A Blank Page

After the holidays, when all the decorations are packed away, the house feels clean, and fresh, and new. And I look at the mantel and the consoles with new eyes.

Sure it would be quick and easy to put everything back in the same place, but don’t we deserve something fun and different? I’ve been packing up the laundry room and the master bathroom and thought maybe these tall candleholders and tapers I came across would mimic the sparkle of snow. They contrast nicely with the blue and green of the plants in their pots. I added a few blown glass candles, and a vase Baby Girl made back in high school. The African Violet was one of Granny’s, and Sweet Miss painted the jars and gave me the sedums for Mother’s Day a few years ago. A little of this and that from people I love, and it all comes together.

Now if we don’t get frosty, sparkly snow, we can have a little of that inside… for the moment.

What have you been up to in the decorating department?

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Happy New Year! 2019

This blog is a good thing. I was thinking back on 2018, sure we hadn’t done much around here, the remodeling never got off the ground the garden didn’t produce anything, we traveled and neglected the house, the end.

And then the wind blows, the power goes out for a few days, and I’m oh so grateful for the generator we put in over the spring. (https://bigwhitehouseonthehill.wordpress.com/2018/03/15/that-snowball-effect/)

And the AC units we installed last summer, (https://bigwhitehouseonthehill.wordpress.com/2018/08/15/cooling-down/)

offer heat too which is good since according to the workers today, the boiler wasn’t functioning because mice had chewed up the wiring and the heat pump wasn’t working because mice had built their home in the fan. All in all, another source of heat is a good thing.

I knew we had a banner year for apples (so much so that the weight of the apples reeked havoc), (https://bigwhitehouseonthehill.wordpress.com/2018/07/25/10-apples-up-on-top/) but then I saw pictures of lettuce and currants and blueberries and felt better about the produce department.

All those dreams we had about the remodel are still up in the air, but our garage is filled with a tub, sinks, lights, faucets, and all manner of things. If the cabinets are on time, we’ll be in full remodel mode come February. For those of you who’ve come late to the game, that means a lovely butler’s pantry and laundry room with useful cabinetry that makes sense, and a master bathroom with a tub you can relax in replacing the Japanese soaking tub, and the 10-foot vanity with one drawer.

And now for goals for 2018. Maybe I need to post these somewhere where I see them often. We did manage to buy a bunch of deck furniture and I’d still like to find a nice round table for outdoor dining. As for the rest… hmm… we still don’t have paths to the garden or down to the orchard, the storage room is a mess, the sewing room needs a lot of work, and I need a more organized way of approaching the garden–rain or shine.

Me and the MR traveled to California, Costa Rica, Tahiti, and Mexico. Baby Girl joined us for two weeks in Croatia, and all five of us spent a week back in Costa Rica for our Christmas trip. You may be asking yourself five? Weren’t you just four?

The best news by far was when Sweet Miss married the Fella in July.

We love those kids. They’re so happy and sweet. With weddings and parties and planning, and Baby Girl’s school, we managed to travel to Oregon almost every month last year.

I’ve been volunteering with the local MOPS program for the last few years. Simplifying seems to be a theme with these young moms, and it’s one I’ve decided to embrace. So this year I’ll not just straighten my junk, I’m going to get rid of it. Maybe the office area should be my first project.

In the crafting world, I bought a bunch of plastic Christmas balls to make sweaters for, and I’m designing a few new patterns for the local yarn shop. I’ll be sure to share those soon. I hope you enjoy all the projects throughout the year. I enjoy making things and I hope the recipients feel the love they were made with.

As for the 2018 goals, it looks like I can mostly recycle them for 2019. This is the year of organizing and releasing.

What are your goals for the new year? Do you ever look back and see  maybe you’ve done more than you thought? Happy New Year my 
friends. 2019 is going to be awesome.

Christmas at Home

I’ve been meaning to write. I had all these projects to tell you about. I made fun gifts, created new decorations, went on an amazing trip, and celebrated with family.

And while it would have been fun to keep you abreast of all the happenings, sometimes you have to be content with a recap.

Let’s start with this little guy who followed me home from Dubrovnik.

I love his worried eyebrows; he was too precious to leave behind. And since he was so cute, I figured I’d change things up and have the nutcrackers on the mantel. The girls were surprised that I could fit them all. Lined up and soldierly, they look rather magnificent. And then with the wing walls open, I moved in some little trees and animals.

When Baby Girl got home from school, we went out with Papa Willy and found a beautiful, gigantic, 12-foot tree to cut down and decorate. Somehow along the way, I lost my oomph. The mantel, pillows, the tree, an entry table, and I was done.

The dining room table featured a few Christmas Baubles. (Carmen Heffernen’s pattern is a free Ravelry download.) I told Baby Girl I was making sweaters for Christmas ornaments. It started as a project for work, but it’s totally addicting. I was able to use up tons of bits and pieces from ancient projects. A word to the wise, use plastic balls. Just before Christmas, Sweet Miss and the Fella upped the game with a gingerbread house kit. With four mini houses, Baby Girl and a friend joined in the fun.

Christmas Eve was amazing. Sweet Miss told us months ago to keep the night open. She invited the Fella’s mom and friend for dinner, and then–surpise!–it was a “Ho, Ho, Ho Homicide”. We were all part of a murder mystery party with reindeer, elves, and Santa. With antlers and festive gear from the dollar store, we had a lot of fun and looked great, too.

Both of the girls mentioned Christmas PJ’s as one of their favorite traditions, and I made sure I had them done early. This year I went with school themes. Who knew pajamas could cause such strife?

While Cocoa didn’t enter in to the fight, Sweet Miss and the Fella did give her an extra special present to tear apart.

In the way of other handmade gifts, Baby Girl put together a book filled with yarn shops to visit around the country and the world. Sweet Miss was a little nonplussed with her “Red, Riding Hood” hat/scarf, but I think her students will love it. MeeMee looked fabulous in her Capelet, and my sister-in-law looked fearless in her Wonder Woman Wrap.

And now, Sweet Miss and her Fella have driven back home. Baby Girl is attending an architecture conference, and we are preparing for the new year. I have pictures from our week-long trip with the family to Costa Rica, but we’ll save those for another time.

Wishing you much love and laughter, time with family and friends, joy and God’s blessing in 2019 from Kim at the Big White House on the Hill.

Tropical Escapes

I know it’s that time of year when everyone’s talking about the holidays, but when it’s cold outside, it’s nice to think back on tropical escapes.

Me and the MR marked one thing off his bucket list with a fabulous trip to French Polynesia back in October. It was amazing—the snorkeling, the sea life, the blue, blue, blue of the water. I need to brush up on my high school French, but I’d go back in a heartbeat.

The MR splurged on over-the-water bungalows. One night as I fed the fish from our bedroom, a shark swam by.

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We had a day on the water with the awesome Captain Sam and swam with eagle rays, manta rays, stingrays, and black-tipped reef sharks. Yes, we did swim with sharks.

Then it was time for an awesome lunch in the water. The MR learned to crack open a coconut, and we both had a laugh over making coconut milk.

Our trip began on Mo’orea. Then we moved on to Bora Bora and La Taha’a. Each had their own charm. Along with lots of water time, we toured each of the islands visiting WWII guns on Bora Bora, and learning about black pearl cultivation and touring a vanilla farm. Did you know each of those vanilla beans is hand-pollinated and takes nine months to mature.

On one of our tours we visited a sarong workshop, and I helped model their wares. We ventured under the sea with old-time helmets and petted stingrays.

It’s a beautiful place filled with kind and friendly people. You’re greated with flowers when you arrive and shells when you leave. I could float above the coral and watch the fish all day then get ready for dinner and take in the sunset. Who knows? Maybe I’d even do a little hula dancing.

A tropical getaway is my kind of vacation.

What’s on your

What’s on your bucket list? Are you a snorkel, scuba or sit on the beach kind of person?

Artful Reminders

When we’re traveling, I like to bring home reminders of our trips. Things that will make me smile as I remember our adventures.

Wandering the streets of Dubrovnik last September, our guide pointed out some vibrant artwork from a local painter. After the tour, we made our way back to check out the prints. They spoke to me of the beauty and chaos of this ancient port, and we were happy to bring one home.

 

A signed and numbered print deserves special framing, so I went to the local framing shop to get things all figured out. Who knew there were so many choices? How many mats? Beveled or not? What kind of glass? And now lets decide on the frame… I left feeling a little overwhelmed.

But when the call came a few weeks later and our picture was ready for pick up, I was quite pleased. Then came the tricky decision of where to hang it. We could move around some of our artwork or put it in a less seen area. We need to limit sun exposure, but we also want it to be somewhere people will see it. After all, this little picture is supposed to bring sweet memories of our travels with Baby Girl. What’s the point if it’s hidden away?

After talking it over endlessly with the MR, we finally decided on this corner between the fireplace and the computer area. When I came home from work the other day, I found the MR had hung it in just the right spot.

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Our last night in Dubrovnik, we stopped by one of the museums that had more painting by Romana Milutin Fabris on display. I do love the modern vibrancy.

Our print may be small, but it takes me away to lovely Croatia and good times.

IMG_5148What do you like to bring back from your travels? Where do you find your artwork?

I Was Gonna…

I remember when I was a kid and my dad called me to task, I would say, “I was gonna…” And then he would tell me, there’s no such thing. It’s either “yes” or “no”. You either did our you didn’t. Even now, my plans get away from me.

Last year, before we left for Australia, I visited Costco and saw this bag of daffodils. Wouldn’t it be great if the whole driveway was lined with beautiful yellow flowers? I had time to do it before we left. But then there was packing, and rain, and my busy schedule and the bag of bulbs sat in the garage.

I could always do it when we got back. And then somehow it was winter. It was cold, the ground was frozen, it was really too late to be planting them, wasn’t it? Spring came, flowers began to bloom, and with them the guilt of that silly bag still sitting in the garage. It was too late; they would die; the ground was too hard; I’d never plant them deep enough; it was the wrong time of year. As you can see, I had plenty of excuses.

So last week, while we waited for yet another contractor to stop by, I went outside with my hoe and in less than 15 minutes planted 90 daffodil bulbs. Some of the bulbs were rotten, some plain and simple won’t make it. I did not space them evenly along the whole length of the driveway, squirrels quite possible will dig them up. Is it perfect—no, but it’s enough.

And now as I pull my car into the garage, I am no longer greated by a picture of cheery, spring blossoms reminding me of my failings and all I was gonna do.

You can check out other daffodil musings in Planning Ahead or go back to the beginning with A Gift of Spring when it was really rough around here.

 

 

That Silver (or Is It Gold) Lining

One of the hard things about winter is the shorter days. The sun doesn’t rise till after 7 am, and the sunset is at 4:30 pm today. When you’re craving light, those dark days seem to go on forever. But with the sun further to south, its rays hit just right in the afternoons bathing our great room in a golden glow.

Sure, you have to stop earlier to watch the sunset, but is that really a bad thing?

If you look hard enough, you can find beauty, hope, or promise in any situation. And while I miss the long afternoons and evenings on the deck with the MR, this time of year has its charms, too.

Wishing you the simple pleasures of the everyday.