Friday, May 24, 2013

You Want A Piece Of This?

this cake was desert at a bon voyage party thrown for us last weekend

I mean, would you like to have a piece of of Monkey Grass Hill?

A few weeks ago, blogger and artist PVE e-mailed me this painting she did of my pond. She was inspired by a post I did last year and she captured the details perfectly. I started bawling, as it brought up the emotions of leaving my home and garden that I love. 
My pond is a calming and a central part of my garden and my home.

 When we have parties the kids always like to sit on the edge while they eat.  Everyone loves to feed the fish (even grown ups). The birds, squirrels and even an occasional frog stop by to have a drink. We've had some swimmers (dogs and children). 

And, it's my favorite view while I sip my morning coffee. It's a special place. 

Yesterday I got a this beautiful package in the mail. 
Patricia turned the painting into notecards. They are now available on her etsy shop along with so many other great works of art. You really should check them out. Or have her create something equally as special for you. I'm thrilled that I can take a little piece of my garden with me to London--and now you can have a little piece too. 

Have a great weekend! 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

House Hunting In London

I'm back from a two day international house hunting trip. I laughed, I cried, I pulled an all-nighter and most importantly, I found our new home. I've been planning on presenting my final three options like the House Hunters International show and let you all weigh in on which one I should have chosen. 

Funny thing is, my relocation consultant (person who organized and showed me all the listings) was on the show a year ago. She was helping a NY couple find a place in London.  
Kate my home finder

In the tone of House Hunters International here is the latest episode:

The LoRusso family lives outside of Washington, DC.  Matt's company is relocating him to central London for at least two years. His wife, Julie is a housewife and self proclaimed home body, so the search for a place that will feel like home is very important to her.  They have a son who will be going to school in London, and they will need to be located close to school since they won't have a car. 

There are not a lot of properties that have the features Julie is looking for and are also within their budget.  Julie wants something that is close to her son's new school, has some character or charm, has a least 2 bedrooms, good storage, two bathrooms, some type of outdoor space (like a terrace, balcony, patio), and nothing that feels like a hotel-she prefers not to have to use an elevator to get to her front door. The search is focussed on the Regent's Park area of London

The first property is a flat in the St. John's Wood neighborhood.  It's across the street from the Lord's Cricket Grounds and has plenty of character and closet space. This area is known for having a heavy population of Americans, so she'd be among fellow American expats. It has stairs and an elevator, but is on the sixth floor.

The walk to school would be about 20 minutes. It has three bedrooms. This unit is just under budget.

And chandeliers a-plenty!

Welcoming entryway

Open space with chandelier could be used as a dining area. 
Beautiful hardwood floors throughout.

Updated kitchen with room for a table.

(There is a typical european combination washer/dryer unit in the kitchen, which is very common in London. They are notorious for being quite small and not effective as dryers. That's why the current resident is air drying his clothes on the furniture in the living room.)

Third bedroom could be used as an office and guest room.

High ceilings, great closets, good sized rooms.

The second property is a mews house, about a 10 minute walk to school and is just one block from the neighborhood high street.  What it lacks in charm it makes up for with storage. It has a garage! But it has gray wall to wall carpeting and very small bedrooms with small closets. The kitchen is on the ground floor and the living room is on the second floor.

Dining room 

kitchen on the ground floor.

utility room with washer AND dryer

Large living room on the second floor

 The bedrooms are small

Master bedroom

The second property is over budget, but "negotiable".

The third property is a sleek mews house that is about a 10 minute walk from the school. It has the kitchen, living room, washer AND dryer on the main floor. It has three bedrooms with nice closet space and has been updated with windows everywhere to maximize natural light inside. The second floor even has a partial glass floor to bring light into the main floor. 

Kitchen includes top of the line appliances, and island, skylight and wood floors.

First floor stairs. 
(Notice the glass floor that bring light into the kitchen below)

The bedrooms are nice sizes and all have good closets.

Every bedroom has it's own bathroom

The top floor has a big skylight that's automated!

The third property is significantly over budget.

So, which property will the LoRussos choose? Will it be the charming flat with chandeliers, high ceilings, wood floors and nice closets? Or will it be the Mews house with a ground floor kitchen, two bedrooms and a garage? Or, will they splurge and take the sleek mews house with one floor living, great light and a bathroom for every bedroom?

Friday, May 3, 2013

CHEERS! We really are moving

The decision has been made and we are officially moving to London.

Now that the wheels are in motion, I've been getting a lot of questions.  So today I'm doing a Frequently Asked Questions about our Move to London. The pictures don't go with the topic, they're just some of the things I've been enjoying this spring in DC.

2013 National Kite festival
Q: What are you going to do with the house? 
A: We have found a family who will live in Monkey Grass Hill during our absence.  I'm not sure if the wife will blog about her experience and projects around the house or not.  

Q: Where are you going to live? 
A:  We don't know exactly yet.  Definitely central London and somewhere close to Regents park. I'm told it's a little "less urban" and greener in that part and that's what I'm looking for.

Q: When will you get your place? 
A:  I'm headed back to London for a 2 day whirl wind house hunting trip in about a week. I'll try to blog my own little "House Hunters International" post for you.  

The one that "got away" from the deer
Q: What does Drew think about the move? 
A: Some days he's very excited and other days he says he doesn't want to move because he'll miss his friends.  (I know exactly how he feels.)

"black tulips" I plated last fall. Turns out they're really more purple
Q: What about school? 
A: We've enrolled him in an International school and we are very excited about it.  The class sizes are smaller and they use and "inquiry based learning" which we think will be amazing for Drew. 

Q: What are you taking with you? 
A: Don't know yet. I have to find the place we'll be living before I know what will fit. I do know that I'm not supposed to bring any electronics. So, none of my lamps will be making the trip.  

Q: Are you going to start blogging again? 
A: I think I will have a lot of stories and pictures to share as I work through a transcontinental move. But blogging as Monkey Grass Hill doesn't seem to make sense once we're over there. I'm thinking about just starting a new one to chronicle my European experience once we make the move. Got any good names for me?....

Pond cleaning went so much faster this year with my assistant's help.
It's a very dirty job!

In the meantime I've been enjoying the warmer weather here and my last chance (for a while) to work in my garden. Both ponds were cleaned and are up and running again. 

I'm feeling much better about the move now and I'll be even more excited once I know what our new home will look and feel like. 
The garden is looking beautiful and full of life. I'm really going to miss it.
Stay tuned, we're about to take flight!