Small Change = Big Difference

So, as I mentioned in my previous post, there have been many small changes to our kitchen.  These changes, while unnoticeable to the untrained eye, have made a difference in the way we live and experience our time here at Lot 26.  And they also help us save some cash and time–and they’ve made another small dent in the harm we do to Mother Earth.  (Good thing moms tend to be forgiving, right?)

I thought it would be easiest to break this down, change by change, item by item–well, and I like showing off our cool “new” stuff 🙂


Napkins?  Why the heck am I so excited about napkins, you ask?  Why, because I made them!  Remember how I said I’ve been enjoying the simplicity of watching the needle of the sewing machine go up and down?  Well, that needle has helped me make a lot of useful stuff.

A bowlful of homemade napkins! Aren't they purty?

The great thing about these cloth napkins is that I haven’t bought paper towels in months.  We were already using cloth towels for cleaning the counters and such, but we still used those pesky (and wasteful!) paper towels for napkins.  No more!  We save money, and we keep unnecessary waste out of the garbage can.

So while I was learning how to use the machine (I found it best to practice with small things like these napkins, as a warm up), I decided to tackle a larger job…


Yes, I made curtains!  I wrote over a year ago that curtains would make a big difference in winterizing our trailer–but I never got around to either making or buying them…until this winter!  My mom helped me pick out material that would be durable AND aesthetically pleasing, and we came up with these:

I love that flower design.

The curtain is a thin wool material (I found it in the “clothing” fabric part of the store), but I also lined this with a thick almost canvas/denim material.  So, they do keep out the cold.  I haven’t done any actual calculations in terms of money savings, and it has been a pretty mild winter, BUT I can say that last winter CF and I spent most of our at-home time in the guest room because it was the warmest room in the house.  Now, with the temp set at 66 degrees just like last winter, I am able to spend more time in the open areas (kitchen and living room) without freezing.  A major improvement if I do say so myself.  Also, now we have a bit more privacy (as those windows had no curtains or even blinds on them!).

I hope we’re saving money on heating because, honestly, these curtains were NOT cheap to make.  The material was pretty pricey, but I wanted something I would like to look at, so I think it’s worth it.  Also, I just really like knowing that I MADE THEM.  🙂

Moveable Counter Space

So, as much as I love our little home, the lack of counter space in the kitchen was really getting on my nerves.  I love to cook, but there were appliances everywhere all the time, and no place for dirty dishes to hang out until I had the time/energy to get to them–so clearing space to chop vegetables seemed a chore.  And then we kept receiving more appliances and gadgets (see below), and then I started looking for help.  We decided on this beautiful thing:

Say hello to our chrome cart!

Nice right?  I’m still in the process of reorganizing the chrome utility shelf so that we’re maximizing our use of space, but I’m loving having a “coffee station” that also houses baking sheets and more.  This gave us a little extra counterspace, and I’m digging it.

“New” Gadgets

So, what gadgets have acquired?  First, for Christmas we received a new espresso machine.

It's a really nice gift!

Now, we already had one, and I immediately started scheming for how to convince CF to get rid of the old one.  He kept saying, “But it still works!” to which I would say, “and that’s why it’s a great item to give to Goodwill!”  In the end, we compromised.  It’s out of our kitchen; it found a new home down the street at CF’s mom’s house….were CF’s studio is conveniently located. So CF gets to make espresso here with me or there with his mom. It’s a win-win(-win?).

Then, more recently, we were gifted a bread machine.  CF was really excited about the bread machine.  I, at first, was not.  See, I’ve been trying to eat less bread and other foods made with refined flours.  I’ve been trying to eat more whole grains in their whole forms (rice, quinoa, millet, steel cut oats, etc).  But when CF called and said “Guess what?  We got a bread machine!”  he sounded so excited, I just went with it.

I usually just put it on the floor next to the cart when I use it.

And admittedly, homemade bread is pretty freaking awesome.  I like the fact that this gadget might save us some money too–making our own bread is probably cheaper (and healthier) than buying from the store.

We’ve also been using a juicer this winter.  CF found his old juicer in his mom’s garage, cleaned it up and showed me how it worked.  We’ve been drinking homemade juice 3 or more times a week ever since.

Isn't she a beaut'?

Even though it takes up space (my precious counterspace!) and can be a pain to clean, I love this gadget too.  How could I not?  She’s called the Juice Lady, and when she’s done making you juice and it’s time to clean her, she opens her arms high above her head and says “Yay!  I made you juice!”  (At least, that’s what I imagine she’s saying.)

"Yay! I made you juice!"


Ok, this last change is the most recent and the one that is not exactly part of the kitchen.  But stay with me 🙂

Last night, CF installed these:

Now our coats can live next to the door instead of on the back of the couch.

We’d debated for a while about whether or not to buy a coat stand/rack, where we’d put it, etc.  But in the end, we decided we could save money AND space if we just installed a series of hooks.  Right now, they’re holding our winter coats and accessories that we used to fling over the backs and arms of our couches.  Now, our living room looks neater!

But, what’s the point of all this?  Why show you pictures of such minor and seemingly insignificant changes?  Because when you add up the small things, it equals something great.  After working to make this space more and more ours, our home, and after spending more and more time together making these changes, we have a real stake in this place.  A real sense of ownership, belonging, fondness…even pride.  The small things we do to make this space better also accomplishes the task of making it ours.

So…we’re happy!  We’re happy here in the trailer park, and every change we make in this space is a change towards our ultimate sense of home.  May you all be able to find that feeling too!

p.s.  In case you’re wondering how Valentine’s Day went here at Lot 26:

Our heart-shaped sushi dinner 🙂

Chocolate molten lava cake with a heart-shaped coconut ice-cream.

About Cathy G Gilbert

I am veggie-loving, community college professor who lives, teaches, and writes in Central IL.
This entry was posted in kitchen adventures, Reflections, Renovations, Saving Money. Bookmark the permalink.

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