The Simple, Organized Life: Physical De-cluttering

Why not ask a professional?  Guest Author Crystal Eakle is a licensed professional organizer who brings extensive experience to helping businesses and consumers organize their priorities, processes and possessions. In this post, Crystal offers advice to start de-cluttering your stuff.

Mindful versus mindless consumption

Now that your mind is clear and focused on a new tiny life, it's time to dive into mindful consumption. I’m talking about all the stuff.

Believe it or not mindless consumption is becoming a thing of the past. Consumers are now giving more consideration to what they are buying and the practices and people behind the products they are buying. Living smaller is the new way to live fuller.

Enter mindful consumption: that place where you have everything you need and nothing you don’t. Mindful consumption restores balance in everyday life leading to less stress and better overall health.

Benefits of less stuff

One of the benefits of mindful consumption is less stuff. Less stuff results in less stress because clutter is a distraction. Less distraction can result in better focus. Better focus allows you to be more efficient. Being more efficient creates a peaceful outlook, allowing you to relax. (It's okay to re-read this again.)

Having less stuff frees up space, allowing for more living and less looking for items, re-arranging items, storing items and trying to remember where things are.

Less stuff can also save money. People purchase storage units for items they don’t need any longer, resulting in hundreds of dollars spent on things that aren’t adding anything to their lives!

If living in a smaller space or tiny house is a priority, you’ll need to practice and maintain mindful consumption.

Mindful consumption guidelines

Here are the guidelines on how to get to mindful consumption that will lead you to a new life in a smaller space.

1. Watch less TV. Watching television exposes you to advertising which can lead to more consumption. If you are still adding items into your already full life, then ask yourself if living smaller is really a priority or just something fun to think about.

2. Pause before you buy something. Make a decision to wait 48 hours and re-evaluate before purchasing non-essential items. This pertains to online shopping as well. Visualize where the item will be located in your tiny house.

3. Consider repairing items as opposed to replacing them or, better yet, ask yourself if you really need the item at all.

4. Borrow items when practical, and especially for limited use.

5. Donate or recycle things. If you don’t use it, need it, or love it - let it go!


Crystal Eakle is licensed, bonded and insured and a member of NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers), based in Beaufort, SC. She brings extensive experience to helping businesses and consumers organize their priorities, processes and possessions.

Reach Eakle:  crystaleakle-at-gmail-dot-com.
Connect with Crystal Eakle's on LinkedIn

Other Posts:  Mental De-cluttering - Mindful Consumption 


Written by Guest Blogger — March 31, 2014

Filed under: 2014   Creating Priorities   Crystal Eakle   Downsizing   Less Stuff   Physical Clutter  

The Simple, Organized Life: Mental De-cluttering

Why not ask a professional?  Guest Author Crystal Eakle is a licensed professional organizer who brings extensive experience to helping businesses and consumers organize their priorities, processes and possessions. In this post, Crystal addresses the mental challenges of de-cluttering.

Make the dream of living in a tiny house a reality this year. The first step in making it a reality is to get mentally ready for a new and exciting life! Living with less stuff, stress, and obligations allow more time, money, and creativity to be your best self and live your best life.

Simplicity isn’t always a simple journey. The first step is identifying what is most important in your life and then carefully eliminating the rest. Let’s begin by eliminating internal mental clutter.

Addressing mental clutter

Mental clutter is something all of us battle in our daily lives. It can be overwhelming when our minds get noisy. The fear that a deadline will be missed or a loved one’s birthday will been forgotten creates anxiety. Our minds are filled with thoughts, worries, anxieties, fears, memories, desires, questions, yearnings, and more thoughts.

To reduce mental clutter we need to get our minds in a productive state where we are in control, relaxed, focused, inspired, and engaged. Just like clearing clutter from a physical space, we need to decide what is worth keeping and what can be eliminated.

Here’s how to begin

First make a list of the purposes, principals, and priorities that make up what is important in your life. These are the things that you really care about and can’t or won’t live without. Maybe living in a tiny house will allow you to spend more time with family and friends, have time to volunteer and help others, spend more time outdoors, consume less easing the burden on the environment, or get out of debt.

Now make a second list of every small thing that you could, should, or might want to do. The collection device can be a notebook and pen, your physical inbox, smart phone, tablet or computer. From jumping out of a plane to buying a new kitchen trash can, it all goes on this list.

Now review the tasks on the second list. Does this list tie back into the purposes, principles and priorities that you identified on the first list? Which items give your life value and further your goals? Which ones add enjoyment? Which items are negatives that you have no intention of starting? Which items just don’t fit in with your new life?

Focus and begin to work on the tasks that tie back into the purposes, principles and priorities that you identified on the first list and you will begin to notice how much easier those items are to complete. Your mind will be in a productive state when you are working on those items because the tasks are associated with the important things in your life.

Moving forward

In the future, when you consider adding a task to your list, ask yourself the important questions. Does this task tie back into my purposes, principles and priorities? Will this task give my life value and further my goals? Will this task add enjoyment to my life?

Remember - when you introduce new tasks into your life, you immediately associate value with those tasks making it harder for you to give them up in the future.

Just like physical clutter, mental clutter is constantly tugging on you for attention. Stop mental clutter and be your most productive, focused and best self. 


Crystal Eakle is licensed, bonded and insured and a member of NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers), based in Beaufort, SC. She brings extensive experience to helping businesses and consumers organize their priorities, processes and possessions.

Reach Eakle:  crystaleakle-at-gmail-dot-com.
Connect with Crystal Eakle's on LinkedIn
Other Posts: Physical De-Cluttering - Mindful Consumption


Written by Guest Blogger — March 17, 2014

Filed under: 2014   Creating Priorities   Crystal Eakle   Downsizing   Less Stuff   Mental Clutter  

Grist: Is Tiny For You?

Tumbleweed Tiny House Company endorses this new Grist chart because it should make you smile AND address key questions about going tiny. If you are considering full or part-time living in a tiny cottage or house to go, this chart is worth a couple minutes. We also offer our two-cents below.

Should I live in a tiny house?  (Grist, March 2014)

Primary motivations to go tiny

At Tumbleweed, our mission is to help you turn tiny dreams into reality and we're lucky to hear many reasons for going tiny. Your main motivations often include: 

  • Home affordability - having resources to either build or buy
  • Ongoing finances - getting out of a mortgage (or not taking one), changing jobs
  • Home ownership - wanting security of your place, on wheels or foundation
  • Environmental impact - reducing footprint, utility costs, whether on or off-grid
  • Aesthetics - seeking a nice, archetypal home, seeking a simpler mode
  • Adventure - moving elsewhere, wanting a vacation place, new hobbies
  • Life stages - graduating, empty-nesting, returning family, caring for others

Can you leap over the stuff hurdle?

The Grist chart asks about your stuff first, which is a funny yet true gut-check. We laughed because it should be as important as your motivations, philosophies and living priorities. In our culture, stuff is a big deal that fills a house. If you're not ready to store, sell, donate or trash your stuff, then (full-time) living in a tiny house is still a dream.

Written by Debby Richman — March 16, 2014

Filed under: 2014   Downsizing   Managing Stuff   Tiny House Questions  

Kendra's Walden Fundraiser

After spending a good amount of time in a variety of living areas, Kendra is seeking something more. Whether living urban, suburban, rural or in the wilderness, there's always a price to pay. Rent payments are neverending, and no kind of investment to speak of. To make a home somewhere so often means signing up for a mortgage or non-stop payment. Kendra plans to build her Tiny Home when the sun comes back to Seattle. From there she hopes build a farm, create a community center and continue her passion of working in outdoor education and community healing. She may even start a food truck (or food cabin on wheels), or help you build your tiny home, or your dream. 

When I was a little girl, I dreamed of having a house on wheels to live and adventure in. I asked for one that Christmas, and awoke to a girly RV toy with little dolls. Dismayed, my tomboy heart deflated a little. "No, like a REAL house, on wheels." I was informed there was no such thing. I then realized I was going to have to build it myself. 

Twenty years later, I was working as an Adventure Guide in Central America, living in a plastic tarp off very little money. I was trying to figure out a way to acquire a homey shelter that could afford me the feeling of home wherever I went. Rent was a taxing idea on so few dollars, and I had college loans to pay off. I recalled my childhood dream, and began searching the internet for images of 'houses on wheels'. I found Tumbleweed, and was romanced by the visions of their economical warm spaces. 

Tumbleweed's Walden 

This spring I will be building the Walden, in Seattle, Washington. Once it's built, I plan to continue working in as a youth educator and performance artist and build a community garden and healing center with my partner. We hope to host events such as concerts, farm days, DIY workshops, summer camps, as well as host getaways for individuals and families. You can be a part of the process! Check out the fundraising campaign here

Thanks for your support!

Written by Guest Blogger — February 05, 2013

Filed under: 2013   20132   diy   downsizing   fundraising   health   lifestyle   seattle   share   walden  

Meals on Wheels: "Camping Spaghetti Sauce"

Therese Ambrosi Smith is a writer- check out her work here. She spent four months constructing a modified Tumbleweed for use as a mobile writer’s studio. She loves cooking and eating as much as she loves writing and building things. One example of a recipe she's cooked in her tiny kitchen - that her guests have loved - is wild rice and mushroom soup. Her regular contribution to this blog, “Meals on Wheels," addresses the challenges and rewards of working in a tiny kitchen. 

I love to invite people to dinner -- I like cooking and eating -- but I also enjoy sharing our tiny house.  Folks with thousands of square feet marvel at the comfort possible in our  286 sq ft home, carved from a single car garage. With leaves in the table, we handily host gourmet meals for eight.

Recently we downsized our office, building a new space based on a Tumbleweed design.  We work efficiently in the 84 sq ft trailer. As an author, I’m trilled to have my workspace double as a mobile retreat and guest cottage.  An inflatable bed and RV toilet are employed when we need to house visitors.

We made the decision to rent the “main” house for income when I decided to live more creatively.  The journey began with shedding a mind-numbing job and the trappings it provided. Designing a functional living space was task one.

Everyone who decides to downsize -  and designs his own house - goes through the very healthy exercise of defining what’s important. We determined that our most used room was the kitchen - and we used it for non-eating activity too -- from conversation to crafts.  The table was central to our plan. 

Tiny Kitchen

We spent as much time planning the space as building it.  Everything we thought we’d need was measured and plotted on graph paper before the first board was cut.  The garage conversion took four months of weekend work and now, after four and a half years --  and a novel and a half  -- I think it was the smartest thing we’ve ever done.

Living small became fodder for fiction.  My first novel “Wax” was about young women coming of age in the shipyards during WWII.  If you’re familiar with the history, housing was in very short supply in war industry towns.  Parking Lot C, in the Kaiser shipyards, became a village of Airstream trailers for the duration.

When “Wax” was nearly ready to print, I was asked to provide two pages of filler. The printer’s final page “signature” is produced in multiples of eight, so my 334 page book was a little short. What would be worth printing?  (Clue: the women are eating spaghetti in two important scenes.)  Sylvia’s Famous Spaghetti Sauce Recipe (As adapted for the two-burner propane stove in Airstream No. 28).

Back home in Kansas City, Sylvia would spend all day on a rich meat sauce starting with garlic and olive oil and cubes of pork and beef shoulder, seared at 475 degrees for half an hour. She’d transfer the meat to a big stock pot with two quarts of broth, veal bones and vegetables. A long, slow simmer in the broth would tenderize the tough but flavorful cuts of meat, and to the whole she would add tomatoes and the remaining seasonings. The sauce would then simmer for another six hours until the meat fell apart. Everyone she treated to a serving of her Famous Spaghetti Sauce said it was the best ever.

She refined her technique — using ground beef — so she could make “Camping Spaghetti Sauce”. In her tiny Airstream trailer, with few cooking utensils, Sylvia did her best to recreate a favorite meal for her friends.


3 Tbsp unsalted butter

2 Tbsp minced garlic

2 Tbsp minced onion

¼ cup minced carrots

¼ cup minced celery

¾ lb ground meat – can be pork and beef mixed

3 cloves

1 C whole milk

2 C dry white wine

1 28 oz can whole tomatoes packed in juice

1 Tbsp oregano – fresh, minced

one more tablespoon minced garlic

salt to taste

Melt the butter in a sauce pan over a very low flame and add two tablespoons garlic. Simmer the garlic very slowly until tender. The more slowly it cooks, the sweeter it will be.

Add the carrots, onion and celery and sauté until the onions are soft. Do not brown. Add the cloves.

Add the ground meat and stir to heat evenly for about three minutes, until the meat is gray but not browned.

Add the milk and allow it to simmer until evaporated, about twelve minutes; follow with the wine. When the wine has evaporated, add the tomatoes with liquid and the oregano. Allow the sauce to simmer on the lowest possible flame, for three more hours. Thirty minutes before it’s finished, add the final tablespoon of minced garlic. Add salt if desired.

4 Servings  Enjoy!

“The time went by so quickly; we never had a chance to make plans,” Doris said. “When the ships on the line are launched we’ll be sent home too.”

“Now come on girls,” Sylvia said. “This is our last night together in The Land of C. Let’s have a little more optimism. We’ll be at peace soon.” She adjusted the seasonings and gave the sauce a final stir. Her red hair color was starting to fade. “All those love-starved men will be returning to wine and dine you marriage-age treasures. Life will be good,” Sylvia said. She looked at Tilly.

Tilly winced.

Sylvia drained the spaghetti into a bowl and loaded three plates. Then she ladled the rich meat sauce on top.

Tilly took the first bite. She twirled her fork and wrapped the length of the spaghetti around the tines. “Thank you so much, Sylvia. I’ll never forget this meal.”

From “Wax”, by Therese Ambrosi Smith




Written by Guest Blogger — January 08, 2013

Filed under: 2013   20132   Build it yourself   cooking   Downsizing   friends   kitchen design   kitchens   stories   tiny kitchen  

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