Keeping It Simple: I do make the effort

Over the past few years I've been reflecting more and more on what type of person I am, what I can handle, what my strengths and weaknesses are, what my gifts are, how I am capable of being a blessing to people, what I've been given, etc. I've realized a trend of consciously trying to keep things very simple. People seem to think I'm very organized, multitasking and whatever other adjectives fall in line with those,  and I guess to an extent this is true in a certain context. I've found that I can't have too many things going on at once. Honestly, one main "project" in my life is what I can handle. Too many purposes and I seem to get muddled in the head and feel conflicted about not giving "this purpose" enough attention because I'm busy with "that purpose." I need one thing and within the context of that one thing, yes, I'll be an organized, multitasking, diligent, purposed gal, but otherwise...

Now, I haven't always known this about myself. Isn't self-discovery wonderful?! Years ago when we bought our home I was expecting our first child and working full time. I truly had no idea the demands to be placed on me in keeping our home. I was simply ready to sit in my home and rest. I was tired. Our first home was a cute little two-room bungalow that we rented for a great price. The upkeep was minimal. Even our lawn was mowed by the landlord.

My husband had all this energy stored up from years of renting. In our first year he kept things very simple. He painted the entire interior of the house and put in a garden. In the next years he added a second driveway, expanded the garden, built a fence around our backyard, painted the exterior of the house, made shutters for the windows (board and batten, very cute, my idea), replaced the garage door, tidied up the front garden beds, replaced rotting boards so that new gutters could be installed, replaced windows and built a barn, and remodeled the bathroom. See, he said he had all this energy. And he said he had a vision for our home. I don't think I could see what he saw or realize that he would need that energy for our home. And all I wanted to do was sit and rest and have a baby.

You realize from the above list that I got of pretty easy. Most of my husband's work was done outside the home. I'm so glad for this! Truly! My husband loves to work outside and he has done plenty of it. However, when we bought the home we knew that one day the kitchen would need some help as well. Do I dare tell you, dear reader, that when we bought the home I didn't even really look at the kitchen? I know! I think I glanced and continued on through the house. Well, when we moved in I realized how small it was and that I was going to have to figure out a way to make it functional.

I have learned many lessons from my little, non-functional kitchen.
1. Be thankful
2. Be content
3. Keep it simple
4. What matters most?
5. Be diligent
6. Don't think on what I don't have, but what I do have
7. Prepare for the future

I knew that the time between current kitchen and remodeled kitchen (we didn't have a specific time line for that when we moved in!) needed to be productive. I decided to not let the kitchen determine who I was as the chef/baker. It was a good time for me to figure out the needs of my family and my capacity as the main cook. We love simple, home style food and I love baking breads and yummy treats. I've learned to be frugal and simple. Before we moved into this home I was working full-time and didn't give the needed attention to our diet or the finances of grocery shopping. As we transitioned to one income, I quickly learned.

Over the course of last winter I knew the kitchen remodel would probably happen in 2009. I had no idea what to do with the kitchen. Poor me and my lack of domesticity. I began gathering books from the library to help me along. Come to find out I love the cottage look. Cottages are usually simple, small, make amazing use of tiny spaces and are quite quaint. I finally pieced everything together over some months, and just last month my dear husband finished our new kitchen.

We added this window (idea from a magazine) that looks out into the living room. This simple opening makes both rooms seem much bigger, it's cute and you can have greater "community" this way.  My husband made the shelf above the refrigerator for my cook books. I found the wine glass rack that is above the window. Isn't it wonderful! Those glasses were taking up an entire cabinet shelf. Wonderful space saver.

This wonderful rolling cart with butcher block top sits just under the window. Having just a bit of butcher block in the space is fun, and the fact that the cart rolls is perfect for the little space.

Here are the flooring, lower cabinets, dishwasher, counter top, single sink, darling shelf and upper cabinets. Our previous cabinets did not go all the way to the ceiling. Bad! We knew we wanted our cabinets to go all the way to the ceiling (diligent with our space), but didn't want them to come all the way down to where they would normally come. They would seem to big. Instead, I saw in a magazine that someone built a shelf below the cabinets instead. Perfect, perfect, perfect. My husband already had the board, which he simply stained and then I found the brackets for 50% off, I think total they were $5. Happy me and my little shelf!

We opted for a single sink since we put in the dishwasher. It saves space and provides me with more counter top. The flooring is laminate, peel and stick tile, but my husband grouted it for a "real" tile look. Isn't it beautiful? About that dishwasher...when I first began staying home full-time to take care of our baby and our home I was amazed at how many dishes I was washing. At times I did not like it. Around this time I came across the book The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer. This wonderful book helped me gain perspective on the powerful place a home can be to nurture and sustain the souls of family members. It showed me the sweet position I have as wife, mother, caregiver, nurturer, servant, chef, baker, nurse, playmate, teacher. I learned that even in the seemingly mundane tasks the glory of God can shine. Put simply, I learned how to pray and be thankful as I washed dishes. It turned out to be much easier than not liking the task.

 We replaced the old, drafty window with a new one and I made a curtain, yes, the  material I found 50% off too. I love the yellow trim that surrounds this window and the one facing the living room. The rooms walls are surrounded by white beadboard.

A pot rack holder! Yes, the perfect space saver. It's for baskets too.

This unit actually sits in the dining room, but is the home of most of our dishes...saves space in the cabinets in the kitchen.

Space saver: microwave above the stove.
The gas stove came with a home and is wonderful, so there was no need to replace it.

A touch of the garden: dried hydrangeas smiling at me.

Fond memories: my Granny kept this tea kettle on top of her stove for as long as I can remember. When she moved to her retirement home she could not take it with her. I happily keep it in her stead.

Although at times this process seemed complicated, overall it was not. We took our time and planned things out as best we could. There were no problems with the work, no surprises if you will, and it was completed in time line we hoped. The simplicity and functionality of the kitchen reflect my style as a woman and us as a family.

The new kitchen  is wonderful. I am very thankful for the gift. However, I can truly say I am even more thankful for some verses in Isaiah 32 describing the type of atmosphere I desire in our home. God provided these verses when I was a mother of a newborn and desperately seeking what the art of homemaking was all about.

Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest. Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field.
And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places;


Susanna said…
You inspire me to be content in my position as mother, baker, nurse, and teacher. Your kitchen looks so sweet and what a blessing for you to get some additional space!

Thank you for sharing your heart!
Abby said…
Lovely! Well done.

And do not talk to me about washing dishes.....gah. With a family of six....between washing dishes and doing laundry....sometimes I think that is all I do. (-:
Rachel said…
Susy - It is a daily struggle to be content...I'm constantly learning!

Abby - Although I don't currently experience a family of 6, I did growing up and with no dishwasher we always washed by hand. Makes me think of all that my mother did for us. :-)
amanda jolley said…
Your kitchen is beautiful! Love the cabinets.
And I so know what you mean by keeping it simple. I've learned to juggle over the years, but am most content when simplicity rules.
Love you words.