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.