with Nama

Then there is my apartment to consider.  We are regularly thrown curve balls here.  There was the listing of the property for sale, then it was taken off the market.  Next we were told we could not use the field, then we won and regained use of the field.  The day before I left on my trip we had a visit by the county inspector (our county inspects rental properties for hazards and to see no landlord is a slum landlord).  This inspection surprised all of us. There are numerous problems with the building, most not visible or affecting the first floor apartment (where I live).  My landlord has 90 days to make the necessary repairs, much of them electrical, or the apartments could be closed by the county leaving us without homes.  I don’t see the owner letting the property go, but who knows in this economy if he can come up with the funds to make the improvements.

Do I keep on this roller coaster? Or do I move to another city and live in a green-built apartment where I can see the youngest grandchildren more frequently?  I have no idea what I will decide to do.  I ran the idea by my oldest son and asked if I decided to do this could his children visit me for extended stays, such as a week at a time. He agreed this would be possible but I could tell the idea of my moving didn’t please him.

So you can see my trip was lovely but has left me with much on my mind.

How do you make decisions like this?  Do you find it’s hard dealing with family that lives in different cities?

Change the World Wednesday, Plastic

I lost a day this week. I thought it was only Tuesday so this is a bit late.  Small Footprints decided to focus on Plastic bags.  Before I share this week’s challenge, I did follow up in searching for butcher paper to replace the food saver bags in my freezer.  I found them, but I didn’t purchase them.

freezer paper

What is the point of buying paper, of which has its own environmental impact if it’s going to be coated with plastic?  I don’t know what the answer is.  I could look at the problem as one of finding something reusable. That wouldn’t be real hard, a bit pricey, but not hard. I could use glass mason jars like Small Footprints does or take her suggestion and buy stainless steel containers that might stack better.  But if I am trying to keep my footprint as low as possible it takes resources to make those stainless steel containers. Glass then would be the best option I can think of.

Now that I have shared my latest disappointment, how about a challenge that ties in nicely with Plastic-free July?

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Nature in Distress

Things are different this summer.  I have gotten a couple of mosquito bites, the first ever here in my little sanctuary. The reason is that we lost our bat colony.  We had hundreds of bats that would fly out of the pines each evening. It was a sight to witness.  The most we’ve seen at any one time this year has been four.

My grandson found this dead bee. There was damage to the one wing.

My grandson found this dead bee. There was damage to the one wing.

Then there is the field. Where are the bees?  It used to be that I would see my plants covered in bees.  They were every where in the gardens and around the wild plants.  This year I added some bee loving plants such as lambs ears. Nothing. I know we’ve had to have had some bees visit the garden because I have a couple tomatoes forming. Yet I worked in the garden for several hours Sunday and saw not one bee.

We haven’t seen a praying mantis, or a lady bug yet this summer. Where are they? We had one Monarch Butterfly in the field this week, it was the first and so far only one seen this summer.  The milkweed is growing in several spots around the field, I thought it would be good to spread it around.  Am I helping, I don’t know and that’s what has me concerned.

I’ve left more of the field wild than I’ve allowed to be cleared, did we do harm by clearing what we did?  I don’t have any answers.

I think the little ones are picking up on my concern.  They are noticing the lack of insects in the garden.  My granddaughter picked my brain Monday asking me what each insect and animal ate.  She wanted to know which ones were bad and which were good.  Her list began with  birds, including the hawks and crows, bees, deer, groundhogs, snakes, lions, and the list continued to grow.  I explained to her how a bee pollinates our plants, and how birds eat insects (and worms) that keep our field healthy. For example if the birds eat ticks we have less chance of being infected by one. We then talked about scavengers and how their work keeps nature from being smelly and riddled with waste.  She already knew about the worms but wanted confirmation, she got it.

She wanted to know why I put tree branches in the bottom of my garden beds. The best way to answer her was to go into a wild area of the field where we have piled tree branches and I showed her the lovely soil underneath. It was dark, moist and filled with life. The branches were softening and teemed with insects.

But then I need to come back to reality.  The areas left wild so nature can flourish are only partly doing what they should. There still aren’t bees flitting on the flowers.  We haven’t seen any snakes this year other than two dead ones. The butterflies are fewer.

My granddaughter surprised us by walking so silently and slowly she was able to pick up this moth she still calls a butterfly.  She gently held it felt how soft then let it go "to eat".

My granddaughter surprised us by walking so silently and slowly she was able to pick up this moth she still calls a butterfly. She gently held it felt how soft then let it go “to eat”.

I hoped to be comforted by taking a look at my neighbor’s garden beds. She started most of her plants in cold frames so they are much bigger than mine.  Her squashes and pumpkins flowered weeks ago but still nothing beyond the flowers. I’m getting worried.

Then I catch this article on impotent roosters, reading through the article I learn that roosters aren’t the only problems coming to light.

The rooster problem comes from a genetic tweaking that causes the roosters to overeat and become impotent, this has reduced the poultry production estimate by 195 million pounds.

What about pigs? There has been a deadly pig virus that has taken it’s toll on available pork products. It was believed that once a pig contracted the virus it would be immune but that turned out to be just wishful thinking.

Domestic cattle (cows) is at it’s lowest numbers in 60 years. Just when in the US meat consumption has risen.  Add to the consumption burden is the increase in exports of beef to China a country where people want to eat beef but not raise it.

Back to the bees.  California supplies the nation with almonds, 80% of the world’s almonds come from California along with many more foods (see this I wrote earlier on the droughts effects on food supply).  What I didn’t know when I wrote that was that bee hives are traveled across the country to California to pollinate almond trees each year.  This year there weren’t enough hives to do the job.

While I don’t buy meat, I do need my protein from somewhere, one of my main sources has been nuts and seeds.  But what do we do when our crops fail, when the bees are gone and we no longer have fruits, vegetables or nuts?

Aside from the question of my diet, there is the question of the planet itself.  Each of these insects and animals plays a very important role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem. Just like the conversation with my granddaughter we need every animal and insect nature provided. We need wild areas where decomposition can replenish the earth and give habitats for life of all sorts to flourish.

Mainstream media downplays the severity of what’s happening in nature. Children don’t understand the need for bugs they don’t like, who likes being stung?  I believe we need to look at nature differently.  This year my son and I watched Cosmos (new television program) in which one episode it was shown that trees, and every other living thing on earth has the same DNA components humans do, just arranged differently. We are connected down to our DNA but we don’t stop to think about that connection and how much we need nature to survive.

Today my grandchildren asked me about air. I told them how trees and other plants breathe in the air, cleaning it, using what they need and breathing out cleaner air that we human’s need.  They picked a leaf, studied it together for a few minutes, then brought it to me to ask if the veins were what carried the air inside the tree to clean.  They were amazed to think a leaf with no nose can breathe.

Look at the trees, look at the birds, look at the clouds, look at the stars… and if you have eyes you will be able to see that the whole existence is joyful. Everything is simply happy. Trees are happy for no reason; they are not going to become prime ministers or presidents and they are not going to become rich and they will never have any bank balance. Look at the flowers — for no reason. It is simply unbelievable how happy flowers are. ~Osho


What about your area have you noticed changes that have you concerned?

Staying In Touch with DIY

While I may complain about texting and people who are obsessed with their cell phones, the technology that comes with them allows me to continue the close relationship with my daughter-in-law who relocated with my son for his employment.  Just as she was learning to embrace a DIY lifestyle they had to move.  The internet and our cell phones has allowed us to stay in touch regularly and continue her “education” of the DIY-ing she was falling in love with.   Today I want to show you  how technology has helped us to continue this relationship.

A couple of weeks ago I received this picture via text message.  The question that followed was “Could you do this”


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Tiny Houses, are They a Good Idea?

Yesterday I asked how small a home you thought you could live with and still be comfortable and what you thought you could give up to live in that smaller home.  EcoCatLady turned the tables on me and asked me about my impression of the tiny houses such as these. I have to admit I have mixed feelings about the tiny house movement.

Dee William's tiny house

Dee William’s tiny house

If you aren’t familiar with the tiny houses, these are generally under 150 square feet,built on trailer beds (with wheels) to get around zoning laws and  involves a ladder to access loft sleeping spaces.  Many do not have indoor plumbing and most use composting toilets.

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Living Small Friday

It’s hard to believe it’s the end of another week.  I don’t want summer to be over so soon and have to move back indoors most of the time again.  Speaking of indoors, there are plenty of inexpensive ways to make living in a smaller home easy and comfortable.  When I showed friends and family the apartment I was moving into everyone shook their head in disbelief that I would be happy without a separate bedroom. The children were the funniest because they came to the situation with complete innocence and pointed out the “rooms” that were in this one space.  There was the office, the living room, the bedroom and the kitchen. To them it made perfect sense, but maybe that’s because children are used to keeping their belongings in one space designated as their own, that being the bedroom.

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