October 22, 2014

Moving along….in more ways than one

I have been asked how things are moving along at Tahilla Farm…our home away from home in New Hampshire. So much has happened, so quickly, that I am not sure where to begin.

For the love of a little farmhouse…
For those of you who are new to Collage of Life…the Tahilla Farm story began in 2012 with a search for a house down a country road…somewhere in New England. I found it in the Monadnock region of New Hampshire. The property (35 acres) has a historic colonial house built in 1790, a barn and a carriage house. Once we bought the house we started thinking….and haven't stopped.

An eye to a meadow and a stone wall,  Tahilla Farm,  July, 2014

The land...
There was a time when our little house overlooked far distant fields, most likely for animal grazing. Since then, and we are not sure how long it has been, trees and more trees reclaimed the land.  In between the trees, we caught a glimpse of a mountain top. With the help of landscape designer, Gordon Hayward, a plan was developed to bring back the fields, meadows and a view to the mountain. Gordon then introduced us to forester, Swift Corwin and master stone craftsman, Dan Snow. Our luck was with us.  In 2013 and 2014 trees were cleared, the land was tilled and broken down fieldstone walls took their rightful place once again.

View to a mountain, before and after…Tahilla Farm,  2012 and 2014

The house...
If you refer to the picture below, you will see that there are three parts to our house. The original home, built in 1790 and two wings, left and right. The one on the left contained the master bedroom. The one on the right, the kitchen, dining, porch and guest room. The 1790 section has two bedroom with adjacent baths, a finished attic, and the original study and keeping room. Although it was well suited to the previous owner, an elderly woman living on her own, we knew it would not suit our big bustling extended family who frequently visit. We set the ideas in motion with the help of Sheldon Pennoyer, our insightful architect who takes all our crazy ideas in stride.

The "before" photo, taken August 2014

In the past six weeks, a team of industrious men and women have been hard at work taking it all apart and starting anew.  In the historic house, we are replacing the siding, insulating and replacing the roof, replacing windows, putting fireplaces back in working order and changing bathroom fixtures. The team recently finished building a new foundation, see photos below. Our little 1790 house will withstand the element for many years to come…holding back rain and wind, keeping the occupants inside comfy and cozy during the winter months.

Sheldon's plans for 1790 upgrade

What will be…
From the historic section of the house we will once again have a "family wing" which will contain an open plan kitchen/living space, extended day porch, entry porch, foyer, half bath and mudroom.  The operative word in this section will be "windows" there will be plenty of them. Our views will be to the west and the east, taking in mountain views to the east and a woodland setting to the west.

The "master wing" went back to the drawing board for a second time after the removal of our old and ailing maple tree, "Martha" in August When she came down and exposed views to the mountain, we scrapped our plans and decided to reconfigure the space to take advantage of the mountain views. Our views will extend to the east and south.

In addition to all of this, we are moving our barn back a few feet to allow for all the changes.

I thought it would take weeks to take down the two wings and just as long to dismantle the barn. Not so…I think it took three days…max.   BOOM..down and out.

View to "family wing" foundation, far left and the barn, above.

In just six weeks, two wings have come down, two foundations have been poured, with one more to go for the master wing. We are nearly there.

You might ask how I am keeping my sanity through it all. The answer: complete trust in the team we selected to do the job. We have every confidence in their ability and with just six weeks down and many more to go, we have not doubted our decision. I am sure there will be surprises along the way, we have already had a few. I will be back in a few weeks to check on the progress, in the meantime, I remain optimistic…and somewhat sane. 

Through the miles...

I mentioned that things were moving along in more ways than one...
I seem to be in a constant state of motion as well. I am writing this post from Hong Kong. Last week I was home in Saigon and the week before that in Laos. Next week I am back in Saigon and then off to Sydney…and then the USA. In fact over the next six months, I will be counting more air miles than ever before. Two trips to Australia, two trips to the USA, back to Hong Kong, a trip to Japan..and it goes on. I am not complaining but I admit it is challenging in the face of the travel risks we face today. All I can do is fly smart, consider where I am going and plan accordingly. The one things that keeps me going is that all these trips are connected to visiting with my children. I would go to any length to be with them…even travelling around the world and back again.

A busy year?…you betcha! Though all the miles I keep my sights set on my family and a little farmhouse down a country road. It's worth the miles!

Before I go…I always like to leave you with a little something that will hopefully brighten your day.

While working at Tahilla Farm this summer I created a playlist of my favourite songs. They suit the environment, a little bit folksy..and thoughtful. I am thinking you might like a few of them too. I hope you do!


Build Me Up From Bones by Sara Jarosz

With that I say farewell and send you best wishes..
wherever you are in this crazy world of ours.

Jeanne :)

I post regularly on Instagram.
You can find me here.
Hope to chat with you over there as well!

October 7, 2014

An extraordinary travel moment...in Laos

Imagine for a moment, that you are lounging on a private longboat, floating down the Mekong River along the shores of Luang Prabang in Laos. The day is yours, you are there to experience life on the mighty Mekong and have until well after sunset to do so. You are in the capable hands of a knowledgeable guide who is only to happy to share the beautiful countryside that is her home, a place you know little about. You hop off and on the boat happily taking in all the sights around you...cameras at the ready.