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~~~~~Merry Christmas to YOU!~~~~~~

Dear Readers,

I wanted to take this opportunity to wish each and every one of you and very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I hope the holiday season brings you many blessings - of pausing to spend to spend time with the ones you hold dear and remembering the "reason for the season".

When I reflect on 2009 I know I will count blogging as one of the best things I did, for me. It was a leap and one that has proven to be well worth it. I thank you all for your support and friendship.

Our family will be leaving our little Forever Cottage tomorrow so that we may spend the holidays with family....I wanted to leave you all with these favorite words of holiday wisdom....from the magnificent Dr. Seuss himself!

"And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow, Stood puzzling and puzzling: How could it be so? It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags! And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! Maybe Christmas he thought, doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas....perhaps...means a little bit more!"

See you in 2010!

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photo courtesy of Country Living

Tis the Season........

I have had a fairly relaxing holiday season...because I made the decision to make it so. Recently I have enjoyed some of my favorite Christmas 'events'.

Our community store hosted it's annual Santa visit. It is a wonderful event for our neighborhood because the kids feel like they really get a private visit with the big guy himself!

My oldest was too cool for time on Santa's lap this year - which broke this mommy's heart but the little one was very eager. I loved this photo of my 'baby' telling Santa she wants a Barbie Glamour Camper....because shouldn't camping be glamourous when you are Barbie? (Excuse the red eye!)

I have spent some quality time with this favorite appliance....

Using lots and lots of this....

To make many yummy treats like this.....

Ricotta Cheese Cookies

For cookie:

4 c. flour
2 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 c. sugar
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 (15 oz.) container ricotta cheese
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs

For icing:
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
3 tbsp. milk
Red and Green spinkles!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt and reserve.

Beat sugar and butter until creamy. Reduce speed to medium, add ricotta cheese, vanilla and eggs and beat until well combined. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture mixing until dough forms.

Drop dough by level tablespoons, about 2 inches apart, on prepared baking sheets. Bake until cookies are very lightly golden, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 2 minutes on baking sheets before transferring cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

To prepare icing:
Whisk together powdered sugar and milk until smooth, adding more milk or sugar as necessary. Allow icing to set for 1 hour before serving.


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Giveaway Alert!!!

Go check out my friend Kasey's blog . She is "closing" or "suspending" her online shop and is hosting a giveaway of leftover inventory! Go leave a comment so you have a chance to get the goods!

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Sometimes the best gifts.....

are the ones you buy for yourself.

That's not to say that my thoughtful hubby and darling children are not great gift picker-outers.

They are.

But sometimes there are those special, unexplainable, and dare I say quirky, items that a girl can only buy for herself because...well...more than likely she is the only one (with the exceptions of her like-minded friends) who can fully appreciate their wonderful-ness.

I had purchased a french bottle drying rack from Tracey at French Larkspur and was able to pick it up from her when I went to Kasey's event in Illinois.

I had admired these beauties for a long time and knew it would fit perfectly in an ackward spot in my kitchen and serve as a perfect place to display some of my smaller ironstone pitchers.

Merry me!

What can only you buy for you?

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Hints of Christmas

I have 7 boxes of Christmas decorations.

They all remain relatively full....and by relatively full, I mean full.

This year, I chose to decorate my home with just "hints" of the holidays.

I have my reasons.

First, we spent the better part of the fall not knowing whether my husband would have a job or not (he does, thank God!). And while we did receive good news, it put things in perspective for me, especially when preparing for the holidays. new mantra.

Second, we are traveling to my parents for the holidays...I am not entertaining....

And third, I like my house the way it is...all white and cream and chippy and well, those 7 boxes of Christmas decorations are all red and green and shiny and if I may so myself...cheesy. No wonder the kids love em!

I came home from Kasey's event last week and my family had not only put up our tree but decorated it as well! What a gift!

Over this last week, I added some "important" elements, including our nativity scene. I did not angst, or rush, or feel the pressure to have the perfect vignettes placed within my home. Simplicity.

And while I was at it, I took a few pictures to share with you, of the "hints" of the holidays at my cottage. I particulaly love the combination of the snow covered spruce tips, dried hydrangea in my front porch pots.

How about you this year? Are you going BIG or embracing, like me, simplicity?

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Finding a soiree!

Yep, that's me with the fabulous Kasey of Lola B's! Excuse the no-make-up, hat wearing look. We took NO pictures of us together the night of the soiree, yes, you heard me, NONE! So I guess I deserve to show you me without make-up and looking a bit exhausted.

And while I am posting some pictures I took while at Kasey's home within this post, I would urge you to visit Kasey's blog to see how a real photographer "saw" the evening. Kim of Mimi Charmante did a beautiful job capturing the evening.

Also, while I had planned on giving you all the details of the evening, I prefer to share some reflections I had while driving home from my wonderful weekend (all SIX hours!).

You see, when I left Minnesota last Friday it was with a heavy heart, and frustration, and hurt, and lots of anger.

I have an 11 year old, 5th grade daughter. Her name is Emma. Emma has always been a very outgoing, sweet, innocent and dare I say spunky girl. But Emma had not been herself for the last few weeks. She seemed agitated, was easy to tears. I chalked it up to hormones and typical "changes" that I was anticipating.

However, I learned last week - on Thursday the day before I left to go to Kasey's that Emma and her friends had been being "bullied" on the playground and in school. And by "bullied", I mean the crappy (yes, I am using that word) girl kind of bullying - calling eachother mean names and getting other girls who you thought were your friends to now decide they were not going to be your friends. And by mean names, I mean REALLY mean names - the kind I had to explain their meaning to my 11 year old sweet girl way before she should know what those words mean.

My mama bear claws came out - big time!

I spent the first hour of my drive talking to one of the bullying girls' mother. Yep, I made the call. I know this woman and know she does not approve of this kind of behavior. I needed to know that she was aware of the kind of words her daughter was throwing around on the playground.

I was proud of myself. I am not generally confrontational - and I wasn't but I did feel the need to stand up for my daughter because weren't we all once that girl? Didn't it feel terrible? Didn't it start later than 5th grade? Why can't girls be nice to one another, celebrate their differences, respect one another's dreams and ambitions, generally just stick together?

And then I drove to Kasey's - (and locked my keys in my car while getting gas....ugh!)

I arrived at Kasey's beautiful home and was greeted by friends - new friends to be exact. You see, I met Kasey for the first time - only briefly at The Farm Chicks Antiques Show in Spokane last year. And Kim, well we spent some time together at the Oronoco Antiques Show in Minnesota this last summer but that's it. It is because of this blog that I call these women friends.

That is refreshing.

I started my trip, thinking of the troubles my daughter was experiencing, knowing that it was just the beginning for her.... Thinking of my own journey as a girl and then as a woman with friendships, the good and the bad.

It is hard.

But this weekend it wasn't.

I learned that with like minded women it doesn't matter who you are, where you come from, what your age, race, history. It matters where you are now, in this journey.

And we celebrated that.

I know that my daughter's friendship journey is just beginning and will not be without pain. But by finding joy in my friendships both old and new I will show both my daughters that women can come together in a supportive and respectful way - a fun and crazy way where you are free to be who you are meant to be.

A BIG thanks and hug to Kasey for her hospitality, generosity and friendship. Thank you to Kim, Martha, Christina, NC and all the other fabulous women who helped me gain some valuable perspective this weekend.


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Warning...this is a NO picture post (gasp!).

I am home from a truly wonderful weekend spent with some fabulous women.

I am inspired (and tired!).

Kasey really put on a special event in her exquisitely comfortable and styled home. And yes, I got to sit on that beautiful settee and have a glass of wine (and other yummy things).

One of the items in the box of goodies that every guest left with was a CD of music Kasey picked - including tunes from her blog. I drove home to Minnesota yesterday listening to the CD and thinking happy thoughts from the weekend.

If you go to Kasey's blog today and comment you too can have a chance to win one of these fabulous CD's.

I promise photos of Kasey's home tomorrow....oh yes, I took plenty!

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Off to a soiree..........

I am a lucky girl.

Tomorrow I am heading to St. Charles, Illinois to hang out with two of my favorite bloggers...Kasey from Lola B's and Kimberly from Mimi Chamante. I am going to be attending Kasey's "Be Inspired" evening soiree.

Timing is never is the first weekend in December and our family schedule is PACKED - sleepovers, Sunday school program rehearsals, soccer practice, holiday open houses....

I am putting trust in my good hubby that he can handle it all, while I take-off and enjoy some much needed "girl time". My battery is running low and I think this is just what I need to recharge.

Don't worry, I am bringing my camera and will report back early next week on all the details (well, most...) of the weekend.

Oh, and by the way....Santa was able to secure two Zhu Zhu's for the good little girls who live in my house. Thank you to all you good readers for your help and suggestions.

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Zhu Zhu, how about you?

Cute little sucker, right?

I would love to get my hands on one (or two) of these little buggers....
the "hottest" toy this Christmas season.

My girls BOTH want one - from Santa.

Do you think Santa was lined up at midnight at Toys R' Us to score a few?

I am ashamed to admit but I sent my poor, yet agreeable, husband out into the Zhu Zhu pet madness last night. Yes, the poor guy left the house at 11:30 pm and headed to our local Toys R' Us.

The nice Toys R' Us employee I had spoken to earlier in the week told me (in complete confidence, wink-wink) that Zhu Zhu pets would be plentiful when the doors opened at midnight on Thanskgiving.

I thought - oh, slam-dunk - who the heck shops at midnight at Toy R' Us on Thanksgiving???

Well, needless to say, hubby came home empty handed.

But not before trying REALLY hard to get in the door before the rest of the 800 other "Santas" who had been waiting in line hours to get their hands on the precious little hamster.

I refuse to pay the going rates of $50-$75 or more that these babies are fetching on ebay.....Santa will promise some after Christmas shopping before that happens.

In the meantime, if anyone out there in blogland can help me (I mean "Santa") out, I (I mean "he") would certainly appreciate it!

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I am grateful, how about you?

Life has been a bit topsy turvy at our cottage. The kind of topsy turvy that involves lay-offs and job uncertainty....

This kind of uncertainty allows you to really take stock and decide what is REALLY important in life.

I know I am blessed.

I know I am grateful for my blessings....for my family...healthy children...a beautiful home...a supportive community...good friends....ALL THAT MATTERS.

But this has been has challenged me in a way I have not been before, how lucky right?

Things are going to be ok...the "situation" is looking more positive at the moment.

We have much to be thankful for this season. I hope you do too.

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All images are from Country Living!

Stockings For Sale!

Congratulations to my friend in real life, Allie for winning the stocking/Starbucks giveaway. And to just set the record straight,(ahem, Jermonne from Barn House, are you listening?) the drawing was conducted fair and square. I simply put numbers 1-28 in a bowl and had my sweet 7 year old, Abigail draw a number. Abigail drew the number "11" which was Allie's number! So there.

Because of the interest in my stockings I wanted to offer a few for sale. Please email at and let me know which number stocking you are interested in purchasing. I am selling them for $10.00 a piece and charging $5 for shipping - so a whopping 15 bucks.

Personally, I will be hanging mine on some of my old cupboard knobs. We already have traditional stockings (red and green - ugh!) that the kids have their little hearts set on using - couldn't convince them that mommy just isn't into decorating with red and green this year.

Nope, they weren't going for the whole vintage burlap look.

This is stocking #1. Dark burlap with 3 small linen rosettes and a handing vintage key.

This is stocking #2. Light burlap with one large linen rosette.

This is stocking #3. Dark burlap with 3 linen "yo-yo's" adorned with two vintage keys and a vintage earring.

This is stocking #4. Dark burlap colored with a single linen rosette backed with light burlap - also has a vintage key dangle.

I will keep this posting up until Tuesday. Again, please email at if you are interested!

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.......and we have a winner!

The winner of the burlap stocking is "Allie"! Thanks everyone who left me the sweetest comments! I will be listing some stockings for sale on my blog on Monday for anyone who might be interested in purchasing one.

Have a lovely weekend everyone.

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It's About Time.....A Forever Cottage Giveaway!

This is my first giveaway.

It is about time, huh?

It is definitely not as fabulous as what Brooke is giving away at Velvet & Linen....not even close.

But I thought it would be fun to giveaway one of my burlap stockings....

I am quite happy with how they turned out.

And by the way, if you are in Minnesota they (my burlap stockings)
will be sold at Mustard Moon beginning tomorrow...

Anyway....I will give a stocking along with a little somethin', somtethin' tucked inside...a $10 Starbucks gift card to one lucky winner.

All you have to do to enter is just leave a comment....and if you become a follower of this here blog, I will enter you in the drawing twice! Or if you mention this humble little first time giveaway on YOUR blog and leave a comment I will also enter you twice.

I will draw a winner on Friday....

Hopefully my neighbors did not see me hanging burlap stockings on my bushes in the backyard....and taking pictures of them! As if they already don't think I am a bit cookcoo!

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What Do You Think?

I have always been impressed by the talented and crafty bloggers out there.

I have never considered myself one of them. Nope, not ever.

Perhaps THAT is about to change....

Inspired by holiday images out in both blogland and catalogs, I got a bee in my bonnet, so to speak.

I dusted off the sewing machine and created some burlap stockings with linen rosettes and other vintage "trinkets".

I think I am going to offer one as part of a holiday giveaway.

I think I will probably list some for sale.

Stay tuned. And let me know what you think....please.

Oh, here is one inspiration photo...(and yes, I have some with linen ruffles!).

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I have to tell you about........

One awesome blog giveaway!

In celebration of her 300th post, Brooke Giannetti of Velvet & Linen is giving away THREE Brickmaker's tables like the one pictured above! How awesome is that!

Brooke is looking for readers to submit pictures of the room where they would place the Brickmaker's table. Her point is to show how this same table can adapt and be appropriate in different looking rooms with different styles. How fun, right?

Here is a picture of the room in my home I am submitting. This is my "porch" also known as the tv room - where the kids tend to hang out. This room needs to be comfortable and hard working - for these reasons, this room looks nothing like the rest of my house. And frankly, this room is my least favorite in my house - looking for some inspiration to "spruce" the space up and look more like the rest of my home.

Head over to Velvet & Linen and check out this fantastic giveaway!

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Forever Cottage Tag Sale!

In preparation for my BIG plans for holiday decorating (read previous post to understand this sarcasm), I have been in major clean-out mode. I brought about 6 bags of clothes to Goodwill and have secretly edited the toy collections in each of my daughters' rooms (shhh, don't tell them).

I have some nice vintage/or not so vintage but nonetheless fabulous items that have been collecting dust in cabinets and cubbies and thought I would host a Tag Sale here at Forever Cottage.

The following items are for sale, I have listed prices along with a small description of the item. Please email me at with any questions and if you would like to purchase an item. I will accept payments through Paypal.

This first item is a wire 3-tier stand - I used it on the kitchen counter to hold fruit etc... $15 SOLD

This is a beautiful blue English platter. True Antique piece.....$25 SOLD

Small blue shelf/spice rack (not the plates)....$15 SOLD

Long wooden French baguette dough bowl.....$40

Pottery Barn Matine Toile quilted standard-sized pillow shams.....$20 each ($40 for both). SOLD

Vintage Grain Sack with slight yellow stains, monogrammed with "VL' in blue...$25

One more English blue platter, similar to one above although slightly more "aged" in colors....$25 SOLD

Again, please email me at if you are interested in any of the items. I will update the posting as items sell.

Have a wonderful day!

Oh, and by the way....I will give you a shipping quote when you decide to purchase - I will ship UPS ground and charge exactly what it costs to ship....

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