Unfeathering the Nest

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When I was very young I loved it when I would come home from school and my mother had rearranged my bedroom.  I loved decorations and furnishings even early on.  Fast forward to thirteen years old and you would find me and my best friend, Susan, shopping the antique stores down south Broadway with our babysitting money.  I still have an antique Folgers can in my kitchen from one of our excursions.  I couldn’t wait to decorate my first home.  Off white lace curtains, hand me down furniture, painted walls, my own artwork on the walls.  I have found treasures and trinkets, unique pieces, and have held onto heirlooms from our respective families.  Our home has always been a reflection of our love for cozy quarters and a house full of family and friends.  It is easy to feather a nest.  I have been doing it for thirty years.  How does one unfeather a nest?

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Sometimes we begin to view things as an extension of ourselves.  Something holds a memory.  Something holds a belief.  Something makes us happy to see it.  It is often hard to look at a material item and see it for what it is, wood, nails, paint, metal, glass.  It is not easy to part with things that we have used to decorate our homes, that belonged to our grandmother, that our children gave us, or that we collected over the years on vacations.  So how does one deal with watching each piece leave one by one?  How does one get rid of all of their possessions?  We know some folks have the trauma of natural disaster that does it for them.  I do not know which is harder, having everything gone in one fell swoop, or consciously watching each piece walk out the door.  Here are some tips I have learned to downsize one’s possessions.

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1. Realize that the memory associated or the person it reminds you of does not leave with the piece.  You will still remember great grandma’s smiling face at the door, the cruise on your honeymoon, your child in second grade.  Getting rid of yearbooks and old drawings and awards and journals and clothes and furniture does not take away anything from your life history, memories, or people in your life.  Detach the memory from the piece and you will just see another item that will eventually deteriorate.

2. Imagine the item torn or broken.  I have Doug’s grandmother’s watch.  I bet it is eighty years old.  It is beautiful and intricate and worthless.  It does not work, it cannot be repaired, then when dropped accidentally the face fell off.  It no longer looked intricate or beautiful.  It was just a paper face.  If the leg broke off a table, would it still be valuable to you?  Envision things as broken and see if they still hold a place in your heart.

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3. Imagine moving all that stuff!  We helped our friends move out of another friend’s home.  That latter friend has to fix his home up to sell.  Many, many years of accumulated items clutter the yard and home.  I do not know how he will do it.  The land we are on now holds a collection of discarded items that once held value and now look like a giant dump!  Things break, they rust, they deteriorate, they are just things.  When Doug’s grandmother died no one wanted any of her things.  It became a burden for those involved to empty her apartment.  It is hard for those left behind to sort and try to give away everything that the person in life held dear.  The material items do not hold the same memories to the ones trying to clean up the accumulation of things.

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4. What is the actual value of an item?  I paid $300 the gorgeous New Mexican style armoire that held our television.   It is a heavy, sturdy piece in great condition.  I have it for sale for a hundred dollars and no one wants it.  I thought I would get $10,000 for all of our antique collections, farm implements, animals, collectables, fine china, heirlooms, and stuff.  Closer to $2000 will be the final number.

Material items are really worthless.  Using just what we need and releasing attachments to finite items can help unfeather the nest.  It makes it easy for the next generation to sort our things when we pass away, leaves us with less housework and burdens, and gives us more freedom.  The real treasures are the lives that share ours; our cats, friends, children, neighbors, wildlife, people, they are what is important, not an antique Folgers can.

Making a Vintage Door Headboard (and decorating a bedroom)

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The last room in our homestead makeover is the bedroom.  It is away from the warmth of the wood cook stove.  It has three moderately sized old windows that look out into the trees and across the prairie.  It is where we sit and read in the evenings before we go to bed.  This room needed plenty of blankets and places to sit.

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In our desire to have plenty of places for folks to sleep should they decide not to make the trek back home, we got ourselves a new bed.  However, when we got to IKEA and looked at prices we realized we did not have enough for the mattress and the frame and headboard combo.  And I did so desperately want a new mattress.  So, we did something drastic.  We went down from a queen sized bed to a double bed.  We have never shared a double bed before, particularly with seven cats, but why not?  We fit, the warmth is most welcome in the middle of the night, and I have three beds in this little house now.  (I just need an air mattress of some sort and I can house all of my kids!)

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Now anything I wanted to bring to this house had to have a use.  Downsizing from 2500 square feet (including garage and basement) to 850 square feet (along with a small space to store luggage and canning jars in the greenhouse) meant that I could not pack everything.  The blue door was a gift from Doug for Christmas.  I love it.  The door to the guest room was hanging off of one hinge and we replaced it with a screen door.  I had two old doors that wanted to be displayed.  By making them into a headboard, they look as if we could walk through to a magical place, if only in dream.

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I painted them both red.  Since one door was white and one was blue, they came out different shades.  I could have painted the blue one white but I kind of like the contrast in the doors.

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The doors were different sizes so I attached a valance with a pattern I love to the top to cover the edges.  A string of metal stars and a sign that reads, “Always kiss me goodnight” sets the scene for sweet dreams.

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They are not attached to the wall.  They are heavy enough to stand on their own and behind the bed they are secure.

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Finishing touches include a simple old dresser, toile curtains, layered comforters and quilts, twinkly lights, oil lamps, and of course, cats.

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One could also make a charming headboard from a section of picket fence complete with a wreath and twinkly lights.  Or line up old chairs behind the bed to show off their antique backs and use as a bookshelf.  Or simply hang a quilt behind the bed as an eye catching headboard.  There are no decorating rules.  Only what you dream up.

 

 

Preparing For Dreams To Come True (even when you can’t see)

My friend and fellow blogger, Debbie, wrote that my blog yesterday was just what she needed to hear.  In fact a few folks said that it was lovely and optimistic.  It doesn’t come naturally all the time.  I have the same antsy feeling that everyone I know has when their roots are shaky.  Debbie is looking for the perfect property.  Lisa inherited property but now is working on the driveway, well, barn, eventually the house, but I know she is anxious to wake up in her new kitchen one day and have it finished.  Amy and Rob (I talked about them in Cohabitating Homesteads) are waiting for the darn bank and contractors to start working together to get the ground broke so they can stop living in their RV!  My cousin, Julie, and her husband are plotting their escape to the forty acres his dad owns in the mountains.  The beginning of their off grid journey, which while they live with another couple, seems like a million plans away.

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Since we failed so miserably at finances in our previous life I always used the optimistic tone of, “Well, it’s nice renting.  Someone else fixes everything (we haven’t heard from our landlords in two years), we can move to the next great farmhouse (if they accept cats), we can move wherever we want, no strings attached (true, many of my friends and family that would like to move cannot sell their houses), but still, down in that root chakra somewhere, there is unrest.  We need roots.  We need to feel like we have security.  We want to plant a freaking orchard!  Indeed, anything can happen, all bets are off when it comes to real life.  Our partner could pass away, our businesses could end, our health could fail, the crops may be ruined, so really, everything is a walk of faith.

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Our faith is in the hope that we will have a place to set down roots.  Our next move will be our last (but hopefully not short lived!).  Unlike our friends and family, they have a set area they can see.  They know they can buy a place, or have already inherited the place, or already have had help buying a place, but we know nothing.  We walk completely blinded up the hill holding hands and holding onto faith that when we get to the top of the hill (next year when the lease ends), our future is beautiful.  That the yurt…cabin…farmhouse…hell, shack at this point…will be waiting for us with open arms, the future barns and gardens waiting to come to life (or could they already be there?….woo hoo!).

Lack of contentment is one of the main reasons for unrest and unhappiness.  I have no desire to waste a full year being antsy and unhappy.  Just like when I saw the ad in the paper for the house in Elizabeth when we needed to jump ship from our house going underwater, or when I had to pick up Emily’s boyfriend and drove past this house, the next place is already planned out for me.  Patience and making the most of right now are the goals.  There is always the chance that we will not be alive next year, may as well enjoy life now.  However, this is something that we constantly have to remind ourselves.

We have prospects.  We intend to live with Amy and Rob if all goes as planned.  We could move with my cousin if it all worked out.  God may have a completely different plan for us.  But in the meantime, we are preparing for the unknown.  Did you know that if you express your desires and intentions, they will always come true?  That is where the sayings self fulfilled prophesies and careful what you wish for came from.  I wish for a homestead that I can stay at for the rest of my life.  I wish for barns and outbuildings, a huge garden, a view, a farm, a homestead.  It would be better with another couple to help with the huge task of homesteading.  Now, I prepare.  I can’t see what the future and timing holds but I can be ready when God says go.  The piano is back on Craigslist.  Why do I have seven sets of dishes?  Beats me.  I have a bit of an obsession with beautiful china.  The dishes are next.  One…okay two…sets of dishes are quite sufficient.  I will get down to 1/3 of my possessions.  I haven’t raised my prices in almost five years.  I will raise everything one dollar.  Enough clients have encouraged me to do so.  I am still cheaper than the health food store with better product.  My costs have gone up, there is no reason that I shouldn’t.  That dollar goes into the proverbial coffee can for the move next year.  I walk blindly, but I walk in faith.  Prepare for your goals.  Your dreams are about to come true!

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