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.


Saying Goodbye to November

My herbal wreaths have faded, and I’m sitting in a world of fog. I guess that means November is gone and winter is here in earnest.

We had five days without rain last month, so when the sun comes out That Golden Glow is greatly appreciated. I came down with a cold the week before Thanksgiving–just in time for Dad’s Weekend. But me and the MR still enjoyed seeing the girls and spending time together.

We celebrated Thanksgiving with my brother and his family and are learning to be gracious and share Sweet Miss with the Fella and his family. Baby Girl was home, and we binge watched Stranger Things rather than get our tree. We’re saving that for this weekend when finals are over and Baby Girl is home for a whole month.

Besides going through lots of kleenex, I did A Little Kitchen Organization and managed to redo some chairs for Sweet Miss with The Power of Fabric.

Speaking of fabric, I’ve been anxiously waiting for some Christmas PJ flannel I ordered over Thanksgiving weekend. It’s nice to get the sale price, but it’s hard to stay patient especially on a deadline.

Another bonus of not bringing out all the Christmas decorations on Thanksgiving weekend is being able to decorate in more manageable bits. Sometimes, it’s hard to stay festive when you’re surrounded by tons of boxes.

Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving with family and friends and looking forward to sharing the Christmas spirit with you.



Moving On Up

You know how you want your kids to grow up and make their own way in life? And then when they move out, they leave behind an empty room, and you miss them?

I was catching up with my uncle at my nephew’s wedding. When his grandson moved out, his son had set up exercise equipment into that room the very same day.

Sweet Miss did move down to Oregon back in June, and I’ve been telling her that her bedroom is going to be the new sewing room for months. But she was coming with her friends to visit, and the MR is talking about painters and new carpet, and I just wanted a space here she could call her own.

Sometimes you have to embrace the fact that life moves on. So yesterday, on Sweet Miss’ 21st birthday, I started cleaning, and vacuuming, and packing. She may have only lived here for a few months before heading off to college, but her room was still filled with the stuff of life.

You may be wondering why I’d want to leave my cute sewing room off the garage. (You can check it out here.) Well, Sweet Miss’ room is just one floor up, and almost the same size and shape. It has modern luxeries like heat and air conditioning. And probably the biggest draw is fewer issues with mice.

The MR routinely catches mice in the wine cellar, the garage, and the well room. Let’s just say, my sewing room is surrounded. I’ve found droppings in my yarn, droppings in my embroidery floss, droppings in my fabric. You get the picture.

The new sewing room still has a wall of windows, albeit shorter and fewer. Since the windows are lower, I won’t have to have my desk so high and will be able to sit down while I sew—another added bonus.

Wall of Windows


Often when Sweet Miss comes home, we have other visitors, so we’ll keep her old bed but place it flat against the wall to allow for more room.

Bed Dressers


Ages ago, we had a less vibrant comforter. I’ll have to track it down or find something new.

Along that bright green wall, I have big plans.

Bed Desk Dresser


A wall of built-ins would add a ton of storage and make good use of a small space. I saw this Ikea hack on Pinterest years ago from Domino Magazine.

Ikea hack


This looks truly amazing—tons of storage, a small footprint, and very chic.  I like the way the designer added mirrors to the doors to visually expand the space. Using the same wall color for the cabinets adds to the built-in look and makes it all flow together. Maybe we can even camouflage our weird angles.

Sweet Miss has a stash of things in the closet, so this would add storage for guests and for all my sewing, knitting, crafting, beading supplies.

For now, I’ve started cleaning and removed everything from the walls. In a perfect world, we’ll have room for the cabinetry and for a double bed plus my sewing and cutting tables. I guess I need to do a little measuring, too.

This room has big changes in the future. It will no longer look like Sweet Miss when she comes home, but I know she’ll find a warm and welcoming haven on her visits.

Making changes at your house? What did your kids’ rooms become when they left home?


Let’s Get Organized

It all started with a pair of shoes. Remember when I went away for the weekend, and the MR left for work, and Baby Girl had to get herself off to school? The dogs had all of 15 minutes to behave. But will dogs behave? No.

Chewed Up Shoes

Cocoa chewed up my slippers and ate my shoes. That’s when I out-smarted her by putting my shoes in boxes and back in the built-in shelves.

Open Doorway


Over time, I gathered a few more boxes, and before you know it, I didn’t remember I had any of those shoes. Cocoa was no longer chewing them up, but I wasn’t wearing them either.

Flash forward to this spring when I picked up some shoe bins at Walmart, and some labels online. My shoes held a fashion show, I took pictures, printed off labels, and we were good to go. Unfortunately, the bins stuck out too far, and I couldn’t see the pictures, and I didn’t like the way they looked. So I just up and moved them to the other closet.


I liked my new shoe boxes so well, that I went back for a few more. They were out of stock, but Fred Meyer had similar boxes and some larger “boot” boxes, as well.


These are a little bigger than I wanted, so I haven’t added the labels just yet. The shelves are a bit high, and we didn’t have anything on them before, so maybe it’s just fine.

Now I had the organizing bug, and when I was looking through the list of new online books at my library, I came across The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. This book sounded intriguing, so immediately, I downloaded it. I’ve read more than my share of organizing/tidying books and wondered if this could be as dynamic as the title proclaimed.

Kondo talks about how reorganizing your home causes dramatic changes in lifestyle and perspective. I laughed when I read “Tidy a little a day, you’ll be tidying forever”. I’ve tried that. My cupboards are full, I’m carrying the weight of a lot of junk. Tidying a little every day doesn’t help me get ahead.

Her basic premise is to keep only what you love, what brings you joy, and then put it away. She suggested starting with clothes, books, papers, miscellany, and lastly mementos. I’m still part way through my clothes. You’ll notice I didn’t say the MR’s clothes or Baby Girl’s clothes.

“To quietly work away at disposing of your own excess is actually the best way of dealing with a family that doesn’t tidy.”

Instead of backwards hangars, or asking yourself if you’ve worn something lately, she advises getting rid of anything that doesn’t touch your heart. So I’m guessing that those clothes that make you feel old, fat, or frumpy should go. I’ve donated three trash bags full already, and my closet is so empty.

walk-through closet 2


I was able to put all my jackets and tops on one row and bring in my pants and skirts.

One of Kondo’s epiphanies is that people are storing their clothes wrong. By storing them on their sides (usually in drawers), they can breathe, get less wrinkled, and are easier to access. I have found a favorite t-shirt at the bottom of a stack looking squished and lifeless. tshirts tanks and shorts

Paring down my number of sweatshirts, I was able to bring in my t-shirts and shorts, and have easy access to everything.

Another unusual idea was rolling your socks like sushi rather than rolling or folding them. I know I said I wasn’t messing with the MR’s stuff, but I used to have agnst about stuffing all the clean socks in one tiny drawer. Now his socks are organized by color and size, and I always have room for a few more.

Socks from above


He isn’t 100% won over on this change. But sometimes you have to appease your crazy wife.

Remember my new shoe bins? Look at that closet now.

Empty closet

I got rid of the wrap dress that looked so chic but wouldn’t wrap around me. Sometimes you make a mistake and just have to let it go.

You may have noticed, I’ve taken Kondo’s advice to arrange your clothes so that they rise to the right, from heavy to light, both in weight and color. It’s sounds a little hokey to me, but why not give it a try? I’ve been organizing by color for years.

All this purging has eliminated the need to store out of season clothes. When I packed things up, often I’d forget to unpack them—especially when we had a particularly cool rainy spring and summer.

As I said before, I haven’t finished all my clothes. I still need to take a look at my jeans, my workout gear, scarves, jewelry and sweaters. Sweaters will definitely be a challenge. Kondo says to dump everything out on the floor and then pick it up, touch it, and you’ll know if you want to keep it.

“To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose.”

I’m a little fearful of tackling the books; we have a lot; and I don’t want to dump them all on the floor. Perhaps that’s why I like that she calls tidying a special occasion. Something you should dress for and not to be performed every day.

“I can think of no greater happiness in life than to be surrounded only by the things I love.”

I think I’d add the people I love, too. Either way, I’m working on it.

Any tidying advice you’d like to share? 






March–Taking It All In

You can find it all at the Big White House on the Hill.  We share decorating, gardening, organizing, philosophy, and life. I was sure March would hold big changes, but instead it’s been pretty low-key despite the lack of hot water, wasps in the roof, mice in the heat pump, and pallets full of stones waiting to be placed. I did manage to organize under the kitchen sink; it’s the small victories I hold on to.

Sometimes I have plans and ideas that just don’t jive with reality. I need to learn to Work with What I’ve Got whether it’s really fuzzy yarn or crazy hair. As you can see, we’re pretty heavy thinkers around here.



And guess what? We wouldn’t have it Any Other Way.

Daphne & Sign Up Close


I went with Baby Girl on her senior picture shoot–if you’re local, Cassie Pepper does a fabulous job–and Cassie kept telling BG to look at her mom, and then BG would start cracking up. Apparently, I was always doing something silly without knowing it–I mean totally on purpose. The fact is, we do have a good time.

When stress does creep in, all I have to do is take a look at the view, the sunrise, the sunset, or even the moon rise. We have a lot to be thankful for in those Sweet Moments.



We had plenty of sweet times celebrating Baby Girl’s birthday and Sweet Miss’ spring break. I was feeling guilty that we didn’t have a cake to celebrate, so last week after work, BG came home at 9 o’clock to find her papa and aunt and uncle here to sing to her. You can read all about our Great Week full of shopping, shows, and sisters.

The girls


Now let’s turn our thoughts to outside. When I was little we made crafts for March featuring lions and lambs; well this year, it’s all been lamb. OK, so we’ve had some rain, but the sunny spring days have been amazing. That means we’ve been enjoying Early Spring Blooms.

Bouquet Collage


And we’ve been watching The Garden Awaken as the slugs, bunnies, and birds eat my peas. The asparagus is thriving.

more buds


Perhaps It’s Time To Move On and toss out those old seeds from 2007. I retried with some onion seeds from 2012 with no luck as well. Maybe seed starting isn’t my gift.

Remember the stones and dirt Piling Up? Well, they’re still just waiting in the yard. Tomorrow will be the day, so if you’re lucky we’ll have progress next week.

So what did we do this month? The MR hung a picture in The Best Laid Plans, and I reorganized under the kitchen sink Behind Closed Doors.

Sounds like a successful month. Now you’ll have to excuse me while I watch the sunrise with my dogs.

How was your March? Any sweet moments you’d like to share?


Behind Closed Doors

On the face of it, we have these nice white cabinets. Who cares if they’re a little messy behind closed doors?

closed doors 2

Well, it’s not a big deal until a repairman and your husband have to climb under the sink over and over again when you’re hot water is on the fritz and you just smile and nod and pretend messy cabinets are no big deal, or when you’re looking for the scraper or the SOS pads that you set on the edge of the box of trash bags and they’ve disappeared in the void once more. This is all hypothetical, right? Or is it?

Under sink mess

First things first, I cleared it all out and gave the bottom of the cupboard a good scrub. Who knew we had a tube of tennis balls under the sink? Bogart loves to play and winds up losing them now and then. It can be quite handy if you actually remember you have them right there in the kitchen rather than a case all the way down in the wine cellar.

Clean Slate


I recycled the bottles destined for a craft project that never came about, tossed some old sponges, and finished off the dregs of an all-purpose cleaner with a quick toilet swish. Then it was time to put my mad building skills to the test. When I was out shopping with the girls last week, Sweet Miss stopped at the Container Store to look at office storage supplies, and I checked out the under sink organizers. This looked like it’d do the trick.



So I put my ability to follow directions to the test, and viola–there it is.Organized Up Close 2


I tried to group like items and separate poisons from plant food and dog toys. Now I can easily find my cleaning gloves and know just how many half bottles of dish soap are lurking under the sink.

There’s something to be said for the saying:

A place for everything, and everything in its place.

Perhaps now it’s time to tidy the desk area–again.

What little project did you tackle over the weekend?

Getting Maintenance In Order

Our last house was still being built when we bought it. We picked finishes and carpets and took advantage of the one-year warranty. Of course we did stay there for 13 1/2 years, remodeled the three bathrooms, the kitchen, the laundry room, and added an upstairs bonus room. That being said, we moved in at ground zero with smooth sailing for a few years.

This place was 20 plus years old when we got here. The wall oven quit working within the first two months. We’ve replaced the boiler and the hot water tank, the main kitchen’s oven, stove, microwave and dishwasher, the upstairs radiators, the pump and the 300-feet of pipe in the well, plus two toilets.

Are we done? No, the list just goes on and on. So when an error message appeared on the new (that would be almost three-years-old) microwave on new year’s day, let’s just say I wasn’t surprised. We purchased an extended warranty, because while the Jenn-Air microwave looks super sleek, the reviews were up and down. The salesman assured us those were problems from the past, but thankfully I’m not a trusting soul.

Looking at the blog for last year’s recap, I’d forgotten a lot of the little things. We had four large trees fall–make that 40 if you count all the trunks the MR had to take down on the septic mound, and tons of minor maintenance stuff.

How am I supposed to remember that it was last winter that we couldn’t keep ice cream from melting in the sub-zero freezer? That’s when the fellow came out with his hair dryer and replaced the defrost fan. Perhaps I need a better system than the annual read-through of my blog to keep track of all the maintenance issues and updates.

Let’s be honest, a lot of the little of stuff around here isn’t deemed all that blog worthy. Sure we noticed a water pressure problem after the first wind storm this fall, and we had the well’s water pressure pump replaced. The fellows also removed the old water conditioner by breaking it up and leaving a layer of sludge all over the floor of the well room. We were happy about the improved water pressure and not so happy about the mess. How do you make that into an interesting blog entry? I decided to just skip it until now.

But these little tidbits are probably a good thing to remember. Since I’m constantly losing notebooks, files, and papers, I figured an Excel spreadsheet would be my best bet.

So I have a little typing to do, but first I thought I’d share with you our maintenance activities for the past year.


  • Sub-zero repairman replaces freezer defrost fan, so we can enjoy ice cream once more.


  • Internet upgrade leads to new phone lines being laid, internet out for two weeks, but we’re no longer hooked up to our neighbor’s box in some jerry-rigged system.


  • Septic tank is pumped, purchased new filter that requires no maintenance on our part. With Sweet Miss at school, pumping can be pushed out to every three years, but we need to cut down the trees covering our septic mound to protect the pipes.

Close Up of Clearing from the Deck


  • New floor coating installed over walkways, entry, kitchen, dining room, and laundry room. Add clear-coat every six months.
  • The MR caulked around the commercial exhaust fans to stop the roof leaking on my favorite chair.


  • The MR installed a new garden gate and a hose tap in the vegetable garden.

Garden Tap


  • The MR painted the roof white/silver to extend life, fill in cracks, increase reflectivity.

Solar Panels Painted


  • The MR and his dad added a coat of sealer to the driveway for beauty and long life.

Papa at work



  • Filled in the conversation pit.

To Carpet or Not to Carpet 001


  • Added Semco flooring upstairs and replaced green carpet with the same flooring downstairs. Electrician cut heating tubes by new floor outlet nearest the dining room. Tubing was patched and all is well.

The nick 2



  • The MR added new flashing around the exhaust fans installed near the apex of the roof after a hailstorm made its way inside.

Hail on Table


  • Replaced the well’s pressure pump.


  • Blissfully uneventful, at least in the maintenance department.

Now, for this year, I have my microwave with the error code and the repairman who still hasn’t contacted me, but I have all my phone numbers and warranty cards together. And next time, it’ll be so easy to get my appliances repaired.

Do you have a maintenance notebook or computer file? How do you keep on top of repairs?