The Magic Of A Creative Retreat

I first heard about Squam Art Workshops way back in 2009. I had recently started my (old) blog and Holly wrote about this magical retreat where women were gathering — there were photos of cabins huddled around a New Hampshire lake, and founder Elizabeth Duvivier described the accommodations as being like "champagne in a tin cup." Perfect.

Squam Art Workshops — Elizabeth Duvivier

Flash forward a few years, and I happened to meet Elizabeth at a party at our mutual friend Christine's house, and I found out she lived in the same neighborhood! Small world indeed. But still, I didn't get it together to go to Squam.

Squam Art Workshops

I always keep an eye out for the workshop lineup — many of my favorite makers (like Ann Wood) and creatives have taught there over the years — and I gulp down recap posts after the events like manna. Yet I've never made it to the retreat.

Squam Art Workshops — Women on the porch

It's a big commitment, both of time away from family (not always easy to justify when children are small) and money (same). But perhaps even more than that, it's a declaration of creative freedom. It's this thing that you get to go and do, just because you want to. And doesn't that seem like the ultimate luxury — doing something with the sole purpose of nourishing your creative soul?

Squam Art Workshops — Squam Lake

The gatherings are now being coordinated by Meg Fussell, and they look as lovely as ever. In fact, the fall retreat is happening soon, and the combination of a New England fall and that much creative energy focused in one spot has me pining for this singular experience more than ever.

Squam Art Workshops — Participants in the woods

I know that other creative retreats exist, some in far-flung and exotic places, but my heart seems to live in the woods, so Squam feels like the place for me. Maybe one of these days I'll make it there ... maybe you'll be there, too. 

Learn more about Squam Art Workshops →

photos: Amy Gretchen for Squam Art Workshops, used with permission

How I've Made My Days Feel More Abundant (And You Can Too)

I love fall something fierce, but the transition into this season can be a tricky one. To create a more intentional (and hopefully more pleasurable) early fall, I've been rethinking the way I approach my days. If you've been following me for a while, you know I've written before about the benefits of mapping your time — and if you're feeling pressure from all angles of your schedule, I still encourage you to start there. But when you're ready to dive in and begin to make real changes to the way you spend your time each day, I have a new tool for you to try (and a simple free download to go along with it).

How I've made my days feel more abundant (and you can too)

The zero-based schedule

If you've heard of zero-based budgeting, you're already familiar with the concept. If not, the idea is pretty straightforward: each month, you give each dollar a job to do. So instead of having "extra" money in your budget once bills and other necessities are taken care of, you give those extra dollars a place to go, too — it could be into a travel fund, college savings account, a donation to charity, or whatever you choose. 

So keeping a zero-based schedule, simply put, means accounting for every hour of your day...ahead of time. The night before, you get out a fresh planner page (more on that in a moment) or turn to a new sheet in your bullet journal, and fill in the tasks you know you need to get done at certain times — like doing the school run, starting work, and making dinner. Once the must-dos are written down, it's time to play a little...

How to make a zero-based schedule and experience more abundant days
Remember that if you don’t prioritize
your life someone else will.
— Greg McKeown

Firm deadlines (like appointments or meetings) tend to make it onto our schedules simply because they shout the loudest: we know someone will be mad or disappointed in us if we drop the ball, so we do our very best to come through.

But what about those seemingly smaller to-dos we quietly want, just for ourselves? 

In a zero-based schedule, you have the opportunity to pencil in pockets of time for your passions and big goals. For me, that's meant learning to run, reading more good books, and writing. For you, it could be knitting, taking an evening class, and playing roller derby. You know what it's probably not? Scrolling social media, mindlessly snacking, and online shopping. 

If you'd like to give zero-based scheduling a try, I created a really simple Daily Planner PDF for you to download, print, and enjoy:

Download the Daily Planner PDF

On the left side is space to record a basic hourly plan for your day. On the right side are boxes to jot down any habits you're currently tracking (glasses of water, exercise, reading, etc.), gratitude, and notes for tomorrow. You absolutely do not need to use this every day (or at all!) but I've found it quite helpful for creating a more intentional day when I really need it.

photos: Gaelle Marcel

Quick Lit: August Picks

Welcome to another edition of Quick Lit, where, joining with Modern Mrs. Darcy, I share a few of the books I've been reading lately. This month I have six titles to share that I love (and hope you will, too).

Quick Lit August Picks

August has been a good reading month, in more ways than one — I got in extra reading time on our beach vacation to the Outer Banks, North Carolina, and I happened onto a string of fantastic books that I plan on keeping on my shelves for a long while. Unless, of course, I'm shoving them into the hands of a friend and insisting they read this now. Hah!

First, three titles I would recommend to anyone:

Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce

Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce

What I most love to read about in World War II novels are the ordinary domestic details of life on the home front in Britain during the war — and Dear Mrs. Bird has got that in spades. Despite taking place in London during the Blitz, the focus of this novel is squarely on the everyday life of its delightful heroine and her small circle of friends and family. Emmy desperately wants to be a Lady War Correspondent, but instead ends up typing up the advice column for a women's magazine, and volunteers in the call center of the local fire brigade at night. The tone reminded me of I Capture the Castle and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society in all the best ways. Utterly charming, this is a novel I zipped through and wished I could keep reading forever.

I'll Be Your Blue Sky.jpg

I'll Be Your Blue Sky by Marisa de los Santos

This is the August pick for the Modern Mrs Darcy book club, so I was already planning to read it — but it moved to the top of my reading pile when I spotted a copy with not one but two "staff pick" stickers on the cover while browsing The Island Bookstore in Corolla, North Carolina. This is an uplifting, beautifully written novel that feels like a beach read with soul. Set in the 1950s and the present day, it follows the intertwined stories of two women navigating love, life choices, and loss. Blue Sky House is a character in itself, a lakeside cottage that became a stop in a secret relocation system for women fleeing domestic violence in the 1950s.

Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan

Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan

Don't say I didn't warn you: this memoir by the author of Glitter and Glue and The Middle Place will break your heart. This was the first Corrigan I've read, and I immediately felt like scooping up all of her previous work because she is so obviously a kindred spirit. Tell Me More is about family, motherhood, marriage, and the deep bond between friends, told in a series of stories about the 12 hardest things she is learning to say. 

Next up, three titles that I thoroughly enjoyed, but might not be for everyone:

The Power by Naomi Alderman

The Power by Naomi Alderman

Teenage girls suddenly discover they have the power to shoot lightning from their hands. What happens next is nothing less than a complete restructuring of the powers that be. This is a strange, intense story, masterfully told. Be advised: there are several very graphic, violent scenes that sensitive folks will want to skim over. That said, this is sci-fi that I think even readers who don't usually dip into this genre could enjoy. And with so much to talk about, this would make an excellent book club pick.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I read the first half of this book and set it aside for about a month before coming back to it — to be fair, it clocks in at over 500 pages! But when I did come back to it, I flew through the rest of the book, and I'm so glad I did. Adichie is a keen observer of cultural differences, racism, class, national identity, and hair (to name a few). The protagonist of Americanah is Ifemelu, a smart, independent Nigerian woman who comes to America to do postgraduate work, and ends up starting a popular anonymous blog called “Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known as Negroes) by a Non-American Black." Equal parts wise, funny, and painfully true, as soon as I put this book down, I knew I would be an Adichie fan for life. 

 

My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira

My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira

This is historical fiction set in Albany, New York, and Washington, D.C., at the outset of the Civil War, featuring a smart, determined midwife who dreams of becoming a surgeon. There are a few gruesomely detailed scenes of battlefield surgeries (*cough* amputations *cough*), so if you are squeamish about blood, this may not be the book for you! I read this as we traveled through Washington, D.C., and loved reading about the early days of the city (in the novel, the National Monument was only partially built) with the real thing right in front of me. It was also fascinating to learn about how the war influenced the advent of modern medicine — what seems like common sense today (like washing hands between patients) simply wasn't done, and the effects of unsanitary conditions were horrifying.

I hope you enjoyed this little peek into my reading life as much as I enjoyed sharing it. Let's do it again next month! And please feel free to share a link to your own reading list in the Comments.

Quick Lit: August Book Picks

Moments of Beauty: July Gratitude List

We've all heard that gratitude can do us good — expressing a thankful appreciation of what we receive has been shown to boost happiness, improve health, strengthen relationships, and help us deal better with adversity. In an effort to develop my own gratitude "muscle", I've started keeping a gratitude list. But instead of writing a list on paper, I'm tweeting gratitude. Since I nearly always have my phone within reach (for better or for worse...) this has actually felt easier than past attempts. I've simply been recording the little moments of beauty and meaning, as they occur to me.

Each month I'll be sharing my list on the blog, and I invite you to do the same if you feel inspired to join in. Now, on with the list...

Moments of Beauty: July Gratitude List

In July I am grateful for...

Trader Joe's coconut cold brew on ice in my favorite blue mason jar.

Having a child old enough that I can bring a book to the park — and actually sit back and read.

Knowing there are wise women like @corrigankelly out there in the world sharing their gifts.

Spending a summer Monday morning learning magic tricks with my son.

Afternoon sun, making everything it touches gleam like liquid gold.

Running for 20 minutes — without walking once — for the first time ever.

Picking flowers from our front yard to press: California poppy, rose, lavender, and sage.

Enriching my life (and my reading list) with the bookish community that is the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club.

Ice-cold beer with a wedge of lime, a fresh stack of books from the library, and the whole weekend stretching out ahead.

Beautiful silver-haired lady riding her bike - fast! - by the shoreline, pure bliss.

Our Sunday night agenda: Quick pickles, grass-fed beef burgers on the grill, watermelon for dessert. Yes.

All the July tomatoes.

There are over 25 (what!?) Little Free Libraries now in my hometown. One of these days I’ll take a walking tour of all of them.

Standing in my kitchen, snap the stem away, inhale: the scent of tomato vines brings me right back to my grandfathers garden.

Peeking into all of the beautiful front yard gardens in my neighborhood. Summer flowers abound.

Finding a fairy door, carefully constructed and complete with spiral staircase and deck, attached to the side of an oak tree.

The moment my husband comes home, hops off his bike, and unloads a secret treasure trove from his bag: piles of juicy, perfectly ripe stone fruit from the farmer's market.

photo: LUM3N on Unsplash

What are you grateful for? Feel free to link to your own gratitude list in the Comments.

Moments of Beauty: July Gratitude List

50 Ways to Simplify Your Life This Summer

The cusp of August is a good time to hit the pause button. To help us find more time to sink into simple summer pleasures — like reading good books, eating popsicles on the porch, and collecting seashells — I've collected 50 favorite ideas for making life a little easier, and a whole lot sweeter. The tips are divided into four sections: Simple Travel, Simple Food, Simple Home, and Simple Lifestyle, so you can scroll right to what you need most in this moment. Enjoy! xo Laura

50 Ways to Simplify Your Life This Summer

Simple Travel

1. No matter how long the trip, challenge yourself to pack only one bag. If you want more specific guidance, I love Tsh's post on what she packed for a week in Tuscany.

2. Travel with just two pairs of shoes if possible: one pair of sandals, and one pair of comfy sneakers.

3. Keep makeup and jewelry super low-key. For example: for a summer trip I pack this tinted moisturizer with SPF, mascara, lip balm, and one necklace. That's it.

4. Load some audiobooks onto your phone or tablet for kids to listen to on the plane or on long car rides. (Obviously, this is great for grownups, too.)

5. When possible, opt for a rental house or apartment (or even a house swap) instead of a hotel. You can use the laundry, make breakfast at "home", and generally feel more like a local.

6. Plan one "main event" per day, maximum. And leave plenty of wide open space, too. This is even more true when traveling with kids.

7. If you will be traveling internationally, download a few helpful apps before you go, like Google Translate (language translation) and Converter+ (currency converter).

8. Get inspired by reading fiction set in the location you are visiting.

9. If you have kids, consider bringing along a foldable scooter — especially if you're going somewhere with lots of walking!

10. If you need help unplugging, think about bringing a separate camera. If you're using your phone's built-in camera, you're a lot more likely to start scrolling social media after you snap that picture.

50 Ways to Simplify Your Life This Summer

Simple Food

11. Make no-cook dinners a regular thing. Think juicy heirloom tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and prosciutto. Or this summery salad that's been on our summer table at least once a week.

12. Bring a pizza and drinks to the park on a Friday after work and eat while the kids play in the golden summer evening light.

13. Make a big batch of cold brew and keep it in the fridge. If you're feeling fancy, make a homemade vanilla simple syrup to stir in.

14. Pretend your oven doesn't exist. Cook on the grill instead.

15. Stash a few picnic essentials (reusable plates, cheese knife, bottle opener, blanket) inside your cooler, and stash the cooler somewhere easy to grab on the go.

16. Get to know the farmers at your local farmer's market or farm stand. Play favorites. Be a regular. They'll give you the best stuff.

17. Make big project cooking (e.g., making jam or homemade tomato sauce) easier and more fun by inviting friends over for a big-batch cooking party. Everyone has fun, and everyone comes away with good food to stash away in the pantry. It's a win-win!

18. Pick a signature summer drink to serve to guests, and stick with it. It can be as simple as Arnold Palmers or a nice selection of La Croix sparkling water.

19. Use cotton bandanas as napkins: they're cheap, colorful, and washable.

20. Use mason jars for iced water, cut flowers, and candles. I'm partial to these blue jars.

21. When anyone asks, "do we have any dessert?" watermelon & popsicles are always the right answer. 

50 Ways to Simplify Your Life This Summer

Simple Home

22. Go barefoot. A shoes-off indoors policy feels summery, to be sure, but it also keeps your floors cleaner.

23. Roll up the rugs. (See above.)

24. Try line-drying your laundry outdoors. The sun on a hot day can dry them in less time (and for less $$) than your dryer, and actually helps get white clothes whiter.

25. Get all the decor you need from the farmer's market and the beach: a vase of fresh flowers, a scattering of seashells, a bowl of perfectly ripe peaches.

26. Have a swap party with friends to trade clothes, toys, or books.

27. Make cleanup easy with strategically placed baskets. Keys, phones, flip flops, library books, Lego bricks — all of those little things strewn about right now could just as easily be dumped into pretty baskets.

28. Hang hooks for sandy towels outside the house.

29. Stash board games and decks of cards in a prominent spot — they're more likely to get used if they're not hidden away.

30. Stock up on favorite movie snacks to make at-home movie night feel extra special.

31. "Heart" favorite photos on your phone and set a reminder on your calendar to print favorited photos once a month.

32. Once you've printed your summer photos, put them somewhere you can enjoy them. It doesn't have to be frames: pile them in a shallow bowl, clip them to a clothesline, or stick them on the fridge.

33. Listen to great podcasts or audiobooks while you clean the house or fold laundry.

34. Prioritize which cleaning tasks make you feel like your house is clean. This is highly personal! For me, it's the bathroom sink, kitchen table, and floors: as long as those three zones are sparkling, I feel like I have a clean house.

35. Wash all the laundry in cold water.

36. Need new patio furniture, camping gear, or play equipment? Check Craigslist or a local buy nothing group first.

37. Set up a super-simple screen-free activity zone for kids stocked with supplies they can use without supervision. Think colored pencils, washable markers, paper, glue sticks, and collage materials for arts & crafts. Other favorites in our house are kinetic sand and homemade play dough.

50 Ways to Simplify Your Life This Summer

Simple Lifestyle

38. Use a French market basket as your everyday bag — it holds all the things, and looks chic doing it.

39. Stock your bag with a few key tools of summer: sunscreen, snacks, water bottle, and a wide-brim hat.

40. Leave the car at home. Walk or bike to neighborhood errands instead.

41. Speaking of bikes, put a basket on your bike and a crate on the back, so you can tote home groceries or library books.

42. Plan each week, not each day. Kendra, aka, The Lazy Genius makes a good case for this in her summer routine podcast episode.

43. Make comfort your top priority when it comes to clothes. 

44. Take a trip to your local public library, for more than books. Free museum passes, audiobooks, a tool library, seed saver's exchange, board game rentals, knitting groups, community events ... you may be surprised to learn how much is offered!

45. Take advantage of the early sunrise to jump out of bed and do something just for you: a sunrise yoga class, a walk with a friend, or time to work on a soul-project, like that novel you've been dreaming up.

46. Plan intentional breaks during your workday to do something that feels deliciously summery to you, whether that means treating yourself to an iced coffee or kicking back to read a good book.

47. Take an evening neighborhood walk after dinner. It's a wonderful way to feel like your evening has a little breathing space.

48. Stay up late to watch the Perseid meteor shower.

49. Keep a simple gratitude journal. It doesn't even have to be on paper — I've been recording mine on Twitter!

50. Hang a hammock inside your house, just because you can.

 

Photos: rawpixel, Daiga Ellaby, Debby Hudson & Alex Radelich via Unsplash

50 Ways to Simplify Your Life This Summer

5 Gorgeous Tiny Homes You Can Stay The Night In

Last week I shared a tiny farmhouse tour, which got me thinking about how awesome it would be to get a taste of tiny house living without committing full-time. If you're curious too, let me spark your imagination with these five tiny Airbnb homes from across the United States. They all look like so much fun, it makes me want to go on a tiny house cross-country tour! Come take a peek...

Tiny house Airbnb in North Carolina
Tiny House Airbnb in North Carolina — gorgeous bedroom
Tiny House Airbnb in North Carolina — Love the reading nook window seat!
Tiny House Airbnb in North Carolina — window seat

No. 1: Asheville, North Carolina

First up is this delightful tiny home located just outside of Asheville, North Carolina, in the Blue Ridge Forest. Coming in at 110 square feet, this is a truly tiny home, to be sure, but it manages to look and feel quite spacious thanks to the smart layout, ample windows, and crisp white paint. If you go, you should know that the bathroom is in a common area that is shared with another tiny guesthouse. I've heard such wonderful things about Asheville, this would be high on my list to visit!

Learn more →

Catskills upcycled tiny house
Catskills upcycled tiny house on a farm!
Catskills upcycled tiny house on a farm!

No. 2: Upstate New York

This tiny home, located on a fiber farm in the Catskills in upstate New York, is made from an ingenious mix of recycled materials. The outdoor kitchen and long outdoor dining table mean you can spread out and enjoy the peaceful natural setting as you prepare your meals, visit the fiber farm's resident rabbits, sheep and goats, and enjoy fresh organic veggies from the garden. The property also has several other guesthouses, and runs workshops and hosts retreats for larger groups.

Learn more →

Portland, Oregon tiny house
Portland Modern Cool Tiny House.jpg

No. 3: Portland, Oregon

This stylish tiny house is situated in the Alberta Arts district of Portland, Oregon, so there's plenty to do within walking distance. Warm wood floors, fresh white paint, and colorful textiles make for an inviting vibe, and the kitchenette stocked with coffee, tea, and fresh eggs is ready for whipping up breakfast. Guests also have access to a shared backyard with a chicken coop and urban vegetable garden.

Learn more →

Portland, Oregon rustic modern tiny house exterior
Portland, Oregon rustic modern tiny house

No. 4: Portland, Oregon

Another tiny home in Portland, Oregon (is that really a surprise?), this one was hand-built by the owners, and has been featured on an episode of TIny House Nation. Coming in at 350 square feet, this tiny house manages to pack in stairs to a queen-size bed, a full kitchen, wood stove, and even a tiny clawfoot tub.

Learn more →

Olympia, Washington Tumbleweed Tiny House Airbnb
Olympia, Washington Tumbleweed Tiny House Airbnb
Olympia, Washington Tumbleweed Tiny House Airbnb
Olympia, Washington Tumbleweed Tiny House Airbnb
Olympia, Washington Tumbleweed Tiny House Airbnb

No. 5: Olympia, Washington

You can walk down a private trail to the beach from this tiny house in Olympia, Washington, or meander several miles of walking paths. This is a Tumbleweed Tiny House, like the one Dee Williams (author of The Big Tiny) built. The owner of this tiny house has done such a good job of keeping it immaculate, warm, and cozy, it seems like a great place to have a first tiny home experience. I have some dear friends who recently moved to this area, so I'm keeping this tiny house bookmarked for a potential future trip!

Learn more →

I'm fascinated by the stories of people leaving larger homes to live lighter in a tiny house. I can see how letting go of so many possessions (not to mention a substantial mortgage or rent payment each month) could feel freeing. What about you? Are you curious about what it's like to live (or at least stay) in a tiny house? Which would you choose? Tell us all about it in the comments!

5 Gorgeous Tiny Homes You Can Stay In

Quick Lit: What I've Been Reading (And Loving) So Far This Summer

I'm on a mission to get more good books into my life this year, and to that end, I've been sneaking in reading time wherever I can find it. Part of what has been working well for me is being a part of this bookish community, and listening to Anne Bogel's delightful podcast, What Should I Read Next. If you're at a loss for what to read, or simply want to spend more time around fellow book lovers, I'm telling you, check these resources out. You won't regret it. Now for the books...

Quick Lit: What I've Been Reading (And Loving) So Far This Summer

Today I'm joining Modern Mrs. Darcy in sharing a few of the books I've been reading — and loving — so far this summer. In early June, my little family took a trip back to the east coast, which meant I've had an extra-helping of reading time this month. So I have six titles to recommend! Hooray!

First, three titles I would recommend to anyone:

This Is Where You Belong by Melody Warnick

This Is Where You Belong by Melody Warnick

This nonfiction book had been on my radar for a while, so when I recently stumbled upon a signed edition at my local used bookshop, I snapped it up. As I read the introduction, I found myself nodding along with everything Warnick had to say about always being on the lookout for the next "perfect" place to live. So much of our identity and happiness is tied up in our sense of place, so what happens when you're not thrilled with where you're living? This Is Where You Belong gives us practical tips — like walking instead of driving, and getting to know your neighbors — that can help root us more deeply in our communities, and boost our happiness in the process. 

Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown

Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown

I read this for the first time a few summers ago and loved it so much that I'm reading it again — and I rarely reread. This perfect summer book is about a cook who is kidnapped by a female pirate, and it's filled with good (if bizarre) food, swashbuckling, high seas adventure, and romance. And I love that it's written by an author who lives in my town, a fact I didn't even realize until after I got the book home!

I Am I Am I Am by Maggie O'Farrell

I Am I Am I Am by Maggie O'Farrell

After reading my first O'Farrell novel (This Must Be the Place) in book club, I was hooked. I Am I Am I Am is a memoir told through seventeen brushes with death, and it had me so spellbound that I neglected making dinner, and in fact hardly looked up from the book until it was over. And can I just say how gorgeous that cover is? Read it

Next up, three titles that I thoroughly enjoyed, but might not be for everyone:

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

Sleeping Giants and Waking Gods (The Themis Files trilogy) by Sylvain Neuvel

I'm not a science fiction junky, but every once in a while I find a sci-fi book that grabs me and won't let go — the last one I read that fits this category (smart writing, mind-bending plot) was Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. In this trilogy by debut author Sylvain Neuvel (the third installment was recently published), giant robot body parts from outer space are discovered buried on earth. At first, no one knows what they are or how they got there — the first person to find one was a young girl named Rose, who rode her bike into a hole and landed in a giant metal hand. Rose grows up to be a physicist, and works on putting these parts together to make something... Whether this something is good or very, very bad quickly unfolds in this unputdownable series.

Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan

Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan

I adored this family saga from the author of Maine and Commencement about two sisters who journey from their small village in Ireland to America in 1957. One sister ends up the matriarch of a large family; the other, a cloistered nun in rural Vermont. Family secrets, lush writing, and revelations about the human spirit abound.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

This book has been talked up everywhere, but for some reason I didn't feel confident that I would enjoy it. So I'm grateful I spotted it on my mother in-law's bookshelf just at the moment I needed a new book in my hands — because I loved it. This is compulsively readable literary fiction, with characters you can root for and a twisty little mystery. Ng offers an insightful perspective on belonging, adoption, culture, the lure of perfection, and what makes a family.

 

I hope you enjoyed this little peek into my reading life as much as I enjoyed sharing it. Let's do it again next month!

A Tiny Farmhouse That's Big On Style

Are you as enthralled with tiny house living as I am? If so, I think you're going to love the home we're peeking into today. Built by Perch & Nest in North Carolina for last year's Tiny House NC Street Festival, this mini-farmhouse (called the Roost 36) can sleep a family of four and — I think this is the best part — has retractable screens and a glass entry wall that can completely open up the tiny space to the great outdoors. Just look...

Perch & Nest tiny home — farmhouse style porch

Isn't this open-air dining area magnificent? Being able to have loads of windows and a fresh breeze can make a small space feel completely transformed. I could imagine spending many long summer evenings sipping sweet tea and playing games at that table.

Perch & Nest farmhouse style tiny home

Inside, the lofted ceiling, real stairs (not a ladder), and that adorable mint green Smeg fridge make the space feel cozy, comfortable, and stylish.

Perch & Nest tiny farmhouse living room

Notice the big windows, window seat, and glass doors leading out to the porch beyond. Dreamy! A second loft on this side is reached by a ladder to save space.

Perch & Nest tiny farmhouse bedroom

Moving into a tiny house can be an opportunity to discern what really matters in your life. There is room in a tiny house to nourish a passion, or keep up with a hobby — but there's no room for activities or things that you aren't really using. If you love to knit and read, you can certainly keep a basket with your current project and a carefully curated bookcase. If you love to paint, you can prioritize space for a folding easel, a case of paints and jar of brushes. You can have art on the walls, lovely clothes in the closet, and cute pillows on the couch. Just not too many ;-)

Perch & Nest tiny farmhouse exterior

Would you ever move into a tiny home? What would you bring, and what would you leave behind?

(all photos: Perch & Nest)