New House, New Traditions

Since I tend to, ah, flout your typical social conventions, it’s probably safe to call me a non-traditionalist. That’s fair. And yet, there’s a soft spot in my heart for actual traditions. You know, the family kind. The ones where you know everyone is going to pile into grandpa’s truck to go pick out a Christmas tree on the day after thanksgiving, or where you can count on homemade meatballs and great-grandmas cinnamon rolls for Easter brunch.

I’ve been single for well over a year (and a half) now, and my dirty little secret is that I kind of love it. I love that I can start projects in my house at all hours, and leave them wherever I want. I don’t have to worry about if someone else is happy, or hungry, or having a bad day. I have awesome friends when I want company, and when I don’t… it’s just me, the cat, and my workshop. My happiness is entirely contingent upon my own mood and things I can control. And it works for me because I feel strong and empowered by doing things for myself. But. (You knew there was a but coming.) Dammed if I don’t miss my the traditions that were created with the two wonderful men who’ve had semi-permanent status in my life over the last decade.

In my last relationship it was dressing up the donkeys for the holidays…


Tailgating at the Lions game and deep-frying a turkey every Thanksgiving…


And waffles for breakfast every Christmas morning.

The things I identify as “traditions” tend to involve another person. I mean, there’s nothing stopping me from deep frying a turkey (except I actually don’t like turkey that much) or making myself waffles for breakfast on Christmas morning (except that’s a lot of work, and I’m just as happy with some instant oatmeal.) So you can see how traditions just sort of fall by the wayside when you’re living by yourself. And I hadn’t really thought much about it until last week, when I realized sometime during the eighty-four hours I’d spent at the office, I’d worked right through any opportunity I was going to have to make my signature Thanksgiving dish with my grandma… homemade pumpkin ravioli.

I figured, eh, bad luck this year, but I’d definitely make time for it again next year. Then some friends invited me over for a post Thanksgiving, turkey dinner this weekend, and with some free time on my hands, I knew just what I was going to do…


In my very own kitchen, I made my signature dish.


Thinking back on it, this may be the first time I’ve made ravioli in any of the houses I’ve owned.


And the strangest thing happened as I spent a day in my uncharacteristically clean kitchen– with the smell of fresh dough, the rhythm of sealing the pasta with a fork, that last careless swipe through the flour before lining them up on the baking sheet just the way my grandmother does– all of the sudden this space, which kind of drives me nuts with its hunter green counters and laminate floors and wood paneling, it started to feel like home.


It started to feel exactly how I thought it would feel once I’d painted and tiled the shit out of it. Once I rebuilt the cabinets and installed new counters, and hung all new light fixtures.

And it occurred to me that sometime in the last three years of living in garages and half-finished houses, and moving in and out of temporary spaces, I forgot that “home” isn’t about building a space so much as it is living in one. It occurred to me that there’s something important in taking time to make memories and create traditions, even if it’s just me and the cat. Even if it means a little less time in the workshop.

So the first tradition I’m creating in the Liberty House, is this one… homemade ravioli the way my dad, my grandma, and my great-grandma always made.

I’m really hoping for another tradition soon involving a Christmas tree, but someone has to finish staining her living room floors first (aaannd, we’re back to working on the house again.)

UPDATE: I promise I’ll post the recipe for these raviolis later this week, so everyone can share in this awesome new tradition of mine.

21 Responses

  1. As usual, life-project-cycle similarities continue. I’ve been debating whether or not to bother putting up my Christmas tree or decor this year since it’s just me (and Charlie) who will even care if I do it, and it’s an awful lot of work when I have plenty of other projects going on. Maybe we can turn one into a tradition, single or not, like building something for ourselves each year as a “DIY Christmas gift to me”? My workbench certainly counts 🙂

    1. I agree, I think building a Christmas gift for ourselves is an awesome idea! Although even last year I put a tree up just for myself and I still kind of loved it (but that’s after two years of living in a garage where there was no room for a tree, so I’ve been jonesing for one…

    1. Karen got it right! I make them with a cream sauce (with a little nutmeg) but the truth is they are good with just a little butter and parm as well. They are delish!

  2. You are right on about traditions, and the realization that they can happen in any environment, even if it’s not “perfect” yet! Now, you can’t tease us with pictures of this gorgeous ravioli, and not share the recipe! Tease.

    1. I didn’t even think that people would be interested in the recipe (what kind of blogger am I? oh, wait, one who doesn’t often cook) but I’ll share it ASAP!

  3. Starting new traditions is great but … I really miss the decorated, uhmm, I mean dressed up mini donkeys.

    1. Oh, me too! Once the donkeys are up on the farm, I’m definitely reinstating that tradition as well!

  4. When I actually had a family, I used to always try and make a pumpkin pie from scratch – like from a pumpkin. Which most people have NEVER had, but once you’ve had it… And so when I showed up at a friend’s house with one of those, they were like “YOU made a pumpkin pie? From a pumpkin? REALLY?” Because, alas, being single now I just DON’T cook. At all. I hadn’t made one in a couple of years so it was kind of fun and fulfilling in a very similar way. Its hard when you don’t have anyone to cook for or share with anymore sometimes. So I made several actually and gave them to people. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and can’t wait for the recipe! BTW – My donkeys say hello!!

    1. KC, I love your donkeys AND your stories! You actually touched on something that occured to me when writing this post… maybe sharing my traditions with someone doesn’t mean sharing them with just one person, but doing things as gifts for others! I’m definitely thinking about it…

  5. In between making homemade pasta (yum) and making the Liberty House liveable (it’s amazing) is there a possibility in getting the name/brand of paint you used in the parlor?

    1. Hey Rachel – Sorry if you asked this question and I didn’t respond. I’ve been using Valspar Signature Paint+Primer in all of my rooms. For the parlor I had it colormatched to BMoore’s Moonlight White (OC125) but only at 50% for the walls (and 25% for the trim).

  6. You know the one problem with begin single is that you are depriving someone of being with a really wonderful and amazing person.

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