February Flew By

Last month started with the MR’s birthday, and a visit from our sweet girls and ended with a quick trip to Oregon to see them in turn. Two visits with our kids in a month is rather delightful.

Sandwiched between those was a lot of rain, a lot of snow, and a lot of crazy. In Winter Wonderland I shared the joys of snow outside and a cozy fire inside which led to questions and a whole blog on the History of Our Fireplace. It’s gone through a lot of changes over the past five years. Remember the conversation pit and the green carpet?

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When a Tree Falls in the Woods, I asked that it stay off our driveway. Me and the MR worked up a sweat clearing branches, small trees, limbs, and debris from our only way out.

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Of course that wasn’t the end of travel woes. All the snow and rain—it’s been the wettest February on record in Seattle since 1961—caused part of the road up our hill to collapse into a steep ravine. (Check out Winter Storms & Prepping for Spring.) They are working on it, but for now we have another one lane road to navigate on the way home.

With the power out, no TV, trapped at home, that gave me lots of time to knit, right? What should have been a good thing turned into trouble when hand-dyed shade variations showed up in a big way on my fingering-weight cardigan edged in lace. I’m still mourning the loss or maybe pouting is a better word for it. This is one time when Following the Rules would have paid off in a big way.

lot-matters

On the positive side, How’s That for Color? featured our picks for new carpet in three of the bedrooms. Baby Girl has a ton of stuff, so her bedroom will have to wait until she totally moves out. One of our color choices is in production and should be available in mid-March, so we’ve had the rooms measured, made a down payment, and are just waiting a few weeks to schedule installation.

For me, The Best Part of Winter is getting up before the sun. I could probably do it during the summer, but 4 am comes awfully early. I love watching the everchanging sky in the mornings.

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With more snow this week, enough to delay schools but not enough to keep us trapped at home, I did notice how pretty the front doors are with their mountains backlit with real snow.

cocoa-snowy-doors

Cocoa agrees with me, of course.

For March, I’m hoping for fewer storms and a better attitude. While there’s nothing I can do about the first, I’m working on the second.

How was your February?

 

How’s That for Color?

Me & the MR went shopping for carpet last weekend.  We went to Haight Carpet in Woodinville where we’ve had good service in the past.

We’re not looking for anything fancy, since it’s just for the master bedroom, the guest room, and the sewing room. We made the big commitment to the faux concrete floors a few years ago, so we really don’t have much in the way of wall-to-wall carpeting.

We’re looking at a medium-gray tone for the master. We’ve chosen the top sample from below—Stormwatch.

master-carpet-samples

And then for the guest room, which is really dark, we’ve chosen a gray-beige (Morning Mist) that matches the floor color well. We’re hoping it will lighten the room up a bit. It’s the sample on the far right.

guest-room-carpet-samples

That’s the same color we’ll use for the sewing room. I’ve been in a bit of a quandary as to whether to go light or dark up there. The room gets plenty of light, so we could choose the darker gray, but darker carpet shows lint. I always have strings and threads, bits of fabric and yarn scattered on the floor. I’m not sure which would hide that the best. We’ll go with the light and pledge to vacuum more often.

Our sweet dog followed the man from the carpet store around as he measured the rooms yesterday. We could have it installed and looking bright and new in just two weeks. I haven’t made the call yet. I was hoping for a sunny day to check the colors one last time.

Cocoa also tried to help me photograph the samples. Sitting on the floor is an open invitation to dogs.

cocoa-photobomb

She hates to be left out of anything.

What are your carpet buying tips and tricks? Light or dark?

 

Oh, Deer!

Yesterday as the afternoon was winding down, I ventured out to the garden to pick broccoli for dinner. Pleased with the sideshoot production and laughing at Cocoa as she raced wildly about the meadow, I wandered over to the orchard.

It’s been raining off and on all weekend, but I figured we’d had a few hours of sunshine, so I’d pick some currants for a friend who mentioned how much she liked them at a party over the weekend. The season is winding down for these tart berries, but I was still able to pick over a pint in a matter of minutes.

I moved on to the blueberries. We have three different types that each ripen at a different time. I picked a handful and figured I’d add them to the broccoli salad for this evening. Then since I was already close, I decided to see if the remaining beauty plums were ready for picking.

That’s when tragedy struck. Apparently, the deer enjoy our plums as much as we do. One slightly squished fruit dangled from a branch, but half the tree lay on the ground.

OD Broken Plum Tree

After we’ve been celebrating our first year of success with plums here, I was hit hard by this new challenge. It took the pear tree three years to begin to recover from similar treatment by the local wildlife. I worry that the raw tear will get diseased.

OD Raw Wood

Cocoa is quite happy to bark wildly from the deck when she sees deer in the meadow or muching on our landscaping. We miss our little buddy who even with foggy vision would heroicly chase away all invaders—man or beast.

After seeing the sad shape of the beauty plum, I turned to the Shiro tree which is due to ripen soon. After watching the tree set a nice show of fruit with anticipation, I sadly saw just one lonely plum dangling out of my reach. Perhaps the deer can’t stretch any higher than I can.

In anger, I picked an apple on my back up the hill. Both trees are weighted down with a heavy harvest, and I wasn’t going to let the deer get them, too. The apple was quite tart. I’ll have to keep my eye on them to make sure we enjoy their bounty.

The MR is headed to the hardware store to investigate other possible fencing solutions this week.

On a happy note, my mom’s broccoli salad recipe tasted fabulous with broccoli, blueberries, and one squished plum from our garden.

OD Broccoli Salad

Any tips on keeping out the deer? 

Grandma Donna’s Broccoli Salad

Salad:
4 cups broccoli flowerettes
1 cup raisins
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup purple onion
8-10 slices bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled

Dressing:
1/2 cup mayonaisse
3 T sugar
1 T raspberry vinegar

Mix  salad ingredients in a large bowl. Combine dressing ingredients and toss with salad. Let the broccoli soften a little and serve. Enjoy!

Note:  My kids have grown up on this salad. They have an aversion to raisins, so we use grapes in the winter, and lately, I’ve substituted currants, blueberries, and a squished plum on occasion. I’ve never used 8 slices of bacon; two or three is plenty for the four of us. Last night I used toasted pumpkin seeds instead of sunflower seeds, since I like them better. I usually opt ought of the onion, because it makes me burp. And if you’re trying to cut back on sugar, go down a tablespoon or too, but taste it first. The vinegar can be a little bite-y. Let’s just say, these are guidelines for a salad, that your mom probably brought to a potluck or two in the 80’s or 90’s, and we still enjoy it today.

 

 

Not Those Kind of Bubbles

When the girls were little they were fascinated by bubbles. We had a sunroom at our first house, and we’d put Sweet Miss in her walker and blow bubbles for her. Later at our next home, the neighbors had a bubble machine, and the girls would laugh and squeal as they ran through showers of bubbles. Bubbles are delightful, magical, and fascinating.

B Bubbles

Unfortunately, recently the MR found a different kind of bubble. Last summer we had the deck recoated just for routine maintenance. Well, the coating had started to bubble up, or at least that’s what we thought. Then the contractor came back and said he’d redo the half of the deck that had a problem.

All was going well, he was an honorable guy, and was going to stand behind his work. Until, he pulled up the problem areas and realized it was the original coating that had seperated from the wood of the deck. The coating he’d applied was still adhered solidly to the first layer.

B Deck Patch

He still willingly fit us into his busy schedule and did a great job first gluing down the patches, sanding, and then refinishing half the deck.

B Deck Patch 2

What changed was who paid for it. Of course, all the trouble was on the shady side of the deck during the nicest week of the summer so far. That’s OK. Cocoa has given the new deck her seal of approval.

B Back to Normal

It looks like this area could use a few potted plants to soften things up, too. Have I ever mentioned this deck is mammoth? Some day, I’ll have the insides all put together and can turn my attention to the outsides in earnest.

Any bubble stories to share?

 

 

When Everything’s Done

If you’ve ever owned a house, you know there’s always something. I was talking to someone about the blog and mentioned that we just have a lot less to do around here now that we’ve completed most of the major repairs. Just when you’re feeling good, something new pops up.

For the last few years, the dogs were sleeping in the laundry room, and the MR would get up and let them out  through the door to the deck in the mornings. Well, sometime over the winter, the door started sticking. It never opened easily, but now it became nearly impossible to open.

Well, the MR’s folks have been visiting for the last few weeks, and his mom started letting Cocoa out in the mornings. She knew the routine, so she just shoved really hard and pushed the door open. Perhaps she told Papa Larry, and next thing you know, he was on a mission.

I thought it was just the house settling. Nope. With over 20 years of wind and rain, the door had started rotting. The MR and his dad took the door down and removed the kick plate to reveal this.

WED Door and View

Shall we move in closer? I’m no carpenter, but that door looks like trouble to me.

WED Rot Removal

The guys took a trip to the hardware store for wood fill and wood. They gathered their tools and got busy.

WED Tools

After removing the rotten wood, they used wood fill and a thin sheet of wood to fill in the gaps. They clamped it all together and left it overnight.

WED Clamps

Baby Girl received a surprise when she heard plastic rattling upon her arrival home after dark.With a few coats of paint, Papa had the door looking great.

WED All Gone

And now it’s good as new.

WED Good as New

The locks a little tricky, but the door swings open with ease. Now we just have to get Cocoa to sleep in the laundry room again. She’s been taking advantage of our company and disrupting routines.

Thanks Papa Larry. It turned out great!

It’s funny how certain areas just kind of get ignored. Maybe a few potted plants would soften this area. Currently we have a bowl of water for the dog, the barbecue, and the smoker, plus some dirt for potting up plants. Now that the door looks so spiffy, it’s time to give the rest of the deck some attention.

How do you entertain your guests?

Sweet Miss to the Rescue

You know how sometimes you just kind of put things off. I mean why worry about that? You have lots of time.

Perhaps that’s my mindset a touch too often.  When we were getting ready for our recent trip to Hawaii, I remembered that voucher I bought on Amazon Local two years ago when it was still actually a company They were offering a great price on a canvas photo collage; it would be great next to Sweet Miss’ graduation photo.  I would put together a group of pictures of the girls growing up.  I’d have to have the one of Baby Girl riding on the MR’s shoulders on Lopez Island when she had those cute braids in her hair.  I even put together a group of photos featuring childhood memories.

But, and this is a big but, those silly girls don’t like pictures of them in what some might term those “awkward” years.  Now, I’m their mother, I think they look so cute in all their photos, but hear enough “why’d you let me weat that? or what did you do to my hair?” and even I get hesitant.  So my file was set aside, and time marched on.

I wasn’t too worried about it, since I had till the middle of April to figure things out, right?  That’s when I decided to look at the voucher and figure out just how much time I had left to put this together.  It wasn’t April, it was the end of March, ack; this was never going to work.

I decided to just forget it and move on.  Sometimes these things happen.  But then one of the first mornings of vacation, I came up with a stellar idea.  I’d already paid for it, it was just going to go to waste if I did nothing, I could just send in photos off my phone, and call it good enough.  That’s when an hour or two of frustration and I’ll admit a few tears ensued.

I could upload files, set up the collage, and then the whole process stalled.  When I tried to login on my Ipad, so I could see it a little better and have fewer fat finger mistakes, the website said I didn’t have an account.  That’s when I took a shower and a few deep breaths, and called in the cavalry, I mean the girls.  I sent them an SOS text asking them to help out.

I mean, me and the MR have bought them computers, I know they know how to use them.  They could help me in a pinch.  Sweet Miss came to the rescue.  I sent her the photos I had been using, told her to add some of her own if she wished, and told her to go to town.  Somewhere in the midst of that, she said I sent her to an off-color web site, the deal wasn’t working, she didn’t know what I wanted.

A few frantic phone calls and texts later, she had it all together and ordered.  So I was quite excited to pick up the mail upon our return and find a large package containing this canvas.

SMTTR Photo Collage

Is it perfect? No.  It’s not photos from some fancy photographer all staged and photoshopped, but it’s the last year in our lives.  It’s Baby Girl’s graduation and our anniversary. It’s Mom’s Weekend with Sweet Miss and Dad’s Weekend down in Oregon.  It’s Christmas with our silly dogs and kids and it’s hanging out on the deck. It’s my family, the people who mean the world to me, and I absolutely, totally love it.

And now Sweet Miss and Baby Girl get to share a little wall space with rest of the family.

SMTTR Photo Wall

Because this isn’t just a house, it’s a home filled with love and laughter.  A place where friend and family are always welcomed—usually by crazy, wild, barking dogs.

What do you do with all those great photos? 

 

 

Sweet Surprises

Spring in earnest has arrived at our house. We came home late last Wednesday from eight beautiful days on Maui and woke the next morning to a front lawn dotted with purple azaleas.

SS Dogs

Not black dogs—that was purple azaleas.

SS Bogart

What you didn’t hear that buddy? I said purple azaleas.

SS Azaleas

Sometimes you guys don’t realize what I go through just for one picture.  The azaleas are quite pretty.

SS Azalea CloseupBack when we were adding all the new landscaping last spring, I had no idea that all those sweet, little bushes would turn out to be azaleas decked out in purple each spring.  We were https://bigwhitehouseonthehill.wordpress.com/2015/06/18/making-a-statement/ and let the landscapers have free reign.  They did well.  Me and the MR were talking about adding in some annuals like last year.  It might be too early for the new guinea impatiens that brought such nice color.  The deer did really like to nibble them, so maybe a less tasty option would work better.

The original owners lined the drive with barberry and candytuft.  Over the winter, it gets a bit scraggly-looking, and I wonder why we don’t just pull it out.  But on our return home, it was in full-bloom.

SS Candytuft

It looks lovely in all its glory and adds a bit of brightness along the driveway.

SS Candytuft Edging Drive

I think a little hint of white in our new planting beds might balance things out.  Wait and see.  I moved a little dirt and sorted out the worm bin, while the MR sprayed weeds, mowed the lawn and the meadow, used the weed eater in the orchard and the steep hillside, and power-washed half the deck.  OK, so he tends to be a little more driven than I am. Our yard thanks him, and so do I.

How’s your yard looking this spring? Any wonderful surprises?