My Secret French Girlfriend and the travelling washer...

Roadside service...Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
With thanks to my SFG for this photo!

I hope this post finds you well...I am taking a mini-break from my packing schedule to share a great photo sent to me by my Secret French Girlfriend. Say what? Yes, let me explain...

I have written before about the book My Stylish French Girlfriends by Sharon Santoni....and I put my friend in this very special category for she is both stylish...and French...but she likes her anonymity.

What is very special about my Secret French Girlfriend is that I met her through Collage of Life. I have to say...this blog has rewarded me immeasurably. If I had never started writing all those years ago...well, we wouldn't be here would we? And if we weren't here, I never would have discovered Tahilla Farm or the many friendships that have developed along the way. I count my blessing for this little space called Collage of Life...especially when events like this happen...

It all started....
My SFG wrote to me about 18 months ago to say she read my blog and felt she had found a kindred spirit.  Like me, an expat and travelling spouse, she had been on the move with four boys for 20 years. She could relate to my story and as luck would have it, she was moving to Ho Chi Minh City. The questions and answers about life in Vietnam flowed over the following months. When she and her husband came for a "look see" visit we all met. Mr. H and I instantly warmed to them, feeling like we connected with old friends. Our laughter and conversation never skipped a beat. They moved to HCMC a few months later and since then a lovely friendship has developed. My SFG has a spontaneous gusto for life, has a passion for the color red and looks stunning in it. She is learning Vietnamese to add to the many other languages she already speaks, has a great sense of humor (a must for me), an eye for the beauty around her and is a super talented photographer. She has thought about writing a blog...which I encourage wholeheartedly. I just have to get her past the anonymity part..

Passion for red..Chateau Mango

Which brings me to the travelling washing machine photo above...I recently mentioned that I was on the hunt for a new washer and dryer for Tahilla Farm, my SFG offered up the photo as a possible solution. I can't decide which I love more...the backseat passenger 'wearing' the washing machine or the Zombie Personnel jacket on the driver in front of them. This photo arrived at just the right SFG seems to always know when I need a boost. I love when friends do that.

What do you recommend? we are talking about washing machines, let me put this question to you have a washer and dryer that you recommend? Are you a fan of top loaders or front loaders? Do you stack or have them side by side? Do you go for the tried and true brands or the latest with all the bells and whistles? Dying to know because my machines at Tahilla Farm are about to die and I need to replace them soon!


One line or two? or three?
The other project I will be working on this summer is the construction of a clothes line. Once upon a time I could rely on our beloved old tree, 'Martha', to look after our fresh air drying needs. Now that she is gone, I need to find another source. We have a design, I just can't decide how many lines I should have built, two or three? Any thoughts?

by Marta Orlowska

And that's a wrap...
I have dilly-dallied long enough, 
time for this woman to get back to work.

I hope the travelling washing machine brought
a smile...I just love that photo. So typical of
Vietnam! Thank you my SFG! ;)

Before I go,  I want to thank you for
all your lovely messages. They are much
appreciated and mean the world to me.
If you have written,
I will be back in touch soon!

Thank you! Thank you!
Thank you!
for reading along.

Jeanne xx


  1. Like all the others, I love this post! As for washing machines, I recently bought a front loading washing machine, and am not very happy with it. It does not hold as much wash as you might think, and the rubber flap around the glass opening needs constant attention when the wash is done, because it does accumulate water. The instructions tell us to leave the door open when not washing to allow the washer to air dry and avoid mildew...all this equals high maintenance for me. The front loading dryer works just fine. Top stacking washers and dryers are not large enough for sheets, coverlets, etc., so I always buy side by side appliances. And, of course, gas dryers always dry faster than electric, but I'm not sure if gas is an option for you at Tahilla Farm. As for the clothesline (how I do miss one), I find that two lines are optimal for large items and allow for smooth movement. Jeanne, thank you for allowing me to travel vicariously with you. I would never have thought of Viet Nam as a destination I would like to explore, if not for your wonderful photos and insights. When I get frustrated and disheartened by the internet, I pause, and reflect on how broadened my life has become because of it. Sending well wishes from New Jersey. Angela Muller

    1. Thank you so much Angela, for your kind words and your advice. We have a front loading machine in Vietnam and I have cursed it since we arrived. I put it down to an old machine but now think it might just be the problem with the style of machine. As for the clothesline, point well taken on the ability to fit large items on it. So glad you have been able to see Viet Nam in a new light, it's been a pleasure to live here. xx

  2. Beautiful post. I am grateful for the way your words are so full of cheer.

    The traveling wash machine! Immediately I see a found art object. The old CPU type computers are made with steel housing like washing machines. Great for found object art.
    Clothes far away from birds feeding as possible or in their flight path. High up where so cats can't play with dangling clothes. I prefer one off a porch in a pulley system, and spacer so the line doesn't twist. They are also easier to get the clothes in quickly when rain passes by unexpectedly. The other I prefer is in the yard all by its lonesome with four or five lines using plastic coated rope to prevent mold in the fibers; and, its easier to clean off any bird droppings. A pole with a pull out clothes line system is nice if there's a place to install one. And lastly, as an extra, a nice hook and one line on a porch for delicates, and/or drying towels after a dip.

    1. Thanks so much May and so true...there is nothing like found objects to inspire object art. I think this photo is a start. You have provided some fantastic advice for a clothesline, thank you! I think I have the ability to do it all and especially like the idea of a pully in the event of summer rain. I am looking forward to returning and planning my own object a clothesline. ;)

  3. I can't offer any suggestions regarding washers/dryers and clotheslines, but Cleo and Maywyn sound spot-on to me. Otherwise, I do hope you are planning a washer/dryer set in two separate locations at Tahilla Farm. Your dream home is huge, and once all the family (and future family members 😊) and guests show up, one set will not fill the bill. Growing up in Appalachia, I recall seeing my grandmother washing clothes in a big pot outdoors using homemade lye soap, and a clothes line nearby. I still have the old sad irons she used for ironing. What a pleasure it is now to have washers and dryers at our fingertips that do wonders at the push of a button.

    1. I agree Judy, Angela and May have great advice. As for two separate locations for a washer/dryer...I wish I loved doing laundry that much! I have been spoiled in is going to take a while for me to get my laundry mojo going..maybe two sets is the way to go. ;) Love thinking of your grandmothers washing clothes outdoors in the midst of Appalachia. I have never been, I hear it is glorious country. :)

  4. Just a few observations for your consideration. . .About the clothesline, when you have grandchildren, and they are around age 7-11, you need at least two lines so they can make forts, play houses, and tents to play in when they are outside in the summer. We used old quilts, which I now regret. I would have on hand cheap large old table cloths or old sheets, bedspread, etc. for the kids to pin on the lines to make the forts. Great for using their imaginations and ingenuity.

    About the washer and dryer, (LOVE THE PICTURE), so many of my friends went for the front loader washer as they replaced old top loaders. After a few uses, all long for their old-style top loaders. Water, not moisture, gets in the door seal, but even worse, all the water does not drain from the washer in the final spin. That left over water sit below the drum and molds or mildews, causing musty stinky laundry in the next load. ONE FRIEND HAS TO USE A LARGE SPONGE to sop up the left over water in her new Maytag, plus leave the door open to let the water still under the tub evaporate for a few days till she may do more laundry. Service calls are where she received the advice about using a sponge and leaving the door open between wash days. Evidently this was a design flaw that is acknowledged but not covered by warranty. As far as I have heard, the dryers are satisfactory. And you might want to talk with others who have purchased Sears major appliances in the last several years. They are not the Sears stores of 20 years ago. Different warranties and Service now days.

    Personally, I'm staying with top loaders and local reputable dealers who have always had a good reputation for service.

    1. Very wise laundry advice Janie, thank you! I remember paying around my grandmother's clothesline when we were many adventures can be had in the folds of a fort! Point taken on the front loader, I am having second thoughts now that I see the comments are pretty consistent. I find the same in our front loader in Vietnam...I have been a fan of top loaders all these years and might stick with a good thing. Service is the critical word in our area, no matter what you buy. I will start with a few dealers and check out the manufacturer service plans. Thanks for the reminder and very valuable tips!

  5. For what it's worth, mine are front loaders stacked on top of each other but during the one year I lived in the US, we had top loaders. Both have their pros and cons. The front loading washing machines are apt to wiggle about quite a but if not loaded properly.
    I absolutely loved that photo your friend sent you. It made me smile.

    1. So glad you enjoy the photo Lorna...I thought you might! ;) My current top loader at Tahilla Farm sounds like an international airport at takeoff and landing. I have a tendency to forget to do the laundry until late at night. When I decided to move the laundry room toward the master bedroom, away from the kitchen, I didn't think that it would keep me up at all hours of the takes FOREVER to dry as well. Something quiet is critical...I don't see my late night laundry habits changing any time soon. ;)

  6. Hello Jeanne,
    I love the image of the washer as provided by your SFG. Where there is a will; there's a way, seems to be the Vietnamese philosophy. I love their determination.
    We have a front loading miele washing machine in Ireland and it works really well and there does not appear to be a draining problem. The spin cycle is excellent. In Florida we have the top loading machines and they are doing a very good job, The spin cycle of our Miele in Ireland is far superior to our top loading Fl. model.
    We have a long continual clothes line which works. I love the suggestion made my Janie above in hanging an additional lime for the children to play with.
    Have a great week and happy packing

    Helen x

    1. Thank you Helen...sounds like you have the dream laundry team in both locations. A woman who knows what she likes in her appliances. I love that! All the best Helen...xx

  7. DO TOP LOADER!!!!I replaced mine a few years ago with side loader........I HATE IT!Especially, if you have any kind of a back issue!NOT GOOD AT ALL........that pulling the wet to the dryer isNOT GOOD!I have them side by side in my PANTRY of all places......................NOT IDEAL.

  8. I always enjoy reading your blog. Thank you! I have a front loading washing machine. It is high on my list of worst mistake ever. I have tried everything to clean this machine and it is not possible. Do not believe any hype about how great they are. My family clothes line had 4 lines. My grandmother thought it was perfect for blankets and towels. Plenty of room for all the clothes to dry. Good luck with the packing!

    1. Perfect, thank you Vicki..I was wondering how many lines to add. Four it will be! :)

  9. With all of that glorious space at Tahilla Farm you could build an entire clothesline garden! I have shied away from the energy efficient washers because it feels as if they only give the wash a spit bath rather than a good dousing.

    For one reason or another, some of us require a fragment of anonymity on the internet. Perhaps your SFG could use a pseudonym as I do.

    1. Ha! A spit bath rather than a good dousing, love it! ;)

  10. I recently had a repair guy out for our very old dryer. He told me that when I do need to replace it go with basics (Kenmore, Maytag etc.) and stay away from LG, Samsung etc. Quicker, easier and cheaper repairs.


    1. I have heeded your advice Glenda and found the same comments when I did some research, thank you!


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