For the first time in my life, I've made a home that is my very own. No roommates, no half-my-stuff-in-storage, no moving-soon-anyway-so-won't-unpack-everything. It's all here. All the furniture and beauty I've accumulated over the years. All my dishes. All my quilts. All my books.
For a couple years now, I've been frequenting estate sales and antique stores. I always show up in the last hours of the last day, when everything is half off. I figure if it's not still there on half-off day, it wasn't meant for me anyway...so why even go while things are still full price? Mom and I usually go together. We bounce ideas off each other and laugh our way through the floor. It's one of my favorite things to do with my mama.
Anyway, I'm now all moved in and my collection is mostly complete. I'm in the (long-term) process of refinishing most of my antique wooden pieces, and I wasn't going to take any pictures until all my furniture was finished. But it's been a few months now since I moved in, and I still have a long ways to go as far as sanding and painting are concerned. So I decided to do a photoshoot as-is. I'm really proud of the homemaking I've done so far, and I want to share this space with my friends. I've had decor help and input from many ladies in my town...ladies who helped raise me and now call me Friend. It's been a thoroughly enjoyable process.
Above all, I desire a home that is cozy...warm...inviting. I sit on my couch at some point every day, wrapped in a blanket, and sip tea. I eat breakfast at my breakfast table and curl up under the quilt on my bed.
I love my home, and I hope it feels cozy and inviting to all who come to rest.
Grandma had this quilt and bed skirt on her guest bed for my entire childhood. When she moved from Oregon, she gave it to Mom. It's been in a box on the top shelf of Jared's room ever since. On the wall the lyrics of, "In My Daughter's Eyes" are written in calligraphy and framed. Mama did that for me many years ago. The chest at the end of the bed is from JamiLyn, one of the women in the Village that raised me. She's now a dear friend. The nightstand was $20 on our local swap site. Mama restored it and painted it to match my quilt. The rocking chair is also from JamiLyn, as is the mirror box above it. The chair is over a hundred years old and once belonged to a sweet woman in our church. Inside the mirror box is a letter from a friend, written in calligraphy, and a sand dollar I found on the beach, in a storm, with Ben. The quilt on the end of my bed is from Gramps. He gave it to Mama decades ago, and it's been in a box for a while. I love using it.
That dresser is from the 1940s. It's in perfect condition and has never been restored. Mom found it for me on half-off day at an estate sale. Last weekend, we found its twin at another sale. Mom snatched the second one up as well...so someday, they'll both be in a room together. The birdhouse is one I saved from the property on which I grew up--Grandpa made a bunch of them for us, and they hung in our trees for over a decade. The gold mirror is one my mama's had my whole life, and in that frame is a note from my best friend, written in sharpie on a paper towel. It's survived four years of moving.
That Homecoming Banner was stolen in a midnight raid by my best Baylor friends. We each got one. It's been on the wall in every place I've lived ever since.
Everything I've ever sewn, I've sewn using this machine. I think it used to be my mom's. It's really old. My grandma taught me how to oil it and change the thread. I've been looking for a vintage sewing table for a long time. I finally found this one on the swap site, for $20. It needs a fresh coat of light and bright paint. The chair was given to me by Dr. Drea. It was given to her by some high school youth group kids playing the game "bigger and better." That's a beaver hat. My Minnesotan gramps gave it to me.
I'm working on bookshelves. Ben and I Craigslisted "free wood" one Saturday and drove to scavenge a pile of old barn wood. These shelves are going to be cool.
Mom found the couch and wingback chair. Eventually, I'll recover them. But I like the floral right now. Mama found me that coffee table, too. I'm in love with it. The green chair has a matching one, under the Homecoming sign. I bought them at an estate sale. They were once owned by an old-money American family and were brought here from Britain over a hundred years ago. That lamp shade has 3 others like it. They're 90 years old and came out of an old barn in Texas. The great-great grandkids of the woman who once owned them sold them to me for $2 a piece. They had no idea how much they were worth and "just wanted to clear old junk out of the barn." Those are my sequin stilettos from Harrod's in London. I bought them with Gram when I was 18. That's a painting of my mountains. Bree spent a summer painting it for me, when I was really homesick. The wooden piece is from the 1800s. My friend Teri sold it to me and is going to help me restore it.
That's the guitar I built in high school. I spent nearly my entire senior year in the wood shop. Those are silver fox furs. They were given to Miss Minnesota in 1920. My grandpa somehow acquired them, through her friends. They hung from the ceiling of his cabin my whole life. I've wanted them since I was a little girl...and so have all the other women in the family. When he sold the cabin a couple years ago, he sent me a box of keepsakes from that cabin I loved. They were in that box.
Dad bought me that chest the summer I was a camp counsellor. I told him all the "veterans" and all the kids brought trunks to camp. So he went out to an antique store and found me a trunk. That's his old lunch box inside. The American flag only has 48 stars. It was at an estate sale at the beginning of the summer. The map is from the 1950's. It's yellowed and worn. I love it.
This is my gear closet. It makes me happy. And my kayak spot. It makes me happy, too.
This is my bathroom. Mom got me the yellow painting from Uganda. In the lady bug frame is a picture of two hands making a heart around the Eiffel Tower: mine and Blakey's. She's married with a new baby, now. We were 19 then. My makeup is kept in glass containers I found in a cabinet in Gramps' living room. He asked me to clean it out for him, and I kept a few things I liked.
This is my closet. I know, I have a lot of clothes. Sh.
Another view of the living room. That end table was my great grandmother's. It's one of four things my mom wanted from her. The other three were another end table, a round mirror, and a flour canister.
This is Bree's daybed. I thought of her as I designed this corner, so I call it hers. When she comes to visit, she'll sleep here. I've always wanted a little reading nook. Those are my dancing shoes. They've seen a lot of ballroom floors. Grandma bought them for me when I was a freshman at Baylor and joined the Swing Club. The twin bed matches the two white dressers. From the 1940's. The quilt is off the swap site. I found the embroidered pillow cases at an antique store a few weekends ago. Everything in the "quilt room" was half off. They were in the quilt room. The dust ruffle is Pottery Barn, and I salvaged it out of a dumpster at Baylor some years ago. I bleached it and washed it, and it was good as new. The shelf and mirror are from JamiLyn. The plate is one of Great Grandma's. I have three of her old plates. And the books are, well, old books. I think they're beautiful.
The sweet woman whose family owns the house I live in (I live in the basement), gave me this curio. It belonged to her her parents. Those cigar boxes are from Gramps. In one of them are six letters. On the last night we were all together in one place, my Baylor friends and I sat on the floor by candlelight and wrote letters to each other. I will keep them forever. The gitchie bag up top used to hang in Gramps' cabin, right on the beam above where I always slept. That's my Papa's old box camera. The jar of mustard oil was Gramps' dad's. Great Grandpa Kelley. He was a Watkins dealer, and that's one of his old jars. It's over a hundred years old. The pottery globe I made in high school ceramics class. The Pacific Crest Trail sign I found in the old abandoned Santiam Lodge. Hayden had to carry me through the whole place because it was dark and scary and definitely haunted. The old bottles I've been collecting for years. One of the leather journals is my quote book. I bought it in a little cozy bookstore in the town where I went to Bible School in England. It's been collecting quotes for five years. Bree gave me that Wonderwoman comic. :)
The armoir was handcrafted in Mexico and brought here. I bought it for $25 from a woman whose mother needed to move and needed it gone. It keeps all my sewing fabric very well. That's the baby crib Papa built for me, when I was a little girl. All my babies slept in there, and my daughter's babies will too.
Mama found me the old dresser. I bought the mirror for $5 at a Texas garage sale. It belonged to an old man, and he got tears in his eyes when I told him how much I loved it. I guess he'd always hoped it'd be passed down to someone who loved it. The wooden piece is from JamiLyn. The little piece of wood, Ben found for me. In that frame is the quote "to write is to love and to love another person is to see the face of God." Jake's Jen painted it for me. One of the masks is from Venice, the other is from that little bookstore in Carnforth, England. The tea set was my "play set" when I was a little girl. And that's my breakfast nook. Mama gave me the table and chairs. I love it.
Sweet Marilyn (a grandma-by-heart) gave me her Ethan Allen dining table. It's been in her family for decades. I made those placemats out of coffee sacks from Sisters Coffee. The chairs are all mismatched and a bit broken. They need some wood glue and some love. Mama's been collecting them for me for a couple years. We finally have six. The frame by the door is from Nicole's barn. I brought it with me from Texas. Grandpa built that shoe rack. Marilyn gave me the sofa table, too. On the bottom shelf is a casket for a stillborn baby. My great-great-great relatives bought two of them...one to bury their son in, and one to keep. I somehow ended up with it. It houses my rock collection.
The kitchen. On the island is the teapot Marteen threw me, and the bowl I threw in high school. The baker's rack is from Mrs. Stewart. I traded her an hour of work for it, and then I spray painted it. The rug is from Gramps' cabin. Ben bought me the towels, to match my tea kettle. My parents and Nana & Gramps surprised me with the Kitchen Aide for college graduation. It's my baby. It's standing on a table I found at an estate sale last weekend. A very old table, with a crystal knob. That red plate is one of great grandma's. The stools at the island are the stools I grew up on. Mom and Dad had them hand built back when we lived on The Ranch. They work perfectly, here.
A TV is supposed to go here, but I don't have a TV and didn't like the hole. So I made curtains. :) The aprons still need work, but I'm liking the idea.
JamiLyn gave me that old door. It's just resting on juniper rounds. Nana bought me the sleeper sofa at an auction in Texas. It needs a slip cover. I made the curtains because I wanted to set this area off, as a nook. Now Ben can sit on the couch and play guitar while I play in the kitchen. :) The curtains are made of old curtain fabric my grandma gave me...it was in my scrap bucket...and a vintage sheet I bought for $1 at an old lady's garage sale. That's an old tractor wheel I found in a scrap pile at a burnt down barn.
I love this little first place of my own.
I want to say something about finding my place and my people. About the deep human desire for connection and roots, for depth, for investment. About figuring out where and with whom I am most at peace...and doing whatever it takes to be there.
Toward the end of my time in Texas, I began having significant health problems. What started as gastrointestinal issues and major weight loss turned to emergency room visits and cardiologist appointments and heart tests. I thought I might have cancer. I began obsessively scanning my skin, mouth, inner eyelids, fingernails for strange moles or signs of growths. I watched my bowel and bladder habits and kept meticulous track of my weight loss, of my heart rate and blood pressure. Every small nuance and change was cause for documentation. If not cancer, surely a heart defect. I could visibly see the tip of my heart beating out from under my rib cage, my veins grossly distended, heart rate in the high hundreds. Mom would call, and I’d inform her of my findings, and upcoming appointments. Time and again, she’d offer just this: “maybe you’re stressed?” I pushed back. NO. I am totally chill. If I was stressed, I’d do something about it! I’d ask for help! I’m totally fine. I have something WRONG WITH ME, MOM. I AM SICK. I was flying back to Oregon for a job shadow, then back to Texas to graduate and be in two weddings and pack my loft in a day and help a friend pack her house in two and making preparations for getting all my stuff shipped to Oregon on pallets and making sure my car was up to speed for the week-long journey home with dad and saying goodbye to my kindred-spirit Baylor friends and coming to terms with the fact that I was young and single and jobless and moving home to a town of 2,000 with seemingly zero prospects for either husbands or jobs and working on diplomatic explanations to offer the many well-wishers who felt the need to continually remind me of those two facts, and, and, EVERYTHING WAS FINE. Except me.
It’s been a full two months since moving back to this little town, nestled ‘neath the mountains I love, and my health problems have vanished entirely. Not a single issue since the day I left Texas. You know what I think? Mom was right. Though I didn’t notice any psycholgical feelings of stress, my body and psyche were being put through the ringer. I had been living for fifteen months in a place that provided NO peace. I had been out of my element, far from my family and close friends and mountains...and I was strained.
I wonder how many of us live that way, and think it’s fine. They say if you throw a frog in tepid water and slowly bring it to a boil, he’ll let himself be boiled alive. My boss just got back from a quick trip to L.A., and he was recounting details of the trip. “We could only run one, MAYBE two, errands in a day. Planned three hours for a fifteen-minute errand, to account for traffic.” I’m not picking on L.A. here, but substitue nearly any big-city name, and it’s the same story. “That’s just life,” some will say. But is it? Does it have to be? Are stress-induced heart attacks and strokes and cancer and hair loss “just life,” too? Do they have to be? I wonder how many of our bodies are being strained by unhealthy physical environments. How many of our lungs are crying for clear air, stomachs for clean water, skin for healthy sunshine?
Might there be something profound to be said for places where we are more connected with the earth, with creation? It has been said that we go to cities to see the work and power of humans...and we go to the wilderness to see the work and power of God. Man, I’ve gotta tell you--if I have a choice to wake up every day to see either the work of humans or the work of God, I’d be a fool to choose the former. Infrastructure is important, and I realize I am a product of its benefits, but can’t there be too much of any good thing? When the earth sighs, and concrete skyscrapers turn to rubble, do we realize that we don’t have as much control as we’d like to think? When we become rats on the wheel of progress--racing and racing and climbing higher only to realize we have become anonymous cogs, do we stop and reconsider?
There’s something significant about being here, home, living again in the village that raised me...and helping to raise those who are growing up now. Something about digging in, down through the top soil, and putting in roots, about living a life that is deep and meaningful, about not merely working for the sake of work but finding the sort of work that allows me to be of service to others--to help others and build relationships and look at interactions through a long-term lens.
I can walk these mountains, this high desert, and see my way in the dark--under starlight alone. I know the paths, and I am still learning them. I want to be here until I’ve learned and followed them all, and then teach my children and grandchildren to walk them, too. I don’t want to hasten to places because they’re tagged on Instagram or because a Facebook video says they’re the new hot spots. I want to be taken by friends, and by those older and wiser and more well-walked than I. I want my hair to silver and skin to wrinkle in the shadow of the mountains under which I once frolicked and flew kites with Dad, as a child...because it is by re-visiting places that never change that one realizes how much she, herself, has.
In these glacial lakes and between the ponderosa pines, I can breathe deep and reflect. I recall memories--of times long-gone, when I “came here with” this friend or that friend or those people. Here, the seasons mirror life and remind us that change is coming--that new life is on its way but winter must first bring the cold.
I hope each of you finds your earthly Place. I don’t believe any of us can be fully satisfied until we are with Jesus, in the Heaven for which we were created, but I do believe it’s possible to be intentional about having as much peace as possible, here on earth. Find a place where people smile and wave and let each other merge onto the road; where you can walk around barefoot in the grass and dive into a cold lake once in a while; where cars slow down or move over for bikers; where you can grow your own food sometimes and the air is clean. Where the sky is clear enough to see the stars at night. Where you know people and are known.
Find somewhere where you wake up and think, my goodness Someone must have perfectly orchestrated the natural world to create all this beauty. Where you can look out at the created order and realize that Someone will always love you, and always has. And where, if you lay real still under the twinkling night sky, you can hear the voices of the mountains and the wolves crying to the blue corn moon.
hey, i'm jordan.
i write here because i think our words are worth sharing.