Thursday, December 19, 2013

Our Kitchen at Christmas and Otis & Milo

In the words of Dee Hardie, my beloved Christmas Mentor, from her book Hollyhocks, Lambs, here is our kitchen dressed for Christmas. A picture of Dee's kitchen will appear at the end of the post--after pictures of our new babies, Otis and Milo!

"The main valve of Thornhill, without question, is our kitchen."

"Like the head of the River Nile, it's where life starts flowing.
At Christmas, it explodes with excitement.
When Tom cooks, it is delirious."

"It's our active verb, where I cook, concoct, create. It's center stage."

"These days…nothing, unless I really care about it
or unless it is Christmas,
sits too long in our kitchen.
Dogs have diplomatic immunity."

[Katie Belle, big sister now and not terribly thrilled about it!]

"The kitchen has become, for me,
the most personal room at Thornhill,
I choose to edit what it contains.
I couldn't always do this when our children were younger,
nor did I want to,
but as they have grown up, so has the kitchen."

"Later we exchanged the spotted floor for a grander covering
of Vermeerlike black-and-white twelve inch square tiles of linoleum.
It's still here and I have spent a large portion of my life
trying to keep it clean. Everything shows."

"A professional decorator might think the black-and-white blocks
are too formal for a country floor,
but what is more country than a checkerboard?"

"Country furniture, which often looks like its mother forgot to tell
it to stand up straight up straight when it was a child,
sits well, looks well on such a definite platform."

"And facing each other, on either end wall of the kitchen, 
are two bulls' heads.
Woven of raffia, we captured them, by strenuous bargaining,
from a street vendor in Seville."

"[The kitchen] is where we make decisions and raspberry jam,
where I weave baskets 
and neighbors weave country intrigue over teacups."

"It's a studio, a workshop, the core of Christmas.
It's probably my best friend if friendship depends
on being there whenever needed.

"The kitchen is where Tom and I sit before dinner to discuss our day.
And it's where we seem to make decisions."

A major decision R.H. and I made recently was to try to adopt two nine-year-old little dachshund brothers. I lost my heart to them after seeing their picture on After losing our 15 1/2 year old dachshund Penelope on December 14, 2012, I still had a dachshund size hole in my heart. R.H. only remembered the pain, the hurt, the loneliness after she died. Then he dreamed about them. 

And he told me to find out if Otis and Milo had been adopted yet. 

They had not. Their mother is seriously ill and they made the decision to surrender them. Can you imagine how very hard it was for them to make this decision? And how hard it was for Otis and Milo to leave their home for a rescue shelter? Thank God they stipulated that these two loving brothers be adopted together. 

God bless the wonderful woman who helped us be able to adopt these two black long haired miniature dachshunds, and who does such marvelous, caring work for so many dachshunds. It is a labor of love entirely. And they are so careful. We had to fill out an application, with references, they checked with our veterinarian, and there was a home visit. Because they wanted to know two main things, whether we had a safe fenced in yard, and whether we knew, understood, and loved the breed. 

Finally, one year to the date of losing Penelope, we were able to go see these twin brothers, Otis who is 12 pounds and Milo who is tiny at 8 pounds. We fell in love with them and signed an extensive contract for the protection of these babies.  By the time we had been driven home by our son, almost 4 hours, R.H. holding Milo, Otis in my lap kissing me the whole way, they were in love with us. 

Please, if you are considering adding a dog, or cat, to your family, please check into the rescue organizations run so capably. is an excellent way to start. There are so many dogs who need a good home. They need you, and maybe you need them. We did.

Otis and Milo wish you as merry a Christmas as we hope theirs will be and that your new year will be wonderful.

I want to end this post with a magazine page that I have had for 30 years, Dee Hardie's kitchen. It was on the cover of House Beautiful magazine in December of 1983. It was the beginning of my love affair with a kitchen with a black and white checkerboard floor. But it only solidified my admiration of Dee Hardie that had been going on since I discovered her columns in House and Garden in 1973.

To Dee Hardie, my Christmas Mentor, thank you for all that you have meant to me and so many others:


  1. I am up early.
    ready to leave.
    have come by here yet one more time. I visit often.
    and just was rewarded with the brand new post!
    there just are not words. it's beauty and meaningfulness are beyond words. i love valley view!
    god bless you my dearest sister. for milo. for otis. for little katie belle who will need extra loving hugs right now . . . her face shows it! " have i been replaced? when do i leave? " LOL. no little Katie belle.
    dewena you wear christmas all year round. one of the few people I know who do. it's real. and lovely.
    thank you for being in my life! and dearest RH. well. what a man! hug all the puppies specially for me!

  2. What a beautiful post! Your kitchen looks wonderful and it truly is the heart of a home, especially yours. Isn't it interesting how we can see a picture of something and sort of yearn for what we saw for many years and then suddenly we have it - your floor is lovely.

    Death is such a hard thing. We lost our sweet Miss Kitty in December of 2009, she had been with us for 18 years, we didn't think we would ever have another pet in our lives. Then we moved to Texas and well, we went though a great deal of hardship and I had always wanted a little dog so I started looking and after a very long time Priscilla found us, our little malti-poo. She had been so matted she was shaven down, almost no hair at all, she looked like a hairless dog, but she spoke to me, and yes after the adoption agency came and made sure our home was safe and that we could provide for Priscilla they left her here with us. We love her and she loves us right back. It was one of the best decisions we have ever made. Enjoy your two new companions, Otis and Milo!

    Merry Christmas!
    Patty at Home and Lifestyle Design

  3. Love this post! Can you believe that cover from 1983, just as beautiful and inviting today...and the black check floors are not lost on me! Love it. Thank you, thank you for adopting Otis and Milo...I love it when good dogs go to good homes. Merry Christmas to you!

  4. I cried clear through. Thanks for all of it.

  5. This is the best kind of Christmas giving - you gave a home to these precious boys and they love you in return. It warms my heart, Dewena.


  6. Of course I had to immediately come over to see photos of the boys! Oh...they are soooo handsome...dare I say they are pretty? I'm so happy for you that you have them now. So happy for them too! Love the photos of the kitchen. I love that platter behind the sink. kitchen is an absolute wreck right now. I've been crafting in there and there is snow glitter everywhere. I always swear it's not going to get like that and then I decide to make something and it all goes to crap! And then I'm mad that I've done it again. I'm going to make one more bottle brush tree tonight...and then I'll clean it all up. I just need one more tree for my mantel scape! Your blog is looking so good! You are really in the swing of things. I remember when you wrote saying you were thinking about doing it. I got your email about linking to my party. It's very easy. I'll try to email you the instructions so you can link up this coming week. Now I'm off to work!

  7. Dewena,

    I am in love with that very first shot of your kitchen! A miniature chandelier above the sink for some elegance, beautiful tea towels hanging from a pretty hook, a window at the sink for sunshine and scenery, and festive greenery and holiday flair! It set the stage for the rest of the post, with your special snippets from Dee Hardie's kitchen and what it meant for her. Aside from the black and white checkerboard floor, your kitchen definitely pays tribute to your talented mentor, with the inclusion of country style characteristics, like the pie tier and rustic cups and bowls, and a cheery disposition!

    Was your decision about your darling dachshunds made in your beautiful kitchen? I wonder, as I know you spend quite a bit of time in there cooking, creating, compiling recipes, etc. I'm so happy that your wish came true, a Christmas prayer that was answered, and I know that you and R.H. will love them with all your sweet and caring hearts.

    Merry Christmas to you, your family and your new babies!


  8. I love your kitchen ; it looks like mine except bigger!!!! LOL!!! The only Christmas that I have in my kitchen is a chalkboard the counts the day and this Santa calendar that counts down the days as well except it is battery operated and when you place the star in the date pocket, Santa claims something that he and the elves are doing at the North Pole its adorable...well last night Nick went to get a haircut after dinner Amelia went with him, James took off to play a game so it was just me Teddy on the couch and the darn thing went off twice ...not sure why but it did. OMG congratulations on the adoption...Dachshunds are beautiful dogs so loyal and sweet, Milo and Otis are took us 5 years to get a dog after losing Rocky so I get it!!!!!
    Merry Christmas!


  9. You had me at the first photo - with that sweet Christmas decorated chandelier over the sink. I always love your quotes. Those pretty camels among the trees make such a lovely vignette, and the photo of the kitchen looks so current! Dee's décor is so timeless. I think your kitchen would make her proud. Milo and Otis are beautiful. They look so sweet together, and how wonderful that they have such good people caring for them. laurie

  10. The quote is charming and sets a tone that I do believe in. The twins, Milo and Otis are too sweet. I am glad you two decided to add them to your home. I know you feel the way we did when we brought Gremmie home-love multiplied. Merry Christmas.

  11. Oh I never tire of looking at all of the beauty in your home. The detail is truly amazing. Christmas has always been special to us as we were brought up in a home with parents who really know how to get in the Christmas spirit. I remember all of the balls on the lower part of the tree when we were little and Dad commenting on it. We were so lucky to be a part of decorating the tree and the house.

    I can't get enough of Otis and Milo. They are just too precious for words. Give a hug to Katie for me. Of course, she will always be a Daddy's girl.

  12. A beautiful kitchen it is, Dewena! I love the black and white floor.

    It is so wonderful Milo and Otis found their way to your home and hearts.
    Merry Christmas!

  13. Your new adoptees are precious and so very lucky to have your for parents! Your kitchen is very cute and I like the checkerboard floors.

  14. Thee are so many things to comment on in your post today but first..welcome Otis and Milo. They are both so adorable. If Katie Belle can't take it she might have to come to Pennsylvania and visit Sadie. I'm sure it won't be long Katie will be introducing them m to all her favorite games.
    Your kitchen is so unique. You have your hand in every little thing and its amazing. I love, love, love the bold floor and all those tiny touches. The quote that really touched my heart was making decisions and raspberry jam. A lot happens at the kitchen table, important things.
    I can't believe you have the cover of the magazine and have replicated it so well bravo!
    I'm looking forward to more posts about the boys. They are very lucky guys.

  15. Dewena, Your two little dachshund brothers are adorable and I know they have found a wonderful, loving home. I love your pretty kitchen. Happy Holidays to you and your family.

  16. Oh Dewena, I love your kitchen and I can picture you and your hubby sitting at that sweet table every day talking about whatever is on your minds over a cuppa Joe.

    How wonderful that you adopted Milo and Otis. They are precious and I'm sure will bring much joy and love to your lives.

  17. I will never look at my kitchen the same way again after reading what Dee Hardie said about hers. She was a talented writer as well as designer.

  18. Dewena, you have such a charming kitchen!
    You really went all out with decorating and I love it.. Makes me smile when I visit so many blogs with gorgeous decor. Your sweet dogs look so festive..
    and I love your active verb cook, concoct, and create...
    Merry Christmas.

  19. Your little pups are precious.

    That table setting is gorgeous.

    The tiered pie stand is beautiful

  20. Lovely tribute to Dee, and it's nice to meet your new furbabies, Otis and Milo! They are adorable, Deweena.

    I really do love your kitchen. It is so pretty!!! I know you enjoy your pretty table in the middle of it everyday. I also love the black and white checkerboard floor....It truly is my favorite floor for a country kitchen!

  21. You have such a pretty kitchen, but more importantly, you have really touched my heart with your adoption story of Otis and Milo. I am a huge proponent of adopting animals from shelters when one wants a pet (or taking in strays, like I have also done). I am so happy that you adopted these adorable brothers. I hope they bring much happiness and love to your lives.

  22. This was such a special post, Dewena. I was glued to the words of Dee Hardy, and to your pictures, as well. And then -- to hear the tale (tail?) of Milo and Otis? It just touched my heart, and I kept thinking as I was reading that they are so lucky to have found you, and you are just as lucky to have found them. Merry Christmas to all of you!

  23. I really loved reading your post, and finding out where you inspiration came from for your checkerboard floor! You kitchen is pretty, but the darlings that steal the show are Otis and Milo. They looks so very happy are brothers often do. Your table setting is so pretty, loving the pink!

  24. Dewena, love the boys and am SO happy for them and you. Adopting an older dog is such an act of pure love and for them to accept you so quickly means they KNOW. Since Dave and I moved to the farm, we've adopted so many animals, some old, some young and we've loved them all.
    BTW, when I saw the black and white floor, I though, "how wonderful!" I think it's great.

  25. OH OH OH are they beautiful!!! What a very merry Christmas for both you and them !! :)

  26. AND as to your turning off comments on the UNDONE post? Too bad I shall just comment here : I salute all of the UnDones at your house and mine this year : )


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