December 31, 2012

A potful of wishes for 2013

Dear friends...

If I could fill this pot with all the words 
I want to wish you for this new year...
it just wouldn't be big enough.

So I will say..

On this last day of 2012, 
to my Aussie and Kiwi family and friends 
who are a few hours away 
from rolling in the new year, 
to my European friends 
who are in the midst of the day, 
to my American friends and family 
who are in the wee hours of the morning
 and to all of you in between..
from sea to sea, from shore to shore.

I send you my very best wishes 
for the happiest of new years.
May you find creative spontaneity 
in all  the days to come.
May you be surrounded by the people 
you hold dear to your heart.

May joy and laughter fill your life..

and on those days
when you are feeling quiet and reflective,
because we do have days like that..

 May you find beauty around you to lift your spirits.

A graceful touch,

encouraging words,

a whisper of sunshine,

and when you are ready,
may your journey be full of promise.

From Hoi An, Vietnam.. 
I toast my glass
to each and every one of you...
thanking you
for your readership and friendship 
over this past year.
I don't think it can get any better 
than that for me.

Here's to you! 



Jeanne xx

Images taken by me 
while observing life 
these past few days
 in Hoi An, Vietnam

December 25, 2012

Christmas at Chateau Mango, Vietnam

Christmas lights in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

From the bright lights of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
and our orange coloured home,  Chateau Mango...

We send our warmest wishes to you and yours...
for a wonderful holiday.

May your days and nights be merry and bright.

and filled with wonderful surprises.

When the time comes..
and you have a moment to rest.

From me to you...

I want to offer my deepest appreciation to you
for reading Collage of Life.  It's a crazy world we live in
and I know it can be complicated to follow along.
Today...'Chateau Mango' in Vietnam,  
my last post... 'Tahilla Farm' in the USA,
and then there is  'Windswept' in Australia.

You help me make sense of my world and for that
I am sincerely grateful. I only hope and pray
that in some small way, I can inspire in you, what
 you inspire in me.

Wishing you a...
Merry Christmas with warmest wishes 
for a very Happy New Year!

Jeanne :)

Where I put my feet up at the end of the day.
my travelling chaise , in Chateau Mango.
Note the is well suited!

Where do you put your feet up 
at the end of the day?

December 18, 2012

A leap of Tahilla Farm

Photo by Joe Valentine of Notes from Juniper HIll

'I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, 
which, if we unconsciously yield to it, 
will direct us aright'

Henry David Thoreau

Leap of faith...

I recently followed the wise words of Henry David Thoreau
and made a decision..a leap of faith to be exact.
In October, I wrote that we were looking for a home in the
 I drove along the coast roads of Maine to the southwest corner 
of New Hampshire and found a house in each to ponder.
I took lots of photos and winged my way back to Vietnam
 to confer with Mr. H and to make a decision.

For lots of reason but mostly for that feeling 
you get when you just know...

 A gentlewoman's farm...

We chose an antique farmhouse in a small town 
in the Monadnock mountain region of New Hampshire.
I was told it is a gentleman's farm,
 one for pleasure rather than income.
For me it will always be a gentlewoman's farm, 
for that's what it was to the woman before me,
for many years. 

  Small towns...

This is a small town story that started with this blog.
In 2010, a lovely reader, Lisa, placed a comment 
for a surprise giveaway I was having on Collage of Life. 
To enter, readers had to answer a few questions about themselves.

Lisa wrote...

Coming to you from Vermont (home of the Trapp Family)
...Yes, the hills are alive!
I follow cashmerejeans, but also visit Collage of Life.
- My eyes are blue/green with flecks of brown.
- I love Fall.
- I rarely wear perfume.
- Last book was May Sarton- Plant Dreaming Deep 
and Jud Hale's Inside New England 
( I read two at a time, depending on the mood!)
- Last movie- The King's Speech
- Last CD- Nick Drake and another by Sam Bush

Our email trail into friendship began with this comment.
As luck would have it, she was one of the giveaway winners.
We wrote emails back and forth and along the way Lisa told me 
about a town in New Hampshire, where she once lived 
and longs to be again. She had me hooked from the start.

We corresponded the following year about small town life
 in New Hampshire and Vermont. She had a wealth of knowledge 
to draw upon for she has settled many people 
into new homes from her experience as a realtor. She has a genuine
desire to help people find the right fit and has a gift for it too.

The rewards are it's people... 

I grew up in a small town so I know all about it. 
It's a small world.
Lisa introduced me to Joe at Notes from Juniper Hill  
who happens to live close to Tahilla farm. 

Lisa wrote...

You would have to know Joe and his eye for detail and his 
humble ways, as his home and gardens are a true reflection of his soul.  
He would often stop by as I was in my garden and remark how beautiful it looked...

I wrote to Joe and he wrote back and another friendship was born.
The email trail into friendship continued.
 I also connected with his partner, Paula. 
For the past year we have all been writing back and forth, 
like the oldest of friends. I was thrilled when we were 
able to meet while I was house hunting. When I asked 
if they would mind having a second look at the house with me, 
they were happy to do so. As soon as we got to the property...
they felt what I felt.  I knew they would.

Team Tahilla..

When we decided to make an offer on the house, I asked for help.
 Paula recommended Jim, an attorney.
Jim recommended  Gary, a house inspector.  
Gary is now our property manager.
It was with the help of Lisa, 
her partner John, with Joe, Paula, Gary, Jim
and Jim's assistant, Tricia...that it evolved. 

My thanks...

With this come my thanks for the time and effort 
they all put into making our dream a reality. 
I had to put my faith in them for I could not be there. 
Lisa and John travelled three hours back and forth from Vermont, 
where they live, for every inspection, every appointment. 
Joe joined them on each occasion...along with Gary. 
Team Tahilla was in action, reporting to me on every front. 
Many of the photos were taken by Joe on his many trips to the house. 
He spotted the deer in the woods from the front of the house. 
Thoreau's subtle magnetism in nature at it's best.

Small town love...

Paula helped me to keep my sanity with her wit and charm 
and reports on activity in the region. Along the way I met Maude, 
who wrote to say that Joe had recommended Collage of Life to her
and she was pleased to know that I would be moving to town.
Hands and words stretching out across the sea..small town love.

To every story, there is a beginning...

This is our beginning for Tahilla Farm.
Down a dirt the southwest corner of New Hampshire.
Where the birds sing, the trees reach to the sky...and silence is golden.
The first of many country chapters in the collage of life.


I want to thank you all for your words of encouragement
these past few months. When we moved to Vietnam in July, life was
full and it has continued to be ever since. My mind has been 
here there and everywhere with little time for blogging. 
I thank you kindly for your patience..I have been so remiss
in staying in touch. As much as I enjoyed 2012....I am ready for 2013. 

I will be back with more on Tahilla Farm.
There is lots more to share, stories to tell and most of all
I will need construction, decorating and gardening advice.
It will be a journey...
I am so glad you will be there with me! 

 A Christmas wish for a Christmas farm...

In case you are wondering what Tahilla stand for.
It is a place in County Kerry, Ireland.
I like to think it as two places, each one 
connecting at the end of a rainbow.
The pot of gold is sitting in New Hampshire.

Sending you blessed Irish wishes 
for a very Merry Christmas...

Jeanne xx

With thanks to Joe for many of the photos above.

December 16, 2012


We pray...
The sorrow we all feel 
for the community 
of Newtown, Connecticut
is beyond measure.
They suffer deeply.
I hope you will join me in prayer 
for the little souls and brave women
who left this life so tragically.
For them and their families, 
we pray.

December 10, 2012


Just a little reminder to take time for yourself.
The days pass quickly, the list gets longer
and stress levels tend to rise.

Take care...


The story behind the pictures. 
On my dressing table...
A pink glass bird to remind me of the beauty in nature.
A pocket clock from Windsor Castle... a day to remember, here.
A perfume bottle, in pink, my daughter's favourite colour.
A dragonfly, from my friend Evelyn...we have been exchanging them for years.
It was my father's favourite phrase.
I do believe...I do, I do, I do.

I hope you do too!

December 5, 2012

Discovering Angkor Wat...Cambodia

We had 24 hours last weekend in Siem Reap, Cambodia,
 give or take a few.

Our objective was to participate in the 
We had a few choices.
I was asked if I was going to run in the 21K marathon?...ah, no.
The 10K marathon?...ah, no...but Mr. H did.
The 3K Family Fun walk?...ah, yes. 
It's a long story, involving a sore foot...but more importantly, 
the race was in aid of children and the disabled in Cambodia...
a very worthy cause. :)

My son and I took a half day tour of Angkor Wat, 
a World Heritage site and the largest Hindu temple complex in the world. 
It was a sight to behold and most definitely requires another visit.

In between your Christmas shopping, 
decorating and I hope a latte break..
here a few shots to hopefully inspire you to visit.

My favourite photo, 
was the moment this Buddhist monk walked into my shot.
Talk about timing...

Photographing Angkor Wat is a challenge. Stone is stone and to make the most of it
you need the right light. I was off by a few hours. Take note...if you are planning to 
visit..I would recommend taking in sunrise over Angkor Wat, 
I hear it is magnificent and perfect lighting for photographs.

We started at 8:00am and finished at noon.
The sun started to cast heavy shadows..which
worked in some shots and not in others.

Photography aside, it is hard not to be in awe of this magnificent structure.
I hope to one day spend time taking a closer look...binoculars preferred.
Siam Reap is only an hours flight from Ho Chi Minh City...
so I am counting on a next time.

I had to laugh when the umbrella worked it's way into my photo. 
There were more tourists than you could possibly imagine...bus loads. 
Another challenge when you are looking for quiet, reflective shots.
I hope to return when the tourists are few...
the rainy season should just about do it for me.
They say it is lush and peaceful...with very few tourists.
Sounds perfect to me.

Yes, I admit, I did add a filter to my camera lens on this one (below) a treat in the
sun but is problematic when you forget to take it off when shooting indoors.

Through the crowds, I zoomed in on this Cambodian beauty. A 200mm zoom lens
was perfect for this location. I use it like binoculars, looking closely and then
snapping images I like.

With a cheeky glint in his eyes
he toppled over backwards into the water, much to the delight
of the tourists milling about.

I hope I peaked a little interest in Angkor Wat. 
If I can answer any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

In the meantime, 
from my home to yours...wishing you all the
best as you prepare for the holiday season.

Race morning...bright and early, sunrise over Angkor Wat.