I'm motivated, and on fire for the new year. I've got myself a solid game plan, and I'm optimistic that I just might be one of the eight percent of Americans that end up sticking to their resolutions. (Do you think you're one of those folks too?)
Last year I managed to wrangle my inner hoarder quite a bit, and I purged a lot of things in my cottage that I clearly was never going to use. (Four different colorful shades of polka-dot french fry holders from "Pick Your Plum"for one.)
(What was I thinking?!)
(I gave them to my fabulous daughter-in-law, who is a kindergarten teacher.)
Anyway, I made several small steps forward last year, and now I am feeling very much like the little engine that could.
Keep my organization resolutions, that is.
The weight and exercise resolution is another topic entirely.
Just a quick post to share that the large poster from yesterday's post is now available in my etsy shop. Find it here.
(Today's blog post will be coming along later....)
He's right, I am afraid to say.I mean, if you're doing it right...living that is...then I think it always feels like there are too many things we'd love to do, and never quite enough time.
There are far too many things I want to do, and no where near enough time to do it all. Big things, (Like going on a road trip to Round Top in Texas.) and little things (Like learning to make an incredible-to-nearly-die-for pie crust from scratch) and oodles of things in the middle. (I've seen AC/DC, but I haven't seen Oprah.)
This all being said, tonight we will all kiss last year goodbye, and welcome in a fresh new year, full of promise and adventure.
I've added another last-minute-in-twenty-fifteen printable kit to my etsy shop, if you're looking for a little something fun for tonight.
I designed a New Years Eve sign to go on the flip side of my giant three by four foot faux chalkboard sign. I ordered a printed blueprint (Engineered) copy of it from my Staples Store, and last night I attached it to the back of the giant sheet of Styrofoam-like insulation (from Home Depot) and replaced my Christmas mantel decor. (I will be adding this, along with a few other a few other New Year's eve Printable kits...)
I added my collection of old clocks and I am now ready to ring in the new year.
No one is required to stay until the clock hits twelve, and there won't be a lot of decorations. Just a fun banner I made, and a few other little Tracey-touches (signs for the champagne area, a Q and A game, and a few questions to ponder for next year....)
Personally, I love the whole new year- new opportunity idea of it all. I like looking back over the year past, and looking at the fresh clean slate ahead of me.
I wonder what exciting adventures will happen, and where my life will be a year from now. What are you doing this New Year's Eve? Staying home? Going out? Going to bed early or late? Is it a big deal to you, or just another date on the calendar?
Please, do share!
I created a book as a memento and Christmas present for the Grands. (And their parents.) A rather gigantic book actually, (!4" by 11" unopened, and over two feet wide when opened up!) all about our adventures at this past summer's first annual Camp Cupcake, (31 fabulous pages, with over 175 photos, thankyouverymuch.) I had four copies printed through Mixbook; one for each family.
(I had so much fun, reliving each moment of Camp Cupcake with each page I designed!)
It was truly a labor of love.
When the books arrived on my porch, I was a bit taken aback at the size of the box. Upon opening it, I was even more stunned at the size of book I had ordered. Somehow, when I read the size choices on the website, the 11 by 14 didn't seem all that big.
While the book borders on being obnoxiously large, even on my big square coffee table, it's full of photos of the kids doing sack races and roasting s'mores, so it seems somehow appropriate and perfectly sized, you know?
It took me many, many hours to build out the book, (pretty much a full weekend.) and I loved every minute I spent creating it, remembering each and every smile, and giggle, and fun memory from that over-niter spent with the grands.
In retrospect, I think I was far more excited, waiting in excited anticipation for the moment they would open this Christmas gift I had so lovingly crafted for them, than I was for anything else this Christmas season.
Aah, it's good to be Gramma Cupcake.
P.S. I know I have shared before that I have created books through Mixbook, but I want to share one more time, just how fun, and fulfilling it is to create one of these books. It captures a moment in time for you, and seals it for all eternity, only a flip of a page away, from remembering the fun you had, and how things were, once upon a time.(And, for the record, no, I am not being paid a dime to mention Mixbook. I simply love their ease of use, and their customer service.)
With six of my eight grand-babes in attendance, we corralled the little ones for my annual babes-in-bed photo shoot before the Christmas Eve festivities got too far along, and, as in the two previous years, it was like herding kittens.
This will be forever remembered as the year that Grand Number Seven had croup. Poor little man didn't feel well at all and was not about to give up his pacifier, nor was he having any part of his Gramma Cupcake's let's-all-wear-Santa-hats-and-sit-in-a-row-in-bed annual event.
I wouldn't trade this tradition for anything in the world.
My son, daughter-in-law, and two grands arrived today and are staying with me for part of their visit, so I wanted it to be extra special for them. I put my red ticking duvet cover on the comforter, and added my most favorite ever Ralph Lauren pillow cases with faux cross-stich alphabet on them. (I found them in a clearance bin at Macys years and years ago!)
I placed one of my thrifted Christmas trees on one side of the bed in the corner, as well as some of my Santa hats at the foot of the bed...
I added four pair of mittens across the headboard for a winter feel....
A few scattered throw pillows and blankets in a basket for an additional pop of color...
...a few more pops of red, here and there...(I swapped the smaller slipper chair that is usually in the guestroom with the larger chair from the living room for the holiday season, as my Christmas tree took up most of the corner of the living room...)
...and the Christmas spirit arrived, full force, in my guest room.
I told you that I had a friend over for a birthday lunch last week. I baked her a birthday cupcake, and since it was just going to be the two of us, I didn't want to put a candle or a sparkler in it, and yet I wanted it to look special.
Then I remembered my Trader Joe's Chocolate Star cookies, and the mini chocolate mint star cookies. I plopped one of each on the saucer with her cupcake, and it looked perfect.
Easy as that.
Next time you're wanting to take a simple slice of cake, or cupcake to a new level, try this.
(Gotta love Trader Joes...)
I was Christmas shopping the other day when I spied with my little eye a small kiosk of Seahawk themed items. (Go Hawks!) Naturally I went over to check them out, (Especially since there was a 50% off sign.) and there, on the bottom shelf, were three bullhorns.
Now, I know they are meant for fans to use at games, (God help the poor fan in front of the fan with one of these bullhorns) but my mind immediately went somewhere else. What could be more camp-like for the head camp counselor to have than a bright red bullhorn?
Nothing could possibly be more camp-like. (Except one of these, which is on my list to score on craigslist or ebay before summer arrives.)
I picked it up. It fit perfectly in my hand. Dare I buy something for myself during this I-have-eight-grands-and-counting-plus-the-rest-of-the-family-stretch-my-budget time of year?
It would be wrong.
It would be frivolous.
(After all, I had already surprised myself at Thanksgiving with an oh-so-early Christmas gift of not one, but two outdoor heaters. This madness needed to stop somewhere.)
I set the shiny red bullhorn back down and finished my shopping.
Two days later, visions of the shiny red bullhorn and me, rounding up miniature campers, and announcing the start of the sack races with it haunted me. When would I ever see a half-priced bullhorn again I wondered? Seriously, what were the odds?
Very nearly in a cold sweat, I scampered back to the Fred Meyer store where I had seen them. It was during a virtual downpour, with rain coming down in wind-blown sheets, and I and to park in back forty, but I braved it with my Christmas plaid umbrella held closely above my head.
I raced past the Salvation Army bell-ringer and into the dry, warm store, through the produce section, weaved around the customer service area, and made my way to the Seahawk kiosk. I looked on the bottom shelf.
And, it was empty.
My heart learched about two inches inside my chest.
(I always, always want something more when I think I can't have it, it seems.)
Trying to tell myself this was a sign from God that I was not to be surprising myself with gifts this time of year, but thinking of others, I heaved a great, long, pitiful sigh and turned around. There, four feet over, was a second Seahawk kiosk that I seemingly missed two days prior. My heart skipped a beat then, and my eyes darted to the bottom shelf.
There they were. (Insert angelic music here.)
I had been looking at the wrong kiosk.
Again, I saw this as a sign from God. (OH, Yes! Yes! Yes!)
(After all, this is really a gift for the entire Camp Cupcake population, am I right?)
I snatched the shiny red half-off bullhorn and marched myself the the checkout, popped open my umbrella, and braved the wet and windy hike out to my car.
Merry Christmas to me. (And all of my Camp Cupcake campers.)
I am having one of my favorite friends over today for lunch for her birthday, and I had the sweetest gift back (WalMart!) for her prezzie, but I had no tissue in the right shade to go with it. I dug through my craft room and came upon an entire bolt of tulle I had bought for my cupcake fairy costuume adn not used.
Coudl it work?
It was worth a try.
I loved it!
Like I said, I am most likely the last person coming up with this idea, but I had to share it anyway.
I mean, it is so cute, and just the right texture to go with the glittered bag, don'tcha think?
And, even better? A bolt of tulle is so cheap, (I bought mine online, here.) and will go a lot further than tissue paper.
I shared yesterday that I hosted my first-ever-in-this-home girls cocktail party last week. It was the first time I have entertained anyone beyond family in my sweet little cottage, and I had forgotten just how much I love entertaining.
So much fun!
I can hardly wait to do it again, and already have my next soiree plans whirling 'round in my head.
I've been meaning to share the handmade invitations I designed. They turned out pretty cute, done up in red and a fun lime Seahawk green.
I served appetizers, and had an assortment of things to drink, both hot and cold. I am a huge fan of the signature drink for any event, and this was no exception. I found a slushy coconut drink that looked perfect online, but I wasn't thrilled with the name, so I made up my own....(Oh, you're not even a little surprised that I made a sign to go on the kitchen counter, are you?)
I made a sign to go with the water as well...
A grand time was had by all, and as I said, we will be doing it again!
(More on that in another blogpost.)
Anyway, I thought I'd share my little tips on putting together cookie baskets....for holiday presents, or party favors, or hostess gifts.
I always keep my eyes peeled for good sized baskets, buckets, or tubs when I am out thrifting, or yard sailing, and I store my stash of finds in my craft room. Last week while shopping with both of my daughters and my Mom, I stumbled upon the most fabulous cardboard baskets in the dollar bin area of Target.
I bought all they had, which was six.
That evening, on the way out to dinner with my Rock n' Roll Buddy, I asked him to stop at a different Target and I scored about 14 more. The thing about items in Target's dollar section is that, once they re gone, they are gone.For this reason, I grabbed as many as I could find.
(The cube of butter is in the photo so you can gauge the size of the baskets.)
Way too cute, no?
You know, my signature gift wrap is kraft paper, with colored ribbons, bows, and foo-dads creating the finished look or theme for my packages. (So...these cardboard baskets had my name all over them, am I right?)
For my girls-night-holiday-happy-hour I used them for party favor baskets, and filled them with white paper shred (from the dollar store) and then added snippets of ribbon, a jingle bell (The Dollar Store again, a few years back.) and then nestled in mittens (Half off of two dollars at WalMart, two years ago, but cheap mittens are found in lots of big box stores, as well as the Dollar Store.) I added some home made tags...
...and then filled the baskets with some snowball cookies and white chocolate dipped pretzels.
The girls loved them.
I plan on duplicating this look for my neighbors this weekend. (And I will add a couple Milk Bones tied together with a ribbon for the neighbors that have pups!)
A few days after I did the fair baskets for my friends, I took a little crate of cookies and pretzels to my daughter's home for the grandsons, as we were having a family gathering. I used the same process for assembling the goodies, just a different container size.
It all goes together very easily and quickly, if you keep the shred, assorted ribbon, and a variety of containers (Or a stack of just-alike containers you scored at Target in the Dollar section...)on hand. The little tags I made add the finishing touch that makes them oh-so-special, and I am sharing them with you here today. Click here to Download Warm wishes and cookies pdf to use on your cookie gifts. Simply print them on card stock, cut and hang on your baked goodies.
I am having so much fun doing all of this baking and creating! I think 2016 might be my year for monthly themed baking projects.
My kitchen is pretty far down on my home improvement list, mainly because it needs to be completely gutted and that is going to take a chunk of change. In the meantime, it's not so bad that I can't live with it. My dishwasher is newer (from the 90's?) and my harvest gold range works like a champ. (plus it's a fabulous 40 inches wide, with storage for pots and pans!) My cupboards have definitely seen far better days, but I'm ignoring them for now.
All needed restorations aside, I added a few Christmas touches to the kitchen, and I think it added a warm feeling in there. The shelf I put next to the doorway was holy-jollied with a few red touches...(Isn't it amazing how well that old bookcase fits there? When the Other Tracey came to visit last June, she thought it was an original built in!)
I also added a bit of Christmas to the side of the fridge where I keep my tall hamper. I took an old thrifted crate and filled it with some of my stash of red and white table linens.
A vintage juice glass of candy canes add a little punch of color on the counter...
And the open cupboard above my range looks ready for the holidays too.
Speaking of my range, here it is...
I have a mad crush on the fabulous tea towel one of my daughter's got me for my birthday. (See how it matches my truck?)
My big apothecary jar that holds my flour has a sweet gingham bow and my vintage colander is filled with cranberries.
Even the closet door got into the holiday spirit, with a hook holding my two favorite holiday aprons...
Do you deck all the halls in your home, or do you keep it confined to the room with your Christmas tree?
Side conversation here- I am in a constant state of debate in my head, trying to decide if, when I renovate my kitchen, I should open up the wall and have a complete great room concept or not.
(I am a traditionalist at heart, and I like the separate kitchen, but oh! I love how JoAnna Gaines on Fixer-Upper always goes for the wildly popular open floor plan concept, you know?)
Back to Christmas decor in my cottage...there is a bit of Christmas cheer happening here in the dining area as well.
The big black hutch that has followed me through countless moves, and continues to be one of my favorite treasures, full of seasonal pieces. (Did you notice that this is where the swag of greenery ended up finding a home, up top there?)
My centerpiece this year is a thrifted crate with greens and a pair of old ice skates...
...even the wind up clock took on a little holly-jolly-ness.
( I forgot to snap any photos of my little bookcase nook that has it's back to the entry, so I'll try and do that later today and edit this post.)
More to come!
I don't have an actual entryway in my cottage. You open the door nd simply come into the living room dining room combo.
(There is a sweet little bookcase that was built in long ago, that sticks out there to kind of give an illusion of an entry. I was going to remove it when I moved in, and changed my mind. I am glad I did.)
Here is what you see as you enter....
My Mom gifted the sled she used for years with my kids to me, as my Mom doesn't have a spot for it in her condo. (Lucky me! Lots of fond memories of little silly gifts filling this old piece!)
Throw pillows on the sofa...
...and one of my Santa's has taken his place in my cloche...
Tomorrow, the dining room...
First, let me state the obvious: The more I do to the outside of my cottage, the worse the stuff that isn't done looks. I'm basically set for Christmas outside, but that seems to magnify the fact that I have no landscaping.
Oh, and I'm one window wreath and two red bows short, but plan on snagging them later today at WalMart, so imagine them there, okay?
So....with the oodles and toddles of projects to do outside of my cottage, and all outside painting is on hold until spring, when it is warmer and dry, I still had fun foofifying up the outside of my home this year. (Heads up, if you are one of my local friends, expect an invite to a fence painting party in your future.) Oh yes, just watch out, next year! The fence and chairs will be painted, and I'm hoping to have some landscaping in and add outside Christmas lights.
Okay, on with the tour.
First, let's start with the mailbox and gate...(Sorry, I never did get an actual close up of the mailbox adornment, but here it is...)
...and my sleds and ice skates nestled near the front door....
...the front door... (The jury is still out on the door color, by the way.)
....I added a stocking on the front door...
I added a few touches by the laundry room door, too. (I realized as I was cropping the photo that my hose is lying there all neglected on the ground. Yeah, gotta tidy that up.)
Even my adirondack chairs got into the Christmas spirit....
I think it looks welcoming, and gives a hint of the homey-ness you'll find once inside, don't you?
Once the sun is fully up, I'll take pictures of the rest of my cottage and share them with you, but right now I am thinking I'll build a fire, and then sit an enjoy an early morning cup of hot tea in my cozy livingroom before my Saturday gets going.
It's funny how I despise hearing that alarm go off each Monday through Friday, and yet on Saturdays I like nothing better than to wake up early, and enjoy the first hour or so of my weekend, thinking of all I plan to do. Do you do that?
We're starting my Christmas cottage home tour slightly backwards because, when I painted the living room, I wanted everything fresh and clean, so I took down my fabulous curtains and washed them.
They shrunk up six full inches.
I figured my only option to save my curtains would be to lower my curtain rods, and then I decided to take a chance and call the company I bought them from, which is Country Curtains.
I am so glad I did! They told me to ship them back and they would replace them. (Did I mention I bought these curtains in December 2014?!) Their incredible customer service has me as a customer for life.
Anyway, I shipped them back, and the replacement curtains only arrived yesterday, which was Tuesday, (And by Tuesday I mean weekly-pool-tourney-and-seventy-five-cent-taco-Tuesday) which means I wasn't home in the evening to fluff the five pairs of curtains in the dryer and rehang them.
So, yeah, we're starting our Christmas cottage tour in my cozy-and-comfy bedroom.
Usually I switch things up at Christmas and use my red ticking stripe bedding, but once I put the vintage white tree in there, I realized (for this year anyway) I wanted the serene-ness of the white color pallet.
I tried adding my fresh green garland, but ....in the end, (after asking a few girlfriends for input..) I decided it was a bit too much, and went back to my creamy colorway. (What do you think?)
Some of my vast collection of bleached bottle brush trees add some holiday texture to my night table....
...and my collection of vintage style Christmas stockings hang from the footboard, waiting for Santa.
I framed a photo of my most favorite Santa, all up close and personal, with a vintage tint to the picture next to my little tree.
Mmmmm hmm, it's a white Christmas in here, for sure.
(Insert exasperated eye roll here from me, deep in the heart of Traceyville.)
Can I interject here that I am wondering if I am the only girl in America who thought the stores (Grocery and big box craft stores like Michaels) would still have little white gourds or pumpkins in stock?
(The employee at my local Michael's yesterday looked at me like I was a slice of bread short of a sandwich when I asked her where any of the Thanksgiving merchandise was.)
In the end, it came together just fine, sharing our Thanksgiving meal in my dining room(As much as I whined, I couldn't get anyone on board to dine outdoors as I had envisioned in Traceyville.) with Robin's egg blue accents on white pumpkins I already had on my dining table. A good time was had by all.
I hope your Thanksgiving was spent with people you love.
....Oh, the pink booties in the photo? They were worn by both of my daughters, and I thought they were long gone, but were rediscovered this past week. I gave them to my daughter to use with grandbabe number nine. (A second grand daughter for me!)
Last night, (the night before the night before Thanksgiving...)I realized I had no actual game plan for my tablescape for the Thanksgiving dinner with my family that I am hosting this year.
Wanna know how that happened?
I have been in Traceyville, that's how.
You see, we had a record breaking dry and hot spring and summer here in the Pacific Northwest, and from the minute I announced I would be hosting Thanksgiving for the family, (Way back in August, I believe.) I started envisioning a perfect rustic harvest themed table, with little white pumpkins and candles in old canning jars lined up down the middle,flanked by bistro chairs with fleece throws draped casually over their backs, outdoors, on my freshly painted, firewood-stacked-and-lined covered patio.
I pictured two matching outdoor heaters on either end of the patio,(I know! Nice, am I right?) and perhaps a firepit that I just bought on an early Black Friday deal off to the side, adding the wonderful smell of cedar to the holiday air. (And for the grands to make s'mores after dinner. They love doing that!)
(Have you gotten the entire visual here?)
We had a cold snap that started a couple weeks ago, and I buried my head in Traceyville, where it is always warm enough to dine outside with six little men under the age of seven. I glanced at my iphone weather last weekend, and remained ever hopeful that the weather would somehow cooperate with my vision for this Norman-Rockwell-meets-Country-Living-Magazine event in my mind.
It would seem that this is not to be.
Last night I had to take the fast train from Traceyville to Vancouver, where we are expecting a high of 42 (if we are lucky.) and face the cold (no pun intended) hard facts that I had never bothered to come up with a "Plan B" for Thanksgiving twenty-fifteen.
I then spent several hours a fair amount of time perusing Pinterest for ideas. (After all, my own Autumn Entertaining board was of no use, as it is full of every outdoor harvest tablescape ever photographed, and not much else.) Finally I remembered what I already knew; that it is who is in the chairs that matters, and not what is on the table.
I felt a wave of peace wash over me when I remembered this, and I have no doubt that tonight after work I will set the table and something will come to me to foofy it up, and in the end, it will all work out just fine.
Finding a pan to hold that twenty one pound turkey is gonna be another story.
I know. I’ve been MIA.
Life has been crazy busy.
(Isn’t that true for all of us?)
Between trying to get all the rooms in my cottage painted, my busy season at my grown-up girl job, and the big etsy order I had, I’ve been spread a little thin.
The rooms are now all painted, (Yippee!) the etsy order has shipped (Yippee some more!) and work is…well, still crazy busy. (But that is a good thing.)
I had so much fun doing my etsy order that I was kinda sad to have it completed. Then…the shopper emailed me wanting to know if I might be able to create boutonnieres to coordinate. Hellooooo! Yes, I would love to! I sent her photo samples, and we shall see what she decides.(I will keep you posted, don'tchaknow.)
They were so fun to make that I will be adding them to my etsy shoppe later this week. (After Thanksgiving is out of the way…)
What do you think? Can you see these on a sharp dressed man’s lapel at a black tie affair, or better yet, a new year’s eve wedding party?
I’m swooning here.