5 Reasons Why Alaska Is Bigger And Better Than Texas

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5 Reasons Why Alaska Is Bigger And Better Than Texas - Sled Dog Slow

For the next few weeks I’m visiting family in Texas! While I’m sure Texas is a fine state full of fine people, I hadn’t even been here an hour when I decided I was going to write this post. Of course I had to start my visit off with a bang 😉 So why exactly is Alaska bigger and better than Texas?

Number 1 – Alaska is actually bigger!

You could actually fit the entirety of Texas into Alaska twice. It is bigger than Texas, Montana and California combined! Alaska is so big the International Date Line had to be bent around it to keep the entire state in the same day. It has 1/5 of the US’s entire land mass. So yeah, Alaska is pretty darn big!

Number 2 – Reindeer sausage y’all

Meat is a staple of life in both Alaska and Texas, but you’d be hard pressed to find reindeer sausage anywhere in Texas. In Alaska it’s on the menu at every restaurant and you can pick it up at the grocery store. Yum!

Number 3 – Alaskans are friendlier

This is actually the point that started this list. My moms car broke down on the way from the airport. We made it off to the side of the road fine, and my mom called AAA. In the meantime, we all got out of the car and stood in the lit driveway of the car dealership we’d pulled into. So we’re four ladies and two babies standing next to a car with the hood up and flashers on. We had about 20-30 cars pass us before AAA got there, without anyone stopping to see if we needed help. Including a police officer who stopped to ask if we’d heard gun shots a half hour before then took off without so much as asking if we were alright.

In Alaska, most of those cars would have stopped, even if one person had stopped already! How do I know? Because I’ve been helped and stopped to help any time I could. I may be a transplant, but Alaskan manners were quick to rub off on me!

Number 4 – Coffee Stands

Okay, hear me out with this one. Did y’all know that Anchorage actually outdoes Seattle for coffee shops? With 2.8 shops per 10,000 people, it beats Seattle’s 2.5. Alaska actually has more espresso shops per capita than anywhere in America!

So why am I comparing Alaska’s plethora of coffee stands to Texas specifically? As it turns out, Texas doesn’t really have drive through coffee stands. There is the occasional sit down coffee shop, but even those are few and far between. Where is a girl supposed to get her caffeine fix around here?!

Number 5 – In Alaska, the things that want to kill you are big enough to see coming

Yeah, we might have ornery moose and huge bears, but you’ll see those suckers coming at you. Same with anything else out here that might want to eat you, or thinks you are in it’s territory. On the other hand, Texas has poisonous snakes, spiders and scorpions. I am not enjoying shaking out my shoes before I slip them on, even though its winter. There is stuff in Texas that might kill you just because you didn’t see it!

So Texas. I’m still here for another 3 weeks, show me why you are awesome!

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How To Have A Great Marriage Living In A Tiny Home

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How To Have A Great Marriage Living In A Tiny Home

I think my husband and I have a pretty great marriage. Sure, we disagree at times, like everyone does. But we never spend days angry at each other. A lot of this is applicable to any relationship, no matter where you live. But living in a tiny home will put an extra strain on any one living there. We have two adults and a toddler living in 250 sq ft, so trust me, I know!

I have yet to see the way space constraints can affect a marriage talked about. So I thought I’d put this out there for anyone who wants to take up this kind of life. Living in a tiny home can be hard on you and your partner, and it takes some getting used too! Luckily I’ve done 2 solid years of research on this living out here with my husband, and I’m happy to share what I know 🙂

So what tips can I share for having a great marriage in a tiny home?

Say you love each other.

Mean it and say it. Often. Kyle and I probably say “I love you” a dozen times a day, at least. Both to each other and our daughter. It should be just as easy to express love as it is to vent frustrations, so affirming our love every day helps keep our relationship strong.

Touching is important.

Not much for cuddling at night? That’s okay! Hold hands while you watch TV, sit next to each other while playing video games, or snuggle up and read together. It should be easy to find ways to touch living in a tiny home. Heck, sometimes I can’t walk through the house without bumping into Kyle! Even if you just stop for a hug now and again, physical affirmation of your feelings is important!

Do chores together.

This is probably where Kyle and I struggle the most. He has handled so much of the hard physical labor out here thus far, while I handled our newborn daughter. Now she is old enough to get geared up and explore outside while we work. It helps that we both kind of gravitate to doing chores if the other has started something. So I’ll cook and he’ll wash dishes, or he’ll start picking up the floor and I’ll sweep.  Doing chores together, even if we aren’t working on the same thing, helps it to feel like things are being done fairly.

Don’t keep score.

Not of chores, or fights or anything. Being married means you’re a team, you share the same score!

Allow yourself, and your partner, to be mad sometimes.

I know everyone’s advice to newlyweds is to never go to bed mad, but I think people need to on occasion. Not every issue needs to be solved right now. Sometimes I just want to say that I’m mad, and then be left alone for a bit. Kyle is definitely a talk it out right now person, whereas I need some time and space to put my thoughts together. Now I’m not saying go to bed mad every night! Just that people are complicated and sometimes we piss off our partners. It’s okay not to rush into fix it mode immediately. A little space to figure out why you/they are upset can be a good thing.

Communicate.

What ever you are feeling, let your partner know. If you’re mad the dishes didn’t get done, say something. (Trust me, this is a huge deal when dishes from one meal clog up the entire counter!) Frustrated because your partner has hogged the remote all day? Tell ’em! Going stir crazy because you need more space to spread out? Talk about it! Seriously! Communication is a big deal in relationships. Just because you’re married doesn’t make you mind readers. Talk about everything.

Don’t use the words always or never.

These words are most likely to come up in an argument. They will almost always be an exaggeration. If you’d like your partner to do something more, don’t say “you never do this!” The only thing a statement like that does is make people defensive. It’s much easier to hear “I’d appreciate it if you’d do this more.” Always and never will only get hackles up and create a worse argument.

Once you’re done with an argument, be done with it.

I know it’s tempting to bring up the past in a fight, but once you’ve settled something let it go. That’s not to say the subject is suddenly forbidden, just make a point not to rehash things over again unnecessarily.

Have sex.

Yup! I said it. More physical affirmation of your love for each other. Regular sex is important in most relationships. There is science behind skin to skin contact and your brain releasing happy love hormones. Plus, feeling good together just makes for a happier couple. And having good sex makes you want to have more sex. Its a vicious cycle of looooove. So wait for the baby to nap, or send the kid(s) outside for a bit. Make time to make love!

People are complicated, therefore our marriages are too.

Really, not doing one of these won’t break your marriage, just like doing one won’t make it. And maybe some of these tips aren’t for you and your marriage at all. I do think they are a good place to start for having a great marriage though, in any sized home!

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Pros And Cons Of Tiny House Living

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Pros And Cons Of Tiny House Living SledDogSlow.com

We live in a tiny house. It’s not the smallest I’ve ever seen, but it’s pretty small for two adults and a growing baby. Including our storage-only loft, our house is still less than 300 sq ft. I think it’s a mansion compared to what we started with out here, which was less than 100 sq ft. As much as I love our little cabin, it has always been a temporary space. There are lots of reasons to love it, and just as many reasons to be excited to start our larger forever cabin. Just like every aspect of life, tiny house living has its pros and cons.

Pros of living in a tiny house:

There is no room to collect junk when you live in a tiny house. This is a good thing for me, as I love a good junk collection!

It’s really hard not to be organized in a tiny home. This means almost always knowing where something is when you want it.

Tiny houses are super fast to clean when you do have the occasional mess.

Small spaces are easier to heat, which is especially nice if you are off grid and heating with a wood stove.

Smaller houses are cheaper to build and maintain than an average home.

Cons of tiny house living:

There isn’t much room to spread out in such small spaces. This means things like big baking projects and art projects don’t really happen.

More than one person in a tiny house means a lot of bumping into each other! It also means it’s hard to have friends over, so we usually end up visiting rather than having visitors.

Unfortunately, living in a tiny home means little to no privacy. There are no doors in our house for example, just a wider than average doorway leading from the main living area to our bedroom.

At least with small log homes, there is no sound dampening. I can hear Kyle running the chainsaw outside, or the chickens singing the egg song, or the goats playing.

Coming home from grocery shopping is like playing Tetris, sometimes more than one round. We will often bring in half of our goods, rearrange and put them away, then bring in the second half and do it again.

If you think you can handle the cons along with the pros, a tiny house might be right for you!

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Behind The Scenes: Homesteading With Chronic Illness

Behind The Scenes: Homesteading With Chronic Illness
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Homesteading With Chronic Illness

Homesteading as a healthy person is a task. Homesteading with chronic illness is hard to the nth degree. It’s not impossible, but it does create some interesting problems. I personally have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome type 3. This means I have hyper-mobility in my joints, which cause a lot of issues. The picture to the left shows my thumb folded to my wrist, which is the most obvious and least painful example of hyper-mobility for me. I have regular dislocations, subluxations, scoliosis, and chronic joint pain, among other things. I’ve even dislocated joints in my sleep before! As you can imagine, this causes some serious issues with homesteading. There’s a limit to how much weight I can lift and what tasks I can do. And I can forget about any tasks that require odd positions or contortions. There are so many homestead chores that I just can’t take on, or can only do in a limited capacity. Even things like holding my daughter too long or wearing a heavy back pack can pull my shoulders painfully. Added to all that is the fatigue brought on by chronic pain. I manage, but only with a lot of help and support from my husband!

Read on for more stories from homesteaders with chronic illness who are still living their dreams:

Autumn Rose at Hope For Better Living: Chronic illness complicates every aspect of living, and particularly, my homesteading activities! Since battling Lyme disease I’ve had to relearn HOW to do life as a fatigued individual. In order to accomplish tasks, I must plan far in advance, gauge energy levels (when it runs out, its OUT), and be sure to organize my day, beginning with the important things first. Though it isn’t easy, it isn’t all bad! In fact, because of limitations, I have found more efficient ways to do things. Number one on the list is asking for help, whether a spouse, friend or family member, life is easier when working together! I’ve also come to recognize there’s no shame in using a timer on the garden sprinkler, that mulching methods are awesome and a few weeds don’t hurt, that its ok to have our birds on a system where they are set up for 2 weeks+ and need checking only every couple days. Though it isn’t the ideal, it makes it all possible! The key is in letting go of expectations you put on or allow others to put on yourself. Do what you can and be proud of it!

https://www.reddit.com/r/bipolar/comments/3x5i91/this_a_normal_brain_and_a_bipolar_brain_its_real/Anonymous on homesteading with Bipolar Disorder:

Having Bipolar Disorder changes everything about homesteading. From finding things joyful one day to being completely apathetic about them the next, the emotional roller coaster finds ways to upset everyday tasks. Right now I’m not on any medication due to some awful side effects, so I am learning to manage on my own. This means pushing through debilitating depression to make sure animals are fed and watered, even if I can’t manage finding the energy to brush my own teeth. It also means fighting to finish a single project during manic stages, rather than starting 15 things and not completing any. I am constantly at war with myself, either feeling over or under whelmed with my daily life. That said, I love the life I live and I will always find a way to make it work, no matter how I’m feeling!

Homesteading with chronic illness’s is a challenge, but it is not impossible!

Have your own story about homesteading with a chronic illness? Add it in the comments, or email me at katie@sleddogslow.com to have it added here!

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Dealing With Isolation And Alaskan Winters

Dealing With Isolation And Alaskan Winters - SledDogSlow.com

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One thing about living off grid and off road is the isolation factor. I never thought of this as a problem before, in fact I considered it a benefit in our move! When we lived in town, our door was never answered if Kyle wasn’t home. Part of our moving this far was to get away from the noise and distraction of city life. It is completely different out here though. With so little human noise, we are always glad to have guests. There are also only two reasons for people to knock on our door; either they own a cabin in the area and know (or want to know) us, or they have an emergency. In either case I am happy to answer the door here.

It probably helps that there is no pretending you aren’t home in 300 square feet with smoke pouring out of the chimney!

 

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That time neighbors gifted us salmon so we could have a real meal at home.

I think Kyle and I are a lot more excited to see people with so much time between visits. There have been times where a month has passed without seeing anyone. I personally run more introvert than extrovert, so I definitely need space to recharge after hanging out. It also makes a difference that we live in a cabin community here. Everyone is always looking out for each other, so there is a need to know who the neighbors are. People help each other when stuck on the trail, or by dropping off groceries, or hauling loads back here. Everyone has been in a pinch a time or two, so it helps knowing there are people around that can be depended upon. Helping people out is a good way to meet the neighborhood too.

Most cabin owners in this area are seasonal, so we haven’t had much company this winter. We do have a few friends we see in town, and a few others who stop by every time they are out this way. What we are really missing though is our families. We just recently found the show Alaska: The Last Frontier and are really enjoying it. They have several generations of family homesteading, and it’s obvious how much they lean on each other. The also live on the peninsula and live by the tides. Its fun watching people so similar to us, but it does drive home how alone we are. It would be really nice to have full time neighbors, or family or friends that lived out here.

Our closest full time neighbors are 11 miles away, off road. That makes it a little hard to run over and borrow some sugar!

 

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That time neighbors gifted us a beach fire when they moved on by 4 wheeler and we had to wait out the tide to take our truck.

The long, dark days of Alaskan winters only add to the feeling of isolation. On our shortest days we only got 5 hours of light. This means a lot of time spent inside, which is probably why everyone is asking us if we have cabin fever. Luckily we have the internet, and winter gave us time to catch up on all our shows that we missed while working on our homestead this summer. Along with video games, we also have been doing a lot of research to prepare for summer. Especially research regarding raising pigs and dealing with bears. Hungry bears around the homestead is not something I’m excited for. We also have our daughter to hang out with. Watching her learn new things is endlessly entertaining!

Spending that much time in the dark has been quite the change for us. Not only did we have more light in Washington winters, but the summer days are so long it makes the winter seem worse. Now I under stand why things like Happy Lamps exist. It’s also hard to make any progress on our homestead when there is so little day light. Outdoor chores are slow to be done this time of year. Sometimes the constant darkness does wear a little bit, so we take “family days” as often as we need.

There was no rush once we had shelter, firewood, food  and water needs met. Although sometimes it’s a chore in itself convincing Kyle he doesn’t need to push himself so hard. Come spring there will be plenty of time for rushing around to finish projects. It feels like winter is spent waiting for spring and outdoor chores again! Indoor projects are something I want to prepare more for next winter. This year we didn’t really have time to harvest any materials for crafting over winter. We spent all our time in a mad dash to finish our home before snow fell.

 

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That time when a neighbor towed us out of quicksand and saved our truck from the tide (the second time!).

The good news is the snow is melting and the birds are back and singing. Pretty soon all our summer friends and neighbors will be back. And with the return of long days there will be lots of homestead projects happening!

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