How Did May Fair 2017?

The other day, the MR says to me, we have workers here a lot at this place… Why yes, yes we do. This is the first day in weeks that I haven’t had my daily routine accompanied by pounding. I’m enjoying the peace and quiet albeit short lived.

We started off the month checking out that noise that Wasn’t Going Away. Turns out that hum from the mechanical room in the entry wasn’t a ball bearing going out; it was pumps seizing up from rust—uggh. It was another day and lots of dollars later that we got it all fixed up. I told the MR I was glad it didn’t happen in the middle of winter, but than he replied at least we’d have noticed if it was cold outside.

While I’m still looking for a shade-loving color bowl for the front steps, it’s amazing what a difference a simple Sweep & Scrub can make. Getting rid of the cobwebs certainly makes your front door more inviting.

On gray days, and yes it’s full on spring and we’ve still had quite a few rainy, overcast days, my Striping It Orange throw keeps me smiling—there is hope. When you can’t have sun outside, a little bit color inside just might do the trick.

While the heating guys were here for a few days, it’s the deck guys that have been a constant. You see we’ve had some Rotten Luck literally. While the upper deck is mostly done, they still have the stair landing and hot tub removal on the docket. Sadly for us, they found a lot more rot than expected extending the project by a few weeks and a few dollars, so they’re taking a break for another job and will be back in mid-June to finish up. Until then, at least it’s getting closer.

When I was talking about Embracing the Crazy, the MR’s experiment with pruning, I noticed one of the smoke trees wasn’t cooperating.

Turns out getting to the soffit on the steep slope hasn’t been beneficial for that middle tree. Several of its limbs are on the ground. I’m not complaining; this is not an easy house to work on and don’t even think about getting me up on a ladder. Next year, when it’s not in the middle of the action it’ll start shooting up.

The MR went around and pruned immediately after I’d taken photos. The evergreen near the deck is starting to take shape although it still looks a little crazy.

You may have noticed the bougainvillea inside has now become the bougainvillea outside. When it starts heating up, we like to move some of the larger plants out on the deck. Now when I’m sitting on the little couch, I smell the sweet scent of lemon. And the hummingbirds vist our bougainvillea.  I bet they’ll visit the plumeria too, if it ever decides to bloom.

As we were moving pots out, we moved pots in. Sweet Miss brought me sedums for Mother’s Day. Now I have Sweet Sedums & Violets on the dining room table. Her plan was to set the out on the steps, but I’m not ready to see them go just yet.

As for the Unexpected vs. Uninvited guests, the Mr has been working on that. We have a new post in place, and he has posts and straps, and netting, and big plans. I’ll keep you posted. (How many times can I use the same word in a paragraph?)

Unfortunately, something’s still getting in. I’m not sure if it’s slugs or bunnies eating the onions. Perhaps I need to throw a party for the slugs, or Cocoa needs to catch a few of the rabbits she loves to chase.

At least the weather has been nice, and we’ve been able to get outside a bit.

In other May news, Baby Girl mentioned how much she liked the flowers before noticing they were the ones we bought together; Mexico was lovely and relaxing; the MR’s new TV is incredibly thin and lightweight, so I didn’t worry about it crashing down on my head while I helped him hang it in place; the local LYS tour was great; hummingbirds are rather violent and territorial; and life is good.

Hoping May faired well for you.

 

The Flurries of January 2017

When I started this blog five years ago, I had two girls in high school busy with sports, friends, and activities. Sweet Miss was getting ready to graduate. Now the girls are in gone to school and jobs in Oregon, and the MR has started a consulting business where he can pick and choose his hours.

Suddenly, our ties to home are much fewer, and we’ve been totally taking advantage of it. Just look back at the month: On the Road AgainFirst Stop MiamiRelaxing on Turks and Caicos, and The Beauty of Zihuatanejo. The first three posts share highlights of our recent trip, and the the last shares our trip to Mexico with the girls just before Christmas.

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Each of these places had their own beauty and charm. I promised to share a photo of the stingrays we swam with. These were fun to watch from afar after I got over my initial fear.stingray

All this traveling means, I have to plan ahead to get the blog out, so I’ve been using the “Wordless Wednesday” model here and there. I shared Our Citrus Grove and Winter Blooms recently. The tiny calamondin lime, which isn’t even a lime, but a hybrid of a mandarin orange and the kumquat, and the lemon tree make up our stunted, indoor grove. I cut up one of the limes to add to a salad—it was way too tart. The three lemons on our “tree” are ripening and will soon be part of a lemon pie. It’s our little eating hyper-local experiment.

We’ve added another bloom to the winter beauty from a plant the MR’s grandmother grew. Does anyone know what this is? The branches hang down, and the clusters of white, star-shaped flowers face down as well.

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The blooms are even prettier when viewed from below. Maybe I showed move the plant to a bookcase, so we can see these sweet flowers at their best.

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When I am home, I have time to get involved in some local groups. The Knitters and Crocheters of Duvall meet Tuesdays at Quintessential Knits, and they’ve joined up with the Duvall Bag Ladies to make sleeping mats for the homeless. I hope they add some comfort to these people’s lives.

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And finally, I took time to Learn Something New. Brioche is a challenging knitting technique with very cool results. I hope Baby Girl is enjoying her cozy cowl. I hear snow and ice is headed towards Oregon again this week and alpaca is soft and warm.

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I have a few sewing projects, and we’re talking carpet again, so I may have some home-centered posts for February. We’ll just have to wait and see.

What’s been going on in your neck of the woods?

A Look Back at November

It’s easy to put together a monthly recap when you’ve been out of town and haven’t posted much of anything.

If you’re ever in Seattle, I recommend checking out Chihuly Garden & Glass at the Seattle Center. The beauty and whimsy of his creations made me smile with joy. I felt like I’d dropped into a Dr. Seuss world.

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I don’t know what planet he comes from, but I’d sure like to visit. We all have errands and chores that take us hither and yon, why not Make the Most of It.

I laughed, tongue-in-cheek, about our New Lawn Ornament when the well guys got stuck in the meadow. The MR smoothed out the ruts, and next spring grass will cover the wounds.

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If only that were the worst of our well problems this month. The work they did ended up clogging some of the pipe, emptying the holding tank, overheating and then burning out the pump, resulting in no water for our housesitter while we were on the annual fishing trip to Mexico.

Perhaps we shouldn’t have any major work done just before leaving town, perhaps making sure the auto shut-off is properly installed is very important. JKA well, came out on a weekend to help our housesitter and had a new pump in by Monday comping us on labor. We ended up buying a more powerful pump, so they only charged us the difference, and our water pressure has been great. But our “free” water has cost an arm and a leg over the last five years.

While our housesitter was dealing with no water, we were watching beautiful sunsets and enjoying some heat.

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We appear to have brought a little of Mexico home with us in these Unexpected Blooms.

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We ended the month with a few days with the girls at home. I love having our family together. Our new table arrived just in time for Thanksgiving, and it was definitely Worth the Wait.

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Thanksgiving and Christmas have always been a time to gather with family and friends. I’m so glad I have these guys to make memories with.

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Don’t worry, I’ll be sharing some Christmas decorating and other wonders of the season before too long. I thought I’d end this post on a happy note. My girls are wearing their cozy knit socks—making their mama happy.

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Hope you had a fabulous November.

 

 

A Look Back at September & October 2016

Maybe it’s spending the first part of September in Italy, or moving Baby Girl back to Oregon, or the MR being home so much more, or turning 50, or teaching classes on skills I’m really still learning, or the record-breaking rains we’ve been getting, whatever it is, I’ve been falling short on the blog lately.

I had big plans to share the beauty of Florence and Rome, to deck out the house for fall, and tidy up all those cluttered spots. It hasn’t happened. I sent some photos to my aunt and dropped a bag of the girls clothes off at a collection box. We’re celebrating small victories here.

So here’s a recap of what I did manage to blog about for the last few months plus a little extra cause I’m just that kind of person.

I’m rather excited about our dining room table and chairs that I talked about in An Upgraded Dining Experience. Do they look great? Are they perfect for the space? I’ll let you know when they arrive. It’s so hard to be patient. We also bought a recliner for my dad’s birthday. He’s still waiting, too. That’s what you get when it’s not mass produced.

A lot of fall seems to center around food. Waste Not those crabapples from our friends’ weekend place at the lake. I’d love to tell you how amazing that applesauce is, but when I pulled it out of the freezer, it was really sweet potato butter, which I’ve been enjoying in my yogurt, but I didn’t want to pull out another poorly labeled container before I finished the sweet potatoes. I really can’t eat that much yogurt.

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You’d think I’d be able to recognize the bright pink color. We did try the broccoli I mentioned in Saving the Harvest with mixed reviews. It tastes quite pickled as pickled broccoli ought to do, and we don’t like pickles. What was I thinking? I guess I was just tired of broccoli salad two or three times a week.

Grandma MeeMee was asking about the sage I used in the Onion Jam. It was just regular culinary sage, an herb that deer don’t like to nibble. We’ve had great luck with it here.

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I’m waiting for Sweet Miss to come home to try the beet and carrot slaw; cross your fingers that we’ll enjoy that more than the broccoli. I’ve been happy with our Fall Harvest. We still have broccoli, carrots, and some scraggly lettuce. I’m waiting for a hard freeze and the vines to die back before bringing up one really big pumpkin that has yet to turn orange. Then I can sow a cover crop of old seeds leftover from past years and let the garden be until spring.canned-goods

Our Trees with Attitude will probably have to wait for spring’s new growth before being pruned into shape. I’m hoping the months of ugly will pay off.

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I also shared in Inspiration and Disappointment how we were excited about making more wine from our grapes after visiting a vineyard in Tuscany.

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Well, it was probably raccoons that had a party with our grapes and tore up the vines by the time we got back from our trip. Me and the MR opened our bottle of homemade wine last weekend. After a sip apiece, we decided it was no great loss that we couldn’t make more wine, and the MR poured it down the drain. We need to refine our skills as winemakers or make grape jelly instead.

We saw tons of white houses on the cliffs of Capri in A Dime a Dozen.

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And then I shared a bird’s-eye-view or our home in The Colors of Fall.

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The drive home really is beautiful this time of year. Of course, the MR spends hours trying to keep the driveway clear, but it does give him something to do.

 

I’m just teasing; the MR is always a busy guy. He has been out making sure the blackberries don’t come back after hiring a brushcutter to Clear Out all the brambles.

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One happy surprise has been the reappearance of foxgloves. Perhaps they were being choked out by all the blackberries. I hope they’ll be putting on a show next spring, and I have seeds to sow from MeeMee and Papa.

The MR also bought new garage doors. I’m a girl. I’m not into garages. I don’t spend a lot of time there. They’re not really my thing, but these Garage Doors Have Style.

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It’s so nice to go out to the garage and not have to turn on the horrible, buzzing, overhead light. The new doors look great and make the whole space look so much larger.

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See, I pulled both cars out of the garage to take this picture just for your. The MR was suprised to come home and find cars everywhere. But that’s how much I care about you guys.

He also Finished Up the last of the guest bathroom remodel. Cocoa ran into a bit of problem in the woods yesterday, so I got to try out the shower, or she did, however you want to look at it. It really did turn out nice. The gray counters look much warmer in real life, and the whole feel of the room is much sleeker and more modern.

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Don’t look at the green carpet. It’s going away—I promise. Maybe I’ll make that a new year’s resolution. Baby Girl needs a chance to clean out her room, so we can replace all the bedroom carpets at the same time.

And last but not least that leaves us with the The Big, the Bad, the Broken where one broken window was replaced perfectly and the other was broken as it was being replaced. The new window has arrived, and the installers are on the calendar for next week. Then I’ll call the window film company; eventually it’ll all come together.

When I was crabby about the broken window, I did share some fancy socks I’d made for Sweet Miss. Since then I’ve been working on socks for Baby Girl. They’re in a bright green yarn with speckles of yellow for my favorite University of Oregon student. Maybe I should start calling her Duckling instead of BG?

Maybe the window, the window films, the new table, the new chairs, and my dad’s recliner will all magically arrive before Thanksgiving, but I’m not holding my breath. Perhaps it’s time to pull out the Thankfulness Tree. I think I need a little reminder these days.

How was your fall? Are you shocked that November is already upon us?

 

 

 

 

Celebrating August

It’s been a pretty awesome month with family and friends and a lot of sunshine.

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We celebrated Milestones with the girls.

Anniversary Canvas

Dealt with a proliferation of broccoli and cucumbers in Ain’t It Funny and saved some Herb-alicious goodness for the cold days of winter.

Rosemary Cubes Closeup

We did a little shopping and Super-Sized a rug, Problem Solved with a new floor lamp, and Added a Little Drama with some new nightlights.

ALD Light on Maple at Night

The MR has been busily remodeling the guest bedroom bath. I Teased You with a glimpse of tile, shared the newly glorified shower Somewhere In the Middle, and showed you Bit by Bit how it’s all coming together.

New Shower

I dreamed a little about a backyard waterfall—Just Imagine, and dreamed too of winning a Fitbit challenge against my 22-year-old. It’s just A Little Friendly Competition, but I have been getting in more steps lately. I think I’ve won one challenge in the last three weeks. I do have a few years on her and tend to go to bed before my Sweet Miss. Who knows, maybe I’ll actually lose a few pounds.

The MR has picked up the new sink/counter combo for the guest bathroom, and I do have plans to make up those new throw pillows I bought the fabric for way back in June. We’ve done a little shopping, a little planning, Baby Girl is moving back to school in a few weeks, and I have a few surprises to throw your way. September is always a good month.

How is your fall shaping up? Are you in the full back-to-school mode?

July Is Gone

I know you’ve heard that all it does is rain in Seattle, that the inhabitants are frightened when they see a yellow orb in the sky, that we have a dozen names for what most people just call rain. Well, there’s some truth to all of that, but that doesn’t cover July.

Sure summer doesn’t start till somewhere around the 8th of the month, but then we have warm, sunny days, with glorious sunshine. Mount Rainier is out in all its glory, and northwesterners are ready to play. But not this year. We’ve had a lot of gray days with just a few true summer days.

When you can’t frolic in the sun, you have a lot more time for projects. The MR, with his summer off, has been a busy guy. One Saturday, while I was working at the yarn shop, he was building the Garden Box Update. I’d love to tell you that the new addition is filled with dirt and overflowing with vegetables. We have a pumpkin doing well in the corner; we’ll wait for next year for the other.

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That same weekend, the MR took on Bambi. Remember Oh Deer when I found one of our plum trees ravaged?

OD Broken Plum Tree

He’s zip-tied 10-foot lengths of pipe from our well redo to the posts and added taller netting. Friends commented on our fortress. Yes, we are doing battle, and with the number of apples and blueberries we’ve picked this week, we just might be winning.

And now for the truly beautiful, exciting project. It’s Started; we’re on to bathroom remodel number three in this house. All the green tile is gone, Marty the plumber came and dealt with replumbing the shower, the cement board is up, and just yesterday, the MR started tiling. It’s going to be beautiful.

I’m so glad my guy does his homework. When he takes on a project, he researches the heck out of it. He’s redone the showers in every home we’ve lived in and knows a thing or two by now. That’s why he was so surprised when he removed the tile and found dry wall. The experts say, you’re tile and grout will leak, use a protective barrier. What were they thinking?

The slogan on this cement board just makes me smile.

Cement Board

Now while the MR is busy with all his stuff, what have I been doing? I’ve been enjoying the produce from our garden and the farmers market. There’s nothing like fresh ingredients to serve up Good Simple Food. Last night, it was onions and broccoli from the garden, carrots and beans from the farmer’s market, and some leftover BBQ’ed veggies sauteed together to round out burgers for dinner.

With people on vacation, I’ve been putting in extra hours at the yarn shop which leads to lots of knitting and crocheting. You can check out some of my projects On the Needles. (You really should just so you can see Baby Girl and Cocoa modeling my “shoulderette” pattern. I designed it to show off lovely collarbones and add just a layer of warm on a cool evening.)

Speaking of yarn shops, Quintessential Knits moved one block over the weekend. I’ve seen some of the lovely new yarn, and the owner says we have lots of specials and surprises coming out this month. I was rather pleased with this Viroqua Cowl I knitted as a sample.

Umpqua Cowl

And what about A Lovely Jumble of flowers on the hillside or our crazy 5th of July parties? Alas, the poppy seeds are still on my desk, but the Russian sage the MR planted last year is nearly knee-high. If we’re lucky, some day it may look like this—giant, frangrant, gorgeous, filled with bees making honey.

Russian Sage

OK, so that was eastern Washington, which is a much dryer and warmer climate, but I can dream. The MR says if it gets that big, it’ll cover up the retaining wall. Maybe mounds of Russian sage would make a pretty barrier around the orchard—deer don’t like sage you know.

Me and the MR spent a few days wine tasting in Chelan last week. Good wine, good food, nice people, and a few days away with Baby Girl in charge. It was delightful.

Me & the MR

And finally, I just have to show this picture of Sweet Miss.

B Bubbles

She’ll be 22 in just over a week. (That’s years, not months.) I shared with you our deck woes in Not Those Kind of Bubbles. The deck looks great; our deck guy, Isidro, does a great job. Now if the sun will cooperate, I’d like to spend a little time out there.

How was your July? Any big plans for August?

 

 

 

 

 

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/).

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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.