Saturday, April 27, 2013

What I learned...at Tahilla Farm




It is amazing what a difference a week can make. Last Sunday I was simply contemplating travelling solo and within a day my life turned upside down. I arrived to Tahilla Farm on Monday to brisk biting New England winds and the last remnants of snow. Saigon was a distant memory...

I admit I was nervous as I drove along the dirt road to our new home. What if I realised I made a mistake? What if what I felt when I last saw the house in October..was just a passing fancy? It was too late to turn back..we owned it..my thoughts continued in this vain...there was lots of deep breathing as I nervously clutched the steering wheel of the car. 

I parked...and looked through the trees to the mountain.. phew!...it was still there.  It was just as I
remembered. I then turned towards the house..a warm feeling welled up inside of me. I took that as a good sign. I approached the kitchen door and turned the knob..this was the moment I had been waiting all these months for. 

I have to say there was a slight pang as I stepped inside and looked around..it was not as I had remembered. For the past six months I have been staring at realtor photos..the wide angle, well lit kind. I had to do a double take..the proportions were smaller. I held my breath and continued..slowly meandering through the house..taking in every detail. As I turned from one corner to the next, it came back to me..that feeling...the reason why I took the leap of faith to buy it. It still spoke to me..we were on the same page.

That was Monday...it is now Saturday evening and I am tucked away into yet another historical B&B, listening to the hourly church bells chime and reviewing my notes from the past week.

This is what I learned this past week..

Our 150 year old tree, the one we affectionately call the 'Martha Stewart' tree..must come down. After lengthy discussions with an arborist, I was advised it has lived it's life and now risks taking out one side of our house. There is a chance it could split down the middle which as you can see from this photo...could have devastating consequences. I don't think I can bare to see it come down..we all made the decision with deep regret.






On a brighter note, after a morning with a wonderful landscape architect...who I plan to write about in more detail one day soon...we decided our first step for the property is to open up our views...first to our stone walls and then to the mountains surrounding us. Our house was built in 1790 and once sat amongst pastures and mountain views for as far as the eye could see...The house and property speak volumes to the history of the land and I am only on page one. I am a novice to the world of antique homes and historical  properties but I can grasp the beauty and importance of the land around us. It is time to bring it all back to life.











I have met with tradesmen to discuss chimneys, water systems, oil burners, propane gas heaters, wood floor treatments, pest treatment and the list goes on... We hired a groundskeeper, identified numerous trees and shrubs to be culled, decided on a simple kitchen garden and made plans to meet with an architect later in the week to discuss opportunities for our home. The ball is rolling at a steady pace. I have one more week to go and wish I had two.

Tomorrow I am consulting with a forester who I am told is a poet..who has the eye...for opening a landscape to it's best advantage. On Monday, I start addressing, dry wells, security systems, paint chips and stand by as a new water system is installed. But that is Monday and this afternoon all I wanted to do was explore. My sister and I headed to the woods..where I grabbed this piece of tree bark..for I am sure something can be done with it...one day.


Sometimes I wonder what I got myself into..and other times I am so excited I can hardly contain myself. I am dead tired at the end of the day...but the good kind of tired for it is a day filled with busy feet, a busy mind and clear, cool...fresh air..the kind you know is good for you. 

Best of all...is the time of day, when I drag the camping chair (for it is all we have at the moment)
to a sunny corner of our garden..just before the sun calls it a day.  I grab a beer...which I love at the end of a long outdoorsy kind of day, and contemplate life...the collage of life. :)




Here's to another day...may yours be exceptional!

Jeanne xx



Sunday, April 21, 2013

Travelling solo...do you?



I wonder..
as I sit in a large four poster bed, 
in the 'Sally Room',
taking in the early American decor 
around me, all the while listening
to the busy hands in the dining room, 
across the hall, preparing for morning breakfast..
if you ever travel solo.


Travelling solo..was a notion that seemed incomprehensible to me, all those years ago, when I had four small children trailing behind me. We travelled in mass or we did not travel at all and that was the way I liked it.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Meeting Edgar...






'Garden of the Gods', Colorado Springs by Edgar




Meeting Edgar...

I first met Edgar last year, when I was living in England.  
We did not meet in person but through the written word. 
He pops in every now and again and like so many of you, 
I enjoy hearing from him. 

Edgar's 'About Me' page is straightforward. 
"I am a retired physician 
who likes to read books and carry a camera. 
I will try to write about what I read
 and share images that I find interesting."

This is what I imagine a physician would say...
clear, concise and to the point. 
Then..there is the other side, 
the side we appreciate in a physician, the caring, 
understanding and compassionate side. 
I see this side in Edgar too. 

Edgar recently started a new blog, 
about books, poetry and images. 
He calls it simpleimages2

He wrote a poem.. 
WORDS THAT START WITH P 
I so enjoyed it I asked if I could share it with you. 
He said he would be honored for you to read it.
That is Edgar, a kind soul...
I can read it in his words.




WORDS THAT START WITH P


In June, coming home

from Erie Canal, Lockport Locks,

where the river's dream flows to the sea

nieces, aunt, uncle, parents, we

were playing the children's game-

porcupine, piano, palaces-

naming words that start with p

sing song voices, ascending and fading

the water filled and emptied,

the boat rose and fell

one sequential stage to the next

the key and lock in minutes.



Reaching home voices

voices diminished to whispers-

physics paints parallel

points-a heavenly lullaby

in utterance and sleep,

a different sound of peace.



One Saturday everyone joined

to hike a mountain. The children

leaped and climbed boulders

strewn in disarray everywhere,

hid behind trees, inside crevices,

read the rock's faces with

astonishment and laughter

cupped their shadows in the stream,

the forest more than a vast

playground they imagined.



We were old shepherds

looking for renewal of youth within

to define performance

in language and play.



Time promised us a gift-

the joy of encounter, the way

to divine the proximity,

the presence.


To say hello to Edgar.. click here.
Please tell him Jeanne sends her regards.
:)

For you.. 
the words of Henry David Thoreau set to a backdrop 
captured one fine spring morning in England.

A carpet of English Bluebells..by Jeanne Henriques



Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Writing it out and listening to trees...






Writing it out..
I have taken to morning writing…if only to quiet the activity in my mind. Given the tragic event and sadness around the horrific attack that occurred in Boston, you might feel the need to write as well.  I have written about this before…freewriting. It helps in all sorts of situations.  It is for the words that float in your mind, never staying still, until you write them down. The message can be as clear as day once the words are before you. If you are struggling with your thoughts and can’t seem to get hold of them. Write, type…pour it out…every last word. It may help... I hope it does.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Tahilla Farm and Porch Love



source



I am getting ready for my trip to America next week to start setting up shop in our new home,
Tahilla Farm. I have had the good word put in my ear that the locals are preparing for black fly season. My research tells me they are annoying little pests and I for one have no interest in partying with them. With that in mind I plan to be prepared. I am thinking the netting above from LL Bean will do nicely.

I was at the gym yesterday being instructed on how to twist and turn without moving my hips. Something that had me in absolute hysterics. I have a tendency to break out in laughter when facing the absurd...and it happens a lot at the gym.


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I am wondering...do you think I may be going to far with the outfit above? I am thinking the neighbours might be a little puzzled by me flapping around the property in full mosquito netting...doing twists and turns in hysterics....maybe I should just stick to the hat above and save the twists and turns for the gym. It would be fun though...

It dawned on me this week, that I have to set up a house that is completely empty. For the first time, I am not travelling with all my belongings in tow on a large ship floating across an ocean. I am dumbstruck. Where do I begin?

For any of you who have done this before...any advice? For those of you with your whits about you in times of panic..any advice? ADHD personality types (like me) do not do well with these scenarios...I can see a lot of projects half done before moving onto the next. The fact that I have five blogs floating around the blogosphere is a hint to that little fact. Enthusiasm can be my downfall.

I have been in a Pinterest frenzy...accumulating all sorts of ideas in my 'Shop' file. There is some serious love going on in that file. I now have so many ideas...that I need your advice.

Let's start with...the porch. Galley style, it looks out to the garden and further afield to a mountain view. This is my first screened in porch...I am excited about the possibilities.



I have to check the ceiling height as I wouldn't mind putting in 
one or two ceiling fans. My thinking is that they will whack off 
any lurking black flies that want to strike up a friendship.

My sister suggested a porch swing at the end..
which I think is a great idea. 

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I discovered that there is no shortage of ideas 
when it comes to a porch swing.



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I grew up in New England and admit to being 
soft hearted for quintessential New England scenes. 
I have been thinking of lining up Adirondack style chairs...


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 or maybe rocking chairs.


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Mr H and I have a two large rattan chairs 
which have followed us from 
New Zealand to England and now Vietnam. 
They are pretty similar to the one below.
Ours have matching foot stools. 
I was thinking that I could duplicate the look...
to make it feel like home.

Pottery Barn here


Then again...something a bit different...perhaps in red...
just because I love red in a New England home.

via

There is always the simpler more refined option too...

'Henri' by Horchow here

No matter where you sit.. first and foremost, 
in our home, you must feel comfortable. 
It is a Henriques family rule.
My family is quick to judge on the comfort factor. 
On a porch, where family and friends convene to shoot the breeze, 
read a book or take a nap...relaxed is best. 
Down a dirt road, in the country side..it is the only way to go.

So there you go..
which would you choose?
Porch swing?
Rocking chairs?
Adirondack chairs?
Rattan chairs?

The colour scheme for the furniture above?
Red
Green
White
Black
Natural

Any thoughts you want to add...would be so so appreciated.
I have a long way to go and I always enjoy your thoughts.

I know that some of you have trouble leaving a comment
to which I apologise profusely. I can not figure out why.

If you do...you can email me at
jeannecollageoflife@gmail.com


Before I go..I am leaving a recipe for Kim @ Arizona Traveler.
I posted this photo on Instagram this morning.
I was sharing the love for my homemade muesli.
She asked for a recipe..I thought you all might enjoy it too.
It is delish!



My favourite Muesli
125 g (4 oz) butter
3/4 cup honey
1 1/2 tbsp vanilla essence
500 g ( 1 lb) rolled oats
1 cup unsalted flower seeds
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup shredded coconut (optional)
3/4 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds
1 cup rye flakes (or similar)
1 cup chopped dried fruit ( optional)

Place butter, honey and vanilla in a small saucepan and cook gently over low heat for about 5 minutes until well combined. Toss all the other ingredients (except fruit)  in a large mixing bowl. Feel free to add your own preferences too. I add flax seeds to mine. Slowly stir the butter mixture over the dried mixture making sure that it is as well coated as possible. I do this by hand, tossing and turning as I go.

Set the oven to 170C (325F). Spread the cereal over a large baking dish, be careful not to make it to thick as it will not cook evenly. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes...keeping a close eye as it can cook quickly. Stir occasionally to  prevent sticking to the baking dish. The grains should be crisp and light brown before removing from the oven. Once to your liking, remove muesli and allow to cool. If you are adding fruit, add it at this stage. I like to mix in untoasted muesli as well. The  muesli can be stored at room temperate in an airtight container for up to one month. It makes 1.5 kg (3 lb). I have yet to see it still on the shelf in a months time.  We love it!   Adapted from Sydney Food cookbook by Bill Granger.


Lastly..as it is the weekend...
I want to send best wishes for a fabulous one!

I will be reading this book...how about you?
What are you reading these days?


Ooops...to many thoughts at once.
There goes that ADHD mind of mine again.
I must learn to control that one day! 
:)

Happy Weekend!!


Monday, April 8, 2013

English summerhouses and artisan retreats...Chelsea Flower Show

I have English summerhouses, artisan retreats and the Chelsea Flower Show on my mind.
Of all the places and events I attended whilst living in England, I have to say
the Chelsea Flower Show was my all time favourite event. 
My posts are as endless as the inspiration I drew from each and every one.
If you ever have the chance to go, do!

 I know many of you share my enthusiasm for a little spot 
where you can get away from the world and create.
I have a few ideas for you...


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

By the seashore with a flat white coffee...#sydney



I want to tell you the woman in the hat above is me…sitting by the seashore, reading a book and basking in the sunshine. But..it's not quite. I am running around Sydney's northern beaches at the moment, where we lived for many years. We are here for the week, hanging with family, visiting friends, eating lots of great food and sipping on my favourite coffee in the whole wide world.. a double shot flat white. ..Aussie style.

Our Sydney roots are in a little town near Manly, called Fairlight.  Up on a hill, looking out to the sea, sits Windswept..the other half of our home away from home. On my last post, I talked about our home way from home in the wilds of New England, Tahilla Farm. So many of you sent along very thoughtful words of encouragement for which I am exceedingly grateful. We have a place here in Australia and a place in New England. Between them we live in Chateau Mango in Ho Chi Minh City.   One day we will settle more permanently, the plans are underway. Until then...we live in a mixed up expat world. For those of you, brave enough to stay with me on the blog and try to make sense of it all..I thank you most sincerely!

For more on Australia.. Cick on 'Read more' below..

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