The Quiet Life Begins Again

Clouds

Summer is coming to an end and the  entourage of guests is coming to an end at the same time. Entertaining my six year-old granddaughter had highs and a few lows. With little people it is interesting how perfectly behaved they can be for about two to three weeks, then familiarity begins and you are no longer a “fun” person, you are just another boring adult.  You have not changed, but their perception of the environment takes a turn. You are no longer new and exciting.

Summer Camp at the Boys and Girls Club saved the day for most of the summer, as she made new friends, had lots of fun activities and great field trips.  I joined them bowling in Silverdale, but decided the bus ride was a bit unruly for me, so did not sign-up for any more field trips. It was joy to watch my granddaughter bowl for the first time ever.  Of the three busloads of children, the high score (using bumpers) and on my team was 99.

When my son recently came to pick her up, we decided to take her bowling. So my off we went.  We discovered a ramp you can use for littler people that lines up the bowling ball and they just push it off. The one in Silverdale is hand-made wood, but worked just as well.

It certainly improved her score. She came in with a score of 98, the best of the group. The rest of us came in with scores in the 80’s. Maybe they should have ramps for all ages, especially seniors. Guess we are not a family of bowlers. The last time I personally bowled you had to keep your own score, not a plasma screen up above the alley for all to see just how bad your were.  They have senior bowl three games for free on Wednesdays.  Maybe I should work on improving my score, and it my be good for my arthritis as my hands were pretty sore.

This should have been the best summer ever, as my granddaughter is a joy to be around. In reflection I think I will try to only remember the joy of sharing her summer and not the heartache of some other visitors. It was a summer where I learned maybe you just need to make yourself happy and not feel responsible for the happiness of others.

My three adult sons got to spend a weekend together. It was not without its events, but they did get to spend time talking and catching up. A couple of their friends they had not seen in a while came over and they all initiated our new beach side deck. Pavers are now under the fire pit, rather than warped boards.

My husbands children arrived for the next weekend. They spent time on the new deck and added a little more initiation rites to the deck as they stayed up and talked into the night. Maybe we need to think of a way to have “smaller” fires. I wish I could say that weekend went well, but it ended on a majorly sour note.

We all see the world through our own set of blinders. We see what we want to see, how we want to see it. We can all be in the same room at the same time and have a totally different experience. Our memory of what is said and done is biased by our view of life. The bias can be small or it can be extreme. I learned a little of the extreme before I had to start blocking emails.  I now know my view of the world is my view and only my view. People may understand how you see the world, but they do not see it the same way.

Next summer I think we just take a vacation. It would probably cost a lot less money than what we spent on toys, clothes, food and wine and for some reason I think it might a lot less stressful.

As our children grow into adults and become the people they are going to be our role changes and we are no longer the parent. Adapting to whatever role we have or don’t have in their lives is not as simple as one might think. We are no longer the person of knowledge that we were in their youth. As we become grayer in hair, we are perhaps grayer to them, not the lively over-active person they have always known.

One night I took my granddaughter to a local Mexican restaurant to dinner. We ordered guacamole with the chips, as they come with just salsa. I ordered two tacos and she had a quesadilla. Neither of us are big eaters, so I never order full blown meals there. When I the bill came I was charged for two orders of guacamole. I pointed it out to the waiter and realized by his expression he did not think I would notice.  Telling my older neighbor about this she shared that she thinks people see your gray or white hair and think you have less gray matter in your brain.

When I started getting gray hair, I did not start getting stupid. When I started getting gray hair I did not start to get meaner, but I do stand up for what I believe in. As I get more gray hair I am seeing people view you differently than they did when you were younger. I am finally okay with that, but I do think you need to look for the humor. The other day when I was out running errands I found a sign to put by my front door.  If I can match the paint, I may change the W in WITCH to a B.

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The Quiet Life Begins Again

Big Families

Forty people eating and talking around picnic tables under the walnut trees in a family orchard. The aunts named Gertrude, Elsie and Helen, the uncles Chet, Ralph and Jim, and all the rest of the family bringing together food and laughter.  No liquor needed to added to have a great time in the 1950’s. I still remember great music, fun games and running free on the farm when everyone decided it was time for a Sunday picnic. There was no drama and no one really expected much from the other people there.  The host provided a house and everyone else brought the food and merriment.

outdoor picnic

For some reason family get-togethers are no longer a picnic.  Families live all over the world and when they come together or try to come together there are underground stresses and tension is in the air.  Maybe it was better that no one was allowed to use the house, outhouses were common and you drank water out of the hose when you got thirsty. The host or hostess was not expected to provide everything and if there was anything to alcoholic to drink it was cheap beer, not the $10 for six you have to buy now or fresh made lemonade.

It was post-war and everyone was just happy to be alive. Bring that forward some fifty years and it is a different world. There not lots of aunts and uncles around, there are combined families that really don’t know each other and don’t seem to want to try to know each other. Everyone has their own agenda.  They arrive at the host house with nothing in hand, as they are family and you as patriarch should take care of everyone, even if they are grown adults.

This summer has been interesting.  I have my six year-old granddaughter for the summer, which is lovely, but a little tiring at my age.  Thank Heavens for Summer Camp, where she goes weekdays and has a wonderful time.

My three sons and one wife came to visit the same weekend for the first time in many years and it was great to catch up. We went to bed early and they spent the night by our new beach side fire pit. I discovered in the morning, that our fire pit can get too hot and melted the boards directly under it, so I placed concrete pavers to alleviate the problem and cleaned up the mess left behind.

The next weekend, my husband’s two sons, one wife, his daughter and husband with two daughters arrived. Once again, we did a big barbecue and provided lots beer and wine. The girls and my husband and I retired early while the group stayed up most the night around the fire pit. Once again in the morning, I cleaned up the mess discovering a few more burn marks and said nothing to any of the group.

I am discovering at a rather old age that family get-togethers do not often go as well as one might think. It certainly is not the 1950’s, when even adult children respected their parents. They seem to think house rules are not meant for family members, and a couple think the house belongs to them too, even though none of them were raised in this house that I designed and built while single after my own sons had lives of their own.

It is a concept I am having a hard time wrapping my head around. And now at the age of almost sixty-eight I have been called a “Fucking Bitch” for the first time in my life because I would ask you take you shoes off in the house, please don’t take good crystal to the beach, please only eat in the kitchen, dining room or outdoors and dogs are okay to sleep above in my studio, but not on our new carpet. My sons have no problem with this; and I guess the bonus is, I can take one thing off my Bucket List, being called a Fucking Bitch before I die.  Got to find humor in life.

It is so easy to write a quick email when you are angry and send it. Phone calls may actually give the party on the receiving end a chance to explain themselves before they are crucified via email. There is no turning back with email. Press that send button and it is history.  Letter writing and thank you notes are virtually a thing of the past. Social Media rules the day, and I am not sure it is such a good think.

Recently I blocked  a couple family members that told me how much, not just that they hated me, but how much they hated me, and they wonder why I blocked them on FB.  Really, do I need to share what makes me happy with someone that dislikes me that much.  I don’t think so. It is an interesting place to be in our culture, as never before could hate be so easily shared.  I am not sure blogging is the best venue either and maybe just writing in a journal and keeping it to yourself is better. There are consequences for everything we do, but what is funny is that there are consequences for what we don’t do and people think we did.

Big Families

Pianos are not “IN” anymore

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In my attempt to get rid of everything now, instead of waiting mode, I am finding the things I treasure are not even worth anywhere what I thought they might be.  I have a beautiful 1907 Mahogany Etsey grand piano with ivory keys and a new soundboard.  I have not played it much since marrying six years ago, as my husband is much better than I am.  I am a little embarrassed to play if he is around.  I took lessons for several years, but my first love of music was the clarinet, so my left hand does not mind as well as my right. Trying to work them together doing different things with each hand is just not intuitive to me.

Growing up on a farm in Northern California, we were not poor, we were dirt poor.  I never realized just how poor we were till I was an adult. My father worked two jobs and my mother was an elementary teacher.  We lived in a house that had been passed down from my great grandmother.  It was a very old house with no central heat, a cesspool behind the garage and the only bathroom where remodeling was started, but was never finished, so we had plywood countertops for years. The kitchen counter was rotted linoleum by the sink, but we had many wonderful family meals in the kitchen on our 1950’s now retro table. My mother played the piano, but my family could not afford lessons for me, so I did not have the opportunity to learn.  My mother played for church and school as my grandparents had an old upright piano where she learned.  I often wondered why I was not allowed to take lessons and play their piano, as they lived next door.

When I married the father of my three sons he supported my wanting to learn the piano and bought me a very nice upright piano, where two of my sons took lessons in Del Mar. We left the piano behind moving to the Northwest, with the promise when our gorgeous new home was complete we would buy a new grand piano.  The house was designed with that in mind. For my fortieth birthday, and the year Fred died he bought me a beautiful black concert grand piano where all three boys and myself took private lessons. When I sold that house, as after he died, it was just too big (7000 square feet) I designed the next house with a separate area for that beautiful piano. It had been used by the Seattle Opera, so it was signed by the conductor of the orchestra and had “Lionel Hampton” casters.  We had to hire a crane to get the piano to the second story conservatory for the piano.  In hind sight it was not the best place for the piano, as it was in a very private space away from the main area of the house.  I did practice every day for the years that we lived there; but since I had to go back to work full time to support my sons and I no longer took lessons.  By then they were teenagers and could not be bothered with  piano lessons.

When my taxes grew and grew and grew and I decided it was time to make a change, I had to hire a bigger crane to move the piano.  At the time I was not sure where I was going to move, so I put the piano in storage. I knew I would most likely never have a house with enough space for my beautiful fortieth birthday gift, so when I moved to my beach house I traded it in for the one I have today.

When I called the piano store where I purchased the Etsey grand, the owner informed me he had closed the store and works out of his garage. He told me pianos no longer sell well. He suggested I look on Ebay and see how many thousand pianos were offered for sale. It is sad that so many of the beautiful elegantly crafted and perfectly designed objects that were loved in the past are dismissed in today’s world. Not only are they unwanted, but if you happen to have them, many in the younger generation do not understand the significance they might have had in your life and think it is sill that you have not sold them for the “money”?

Now I guess I am going to keep it and when all the company of summer leaves, I may find somewhere to take piano lessons once again, as it is so relaxing. Maybe when my day comes, I will just donate all my beautiful things to a good cause, as I truly to do not want to burden my family with the bother of selling them.  Ha Ha

 

 

Pianos are not “IN” anymore

Changing Lifestyle

As we grow older we realize the beautiful and expensive things we have collected over a lifetime are not important to anyone in our family but ourselves. It seems the times of collecting fine china, crystal and silver belong in their dark ages.  The time in life when we entertained more lavishly is gone.  Our family will not enjoy our collections and will sell them or donate them (not knowing the value) after we die.  I have found in my personal life that not only do my step-children not value or respect what I have, but they resent that I have it at all and cannot understand why I have not sold it.

So surprise to you all, I am not waiting to die, so they can have it.  I worked hard to earn the money to buy what I have and now, or received them as gifts from loved ones, and I am going to be listing it all on Ebay, Replacements ,Amazon or with an auction house and take a nice cruise with what I may earn. (maybe take two cruises)

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I bought these gorgeous, (no longer made) wine glasses when I worked at Macy’s, then The Bon Marche.  I would buy them two at a time when I had a good sales month in the Interior Design Studio I managed within the store. Back then they were $160.00 each on sale with my manager’s discount.  I used to love purple and now after it being my favorite color for twenty years I don’t really even like it.  So almost twenty years ago I was still entertaining and setting a beautiful table. Today, some nicely stemmed Reidel wine glasses take their place on the table. These ten perfect glasses will be on sale soon.

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These two beautiful Waterford Scotch Glasses were a gift from a good friend many years ago.  At the time they sold for over $250 as they were a special edition one year and never offered again.  My stepson took one of them to the beach and has never forgiven me for asking him not to take them for drinking booze on the beach.  He will never understand that they were a gift from someone special in my life. He never thought to ask why they were special to me. He didn’t think to ask if they friend were still alive or if they died. His older sister just thinks it is stupid to keep something this valuable.  Life memories that involve an object rather than a sailing trip do not register to her.  It is funny that neither of them asked why I only had two? So guess what guys, they will be on the market too!

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These four tiny cordial glasses made by Waterford were a wedding present to my late husband and I in 1976 from one of his partners and our good friends at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.  I love the feel of them, the texture of them, the joy of putting something wonderful in them and enjoying every last sip.  The memory of receiving such a lovely wedding gift always made me smile in the past, but now knowing the resentment they brought me, just by keeping something I cherish I can’t look at them ever again, and they will be sold soon.

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These smaller Waterford Brandy glasses were another 1976 Wedding gift and have been lovingly cared for and used for over 45 years.  I am not really sure how I feel about someone coming into my home and my treasures and treating me badly because they do not believe in collecting anything.  My own son’s know the history and respect it, but my new family never asked. They assume I am a bad person because I have nice things and want to keep them nice.  Is that a crime? Is it a crime that I do not want them used at the beach or around the fire pit.  I have safely used them in the house for a very long time.

Now I do have a little Mesena Baccarat which is from a terrible marriage that last three months and for Heaven’s Sake I should have gotten rid of those many years ago.  It is soaking right now, as it is dusty from not being used in so long.

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In reality, this is what I would love to do to all the collections I have proudly collected, but I am realist.  These are no longer popular and damn it felt GREAT to throw them in the garbage and hear the glass shatter. I started laughing at what I had done and did not feel an iota of guilt. Looking at the shards of glass I had the passing thought, that life has harsh edges and we can hide it in a glass of wine, but it is still there.  It did my soul good.

No one in life should make you feel bad about what you have, what you like, what you nurture, what you care about and what you don’t want or need to share with them.

No one should ever think that what you have is automatically theirs or theirs to use. What happened to asking permission?

The home I live in now with my husband is not a “Family Home” although I was recently told it was.  No family grew up in this house, nor is it that “lake cabin” where you went every summer.  A family home is one where the family grew up in or went to every summer or winter. Ours is a home where I personally bought waterfront land, designed and built a home to live in, in any manner I chose. My sons family home was sold many years ago. It was a beautiful designed for my sons to grow up in and hopefully remember their father.

Grown children are welcome to come if they can abide by three or four rules.  If they cannot, they do not need to visit. It is sad to me that some grown children (not mine) think they have the right to come in to a house now shared with a wonderful man and think their rules (or lack thereof) apply to our house. It just isn’t so.

 

 

Changing Lifestyle

Chicken breasts with Brown Butter-Garlic Tomato Sauce.

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Simple Summer dinner with beautiful tomatoes from Central Market is perfect for a warm evening.  Cooking is a joy to me, but the down side is there is too much good food to it, so I decided to veer away from America’s Test Kitchen and Paul Hollywood’s cooking as some light dishes might be good for the waistline.  (or lack thereof)  This one was very quick and easy and I loved the richness of the sauce.  My granddaughter has not yet developed a taste for tomatoes, but when the tomatoes were removed, she ate the entire piece.  Served with Parmesan Risotto ALA Diana, a summer salad with lettuce from our garden and tiny baby carrots and beets, as my granddaughter loves both.

Recipe:
YIELDServes 4 (serving size: 1 chicken breast and about 1/3 cup tomato mixture)

Browned butter is the quick cook’s best-kept secret: Less than two minutes in the pan caramelizes the milk solids in butter for a fragrant, nutty note in any dish. Try not to chop the tomatoes too finely; you want them somewhat chunky so they’ll break down in the sauce faster, but you also want them to retain some shape. If your chicken breasts are larger than 6 ounces (some can be as big as 12 ounces), halve the two breasts horizontally instead of pounding them thin. Serve over a bed of whole-wheat couscous, whole-grain polenta, or brown rice.

Ingredients

  • 4 (6-oz.) skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 cups halved grape tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

NUTRITION INFORMATION

  • calories 341
  • fat 17.3 g
  • satfat 5.6 g
  • monofat 8.1 g
  • polyfat 1.6 g
  • protein 39 g
  • carbohydrate 5 g
  • fiber 1 g
  • cholesterol 139 mg
  • iron 1 mg
  • sodium 443 mg
  • calcium 36 mg
  • sugars 4 g
  • Est. Added Sugars 0 g

How to Make It

  1. Place chicken breasts on a cutting board; pound to a 1/2-inch-thickness using a meat mallet or small, heavy skillet (all four breasts should fit in one large skillet). Sprinkle chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add chicken to pan; cook 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan; keep warm. Do not wipe pan clean.

  3. Reduce heat to medium. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, butter, and garlic to drippings in pan; cook 2 minutes or until butter just begins to brown, stirring frequently. Stir in tomatoes; cook 2 minutes or until tomatoes are wilted. Spoon tomato mixture over chicken; sprinkle with parsley.

     

Hope you enjoy this yummy summer dinner.  We sure did!

 

Chicken breasts with Brown Butter-Garlic Tomato Sauce.

West Sound Home & Garden Magazine

Home on Cover

Normally I post about food or art, but today I am sharing an article about my own home featured in a local magazine.  I bought the land about thirteen years ago and designed and built a home for me to live in as a single woman, as all my children had gotten on with their lives.  I was not sure at the time, if I wanted to live here or move back to California, where I am a sixth generation family member.  I moved there for a year, but could not get close to the beach, hated the traffic, realized most of my past friends had moved on and totally hated living in a townhouse, with a gate and for the most part not so friendly neighbors.  The problem started, when I trusted a builder to follow my construction plans, and he did not.  He cheated out on absolutely everything, changed my floor plan without my permission and totally changed the feel of the house.  When I moved back to Washington, I lost money on my townhouse in Carlsbad and did not have a job.  I did not have a job for over a year, so making changes was not in the budget.

When I married about six years ago, after being single for over twenty years, it was an adjustment using a home designed for one person for the two people now living in it.  After about five years, we decided to make the changes you see featured in this article. This is the second home I’ve had featured in a magazine.  My 1998 home on Wing Point, Bainbridge Island was featured as home of the year in Seattle Home & Lifestyle Magazine.  They are very different homes, as that was designed for myself and my three teenage sons.

https://wshg.net

Art in Residence

In the hands of Mike and Diana Kingsley, home is a canvas.

Art in ResidenceWhen it comes to interior design, Diana Bennett Wirtz Kingsley wrote the book. Really. An artist and holder of a master’s degree in interior design, Kingsley authored “Hand Drafting for Interior Design” during her years of teaching at the Art Institute of Seattle. The book is a popular text in a hundred colleges across the country and abroad.

When not authoring textbooks, she is a whirlwind of creative energy. The artist-author fills her semi-retirement with painting, sewing, cooking and photography, as well as her beautifully visual cooking and commentary blog.

Art in Residence - Diana and Mike Kingsley
Diana and Mike Kingsley

Considering this surplus of interests, Kingsley was just the woman for job when the time came to plan a new residence. As the last of her three sons graduated from Bainbridge High School, the designer started the search for a home site on the Kitsap Peninsula. In 2005, she found just what she was looking for in Kingston.

Art in Residence“I had no idea where I wanted to live until I saw this property,” she says. “There was the beach and this fabulous view. I just wanted to walk on the sand.”

Set on the shore of Apple Tree Cove, the lot looks across broad tide flats to the Kingston Cove Marina and the comings and goings of the Kingston-Edmonds ferry. Flocks of sea birds ride the waves and ospreys float in the sky. Changing weather alternately mists distant docks and glints sunbeams off passing boats. Kingsley was enchanted. She knew she’d found the one.

Kingsley also knew who would design her home. She would. First of all, the house would take advantage of the view over two stories. Deep porches on both levels would be roomy enough for dining and reclining. Finally, the master suite would occupy the entire upper floor.

Art in ResidenceFor Kingsley, the design was the easy part. The tough part was acting as her own contractor. The foundation was barely dry before she made a temporary move to California. By the time she returned for a visit, the work was nearly wrapped up. Except some of it wasn’t per agreement, including the kitchen appliances.

Disappointed but undeterred, Kingsley moved in and moved on with life. The next few years brought good things, chief among them her future husband, Mike. As the newlyweds settled into the Kingston house, Diana and Mike Kingsley found creative compatibility.

Art in Residence“I design things and my husband makes them happen,” she says. “He’s very handy.”

“So far I have a 2-to-1 ratio of projects desired to projects completed,” Mike Kingsley replies, smiling at his indefatigable wife.

Considering the couple’s combined talents, what happened next was inevitable. They gutted the house and began a complete remodel.

“We ripped everything out and loaded it in dumpsters,” Diana Kingsley recalls.

Art in ResidenceAfter 12 years in residence, she knew what she wanted to rise from the metaphoric ashes of the original house. She wanted a look that was beachy, low-key and comfortable. Kingsley wanted muted colors to reflect what the eye sees outside Puget Sound windows for more than 300 cloudy days a year. She wanted an understated carbon-gray exterior with orange accents. Mostly, she wanted people to stay out of her kitchen.

Kingsley makes no apologies for being the queen of her kitchen. She loves to cook. She also loves to entertain. An invitation to dinner with the Kingsleys is a recipe for a most appetizing evening. Kingsley needed a kitchen worthy of her talents.

Art in ResidenceThen the designer had an inspiration. What if her real-life project became a lesson for her students at the art institute? Kingsley invited 30 students to her home to plan 30 individual redesigns. One of the plans was an eye-opener.

“A student suggested getting rid of the kitchen island and making the kitchen u-shaped,” she says.

Kingsley realized this new configuration was just what she wanted. It would keep guests from wandering underfoot while she cooked but allow them to keep her company on stools on the far side of the counter.

Art in ResidenceWith this as the basis of her new kitchen, Kingsley added view windows and new cabinets, upgraded the appliances and chose new flooring. Her husband saw to it that her dream pot rack became reality. A new color scheme paired soft-gray walls with crisp-white cabinetry. Granite installed by Grandy Marble and Tile of Kingston added visual movement to the otherwise peaceful presentation. The result is a casually elegant cooking center that reads like a sigh of relief at the end of a hectic day.

Art in ResidenceJust off the kitchen, the couple added two small rooms tucked behind roller-mounted barn doors: the bead-boarded utility room and a pantry. The red-and-white pantry highlights Kingsley’s evolved sense of order with rows of spices and teas neatly labeled with her husband’s label maker, a device that she adores.

Art in ResidenceOf course, for a designer, the furnishings are as important as the layout. Kingsley loves the clean, classic lines of the 1970s. Examples of these in the Kingsleys’ home are the retro upholstered metal stools that Mike Kingsley had cut down to fit the kitchen counter. The home also boasts a Platner table and see-through Lucite “ghost” chairs. In contrast to these streamlined pieces is Mike’s handsome, 1907 Estey grand piano that holds sway in the living room with the good-natured solidity of Winston Churchill at an artist’s colony.

Finding the perfect wall art was no problem for Kingsley, a skilled artist whose paintings and drawings are shown and sold at Interiors of Edmonds. Whatever the theme or size needed for her own rooms, she retired to her backyard studio and created it herself. Recently, her works lean toward big, bold abstracts.

Art in ResidenceAs handy with a sewing machine as a paintbrush, Diana changed out all of the living room fabrics. In the bedrooms, Mike cut the wooden headboard forms and she upholstered them in heavy silk tapestry and made pillows to match.

Both of the Kingsleys are happy in their home at the beach. He enjoys the short walk to the Kingston ferry. She is learning to live retired by the shore of what she describes as a 12-hour-a-day waterfront, meaning there’s always something to see, from raccoons and herons to paddle-boarders and that kid who had to leave his boots behind in the calf-deep mud of the tide flat.

As Mike Kingsley points out, their home is a work in progress. Yet, in the hands of a woman who admits she’s “too hyper to be a good retiree,” there’s no doubt it will all come together.

“People ask me, ‘How do you get it all done?’” Diana Kingsley says with a shrug. “How do I not?”

To read Diana Bennett Wirtz Kingsley’s cooking and commentary blog, go to www.kingstoncovestudio.wordpress.com.

There are still a few more things we hope to add to the home.  Last week we finished a deck by the beach and are awaiting Orange Polywood Adirondack chairs to complete the look.  We will be adding privacy panels on one end of the deck and an outdoor fireplace on the other.
Next summer we plan to just enjoy it all!
West Sound Home & Garden Magazine

Road Trip: The Great Myth

Starting a “Road Trip” is exciting.  Ending a road trip is heaven. That is why there have been no posts on my blog for a while.  We went on a “Road Trip”.  We left on a lovely sunny day in Kingston and headed out to Cannon Beach, Oregon.

About an hour into the journey it started raining and continued raining the rest of the way to Cannon Beach.  I had wanted to go to EVOO, a cooking school where you cook and eat your dinner, but of course the day we arrived they did a lunch class.

Searching “TripAdvisor” online we found a restaurant that sounded heavenly.  Newman’s at 988, is a small cozy restaurant in the main part of town, run by a successful chef, John C. Newman C.E.C.  We had hope to walk to the restaurant, but it was pouring buckets. We were the first to arrive at 6:15 PM and were not joined by others for a while.  I saw a lovely Brunelo on the menu, so we ordered this delightful wine.  We discovered this wine in Florence several years ago.  After touring all day, we would find a small intimate cafe and share a bottle.  The one served here is on equal par with any we had in Italy.  IMG_5291

I love scallops and theirs sounded delish, so that was my choice for appetizer.

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And yes, it was as totally delicious as it looks.  I totally savored the first course.

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For my main course I ordered the duck, as I don’t usually cook it, but love it for a festive occasion, and after driving all day in the rain, anything deserved to be a celebration.  It was beautifully presented and very, very raw in the center.  I ate around the edges and decided not to say anything.  IMG_5297

Michael, my meat eating husband had a lovely sirloin and enjoyed his meal much more than I.  We ventured back to the room and watched a beautiful sunset, as it was still pouring down rain, so a walk on the beach was sort of out of the question.

Interesting fact:  Find your rooms via TripAdvisor, but book through the hotel. Booking, TripAdvisor and Expedia, etc get a certain rate, not always better, a certain amount,of rooms, usually ones that will not fill and charge you the same.  I asked when we checked into our room if they had any view rooms, as we could not get one online and they said of course and the view above is from the room.

We continued our drive in lovely weather the next day:

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Doesn’t this look like a fun road trip. Michael drove and I played “Angry Birds” on my iPad.  Michael likes to drive and I have to say I do NOT like mountain roads or rain, or big trucks.  I am beginning to wonder about the logic of a “Road Trip”.  My idea of a road trip is stop every few hours, find something interesting and meander for a while.  His idea is to have a destination and get there.

Arriving in Coos Bay, which we changed to at the last minute, we stayed (no photos please) at a hotel one step above a Motel 6, (if you remember those) right on the highway, with lots of road noise and no movies to watch.  We did find a lovely (sort of ) local restaurant that served Escargot and home made Gnocchi.  Only problem was it was way too rich.  I think I ate a pound of butter by myself with the meal.  IMG_2911

The best part of the restaurant, was the wine bottle water fountain that separated the bar from the entry.  We ate in the bar, as there was a party in the other room.  I have always wondered why some chefs think the richer the dish the better.  Moderation is lovely to me.  I didn’t photo the food, and really did not feel well later from all the butter. I cook with butter, but a little butter is a little better.

On to San Jose to pick up my wonderful six year granddaughter after a stop in my home town, Colusa, California for my 50 year high school reunion. That is another story for another time.

In San Jose we stayed in a lovely old mansion called the Dolce Hayes Mansion.  I wish we had more time to spend there, as it was elegant and very well maintained.  We headed to Hearst’s Castle in the morning with my granddaughter in tow.

I remember thinking Hearst’s Castle was amazing when I was young and honestly wish I had not gone back.  As an adult having studied design and art, I found it a strange conglomeration of what wealth with little taste could put together.  I know most people think it is amazing.  I think it is amazing that someone would take that much uncoordinated antique pieces and architectural pieces to the top of a hill in the middle of nowhere.  What I loved as I child, I felt totally lacked cohesion and/or taste as an educated adult.  Showy and sensational, but cold and lonely at the top of the world.

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Claire was bored with all of the tour and I had to laugh, when the tour guide kept pronouncing wainscoting – wainscoating.  If you are going to be a docent, then know your words.  She kept referring to parties they had at the castle as if she were part of them.  I wanted to say, if you want to pretend, then dress the part.  Put on a party dress and make us feel part of the adventure.  Not so…..

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The lilies and the view were the best part of the day for me.  The ride up the side of the mountain was not.

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The dinner table with Heinz and Heinz somehow did not appeal to my artistic senses, so I was glad when we took the winding trip down the hill and the tour was over.  I wish I would never have gone back and have the magic be gone from my youthful memories.

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The best part of the day for me, was the opportunity to see the Elephant Seals at the beach.  There are tons of them, and they wobble up and out of the surf and fan each other with sand.

We were going to go to The Sea Chest Oyster Bar for dinner, but read it was NOT kid friendly and had about 100 people waiting outside to get in.  We ate at the next one down the road, where the oysters were fresh and everything else was fried.  I saw more fried food on this trip than anywhere in the last five years.  I am not a fan of fried food, unless it is delicate and delicious.  I did not encounter that on our journey.

From San Simeon we drove to Napa to go to two kid friendly wineries.  Sterling winery has a fun gondola that takes you to the top, where for $50 per person you sample nine different wines and get to keep the Reidel wine glass.  Claire got a “throwaway” backpack and treats for $25.  I had to laugh, as when we went there when I was in college, the drinks and ride were free, but you had to pay for the food.  Time changes things.  Here we are, finally enjoying the sunshine at the top of Sterling.  My son, Chadwyck joined us for the day.

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From there we went to Castillo de Amoroso, which is an impressive remake of an Italian Castle.  It has only been there a few years, but is very popular with the overseas crowd, that lined the steps taking selfies, and literally would not let you get by.

The castle winery was beautiful and the tasting room was down-under, but I did not drink the wines in the tasting, as I did not enjoy them.  I think they sell the adventure hear, not the wine.

By the time we got back to the hotel, I was ready to head home, rather than go through the Gold Country, which is what I had originally planned as the basis of our trip.  It would be three more stops and I had discovered by then, my husband was not big on impromptu stops, so we most likely would have driven through the gold country.  We stayed another night in Napa at the Hampton Inn.  It is not in the heart of anything, but was the only room we could get in the area.  It was not most expensive hotel of the trip, and although we enjoyed the outdoor fireplace with a bottle of wine (or two), it was certainly not the nicest.

Next morning we headed out to on our way home, spending the night in Grant’s Pass at WeAskU Inn, a rustic hotel on the Rogue River where Clark Gable supposedly stayed with Greta Garbo.  Love this little place right on the river with a cocktail hour and a great breakfast.

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On our last (hurrah) night on the road, we went to dinner at The River’s Edge where Claire could have clams  (her favorite) Oh my gosh, they are all gone! IMG_5782

I could have scallops one more time, and these were wonderful:

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And since Claire is the world’s best traveler, she got to have dessert!

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As she finished she stated very calmly: “Now I am all sugared up!”.

We were glad to be on the last leg of our “Road Trip” and home is always a wonderful place to go.  Will we do another field trip?  Not in my lifetime!

Let’s see, I gained about five pounds, got really tired of sitting in a car, and really wonder why people think this is a great idea.  Fly somewhere nice, stay in the same hotel, rent a car or car and driver and have a lot more fun!

 

Road Trip: The Great Myth

Back in the Studio

I took the day to spend in my Art Studio and redid a painting I did last year.  Purple was my favorite color for many years and I always put it in paintings. I took the purple out of this one, replaced it with my new neutral – Gray.  I defined the flowers a little more with oil crayons and feel the result is much more successful.  It really seems to pop!

While I was in the studio, I wanted to paint something new for my entry, as I had repainted the wall and redid the wood.  Originally it was fence wood, unpainted with purple on the wall.  The new look is shown below, so I think my new painting will be perfect. I had one I was going to use that I was showing at Interiors of Edmonds, but when I called to pick it up for a photo shoot, I found out it had been sold.

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So I think this new 30″ x 40″ will work well.

Upside down sunrise

Sometimes knowing you have something coming gets the creativity flowing.  Our beach home is going to be featured in West Sound Home and Garden magazine this summer, so I wanted something fun to be on the entry wall.  By jove, I think I got it.

Back in the Studio

Chicken Strikes Again

Love the concept of one dish dinners, especially when it actually tastes great.  This recipe was in Bon Appetit’s One Dish Dinner book.  It did not take long to prepare, and the combination of fennel and leeks was sweet and wonderful.  A bit of butter never hurt.  My orzo was not tender with the 2.5 cups of chicken stock, so of course I just added more wine.  A win win.

My husband was hungry, so I served him Butternut Squash with a little sour cream, topped with dill from my garden.  (forgot to take a photo)  The recipe is below.

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Thought I wold share a photo from my garden.  Guess cooking and gardening are my favorite things to do when I am not painting or with my beautiful granddaughter.

Chicken Strikes Again

Simple and simply Delish!

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French Onion Soup, with a little homemade Focaccia on the side for a light dinner.  I just didn’t photograph the pasta that followed and ruined the effect.

Love these little soup bowls as you can have just a little taste of soup for the first course.  I often do this when entertaining or just for the two of us at home.

When I make a simple soup, I make a lot and freeze it in Mason Jars.  (Just be sure to leave room at the top for freezing space) On nights I don’t feel like cooking.  [You know the one that you have spent all day in the garden], it is nice to know there is something simple and good in the freezer; and just add a salad and you have dinner in ten minutes.

In the summer there is always lots of lettuce growing in my garden, so that is the time of year I love salads the most.

This last month I added a herb garden in planters on my covered deck, so I can have fresh herbs at my disposal all year, without walking out in the rain to cut them. My husband installed a drip system, so I don’t even have to worry about watering them.  It is just nice!

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This summer we will install a translucent wall, so they get light and we have privacy. The only disadvantage of living on the beach, is the close proximity to other houses.  These little additions make fresh cooking so simple.

Simple and simply Delish!