Big Move

As I mentioned in my 2021 Goal Setting post, my husband and I have moved to the big island of Hawaii. This change has been a long time coming. While it might seem on the outside like paradise (and I will admit, it is utterly green and verdant here), we have a lot of work ahead of us this year, and when we arrived we had to immediately face a lot of the realities of living in this tropical environment: pests (ants, cockroaches, and rats, to be specific), humidity control / mold, and a deep desire to learn as much about the local culture and be as culturally respectful as possible (knowing we are going to bungle up and learn as we go).

Sea Container Arrival

Sea Container Arrival

Not that we didn’t work hard in years past to get to this point. We downsized, and downsized again. We simplified our budget and counted pennies and saved and planned and cut our budget again. Our 5 month trip to the Arctic in 2019, when we lived (and I quilted!) in 75 square feet, reinforced to us that we don’t need much “stuff”. We downsized again. And in the end, when we felt financially ready, we committed to a lot of hard renovation work and took a big leap of faith. All of our household goods only filled about one third of the volume of a 20 foot sea container, and we are still evaluating everything we brought with us as we unbox and are donating some of the items that we honestly just don’t need.

After Unloading Sea Container

After Unloading Sea Container

Getting even that limited amount of items to fit, and be organized, in a 512 square foot cottage that needs a lot of renovation, is the challenge we are currently facing. When we first unloaded the sea container, a stack of boxes made a useable headboard for a few weeks.

Building Our "Super Closet"

Building Our “Super Closet”

While renovations are also occurring, we are also building out an interior floor plan to make the space work the most efficiently for our needs. The first order of business for us was to build what we are calling our “super closet”. It is a 67″ wide by 77″ deep by 8 foot tall closet that we have filled to the brim with our clothes, my quilts and bolts of fabric, and all of the items we want to store in a humidity controlled environment.

Quilts and Fabric in Super Closet

Quilts and Fabric in Super Closet

Trust me when I say that the closet uses the most of the volume; we even put a shelf over the door! When the closet was complete and ready for us to pack, it was an amazing feeling. After weeks of feeling like we were camping, it was fun and freeing to be able to unpack so many boxes and feel like we were really starting to move in.

Crowded / Packed Sewing Space

Crowded / Packed Sewing Space

My new sewing table was built at the same time as the closet because it is on the opposite side of the closet (you can see the table in the picture above hiding under the chairs and behind our folding bikes). It’s definitely a shell game going through this phase: move everything out of the way enough to work on the area we are focusing on, unpack a little, move things around again, and repeat.

First Banana Harvest (Apple Bananas)

First Banana Harvest (Apple Bananas)

At the same time, we have a current solution to having fresh, safe drinking water in the kitchen, are addressing our muddy driveway, tackling the overgrowth and fallen palm fronds in the yard, harvesting and learning about all the fruit growing on our property, and lots more that I can’t think of at the moment.

Yvonne Tech Editing

Yvonne Tech Editing

Exactly 2 weeks ago, we finally got internet established here, which enabled me to get back to plugging away behind the scenes technical editing and working on my personal backlog of quilt patterns as well.

Sewing Space Unpacked

Sewing Space Unpacked

At the very end of last week we were able to unbox my sewing space and I verified that my sewing machine survived the move and works well! I still need to go through all the bins of fabric and organize the space, but it feels great to have made so much progress already.

Another very big item that we will hopefully be able to address this week is a shop for my husband. While having his tools and machine shop in the house is helpful for now, as we continue to build out the interior floor plan, we will need to free up more space. Creating a shop space so we can move out most of the tools is key to moving forward.

Building / Construction Materials

Building / Construction Materials

So, that’s my “what I did over Christmas and start of 2021” report. I was offline for a pretty good period of time before we were able to establish internet, so I’m curious: how are you and how is the start of 2021 going for you?

35 thoughts on “Big Move

  1. Patti Kaplan says:

    You are amazing, the courage and fortitude you’ve shown is commendable. I wish you the best of luck in your new home. Looking forward to seeing more quilts.

  2. dmearls2015 says:

    You and your husband are amazing! What did you do with the new truck-did it come with you? You are so lucky to be young and able to do the work on your home and vehicles in addition to what you both do for an income. You show all of us how we don’t need many possessions to live life fully. As a currently recovering hoarder, you set a high standard for me. It took a lifetime to collect all I have and it will take time to tame it and create more free space and light in my life. My ideas outstrip my actions so there is quite a backlog of projects and decisions about what to keep and what to give or throw away will take time. Enjoy your adventures. When I was 25, I got married and we traveled the country over 4 months in a station wagon- we had a foam bed, screens for the windows and curtains. It was a great way to see the country. We had to cut it short for a wedding but it was bliss. In 1975, it cost us less than $2000. Keep adventuring!!

  3. Thanks for sharing this with us, Yvonne. What an adventure! So your interior space, was it an open floor plan when you moved in, or have you gutted it and are redesigning?

  4. I’m selfishly excited to follow you and your husband on another construction project – I soooo enjoyed following along as you built the habitat! Thank you for sharing your details and amazing expertise – you two are amazing and I learn so much! Climate and bugs will certainly be a challenge over there, as my parents experienced living there in the late 50s – can’t wait to see how you wrangle it all!

  5. Wow! Such a change! You are very brave I must say! It looks beautiful and exciting. I’m sure there are many challenges to over come as well. Best of wishes in your new adventure!

  6. I am delighted to hear the specifics of your move, unpacking, building, sorting and settling. I still think you two are amazing. I am eager to know the name of your town? Village? nearest store. I have a very good, long time friend who lives in Keaau. I know she and her husband would be happy to share information and help in anyway they can. If you would like to get in touch just let me know. She is originally from California and he is Hawaiian. They know all the customs, etc.
    We made it through Covid Christmas thé very best we could. We stayed home and did zoom visiting with some family and telephoning with others. Ron and I each decided on and made a dish for our dinner as we have done other Christmases or Thanksgivings when we lived too far away from family. The only rule was that we could not tell the other what we were fixing (and we did make other things, too) AND that we had never made that dish before. Great fun and something we looked forward to.
    Life here continues with the virus continuing to rage and us doing our best dodge any germey challenges. One day at the time as we observe our crazy, interesting world.
    Fondly, Wanda :)

  7. Julie Vogel says:

    Wow! Your skill sets are so suited to doing something so brave and creative! I wish you all the best on this new adventure! I am retiring from 35 years of being a church music director in the same church. Big adjustment! I also just found out that I will be become a grandmother in August, so some of my extra time will go toward making some baby quilts!!

    I can’t wait to see how Hawaii inspires you. Are you going to make any Hawaiian quilts? We will all await your news!

  8. Debbie Best says:

    I am so inspired by your move and the details of getting settled in! Your thought processes are so wonderful to hear about. I am wishing and praying for your success and fulfillment of your hopes and dreams!❤️
    I live in Austin, Tx with my husband. I live 2 blocks from my daughters family. I am so fulfilled helping my daughter. My grandson start real “school” today! Yeah for everyone! Mom and Dad have full time jobs working from home and 3 boys under 10.
    I am enjoying sewing, playing cards, cooking, and trying to stay safe. COVID is bad here. Praying for a peaceful transition of power in our government. I never dreamed of these 2 events happening in our world. Very happy for your updates.
    I have my fabrics cut out for “BOKEH”!
    Debbie Best

  9. angeliine says:

    What a big move! I grew up on the Big Island, so will certainly be thinking of you getting settled amongst your new “friends” (the pests) and rain.

  10. What a fun new adventure! You’ve already done so much work; accomplished so much to get your sewing space organized already. The super closet is perfect.

  11. nrs says:

    Congratulations, Yvonne. What an exciting adventure. I am looking forward to living vicariously through you.


    Congratulations on your big move. I enjoyed reading about the ways you moved toward this adventure with the various downsizing you did before and more now that you are there. Was this a single room house when you started? You have accomplished so much in such a short amount of time. There must be some real satisfaction in seeing things start coming together.

  13. Suzanne says:

    Whoooo-eee! What an adventure! It’s wonderful to see you living your dream while you’re young. (At age 70, it seems as though everybody else is a youngster! ) Hawaii is lush and gorgeous. I expect you’ll be exceedingly happy there and you’ve certainly earned it, what with all the hard work, scrimping and saving you both did.
    Your sewing area looks comfortable and inviting but I’ve always wondered what you use for a cutting table? And before I forget, what happened to your cat? We’re pet-people and have 2 cats & one big 100lb dog, all of whom we adore.
    It looks as though you’ve been busy painting maybe? All that clean fresh-looking white is beautiful against the tropical greenery. I hope you won’t mind showing us more of the house as your work progresses. I KNOW the end result will be superb. Our dream always was to retire in Maine or Vermont with cool fresh air and lots of pine and fir trees. It didn’t happen as we’d hoped, but we’re very happy where we are and blessed to have a nice home in a good neighborhood.

    Hubs and I are eagerly waiting for the Covid vaccine so we can safely see our family and friends in person again. We have one 4 year old great-granddaughter, and within the next nine months we are expecting another great-grandchild and a grand-niece or nephew. Plus, one other of our grandsons and his wife are trying to conceive now. We’re gonna have babies up to our eyeballs! Unfortunately some of them live in other parts of the country – but there’s always Skype!

    I hope all of your renovation and expansion projects go quickly, easily, successfully and that you are thrilled with the results.

    Good luck and best wishes!

  14. Isabelle Doblanko says:

    Incredible work!

  15. dmearls says:

    I am so happy for you and a bit jealous you are both so young and so handy with tools! I confess to hoarding tendencies and it is amazing to me that you can keep that at bay. My parents saved EVERYTHING- paper, things they liked, things they “could use someday”, tools and supplies of all kinds. I am learning to pare down but it will take a while. My house has five possible bedrooms. Two for guests, one as a temporary yoga studio- preCovid, one for me, one is my den. I am in the process of sorting my crafting materials and turning the large living room into my craft space- probably about as large as your new home! In 1975, newly married, my husband and I traveled the country for 4 months in our station wagon. It was a wonderful adventure and it cost us less than $2000. Children and jobs inhibited the traveling to small jaunts and vacations. Now, I live alone but have a new adventure- dig out, lighten my load, give or dispose of those things I will not probably be able to do in my lifetime, work on projects partially done and do those I am so wanting to get to. I’m 71 and hoping to make it to my 90’s. You have the right idea- don’t possess more than you need to do what you currently can do. Best wishes on your new adventure. I look forward to seeing and hearing about this chapter of your life. Did your new mobile “home” come with you?

    1. Suzanne says:

      Yvonne’s new home is going to be darling and her quilts are exquisite – don’t you agree?
      I think we are two of a kind. I’m 70 and my parents saved everything too, but I love to organize, re-organize, pitch things (if not recyclable) and donate to the Purple Heart. My sweet hubby is still with me, thank heaven, but he is a terrible pack rat. His parents were immigrants, very poor, and they had to leave him in an orphanage for a couple of years. His father died at 51, so he supported his mom and his sister. Because of her background, his mother was a hoarder and he has retained some of her tendencies. It’s hard for him to give up anything so I have to be gently persuasive, subtle and willing to compromise in order to get rid of “stuff”. If you have any “dig out, lighten my load, give or dispose” tips, I’d be grateful!

  16. aquilterstable says:

    Thanks for sharing with us! I’m in awe of your courage and adventurous spirit. Wish you the best as you continue to settle in, grow, and explore your new home.

  17. patty says:

    This is fascinating and I look forward to following your adventure. 512 square feet sounds so small yet you’ve created such a nice sewing nook. Good luck as you tackle your long to do list. Aloha!

  18. Jude Brown says:

    This is a wonderful story. I admire your ability to tackle this amazing journey your on. Looking forward to your updates.

  19. Cathy says:

    Fabulous adventure! I love the big island!

  20. sue7oaks says:

    Best of luck with your move, Yvonne. Hope its everything you wanted it to be.

  21. Raylee Bielenberg says:

    I’m keen to see the house developments and also how the locale might influence some quilt designs. Have fun, enjoy the challenges.

  22. Jayne Willis says:

    I’ve been waiting for an update about your move. While on the outside it looks like paradise (and it is!), I know it’s an enormous undertaking. I admire your determination and dedication. It can’t be easy but I know you guys have the bigger picture in mind. I’m curious where about you are on the Big Island? Have fun harvesting and eating the fruits of the land!

  23. Liz Wilson says:

    Wow! That is amazing and fascinating at the same time, what an adventure it must be! I love hearing the details of how you do all your work in such a small space and your organizing tips.

  24. What a journey! The island is Maine has some similarities, but not quite as much rudimentary work as you needed to do (water, humidity control and bugs!). So much admiration for the way in which you approach this and wish you fortitude, luck, perseverance and fun in your new adventure.

  25. Wow! This is incredible, Yvonne. I was talking to my husband about you – we are so impressed by all you have achieved. I can’t wait to start seeing how the different environment influences your design choices.

  26. springleafstudios says:

    Wishing you all the best as you work toward getting settled. I am always amazed at what you accomplish in such small spaces. A good dose of Yvonne every once in awhile will keep me going on my purging goals of 2021.

  27. Terrie L Perez says:

    What an amazing journey! Thank you for sharing and inspiring me to live the life I desire.

  28. Looks like you’ve made good progress in just a few weeks. Hope everything is still going smoothly and you get more organized day by day.

  29. Elizabeth E. says:

    Although late to commenting, I have kept your post in the back of my mind for a few days (had to get through the Inauguration!). I know you two are up for anything, given your Alaska adventure, and have the fortitude to see it through. Still, though, it appears to be a big jump. But once I saw the quilts…and the fabric…and your bed with your blue/white quilt, it signals that you’ll be fine as you move through this process. Thank you for sharing!

  30. Fascinating post, thank you for sharing your process and move. Your sewing space looks ready to go, and create. Best of luck in your new adventure.

  31. Jan Ochterbeck says:

    Hi Yvonne – Sorry for late reply, I just received a bunch of your posts in my feed. This has happened before; sorry if my comments aren’t timely.
    Congrats on your big move. Quite a difference in climate from your old home in arid CA to humid Hawaii. I can’t imagine all the hard work you’re going through, It looks like creating your new home and workspace is a huge job and I wish you the best of luck to get it all put together!

  32. Cocoa Quilts says:

    Yvonne is is great to hear the beginning of your adventure. I look forward to all of the ups and downs and you work on your space. I am sure the beauty of the outdoors will bring great job and inspiration for you both.

  33. Wow! We lived in 760 sq ft with a baby and we were always on top of each other – I can not imagine that small of a space and a quilting studio in there – color me impressed!!!! Everything looks so fresh – so you are doing a great job of making it yours!! What an experience!

  34. Anja @ Anja Quilts says:

    Wow. Good luck with the rest of the work. Can’t wait to see it all finished.

I really appreciate the time and thought you take to comment, and I look forward to conversing with you. :)