Father's Day at the Cottage

This post was sponsored by Baileys. 
From the first moment we discussed the possibility of having children together, I knew my husband Adam would be a wonderful father. He has a calm and carefree way about him that encourages everyone around him to be at ease. His presence reminds me to relax and breathe— it’s a rare and valuable trait that’s so helpful in the context of becoming a parent, and raising a child in a busy world. 

For Adam’s first Father’s Day as a dad, we agreed to celebrate simply. No presents— we have everything we need already, and tiny homes function better with fewer items anyway. Instead, we’ve opted for a quiet night in Venice. 

We have lavender in our garden here at home, plus there were buckets of it at our local Farmer’s Market as well, so we decided to use it in a celebratory Baileys cocktail shake. 

We rode around town on our bikes gathering up the other groceries we needed. (West has grown up enough now that we can secure his car seat into the cargo bike, which has been amazing.) 

Adam came up with a quick and easy concoction that we threw into the Vitamix after dinner:

    • 2oz Baileys 
    • 2oz Bulleit Whiskey
    • 2 Cups Ice
    • 1 Cup Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
    • Topped with Lavender Sprigs

Earlier this weekend, Adam installed a little shelf on our Dutch Door, which is the handiest little add-on for our tiny kitchen. We put it to good use while making our drinks, and while enjoying the porch after West fell asleep for the night.

The ingredients smelled so good that we couldn’t get Sophee to leave them alone while we were preparing the shakes. (In the end, she only knocked over one glass. Given her track record, it could’ve been worse. )

This was a laid-back and delightful way to observe a special occasion together. We wondered: why scream over each other at a restaurant, or go out and contend with LA traffic while a babysitter watches our son? For us, being in our little home with our little family is the perfect way to connect, celebrate and surround ourselves with love.

Tiny Nursery Lighting Options

When we first created baby West's nursery bay (full post here), one of the things I struggled with the most was lighting. We definitely needed a light source, but it had to be very specific for the space. Most nursery table lamps would take up too much surface space on the tiny chest of drawers, and most overhead lighting was either too bulky or would've glowed too hot in the little closet nook. I eventually found a combination of accent lighting we loved, and that can be easily moved and adjusted for safety as West grows.

The design I use most frequently is a strand of warm-hued battery-operated twinkle lights, dropped into a rattan backpack. It hangs on the wall or from a curtain rod like a lamp, and can be toted around the cottage like a glittering flashlight.

Here are some of my favorite items and/or makers, in case you too are struggling to find soothing, practical lighting for your small space.

As always, please keep safety in mind when decorating your home. Take particular care to avoid choking, strangulation, shock, and fire hazards when it comes to nursery lighting. 

The Dog Dirt Dilemma

The following post was sponsored by Bissell.

I receive numerous questions on Instagram about how we manage the dirt and hair left behind by our pups, Stanlee and Sophee. How do we deal with it all in our white home? How do we keep the place so clean? Has our patience for it changed since having baby West?  

My first answer is always that there is dog hair and dirt everywhere. (While Sophee sheds very little, Stanlee sheds so much that it's a wonder he has a coat left at all.) Then my follow-up reply is that we simply have to vacuum daily, keep removable cushion covers on the couch, and wash our bed quilt constantly. While we'd figured out how to clean up the daily dirt, we'd yet to prevent it from occurring so intensely in the first place.

Frankly, we should bathe Stanlee and Sophee far more often than we do-- especially since we regularly take them to the beach and the dog park. But the last time we had the pups groomed here in LA it cost us around $120, and mildly traumatized them. Now that Adam and I are trying to save more of our income for West (and for some exciting plans here at the Cottage in the near future), we are searching for any way to cut back on spending. And since we're now both here at the Cottage all day long, it seems ridiculous to hire someone else to tackle a job that we could accomplish ourselves. While searching for a solution, BISSELL reached out to us with a product they suggested we try-- their BarkBath:

Overview: This is a self-contained, mess-free system, so you can use it inside if you don't have an outdoor space. Compared to bathing the pups in our stand-up shower (which always results in scratches all over my body and a killer backache) or washing them with the garden hose, this is extremely easy and FAR less messy. And it effectively reduces the dirt regularly entering our home in the first place. 

Usage: At first, Sophee was skeptical of the nozzle attached to the bath. So I put a treat on the head and presented it to her, and she quickly got over her fear. Stanlee, on the other hand, didn't mind the nozzle, but he jumped at the hum of the machine itself. Luckily there's a long hose attached to the bath, and once I put some distance between him and the device, he was fine with it all and loved the feeling of the nozzle on his coat. The bath and the de-shedding brush worked perfectly, and they cost nearly same price as one trip for two dogs to the groomer. Over time, this will save us money, along with the hassle of transporting the pups, and time spent cleaning more dirt from the cottage.

Storage: As always, we are cautious about bring any product we don't absolutely need into our tiny Cottage. But this bath fits easily alongside our suitcases and slippers under our bed. Given the hassle and money this will save us in the future, we're so glad we tried it, and that we now have it at the ready.

The Value of Home

This post is sponsored by Progressive Home Insurance

This Spring marks the 6th anniversary of Adam, Stanlee and I living at the Cottage. When I look back at what our lives were like shortly before we moved in compared to what they are now, it’s astounding how much we’ve grown together (in just 362 square-feet!). Other than the years I spent in my childhood home, I’ve never lived in one house nearly this long. 

My parents’ house— where I spent the majority of my childhood— sits on the fringes of a gorgeous wildlife sanctuary in North-Central Florida. My mom and dad directed so much of their energy towards cultivating safe and unique experiences for my sister and me on the land. While they never wasted much time on the “stuff” inside our home, the house itself innately held tremendous importance, as it was the encapsulation of our lives with one another. I remember marveling at how my parents, who worked tirelessly every day of their professional careers, would happily choose to spend their precious weekends tending to the house and land (as opposed to resting on the couch or going out with their friends). My dad spent Saturdays mowing the yard on the tractor he shared with our neighbors, while my mom hauled plants and soil around the garden with the dogs trotting along faithfully behind at her heels. Year after year, my friends and I watched them passing back and forth as we played in the pool.

Left: My childhood backyard. Right: Our lil’ garden at the Cottage.

Left: My childhood backyard. Right: Our lil’ garden at the Cottage.

Decades have since passed. It wasn’t until we moved into the Cottage that my I felt my priorities beginning to shift into an oddly familiar direction… 

In the 6 years we’ve been here, my husband and I have transitioned hugely in our careers, adopted a second dog, and welcomed our first child into the world. And we now find ourselves happily choosing to spend our precious weekends tending to the Cottage and its garden. 

So. It’s happening. I’m officially turning into my parents. “Parentamorphosis.” (Is that a word? It is now.) 

Images on left: My mother. Images on right: Me with West, Stubs and Soph

Images on left: My mother. Images on right: Me with West, Stubs and Soph

It’s a somewhat awkward time in life, when you jump with both feet into domestic life after existing like a post-graduate nomad, and then suddenly divert your time and energy towards making your living space into a true home.

Adam and I once spent our Friday and Saturday nights biking around Venice, stopping into bars and wasting time by the beach. Now, we find ourselves keeping busy around the garden, and sitting in our little dining room / living room / office / playroom reading to baby West and picking out tiles for our upcoming kitchen makeover. 

Obviously we’ve always cared about the state of our house, but since West arrived, it’s like a switch was flipped. I feel the value of making our home a clean, comfortable and safe haven for our family. Adam and I have traded regular bar-hopping for crafting the occasional lavendar cocktail at home, clipping garnishing herbs from our tiny garden, and playing with West and the pups throughout our indoor/outdoor set-up. 

While the landscape is different, life sure looks a lot like it did when I was a kid. We travel, we work hard, we have diverse adventures, and we still go out of our way to enjoy and be active within our community. But the breathtaking magic almost always happens right here at home. As such, I’m finding myself more invested than ever in making our tiny cottage a unifying and joyful place for our little family. 

Whether you’re experiencing a similar “Parentamorphosis” or simply seeking information on how to buy a new house or how to turn that new house into a home, Life Lanes (by Progressive) provides helpful input and resources for this (nervy / exciting / magical) moment in life.

I acknowledge that I am partnering with Progressive in sponsorship for this post. All expressed opinions, photos and experiences on this post are my own, and are written in my own words.

Everyday Details

This post is sponsored by The White Company

Spring is my favorite season here at the Cottage. The garden grows rapidly, looking lush and bright, and we can fully benefit from our tiny indoor-outdoor setup. As it's our first spring here with baby West, we've been exploring new ways to modify the Cottage to suit our evolving needs. We've found that it's the little changes that have been the most practical. Tiny details have enabled us to enjoy our space more and more. I partnered up with The White Company to share some of my favorite updates for happy, easy small space living.

Now that West is nearly able to crawl, we were having a tough time relaxing in the garden with him, as the pavers that are scattered throughout most of the property were too dangerous for him to sit on. We tried a couple of children's play mats, but the materials were synthetic and too thin to protect the baby from hitting his head against the rough stone. Luckily I discovered the Aubrey Outdoor Mattress. Not only is the outside fabric composed entirely of linen and cotton, but the mat is thick and large enough for us all to lounge on comfortably and safely. Suddenly our entire yard became available to us again in our new lives with our son. Regardless of how long this lasts, it is bringing us immense happiness and satisfaction during the prime outdoor months. We've even started using the mat inside, protecting West from bumping into the hardwood floors during tummy time. The mattress rolls easily into a carrying case made of the same materials, and fits perfectly under my side of the bed.

Adam and I have also started purging and selecting belongings with childproofing in mind. For example, we're slowly swapping out our porcelain kitchenwares for wooden plates and bowls. We saw the benefits of this on day one, as West has already begun sweeping his hands across every surface possible, sending our things crashing to the ground. Since switching to mango dishes, we've been able to laugh and enjoy the moment, rather than scramble to clean up broken pieces before the dogs step on them. I pretty much love everything from their new outdoor collection, and from their organizational products. Patio accessories are usually more durable, which helps around pets and kids.

Another small nursery-related change we've made was giving up our changing table / bath combo. We loved it, and it was completely perfect for our son's first 7 months, but he was becoming too active to keep using it safely. We gave it to a family with a newborn, providing West with more room to scoot around in the house. This extra space in the bedroom means we have a bit more room for the functional decor we love so much. I've been able to replace our homemade swing shelf, and top it off with a various relaxing candles. All of our other candleholders now hold flameless light for safety, but it's been a simple pleasure to burn one remaining, beautifully-scented candle.

In the delightful rush of new parenting and running my businesses, I realized that Adam and I weren't making much time to take care of ourselves. Updating a few little things-- such as our bathrobes and towels-- made a surprisingly notable and positive difference in how we feel while going about our everyday routine.

I've also been trying to be more mindful of the fabrics I wear daily. I've learned that materials such as raffia and linen make me feel better, and that natural fibers don't irritate West's skin when he's pressed up against me.

Linen Shirt Dress in Smoke / Straw Visor / Cashmere Scarf (Coming soon)

Linen Shirt Dress in Smoke / Straw Visor / Cashmere Scarf (Coming soon)

We've always been fans of paying attention to the tiny details and moments, but now that we're a family of 5 every detail and every moment seem to hold more weight than ever. Here's to celebrating the everyday with the ones you love, in the places that bring you joy.

Stanlee and Sophee with a gorgeous gift box of essentials from The White Company

Stanlee and Sophee with a gorgeous gift box of essentials from The White Company

The White Company is opening their first store in the U.S. on June 15th in NYC-- check out some more info on The White Company store opening.

I acknowledge that I am partnering with The White Company in sponsorship for this post. All expressed opinions, photos and experiences on this post are my own, and are written in my own words.

Mini Maui Trip

Last weekend, we took a mini trip to Maui for a Create & Cultivate pop-up. At the conference, I spoke on a panel called, "Climbing Higher: The New Multi-Hustle Business Woman." I’ve participated in Create & Cultivate events in the past, but this was a particularly refreshing opportunity-- and not just because of the location. I feel like I've evolved immensely (both personally and professionally) this past year, and it was s true joy to discuss that growth and to learn from the other speakers and attendees. 

From left to right: Sophia Rossi, whitney leigh morris, and Kelly Oxford. Panel moderated by Jaclyn Johnson. Photo by brecht van't hof for create & cultivate

From left to right: Sophia Rossi, whitney leigh morris, and Kelly Oxford. Panel moderated by Jaclyn Johnson. Photo by brecht van't hof for create & cultivate

We spoke and stayed at the Wailea Beach Resort, which was recently renovated. It was an incredible indoor/outdoor hotel. Even the lobby was located outdoors. Swoon.

Photo by brecht van't hof for create & cultivate

Photo by brecht van't hof for create & cultivate

Adam and baby West made the trip with me. We ended up staying an extra night, because poor West came down with an ear infection and a head-to-toe rash. The hotel staff and the nearby urgent care facility were extremely helpful and supportive, and by the last day of our visit, my son was back to his cheerful self.

Thank you Create & Cultivate for this wonderful opportunity. And thank you, Maui-- we cannot wait to return.

Gallery photos: Baby West at sunrise / Sunset at the hotel / Monday's workspace by the infinity pool / West on the beach / Create & Cultivate panel speakers / Poolside view / West and Adam in the hotel room / New travel gear essential for trip: "Sitting Pretty" case from This is Ground

Tonight in the Cottage Nursery

Currently experiencing epic levels of love at the Cottage. 🐶👶🏻🐶 So many people have written and asked about this chair. It's from The Land of Nod. (More pix below.)

Spring Updates to the Tiny Garden

This post is sponsored by Pottery Barn.

The uncharacteristically intense winter rains have finally died down here in LA, and I'm spending increasing amounts of time outside with the baby-- particularly in the afternoons and evenings. At 6 months old, West is now eating solid foods, so he's joining Adam and me at the table for meals. As such, I needed to upgrade our tiny two-seater garden bistro set to something that could accommodate all three of us. Much like our indoor space, our outdoor space is also small, so I needed to select something compact and collapsible. I teamed up with Pottery Barn to find the best possible solution for our little garden, which ended up being their wonderful and eco-friendly Indio Folding Bistro Table and corresponding Folding Side Chairs:

The Indio series is far more comfortable and roomy than any compact patio set I've ever owned. I've only had the pieces out for about a week, but I've already logged several office hours and meals out here, and I love it. 

I'd always felt as though the wall on the right (behind the table) was too empty, but I wanted to find something specific to install there-- a piece that was practical, space-saving and beautiful. Components of the Gabrielle Garden Shed set satisfied those criteria, and ended up being absolutely perfect for the space:

The part that I've enjoyed and used the most is the Hanging Basket Tray. It is the ideal size for a wall like this one, and it functions as a potting surface, a way to display plants, and a storage container all in one handy little design. The pocket organizers, which I positioned just above the tray, are great for holding garden markers, gloves, tools, wire, and more:

I added a few galvanized accessories to help me tote items between the house and garden. I selected this functional Metal Flatware Caddy, along with a pair of Metal Chargers that we use as trays and in lieu of placemats:

I also opted for a storage ottoman, where I now keep outdoor throw pillows and blankets. (I love these Honeycomb Indoor/Outdoor lumbar pillows and the matching chair cushions.)

I'm so thrilled with how everything turned out. This space was nearly unused before, and now it's the coziest and most comfortable open-air office space and dining area for our little family.

Above: 🐶 🐶 Stubs and Soph frolicking around our updated lil' garden. 

Above: 🐶 🐶 Stubs and Soph frolicking around our updated lil' garden. 

Feature on The Everygirl

The Cottage was featured on The Everygirl today! I loved the fun and thoughtful questions from this interview. Click here to view the story.

Forget the File Box

In a recent blog post, I provided tips on how to curb your daily paper clutter by regularly using a mini-scanner and organizing your files digitally. However, I didn't address one key issue: the leftovers. When living in a tiny space, what do you do with the paper files you cannot scan and HAVE TO keep? How do you maintain an uncluttered, beautiful, and yet practical home-office? The solution is simple-- repurposed picnic baskets:

Bottom Basket: This horizontal design holds my current office paperwork. Top Basket: This vertical format is the perfect filing solution for baby West's medical records & product safety information documents.

Bottom Basket: This horizontal design holds my current office paperwork.
Top Basket: This vertical format is the perfect filing solution for baby West's medical records & product safety information documents.

There are so many ways to get clever with necessary storage containers. In this case, think beyond the file box. In a small multi-use space where everything is visible, nothing will stab at your eyeballs like a plastic or metal file box that is not only ugly, but also a constant reminder of work. I chose picnic baskets because they're almost always large enough to house A4 paper and US-size folders, and because they're usually a similar color, so they're great to mix and match:

Both of these are vintage. I found the larger basket at The Mart Collective in Venice, and the other at Tower 20 in Santa Monica. Two of my favorite online shopping resources for vintage cases like this are ETSY and Maven Collective.

I love that I can leave these file boxes open and in use for the entire workday without making the house feel like a traditional office. You'll be amazed at what a difference little details like this can make in your little home.

Storing your baskets on the floor? Make sure to select pieces that are stackable. Stowing yours up high in a closet? Pick a format that's slender enough to slide out easily when you need it. There's a never-ending and diverse array of designs out there-- enjoy finding what works for YOUR small space!

Lil' garden on Architectural Digest

Our lil' garden is on the homepage of Architectural Digest today:

"You don’t need an inexhaustible amount of acreage to achieve the home garden you’ve always dreamed of. Limited as their square footage may be, compact outdoor areas can be every bit as aesthetically pleasing as their sprawling counterparts. They also benefit from a creative use of space. After all, they can sprout up anywhere—on a stoop, in a narrow passage between buildings, in a seemingly nonexistent backyard—and often employ an unexpected use of materials and plantings. The trick is to impart lushness with an abundance of flowering blooms and a thicket of greenery. Here, we round up eight small gardens, from a minimalist rooftop gathering spot to a verdant alley, to admire—or inspire—your next outdoor project. They certainly prove that what petite plots lack in size they can more than make up for in style." - JENNIFER FERNANDEZ

Thanks, AD!

Daily Paper Clutter

Here's my tiny office early on this Monday morning. (I removed my 10,000 other mugs and glasses that were on the desk, but otherwise this is basically what it looks like most of the time.)

Everyone asks how I manage to keep the space so clean. The single handiest tool for curbing the paper clutter is this little device: 

Compact-Space Color Mobile Scanner
This little gizmo is one of the best purchases I've ever made. I scan all of our financial records, medical documents, pet paperwork, cards and notes. It saves me from accumulating piles of paper around the cottage, and helps my business run more efficiently. It measures 11.5" x 2" x 1.5" inches-- basically the size of a thick ruler. 

It lives on the back of my iMac via a "backpack" that I really love. 

More small-space office tips can be found here on one of my older blog posts. I hope it helps!

Little Library Bookshelf

We have a new lil' addition in the bedroom-- this simple, slim, wall-mounted bookshelf from Anthropologie

I'm such a fan of functional decor. I love how this mini-library shelf enables us to display our publications as art, without making the wall feel too cluttered. It brings me so much happiness to see baby West's book collection growing and spreading throughout the Cottage!

Today in the Cottage

You guys. Even though our home is under 400 sqft, I rolled West's mini-crib into my office (aka our living room) this morning because I couldn't stand to be apart from him.

Oh dear. I've got it bad. 💕

Visit to Casa Joshua Tree

For West's first slumber party outside of the Cottage, we decided to take him to visit Casa Joshua Tree.  This wonderful, peaceful home in the desert was also the first place I visited after discovering I was pregnant, so it felt fitting to return with our newest family member as soon as we felt comfortable travelling!

Note regarding this post's photography: I took most of these shots on my iPhone for Instagram Stories, so they're formatted accordingly.

I love the beautiful simplicity of Casa Joshua Tree. While there's no clutter here, every corner is an Instagram dream. It's a clean, open and inspiring space that sparks creativity in comfort. 

Mindful Gifting

Let’s talk gifting. I'm big on mindful presents and cards that don't require storage in your small space while they're waiting to be given. I’m usually as much of a minimalist when it comes to gifting as I am when it comes to decorating. My holiday go-to is almost always a recycled berry basket with farm eggs, rosemary and freshly baked bread. But this past season, after having West and expanding my business, the berry baskets went completely unused— they’re still waiting patiently in our kitchen cabinets. Not only did I not give out holiday presents, but I haven’t even gotten around to our basic thank you notes for our wedding back in May. (FAIL.) As such, I feel like I have some making-up to do. 

I’m still only interested in giving practical, usable items to each recipient. I refuse to gift something that’s just going to turn into clutter down the road.But I the reality of having an infant (with no day-to-day help), running two businesses, and having a partner who works full-time as well, suggests that the chances of me getting around to this sort of thing are seriously slim. I was grumbling to myself about this when I got an email from a new company called Gift in Time. The name sparked my interest, so I sat down and had a look at the services they were offering: thoughtful, dedicated, effortless gifting. (Clearly they are mind readers.)

The team at Gift in Time invited me experience their service, which is something that bloggers and Instagrammers are often offered. I usually politely decline (we don’t need more “stuff” here), but I was genuinely curious and decided to give it a go. 

They sent me four custom-selected gifts and two hand-written cards to demonstrate what their company has to offer. The items included:

  1. The softest handmade leather mocs and a matching pacifier clip by Posh Panda (in Lethbridge, AB) for baby West. They matched the nursery flawlessly.
  2. A compact, pop-out coloring puzzle by Petit Collage (in California) for baby West to enjoy later down the road. They selected the theme of a castle, as they know that I regularly spend my summers at the Chateau de Belcastel in France. (We’re taking West there for the first time in July!)
  3. A compact skincare set by Helena Lane (in Brackendale, BC) for post-natal pampering— something I very much appreciated. Immediate post-pregnancy hormones are no joke.
  4. A perfectly neutral-toned, durable dog toy by Mr. Dog (in NYC) for #StubsandSoph. They both love it. Stanlee likes to sleep with it, whereas Sophee likes to drag it around the garden.

Everything they sent matches our home and needs. We’ve since used each item daily, except for the puzzle, which we’ll save for West when he is a bit older. (Click here to read / see where we're storing his toys.) And the two hand-written cards in the boxes made the experience feel that much more personal. You can even have the cards printed in your own handwriting, if you so choose. And to top it all off, the gift boxes in which everything arrived are simple and beautiful, without being wasteful. (I reused the boxes as shoe + sock storage beneath our couch.)

I'm also a fan of this method of giving because it doesn't require us to store the presents in our home until it's time to give them away. Every object in our home has a purpose and a place, but any "extra" items just sit around in the open until we have the chance to send them on their way.

In case you are struggling to juggle it all, and want to be mindful to not overlook your loved ones’ special occasions while doing so, a few steps on your iPhone can provide them with an experience like the one I had. I’ll FINALLY be sending my wedding thank you cards via their greeting service now. (I hear you have a year to send those, right? Looks like they’ll arrive in time after all.)

I acknowledge that Gift in Time is partnering with me to participate in this custom-gifting project. All expressed opinions and experiences on this blog are my own, and are written in my own words, regardless of collaboration compensation. My post complies with the WOMMA Ethics Code and applicable Federal Trade Commission guidelines.

Double-Duty Drawers

In the past 4 months, Adam and I have given away about 1/3 of our belongings. It feels so wonderful to create more room for our new lifestyle with baby West! Here are a few little modifications that we made that really helped us free up floor space, and eliminate clutter:

1. Built-in Pet Toy Storage
For the past 5+ years, these four drawers on my side of the bed were filled with my socks, underwear and swimsuits. I'd placed an open basket at the foot of the drawers, and that's where we stored the dogs' toys. But the basket got in the way a lot-- mainly when I was trying to access the storage under our bed, or when I'd groggily wake up in the middle of the night to pump.  I realized that I could easily get rid of one drawer of accessories, and then keep the puppies' goodies in the bottom bin. Now I can easily tuck the toys and container away: 

2. Extendable Nightstand 
We have wonderful little built-in nightstands on the sides of our bed. But lately I've been wanting a bit more surface space at night so I can keep West's books and toys at the ready (we're currently co-sleeping). Rather than buying a new piece of mobile furniture to wheel in during the evenings, I opted to make a cover that I can slide over one of the open drawers at night:

Luckily the removable lid to the basket located one cubby up worked PERFECTLY for this project. But had it not, I would've simply had a lightweight piece of plywood custom-cut at the hardware store that I could use in the same manner. During the day, I would've stored it on the shelf alongside the books. In this case, I just replace the basket top during the day. This little extra table-top space is so helpful!

3. Trundle Storage for West's Toys
As West's toy collection grows and evolves, we'll need a big, easy bin in which to put everything. However, there is no room for an additional large catch-all basket or box in our house. So I decided to donate all of the clothes I kept stashed in the trundle-drawer on my side of the bed. (The neighboring bin is for laundry.) Now every bit of clothing I own is stored in our garden wardrobe.

My hope is that this easily accessible, oversized drawer will be a handy tool in the future, when West is able to pick out and play with his toys on his own. 

Compact Drying Solutions

To anyone in a standard size home, the topic of compact drying solutions might seem absurd. But small-space dwellers will know what I mean when I say that finding room to dry dishes, plastic bags, linens, etc. in tight quarters can be a struggle. How do you do it without making your home look like it's in a constant state of soggy chaos? 

Between the baby bottles, reusable diapers, reusable cleaning rags, etc., the gross wet stuff piles up quickly here at the Cottage. For a while, Adam and I tried hanging loose items around the house. But since our space is so small, this meant that basically everywhere I looked I was reminded of housework-- plus it was an ugly sight. So I decided to find some quick and simple solutions to the problem. 

IN THE KITCHEN
Drying Bottles, Plastic Bags, etc.
After having baby West, we realized why so many people use those Boon Grass drying racks.  We don't have enough counter space for a traditional square version, but there are narrow options on the market as well. However, since there's so little spare space by the sink, we were always knocking into items and sending them tumbling over, where they'd get dirty once more. It took a month or so, but we finally found a mix of solutions that work well for us, and help us dry West's bottles and accessories, my pumping supplies, reusable plastic bags, glassware, towels, etc. We have a combination of the following:

  1. Retractable Wooden Drying Rack (for clean bottles, etc.)
  2. Narrow Glass Drainer / Tray (for the dirty bottles, etc.)
  3. Paper Towel Holder Magnet (for the dish towels we use specifically on baby stuff)
  4. Retractable Over-the-Sink Drying Rack (for food processor parts & larger clean items)
  5. Wall Mounted Baskets (for the miscellaneous little, clean items, such as bottle caps)
  6. Faucet Sponge Caddy 
  7. Driftwood Accessories Hanger (to help keep baby / vase / cookware (etc) brushes organized and clean)
(I cannot wait to replace those countertops.)

(I cannot wait to replace those countertops.)

This might seem like a lot, but we use each of these items multiple times per day here in our little home/office. The great thing is, the racks fold or roll up and easily when not in use, and can be stowed out of sight. 

More small space storage tools. Strong magnets help our wooden coasters air out on the side of the refrigerator.

More small space storage tools. Strong magnets help our wooden coasters air out on the side of the refrigerator.

IN THE NURSERY
Drying Burp Cloths, Used Onesies, etc.
Our entire house looked like a clothing line during the weeks after West's birth. His garments, our clothes, and all of the other linens that got wet and needed a place to dry before being thrown into the hamper for the next round of laundry were draped over every surface possible.

To tame this mess, I simply attached a mesh multi-pocket caddy to the side of the baby's combination changer/bathtub table, and the problem was solved. Now the fabrics can stay in the open air until heading to the washer, without cluttering up our house. 

IN THE BATHROOM
Drying Reusable Diapers & Cleaning Rags
We were warned by numerous people that there was no way we could make reusable diapers work in such a small space. But we've had no problem with it! We have a wonderful reusable diapering system by Grovia here at the Cottage. But here was the challenge: in such a small space, where would we place the dirty diapers while we were still actively changing the baby? And then where could we put the diapers after we'd rinsed them off, but before they got properly cleaned? 

According to the Grovia website, "the surest way to ruin a diaper is to leave it soiled in a closed, dark, warm pail for several days before washing it. This environment is prime breeding ground for fungi and bacteria. Treat your diapers as you would your own clothing. Soiled diapers should be washed every 2 or 3 days according to manufacturer’s instructions."

The system that we came up is certainly not glamorous, but it's effective, keeps our surfaces clear, allows the fabrics to breathe while awaiting a full cleaning, and doesn't take up any valuable space. First we use an S-hook to attach a pail to the changing table (see the above photo). That pail holds the dirty diapers while we tend to West. After the baby's diaper is changed and he is safely relocated, we take the bucket to the bathroom and wash the soaker pad off. The rinsed, wet diaper then goes in a second bucket that is suspended from our narrow shower rod (see photo below), and from there it gets fully cleaned.

So that's how we make it work. I know it's not the most pin-worthy topic, but it's these sort of day-to-day hacks that make small-space living doable with a family!

So. Much. Dog. Hair.

You know how my photos are always bright white and a tad bit over-exposed? Well that wasn't an artistic decision at the start-- it was a necessity. I had one dog at the time, Stanlee, and he sheds INSANE amounts of hair. When I first started sharing photos of the Cottage online, I spent hours photoshopping out the numerous, massive tumbleweeds of Stanlee's hair that are constantly gliding across our floor. I should've just left them in there (real life and all), but I didn't want to discourage anyone from adopting a dog. (Stanlee is a rescue, which I talk about often, as I'm big into the Adopt-Don't-Shop concept.) I quickly realized that if I just brightened up my photos a bit-- VOILA!-- the hair would almost completely disappear from the photos. 

So many people write to me and ask if my dogs (#StubsandSoph) shed, and if so, how I handle it. For years I used a handheld vacuum. It was the only thing that fit easily into our home, and it's not hard to vacuum an entire tiny house with a mini-vac. That being said, it's definitely a pain to have to plug/unplug the machine in every section of the cottage, and all the hunching over kills your back. And of course I couldn't reach our vaulted ceilings with the handheld, so I would use paper towels on a long stick to reach cobwebs. CLASSY. 

Adam kept saying we should get a Dyson cordless machine he'd seen somewhere, but I kept on insisting that there was no way a full-sized vacuum would fit in our house.

Then came baby West. Immediately the dog hair started getting all over West's clothes and toys (which all inevitably end up in his mouth). I finally gave into Adam's suggestion and got Dyson V8 Absolute. I have to say,  I am a complete idiot for not getting it sooner. It's amazing. Here's why:

  • It breaks down into small components so I can stash it away in the living room. (Photos below.)
  • It's so quiet that West sleeps through it.
  • It's cordless, which makes it crazy easy to use. I vacuum several times a day now because it's such a breeze.
  • It can reach the vaulted ceilings, so I no longer have to use my classy Gandalf stick.
  • It really removes the hair, rather than just dragging it around in the nozzle, or scattering it about the floor via exhaust fans. (My handheld did both of those things, which was annoying.)

I genuinely recommend the V8 to anyone who lives in a small space and/or is battling with the drama of dog hair. (Now I just overexpose my photos so I don't have to clean my windows.😜)

Resources: Folding Leather Stool and Tabletop Lanterns by Serena and Lily. Woven Boots by Frye.

Resources: Folding Leather Stool and Tabletop Lanterns by Serena and Lily. Woven Boots by Frye.