I've been thinking a lot about the meaning of the "homestead" and trying to define what exactly I'm hoping to build in becoming a homesteader. I guess most of all I get impressions and feelings of things: the calm and slight euphoria of chopping and sauteing onions in butter; a sense of independence in seeing my medicine cabinet well-stocked not with pills and antibacterial ointments, but with garlic and ginger and herbal teas; even the enjoyment of looking at my things - a vignette that is pleasing to the eye, like the way my favorite, well-worn books look leaned against one another on the bookshelf.
I guess it's about comfort, creating a haven that is personal to you and your own little history, adding and subtracting to it as time goes on, but above all, loving and caring for it.
I don't know why I didn't read more of it, but I think this is what the Apartment Therapy book is all about, at least from the first few chapters of it I did read. Creating a peaceful, functional and personal space in which to exist each day is such a beautiful thing that I think gets lost on people in their daily lives. I, too, let the clutter pile up until I can take it no more at times, but once I go through everything and clean up, I feel a mental fog I wasn't even aware of has cleared. Imagine how fully I would operate if I never let the fog build up in the first place!
Dan and I only recently moved into our new place and have lived somewhat nomadic existences these past few years together (and separately in our years immediately after college). In this time we have accumulated and purged so many things, stuff we'd inherited from family or old roommates, nothing that ever felt like anything we'd chosen.
So now I'm fully ready to make a home, as they say, and have been trying to slowly and purposefully put together a beautiful and relaxing space with only the things that mean anything to us. Here are some vignettes from around our house.
In the bedroom: a vegetable crate Dan got from work houses some of our favorites: Walden, Brave New World, Kitchen Confidential. On it, a glass tray that belonged to my grandmother. Though I never met her, my mother tells me she used the tray for perfumes and jewelry. The wooden jewelry box on top of it, my mother brought me from a trip she took to Indonesia with her interior design class when I was twelve. It still smells like Asia to me. The "rug" on the floor is actually a deer skin given to us by Dan's father, whose friend got this deer last year. Having grown up in rural Wisconsin, Dan has hunting in his blood and holds the sport dear to his heart.
I guess most of my favorite places at my house involve books, which I'm not sure if that is an escapist thing or an intellectual thing. In any case, we found this bookshelf in our alley a couple of weeks ago, and with nothing immediately and glaringly wrong with it, we tossed it in the back of Dan's pickup and now here it is. The picture on the wall over it is a painting I made for Dan on his 25th birthday, a few months after we started dating. We were living in Madison, Wisconsin, where I went to college and he grew up. I was dying to move from there, and was also going through an obsession with French new-wave films, many of which involved the main characters committing a crime and having to go on the lam. So this painting is of Dan and I on the lam. The other picture is a still from my favorite film, Lost in Translation; the connection between Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson is so palpable. The egg timer on the first shelf is a plastic piece from Boggle that just about everyone who enters my house (most notably my nephew, Mason) becomes inexplicably fixated on. The orange troll is a present from Dan's aunt, one of the few sentimental things he's held onto over the years, and down below it, the skull of the first deer he got when he was twelve.
Our beautiful brick wall! I have been obsessed with exposed brick for years, and when we finally moved into a place with it, I was ecstatic. The pictures are each of us holding our newborn nephews; we would like to add to the wall with more photos but the joke is that there are none in existence of the two of us! Note also the VHS box set of Rocky I-IV, one of my favorite film series ever.
My brother was an absolute doll this year for my birthday - about a month after we moved to Chicago, where he is, all the way from Seattle. I think he was ecstatic that we were back and wanted to help us out with furnishing the place a bit. He found this gorgeous antique coffee table (also a trunk for storing blankets!) and this intricate area rug from Ikea. My friend Jeanette was similarly wonderful when she visited for a weekend and left a thank you note and gift card to Anthropologie on the pillow of the spare bedroom where she stayed. What a classy move! It was one of the most thoughtful gestures ever. I used the gift card to buy these beautiful coasters to protect the table. Here's a close-up of the rug, because it is just too good:
And just for fun, here we are enjoying the home on my birthday: Dan, me (so pictures of us do exist!), my nephew Mason and brother, Pat.