Chapel Garden

Last Saturday we dedicated our outdoor chapel area with 30 or so friends and relatives.

The benches are permanent seating.

We were concerned that it might storm and threaten our plans but the rain held off until the middle of the night.

We offered a mixture of chartreuse coleus, pink and dark pink impatiens, and 3 colors of nicotiana.

During the service each person was instructed to choose a plant, write a dedication, and place the plant in the spot where he or she wanted it to be planted.

Some of the other labels were very personal.

Charlie was amazed at the care everyone gave to the task of honoring a person or time that is meaningful.

The flowers were planted in the places where they had been set along with their markers.

Since it rained all day Sunday the flowers could not be planted but today Sug got right on it and planted all of the flowers.

Each person could also take home a plant for his/her own garden.

There were some left over which we placed in the empty spots.

The pink flowers are nicotiana — they came in 3 colors.

Our meditation garden is set up for our private use.  The flowers will provide a colorful serenity to the area and hopefully will attract our beloved hummingbirds.

Whom would you like to honor?

Other People’s Money

I’m sure Sug thinks I spend time looking for ways for her to spend money.

Stained glass window with hummingbirds.

I often see things I think she’ll like.  For example, the hummingbird stained-glass window in her kitchen area was my find.

The theme of a corner in the Cottage has become hummingbirds.

Well, I found some more hummingbirds.  Oh, Sug.

I especially like the embroidered sheets.

First there are sheets at Cuddledown that have embroidered hummingbirds on the hems of the top sheets and pillow cases.

These jammies look comfy.

Cuddledown is also selling a cute pair of pjs adorned with flowers and hummers.

We have hung one on each side of the door to the Cottage.

She’s getting ready to hang out the feeders I gave her last year.

Nicotiana should be attractive to our hummingbirds.

And I’m hoping the nicotiana flowers which are blooming in the greenhouse will also attract the sweet little Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris).

We spent a lot of time last summer watching for hummingbirds.

We had 2 last year.

What do you collect?

Inspiration for The Glade

Ever since our master bathroom has been finished Charlie has complained about not being able to see himself well enough in the mirrors to get a close shave.

Charlie’s mirror is the larger over the master bathroom vanity.

We have plenty of mirrors but he likes to have a really close mirror with a lot of light.

Note the lighted round mirror in the upper left corner.

I remember loving the makeup mirror at The Benjamin Hotel in New York City when we visited in 2017.

The mirror in the San JUan bathroom was no frills but very convenient.

And while we were recently in Puerto Rico Charlie gushed about the shaving mirror in the bathroom at our casita in San Juan.

I have ordered this electric makeup mirror.

So I think I have found just the right birthday gift for a man who wants to see himself in a better light.

Do you have a mirror that works better than others?

The Conservatory

One of my favorite rooms in the house is our conservatory.

I have no plans to cover the windows.

I love all the windows.

The ceiling is a beautiful color called “Hydrangea”.

I like the blue ceiling.

Dash (behind) and Rory spend a lot of time in the conservatory.

Unfortunately when we got a puppy it became the houndatorium.

The conservatory rug was originally from Pottery Barn about 30 years ago and looks rough now.

Dash has pulled the rug apart.

The loveseats fit perfectly in the conservatory space.

The love seats (circa 1981) were slipcovered in 1991 and are beginning to look shoddy.

We have needed a coffee table in the conservatory since it was built.

Now I want to go in a new direction.  Should I start with a new rug or give everything 6 more months when Dash will have graduated from destructive puppyhood?

I love the style of this room by Judith Liegeois.

Plus I have yet to see something in a sunroom/solarium/conservatory/morning room/orangerie to inspire me.

This chair is sturdy and comfortable.

I will be keeping the above chair.

What do you need to update?

Repair and Maintenance

Maintaining a house is a constant series of checks and chores.

We do our own painting.

Although we do a lot of DIY around here, some things we leave to the experts.

The chimney technician caulked the cracks in the chimney from the roof.

This week Charlie found a few leaks  in the chimney.  He was planning to climb on the roof himself but I convinced him to call our chimney sweep.

The chimney hadn’t been cleaned for about 5 years.

The chimney service cleaned the chimney and caulked some cracks in the top part of the chimney that seem to have been the source of the leaks.  This weekend’s rain should give us a conclusive answer.

Our piano tech repaired the sustain pedal, replaced the humidifier sponge, and tuned the piano.

The other maintenance and repair chore is tuning our piano and repairing the sustain pedal.

Ready for playing.

Our piano tuner has been tuning our piano since about 1990.  We don’t get it done often enough but it will be in tune for Christmas and New Year’s.

It’s only money.

The total bill for both jobs was $500.

What task do you farm out to a pro?

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?