Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 was a good year. A busy year, but a good one. It's fun to look back over the photos that represent each month. Looking at the best and most beautiful memories, dulls the less pleasant ones and who wants to relive those anyway? So here is my retrospective, full of projects, food, family, food....hmmm. Maybe a little less food in 2011. ;>)
Here's to a great year, and the great year ahead. Happy New Year my friends!

Monday, December 27, 2010

All is calm, all is bright....


I think this must be the part of Christmas that is described by that line.  Everything is calm, the rush and hurry is over, and today was graced with bright, glorious sunshine.  I played with my gifts to make a new centerpiece for the week. Something that reflects the calm.  Adorable faceted lantern and sparkling green Christmas tree candles courtesy of my darling husband.  Large white rectangular ceramic platter from Victoria, (I got the pottery barn bowls on my wish list from Earl and Lauren, amongst other wonderful goodies!) The tree was down Christmas day, not because I was anxious to get rid of it, but because we noticed a hatching of hundreds of tiny bugs after opening the gifts and realized the tree we purchased from Costco this year was the source! Thank goodness they waited until Christmas day to come out. A quick undecorating and it was out of the house.  Everything else is staying up until next week.  Just a little more time to savor the prettiness of Christmas. Besides, I'm guarding my last week home from work closely and the downer of taking everything down can wait. I hope everyone else is enjoying the calm. My heart goes out to my friends on the east coast who are under a snow emergency. I hope you are all home where you can burrow in until the storm is over.  Best wishes to all for a Happy New Year!  I'll see you soon:>)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas to All.....

Well it's here. I didn't get as many projects done as planned, I'll be honest, I didn't get any of them done. No handmade gifts this year, but next year for sure:>) My kids are around, we have plans to walk downtown tomorrow night with fancy coffee to keep us warm, and take in the breathtaking light display. Maybe it will snow, wouldn't that be magic? We've made spicy, sweet nut mixes and chocolate brownies to give to friends (ok, credit where credit is due, Earl made them!) The gifts are all wrapped even if the cards aren't all sent.
I have a few minor things to do in the next few days, but mostly I plan to make the house sparkle, light candles,plan Christmas breakfast and lunch and just hang with the family. I feel blessed beyond belief.  Gifts and love have flowed this season until I am overwhelmed. I can't remember a more relaxed Christmas and I thank God for love, and friends who see us through, and family that wraps their arms around us when we need them and loved ones who rejoice when we rejoice. I remember you in my prayers, I really do, and I pray that no matter what kind of Christmas you are experiencing, you can find the love and blessings that God has sprinkled around you.  I know they can be hard to find sometimes, but they are there. God bless all of you this Christmas season. I'll see you in the New Year:>) ♥

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Finals week

Final week of this semester, were there ever any sweeter words? Especially before Christmas, especially in the dead of winter, I just can't wait to be free of it.  Don't get me wrong, it has been an interesting semester, I've learned some things, (thank goodness!) But I look forward to a few weeks off.
This was my finals project for my graphic design class. A sculpture made entirely of white paper, incorporating 5 or 6 different textures.  I got the assignment and immediately ideas began popping into my head. This was one of them, a wreath. It is Christmas after all. I loved making it and it was easy.  A little research online and I had figured out how to do it.  The little angel was part of the composition.  I made the piece so it could be disassembled and I could use the different parts when it was finished.
I love the texture of the leaves and the little flowers. I think they look a bit like hellebores, or lenten rose.  I may do a tutorial on making this if I have time before Christmas.
Tomorrow, my final in typography and I'm finished with the semester! Yay! Friday, my last day at work until the new year and Victoria comes home for Christmas break. Triple yay! Things are looking up:>)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

White Christmas

Today is the White Christmas event over at Cuisine Kathleen.  Kathleen does amazing tablescapes. I'm almost ashamed to participate in this meme, I am simply not a tablescaper. While I would love to have a butlers pantry filled with dishes of all kinds, the humble cottage has limited storage, so I tuck away what I can here and there and dream of the day I can indulge my wicked desires for crockery.
In the mean time, one of our loveliest holiday traditions in this household is the advent dinner.  We take time every Sunday of Advent to sit down to some candle light, appetizers, sparkly juice and treats and just enjoy being together as a family. I fancy things up as best I can to make it special.  Kathleens' challenge to do an all white table was tough for me. If you hadn't noticed, I'm usually all about color!  I have been lightening up lately though, and I realized I have started collecting a lot of silver and white for Christmas.
I love the look of mercury glass, just like most of you do, so I pick it up a little at a time on clearance after Christmas. The beautiful mercury snowflake votive holders were gifts, as was the plainer votive holder that just gets better with age. I love how it sparkles and catches the light. The heavily embroidered, brilliant white tablecloth came from a church sale.
I picked up the silver chargers a couple years ago, cute with my new white plates and silvery snowflake napkin holders. I love snowflake motifs for the table because they are appropriate all winter. It's nice to get a little extra use out of these and I need even more sparkle in January than I do in December! Earl will be so thrilled that he has to pick glitter out of his mustache from that glittery pic! lol.  He puts up with a lot having three women in the house! (Love you honey) A few white bottle brush trees, some sparkly silver  candle trees (am I the only one who can't bring themselves to burn those things?) and a few snowflake ornaments scattered on the table and I'm done. It isn't as spectacular as Kathleens, and let me tell you, her table is spectacular! but it's just right for our little cottage. Head on over and see the table she did and all the other lovely tables in her linky. You'll love the sparkle too!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Oh Happy (Snow!) Day

Throughout the afternoon I watched them there,
Snow-fairies falling, falling from the sky,
Whirling fantastic in the misty air.
                                                  Claude McKay

Just like many of you, we had our first real snowfall yesterday. This morning, just as I anticipated, I have a paid day off work called a snow day.  Oh the joy! A bonus day just before Christmas to stay in my jammies late into the morning, work on Christmas cards, (and my final project for my Graphinc design class!) Listen to Christmas music and drink coffee.
These photos were taken after church yesterday, before the blowing and drifting started.  It is much deeper now. I have to admit that, come January, snow and cold are not on my list of things to love. But snow before Christmas is magic. isn't it? Is it really fluffier, whiter, softer? It seems to be. So today I'll enjoy the bluster and sparkling whiteness. I'll revel in a paid day off work.....and yes, I'll hope the roads are still not clear enough for school tomorrow:>) Anyone else getting a snow day?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dried Cranberry and White Chocolate Biscotti


This week is the cookie exchange at Pleasant Home. I love this blog, not just for Jodi's gorgeous sewing, but because it's a beautiful, cheerful place to be, full of color and whimsey! Cindy at Rick Rack and Gingham also has a linky for cookies and candies and a lovely blog that you will enjoy. 



 


One of my favorite Christmas cookies is biscotti. 
It's super easy to make, and I think because it is twice baked, it travels well and is less likely to get stale. Not that I would know, it never lasts more than a day or two here in the cottage! It's a really great treat with my morning coffee or tea too. There
are a zillion flavors you can make, but this recipe is one of my favorites. 
This recipe is actually called Dried Cranberry and White Chocolate biscotti. I was out of white chocolate, but they are just as good with dark chocolate, maybe better:>)
Rather than type out the recipe I'll give you the link. Epicurious.com has the formatting already in place for you to simply print the recipe and start baking, so go HERE and get it. How easy is that!?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Season of Sweet Surprises

Isn't December the loveliest month for surprises? It has been for us. Today I recieved a large and unexpected box from the UPS man. Turns out it is a beautiful handmade wreath sent from my dear college room-mate. We recently found each other again after years of losing touch. I am so glad to have her back in my life.The wreath is made from pinecones and berries and greens. Try to ignore the dust on my door, (good heavens, looks like it needs some work!) and just look at my wreath!
 Melanie knows how much we love to decorate with birds for Christmas so she added this adorable little nest and birds to the bottom of the wreath.  I had a pinecone wreath years ago that I think I discarded because it had been used to death. I had really been thinking of making another, but now I don't have to!
Thank you Melanie, I love my sweet surprise:>) 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

 What a joyous weekend we had! Lauren picked up Victoria at school Thursday, and Friday morning at 1:30 a.m. they snuck into the house and quietly went to bed. I knew about it but Earl didn't because it was a surprise for his birthday weekend! He awoke to his girls being home and we had the best time! Baking cookies, laughing, Lauren took us all out to lunch and the girls baked him a  birthday cake that was so delicious we couldn't stop eating it 'til it was gone. This afternoon after church they made an advent lunch that was the best. Roasted cinnamon pear bruschetta with brie, broiled salmon, and stuffed mushrooms. Last night Victoria and I made cookies for all the girls on her dorm floor and I made tags for the packages from old sheet music and glitter. After that we went to our churches Christmas program and came home and dozed through a movie with the candles burning and the tree glowing in the corner.  Having our girls here for special  time together just makes Christmas for us.  In two weeks Victoria will be home again and we will both have time off until January and more time together as a family.  Thank you girls, for the most wonderful weekend.  You are my Christmas angels:>)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I ♥ a flash mob, and I swear if I saw one like this I would cry like a baby.


The winner of the Gooseberry Patch book is Anita. Congratulations!
Happy December everyone:>)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Give-away

As you can see, we had a beautiful Thanksgiving. Victoria took these photos or there wouldn't be any, you know how busy you get putting Thanksgiving dinner on the table! Once the festivities began even she didn't have time to take pics. We all ate til we were as stuffed as the turkey and then just talked and laughed and had a great time together.  I ♥ Thanksgiving:>)
 And now, as we all know, this weekend kicks off Christmas. We are getting the tree today, hauling down the ornaments from the attic (lets hope the ceiling doesn't suffer for it this year!)  and soon the smell of cookies baking will fill the air:>)
Last year I saw this book at the discount book store and put it on my list for Christmas. It has so many pretty projects and delicious recipes I had to have it! And like a dork I was afraid I wouldn't get it so I got one just before Christmas. Of course my sweet Victoria had gotten it for me so I have two copies. I had her write inside the one she got me and now I have one to give away. I'm working on a few more little things to include, but you'll just have to wait and see what else comes with this. Leave a comment and I'll choose a winner next Wednesday, December 1. Oh, and please make sure your email address is included in your comment or that you are signed in so I get an email address when you comment. If I can't get ahold of you I can't send you the prize!
I can't wait to begin decorating and enjoying the next 4 weeks.....only 4 weeks! They fly by so quickly, I plan to squeeze as much candle light and joy out of  each moment as I can. How are you preparing for Christmas?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The buffet is already earning its keep. Last night I began pulling dishes from storage and stacking them for the Thanksgiving table.  Nothing all that fancy, my new white plates, some cut glass goblets and a set of dessert plates from an antique shopping trip with Earl a few years ago. The silver tray was Earl's grandmothers so it has special meaning.  This morning I stepped into the dining room just as the morning sun hit the goblets. Beautiful.
Tonight, youngest daughter comes home for a long weekend from college. We have all been counting the hours.  This year for Thanksgiving we have some new dishes coming to the potluck and I am so excited. My niece, (one half of the blogging cousins) and nephew are bringing asparagus risotto and bruschetta, respectively. I am so happy to see them embracing our family tradition of gathering, each bringing something special and sharing the special love we have as a family. It makes the day for me:>) Sis always brings her fresh homemade rolls and finishes them here in the oven so they are hot and so good when they get to the table. Our other sis is bringing the potatoes and mom is bringing pies and salad.  Earl, of course, will make the turkey, complete with his wonderful cornbread stuffing, and the pumpkin-chocolate swirl cheesecake that is tradition around here. Oh I just can't wait!
I am wishing all of you the best Thanksgiving ever! Embrace your loved ones, eat too much, laugh, hug, count your many blessings.  That's what it's all about.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Buffet

Remember this buffet that we found way back in August by the side of the road? As you can see, it was missing a piece of moulding on the bottom drawer. Earl used sculpey clay to make an impression of the matching corner molding on the other side and I used the mold and some wood filler to make a new piece.
 Well now it looks like this...the brass pulls on the bottom two drawers were original to the piece.
I love, love, love the carving on the corners

And on the bottom
I found these at Anthropologie for the top drawer. Earl loves old maps and I thought they looked great with the pattern of the drawer. It looks like waves.
 Earl spent many hours refinishing the top,it now has a beautiful shine and a rich color. The white spot on the top is a candle flame reflected in the finish.
I'm just in love with this piece (have I mentioned that I love it yet?). It isn't perfect but it sure is beautiful. I can see it all set up with goodies for Christmas morning breakfast.  Or dessert for Thanksgiving.  We spent very little on paint, shellac, polyurethane, and the knobs.  Now I just need a large mirror to hang over it and maybe the right lamp.
Just in time for the holidays. Now if someone would just set the right mirror out by the road....;>)
Linking with Kathleen at Faded Charm for White Wednesday:>)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Got it! I'm ready for the weekend:>)
Find one here

Friday, November 5, 2010

It's 12:30 p.m. and I am still in my pj's. No work today (oh happy day!) and I decided to take my extra day and just have some fun sewing. Teeny projects like this mug rug, that I can finish in a couple hours. I found the tutorial for it at Pleasant Home where Jodi is showing us all cute stuff we can make with our fabric scraps.Don't let the mug fool you, I'm not ready for snow. Ugh! You can also see the pretty tea towel I won in a giveaway from Elizabeth at The Late Bloomer. Her own design and it's made with fabrics she designed herself. Gorgeous. I think that's next on my project list for today♥
I am having such fun just having this extra day, a bonus of sunshine and cold winds that keeps me inside doing what I love. I have already baked bread, sewed this scrappy mug rug, and done a little cleaning. Guess it's time for a shower and then a few errands, but I fully intend to come home and play in the scraps some more. What would you do with a free day?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Gorgeous Give-away

My dear friend Becky has exciting news. She has designed her first sewing pattern and it is a beauty!  Becky's designs have always been incredibly beautiful. She is an expert seamstress and her choices of color and print are to die for.  Everything she makes just makes my heart happy and this darling bag is no exception.
 She is giving away one of her beautiful Sophies Bloomer bags in your choice of teal or pink.....
She is also drawing for one of her wonderful burlap runners (wouldn't that just make your Thanksgiving table special?) and a third winner will recieve a  free copy of the pattern.
Congratulations Becky! I am so happy for you. Your bag is wonderful. I wish you all the success in the world with this new venture:>) Head on over there right now and throw your name in the hat. There are lots of chances to win!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Catching up

Another week gone and can you believe November is knocking at the door? The garden is winding down, the last of the roses stand out from the backdrop of some perennial mums that I have had for at least 20 years.
 They aren't as full as the potted varieties but they come up every year and I love the rich color.

 My last soft pink rose, I wish I had gotten the picture before it began to lose petals, but I still found it beautiful...
And look what came in the mail this week! I won one of those fantastic CSN store gift card give-aways from Stacey's Place, a wonderful quilter I just found. Thank you Stacey! I have been wanting white dishes for ages. Do I need white dishes? Define need;>)  Free money means guilt free shopping in my book, so I got them.  Twelve plates means I have enough for a crowd, and they mix with everything. I am looking forward to dolling these up with all sorts of pretty napkins and table accessories, and I got them in time for Thanksgiving.  Who would think plain white plates could be so exciting?  I am so looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. Victoria will be home from college and Lauren will have her new apartment to decorate and I know she will want my help! Fun. What are you looking forward to this coming season?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Note to self:  Quit overindulging in sweets. You know you feel a little queasy after you indulge. The guilt isn't worth the momentary pleasure and if your body is a temple, well, lets just say the building program needs to come to an end.
Reply to self: Message recieved...but it seems like you could have reminded me of that before I baked the Apple Spice cake with chai spice cream cheese frosting just now.
Dang.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sponsors and other ways to keep the fun going...

I thought it would be a good thing to discuss some of the ways we can make blogging pay without getting all "in your face" every time you visit.  I know that some don't like the commercialization of blogging, and I have been in that boat too. I hate the pop up ads I see when I go to some blogs! I struggled a long time with whether I should try anything that would make any money. I can tell you I am still far from raking in the dough here, but in our situation (underemployment) every little bit helps and I hope I have added some things that benefit more than just myself.  First, I am selling some small ads on my right sidebar. My latest advertiser is Sky Reve Fabrics.
 She has a beautiful etsy shop and some great deals on fabrics, including a sale section and free shipping within the U.S. on some of her items. I like to support the small cottage industries that have sprung up in blogland. We are all just regular people trying to make a litle pin money, kind of like our grandmothers did with the eggs they sold:>)
I also have an Amazon widget on my sidebar. Most of the books I have recommended are authored by bloggers. there are some very talented ladies out there. I just bought two of Sandy Coughlins Reluctant Entertainer books. One for myself and one for a friend who is starting a hospitality ministry in her church. It is fantastic. I will be passing mine on to my daughters. It is full of great tips and debunks all the reasons you think you can't entertain.  I get a small percentage when you use the widget to purchase from Amazon, even if you purchase something other than the items on my list! It's an easy and unobtrusive way to make a little money for the extras. If you want one of your own just click on the get the widget link on the bottom of my widget.
The third way I am making a little cash is through Swagbucks. I have their search bar on my computer, and their search widget at the bottom of my page. I have only been using it for a couple months and I already have enough "swagbuck" points for about $15 in gift cards. I will probably get Amazon gift cards, but there are lots of different kinds available from Starbucks, to itunes to travelocity and more. You can also use them for merchandise straight from swagbucks themselves. If you sign up with my referal code, yup, I get a little something out of it.
I know this sounds like a commercial, but to me, these ways of making the blog pay are some of the least invasive for you, my readers, and I don't see any reason not to make the most of our blogging.  I get to help out some small business women, and the other widgets are just there if you want to use them..
Please tell me, what do you think of subtle advertising on blogs? Would you do it?

Monday, October 18, 2010

The only bit of fall decorating I have done so far has been to fill this old tool carrier with pumpkins and gourds from the farmers market. The gourds were 4/$1 and when I went up to pay, the lady said, "throw a few more in your bag". She must have been as happy to get rid of them as I was to get them so cheaply.
The front porch looks very autumnal now.
Back to homework.....

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Happy Sweetest Day!

Did you know it was Sweetest Day? I hadn't been paying any attention to the calendar at all. Earl and I went to Panera for our Saturday morning "date" of coffee and a little something yummy (everything bagel for me and a brownie for him today), we take the time to plan the next week, and have some face to face time to talk about whatever. I love it. Time carved out for us. Then a trip to the Farmers Market, probably the last for this year. Pumpkins everywhere, and every size shape and color, gorgeous! There was a sign by the flowers wishing everyone a Happy Sweetest Day. Clever reminder. I got my favorite market bunch from my sweetie. Zinnias, mixed with lots of other spikey pretty things. Plopped in a dark brown antique crock they capture autumn beautifully. The morning sunshine makes them glow:>) Happy. The rest of the day will be spent on shopping, cleaning, spiffing up the things around here that get ignored the rest of the week, and some baking of bread. A pretty happy day all round. Happy Sweetest day to all of you,What do you have planned?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Chicken Whisperer

This is Crossbill. Such a creative  name.  Crossbill started out just like all the other cute chicks but her bill did not grow correctly. If you look closely you can see her bottom beak is way off to the side. Poor Crossbill, there is no orthodontia for chickens. I was worried that she would have trouble eating but she has managed nicely, and out of all my chickens, she is the one with the most personality.
Every day when we go out to gather the eggs, Crossbill escapes the coop. We used to fight it but she learned to get past us so effectively that now we just stand aside and let her out.  She likes her daily patrol of the garden. When she wants to go back in, she has taken to wandering up to the house and sometimes looking in the screen door if the the inner door is open. It's her way of letting us know that it's time for her to go home.  I'm posting this even though the sunflowers have been knocked down and eaten by the squirrels and the yard is a mess. The coop isn't one of those fancy schmancy chicken condos you see around blogland. Shoot me. Life is like that.
video
She cracks me up.  In this instance she decided to take a little look-see out behind the coop before heading inside. She has us trained, and even though she hasn't laid an egg in weeks, what am I gonna do? She's too cute and I'm sure she will redeem herself in the egg laying department soon.  Don't the underdogs (underchickens?) always steal your heart?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Apple Raspberry Tart

The weather has been wonderful this weekend! Sunny 70's and gilded Fall perfection. It made me want to bake. I found the recipe for this rustic Apple Raspberry Tart here. Delicious! The crust is like shortbread, sprinkled with coarse sanding sugar. The filling, mmmmm, cinnamony, appley, raspberryish delight. Super easy.
And how was your weekend?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Slumming with Earl & Kathy

Earl and I took in a couple garage sales this afternoon. It was such a lovely day, so we jumped in the car and headed out.  After hitting the sales that we were looking for, we followed an Estate sale sign down a long drive and found this. A gosh darn real "Estate"!  This little cottage was on a sparkling lake, the gardens were full of sculpture. It was just plain amazing. If any of you live in a house like this please excuse my farmgirl awe of this kind of living. There were massive spiral staircases inside, an infinity pool out by the lake and they were serving appetizers for pity sake. At an estate sale. This was my first appetizer/estate sale.
 I live a sheltered life.
Of course we went in.
I only got a couple photos because one of the estate sale guys started giving me the stink eye.
I was dying for the $500 crystal bowl on the $2500 table.
 I was thinking this $6500 bone and ivory chinese warrior would make a lovely holder of towels in my bath, What think you? Hmmm, on the other hand I wouldn't want that grumpy face staring at me as I stepped out of the shower. It might give me a complex. And what exactly is he doing to his beard?
After we left, we headed for our kind of shopping. Salvation Army, where I found a light blue sweater set for $1 and a pretty green linen blouse for $5. Earl got 4 shirts for $1 each.  I looked to see if they had any Chinese soldier statues but they must have sold the last one  before I got there.
Go figure.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Good Morning! I trust you all had a wonderful weekend. Mine was uneventfully spent spiffing up the house and then spending Sunday doing absolutely nothing. Something I have a very hard time doing. I know you know what I mean because I have seen many of you say the same thing. We all need a little down time once in a while though, so the cat and I cuddled on the sofa and alternately dozed and read. Well, I read, she just dozed:>)
I wanted to share some lovely gifts I have received in the mail. I don't know who came up with the "give-away" in blogging, but my hats off to them! It is so much fun to find a pretty package on your doorstep full of sweet surprises! I won this package from Mimi Sue's Cottage while Earl and I were away on our anniversary get-away. Victoria opened the package for me so she could tell me what was in it:>) No, I couldn't wait. It was chock full of lovely things as you can see! Beautiful tags, gift cards to movies and DQ, a pretty plate and exquisite etched vase. A fizzy bath bombe, some red fabrics which I will be adding to my quilt so I'll have something to remind me of sweet Sue! Just so many pretty surprises! Thank you Sue!
Then just last week Miss Hattie the pig arrived from Sweet Nothings dear BJ. How cute is that!  BJ made sure to add a littel sweetness with candies, candles and a sweet card and some amazing potpourri, but just look at that cute pig! Once again. it just made my day! Thank you BJ! I will put Hattie where I can see her and think of you:>)  I hope you have a wonderful autumn week. It's going to start getting pretty chilly around here and we don't have much color around here yet! Anyone else wondering where all the color is this year?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

My sis is having a giveaway to celebrate 300 posts! A gorgeous gingham pillow decorated with  crochet flowers, made by hand by my adorable niece.
And a jar of black forest jam made with cherries and chocolate. Be still my heart. I hope she saved me a jar! And look at that adorable cozy! My niece is a genius with yarn.
You have until Saturday, hurry!