Sunday, December 24, 2006

Thursday, December 21, 2006

thank you, Mary!

Yesterday out of the blue I got a call from Mary, the artist who painted my antique rocker, and also a few other things in my house. You may recall that I met Mary through my mother in-law, who has had Mary paint children's rockers for all 9 of her grandchildren. I haven't seen Mary since last spring, but oddly enough, I was thinking about her yesterday morning. I was thinking of a small hall mirror in my house and wondering if she would be interested in painting it sometime next year, but that's another story...

Anyway, Mary called after lunch and wanted to know if she could stop by because she had something that she wanted to give me. She said she had something for me and for my mother in-law for Christmas.

Well, you've seen the rocking chair and in time I'll get around to spotlighting Mary's other work around here (like the shelf that's on the wall there, partially hidden - that's one of my favorites), but this display speaks for itself. Mine is the little blue and yellow house (you could call it a cottage), and my mother in-law 's is the beautiful church. I wish you could see the windows that go around each building. Mine have shutters around them. The church windows are made to look like stained glass.

I have no idea what I've done to deserve this. But my house is so darling, so unbelievably cute, that I don't care. I am just happy that it's here and that, by default of my being related to my mother in-law, Mary sees me as someone worthy of one of her creations. Merry Christmas, Mary!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

special gift

My Christmas gift this year is that my family is coming here. My mom and dad, 2 of my brothers, and my parents' dog are all arriving on Friday and will stay until early next week. I am so excited to have them here. Beyond excited. Usually we go to them...either before Christmas to stay through the holiday, or right after Christmas. My parents have come to celebrate with us before, but they came the weekend before Christmas, so technically they've never been here on December 25th.

I have a big family, and my parents were high school sweethearts, so everybody on my side pretty much lives in the same town (except me. Also, my youngest brother moved to Los Angeles this past spring but we're optimistic that some day he'll move back closer to home.) When we go for a visit, my mom cooks up a feast for us every day and looks after our every needs, both spoken and unspoken. She leaves us wanting for nothing. My dad takes us out to wonderful restaurants and insists on paying our way if there's anything we want to do - movies, a day at the zoo, a show. I always tell people that I get spoiled when I go to see them. I'm not sure if I can do the same thing for them exactly, but I can do my best to make sure they have as nice of a visit here as possible. I just want them to relax and not worry about anything. I want to cook for them. I want them to enjoy as much time as they can with my sons. I will (hopefully) make them feel like they are on a holiday.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

no regrets

We are feeling pleasantly plump after the third weekend in a row of good food, good friends, and, oh yes, Christmas cheer! Wait a minute. Is it just me, or are my pants starting to feel a bit snug? hmmm. Must be my imagination. What's that, you ask? Why, yes, I think I would like to try your gorgeous dessert. Oh, and yes, I do need a refill! - thanks! A girl could get used to this schedule. Good thing the schedule comes to a natural conclusion on January 2nd.

This morning we joined my husband's parents and family for a Christmas brunch, and tonight my husband's parents came over for dinner. This is how our table looked as I was setting it (incidentally, I don't know how to manage blogger so that my pictures fall into the text where I want them. Does anyone have any tips?)
We also exchanged Christmas presents with my husband's parents. Look what they brought us! This is one of a set of folding tray tables that I had spotted in a store back in August. I told my mother in-law at the time how cute I thought they were...little did I know...she went out and grabbed them up for us right then and there. Each table is a different (painted!) beach scene. They are so cheerful. What a wonderful addition to our cottage!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

and this too

My new handpainted Christmas deserves some recognition, too. I should have posted it earlier when spotlighting Santa. I just found it the other day when I ran into a shop to look for an "extra" gift for my dad that my kids could give him. Isn't that always the way it goes with shopping? You're out looking for someone else and find something for yourself, too!


In the midst of the fun, the craziness, and the excitement of the season, there's still time to appreciate the beauty of handpainting in the home. This Santa bowl was painted by my mom's friend. Isn't he handsome? Love your beard, Santa!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

from my mailbox

Here's a Christmas card that must be shared in blogworld. This came today from our dear friend B. She's a card-making wonder. Remember me telling you about my friend who hosted a card party awhile back? Well, that was her. You can see that she totally "got it".

B, you are one creative girl. Your homemade cards are always darling, but I really think this one takes the cake. We will have this displayed proudly in our home all season long, and maybe even next year, too!


I made some very good friends during the short year that I lived in London. My friend Karen, who I met at work, was among the small group of people there who became my closest pals and confidants. Except she wasn't a pal, exactly. She was more like an older sister. There was a significant age difference between us, yet we had a real connection with each other that made the difference seem nonexistent. We talked and laughed together like true peers. Perhaps there is someone in your life - older or younger - with whom you feel the same kind of connection?

I didn't know anyone from the U.K. before I went there. Upon meeting her, I thought Karen was the epitome of what it meant to be English. She had the most perfect accent (when my brother visited and met her he told me that she sounded just like Mary Poppins.) She was very small and graceful; she had been professionally trained as a ballerina. Her hair and clothes were always neat neat neat, and she never said anything without purpose. That is to say, all of her words were chosen carefully, and she never said "um", or had any kind of unnecessary fillers in her speech. She was like a character out of a book.

Before I give you the impression that she was some kind of perfect, stiff English lady, let me assure you that I'm strictly talking about her mannerisms and speech. She was also wickedly funny, and she had a real devilish side. My job as a peon was fun because Karen made it so.

When I left she gave me this pretty box. Inside there was a lovely card and a gold locket for me to remember her by. It was a beautiful presentation - thoughtful, unique, carefully chosen. It was exactly who Karen was. I keep the box in a drawer with my stationery and use it for things that go along with correspondence - different colored calligraphy pens, stickers, gift insert cards. Sometimes I find a greeting card that I like I save it here until I know who I want to send it to.

At this time of year I am constantly reaching in the drawer for stationery and all the things that go along with it. And in seeing the blue box, I'm reminded of my friend.

Friday, December 08, 2006


I heard back from my friend Ellen about the Oreo pretzels in the picture below, and also her other delicious pretzel treats. This is so simple it's almost silly to print. Still, here goes:


Thanks so much! I'm glad you enjoyed the pretzels - they are EASY - I just bought Target brand white chocolat chips, melted them in the microwave, and rolled in crushed double stuff oreos. The others were melted milk chocolat chips (Target again) rolled in tiny M&Ms or rolled in crushed toffee chips (sold in bags by the chocolat chips.)

See you soon.


Thursday, December 07, 2006

I'm in trouble

Last night was the cookie exchange at book club. I didn't go...just in case...even though I felt completely fine by then. But my friends saved some cookies for me. When I got home tonight this plate was waiting for me on my front step. How sweet is that? Thanks, reading buddies! The only thing our household of 4...I am the only one who will eat these. My husband is way too healthy to go for a plate full of cookies, and my oldest son doesn't like sweets. My youngest son prefers store-bought cheapies over a homemade cookie, but we'll see. Heck, I can't make excuses, it's my own lack of willpower that is the real problem here. Everything on this plate looks good to me. See? This delightful surprise is both a blessing and a curse.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

on the mend

We're on our way back to happy health here in the L.C. Taking it easy today, but that's just a precaution. Strange but true - I'm grateful the cloud of illness passed over us in December, when there are so many things to look forward to and being sick will soon be a distant memory. Feeling bad in dismal January just adds insult to injury.

Another reason yesterday wasn't too bad is that it gave me a chance to catch up on some of my current to-do's, and you know how many of those there are this time of year. I finalized the schedules for our neighborhood bunco group, and also the new dinner club that we are starting with neighborhood couples in January. Both of those things had been hanging over my head a bit. But not any more!

One thing I didn't do yesterday but need to do right away is complete my Christmas card list. I lost my list from last year when we upgraded our computer earlier this year. Hopefully it won't be too hard to recreate. At least my Christmas shopping and decorating is done. I will post a picture of decorations soon, but wanted to show you some pretty garland I am using this year. Isn't it fun? I bought it during our trip last year to Wisconsin. The trick is that it's supposed to hang vertically, because that's how the flying snowman looks best. I'm still not sure it's in the best spot, but I'll post a picture when it is.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

comfy on the couch

The flu hit us all on Sunday afternoon. My husband and I are a little better this morning, but the boys seem to be feeling worse today. Which is the lesser of two evils? - all of us sick at the same time, or taking turns? As my husband says, "pick your poison". Hopefully this will be a short-lived thing. Even a marathon of Teletubbies movies can't sustain the little guys much longer.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

12 degrees

Baby, it's cold outside!

Friday, December 01, 2006

snow day

Beautiful!! About 3 inches on the ground, and maybe another 1-2 headed our way? (no matter what those doubting blogging Moms may say)? We're going to stay in our jammies til noon.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

batten down the hatches

Winter storm warning! That was the news headline here this morning. They say it will snow tonight and we could get as much as 9 inches. Now, at the risk of sounding cynical, I must say that it seems perfectly possible to me that we will wake up tomorrow and things will look just as they do today (dry.) I know I talk about the weather a lot. That's because I live in a place where everyone talks about it a lot. The weather is always changing, so it's always an acceptable conversation topic. No one really knows what will happen, so the forecasters always have us (mentally, if nothing else) prepared for the worst.

Even if nothing happens tonight, we'll get our share of snow this winter. We would miss it if we didn't. So it was time to put the trampoline away. The mat, that is. My husband darted out this morning before work to take it apart. Little son followed and pronounced the whole undertaking as "sad". We've been on the trampoline every nice day since we got it last spring, so it is kind of sad. But it will be fun to take it out again in the spring.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

cottage essentials

My Cottage Living magazine arrived on Saturday. Inside is an article on a style editor/cottager Heather Chadduck and her beautiful cottage in Birmingham. This is the link to the article on the Cottage Living website, and the photograph is from the website as well. Heather has a list of cottage essentials, and I thought it was worth reprinting here. I especially love her enthusiasm for beaded board, "you can never have too much". I don't have any in my cottage - yet - but I'd like to add it to my bathrooms when we remodel them. Maybe I could put it in my upstairs hallway as well? Or on the ceiling (like Heather?) Anyway, here's her top 10. (Oh, and P.S., isn't her vintage stove there fabulous? And her enormous chalkboard?)

1. Beaded Board
2. Burlap, Linen, and Ticking
3. Seagrass
4. Oversize Light Fixtures
5. Pillows
6. Fresh Flowers
7. Monograms
9. Numbers
10. Decoupaging

Sunday, November 26, 2006

peppermint patricias and other terrific treats

Happy Thanksgiving! I have been away from blogland for a few days and didn't anticipate how much fun it would be to come back and peek around at all of my favorite blogs. Thank you so much for stopping by mine last week and leaving your nice comments and Thanksgiving wishes. I told my husband the other day that I have "online friends", and I really meant it. What a world we live in where we can find friends through a laptop! I'm happy that's true.

It was a lovely holiday. Wednesday night there were 19 of us here in the L. Cottage, 10 big people and 9 kids ranging from 12-2. We had chili and beer, and my sweet sister in-law brought me a darling hostess gift, which made the night all the more fun (she's a serial gifter - always giving - and I've been lucky enough to be on the receiving end of things more than my fair share. Last year she brought me the glass jar there, which I had filled Wednesday afternoon with peppermint patties - 'peppermint patricias' as my best friend calls them - but somehow we didn't eat too many that night.) During the party I was burning this pretty candle that I had received from my brother and his girlfriend when they came to visit recently. If you're looking for a nice seasonal scent it is "Frosted Cranberry" from Bath & Body Works.

Thursday we were at my in-law's, the same group of 19. My work was over, all I had to do was show up, which was a treat. It was loud and fun, and my in-laws were happy to have all their kids and grandkids together. We had a great time.

Now it's time for Christmas! I am feeling very inspired by you guys and your decorating enthusiasm. This is early for me, but I am already starting to feel the Christmas spirit...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

another room shot

new china cabinet

I had a problem with the hardware on one of the glass pulls...that's why it's missing can bet my car will be pulling out of the garage asap to go get what I need to resolve this right away!

new buffet

new table

new room

My camera is back in action! I took a lot of pictures this morning, so allow me to indulge a bit and post several here...

Hope you enjoy. I do!

Monday, November 20, 2006

hang with me a little longer!

I'm really not trying to be a tease. The furniture came around 3 p.m., and as soon as I started to take some photos, my batteries died! (I use rechargeable batteries, which is why they sometimes conk out on me at inopportune times.) I'm not sure if I will take nighttime photos...I think you guys need to see this in the natural sunshine tomorrow. It's so pretty! You won't be disappointed!

happy day

Today's the day! And really, this seems like such a festive kickoff to Thanksgiving week. I've told my kids that the big table is coming back and the small table is going away. As excited as (I am) we are about this, I will really miss the little table.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

a friend in need

This little backpack is an old, dear friend of mine. I bought it from J.Crew back in 1994, just after college graduation. After college I spent a year living and working in London, and the backpack was with me the entire time. I got it because I wanted something easy to carry around when I was away... something small enough for every day, but big enough to handle all my extra things, like my maps, journal, and passport. It did an outstanding job for me in every respect. It was comfortable, durable, handled all kinds of weather. It was with me everywhere I went, every country and city I traveled to. When I look back at my pictures from that year there are so many that include the backpack. One of my friends who I got to know over there wanted to trade me her sweater - which I coveted - for it, but I just couldn't do it. By then it had become too precious for me to part with.

I thought I would probably hang it up when I returned home, but old habits die hard. Coming home I immediately dove into graduate school and a new city life, and I turned to the backpack as I made my way about town. It was great here, too. I loved how I could shop at the market hands-free. I loved how I could walk around with it but still shimmy around small spaces. I loved that I could head out in the morning with my lunch stored away, in case I didn't want to come home or if I didn't have money to eat out (which of course I never did.)

After I school when I got a "real" job, I did hang up the backpack. Not for good, but for longer and longer periods of time. I carried a different bag to work. I used purses more. The backpack was still there, but I noticed that I only took it out if I was going on some kind of all-day excursion or somewhere that would require me bringing extra stuff. I didn't use it as much but I still loved it.

Then I had kids. My my my, how quickly the backpack came flying out of the closet! Its usage speed went from zero to sixty in no time and its become again an appendage of my body. Now, it's all I use every day, and all my purses are packed away. For all the reasons that I loved it when I was abroad and during my graduate school days, I have loved it even more with kids. There's still plenty of room for all the stuff I schlep along, and my hands are free to take the small hand of someone near. It rocks.

But, it's starting to show its age. Today one of my sons accidentally snapped its leather drawstring cord in half. The magnetic closure isn't quite what it once was. The zipper on the inner pocket is broken, and the cloth on the outer pocket is becoming thin. I fear I will have to say a permanent goodbye to this friend of mine, maybe in the not-so-distant future. That will be a sad day. But boy, do we have some great memories together.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

furniture preview

Thankfully everything went well with the equipment installation yesterday. So well, in fact, that the guys actually finished last night instead of this morning, like they had initially thought they would. I take their finishing early as a good sign. The guys were nice, the guys were courteous, the guys were quick. But, hopefully, I'll never ever have to see those guys again. No offense, guys! I felt the same way about the roofer and painter. Goodbye, and please, don't come back.

Now, on to something more interesting. This morning my youngest son and I headed out to the warehouse where the furniture is getting its face lift. I arrived camera in hand to check on the a somewhat anxious state of mind...because I was thinking, 'what if I don't like it??'. I always worry like that right before an unveiling (remember I went through that a little bit before my awning arrived.) But, good news! It's looking grand in that warehouse. The painter has to finish the antiquing, and we have settled on Monday afternoon as the delivery date. This is just in time! I am hosting my husband's side of the family on Wednesday night for a Thanksgiving Eve meal, and it just wouldn't be the same if we were sitting around a card table on rented chairs. This is will be much better. Much!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Hi again. Our indoor temp is at 59 degrees. That's chilly! Time to fire up the teapot and indulge in a cup of The Recipe.

My mom thought it was hilarious that I referenced The Waltons when explaining the origin of The Recipe a few months back ( it's her creation, by the way.) She is right, of course. Who would ever remember The Waltons? But I just wanted to do it. I've been thinking that my mom deserves to have a post dedicated to her sometime in the near future. She's that kind of all-consuming force in my life. But I'll save that for another day.


whistle while you work

I switched to the new Blogger beta version over the weekend and I'm starting to think that was a mistake. Anyone else out there having trouble? My paragraph spacing isn't working and I keep running into problems logging in and other people logging in here. The only reason I did it was because I saw that Monogram Momma had new drop-down arrows in her archives section because of the beta version, and I thought it looked kind of neat. So far I haven't been able to figure out how to create drop-down arrows. This might have something to do with me not having labels on each of my entries, I'm not sure. If you know where I'm going wrong, give me a shout!

It's all things heating & cooling installation day at the Little Cottage. So far things seem to be going well. The truck pulled up around 7 this morning full of the new goodies to replace the old (that's the old air conditioner out on the lawn there - circa 1978.) We've had our heat off since then, so it's starting to get just a bit drafty in here, but the new heat should be pumping out tonight.

It's strange, but I'm not too concerned about this humongous purchase for our house. In some ways it's very comforting to know that we won't have to face this problem again (and, of course we're happy to throw out old stuff that could have caused some kind of health hazard.) We weren't looking to do this any time soon, but it's like ripping off a band aid. In the end we'll just be happy that it's done.
But, you know, I am also happy that I made my furniture plans before news of a major change out like this hit. Maybe that's why I'm not too sad about it. The fun that comes with a project like the furniture balances it out. Now, let's hope that furniture project ends up being all that I want it to be and more! Otherwise I might start singing a different tune.

Monday, November 13, 2006

looking ahead

Friday afternoon I called over to the wood finishing pro who is painting my furniture. He is almost done and is planning to finish & deliver it back to me by the end of this week. Here's what's happening:

The buffet is going from dark wood to an antiqued off-white. Hardware will be changed out to glass pulls & knobs (these are the knobs I've chosen. Aren't they unusual? I thought they'd look right at home on the new piece.)

The dark wood china cabinet will also be antiqued off-white, except for the interior back wall of it - that's being painted the same yellow as the walls in the room. The same glass pulls & knobs will be used here as what's going on the buffet.

The oak table (which I didn't really share here in its own picture) will be the same off-white as the buffet & china cabinet. There are 6 chairs and I'm having them painted different colors: two pale blue, two pale yellow, and two pale pink.
I'm so excited to see the results! This will be such a big change for my room, not to mention for the actual furniture. As you recall, I did a lot of soul searching about whether to embark on this project. But once I made the decision to go ahead with it, I haven't looked back. I'm happy that I picked up the phone and called in the experts to help me with it, too. This furniture is/was just too pretty to leave to chance (i.e., me). I will certainly post my pictures when I've got them!

Friday, November 10, 2006

all I want for Christmas

Remember this? I think the mystery is solved. Turns out it wasn't a fluke and has everything to do with our heating and cooling systems in the house.

A routine furnace check up yesterday turned into an urgent meeting this morning about replacing the furnace, water heater, and (oh yes) air conditioner. Too many details surround why we need to do all three all right now, but suffice it to say this is a good thing for our house. A bit of a hit for the pocketbook, but darn good for air quality in the Little Cottage.

Oh, to think I was actually starting to dream about remodeling the bathrooms...ha!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

arts & crafts

How crafty are you? Are you a scrapbooking queen who's the envy of the scrapbooking world? Are you a sewing goddess who can make her own pants? Do you knit? Do you quilt? Do you make your own greeting cards? Are you like my wonderful friend who makes darling party invitations? Have you resolved to give only homemade gifts this year for Christmas? If so, my hat's off to you.

I am a lot of things, but I am not crafty. I'm a creative thinker and problem solver. I love color and art and music. I like to find and replicate beautiful looks and ideas in my home. But I'm no Martha wannabe. That's just not me.

That said, I do love the idea of being crafty. I've tried to become a knitter. I've been told that sewing is easy but quite honestly, I struggle with reattaching buttons that pop off clothing. A dear friend invited me to her make-a-card party, and I was excited about doing it - but once there I thought the card making itself was a little hard. I don't think any of the other party guests thought that.

So, anyway,'s my kitchen cart. This is very good for me! I followed the directions to the letter. They called for keeping the fabric tied to one side only, but I think I might try it with both sides tied. I also think a different tie might be cuter, like a ribbon. I even thought about gluing a little ribbon trim around the top.

All you crafty folks out know who you are....what do you think? Could it be improved? How so? If you want, let me know what should be done. I must warn you, I will be needing step-by-step directions.

I'm just that kind of gal.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

crab quiche x 2

I made this crab quiche twice yesterday. One for us and one for a friend in the neighborhood who we're all sending meals to because she just had a baby boy.

It's the easiest recipe I have, but it's so tasty! Thought you might be interested.

Crab Quiche
1 C sour cream
1 can onion rings
1 C grated cheddar cheese
3 eggs (I use 4 to make it fluffier)
7 oz can crabmeat rinsed or chunk fresh crabmeat
9" pie shell

Combine all and bake uncovered 1 hour at 350F

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

a warm seat

About a year ago my husband and I took an overnight trip to Kohler, Wisconsin and stayed here. Our accomodations were curtesy of my brother and sister in-law, who had given us a gift certificate to the historic hotel a couple of years prior. Yes, a couple of years. You know how it is with gift certificates. Why is it so hard to use them?

Well, we finally did and we had a wonderful, although quick, trip. If you have been up to Kohler before you already know how lovely it is. If you have not (we hadn't), take my word that it is a place worth visiting.

In addition to the natural beauty in the setting, there is also some wonderful shopping up there. Not just girlie shopping, either. My husband had a great time strolling around and checking out the sites and shops with me. The Kohler store is something else.

At a darling store called Past Basket I found this handpainted bench. It's a Tracy Porter original (painted by Tracy herself!), from the early 1990's. We had been looking around for a bench to sit in one of our bay windows, and this one I liked more than any other I had seen. I couldn't resist the colors and of course, the handpainted detail. There is another Past Basket store in Illinois, and the Kohler store offered to send it on their truck down to that location for me. That was such a break.

So here it sits in our window, one year later. I really like it. Right now it's reminding me of that quick trip north. We keep talking about going back. I hope it doesn't take us as long to return as it did to get there the first time.

Monday, November 06, 2006


I was such a great Target customer today. First thing this morning I ordered a little pub table and 2 stools for my kitchen from Afterwards I headed to the nearby SuperTarget with my youngest son to do what felt like a month's worth of grocery shopping. We had to get an extra cart at the checkout line for all the bags and have help out to the car. That's never happened before, but I figured my outstanding support of all things Target justified the special attention.

I picked up this little kitchen cart in the middle of the grocery run. We have been wanting to get something for next to our stove for awhile. It can be challenging to cook without having a place right next to the burner for workspace, so this fills in nicely. As you can see, I wasted no time in putting the cart to good use as I prepared to make chicken noodle soup. I have an old article from Country Home magazine that shows how you can add some pizzazz to a cart like this with a little fabric and minimum skill. I'm going to give it a go. This looks fine but I think I will like the fabric version more. My husband is not sold yet on the idea of a froufrou fabric version, but I think he'll come around. Will post a picture when the project's complete!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Ming would be proud

Preppy Princess asked us recently what we regret. I think this is a fascinating question. A few years ago a friend sent around one of those email questionnaires that you are supposed to fill out and forward on to people - you know those things that have all sorts of personal questions like what's your favorite potato chip and favorite celebrity - and one of the questions was "what's the worst feeling in the world?" Her answer was, REGRET. And the more I thought about it, the more I completely agreed. That pang of regret you feel over things that you have done, like if you've said the wrong thing, or forgotten someone's birthday, or something can eat you up inside. Just thinking about things like that gives me a little shudder.

And then there's the kind of regret you feel over things that are out of your control. For instance, I regret that neither one of my grandmothers were ever able to come to my house and see where I live. They both lived a great distance from me, and the trip would have been far too much for them, though both had said to me that they would have loved to visit. I regret that it was never a possibility. My first apartment in the city....they would have loved it. My little house now...I can't imagine how exicitng it would have been for both of us if they would have been able to come. I loved them very much, as you can tell, and I think about them often. And I've noticed that they've already appeared in my blog here: talking about my wicker chairs (that's my dad's mom), talking about my antique rocking chair (that came from my mom's side). My older brother was the first grandson on both sides and as a toddler he named them both "Minga". It stuck and that's what all of us called them through the years. Minga. Ming. Kind of far eastern and catchy. I think they loved their name.

Here's something from Ming. My collection of teacups and saucers. This is from my mom's mom. She gave me a new set for Christmas for several years in a row when I was a little girl. Now they are on display on this little shelf that, by a wonderful coincidence, actually belonged to my husband's grandmother. They are high above our living space, but I like having them up there. It's like a little reminder that Ming is here, just a bit, watching over us.

Friday, October 27, 2006


I've mentioned a couple of times that my husband travels for work. He started a project in April that had him traveling 5 days a week. He would leave each week on Sunday afternoon and come home late Thursday night, after the boys went to sleep. He is not a consultant and we were definitely not used to that kind of travel. It was a difficult adjustment for all of us. My older son's sleeping problems started during this time, and I don't think it was a coincidence. I think part of the reason I started this blog is that I wanted to keep a little photo log going from home so my husband could see how we were getting along without him. We were fine, but we missed him terribly!

Now he's home. Home for good! The project is over. Last night was the last Thursday night arrival after a long day of rental cars, airport food, and flight delays. From now on he stays here, and that's just how it should be. We are so thrilled to have him back. Everything is just better when we are all here together.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

table for 2

My big table was taken away yesterday for the painting project, so I put this little table in its place for my kids. This was breakfast. They look so much more comfortable sitting at a table that is just their size! I like how they are sitting right across from each other, too. It looks like they're on a date.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

the lamp story

So, I'm a hopeless fanatic when it comes to MacKenzie-Childs. My husband is partially to blame for this; it was through him that I was first introduced to these lovely products, as his mother and sister are both die-hard collectors as well.

I was bit by the collecting bug and bit hard. At one point in my life I had a 9-5 job during the week and worked at a boutique on the weekends that sold MKC, just so I could get an employee discount and buy all the pieces that I needed in order to build up a full set of dishes. It took me about a year to do this.

The culmination of my obsession for all things MacKenzie is this floorlamp. It is outrageous and way too big for my space and I am crazy about it. A home decor store in upstate NY used to have a 30% off + free shipping sale once a year that included MKC. Knowing this, I saved up for a long time in anticipation of buying this lamp.

When sale time finally came around, I called right up on the first day. The sales associate was so nice, but so apologetic - it wasn't in stock. They could get it for me directly from the company, but I'd have to wait awhile. No problem, I said, could I still get the sale price? I could. What about shipping? We'd have to charge you, she said, since it would be coming directly from the company. She felt bad. I told her I understood (frankly, I was just happy to get the discount.) When I asked how much shipping would be she had to get off the line to check with her manager. I braced myself while I waited. I wasn't sure what to expect but I imagined the worst. I knew the lamp was heavy. I wondered if it was possible that the shipping charge would cancel out the discounted price altogether.

When the sales associate got back on the line she had good news: $6. That was the standard for freight. $6! Needless to say, I didn't hesitate in completing my purchase.

That store still has their 30% off sale each year, but it doesn't include MKC, and when they do have free shipping promotions, they never include MKC products. I've wondered before if my floorlamp sale somehow contributed to a policy change on their end. Maybe not, but you never know...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Kim from One Woman's Cottage Life had a great post the other day about all the small and simple things she loves about her house that make it home to her. I must say, Kim, that the picture of your fireplace had me thinking about mine.

This is mine. It used to be functional, but the woman who we bought our house from had it sealed at some point. We had a chimney guy come out last year to take a look at it and figure out what needs to be done to make it work again. Basically, it's possible but it will require $$$ (of course!) We would need to have a new gas line put in to replace the old one, have new chimney caps put on that are for gas-burning fireplaces (this is too bad, considering I actually had the chimney caps replaced about 6 months prior with apparently the wrong kind of caps.) Then we'd need to have the tiles around the fireplace replaced. When it's warm out we don't think about this project at all. But then it starts getting cool and the mind wanders. I think how nice it would be to have a little fire burning much it would help to keep us warm in the we'd love it.

Monday, October 23, 2006

the fab four

This weekend I spent some time cleaning out our storage room in the basement. For such a small house, I think our storage space is pretty good. Still, it's challenging to not let the area fill up with unnecessary junk.

A small section of the room down there is devoted to toys that are on hiatus. Long ago I heard from a parenting expert that toys should be rotated, so that what children play with is always changing. I'm not very good about doing this regularly, but I have noticed that when I put things away for a little while, they get an enthusiastic response when suddenly they are put back into the mix.

One toy that still hasn't made the rotation, and probably never will, is our Teletubbies set. Say what you like about the Teletubbies, they have a cult-like following in this house. Last Christmas on a whim I bought the plastic playset on eBay when I couldn't find it through any retailer. I feared I'd spent too much until I realized a few months later that they were still the hands-down favorite present from Santa. And I'm beginning to think that nothing he brings this year will knock them from their #1 spot.

Friday, October 20, 2006

knobs & pulls

Getting ready to have my furniture painted (Merry Christmas!) and I am looking around for new hardware. This site has been recommended to me for its variety of hardware and also its prices:

Just wanted to pass it case you're looking around for the same.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

new couches

My couches aren't new, but I washed the slipcovers again this week, so they are looking new to me. We have two couches like this, purchased last year, both from Arhaus. This is the apartment-sized, and the other one is a loveseat.

Washable slipcovers are great. I add my name to the long list of people I used to read about who swore by theirs. I was always reading about these people in Cottage Living. Cats and dogs, sand and dirt - it seemed there was nothing in these homeowners' houses that could destroy the couches, and all because the slipcovers could be thrown into the washing machine. We don't have pets, and we don't live near the shore. I do have my fair share of dirt, and I suspect with two boys the dirt level will only increase around here over the years. So I'm optimistic that our couches will continue to look good and wear well. That's what those people in the articles always said.

Monday, October 16, 2006

movie night

Today is not a good day for pictures outside, otherwise I would be out there with my camera to take one of the house. Yes, that means that the painter is gone. Hooray! The house looks terrific. Dramatically better. You'll see.

Tonight my husband is otherwise engaged and I'm treating myself to a movie. My selection is Ice Castles. Not sure how I decided on this one. I was looking at the movies in the library this morning and there it was. I think the last time I saw this I was 11. My parents had gone out of town for a few days and I watched it with the babysitter, a sweet older woman named Olga, who used to babysit during all of the out of town trips. We sat in these 2 big wing-back chairs that my parents had at the time in their family room. It was the middle of winter, so it was freezing cold and there was snow on the ground. Perfect conditions for watching a movie about snow and ice and skating. Anyway, Olga and I loved the movie. We liked it so much that we watched it again the next night. And I remember all of this so clearly because at the time I just couldn't believe that she would indulge me by letting me watch it again the very next night. And she watched it again, too! Did I mention this happened in the middle of a school week? It was fabulous.

Friday, October 13, 2006

things I love

Lots of blogs I read have a section '100 things about me'. Big long lists. I like reading them. But I can't do that here. Who wants to read '100 things about my house'?

I could do 'things I love'. I've seen that out there on other blogs as well. Mine is more like, 'things I love about my house'. The title is a little corny, but it's true. There are a lot of little things about my house that I love. I love a lot of big things, too.

Here's one thing I love. My rounded doorway into the kitchen. We just have this one rounded doorway, so it's special. I like the old fashionedness of it. It's cute, it's homey, it's us.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

a picture's worth a thousand words

This was 8:00 a.m. today, when it was 34 degrees out. It's melted now and the sun is out, but it's still quite chilly out there (the painter's wearing gloves and a hat.)

We're not ready for this. I'M not ready for this! Wasn't I just writing about people in swimming pools a couple of weeks ago...? I'm not ready to say goodbye to light jackets and shoes without socks. We have a Halloween party to go to in a couple of weeks and I'm hoping it will be mild enough (like last year) that we can sit outside around the firepit at the hosts' house. Sitting around it with big parkas on? Over our costumes? Not the same!

P.S. After I typed it I wondered about the origin of the phrase I used in my title. If you're curious, here's Wikipedia's take on it:

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

catching z's

This is my older son's room. This is where he's supposed to sleep. I may be biased, but I think his room looks comfortable. I'm not 4, but I think if I was I would like to come in here at night and stay asleep for at least 10 hours.

We've been having sleep issues with our little guy over the past several weeks, and in fact this afternoon I'm taking him to the pediatrician about it. He's been waking up in the middle of the night and is unable to get back to sleep. Hard to believe this is the same little boy, who as an infant would sleep so deeply that we would have to prod and poke him a bit to rouse him! Needless to say, I hope that this is just one of those phases, and that we're all able to sleep better....soon.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

a cozy corner

It's fascinating how our painter keeps working and working, but there's not much new to see. It must be the tiniest details that are taking up his time, I'm not sure. He's up on the roof right now. I have no idea what's going on up there. Thank goodness we are not paying him by the hour. Who'd have thought that a job estimated to take 1 week could stretch out so?

Apart from roofing work, it's a quiet day here. A little cool, a little cloudy. Perfect for curling up with a good book or a new catalog. This is where I curl when I can. My doggie tray table holds a surprising amount of stuff. No fears about balancing a drink here, or a dinner plate for that matter. Today it is handling all my reading material. Right now I'm trying to get through The Time Traveler's Wife. A friend and I were just talking about our struggles with this book. I expected to be swept up by it in the first few pages, but it's taking awhile. I'm trying to get through it for book club. Did you like it? You probably loved it. Everyone seems to, so why not me?

Monday, October 09, 2006

stop and smell the flowers

Nothing could top the weather this weekend! It was the most beautiful autumn weekend I can remember here. Just gorgeous, and just right for my out-of-town guests who were here to help celebrate the big 2nd birthday.

We visited the pumpkin patch on Saturday and came upon this gigantic arrangement of mums. It was fun poking through the pumpkins and finding ones that looked right for each of us. We even saw a number of green pumpkins, which I admit I have never really paid attention to until I read about Homedaisy's son wanting one (Homedaisy - how far would you be willing to travel next year for a green pumpkin??) :)

And so that was the weekend. The new week brings with it more painting (yep, still going) - and I'm hoping our painter finishes soon. There's a chance of snow on Thursday. Yikes!

P.S. Here's the red door. We love it!