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 then..it 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 room..kitchen, 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 windows..it 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 Boom..to 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 then..it'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 thinking...do 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 styles...you can take the test test here
I look forward to hearing which decorating style you are!

You can comment or write to me jeannecollageoflife@gmail.com

Jeanne xx

Friday, November 15, 2013

Secret Places, Secret Spaces...in 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 discussions...as 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

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