Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, you ought to set up a life you don't need to escape from. ~~Seth Godin
Here On Bradstreet, we don't follow many rules, but aim to live by principles instead, whether it's regarding learning, gardening or the home. We're not very attuned to shouldn'ts or can'ts and we're naturally inclined to shape our home and life to suit how we learn and live. Though we're aware of certain gardening rules or decorating don'ts, for instance, like with anything else, we take the good and leave the rest and shape what we've kept to suit us. Often this is out of necessity--we live within our means, even if the sofa has seen better days. We reuse and repurpose, furnish with junk shop or Ikea finds. Our garden has grown over the last nine summers through plugs from friends and family, Freecycled plants, lots of transplanting and budget-friendly purchases from Fedco Seeds. As our children grow, we've adapted to meet our family's changing needs, whether this meant swapping rooms, making space for them to play and learn or repainting to accommodate new interests and tastes. As always, our goal is to do this as sustainably as possible, with comfort in mind and with an eye to purpose. Our home and garden is lived in. We're here, every day, learning together, cooking and eating, gathering, gardening, project-ing, playing and creating. It won't do to have everything tucked away, and it's not possible in this old, mostly-closetless house, sans garage or livable cellar, with a small garden. And because of this, we live by some guiding principles. Here are some examples from our own home and garden:
* As William Morris said, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be
useful, or believe to be beautiful”.
Sunshine warms a livingroom corner.
Useful and beautiful arbor, clothesline and recycled chair.
* Embrace the old ideas that everything in it's place and a place for everything
and that many hands make light work. Also, keep like with like.
Our shoes by the front door.
Games within easy reach, grouped together.
Like grouped with like. Table linens and American pottery.
* Give thought to how you live and use your home and garden. Plan accordingly.
Sunscreen by our back door helps us remember to put some on or take it with us before heading to the beach.
Baking and cooking, it's all at our fingertips.
Wii game supplies, easy to get to and put away.
Easy to get to garden tools.
* Ensure that your home and garden meet the needs of all who reside there.
Space for swords, lightsabers and Nerf toys.
A corner for good health.
Plan for pets.
Space for projects.
Room for bikes.
Working from home.
* Keep a welcoming home and garden. Consider the ages, abilities and other needs
of your family and guests.
For our young visitors.
Lots and lots of tea.
The outdoor shower.
* Provide inspiration in books, art, music, color and texture. Provide ample
A space for both reminders and inspiration. And a favorite funky lamp.
Lots to read. Grab a blanket and pillow and settle in.
* Grow native plants, welcome beneficial insects and birds and provide wildlife
habitat in your garden. Consider texture, color and scent, as you would in the
home. The smallest container garden can encompass these principles.
Organic heirloom potatoes and pole beans.
Sharp shinned hawk visitor.
Birdhouses and roses, good for birds and bees.
* A home and garden is a refuge and nest, but the Earth is the only planet we've
got. Live sustainably as possible.
Using a clothesline.
Cloth napkins at the ready.
Cloth shopping bags by the front door.
By practicing these simple principles for home and garden, we can more easily meet the needs of everyone. Additionally, because everything has a place and can always be both found and returned to that place, we don't spend time on frustrating tasks like looking for keys, purses, phones, tools, equipment, toys or projects. And if someone should forget where a thing might be, it's easy to locate because most often it's with something similar (like with like). This has the added benefit of empowering the kids and fosters independence, because they now know where things are and where they return to, and they are naturally inclined to help keep a comfortable order in the home. Also, everyone is shown respect and care as everyone has a space and place for their things. I don't personally have an interest in Nerf guns, but my son does, and since he has a lot and I don't want to trip on them and he doesn't want to misplace them, I provided a space for them. Further, though our children might have outgrown blocks, we have some out for little ones who visit. I also keep a shelf of board and young reader books. The outdoor shower has a handheld shower and low grab bars, as well as tear-free shampoo for little ones. Often it's simple things that can be done to help a guest feel at ease in your home. (Universal Design for our homes is something that we all should be thinking about more, also.)
By keeping an organic, cottage garden, we are nourishing ourselves, the wildlife, our neighborhood and community and our very spirits. Outside is a creative space, full of inspiration, texture, scent and beauty. It's also a constant reminder that we want to sustain that environment, which means choosing to do without, reuse and repurpose and recycle, to manage better, and think about our choices as a family. As we gather for meals outside at the oversize picnic table Alex made, we are serenaded by birdsong, the rustle of the trees. The scents are of roses and brine. If we want, it's easy enough to grab our sandals and beach chair and walk down to the shore. Who needs vacation?