I grew up in Colorado and after many years, living in several states, and a couple of countries I found my way back home. I’ve lost track of the number of times we’ve moved. Last count was somewhere around 18. If that sounds exhausting, it is, especially with five little ones in tow. And, while my moving days are over, I’ve been blessed by the experiences I’ve had and the dear friends I’ve made.
When I finally found the road leading home, I moved back to the small town where I’d grown up and I bought the house I’d always longed for as a girl. The once tidy house was now neglected and dilapidated. You’ll find that’s just the kind of house I love!
Somehow I always see what a space can be. I never see the broken tiles, falling ceiling, or missing shingles. To be accurate, I see it all. I thoroughly inspect, take careful notes and make detailed repair budgets, but I don’t see those things. I see the house, re-habbed, refreshed, restored.
I am passionate about creating spaces that function first. Of course, a space should be beautiful, but if it fails to function, the beauty gets lost amidst the frustration. When a place is functional and beautiful it becomes a place that draws people together to share all the messiness that is life. A place where people learn to love.
I believe that the desire for beauty is written by the Creator on our DNA. Beauty is not just an unnecessary luxury. It feeds our souls. CS Lewis says in his book, The Weight of Glory, “We do not want merely to see beauty… we want something else which can hardly be put into words – to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.”
So, bit by bit this house is being renovated. Progress starts and stops depending on what’s going on in my preservation business, or my flipping business, or with my kids.
For several months, progress has been at a near standstill while I bought, re-habbed and sold the old farmhouse across the street. In the midst of that, my daughter got engaged and three short months later she married her love. I’ll tell you more about both of those in upcoming posts.
In addition to being a compulsive re-habber, I love to cook. We raise chickens for eggs and meat (yes, we butcher ourselves). I’ve raised beef for the freezer, (no, we didn’t butcher them). I can peaches and tomatoes and make jam. I still sometimes grind wheat for homemade bread and other baked goods. I’ve pressed cider, tried my hand at making hard cider and made homemade maple syrup.
I tend to value slow food and whole food. But don’t get the wrong idea. I am far from a health nut. I want to be. I wish I was, but I like the idea of gardening much better than the reality. I have an insatiable sweet tooth. I think hot, Yorkshire Gold Tea taken the English way with milk and sugar constitutes a meal, I rarely encounter a vegetable I can tolerate, and I’ve been known to eat cookies for breakfast.
Once, while I was making brioche and talking about my love of corn dogs, my good friend commented, “Ann, sometimes I just don’t get you. Sometimes you are so sophisticated, like with the brioche, but other times you’re such white trash.” I like that! I’m not one to be pigeoned holed!
None-the-less, I love to cook. Yes, cooking provides necessary nourishment but it too is an outlet for creativity and beauty. It serves as the backdrop for family and friends gathering together and sharing life.
When the kids were younger, meal times were a cornerstone of our day. But kids grow and life changes. Where five kids used to sleep under our roof and gather nightly at our table, now only three remain. They are busy with school, and work and college and many nights my dining room table sits abandoned and forlorn.
In recent years, the empty nest has started to come into focus for me. I wish I could say I’m navigating it with grace and poise, but the truth is, it’s hard. Much harder than I ever anticipated.
Back when I was rocking babies, I had a false sense that I really had it all together, that I was also rocking the mommy thing. In my twisted mind, perfection was something to be pursued. Hindsight brings things into perspective and today my imperfections, the mistakes I made stand in crystal clear clarity ready to accuse me if I’ll let them. The times I was selfish, was too prone to say “no”, disciplined too severely, didn’t laugh enough, worried too much about a perfectly clean house and a thousand other things. I could go on. Trust me, the list is long.
So in this season I am abandoning the impossible pursuit of perfection. I am learning to be honest with myself and others about my imperfections, my mistakes, my fears, my questions. I’m embracing the reality that any perception of perfection is merely a lie, that there is tremendous value in vulnerability and authenticity, and grace silences my would-be accusers. It’s not always easy, this path. But it’s good! It is infinitely good!
In Daring Greatly, Brene Brown says this, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” I would argue that it’s the birthplace of beauty too.
At it’s core, this blog is about Connection and Beauty. Connecting with other people and with God. Its about being real and authentic and vulnerable. It’s about Beauty, in our homes, in our surroundings, in relationships, and the mundane things in life, even in struggle and grief. It’s about creating spaces, and food and time for sharing, for connecting, for growing, and for love.
I am honored that you stopped by and hope you’ll stay awhile in this is a place where you can belong too!
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