Tiny Home Beauty

What’s the secret I wish someone would’ve told me decades ago?

If we start small, we can create our dream home almost instantaneously.

As children, we can play house in a tent. As teenagers, we can upgrade to a customized van. As twenty-somethings, we can convert a bus or buy a pod or build a THOW* from recycled materials. By middle-age we can move into a lovely RV, or design our own build-from-scratch tiny home. Etc.

All of these homes are affordable. And by taking care with how we craft the interiors, all of these homes can be beautiful.

By beautiful, I’m not just talking about what we can see. Beauty is how we feel, from the inside out, When we feel beautiful, we feel confident, empowered, and joyful.

Owning our home – with no rent, no mortgage, no loans, no debt – is beautiful.

Carefully choosing things to fill our home, and selecting only the Best Somethings: items that are [multi-]functional, long-lasting, and gorgeous, means beauty times three. Or four.

My tiny home is filled with over a hundred hand-crafted items, one-of-a-kind pieces collected from artisans all over the world. Every piece reminds me of the person who made it, and where I was when I chose it.

Beyond all these artistic pieces, my home contains hundreds of other more utilitarian items; items I spent hundreds of hours researching before I purchased them.

On my Essentials page, I preview the more important pieces, and provide links to where you can procure them.

May you find these thingy-ma-doobers as helpful as I do!


*Tiny Home on Wheels

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The Champion

IMG_5209At twenty-five feet long and eight feet wide, this bus/tiny home might seem small relative to the redwood trees.

Well, it is, and it isn’t.

Known as “The Champion,” (*) the bus was converted into a tiny home in less than one week (tight schedule, long story) before traveling to the Northern California coastline to glamp on a rocky beach…then in the redwoods…ultimately settling among oak and madrone woodlands along the Russian River.

Totaling 120 square feet, this mobile home contains an entire life: the space, equipment, plants, and furnishings for a scientist-poet who teaches year-round at San José State University. Plus a dog! And a harp!

Upcycling a shuttle bus isn’t nearly as hard as you might think. Once all the seats and fittings are pulled out and a new floor installed, you can do just about anything – floor to ceiling – with an electric screwdriver, elbow grease, and a pragmatic imagination. [Read on for the backstory]

With everything held in place using bungie cords, magnets, super glue, bolts, screws, and carefully engineered placement, the Champion is home to a terrific assortment of goodies essential to glamping: cushy lounge areas, handcrafted decor, high-end appliances, and an overall ambience of natural luxury.

Even more important, the Champion glamping lifestyle is carbon neutral. In other words, all of the systems created within the Champion are designed to have the lowest possible negative impact on the environment.

Although the ethos of glamping involves glamor and luxury, it isn’t just about having it all without caring about the (economic, social, or environmental) price. True glamping is about conservation, sustainability, and ethical responsibility: ensuring we take exquisite care of the natural beauty and wildness we choose to inhabit.

(*) The name is derived from its make and model: a Ford E450 Champion Challenger

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Beauty & Love Publishing Debut!

Books 1-2-3 web image.jpg

A celebration of traditional culture. Each book features a different aspect of biocultural diversity. These books are only available through direct order on this website (with $3 added for shipping via USPS Media Mail) or via select bookstores in Mendocino, Sonoma, and Lake Counties.

Waterdog & the Love Charm, a delightfully mischievous tale told by Dry Creek Pomo Elizabeth “Belle” Lozinto Cordova Dollar (and edited by her great-niece Sherri Smith-Ferri) illustrates the close ties between nature and culture.

In Pomo Cradle Baskets: An Introduction, Redwood Valley Pomo master weaver Corine Pearce describes the history, wild-crafting, distinct styles and contemporary use of traditional cradle baskets.

The Beadwork of Stewart Wilburn commemorates fifty years of stunning artistry by a renowned Wailaki/Tolowa/Pomo/Wintu elder whose work honors and represents the people and wildlife of Northern California.


Waterdog & the Love Charm

A 72-page, full-color storybook.



Pomo Cradle Baskets: An Introduction

A 32-page, full color manual.



The Beadwork of Stewart Wilburn

A full-color, 24-page photo essay.



Author events can be scheduled by contacting Dr. Jeanine Pfeiffer.


Loving Life

Whenever one of the rangers at the park hosting the Champion is asked how he’s doing, he replies, “as long as I’m above ground, it’s a good day.”

Well. OK, and. As much as we might appreciate that sentiment, can’t we raise the bar a little higher?

Last year when I tried out one of those online dating sites, my profile byline was “I wake up happy.

Because, by golly, it’s true! Things may happen later on that inspire mood swings in the opposite direction, but at least every day starts with a sense of contentment.

When I realized this Waking Up Happy thing was occuring, I was pleasantly surprised. Yet I didn’t take it for granted, because I suffer from chronic low-level depression. This whole happiness thing is something I need to actively tend to, not take for granted.

Loving life may, or may not be, automatic for us humans. I empathize with both sides.

To kick-start the concept we can use a little trick I learned many years ago. I call it a Happiness List – an inventory of things or actions that, added up, lean us towards happy.

For example, here’s a peek at part of my list:

  1. Reaching out to friends
  2. Being surrounded by greenery + wildlife
  3. Enough quiet time to read (or journal, or write) for a few hours
  4. Hugs! More hugs!
  5. Home cooked meals
  6. Exercise! More exercise!
  7. Artwork (mine or someone else’s)
  8. Music (listening or practicing my harp)

I could go on – I think you get the picture. Isn’t it interesting that nothing on my Happiness List involves money, material goods, or electronic devices?


What’s on your Happiness List? Wanna share?


choicesThe best way to lose choices is to think we don’t have any, or convince ourselves we don’t have enough.

Every day we make thousands of choices.

Ergo, by the time we’ve hit puberty, we’ve already made millions upon millions of choices. By middle age, it’s billions.

Didn’t realize you were a billionaire, huh?



The Homeowner

IMG_4852I began living in beauty almost two years ago.

In truth, I began living in beautiful locales in 2009, when I moved to Mendocino county and rotated through remote coastal and inland settings. Depending on where I set up my household, my backyard contained whales, seals, sea or mountain lions, bobcats, bears, coyote, fox, deer, and several hundred other mammalian, avian, amphibian, and reptilian species – never mind the tremendous diversity of plant life.

Yet living in a beautiful locale does not equal living in beauty. (Especially when your landlords or housemates or neighbors are unhappy creatures.)

It took mold, a house fire, a water deficit, and a funereal atmosphere (four different dwellings, four distinctly intractable issues) to bring me to the point where I said enough. No more of this. Nada mas. I wanted More Better, and I wanted it on my own terms.

But how to afford my own place on a part-time university lecturer’s salary? The solution I engineered, and the means by which I became a homeowner living in a converted bus where I wake up happy every day, is a story I’d like to share. Because I’m guessing there are many others who find themselves stuck in Less-Than situations.

To me, living in beauty means being able to see untamed nature out of every window. It means breathing in the sweet tang of unpolluted air, and of hearing mostly quiet punctuated with bird calls, ocean waves, or both. It means being content with my choices and living in close alignment with my deeply held principles.

Living in beauty implies creating a space ample enough to grow our emotional, intellectual, and spiritual sides: whether that is expressed in craftsmanship, gardening, music, community meals, or other inspirational endeavors.  It is an ongoing endeavor, with the reward of many moments of sheer joy.


The Lifestyle

IMG_4814What happens when we choose to live our Best Lives?

We put ourselves back in the driver’s seat.

We have the opportunity to learn mindfulness. We experience news ways to be accountable. We have the opportunity to transform ourselves, constantly.

Here’s what I’ve learned about trying to put the puzzle pieces together.

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