Can’t Live Without

I live in a 550 square foot cabin with my husband and daughter. How on earth do we do it? And WHY?

My apartment-size refrigerator-freezer holds less than five cubic feet. The freezer alone holds 1.3. Which is about three pairs of shoes. Not husband-size shoes, mind you. Mommy-size, ballet flat sort of shoes. Naturally, this puts a real physical limitation on our intake of meat-eating husband and preschooler-friendly foods like frozen chicken nuggets. I wish I could say that my newfound yogurt-and-granola making lifestyle was a well-planned, intentional move Back to the Land, Simplifying for a Wholesome Family Life. Instead, like many things, it has been a series of coincidences, opportunities, adventures and, perhaps, mis-adventures that have led to this place.

Am I a little crazy, a little obsessive? Probably. When we lived in our floating house in the brackish tidal slough of Redwood City, I made Thanksgiving dinner for 12 with a weber barbecue and a three-burner electric stove about 18″ wide. Would a take-out Thanksgiving have walked the dog? Maybe, but for me that would have totally missed the point. So yeah, there’s a pretty good chance I’m a little crazy.

Some other things I’m really crazy about, in no particular order:

1. Sitting down for dinner with cloth napkins. Yes, even preschoolers.
2. Grass-fed beef.
3. Home-grown salad greens.
4. “Please” and “Thank you.”
5. My mom’s soup (she published her formula in Deidre Hall’s Kitchen Closeup).
6. My dahlias. Until the deer eat them.
7. Sun-gold cherry tomatoes.
8. My Kindle.
9. The Bookmobile.
10. My husband. I know, goopy, right? But it’s true.

So here we are, a couple of urban transplants just twenty miles or so as the crow flies from the current navel of technological innovation, Silicon Valley.  And light years away from the typical comforts of civilization, like cell phone reception and pizza delivery. And occasionally power.

How do three of us bump along so well together in such a tight space? With a LOT of planning, and a fairly radical commitment to Less Stuff. Out of necessity, I’m a big fan of well-designed, quality products that serve multiple functions and genuinely improve life. I’m also a huge fan of multi-purpose, small-space toys. And being a designer by profession, I can’t help making a few recommendations. I haven’t quite fallen as far as getting a herd of sheep and making my own hand-felted faceless toys, but it can’t be much longer now.


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