A Little Inspiration

I had big plans this year. I was going to be so on task. I’d whip out a blog every Monday. I even had plans for weekly themes like gardening, crafting, decorating, and organization.

The sad thing is I have these great ideas for posts in my head. I take pictures, and think about the perfect title. I just never quite get them down on paper. Maybe the first three months don’t count and I’ll just take a do-over.

With sheltering in place, I have lots of time to get those ideas out. So let’s all think back to February when the skies were gray and the sun set before 5 pm. In the midst of that gloom, me and the MR went to the Northwest Flower and Garden Festival.

I love the beauty and the inspiration and was hoping we’d get some ideas for paths. If you’ve been around here for awhile, you know we’ve been talking about paths down to the garden and the orchard practically since the day we moved in. I’ve even made predictions that this was the year we’re going to put in paths.

My dad used to say

There’s no such thing as gonna. You either did it or you didn’t.

Well, we’ve done a lot of talking, but we haven’t ever quite gotten around to doing it. The MR back in January bought a tractor, and now I’m pretty certain it’s gonna happen. Who wouldn’t want to make paths with a tractor?

Sure enough we say some really interesting pavers in an outdoor shower fantasy. My photo keyed in on the nighttime mood light and doesn’t do it justice, but I’m hoping we have some paths made from these by summer. The MR found these pots that could be the answer for the planting strip under the edge of the portico. Watering it is a nightmare.

We’re not looking for a backyard pool, but this natural-look is so beautiful. I do think I need a pretty sitting area next to the garden and this tree is very interesting (and pricey).

We didn’t bring home a new pine tree, but I did pick up a twig broom that’s pretty and super effective. It comes in handy when the wind picks up and starts toppling all the plants on the deck. I also bought some tomato seeds from Uprising Seeds out of Bellingham. I like supporting local businesses and being able pick the exact type of plant. Since they’re grown in a similar climate, I’m hoping it’ll boost my success.

And while I’m not sure what they are appropriate for, these ladies dressed in flowers and plant material are gorgeous and make me smile.

I mentioned sheltering in place earlier. While we are safe and healthy, Covid-19 has impacted our lives in unexpected ways. Baby Girl is finishing her final quarter of college from home. We’re not sure when and if she’s returning to Portland. Graduation is canceled.

Sweet Miss has been laid off and her school is closed until May. The Fella is working from home. Me and the MR spent a working weekend with kids tiling and sewing curtains. We left hours before shelter in place was issued in Oregon and then Washington. But not before we got to meet the latest addition to their family.

Me and the MR have had to postpone some travel plans, but the eagles are daily visitors and technology is helping us keep in touch with friends and family.

Stay safe. Sending virtual hugs.

Gardening on the Inside

Sure it’s the middle of winter, sure we’ve had plenty of storms and the ground is saturated, but with a few sunny days, our thoughts turn to gardening.

I’ve been thumbing through my seed catalogs and went through my collection of seeds leftover from last year and maybe early in the last decade–who knows? They could still be viable. While I’m planning for the spring, the MR has his own set of edibles inside.

Remember when he bought an olive tree and a pomegranate bush? (Check out https://bigwhitehouseonthehill.wordpress.com/2018/10/01/not-that-kind-of-people/.) Well, I’m not saying we have olives or pomegranates, but we do have blossoms; it’s a start.

And since we’ve managed to keep those plants, and the plumeria alive, the MR went ahead and bought an avocado tree. We’re not to get concerned because all the leaves fall off. Let’s hope this spindly, little thing will amount to something.

That orange you can see in the background is our calamondin tree/bush. After I killed the satsuma with Death Rain hot pepper powder to keep Cocoa from eating the decorative rocks, we replaced it with an orange/lime/kumquat hybrid.

I’ll be honest; it’s not that tasty. But it’s supposed to be chock full of antioxidants and help me lose weight. How bad can it be? I put a few in my smoothie the last few days. I haven’t lost any weight, but I haven’t keeled over–I’m OK with that.

I found a bag of seed starter in the garage, and I picked out a few seeds that might need a head start. This could be a banner year for the garden. We have a few things planned for the spring, but we’ll be around this summer. I’ll have time to tend my little plot.

I listened to a gardening lesson recently that suggested tangible goals. I’m going to grow enough tomatoes for my favorite basil/tomato sauce and smoky tomato jam plus greens for smoothies all summer long. Perhaps I should invest in some tomato seeds.

Goals are a good thing.

What are you growing inside or outside? Big plans for the garden?

Best Seat in the House

If you’ve been following this blog for awhile, you know that me and the MR enjoy a sunny afternoon on the deck. We’ve whiled away countless hours with a glass of wine and a beautiful view.

It’s been quite wet and rainy lately, but we have managed to squeeze in a little deck time. I was out running errands when I came home to find the MR and Cocoa watching the world go by.

It took me a bit to recognize that we were not alone.

A few really big birds joined us in perusing the countryside. While we were just interested in the view, they were probably looking for dinner. The one in the near tree gave Cocoa the eye when she ran through the meadow. I’m thankful 45 pounds is too big a mouthful for even them.

Sadly the sun went down and the cold came with it, so I didn’t get to watch them fly away. It’s always fun to see the neighbors.

Hope you’re enjoying some sunshine and beautiful days.

Keeping Fit

As many of you know, western Washington has been hit with a lot of rain this year–nearly a foot in Seattle and more out here in the foothills.

All that rain leads to a lot of things: bad traffic, flooding, land sides, mud, and less than optimal running conditions.

Well, lucky for us, the MR had a plan. Remember way back in 2015, when I figured Sweet Miss had left the nest, and I could take over her old bedroom? Well, that meant I was leaving the unheated storage room off the garage that had been the old sewing room without a designated purpose.

The shelves stayed behind, but I moved most of the sewing and crafting things upstairs. Over the years, the room accumulated all sorts of random stuff. A few months ago, the MR decided it needed a redo.

He cleaned everything out of the room, painted the walls, replaced the vent to the well room with solid wood. He had interlocking rubber mats installed, added a heater, redid the lights, replaced the molding, and voila!

We now have an official exercise room.

I’m pleased to say that the Nordictrack elliptical no longer lives in the corner of the great room. The MR bought a Body-Solid EXM2500 weight machine to help keep us fit. He has been using it regularly; I need to get into the habit.

The TV is a recent addition. I can enjoy “Anne with an E” and other shows more to my taste when I’m working out on my own without bothering the MR.

Looking back, the room is now lacking in a lot of color and energy that it had when it was filled with fabric and yarn and book art. I’ll have to figure out how to make it more of a fun-filled destination without making it too crazy for the MR.

With more than a month left of winter, it’s nice to have options.

How do you keep fit on cold, wet days?

Some Christmas Cheer

While I’ve been neglecting the blog lately, I have been busy designing crochet patterns. I know not everyone is into working with yarn and fiber, but research shows it is great for stress-relief, keeps your brain active, and develops fine motor skills.

Besides, when you’re done with a project, you’ve made something beautiful from what is in essence a bit of string. It’s rather amazing. (My apologies to all spinners and hand-dyers out there—I know it’s more than just string, but you get my point.)

So in honor of the holidays and the season of giving, I’m offering each of you a pattern for free from my Ravelry store. If you don’t know what Ravelry is—basically Facebook for knitters, crocheters, and fiber artists—then this probably isn’t your jam. I hope you have a joyous holiday season anyways.

For all you makers and fiber lovers out there, you’ll find all my patterns under Kim Birum Designs. Simply use the code Big White House 2019 and you’re set. Sweet Miss and Baby Girl helped me photograph my latest design—Holey Cowl—over Thanksgiving. It involved a lot of laughter and silliness. Thank you for being such lovely models.

The girls were good sports to indulge my whims.

Here are a few more designs from last spring—a little something for everyone.

Sweet Rose’s Sundress is a quick pattern for lovely littles.
The Elegant Spring Evening Stole is a light topper that can be worn in a variety of ways.

The All Square
The All Squared Up bag is always a free pattern. I’m making a larger version for holiday gifting.

I was at Target the other day and mentioned to the cashier that this was his busy time of year. He told me, “I wish every day was a celebration, Miss.” I don’t know which I enjoyed more his wonderful attitude or being called miss.

Hoping your holidays are filled with joy.

Good, Better, Best

Hello, it’s me again, not much…how ’bout you?

I feel like I need to reintroduce myself–it’s been months. I’ve been traveling, crafting, decorating, and doing life. I just haven’t been sharing as much as usual. Maybe in 2020, I’ll figure out a way to get back on track.

For now, I want to tell you about a book I read ages ago. The author talked a lot about good, better, and best. She explained how something can be good, but you can take steps to make it better, and then go on to find the best.

That seems like kind of a lofty goal for today’s subject, but I’m going with it. Today we’re talking about storing mops, and brooms, and vacuum cleaners. Remember when I revealed the laundry room makeover? (You can check it out here: https://bigwhitehouseonthehill.wordpress.com/2019/06/19/the-transformation-of-a-laundry-room/)  Well, I was all excited about getting all the cleaning equipment behind closed door.

Having supplies is good; hiding them away behind closed doors is better. 

But then when you open the doors, you have junk the floor; mops and brooms, leaning together in a messy hodgepodge. It did not make me happy. So I went online and for under $10, I found some hooks to help me organize.

While I’m a big fan of 3M hooks and use them frequently, I went with Jinshunfa Powerful Hook. They promised to hold 13 pounds, and I bought an 8-pack for under $10. The have a strong adhesive and are removable with the heat from a hair dryer. 

Will this change the world? No. But it will make me smile when I need to sweep the floor. What’s the old saying “A place for everything and everything in it’s place.”  While that doesn’t describe my entire house, it works for this tiny closet. I haven’t achieved best, but at least I’m moving into the better territory.

With the chaos of the holidays, I feel the need to organize one tiny part of my life. How about you?






What Happens in the Garden When You’re Gone?

Disappear for a few weeks at the end of summer, and your garden and orchard will go wild. The bean tower fell over, the broccoli and lettuce bolted, something ate the grapes and the last of the blueberries, the netting around the orchard was shredded, and the weeds went wild.

Ah, but all was not lost. Sometimes it pays to be bitter or buried. The Swiss chard, the carrots, and the beets all grew well in our absence.

While Swiss chard and beets aren’t the MR’s favorites, I’m certain he will help me with the carrots. I did manage to salvage a few stems of broccoli, so chicken and broccoli with black bean sauce is on the menu for tomorrow night. And I think I’ll have a beet smoothie for breakfast.

We’ve had a wetter than normal September and have already had snow in the mountains, so it may be a hard winter around here. Glad even in my absence we get to enjoy a little from the garden.

How was your harvest? Have you put your garden to bed for the winter? Any over winter crops in the works?