Market Friday 3.30.18

I can't believe March is already coming to a close. Today, our little West turns a year and a half old. (Time is a beast.)

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I took a heavy portion of this week off of work to spend some time with my family, and to discuss some fairly major decisions and life changes we have coming up later this year.The mounting pile of emails nagged at the back of my mind, but not enough to make me rush to the computer. I know that I will never regret taking these moments to be present with my husband, our son, and the pups.

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In the Cottage, we've been decluttering more than ever (which is saying something). I'll update the blog with news on WHY and HOW in the near future, but in the meantime, I can say that it feels soothing to lighten the load of our belongings yet again.

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Beyond market goods and work deliveries, almost nothing new is coming through our doors... with the exception of children's books, which we're still rapidly acquiring. Soon West will be capable of physically handling books with a bit more care, so we'll be able to visit our local libraries regularly. For now, I'm not bothered by the swell of titles. (His current favorite is Over and Under the Pond.)

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My goal for the weekend is to-- gasp-- read a book myself! (It's been WAY too long.) I've always loved working at a breakneck pace, but I'm suddenly feeling very over the rat race. I'm loving this new, slower pace more than I'd anticipated. Life is oh so short-- here's to enjoying every happy moment whenever we can. Happy weekend, friends!

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Tiny Adventures: Palm Springs + Sunset Magazine

One of the things I enjoy the most about small space living is that it inspires us to seek new experiences beyond our four walls. As such, I'm posting some of our "Tiny Adventures" here on the Cottage blog to share these lil' moments.

West, Adam and I just returned from a quick trip to Palm Springs to celebrate Modernism Week with Sunset Magazine. Luckily for us, the event venue was the Samuel A-Frame, the desert getaway of Sarah Sherman Samuel. Sarah and her husband Rupert bought the house 3 years ago and will soon be selling it, so I was excited to get the chance to explore the property before the change of ownership. I was particularly interested in this house because it's under 800 sqft and absolutely gorgeous.

Thanks to Semihandmade, Fireclay Tile, Campari, and Best Day Ever Floral Design for bringing this delightful brunch to life! I met some wonderful people there, such as Jimmy from West Perro, who had a little pop-up at the event. I ordered a custom mobile by him for the Cottage and I can't wait to hang it up in our little home. And speaking of small spaces, how perfect is this tiny guest bedroom at the A-Frame?!

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We arrived at Sarah's a bit early, so we drove on a bit further to check out the other unique homes in the neighborhood and savor the incredible views. (My dress got majorly attacked by thistles while snapping these photos in the wind...)

We stayed at the ACE Hotel, thanks to HotelTonight. My friends and I began visiting the Ace when it first opened (back when we were in our 20s), and Adam and I weren't sure how it would feel returning now that we have a toddler. Turns out it was absolutely perfect.

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The first-floor rooms with private courtyards provide a generous amount of space for kids to safely play and explore without getting bored. (Our hotel room and patio were actually bigger than our entire Cottage.)  

West ran around the property for hours, touching everything and clearly loving the sights, textures, and colors. We were joined by my best friend Lindsay of Casa Joshua Tree for dinner. We ordered room service which we enjoyed on our private patio (a lifesaver for dining with a toddler in public places) while West tasted a cauliflower burger for the first time.

I've basically been living in this Favorite Maxi Knit Skirt (in Peat) from Garnet Hill. It's been great for the mixed weather we've been having lately in SoCal. And West has been bolting around in a cactus jumper that makes me giggle every time he wears it-- it's just the cutest.   

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It was such a nice change to visit Palm Springs during cooler weather-- we got to walk around and connect with others much more than we usually do, and it was a heartening experience in the midst of all the ongoing mayhem in the news. 

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Here's to more tiny adventures that introduce us to new and extraordinary experiences. 

Tiny Adventures: Museum Day

One of the things I love most about small space living is that it encourages us to seek every day adventures outside of our home, and it reminds us to engage more with our local communities. As such, I'm starting a new series of mini posts on the blog to share these lil' moments from our lives here at the Cottage.

Left: West stepping out of his room, ready to explore the world. Right: Sophee saying bye to us through a window in the front cottage.

Left: West stepping out of his room, ready to explore the world. Right: Sophee saying bye to us through a window in the front cottage.

This week, I decided to play hooky for a half-day and take Adam and West to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. West recently became super intersted in animal and dinosaur illustrations, so I thought it would be the perfect time to show him some creatures beyond the pages of his books.

Left: West and Adam waiting for the train. Right: West waking up from his short nap after the train ride (whereas I'd been up since 2am).

Left: West and Adam waiting for the train. Right: West waking up from his short nap after the train ride (whereas I'd been up since 2am).

We took the Metro from West LA to the museum. (Psst-- LA folks: If you take the metro to the Museum, you get a discount on adult admission fees to the museum.)It was West's first time on a train, beyond the shuttles at airpots. He was enthralled at first... and then passed out.

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When we arrived, I though our son would be so excited by the oversized sculptures at the entrance to the museum. However, the passing construction trucks nearby stole most of his attention. (Sad trombone!) Luckily he was out-of-his-mind with joy the moment we entered the exhibition halls.

Above: Enjoying the beautiful installations at the  Natural History Museum of Los Angeles .

Above: Enjoying the beautiful installations at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles.

It turns out that this museum is the PERFECT place for a toddler to safely bolt around. West repeatedly ran from window to window, animal to animal, and garden to garden, soaking up all the there was to see.

It felt wonderful to step outside and show our son something new and extraordinary. And it felt equally as wonderful to return home-- satiated and exhausted-- to our little slice of the world after our tiny adventure.

Postpartum Body: 1 Year Later

This is an out-of-the-ordinary post for me, but I wanted to share some physical changes I’ve experienced since my pregnancy. I’m doing this because I feel like women in America are subtly taught to be ashamed of certain aspects of themselves, such as their age, their weight, their skin, their hair (too much! too little!), and so forth. These topics all come into play (and several change drastically) during and after pregnancy. I respect everyone’s right to keep their personal details private, but for women seeking real stories about the postpartum aspect of “advanced maternal age” pregnancies, here’s mine.

Left: The day West was born. Right: 8 months later. 

Left: The day West was born. Right: 8 months later. 

Weight Changes & Exercise
First off, I’m 5’11” tall, and 36 years old. Before getting pregnant, I weighed about 150. The day I went into labor, I was 190. Now, at 16 months postpartum, I weigh about 140 lbs.

I did Reformer Pilates during my pregnancy, but less and less as it progressed. I did, however, bike and walk A LOT. We’re a 1-car family, and when I was pregnant Adam was still working at his old job full-time and used the car daily. I walked the dogs and strolled to my meetings every day, and I rode my bike with relative ease until the 9th month. 

Above: Towards the end of my pregnancy. (Image on right © One Kings Lane.)

Above: Towards the end of my pregnancy. (Image on right © One Kings Lane.)

After giving birth, there was no way I was getting on the bike or doing Pilates for about 10 weeks. I had a natural birth, which was wonderful, but I definitely needed time to recover. I worked full-time, as there’s no maternity leave when you run your own *very* small company, and I didn’t have any help with West at home until he was about 7 months old, so exercise was back-burnered. I’ve probably only done Pilates 5 times since West was born. (And I used to do it 5 days/week prior to my pregnancy.) I miss it, and am eager to resume that routine. 

Breastfeeding
Nursing was great during the first day in the hospital, then horribly painful for the next 4-5 days after we returned home. Once my body adjusted (and thanks to the help of a 1-on-1 lactation consultation with a specialist at The Pump Station), it was easy from there on out. I did, however, get 2 mild infections, but they were both due to the fact that I accidentally missed several feeding/pump sessions in a row due to poor planning, and packing incompletely while traveling. 

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Speaking of pumping: I used three pumps over that first year. The first was a rental from the hospital, the second was a freebie from a medical provider, and the third machine was one I selected and purchased myself. I highly recommend this option, which was very compact and easily portable— perfect for our tiny home and for hands-free pumping when used with a pump bra. It was a bit pricier, but after spending SO MUCH TIME with it, I think it was worth every single penny.

I basically nursed West on demand for the entirety of his first year, since he and I are always within mere feet of one another. I am guessing that all the breastfeeding caused me to lose more weight than I anticipated.  I ate healthy meals, but I also ate a TON overall. My appetite while nursing was substantial. 

Now that my son is 16 months old, I only nurse him before he goes to sleep at night, and in the early hours of the morning. We bed-share, and breastfeeding is such a precious ritual that I’ve not had the heart to give up because he still asks for it via ASL. Since reducing his feedings, I’ve noticed that I’m creeping back into the direction of my pre-pregnancy weight. I don’t have feelings on that one way or another as of right now— it simply is the way it is. 

Skin
I’m guessing genetics have a lot to do with this, but man, my skin changes in the past two years have been wild. For almost my entire pregnancy, my skin was better than it had ever been. It stayed fine until around the time West turned 1. But once I started weaning, my skin went haywire.

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I've finally found a small mix of tiny products that work, and keep me looking awake and polished without being overly made-up. I threw out all of my old cleansers and makeup brushes and products, and started over with this handful of simple necessities, lead by this daily hero. I now use True Botanicals for cleaning and hydrating, and I never leave the house without putting on Boy Brow, as well as this Lip Tint (which I wish I’d known about years ago). 

My new daily essentials, 1+ year postpartum. ( Cheek balm  +  brow product  +  lip tint  +  spot concealer  +  hydrating oil , and more, stashed in my compact  This Is Ground Plug Pack .)

My new daily essentials, 1+ year postpartum. (Cheek balm + brow product + lip tint + spot concealer + hydrating oil, and more, stashed in my compact This Is Ground Plug Pack.)

Hair
I’ve always had Hermione hair. It’s thick, wavy, frizzy, and crazy. I love it now, but I was not such a big fan of it all in my teens and twenties. It grew slightly thicker during the pregnancy, and then it began shedding heavily around 4-6 months postpartum. The abnormal shedding has since stopped, and other than a few extra curls here and there, it’s pretty much back to normal… plus a few grays. (I use this shampoo and this conditioner, and sometimes a bit of Mermaid Oil to smooth it all out.)

11 months postpartum. Natural hair. (Photo by  Marisa Vitale .)

11 months postpartum. Natural hair. (Photo by Marisa Vitale.)

Above: On a shoot 5 months postpartum. Hair straightened & styled. (Photos © Ergobaby.)

Above: On a shoot 5 months postpartum. Hair straightened & styled. (Photos © Ergobaby.)

Shoe Size
The thing I was probably most unprepared for was the change in my shoe size. I try not to buy too many things, but I had to get several pairs of new shoes during and after the pregnancy, because I grew permanently from an 8.5 to a 9. It’s such a bizarre side effect of growing a baby! (P.S. Pons shoes were lifesavers during my pregnancy, and I've loved them ever since.)

Belly
Immediately after giving birth, I appeared to be 5 months pregnant for about 2 days. Then my belly stayed swollen for roughly two weeks after West’s birth. (Beyond that, it was just general swelling, which decreased daily during the following month.)

Left: Belly at 1 week postpartum. Right: 10 months postpartum. (Photo ©  Sebastian Artz  for  Late Sunday Afternoon .)

Left: Belly at 1 week postpartum. Right: 10 months postpartum. (Photo © Sebastian Artz for Late Sunday Afternoon.)

I’ve alway hated my belly. Even in my skinniest days (about 125 lbs), and even in my most confident days. Now my waistline is pretty much back to the way it was, except there are times when I’m lying on my side or standing in the sun and I can see little wrinkles and light marks that didn’t exist before the pregnancy. But now, with my son being a toddler, I have less time to give a damn about my measurements, which is a good thing. Life is too short. I’m over the belly complex. (For now, at least.)

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Mood Swings
The thing I braced the hardest for were the mood swings… but they never came. I expected to feel up, down, and everywhere in between due to hormonal changes. Yet I haven’t felt anything drastic— I’m simply a bit more irritable when I’m stressed. Still, I think that’s just life and the reality of financially supporting my family (which is terrifying more often than not). I am so grateful that I’ve been able to experience the new and boundless love for my son without any interference from mood fluctuations that are beyond my control. Having said that, I know many women who have not been quite so lucky in this department. To anyone feeling like unlike themselves, you are definitely not alone. Don't hestitate to talk to your doctor. 

So. That's been my experience thus far. To me, it's not about "bouncing back." It's about evolving, and growing in ways that keep me healthy and happy for myself, and for my lil' family.

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The Cottage on Cosmopolitan

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Our lil' home is on Cosmopolitan today. It's such a joy to see these photos from last summer, when West was still so small. The feature explains how Adam and I stumbled into tiny house living, and explains how we converted the closet into the nursery, and a shed into our closet. (Oh, I miss that little baby's bay already...) 

Click here to view the feature.

Above left: the garden wardrobe. rug via wayfair .  above Right: the tiny house nursery (" the baby's bay ") with an  alpha mini crib by bloom .

Above left: the garden wardrobe. rug via wayfair. above Right: the tiny house nursery ("the baby's bay") with an alpha mini crib by bloom.

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Photos by the incredible Sami Drasin, courtesy of Cosmopolitan. Special thanks to Show Me Your Mumu for the Palm Pants, and to Wayfair for the soft-yet-durable indoor/outdoor patterned rugs!

Venice Shoot with "Late Sunday Afternoon"

(UPDATE: 01/08/18 - Interview with Late Sunday Afternoon about Tiny Home living and blogging here.)

Looking back at 2017, one of the experiences we loved the most was a collaboration with our incredible friends at Late Sunday Afternoon here in Venice. 

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I first fell in love with this unique shop the moment I stepped through its gorgeous doors here in Venice. But after meeting its founder, Matthew, I discovered the wonderful depth of LSA.

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The team, products and give-back mission behind LSA all made me eager to collaborate. (Read more about everything here.) So we were thrilled when they approached us about a brand ambassador photo + video shoot. 

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The scarves we have from LSA have traveled thousands and thousands of miles with us, and West's blankie was made by them as well. We also have hats and books from their shop, all of which we enjoy often.

LSA sells original and small-batch items from their beautiful indoor/outdoor store and gathering space in Venice. They also hand-create and donate comfort blankies to young children in the foster care system, and they use their excess fabric scraps to produce dog beds that they then donate to local animal shelters.

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Late Sunday Afternoon is an Instagram dream. But it also operates with a tangible sense of community and responsibility, and for that, we admire and adore them.

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We're featured in Chapter 2 of the video below (starting at 1:19), but we recommend watching the entire thing-- it's completely delightful!

Canal photos © Sebastian Artz, with selects by Thomas Brodahl. Video by Chance Foreman. Ambassador shoot content courtesy of Late Sunday Afternoon.  (Thank you for the dreamy day of canoeing, biking, and strolling the canals with friends, LSA crew!)

Roundup: Small Space Closet Solutions

One of the trickiest parts of small space living is closet space-- or lack thereof. My first piece of advice when it comes to dealing with limited clothing storage options is to simply downsize your wardrobe. The fewer pieces you have, the fewer solutions you'll need to house them all.

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Since moving our clothes from the weather-proofed garden shed back into the cottage bedroom last month, we actually reduced our articles by half.. again! But before doing so, we used a variety of solutions. Some of my favorites are included in the round-up below. (Perhaps some of them will come in handy when accommodating those ugly Christmas sweaters and various holiday gifts.)

As for hampers-- we're lucky enough to have one that's built-in. If you're struggling to find a place for yours, try some alternative designs:

  • collapsible models
  • beautiful oversized baskets that you don't mind leaving out in the open
  • hanging/over-the-door options
  • storage stool cubes
  • rolling carts
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Travel-Inspired Downsizing

In late November, we took a 5-day trip to the East Coast to visit our family and friends near Washington D.C. We meet there annually for Thanksgiving, and it's one of my favorite times of the year. After the persistent heat in Los Angeles lately, it was such a relief to experience traditional fall weather and colors.

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Our son has been on numerous planes, but his most recent flight was a while ago (the return from our France trip back in July), so this was our first time flying with our son since he became a toddler. I asked all of our friends for their top tips for making the journey as enjoyable and calamity-free as possible, and they gave us some WONDERFUL advice, for which I'm so grateful. Some of the highlights included:

  • Wrapping up the child's toys and books in recycled paper and Wash Tape so there's an extra, time-consuming layer of activity involved. (Thanks, Amy!) 
  • Packing small "Thank You" gifts for the flight crew and passengers in the neighboring seats. (Thanks, Marcia!)
  • Keeping MANY light-colored, no-mess teething wafers and snacks easily accessible. (Thanks, Andrew!)
  • Bringing a small number of new books and little learning sets that the child has not yet seen before. (Thanks, Claudia!)
A mix of our go-to travel pieces from The Fawn + Cub, Steamline, Away, This is Ground, and Ona. We packed small-batch chocolates by Nohmad and "Thank You" cards from the Cottage for particularly helpful and patient folks on the flights. 

A mix of our go-to travel pieces from The Fawn + Cub, Steamline, Away, This is Ground, and Ona. We packed small-batch chocolates by Nohmad and "Thank You" cards from the Cottage for particularly helpful and patient folks on the flights. 

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When packing for myself, I stuck to the absolute essentials. My favorite and most-used items all ended up being from Garnet Hill: Comfy tall zip boots, a gorgeous olive wool coat, an oversized yet warm and light-weight turtleneck cashmere sweater, and THE best slippers I've ever owned. Even then, I still overpacked. I decided to donate every item from my suitcase that I didn't wear while on the trip. If I didn't need it while traveling, then I certainly don't need it at home, either.

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Not only did I decide to get rid of the unnecessary items in my bags, but I also considered dozens of other items back at home that were going unused, and planned to round those up for donation as well once we returned. Even as we expand into the neighboring tiny cottage, I'm determined to own fewer items than we did when we first moved into our home.

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Perspective is such a wonderful perk of traveling. And, in the case of small space living, it's always handy to be reminded how few items we actually require in order to live a happy, comfortable and practical existence. 

Shopping Handmade

I'm not much of a shopper. I'm not sure whether it's because we live in a tiny home and thus don't need (or want) much stuff, or because it's just not in my nature. Either way, I rarely look forward to searching for and buying goods online or in brick-and-mortars. Having said that, I LOVE shopping handmade and vintage items via Etsy. (Loooooove.)

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Etsy has obviously been around for years, and yet so many people tell me that they don't know "how to shop" the site. They're overwhelmed by the diverse array of offerings, both in the vintage and handmade categories. But for me, Etsy is not only easy, it's fun. As such, I figured I'd share a few of my Etsy shopping habits here on the blog, since so many of the items from our Cottage were discovered via Etsy vendors and makers. (Please note that this isn't a step-by-step of how to use the site-- there are plenty of those online already. This is simply an overview of how I use the site to help make the Cottage look and feel the way it does.)

To visually demonstrate how I integrate vintage and handmade goods into our home, here are some miscellaneous items I found on Etsy that appear regularly in my Instagram feed and on my blog photos:

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First off, I only shop for pieces that I need. I don't just browse aimlessly, or on impulse. For me, the key is to search for the general function I need an item to serve, rather than search by a item's name directly. For example, when I need linens that can serve as towels, tablecloths, couch covers, and shoulder wraps, I just search for "linen throw" and explore the results from there, selecting a piece that appeals to my aesthetic, our home, and can serve these multiple functions at once. I don't search for and buy each of these items individually-- that would take four times as long, cost four times as much, and require four times the storage space in our home.

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Similarly, when I wanted to find an alternative to traditional, modern file boxes, I searched by function and material, rather than specifically for a "file box." By searching for "vintage" + "rattan" + "box", I realized that small picnic baskets could be upcycled into beautiful file storage solutions.

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I even found my wedding dress on Etsy. And because it was made for my measurements, it fit flawlessly upon arrival. (Even at 25 weeks pregnant!) Rather than going down the internet rabbit hole by searching for a "wedding dress," I browsed instead for "handmade" + "custom" + "white" + "dress". I found my dress within 1 hour, and never looked back. It was perfect for me.

By searching for items via detail and function, I discover creative and unique homewares, clothes, and toys that serve the purposes my family needs, in formats I might not have previously considered. This is one of the traits that makes our lil' home so personal and special to us!

Basics Don't Have to be Boring

I'm obviously a fan of keeping things simple. From color palettes to every-day goods and clothing, "the basics" help me save space and money, without sacrificing versatility or creative expression. Here's how.

DECOR - In small spaces, I've found that it's usually best to functionally decorate with neutral + white tones. They reflect light and allow a space to feel bigger than it truly is. Once you have the key items in place (in your cohesive color palette), liven things up and keep yourself from getting bored with your surroundings by using throws and market florals. You don't have to buy an entirely new coffee table to switch up the look and feel of your small living room-- just clip some fresh greenery from around the neighborhood and swap out your pillow covers and/or throw blankets on your sofa, and voila! It's amazing what a difference this can make, and all for a very low cost. (There are dozens of examples of this on my Instagram account.) Donate your old blankets to a local non-profit or a disaster relief organization-- they can always use the goods, and you won't need to find a place to store your old stuff.

This basic approach has helped me learn how to stop searching for "the next thing" and just be happy with what I have here at home. I've accumulated fewer belongings, and have found a wonderful level of contentment in the present. It's also why I'm so obsessed with my Friday morning market missions-- they've become a creative outlet / little weekly art project that helps me refresh and continually enjoy our tiny home:

WARDROBE - Applying the same technique to my wardrobe has made sharing a (small) closet with Adam an easy task (images & info on our clothing storage here). By sticking to the basics and using a few bright accessories to layer and liven up my look, I never get tired of my clothing-- and I don't have to routinely buy new articles that I'll then have to store. (Did you read the wonderful write-up in The New York Times  by Carl Richards about this cyclical issue? I highly recommend it: "New Rule: All Purchases Subject to a 7-Day Mental Quarantine")

I will admit, one of the things that I really DO need storage for is my collection of market baskets, all of which I use on a weekly basis for the aforementioned purposes, and for carting botanicals to-and-from photo shoots. Luckily I found this vintage basket rack on Everything But The House, and I love it. It's simple, pretty, practical, and it brings me joy every day when I see it. (Sophee chewed through the plant that was there for the past 5 years anyway, so it was time to find a beautiful and useful replacement piece.) 

So I challenge you to liven things up in your home & closet by paring your belongings down!

Small Spaces + Pregnancy (Week 26)

This weekend marks the 26th week of my pregnancy! We've made numerous behind-the-scenes changes around here in preparation for our baby boy's arrival in October. Thus far it's been a lot of simplifying and decluttering. We will tackle the majority of the nursery makeover in August and September, and I'll be sure to share photos, tips and resources when that time comes.

But before we consider the more pin-worthy projects (such as wallpaper, specialty cribs and multi-functional nursery goods,) we should address an obvious obstacle when it comes to small spaces and pregnancy: how do you handle the inevitable wardrobe transformation when you barely have any closet space to begin with? As your belly balloons outward, where do you keep the newly acquired maternity and/or pregnancy-friendly clothing and personal care items? 

First, it's important to start with the fundamentals of downsizing. Nobody likes to hear the following, but I've found that these are truly the two handiest tricks when it comes to dealing with clutter and storage, regardless of your square-footage:

1. JUST GET RID OF IT. This is the single best tip for living well in a small space. You don't need to devise clever storage solutions when you don't have much crap to store in the first place.

2. ONLY BUY WHAT YOU REALLY NEED. Controlling what you bring into your home is the best way to avoid accumulating clutter. 

So! What do you NEED when it comes to maternity clothing? My jeans stopped fitting midway through my first trimester, yet these are the only new items I've truly needed in order to dress comfortably every day thus far:

1. Storq Basics Bundle 
I layer the items from this beautiful, simple Storq pack with my "normal" clothes for daytime outfits and evening wear. There are 4 products in this pouch (which itself is so easy to store-- photo below). I love that the pieces in this bundle create a simple foundation for endless maternity outfit possibilities when paired with your usual layers and accessories.

2. Over-The-Bump Jeans
My opinion: Don't waste your time with the demi-panel maternity jeans. They're uncomfortable and you outgrow them quickly. Get a pair of the over-the-bump jeans, and easily store them by donating  1-2 other clothing items you no longer love. 

3.  T-Shirt Dress
Ideal for lounging, sleeping, running quick errands, etc.

I even decided to downsize and declutter my toiletries. My skin changed a great deal when I reached my mid-thirties, and pregnancy has changed it even more drastically. So I got rid of my old skincare and makeup items, and simplified my routine and medicine cabinet. I decided to stick with a small selection of products from Glossier, Kate Somerville, Naked (by Urban Decay), Foreo, and Aesop. Nearly everything else went into the recycling bin. It always feels so good to get the bottle clutter under control. (Read more about our bathroom storage here.)

The biggest changes wardrobe-management changes will come in August and September, as we begin to clear out our closet in order to transform it into our son's nursery. In the meantime, we've been able to make do with the storage we have, which is pictured below:

1. Bathroom Shelving (read more about our bathroom storage here)
2. Whitney's Under-the-Couch Shoe Storage
3. Adam's Under-the-Couch Shoe Storage
4. The Closet (soon to be turned into the nursery)
5. The Bed Built-In Hamper (cameo by StanleeStubs)
6. The Bed Built-In Clothing Bin (photo by James Tse for "The Knot" Magazine)

Pregnant or not, small-space living can be frustrating if you have too much stuff. What I love about our home is that it reminds us to keep things simple, and requires us to routinely downsize our belongings. Since we've adopted this lifestyle, we've discovered that we have more energy and time to devote to one another, and to the things that matter most in our lives. 

Disclaimer: All brands mentioned above are ones that I genuinely love to use as described. I have received compensation in the form of product for some of those mentioned in this post, but all opinions expressed are my own, regardless of compensation. 

Bridal Gifting

The Cottage wedding is less than a week away! Last month, I prepped some Bridal gift boxes for my nearest and dearest friends. But I needed a little extra something for the three hosts of all my wedding-related events. For this round of presents, I worked with TYSA Designs in Malibu, as I love their boho style and California roots. I wanted to give each lady something that was uniquely her own style, but that also shared a common thread with the other hosts' gifts:

These dresses ended up being PERFECT. I had to pick dresses for a tall, willowy brunette, a chameleonic red-head, and a tiny surfer-build blonde. I chose the "Gateway Sunrise" pattern for all three ladies, but there are so many other beautiful options from which to choose. 

I prefer to avoid traditional wrapping papers and supplies (why waste the packaging?), so I simply bound each dress with twine, and topped it off with fresh bougainvillea and a mini-bottle of gorgeous found glass from my friend Lynette of Sea & Glass.  

While I don't own many clothing items here at our tiny cottage, I do have numerous pieces by Tysa. Here's a look back at some of my favorites from the past year:

Big thanks to Tysa Wright of Tysa Designs for helping me select these wonderful gifts for my incredible friends.

Groom Gifting

Adam and I aren't having traditional wedding parties at our cottage ceremony, but that doesn't mean we don't want to offer tokens of thanks and love to our nearest and dearest friends! For the guys who helped orchestrate Adam's bachelor party, I put together a few little groom's gifts featuring some of my favorite goodies that I know they'll use and enjoy. As always, we strived to select items that are practical, beautiful, and won't clutter up the guys' homes: 

We picked Tech Dopp Kits by This Is Ground. They're the most practical leather organization tools, and the company is based here in LA. (I've worked with TIG several times in the past and absolutely LOVE them-- here's a recent video I shot with them at the Cottage.) We added some bites and drinks (the best items for clutter-free gifting!), including small-batch OOLA Whiskey, and locally-made chocolate by our long time friends at Nohmad Snack Co.  Lastly, we topped off the presents with ties from Combatant Gentlemen-- the company where we found Adam's wedding suit. We love how they turned out!

Bridal Gifting

Our wedding at the Cottage is less than a month away! While we don't have a traditional bridal party or groomsmen, Adam and I are of course celebrating with our nearest-and-dearest this month in anticipation of tying the knot.

I wanted to gift something practical and beautiful to my closest friends, so I decided to make them little gift boxes featuring some of the goods I use daily here at home. I'm pretty happy with how they turned out, but Sophee is quite the critic:

Inside the boxes:

  • Lulu & Georgia Acrylic Sheepskin Throw
    • I use this Sheepskin Throw daily to cover my desk chair. At night, I move it out into the garden when I lounge around with Adam and the pups. I have another that I placed in a willow basket and turned into a spare pet bed.
  • True & Co "Best Lace Hipster Ever" Panties in assorted colors
    • The team over at True & Co. is completely delightful, and their underwear is 🔥🔥🔥. 
  • Nohmad Snack Co. Chocolate
    • The makers of Nohmad Chocolate and I have been close friends for years. Their chocolate is my absolute favorite, and is my go-to gifting item from the Cottage.
  • Aquiesse Candle Travel Tin in my favorite scent, Luxe Linen
    • I burn these Luxe Linen candles daily-- I even pack one for road trips. The smell relaxes me, and the branding is simple and beautful.
  • Urban Decay NAKED products
    • I use Urban Decay any time I put on makeup. Naked 2 is my preferred eyeshadow palette, and I always have one of their Naked On the Run boxes in my purse.
  • California & Venice Cards by Brittney Banks
    • I recently discovered the California-inspired illustration of Brittney Banks in a local store, and it actually made me laugh out loud. She created a compilation card of iconic Venice Beach visuals, and it's spot on. Not only did I get these cards for my Bridal friends, but I also got one for every party attending our wedding. 
  • Cinch Belts
    • Since the ladies range from sizes 0 to 12, and since some of us are pregnant-- from the first trimester to the third-- I included a selection of Cinch Belts for us all. I've been using my Obi Belt Long (in Camel) a few times per week to help accommodate my rapidly-changing waistline (I'm currently at week 16). These compact and versatile wrap belts make for handy gifts and accessories.
  • Fresh flowers, bread and satsuma mandarins from the Venice Farmers Market

Click on the images below to enlarge:

LA Fundraiser

On September 19th, Adam and I attended the annual Face Forward Fundraiser here in LA. We were introduced to this non-profit by our close friend, Bonnie Somerville. This organization helps survivors of violent and disfiguring crimes put their best face forward after after suffering from extreme domestic abuse. Their stories are heartbreaking, and all too common. This event and silent auction helped raise money for future patients and their reconstructive surgeries.

Rent the Runway generously provided me with this gorgeous nha khanh Isabella Gown. I am 6' tall and like to wear heels, and it was absolutely perfect. I 100% recommend it. It's completely elegant, simple and timeless.