Friday, March 20, 2015

So Long Church Street

Saving this house was nothing less than a labor of love and anyone who was here at the time will remember my vowing that I would only be leaving Church Street on a gurney. I think we all know such declarations are often revised and one day we are moving on entirely. And because that day has come I want to share some 'before and after' photos of a neglected ugly duckling that became a blessed and beloved home. 

When I make up my mind to do something I like it to progress quickly. So it would be an understatement to say I was pleased when, after some lengthy discussions, Mr. H and I picked a Monday to put the house on the market and had an offer on that Friday.

The buyers are a lovely young couple who have been renting nearby. They told us that for as long as they've been in the neighborhood they would walk down Church Street with their dog (also named Gus!) and say to themselves "if that house ever comes on the market..."

We signed a contract the next day and we closed this afternoon.

When we moved in the girls were 10 and 11-years-old and they have grown up in what feels like a few, short years. Sophie will hear in a matter of days where she will be going to college this coming fall and Serena is only one year behind her.

The time is right to prepare for an empty nest.

We didn't have a fully formed plan for our next step, not anticipating the house would sell so quickly (even though we hoped it would.)

What we did know was that we wanted to simplify and downsize here in Vermont in order to do some work to our place in Rhode Island (and be prepared when that first college tuition bill arrives.)

I am nothing if not decisive and it took about five minutes for me to decide on an apartment in a new building. Mr. H took some convincing (as we will be downsizing by a lot!) but he likes the modern style of the space and the fact that the building is LEED certified.

Our new place is a very short distance from here, across the river in Hanover, New Hampshire - the quintessential New England college town, home to Dartmouth and its three graduate schools.

There isn't much to share in the way of photos right now, it is truly a 'white box', but we have met at the site with my wonderful painter/wallpaper hanger (you met Jeff here) as well as our contractor to begin the process of making it our own. Lately I have been fixated on wallpaper so you will be seeing some of that.

While that work is being completed we will be renting back here through Sophie's graduation from High School. I am looking forward to enjoying one last spring at Church Street and recalling the countless happy memories of our life here.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Family Photos

I was travelling last week when I got a message from a kind friend who spotted these 1930's press photos of my grandmother and her sister on eBay.

This is my grandmother with her fiancé leaving the opera in New York, December 1933. She ended up breaking it off with him; if his expression is any indication of his general character I'd say she made a wise decision.

A few years later at the beach in Newport, August 1937. Granny is on the right, clearly not suffering from the scandal of her broken engagement, with her sister Phyllis (for whom I'm named) on the left.

From the same day, Aunt Phyllis getting into my great-grandfather's car (his initials are on the door.) I am loving the sunglasses on the back seat.

It was such a pleasant distraction to get these and a few others in the mail. The arctic weather we have had all month is beginning to wear on me. Hope you all are holding up better and that we will be blessed with an early and gentle spring!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Church Street Christmas

There is no question of a white Christmas this year as December has already delivered quite a bit of snow to Vermont. It is a beautiful start to winter and we are looking forward to celebrating at home.

In keeping with my general aesthetic, holiday decorating at Church Street leans toward the minimalist but this year I wanted to make a change from the traditional color scheme. The blue was inspired by some Swedish Dala horses I found online. Our travels through Northern Europe last summer only intensified my interest in Scandinavian culture.

I love to set a beautiful table though never want it to feel too formal. This mix of our wedding silver with pottery handmade in Vermont and linens from Ballard Designs sums up my personal style in a nutshell.

I'm not one for New Year's resolutions; I tend to act when the idea strikes. In November I met a photographer who inspired me to give up my 26-year coffee addiction - impressive because of a previous failed attempt in 2011 that I long referred to as the worst four days of my life. I am now going on week five so here's to perseverance.

A departure from the usual Christmas crackers, this year I will be offering these 'fortunes' found at Anthropologie with dessert - something fun to ponder as we consider what lies ahead.

To all my readers, many thanks for your visits to Henhurst and all best wishes for the new year!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Blue Christmas

My love of all things Scandinavian goes into overdrive as the holidays approach and the icy winter wonderland outside my window has me thinking blue and white for this year's holiday decor. It began with my ordering a version of this Advent candle wreath from The Linnet's Wing on Etsy. Following is further inspiration and as I am linking up to the Blue and White Bash at The Pink Pagoda today, please click over and see who else is sharing the love. Thank you, Jennifer, for organizing!




We traditionally start decorating the weekend after my daughter's birthday which falls on December 4th. It is going to be a great weekend!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

London Calls Again

Following my trip to Washington I was home for less than 48 hours before leaving for London to visit my sister, Irene. I wouldn't normally plan travel like that, but Irene asked me late last summer if I would come over to help her make some decorating decisions and this was the window that worked for us both. We only see each other a few times a year and I relish the days we get to spend together.

We were blessed with good weather and a few bright and sunny, un-London-like days. (In Hyde Park near the sunken garden pond.)

A few hours were devoted to visiting the Chelsea Harbour Design Centre where I always stop in at Nordic Style to admire their displays.

Irene is an art historian (on account of her Ph.D. she is actually Dr. Irene) so a visit to The National Gallery to see the current Rembrandt exhibit was required. I was a little fixated on the architecture which almost rivals the collection.

We spent the weekend in Wiltshire enjoying long walks in the countryside. Evidently the literary agent for one of my favorite (deceased) English authors lives here.

Back in London I did what I could to help with the children's routine as Irene needed to finish some writing. I love doing the school run - the English uniforms kill me and my niece, if you could hear the way she calls me 'Aunt Philly' - well, I can be counted on to indulge things Mummy does not allow.

On my last day I spent some time before school pick-up exploring Notting Hill where some streets have a distinctly bohemian feel very different from other London neighborhoods. And Portobello Road is a lot of fun for both the antique shops and the boutiques.

Irene (below with Spaniel pup Lily) is eight years younger than I am. At dinner one night she mentioned to our companion that when she was two-years-old I saved her from drowning in our swimming pool. While it is not something I've thought about in a long time, it is my most vivid childhood memory. My movements leading up to and following the incident play like a movie in my head. It was no less than a miracle I showed up at the moment I did and for much of my young life I felt acutely responsible for her. Now firmly in middle age, however, it seems roles are reversing and Irene has begun to feel responsible for my well-being because whenever we are together in London she drags me to her gym (admittedly very luxurious and spa-like) and insists I drink green juices.

I want to tell you - probably because another birthday is fast approaching - that despite the age difference and the fact that, given a choice, I would always take wine over kale juice, we were mistaken for twins more than once.