Every now and then, I fall into the trap that is American consumeristic thinking. Every now and then, I panic about living on a doctoral stipend at thirty-three. I somehow forget how stupendously blessed we are. I am bothered by our disastrously painted wood floors, which we can’t afford to redo. I look at images on-line, and get inspired about the new color scheme I want to use in our bedroom – cool greys, whites, soft blues – and the chocolates and plums I want in our living room. For tiny moments, I am stricken by the notion that our home is somehow shabby. I notice where the couch is coming apart at the seams, and where the batting has been flattened. I notice the barn-like quality (this is not hyperbolic) of the wood on the floor of the kitchen. I hate these moments because they don’t feel authentic. They’re similar to the sensation I get when we’ve watched a television show with a too.thin actress: that I’m not fit enough. They remind me that I’m a marketing victim. That I can be manipulated into forgetting to be grateful.

But ninety-nine percent of the time, when I look around our home, I am utterly charmed. I love what we’ve created on such a modest income. I appreciate every little indulgence. I notice the beautiful things: the bookcase J put together last year, which is filled to capacity. The table I sought out for so long. The rugs I saved for over a year to buy. The gifts people have given us over the years. The GORGEOUS new glider my mom got us as a “Welcome, Rabbit!” gift. The framed artwork. Rabbit’s crib. Our cats. My wife’s belly.

When I’ve had these consumeristic moments in the past, I’ve gone shopping. Bought something to make myself feel better. I think this is normal. But lately, I’ve tried to consciously reframe my thinking instead, and I’ve found that this is easy to do because the gratitude.frame is more natural to me than the this.isn’t.good.enough frame. This still isn’t ideal because it leaves me focusing (mostly) on material possessions. But it’s a step in the right direction: awareness of what I have and not what I don’t have.

In the spirit of the gratitude.frame, then, here are some photos of things I love. And seriously: our little cottage is full of things I love!

1. The new glider. SUCH a delight to sit in. Seriously, the most comfortable thing ever. Also featured here is the blanket my Aunt Linda knit for Rabbit. So sweet and beautiful. And she didn’t even know when she made it that aqua would be one of the nursery’s colors!

2. The threshold between the small, upstairs hallway and Rabbit’s room. I love these colors together, and I love the clean white trim in the middle. I love the old heat grate and the light switch cover. For some reason, this is one of my favorite spots in the whole cottage.

3. The total splurge of a dresser we bought. We wanted it to last, and we’re hoping Rabbit will have someone to share it with in a couple/few years, so we thought six (low and accessible) drawers was the way to go. Note Hades & Nemesis on our floor pillows. They love a pillow stack.

4. The curtain rod (so far sans curtain), featuring three glass pieces we love. From left to right: J’s first Valentine’s gift to me (I have a weakness for spheres), a gift our friend Jana got us for our wedding, and our first Christmas ornament as a couple. Outside this window, you can see our gorgeous maple, whose leaves are mere moments from beginning to fall.

5. The artwork I found at a festival last summer with our friend MJB (I bought Rabbit the rabbit, MJB bought him the elephant and bird). I think they’re even more incredible with this matting. These pieces capture the whimsical quality we’re going for with this room (and are the inspiration for the murals our SUPER.TALENTED friend Rachel is planning! Stay tuned on that…)

6. The most dapper overalls EVER! My mom picked this out for Rabbit on a visit last Thursday, and I LOVE it. Do you see the suspenders? This boy is going to look so much like his gorgeous mom.

7. Rabbit’s first sweater! (Given to us by our incredible friend, Mick, about a year before we first started trying.)

8. The first piece of clothing we bought Rabbit: a typewriter onesie (of course) that says: “So my story begins.”

9. SHOES! (Given to us by our friends J & J when their daughter outgrew them.)

10. Bernard (who came home on the train with us after our July visit to Chicago). Wearing Rabbit’s bib-overalls (also a gift from J & J). Sitting in the crib on Emmett’s blanket.

11. The “Children Ask the World of Us” poster made by the “Women’s Action for Nuclear Disarmament.” J’s mom had this hanging as J grew up (I think it’s from the 70s, right Sarah?). My mom had it framed for us when we moved here. It’s one of my favorite possessions in all of the world.

12. A replica of Tiffany’s “Mermaid.” This hangs in the front window of our living room, and has even more meaning for us since E.

13. A pillow and blanket stack. (H & N aren’t the only ones in the cottage who love a pillow stack. This stack includes the blanket Mick made us for our wedding.)

14. Where I do a lot of my work. At our new (used) table. In front of our theory bookshelf. On our lovely, grey rug (my favorite of our three new rugs).

15. Our fiction shelf. (There’s spillover, but it holds A-Q.) And our new striped-brown rug.

16. Cat sibling LOVE.


19 thoughts on “gratitude.frame

  1. Beautiful photos of your beautiful home! I think that focusing on these material comforts easily translates to memories of less tangible things. Seeing gray and green walls in the upstairs reminds me of the crazy painting day with J, A, and B. Seeing the new dining room table makes me think of it filled with SSC food with all of our good people gathered around it to eat and laugh. The paintings make me think of walking through the art fair with you, and the blanket stack of the times I’ve stayed in the house. You and J have worked so hard to make your home absolutely lovely and welcoming and that is such an amazing gift to yourselves, the Rabbit, and all of us who visit. Big love to you, J, and RR! -MJB

    • Thank you for drawing my attention to how many memories are attached to the things I love. (So many of which are attached to you, specifically, as you are a great bringer of joy.)

  2. This post was so much fun to read. Your home looks gorgeous and inviting. I too struggle with a sense of want, want, want to make our home more complete, but you’ve reminded me (in such a non-cliched, wonderfully written way) to look at what we have instead of what we don’t.

    • Thank you, Josh! I hope we all get to live nice long lives, and that we’re able to continue filling our spaces with all.things.lovely.and.meaningful.

  3. Good for you that you’re able to appreciate what you have the majority of the time, rather than focusing on what you don’t have. I think the later is a bad habit for many of us, driven in large part, as you said, by the advertising that we are exposed to daily in our culture.

    This month we’ve been very consciously tracking our spending and I find myself being much more aware of the purchases we make and spending some extra time thinking about whether it’s something we need.

    • Thanks, Allison. It’s definitely a cultivated skill. And we need to get better at tracking our purchases, too. My biggest downfall is the coffee shop. Teas. Lattes. Almond scones. It’s an expensive little addiction.

  4. I love your house and I want that glider! My mom is also getting us a glider when she comes to visit next month. Do you now where yours is from? Really nice post.

  5. This is such a fun post! I love getting a look at the cottage, it is wonderfully cozy.

    Yay for your Mom and that FABULOUS glider. That is a big deal and I’m so glad you guys were able to get a super comfy one. We have spent so much time in ours (reading and rocking and nursing) and I’m sure you will as well. I am of the opinion that if you can splurge on something the glider is a good choice.

    The suspender overalls and the onesie?!!! I love them. In a big way. Can’t WAIT to see a picture of Rabbit in the overalls with J. That will be so cute. Where did you find the onesie? That is hands-down the best onesie ever.

    And then the artwork (lovely), the books and those precious cats. You guys have a lot to be grateful for for sure!

    • We found it at a boutique down the street from our coffee shop. EVERYTHING in there is a million dollars, so we try not to even walk through the door, but it was hanging in the window. And really, what are a couple of literary dykes to do in the face of such cuteness? ;)

      Thanks for the reassurance about the glider; I am super frugal, so I feel guilty about letting my mom spend so much. But once I sat it in, it was all over… Seriously. Heaven.

      I always wondered where the Gadget in your e-mail address came from! How long did you have him/her? Black cats (and their little bald spots) are definitely the best)!

  6. what a relief to hear i’m not the only one feeling that way. sometimes i look at our little apartment and see everything i want in a home. and sometimes i look and see pure squalor, threadbare and grungy.

    pictures of other people’s homes in blogs always look so perfect to me — yours included. even when i am liking our place, nothing about it suggests visual perfection to me, but oddly, sometimes the pictures of it do. ah, the miraculous reifying power of mechanical reproduction….

  7. I LOVE IT!!! You have a beautiful house, especially all of the beautiful glass. I’m growing a theory bookshelf myself as I’m halfway through an MA in English with focuses in Composition & Rhetoric and Professional Writing. OY. :)

  8. your house looks incredible. it is so easy to get caught up in what we don’t have or what could possibly make things better – i love how you focus on what you do have. love love love the onesie and the little booties!

  9. What a beautiful reminder of the things that are important. I, too, have found myself falling into the trap of wishing that things were different, focusing on the flaws instead of the uniqueness, what I haven’t instead of what I have. Thank you for sharing the things you treasure. The photos make me want to come to your house and take a tour! If ever I find the time, I would love to do the same mini-photo project in my house. Thank you for the inspiration!

  10. This is a great post. Your space looks very welcoming. I think my favorite part is that you have floor pillows. :-)

    Spending so much time at home with The Bean definitely makes me look around our apartment and think about what I like and what I wish was different. Right now I’m on a big minimalism/uncluttering kick and I am working to re-frame my consumerist mindset. Some days are certainly easier than others!

  11. Pingback: Being Home | greensteeped

  12. Hi, I ran across this doing a google image search of Tiffany’s Mermaid stained glass picture. Where did you find yours? My mom had one for years and it broke when she moved a couple years ago. She really loved it and I wanted to try to find another one. So just curious… Thanks!

    • I wish I had an answer, but mine was a gift from my mom from almost twenty years ago! I hope you find one for her though. I know what ours means to me. <3

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