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.

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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.

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?

That Time of Year

I love that time of year when dinner comes from the garden. Sweet Miss and the Fella are headed up for a visit, and we have blackberry cobbler, apple pie, apple cake, blueberry muffins, fresh green beans, and a giant salad on the menu. Don’t forget about the plums. I’m sure they’ll work their way in there, too.

Plus me and the MR are celebrating our 27th anniversary. It’s going to be a good weekend.

Hope you’re enjoying the fruit of your labors or supporting your local farmers.

Cooling Down

The last month has been crazy. Sweet Miss and the Fella got married, lots of family, the garden and orchard are on overload, and let’s add some construction for fun.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel like writing when someone is pounding around in my house. I also don’t feel like writing when I’m sweating to death in my home. Now, my midwestern friends and family, and the California cousins may be laughing, but it’s been in the 80’s and 90’s around here. Our grass is brown, and we are hot.

Me and the MR were thinking ahead. Back in the spring, we had a fellow come out and give us a bid on air conditioning. After six years of sweltering during the summer, we decided to splurge on AC.

A few visits and a few months went by before they gave us an estimate. Our great room is huge; and with the number of windows, the height of the ceiling, and size of the room, keeping it cool is a tricky proposition.

Late July, they had a plan and were ready to roll. The MR took pity on my sanity and said we were busy—weddings do take priority— and pushed them off till last week. So we had courteous, professional, friendly visitors every morning at 7:30 am. Have I mentioned that we’ve switched to decaf?

By Thursday afternoon when I arrived home from work, we had a new heat pump installed and four units blowing cool air. The MR was busy taping and mudding all the holes the workers had made in the walls.

That’s one of those things I never really thought about before having so much work done. The workers had to cut holes to run the wiring, but that doesn’t mean they’re going make it look good after they’re done. When we had the radiators pulled out of the upstairs, we were left with missing molding and holes in the carpet. I’m just lucky that the MR is so good at putting things back together.

Our excitement over AC lasted for maybe a minute. The MR texted me that it wasn’t working the very next day. One of the units was making a hissing noise and the temperature was steadily rising. The workers were out again on Monday morning and within a few hours had a broken coupling fixed and cool air blowing our way.

Me and the MR have been wondering how air conditioning will change our lives. When it was so desperately hot inside, we’d make our way out to the deck in the late afternoons searching for a breeze and watching the hummingbirds. Cocoa will be very unhappy if this impacts deck time.

OK, so now you’re wondering about all the important stuff.  Well, the wedding was amazing. Sweet Miss looked beautiful, the Fella came into the reception raising her hand in the air shouting “Yes.” Lots of joy, lots of love, lots of excitement. I’m just thankful for all the friends and family who came together to make it such a wonderful day.

The garden is off and running. We have tomatoes, beans, carrots, lettuce, blueberries, blackberries, plums, apples, and more to come. So I’ve made applesauce, and plum jam, and frozen apple pie filling. We even cooked green beans wrapped in bacon on the salt block. It was a little messy but oh so tasty. And we have salad almost every night.

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So what have you been up to lately? Any apple or plum recipes to share?

Letting Go

Way back when, I found myself working at JC Penny’s during the summer holidays before starting my junior year at the University of Washington. I began in the sporting goods department and then moved on to housewares to work around my school schedule.

I was surrounded by coffee makers, pots and pans, dishes, and table linens. So that fall when my mom asked me what dishes I liked, I was kind of surprised, but I knew exactly which ones I wanted. The Mikasa stoneware was so pretty, and while I loved the southwest look of one set, I thought the flowered set would be more lasting. I was 20; I went for pretty.

So under the tree that year, I received place settings of “Garden Poetry”. These were followed in later years with casseroles, platters, and salad bowls. I had salt and pepper shakers, a butter dish, and a gravy boat. My mom was filling up my hope chest.

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Fast forward a little further, and the MR came along. While he liked me, he wasn’t that excited about flowery dishes. But I had so many… When we registered for our wedding, it seemed wasteful to get rid of perfectly good dishes that could go in the microwave and in the oven. They were great, and have lasted more than 27 years. He could help me choose the china.

The MR is a good sport. I like color, and pattern, and texture; and he likes simple. For way too many years, we’ve been at a standstill. I was ready to replace what we have, but we couldn’t agree on anything, and so we’ve bought nothing. This Fourth of July, some dishes I’ve been eyeing and that the MR said looked interesting were on sale for 25-percent off.

Why not? Sometimes you have to say goodbye. I’ve packed them up, and they’re on their way to Goodwill. I miss my mom, I miss her generous gifts and her hopes for my future, but sometimes you have to let go. After all, she had corelle dishes with the green flower trim, heavy brown stoneware, and pastel floral dishes—and those are just those I can remember growing up.

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We will now be dining on two sets of Organic Shaped Dinnerware from West Elm plus a set of four dinner plates just in case we have a crowd over. They’re plain white with a little funk for interest. No flowers in sight, so the MR is happy.

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I’m hoping for happy times and celebrations in our future.

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My mom died over a dozen years ago, but I think she’d approve.

Do you have trouble letting go of gifts from loved ones? Do your dishes have a story?

 

Making It Inviting

The MR totally scored when he bought our new deck furniture. We wound up with two comfortable seating areas on both sides of the deck. But for a girl who loves color, brown-on-brown just wasn’t cutting it. So while the MR watched David Letterman interview Howard Stern on TV, I shopped for pillows online.

Joss & Main came through with some bright and colorful options. I went bold on the east side of the deck where we hang out when it’s really hot.

Check out the bird pillow; I thought it was totally in keeping with the area where we watch hummingbird wars. Those little birds are feisty.

Off the dining room, I went for a more subdued feel with beige solids and stripes and one punch of color.

The ikat print was brighter than I expected, and the beige was a little plain, but it hasn’t stopped people from using them.

The MR’s folks are in town, and Papa has found his spot.

This was meant to go out yesterday, but we’ve had a few crazy days full of excitement around here. Baby Girl and one of my good friends and her daughter through Sweet Miss a bridal shower over the weekend. So many lovely presents, so much laughter and silly games. We love having the girls home, but boy it wears me out.

On a less happy note, while we were doing girlie stuff, The Fella broke his shoulder blade mountain biking. So that put a damper on some of the festivities.  Monday brought a mini crisis that involved searching through a frosting filled trash bag and an impromptu crochet class. So count yourselves lucky to be hearing from me at all.

As the big day swiftly approaches, we are so happy for Sweet Miss and Her Fella. I’m thinking July is going to be some kind of wonderful.

Hope yours is filled with family, friends, laughter, and maybe a few bright, squishy pillows.