No Star at the Top

We picked up a Christmas tree a few days ago at a local tree lot.

The tree had to be almost perfect as it can be seen from all sides.

Charlie set it up next to the piano between the living room and the dining room.

The tree is ornamented and lit but lacks a topper on its very straight spire.

He put the lights on it, then Sug and I hung the ornaments.

In years past we put the tree in the front window. Please note the dazzling star on top.

Unfortunately there is no tree topper yet because the star we usually use won’t light up.

We pried the star apart.

Charlie and I took it apart and inspected every light, every connection, and even replaced fuses in the plug but it still won’t work.

I’m still hoping Charlie can figure something out.

Now I have to figure out what to replace it with.

Any suggestions?


House To-Do List – 2018 Progress

I used to organize the house to-do list in one long list that I added to as I thought of something new.   I cleaned up this list just after I posted this at the end of 2017. Over the years we have made a lot of progress which sometimes seems very slow-going.

Living Room

New bench, new rug, same furniture.
  • Finish greige curtains 

Dining Room

Dining room
Dining Room
  • Paint paneling
  • Finish cushions
  • Paint trim


The kitchen
The kitchen
Coffee bar in the kitchen
  • Kitchen in action





Conservatory bathroom

Conservatory Bathroom
The rustic vanity.
  • Install baseboard
  • Install window trim

Powder room

The powder room has been totally redecorated.
  • Remove wallpaper
  • Add paneling at bottom of wall
  • Paper top of wall

    Anthropologie wallpaper would lighten the space.
    Anthropologie wallpaper would lighten the space.
  • Rehang towel bar


Stair runner.


Upstairs hall
Upstairs hall

Laundry Room

After the renovation we should be able to free up some room in the laundry.
After the renovation we should be able to free up some room in the laundry.

La buanderie means either laundry room or utility room in a house

  • Finish floor
  • Hang closet door
  • Add baseboard trim
  • Add chair rail trim
  • Paint and install inside shutters
  • Paint and install old kitchen cabinet above dryer

Master Bathroom

Master Bathroom

Master Bedroom

  • Erect bookshelves

    Shelves to be finished.
  • Paint trim
  • Refinish tall dresser

Master Deck

The master bedroom French doors lead to a private deck.
The master bedroom French doors lead to a private deck.
  • The furniture is painted and in place on the master deck.
    The furniture is painted and in place on the master deck.
  • Have railing built
  • Have deck surface finished

Diva Room

A tiny but useful room: The Diva Room
A tiny but useful room: The Diva Room
  • Paint trim
  • Add shutters or curtains
  • Clear out boxes

Treetops Room

The Treetops Room viewed from the doorway.
The Treetops Room viewed from the doorway.
  • Clear out boxes
  • Wash windows
  • Paint door

Front entrance

Front painted Sandy Hook Gray.
Front painted Sandy Hook Gray.

Side entrance

The westside porch.
The westside porch.
  • Choose bluestone or paving
  • Make planter for front edge
  • Make wood box
  • Bench or chair
  • Door mat

Back entrance

The back stairs to the conservatory.
The back stairs to the conservatory.
  • Plant grass
  • Lay stepping stones or temporary deck
  • Door mat


The planters are at the entrance to the potager on either side of the iron gate.
The planters are at the entrance to the potager on either side of the iron gate.
  • Make a plan for foundation plants
  • Plant grass

Wee Little House

The shed is both charming and useful.
The shed is both charming and useful.
  • Organize tools
  • Paint shutters 

    Shutters are out of the shed, painted, and on the house.
  • Clear work bench
  • Organize garden items

Glade Cottage

The Cottage has come in handy for guests and as a temporary home for our son's friends.
The Cottage has a permanent tenant.
Glade Cottage in Spring
Interior of The Cottage
The Cottage kitchen


The before and after of the shutter installation.

Do you have plans for next year?

Early Christmas Réveillon

Usually a Réveillon (which means “eve”) is a dinner held late on Christmas Eve.  I’m planning a simple dinner that evening for 5 or 6 people a little earlier than a traditional Réveillon.

We should have a Christmas tree up and decorated by December 24th.

Charlie, Sug, and I are involved with the music at a 7 p.m. service and will probably also attend an 11 p.m. candlelight service.  We’ll need some nourishment in between so I’ve asked my son and his wife to come for a meal and gift exchange around 8:30.

The dining room table looks fairly bare until we load it up with bowls and plates of food.

My proposed menu is:

  • Shrimp bisque

    Peeled shrimp
  • Green salad or coleslaw
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Roasted chicken with cranberry sauce  

    I love homemade cranberry sauce.
  • Sticky toffee pudding  

    I have a sticky toffee pudding cake in the freezer; just need more sticky toffee.

Everything can be prepared in advance and heated up quickly.  And who doesn’t like comfort food?

What’s your favorite quick dinner?

Updating the Header 2018

It’s fall and the trees are blazing, especially the bright red Japanese maple in the west side yard.

I wanted to use this recent photo of the house.

In order to use a photo of the house as a header it has to be a longshot.

I never notice the phone wires until I take a photo.

Instead I chose this one even though the colors are not as vibrant.


Are you making changes?

Trip to England: Inspiration for The Glade

While traveling recently in England I was drawn to various aspects of British life. Some of those things should be at my house.

1. Trash can shed – I would like a little hut near the road so I don’t have to see trash and recycle cans near the house.

A simple structure for holding refuse containers found on a porch in Chelsea, London.

2. Boxwood in planters – I transplanted some small boxwood shrubs and like them so much I might do more.

A garden center in World’s End, Chelsea had a whole host of inspiration – including topiaried bay laurel trees.

3. Hand soap – The liquid hand soap in the Buckingham Palace toilets was attractive and had a scent that did not cause me to sneeze.

Even the temporary bathrooms at Buckingham Palace were elegant.

4.  Queen’s garden – Queen Elizabeth has a gardener for about every 15 acres at Buckingham Palace and the lawns and plants are well-kept.  I have 2/3 of an acre and 2 gardeners so there’s a chance that my inspiration can become reality at The Glade.

The rose garden has beds of roses set off by lots of lawn and mature trees.

5. Sticky toffee pudding. One of the best things I’ve ever eaten.

That is clotted cream on our sticky toffee pudding.

6. Flowers everywhere – Now that our foundation plants are in place I can focus on more color.

Geraniums, salvia, and dusty miller in the park across from the palace.

7.  Hearts in my coffee – I’m hoping my baristas at home can perfect the heart logo.

Our favorite restaurant in Chelsea put a design in every cup.

8.  My own personal cipher – The Queen has her royal cipher which marks everything from gates to mail boxes to flower pots.

My cypher need not be gold leaf.

I’m sure there were other things in England that inspired me like the “black” cabs and their knowledgeable drivers.  I can’t replicate everything but I can do just a few.

One of the best things about travel is the opportunity to see the world and use it as inspiration for a lifestyle that’s both individual and universal at the same time.

What inspires you? Or is the question who?

Cleaner Air

Unfortunately I have had a couple weeks of difficult breathing.

This NASA map shows the the smoke from the fires out west has reached the East Coast.

My doctor confirmed today that he hears “the crackle”.  Not good. So I’m on antibiotics.  The air quality is not helping either.

It’s a little noisy but seems to be filtering the air.

In an effort to improve the air quality in our bedroom I’ve plugged in an air purifier that I inherited from my mother.

Oreck Air Purifier

It has definitely helped.

Are you a habitual cleaner?

Raspberry Realization

While I was focused on the raspberry bush I noticed some trees had grown up in the same area.

The tree behind the raspberry bush is a tulip poplar which can grow to 30 feet.

They were not pleasant little trees but instead fast growing tulip poplars and maples.

The tulip poplar was the first to come down.

I alerted Charlie to the problem and he said he had already planned to work on it.

Charlie huffed a lot of heavy logs around.

It’s been in the upper 90s all week but Charlie pulled out the oak slabs he’d been saving and got into the vegetated area.

Charlie has to get rid of the foliage and stems.

He started pulling out very substantial trees.

Will someone be interested is firewood in summer?

Now we are left with a lot of large logs which I’m going to try to get rid of on Craigslist even though the temperature hit 100 degrees yesterday.

Why does one clean-up project beget another?

Maybe someone can envision a set of outdoor stools for their firepit.  And wood to burn.

Do you have a firepit?