Sunday, December 29, 2013

Graduates and Explorers of the World in New Zealand

Last week I sat in an auditorium in anticipation of my daughter, Miss Christine. receiving her diploma from the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. It was one of those moments you can not imagine when your child is a toddler learning their ABC's and scooping sand out of the sandbox, it seemed a life time away and then, all of a sudden..your child is standing on stage receiving a University degree.  It was one of those moments a parent beams with pride…sandbox memories a cherished memory.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Wishing you a Merry Little Christmas...from Australia

My dear friends

This Christmas Eve, I am typing by an open window with a view to the sea in Sydney, Australia. We have come to familiar stomping grounds to gather with family and friends to celebrate Christmas and the New Year.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

While you were sleeping in Vietnam....Tahilla Farm

"Tahilla and all of her dreams are now passed along to you and
nothing makes me happier than to say "Welcome Home"! 
I'm a firm believer that you can only connect the dots 
when you look back in time, but one thing I can already "see" 
is that the stars were aligned and all for the good."  

excerpts from an email entitled 
"While you were sleeping"
from Lisa to Jeanne
December 12, 2012

The road to Tahilla Farm
It has been one year to the day, when I awoke in Saigon to read an email from my dear friend and realtor, say the deed was done. The closing had gone smoothly and Tahilla Farm in New Hampshire had offically passed hands to us. I saved the email and sent it to Lisa is a link between us that I know we will share for a lifetime.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The feeling of 'home'....expat life

I am taking a collective moment, to reflect on 'home'. This all came about as we shuffled furniture around my son's room this morning. In the process we had to take down his 'memory' collection from his shelves and start again. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Christmas Gift Ideas #2 ... #makeitpersonal

Last week we had two birthday celebrations, my mother and my son and we also celebrated a life, my father's. It marked the occasion of his birthday and his passing. He left this earth nine years ago this week and we miss him dearly. 

In the process of reminiscing, I remembered the joy that you can bring to others with photographs. I went in search of one photograph the other night and ended up hours later with dozen by my side.  They are all featured above. So many sweet memories waiting to be shared.

Which brings me to Christmas gift ideas and photographs. It is so simple, requiring little expense... only your heart. If you are looking for something extra special to give someone this year, think of a photograph that you might have tucked away. Print it, frame it, add a note explaining the memory. Think of how you feel when a happy memory comes flooding back through a photograph. It is the best feeling...wouldn't you agree?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Christmas Gift Ideas #shoptalk

The clock is ticking and I wonder what kind of Christmas shopper you might be. Are you super organised with all your gifts purchased and labeled by July or are you like me...strolling into a panic about the second week of December, all the while wondering what you were doing for the past eleven months? 

I was actually very proud of myself this past weekend, I managed to get a few gifts out early. Shopping for me is strictly online which is why I slide into December and hit the wall by week two, realising my Christmas shopping days are coming to an end. My saving grace is that I am 12 hours ahead of my family along the east coast of the USA. I managed to slide through Cyber Monday well into Tuesday. It was great!

This year I started my own little shopping list..of the things I wouldn't mind seeing tucked under the our Christmas tree one year. It has been a fun diversion (procrastination) and I thought I would share a few...I have a feeling some of you might enjoy them too.  

I should mention that one item is listed twice..
Mr. H take note... :)

Apple iPad Air
It's thinner, lighter and faster, it's time!

with jeans, boots and a big cashmere scarf, 
the kind that wraps around twice. So comfy!

Women's Signature L.L. Bean Boot in Houndstooth Wool
Just love..completely

Early American Windsor Arm Chairs
for Mr. and Mrs. H and I know exactly where
to put them.

Wedgwood Butterfly Bloom Tea Caddy
Blooming butterflies...say no more.

Hunter Foldable Boots
I love these...roll them up, pop them in your suitcase
and you will be ready for every type of raindrop imaginable.

Vitamix Professional Series 750 Blender
The Henriques family loves milkshakes...I think
this would suit all our needs.

Juliska "Country Estate" Winter Holiday Collection
Thinking for our first Christmas at Tahilla Farm..

Suede Boho Zip Pouch from Mark and Graham
Would love one and think it would make a great gift
for friends.

Apple iPad Air
Did I mention that it was thinner, lighter and faster?

Jawbone Mini Jambox
The 'go anywhere, anytime' mini speaker. I spotted
this in a scene in "The Good Wife". Perfect for travel
and covers nearly all age groups.

Fitbit Force
Fitness motivator to track your every move.
I am going with the idea that this will be a good thing. ;)

Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Pen
I seriously love these pens...and so do my daughters.
They mysteriously disappear...all the time!

Charles Fradin Home Notepad
I have a weakness for this one,
even more if it had an illustration of Tahilla Farm on it one day.

Book Socks
It's a book thing..and a sock thing.

Peterboro Bicycle Basket
Peterboro Baskets are the best and even better that
they are made in New Hampshire. I also have my
eye on a pie basket too.

J. Crew Pajama Set in Gingham Flannel
Flannel on my mind..
looking forward to wearing them again one day.

How is your holiday shopping coming along?
I love 'shop talk'!

Jeanne xx

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

When family and friends gather... #tahillafarm

'Morning' painted by Amy Katherine Browning
Photo credit:  Joanna Dunham

Many Americans are thinking about their Thanksgiving table this week and the love and warmth that will flow around it. It is a special time of year and I admit it is one of the things about living in New England that I miss most. The air will be crisp, the fireplaces will be stoked, the Thanksgiving meal will be creating it's magic in ovens and stove tops, music will fill the silence until guests arrive and will be laughter and joy which will be followed by utter exhaustion and deep contentment that the day is done and thoughts will travel to  Christmas. I love a New England Thanksgiving. This is our 15th Thanksgiving away from the USA...and I can tell you no matter how hard we try, it is never the same. My solution is to store it all up and create the magic when the family gathers at Christmas.

It is with all of this in mind that Mr. H and I consider our family gathering space at Tahilla Farm. Below are photos taken of our kitchen and dining room while living in New Zealand. The farmhouse style table on the left is from our days living in Australia and the one on the right is from our time in New Zealand. Both tables were made by local craftsman. At this moment, neither table is where it is suppose to be. We should have the one on the left at Tahilla Farm and the one on the right with us at Chateau Mango..but the reverse is true. A little hiccup in my planning before moving from England. Eventually I imagine both tables will end up at Tahilla Farm...and that is when the fun begins.

We caught up with our architect by speakerphone last week for another productive meeting. I am happy to report that he read my last post and understands where I am coming from. Mr. H has other ideas but I will save that for another time.

Today..let's just talk tables. Mr H and I are in agreement that we would like a dining space with a view and one with plenty of room to move about without bumping into walls or furniture. We are going for an open plan, living, dining. It is the first for us so we are keen to think out every little detail. 

Gil Schafer III 'The Great American House'

The gathering space above created by Gil Schafer is perfect. Tahilla Farm is not as grand but it is a good reference point as are the windows in the home below. I talked about windows in an earlier post...Tahilla Farms seems to be all about windows with Mr. H. Both options are ideal.

Architectual Digest

The photo below is one of my first 'pins' for my Pinterest Farmhouse file, before Tahilla Farm was a reality. I always liked the idea of a table in the vicinity of a fireplace. I can not imagine anything dearer on a cold winter's night.

House Beautiul Magazine via

Last summer I was digging around the local used book shop and discovered the book, Barn Style Homes. I took a pic of the dining area, loving the bay shaped gives just a bit more extra space. Perfect for a lage gathering.

Barn Style Homes  Photo by F&E Schmidt

The question of the formal dining room comes up often. Mr. H is an emphatic no on that one...for me, if a library was involved, I would go there and I have just the room and dining table in mind. 

Architectural Digest  Photo: Peter Aaron/Esto

So tell me, how do you dine?

Do you gather in a formal dining room or in the kitchen?

Do you have a view, a fireplace or favourite piece of artwork close by?

How many people will your table seat?

If you are celebrating Thanksgiving with a large crowd, 
how do you accommodate everyone?

If you have an open plan kitchen, living and dinging area..
do you have any advice for us?

Your advice so far has been fabulous, keep it coming!

Before you go..

If you enjoy having friends and family gather at your home,
you may enjoy this poem by Edgar A. Guest.

'Studio Supper' painted by Amy Katherine Browning
Photo credit: Joanna Dunham

When Friends Drop In

It may be old-fashioned, but the times I like the best
Are not the splendid parties with the women gaily dressed,
And the music tuned for dancing and the laughter of the throng,
With a paid comedian's antics or a hired musicians song,
But the quiet times of friendship, with the chuckles and the grin,
And the circle at the fireside when a few good friends drop in.

There's something 'round the fireplace that no club can imitate,
And no throng can ever equal just a few folks near the grate;
Though I sometimes like an opera, there's no music quite so sweet
As the singing of the neighbours that you're always glad to meet;
Oh, I know when they come calling that the fun will soon begin,
And I'm happiest those evenings when a few friends drop in.

There's no pomp of preparation, there's no style or sham or fuss;
We are glad to welcome callers who are glad to be with us,
And we sit around and visit or we start a merry game,
And we show them by our manner that we're mighty pleased they came,
For there's something real about it, and the yarns we love to spin,
And the time flies, Oh, so swiftly when a few good friends drop in.

Let me live my life among them, cheerful, kindly folks and true,
And I'll ask no greater glory till my time of life is through;
Let me share the love and favor of the few who know me best,
And I'll spend my time contented till my sun sinks in the west;
I will take what fortune sends me and the little I may win,
And be happy on those evenings when a few good friends drop in.

Edgar A. Guest

Thank you for dropping in and best wishes
to all ...may your home be filled with love and laughter!

Jeanne xx

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Tahilla Farm and Nancy Meyers

The idea board...Tahilla Farm

The Architect
A funny thing happened in the process of working with our architect...we changed our minds again and again and again and then we came full circle...and changed again. If I could give our architect a gold star, I would. He deserves it for receiving emails like this from me...

First email:
"How about we talk on Wednesday evening, 8:00pm your time which will be Thursday morning, 9:00am our time."
Next email: 
"Ooops sorry, I meant 9:30am Friday morning which means 9:30pm Thursday evening, your time. Does that work?"

What would you say? I say...patience of a saint.

The Speakerphone
When we met with our architect last summer, we talked about how our future discussions would take place and agreed that Skype and Dropbox would be the best way to go. Dropbox worked a dream but internet connections between Vietnam and rural New Hampshire were not up to the task so we moved onto the next best thing...the speakerphone.

With the correct time scheduled in advance, Mr. H and I recently set up camp one early morning in his office, with schematic designs spread around the room as we talked through every little details with our architect via speakerphone. We walked through each space and managed a few revised sketches via email as we spoke. It was a very productive meeting and it feels right.

Friendly advice
The last time I wrote about Tahilla Farm we talked about windows and you all gave us brilliant advice. I have been back to read your comments several times, taking notes along the way. This week...the advice from Virginia @ Glamour Drops resonated with me..

"Trust you architect even more that you feel is comfortable..because a better outcome will result..the architect's job is to push you slightly beyond your comfort zone, and when clients allow and enjoy the process, great things are possible. Sounds like you are already comfortable with him, so my advice (coming from somebody who has been designing buildings for people for more than 20 years) is let him gently guide you, rather than the other way about, and you will (ironically, perhaps it would seem) end up with something far closer to your own personalities than you could have achieved on your own."

Nancy Meyers
Virginia hit on an interesting concept, the personality of a home.  I wonder...does your home reflect your personality? Whether you live alone, as a couple or a family...could you put a personality to your home? If you would like to find out your decorating personality, you can take a test here

I discovered that I have a 'Cozy, Casual' decorating style...

"A warm, traditional look made for relaxing with family and friends. Draws on English and early-American furniture designs, as well as laid-back country, cottage, and farmhouse styles. Weathered, low-maintenance furnishings are easy, inviting, and build for daily life. Think golden retrievers, fuzzy slippers, and just about any movie by Nancy Meyers." ( It's Complicated, The Holiday, Something's Gotta Give, Father of the Bride and Baby name a few)

I took the pics below when I stayed at Tahilla Farm last summer, the odd bits of furniture were picked up in local shops...a place to pull up a chair and relax until the rest of our belongings arrive. We have a master plan, a big shuffle once the renovation is completed. Until's the simple life and it suits me just fine.

The renovations will be substantial and we want to get it right by blending
the charm of the antique portion with the new. Easy..right? Maybe not.

So I was you think our architect would say I am crazy 
if I suggested he watch the following Nancy Meyers films?
Maybe just to think about...

Enough space to sit a tribe of family and friends 
around a fireplace as in It's Complicated?

It's Complicated

or a version of the windows in the master bedroom of

Something's Gotta Give

or maybe the cozy charm of the kitchen in The Holiday?

The Holiday

and in Baby Boom?

Baby Boom

would it be a stretch to plan enough space 
to hold a wedding one day as in Father of the Bride?

Father of the Bride

Ok..I may have gone to far on the last one..
but I think with our new fields, 
we will have plenty of space for an outdoor wedding...
one day. ;)

Tahilla Farm

Tahilla Farm

I can't help but wonder about the day when I write to say it is done.
I wish Nancy Meyers could make that happen too... as 
long as she does not make me feel like this..

Before you go..I would love to know your decorating personality.
There are four personality can take the test test here
I look forward to hearing which decorating style you are!

You can comment or write to me

Jeanne xx

Friday, November 15, 2013

Secret Places, Secret England

And above all, 
watch with glittering 
eyes the whole
world around you
because the greatest
SECRETS are always
hidden in the most
unlikely places.
Those who don't
BELIEVE in magic
will never find it.
Roald Dahl

A little dove rested on our mango coloured ledge the other day and watched me as I typed away at my desk. It sat there as if in a trance, staring at me. I stopped typing and stared back..we watched each other intently until she took flight.  I took a snap with a feeling my little encounter would lead me somewhere and it did...

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wordless Wednesday....Daniel Hope

When music touches you...there are no words.

More from Daniel Hope... here
iTunes... here


In The Company of Wonderful Women... here

La Contessa Copyright Carla Coulson

Monday, November 11, 2013

In the company of wonderful blogging women...

Nocturnal wanderings..

I woke at 3:30 am the other night..with my brain in autopilot. I knew it would not give me a moments peace so I gave into it. I grabbed my iPhone, iPad and a book and made my way downstairs. I think that was my first mistake, as the hours passed I knew my mind was no closer to resting than I was. I happened to mention this little early morning escapade to my friends on Facebook, just wondering if anyone ever experienced the same nocturnal mindlessness. The response was unanimous..more often than not was the response.  I felt a weight had lifted, someone else understood. I wasn't the only one up in the wee hours of the night with a brain in autopilot. I sighed... happy with the thought that once again, I was in company of wonderful women.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Mr. and Mrs. H plan a renovation at Tahilla Farm

Wendy Posard & Associates

There is a bit of a 'love/hate fest' going on at Chateau Mango (Saigon) these days as Mr. H and I contemplate renovations for Tahilla Farm in New Hampshire (USA). We have been deep in discussions over the design plans for the house and the 'feeling' we want to create. It has been interesting to say the least...what started as a small renovation is resulting in half the house coming down.

I should mention that in our 27 years of marriage Mr. H and I have never done more than renovate a bathroom, a kitchen, a garage and paint inside and out. Even then, deciding which 'white' to paint the house and which 'black' to paint the shutters nearly sent us over the edge. Who knew there was a difference? I discovered there are plenty! 

Living in different countries has had something to do with our lack of experience around schematic designs so you can imagine what it is like to contemplate taking down half a house in the USA and start again...while living in Vietnam. Throw in a few differences of opinion and you have some hearty every good 'Yankee' couple does.

We have to remember that Mr. H is bringing 'Fred' to the party...and this is only the beginning...but more on that another time.

We have been making good use of Pinterest, more specifically my Tahilla Note board. I regularly saddle Mr. H up in a chair next to me and let the slide show begin. It goes along the lines of "Do you like this? this? this? what about this?" I don't dare look at him for most times his eyes are glazed over with that 'look' which says..'boring' 'boring 'boring'. I thought I would keep it simple this time and just focus on windows, a passion of his. After dozens of photos it finally happened...

The photograph above (not Fred) and the ones below came up and... EUREKA! Windows became interesting and Mr. H is now in the game. 
All I can say is...Wendy Posard & Associates, I love you!

Windows and more windows for as far as the eye can see...

Wendy Posard & Associates

Wendy Posard & Associates

Wendy Posard & Associates

Wendy Posard & Associates

Wendy Posard & Assoicates

It is a beginning...we have a ways to go but I feel like a plan is coming together. We have a great architect who has been very patient. I look forward to telling you more about him one day. That's if he doesn't give up on us in the meantime (he hasn't seen all of Fred's relations yet). ;)

Meanwhile...back at the farm, the grass is growing, the leaves have dropped, our big maple tree, 'Martha' had a trim and winter is settling in. My sister Kathleen sent me the following pics...

So tell me...have you ever renovated before?
Any suggestions for us? 
We would love to know!

For those of you who have followed us along on this happy trail..
this movie clip might sound familiar. My guess is there are a few of you
who will be able to relate. A classic !

Sending one and all best wishes for a wonderful week!
Happy November!

Jeanne xx

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Like mother, like daughter.... #expatlife


My lovely daughter Christine has written a little story, a story of her expat life. She wrote it today on her blog tine. and I love it (as I do all her posts). We share the gift of gab, laugh at our own jokes and have a similar point of view on life. I wonder where she gets it from? ;)

       Christine's story..

Friday, October 18, 2013

creative souls, a little book of hope and martha

From Plant Dreaming Deep by May Sarton

I am one of those people who underlines, marks and folds pages in a book...even hardcover books. This is one of those things people feel strongly about, you either do or you don't. I can't help myself, it's personal. I see it as bringing the written word to the next level...if it means something to me, I don't want to forget it. To that end, I recently created a 'little book of hope'. It is a small journal filled with words that sparked my curiosity...ones that give me hope.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Brown Paper Book Club...100 and counting

In the past week we have
taken a wee peek
at our home in Vietnam...Chateau Mango,
linked in with Bowerbird Friends,
cooked Thai Food,
strolled through a beautiful garden in Vermont
and met Gordon and Mary,
looked around the property at Tahilla Farm 
and met Swift and Grace,
listened to classical, folk and jazz music.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A jazzy kind of beat at Chateau Mango

it' a jazz thing

There was a time...long ago, 
before I tied the knot with Mr. H,
that I loved to hang out in piano bars. 
The scene was Manhattan and I would
meet up with friends to sip on a cocktail or two
and listen to great music...mostly jazz.

It has been a long time since I 'lounged' 
and I had forgotten about those days in Manhattan
until I heard the music of Cecile McLorin Salvant.
She brought it all back. 

Chateau Mango is rocking to
the jazzy beat today of Cecile and much more.
I thought a few of you might enjoy the beat too!
(Heather...this one is for you!)

You can view in iTunes here and her website here

and more jazzy beats with...

Billie Holiday ...Body and Soul

Cassandra Wilson ... Red Guitar 

Elaine Elias...Girl Talk

Mary Stallings... Dream Dancing

Gretchen Parlato...Holding Back the Years

and my all time favourite

( Mr. H...this one is for you xx)

Carrying the beat in Central Park in 2012

all that jazz
Manhattan 2012

jazz photos around Manhattan
snapped by me

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Meanwhile back at the Farm.... #tahillafarm

Taking stock...Tahilla Farm

It has been one year since I went house hunting down a dirt road from the coast of Maine to finding and purchasing Tahilla Farm in New Hampshire and what a year it has been!

I mentioned earlier in the summer that Mr. H was visiting Tahilla Farm for the first time and during his visit frequently mentioned bulldozers. What I have not mentioned since then, is that bulldozers and a whole lot more pulled into Tahilla Farm at the start of August and as of this week, the first week of October, they are done. I couldn't mention it until now because it was too unsettling for this tree hugger to think about...until now.

me and my shadow...Tahilla Farm

Before we started the project, I was told by our 'super forester', Swift Corwin, that I could expect the worst...and then it would get better. Swift likes to tell it like it is and I am glad he did. There were no surprises. I liken my anxiety to the neck pain I have had these past few weeks which has all of a sudden improved..I am thinking there might be a connection between the two.

We cleared parts of Tahilla Farm to bring back the land, to provide new grazing areas for animals and to give Tahilla Farm a new that had been long forgotten.

These past few weeks, reports and photos have been coming in to our home in Vietnam, 
Chateau Mango from all over. Family, workers, friends, visitors, tradesmen, passers has felt like a party...and I was missing it.

Once the trees were cleared, the inevitable happened, the land gave us what New Hampshire is best known for...granite. Rocks, rocks and more rocks in all shapes and size appeared in the most interesting places. They were more like boulders, creating a sea of stone at every turn.

The photos continued to come in and I thought surely...we were done for..our land would forever be a rocky mess. What had we done? My neck pain intensified.

Swift told me not to worry, he had a plan. He is like that...he is a poet, he has a way with words and ideas. Brief and to the point. My confidence in his abilities never wavered. So I sat patiently and waited in Vietnam.. and pestered him for more reports and photographs. I am a master 'pesterer'. He happily complied.

Swift hired one of the best to work alongside him and guess what? 
He was right. It started to work.

My sister is visiting Tahilla Farm this weekend and sent me a few photos this morning. 
My mother's petite dog, Muffin, is the white speck in the field. 
I have to remember to tell my sister about the bears... 
and Muffin about the hawks.

The autumn foilage is starting to show it's colour 
as is the newly formed stone wall that Swift created on one side of the field.

and on the the other side...

and the other.

This week, the seeds were sown in the fields and now we wait.

And there is more...

for amidst the fields..

and trees


 and rivers of stone...

a walking trail will take shape. 

Swift has a plan and I know it will be just right!
After all he is a poet...
and he has his ever faithful
canine companion, Grace, by his side
to inspire him.

With thanks to Joe and Gordon for recommending Swift.
It's all coming together. Our village is growing.

The photos above are from all over. A few from Swift, a few from my sister, Kathleen,
and a few from me. With thanks to Swift and Kathleen and everyone else for keeping me posted!

For those of you living in New England...this one is for you. 

When Fall Comes To New England
Words and Music By:
Cheryl Wheeler

When fall comes to New England
The sun slants in so fine
And the air's so clear
You can almost hear the grapes grow on the vine

The nights are sharp with starlight
And the days are cool and clean
And in the blue sky overhead
The northern geese fly south in stead
And leaves are Irish Setter Red
When fall comes to New England

When fall comes to New England
And the wind blows off the sea
Swallows fly in a perfect sky
And the world was meant to be

When the acorns line the walkways
Then winter can't be so far
From yellow leaves a blue jay calls
Grandmothers walk out in their shawl
And chipmunks run the old stone walls
When fall comes to New England

The frost is on the pumpkin
The squash is off the vine
And winter warnings race across the sky
The squirrels are on to something
And they're working overtime
The foxes blink and stare and so do I
'Cause when fall comes to New England
Oh I can't turn away
From fading light on flying wings
And late good-byes a robin sings
And then another thousand things
When fall comes to New England

When fall comes to New England

(P) May 27, 2003
Penrod and Higgins Music/ Amachrist Music
ACF Music group
International Copyright Reserved

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