November 14, 2022

Honey, I'm Home

I'm coming out of my hidey hole to say hello. We moved home 4 weeks ago today and are finally feeling settled. There are 2 boxes that I know of that are still to be unpacked, but for today I am pretending they do not exist. Although, even though they are labeled in a way that would indicate otherwise, they are probably holding the handful of things I still can't find and which continue to vex me.

To say we are happy to be home would be the most glorious understatement in my personal history. I often don't want to go to sleep because I honestly don't want to let go but waking up at home after almost 6 months of being away, is a delight that arrives anew every morning.

For the better part of this year, I have longed for slow days. Since May, the idea of slow days spent in our home post renovation, is what kept me going. Since we got home I have pushed myself to get settled in and not let the chaos linger. It would seem no sooner had I gotten one space set up and organized, that the contents from another would get redistributed, disturbing my peace.

Yesterday was the beginning of my reward as I spent the entire day in my pajamas in my studio. And today…a Monday spent in my favorite way- making the house tidy, meal planning for the week, moving around at my own pace, doing any number of small jobs that I forget as soon as I’m done and nobody else even thinks about, until at the end of the day I ask myself, “what DID I do today?!” But I know what I did…I lived out my perfect simple day and enjoyed every moment of it. I’m vowing to myself to stop keeping track of what I checked off the list, purely so that I can justify whatever joy I might squeeze from what’s left of the day. I realize my life would be better served by starting with the joy and letting the rest fill in the space left over.

Speaking of joy- this little love, Genevieve Mae, who calls me Honey (or will one day) joined our family in October. So much goodness for us this year.

Now I'm off to walk the dog and bake some bread and start my Thanksgiving list. It's so good to be home.

September 22, 2022

Where the Heart Is

Home. There are few things more important to many of us and I certainly claim that to be true for me. I grew up poor and without much stability. We moved a lot and I rarely felt a sense of belonging or of being rooted to a place. At different times while growing up, I have lived in a trailer, a motel, an uncle's basement, several times with my grandparents, rental homes and once an apartment in an area so bad that I feared for my safety just helping my mom bring the groceries in from the car.

All of this to say that maybe my longing for security, home, community and roots has had more of an impact on my life and choices than any other single thing. Also, I tell you this to illustrate that I never in my life imagined having a home quite like the one I'm moving back into in less than 4 weeks. I mean, it's not grand, it's still just my sweet little cottage, but every corner of the house and every inch of the garden has been considered, given attention and love and made into what is our particular idea of a dream home. And to us, it is indeed the most grand thing in the world and the place where we feel we belong and are rooted in. 

We have spent a lot of years doing without, working to pay off any debt and sacrificing to get to this moment. I spent 11 years with a kitchen that had handmade, 40 year old plywood cabinets, drawers that would barely open, little storage and tile counters that qualified as a science experiment. Throughout the house we had linoleum floors that had no seal and could not be kept clean, cracking drywall and ceilings, hideous tile, surfaces that were decades past their prime, space that was not well planned and general jack-assery every where we looked. The 2nd floor was added in the early 90's we believe and the integrity of that project is...questionable. We could have done a different kind of renovation many years ago but I am a pretty patient gal and I'm always willing to wait for what I really want and I absolutely HATE spending money twice. So we waited and made the most of what we had with our resources and created a home we loved while we planned and dreamed about renovating "next year" while one thing after another intervened with the dreams until finally we found ourselves ready. Then we had to wait yet another year for the contractor I was set on using, to be available. But finally here we are...nearly to the finish line.

We have invested no small amount of money over the years improving the house in the ways we could- a lot of time having to spend money that wasn't "pretty": new roof, gutters, hvac, sewer lines etc, some pretty money too of course: landscaping, opening up the front porch, a make do kitchen makeover etc. 

But one day we just got tired of picking away at it and we just wanted to be done and to spend the next chapter of our life enjoying our home and doing the fun decorating projects. And we've had a couple of reminders over the last several years that the future isn't guaranteed and sometimes you need to stop postponing for later and live for now. We decided to just rip the bandaid off and be done. This renovation snowballed a bit, of course things came up that we hadn't planned on- the house was built in 1900 so it was to be expected!

We are moving back into a home that at once is very different than the one we left, but is also much the same. Her spirit remains unchanged. We have worked hard to add back in the charm where it had been removed and to make choices that are appropriate for the age and style of the cottage. We have gutted the kitchen and dining room, the mudroom has been transformed into a Butler's Pantry/Bootroom, the fireplace has been refaced, every last piece of trim in the house has been replaced (and mostly by my guy!), The main floor bathroom has been completely redone down to the subfloor, the master bedroom and bath have been reconfigured to close the bath completely off from the bedroom, give us a giant shower, two (!) sinks, and each of us a small closet, the laundry area has been ripped out and a fresh clean slate provided. The entire downstairs received new hardwood flooring and the entire upstairs floors are getting refinished. We have added new windows in the kitchen and main floor bath as well as new french doors in the dining room and a new exterior door in the Butler's Pantry. Almost every wall, ceiling, door and piece of trim got new paint and on top of that we have added lots of insulation, shored up the structure with new beams etc., replaced plumbing, wiring, dryer vent, added attic access, insulation, drywall, beams to shore up the foundation and another new HVAC system for the downstairs. 

We have worked at the house almost every weekend for the last nearly 5 months. There have been times that the process felt unbearable. Being away from the house and the Village and our lives was hard. Watching the house get torn apart and stay that way for months on end with no pretty progress and bad news after bad news was hard. But then one day the tide turned. Pretty things started to happen, the momentum kept us going and made it easier to pay a mortgage and rent every month. The sleepless nights, never ending to do lists and constant level of stress were starting to pay off. We have poured our energy, money, heart and soul into this house and while we are exhausted from this year, more than anything we are so happy and proud of what we have accomplished and so beyond excited to get back into our home and get back to living our small, cozy, lovely life. We have absolutely no regrets and I know I will sleep better knowing that we have made our house as safe and stable as possible.

I wish I had been around here more but I have been doggy paddling to keep my head above water. I look forward to sharing more of the design after we get moved in. I am gratified to see it coming together the way I envisioned. Every single decision was tirelessly researched and chosen for a reason and while I made myself crazy (and probably those around me as well), I am so happy with how it is turning out-a dream that exceeds those of my childhood and a home where I can spend the rest of my life making the people I care about feel loved.