Birthday Weekend

Ahhh…is there anything like your birthday? A day that’s devoted just to you (unless you’re a twin), a day filled with indulgences. And this year was especially gratifying, as it fell on a Saturday, which simply begged for an adventure out of the ordinary. And the ever-thoughtful Jon obliged by planning a surprise weekend getaway to the picturesque Fredricksburg, TX.
It was such a lovely relaxing weekend. We got there Friday night, excited by the guesthouse–a 19th-century schoolhouse that had been converted into a private cottage. It was beyond adorable, with original hardwood floors, stone and wood beams walls, and the original (sometimes-working) fireplace. It even had a historical marker in front! It was filled with antiques and vintage pieces–I wanted to take everything there home with me.
We ate breakfast in town Saturday morning, and stepped into just a few of my favorite shops (like Der Kuchen Laden, filled with gadgets you don’t actually need). We went to Phil Jackson’s, where they sell imported granite in the back. Strangely, it was my favorite part. It was like walking through an art gallery–my heart was full, my eyes were hungry! They carried imported and exotic slabs of granite that were ridiculously expensive–my favorite piece, measuring about 6.5′ x 4.5′, was $16k! The lady wanted to sell us something, but we had to assure her we were just admiring the breathtaking pieces. We figured it out: even if we both sold everything we owned and pooled our money, we STILL wouldn’t be able to purchase that slice of rock. They also had a piece of granite from the same quarry the palace of Versailles mined theirs from–it was absolutely, stunningly, GORGEOUS. I tried to take pictures but they seriously don’t do them ANY justice. The green/blue was my pricey pricey favorite. It’s like a peacock.
Another stunning piece:
It had started to warm up by then, so we bought groceries and basically spent the hot part of the day back at the completely adorable guesthouse, reading and napping and eating peppermint ice cream. That was the best part of renting our own little place–we got to be away from everything we knew, but didn’t have the mostly uncomfortable experience of eating whatever was made by someone else when they said it was time. We bought what WE wanted to eat, and ate it whenever we felt like it. Jon had told me he doesn’t like bed and breakfasts because he doesn’t want to deal with people early in the morning or feel like he must interact when he just wants to relax. It was a sweet gesture on his part to find something that would give us both what we wanted–a vacation getaway that still gave us a great deal of freedom.
Later after a long nap, and cooler temperatures, we went to Enchanted Rock and hiked up one of the hills. It’s so beautiful and because it was later in the day, there was hardly anyone there. I nearly had a heart attack when he started playing mountain goat–I absolutely could not follow him, and ended up taking the path a few times while he rediscovered his inner child.
We’d seen the county fair not four miles from our private retreat, and had meant to visit after dinner that night. But we started watching this old Abbott and Costello movie with dinner (one of three random old movies at the house) and before we knew it, it was 10pm and we were exhausted. At that point, Jon admitted he was scared of carnival rides, and I decided I could wait to go with my family the next time we had a chance, to ride the zipper and the hammer. And besides, at a county fair I would actually really like to go see the big produce, and the pies, and the show animals. I guess that’s a sign i’m growing up, when pie is a bigger attraction than the rides.
(Unbelievably cute hearth in the kitchen! And that oven works–we made fries in it!)
I had a wonderful time–it was sweet and relaxing and at times, kind of scary…because a snake showed up a few times in the bathtub! I was about to use the restroom when I looked over and saw a snake tail whipping around. I screamed and made Jon deal with it. Unfortunately, the baby rat snake (BABY. RAT. SNAKE.) kept coming back at really inconvenient times. Needless to say, I didn’t shower there on Sunday because he kept finding different ways through the pipes to get to the tub. So I waited until we got home to shower!
The best part was the feeling of total relaxation and of not worrying about being anywhere or doing anything I didn’t want to. The place is about 7.5 miles outside of Fredricksburg, just out in the country surrounded by cows. (Seriously. We woke up and looked outside the windows and there were cows grazing right on the other side of the fence. Jon tried to pet them, but they just looked at him when he offered them a few strands of grass. I had a good laugh at that). It was soo relaxing but I didn’t feel like I was roughing it or was obligated to do anything at all. We didn’t do dishes or make the bed. We tidied up before we left but that meant leaving the towels in a pile and the dishes in the sink. We ate whatever we wanted whenever we wanted, and stayed up and slept in as late as we wanted. If you ask me, that’s how you do a birthday right.

A Better Weekend

I’m just now getting to my “This Is How Awesome My Weekend Was” because I made it an extra-awesome weekend by making it extra-long–I took Monday off to celebrate my birthday a little early! It was great on so many levels, mostly due to time spent with my family, my man, my friends, and my cats.

bag of CSA veggies

I should probably tell you that I drunk-crashed while biking home with these on Friday after happy hour with my co-workers. Luckily my house is a quarter mile down a neighborhood street.

Jim Croce, some Chopin, some Willie Nelson, and definitely some Loretta Lynn this weekend.


had to rush out the door early saturday morning, so it was tea for breaky!


. being a cat is hard

best woman in the world

We drove down to help my lovely mother paint her spare bedroom in MY NEW TRUCK!

Then we had delicious pizza under the stars, enjoying a priceless Saturday night with mi familia…

House-hunting is heart-breaking. There. I said it. Whoever says differently is lying to you, or hasn’t been looking long enough.

If only I could convey to you just how my heart longs for open fields, swaying trees and the smell of rich earth! Recently, while searching for homes outside of Austin (frustration has expanded my search area), I found a fantastic home: well built, and on an acre of land. Immediately I started thinking about all the things I could do. A clothesline. An enormous six-part garden. Chickens. Pigs. Bees. Compost pile. On and on–the dreams I’ve written of often on this blog. My heart wasted no time in reminding me of those closeted hopes and dreams.

But that house is not available to me, much to my intense disappointment. I’m still waiting to see if there’s hope, but in the meantime, I’ve continued to look around some. And I’m getting more and more frustrated, because this latest disappointment has taught to me just what exactly I’m looking for. What my desires truly are. What I need in my life to satisfy these yearnings.

What it really means is weighing what’s most important to me. For a few months, I’ve been thinking that what I “should do” was invest in my first property here in the city.  I wouldn’t be too far from work, I could have a starter garden and learn what it means to own my own home. Then in a few years, I could move up and out to the country, if that was still something I wanted. That seemed sensible and responsible. That’s the safe route.

But then there’s that pesky heart of mine. Crying out in that fog of falling asleep. It keeps reminding me that I need to live in the moment I’m in, that I should be brave and seize the opportunities that speak to me. Maybe dreams can come true. Maybe you can buy your dream house the first time, and live there forever.

That’s when my even peskier brain kicks in, reminds me of responsibilities, of practicalities and obstacles to happiness. Living in the country very obviously means NOT living in city. One cannot be far from the chaos of the city without also being far from the benefits of it. 

But. BUT. Work is not my whole life. Granted it is a large portion of it, but absolutely NONE of the beautiful people or lives I admire are because of the view from their desk. I want to come home and live the other half of my life the way I want to. I want to go to bed exhausted because I just spent three hours cleaning out my barn, or come in covered in dirt and carrying a basket of harvested vegetables. I want to make jam or pie (PIE!) from my own sun-drenched raspberries.

The difficulty lies in reconciling the two. Is it even possible? How do I leave behind all the chaos and un-sustainability of my city life while retaining all the benefits of having things so close ? How do I gain the happiness of the lifestyle I want without also gaining the problems of living farther out? I’m afraid there isn’t an easy path. I have to give up something: the dream of farmhouse living for a while longer, or ease and convenience of the commute and a boyfriend who lives less than a mile away. Because both have my heart, and to say yes to one is to say no to the other. And how do you break your own heart? Living in limbo like this is stressful.

Bloggy Blogging

I read a lot of blogs. Thank God for Bloglovin’—before, I would fanatically, religiously check in on my ever increasing list of bookmarks, stopping by no less than three or four times a day, especially if it was a slow day at work. It became a sort of tic, a compulsion to see what was going on in other’s lives, these beautiful vintage photo-filled lives. I’ve tried several times to become a faithful blogger, but there’s a laundry list of reasons why I haven’t. I’m lazy, so I don’t always want to write out my feelings. I’m forgetful—so any cool projects I do manage to complete don’t have any “process” photos to do cool tutorials (which is what blogs are for, it seems). I’m organized, but not to the point where I can sit down and fill a planner with scheduled posts—or rather, I’m not creative OR disciplined enough to have “regular feature”. Most of my writing is spontaneous—I share what I’m feeling or experiencing at the moment.

I think some of my hesitation, though, stems from being hung up on the thought that the only legitimate blogs are written by slender, beautiful, vintage-dressed moms who home-school their beautiful children, create photo-worthy family dinners, and are able to supplement family income with a sponsored blog. And if not them, then just-as-beautiful, just-as-thin and just-as-vintage are the farmer blogs, ones that showcase bountiful gardens, adorable piglets, cuddly lambs, and muddy wellies. There are photo blogs of long-haired girl-next-door beauties shot in the setting sun that make me ache, videos set to some indie band of a wedding of gorgeous people in gorgeous settings, and interior design blogs that turn me a (complementary) shade of green.

The thing about that though, is that it absolutely isn’t true. One of my very favorite blogs—the one I jump to read first every morning–is written by a woman who isn’t slender or vintage or ethereal: Jenna Woginrich from Cold Antler Farm. She is like a Morgan pony (or if you ask her, a Fell), rather than a Thoroughbred—small and stocky but she’ll work her heart out and get the job done. She has a beautiful Washington County farm that she has worked and worked for. She recently quit her full-time job as a web designer to pursue a life based on her dreams and desires, and she’s stubborn enough to do it, too.

Yesterday, as I spent several hours surfing the internet (sllloooowww day at work), finding some amazing stuff, I realized that I have so much time I could be devoting to this blog, and there are so many cool things I could be sharing with my friends. For example: Joanna Goddard of Cup of Jo (another insanely popular blog I follow) linked to a website that had me entranced for hours called Old Love. It’s a tumblr devoted to photos of old flames and flings. I would find a photo of Gilda Radner and Bill Murray, and immediately had to Wikipedia Gilda to see who she was, which led me to Gene Wilder. I learned so much about Steve McQueen, Barbra Streisand, Clark Gable, Richard Pryor, Tim Burton, Lisa Marie, Liza Minnelli, Laurence Olivier, and Charlie Chaplin, to name a few. Most of those photos lead to sad tales of quick marriages, affairs, and divorce. But occasionally,  there was a love story tucked in there that was so inspiring, like Gena Rowlands and John Cassavetes, who were together for 35 years until he passed away. Or Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward—married for fifty years and still madly in love at the end (“Why go out for a hamburger when you have steak at home?”).

I’m finding and experiencing and learning so much these days, and I will freely admit that it has much to to do with the blogs I frequent, the links my friends share. I find myself quietly rebelling at times—‘No, I will not be a social media person. I will keep my life private and beautiful and sacred to myself’.  And then I started using an old iPhone just for Instagram, I keep up with family on Facebook, and Pinterest truly has my heart, although I HAVE managed to hold out against Twitter. I have a few different blogs floating around out there, although I would like to combine my Tumblr photoblog with this one to feel more consolidated and less chaotic.

I guess that’s part of the duality of man (as jon would put it)—wanting simultaneously to not be a part of this imaginary world that is the internet and yet still wanting the validation that comes with sharing your life with others. Back “when”, people got this validation from actually interacting with people, with making food together, quilting, raising barns, raising children, worshipping together, dancing and singing. I know that still happens today, but now it’s all documented, and it sometimes it makes me feel inferior that I don’t have a wildly exciting canning session, or that I cannot make the mess on my table seem romantic (especially when most of it is covered in gray cat hair).

Or maybe all of this is a matter of perspective. Sometimes I think maybe my life would look that glamorous and beautiful from someone else’s viewpoint, but because it is my life and I’m too close, I can’t see it.

Whatever. This is starting to ramble, and I don’t think professional bloggers do that. They probably have it all laid out like all my school essays: opening, three points, conclusion. I’ve just been spilling my guts here–I don’t even know what this post is about anymore. But I DO know that my dear friend Kellye is going to have a baby any moment and there is nothing in this world that is more beautiful or sacred or valid than that. And tonight when I go home, I will finish a homemade doll, clean up my kitchen, maybe make some butter. I probably won’t remember to snap any pictures, but that’s my life, and it’s still a pretty good one.

Inspection, Take 2 (Action!)

Disappointment. It is an acrid taste in my mouth. It leaves me disoriented, achy, and fuzzy-headed. It feels a bit like a break-up.  Even though no one lost their life today, a dream did die (or at the very least, lies comatose). And that’s a hard thing to not cry about.

My inspection for this second house, this beautiful, spacious, light-filled corner home was Monday. And going into it, I knew that there were foundation issues with this house. But there was also a foundation warranty guaranteed with it, so I wasn’t too worried. I told my fabulous inspector (who is seriously a gift from God and worth every dollar) to go ahead with a complete inspection this time. And let me tell you—inspections are not easy things. Its three hours of learning absolutely everything wrong with the house of your dreams. Emotionally exhausting hardly covers it—by the end of it I was second-guessing my decision to even think about owning instead of renting.

Brian was concerned about the foundation and showed me all the evidence for his assessment, but I weighed my options: terminate the contract and lose out on this house, OR trust in the warranty and live with a sloped kitchen in a dream-house. I decided that it was worth the risk of a tilted foundation and that finding another house that combined what I can afford and what I really want probably wouldn’t happen again.  I requested the warranty documentation and all assessment and work on the foundation just to be safe, and passed it along to Brian, thinking that now his mind could be set at ease.

How wrong I was.

Without getting all technical, let’s just say that the warranty didn’t cover the entire house, which was in active failure. (Tip: It’s ok to freak out when you hear that term during inspection. That’s a scary term, and it means bad things.) So then the choice was before me: move forward and hope the house didn’t move much more and cause more damage, possibly to the plumbing underneath, or terminate the contract and start all over again, this time out $500 from option period money and inspection costs.

It sounds so cut and dry, but it wasn’t an easy decision. I wanted to live in this house; I wasn’t interested in selling it a few years later. I saw myself really settling into it, making it my own little dream cottage world. Things could grow and flourish, be created and set free in this home. I didn’t want to think about the eventual moving-on. That’s why I felt it was the place for me.

But then there was everything Brian was saying about the damage versus what the warranty actually covered, and he sounded concerned that I was still interested in this home. I’m glad I got his expert opinion. I’m so thankful he isn’t interested in making his money and walked away. He’s interested in my well-being as a first time home buyer, as a young single woman who doesn’t have much money to spend freely.  That’s why I trusted him—he helped me with the first house, and didn’t charge me a dime to tell me how terrifying the foundation was to him.

Let me tell you that I was BEYOND STRESSED at this point in the home buying process. After the inspection I still felt as if something could go wrong (and it did) but I was so nervous, felt strung so tautly.  I couldn’t imagine that it would actually happen, that things would work out for me. I have a slight problem in that I tend to be pessimistic about my dreams. They are beautiful but rarely are they fulfilled in the manner I imagine them to be.

So somewhat tearfully (although I masterfully hid it on the phone) I told my agent to terminate the contract. Although it was just one issue for the whole house, that is an issue that can plague you for YEARS and cost thousands of dollars, and I wasn’t willing to spend either.

So last night was extremely difficult, and sad, and painful. I didn’t feel like eating, I didn’t want to turn on my computer, or listen to music. I was so upset at work that I actually broke down in front of my boss (who is amazing and almost cried with me!) and I considered taking the rest of the day off to lie on my couch in misery.


That’s not what adults do. They understand its part of the process, and that someday it will work out. A woman recognizes that a temper tantrum is not an appropriate response to not getting what you want. (She also recognizes that a glass of wine and chocolate cake are not unreasonable responses either though.) She listens when her mom tells her how proud of her she is. She hugs her boyfriend back. She eats her dinner, and doesn’t sob in the shower.

But it doesn’t mean it’s an easy road, it doesn’t detract from the experience and the disappointment. I still felt the effects of being so stressed and unsure about my decision—after making the offer and especially after the inspection, I was wondering if perhaps I was trying to do too much, if I was shooting too high. Should I wait until I’m married? Until I have more money? Until until until…

The problem with thinking that way is that there will always be something that will get keep you from pursuing your dream, and you can always have an excuse to not be brave. I didn’t want that. I wanted to be brave. I wanted to show myself that I could do something outrageously scary and try things I could fail at (I like to play it safe far too often), things that would have actual, real consequences.

And these are it: the real, painful consequences. I tried something big, and it didn’t work out. It hurt, and my heart was bruised a little bit, but at least I did it. And I’m not done doing it. I’m still going to keep looking, but maybe not so intently this time. I’m going to get a car, and buy a new rug for my (still tiny) apartment, and let things come to me. The best things in life come to me when I am not striving for them, when I let them happen to me. So whenever it’s the right time, and the right place, it will find me.