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Jenna from Tiny House Giant Journey on adventure and top small-living tips
Jenna Spesard, adventurer and writer of blog Tiny House Giant Journey, quit her job back in 2013 and downsized to a 125 square feet mobile home that she built with her boyfriend to travel around the world. In the first year they travelled 20,000 miles in North America and Canada and managed to earn a living from writing about her experiences, whilst enjoying the more important things in life.
Four years on, when Jenna’s not scuba diving in Iceland or trekking in Peru, she now helps manage a Tiny House village in Oregon. The Sugru team has been slightly obsessed by the Tiny House movement for a while so we could not wait to grill Jenna on her awesome experiences as a freewheeling, small living, inspiration.
Firstly a massive high five Jenna. Following you on social makes the team at Sugru want to close up the office and move to the woods. Tell us where you are right now?
I'm currently parked at Mt. Hood Tiny House Village in Oregon. It's about an hour outside of Portland and about thirty minutes from Timberline Resort. It's lovely out here with spring starting to bring everything to life. The woods, the rivers, the mountain... everyday this location is an inspiration.
Do you still enjoy the sense of freedom you did right at the start?
I definitely enjoy the freedom. I now work for myself, and it's a lot of fun being my own boss. The financial freedom is really the best part. I'm working towards paying off my student loan and my car loan. Soon I'll be debt free! I also have the opportunity to travel out of the country three to five times a year. In fact, I'm about to hike Machu Picchu in two weeks, followed by a trip to El Salvador and Guatemala.
Is the tiny house crowd quite a close community? Eg, Do you meet often and help each other out
I think we all feel connected in some kindred-spirit way. We are all spread out across the country, so we don't get to meet up that often, but we stay in touch electronically. I think there is a sisterhood / brotherhood between Tiny Housers, because this lifestyle is not for everyone. And that's okay.
Some of the living spaces featured on your YouTube channel are genious. What’s been the most incredible alternative dwelling you’ve visited?
Oh my, that's too hard! I have so many favorites. I love Anita's Lilypad Tiny House because it's perfect for her petite stature - one of the rooms is only 5' 2" tall! Talk about a space specifically designed for its owner. I also love that the Lilypad is super eco-friendly. John's Expedition Vehicle is another favorite of mine because it's so simple. John's story is pretty incredible. He is 75 years old (or young) and he has taken his family all over the world in his DIY Tiny Expedition Vehicle. I also love any Tiny House built by Abel Zyl. He is a true artist, and he is always coming up with new innovations. The list goes on and on....
Can you see a time when you might outgrow the tiny house?
Sure. I don't think I will live in this Tiny House forever. I want a family and kids one day, and I think I will outgrow the space. That being said, I will always live within my means. Living small has shown me how much richer and bigger life can be when you aren't weighed down by a large mortgage payment. My Tiny House will always be precious to me. I think it will evolve into a vacation home, backyard retreat, or maybe I'll pass it down to my kid for the ultimate college dorm room. Who knows! It will grow and change, just like I will.
It seems like a practical yet highly creative way to live. What’s been your most practical and creative Sugru project in the house?
My DIY shower is made from ribbed metal roofing. I've always wanted to hang a shampoo / conditioner dispenser, but I didn't want to drill through the metal walls (compromising the waterproofing). I also couldn't use suction cups, like many fiberglass showers would use, because of the ribs. Sugru solved that problem. I was able to attach a dispenser and mold a support system with Sugru. No drilling! It's great because Sugru is also waterproof, so I don't worry about it getting wet in my shower.
I've also created wall storage for my mixing bowls using Sugru, which has opened up a lot of space in my kitchen cabinets. My bowls are copper, so I actually like how they look displayed on my wall. I've also attached a hook to my refrigerator, which I would never drill a hole through. Lastly, I've made a cute little cable holder/face next to my couch using Sugru. Before doing that, my cable would often get lost under my couch cushion. I'm still waiting to name the little guy...
Is there any advice you would have for somebody thinking of joining the tiny house movement? Any philosophy that people can apply to their lives?
There is a big world out there, and I think big houses sometimes impede our drive for exploration. Don't be afraid to go outside of your comfort zone. Let go of the material items you think you need. Humans are extremely adaptable; You just might realize that there is more to life, and more opportunities, when you unburden yourself.
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