Those Fall Touches

Sometimes it doesn’t take much to add a little of that fall flavor to our decor. Back in the day, Halloween pictures plastered the fridge, school art decorated the cabinets, and a few pumpkins would have been mouldering on the front porch.

We’re off the beaten path and the girls are on their own, so we don’t have that big push to decorate the house any more, but a little somethin’-somethin’ here and there makes me smile.

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Sweet Miss texted the other night, so I’ve packed up a few things for her, so she can decorate her classroom. I’m not ready to give up the little squishy ghost one of the girls made once upon a time. Those crafts always looked so cute in the magazines–before the age of Pinterest.

In other decorating news, I’ve been busy picking herbs and gathering sticks to make wreaths for the front doors. There’s no way on earth we can use all the sage we grow, so I thought it would make a great decoration. I thought about wires and bundles, but that would look so ugly from the backside. Remember we’re hanging them on windows.

Out in the yard with my scissors and basket, I picked lots of lavendar twigs and flowersto go with the other herbs. Unfortunately, I didn’t pick enough for two, and then it started raining, and then the foliage dried leaving some gaps. So I needed even more.

It’s all a learning process. Note to self: next time you want to hang wreaths pick double what you think you’ll need and make sure you have the 3M hooks before you get started. Nothing like getting part way through a project and having to put it on hold.

Looks like Cocoa gives it her stamp of approval.

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The goofy dog doesn’t trust me out in the front on my own. She is good company.

How’s your fall decorating?

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Sweep & Scrub

I’ve been looking at the front porch lately thinking it needs a little help. The daphne I bought a few years ago just isn’t thriving. I need to buy some flowers or some shade plants that would add just the right punch of color.

But did I get around to it? No. And then we were having friends over for dinner, and our front porch looked like this.

We had spider webs, and bugs, and all sorts of nasty. In an effort to keep the daphne alive, I’d does it with some worm tea that overflowed all over the porch and runner. This is not warm and welcoming.

With picking up around the house, and getting things together for company, I didn’t have time to wander around looking for a plant for the front porch, so instead I grabbed my broom and swept away the dirt and dust. One of those magic erase sponges worked wonders on the plant ring and the threshold stains. A good hosing of the outdoor runner helped get rid of the worm tea.

Is is perfect? No. Is it warm and welcoming? I think so.

That's Cocoa's thumbs up ear in the photo. She likes this place, too.

I still want to do a little shopping and find some flowers for the step, but this time I think I’ll go for annuals, so when they die I won’t feel like a failure. And maybe the pillow from the little bench remake would be a better size for the chair.

Baby Girl’s painting is getting a little worn, but I can always swap it out for another one she made. And the MR has been power washing the deck this week (think of all those white railings), so maybe I can ask him to power wash the runner, too.

So many things I could do, but for now I’m happy with my sweep and scrub.

When has a little elbow grease worked wonders for you?

You can check out other plants I’ve killed in the name of a pretty front porch here and https://bigwhitehouseonthehill.wordpress.com/2014/06/04/first-impressions/ and https://bigwhitehouseonthehill.wordpress.com/2015/03/09/not-any-other-way/

 

 

 

 

February Fun

Reading back through the stories of February, I’m surprised to find how they intertwine.  New lights upstairs turn into new flashlights for late time walks that end with the sweet smell of daphne.  My dad’s stories, recipe stories, and seed stories all spill out.

Maybe gardening, family life, and even knitting require problem solving, planning ahead, and the joy of sharing stories.  So here’s the low-down on life at the big white house on the hill this past month.

It started off celebrating the MR’s birthday with https://bigwhitehouseonthehill.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/a-taste-of-sedona/.  We hiked, shopped, ate, and spent time with family surrounded by beauty.

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It sounds a lot like they way we finished off the month with a quick trip to Oregon where we visited our sweet lovelies.  We toured Baby Girl’s studio and got to see up close and personal all of her interesting projects.

BGs Studio

Then while BG headed off to a dance, Sweet Miss took us out on the town.  We stayed out till almost 11 pm—way past our bed time.  Yes, we’re middle-aged.

Me & SM

With my dad moving to his new home, we had lots of time for remembrances this month. He told me about touring the glass factory and my grandma’s buying the purple vase.  It’s important to https://bigwhitehouseonthehill.wordpress.com/2016/02/05/share-your-stories/ before they’re forgotten.

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Looking through https://bigwhitehouseonthehill.wordpress.com/2016/02/24/the-old-recipe-box/ reminded me of my mom’s friends and the women of my childhood.  Simple slips of paper brought back potlucks and parties filled with laughter and the joy of cooking for friends and family.

Recipes

Maybe that why https://bigwhitehouseonthehill.wordpress.com/2016/02/19/exchanging-seeds-advice-and-stories/will make gardening that much better this year.  I’m looking forward to growing that giant gourd/pumpkin after hearing the farmer tell how he created this marvel with years of cross-pollination.  Don’t worry; I’ll post pictures.

Planning for success was the theme scattered throughout the month.  Sometimes you have to own your mistakes like in Building Up and Tearing Down where we pulled out the diseased nectarine tree and replaced it with two heartier varieties and began dismantling the decorative garden beds in the kitchen garden.

BU Garden Closer

I still have a lot of work to do before my spring garden can go in.  Let’s hope for some sunshine on a non-golfing afternoon.

Sometimes planning is less about being “right” and more about finding a way to be successful like in https://bigwhitehouseonthehill.wordpress.com/2016/02/17/solutions-and-an-umbrella-stand/ where we found a way to help an old dog make it through the night.  As an added bonus, we’ve added a decorative element to the entry, and we get enjoy the fragrance of daphne as we return from our late night walks (check out https://bigwhitehouseonthehill.wordpress.com/2016/02/15/dreaming-of-spring/).

daphne closeup

Then there’s times you’ve cut corners, you’ve made excuses, and it’s a mess; remember https://bigwhitehouseonthehill.wordpress.com/2016/02/29/the-dreaded-yeah-buts/.  That’s where I tried to force my sister-in-law to wear a hat that’s four inches too narrow.  Her head isn’t abnormally large, I just failed to plan properly.

Sometimes, you’ve given in and believe it is what it is.  There’s no solution; you just have to live with it.  I was certain the rooms upstairs were just dark.  I mean obviously they have fewer windows and lower ceilings.  It’s just the way it is.  https://bigwhitehouseonthehill.wordpress.com/2016/02/08/rethinking-light/ can be as simple as changing a light bulb.  We still haven’t figured out how to reposition the ones downstairs, but I have faith.

When we were hanging up artwork at my dad’s new place, the print over the couch ended up off center.  When I pointed it out, my dad suggested that we can always move the couch.  I guess I could move the easy chair, but I haven’t reached that level of desperation quite yet.

Spotlight

I’m having issues uploading the photos from last weekend.  If they show up as random boxes, my apologies.  I have no clue what’s going on.  I type, I edit, I upload.  I’ve done my part. 🙂

Hope your February was fun and fabulous.

 

 

 

 

 

Solutions and an Umbrella Stand

I don’t know if they were just peeved after we left them for a long weekend, or maybe it was the slight shift in schedule between us and a young sitter, but the dogs could no longer make it through the night without what we’ll euphemistically call troubles.

I was tired of mopping, the MR was tired of the mess when he got up in the morning. We were in the midst of grumbling and kibbitzing, when he came up with a truly genius idea.  Instead of focussing on everything they were doing wrong, he came up with an idea about what we could do to solve the problem.

Just like with people, you have no control over others’ behavior, just your own.  So instead of yelling at the dogs, encouraging them to go out in the rain and cold and “do their business”, we’ve taken a leaf out of the apartment dwellers notebook and are taking the dogs for a walk.

We were lucky; the first few nights, the skies were clear, the stars were out, it was brisk and beautiful.  Then our regular winter weather returned, and the MR grabbed an umbrella.

Baby Girl called it creepy walking the dogs after dark, but it’s what we did when they were puppies, and now that Little Buddy is almost 13, I’d rather laugh at his antics than discipline him for messes. Me and the MR have been enjoying conversation and laughter on our late night walks.

The MR went online and Amazon delivered a few unbrella stands, so we’ve a new addition to entry, and a small LED flashlight is on its way.

Umbrella

Sometimes life’s a lot better when you focus on solutions instead of the problems.  It might also mean a little less mopping.

 

 

 

Not Any Other Way

Sweet Miss and her fellow were home for the weekend. She was busy telling us about her plans for the summer; she’s going to rent a house with a bunch of sorority sisters, take a few classes, and get a part-time job. Her fellow is on the short list for some very promising internships–these kids are growing up.

Yesterday, they drove back to Oregon, and we headed off to the Museum of Flight. Sure my dad worked at Boeing for 30 years–this had nothing to do with that. Baby Girl has been accepted at the University of Oregon, and they invited us to a reception there. Apparently Ducks soar; U of O is totally into puns.

Our baby is growing up, too. But, you know, I wouldn’t have it any other way. You get married, have children, they grow up, move on, and it all starts over again. It kinda makes me sad, squeezes my heart a little, makes me wonder about the future, and that’s just the way it’s supposed to be.

Back in January, I spent the day at my dad’s house helping him sort through things in the basement. Then on the way home, I stopped at the home of one of Sweet Miss’ classmates. Me and the mom got to talking; she had found a piece of art one of my girls had made that had been outside for years. Did I want it back?

I couldn’t imagine what she was talking about, but of course I said yes. And so I came home with this sign that Baby Girl made once upon a time.Cocoa & the signHey Cocoa, you need to move. The rest of want a look, too. Don’t you love the weather-beaten texture it’s taken on?

So Rough

It looks like it’s made it through all of life’s storms. Want a closer look so you can read what it says?

Sign Up Close

The sign says it perfectly.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

My kids are growing up, time is marching on, and I wouldn’t have it any other way…except for maybe adding a plant for a little softness, and going over the writing on the sign to make it a little more legible, and then spraying the whole thing with clear coat so it stays that way forever.

Daphne & Sign Up Close

OK, so all I did was add a plant–a very beautiful, sweet-scented, variegated daphne that had people stopping me as I walked to the door–but there’s time for the rest.

How are you handling life’s changes?

 

Wordless Wednesday–A Christmas Welcome

Front Door

We’ve added wreaths and decorated the little pines for the Christmas season.

 

 

Stop sign & tree

Our schleppy little trees we bought last summer might need more light than they get by the front door, but for this year, I’ve spruced them up to add some color and welcome. In the spring, we’ll find them a new home.

 

Wreath

Baby Girl personally made a pair of wreaths for the front porch. I love the mix of greens and the brightness of the holly berries.

 

Taking a Look Back at June

June means school’s out, the garden is in, everyone’s home, and we’re spending a lot of time outdoors.

The MR spent many hours at the beginning of the month up high Painting the Town, I Mean the Roof. Torch down roofs require maintenance now and then to keep them in good shape, and he’s gone through over 10 five-gallon buckets of coating but hasn’t quite finished the job. The MR says that he needs maybe one, or two, or three buckets more; let’s just say it’s a big roof. We can always use the leftovers to make a tin man costume.

Molten Metal

Next, we turned to a place most people will notice–the front porch where we make that First Impression. After I got all busy with new pots and plants, I was motivated to add even more stuff. Some lime green, metal hurricanes Sweet Miss bought last year add a touch of color, and I went ahead and bought a 10-foot runner in gray to cover some stains and add some softness. The rug looks awesome so far–no major muddy dog fiasco.

Front porch with rain

It’s a misty, moisty morning here with the valley lost in the fog. By happy accident, the flash was on, and I was able to catch the droplets in this photo of the front porch. The hose is out, because the MR and his dad are busy with another project. Just wait and see.

A few weeks later, the MR came home with a truckload of flowers and plants–Gotta Love a Man with Flowers.

Front Door Planters

At the moment, we also have a very large Bell sitting on the front porch. This is not its permanent home. We’ve been looking at all sorts of interesting ways to hang it. My brother’s worried that it’ll look like some sort of torture devise, but we’re trying to steer clear of that.

I was pleasantly surprised to see these lovely bells at the local Art In Bloom show.

Bell Stand Collage

If you’re local and you’ve never been, put it on your calendar for next year. The opening night cocktail party comes at a price, but the rest of the weekend is free. So take some time to stroll through the lovely Kokopelli Gardens, support local artists, and the Duvall Arts Foundation.

We’ve also been working on the flowers adjacent to the deck and driveway. The bundles I made in Daffodil Detail are turning brown and the lilies are looking great–we have a lot less slug damage with the leaves bound. Sadly, the dahlias and delphiniums from last year did not reappear.

Lilies up close and personal

While the Fresh Spring Spinach Salads are a thing of the past (all our spinach has bolted with the warm weather), we’ve been enjoy a bumper crop of broccoli. I wound up bringing bags of it to friends at church this morning. Good thing we have a great broccoli salad recipe that’s one of my family’s favorites. It’s All About the Dirt.

Broccoli Collage

I made Baby Girl pose with the broccoli, so you could see just how big it is. We’re harvesting the side shoots now, and they’re a little scraggly but still quite tasty. If some crazy lady shows up with a basket of broccoli on her arm, don’t worry, I’m harmless.

Along with broccoli, we’ve been picking currants and the onions I planted to keep the animals away have gotten huge. I thought they were just green onions. Oh well, I may be making the rounds with a basket of them next.

onion

My beans, cucumbers, pumpkin, and squash are all being eaten by slugs or bunnies or birds, so I’m celebrating the victories. In Mixing It Up, I told you we were putting our hopes in more plums next year on a skinny little stick of a tree. While the asparagus roots have yet to show any growth, the Santa Rosa weeping plum has started leafing out.

View framed by new growth

You know and I know I was taking a picture of the new foliage, but my camera thought I was taking a picture of the valley. You get what I’m talking about, and we’ll just say I was trying to be artsy with a little rack focus going on.

I have faith that we’ll have more than two plums next year. I’m watching the Shiro plum tree to make sure we don’t lose the lonely pair we do have to the birds or beasts.

After all the other projects our Handyman (aka Papa Larry) has been busy looking for a guy to do baseboards, hanging hooks in the guest bath, taking the leaf blower to the driveway, painting planters, and other messy, fun jobs, most people would never ask their guest to do.

We did manage to find time on a rainy Saturday to go wine tasting in Woodinville. It’s not all work and no play around here. We’re doing our best to show MeeMee and Papa a good time.

MeeMee & Papa

Finally, I have been practicing my technique and not letting my Perfectionism Hold Me Back. After removing all the adhesive from the stencil, I’m taking it slow to avoid smudges and using a lot less paint. Sometimes it helps to read the tutorial. I hope by the end of the week, the painting will be done, and the books will be back in place.

Here’s a sneak peek at how it’s going.

closeup of stenciled area

Still not perfect, but so much better.

What’s been going on with your June?