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.

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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.

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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?

 

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?

Stormy Days

We’ve all read that classic scary tale that starts off: It was a dark and stormy night.  I feel like that perfectly captures our days lately, but rather than night, our story would begin: It was a dark and stormy day…

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The gloomy skies are a total contrast to the joy of Christmas with the girls and Sweet Miss’ Fella home. We had food, and gifts, and excitement. Our whole local family was here on Christmas Day. We played games and gathered around our new table. Laughter filled the air.

 

Maybe we just have to make our own sunshine. 

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?

 

 

 

 

The Colors of Fall

I was chatting the other day with a lady who had lived in Vermont and was missing the fall color and playing in the piles of leaves. Our leaves do tend to clump together in a sodden, mucky mess, but we do have our fair share of color.

The MR’s friend is training to get his pilot’s license and flies over the valley often. He captured this picture of our house in the midst of all the colors of fall—a view I rarely see.

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This is more of the vantage point I’m used to with leaves of gold and vibrant orange coloring our trees.

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And the view of the valley filled with color.

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The trees lining the driveway are dropping their leaves, and the MR goes out with the leaf blower to try to keep the it from turning into a mess. It’s a losing battle at best.

Soon the leaves will be gone and we’ll be left with our forest of green and a beautiful view of the river. I do love our view in every season.

Wishing you a colorful fall.

 

 

A Little Drama

Our driveway has this dramatic turn at the bottom that gives visitors the first glimpse of our home.

When we first moved in, the house looked pretty good but the yard left a lot to be desired. (OK, so they both needed some help. We didn’t have any curtains in the master bedroom or bath, so I hung up panels from our last house. They make our shades looks so civilized in comparison.)

Outside view of master

Year after year, we’ve added a little of this and a little of that. And then last spring, the MR hired a friend to put in some landscaping for Baby Girl’s grad party. It was more than a tiny upgrade.

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Over the last year, the plants have started to fill in, and we added a few annuals from the high school’s FFA plant sale. I’m fairly please with the view these days.

But the MR always wants to go one step further. He decided landscape lighting was the ticket to really bump up the wow factor. He found some solar lights on Amazon with no wires and simple install.

These lights soak up the sun during the day and highlight our trees at night—a total win-win.

ALD Solar Lights in the Day

So in the day time, they look pretty good.

ALD Solar Light on Maple DT

And at night they look impressive, too.

ALD Light on Maple at Night

It’s rather nice to come home to this after taking the dog for her evening walk.

ALD Lights in the Dark

The 90-degree heat has done a number on the grass, but the cool days of autumn are on their way along with the accompanying rains. It’s fun to be able to add just a little light to the darkness or our valley.

Have you ever experimented with outdoor lighting?

 

 

 

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.

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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?