It’s been almost five years since I logged in to update this blog — as many of you know, I hit a major speedbump in 2015 with my health and have spent the last few years recovering. Throughout, I’ve been so grateful for this wonderful house to shelter and comfort me (especially when I was spending hour upon hour on my living room couch, enveloped in those gorgeous teal walls). At the same time, remembering how much energy I had “before” and how much work I used to do on the house, well, it made me feel pretty low by comparison. So, I took a little break from house projects and the blog, which turned into a long break. “Comparison is the thief of joy” never felt truer than during the years I spent recovering. So for the most part, I just lived here and enjoyed it and tried to spend increasing time away from the house as a measure of success in healing.
And now, it’s March 2020. I’m back to good (maybe great) physical health, and spending all my days inside the little farmhouse … thanks to the coronavirus. I just spent the 10th anniversary of home ownership conducting my day job responsibilities from a desk I’ve set up in my dining room, and raking last autumn’s leaves out of the garden beds. One benefit is for certain: my garden has never looked better, and it’s barely even spring yet.
So, I’m dusting off the blog to document a few highlights of this, the 10th year. It’s already proving to be an unexpected one. But there have already been more than a handful of deja vu moments that have transported me back to the first year. Similarities like the earlier-than-normal snow melt, the mid-March signs of spring, the stock-up trips to the grocery store and hardware store, the hours upon hours spent alone in the house tackling projects, the sowing of seeds, and the excitement of all I can cook and make in my very own kitchen. I have some more time to cook, which means revisiting recipes from my early years of the little farmhouse, and trying some new ones like a gluten-free sourdough starter (started it today … we’ll see!) And, I’ll fill you in on the few projects that I did tackle in the last five years.
Whoever might be reading this — you’re probably at home a lot these days, too. I hope your home is safe, I hope you’re able to spend quality time with people you love, and I hope you’ll reach out if you want to connect.
The farmhouse turned 115 this year, and I hosted a big backyard bash in July. It was amazing to have so many friends and family members show up to help celebrate. I’ve had the idea in my head for a few years, and have been dreaming up party food ideas all year. Some awesome girlfriends helped me bring the idea to life, preparing party fare from every decade that the house has been around. It was so much fun. We rounded out the menu with home-smoked pork from my awesome cousins, Maggie’s famous German potato salad, and the most amazing ribs from Smoke in the Pit (a neighborhood BBQ place).
1900s: Jell-O salad (yeah Rachel!)
1910s: root beer floats
1920s: Rice Krispies treats
1940s: deviled eggs (thanks aunt Mary!)
1950s: Chex Mix (great job Brianna!)
1970s: cheese ball (way to go Mary!)
1980s: 7-layer dip
1990s: Bagel Bites
2000s: Millenium cupcakes (amazing job, Sarah!)
2010s: the best kale chips ever (thanks mom!)
And, by popular request, the white sangria recipe:
4 bottles vinho verde
2 L. club soda
1.5 c. Triple Sec
2 cans frozen lemonade
3 oranges, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
2 peaches, sliced
Bags of frozen fruit (1 of each): raspberries, strawberries, pineapple
//combine and pack dispenser in ice or refrigerate for a few hours prior to serving//
So much <3 to everyone who showed up and made it a party. xoxo
Tomorrow, I celebrate three years of owning the LFITBC. It feels like a long time in my little life, but it’s only a heartbeat in the life of this old house. That thought humbles me. 113 years is a long time. This house has seen 20 presidents, two world wars, the first female voters, the dawn of the personal computing age, and almost every Minnesota winter recorded by the National Weather Service.
And at the end of another long winter, I’m rejuvenated just by imagining the garden in its spring and summer glory. I make lists of spring cleaning projects and the prospect of cleaning windows is more exciting (sun! warm weather!) than daunting. And cooking in my kitchen brings as much joy as ever.
One thing I couldn’t have predicted three years ago was the job change I made 18 months ago, and the amount of travel it has brought. I love it for that — I get to visit friends all over the country, went to London and Paris last fall, am going to China this spring, and more international travel likely this summer and fall. But it adds a challenging layer to maintaining a house on my own. It has forced me to be much more organized about appointments and chores, and to suck it up and ask for help from friends and family when I can’t be here to shovel snow or water the garden. And it does make me more appreciative of the days I get to spend here. It’s a blessing and a curse, but mostly a blessing.
So, tomorrow I’ll feel a small weight off my shoulders — the first-time homebuyer’s credit required me to live in the house for at least three years, or I’d have to pay back that awesome $8,000. But other than that, it’s just another day in the tens of thousands that this house has stood to shelter people from the cold, biting winds of the Minnesota plains. My mom and dad will read this and exclaim, “I can’t believe it’s been three years!” (hi there, miss you.) I’ll hang my head a little when I look at the still-unfinished-trim in the kitchen, and promise to get to it before the fourth anniversary. And I’ll look forward to many more dinners with people I love around the dining room table. Come and visit, friends!
Stopped by the house on Saturday so my friend Foxwell could see it while he’s in town, and look what we found!
the first cherry tomato sprouts
tulips in the garden
We also met Otto and Olive, my neighbors to the south. My house and Otto’s house were on the market around the same time back in 2001, so he considered buying it. But…
“Back then, it was abandoned and about to be condemned. A bunch of prostitutes had been living there, and just throwing their trash in the yard and the alley. The toilet barely worked, and the kitchen was a disaster.”
Otto told us all about what J & J (the previous owners) had done to fix up the house – from completely redoing the kitchen to expanding the bathroom (which is why the farmhouse door room is so much smaller and lacking a closet).
And the coolest part? Otto says that the house was actually moved to the neighborhood from its original location. He couldn’t remember where the original farm had been, exactly, or when it was moved – but I’m going to look into it and let you know what I find.
I have the keys in my hand. Well, some of them. The sellers gave me five! We’ll see how long it takes me to lose all of them.
Next up: paint! I have a few rooms in mind to repaint, and a few touch-ups to tackle throughout the house. So I’m off to pick up some swatches and start making the oh-so-important color choices. Any suggestions?