“I manifest abundance by being grateful for what I already have.”
I’ve come to learn that I view cooking just like I view building a custom home- it involves a lot of passion and can look a bit temperamental to the naked eye. You go into it with a plan, maybe even a recipe to follow, but changes are made along the way to adapt. In the end, you reap the benefits of a finished product made with love and hopefully, just the way you want it. If not, you can always add a little salt.
Adam and I have come to really love cooking together these past four years in the fifth wheel. Surprisingly living life without the conventionality of modern day cooking has spurred our passion for it- no dishwasher, little storage, no oven. In addition, things like wild game, wild edibles and our garden have utterly changed the way we view food. And when I read the book Animal, Vegetable, Garden this year we really started to look at grocery shopping different. Even my tough, bearded husband buys tiny organic potatoes and I haven’t purchased a banana in months, though I contemplate it often, and accidentally ate one smothered in brown sugar at the J.W. Marriott. People at the grocery store probably think I am the oddest shopper ever. Don’t mind me, just having a staring contest with these bananas.
I am not a complete food snob. I have tried to make “easy” crock pot lasagna twice, and have failed miserably twice. This last time I tried it was dang near inedible, even by husband standards. (I refuse to EVER trust Pinterest again…ladies, what is the deal!? Why are you so obsessed?) And let’s not forget the time our good friends the Powell’s choked down my first attempt at Thai pizza which was really more like peanut butter on bread. God bless them for letting us use their oven often. Regardless, if you put Adam and I in a kitchen with an expensive cut of ribeye, pheasant breast or redfish filet we’re probably going to whip up something simple and spectacular together. Food is love, right?
You give us a mutual dream of building a custom home and we will cook it up together too. And while home ownership is a normal American dream these days (and well deserved) it was the way in which we made sacrifices to build a custom metal home that would scream, “Kristin and Adam live here” that is so unconventional.
The thing about cooking up a custom home is that a builder or general contractor doesn’t take into account all the sacrifices you’ve made to sign your name on a thousand dotted lines. They don’t care that you took out your life savings to make this happen. They use vocabulary like, “that is the easiest way” or “that is too hard to do” or “this is the cheapest option” and “it’ll be done next week” as the words echo in your mind four weeks later and your refrigerator still sits in a box on your porch. You have to remember to breathe. You have to take a big gulp as you nickel and dime your way through life staring at paint colors, door handles and light bulbs for hours on end. That is, unless your budget is endless I suppose.
Your relationships suffer as you dodge questions daily from unknowingly aggravating family and friends. Or listen to people go on and on about their ideas for your home. You smile and nod a lot. When is the completion date? They will ask as you over and over and over again as you try to explain that building this type of home has no projected completion date. They’re eyebrows will furrow.
I always hate complaining. Really, I swear. I may be a realist with slight pessimistic tendencies however, complaining makes me feel icky and anxious. When I complain I go back and over analyze why I complained in the first place and what the person who heard me complain probably thinks of me now that I complained. Maybe it is the curse of the child born to a eternal optimist and the stubborn cynic. So when I told my friend Mary Kay nonchalantly at a dog show that it is taking a lot of TIME to build this house, her response was perfect.
“You have time.”
This was the mantra to get me through the final push to finish the ranch house. I have time. I have time. I have time. I repeat it daily and I keep myself busy taking care of helpless kittens, fishing, dog training or planning my fall garden, my typical prescription for anxiety.
Regardless- Fear. Anger. Happiness. Love. Sweat. Frustration. Euphoria. Guttural hatred for the human race. Patience, lots and lots of patience. Building a custom home is like having daily mood swings for months on end. I always hated people who told me, “You know, building a home usually ends in divorce.” And yes, multiple people told me that. While I still believe that is literally one of the most inappropriate things to say to someone in a happy marriage who has just told you they’re building a home the truth is, I can see why it does lead to divorce. Most partners set very high expectations for the way they see their lives together. They have to have it a certain way- or else. When those expectations aren’t immediately met then people give up, and quickly.
Admittedly, my life seemed to fall apart a little while building the ranch house. I forgot to brush my hair. I cried a lot. I experienced a traumatic event which I have difficulty talking about. But I was still a functional human being, going to work and smiling. Volunteering and giving what I could, where I could. Hunting with friends, attending weddings and traveling across Texas.
Nobody wants to fight for their modern day Manifest Destiny or mission anymore. My phone doesn’t meet my expectations? I can get a new one. My car isn’t the latest model? I could trade it in for something better. Even if my hair doesn’t meet my expectations, I can buy new hair. And when you see your spouse at their lowest breaking point or feel like they’re not meeting your expectations? Well, you get the point.
With Adam’s help I persevered. We have always been fighters.
I am so thankful we have similar tastes when it comes to our home. There is not an inch of the Czech Out Ranch house that we didn’t think about or put effort into designing together. We decided to do plenty of the work ourselves, especially Adam who would work ten hour days at his day job only to come home and work on the house. Good friends, family and even neighbors helped us too. My parents drove from Oregon to help and my uncle flew in from Florida to do his part. There were a lot of late night dinners past 8 or 9 o’clock at night.
Now that we are living in the house we are taking our time to make the inside a unique reflection of our personalities. Bringing the outdoors that we love so much in. The work never stops and it probably never will. Most of all, I have enjoyed the kitchen. Coming home and creating dishes has become a sanctuary for me. I have a lot of goals, one being to incorporate even more wild game into my nightly creations. I want to make more soups. I want to can and preserve the fruits of my labor from the garden in the spring. There is a lot to look forward to and I am so thankful to be sharing this dream with Adam.
While contractors and builders will always be a frustration, especially in a custom home designed and propelled by your hard earned money, a builder is ultimately not who builds a home. Only dreams and strong marriages do. Only the couples that hand and hand cry together on couches late at night build homes. Or who cook oven-less food for nearly four years, saving up money to buy a double oven. (Maybe the title of my first book should really be- First World Problems: How I Lived an Oven-less Life) Those are the people that build homes. Sacrificers.