garden-pretties, originally uploaded by pilgrimgirl.

Though I really love traveling, it feels delicious to get back into the routines of home and to sleep in my own cozy bed again. 🙂

I had a lot of time to think this past week while I was out of town, and as my mind turned to thoughts of home I started making some mental lists about my goals, values and priorities. So much of our home life reflects the intentional choices of our family.

For example, we embrace small footprint living, the effect of which is that we currently live in a small on-campus home rather than in a suburban tract. We spend our discretionary funds on travel rather than on late-model cars. Our clothes are functional but not fancy. We tend to eat fresh & local gourmet-style foods, and our kids can tell the difference between an artisan cheese and a supermarket imitation. We recycle and compost and grow our own. If you drop by, you will be offered a chair and a cup of tea or a glass of wine, as well as an earful of conversation.

While on the road I thumbed through some “home” magazines, admiring the beauty of the decor and comparing them to my own nothing-like-a-magazine-layout home. It made me feel sort of inadequate and empty. Wondering where I’d gone wrong because of my own lack of artfulness and taste. This thought came rather specifically as I thumbed through a “Coastal Living” magazine and fantasized a bit about having a beach cottage with pale blue walls and white linens (sigh). But…can you even imagine the nightmare of cat hair that would collect on a white couch?

I am just not a fancy living room person, nor would such decor mesh with my chosen lifestyle. I think I will forever be the kind of person who will have to scooch over a pile of books or a sleeping kitty to make space for you to sit down when you drop by. I might even have to wash a mug or two for that tea that we’ll share. And you might find me wearing my gardening jeans with their holes and mud-dirty hems, rather than anything fashionable.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m “doing it wrong,” and perhaps I should be setting my sights a bit higher, or working harder to have nicer “things” and be a better hostess. But I think I’m really more in the stage of life where I’ve realized that I just don’t find joy in those pursuits. I’d far rather have a lazy conversation with a friend, spend the afternoon puttering in my garden, take the kids to a new bookshop, go for a swim, read a novel, bake some muffins, paddle a canoe, or take pictures of the sunset.

I know my life is unusual, even strange, to many people who have made other types of lifestyle choices. And there are days that I wonder if maybe I should work harder to conform to society’s expectations or aspirations. But then I walk in that front door and melt into my favorite chair with a kitty at my side. I look out over the broad green field that we share with our adjacent neighbors and I see our garden off in the distance. I hear the kiddos chattering away in their room as they make their summer dream lists. I sip on a latte from a favorite flowery mug, my drink made by John after waking together this morning. And I am satisfied. To know that I am truly home.

Picture: a bunch of climbing roses cut from my garden in a vase placed on my back porch table that’s covered with a favorite vintage cloth that I found at a thrift shop many years ago. How’s that for picture-perfect? 🙂

19 thoughts on “home-place

  1. Chandelle

    Oh Jana, I so relate to everything you said. I feel very strange with a lot of people because I like to live in a small house, I don't care about clothes or cars, and my pleasures are the same as yours – a great bookstore, a good cup of coffee, a few laughs, a decent photograph, and a chance to put my hands in the dirt. I think that, if asked, almost everyone would say these are the things that truly make them happy. But not all of us manage to design our lives to maximize them. I really admire your family and hope that mine looks similar in ten years.

  2. Kat Clark

    That sounds truly perfect and amazing. Yours is the house I love to visit, and feel like I'm welcomed instead of intruding into a picture perfect space.

  3. C. L. Hanson

    I so relate!! I'll occasionally page through decorating magazines (or see friends' beautifully decorated apartments) and think "Wouldn't it be cool to have that?" But it's not important enough to me to put in the time committment, not to mention the fact that I don't have a flair for decorating to begin with. And the whole "small footprint" thing is important to me too.

    Come to my house for tea and conversation sometime! I guarantee it'll make you feel better about what your own decor looks like. ;^)

  4. Kristen

    Sometimes I wonder if I'm "doing it wrong,"

    I don't know you personally, Jana, but after reading your blog for a few months I feel comfortable saying that you most definitely are NOT 'doing it wrong.'

    I wasn't aware that you can see your garden plot from your house – how nice!

  5. Meryl

    I love visiting your home. Moving aside a stack of books is easy, and Remy conversation and general coziness is rare. You're definitely not doing it wrong from my perspective!

  6. Ryan

    Jana, the best decoration is always friends, and you seem to have those in spades…

    Thanks for the posts; you brighten my day.

  7. G

    love this.
    and I love your home. 🙂

    I relate to the feeling of "I'm doing it wrong" especially since we DO live in one of those tract homes (a big mistake we will have to life with for a while)… with my lack of concern for housecleaning and home decorating I feel like quite the oddball freak of nature among the immediate community.

    glad your journey was wonderful and that you are back home safely.

  8. Chelsea

    What a beautiful post. I feel the same way. The thing about an immaculate house is that you have to spend all your time (and/or spend all your money) making an keeping it immaculate. Not worth it!

  9. deb

    You, your life, your home sound lovely just as they are. You don't need to change a thing. And the roses, oh my goodness, those are beautiful

  10. Kate

    I would love your house. For the past two years I've been driven crazy by a roommate who believes the common areas should not show signs of being lived-in–no books left out, pillows arranged in one correct way even though it's not comfortable to use them that way. I spend more time at home than she does, and to me a home should be a place where you do the things of living and don't have to hide the fact that you have interests. If that means a book or teacup left out, who cares?

  11. jana

    Your comments are so kind. 🙂

    I should add that I do love having a clean house, even if that cleanliness isn't entirely "tidy" (does that make sense?).

    I also love my friends' homes that are far better designed and decorated than mine–they are inspiring to me even if I know that mine will never be that way 🙂

  12. The Numismatist

    Vintage? Vintage cloth? Oh my, now I really feel old. I have that same tablecloth that my mother made for me in the early seventies. (Of course, I was only two years old then.. I wish..)

    The best thing about traveling is when I fly into SLC and see the mountain that is the view from my backyard. Then I know that I'm almost home.

  13. jana

    My Mom made one in a red/blue check many years ago, too. I love the greens so this one is especially appealing. 🙂

  14. Vajra

    I've hesitated to post to this thread because I think I'm one of those people: people who are obsessed with design, who mourned the demise of Domino like the death of a friend and for whom a toothpick and a toothbrush are irreplaceable cleaning tools.

    Recently,we put a new floor in a bedroom. My house was in disarray; many items from the bedroom had to be placed in the living room. One of my friends came over to have lunch and seemed shocked and even commented about the boxes and extra furniture and how unusual it was. I had to explain that the bedroom had to be completely empty, including the closets.

    My former colleagues were always bemused when I moved into a new office: I would PineSol every bit of it, including the phone, the phone cord, and the doorknobs, and spent a lot of time cleaning the computer keyboard and the inside of desk drawers. I would then smudge the room with herbs.

    I love to rearrange the furniture, and to work toward some perceived but entirely personal ideal. I have the collecting gene. I have even organized some of my books by color (the HORROR!). And I've always felt that I'm the one who is "doing it wrong."

    My desire for an aesthetically pleasing and tidy environment makes me feel like an oddball. I sometimes feel like a Virgo in service to the Universe that neither knows nor cares. It's always a two-edged sword: damned if you do; damned if you don't.

  15. jana

    I think I was more like you before I married. For example, I love having a perfectly made bed with the pillows plumped just so, etc. When I was living in a dorm and ppl often stopped by at any time, I typically slept on top of my perfectly-made bed rather than in it–simply because I didn't want the covers to be mussy (that's a rather extreme example, but true). John, OTOH, the first thing he does when he gets in bed is kick his feet around and untuck all the coverings. 🙂

    I think we've both rubbed off on each other and found a happy medium. I love moving furniture around and rearranging. I used to re-do a different room of our home each week (at least in small ways), just to keep things fresh and new. That was when I was at home full-time with the kids and we had more space. I don't have as much time or energy for doing that now that I'm in grad school. But I did rearrange our bedroom today and brought out a pale peach silk coverlet that I love using in summertime, along with moving a new table in adjacent to the bed and redoing my nightstand. It felt so good!

  16. Vajra

    Thank you, Jana, for your kindness and for the "moving" story. I love to do that: move things around so I can see them again.

  17. jana

    One more thing: I am a collector, too, but in a way that might be different from you. Everything in my house has a story of when & where it was acquired. I collect those stories because they weave my connection with friends, family & the universe.

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