As a child, the fair I grew up with felt magical and gigantic. We all looked forward to the turning of the fall leaves and the opening of the Bloomsburg Fair! I feared the shuttle tram that never completely stopped when you were trying to get on and off. My sister and I were warned of our ultimate demise if we were ever to trust the rides at the fair (“if they have wheels, don’t get on them”) my parents always said. Our family generally went to the fair to eat and to shop. I don’t think we ever went to a concert or performance at the fair. Although my childhood fair tended to have the traditional vendors year after year, there was always something new and innovative at the fair. 

I distinctly remember falling in love with a cheap, glass swan filled with food colored water and “feathers” that spewed out – that was the most glamorous thing I ever owned. We loved the pizza, funnel cakes and I’m convinced it’s the only decent place in the world to get an Orange-Aid. (if you don’t know what that is, you need to go to my childhood fair). When this year rolled around and my mom mentioned it – I suddenly felt a little nostalgic and regretful that I didn’t plan my fall trip home to include the fair week. A few years ago here in Alabama, I went to a “fair” – it was essentially a parking lot with 3 vendor stands. I was hesitant to trust trying other ones, but after a quick Google search I discovered the Alabama State Fair had one weekend left! It felt a little too coincidental, and I knew I’d have to go.

Even just arriving felt like “my” fair; it was held on the Birmingham Race Course (nope, not cars – greyhounds!) A shuttle wasn’t necessary because parking was pretty close and I got there just as the sun was starting to set (perfect). Getting tickets and going through security was easy (although a new step that was different from my childhood days).  As soon as I looked up and saw the lights on the rides and vendor trucks, heard the roller coaster screams and smelled that perfect mix of manure and food – it was like being home again! 

They had the typical fair farm animals (although more for recreation and petting zoo than for contests). They had a giraffe and white tigers which wasn’t anything I haven’t seen in much closer detail than via a fair fence (that’s another story). As I’ve gotten older my feelings and thoughts on exotics at fairs and circuses have changed, but it was what I would expect to see at a fair – there has to be something exotic. I walked around to get a better idea of what food was available and there was no shortage of options. Every step I took up the midway resulted in stuck shoes – it wasn’t clear if it was mud or something else that you were walking through – but it felt about right to me. After all, who comes to a fair to complain about walking through mud? 

Then I broke the sacred rule: I bought ride tickets. Anything that goes upside down has been on my “um, no” list since Las Vegas circa 2012 (freaking New York, New York roller coaster), but I digress. My first ride had to be the ferris wheel (because I needed pictures for this article and I am dedicated to my craft!). Even though it is a high in height ride, it doesn’t move fast and the cars were completely enclosed – I got in line and didn’t hesitate despite my insane fear of heights. I remember getting in and out of ferris wheel cars being MUCH easier when you are younger, those are some high steps! 

Sitting in my car, slowly moving up so that the attendant can seat the other riders, I started to look around and see which sides would give me better pictures (I was determined to get some nice shots for this article!). When they moved me up a little further I started to not love it so much. It had been a long time since I’d done this and I knew I’d be a little freaked out – that’s why I made myself do it! I managed to calm down, take a video, pictures and even “let go” of the bar so I could enjoy the ride – it was really awesome.

The Pirate Ship was the next one I waited for, which reminded me so much of a similar ride at the amusement park near where I grew up (where our parents LET us ride the rides). It was one of my favorites to ride with my Dad who passed away last year. Standing in line – my old instincts kicked in – you know how you do the math to see if you’ll board the next ride, and if you’ll be able to run to your desired seat before the people in front of you figure it out. Let’s just say, I haven’t lost my skills. I easily got the very end seat (along with some pretty scared  younger gals) – that thing went a LOT higher than it looked. I literally flew up and down in the seat (it was like being 10 years old again!)

The Himalaya seemed pretty basic after all that, but it’s a staple ride that I always go on – one of the “safer” ones at the fair. I have to tell you though, maybe it’s because I’m older, but the rides sure seemed to go pretty fast at the Alabama State Fair. The “fad” at this state fair seemed to be LED balloons and face masks (yeah, it’s definitely 2021). It did make me long for the colored feathers that I used to always buy and stick in my hair at the end of the day. The sights, the sounds, the smells – it all felt the same, kind of like all those other years didn’t happen yet. That’s the magic of the fair. 

After a $12 cheesesteak (which was really, really good), I bought some cotton candy and a funnel cake to take home. The parking lot was an adventure too – no lights – and about 10 min of me walking down the wrong row with food in hand, but I wasn’t the only one. I remember coming and going to the fair to be a much bigger deal/hassle as a kid than when you are an adult. Maybe it’s because I had control over when I left and how, but it was just something interesting  I noticed.  Going from being a teenager in the fair to a responsible adult outside reminded me of my age a little – but it was definitely a fair to remember. 


Although the big dream to live tiny is still in the very early stages, I realize the importance of thinking and planning ahead – especially with (physically) big purchases. It’s been clear for a while now that the mattress I purchased in Boston, circa 2014, was long overdue for replacement. It seemed an easy enough purchase but knowing me and mine will be living tiny in the not-too-distant future, I was a little hesitant to get anything until I did the research. 

Yes, I know I want the bedroom of the tiny house  to be on the main floor, but other than that, how was I going to purchase a mattress that would work just laying on a floor or a platform? My guy has a lot of back, spine and shoulder issues so a soft, supportive bed is essential. I myself am the world’s oddest troubled sleeper (that’s a whole other article trust me), and I like something more firm. I was also hesitant to invest what I knew would be needed for something of quality without being able to test it first. With COVID and it being a mattress, I didn’t think this would be possible.

After reading several blogs and articles about tiny house mattresses, I was quickly discovering that a mattress for a tiny house is the exact same thing as a mattress for a regular bed. Of course height – something to consider for a loft bed –  wasn’t really going to be an issue for our setup, so I was back to square one with basically the entire world of mattresses at my disposal for the choosing. Crap.

I came across Lull via some random article (I really wish I could credit where I first saw the mention). I had heard of several of the other big ticket companies: Stearns & Foster, the “Purple” mattress to name a few – should I take a chance on a brand name I didn’t “know”? I loved the simplistic, yet sophisticated products at Lull. There are only two types of mattresses and they don’t mess around with sleep numbers, different firmness grades or any of that other  confusion other companies try to pass off as significant. 

In addition to their non-frills approach their customer service representatives were super nice (I had texted them about old mattress removal), and had several options for me. The best part of their process is they give you an entire year (365 days) to try a mattress and if you don’t like it, they will refund you 100% and not ask you any questions. That checked off my box about trying something before I buy it – I could always send it back at no cost to me (and they come and pick it up).  The only choice to make then was – which mattress to try?

I went with their Original Lull Mattress, at the time they were offering $250 off what was already a great price for a memory foam mattress. Of course as soon as I bought it, I was emailed an offer for $300 off, but I digress. The company is very vocal about having to raise their prices and makes every attempt to save their customers money with special promotions (which seem to be offered all the time). I ordered the queen size (and two standard sized pillows), and it was delivered in less than a week.

The real fun began when it was delivered. The box for the pillows was pretty standard, but the mattress box was fun – great marketing/artistic branding, with fancy exotic cat cartoons. The packaging is pretty ingenious and space saving – they essentially shrink wrap the mattress down to a small (but heavy) bed roll. Although I was home alone when it was delivered, I didn’t have much trouble unwrapping the plastic once the roll was on the bed platform. Watching the mattress “rise” after breaking the air-tight seal is quite satisfying and it didn’t take long for it to finish and the plastic smell doesn’t linger for long.

First I will say – I am in love with the pillows, they were a great additional purchase and I highly recommend including them in any order you might place. I myself, never liked memory foam (yes, I said it) and  yet, I just purchased a memory foam mattress. At first it was a strange difference when sitting because you do feel like you’re “sinking” a little bit . That feeling is still odd on Day 2, but I am realizing it’s just the difference between a really good mattress and the piece of crap I was sleeping on for the past six years. 

I can’t honestly say it was the best sleep of my life, but that has nothing to do with the mattress. I will say I woke up without back pain, hip pain (I’m a side/stomach sleeper) and pretty darn refreshed for someone with insomnia. I really love the mattress and feel good about the company that made it! They had a fun social media contest right on the box (totally my thing),  and their instructional packet was fun and simple (these things matter to me as a writer and home goods enthusiast).  The company’s honest and focused approach was one that I appreciated and the products themselves are worth every penny spent. They lull-ed me in for quite a buy – I’m a happy customer. 

For more info visit Lull’s website:  https://lull.com/

A Big Little Impression

Timbercraft Tiny Homes, Guntersville, Alabama

It didn’t take long to communicate my big dream of tiny living to my better half and immediate family members. The countless benefits were easy to explain from affordability, to the adventure, to it being the solution to having to live apart for the moment.  Although I can clearly see the perks – I’m a big believer in figuring out the logistics of a situation by trying it first-hand. It was time to step foot in a tiny house.

Luckily for me, there is no shortage of tiny home builders in the South (or was there?). A lot of the companies I thought might still be in business (based on HGTV and some online research) were closed. Several seemed to have taken  a hit even before COVID. Of course the pandemic posed its own set of problems even as recently as  just a few months ago. Most of the working shops don’t exactly give tours (why would they?). 

I sent emails to locations that I thought might agree to meet with me, and Jamie from Timbercraft Tiny Homes in Guntersville, Alabama responded almost immediately. I was transparent about my intention, which was to step into a tiny house and see what it was like. She knew I wouldn’t be putting down a deposit during my visit, but was gracious enough to take time out of her day to meet with me – so I booked the appointment.

The drive up to Guntersville was a nice way to end my afternoon. I had been there a few years prior to visit local wineries, but forgot how gorgeous the lake is. When I turned the corner and saw the sun sparkling off the top of the water it was such a positive feeling – almost like an affirmation that my exploration would be beneficial.

Jamie was a fun and honest host. After chatting and admitting I had no idea what I was looking for (or doing), she grabbed a 3-step stool and unlocked one of their completed models for me to tour – a version of their Denali model. I knew immediately when stepping inside that it was above our budget at around $75k. It didn’t feel like I was stepping into an RV or a “tiny” anything. In fact, the first thing I said to Jamie was for us, it was too big.  It was stunning though – decorated with white wood walls, high ceilings and hardwood floors (my personal fav). The fixtures were high-end, quartz countertops and all the things you would expect to find in a fancy house. 

I especially loved the master bedroom being on the first level with space for end tables and a dresser/tv. There was even a closet! There are several reasons I don’t want a loft master bedroom – one of them being I can’t imagine getting dressed while laying down or standing in my kitchen. Overall the house was gorgeous, but not practical for my purposes. This tiny home definitely left a big impression on me, and reinforced my feeling that this is the right path. The idea of tiny living is to create memories and not memorabilia – the process of transitioning and exploring a new lifestyle is an adventure in itself, and there are so many more to come!

For more info visit Timbercraft Tiny Homes’ website.

Sic Parvis Magna – My path to tiny

“Why don’t you just get an RV?” “I could never do that, it’s so cramped!” This has been the immediate response whenever I tell someone I’ve made the decision to live in a tiny house and adopt that lifestyle. I have come to realize that it does seem to be an odd declaration to make out of the blue, so I can understand the confusion. While the choice does appear sudden, I believe tiny living is in my blood. This is a story about how recent life events have caused me to reassess what is important to me and take an intentional journey to discover what I really value in my life.

My father had a natural talent for design and construction. He made his living as a carpenter and mason most of his life. When my grandparents gave my Dad and step-mother land as a wedding gift over 40 years ago, there was really no limit to what he could have created and built. It never occurred to me until recently – he built a fairly small, rectangular, non-inspiring box – made out of brick. 

Now don’t get me wrong, it is a beautiful home, and has a stone fireplace like I’ve never seen anywhere else – but overall it was simple, practical and semi-small. I wouldn’t exactly say tiny – but it could have easily been much larger. It was a 3-bedroom which included a decent sized master, a larger bedroom for my older brother and a room large enough for me and my sister to share every other weekend. 

My Dad passed away suddenly in May of 2020 and it occurred to me that I never thought to ask him why he built such a small house. As a kid it did feel fairly large in comparison to my mom and step-father’s home (still another 3-bedroom), but I had pretty high expectations of my crafty Dad to have built a “mansion” of sorts. My father being the nature-oriented and old-school man he was, I believe realized, “less was more.”  I am convinced that subtle message took root early and influenced my desire to go tiny.

It is always surreal when you’re a grown-up and you visit your childhood home, especially for me since I moved out of state when I was 19 and have never really been back for longer than a week at a time. Being surrounded by all Dad’s creations and tools (and junk) in his workshop and garage (and closets, and truck) after his death was very soothing to me. Yet it’s funny, even with everything he’s made over the years the “thing” that came to my mind was a note my Dad had written on one of the studs of the house before putting up the drywall. 

Of course I took some of the beautiful pieces my father created over the years and some other mementos but that memory, which came to mind without any tangible object to trigger it, got me thinking; those memories aren’t gone or going anywhere. They are all right there, fresh for tapping whenever I need them. 

The next life event(s) nudging me closer to a tiny life, was a visit to an old high school friend, and the news that my step-father was losing his year-long battle to cancer. Soon after we knew he wouldn’t have long, I made the plan to fly up in July to see him and spend time. Meanwhile, I had rescued a litter of kittens and spontaneously decided to deliver two of them to a young couple in Missouri (only about an 8-hour drive from my house in Alabama). Everyone said I/we were crazy but in my mind it was an opportunity for a little adventure.  In addition to feeling great about finding homes for adorable cats, I got to see my dear friend’s dream come true. This girlfriend of mine has a gigantic estate in Missouri with a farm, animals, a fiance and a tiny house! I fell in love with how cute it was, and her entrepreneurial spirit to rent it out and give visitors an experience. 

This was also the same friend that inspired an article I wrote a few years ago, about “clipping coupons and going to Paris.” She really taught me that it’s ok to have fun and be a little frivolous as long as you’re smart about it. I knew she would be the one person who would know the secret significance of taking a helicopter ride over St. Louis. It was a ridiculous amount of money for a 20-min ride and I felt absolutely no buyer’s guilt or remorse for spending it – I thought about both my Dads and knew they would approve of living in the moment. 

I stayed in a pet-friendly motel outside of St. Louis where it was a little cheaper, and really enjoyed the cable TV since I haven’t splurged on cable in six-years – it was a real treat! Once I found the HGTV channel and put on the closed captions, I didn’t change it all weekend. What was playing on loop was Hometown and Tiny House Nation (you know where I’m going with this). The idea was slowly coming together in my mind, but the dots didn’t connect yet. I was thinking I’d love to just live in the middle of nowhere like my friend, where people care about you and think to check on you once in a while. I also thought it would be great if Erin Napier designed my house (but then I’d have to move to Laurel, MS). Then I remembered how I get bored – easily – and like to move around. It felt good to have this adventure and reconnect with that YOLO attitude, but it was quickly replaced with sorrow and a desire to make some sense of it all. 

Although I got to speak with him via video on Father’s Day and several times after that, my step-father passed away just one day before my flight was scheduled to land to see him.  It was tough, but as usual with these types of battles there was a lot of relief among us all that he was no longer suffering. His death started to nudge me in a different direction when it came to “stuff” – because much like my father, my step-dad had a lot of stuff.  

A LOT of STUFF. He was a Marine re-creating his Vietnam War days with his memorabilia, photos, weapons – all the history. Definitely a lot of aspects that I love, but when I was sitting and looking at all his items, it was the photos and the stories and notes he wrote that mattered (not the “stuff”). I wasn’t glad I had all this to remember him by because just like my dad, I didn’t need it. On some level it kind of pissed me off. Not that he had left it for us to deal with or anything, but at the same time it got me thinking of my own junk drawers. I’m glad these things made him happy – but what I know is that he was truly happy talking about his memories to his friends and family and telling his stories – all intangible and priceless. 

It was when I got back from his funeral that I started to really look into how I could adapt to the feelings I was experiencing. I knew I would have to be open to some non-traditional ideas in order to find my path to a new and intentional lifestyle.  Will I accomplish “great things from small beginnings” by living a tiny lifestyle?  The best way for me to answer that is to get started.