Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Cupcakes, Projects and Fun Finds

Is it still January? Hmmm, well here are a few things I accomplished so far in this warm/cold/wet/icy month.  The weather has been all over the place so far with ice storms and a flooded yard.  I am praying that the basement doesn't flood from the downpours we have been having.  When the ground is frozen like this there is nowhere for the water to go. So far so good.

When it's cold outside I want to bake.  Chocolate cupcakes with rich chocolate frosting and a sprinkling of stars brighten things up nicely.  Who else thinks winter was made for baking?
 Earl knows that these grey cloudy skies and the barren landscape can only mean one thing, cheer Kathy up with flowers.  He found these beauties at the grocery store.  Cream roses with the barest peachy pink blush in the center of the petals, mixed with white lilies.  This is just one of the reasons I will keep him forever, believe me, there are a million more :)
 To counterbalance the cupcakes and other winter baking, I am looking for new soup recipes.  I found this Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup on The Café Sucre Farine and it is a keeper!  I have already made it twice. My suggestion? Double the lemon ;)  This is a soup you can make in the crock pot, but I had some frozen cooked chicken and home made broth so I made it stove top lickety split.  It has a bit of Turmeric in it which is supposed to be a great anti inflammatory.  From the same website I also made the Beef Bourguignon Soup recipe and it was amazing.  Check out her website, so far everything I have made from her recipes is a keeper.
 And lastly, I think I mentioned we are in the process of buying a newfangled flat screen tv.  Everything around here is a process,  but first I had to move a large book shelf, which meant I had to find a new home for an extra dresser AND the old entertainment center that holds the old tv.  Now you know why everything takes so long, all that shuffling.  At any rate, the things that need to go have been spoken for and will be picked up soon, and when that happens I wanted something to go under the new tv.  I actually stepped into a furniture store and then stepped right back out.  A very poorly constructed console or server for under the tv would have been $1200.  If I had loved it I could have paid it, but after years of buying well made cast offs for a pittance I couldn't see shelling out that kind of cabbage for something that I thought was basically a piece of junk.  So off to the local antique emporium I went, and found the perfect solid mahogany sideboard for a small percentage of the junky new piece.  This server cost $250.  It's solid, I like the lines, the swoopy drawer design, the cabinet doors that came with a skeleton key (love!) and the price. 
It is cooling its heels in the dining room until the other items go to their new home. I told Earl that I reserve the right to paint it, because...
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I do love painted furniture and I might be leaning toward a pretty green.  Making my mind up is the hard part. 

We are also still working on the back entry refresh.  My darling husband insisted on doing some of the more heinous scraping and wallpaper removal.  I had peeled off the top layer of the old paper and the paper backing was left. The backing was tight and smooth and my first thought was to paper right over it, because #lazy.  It might have worked but we decided to do it the right way, (sigh).  SO Earl spent a recent Saturday on the ladder scraping.  My knight in shining armor.  I am working on getting the old green trim painted sparkling white and my wallpaper came this week, (yay!!!!) so I am hoping it will be finished in a couple more weekends.

That's my January so far.  Lest you think I am some kind of white tornado around here, I spend a good portion of my days sitting on the sofa with a cup of coffee trying to work up enough energy to get anything done.  Are you working on indoor projects too?


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Happy New Year!

A few days late to be sure, but why not wish happiness on more than day one?  I am seeing so many who have chosen a word or resolution, I must be a slacker extraordinaire, because I tend to think a New Year should be a blank slate. A time to let the pressures of last year fall away leaving the white nothingness of a clean sheet of paper to write my life on. Oh I do wax poetic.  Truth is I know I am not one for feeling pressured to chose a word or affirmative life action, so I tend to sit back and give myself the first few weeks off.  No pressure or expectations. It's actually a great way to start the year :)

Just to catch up on what has been happening, which is precious little to tell the truth, we spent New Years Eve with friends and actually left by around 10pm.  Both exhausted for some reason and just not up to hanging on until Midnight. We were well asleep by the time the New Year crept in, but were awakened by the mortars going off next door. No rest for the weary apparently, but I just realized I even freed myself of the expectation of staying awake until New Year.  I rock lowered expectations.

The next day was the big extended family Christmas party and Earl made his yearly Bushe de Noel, this time in the form of a birch log.  The outer "bark" is white chocolate with dark chocolate knots and details. The top is meringue piped in circles, baked and laid on top of the cake to simulate  the inside of the log, and the cute mushrooms are meringue too.  The cake itself is yellow cake layers with chocolate ganache filling. It was as tasty as it is pretty.  I always love seeing what he will come up with :)
You may remember my not so subtle hints for a certain traveler to think of Christmas while they were in England this autumn and pick up an Emma Bridgewater something for their mama.
Well the ever so gentle, almost subliminal suggestion worked beautifully and this little gem was waiting for me under the tree.
The other side of the mug says, "Mum is the best" and the inside rim says, "Mum is kind and strong"
It came with a darling Emma Bridgewater towel too, but the message on the mug just touches this mother's heart :)

I spent yesterday taking down the Christmas decorations. As much as I love the lights and fun of the Christmas décor, something about January calls for calm and quiet. It may be the only time of year that I actually wish I had an all white house.  At the moment it almost feels too blank and empty after the tree and lights have been removed. I have a very hard time with "winter décor" because I hate winter. I am over it completely by January 2.  Anything winter themed is not appealing at the moment. I am working on keeping some of the mercury glass and white decorations out in an attempt to spice things up. So far I have one corner of the living room redecorated.
Yes, I know the cords show, part of my easy going January attitude ;)  This is our library table, because this family librarys a lot.  Books tended to be strewn over every flat surface of the living room until we found this gorgeous table for a steal at a garage sale.  Now the books go here.
Family photos, a few silvery accents and some battery operated candles that are on a timer so I don't even have to light them.  Some of these items will eventually be moved as there are a few large items of furniture that I will be taking out of this room in preparation for a new flat screen tv that is coming soon.  2017 will see some improvements in the house, as most years have.

Now I am off to strip the old wallpaper off the walls in the back entryway! The new wallpaper is on it's way and with a little paint and elbow grease I will have a sparkling bright entry in a week or so.

I hope your New Year is going smoothly, and happily.  Ease up on yourself and enjoy a few weeks of possibilities and low pressure! And thank you to all who have been stopping by for so many years.  It makes me smile to read each comment!







Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christmas Tour



I wouldn't blame you if you were tired of seeing Christmas splashed all over blogs. We've been enjoying the decorations for weeks now.  I have to say though, this isn't your normal tour. I'm not a decorating blog, I don't claim any amazing design skills or fancy pants ideas to make you run right out and copy, not that there is time for that now.  Most of you have been visiting for years. We are old friends. Do you know I've been writing this blog coming up on 10 years?

Yes, I think you know what to expect by now. This is just real life.  Well, cleaned up real life with all the junk stashed in the room you won't see, just like it would be if you came for coffee. ;)

So grab a cup and take the tour. we'll visit like the old friends we are. And if we are new friends, welcome!  I don't put on any airs, grab a mug and lets take a look at Christmas here in the cottage.
 We can start in the kitchen. I made some gingerbread boys this afternoon. I wish you could smell the gingerbread baking. truth be told, I baked them for the smell as much as the taste. It smells like Christmas :)
 I found the cutest little cheap tree at Walmart this year. $18 and it fits in the corner of the kitchen just perfectly.  I also found the most awesome rice lights to go on it. There is no plug over there so I needed some battery operated lights. I found these on amazon and they come with a remote so I don't have to fiddle around digging for the on and off switch.  I used them on the birch star Earl made me last year too. I love that thing.  You'll see a lot of stars in the house as we go through. See the cookies cooling on the stove?

 Over by the fridge I just added some bright red accents to the shelves full of Jadeite.  I lit the shelves with some more rice lights to brighten the dark corner and add a little sparkle.
 If you turn around and look from the kitchen you'll see the dining room.  I love my flocked tree in the corner. Earl has it covered in the bird ornaments he has collected for years.  Since we spend so much time in the kitchen and dining room I like to have a tree out here where we can see it.
 My eldest daughter gave me the table runner as an early Christmas gift. I had these lighted galvanized stars from last year and thought they would look cute woven into the greenery.
 The living room is next. I had a stash of plaid flannel so I whipped up some pillow covers for winter. They are so soft and bright and cozy.
 Across the room is the table top tree we cut last Saturday.  We had the best time! It was a crisp winter morning but not so cold that we were uncomfortable. We rode the wagon into the field and found our tree.  Then we stopped at a beautiful inn built in 1850 for lunch.  It was a perfect day, and we decided it would be our new Christmas tradition.  That large bookshelf on the left will be leaving soon. We are joining the 21st century and replacing our old tv with a flat screen.  We are going to need that wall!
 Come into the bedroom.  I dug an old quilt, that my great grandmother made, out of storage and used it on the bed.  It's pretty fragile, some might consider it a cutter, but I plan to mend it where I can and use it gently.  The tartan pillow came from a craft store, but my favorite part of the Christmas décor in here are these...
I hung these paper stars over the bed, illuminated with 3 watt nightlight bulbs they glow so beautifully at night!
Ahhhh, I will be leaving these up for a couple months just because I love the light. And that's the tour! Stars and lights and trees, and cozy plaid flannel. Here in Michigan it's a VERY white Christmas so far and until January 2 I'm loving it. After that I want to spend the rest of the winter somewhere tropical.  I hope you enjoyed the visit and I hope you are tucked snug in your homes surrounded by Christmas lights and things that make you smile.  If I don't see you before Sunday,
Printable Christmas Greeting Card - Watercolor Wreath





Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Tree

Well not THE tree, The live tree is still loitering on the back porch waiting to be trimmed and popped in a stand.  I like to have a tree in the dining room though and I needed a new one.  The last tree I used in here was a curbside rescue about 20 years ago and finally discarded last year.  It was no prize when I snagged it but you know with lights and ornaments it's harder to see the imperfections.
Enter this 6 foot flocked tree. $30 from Walmart, I think I got the last one in the store.  It looks pretty darn good for a $30 fake, certainly better than the dusty, crusty I discarded last year.  I raced home and couldn't wait to put it up. I'm in full on decorating mode now. I can't be stopped. So I pulled it out and started fluffing and forgot I was wearing a black sweater.  I looked down and I was flocked.  The tree and I? We match.  I expected a little shedding when I set it up, aside from the pile I'm wearing and the pile on the floor, the tree still has plenty so I'm happy. I got the lights on and now I'm forcing myself to change my sweater and get busy on dinner before I do any more.   I'm also loving my table runner and that silver mercury glass lighted tree. I got the last one of those too, at Homegoods. If you live in my neck of the woods you're out of luck. Sorry. Both were purchased with a gift card from my eldest daughter. She knows what mama likes :)  I'm off to get dinner started, then more decorating!  And I know, two posts within two days? Whaaaaat?  I'm on a roll.



Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A little Christmas Decorating

Finally, a moment to visit! I have been crazy busy, (emphasis on crazy) since mid-November.  We spent most of the week of Thanksgiving with our kids in Pennsylvania. What a wonderful time having all of us together for the holiday!  That doesn't happen much any more so I treasure it when it does.

The following week our youngest daughter came home on Saturday for a daddy & daughter baking day. I love that they share those special times with their father. I get to hang out and chat and then we get to sample the results! What could be better?  On this day they tried a recipe from a new magazine.  It's a vegan chocolate tart with salted oat crust.  Rich, decadent and so yummy!  We aren't vegan, but we don't turn up our nose at recipes like that! I would make it again, but tiny pieces are all it takes to satisfy any one's sweet tooth. You can find the recipe here.
 As soon as we came home from Thanksgiving I hit the ground running for our church's annual women's ministries Christmas dinner.  Over 100 ladies attended and I cooked the main course because, A. I am cheap and I KNEW I could make it for less than catering prices, and B. That little voice that is supposed to be inside your head asking, "do you think that is really a good idea?" was napping.  It all came out fine but it seriously took up my whole week and when all was said and done the house looked like it had been hit by a tornado. 

All that to say, I am just now getting things in order, catching up on the mountain of laundry and starting to decorate for Christmas.  Yesterday I saw on someones blog that there are two more Monday's before Christmas and I almost fainted.  Why does this season go so lightning fast?! 
 So I started bringing up decorations one armload at a time from the basement. I'm not bringing everything up at once, the mess overwhelms me.  I would rather make numerous trips for some reason than look at it all at once.  I have tucked a few Christmas touches in among the Jadeite on the kitchen shelves.  I also discovered rice lights this year and I can't get enough.  Battery operated, I even found some that are remote controlled so I don't have to fumble for the little control boxes tucked out of sight. LOVE!  They add a little sparkle to so many places, and no cords to deal with. Winning!
 I also hung some big lighted stars in the bedroom, they are lit by very low watt night light bulbs so they just have a soft, romantic glow.  They look so pretty even on an overcast day. Excuse the bad photo, it was taken with my phone, which does not have the best camera.
 To the left of the bed is a floor to ceiling shelf. At one time I had all my sewing fabrics and accoutrements in these shelves. Since the girls got married and moved out, and I have a craft room, I finally got the sewing stuff out of here and it is just our bedroom. Yay!  I still needed to store some trims and various things, and I solved that problem with covered baskets in various shapes and sizes from Salvation Army.  I love the look, and everything is contained.
 I tucked a few little domed Christmas houses on the shelves along with some flocked branches. I love how they look with the texture of the baskets.
This cute little dome came from Home Goods, and I couldn't resist it because of the oval shape and rustic wood base.   I'll be sharing more  about these shelves soon.

Have you finished your decorating or are you just getting started?  Remember, only two more Monday's before Christmas! (Gahhh!!!)

P.S. I know its a little late, but if you are looking for some cute advent printables or boxes for tiny gifts, check out my Santa Box pattern found here .  They are loads of fun and easy to make :)
http://kathyscottage.blogspot.com/2011/12/merry-christmas-from-kathys-cottage.html