Sunday, December 29, 2013

Thankful Thursday: A Life In Pursuit of Pretty




As I seek to create a calming oasis in my home, my husband reminds me that I am outnumbered (1 female, 2 males in our home). Even so, we all want the same thing from our home: to find a tranquil place for ourselves, and make that place as beautiful as possible.

  At the moment, my "space" exists only in my dreams as our house walls are being stripped of wallpaper and re-sheet -rocked. The room in my dreams has a cushy, plush chair for reading, a collection of soft sea-shore type prints on the wall, and fresh hydrangeas or roses daily.

 I.Will.Get.There! Until then, I will keep learning many easy ways to bring a "little pretty" into my life. My teachers are my friends, church sisters, family members, and creative women who write decorating magazines.

I recently visited a friend who lives in Philadelphia. Simone has turned every surface of her home into a chance to showcase something beauiful and useful (from shapely french jars where she stores flour and sugar, to the vintage chandelier over her bed). Did I mention that she does it all on a shoestring? Simone's kitchen tablecloth is Dollar-a-Yard Burlap, but it looks like a million bucks. She says she never knows where or when inspiration for decorating will strike.

  Thriftiness is essential for my family these days. I love to draw beauty out of the humblest objects! I use the backs of  junk mail envelopes to scribble quotes or decorating sketches on, stapling the papers together and making "inspiration notebooks." I currently have several of these journals going. I love to constantly dabble and tweak my accessories, pulling things together and moving things around in the house.
  Mike says my style is one of a tumbled-down French Chateau. Well, maybe, but I would say the house of my future is a romantic mix of old-world French and Italian influences, from a New Jersey Shore perspective.

And I am so grateful to Mike for helping me to make this happen.  He does not care if we live in a cardboard box... does not give a lick about decorating.  And yet he allows me to go wild with my colors and decor.

And so, on this Thankful Thursday, I shall Thank God for Mike, our Home, and our Future together

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Part 2 of our Bake-A-Thon Saturday...

Mike's Favorite




Mike's Favorite

A tray to share with our neighbors

Can't wait to turn on a Christimas movie and brew more Hot Cocoa and taste some of these from our baking session earlier today.
Can't wait to turn on a Christmas movie and brew more Hot Cocoa and taste some of these from our baking session earlier today.


Friday, December 13, 2013

Holiday Bake-A-Thon

 The most often-remembered times from my childhood are the days when we covered the tables, chairs, counters, and every other kitchen surface with Sugar Cookies.  I loved how my dear Mother let us take over (and possibly destroy) her kitchen-- just  one day a year--- to make those buttery-sweet cookies that smelled marvelous.

Here at Blue Willow Cottage, we take two Saturdays in December to re-create those precious memories and make some new ones.  "B" has his own Chef's Cap and Apron, and we make a fantastic MESS, making delicious goodies, & all the while, hoping these special moments will stick in B's memory like the one's of my colorful childhood.

I love the rich red color of this Red Velvet Cake Recipe, passed down from my Grandmother.

This year our first Saturday was dedicated to making 10 dozen Red Velvet Cupcakes for our Doctors, Dentist, Pediatrician, and the Mailman.  We make large trays and decorate the Cupcakes with Red and Green Sprinkles...  they are Dazzling!

The Cupcakes are cooling and soon ready for decorating

Our Resident Chef helps in the kitchen. 

 I love that he will be comfortable cooking for his wife and family one day, because he is already at home in the kitchen at age 10!

Ready for Delivery on Monday!

  • Natalie Anne Acri I don't remember that, but thanks for the pictures, and memories I can make up . it's good you have a mind of the steel trap, and I mean that in the nicest way.
  • Laura J. Chapman Baker We are on our way to ark for Christmas this morning. I hope you all have a nice time this Christmas and we will see you in the New Year. We love you all very much.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Make Room for Reading this Season! My picks for reading to children:

I love to give “my” children a special book for Christmas. I think it is a wonderful choice for a gift, especially because it will be shared over & over again, and not tossed to the side after a few hours, never to be touched again. Here are some books on my shopping list for those cherished darlings I love: 


The Christmas Gift, by Emily Arnold McCully (Harper Trophy Books, for ages 3 to 6 years)- this is a wordless book about an extended family of mice. The readers are in for a treat when they open this book about when a cherished Christmas present does not make it through Christmas day before it is broken (not an uncommon event in my home).

Another perenial favorite, The Tree that Came to Stay, by Anna Quindlen (Crown Publishers), will delight ages 4 through 9 years.


Ms. Quindlen is a Pulitzer Prize-Winning columnist for the New York Times, and this is her first children’s book. I love that it is about a resourceful mother who finds a way to keep Christmas alive all year round!


The Day Before Christmas, by Eve Bunting (Clarion Books), is best for ages 5-8. All children are drawn into this story about a special day in a young girls’ life: a train trip she makes with her grandfather to see her first production of “the Nutcracker.” The paintings that illustrate this book are magnificent, and the story is touching because many years ago, the grandfather made the exact same trip with the little girl’s mother, who is now passed on. Compassion is modeled in the girl, and heart strings are tugged all around in this poignant tale.

First Snow, Magic Snow, by John Cech, (Four Winds Press), is for ages 4-7.

For me as a child, the first snow was always enchanting, exciting, and a blessed event at our house. This book is based on a Russian folk tale called “The Snow Maiden.” A barren couple’s life is changed forever when a snow girl” built by one of them magically comes to life. In the spring, when the girl-child must suddenly leave with the melting snow, their love for her leads them north to a colder climate in an effort to keep her. This book really touched my heart the first time I read it, I suppose because at one time, I was a “barren woman,”  and because I KNOW what a tremendous blessing a child can be to a family who yearns for one!

Finally, Christmas Eve at Santa’s, by Alf Proysen (R & S books, distributed by Farrar, Straus, & Giroux), is best for ages 4-8.


This book comes to us from Sweden. A carpenter bumps into Santa one Christmas Eve, and Santa asks the Carpenter to go and make a visit to Santa’s Children at his home!  I hope this inspires others to cuddle up on the couch with your children and READ!!  You will never regret it. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Proper Respect

Popping in for lunch is a nice surprise and
brightens my day

"The father must manage his own family well,
and see that his children obey him with proper respect.
 If anyone does not know how to manage his own family,
how can he take care of God's church?
--I Timothy 3:4-5

Our Papa manages our family well.

 I am so grateful for this.  He reads to us from the Bible at Breakfast, consistently goes to work to make money to provide for our needs, and loves us unconditionally.

 I love his sweet, calm nature.  I love when he calls me at lunch to say "hello" on work days.  I always pack a lunch for him, but sometimes he is out and about and drops by the house while running work errands. 

I love it when I am off and there, and can make him a special lunch! 

We respect him very much.