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Wishing you a Happy New Year!

** As you can see, things are 'under construction'
around here.  One of the many things I am looking
forward to this year is revealing a new blog design.
The pink bike long overstayed it's welcome!

Moving on....

This photo was taken today as we made our way home after
spending Christmas in Bend, Oregon with my parents.
{didn't think I did the brewpub trucker hat did ya?}

Do you see the smile on my face?

I have mixed emotions about Christmas.....
too complicated to get into today.....
but reflecting today during our snowy {slow} drive home,
it boils down to this:

I prefer life's small moments, the moments
that often don't seem like a big deal; like an opportunity to have
Starbucks with my teen along with a really good talk, baking
cookies in my kitchen with my tween, the unexpected night
out with my hubby, a good family dinner or one shared with friends, coffee with a friend........
you get the picture.

Christmas seems like such a big production that for someone 
like me, who prefers the small, the BIGNESS only drown's out
all the small and precious for me......FOR ONE WHOLE MONTH. I am 'off',
not myself, cranky {ask my family}.  Isn't that a bummer?

I question mankind's motives.  Why on the occasion of Christ's
birth must we decorate the house perfectly, entertain every family 
member and friend, tip everyone who serves our needs year round,
gift our loving teachers, family members, children,
give to the needy, attend extra worship services, 'fluff' the children
with new holiday finery, bake insane amounts of cookies,
assist the children with making homemade gifts for
all who love them, host an ornament exchange/cookie exchange/
white elephant exchange/some-kind of exchange..............
Just think, if you were to do any of the above mentioned
acts during any other month you would qualify for a
"random act of kindness"!

Don't get me wrong, I love the sentiment involved with ALL
of the above mentioned activities, however, if we are really
celebrating the birth of our Savior, shouldn't we practice these
acts year-round?  Or at least when we have a soccer/dance/basketball-free
Saturday?  Shouldn't we remember children without toys, or more
importantly, parents who are unable to give them toys during the months other
than the one that begins with the letter 'D'?  

So with that, I will leave you with the following words......

Happy New Year!


Merry Christmas...

"Although it's been said, many times, many ways.....
Merry Christmas to you"

I am signing off for the next week or so.  Wishing
you all a blessed Christmas and Happy New Year.


Easy Christmas Dessert.....

I have made this cake twice this holiday season.  It's always
a winner and is super easy, plus it feeds a crowd. I originally
posted the recipe last December but thought it was
worthy to repost.  Don't be confused, the photos
are also from last Christmas {taken with my
50mm lens which I dropped and broke
about three months ago - boo!} I need to
replace that lens - especially after seeing these photos.


Chocolate Peppermint Bundt Cake
{courtesy of}
1 package devil's food cake mix
1/2 cup sugar
1 package {4 ounce} instant chocolate pudding mix
4 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 {8 ounce} container of sour cream
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup coarsely crushed hard peppermint candies
Heavily grease and flour a 12 cup bundt pan and set aside.  Combine first seven
ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat at low speed until combined.  Pour mixture in 
prepared bundt pan and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or till a toothpick
inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool pan for 15 minutes then remove cake
from pan and cool entirely on wire rack.
For frosting, stir together powdered sugar and enough milk to make a dribbling
glaze consistency.  Drizzle frosting over cake and sprinkle with peppermint candies.



My preciousness.

It has been quite a week........and as much as I am keeping up
with the many activities of the season, my heart is heavy
and thoughts reeling with the events of the last week.

First, our mall shooting in Oregon - just on the other 
side of our beloved Portland.....innocent victims
doing what I had done earlier in the day, shopping
for Christmas presents for loved ones.

Then, the unthinkable events in Connecticut just the 
morning after our k-8 grade school's Christmas program.
My mom and I had admired our school's first graders
in their holiday finest as they sang all the familiar 
Christmas songs at the top of their sweet little lungs.
To think of what happened to children of that same
age, so young and innocent the very next morning
across our country is hard to take.  My girl's are 10 and 14
but have had lots of questions that I do not quite have
answers for.  I hugged my big girl extra tight when
she asked me, "mom, how could that killer
look at those sweet faces that were probably so scared and 
pull the trigger?"  What do you say to that?

On Saturday we travelled to Bend, Oregon to
attend a memorial service that was a 
celebration of a life well lived, for a man who focused 
his life on the important
 - family, faith and friends.  It was a fitting
service with those who loved him most.

Being a glass-is-half-full kind of girl, I am trying to 
find the good in how the bad may be affecting us.

Today, I saw the good in strangers who met
my eyes with a smile, the gentleman who held the 
door open for me at the post office, the
friendly faces on holiday cards in today's mail, the cute
elderly gentleman on the treadmill next to me at the
gym who struggled to get himself on the machine but 
once up and 'running' he walked slow and steady.

I'm thinking his pace was perfect.....slow and steady.


Life lesson....

Today I am heading to central Oregon to attend a 
memorial service for a wonderful man who I had
the privilege of calling a friend and mentor.
It's a sad pause during an otherwise joyous season.

Life has a funny way of bringing people into your life.
I met this friend, who passed away on Thanksgiving day,
when he became my boss. I was about 25 years old,
recently married and relatively new in my career -
he had four children and a wonderfully kind wife and was older than my
dad.  An unusual and perhaps unlikely friendship.  Our 
lives and careers went in different directions but
coincidently both our families ended up in Portland, Oregon.
His family included my husband and I in celebrations
and holiday dinners  - when we did not have family
on the west coast.  Before I had children, I always looked
to this family and thought, "I hope I can be as good
a parent as this J_____ and T____".  Despite a significant
age difference we remained family friends and
when I had children this man became almost like
another grandfather to my children.

My friend struggled with COPD the last couple
years and it unfortunately ended his life on Thanksgiving
evening after he enjoyed a meal with his wife, three of his
grown children, their spouses and many of
his grandkids.

My friend/mentor taught me one last valuable lesson
before he died.  And I am sharing this, not because I want
your support or sympathy, but because it is a lesson
so valuable and obvious that it must be shared as a reminder
to ALL of us - especially during this season.

About 10 days before he died, my friend called my
cell phone.  I was not available to take the call.
I thought to myself, I need to call him back......
But life got busy, with what I don't know?
I did not return the phone call.
It's something I will always regret.

So in this season of 'busy', don't forget
to make room for the important, the small
gestures, the meaningful.


More Christmas....

Thank you so much for all your kind words about
my understated Christmas warmed my
heart!  It is sometimes hard opening blogs
and feeling like you just don't measure up....
So often I find myself thinking, "Look, she had time to
bake and build a gingerbread house, home-school her
seven children, make her own wrapping paper,
decorate five themed trees AND record
and post 3 different Christmas craft tutorials.......
why can't I?

I realized I neglected to show my staircase - so thought 
I would share today.....Maybe we don't have 
a tree in our great room this year, but we have
a staircase decorated with garland!

As an added about a photo of our perfectly imperfect
tree at night?  Wait!  Are those wrapped presents I see????
Why yes, yes they are!


Our Christmas home....

Welcome to our Christmas home 2012.

Truth be told - I don't get that excited about adding a bunch
of holiday'stuff' in and around my home, I kind
of like it as is and frankly, I don't need anymore stuff to dust.  I do love to add
holiday greenery, paperwhites and pointsettas! Oh...and
upon looking at these photos, I decided I must love Christmas words
cause there are a whole lot of them showing up!

Basically I am a 'less is more' kind of gal when it comes 
to Christmas decorating.  Oh, and if the word 'Christmas'
offends you in anyway, you can move on .....around here
we celebrate Christmas - nothing against any other celebrations - 
just around here it's Christmas, pure and simple. And if anything,
I am NOT a politically correct kind of gal.

I did a bit of a happy dance at my Trader Joe's 
when I found they had boxwood wreaths
for 9.99 - I loaded my cart with boxwood
wreaths and Peppermint Joe Joe's and headed home....
just what I needed to get into the holiday spirit.

We had our tree in our great room last year - where I currently have this white 
cupboard.  I just was not in the mood to move it so we put 
our tree in the living room - a nice change,
plus you can see it from the front of our house.
What is more festive than a lit Christmas tree
in a front window of a house????? That's
what I keep asking my kids who claim "BUT WE

And why yes, those are some random boxes{to be assembled}
from Ikea leaning against my cupboard in the photo above.
Obviously, the stylist in me had lowered her 
standards today.

Maybe I will let my kids have a candy cane....when they
appreciate the tree in the living room where they neighbors
can see it when they drive by!

The large cloche holds some of my vintage ornament collection.

And {gasp!} I don't even get rid of my broken sea shells when
I bring out they ornaments....they are friends and get along quite nicely.

I am entertaining this season - a couple small gatherings 
and then one BIG one - yep, yours truly is hosting
the soccer team holiday party......this coming Sunday.
We will have just 19 teenage girls and their parents in our
humble home.....Heaven help me!

I'm joining my friend, Jen Rizzo's Holiday 
Housewalk party. cause it's a party NOT 
at my house!


Happy Monday to you all!

Just popping in quick to announce the winner of the Spark Modern $75 credit giveaway!  The winner of the credit is............PRUDENCE who said she would choose the 'Romo Camille Chartreuse' cover.

Congratulations Prudence!  Please email me {} for details on how to get your credit.

And, I was thrilled when Lauren and Amy from Spark Modern generously offered to award three more lucky girls 12x20 lumbar pillows in their fabric choices.......I love happy surprises like that!  The winners are:

Stacey - who wins a lumbar in Betwixt Indigo
Beth - who wins a Kasari Graphite lumbar
Kristen - wins a Sunara Spice lumbar

A HUGE thank you to Spark Modern - they are a couple of very sweet gals who make beautiful pillows.  Congratulations to the winners - remember to email me at for details on how to claim your prizes!


Gingham and's that for a title?

Gingham....such a classic and so festive at Christmas.
I found these large dishtowels at Ikea today and 
adore the loop for hanging and of course, the 
red and white gingham!  For $2.99, go get some - now!
If you don't have an Ikea close - send your friend who does!


I get lots of questions about the lantern that hangs over our dining
room table.  It is the "Calisse" 4-light Pendant from
Ballard Designs.  It is currently on clearance for $119.99!

Here is a photo from my dining room last Christmas.

Remember, you have until Sunday to enter the Spark Modern $75 credit giveaway!


pillow love....giveaway!

I have professed my love for throw pillows many times on this blog.  Pillows
are really a 'go to' for many decorators to set or change a color palette 
in a relatively inexpensive way.  The photo above was taken tonight - my 
great room sofa with the current pillow combination.  Most would
probably say it's too many pillows but it's just how I like it.  I really
strive to not do the matchy-matchy thing, more a collaborative pillow effort!

The Schumacher Betwixt pillows pictured above were purchased 
from Spark Modern, a fabulous Etsy site for designer fabric pillows!
Think beautiful designer fabrics - like Imperial Trellis, Betwixt and
Shanghai Dragon!

Spark Modern is generously offering a $75 credit 
to their shop to one lucky Forever*Cottage reader!

In order to enter:

First, 'Like' Spark Modern on Facebook and
come back here tell me you did so.

Second, visit Spark Modern on Etsy and let me
know what you spend your $75 credit.

If you are too impatient to wait and see if you've won - 
Spark Modern is doing a Christmas sale.  Today they are offering
15% off all Schumacher Imperial Trellis pillows!!! Such a classic pattern - 
go get you some! Enter 'IT15' at checkout to get the discount.

You have until Sunday, December 9th, midnight PST to enter!
I will announce the winner on Monday, December 10th.


O Christmas tree.....

Here she is all her Charlie Brown tree goodness.
If it were up to me we would always have a natural tree.

I have collected Christopher Radko ornaments for many years
and they just hang beautifully on a sparse tree.

Please come back on Wednesday, I have another 
really fun giveaway!

So, is your tree up yet?


So true....

Yes you do!


Heading home this evening after four days in
San Diego watching my big girl play some
great soccer - what an experience!  Talk about
a whole new world....Her team participated
in their first college showcase, an opportunity
for college coaches to see the best club players.  Of course,
at 13 and 14 years old our team did not
have many college coaches watching our games
but being in this environment showed me
what is coming!  Hard to believe - seems
like she was playing 'kick and chase' soccer just I am here to tell all of you
with young children, time goes oh so fast!

Enough of that - I will be back with design posts
this week.  I have SO much holiday related
fluffing to do in my home!

Wishing you a restful Sunday.

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