December 25, 2015

Merry Merry from Tahilla Farm!

It's the wee hours 
of the morning, 
the kiddies 
are sleeping, 
Mr. H is stirring
 and I could not start 
my Christmas morning 
without popping in 
to wish you 
a Happy Christmas!

December 4, 2015

Tumbleweeds and Birthday Wishes...latest from Tahilla Farm

Path to the mountains...Tahilla Farm

Good Morning!

Some of you may wonder if I stepped off into the woodlands never to return. Some days feel like that, but I am here, still running around Tahilla Farm with workmen coming in and out of the nest every day. It's been a month since I returned..and I look around and think how much there is still to do. And then I stop....look out the window and think..maybe I'll work on it tomorrow.

November 8, 2015

Three Moves and a .....

On Monday, lounging at  Hong Kong airport…

Dear Friends,

What a week, it's hard to believe all that has happened in the past few days. On the first day of November, I posted on Instagram ..

Hello, November.
Surprise me.

 I had a feeling when I posted it that I should be careful what I wish for..and I was right.

November 1, 2015

Be the soul....

Thinking in Saigon..

And so it begins again...this crazy mixed up world of mine. I am in the throws of packing for my return to the USA, feeling as I always do, split between countries. Half excited, half nervous, half sad, half joyful. I am never sure which order to put it all in...or if I even need to put it in an order. Just being should be enough..but I am not quite there yet. 

October 24, 2015

Poetry and Paint..a recipe for the soul

Collage of Life..the beginning here

Poetry and Paint...
Many years ago, I dabbled with poetry and paint. It seemed another life, those days living in Sydney, a time when I felt the call of New England (my roots) so strongly that the best remedy was to read poetry and think of how to translate it to something meaningful to me. Many paintings emerged, some to be forgotten and others remembered. Collage of Life was my first (above), in painting and blog.. here  The other is Winter Birch, below.

October 19, 2015

Sharing the LOVE: Around the World

'Odalisque in Red Jacket'
by Henri Matisse, 1927

I have decided to jump right in and tell you about something new on the blog. I am going to create a series of posts entitled 'Sharing the LOVE'. Within these posts I will be sharing the love for..well...everything. Call it a few of my favourite's that I think you will like too. The timing is right with the holidays just around the corner and I always say there is no time like the present.

Shall we get started?

October 8, 2015

Christmas, Coconuts and Operation Xin Chao

'Room At The Top'
Mason Maloof Designs


People often ask me what I enjoy most about living in Vietnam. It's a long list but right there at the top has to be spa treatments. Massage, scrubs, facials, reflexology, mani, pedi...I am all for it. I am not afraid to admit it...I am a spa junkie.

So...the other day, there I was, ready to move into relax mode with a coconut scrub massage to the tunes of that all relaxing spa music where Tibetan bells ring and birds sing. It was perfect, until the music suddenly switched to...O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree. 

September 19, 2015

A classic, a secret, a gate and dusty bluebells...

Art. Poetry. Life.

Sometimes random things just happen and you want to share. I have been sitting here this past hour with a grin from here to there...loving the whimsy and nostalgia of English artist, Gary Bunt. I came across him by chance and thought I would share the smile.  Do you ever curl up with a classic, with your favourite pet snuggled in close? Have you ever stood in wonder at the mighty sunflower? Do you have a place where you go...where you just stop and wait? A secret place? Have you walked amidst the dusty bluebells or something just as breathtaking? If it sounds like you or someone you know, read on...

'A Classic'
by Gary Bunt
Portland Gallery, London

The sound of the sea
My dog next to me
There's nothing more that I need
Life seems complete
With the weight of my feet
And a Penguin classic to read
~ Gary Bunt~

September 14, 2015

The Girlfriend Factor...

I can't tell you how excited I was when a brown paper package 
appeared in my mailbox at Tahilla Farm.

I had been counting the days for it's arrival.

I tore it open, headed straight to our half constructed porch,
pulled up a chair in between the bzzzz, clang and boom 
of the chaos around me
and let myself get lost in the pages of Sharon Santoni's
 first book...

September 5, 2015

Are we there yet?

?..are we there yet..?
Construction countdown....

Ever been on a long journey with someone asking "are we there yet?" every five minutes? Does it drive you crazy too? If it does, you will appreciate why I needed to take a blogging break these past few weeks...for I would have surely driven you as crazy as I did a few others. Tahilla Farm is in construction countdown and I have been beside a decision making frenzy.

July 31, 2015

Listen to your life….

Life… the holy and hidden heart of it in the mountains of New Hampshire.

If I were called upon 
to state
in a few words
the essence of everything
I was trying to say
it would be something 
like this:

July 27, 2015

Through The Looking-Glass…40 years later

Jeanne Marie
Favorite Saying:
Friendship is a horizon which expands as you approach it.
To discover the life of the mind, pursue wisdom,
and to take a place in the world.

Yes, my friends, that is me, a turtleneck kind of girl, sporting a classic high school yearbook pose in 1975. Have you looked at your teenage self recently? Earlier in the month, I took the plunge and went to my first ever high school reunion. Looking at my high school yearbook was the first step in my backwards journey.

June 29, 2015

The Summer Rental and my Airbnb BFF

Mrs. H gets an idea…which leads to a summer rental and her Airbnb BFF.

Last summer I had an epiphany after a very large ailing maple tree was cut down at Tahilla Farm. The epiphany went along the lines of tweaking the architects plans to take in a wider view of the landscape. My idea was a long shot but it worked. Unfortunately, I was a bit short on the math in regards to timing. I packed up the house, sent the contents into storage thinking that we would return to Tahilla in May/June 2015. I was delusional and off by five months with a more realistic date given to me of October 2015.

June 23, 2015

Feels like home….

Construction anxiety….
It has been exactly one week since I returned to Tahilla Farm by way of a birthday celebration in San Francisco and our home, Chateau Mango, in Vietnam. I admitted to anyone who would listen that I was nervous about going back. Call it a case of construction anxiety but I could not help but wonder if I would drive up to Tahilla Farm...and fall flat on my face wondering what we had done. 

June 16, 2015

By way of San Francisco…

Along the way to Lombard Street...
On the road again…
I am on the road to Tahilla by way of San Francisco. We stopped into SF for a family reunion to celebrate my mother-in-law's 85th birthday.  I have written about her over the years, when she was 80 with The Intrepid Traveller and 82 with The Travelling Sisterhood. She is an amazing woman and an inspiration at 85…I have every confidence that she will still be travelling the world at 90. There is no stopping that woman once she sets her mind to something. I love that about her.

June 3, 2015

KITCHEN TALK..yours and mine

Well that was fun! I just finished reading your comments to The Apron post, thank you all so much! It seems I am not the only with a case of apron love.  You said...some aprons were sewn with threads of love, some pockets are used for wine corks and candy wrappers (like me). The bib seemed to be the preferred apron style. A chef coat was mentioned which is a fabulous idea. Some prefer the pinafore and others are just happy with the splatter.  I always find it fascinating to read your thoughts...they are so much like mine. I love that!

May 26, 2015

THE APRON..your thoughts?

I would love your advice.....
Grand Apron
by Bowl and Pitcher
I am an apron wearer from way back and akin it to the love for a security blanket. If you are the sort of person who likes to sit on a couch with a pillow close at will appreciate the feeling...there is something comforting about that pillow. I feel the same way about aprons. They are my go to for every activity...I can always think of an excuse to wear one. Cooking, laundry, painting, gardening, cleaning..even writing on my blog.

May 19, 2015

Stepping Out…Stepping In…Smile.

Stepping up..Oudong Mountain, Cambodia

 Ever feel like you need to step out before you can step in?

You know that feeling when you get itchy feet, the mind can't quite settle and you need to 'step out', whether it be in body or mind. The remedy is often straightforward… it might be a heavy day of weed whacking in your garden, cycling along your favourite roads, kayaking to that special place that makes you hum as you glide along, having a time out at a cafe, museum wandering or sitting on a bench, watching the world go by. Wherever you go, physically or mentally…it can make all the difference.

May 11, 2015

Hip Hop Happening Mama and a Paleo Priest

A few years ago, I wrote a post about my friend Z.....and our quest to become Hip Hop Happening Mama's. We were approaching 50 and we had a plan. We aimed to be Hip Hop Happening Mama's forever more. Complaining about age was not allowed, one had to get on with it. We had guidelines..

May 8, 2015

Nine months and counting...Tahilla Farm

Greatest the most unlikely places
Conversing with the world..
Those of you who have been with me these past five plus years will know that I started Collage of Life in the midst of a move from New Zealand to England (2009) and that I continued writing through our move to Vietnam (2012). No one is more surprised than me that I am still writing in 2015.

April 30, 2015

Down the garden a plant lover's paradise

Rex Whistler illustration

What type of gardener are you? 
Are you a dirt gardener, one who loves 
the earthy scent of freshly tilled soil,
one who can't wait to dig in?

April 20, 2015

It started and ended with a boathouse in Maine..

E. B White in a boathouse, Allen Cove, Maine 1976
Photograph by Jill Krementz

Do you ever wonder how you get through the day..when you haven't even left the house? You might call me the Queen of Distraction. Are you that person too? You start doing one thing and before you know it you have started an endless number of tasks...and haven't finished a single one. Then you wonder what  possessed you and who is going to clean up the mess you just made? Why you of course.

April 10, 2015

Once I was and now I am..

Lauren Tamaki

To be an athlete...or not to be
If I were to tell you I am a crazed fitness junkie who jumps out of bed, throws on the running gear and pounds the city streets every morning..I would be lying. I can think of nothing worse.

March 25, 2015

And then it Australia

In Australia...
Something special happened last weekend...we gained a new member to our family. Actually, not just one member, but in fact, I think we gained a good portion of a least that is what it felt like by the time we all departed the wedding and it felt wonderful. 

But let me back up a few hours. We arrived, to the wedding...the mother, the father, the brother and one of the sisters (the other one is studying in Cameroon) and wondered how this would work. We were four of 80+ guests and we did not know a single person other than the bride, the groom and the maid of honor who we met the night before. And then it happened, we were met by the warm embrace of the other guests who as it turned out were one big extended family. They mostly hailed from Canberra...I now love Canberra. Canberrians are people to love!

If you know Aussies, you will know that they are some of the most genuine, fun loving and outgoing people on the face of the planet. I thought Americans and Canadians had this covered but I think the Australians might have one up on us. Being a dual citizen, both American and Australian, I feel honoured...but I digress.

I knew from the first heartwarming welcome that I was going to kick myself for forgetting to bring along a case of tissues to hold back the tears...for they did flow.

They started flowing
when I looked up at my smiling son, 
in his military whites,
waiting for his bride-to-be...Cherie.
(tissue alert)

Patrick...the wait.

March 17, 2015

A Happy Australia

It started when I was looking looking at photos..that feeling you get when tears starts to roll in from distant places and you blink to say it can't be so and then you suddenly catch your breath, take a deep breath and you realise there is no stopping it...the flood gates have opened. Tears..happy tears.

Saying that, I  have to tell not a pretty sight. I am the one who goes all puffy and splotchy and needs to be gently guided into a dark room, so as not to scare the others.  The only upside on my appearance is that my eyes become bright blue.  I think it is the red splotchy part that highlights them. Never seems to work together.

What's all the fuss about? The little guy below is my eldest son Patrick..who is getting married on Saturday, in Australia. Patrick and I sat in a photo booth together, 24 years ago...and I am feeling mother's do.

March 13, 2015

The Charm of Mystery....

Gecko our front door, Chateau Mango

The evening air sits heavy outside our doorstep, dense in the sweet scent of jasmine. Not a bad way to end the week. In retrospect, it did not seem that crazy a week..until Thursday rolled around and I had a feeling I may have gone to far.

But first, Monday...

March 8, 2015

A Recipe for Friendship...#28

28 Day Writing Challenge...a recipe for friendship
Click on photo to view

This is the final post of my 28 Day Writing Challenge..
which turned out to be a 36 Day Challenge. 
Not perfect but close enough.

March 6, 2015

Friday Chat..your thoughts #27

#fridayflowers #chateaumango #vietnam

My ideas for posts usually come to me on the day. There is no master plan...I just wait to feel inspired. So you can imagine, what a 28 Day Writing Challenge must feel like without a plan. I have to stay on my toes and yet it never seems to take much.

March 5, 2015

Update: MOG Wedding Dress #26

That's me...the little sailor girl.
I can tell by the look on my face and the pose
that I was busting to get the photo over and be on the move.
Either that or I was feeling pretty special in my outfit. be a sailor girl again. 

March 2, 2015

A Writer's Studio..#24

Virgina McKenna on set, 'Born Free' 1966

I am easily distracted so it is no surprise that in the midst of my continued Q&A post on Vietnam that I should start to think about writer's studios. Things like that just happen..

March 1, 2015

Q & A…Where to Next? #23

Morning sun...Chateau Mango, Vietnam

Thank you! Ask and you shall receive! The questions are coming in from every direction and I am excited to be able to answer many of them on the blog. Some questions,I will respond to via email, so please be assured, either way, I will respond to you. A few questions have come through my other blog, Expat Diary: Viet Nam. If a question relates to travel information for Vietnam, I will respond here and post a link when I do.

February 27, 2015

The Big Move...Q & A #22

"Beep.. Beep"  Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

When I was told we were moving to Vietnam I went into full Google search mode. Who, what, where, when, how...lay it on me. I searched out other expat bloggers living in Ho Chi Minh City, sent my list of questions and waited patiently. One person answered and I was grateful to her for taking the time. It was a start.

February 26, 2015

New Friends and Old Friends #21

New Friends and Old Friends

Make new friends, but keep the old;
Those are silver, these are gold.
New-made friendships, like new wine,
Age will mellow and refine.

Friendships that have stood the test-
Time and change-are surely best;
Brow may wrinkle, hair may gray,
Friendships never know decay.

For' mid old friends, tired and true,
Once more we our youth renew.
But old friends, alas! may die,
New friends must their place supply.

Cherish friendship in your breast-
New is good, but old is best;
Make new friends, but keep the old;
Those are silver, these are gold.

by Joseph Parry

February 23, 2015

The Mother of the Groom Dress...#20

My son Patrick is getting married to a lovely Australian girl, Cherie, next month and we are all so excited. The wedding will be in the Yarra Valley, an Australian wine region near Melbourne, Victoria. Cherie has organised the wedding and I know it will be beautiful.

February 22, 2015

A Bird's Life and Sunflower Hearts… #19

A bird's life in Connecticut

My father was a fanatical 'birder', the kind of person who felt you could never have enough bird feeders or bird baths. We had a bunch…hanging off trees, off the house, attached to windows, sitting on rocks, standing on poles and if he could have, he would have stood outside, arms stretched, embracing a bird feeder and balancing a bird bath on his head, just for the sheer delight of it all. He wanted to make the birds happy…and he did.

February 20, 2015

Sharing the LOVE…creative souls #18

I am sharing the love today for fellow writers and photographers who live in my neck of the woods. By woods, I mean the ones in New Hampshire. For those of you who may not be aware, 'Tahilla Farm' is located in the woods of New Hampshire, a state in the New England region of the Northeastern United States. It is a state I am learning to love, not only for the land but for the community and spirit of the creative souls in the region. 

I'd like to share the love for a two local writers and photographers today as I have a feeling, if you do not know them already, you will enjoy discovering them. 

Joseph Valentine Garden Photography

Joseph Valentine,  a country gardener 

February 19, 2015

About that writing challenge…. #17

Fresh snow…Tahilla Farm

Ahem..yes, about that 28 Day Writing Challenge, I haven't given up! But..I am behind by two posts and will have to add a wee extension.

February 18, 2015

Designing a Home…Past and Present #16

Sometimes you have to step backward before you can step forward. It has been that kind of feeling this week. It's decision time and it can be overwhelming. I find myself going back in time, to where it all started, to my thoughts and feelings…what I was hoping to create when we first bought Tahilla Farm. 

February 16, 2015

Thinking Gardens…Inside and Out #15

Monk's house weekend, 1931- the Woolf's at home,
Vanessa Bell visiting
 illustrated by Amanda White

Today was 'garden' day…in the midst a brilliant white landscape we had to put on our garden hats and think green…and retaining walls. 

We had a meeting of artistic minds, architecture, gardens and stone. The topic was retaining walls...the medium, size, location and the impact they would have in the 'big picture' of Tahilla Farm. 

February 13, 2015

The Long-Distance Traveller… #13

Miles to go...

It is inevitable that at some point in a long flight, you will check with the flight channel to see how many hours you have travelled and how many hours you have left to go. Your hope is that you will have fallen asleep for a few hours, awaken and see that you have only two hours to go. Perfect score for a 14+ hour flight.

February 12, 2015

My Private Shangri-La #12

Ever feel the desire to steal away to a library with a good book? If the answer is yes, join the club, or rather, join me in a retreat to a library of lofty and spacious proportions.

February 11, 2015

Living The Fantasy...Geisha For A Day #11

We were in Kyoto, Japan last month visiting Kiyomizu-dera Templea magnificent Buddhist temple registered on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list and one of the "must see" Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto. 

February 10, 2015

An Orchid, Winslow Homer and Intrigue #10

I love a mystery…
and I had a lot of fun unravelling this one.

On a recent walk in Saigon, 
I came across this pink beauty.

February 9, 2015

Happy Trails…Tahilla Farm #9

Tahilla Trail
Photo by Jennifer 

Welcome to my world. Chateau Mango one day, snow scenes from Tahilla Farm the next.

February 8, 2015

What's your vote? #8

"What colour would you like us to paint your house?"

That's a simple question, isn't it? There was a time when I would have given anything to answer that question. In fact, I am pretty sure I was asked that question once and the answer was an explicit..."keep it just as it is". 

For you see, once upon a time, our house in Vietnam looked like this. Until... I moved to Vietnam with the kids, in the summer of 2012.

Pre-Chateau Mango June 2012

February 7, 2015

A Lotus Love Thank You.... #7

Blooming in our lotus flower garden
Chateau Mango, Vietnam

Sending lotus love your way
and a big thank you
for your thoughts and kind words 
during this past week. 

I appreciate every word,
truly and deeply.

A short and sweet #7.
Sending you a big
wave from Chateau Mango!

Have a great day!

Jeanne :)

Feb 7, 2015
28 Day Writing Challenge, #7
Writing from Chateau Mango

Vietnam time

February 6, 2015

Making your 50's #6

Miss Claire making friends last week in Kribi, Cameroon

When we raise our kids we give them all sorts of advice to get on in the world. When it comes to making friends, it starts early. As soon as a child first grasps the concept of sharing with another...and does it successfully, without tears, we have set the foundation of our building blocks. Playing nicely in a sandbox is a big achievement.  

February 5, 2015

The Night Owl.... #5

A night owl on the loose at La Casa Henriques

Hands up if you are a night owl...the kind of person who enjoys the solitude of the night. 

February 4, 2015

Rolling Merrily Along... #4

To the flower market...Hanoi, Vietnam

Life has been rolling merrily along...from Tahilla to Vietnam. Mr. H and I were in Hanoi last weekend where I happened to be in the right spot at the right time. I caught this charming cyclist coming down the street long before she happened upon me. I stood, patiently, with my camera at the ready.