Wednesday, March 25, 2015

And then it Australia

In Australia...
Something special happened last weekend...we gained a new member to our family. Actually, not just one member, but in fact, I think we gained a good portion of a least that is what it felt like by the time we all departed the wedding and it felt wonderful. 

But let me back up a few hours. We arrived, to the wedding...the mother, the father, the brother and one of the sisters (the other one is studying in Cameroon) and wondered how this would work. We were four of 80+ guests and we did not know a single person other than the bride, the groom and the maid of honor who we met the night before. And then it happened, we were met by the warm embrace of the other guests who as it turned out were one big extended family. They mostly hailed from Canberra...I now love Canberra. Canberrians are people to love!

If you know Aussies, you will know that they are some of the most genuine, fun loving and outgoing people on the face of the planet. I thought Americans and Canadians had this covered but I think the Australians might have one up on us. Being a dual citizen, both American and Australian, I feel honoured...but I digress.

I knew from the first heartwarming welcome that I was going to kick myself for forgetting to bring along a case of tissues to hold back the tears...for they did flow.

They started flowing
when I looked up at my smiling son, 
in his military whites,
waiting for his bride-to-be...Cherie.
(tissue alert)

Patrick...the wait.

And then they started again when
Cherie turned the corner,
looking joyfully radiant.
(tissue alert)

A beautiful bride...Cherie

and the tears flowed again
when they tied the knot
and then another knot...
the Celtic knot, a symbol of unity,
and their pledge to 
spend their lives together.
(tissue alert)

The Mother and Father of the Groom
can not begin to describe how happy 
we are for both of them.
(tissue alert)

Captain and Mrs. black, white and a touch of red
on their wedding day.

The new Mrs. H is a very talented woman.
An artist and fellow Virgo, she designed 
and produced nearly everything herself, 
including many of the details
 on her wedding gown.

The wedding reflected their personalities
 in an exicting way with a "Burtonesque" theme 
that was playful and enchanting. 

I know for a fact that everyone in attendance
absolutely loved the candy bar..complete with 
black and white striped candy bags.
If you are planning a wedding...think candy bar!

 The American Welcome...
Next up is the American family reunion at Tahilla Farm in December 2015. Our first Christmas at Tahilla Farm and the first chance for everyone to meet Cherie on home territory. We are all so so excited...and I have so so so much to do! Finish building a house is first on the list... ;)

About the MOG dress...
Some of you may be wondering about the mother of the groom dress. I arrived with three dresses and a floral jacket. A menagerie of colour, one each in midnight blue, teal, lavender and pink.   Not to confuse myself or anything. It all fell together in the eldest daughter said no, no and yes. Lavender and pink for me. 

As for photos...we have to wait for those. is just about the bride and the groom and the many many happy wedding wishes you have sent their way over the past few blog posts. 

Thank you all!!!

Jeanne xx

Patrick, Cherie and a sunset over the Yarra Valley in Australia
(tissue alert)

Wedding photographs
with exception of my photos 
(Patrick and Sourstraps)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A Happy Australia

It started when I was looking looking at photos..that feeling you get when tears starts to roll in from distant places and you blink to say it can't be so and then you suddenly catch your breath, take a deep breath and you realise there is no stopping it...the flood gates have opened. Tears..happy tears.

Saying that, I  have to tell not a pretty sight. I am the one who goes all puffy and splotchy and needs to be gently guided into a dark room, so as not to scare the others.  The only upside on my appearance is that my eyes become bright blue.  I think it is the red splotchy part that highlights them. Never seems to work together.

What's all the fuss about? The little guy below is my eldest son Patrick..who is getting married on Saturday, in Australia. Patrick and I sat in a photo booth together, 24 years ago...and I am feeling mother's do.

When Patrick was little
I used to read
(kind of how I felt last Thursday). 


We used to laugh about Alexander 
wanting to move to Australia...
and then we did, 
when Patrick was nine years old. 
He has been there ever since. 


And now Patrick is marrying an Aussie girl, Cherie.
How the world goes round! 

Patrick and Cherie

Speaking of horrible, no good, very bad days (last Thursday)...I am happy to report that my hair colour has been sorted and my mother of the groom dress came back from the dry cleaner in top shape. No more tears! I am still wavering on which dress to wear to the wedding, I will pack it all up and decide on the day. I like options. 

Thinking of Alexander and his Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day started me on a book trail of all the children's books we used to love to read. I have to admit, that even today, with my oldest, now 25 and the youngest of my four, 15...I still pop into the children's section at bookstores, just to see what is new. It's always a happy place. 

Do you have a favourite children's book? One that you read as a child or some that you read to your children and grandchildren? Would love to know if you do...


Here are a few of ours...

by Judith Viorst

because we do have 
a touch of the Irish in us,
a book I bought just for Patrick
all those years ago.

by Tommie dePaola


Celebating St. Patrick's Day
and a wedding in one week.
It's a sign!
A great one!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

Jeanne ;)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Charm of Mystery....

Gecko our front door, Chateau Mango


The evening air sits heavy outside our doorstep, dense in the sweet scent of jasmine. Not a bad way to end the week. In retrospect, it did not seem that crazy a week..until Thursday rolled around and I had a feeling I may have gone to far.

But first, Monday...

ON MONDAY..the expat book club

The week started easily enough...with an expat book club meeting. We meet on the second Monday of each month in a local cafe in Saigon. It's been months since my last meeting and I finally made it..but I nearly missed it.  With two days to go, I still had not read the book, so I sat myself down last Saturday morning and read and read and read until I finished the book a few hours later. Have you read the ethereal and compelling book, The Shack, by William P. Young? All I can say is WOW! If you are looking for a book that is sure to get people talking, read this one. 

We decided on the following books for the upcoming months, have you read any of them?

by Karen Joy Fowler

by Anthony Doerr 

by Mavis Cheek

by Daniel Mason 

Book Club done...easy.

ON TUESDAY...all that is Chateau Mango and Persian Melons

Left side of house, new colour..right side, old colour. 

The consensus on the house colour was unanimous...stay true to Chateau Mango. Mr. H was very happy with your vote. Minor glitch on that one, I only had two colours to choose from. Our original colour was no longer available so I had to quickly decide between Orange Julius and Persian Melon. The closest match was Persian Melon. I told Mr. H not to worry, he would hardly notice the difference. Done, decided...let the paint cans roll in. 

Top to bottom...melon to mango. 
Well, they is probably a better colour... softer, lighter and all the other things you try and tell yourself when you are not sure if you made the right choice. At the end of the day, it is not mango, at least not a ripe mango. It is more like a green mango. Change the house name to Chateau Green Mango? I think not. Chateau Melon, Chateau Limoncello? No and No. 

Newly painted Chateau Mango, 2012

Newly painted Chateau Mango come limoncello, 2015

Really, it is all how you look at it in the light. In the early morning and later afternoon hours, when the sun casts a warm glow over the house, it is perfect. At noon, when the sun is it's is best to go shopping. 

Mr. H has been travelling all week and has not seen it yet. I may have to go with the "you must be colour blind" you think he will notice the difference? 

Chateau Mango forever and spirit.

ON WEDNESDAY...back at the farm

I have been pouring over gardening books and photographs this week as we tweak our landscape plans, more specifically, as we contemplate the shape and size of the stone retaining walls that will one day, pull everything together. 

Who knew a stone wall could be so is that 'curve' again, to curve or not to curve, that is the question. 

Gertrude Jekyll helped put it into perspective when she described a garden..

'the garden to the west of the house 
abounds in charming surprises. 
It's various subdivisions are linked together 
in a simple general design. 
Each section shows some distinct way 
of making a garden picture, 
and each entices onwards 
to the next by the charm of mystery 
and the stimulus of pleasant anticipation 
of something still better to follow.'

by Gertrude Jekyll (with Sir Lawrence Weaver)
Published, 1912

A garden picture,

Once upon a garden...Tahilla Farm

enticing onwards,

by the charm of mystery,

pleasant anticipation,

of something still better to follow. 

 Words to feed the gardening soul.
I say we find the 'curve' in the charm of mystery.

ON THURSDAY...I should have skipped Thursday all together

via Etsy

I will just say it once.

If ever you feel the need to change your hair colour  a week before you son's wedding, as in go from light to dark...semi-blonde to brunette...don't. Stick with reading a book, painting your house and planning a garden... it so much easier.


Update on the Mother of the Groom dress..we are getting there. I am happy with the two outfits I had made with one minor hiccup ( at least I hope it is minor). The dressmaker left a large chalk stain smack in the middle of the dress. Not a good look. They are sending it to the dry cleaner and assure me it will be fine. Dry cleaning and silk...not sure about that one. Worst case, they start from scratch and make it again...I still have time.

IT IS FRIDAY EVENING...and the air is dense in the sweet scent of jasmine.

I am wondering.... if I should have added an extra week to my writing challenge. I  probably would have stayed out of trouble if I had...I am sure my hairdresser thinks so. ;)

On that are you???  Thank you SO much for your comments on my recent posts. They are truly inspiring. I have been meaning to get back and respond to them all...and to answer those lingering questions about life in Saigon and travel tips for Vietnam. A few things got in the way this week, but I will get to them, promise!


Sending wishes, heavy on the scent of jasmine,
for a wonderful weekend!

Jeanne xx

Blooming at Chateau Mango this week,
a peachy-pink bougainvillea.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

A Recipe for Friendship...#28

28 Day Writing Challenge...a recipe for friendship
Click on photo to view

This is the final post of my 28 Day Writing Challenge..
which turned out to be a 36 Day Challenge. 
Not perfect but close enough.

If I had to sum it all up...
I would say it was a wonderful recipe for friendship. 
A perfect blend..of friends, old, new and shared...
from around the globe. 
The photo collage above and list below 
is a testimony to all.


Talked about

Made decisions

Travelled to
and snow

with a 

Would I do it again?
Yes...but I would choose my timing wisely.

What did I learn?
Writing every day is one thing, writing and publishing a blog post every day is another. I picked 28 because the idea came to pass on February 1st. Seemed simple enough, shortest day of the month. In hindsight, perhaps I should have picked a month when I was not travelling back and forth across the International Date Line...maybe one horizon too many?  But it did make for interesting blog least for me. Shangri-La one day, waist high in snow the next...what's life without a little adventure?

As I mentioned in my last post, it was your thoughts rather than mine that I found most intriguing. This past year I found it difficult enough to keep up with Collage of Life...let alone a second blog. But through the writing challenge, I realised, like my blog about life in England, one day my story about life in Vietnam will end. I have experienced so much living in Vietnam and seeing that I love to is the time. I am back to Expat Diary: Viet Nam with fresh ideas and a new focus.

How often will I write?
I have always had the sense that once a week is a good fit for me and you.  I have some big decisions coming up and seeing that you all are so good in helping me make may hear from me more than once a week.

I had to put my photography class on the back burner. There is only so much one can do. I have a bit of catching up, eight weeks worth...wish me luck!

There were several topics that I planned for this writing challenge that are still sitting in my idea file. I long to share my travel experiences and offer travel tips. I thought the writing challenge would be an ideal time to pull it together. I need more time...and thankfully, now I have it.

As to those questions about life in Vietnam, your answers are coming. I promise!

I know I have said it over and over and over again but I feel I need to say it one more time. THANK YOU for reading along and sharing your thoughts and just for being you. The comments coming in from my last post have kept Mr. H and I totally enthralled. You are amazing!

With that I send you wishes for a Happy Women's Day
We hold the universe together..
in a warm embrace of support and friendship. 



and to the men reading along

Friday, March 06, 2015

Friday Chat..your thoughts #27

#fridayflowers #chateaumango #vietnam

My ideas for posts usually come to me on the day. There is no master plan...I just wait to feel inspired. So you can imagine, what a 28 Day Writing Challenge must feel like without a plan. I have to stay on my toes and yet it never seems to take much.

Today, my thoughts are on you and your thoughts .

Your comments are treasured and valued. To be honest, I am not sure who values and treasures them more, Mr. H or me. In fact, I sometimes wonder if he skips my post and jumps to the comments. He gives me updates and reports and since this is now going on just over five years for some of you, he feels like he knows many of you well. Sometimes all I need to do is mention a name and he fills me in on the rest. Ever wonder if you have a secret admirer? Well, I can confirm that you do...two of them.

I have spent the better part of the afternoon catching up on your comments and emails, 26 posts worth and I just managed to get through three. We are not talking about a lot of comments, and I thank the lord for that! But each ones means something to me and I like to respond in kind. First to your comment and then to your blog or email.

And when I read...the questions came, so today, I have a few questions for you.

Feel free to answer them all, or one or to just take them away to think about.

On that special place...
which would you prefer, 
by the water, in the woods, 
or in an urban jungle?

Where do you feel most at peace

On retirement..
do you have a plan on when 
and where you would like to be?

Of all the places you have travelled, 
in your home country or abroad
do you have a favourite place?

For me...

Some of you ask for more stories 
about Tahilla Farm and others 
ask for more about Vietnam.

I am curious, 
which camp are you in?

 A farmhouse in New England-
Tahilla Farm 
Life at Chateau Mango 
in Vietnam
is there something else 
that resonates?

With that I wish you well until tomorrow when I will finish off with the last of my 28 Day Writing Challenge.

Thanks so much for reading feels like we have connected around the world in a special way. I look forward to continuing "the talk". You have given me lots of ideas, ones that will take more time than a daily challenge to write. I look forward to it...

Sending you warm wishes
on this Friday afternoon in Saigon.
28 Day Writing Challenge, #27
Vietnam time

Collage of Life
28 Day Writing Challenge
(click on title to read)


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