November 29, 2011

A Bookcation..for one

Would it be such a bad thing to pack up your books and tell the family you are heading off on a bookcation? Just you, a stack of books, a journal or two....and your laptop...maybe the phone, I am still deciding on that one. Maybe could finally get caught up. Because I want to....I really really do. I have been searching out books for gifts and there are so many beautiful books that I would love to hold in my hands and read. Instead, I will pass them on to another...happily but longingly.

Now for the destination for this bookcation...Let's see...reading on a sandy beach or by the fire in a deep arm chair. Tough decisions.....which would you choose?

That lounger in the photo above is looking pretty good to me..... you can read about it here.
Perhaps a sign on a door would be easier... Do Not Disturb...on Bookation, but only if that lounger comes with it. :)

November 27, 2011

An imaginary life...

An imaginary life...

She looked upon the vase, remembering a special place by the sea. At first glance she knew she would cherish it for years to come. It inspired her to write.  When she worked alongside it, words unfolded like the swift movement of pages in a well read novel. It inspired her to create. Bouquets of flowers fell gracefully from its hold as she sketched each elegant curve and dip of the arrangement. With the vase by her side she could hear the tide flowing in and out, feel the sea breeze against her skin and the warmth of the late afternoon sun on her back. It was there to remind her of a special place by the sea...her home.

The above is the life I imagined as I took this photo. I am far from the sea, in fact I am sitting in my favourite chair, by a roaring fire on a down right chilly evening in Surrey...but it is still fun to imagine.

My English Life.. a journey that never ends

I recently came to a conclusion. I have been finding my way in England for nearly two years now and have decided that it is a journey that never ends. I write about my favourite parts of England and my travels throughout at Finding My England. I will write on that blog 
for as long as we live in England. At the moment that it looking like June 2012.  
Until then, the life of England, as she sees it.....

Through the looking glass at Petersham Nurseries in Richmond...

and a walk down a 150ft (50m) long herbaceous garden path...
you can find the path here
Sending you very best wishes for an inspiring weekend...
perhaps by the sea? 

Jeanne xx

November 24, 2011

Love and Happiness...

Hoping your table is filled with love and happiness on
this fine day. Happy Thanksgiving to all that
are celebrating this occasion around the world today!

I am off to stuff the turkey! :)

Jeanne xx

image: Bon Appetit

November 23, 2011

the bus stop....

A bus stop in reflection...

Three mornings a week, my son, our dog Tika...and I set off to the bus stop to wait for the school bus.
It would seem an ordinary occurrence. But for me it is not, it is special. I have taken to bringing along my camera, taking photos with each visit, to mark the moment, record the sights, remember the pleasure of being with my son as we sit in the bus stop...waiting...and talking. We talk of this and that, what happened yesterday, what is on for the day and sometimes we just sit peacefully, together, with Tika nuzzling in between us. It all happens in just a few minutes, but they are precious ones to me.

Once my son is safely behind the school bus doors, Tika and I set out into the woods. A heavy fog has been sitting on Surrey these past few mornings. I half expected Sherlock Holmes and his dear Watson to come tumbling out of the forest this morning...there was a moment....

I then turned to the rising fog and mist around us... in colour.

I walk in these woods every day, I have collected endless photos, 
in all types of weather. I wonder if I will ever tire of them..
maybe some day, but not yet.

 As to the photo at the top of this post, 
it is our bus reflection.. :)

Thinking of those of you who are busy planning, cooking,
and decorating for your Thanksgiving meal. It is hard to think 
about anything else. For me, all I could manage was the bus stop....:)
Best wishes to one and all!!

images-yours truly

November 21, 2011 more red

A little Diane love from Fashion Foie Gras..a great site, you can check it out here.
My kids would be saying right now, "Mom, you are not writing about Diane Keaton again are you?"
To which I would say yes, again. I just love this ad for Chico's. I just spotted it in The Oprah Magazine.
We do not have the fashion store, Chico's in the I missed this one. Love the red, love the black turtleneck, love the glasses, love the the umbrella...just love the thing's that Diane does. Ok...I will stop now, but...really, she looks great, don't you think? :)

I am thinking on red..
Thank you all for your wonderful words of 
encouragement for our move to Vietnam next year!
So very much appreciated. :)

November 16, 2011

Packing Decisions....


Thinking about my English bike (notes on my Love Affair here) and if I would have any luck riding it on the streets of Ho Chi Minh. My guess is that anyone who has been there would think I was dreaming....

November 15, 2011

Holiday Gift Ideas #1: Home and Garden

Looking for gift ideas for the holidays? Me too. Maybe we can get organised together.
Over the next few weeks I will be sharing my Holiday Gift Ideas. A few tried and true
and somethings new. My goal is to have my shopping done by December 8th....
(Mr. H and I are off toAustralia for my son's graduation).  I say I will plan early every year,
maybe this will be theyear I actually do it. This post is kick starting me into action.
If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them! We can all shop together!


William and Son
Wellington Boot Key Ring
A tad extravagant...but so cute!
View here. PS..while you are there
scroll thru the items at the bottom of the page too.

The Making of the English Gardener
by Margaret Willes
For serious garden enthusiasts, a history on the English Gardener.
View here.

The Ten-Minute Gardener's Vegetable-Growing Diary
by Val Bourne
(Flower Growing and Fruit Growing Diaries also available)
Pithy, practical and purposeful- a handy diary.
View here.

Wooden Birdhouse with Patriotic Banners 
From Plow and Hearth
If you have a weakness for bird houses ( I do)...or 
know someone who does... this might be a nice addition.
View here.


Bill's Everyday Asian
by Bill Granger
In my books, Bill gets it right every time. An Australian,
with lots of charm and great recipes. This one will be a must.
View here.

Back to Basics Apple and Potato Peeler
From Back to Basics

This is the ultimate kitchen device. My kids love it.
We have been apple addicts ever since. Great for the 
lunch box! View here.

Mafter Exopat French Nonstick Baking Mat
From Mafter
Christmas cookies are baked to perfection on a Mafter Nonstick Baking Mat.
In my mind, they are one of the greatest inventions ever!
Details here.


Thymes Frasier Fir Candle
For me it starts with the fragrance of our family it comes with this candle. 
When we miss the fresh scent of a Christmas tree....we start here.

The H. Family Favourites....Charlie Brown and The Rat Pack

If you grew up with Charlie Brown, you will love this compilation. A classic! 
For me there is nothing better than a little Frank, Dean and Sammy,
crooning over these family Christmas favourites. View here and here.

James Taylor at Christmas
Every one of these songs is a gem. Nothing better than James Taylor 
over the holidays.  You can view the album details here.


From Elizabeth @ Pinecones and Acorns
Adopt a Nudo olive tree and reap the benefits... read here 
All things lavender from the Pelindaba Lavender here
From Donna @ Starkey Hollow
Jim Brickman A Christmas Celebration
From Sunday @ Ciao Domenica
Heath Ceramic little bud vases here


Be back soon with more ideas.... I have a few DIY coming up too.
How about you, any Holiday Gift tips you would like to pass along?
We would love to read them!

Another favourite...James Taylor singing 'River' by Joni Mitchell :)

images noted in links 

November 13, 2011

Magic Carpet Ride and 'The Housewife'

Sending you wishes for a Happy Weekend with a little story......

I can't say I am an expert on oriental rugs, except that I love them, in all shapes, colours and sizes.
But...what we don't need at the moment is more rugs. We have a few rolled up waiting in storage for our next move in the hopes that we will have rooms big enough to fit them all. When Mr. H suggests that we should probably think about downsizing now that the the kids are off to college and Vietnam is in our future, he gets 'the look'. The one that my kids really don't like, the one that says "HELLO! Are you from another planet?" I admit it, I am in downsizing denial...but I will save that topic for another day.

When we were travelling through India last month, our guide asked if we were interested in rugs. Antennas up, I wouldn't hurt to look. That was my first mistake. Upon arrival we were graciously welcomed by a very chatty fellow and taken into the world of rug hand.  Our gracious host then went on to tell us all about each carpet, where it was made, how it was made, who made it..... the sales pitch was well and truly underway. Let's just say I now have a fine appreciation for handmade rugs. The skill and time that is required is beyond what I could have ever imagined.

November 11, 2011

Marching Heroes

For heroes marching around the world, those who have come before us
and those who stand by us today. May we always be thankful,
may we always remember...may we never forget.

For my son: 

November 10, 2011

Tales of a Homemaker

On our recent trip to India, I had an interesting discussion with our guide. I have been mulling it over in my mind these past few weeks and am still smiling at his suggestion. We were having the idle 'getting to know' you sort of discussion and I knew a particular question was coming. Do you work? What do you do?

I am being honest with you when I say that I dislike this question...intensely. It started with our first move overseas.  I have a love hate relationship with travelling. Love the travel, hate the paperwork associated with it. When the little box comes up on the custom forms, asking me to fill in my Occupation, I hesitate, the pen wavers, and then I go on to fill in what I have been filling in for the past 25 years... 'HOMEMAKER'.

Why this term? It was given to me, on my first trip into Sydney in 1986. I had left that box blank. At that point I was newly married, moving to Australia, having left my career behind in the USA. What was I? I had no idea. The customs officer said I needed an answer, he could see I was confused...I was realising at that moment that I could no longer define a single word. He found the answer for me and wrote it down,  HOMEMAKER. I have filled in HOMEMAKER begrudgingly ever since....that is until now.

I explained my situation to our guide ( because I have a habit of doing things like that) and he replied..."Mrs. H, in our country we have a much better expression, it is one we hold great respect for, we refer to our wives and mothers as a HOME MINISTER". I did not hesitate for a second... Prime minister, Finance minister, Foreign minister, Health minister, Culture minister, Information Minister....surely there was room for a Home minister. I often live in my own world....blogging being a perfect example of that, why couldn't I be a HOME MINISTER?

Our guide went on to say that is a 'most revered position' and is shown great respect within his culture. I declared my love for India at that point and started to wonder if I could throw 'Esq' onto the end of my title. In Britain it is 'a title of respect for a member of the English gentry ranking just below a knight: placed after the name'. In my world, delusions of grandeur were running rampant....Jeanne H. Home Minister Esq.  Move over guys, I am coming in. That might not look half bad on a calling card. :)

...and guess what?....when we left India and it came time to fill in the entry cards into the UK....I wrote HOME MINISTER (Esq. might have been pushing it)...and have been declaring my new found title within our family ever since. Any guesses on how many ways they will use this term in the form of Christmas gifts this year??

For those of you are relating to this post, I leave you with one I wrote nearly two years ago to the day.
How ironic is that? At this point in time, I had been a blogger for all of two weeks. I wanted to start a Dear B ( blogger) series...relating to aspects of life. I wrote two posts, the one below and another entitled Packing 101. I did not think there would be much interest so I stopped writing them.

Interestingly as well, I was preparing for the move from New Zealand to England at that time...not unlike where I am now, preparing for a move from England to Vietnam.

A post written two years ago....from a two week old blogger..

Dear B....Happy Homemaker
November 3, 2009

Every once in a while my mind goes into overdrive and I find the only way to 'get it out' is to write. I wasn't quite sure how to transfer this energy into my blog but I had a thought.  One of my pet peeves in life is the Passenger Information Card I have to fill out when I travel. When I married 23 years ago, I was a happy career woman who left it all to follow her husband on an expat adventure. On our first trip to Australia, I had to fill out the PIC and left the section for 'Occupation' blank because I didn't know what to fill in. I had just married, I was moving to a new country and had no idea what I would do when we got to Australia. The Immigration Officer was not happy and asked me to fill in the card. I looked at him blankly; he looked at me quizzically and he wrote in HOMEMAKER. I was flabbergasted...I wasn't ready...

All these years later and the label has stuck. I filled in the card last week and will do it again this week. Here is my Happy Homemaker (above). I guess this is me, for now. Somehow I can relate. What follows is a letter to B... to express my anxiety and frustrations of the day. The good news is I always feel better when I do this...helps to clear the mind. 

Letter #1

Dear B...
Help! I am using this blog to help 'shape the thoughts that stir within' and the thoughts do 'runneth' over. 
I started this Blog two weeks ago and I think about writing day and night. I have so many writing pads around me that I don't know which one is for which. Is the pink journal for last week's thoughts or this week or is it the blue one? When I take my daily walks I look like a tech psychopath. Camera in one hand to take photos for blog, voice recorder in other to make instant note of thoughts in my head and a mobile phone..well, just because. Juggling all three with a bottle of water and a dog on a lead is not an easy task!
I have changed the photo on my blog and am in despair. I had my favourite pink flower photo...but I love my photo from Papua New Guinea. Am I a pink girl or is my true colour orange??? I love interior design, but I love photography too and then there is travel and all those beautiful blogs to look at. What about books and reading and all the wonderful blogs for that and then there are recipes and more blogs for that and I am now at the point where I am afraid to look at anyone's blog for fear of finding another to add to my list. To follow or to add to blog list, that is the question!
I have mountains of paperwork, I leave on a trip overseas the day after tomorrow, I haven't unpacked from last weeks trip and I am still contemplating how I am going to fit a King size possum blanket in one of my suitcases. That's another story but I wont' go there now.
My friends and family are worried, I fear an intervention may be in the works and here I sit.... hysterical yet happy as a clam...I'm writing:)
Harried but Happy Homemaker

Best wishes for a fabulous day from 
Jeanne H...Home Minister Esq.  :) 

PS..Sorry for the length of  todays post..
there are days when you just have to get it out...don't you think?

November 7, 2011

Vietnam Bloggers Tour?

Today I am doing a bit of forward thinking. I am laying the groundwork for our move to 
Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh) next year and decided I should first see where it is actually located.  I am not sure why I thought it was an island...I now stand corrected. It helps to get your geography in 
perspective when you are making a move. :) 


Mr. H handed me an enormous document to read that will tell me all I need to know. 
Being a visual person, I like to look at the photos first and read the copy last. 
This document does not have decided to find my own.

I admit, I went for the nicest photos first but it is early days...
I am getting myself motivated and to do so...
I have to do it my way. :)



I don't know about you...but I am starting to think Vietnam will be 
an interesting place to live. I also think I am going to need lots of visitors 
to show around. We can go sightseeing, take cooking classes, 
take the cameras for a spin, do a bit of spa hopping, go shopping in the markets.....
how does Jeanne's Vietnam Bloggers Tour sound? Any takers?

If you are interested in following me you can click here.

Tomorrow's post ...
Back to India on a magic carpet ride....and 
a few words on the 'housewife'.  :))

November 6, 2011

Expat Life: Spin the Globe and a Postscript

"Theatrum Orbis Terrarum" (Theatre of the World) c. 1570 

We are spinning the globe at the moment as we await news on our next assignment overseas. Rather, my head is spinning as we await the news. This is all happening a bit too soon for me. We are only coming up to two years in England. It will have been our shortest posting so far. So here I sit...waiting to spill the beans. I have been here before. I nearly blurted out six months ago that we were moving to Central America...but we are not. I nearly blurted out three months ago that we were moving to Switzerland...but now we are not. I nearly blurted out two weeks ago that we were staying in London...but we are not.  Can you see my point? Until we know for certain....

November 4, 2011

Magic Carpet Ride and 'The Housewife'

Sending you wishes for a Happy Weekend with a little story......

I can't say I am an expert on oriental rugs, except that I love them, in all shapes, colours and sizes.
But...what we don't need at the moment is more rugs. We have a few rolled up waiting in storage for our next move in the hopes that we will have rooms big enough to fit them all. When Mr. H suggests that we should probably think about downsizing now that the the kids are off to college and Vietnam is in our future, he gets 'the look'. The one that my kids really don't like, the one that says "HELLO! Are you from another planet?" I admit it, I am in downsizing denial...but I will save that topic for another day.

November 3, 2011

The Brown Paper Book Club

I am coming to you by way of a post 
I wrote on one of my other blogs, 
entitled The Brown Paper Book Club
I am closing down the blog and bringing 
a few ideas over to Collage of Life.

 The Brown Paper Book Club

This idea started with a secret passion of mine 
when we lived in New Zealand.