Friday, October 10, 2014


St. Helena, CA

After living for four years onboard our beautiful Cara Mia, with all her warm teak and built-in furniture, setting up camp on land has been more challenging than I anticipated. Our tiny, 512-square-foot house seems so cavernous, echo-y and stark white.

We don't want to own a lot of stuff, but we want to be comfortable. When we moved in, we made a commitment to living small, an exploration of the foggy space between stark and too much.

What is the minimum requirement for living comfortably? Is clutter a human condition? Is it possible to live small, to avoid the escalation game?

In this Living Small experiment, I've listed the contents of the bedroom, kitchen and bathroom, but the living room hadn't reached that heady space of just enough. We were lacking a table.

Our tiny space called for a flexible table, small enough to be inconspicuous, but big enough to seat four in anticipation of all the new friends who will grace it. That flexible table also had to serve as my desk by day and our dinner table by night. A contracted search for a vintage drop-leaf table tried my patience, so after five months of going table-less, IKEA came to the rescue. I thought I'd outgrown IKEA, but that's just one more of life's happy surprises.

This beaut has the perfect dimensions and blends right in with our gold/black/red motif.

Here's how we ended up:

Trunk/coffee table
2 barstools
1 table
2 chairs
2 posters
1 lamp

Voila! A tiny room with two spaces to eat and work, room to entertain and lounge in comfort.

We might be one comfy chair short, but stay tuned. For now, I'm calling it just enough.

And now the real challenge: NO MORE STUFF!

Today, I'm grateful for: a table and pumpkins.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


St. Helena, CA

Those who have been with us (suffered with us?) since the early days will remember our extreme downsizing effort. In 2008, our challenge was to liquidate a four-bedroom house, two cars, a thriving wine shop and the ridiculous amount of stuff that filled them all up. By October 2010, we had ridded ourselves of the whole kit and the caboodle too, sailing away with what fit in a 38' boat.

Now, four years hence, I've made a bit of a cottage industry out of writing about my experiences.

In an article for Gannett's, I talk about the weighty emotional toll of getting rid of all my stuff and offer retroactive advice to myself about how it might have been easier:

8 Steps to Free Your Home (and Life) of Clutter

There's always a back story, and in my case, it comes in the form of blog posts. In the article, I mention the measuring cup that made me cry and the bird's nest that held a hidden message about my own safety at sea. Now you can read the rest of the story.

Part two of the series details the actual nuts and bolts of how we disposed of all our stuff:

Secrets to Gifting and Listing All You Stuff

I mention frantically searching for a box to ship my office chair, and here's the whole hilarious story. Then there's the time I listed all our furniture on Craigslist, not expecting people to show up the same day to pick it up. And our poorly timed first yard sale on the hottest day of the summer and the second.

Those were intense days, full of hard labor and heavy dreaming. But oh how I love a story with a happy ending.

Leaving Manteo at sunrise, October 2010.