Sunday, January 12, 2020

Meet Bonnie Prince Charlie

Dearest Reader,

Thank you for stopping by. It's been many months since I last posted. A special thanks to all those who left comments or emailed me in my absence. I greatly appreciated the encouragement to return to blogging. After ten years (soon eleven) I was feeling a little burned out. I needed a break from social media, so I took some time for myself.

To be honest, I haven't entirely missed sitting at my computer writing and editing photos. In the late summer and fall, the garden kept me pretty busy. As the days got colder my focus shifted inside. Our quirky, old house is a fixer-upper that still needs work. This fall I tackled several projects– the biggest of which was our front and upstairs hallways.

There are a number of good reasons that I don't write a home decor blog. For one thing, I don't have the proper camera equipment for decent interior shots. More importantly, I am not at all convinced that my offbeat sense of interior decor is something anyone else might aspire to.

The first thing any good interior designer would have recommended is to paint out the dark woodwork in the front hallway. Certainly, it would help give our one-hundred-plus-year-old house a fresh, modern look–but even though I knew it was the tasteful thing to do, I just couldn't bring myself to paint the vintage woodwork (with one exception). Years ago, some mischevious children carved their initials and other crude drawings into the beadboard at the foot of the staircase, so I had to paint it out of necessity. Still, I stopped short of slapping white paint on everything.

By far the biggest part of the hallway renovation were the walls. Rather than remove old wallpaper, some previous owner stuccoed plaster over the paper. Then they painted the walls with a color I'd describe as "mochaccino". Underneath all that beige paint, the stucco was really crude with bumps, lumps and valleys.

To get rid of the entire mess, we would have had to strip the walls back to the studs. The construction is lath and plaster, so it would have been a huge job. Instead I elected to sand the bumps and fill the divots in the plasterwork. Even so, it was a really big job! Imagine, if you will, the clouds of plaster dust that have been a big part of our lives all through the fall!

You may note that I need to do a bit of touchup on the edge of the white paint. The dratted painter's tape ripped away some paint when I tried to remove it.

I painted the walls creamy-white. A darker color might have sat next to the dark woodwork better, but a soft white suited my contemporary artwork nicely.

The work is still ongoing. There is one large wall that needs to be completed. The pine floor and staircase need to be refinished (as evidenced in the photo above) and a runner needs to be installed on the staircase (I'd love to leave the stairs bare, but the dog's claws are really hard on the soft pine). Hopefully, this work can all be completed before the gardening season commences.

In other news, we have a new pup! Meet Charlie (named after the legendary Scottish figure "Bonnie Prince Charlie".

Scrap with Piper when he was just a pup.

About a year ago now, our senior dog Scrap passed away. The loss was hardest on Piper, who was then three years old. Scrap was a mentor and Piper's best friend in the world. Over time we all made adjustments, but daily life never felt quite the same.

Despite the unease, I resolved to stick with just one dog. My husband retires in a year and one pet would make our plans to to travel across Canada so much easier. I'd tell my husband to remind me of this resolve in one breath, and in the other, I'd scroll through online listings for Shetland Sheepdog puppies.

We finally went to see a puppy in the late summer, but something didn't feel right. I didn't like to number of dogs in the house or the size of the kennels. The puppy, in question, was scruffy looking and seemed disinterested in us. So we came home disappointed, but feeling like we had made the right choice.

A month or more passed before then I saw another listing for CKC registered pups in the city where we live. There was just one male pup left in the litter.

Charlie not long after we brought him home.

It was love at first sight when the breeder handed me little prince Charlie. He snuggled his warm little body right into the crock of my neck and fell asleep while we chatted about Shetland Sheepdogs with the breeder. 

A few weeks later we brought Charlie home. 

Every dog has a distinct personality.

Charlie is a quick learner. I don't think we've ever had such an easy time housetraining a puppy. After just two weeks, he had only a couple of accidents. At 18 weeks, Charlie obeys hand/voice commands to sit, lay, jump and rollover. We are still working on "stay".

Charlie taste-testing hostas in November (which thankfully are not poisonous).

As with most puppies, Charlie chews everything! Most worrisome is his fondness for eating vegetation. There are lots of poisonous plants in my garden. Hopefully, it's a phase he grows out of.

If not, I may have to rethink perennials like foxgloves. 

And how is Piper handling the little interloper? 

His excitement for having a new buddy made me glad I had reversed my decision to get a second dog. Piper loves Charlie and Charlie dotes on him. It's cute to see how much Charlie takes all his queues from the older dog.

That's not to say that Charlie doesn't give his elder some attitude. Piper's magnificent tail is looking a bit worse for wear after all the games of tug-of-war.

"Hey, let go of my tail!"

Like a Sumo wrestler, roly-poly Charlie hip-checks Piper and knocks him to the ground. In a wide-open show of teeth, big dog and little pup "gurr" playfully at one another and tumble around. Poor Piper puts up with a lot of love! 

So now you're all caught up on all my news. Thanks again for returning to my blog. I hope to resume regular posts going forward.


  1. How adorable! How could you not fall in love with that face??! Happy New Year!

    1. Happy New Year to you to Anne. I hope you have a terrific year.

  2. Welcome back... Charlie is adorable! And Piper is quite handsome himself.

    Thank you for NOT painting all the wood work, it's lovely as is. That farmhouse paint everything white look was OK when it first came out but now IMHO it's done to death and boring. I'd much rather see unique off-beat decor.

    1. Thanks Gail. The rustic farmhouse look does seem to be everywhere, doesn't it? On visiting my home some years back my Dad described my decor as "charming". I'll take that compliment and will leave "tasteful" for someone else. LOL

  3. Totally agree with the above comment (JustGail) re the woodwork! It is so beautiful and the little bit of white you have painted makes the wood all the more stunning!
    Also, completely understand the need to take a step back from the social media thing and take some time off. Good for you, literally. I truly love your blog though, so if you decide to continue I will be happy to read and look but not at the expense of your mental health!Would love to see it in real time. Not sure where you are located, I am about an hour north of Toronto. I am the new president of the local Horticultural society and always looking for places to write about for the newsletter or take the group out for a day trip.
    Anyway, enjoy winter garden dreaming!

    1. Hi Brenda, Congratulations on being elected president of your local horticultural society!
      For now I am not opening the garden to visitors. We live on a busy street corner and there is no parking at the front of the house. We also need to finish the pond/stream (now a big hole) and a few other projects before I feel the garden would be worthy of a tour. Hopefully we will be able to sort things out in the next few years. The parking issue will remain, but I may be able to convince the church down the street to allow parking for an open garden day.
      As to your newsletter, I am happy to help with photos or anything else you might need. Just email me at

  4. Happy New Year and welcome back. Charlie is adorable, makes me want to go get a

  5. Thank you for starting your blog up again! SO wonderful to see new life as well....we do hospice dogs so when one passes it helps to have another one to love and take care of. Totally understand taking a break from blogging, and the dust! Last winter we sanded the golden oak kitchen cabinets down to bare wood and primed and painted...what a difference! But we still left some wood for the warm look. All white with no woodwork is boring! Take care!

    1. Thank you Grace. I think it is wonderful that you take in hospice dogs. We strongly considered a rescue dog and even applied to adopt one. Then Charlie came along and it was love at first sight. We painted the cabinets in our kitchen as well. It does make an amazing difference! I always like the clean look of white cabinets.

  6. Dear Jennifer, I can totally understand you taking a step back from blogging. I love that you left the dark woodwork, all white is boring. Good for you with the new puppy. He's adorable. We too have a new puppy. I didn't want another dog after we lost our last one but the house seemed too empty. Our puppy is a 3 year old Lab rescue named Sunny and she has quickly made a place in our hearts. Our grandchildren adore her and the 12 year old took her to training with me. I'm so glad you are back and were absent for good reasons. I was worried. I love your blog!

    1. Thank you so much Diane! I think it is terrific that you have given a rescue a good home. I am sure Sunny will be very happy. Isn't that so nice that your twelve year old grandchild is taking such an active interest and is helping train her. I have no doubt that all the grandchildren absolutely adore her.

  7. Jennifer ... I am so happy for you, Piper, and hubby !
    I understand that intense grief you felt .. I (we) have gone through some very rough times here .. it never leaves, but it softens over time. Having Charlie is an amazing event. He is so sweet looking I can't bear it girl ! .. what a cutie and I love the name.
    I think Piper really needed this as well .. dogs are pack animals .. they need companions.
    My Sophie (cat) is 15 this year .. so I get very nervous about her .. but she just had a vet check and blood panel done, everything says she is fit as a fiddle .. phew !
    Funny thing was , while she was in the waiting room a man thought it was a dog in the carrier .. she growls unbelievably .. John told him she was half dog .. haha
    Congrats on the puppy and the renovations .. it really takes a lot out of you but it is so satisfying as well !
    Take care

    1. How nice to hear from you Joy. I am glad to her that your much-loved Sophie is fit as a fiddle at 15. Cats often outlive dogs. I wish that the average dog lived well into their teens! Time flies so quickly. I can't believe that Piper is already four years old. It makes me so happy to see Piper and Charlie playing in the garden. It brings a little of that old joy I felt when there were "three dogs in a garden".

  8. Welcome back Jennifer, I'm not a regular commenter but have checked in on a regular basis. I understand your standing back from posting as did I last year due to life events. I've often thought of the hours you spend on each posting and wondered how does she find the time. Take your time and know your regulars will always be checking in. Congratulations with the new puppie, he's such a cutie. Cheryl :)

    1. Thank you Cheryl for being such a faithful reader! It means a lot.

  9. oh yeah! you're back with a post. Love the new pup, he's a beauty and will be great company for Piper.
    And I love your dark woodwork, don't paint it. We moved from a 100-year old house two years ago and the new owner renovated it, removing all the character of the gorgeous house. At the young age of 29, he had no appreciation for the history of the house, the oak floors, the deep baseboards. A friend of mine viewed it when he resold and she said it was like a hospital rather than a house.
    Post when you will,I will check frequently but don't feel obliged to satisfy your readers. It's your life after all, you determine what you really want to do. Nice to see that all is well with you and yours.

  10. I am scrolling through blogs that I have missed over the last year or so and just have to comment on how stinkin' cute that little Charlie is!! Nothing cuter than a puppy. Love that you have a friend for Piper. Dogs are pack animals, they are happier when they have a pack. (That being said, we are down to one dog as our Aussie died in 2018- but we have two kitties)

  11. Hooray for getting a puppy! He's a cutie and very lucky to be your dog. :o)


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