A Good Home, Country Homes, Country Living, Couples, Doors Open, Doors Open Clarington, Family, Family Moments, Farmhouse Kitchen, Farms, Flowering shrubs, Following your dreams, Great Places, Home Decor, Homes

Home at The Grange – Part 1

Would you leave a very comfortable house in the city – a mansion, even by Toronto standards – to live in a dilapidated 1800’s farmhouse in the middle of nowhere?

I, as you know, have lived in interesting places. But when former model and media manager Wendy Boothman told me what she did 31 years ago, even I was surprised. 

~~~

In 1986, the Boothman family decided to move to the country. They found a large log house in perfect move-in condition. Wendy’s husband and children loved it.

Blog Photo - Doors Open The Grange Wendy and Nick2 by Hamlin

But Wendy wasn’t sold. Without telling her family, she kept looking. She asked the realtor to show her a place in Kendal, a hamlet northeast of Toronto. They toured the property.

It was a hot August day and the poor realtor was in his suit and tie. I had no idea what 140 acres meant, so we ended up walking and walking.”

They also toured the house. Wendy said she loved the place.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The shocked realtor replied: “Wendy, it’s so dilapidated! Look at the holes in the floors! You have 5 children and a housekeeper. You can’t live here!”

Husband Nick saw it next. An international fashion photographer and audio-visual director with a Toronto studio,  he was stunned.

“Woman!” he said. “You’ve finally flipped. I refuse to set foot in that house!”

Blog Photo - Doors Open The Grange Barn Inside and Hay Hamlin

Wendy showed him the huge wooden barn with cathedral ceilings. Then she drove him up to the highest point of the property and showed him the view.  He was impressed… somewhat.

“We’ll renovate the house to what we want,” she reassured him. “We’ll design the garden to what we want. But most importantly, the children will be part of the designing. They’ll decide on the pool, their rooms, and so on.”

Sounded nice. In theory.

“If you think the children are going to want to leave a Toronto mansion to camp out  here while we do all the work required, you have another think coming,” Nick protested.

This was a daunting challenge.

~~~

Then Nick relented. “If you can sell the kids on this move,” he told her, “we’ll do it.”

One Sunday in August, Wendy and Nick took the kids on a long drive, turned off a country road and drove up to a hill with an impressive view of the area.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The children asked:

“What are we doing here?”

“We’re having a picnic in the country!” Wendy replied, smiling. “We’re moving to the country, so we may as well get used to it.”

After the picnic, the seven of them trooped through the fields and peered into the forest, excited.

Walking down the other side of the hill, the children spied a house and asked if they could look inside — not knowing their mother had a key.

They saw the tiny rooms, the old kitchen, the holes in the floors… the whole catastrophe. 

But when Wendy took them into the barn, they were awestruck.  

Blog Photo - doors Open The Grange Barn Ceiling Hamlin

Wendy seized the moment.

“We can move into the log house… or we can get this place and design it together. Your friends can come on weekends. We’ll have horses – you can ride. Can you imagine if we had a pool on the side of a hill and gardens?”

They returned home to Toronto, and started drawing up plans together.

~~~

They moved into the house on Halloween that October.  Wendy, who knew nothing about school buses, sent the 2 younger kids to the wrong school the first day.

That winter was full of challenges. For one thing, the house was freezing cold. 

Both parents still worked nearly 2 hours away in downtown Toronto — Nick at his studio, Wendy at her media management and design office.  Every morning, he drove the 3 older children to school in Toronto. Wendy picked them up every afternoon.

A year later, she decided to move her business to her home, creating one of the first “virtual teams” in Canada.

That eased a few challenges on the home-front. But renovating the house and landscaping the grounds would become a huge, 4-year project.

Photos by Hamlin Grange

A Good Home, An Honest House, Angels, Christmas Decorations, Christmas in Canada, Christmas Traditions, Christmas Tree Trimming, Family, Family Moments, Homes

Decorating With Memories

We prepare our hearts and homes for Christmas. My prayers are more reflective now, my gratitude expands. It’s the season of Advent, the weeks before Christmas.

blog-photo-christmas-ornaments-baby-angels

Photo by Hamlin Grange

Photo by Hamlin Grange

We also decorate our home with memories of those we love. Each activity, each object reminds us.

Like the year I proudly set the table — and my husband decided it was blah. Out came red and green candles and Christmas glasses instead. Now it’s tradition.

blog-photo-christmas-table

By early December each year, the memories start nudging: it’s time to decorate. 

blog-photo-christmas-2016-african-dolls

Older daughter and son-in-law couldn’t make it from the US, but memories of the whole family together always return on the day we decorate the tree.

blog-photo-christmas-ornaments-heart

Husband, younger daughter and son-in-law haul in the fresh Fraser fir, haul out the boxes of decorations, string up the lights and we all sip hot cider. The family room’s a happy mess.

blog-photo-christmas-2016-lighting-the-tree1

We laughingly remember previous Christmas trees: too small, too thin, or lopsided. But this year, we got it right.

blog-photo-christmas-2016-hands-and-lights

The ornaments also bring back memories.

My mother’s gratitude and wishes for the following year are written on a scroll in this cylinder. How we all miss her!

blog-photo-christmas-ornaments-keepsake-cylinder

My times working in S. Africa, where these Ndebele dolls were made.

blog-photo-christmas-2016-ndebele-dolls

Some ornaments are just for fun. Like “the disco ball”, that always makes us grin, with memories of the disco days.

blog-photo-christmas-2016-ornaments

Memories upon memories.

blog-photo-christmas-2016-hands-and-ornaments

blog-photo-christmas-ornaments-golden-dove

blog-photo-christmas-2016-single-ornament-2

Tiny Mr. J.C. finally gets tired of all the activity and lies down to sleep, paws up. *Can you see him on the sofa below?* It’s our first Christmas without his best friend Dawson, who would have been asleep at this point too. 

blog-photo-christmas-2016-jc-asleep

Blog Photo - Julius and Dawson Sleeping

Do dogs miss their companions? We do. 

blog-photo-christmas-ornament-sleepy-angel

All is calm now. Extra-special thanks are given.

And, as the fire glows in the hearth…

blog-photo-christmas-2016-fireplace2
Santa and the angels look on approvingly, I think. They, too, have kept us company through many a Christmas.

blog-photo-christmas-2016-santa-cu

Blog Photo - Christmas ornaments Peace Angel

From our home to yours, wishing you peace this Advent, good memories, and joyful times at Christmas.

blog-photo-christmas-2016-family-room

A Good Home, Amaryllis in Bloom, An Honest House, Blessings, Cycling, Family, Family Moments, Friendship, Pets, Re-blooming Amaryllis Bulbs

Great Moments

I’m big on the small things in life.

Blog Photo - Amaryllis in full bloom~The amaryllis that flowered again – two years after it first bloomed at Christmas, a  gift from my friend Jean. How lovely to have an amaryllis reblooming in May!

~My husband cycling again.  For my birthday gift, I asked him to “go cycling with Bill”. Bill is his former coach and dear friend. So off they went, and that started him cycling again.

Blog Photo - Cyclists B and H

Our wet winter meant he hadn’t gone cross-country skiing and missed the activity.

Blog Photo - H cross country skiing~Our older daughter and son-in-law live in the USA, and I miss them a lot. I look forward to hearing from them, including their weekly call together on a Sunday. I also miss their cats, Simon and Jerome.

So it made my day when they sent new photos of the cats. Below, Jerome is practicing the art of camouflage. Can you even see him?

Blog Photo - Jerry camouflaged on carpet

Simon, meanwhile, has come out of the closet. (Yes, for years  – until very recently — his favourite place was inside a closet.)

Blog Photo - Simon 2

Blog Photo - Dawson runs

~Dawson, whom our younger daughter rescued four years ago, was looking weak the other day, especially when compared to Julius, who has energy to spare.

Blog Photo - Two Small Dogs

Mr. D. is old now, and he’s mostly blind and part-deaf. But he must have heard me fretting about whether “we’ve arrived at that time”, because, just hours later, he was running around. One day a decision will have to be made, but not yet.

~And finally, the daily phone call from our younger daughter. She calls after work each day and when the phone rings, I’m delighted, eager to hear how her day went, glad to hear her voice.

Such blessings.

Here’s to life!

 

 

 

 

A Good Home, Childhood Memories, Family, Home, Inspiration

Mama Said….

Our mother raised us lovingly, on food, church and words.

Some of her words came from the Bible, of course. Many were old family sayings, old Jamaican/British proverbs, or came from sources unknown.

 

Photo by Hamlin Grange

If we judged another person harshly, my siblings and I would hear this one:

“There is so much good in the worst of us

And so much bad in the best of us

That it doesn’t behoove any of us

To speak evil of the rest of us.”

Just recently, I Googled the saying’s origin and found it attributed to two Americans: Edward Wallis Hoch, and Edgar Cayse both born in the 19th century. Hoch’s version ends slightly differently:

“…That it hardly behooves any of us
To talk about the rest of us.”

I don’t know who said it first. But as far as her children are concerned, Mama said it best!