around Next Gen House, lately

Pittsburgh had a beautiful, sunny weekend – and we took major advantage of it, catching up on a lot of outdoor work that had fallen to the wayside. We also were blessed to have my parents lend their hands with much of the work. I’ll be showing off our handiwork in more detail once we finish off a few of the rough edges this week, but we managed to get a huge list of work done. (Including trimming back this bleeding heart plant that was competing with the rhododendron to eat Carnegie.)

I even started to create a small backyard oasis by trying to regain the use of our deck. The rattletrap grill got moved to make way for a couple of plastic Adirondack chairs, soon to be joined by a small table. Mark took the time to move brackets placed by the previous owners of the house to fit our own deck boxes, soon to be filled with flowers.

Those small things combined with large projects like repairing a retaining wall and prepping raised beds made this weekend feel like our most productive in a very long time. Ironically, many of the tasks we completed are ones that people look to as markers of a “more simple life.” Gardening and DIY projects are actually anything but simple (wait until I tell you about the seedlings). 

It was good for me to have the time this weekend to be out in the sun, shoveling dirt, hauling stones, filling pots and digging holes. It was also nice to have time to get my kombucha started and get the house clean. Sunday night was the first time I’ve gone to bed in awhile feeling like I had pretty much checked off all my to dos for the weekend. 

I find it frustrating sometimes to see all the amazing homesteading things that other people are doing (and highlighting on their amazingly styled and organized blogs), wanting to have time to do every project that crosses my screen. These kind of tasks bring me a great amount of joy – creating things with my hands and doing things for myself. But the reality is that many of those urban homesteaders have alternate sources of income that don’t require them to work full time, or have made their blog a business, so their actual job is to homestead. They’re actually home for the majority of their waking hours. 

I work 45 hours a week and I spend at least an hour a day commuting, often two. I take krav maga classes and run 3 days a week. I cook dinner and do laundry and try to keep a house clean. So that whole idea that I can “have it all”? That I can tackle every interesting project I encounter and make my own everything and grow all the possible things to grow? Not going to happen. 

Tonight after work, I managed to finish potting herbs (more on that later). I did it while standing outside in my workout clothes after krav class, listening to an audiobook on my phone. As my pots filled up and the sun was setting, I looked around at the gardens and at the chickens running around and the soon to be finished little deck oasis and was grateful for how much I am able to do – really how much Mark and I are able to do together as partners – and didn’t lament the things we can’t.