Hate the Martha, Not the Message


Posted on : 9:20 AM | By : Anonymous | In : , , ,

The house is soooo gradually coming together after the move and it's been like Christmas to get boxes out of storage and see what's in them. One of the things I have wanted to do for a long time is to create a home that feels so comfortable that people don't want to leave (well... I think I do anyway - maybe I do want people to leave!). We have a dear friend - more family than a friend - whose house is like this. We go to visit and we stay for a very long time, maybe partly because she offers food and partly because we feel so relaxed and comfortable there that it never occurs to us that we should go.

I've also wanted to make a home that just promotes creativity and learning. A home needs to make it easy to do art and music and craft projects and gardening and writing because there is a space for all of these things. We've always lived in tiny homes - apartments and suites and as nice as I've been able to make it, those tiny homes have left those goals unfulfilled. At the same time I know that I am part of the 2% of the world that has the ability to even think about my home at all, which means that I have a responsibility to make sure I do this in a sustainable way and use this space to give back to the rest of the world.

I also have a job as a woman to make my home a place of peace and tranquility for my family. One of my heroes is, of course, Laura Ingalls Wilder. I learned today that before she wrote the Little House books she was a farm columnist and despite being an avid feminist, wrote things like, "Homekeeping hearts are happiest," (Folks are Just Folks). It is definitely an art form, one that is being lost as so many women are forced to (or simply want to) work outside the home, which is perfectly fine. But the art of homekeeping is still getting lost. There is a Christian movement of homekeeping but I often find that this isn't the comfortable, cozy, creative method I am aiming for. It seems too rigid and focused on organization and charts.

So, yes, I have been hanging out at MarthaStewart.com, as much as I dislike her, it's the message not the person. Her home is lovely but I can't imagine wanting to hang out there. But the site isn't even written by her, and has many great ideas for organizing, cleaning, and cooking and all of those good things. My goals are:
Clean - I want my home to be clean all the time. This doesn't include clutter...which happens when we do so many projects and have kids. I mean washing the bathroom and vacuuming and keeping the dishes done.
Organizing - I want it to be organized, but accessible. Everything should have a space and a place to use it.
Decorating - There is a right way and a wrong way to decorate. I am also picky in that nothing can be made of particleboard or have formaldehyde in it, and so far so good. For example, I really want to do a BlockPoster on the wall but there is definitely a good way and a bad way to do that.
Garden - I've got much of the seed list planned and I even cut cardboard boxes into flats yesterday. When things are unpacked I will be making newspaper and egg carton seed pots for sprouting and put them in the flats. The garden is going to be huge and despite being completely edible, will be beautiful too.
Scattered Usefulness - I can't think of a better term for this... but it seems as though in many of the home decorating things I read, the photographs of rooms look so sparce and it is striking to me how un-lived-in they look. What seems better to me is having scattered useful items around... candles, teasets and varieities of tea, magazines and books, knitting baskets, cozy blankets, baskets of baby-friendly toys.

Those are my main goals, along with recycling and hospitality and all of that good stuff. I am such a nerd I don't see myself as that domestic but I'm working on it, lol. Here are some good sites for that sort of thing:
Blissfully Domestic
The New Homemaker
Design Sponge
Apartment Therapy
Mom Advice
The Family Homestead
Mama Merit Badges
Fold Your Shirt

Probably much of this drive is that my nesting instict is starting to kick in, but I also have way more energy since Annie started going to school. The 2.5 hours at school and the 30 minutes of walking to get her there and back has given me at least 4-5 extra hours each day of peace rather than screaming and defiance. In that time all kinds of opportunities for domestic bliss have arisen. :)

Comments (3)

Nic, I'm so much like you in that I really value homekeeping and a "cleanish" house! Of all I've seen online, Soulemama gives me the most inspiration that it's okay to keep a home full of beautiful and useful things around. I tend to wish my house looked like the sparse ones in the magazines, but then I see her home photos and realize that's really more how my house looks, and more realistic for our busy days.

Thanks for the other links. I'll check them out!

Your goals for your home sound so much like mine. I'd never seen the soulemama blog before and found her pictures very seductive. They spoke to my soul. That's the sort of feeling I'm aiming for with our house. Every day brings me that little bit closer. In the meantime I try to be thankful for what I've got (which is oh so different!).

Laura Ingalls Wilder was a huge hero of mine when I was a little girl, but for a completely different reason. She was the first writer whose name I knew - and she was a Laura, like me! i took that to mean that I could be a writer too. :)

Like LisaZ, I (sometimes) wish my house - especially my office and my kitchen - looked like the ones in magazines. In my case, an Ikea catalogue. But no one lives in those catalogues!