A Look Back at November

It’s easy to put together a monthly recap when you’ve been out of town and haven’t posted much of anything.

If you’re ever in Seattle, I recommend checking out Chihuly Garden & Glass at the Seattle Center. The beauty and whimsy of his creations made me smile with joy. I felt like I’d dropped into a Dr. Seuss world.

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I don’t know what planet he comes from, but I’d sure like to visit. We all have errands and chores that take us hither and yon, why not Make the Most of It.

I laughed, tongue-in-cheek, about our New Lawn Ornament when the well guys got stuck in the meadow. The MR smoothed out the ruts, and next spring grass will cover the wounds.

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If only that were the worst of our well problems this month. The work they did ended up clogging some of the pipe, emptying the holding tank, overheating and then burning out the pump, resulting in no water for our housesitter while we were on the annual fishing trip to Mexico.

Perhaps we shouldn’t have any major work done just before leaving town, perhaps making sure the auto shut-off is properly installed is very important. JKA well, came out on a weekend to help our housesitter and had a new pump in by Monday comping us on labor. We ended up buying a more powerful pump, so they only charged us the difference, and our water pressure has been great. But our “free” water has cost an arm and a leg over the last five years.

While our housesitter was dealing with no water, we were watching beautiful sunsets and enjoying some heat.

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We appear to have brought a little of Mexico home with us in these Unexpected Blooms.

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We ended the month with a few days with the girls at home. I love having our family together. Our new table arrived just in time for Thanksgiving, and it was definitely Worth the Wait.

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Thanksgiving and Christmas have always been a time to gather with family and friends. I’m so glad I have these guys to make memories with.

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Don’t worry, I’ll be sharing some Christmas decorating and other wonders of the season before too long. I thought I’d end this post on a happy note. My girls are wearing their cozy knit socks—making their mama happy.

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Hope you had a fabulous November.

 

 

Worth the Wait

Last summer I mentioned we’d gone out and ordered a new dining room table and chairs. The table was available immediately, but the chairs were going to be a bit. And so we waited, and waited, and waited. I’ve mentioned before I have a problem with patience.

Lest you get the wrong idea, I’m not some crazy mega-consumer who gets new furniture at the drop of a hat. The MR bought me our last table for Christmas when I was pregnant with Baby Girl.  Seeing how she’s a sophomore in college; it’s been awhile. Over the last 20 years, that table has hosted many celebrations and joyous occasions. But since it was the only table in the house, it’s seen a whole lot of use. It’s been up-close and personal with Sharpies and glitter. There was a Spirograph incident that it’ll carry for life, and we know for certain that Ikea veneers can only handle so much scrubbing.

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It was time. Let’s also factor in the size. This table was great for an eating area in the kitchen or a small dining room. This room is 15-feet wide from the built-in buffet to the french doors, and it’s even longer length-wise.  We needed a table with some weight.

So color me happy when Leathers Furniture in Issaquah gave me a call earlier this month to say our table and chairs were in. Unfortunately, with our travel schedule, the earliest we could have them delivered was November 23. Why yes, that’s the day before Thanksgiving. We were cutting it pretty close, but the Big Guys delivery company out of Woodinville came through without a hitch. They even complimented me on all the good cooking smells.

So this Thanksgiving our small group of six gathered around this beauty.

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Thanksgiving is one of those times we all get to help in the kitchen.

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Here’s a look at the table a little less fancied up. I mean after all, we don’t live like this all the time, but then again maybe we should. That platter is looking really small. I love the grain of the wood and the the live edge.

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The table is solid wood, so even though we’re dedicated to avoiding unfortunate toy incidents, if they happen, we have options. We chose a very modern base, but the table is made to accommodate a variety of legs and other supports. So if we get tired of this choice, we can choose something more traditional.

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The chairs are the Alfa from Bontempi Casa. We had tons of choices with these from leg color, to chair color, to upholstery. We went  medium stain on the legs with a bi-cast leather in a chocolate brown to bring out some of the table’s darker tones. The graphite back adds a nice contrast.

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The chairs were a place we added some design interest without going too crazy. Another huge factor was comfort. If we’re sitting here for hours, we want our guests as well as ourselves to be comfortable. And these fit the bill.

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Another great feature is that the pad is removable. If we decide a different color or perhaps microfiber would be a better choice, we have alternatives. I could buy bright red for Christmas. Note: I didn’t say I was going to—that would look over-the-top—just that I could.

We went with a wood table and the wood and leather chairs in an effort to add warmth to the dining room. With the long line of counter flanked by the white cabinetry and glass of the china buffet, we thought something natural would soften it a bit.

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As you may have noticed, we have a giant tree in our great room. Our family tradition has been to cut down a Christmas tree and decorate the weekend after Thanksgiving. Since the girls both come home for the holiday, that tradition has served us well during the college years.

This year, Baby Girl had a final today (Monday), so she flew in late Wednesday and out late Friday. We were able to go to the tree farm down the hill, but a bug problem slowed decorating for a bit. Then there was dinner with my family down at Papa’s and the trip back to the airport.

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As you can see, we still had a lot of fun.

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No, that’s not a worker at the tree farm diligently sawing away. That’s Sweet Miss’ Fella. Apparently, he didn’t hear when I called for everyone to smile. The MR was amazed at how much faster it is to cut down a tree when you have another guy around. I don’t think he’s had a turn with the saw for a few years now.

Sweet Miss and the MR decorated the tree while I was at work Saturday, and we drove her to Seattle this morning to catch the train for home. Our full house is back down to just us two.

I have the mantle, and bookcases, and windows crying out to be decorated, and boxes the MR wants me to put away. So with that I hope you all had a very happy Thanksgiving weekend with friends and family.

When do you get your tree? Fresh or frozen, errgh I mean fake?

 

 

 

 

 

Unexpected Blooms

Sometimes I wonder if this should be a travel blog rather than stories of our house. We spend so much time visiting exotic places I hardly know what it’s like to sleep in my own bed. 

In September, it was Italy and Oregon. October we managed to stay put. But we’ve made up for it in November with trips to New York City, Oregon, and Mexico.  I know you’re wondering how exotic Oregon can be, but time with our sweet girlies makes it worthwhile. 


When we were in Cabo last week, I saw this beautiful plumeria in a courtyard of a small hotel. Even with Google maps, we were lost. As my sister-in-law asked for directions, I took a few pictures. 


If only our plumeria looked like that I mused. Our first day home as I walked by our bougainvillea, I was struck by its beauty. 


I guess we do have our on little bit of paradise here. 

As Thanksgiving approaches, I am thankful for fun times with those I care about—even if the fish are scarce. 


I’m thankful our girls home for the holiday, and the love of family. 


And water, but that’s another story…

What are you thankful for?

Our New Lawn Ornament

On Wednesday when I woke up, the MR greeted me with the news that the well guys were coming. I wasn’t too concerned about it. I had a busy day planned.

First there was ladies’ Bible study, then I was going to drop in at the library and pick up some books, stop by the store and buy some of my favorite tomato soup for lunch, and then teach a class on blocking at the local yarn shop. I figured the well guys would have wrapped up work by the time I got home. But that wasn’t meant to be.

Now let’s start back at the beginning.  The well has been an issue since day one; it was almost the deal-breaker that stopped us from buying this place. Just before the sale, during the inspection process, we discovered that the output was really low. The original owner couldn’t believe it, so he went in halves with us on a cleaning procedure. That made a big difference, but pressure has continued to be an problem. And let’s be real here. This is western Washington, we live not too far from a rain forest, water is plentiful here especially this time of year.

The well guys have mentioned the need for a new well which is an expensive undertaking with an uncertain outcome. They’re have been advances in well upkeep and the company’s equipment over the past five years, so we decided to try a “cleaning” before doing anything drastic like digging a new one.

And that’s what they were here for to air-jet the perforations and hopefully increase output. We woke to pouring down rain, but they seemed to be dealing with it fine.

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By afternoon when I arrived home, the sun was shining brightly and the MR was down in the meadow discussing the amazing progress. Apparently they’d tripled the outflow. Sounds like it was the perfect choice for now. I figured they’d be wrapping things up soon. I first realized something was wrong when the MR ran inside looking for his gloves and unceremoniously locking Cocoa away from the action.

When I stepped out on the deck, I had a bird’s-eye-view of a very large truck stuck in our meadow.

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They’d laid down the pavers from our old raised beds that we’d removed last spring. These still weren’t enough to get it out of there, so the MR came to the rescue with his pickup. It looked a lot like David towing Goliath.

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I had a few tense moments watching the back of their truck fishtail toward my garden and worrying whether the truck would leap forward and bump the fence or the fellow adjusting the blocks.

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The tennis court turned out to be a short reprieve. The well guys needed to add their trailer to the load. We had our fingers crossed that they’d be able to make it.

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No such luck. The MR brought his truck around again to tow it out.

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This time it just wasn’t enough. They called the office and had them bring out boards with traction and were finally able to leave long after dark. I canceled our evening plans, had dinner in the oven, and a glass of wine ready for the MR when he came in three hours later.

The meadow is pretty torn up, but the MR says he’ll rake it smooth and the grass will cover everything come spring. All I have to do is put a few blocks back in place and my garden will be set.

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We’re never living somewhere with a well again, or so I’ve been told.

Do you have a stuck story to share?

 

 

 

 

Making the Most of It

You know how you have errands, and appointments, and commitments that force you to drive all over the place? Well, why not make the most of it?

Every six months or so, I have to visit a specialist in Seattle for my MS. It’s not a big deal—simply routine. The MR comes along, we fight traffic, catch up with my doctor for a few minutes, I drop the MR off at work, and then drive home. Simple enough, right?

Well, what if we decided to explore the wonders of Seattle instead of just driving home? We could play tourists and make a day of it. That’s what we decided to do a few weeks ago when my semi-annual appointment rolled around.

We went to the doctor and then headed on over to the Seattle Center where the old fun forest amusement park has been replaced with  Dale Chihuly Garden and Glass. We’ve been to Venice twice, as a child I collected blown-glass objects, and have you counted the windows in our house? Let’s just say we like our glass.

I’d actually seen the gardens in an old episode of Top Chef and was intrigued. It was the intended destination for my birthday back in September until we were exhausted by all the running around the rest of the week and decided to stay close to home.

We wound up with a lovely, sunny day—the perfect day to visit gardens. Just walking into the place brought a huge smile to my face.


It’s whimsy, and beauty, and sparkle.


It’s abundance, and exuberance, and fun.


So much art and imagination goes into each piece. I want a ceiling of glass.


No, wait, I want giant glass bowls.


Maybe I need a giant glass still life.


I loved the inside. It was amazing, and then we reached the atrium leading to the gardens.


Perhaps we need some color and excitement at our house. I’m sure a garden of glass would scare away the deer and racoons.


The monochromatic design of many of the flower bed was stunning.


If only …


Maybe we can just have a few small pieces.


Since we were there, the MR figured lunch at the Space Needle would be a great way to finish off the day. The food’s a bit pricey, but the trip to the top is included, and the view is amazing.

I remember when Sweet Miss was little, I used to pick up a loaf of french bread as soon as we arrived at the grocery store. For 99-cents, I bought a stress-free trip while she snacked.

Sometimes pairing necessities with something fun makes all the difference.

What do you do to make the everyday special?

(By-the-by, for the first time in over a year, none of our windows are broken. The fellows from Sound View were here yesterday, and the new pane went in without a hitch. Now to schedule the window films.)

 

 

 

A Look Back at September & October 2016

Maybe it’s spending the first part of September in Italy, or moving Baby Girl back to Oregon, or the MR being home so much more, or turning 50, or teaching classes on skills I’m really still learning, or the record-breaking rains we’ve been getting, whatever it is, I’ve been falling short on the blog lately.

I had big plans to share the beauty of Florence and Rome, to deck out the house for fall, and tidy up all those cluttered spots. It hasn’t happened. I sent some photos to my aunt and dropped a bag of the girls clothes off at a collection box. We’re celebrating small victories here.

So here’s a recap of what I did manage to blog about for the last few months plus a little extra cause I’m just that kind of person.

I’m rather excited about our dining room table and chairs that I talked about in An Upgraded Dining Experience. Do they look great? Are they perfect for the space? I’ll let you know when they arrive. It’s so hard to be patient. We also bought a recliner for my dad’s birthday. He’s still waiting, too. That’s what you get when it’s not mass produced.

A lot of fall seems to center around food. Waste Not those crabapples from our friends’ weekend place at the lake. I’d love to tell you how amazing that applesauce is, but when I pulled it out of the freezer, it was really sweet potato butter, which I’ve been enjoying in my yogurt, but I didn’t want to pull out another poorly labeled container before I finished the sweet potatoes. I really can’t eat that much yogurt.

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You’d think I’d be able to recognize the bright pink color. We did try the broccoli I mentioned in Saving the Harvest with mixed reviews. It tastes quite pickled as pickled broccoli ought to do, and we don’t like pickles. What was I thinking? I guess I was just tired of broccoli salad two or three times a week.

Grandma MeeMee was asking about the sage I used in the Onion Jam. It was just regular culinary sage, an herb that deer don’t like to nibble. We’ve had great luck with it here.

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I’m waiting for Sweet Miss to come home to try the beet and carrot slaw; cross your fingers that we’ll enjoy that more than the broccoli. I’ve been happy with our Fall Harvest. We still have broccoli, carrots, and some scraggly lettuce. I’m waiting for a hard freeze and the vines to die back before bringing up one really big pumpkin that has yet to turn orange. Then I can sow a cover crop of old seeds leftover from past years and let the garden be until spring.canned-goods

Our Trees with Attitude will probably have to wait for spring’s new growth before being pruned into shape. I’m hoping the months of ugly will pay off.

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I also shared in Inspiration and Disappointment how we were excited about making more wine from our grapes after visiting a vineyard in Tuscany.

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Well, it was probably raccoons that had a party with our grapes and tore up the vines by the time we got back from our trip. Me and the MR opened our bottle of homemade wine last weekend. After a sip apiece, we decided it was no great loss that we couldn’t make more wine, and the MR poured it down the drain. We need to refine our skills as winemakers or make grape jelly instead.

We saw tons of white houses on the cliffs of Capri in A Dime a Dozen.

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And then I shared a bird’s-eye-view or our home in The Colors of Fall.

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The drive home really is beautiful this time of year. Of course, the MR spends hours trying to keep the driveway clear, but it does give him something to do.

 

I’m just teasing; the MR is always a busy guy. He has been out making sure the blackberries don’t come back after hiring a brushcutter to Clear Out all the brambles.

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One happy surprise has been the reappearance of foxgloves. Perhaps they were being choked out by all the blackberries. I hope they’ll be putting on a show next spring, and I have seeds to sow from MeeMee and Papa.

The MR also bought new garage doors. I’m a girl. I’m not into garages. I don’t spend a lot of time there. They’re not really my thing, but these Garage Doors Have Style.

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It’s so nice to go out to the garage and not have to turn on the horrible, buzzing, overhead light. The new doors look great and make the whole space look so much larger.

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See, I pulled both cars out of the garage to take this picture just for your. The MR was suprised to come home and find cars everywhere. But that’s how much I care about you guys.

He also Finished Up the last of the guest bathroom remodel. Cocoa ran into a bit of problem in the woods yesterday, so I got to try out the shower, or she did, however you want to look at it. It really did turn out nice. The gray counters look much warmer in real life, and the whole feel of the room is much sleeker and more modern.

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Don’t look at the green carpet. It’s going away—I promise. Maybe I’ll make that a new year’s resolution. Baby Girl needs a chance to clean out her room, so we can replace all the bedroom carpets at the same time.

And last but not least that leaves us with the The Big, the Bad, the Broken where one broken window was replaced perfectly and the other was broken as it was being replaced. The new window has arrived, and the installers are on the calendar for next week. Then I’ll call the window film company; eventually it’ll all come together.

When I was crabby about the broken window, I did share some fancy socks I’d made for Sweet Miss. Since then I’ve been working on socks for Baby Girl. They’re in a bright green yarn with speckles of yellow for my favorite University of Oregon student. Maybe I should start calling her Duckling instead of BG?

Maybe the window, the window films, the new table, the new chairs, and my dad’s recliner will all magically arrive before Thanksgiving, but I’m not holding my breath. Perhaps it’s time to pull out the Thankfulness Tree. I think I need a little reminder these days.

How was your fall? Are you shocked that November is already upon us?