Category Archives: Family

Cookies for Santa

Thank you to Rebekah for her guest post below. Follow Rebekah’s adventures at Girl Gets SoCal.

When my brother D was little, he used to sleep under the Christmas tree to wait for Santa. He would fall asleep under the boughs of the tree looking up at the lights and the ornaments, breathing in the heady pine scent.

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I, being the older and wiser sister, would sleep in my own bed under warm flannel since I knew the whole Santa game thankyouverymuch. D never got to see Santa, but the cookies he left out were always eaten and remnants from the carrots set out for the reindeer could be found on the front porch.

This year, D made homemade Oreos to set next to the tree. Christmas morning there were presents under the tree and the milk and cookies left for Santa were almost gone.

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Lucky for us, D shared some of his cookies before we went to bed on Christmas Eve. I am lucky to have a brother that knows how to share his love of Christmas is such a delicious way.

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Filed under baking, Christmas, Family

Beautiful Berries and Brambles

 You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces —

just good food from fresh ingredients.

                                                                                                           ~Julia Child

fresh and local

Ahh . . . the early weeks of autumn. The gardens and fields are exuberant. I am in heaven with all the fresh produce — either what we grow at Rose Cottage or what we are able to obtain from local growers and producers.

 The just-picked vegetable or fruit turns any meal into something fantastic! The fragrance, taste and texture of fresh produce truly shines in any recipe.

buy fresh buy local Mark and Sues 0909 v2

In the fall, the fabric of our lives are filled with gathering and preserving. It is incredibly difficult to exercise prudent restraint with the abundant produce — I have an insatiable desire to preserve it all. A few bushels never seems quite enough of one thing or another! The kitchen at Rose Cottage is bustling daily with various stages of preserving the plethera of fruits or vegetables.

lovely brambles

 While vegetables abound, the time is ripe for picking those precious little black nuggets — blackberries! The blackberries are about two weeks tardy in their appearance since it has been a bit cooler. Many of the brambles are still filled with gorgeous soft-pink blackberry flower buds and half-dollar sized five-petaled white flowers. Aren’t the blossoms simply lovely?

flowers bud, berry FAV

The rows of blackberries are all-a-buzz with hundreds and hundreds of bees dancing from flower-to-flower. The bees are growing quite dizzy in all the frenzy and merrymaking as they gather the blackberry flower nectar in the warm mid-morning sun.  Some bees are so overcome by the sweet nectar they nearly fall off the blossom.

flowers, bud, berries and bee FAV

gathering “black gold”

Aside for the boisterous bee chorus, all is quiet and peaceful as we start down the first row of blackberries . . . seeking the dark, beautiful berries. The unmistakeable sweet fragrance of just-mowed alfalfa lingers following each sporadic breeze coming from the southwest. The first row furthest to the north is just developing berries. It is fascinating to observe the berries from bud to blossom to blackberry on one bramble.

blackberries (unripe) and flower FAV2

One ripe blackberry FAV

While many berries are still underripe, we find many gorgeous 1/2 to 1-inch berries on the south side of the rows. The darker berries are ripe. When ripe, they so sweet and luscious! My fingers become stained with the beautiful dark purple-red juice. One berry for the ice cream bucket . . . one to sample . . .Someone has to make sure they are perfectly ripe.

Blackberry clusters FAV

The effects of the warm September sun, the soothing music of the bees and nature’s aromatics are futile to resist. I look up from my intense berry gathering to find my Sweetie comfortably resting with his hands behind his head on the meadow grass between the berry rows. He looks so peaceful! Just a sneak peek into his ice cream bucket reveals there is barely enough to cover the bottom. I laugh, but am so glad he can rest! Back to picking berries, but not without first noticing my Sweetie’s quick wink and impish smile.

priceless treasures

We are both content and enjoy the amazing moments amongst the beautiful berries and brambles on a gorgeous September day. Time seems to stand still whilst picking berries. I think of nothing and everything all at once. What a day to treasure!

Soon, the two buckets of the beautiful black gems will be preserved as jam or frozen as whole berries to be enjoyed over the winter months.

blackerries in a bowl FAV

blackberry jam FAV

And . . . the memories of a gorgeous day linger as brambles are added to a lovely bouquet of roses. Memories . . . just gathering some more roses for winter . . . roses and blackberries FAV1 Love is a fruit in season at all times,

and within reach of every hand.

                                             ~Mother Teresa 

You may also . . .

Enjoy reading about Fall Nesting {Summer in a Jar and Antique Mason Jars {before and after.

Also posted on  Hooked on Houses,  The Inspired Room and Designs by Gollum.

 

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Filed under Cooking, Family, Gardening, preserving

Putting on the Nines {happy birthday!

My heart is like a singing bird…
Because the birthday of my life
Is come, my love is come to me
.

                                 ~Christine Rosseti

more rare than a blue moon

Some say it is special because it is a trinumeral day —  09 09 09 — and it doesn’t come around very often. Not even as often as a blue moon. I think a special guy who is celebrating his 09 09 09 birthday with me is even more rare.

9 days of birthdays

So, what does one do to make  a 09 09 09  birthday special for my dear one . . . especially, when it is mine, too? Friends and colleauges share a plethera of fabulous ideas for a festive and memorable celebration. Hmmm…what ideas are doable and on a frugalist budget? The “Nine Days of Birthdays” — similiar to the “12 Days of Christmas”  — is the result of one highly-productive evening gathering of astute minds.

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On the first day of nine birthdays  . . . one love poem

Day 2 — Two  Godiva turtle chocolates

Day 3 – Three Coins in a Fountain: three gold coins to toss in one of the fountains at Rose Cottage, and coins tossed in Rome’s Trevi Fountain by a friend

Day 4 – A dazzling four-leaf clover from a lass who is a wee bit of Irish

Day 5 –  Framed favorite photo from a dreamy trip to Cinque Terre, Italy with the purple and pink sunset over the Mediterranean Sea in the background

Day 6 – Six voluptuous peach roses each saying “I love you” in a different languages

Day 7 – Seven “Lucky Nines” lotto cards

Day 8 – Eight different birthday songs

Day 9 – Nine little gifts throughout the day at nine minutes past the hour

 I want to be an artist
To paint pictures just for you,
So when each birthday comes around,
I can send you quite a few.

                                   ~Anonymous

Happy birthday to my true love, soul mate and best friend! I am so glad to share MY birthday with you, too!

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Forget-Me-Not

 Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of Heaven,

   Blossom the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.

                                                                         ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
 

 

goodbye blue sweetness

The mercury is climbing past the 90 degree mark, and the humidity proclaims it is summertime. My sweet, little blue mouse ears–myosotis–are feeling pale. Whilst firefly fairies dance in celebration of Midsummers, the forget-me-nots scatter their seeds into the rich, black humus beneath them following each cooling breeze. The seeds will lie fallow until the spring rains bring new starry blooms once again.  Yes, it is time to say “au revoir” to the last harbinger of spring at Rose Cottage.

Forget me knot and Heidi

Planted in little clumps by the kitchen entry along the south porch, the little blue flowerettes faithfully send out a cheery greeting as the sun comes up over the river valley each day. The large hosta leaves are protective umbrellas for the sweet spring flowers–allowing them to twirl one last time at the Midsummer’s Eve dance.

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We are thrilled the little blue stars have twinkled so long this year. The forget-me-nots have loved their moist, rich soil beneath the cool, shaded refuge of the nearby river birch and Deborah maple.

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Each day, the lovely myosotis remind me of  Grandmother. She so enjoyed the minature blue flowerettes growing along the spring-fed waters of Swan Lake.  I cherish all the time spent with her as a young girl at her lake home in the far north, and all the little bouquets picked for Grandmother. Every morning or evening, I pause by the unmistakeable blue starry plants and recall with fondness the gift my Grandmother was to me.

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Do certain flowers remind you of the gift of special people in your life?

Midsummer’s Eve is approaching–a time we enjoy for the long daylight hours that extend well into the evening in the north. I think it is time to celebrate the longest day of the season by freshening up several of the window boxes at Rose Cottage… and, giving the sweet blue forget-me-nots another dance!

The root of a forget-me-not caught the drop of water by the hair and sucked her in, that she might become a floweret, and twinkle as brightly as a blue star  on the green firmament of earth.

                                                                                           ~Frederick Wilhelm Carove

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Filed under Family, Gardening

Happy Pansy Faces

The Earth laughs in flowers.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

grandmother’s pansies

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She walks with slow, deliberateness down the curved flagstone steps toward the sweeping gardens in the back of the house. Pausing with nearly every step, she stoops over, laughs and admires the face of each pansy planted around the emerging fern or at the base of the white paper birch. “Did you see this one? It’s face is so sweet with the purple and white colors!”

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grandmother’s pensée

Joy radiates from her face. She moves down the next step. Excitedly she points to the each pansy with her delicately carved walnut cane. She then turns, smiles and gently asks, “there is a saying that pansies mean thoughts–pensée. See how their faces bend forward like they are really thinking about something? What are you thinking about this morning, my dear one?” 

My little girl voice says, “Nothing really…I guess.”

Grandmother replies, “you know, my dear, it is important to always remember to be thoughtful in all that you say and do.”

She is quiet for a moment, and then softly continues, “my sweet child…come bend down here a little bit closer…look carefully. Do you notice the soft ruffled edges? Now, look at the all the different colors on just one flower. Isn’t it amazing?”

I nod while giving the flower a closer look.

“Look at the shape of the petals. The petals are almost like hearts. Do you know what this little flower is a reminder of?”

I look up at Grandmother’s face.

“With their happy faces and heart-shaped petals, pansies remind you that you are loved, and that I am so happy that you are here!” She gives me a gentle tickle.

I take Grandmother’s hand and laugh, “me, too!”

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“Oh, my Sweet Pea…look how this one looks like it has been hand-painted with watercolors! Can you image anything more beautifully created?” Grandmother lingers a bit longer at these amazing pansies. Then, she sighs deeply, and we look at another and another…still walking hand-in-hand…and laughing as we go down each garden step.

Nearly reaching the last step, Grandmother pauses and smiles, “now…my little darling, I have a special surprise for you! I have saved the best for last. Tucked away over here by corner of the patio are the most beautiful pansies! These are for you to plant anywhere in the garden that you would like! Come! Let me show them to you…”

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grandmother’s legacy

Such a sweet memory of my beloved grandmother. I am thinking of her with deep fondness as the window boxes and planters are potted at Rose Cottage. The window boxes begin overflowing with these happy, cool-weather flowers in antique shades of pinks, mauves, yellows and lavenders. Oh, how cheery! Maybe, our visitors to Rose Cottage will know that we are happy they are here, too!

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The overlapping petals of the sweet pansies are nearly heart-shaped. They remind me of the deep love of my grandmother, and how she so beautifully conveyed her fondness of gardening and flowers to me. Now, I hope that I am passing on this gift of happiness and love to My Most Awesome Boy and My Darling Girl (and her sweet hubby) as they start to plant and cultivate their own gardens.

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 Do you think “the earth laughs in flowers?”

 

emerging-daff

 

We are so glad you are here with us at Rose Cottage to laugh and admire the sweet, happy pansy faces! Will you stay for a cup of tea and refresh yourself on the porch? We have your favorite tea cup in the cupboard. . . I will get it for you! Then, you can tell us all about your day…

Oh, weren’t the antique shades of the pansies just gorgeous? The breath-taking pansies are from the fabulous growers and owners of Little Foot Farm and Greenhouse just down the road from Rose Cottage. Karen and Sally are superb growers of garden plants! Wait until you see their tomato plants!

 

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On this beautiful Earth day, we hope you have time to travel around to other gardens or outside photos at the Southern Daydreamer, too. Maybe, you will even think about planting some sweet pansies or give someone else some sweet pansies to let them know you are thinking of them!

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The Flight of the Snowbirds {the birds fly north again

Every year has its winter, and year has its rain–

But the day is always coming when the birds fly north again.

Its the sweetest thing to remember if courage is on the wane,

When the cold, dark days are over–the birds will fly north again.

                                                                                    ~Ella Higginson (c.1900)

Join the fun on April 15th! 

 

april 15th – how time flies!

The days are quite warm now, and the sun is brighter each day. It is so lovely to visit Emma and Harold, the sweet TarJaay cousins in the south! Every day they have so much fun, and enjoy many fabulous feasts together set out on the dining room table.

Between Naps on the Back Porch, Beauregard (Beau for short) checks the date on the calendar and loudly tweets to Bella,”I can’t believe it…it is April 15th! It is The Most Amazing Boy’s birthday! Bella finds the revelation incredible. She carefully double checks to makes sure Beau is not playing another one of his April Fool’s jokes. “Beau, how can it be? Did a year really pass so quickly?” Beau chirps back, “Wasn’t he just 21 the other day?”

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Bella doesn’t hear a single peep. She is too busy twittering about, and packing and fluffing her steamer trunk…the day is here for the sweet little love birds to fly North again!

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Beau knows when Bella flutters with an important idea, there is no use in persuading her differently. Why get her feathers ruffled on such a lovely spring day? Beau quickly studies the maps for the fastest route North. “Oh, Beau! Don’t you know you are reading the Italian map! We will never get home in time for The Most Amazing Boy’s birthday following the Italian route — even though it is our favorite!”

Mapping out the Trip North

Mapping out the Trip North

still love birds

The TarJaays say goodbye and give each other a quick peck, and promise to twitter along the way. “Bella, it’s time to go now–the early bird catches the worm, you know.” Bella is looking so lovely in her new spring hat with Mi’s vintage millinery — perfect for the snowbirds flight back to the North. Beau steals a quick minute to turn a shy, sideways glance at his beloved of over 30 years. His heart still flutters when he sees his darling Bella. Bella blushes, and knows in her heart that all her dreams have come true.

birds-and-car

The trunk is securely in place on Beau and Bella’s shiney little pink coup. Beau is sometimes embarrassed to motor around in a bubble gum pink car with the name “Polly” (named after Bella’s very favorite Auntie Polly Parrot) inscribed on the license plates. Though, he quickly forgets about all of his embarassement when he feels the energizing spring winds ruffle his feathers as they fly North again.

sing you a love song

Beau and Bella throughly enjoy traveling together beneath a tangerine sky in their little shiney pink coupe. As they travel through countryside and cities, they sing all sorts of songs–some silly, some old-fashioned and some which they can never quite remember all of the words. Bella thinks Beau sounds like Michael Buble as he sings her sweet songs through Georgia, Kentucky, Tennesse and Illinois. “Oh, don’t stop singing, Beau!” 

Singing a Love Song in Harmony

home is where the heart is

Bella gets inspired as they pass all sorts of creative cottages on their travels North. Bella likes to take drive-by photos of her favorites. “Oh, Beau, look at that sweet thatched cottage! Isn’t it perfectly nestled between the trees in the glen?”

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Travelling through the bustling city, Beau and Bella admire the gleaming white conde nests! “Just think…we wouldn’t have so much to take care of living here!”

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So many homes of all different styles…so many ideas! Bella gets more and more creative with each passing fancy nest. Sometimes, Bella gets too many creative ideas for one chick! Beua gets a bit nervous when Bella says, “I’ve been thinking…!” It usually means another post-it note skeetch for a honey-do project!

birds-and-heart

 

home, sweet home {rose cottage

Soon, the cities slowly fade and the colorful farmland patchwork turns a bit more rugged. The petal pink coupe speeds along over hills and through river valleys that are turning the most amazing shades of vibrant spring green. Then, along the sleepy little river town road, just around the next sharp bend, Beau and Bella catch a glimpse of Rose Cottage –just a bit up the hill next to the old maples and oaks. “Oh, our little Rose Cottage…we are home, sweet home,” exclaim Beau and Bella in unison. “And, in time for The Most Amazing Boy’s birthday,” sings Beau.

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If you have a song to sing, sing it now.

Let the tone of gladness ring clear as song of birds in the spring.

Let every day some music bring: Sing it now.

                                                                    ~Unknown, Book of Good Cheer, 1913

Now…if you listen carefully, you will hear Beau and Bella’s cheerful refrains of “Happy Birthday to our Most Amazing Boy” floating down from the limbs high up in the old maple tree… just outside the birthday boy’s old farmhouse bedroom window! Maybe, you are singing softly along with their song, too? 

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 Happy Birthday to the Most Awesome Boy!

What is the sweet song in your heart today? How will you share it with someone else?

It was such a joy to have our daughter and her sweet hubby home from Seattle to help create some more beautiful memories that we will always treasure. One such special memory-making momemt was laughing hysterically as we did the “photo shoot” for Beau and Bella’s adventures! We hope you enjoyed sharing in our special moment, too. Visit Melissa at The Inspired Room for more about creating special moments.

We are so delighted you stopped by for a little chat and a piece of made-from-scratch angel food cake at Rose Cottage! We will have your tea cup in cupboard waiting for your next visit, too. Won’t you let us know you came to hear all about the adventures of Beau and Bella as part of the meme–Target Birds on Holiday– and how we created a story for the birthday boy in the comments below?

Visit Southern Daydreamer for more Outdoor Wednesday photos.

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Awake! It’s spring…time to get organized!

Awake, thou wintry earth –
Fling off thy sadness!
Fair vernal flowers, laugh forth
Your ancient gladness!
~Thomas Blackburn

tip 1: a place for everything

Do you sometimes feel “weighted down” or dreary during March even though the signs of spring are emerging everywhere?

Signs of Spring: Roses and Peony

Signs of Spring: Roses and Peony

Signs of Spring: Bird's Nest

Signs of Spring: Bird's Nest

Do you look around your home and wonder “where did all this stuff come from?” I do–tell me I am not alone!

For me, spring is a perfect time to help renew and refresh my spirit by organizing a closet, corner or a room. When organized, I am free of the burden of wondering, “where did I put…” and am not spending countless moments looking for something! I remember one of Grandmother Ione’s sayings, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” Spring is a great time to be reminded of not giving clutter a chance to form.

Time for a Little Spring Tea

Time for Spring Tea Joined by Grandmother Ione's Mother (Myrtle Maderson)

tip 2: quality over quantity

At Rose Cottage, there is a closet under the stairs that is a catch all–it is Fibber McGee’s closet! Get a quick peak at the closet by watching the video. Time to tackle that closet–even though the mere thought is colossal! With my Very Best Boy’s help–yes, the same one as the cinnamon roll baker on the “Home Alone” post! We take EVERYTHING out of McGee’s closet. Soon there is only a path through the living room and the dining room!

Please tell me that someone else has a Fibber McGee’s closet!

tip 3: don’t put it down {put it away, give it away or throw it away

Living in a small 1880’s cottage with very limited storage for nearly thirty years, requires on-going organization. Asking, “how will I use…this year?” can help reduce the quantity of “stuff” that gathers over the winter months. Next, it is time to make decisions about what to do with the stuff!

tip 4: pile, don’t file!

…that is, pile so that “stuff” can find new homes! Soon piles grow destined for recycling, tossing or giving away. My Very Best Boy decides there is some “stuff” he can use at his house away at college! I decide in order to have a more beautiful and inspired life this year, I need to simplify and have less quantity. There is a lot of accumulation over the winter!

Do you have a proliferation of “stuff “over the winter, too?

tip 5: spring forward!

Time at last for all the piles to move out the door. Bags, bags and even more bags (too many to count!) are dropped off at the Good Will. Going off to the GW is not without risk of bringing stuff home. I come home with just a just a few vintage treasures for spring nest fluffing from some favorite shops!

Sweet Velvet Bunnies Making Spring Deliveries

Sweet Velvet Bunnies Making Spring Deliveries (from Rose Mille)

Vintage Moss Rose Finds, Millinery and Bird Frame

Vintage Moss Rose Finds, Millinery and Bird Frame

For more about getting organized, Melissa over at The Inspired Room has some stylish ideas and tips to help you getting started on fluffing your nest.

Fluffing the Nest at Rose Cottage

Fluffing the Nest at Rose Cottage

Won’t you leave a comment and tell me how you are fluffing your nest this spring?

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