A little advanced planning and foreknowledge can be so helpful in life.
It’s been raining a lot around here lately. OK, so it’s the Pacific Northwest and rain in late winter is nothing new. But eight inches in three days is a little much. The river has overflowed its banks in the lowest spots and the farmlands are flooding.
I used to worry about the farmers and the animals combined with all that water, but long-time residents are prepared. They’ve lived through flooding before, and they’ll live through flooding again. They’ve got a system for how to handle these things. They’ve built on the highest knoll, valuables are stored up high. When the river road floods, they leave their vehicles on the high ground and use a tractor to ferry back and forth. They’ve got a plan.
I could use a little of that forward thinking. Remember a few months back when a friend gave me these potted plants?
I thought they’d be a great addition to the plant corner. Once I removed the bags, I discovered cheap green plastic, undersized pots; they had to go. I was sure we could do better than that, so Baby Girl and I headed off to the fabulous nursery down the road.
I found a lovely pair of pots for just $20 each which seemed reasonable, so I brought them home. The corn plants were going to look lovely in these.
And they would have if I’d only had the forethought to measure first. But I was sure these were just the right size–certainly not puny and undersized like the pots the plants were in now.
I’d picked out pots that were the same size if not smaller than the original ones–at least they were much better looking.
Just a little preparation would have made all the difference. My note section on my iPhone is filled with little reminders about how much fabric I need for this project and the latest and greatest book I’d like to read. Now I just need to add a note on what size pots the corn plants should have, and then I won’t have to rely on my spotty memory.
Part of the problem may have been the cost of pots, just a little larger… Sometimes, you have to splurge. Instead of taking the pots back, we’ve decided to use them in other ways. I hope by the end of the month all the plants in that corner will be styling new containers.
Ever bought the perfect thing only to bring it home and it’s totally wrong?
(We’ve had less rain the last few days, so I’m hoping the river goes down. I don’t want to belittle the farmers plight, because flooding is serious business, but I am impressed with their ingenuity and resourcefulness. I’d like to be a little more like the farmer.)
Chatting with friends recently, one mentioned how much she enjoyed my blog and asked the other if she had read it. No, I don’t have time for that was her response…
Did I burst into to tears? Cry myself to sleep? Vow never to speak to her again? In all honesty, blogs aren’t for everyone. But holy cow, what a great way to meet people across the world and share a little bit of life.
Have you noticed how amazingly talented people really are? I love the creativity and the willingness to share ideas and thoughts. Here are just a few of the great ideas I’ve stolen/borrowed over the last few weeks.
Wouldn’t you love to be a painter? On our last visit to Paris, we viewed Monet’s Water Lilies–I want to be him. OK, so maybe I don’t want to be French, or to be losing my sight, or to live a hundred years ago, but I would like to be more artistic. Sometimes you just have to fake if you don’t have real talent, and KariAnne at Thistlewood Farms let me (and all her readers) in on a secret. All you need is an Iphone (or Ipad) and the Waterlogue App. That’s how I wound up with this lovely picture of our home. I’m hankering for spring and all those beautiful foxgloves.
I stumbled upon Thistlewood Farms blog recently, and she’s shared a ton of great ideas. That’s how I wound up with this Valentine for Sweet Miss.
KariAnne introduced me to Kris at Driven by Decor who had written an informative tutorial on how to use Tagxedo to make signs in a variety of shapes with the words of your choice. Don’t like the way it turned out the first time around? Then you can shuffle it all up.
It was fun to send a personalized Valentine just for our girl. This would also make a great birthday card; you could describe the birthday boy or girl perfectly.
I enjoy trying new things and learning from others, and people are out there scouring the web and the world for great ideas. I’m just glad they’re willing to share.
Now I have a tutorial from my friend Teddy & Tottie on Bavarian crochet that I’ve been wanting to check out. I mentioned something she’d said at dinner last night, and my family was confused as to just who this person was. Well, no I haven’t met her, and yes, she lives on the other side of the world, but through the internet we’re still blogging buddies.
Learned anything new lately? What great idea do you want to share? I’m all ears.
Things rarely wind up the way I’ve planned. February has come and gone and most of my big ideas went sideways.
After all, the blogs two-year anniversary was this last week. Maybe I’d host a give away, we’d have bells and whistles, and confetti. I’d have a banner month with the most views eva–getting on my swagger like Baby Girl. Or maybe I’d just spend a few days at home waiting for workers to put in cables and fix the internet after 10 days in the wilderness. I guess it all worked out the way it was meant to be.
Let’s take a look back at February in the Big, White House on the Hill.
I shared my mom’s recipe for chimichangas in Cooking From the Heart. I’d love to say ever since I wrote that post I’ve been cooking fabulous dinners, featuring healthy foods, with heart and soul, but sometimes you settle for gluten-free mac-and-cheese at 8 pm. I do think life is better when you can take pleasure in those everyday chores, but after 12 hours of volleyball that’s hard to remember.
Since February features Valentines Day, I decided to add a little lace, some beads, some glitz, and a big old red heart to the fireplace and whipped up a Romantic Mantel.
This is way fussier than I usually go for, but it’s good to give in to your softer side now and then. The branches I found outside the library that made fabulous shadows kept this vignette from being too saccharinely sweet.
I love the wonder and excitement of the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. It was so fun to share it with Baby Girl this year, and I hope you found a little inspiration in Dream a Little Dream.
Sadly, I’m not going to invest in thousands of dollars worth of lawn art, but I did see some inexpensive metal spinners in Plow & Hearth’s catalog this week. Maybe a few of their confetti spinners would add some whimsy to the meadow and keep the dear away. I could try my hand at fashioning something out of old bicycle tires and spoons. We still have 300-feet of galvanized steel pipe from when we redid the well. It could be just like giant tinker toys. Who knows what you can do if you let your imagination run wild.
The remodel of the upstairs bathroom is a never ending saga. The MR had half the bath tiled in Laying It Down. He’s since added a new, sensibly white, toilet, and tiled most of the remainder of the room. We spent an hour or two today perusing online sinks, vanities, and mirror combos. Oh the joy of indecision–someday we’ll have it all together.
By the by, that heated floor is awesome. The girls are in charge of keeping this room clean, and I don’t venture into it often. This time of year, the bathroom is cold, but when I went to put away towels last week, the room was shockingly warm. Heated floors, are as Martha would say, are a “Good Thing.”
I did get a frenzy of comments on my bathroom post. Apparently, you don’t want us to go too crazy on the wall color, the cabinet color, or the anything else. Don’t worry; we’re way to grounded to just go wild, but I don’t think the cabinets will match the rest of the house. Perhaps we’re tired of all those white cabinets in the kitchen, the den, the master bath, the guest bath, the laundry room, and the upstairs kitchen. You can have too much of a good thing.
This month, we’ve had a little wind, a little snow, a little sun, and a lot of rain. The wind is what gives us the most trouble, especially when it brings down giant trees on the driveway. Since we moved here, I’ve learned to battle ladybugs, cluster flies, and mice, but I haven’t learned to run a chain saw. I’m thankful the MR was still home when Baby Girl found she was trapped by this monstrosity.
The Windy Weather has also caused troubles in the orchard and the kitchen garden. The new zip ties are holding the fencing in place in the orchard, but I may need to use binder clips instead of clothes pins on my tunnel cloches.
That brings us to our phone woes. Our land line phone service was horrible, so I decided to trade our phone service for high-speed internet for less money. It sounded like a winning plan on paper, until we realized we weren’t even connected to the proper phone box. Somehow we’d been feeding from the neighbors for the last two years. Our simple upgrade was going to require work orders, digging, and time. Don’t they know I have a blog? Don’t they know we’ve become accustomed to our online music service, movies on Roku, and wi-fi on our phones? It was a long 10 days, but it’s definitely Better in the End.
Just for fun, I thought you might like to see just where our phone service had to come from. I’ve mentioned in the past that we have a really long driveway, and for once I wasn’t exaggerating.
The MR wanted to make sure that the guys laying the wire didn’t cut our driveway, so I showed them how if you take some peg board off the wall in the wine cellar, you have access to one part of the crawl space. All you have to do is walk through this dirty room, stand on a keg of beer (the former owners left behind), and then peak through a hole where you can crawl all the way to the end of the house. They were quite happy to not have to hand dig all along our flower beds.
Now the moment of truth, is the internet service really better? They installed on Thursday morning, but the MR had to work his magic to get the computer running. Then, I was gone all day Friday and all day Saturday, so it’s hard to really say, but so far so good.
And now since I abandoned you for the better part of two weeks, I’m going to make a few predictions for March. I think we’ll do a little sewing and some sewing room organization; if we’re lucky, we’ll have a new mirror, vanity, and sinks installed upstairs; we might fill in the conversation pit, get rid of mauve tile, and get some new carpet; we probably should start some seeds inside and out; we will definitely celebrate Baby Girl’s birthday and Sweet Miss’ return home for Spring Break. I think we’ll enjoy a few sunrises and a few sunsets, too.
It’s going to be a great month. Thanks for sharing it with me. I’ve missed you guys.
What have you been up to in February? Remodeling? Adding some romance? Dealing with the weather or phone companies?
Sometimes things have to get worse before they get better.
If you’ve been to my house, you know we don’t answer the phone. When it rings, 9 times out of 10 it’s for someone else. The caller wants to talk to people I’ve never heard of or has a remodeling job for me, and I don’t know anything about either.
After two years of this, when our phone company called offering faster internet without the home phone for less money, I jumped at the chance.
Originally, we’d had to keep both in order to get the best price. Now I could get rid of a nuisance and be able to speed up my photo editing and web surfing.
The phone company couldn’t get any technicians out here for a few weeks, but I’m a patient person, so that brings us up to yesterday.
The fellows showed up on time and got to work inside and out. It was all going swimmingly. A few hours later, one of them knocked on my door with this tale of woe.
We haven’t been hooked up to the proper phone line. Somehow, the last technician had jerry-rigged a connection to the neighbor’s line a mile down the road. This guy was surprised that we had any service at all.
Well, that explained a lot.
Apparently we don’t have a connection to the short green box with red lettering 1100 feet up the driveway.
By the way, that’s the technical description the phone guy gave me. And in order to have the high speed internet we’ve been promised it has to be there.
Since we’re an existing customer, not a new home just built, we won’t have to pay for the line, and they’ve put a rush on our order.
That being said, our internet is down for a few days, a week, maybe more.
Now you maybe asking why in the world the original workman didn’t just set us up properly. Roll time back a few years, when the house was empty, and the driveway was completely overgrown. I doubt the fellow had a chance of finding this little green box in amongst the brambles.
Even with MR’s constant efforts. The post would be hard to see if all the brush wasn’t cleared from in front of it.
Workers bringing you bad news? Do you have a home phone or have you switched exclusively to cell?
I love the wind. On windy afternoons, the eagles catch the currents and drift over the valley, and I sit and watch in wonder. In January, the wind knocked over a huge evergreen widening our view of the valley. I was all for the wind; I love its power and strength.
The last few days as I lay in bed during the wee hours and listened to the wind and rain pummel our house, I’ve been less of a fan. Besides disturbing my sleep, the wind has been causing troubles around here. Baby Girl called from the top of the driveway Wednesday on her way to school. The MR was still home and was told in no uncertain terms to bring the chainsaw. Our chainsaw has a mind of its own and only works when it feels like it, so the MR had his hands full. Before he headed off to work, he warned my of our own personal driving hazard.
It’s hard to capture the scope of how big this tree really is. Here’s where it came from.
You can see the gash where it broke away from the stand of trees. I’m just glad the MR was home, otherwise BG and I would have had a day of rest trapped here.
Now, before he headed off, the MR did point out some problems in the back yard. The tunnel cloches had blown away, and when I let the dogs out I watched them run wildly through the orchard and realized the fence was down. So that afternoon, I walked the driveway to remove small branches and other debris. Then armed with zip ties and work gloves, I turned my attention to our other problems.
The fence around the orchard next to the woods was completely undone.
I guess I should be thankful we have lots of brambles and trees to keep it from truly blowing away. It just made for a bit of challenge untangling the fencing and getting it back where it was supposed to be.
It was definitely more fun putting up the fence the first time with Sweet Miss’ help. Lest you’re worried that I had to do the work all by myself, the dogs were kind enough to keep me company.
I’d like to say Bogart is inspecting my work and giving it his stamp of approval, but we all know he just wants to play ball.
After taking care of the orchard, I moved on to the garden and my tunnel cloches.
The MR added some fertilizer a while ago and mentioned that everything is dead, but you never can tell. Plants will surprise you and come back, so I decided to put it to rights. This was a fairly simple job. Most of the clothes pins and earth staples were just strewn about. I did put the stone vegetable makers on the outside of the insulating fabric to help keep it down.
Feeling pleased with all my work and ready for a rest, I headed up the slope to get a glass of water and put my feet up for a bit. That’s when I happened to notice this.
The fence on the opposite side of the orchard was blowing in the wind. Now that’s not going to keep any critters out. So I put off relaxing and got busy with the zip ties.
All of the improvements have lasted through another night of wind and rain, bu it looks like this will be an ongoing project.
Surviving the winter weather?
I could say the MR has been laying down the law, or laying down the winning hand, but even better, he’s been laying down tile upstairs in the girls’ bathroom.
We’re not professional remodelers around here, so sometimes it takes awhile. You may remember back in September, the MR started tearing up the girls’ bathroom. He removed a stacked washer and dryer and the surrounding closet freeing up a bunch of space. Then he tore out the old shower replacing it with a truly lovely specimen. We had the big reveal back in November.
About that time, I mentioned how truly awful the floor was and then went silent on the topic of that bathroom for the next three months. Haven’t you ever heard that good things take time? The MR, ever the busy man, broke out the tile on his birthday. Baby Girl and I aren’t total slave drivers. We bought him knee pads and goggles and gave him the next day off to watch the Super Bowl–go Seahawks!
So the MR spent this past Saturday and part of Sunday tiling most of the bathroom.
You may have noticed it doesn’t quite go around the toilet. You’re right, but this is by design. The toilet is beige and is on the chopping block. But having a working toilet upstairs for the meanwhile is important. So the MR is waiting to replace the toilet and tile around it all at the same time.
If you’re very observant, you may have noticed a strange grid next to the toilet. That would be the heated floor grid. The girls’ bathroom isn’t heated. We have heating units in both bedrooms and the main room upstairs, but the heated towel rack has been the only source of warmth until now in the bathroom. It may be a little frosty in there, but at least your towel is warm when you get out of the shower. Heated floors should help warm things up a bit.
We haven’t quite figured out what to do for the vanity. We know we want a two-sink vanity to make better use of the space. That’s about all we know. We have considered a dark cabinet with a lighter counter, or perhaps just the opposite, a light cabinet with a darker counter… Then we started wondering about continuity. Would it be odd if this was the only room with non-white cabinetry in the whole house? And then Baby Girl pipes in that she’d like colored cabinets in smoky blue. Should they be solid-panel wood doors like all the other cabinets? We’re at a bit of a stand still.
We have decided to go with darker grout. It’s interesting how the grout on the lighter walls looks dark and then on the floor looks really light, and it’s all the same grout.
All in all, it’s been three months, but we are actually making progress. The tile floors are the same tile the MR used as an accent in the shower. Maybe by summer, the bathroom will be done and Sweet Miss will be convinced to move home. I’m not making any promises, but slowly but surely, it’s getting there.
What do you think? White cabinets? Solid wood doors? Does it matter? Any bathroom remodels going on at your house? Are you in love with large-scale dark brown tiles?
FYI: I’ve made a Facebook page for the blog so I no longer have to hound my friend to read it. You can join the fan page on Facebook at “The Big White House on the Hill” and get all the regular posts plus extra photos without all the editing and verbage. I would have been just “Big White House on the Hill”, but the Belfast, UK, City Council stole it from me. OK, so they picked it first. We can all still be friends. Like the Facebook page or just pop in when ever you feel like it. It’s all good.
Last week, I had the opportunity to chaperone a group of high schoolers on a field trip. Some of you might call that a nightmare rather than a dream, but it was truly a joy exploring the Northwest Flower and Garden Show with Baby Girl and her FFA club.
To be honest, the kids went off on a scavenger hunt searching for highlights their teacher picked out, while the chaperones were able to wander at their leisure. We did meet up in the middle, so BG could share her favorite finds including herbal tinctures, goat cheese, air plants, and wood inlay mirrors. We brought home a little of everything but the mirrors–those were out of my price range. It was fun to share in my daughter’s excitement.
Here are a few of my favorite things from the garden show, so you too can share in the excitement. I don’t know how many will find their way home, but a girl can dream.
Waiting for the show to open, I saw this lovely, organic arbor.
Just down the walkway, I found another arbor with a more modern feel. This might go better with our house; I like the simple clean lines.
Once we got inside, I saw this beauty. Maybe we could have an arbor that mimics the roof-line.
Do we need an arbor?
Where would we put it?
Outside the boiler room, because everybody wants to sit by the boiler.
OK, maybe I haven’t thought this all through, but these are just pie in the sky dreams, right? I can daydream about a massive stone fountain…
Gorgeous garden art…
And a beautiful tiered lawn with a lovely seating area.
I truly am a practical person, and I did come away with a few doable ideas. While the fountain may be a dream, the MR’s folks bought us a bell they’re delivering this summer, and we can make sure it’s set out with the proper amount of pomp. While those lovely blown glass decorations would be demolished by the dogs if we put them out in the flowerbeds, they would fair better in large pots by the front door.
We don’t need a water feature/dog bath, but terracing the lawn between the deck stairs and the vegetable garden would make it easier to navigate and could look amazing. And I did see this sweet tower that would make a lovely bean trellis for my vegetable garden in lieu of a fancy arbor.
So while I can’t invest in all the art and arbors at the moment, I can bring some ideas home to ponder.
I loved the plants and textures shown in the display gardens. The contrast of the dogwood and heath was gorgeous.
I took pictures of the plant tags, so I could try to replicate the look. A screen of bamboo between us and the neighbors would hide the wild blackberry vines.
Baby Girl thought we could use a few of these colorful spinners in the meadow.
If we add one here and there, maybe they’d keep the dear away, and this time of year, the meadow could stand a little color.
We woke to snow blanketing the valley yesterday, so I have a while before I need to get started on any of these ideas, but it’s fun to dream.
Where do you get your inspiration?