This site is a chronicle of my journey to create a world around myself in which I’d actually like to live- regardless of how the “real world” around me operates. An ideal world, for me, would consist of days spent using the gifts God has given me to support my community, building relationships, working hard, being creative and productive, growing food, raising animals and trading or bartering with others in my community for the goods and services I can't produce myself. Ghandi said it best: "Be the change you want to see in the world." My dream is to live in a world that operates not simply on paper money but on people, time and reclaiming a set of quickly disappearing life skills.
My woodworking/life mentor/adopted grandpa is a 96 year old man I met five years ago through my Chinese tutor. He has never in his life called a repair man, and, in the last two years he has taught me huge amounts about lathe work, woodworking, plumbing, electricity, motors, appliances, you name it, but most importantly, he has invested his time and shared with me his wisdom on how to truly live the best life possible.
Three years ago, my husband Adam and I were given the opportunity to purchase a small farm just 30 minutes outside downtown Seattle. Because Adam works in the city, this property was a dream come true in many ways, as pieces of land this big so close to the city are rare and generally quite expensive. It is the perfect compromise for my city loving husband and his country-loving wife. In a society dominated by selfishness, consumerism and waste, I am doing my very best to become a producer, recycler, and community builder.
The moniker "AnneOfAllTrades" is not meant to glorify me for being especially skilled at anything I do (in fact, following along, I hope to make you laugh and cry with me about my many many many disastrous experiments and failed attempts in various ventures), but to highlight the fact that I've made it my life's mission to learn how to do any and everything I can myself or to source things I need as locally as possible for two reasons 1. to bring back at least a few of the ideals upon which America was built- to support my community and to challenge and inspire my peers to do the same (because if everyone is doing it, it won't seem that weird) and 2. because if I can spend my time doing things myself, or if I can source things within my community, relationship can be just as much a commodity as dollars. I won't have to spend my time working a soul-crushing job to be able to pay someone else to do, fix, or make things for me. When my time is my own, I can spend it how I want. I will have time to learn and teach disappearing life skills. I want also to have the freedom to be able to be available to my friends and family when they need me and to be able to spend as much time with them as possible.
Upon graduating from university with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and Mandarin Chinese in 2009, I wasn't 100% sure what was next. I had always wanted my grandpa to teach me to work on cars, but since he had recently passed away, I decided to take on a project in his honor: restoring a 1965 Mustang. A lot of friends helped with the restore job and patiently taught me a lot about cars and life and the car created a community around me which I totally loved. There were many victories and many failures in this project, but it never exploded while I was driving and that was good enough for me.
After I finished the car, I spent the next two years volunteering with the organization Youth With A Mission. I spent time in mainland China, Taiwan, and Thailand. Those two years, paired with the year I spent in Beijing in university allowed for much improvement in my Chinese language skills and started to really solidify many of the concepts about the value of time and relationships over money that I had learned in my upbringing as a missionary's kid. I had just spent four years studying business with the hopes of landing an awesome corporate job and earning a huge paycheck to support an extravagant lifestyle I hadn't known as a child, but all of a sudden, I realized didn't even want that.
In 2011 I moved Seattle to marry my best friend. He was my older brother's roommate in university and we bonded by writing and playing music together throughout school. He is the most loyal, kind, funny, loving person I've ever met. Adam works in tech and absolutely loves his job. I am incredibly proud of him and am so happy he is happy where he is at and that we have found a way to support each other despite the fact that we both have incredibly different dreams and goals in life. It was about this same time that I took up woodwork and restoring old tools. That hobby has turned into an obsession. I spend much of my time thinking about how I can get better and about new things I can make.
An idea began to hatch: what if I could make the things that I, and others might want, and use said items to trade and barter for those things I can’t make or grow myself? A series of endeavors has furthered my thinking that my time is greater than my money, and the luxury of having more time available means less money that I need to make or spend. Right now a breakdown of my week is as follows: I'm managing the Wood Studio and woodworking classes at Pratt Fine Arts Center in downtown Seattle 24 hours a week, working on a book and keeping up with my magazine articles 20-30 hours per week, 10-15 hours a week taking and editing photo and video footage, and basically all the rest of my time goes into working on the farm: gardening working with animals, and crossing things off an endless to-do/to-fix list between the house, barn, woodshop, and the rest of our 4 acre property. The life I've got hasn't come easily, the farm is incredibly demanding both physically and emotionally. I work 10-12 hours a day, seven days a week. But, a good part of those working hours are spent doing things I love, and then it really doesn't feel like work at all. Being my own boss also allows me freedom to take care of myself and my community. If I need a day off to help someone with a project of their own or take a day to regain my sanity, or if I need to take a two hour lunch break to cuddle my animals or see a friend, I can easily shuffle things around. The days are long and the hours are short, but the victories are grand and the dinners are always delicious and I wouldn't have things any other way.