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daddy's home!

One of the most difficult parts of relocating a family is often the job holder is expected to begin their new role immediately - long before it is feasible, or realistic to move their family across the country.  Such is the case with us....once again.  Hubby has been working in Portland for the last two weeks.  I was lucky to travel to Portland and see him while I visited school options, but our girls had not seen him for two long weeks.  It is difficult not having daddy around, especially on the little one. 

Hubby's birthday was last week and our girls were eager to celebrate the occasion when he got home.  I  received Ina Garten's new cookbook "how easy is that?" for Christmas and have wanted to make her red velvet cupcake recipe ever since.  This seemed like the perfect opportunity to break out our aprons!

The little one was the perfect sous pastry chef!

 I love the opportunity to bake with this sweet little girl.  She loves hanging out in the kitchen as much as I do.  And while her sister seems to be handling all our changes quite well, this little girl has had some moments of sadness and worry.  Spending some one on one time with her and really making the opportunity for her to be heard will continue to be important in the coming months.
 I'd say we did pretty well!

When I got my camera hubby ducked behind our presentation - not wanting to be pictured here, too bad!

Oh, and the cupcakes were super delicious!

Barefoot Contessa Red Velvet Cupcakes

2.5 cups all purpose flour
.25 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1 tbp liquid red food coloring
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
.25 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1.5 cups sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
Red Velvet Frosting (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin tins with paper liners.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In a large measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, food coloring, vinegar and vanilla.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed for 1 minute, until light.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until combined.  With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients alternately in 3 parts, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, and mix until combined.  Stir with a rubber spatula to be sure the batter is mixed.

Scoop the batter into the muffin cups with a 2.25 inch ice cream scoop or large spoon.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.  Cool completely before frosting.

Red Velvet Frosting

8 ounces cream cheese
12 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
.5 tsp pure vanilla extract
3.5 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

Place the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in the bowl and mix on medium speed until combined.  Add the sugar and mix until smooth.


fun things to distract me from what i really should be thinking about....

Our family's relocation is definitely consuming much of my time these days.  But in the midst of a brutal Minnesota winter, I find myself dreaming of spring fashions and....... home decor{of course}.  Here are some of the things I am lovin' these days:

First, trouser jeans!  They're back for spring, yippee!  For girls like me who are blessed with perfect "birthing hips" they bring much need balance to our proportions {if ya know what I mean}.

I think I need to make space on my kitchen counter for this guy - from Anthro, of course!

I love the texture these pillows from West Elm would provide to all white palette - a great way to add a modern touch and cozy too!
 From Pottery Barn - why am I such a sucker for a bird pillow - still!?
 I WILL have a farmhouse sink in my next kitchen, I will dammit!
Thank you so much for all your words of support and encouragement.  I love the blog world!  So I have to know, what's distracting you these days???
1.25.2011 "to do" list.........

Well, i am back and feeling a bit overwhelmed by......EVERYTHING

Don't get me wrong, it is all good.

Our family, who's mantra has always been "Bloom Where You're Planted", is returning home....being "re-planted" so to speak.  I still can't believe it sometimes. 

But being in Portland last week, visiting schools for my girls, made it REAL.

My "to do" list is long:

  1. Meet with yet another real estate agent {no offense to realtors out there, but I strongly dislike the sales techniques of many realtors, borders on used car sales-like tactics!}
  2. Meet with the movers - allow them to do a "survey" of all of our STUFF.
  3. Clean/de-clutter for photographer coming to take pictures for the MLS listing {oh, don't you worry, I will link when we hit the web!}.
  4. Fill out school applications for the girls.
  5. Oversee big girl's essay writing for her school applications.
  6. Begin REALLY cleaning out closets.
  7. Get Minnesota house listed by next week.
  8. Workout {I must not let moving get in the way of taking care of me}.
  9. See local friends (it is so cold in Minnesota and I can become a bit of a hermit}.
  10. Make sure my girls are handling all of this ok.
  11. Welcome hubby home on Friday!
I found inspiration today when I read a post by a very good Portland friend who happens to be a professional organizer.  Her words provided some much needed perspective to me as I find myself becoming  increasingly overwhelmed with all that faces our family in the coming months.  I think you all might find it interesting too, go check it out here


does size matter?

I am getting on an airplane...


I am leaving my two girls in the care of a friend {and not a family member} for the first time....


I am heading to Portland, Oregon to visit private school options......

which will dictate where we will ultimately live.

Step one in this move.

We are encouraged by the first couple showings we have had {without officially listing our house, yet}.

One family asked to see a plat survey to see if they could add-on to our little cottage.  Encouraging!

I will return next week.....

but as I begin thinking about our perfect "next" cottage......

I want to ask you......

does size matter?

What size home does YOUR family live in?  Do you wish it was bigger? Smaller?  I would love to hear what you have to say!

* and you thought this post was about something completely different......I am apalled!

multiple personality disorder....

Relocating back to a community you love and is familiar to you makes things SO much easier.  It is also fun to find out a couple of your former homes are for sale! 

You can go here and see when I was in my "bigger is better" phase {also my red phase - yes, I picked out that red dining room wallpaper and the Ralph Lauren plaid in the den/office}.  It was/is a beautiful home but it just never felt cozy to me. 

I fell in love with this new/cozy cottage in a quaint town that allowed us to walk to get coffee, the farmer's market, the library and school.  Those dining room curtains were mine!  Let's just say this was when I discovered my inner-cottage girl! 

It's going to be ok.....

First, thank you from the bottom of my little heart for all of the encouraging words, well wishes and general support left in the comment section on my last post.  I am blown away by the support from all of you, it certainly helps me muster my mojo!

It has been a busy week.  And while I did say in my last post that our girls are excited about the news of our move, that is not to say that they have their moments of sadness, particularly my youngest daughter who has never handled change very well.  She does not even like it when I change the sheets on her bed!

When my husband confirmed that "yes" his company had approved our relocation back to Oregon I was over the moon happy....elated!  After we shared the news with our girls and my little one burst into tears,  my feelings of happiness quickly turned to feelings of guilt.  Mothers, we are really good at guilt.  I felt guilty about feeling so happy about something that was bringing so much sadness to one of my girls. Ugh!

So imagine my surprise this week when the little one used the lego set she got for Christmas to construct this "new on the market" cottage.  I am not sure of the asking price or which realtor got the listing.  However, I am certain that my sweet little girl will be OK.

We have a second showing today!  Woo-hoo! Say a prayer if you can, please.  Better get off the computer and go run the vacuum!

Next week - a trip to Portland to check out private schools for the girls!

Forever*Cottage~an announcement....

I have written and re-written this post a thousand times in my head during the last couple weeks.  And as I finally sit down this evening to actually write it, with a glass of wine at my side, I still don't have a clever, or more interesting way of saying what I have to say.....

How about I begin with some history?

I began blogging almost three year ago - hard to believe really.  I began this blog after our family moved to Minnesota {for the second time} after having lived in West Chester, Pennsylvania for just 18 months.  I was lonely, exhausted and not too happy to be in the midwest once again.  You see, I had relunctantly left our "home" state of Oregon less than two years before and having lived in Minnesota once before, I swore I would never come back.  Nothing against Minnesota, I just strongly dislike winter, period.  Plus, just when Pennsylvania had begun to feel like "home", we relocated once again, and back to "START" we went {"do not pass "GO", do not collect $200}.  I was tired of smiling and introducing myself to the moms at school, teachers, neighbors - explaining why we moved, where we came from etc.....Blogging was a great reclusive activity and I definitely felt like I was part of a community {albeit an online community} of peeps like me.

I named my blog "Forever*Cottage" because like so many of you have - I desired a "forever" home - one that held our family memories and would feel familiar to my children when they were grown.  I did not have that growing up and always really wanted that for my children.

Notice the {*} in the title????

I added the asterick {*} to the title because given our family's history, I knew that there was always the chance that our cottage would not be our forever home.

Well guess what friends?

In the coming year, our family will be relocating back to our adopted home state of Oregon {actually my daughter's home state as both were born there}!  It is a bittersweet event.  Bitter because we have created a life here in Minnesota, we live in a Norman Rockwell-esque neighborhood, near a beautiful lake and have made some really special friends.  Sweet because we return to a place that holds our hearts, where my parents and other family live and great friends wait to welcome us "home"!

I won't lie, for as much as I am looking forward to returning to Oregon, I am not looking forward to getting from "point A to point B" so to speak - it is the hardest part.  I need to find my mojo - have you seen it?  I seem to have misplaced it...

It's going to be a wild ride - selling our cottage, finding a new one, choosing a school for the girls......and everything else! 

This will be the SEVENTH corporate move I have navigated in our 20 year marriage - {gulp!}.  This time I intend to share it ALL on this blog - the good, the bad, the ugly and then the really, really ugly.  It is the most personal sharing I have done on this blog and I will admit it is a bit scary.

What can you expect?  More pictures of our current cottage - ready "FOR SALE", pictures of potential new cottages in Portland, Oregon, the expected angst of selling a home in the current market conditions and trying to get a good deal on a new one.  I will share the Minnesota good-bye's and all the hello's that await on the other side.

I really envision this blog to record our 2011 family journey in a way I have neglected to all the other times.  Because, for the first time, I realize {and appreciate} just how much moving and creating homes and wonderful, meaningful lives all around our country define our family.  And that's not such a bad thing.  By the way, my girls are *happy* and looking forward to returning to Oregon - even my 12 year old! 

First up - THREE showings of our cottage this weekend - and we have not even listed it yet! 

with eyes wide open ~

your days are your
life in miniature. as you
live your hours, so
you create your years.
as you live your days,
so you craft your life.
what you do today is
actually creating your
future. the words you
speak, the thoughts
you think, the food
you eat and the
actions you take are
defining your destiny
~shaping who you are
becoming and what
your life will stand
small choices lead
to giant consequences
over time. there's no
such thing as an
unimportant day.

I am not one to make many resolutions this time of year. However, after the year our family has endured along with some exciting opportunities and changes that are coming for us in 2011{more on that coming soon!}, I really feel like the time is NOW to live with more purpose - with my eyes wider open than ever before. The words above have been tacked to my bulletin board for almost a year and honestly, I have not paid them any attention, much less lived them.  Sadly, this year was about survival.....

Happy New Year to all of you....we have just returned from Oregon and I will be back to blogging this week.  I have some exciting news to share about just what 2011 holds for me and my family, it will be quite a ride....want to come along on our journey? 

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