Thursday, July 31, 2008

THE PLEASURES OF HOME Our master bathroom
Stay, stay at home, my heart, and rest;
Home-keeping hearts are happiest,
For those that wander they know not where
Are full of trouble and full of care;
To stay at home is best.

Weary and homesick and distressed,
They wander east, they wander west,
And are baffled and beaten and blown about
By the winds of the wilderness of doubt;
To stay at home is best.

Then stay at home, my heart, and rest;
The bird is safest in its nest;
O'er all that flutter their wings and fly
A hawk is hovering in the sky;
To stay at home is best.

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Every now and then, my husband will suggest that I take the night off and go get coffee, or a pedicure, or see a movie. Occasionally, I take him up on it, but usually, after thinking long and hard for a few moments, can't think of anywhere that I would rather be than home. I love it here. This house resonates with me in a deep way. Nearly every night, I sigh contentedly to Matt, "I LOVE this place".

Sometimes, I wish that it didn't have such a hold on me. When Matt mentions selling everything and moving to NYC, I immediately think, "but what of our families? And my HOUSE?!" We have lived in several homes, since we were marred almost eight years ago. Six, actually. I have loved several of them. The farmhouse with the huge kitchen and the claw foot tub. I cried when I drove away from that house for the last time. After all, I had brought my first baby home to that house. And, we had put a lot of sweat and work into that house. But this house, well, this house is even more to me than that one.

I am a cottage lover. I don't care much for pretentious homes. Though I might admire them for what they are, I have no desire to own one.
I want a simple home. I like a lot of uncluttered space for my eyes to rest. And I want the utilitarian to also be beautiful. Sometimes it is hard to articulate, what this adds to life. It brings a weighty, earthiness to my days. My mother was eating a salad out of a wooden bowl yesterday, and even that, she commented, added a significance to the meal. It feels connected, real. Do you know what I am saying?

When the tools that we use in our day to day lives are as beautiful as they are functional, they become art. A bowl of fresh cherries, in an earthenware bowl are a sensory delight. A wooden brush, a linen skirt, a metal bucket...all elements that bring a deep richness to the quotidian. Do you think so?

These things, of course, do not make a home. There are so many other, more important elements, that make up the place that we call home. But these little grace notes are a tangible element that enrich my life immensely. Just a few that come to mind...

-home made soap
-grandmother's quilts
-wooden spoons
-cast iron skillets
-pottery mug
-100% cotton sheets
-mason jars
-old books
-feather pillows
-enamelware dishes
-sisal rugs
-cloth (esp. hemp) diapers
-wicker picnic basket
-paper organizer (instead of a PDA)

What are some of yours?


  1. Laurel,
    NYC is awesome, but I don't think you really want to *live* there. ;) but...maybe.

    We lived there for 6 months and since I am an introvert and prefer solitude and silence over noise, it was very over-stimulating to me. But a great experience, nontheless. :)

    From the pictures I've seen of your home, it looks lovely. I can tell you take great care in creating it.

    I do love this post. I saw a wooden bowl yesterday in my local health food store, and I have been thinking all morning how lovely it was and how pretty a yummy salad would look in it.

    Thank for sharing how you are "Happy At Home". *smile*

  2. I found you through Pleasant View. I laughed at this post as it sounds so much like my thoughts. As for your list of items several would be on my list as well:
    wooden spoons
    cast iron skillets
    mason jars
    enamel pots
    my wicker picnic basket
    I would also have to add:
    my antique hutch in my kitchen
    my assortment of crocks (pottery NOT the shoes)
    my plain white walls and simple decor

  3. great post!!

    I, too, love being at home. I love my yard-sale find vintage cooking stove, the old wooden chairs, the things my husband has built, the roses in a white creamer on the kitchen sill, and the wood floors......

  4. kindred spirit....ditto to all that you said...we could just move into the same house!!! :)

  5. I, too, love being at home. And, oddly I kind of miss it a little. I miss the chipped paint of our old house. I miss the heavy air and aroma that only come from a house full of smells from the past 100 years. I miss my sweet tea in my best glasses. Thanks for the awesome post. It's my little taste of home for the week!

  6. I grew up in an Old house and Love them too. I do tend to love a more casual house then the one I grew up in. I have always been committed to owning comfortable furniture though! As for the list I would say my favorite is the cast iron skillet that I found up in my husbands parents house in the KY mountains. It was is grandmothers and with lots of love I have gotten it back into use! I Love cooking with it! I also have an obession with vintage Pytex bowls and copper anything.

    Love you, Jenny

    Ps. I will comment more often. I am ususally readying you blog when I only have a second of spare time.

  7. I love that bathroom by the way. I don't think I ever told you that. I like how simple and antique it looks!

  8. I wrote a comment on this, but obviously, it didn't show up! I hope you've had a nice week at the beach!

    I loved this post, Laurel. Very sweet. And I loved your list. I could make a list very similar to yours. I, too, want the utilitarian to be beautiful. Simple, useful, aesthetically pleasing, made of quality materials...

    I love my heavy LeCreuset pans, my Spanish olive wood spoons, afghans and quilts from my grandmothers, my grandpa's little classic book collection that sits on a standing shelf he made, my round handmade-in-Poland mug bought at the Eastern market in DC, 100% cotton sheets, things with history, pretty much anything low-tech over high-tech...

    I really liked your list, Laurel. The whole post was really nice!


  9. Hi Laurel, I'm just now getting caught up on reading blogs after my week in Georgia.

    First of all, I love your bathroom!

    Having lived both places (Georgia and NYC), I know what you mean. I won't tell you what you and your husband should do, because God will be with you wherever you are, and calls people to all kinds of places. But I do have almost all of those items you mentioned right in my apartment! I am especially fond of my cast iron skillet, and make real Southern cornbread in it when I'm feeling especially homesick. And, of course, I am always partial to books.

    I'll add one item: old photos, both the sepia kind that give you insight into people you never got to meet, but gave you your name or eyes, and the kind from only a few years ago that have barely had time to accumulate a patina of nostalgia, but are dear nonetheless

    I hope you had a good week at the beach!