Monday, January 25, 2016

A little Spring Dreaming

How are you all doing? I know some of you are buried under piles of snow.  Michigan, however, is having a streak of what we almost consider a heat wave. Temps in the 30's and 40's this week and glorious sunshine! Oh how I love the sun this time of year.  I'm busy dreaming of Spring right now. Earl and I sat down a couple nights ago and planned the garden. Beets, and brussel sprouts, beans and peas, jalapeno peppers and purple carrots all ringed with flowers in our raised beds.  I'm also planning a kitchen herb garden right outside the back door. I can't wait.
In the meantime, I'm also adding some new rosey designs to the etsy shop.  
 Roses and polka dots in pretty spring colors.  So you can dream of gardens while you whip up those warm baked goodies to enjoy with your hot cocoa :)
Are you planning your garden yet?

Monday, January 11, 2016

A Little Sparkle and a Cake

I promised to show you the transition from Christmas lights to New Year.  My little tree was on the library table in the living room. I think the hardest part of taking down the decorations each year, is missing all those brilliant little lights. They chase away the winter dark, and I always need that! The corner is a dark one anyway, and even darker this time of year.  I found these lighted branches on clearance at Home Depot after the New Year.  I have seen them everywhere from the grocery store to Kohl's, so they aren't hard to find.  I had the large mercury glass vase and some faux evergreen branches and I am happy to say the lighted branches were the perfect transition from Christmas to January. They made me miss the lights on the tree a whole lot less, and the added bonus is I know I'll use them next year at Christmas time.  
 Truth be told though, I am beginning to crave a little green and some color.  I am not a winter girl and winter has finally arrived in Michigan with blowing snow and bitter cold temps.  It had to happen, I know, but where everyone else sees cozy and hot cocoa, I just see a whole lot of snow. Give me green grass under my toes and balmy nights sitting in the garden.  I'm already counting the days until Spring.  This little vignette will soon give way to something living and green.

I also wanted to share this little beauty that Earl made for a New Years party we went to.  I know it's a bit late but this deserves to be shared.  It's a "Stump de Noel" and he had such fun making this.  Marzipan leaves and acorns, meringue mushrooms and shelf fungus and pistachio moss. That man is amazing!
 The cake itself was eggnog flavor and the frosting is chocolate ganache.  He made the "dirt" with ground up chocolate oreos.  I think I'll keep him. It was quite the way to bring in the New Year!
How are you doing this second full week of January? Are you dreaming of green yet?

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Swap

Good Monday morning! I trust you have all made your resolutions, enjoyed a good transition to the New Year and if you haven't taken down your Christmas decorations you are chewing on one last cookie and contemplating how long it will take you to re-pack all that lovely Christmas cheer until next December.  Mine is (mostly) packed away and I have replaced it with some sparkly decorations that make the transition into January a little easier to take.  I can't lose all my sparkle and light in the darkest month of the year. I'll share that later.  Right now it seems appropriate to discuss my resolutions. In fact, one in particular is "weighing" on more than just my mind, if you know what I mean. I'm giving up sugar. Again.
I had given it up for many months last year. Sugar is a trigger for me. I just can't stop eating it. You too? I allowed myself free reign over the holidays and I am regretting it.  I have a shameful story to tell and I may as well begin.  It all started on Instagram.  I would like to blame Patty, but truly my own lack of control is the culprit. While checking my feed I came across this:
Patty posted that she would need a lot of luck to not eat these all herself.  Me being the helpful sort , I commented that if she sent them to me, she would be free of the temptation.  I rock. When I see a friend in need, I am a friend indeed.  Well Patty accepted the challenge and asked for my address so she could send me some.  I suggested a mini swap and she said yes, but suggested maybe we could do it after the hustle and bustle of Christmas.  Challenge accepted.

So the week between Christmas and New Year I started baking.  I made these fabulous White Chocolate Chip Craisin cookies. 
These amazing Salted Caramel Turtle thumbprint cookies

And these delicious Orange-Chocolate Biscotti cookies

I baked my little heart out. I planned to send them out right away but got caught up in the preparations for New Years. Undecorating the house, working and you know, stuff.  As I was walking past the caramel thumbprint cookies one day, I thought I would just try one to make sure it was still fresh enough to send. Yes, yes it was, but what is this? The caramel was kind of sticking to another cookie. I could see it was not a really good idea to send those caramel filled cookies alllll the way to California. They would be a sticky mess! So I set them out and we ate them. Whew! Crisis averted. I would make something else to take their place.

The weekend of New Years was a busy one. I didn't get to the post office and then Monday an ice storm hit that pretty much closed everything down.  As I walked past the bag of biscotti with my fresh hot coffee, I started to think about just how good they would taste together. There were plenty. I grabbed a few.  Ok, we ate them, all right? We drink a lot of coffee around here and biscotti is killer with coffee. The falling snow and cold temps outside just made those cookies taste even better. I am weak. I am ashamed. I have no excuse really.

After those were gone, there were no more cookies in the house. None except the white chocolate cranberry ones I had put in the freezer to keep them fresh so I could send them to Patty.  I think we all know where this is going.  That's right, They too are gone.

At this point I clearly recognize that I have a sugar monkey clawing at my back. My pants are tight, I can barely look at myself in the mirror. I can only hope that Patty has eaten the cookies she was going to send me, because I DO NOT NEED ONE MORE COOKIE.  Time to take back control.  Earl may have to lock me in the studio until I'm over the worst of withdrawal.

Patty, for the love of all that is holy, don't send those cookies to me! 

P.S. If they are already in the mail, I can start my diet after I *ahem* dispose of them properly.

Anyone else trying to reign themselves in for the New Year?

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Christmas Living Room

I promised you a look at the Christmas living room.  I had big plans for decorating this year, but as time went on I ended up with a pretty simple, farmhouse look to the room.  This is the year of "less is more" in so many of the tours I have seen. I'm all on board with that :)
 The sofa is primed with a ticking stripe covered pillow for long winter naps and some big red checks. If you have been around here for any time at all, you know I can't resist the gingham. The painting above the sofa was a gift from My youngest daughter, Victoria.  She knew that being a farm girl, I loved a certain famous cow painting that I had seen on a favorite blog.  This is not that painting.  Being her mother's daughter, rather than pay a rather hefty price for the original she painted this one herself and presented it to me on my birthday this past May.
 I love her version even more, of course. I had some old shutters in the basement that I painted and placed on either side. I like how the green shutters and blue and white plates pick up the colors in "Bessie's" painting.   I may have her knock off the Mona Lisa for me next ;)
 Our little reading chair by the window. You can't tell, but today is dark and rainy. Temps in the 40's and destined to be in the mid-50's by Friday. No white Christmas here! This chair catches the best light for reading though.  I brightened up the window sill with Poinsettias and the old red truck.  You can see the poinsettias are already dropping leaves. I never have much luck with them, but after Christmas I don't really want them to hang around anyway.  Do your poinsettias last or are you a killer like me?

 This is the first time I have ever had a table top tree.  We found the library table for a song at a yard sale this summer. I have always loved library tables and as the guy selling it was lowering his price just because we showed an interest in it how could I leave it behind?  It takes up the space we usually use for the tree so here we are.  To tell you the truth this little tree is a little too perfect for me.  We are talking about clearing a spot in the woods and planting a few trees every year so we can cut our own. We should have a magical crop by the time we have grandkids old enough to help us look for the perfect tree.  No, there aren't any grands on the way yet, but when they come along we will be ready! The mercury glass globe lights were a gift from Victoria, and she and Lauren hung them for me when everyone was home for Thanksgiving.  The little church on the bottom of the table was a replica of a church that still stands in a small nearby town. It was made by Earl's great grandfather who helped build the original church.  I saved this from a church "clean out" years ago without even knowing the family history that went with it!
 When I first decorated the tree I was going to be all coordinated and matchy for once.  No more kids at home, all I had to please was myself! Well, it just didn't look right.  Too bare, missing all the love and history our family has built into Christmas.  I ended up retrieving the old ornament box and hanging those ornaments that had been with us so many beautiful years. The canning lid photo of Victoria, made in first grade.

 the pretzel ornament Lauren made in Kindergarten, (amazing that those pretzels haven't turned to dust!),

 the little angel made entirely of pasta that one of them made in Sunday School, isn't she adorable!?

And the little bird ornament Victoria got for Earl on a first grade school field trip. She presented it to him and told him it was "the bird full of love", and that is what we have called it ever since :)

 My little collection of glitter houses continues to grow,

 and this year a very talented niece crocheted 3 tiny birds to add to Earl's collection. They are already treasured and will be added to the tree from now on.  Each one of these little beauties is not much bigger that a quarter!

It's all the warm little memory makers and touches that make me happy in my Christmas home.  Surrounded by handmade gifts and sparkling lights, my home makes me happy.

I will be enjoying time with family and friends, baking, and just relaxing for the rest of the week. I hope you can do the same. Thank you for stopping by, for saying hello and for sharing my little corner of the blog world.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Welcome to The Holiday Home Tour

Welcome to the second day of the Holiday Home Tour! I am so excited to have been asked by Cathy of 1929 Charmer and Judy of 20 North Ora, to be a part of the tour.  If you missed the homes on yesterdays tour, you will find the links at the bottom of the page.  Lets get started!

I'll be showing you the heart of our home and where a great deal of time is spent, especially during the holiday season!  That would be the kitchen. Step right in. This is truly a simple little cottage. The house runs around 1150 square feet and we have done a lot of living in that little footprint.  The kitchen was remodeled just about a year ago, with new counters, sink and lighting.  Since we do so much cooking and baking for gifts and parties, I like to keep the Christmas decorations warm and simple and the counters as clear as possible.  

It's dark and gloomy today, cozy winter weather that makes it a little difficult to get a good photo.

 A tiered server keeps fresh fruit available and takes up very little counter space, it's also a pretty way to add some height and color. Some of these oranges will end up in gift baskets as an orange -grapefruit marmalade.
 If you look closely at the photo above, you can see the little niche that I keep our small collection of jadeite displayed in.  That little niche was a tiny built in cupboard when we moved in here 35 years ago.  There was another built in floor to ceiling cupboard where the fridge is now, an old 1940's fridge where the pantry is and a stove where the stove is now, and that was all. There were no counters or cabinets! I think the elderly people who lived here had a kitchen table in the corner that they used for mixing and eating. This little kitchen has come a long way since then.
Here is a closer look at the niche.  I added some cute little snowmen and some clementines for color. I also have some battery operated lights that I sometimes turn on for a little glow when it's dark and gloomy outside. 

It doesn't take much looking to see that I have sprinkled stars all through the kitchen and dining room.  I love them. They remind me of the star of Bethlehem.  These galvanized tin star lights were an outdoor solar light set from Target this summer.  The solar part went kaput pretty quickly, so I took the stars off the string and added them to a small string of battery operated lights for Christmas.  They look so pretty as it gets dark.
 I took the curtains down and attached some faux greenery to the curtain rods, then the lights. I get more light in the winter that way and the windows don't look so bare.
 My favorite candle holder, an old glass block star. I used to have a pair of these, one broke long ago and I have been looking for more ever since with no luck.
 On the back wall of the kitchen is my favorite star this year.  Earl brought home some birch logs from the family hunting cabin for some projects he is working on and was able to peel the bark off a fairly large log.  He made the birch bark star to hang on the wall. It is lit with battery operated lights and I absolutely love the way it turned out!  I flipped the chalkboard "bakery" sign over, it's on  an old cupboard door, and made the Christmas sign to go with the star.

 Here is a close up of the star, peeling bark and all. LOVE!
Back in the corner is the coffee bar.  I know, hot cocoa bars are all the rage right now but we seldom drink it. I sometimes make my coffee into a "mocha" with the addition of a little cocoa, but give me a good hot brew any day. I will, however, top my coffee with whipped cream ;) That "Let it Snow" sign makes me smile this year, it has been hovering in the mid 40's and even in the 60's this past two weeks. Unseasonably warm for December in Michigan!
Come on, grab a cup and turn around, this is the view from the kitchen to the dining room.  As you can see, the front door leads right into the dining room, that's the way it is with small cottages. No wasted space.  It's a pretty big room for such a small house. Good thing, because we like to host fairly large family dinners. I think the most we have had for Thanksgiving is 23 people!  The table belonged to my grandparents. It was used for years in their farmhouse, and I remember sitting at it many nights as a child, drawing, and practicing my penmanship for school. If you look closely, you can see the hanging star lanterns I put in the windows every Christmas. They give a pretty, warm glow to the room, and I always hope that if one of the family is coming home at night, that glow lets them know they are home where it is safe and happy and warm.
 Have a seat at the table, I made coffee and added some whipped cream :) Those gingerbread men are freshly baked and from an old Swedish recipe. I make them with extra spice and they don't last long.  Do you know how often I have wished I could sit at the table with some of my dear blog friends and just chat over coffee and cookies? Many times, and I know I have seen you express the same longing. I feel so blessed to have so many friends that I have made over the 8 years I have been blogging.
 More stars in the garland over the mirror. I have a small tree on the buffet we found by the side of the road.  It's filled with a collection of favorite bird and nest ornaments that we have collected over the years.  I added a few simple candles for color and sparkle and called it done this year.

 That's all for today.  I'll be sharing my living room and tree later this week. Thanks for stopping by and please, be sure to stop and say hello to the other houses on the tour that I have linked below!

December 16 Tours

Anne's Attic Designs

Cherry Hill Cottage

On Crooked Creektt

Sweet Cottage Dreams

December 15 Tours

My 1929 Charmer 

20 North Ora

Ash Tree Cottage

Art & Sand

Junk Chic Cottage