The Art of Beautiful Living

The art of beautiful living (according to Jana) is something that I have seen around the globe in my life. Cultures from around the world do it differently, but there is always this in common...they find ways to sustain joy. They partner with the world and create a life for themselves that speaks to their souls. I have found somethings that do this for me. Food. Family. Friends. Work (not necessarily a job, but actually doing something I love). It isn't easy, this art of beautiful living. The world will partner with you, but it is just as happy to throw curveballs at you. Too little time to enjoy a meal. Settling for good enough or collecting clutter. Being your own worst critic and judging yourself too harshly. It all adds up and steals your joy. This reactionary response to life isn't beautiful living. Control is elusive though, isn't it? Why is that? I think it is because we don't intentionally carve out space for things that matter. The art of beautiful living is a practice and it is purposeful. Art doesn't just happen, does it? The artist collects materials and sets aside time to create. I found that I wasn't doing this purposefully and consistently. And even now that I know I should be finding and cultivating joy in my life, I still get curveballs and forget to do it. Beautiful living is an art...it is a practice...it is purposeful. Most of all, it is journey of exploration. Here are things that I am playing with that bring me joy.

  • 1846 Homestead Renovation,  In the Garden,  Let's Eat,  The Art of Beautiful Living

    1st World Problems at the Homestead

      Ha!  It makes me laugh when my “worlds” collide.  Back in Virginia, I kinda got on a subsistence life-style kick.  I learned how to make wine, can vegetables from our garden.  We even had goats so I could milk them and make cheese.  It was fun and it was a lot of work.  I loved the forced routine.  When it was time to milk the goats…it was TIME.  When the vegetables needed picking, we were out gathering.  I loved the routine and the order it brought to my life.  I had things that absolutely had to be done and it was fun to pretend that there weren’t grocery stores. …

  • The Art of Beautiful Living

    Christmas Decorations at the Homestead 2019

    I’m dating this post because I have big plans for the future.  This is what we were able to accomplish this year.  Next year is still being discussed.  I have hopes for garland and trees in the old part of the house.  I need to do some research on what 1850 Christmas decorations in Scotland and Texas would have looked like.  I want the house to twinkle.  But this year, we just hadn’t really had time to plan it and we weren’t up to it. Seriously, the exterior isn’t completed.  The yard is a wreck.  There is very little traffic on the country road in front of our house.  Lights…

  • Let's Eat,  The Art of Beautiful Living,  Uncategorized

    Christmas Food at the Homestead

    I have been dreaming about my grandma house for a long time.  I was disappointed that we weren’t in the Homestead last year, but the joy that we experienced this year certainly made it worth waiting for. First, we had the a great Thanksgiving which ends with us putting up the Christmas tree.  That was an adventure in and of itself.  We had a new tree this year and so, it was our first time to put it up in a new house where we had never had a Christmas tree before.  Lots of firsts means lots of learning. The Cookie Exchange We hosted the first (hopefully) annual Cookie Exchange.…

  • Let's Eat,  The Art of Beautiful Living,  Uncategorized

    Pied Piping and a Cookie Exchange

    A Bit of Bragging… I have been called a “Pied Piper” by my husband and others.  Ric Hertless may have been the first to proclaim this in a work setting.  I didn’t know how I felt about the moniker.  It sounded to me like all I did was try and get people to do what I wanted and that smacked of manipulation.  However, upon reflection, I think that I just get board and when I do, I try and get people I love and enjoy to come play.  So far, we have come up with some interesting reindeer games… Burch Beach Like the time we built a beach in our…

  • Let's Eat,  The Art of Beautiful Living

    Thanksgiving Food and Traditions

      Besides twinkling lights and the look of amazement on children’s faces, is there anything more wonderful than holiday food? I don’t think that much can compete with the thrill I get planning a holiday menu and thinking about sitting around the table with my favorite people visiting and celebrating.  Traditions are important and food as a holiday tradition is probably one of my favorites.  As traditional as we are, we have broken with some old ones and are establishing some new ones for our family.  Here are a few of my favorite things (cue the Sound of Music soundtrack…): I want to tell you that I love Christmas above…

  • The Art of Beautiful Living

    ‘Tis the Season for Crushed Poinsettias

    We don’t put up a million trees at our house.  I don’t have anything against it personally and I do think that a house completely decked out is a wonder to behold.  Of course, some of that wonder is “I wonder where they store all of this?” and “I wonder where they get the energy needed to do this?”  Individual differences are a crazy thing.  It is one of life’s great mysteries why one person is a neat freak and another is happy with clutter.  Some folks are organized and some struggle.  Some have beautiful, effortless (or so it seems) lives and then there are people like me who are…

  • 1846 Homestead Renovation,  The Art of Beautiful Living

    I Suffer from an Abundance of Opportunity

    I am Blessed I am truly blessed.  This project has been an amazing journey.  I have had so many opportunities to learn new skills and to learn some pretty interesting things about myself as well.  Jerry will tell you that I can generate more ideas that anyone he knows (not always a good thing, in his experience).  My brain just likes to keep working…all the time.  It is great.  I have wonderful conversations with myself.  Sometimes, I will laugh out loud because of something I “thought” and found to be funny. But there is a dark side…I can see the way things could be with such clarity that I often…

  • The Art of Beautiful Living

    The Ugliest Kitchen in the World: How We Turned This Room Around

    Good Bones When we bought this sweet rancher, we thought that it had “good bones”.  We loved the backyard and the location was perfect. The house had undergone a fire-induced renovation back in the 1980s, but this little gem was in need of some updating.  Updating is a lot easier than making significant structural changes like knocking out walls or building an addition. We weren’t ready to take on anything quiet that large, but we were ready to do a few basic projects in order to move the rooms in the right direction. In the photo below, we had already updated the linoleum flooring with new tile.  That helped a…

  • 1846 Homestead Renovation,  The Art of Beautiful Living

    Weekend Wine Room Project

    The Weekend Wine Room Project I am of Scottish descent.  That means I have an excuse for being thrifty.  In truth, I like to see what I can do with as little as possible.  It is more an exercise in creativity than anything, but it has the advantage of making it possible to do more because I (usually) spend less.  On this project, I wanted a wine room in one weekend for under $300. We got a wine room, but we also gained a lot of DIY knowledge.  (FYI…self-leveling cement pours quickly and it spreads like wild fire.  Be ready or you will be playing a wicked game of Twister.) …

  • The Art of Beautiful Living

    An Experiment Born of Inconvenience

    Y’all know that I am a bit strange and I love to try things that most others wouldn’t do on a bet.  I have a fascination with the past and how people lived (and ate) back in the day.  When a storm knocked out our power for almost two weeks, I was thrown into the past living without water, septic, or power.  It sort of became an experiment in survival (we stayed in at home the entire time) while we attempted to live comfortably without the conveniences of modern life. With Hurricane Dorian looming off the coast, several of my friends on Facebook are talking about their hurricane preparation and…