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And just like that it's over…..

Now, on to the new year.

2013 was a great one for me professionally -
I launched my business {officially} and you came
and asked me to help you create your home…..
It's sometimes overwhelming and humbling all at
the same time.  It's been such a learning year for me,
business wise.  Diving in like I did really allowed me
to better define how I want to work, with whom I want
to work, my strengths and my deficits…..I know
plan to take what I have learned and go forward 
into 2014 wanting to do better,
be better and serve my clients better.

The graphic above really sums up how I 
personally feel about what I do and it's really
my goal for each home I get to work on.
And I strongly believe it's what my clients want.
And if you don't, I'm not your gal.

Our homes are more than a sofa and two chairs….
the best evoke a feeling to those that dwell
in them and those that visit.  So often
people visit my home and compliment
me and then go on to say something like, 
"you can never come to my house, because
it's not done, or it doesn't look like this".
I cringe when I hear comments like this because
I don't decorate my home to impress and 
definitely NOT to make anyone feel inferior.
I decorate my home as a gesture of love 
towards my family who live with me and
friends and family who visit.  For me, it's 
how I express that love….creating cozy,
warm spaces.  Let's just say gallery walls
are my 'love language'.

So thank you to the clients that patiently worked
with this newbie decorator in 2013, it was an honor
and privilege!  I can't wait to see what 2014 has in store!

Merry Christmas to *YoU*!!!

Wisdom from Dr. Seuss…….

Wishing you ALL peace, joy and love
this Christmas holiday!

I'll be back soon…..

Christmas cards, emotions and the holiday….

Really one of my favorite things about Christmas is receiving Christmas
cards with photos of my friends, family and their growing children.
  Having lived so many places, this annual tradition 
that brings me so much joy as I reflect on our time
in places we have lived and the precious friends we made.

The photo above is the card we sent this year of our
two girls - now ages 15 and 11.

Below is the card we sent exactly 10 years ago - when they
were 5  and 1…….ahhhhh, how time flies!

Being a mother to these two has been my greatest blessing.
Watching them grow up into really great people is such a joy!
But darn, does it all have to go so fast!

Long ago,  when I was a young momma, knee deep in sippy cups, the Wiggles and diapers, a wise {'older'} mother told me, "the days are long but the years are short".  I sort of thought, "yea, right!"
In my classic cynical {but endearing}way.
However, now that I am that 'older, wiser' momma, I say, 
"Truer words were never spoken!"

So much is expected during the holidays - mostly that we all 
share one emotion…..happiness, which I acknowledge is always
part of the Christmas equation.  However, like the tinge of sadness I felt
when I saw how these photos clearly point out the passage of time, 
or the void my husband might feel as he misses his dad this and 
every Christmas, or the stress of job loss a good friend is coping with…..
Christmastime also can make emotions stronger and losses more heavy.
Happiness in the Christmastime equation isn't at 100% for most -
and for some, they struggle to find where it might be found at all.

My wish for all of you is that joy and happiness are a bigger
portion of your Christmastime equation…..that any burdens
you are caring are comforted by the celebration of
Jesus' birth!  I hope that you feel the anticipation and
hope that comes with celebrating a new year!

Mostly, I thank you for coming here and supporting me!
Your friendships mean so much.
My posting over the next couple weeks may be sporadic as
I enjoy time with my family, including my parents who
will celebrate with us in Portland!

Our Christmas *hOmE*…..{the BIG tour}…...

** If you are visiting from Unskinny Boppy, WELCOME!**

Welcome to our Forever*Cottage
Christmas home 2013.

Our home is located beautiful Portland, Oregon.
We are lucky to be able to have the opportunity
to get a Forest Service permit each year to go
and cut a natural Christmas tree.  This year, however,
our girls really wanted the experience of picking out a more
manicured tree at a tree lot.  So the tree you 
see below is the natural tree I insisted we get
for our dining room and the fuller tree in our
living room you will see is our tree lot tree.

For the most part I really keep it pretty simple when
decorating for the holidays - I love using natural elements -
paperwhites, poinsettias, boxwood wreaths and natural garland.


The 'star' of our dining room this year is the new dining
table that my very handy dad made for me!
It is made from knotty alder and finished with both
a mix of stain and watered down chalk paint to
give it the perfect aged patina!

I kept the decorations on our dining room tree very simple -
glittered pinecone ornaments I found at 
World Market and snow flakes I picked up at
Target a few years ago.  The vintage olive
bucket was bought with this use in mind - I love
using it as a tree stand {I had to get very creative
in order to make it work!}.

Our home is 'great room' style so the kitchen/family room/dining room
are all one large space.  I do have a formal living room
where we have our family tree and where we will 
open Christmas gifts on Christmas Eve - as has been
our family tradition since I was a little girl.
{Santa leaves gifts for Christmas morning.}

I am always a sucker for interesting poinsettias - I love these
cream and pink ones!

This vintage bench in our kitchen is a favorite spot
for my girls to do homework or talk to me when
I am working in the kitchen - I recently had a 
custom cushion made for it which makes it even
more cozy!

Our mantle is a bit busy but festive…...
The glittered vintage Santa's I have had for years.  I paired them
with other stuff I have - vintage brass candlesticks, a vintage box and books.
The grain sack stockings are new this year - I added my girls' initials when I found these
at Target - of all places!  

My greens are real - the boxwood wreath is getting a little dry
and the greens on the mantle were just added today - I am hoping
they make it through the holidays - I just can't do the faux greenery!

My gold stocking holders were formerly red Pottery Barn Kids
holders from YEARS ago - they were meant to hold a photo
but I sprayed them gold this year and then the glass
with chalkboard paint and used a chalk marker to
write my girls' names instead.


I also used the same chalk marker to write a message
on my vintage French bamboo mirror in our entry….

The pom pom garland is from West Elm.
And of course, paperwhites add the perfect 
amount of holiday cheer!

Ah…here's our lovely tree lot tree.
Looks like a Christmas tree should look -
my 11 year old is happy cause 'it is so embarrassing
to have a sparse Charlie Brown tree, mom".

My manger scene got tucked into my table top greenhouse - replacing
the dying sedum that were there before the holidays…..

Along with the mantle greenery, the coffee table in the great room has
also been decked out in some holiday greens. Love these
mini-cypress trees that you can pop into vintage
vases or inexpensive Ikea pots.

I keep my kitchen simple….I am OCD that way….

It is likely that if you come to our home you will be 
greeted by these two knuckleheads - they sort of like
to hang out on the front porch watching the world go by….

Thanks a bunch for visiting!  

MeRry ChIsTmAs to YoU aNd yOuRs!


Our Christmas *hOmE*….Part 1

I just finished an EPIC post on our home for a Holiday
Home Tour I am participating in on Wednesday so I am 
short on words but had many photos so thought I would
share some of our family room/dining room today…..
Plus, I can't miss out on participating in the Nester's holiday
link-up, right?  

I feel like I have so much blog content right now - 
the computer crash of last week was not timed well
{are they ever?}…..but I will devote a future post
to my new dining table pictured above.  My dear dad
made it for me for Christmas!  It is special and I love it.
Details to come….'cause I know you are all going to 
want to get your dad to make you one too.

This is a favorite spot in my house - made all the better
by our natural Christmas tree, new gingham cushion and 
handmade table - enough said.

My living room is festooned {don't you love that word?} with
these mini-cypress trees from my Safeway grocery store -
the Ikea pots make them classier, right?

I am loving this new Pottery Barn pillow cover - go get
yourself one, they are on sale RIGHT NOW!

Chalk pens - they aren't just for chalkboards, you know!

My busy mantle…..

More new table love….

 Did anyone else see the cute monogram letters for
stockings at Target?  I think they are the perfect addition
to our grain sack stockings!

NINE days till Christmas people!  Ackkkkkkkk!


All is calm, all is bright……{sort of}.

Well, kinda-sorta…..all is definitely bright around my home, but not all is not calm…..

How are you handling this season?  I find myself vacillating between
enjoying this month and absolutely loathing it at the same time.
My to-do lists are longer, social opportunities are more plentiful,
kids need more clothes, more treats, more money, Target
sees me more often, so does the wine shop, gift shop
and post office.  And don't even get me started on my
unfortunate 'wine incident' my computer encountered
last week!  The Apple store saw LOTS of me
this week and it wasn't all pretty.

December is a month that I have trouble blogging - being present 
with my family celebrating the birth of Jesus is what should
be important, right?  When I go online I am often left 
feeling like I'm just not cutting it - homes are decorated to 
look as if Better Homes & Gardens is showing up for a photo
shoot any minute, kids are crafting happily, bloggers are baking
teacher gifts wrapped as if they are presenting it to Martha Stewart
herself!  Don't even get me started on the gift guides - aren't we
still in a recession? 

I know all those images are meant to 
inspire, but sometimes, I acknowledge, they can also
leave you feeling inadequate and that is the opposite
of what I want to do here.  Nevermind that I 
am participating in a Holiday House Tour next week -
but don't you worry - when you see the photos you will
know that BH&G isn't visiting the Forever*Cottage.  While I am being
completely honest and forthright, I will admit to you and only you -
{the one pictured above is momma's tree with simple white lights}.

So spill it - how do you feel about all the holiday posts?

A little of both?

* And I do look forward to showing you our holiday home -
simplicity at it's finest.  What's hard to  photograph is
love, comfort, delicious smells and the sound of laughter -
because isn't that what it's all about?
The rest is just 'stuff'.

Thanks for listening - 


Houston, we have a problem!

So apparently, it's not a good thing to give your MacBook a splash of red wine.  

My Mac seemed to recover well from its wild night but alas, began not working up to her formally reliable ways. As of yesterday, I went and bought myself a very nice Christmas gift - a new MacBook Air. Believe me, the timing of the purchase was not ideal but given the fact that I am a blogger and my design biz relies heavily on the use of a computer, it was necessary.  It was a lesson learned the hard way.

Obviously, my blogging has been zero, but I am participating in a fun House Tour next week so stay tuned!  I get my new computer tomorrow - thankfully my hard drive was not damaged so Apple is migrating my data as we speak!

Hope all is well with you. 

Christmas mantel!

I had loaded these photos earlier today and then sat down 
with my computer and a glass of wine and proceeded to
'splash' wine on my Mac keyboard! It's not working so I
am posting via an iPad. Good times.
{sorry to be such a complainer but my pain is fresh people!}

On to happier things….

This is our Christmas mantel for 2013! I used what I had -
my vintage brass candlestick collection, old books,
an Asian box that happens to be red and
freshly painted gold Pottery Barn Kids stocking
holders circa 2002.  I added a big boxwood wreath
and poinsettias and called it good.

I fully intend to add greenery to the mantel but thought
it was just too early and I am not motivated to switch it
out mid-month!  Probably will be added next week.

The grain sack stockings are new this year - from
my favorite Uber Chic boys!

Say prayers for my Macbook - hope you enjoyed my

* Update - I checked the correct usage of mantel vs. mantle and
have made corrections, thank you to those that pointed out
the correct definition/spelling.  If you are interested, please
see this link!

** In further Macbook is up and working!
Can I get an 'amen'!


In the midst of my holiday panic yesterday {and laundry folding},
Charlie Brown's Christmas was on television.  I love
watching it with my children the same way I did
as a child - WITH the commercials on network televsion.
 I know, crazy. Weird?

I still get goose bumps when sweet Linus
delivers this monologue.

I am working hard on my holiday mantle.....hoping to 
post late Wednesday - I promise. Dang, it's almost 
December 4th!


December 1st.......

 I am writing this post on Sunday night - having just 
returned from our Thanksgiving holiday in central Oregon.

On the drive home, I tried to temper the panic I might have
felt when I checked my Instagram feed and saw
many images from other blogger's homes -
fully decked in holiday glory.  Mantels were
coifed and fluffed, trees freshly lit and even treats
were baking!  Girls, you give me fits!
 Sure, I may have had a natural tree strapped to the top of our SUV, 
but that is it folks. That's all I got - well, that and 6 loads of
dirty laundry.

I am confident however, that my house will be ready when
December 25th comes, it always is......But for tonight, I choose
to enjoy these images from our Thanksgiving weekend -
when sister's enjoyed each other's company,
nieces got to spend precious time with and aunt and uncle,
we played a mean game of family Pictionary, some of us learned
to knit, a hard working high school freshman got
some needed rest, doggies got extra snuggles, we walked
through a peaceful forest to select two Christmas trees, 
enjoyed central Oregon's sunshine and mountain views,
ate Thanksgiving dinner around Mimi and Bubba's table
followed by a wonderful Thai dinner OUT the following night, 
went to a Christmas parade and attempted a family Christmas card photo.

No stress tonight.....first, laundry.

Happy Thanksgiving!

source unkown

When I count my many blessings tomorrow, I will
include all of you - I appreciate the time you take
to come here and read my nonsense and seek
my design advice.  This blog has given
me so many opportunities to indulge
in all my design dreams! YOU are helping
to make that happen.  I am so 
grateful for the support I find here
and in blogland.

I hope each of you is able to pause
and count your blessings in the 
company of those you love.

I will be back Monday with my usual
sporadic posting......

Christmas Ideas 2013 - What momma wants........

Christmas Ideas 2013

I learned long ago that it's best if I give my family
suggestions for what to give me for Christmas - makes
life easier and happier!  This year, as in past years,
I put together a collection of suggested gift items.
Obviously, I like monogrammed and cozy/warm items.
Oh, and I could use a new wallet.
Have you seen the Kontex towels
made in Japan? They had me at 'gingham'.
And I might want to show my love for my
beloved Oregon.

And lest you think I am spoiled - this collection is
sort of like the list my 11 year old creates to send to 'Santa' -
10 pages of items created as
the holiday catalogs arrive in the mail......
It's become her holiday tradition despite not really getting anything
off the list.  However, she is happy with anything she is given
and is one of the most generous and
enthusiastic gift givers.

A girl can dream, right?

Do you have an Ellen connection? Can ya help get this family to Sochi?

Ok, some facts about yours truly:

* I was born in Wisconsin
* I am half Swedish, half Norwegian
{with some other stuff thrown in for good measure}
{and yes, I know that makes me more than 100% a person}

* Curling is a legit sport among my 'people'
* Some of my 'people' may even be
Olympic curling athletes -
true story.

Actually, my cousin's sister-in-law has been a member
of the USA Women's Curling team the last three
Olympics.  AND, she just qualified
to go to Sochi and represent the United
States in her FOURTH Olympics!
{Michael Phelps has nothing on US Women's
Curler Debbie McCormick!}

My cousin is a school teacher and her husband has
his own lawn care business.  They would love to be able
to go to Sochi and cheer on Aunt Deb! However, flying to
Russia and staying there for two weeks for a family of
four is quite expensive. Soooo......they are
getting creative and humbly asking for help.

My cousin
has some cute kids and they made a video
trying to get the attention
of Ellen DeGeneres, cause she nice, and funny,
and generous, and nice, and funny, did I mention funny?
(did I mention generous?)

Well here is the cute video.........

So readers, if any of you happen to know Ellen, or Portia, or 
their gardner, housekeeper, chef, mailman etc....could you
pass this cute video on?  This family would love her help!
And wouldn't Carter make the cutest correspondent?

And this is Aunt Debbie, doing what she does best.

And just because I am Scandinavian, don't think, for one
second I know a thing about

And finally, dear readers, if you are so inclined and would
like to donate to get this sweet family to Sochi,
they have set up a site to accept donations.......

Here is the link! Just click on the image below:

I realize this is the time year we are all asked to
contribute to worthy causes, if you find it in your
heart to help this wonderful family fulfill a dream,
please accept my sincerest gratitude!

Go Team USA!!!!!

Tomato Basil Soup.....

We are heading into the holiday season which means lots
of rich foods and sweet treats.  And while I love to indulge as 
much as the next person, I also like to weave in some 
healthy, lighter dinners for my family during the season.

This tomato-basil soup recipe is a favorite!
I serve it with cheese toasts and a caesar salad.

Tomato-Basil Soup
{adapted from Portland's Palate - Junior League cookbook}

1/4 cup butter, plus 2 tablespoons, divided
5 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped and divided 
1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced and divided
3 {28 ounce} cans Italian plum tomatoes
Salt and Pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
2 cups chicken broth

In large saucepan over medium heat, melt 1/4 cup butter.  Add 3 
tablespoons basil, chopped onion and 4 cloves garlic.  Cook until tender,
about 15 minutes.  pour in tomatoes and their liquid.  Simmer
uncovered for 30 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

* Now - use either an immersion blender {THE best kitchen gadget}
or food processor to puree tomato mixture.  Return mixture
to saucepan {if you used a food processor}.

In small saucepan over medium heat, melt remaining 2 tablespoons
butter.  Add remaining 2 tablespoons basil, garlic and Italian seasonings
and saute for 5 minutes.  Combine sauteed herbs with chicken broth
and tomato mixture.  Simmer until heated through.

I am having a hard time getting my head around the fact
that next week is Thanksgiving! It really is my
favorite holiday.  I love the pause, the time
with family, the food........but geez, isn't it still September?

Happy Thursday!

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