Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Welcome November!

I have vowed to myself to really enjoy November as the last chapter of autumn. I don't want to rush the upcoming Christmas season as I often do. I want to savour the season for the small amount of time that remains. I want to really see the last of the leaves turning and watch them lazily fall to the ground.

Today, I will be putting my Halloween decorations away for another year. I am going to rework my autumn decorations to make them seem new again.

I 'played' in my living room with changing some things around yesterday while the finishing was done in the bathroom upstairs. We started cleaning it up yesterday and I will try to finish it and do the decorating touches in the new few days. I should be sharing some before and after photos with you this weekend. I have my fingers crossed that I will be finished by then. I am really pleased with the new floor and toilet. I have also used oil on the sink cupboard which has really made a difference. Thank you all for your encouraging words about the renovations. Next week, we hope to get started on the downstairs half bath.

I leave you with this beautiful verse which sums up my feelings on this first day of November:

November comes
And November goes,
With the last red berries
And the first white snows.

With night coming early,
And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket
And frost by the gate.

The fires burn
And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest
Until next spring.

~~ Clyde Watson ~~

Painting by Mary Cassett ~ "Autumn"

A few responses:
Becky ~ When will you be starting on your new bathroom? I am sorry to hear you have had a leak. We just needed to update a bathroom which was finished to cheaply during the build of this house. A few small changes have made all the difference. We have very inexpensive toilets in this house with a plastic reservoir which has turned yellow and grey with age. They also sound like they are on their last legs. Funny but I now find a 'normal' porcelain toilet a luxury in life.

Margaret ~ Guess what? You WILL be here standing in front of my bookshelves browsing at the titles come May! Isn't that a fun idea? I just know that May will be here before we know it and I can't wait until you and the others arrive for the get together.

Nan ~ You are on my mind this morning as I write this blog entry. I hope you enjoy the quote and then wonder if you will have it by chance on your blog too...

Mary ~ What a joy to see your sweet comments yesterday! I am so very glad you are back home again as I really did miss you. Thank you for all you said and I am glad you have caught back up again. I hope you had a fun Halloween day and we will see your granddaughter dressed up and holding sessions in the gazebo? By the way, I can't wait to finally get back to the cottage this weekend and look for more toadstools. We have been unable to go the entire month of October. I am afraid I have a very sad Cranberry Cottage.

*** I wrote this on Thursday, November 1st here in Holland but it dates according to time in the US so it appears I wrote it on Wednesday. ***

Old~fashioned Halloween wishes!

If you look into Halloween, you will discover that many of our traditions date back to the Victorians. Halloween for them was a time of parties and matchmaking. Card giving was always important and Halloween was no exception. I have mentioned the book "Halloween ~ Romantic Art and Customs of Yesteryear" by Diane C. Arkins in a previous post. It is a wonderful book containing not only the pretty postcards she has found but also information about the traditions and games of the turn of the century. Isn't it a shame we don't revive the old traditions of this holiday.

One of the traditions was bobbing for apples. There were fun matchmaking myths connected to this game. Here is an excerpt from the book talking about just one of the many myths that Diane Arkins describes:

"An apple caught on the very first attempt represented a true love that would be returned in kind. Those captured on subsequent tried represented fickleness or, ultimately, a sign from Fate to target a different suitor. The apple prizes could then either be placed beneath their captors' pillow - to inspire sweet dreams of a lover, naturally! - or cut open, their seeds counted to telling rhymes like these:

One seed, a journey,
Two seeds, a wealth.
Three seeds, true love,
Four seeds, health.
Five seeds, a quarrel.
Six seeds, fame.
Seven seeds, betrothal.
Eight, a new name.
Nine seeds, travel,
Ten seeds, a ring.
Eleven seeds a fortune,
To you will bring. ~~ The Giant Hallowe'en Book, 1934"

I hope you will take some time to really look at the vintage postcards I have shared with you here and perhaps search for more online. Halloween is so much more than the scary side it has become.

I wish all my blogging friends a very Happy Halloween!

"No Will-o'-the-Wisp mislight thee;
Nor snake, or slow-worm bite thee:
But on, on thy way
Nor making a stay,
Since ghost there's none to affright thee."

~~ Robert Herrick ~~

Remarks: Thank you all for your comments! I truely appreciate each and every one! The renovations are going well and I will be able to show you the first room tomorrow, fingers crossed. I will also have more remarks to follow tomorrow.

Monday, October 29, 2007

And so it begins.....

We have renovations being done on our house which start today. I will post before and after photos as we have a finished result. The work has started upstairs. The bathroom is getting a new tile floor and toilet. We already bought a very pretty French chandelier which is hanging and looks wonderful. As I speak, the new doors are being installed while waiting for the primer on the bathroom floor to dry.

The house looks a shambles right now but I have to be patient. There are toilets in the guest room and our bedroom. There are old doors standing in the entrance waiting to be taken to the dump along with boxes and plastic. Our new 'garden decoration' is thankfully temporary as the old toilet is also outside waiting to be thrown out. We will take everything to the dump and ask what items can be put in the second hand bin to be recycled.

For this week, we are going to live an old~fashioned life style as we will be unable to take a bath or shower for a couple of days. We cannot walk on the floor in the bathroom. But we hope the results will be worth the sponge baths until it is finished.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I've been bitten.... the decluttering bug again. With Jos being away, I have decided to take this week to clean and declutter my bookshelves in the living room. I have now dusted and cleared out each shelf. With time, it is too easy to just shove a book on the top of the other books thinking I will put it away later. I must stop buying books until I get to reading some of these.

This is the book carousel I mentioned before. I have some of my smaller blue books on it. The doll was handmade by my sister and she is holding a miniature version of a book from my childhood. We no longer have the book but I found this tiny version once and fell in love with it. There is a ball of wool holding two vintage wooden knitting needles which belonged to my favorite aunt before she passed away.

Here are more of my vintage and antique books. I really do strive to have my bookshelves full of only these kind of books one day.

"The love of learning, the sequestered nooks,
And all the sweet serenity of books."
~~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ~~

Thank you all for the kind comments about the new door color. We are so pleased with it and as Dena said, we do 'smile with satisfaction'. Our next step is to place the wrought iron gate we have had made. I can't wait to share it with you! It is really beautiful.

Lynda ~ There is no ledge or anything. If we have to do anything at the back of the house, we have to place a VERY long ladder in the water. We do have the French doors on the living room side of the room which means we can reach out to everything from there.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Changing colors and places.....

Here is the new color of our front door. The old color can be seen in the archives ~ September 26th. We went to a paint shop that has a British line of historical colors. This is 'slate' (a greyish green color) which was part of the Edwardian colors and the trim is 'Cornish clay'. I never liked the colors used here in this new neighborhood when we moved here. They was a pastel aqua for the front with a pastel and vague looking yellow for the shed door. The back of the house is all in a rather bright and odd blue color. We had changed the aqua to a teal and the vague and sickly yellow to a warmer shade of yellow. We still did not like it and decided that it was time for a real change. You are not allowed to change the colors even of a purchased home for a certain amount of time after the buildings are purchased. We are grateful that we can now change the colors to something we both feel more reflects us.

This color works well with our garden. The shed door is just to the right of the rack holding the gourds. When you come to the front of our house, you see our drive and the entire garden. As you saw in the last entry, there is no back garden as our house is built in the water. We always felt as though the paint colors stood out far too much and took your eye away from the garden. In the future, I will share the look from the street as we will be adding a beautiful wrought iron gate which we have had made at the entrance to our garden.

Before Jos had to leave for England on a business trip, he did a list of odd jobs needing done. One thing was to hang my fox hunt prints in a new corner of my living room. I know these prints are no longer politically correct but we really love them. We have seen a few fox hunts by chance in England and I love the tradition and history involved. (It is not my intention to offend anyone.)

I had been 'borrowing' again and moved an antique embroidery table along with a pretty chair up to my quilt studio. This meant the corner you see was empty. I moved two other antiques I have to that corner ~ a plant stand where I display my flower arrangments I enjoy making and an antique candle holder. I love this piece with its pretty wood carvings. Enlarge the photos for more details. It has turned out to be a really nice corner and looks very inviting when the candle is lit in the evenings.

A few responses ~
Julie ~ Jos is not a hunter either but I think our butchers here must be. During the autumn season through Christmas, there is much game for sale.

Becky and Julie ~ I had to smile at your both saying it looks like Venice here. Not at all. It is a small canal or creek of water and we unfortunately look right up into the gardens and houses of the people living behind us. I must have lace in my windows not only because I love lace but also for privacy. For a long while, we had the vertical blinds from the previous owners but I found them dark and depressing. They had to be either turned up or down too far to give us privacy. The lace gave it a light and airy feeling. I also love how lace gives you the chance to look out but others cannot see in.

Nan ~ It is literally a building style where they drain the water and build the foundations right where the water is. When the building is complete, they allow the water to flow back in once again. It is 'normal' thing here in Holland. There is no leakage and the house is perfectly dry.

Kristy and Becky ~ You asked for my port sauce recipe. I will explain how I made it but must admit that I did not measure anything. I played it by ear as I went. After your meat is finished to your taste, wrap it in foil to let it rest and keep warm. Add enough port to coat the bottom of the pan with the meat fat and juices. Now add fresh orange juice. I put in about a half of a very small juice glass in the sauce. Add salt, pepper and ground cloves to taste. We like cloves so I added enough for our own taste. Finally while this mixture is boiling you may want to add a bit more port and then thicken with flour mixed with some of the liquid. We have a special thickener here in Holland which allows me to put it right into the sauce while it is cooking with no clumping. I hope this explains it clearly enough.

Oh yes ~ one more thing Becky, by all means nip the port as you make the sauce. :)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The season of food and flowers.....

We have spent the day working on a list of odd jobs needing done around the house. After doing our weekly grocery shopping this morning, we drove to a garden nursery to buy some plants for my window boxes on the French balcony. We are used to buying our plants up north now so after the sticker shock, I bought 4 winter heathers in pink and 2 Gaultheria mucronata or Pink Snowdrop. I kept the ivy in the planters already and here are the results. I had to hang out one of the French doors in our living room to take this photo so it is not great.

I wanted to give you an impression of how the back of our house is. We live in what is referred to as 'wall~houses' as they are all built in the water connected to one long wall. The other windows and doors you see if you enlarge the photos are other neighbors. You can see the awful blue paint that was used when the houses were built. We are changing the colors of the house now as we paint and I will reveal the new color hopefully tomorrow as I show you our front door.

Of course, doing up the window boxes led us to cleaning up our garden in the front. We did some pruning back as it was looking very overgrown and tired. We completely cut back our clematis as we have clematis wilt. We should have waited until February for this type but it just looked so bad. We felt it was better to cut it back now than look at it as it is all winter.

To me part of celebrating the season is including the seasonal ingredients in your dinner. We have a true autumn feast tonight. I made us venison steaks with port sauce. I must admit I made up this sauce as I was going along and we both enjoyed it so much that it will now become a regular thing for us. I served Swiss rosti with spring onions, baked herb and cheese tomatoes and grilled zucchini and carrots alongsside the steak.

For dessert, I have bought a wonderful dark chocolate delight which was so delicious. We have a small glass of dessert wine with it. I really love to cook and try to achieve the same pleasure as we would have by eating out.

A few responses:
Thanks to you all for your comments about my photos. I really do love trying to take a photo that sets the scene and shows you part of my world. I also love seeing your own photos on your blogs.

Kim ~ I don't blame you for waiting to find a cloche at a thrift shop if they cost $30. I thought I probably overpaid when I finally found mine. I bought both of them for around $25 so I didn't do so badly then. I really had no idea how much they should cost.

Angela ~ I love to smell books too! How funny as I have never heard anyone else say that besides my sister. I used to play librarian when I was little because I thought the best thing in the world would be to work in a library and have that smell around me all day.

Julie ~ Thank you for complimenting my name. I too like it. My mother asks people if they like their name whenever she hears someone being called Heidi. Many times they tell no they don't like it but I never minded being called Heidi. In fact, when I used to get the typical jokes in school, I would laugh them off and be sure I had a comeback ready.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Having fun playing and more books...

I am working on a idea for some blinds in my bedroom and decided I needed to throw the blind in the washer to see how much it will shrink so I had extra time to play around this morning. I decided to do something with one of the cloches I bought at the Winter Fair. I am just so thrilled that I finally found some cloches and it has been fun to create something special for the autumn.

Here are the results of my fun time. I 'borrowed' things from other areas again. The tiny pumpkin and gourd are from my tray outside on my table. I took two and the display there is still quite full enough. Then I used a sundea dish and filled it with a handful of my mini pumpkins to place the gourd on. The dish is my turkey dish which I thought was a pretty color on the edge. I will have to get out a new dish for the hutch. I also used a branch of red berries from my silk flower collection, some raffia and chestnuts also from tray outdoors. Click on the photo to enlarge it and see the contents better. I really like how it turned out and moved things around on my coffee table and end table now too.

I have enjoyed reading the comments on my books. There are so many who find books are an unmissable part of our homes. Thank you all for the remarks about my collection of red books. I have always been drawn to the red books. It just seemed right to put them all together. I do like keeping many of them grouped by color. Here is a photo of a few of my green books which are currently on the butler tray beside my couch. Some of my blue books are in a 'book mill' which I will try to add of photo of soon too.

"A house without books is like a room without windows."
~~ Heinrich Mann ~~

A few responses:
A special thanks to everyone that leaves a comment. I really do appreciate it and love to read each word. I find reading and leaving comments myself is like holding a conversation with each other.

Nancy ~ I can't wait to see what idea that the red books inspired you with...

Andylynne ~ Do you have a blog? I would also be horrified to cut the middle out of one of my books. I would have to go buy one just to do that but we can buy these storage books in most home and decorating shops right now.

Angela ~ It is so fun to be able to share glimpses of my world with you. I can't wait to start reading the Gervaise Phinn books. I did not buy them when I first saw them while in Yorkshire and later decided to order them online. I think they will be great. The pumpkin buckets are new but have a vintage look. The pink rose planters were a treat I bought myself long before I finished our quilt for the bed. I did not allow myself to unpack them until I finished the quilt and it was like receiving a gift when I did. Thanks for sharing your beautiful favorite quote!

Mom ~ I have become almost as bad as you about reading but not quite. I spend too much time working on my stitching/quilting/decorating. Do you have a photo of Grandpa reading?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A love of books!

I have loved seeing how many bloggers use books when decorating. I love books and use them throughout the house. I think there is nothing like a stack of old books to give you the right color, height and effect you need on a table. Here are just a few places in my home where I have books. First, on my sidetable which I have set up as a desk, I have my collection of red vintage books between dog bookends and a few specials ones sitting out with one of my pairs of antique eyeglasses. I love collecting eyeglasses and opera glasses although they have become very pricey.

I keep a book which looks good with season on an easel by my woodstove. It is fun to have the book there to look through it whenever you like. Having it sit out means you grab it to brouwse through more often. This is a book of vintage Halloween art/postcards.

These are fake books which are storage containers. I bought them for the quirkiness of them. I have them set up for a pretty vingette on my bookshelves.

A bedroom is an unmissable place for books for me. I keep a tray filled with paperbacks which I have to read yet. It looks fun on the corner of the bed during the day. I read each morning and like having these on hand when I do finish a book. I pass many of my books on to my mother so I keep the ones I read on a shelf in our computer room.

On my nightstand are two books. First I keep my copy of Simple Abundance there and also my current read. Right now I am reading "Prospect Street" by Emilie Richards which I can recommend.

How could I not include one of the most talked about books for bloggers! I love my copy of "The French~Inspired Home" by Kaari Meng so much that I have it out on my bench in the bedroom to look through it everyday.

I will leave you with a favorite book saying of mine:

"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers."
~~ Charles W. Eliot ~~

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Another great sandwich idea on a rainy day

I had planned to show you the newly painted front and shed doors today but it is a very dismal day outside so I will wait for it to brighten up a bit so I can take photos. In the meantime, these are perfect days for a good sandwich and a good book.

The sandwich I had today for lunch is made with a toasted French baguette. You fill it with a couple of thin slices of German Black Forest smoked ham and a generous spreading of garlic and herb cream cheese. I also had some grapes alongside the sandwich as they are a great combination after the cream cheese.

If you remember a little while ago I had shared my collection of Country Diary books and video. I had decided to look on to see if I could find a book I did not yet have in my collection. It is called "The Country Flowers of a Victorian Lady" by Fannny Robinson. I was able to purchase this book through this website at a second hand bookshop in England. I only paid $1 for the book. It arrived yesterday and is in new condition and I really am enjoying looking through it and reading about Fanny and seeing her beautiful painted flowers.

To give you an idea of the book, here is a page with bluebells and Lily~of~the~Valley. It tells a bit about the painting and various meanings behind the flowers. The poem on Plate 19 is:

"Where are my thoughts?
Where full on dome, and tow'd and spire.
Sunset is glowing;
And slow through meadows green, inlaid
With flowery grove, and poplar glade,
Iris is flowing."

Monday, October 15, 2007

There is nothing like a good sandwich!

I just love making a really good sandwich. I am always trying to find new and tasty combinations for sandwiches. Here is one I made this Saturday. I needed to feed Jos something really good since he start painting the front of our house. We changed the door colors, by the way, and I will share photos this week.

This is an oven toasted ciabatta with tomato paste spread on the bottom which I salt and peppered to taste. I then added two slices of raw Italian ham, a few fresh basil leaves and chopped spring onion. I placed some mozzarella over this and grilled it just to let the cheese start to melt.

Do you have a special sandwich combination you love? I would love to see it on your blog!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Fun at the Winter Fair

Yesterday, a friend and I drove up to Hardenberg to see the Winter Fair there. We had high expectations after seeing a nice advertisement in a magazine about the fair. We were not disappointed. Above is a photo of one of my favorite stands at the fair. It was a wonderful display set up to look like a porch followed by going into the "house". I was thrilled to find this as this porch is exactly what I had in my mind for our new patio area up at the cottage by the privacy fencing. This enabled me to take photos to share with Jos about how I want it done. I had drawn this out but I don't think he was too impressed with my rough sketching. Now he can actually see it.

This is a close~up of the decorations on the porch area. It was really done up so cozy. I wanted to pick it all up and take it home with me.

The treasures that I did bring home are a pretty crochet tablecloth, a real Chashmere shawl (shawl are an extreme weakness I have), a set of porcelin candlesticks (a gift which I am not sure now I can part with), 2 cloches, a wrought iron garden urn, Alsacian butter stamp, 2 homemade French apple soaps and a house sign.

I named our cottage about two years ago and since then we have been wanting to have a sign made to hang on the cottage. Up to now, we had not found them accept to order online. We wanted to be able to see what we were getting. I spotted a stand selling them just in time as the fair would be closing in half an hour. He had almost sold out of this small hanging sign already and it was only the opening day of this weekend fair. It was the perfect size for our tiny cottage in the woods. Fifteen minutes later, I had a beautiful hanging sign customized with our name "Cranberry Cottage". I can't wait to see it at the cottage.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Answering a much asked question.....

I just wanted to answer a question that keeps coming up on the comments about Dagi. He is an Oriental longhair or also known as Mandarin or Javanese. This is not a cat for the novice as they are very much a part of your life. They don't like to be alone and are always there with you (preferably on your lap). They 'talk' to you constantly! They are an extremely difficult breed to find anymore in Holland. We tried to find a new kitten for years with no luck. These cats are not supposed to be alone and one breeder asked me how I coped. I told her I really believe that Dagi sees ME as the other cat and Jos as his owner.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Meet our baby ~ Dagi

This is our little baby Adagio. We call him Dagi for short. He is a cat with 'cattitude'! He spends time playing watchdog in our house and at the cottage.

He loves fooling around to please his mommy and daddy!

He has the very important task in life of being a quilt tester! Any quilt laying around will do.

He knows the importance of staying very well groomed.

Wasn't this new and pricey cushion for me??? I do need something soft to sit by the fire afterall!

I love to talk on Skype to all my mommy's family. I do have to keep her computer time in check, don't I?

And when all is said and done.....there is nothing like curling up with a good book. Meow!