On the Holidays

I hope your season was Merry, Merry! Ours was full of gift making, movie watching, bourbon sipping, and the fun of having our first Christmas in our very own home.

I don’t believe in Santa, but I do believe in John McClane.
Decorating your own home is pretty cool.

Since we weren’t going home for the holidays this year, JD and I decided to host an orphan Christmas dinner. What began as six quickly grew to fourteen and we found that there is only time for a little homesickness when you’re surrounded by old and new friends, an abundance of good food, and a little Cards Against Humanity.

Cards Against Humanity topping off the evening.

Entertaining for fourteen also put my tiny kitchen to the test. I cooked all of my pies and sides in an impressive baking marathon the day before so that my two whole counters would be uncluttered and ready to host guest’s dishes. Drinks needing chilling spent the night in our room of shame (isn’t it lovely that part of our house doubles as a walk-in freezer!) and lived, the day of, on our patio for guests to grab at their convenience. Overall, my little kitchen pulled through with a wink, a smile, and two grateful vacuums called Utah and Charlie.

The house, all dressed up.

I initially panicked that I didn’t have matching plates, linens, or accessories but finally decided to embrace my hereditary love of bright colors and all things mismatched. What are the holidays without a little chaos, even if it’s (hopefully) only in your decor. I used what I had instead of buying new plates or linens that didn’t really feel like me and would have spent the next year taking up valuable shelf space. I brought out wedding linens that we had haggled over in an Egyptian souq, embraced paper plates (My ego was against paper but my husband wasn’t, and I must admit that they kept me out of the kitchen and able to spend more time with guests.), and pulled existing accessories out of hiding. I bought a big bunch of pepper berries from Wholefoods and called it a day on decor.

Thanks to JD for snapping this pic before chaos decended.

I think dealing with a little imperfection, especially around a time of year driven by spending, is good for the soul. It allows you to focus on time spent with loved ones, making new traditions, and eating lots of leftover pie for all three meals. I hope you found meaning in imperfection this year and maybe learned to embrace it a little more.

Happy Holidays, From the Prater’s!
I was totally serious about pie for all three meals.

My Not-So-Secret Shame.

The artist’s studio is one of the features that most drew us to our home. The original house was about 800 square feet with an attached garage. A little over a decade after it was built, Edward Hawkins drew up designs for the garage to be converted into a large den with an artists studio in the very back of the house. The addition almost doubles our square footage, making it large for a mid-century modern home. It also gives us our favorite room. Boasting a door to the patio, a wall of windows, and a wood burning fireplace, it’s the most inviting room in the house. Want to see it? I’ve made it sound so lovely. Are you ready?

Look at the avantgarde way we’ve tipped over the ottoman, as if to say, “We’ve completely given up.”

It’s really living up to its best self at the moment, isn’t it? Unfortunately, the artist’s studio has neither heat nor air, making it virtually unlivable in the winter (Thanks, Hawkins, you old pal). The studio will eventually be our master suite, but for now, when I put on a coat and gloves to grab something from storage, it’s just my not-so-secret suite of shame.

Before things turned ugly.
Before things turned ugly.
Little known fact. In several Arapahoe Acres homes (including ours), the fireplace chimneys are made of (unused) sewer pipes!
Little-known fact. In several Arapahoe Acres homes, including ours, the fireplace chimneys are made of (unused) sewer pipes!
Looking into endless possibilies before they were crushed by lack of HVAC.
Looking into a sea of endless possibilies before the crushing blow that was no HVAC.

Well played, Hawkins. Lesson learned. Never assume that your entire house has heat and air if some of it does. To be fair, we knew about this issue before buying the home, and forged fearlessly (fearlessly, right?) ahead with an offer.

This room is another practice in patience for us. While it’s tough to wait, I can’t help but feel like this house has given us endless gifts to open. We’ve been able to open some sooner than others, but they’re all equally sweet. This room will feel like such a gift when we’re able to move in, enjoy its beauty, and feel the warm breeze of central heat and air on our faces. I think it might just be worth the wait. 

Living Small(er).

I grew up in Oklahoma under big skies and wide-open spaces (Dixie Chicks, anyone? Reunite!). I love my homeland. You’ll never find kinder people, better sunsets, or more red dirt. It also boasts an insanely reasonable cost of living. Care for a kitchen as wide-open as your Oklahoma sky? You can probably find it well within your price range.

When JD and I felt ready to buy in Denver, we knew we had to quell our inner Okies and approach our search with realistic expectations. It helped that we were looking at mid-century homes that are generally smaller and more compact than modern builds. When we walked into our future home for the first time, we were floored. It blew away all of our expectations…and then I saw the kitchen.

My lovable kitchen cube.
My lovable kitchen cube.

Our kitchen is a 5×6 cube with a built in cooktop and economy size fridge. It also houses our economy size washing machine (Our two black labs have totally stopped shedding to accommodate this new twist). My initial thought was no way. But then I stopped and asked, “why?”

Mid-Century Kitchen - Martini in Hand
Are you jealous of my brown carpet? I knew it.

Obviously, the kitchen did not deter us from buying the house, and I’ve got to be honest, it’s one of the things I love most about our home. It forced me to trim down to what I considered kitchen necessities. Gone were salad spinners, veggie choppers, and steamers. I purged what I didn’t need, and I haven’t missed any of it.

Our economy fridge never reaches capacity. I meal plan every week and buy exactly what we need. It keeps our produce fresh and cuts down on waste. I’m happy to report that we live just fine with five different types of mustard instead of eight (crisis averted).

I mean, who doesn't love a good bamboo backsplash but JD and I installed blue tile to liven things up a bit.
I mean, who doesn’t love a good bamboo backsplash, amiright? JD and I installed blue tile to liven things up a bit.

Counter space was my biggest concern, and I’ve learned to adapt. In our previous kitchens, I always used the same small stretch of 3×3 counter to work with and that hasn’t changed. I store larger appliances (Kitchen-Aid mixer, food processor, etc…) in cupboards when they’re not in use.

I have to admit that there are still times when I’m a little self-conscious about my modest kitchen. But when I’m dancing around my stove within arms reach of everything I need, I feel a little less crazy.

Sometimes it’s uncomfortable to give up what you think you need or want. We’ve made adjustments that work for us. What could you do without?

It can be tough to fight the draw of “more”, around the holidays. Don’t be afraid to live a little smaller this week. You might be surprised what you gain. For me, it was a pretty bitchin’ home.

Can we talk about how easy stainless steel counters are to clean?
I dedicate this post to my stainless steel counters. You are a beautiful breeze to clean.

Wait, What?

To be clear, JD and I love our house. When we set out to buy our first home in Denver, we never imagined we would end up in Arapahoe Acres in a 1951 Edward Hawkins home. It’s a dream.

That said, living in a historic home has it’s challenges. We were blown away by the home when we viewed it on a whim with our realtor. It was a lovely spring morning, the vented windows were thrown open allowing a cool breeze to pull through the house, the lawn was impeccably landscaped and cared for, the furnishings were period and well-placed. This was (and is) our dream home and not a tiny kitchen, nor lack of a dryer, nor absence of heat or air on one half of the house would deter us from at least putting an offer in.

When we went under contract on the house, we were ecstatic. I had visions of living, blogging, and generally being glamorous in a home that photographed and looked like this:

My home will look like this, right? RIGHT?!
My home will look like this, right? Obviously!

Then we moved in and I realized that the $24.99 Ikea lamp that seemed edgy and modern in our duplex looked, in our new place, like, well, a $24.99 Ikea lamp in a house that is certainly not a duplex. I also found that with natural, wood-beamed ceilings and large awnings over the windows (smartly designed to keep us cool in the summer), coupled with my lack of photography skills, most of my photographs emerged looking like this:

Look at that alluring pot of boiling water framed by absolute darkness!
Look at that alluring pot of boiling water framed by absolute darkness and misery!

There are challenges, like not being able to install a dog door for our pups because the doors are made of beautiful glass panels. There is fog, condensation, and hardcore ice that form inside our single-paned windows most cold mornings, and the fact that if we get enough snow this winter, you will find JD shoveling our sleek, flat roof to lighten its load. But, though our home has gifted us with many quirks, groans, and the experience of line drying clothes in the winter, it has also given us the pride of owning and caring for a work of art, and for that, we are truly humbled.


Charlie's favorite spot.
Charlie’s favorite spot.

When I decided to start blogging, I struggled with a theme. My writing in college was prolific (if not cringe worthy at times) and I ached to have a creative outlet again. I thought about strands connecting past writing and about what I treasure most theses days. It didn’t take long before it struck me quite simply – home.

I grew up in a loving family where great value was placed on home. We cooked and ate together every night, snuggled on the big bed listening to my Mom read “Little House on the Prairie” and “Nancy Drew” books for the hundredth time, and went on pioneering adventures in the backyard.

Unwinding in my tiny mid-century kitchen.
Unwinding in my tiny mid-century kitchen.

Now, I love to make home for my little family. After a long day, slicing onions for a sauce is as therapeutic to me as a good soak in the tub. My favorite evenings are spent snuggled on the couch with my husband, JD, and our two 65 pound lap dogs wading through our Netflix queue and sipping cocktails. It’s not glamorous, but it’s challenging, rewarding, and full of so much life.

Martini making.
Martini making.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing a moment of your day with me as I embark on the very humbling pioneering adventure of creating home and life, martini in hand.