Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Moving Right Along...

Thanksgiving is over and we are now moving right into the winter season which is approaching as quickly as the fall was here and now, just about gone.  I hope everyone celebrated a wonderful Thanksgiving and took the time to count your blessings.  On our part, it was wonderful to have Kevin home and to be together, if only for a few days.

Here at Blooming Hill, Thanksgiving was not only about taking time for taking stock.  It was also about moving into the first stages of building our studio/showroom.  While most people were relaxing, or at least out shopping, after their turkey dinner, we here at Blooming Hill were as busy as ever chopping down trees, burning brush and digging dirt in anticipation of what is to come. 

To say we were busy might be a bit of an understatement and, if Kevin had probably known the amount work that was in store for him this past weekend, he might have opted to stay at college or go to a friend's or relative's house for Thanksgiving instead.  It's a good thing that he, like his father, actually likes to chop trees, burn brush and clear land...yet a few more things to be thankful for.

In any case, it all began last Wednesday when the rental company delivered a small front load tractor bright and early.  Peter looked like a kid in a candy store as the man unhitched the tractor from the truck.  To Peter, something like this is comparable to Christmas morning, only a month early.  I could only imagine the wheels turning already and the bucket digging away furiously with Pete at the controls, but that was still two days away.  Afterall, there was still a lot of clearing to be done first, followed by Thanksgiving, a day for giving thanks for family, friends and everything we hold dear, and that is exactly what we did.

Then Friday morning rolled around and it was time to fire up the tractor, start the chainsaw and haul out the shovels, rakes and work gloves to begin the process of making way for our studio/showroom.  It was especially exciting for me because I got to go off to work for two days and miss all of the heavy stuff, while each night, coming home to see the progress made while I was away.  However, I did manage to take a few pictures for a sneak peak at what was happening.

By Saturday, Kevin had managed to talk a friend into helping with the clearing and chopping of trees.  However, I was away at work, again, and nobody thought to take any pictures so all we can do is imagine how hard they worked by looking at Kevin, after dinner, who seemed to be practically passed out and exhausted on the floor with Tucker trying very hard to comfort him...good and loyal dog!  Don't feel too bad for Kevin.  He went out to a party with friends later on that night.  As for the dog, no party time for him, but forty winks with one of his favorite humans was just the thing a doctor would have ordered

Thanks to Peter and company, working at what seemed to me to be break-neck speed, by Sunday morning, the spot of land we have set for the new little structure is now cleared and waiting for a 12' by 16' studio/showroom. We were now ready for a family picture on the very spot they had spent the weekend clearing just before Kevin was on his way back to school.

To top it all off, Peter and I even got the Christmas trees and decorations up by late Sunday evening (more on that, later).  However, I think everyone, by that time, was indeed truly thankful for the holiday weekend to be over and to be moving on into the Advent Season and all that life holds for us.

Finally, yesterday, I brought home five bails of straw, late in the afternoon, and worked at spreading it over the freshly planted grass seed in order to hold the dirt in place as the winter weather sets in.  Of course, as usual, no one was there to take a picture of me actually doing something around here--typical!  There are still two to three more trees to be taken down but that will be done by professionals who have the equipment and experience at taking down trees that require climbing up into and being taken down in stages, hopefully within the next week or two.  We had a great Thanksgiving weekend and are moving right along! 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Making Room

Usually, when their children grow up and go off to college, most "empty-nesters" begin to start thinking about downsizing or, at the very least, turning their children's bedrooms into craft rooms or hobby dens or some kind of functional room that they have always dreamed of having but never had the time to enjoy.  Let's face it.  When children move away, we "empty-nesters" have to grow up ourselves and think about our own futures.  Well, after a year of Kevin off to college, Peter and I, ever the possibilities are endless dreamers, are now turning that corner and looking, not to change Kevin's room.  Rather, we are thinking outside of the box and looking to add a garden-style studio/showroom to the property and expand our home-based/craft fair business.

It's been at least a year since Peter and I first started seriously talking about doing some kind of business, beyond traveling the local fair circuit.  Something that stems from our crafts, plants and paintings and something we can do at least somewhere close to the comfort of our own home and property.  Along with fairs, we've been toying with buying, or at least renting, a piece of real estate that speaks to us and communicates to our customers who we are as crafty-garden people.  Hopefully, by early next spring, we will have a new addition here in the form of a lovely English style garden house where people can come and visit Blooming Hill at their leisure and we can welcome them at ours.
What suddenly moved us to this juncture?  Something as simple as a visit to a local antique hot spot convinced us that never finding quite the space we are looking for keeps leading us back to our own roost, where we are always in our element, and that is exactly where we need to be. Yes, we may be a bit off of the beaten path but that's what makes Blooming Hill all the more charming a location to come and visit.

So, divine inspiration hit us like a ton of bricks standing there and gazing upon what looked like the coolest tiny sheds that could be turned into some kind of unique place loaded with gingerbread details and country quaintness.  Something totally different yet at the same time similar to the greenhouse that would compliment Blooming Hill as well.  Why hadn't we thought of this before?!  Well actually, Peter will tell you that he had thought of this before...he just didn't tell me..hahaha.  Alright...enough of that, let's put our thinking caps on and start planning.

Visions of something akin to sugarplums for "Type-A" adults started dancing in our heads as we walked through the vintage architectural elements.  By piecing together what we would like to see in a cute country shop with all of the bells and whistles, we'll get something like this, "Only better!" Peter boldly declared and he was off and running with camera and measuring tape in hand.  If there is one thing I know after thirty years of marriage, when he gets a "bee under his bonnet," there is no stopping him.  This can sometimes be good and sometimes be bad.  However, in this case, it's good so I followed him as he rambled happily through the booths and sheds all of the while imagining the finished product, myself.

So much to see and buy at this particular place as we sifted through bric-a-brac and sorted through old glass windows but also a bit on the pricey side.  After making notes of different building details we would like to incorporate in our studio/showroom, we decided to hold off on a few possibilities while we investigated a few more architectural element venues.  However, I did come across a sturdy ladder to paint and use in my booth along with the old ladder I currently have.  Maybe not my most exciting nor my most imaginative purchase ever, but it will come in handy for displaying items. 

After gathering ideas and picking through corbels and cornices, off we went to look for windows and doors that would be just right for our future studio/showroom at a few of our other favorite antique haunts.  One of Peter's favorite places--the Restore for Habitat for Humanity, is quite often a treasure chest with lots things full of potential and this weekend was no exception to the rule.  You just need, as my mother would say, "A little bit of imagination and hootspa" (whatever that means) to make your idea a reality and voila you are on your way!  There you see them, a door and windows ready to go, just as we imagined, and our sugarplum is already starting to take shape.  I'd say that's pretty good karma!

Now to start considering and planning for the harder parts--the actual clearing, grading and accumulating of materials and finally the building of the place.  A clear vision, a little bit of faith and lots of hard work are now entering into the picture along with a detailed building/site plan.  (It's a good thing one of us actually does this kind of thing--design and planning--for a real job and even knows how to use a chain saw to boot!) 

In any case, building this structure is something both of us are ready for and something we'll gladly share with Kevin when he comes home from college on summer break.  So, here we go embarking on feathering our new little nest right here while keeping the old birdhouse comfy and cozy for the one who has flown the coop but will always find Blooming Hill to be his roost, and ours, for many years to come.   It is our vision and hope that friends, old and new, will find us in their travels in and around Western Loudoun County.  Our projected opening date--April 2011, barring another snowmegeddon, like last winter.  I'll keep you posted of our progress along the way.  In the meantime, see you at the fairs and you are always welcome to stop by Blooming Hill.  We empty-nesters will probably be here, making room.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Nippy Ol' Jack Frost

So far, this November has been nothing but frosty nights, glorious days and especially silvery mornings here at Blooming Hill. Even though it's been a little too warm for roasting chestnuts, at least during the daylight hours, Jack Frost is certainly making his presence known by not only nipping at our noses but also, nipping around the gardens during the "wee" hours.  Every day last week, I awoke to a light sugar frosted coating on the ground as well as the plants and trees. Even the greenhouse, with it's steamy windows and shrouded in mist, looked magical in the early morning light, thanks to the intricate artistry of Jack Frost, and, maybe a little help from Mother Nature's own portfolio of water colors.

The last hold-outs of the blooming season have been especially vibrant and seem to enjoy their "powdery-puff" blush as well. They look just as lovely, dusted in frost, as they did when they were first planted way back in April and May.  Although now more bold and mature, the mauve-pink mums to the midnight blue petunias still vie for as much attention as they can demand yet seem serene, clothed in lacy ice crystals.  In the language of flowers, petunias are double-edged.  They can either convey resentment and anger or say, "Your presence soothes me."  Jack Frost's handy work on their petals is certainly soothing on these chilly mornings while the chrysanthemums, in general, reflect cheerful perfection as their meaning applies.

And, the autumn color?   Well, just like the "Ever Ready Bunny,"  it keeps on going and going. Jack Frost seems especially intent on preserving the brilliant reds down to the last leaves still clinging to the trees!  Set against the clear blue sky of the early morning, the textures of the garden are accentuated by the icy moisture of late autumn and it is evident that Jack stays up late into the evenings, working under the stars painting picture perfect frosty mornings that lead to high-def afternoons, as only he can do...what an artist!

The legend of Jack Frost, beyond what we see in holiday cartoons, originates in Scandinavia, although he is claimed by Russian folklore as well.  Probably not a big surprise, when you think about it, given the frosty climates of both Northern Europe and Northern Russia.  Since my heritage is Swedish and German, I'm going to stick to the Scandinavian version in this blog entry.  Jack, or "Jokul Frosti," some kind of elfish creature, was so named by the Vikings and means "Icicle Frosting."   Jack was, and still is, credited for the beautiful, almost etched-like patterns we see sprinkling our windows, ground, plants and leaves during the winter months anywhere in the world.  Of course, somebody had to name him, because he is quite a talented fellow, carefully painting each blade of grass and flower petal with his very special paint brushes dipped in frosty white.

Whether you picture him as "nipping" or "painting" at the garden foliage and structures, that's for you to decide.  It's a personal thing and all any of us can do at this time of the year is enjoy his artistry as he transforms the garden palette from warm to cool colors.  For me, seeing his work up close and personal, I think he cannot possibly be a nasty little elf that some may want to portray him as, but more like a gentle, creative soul giving warning of harsh weather in our midst, in his own unique and beautiful style.