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Thursday, January 09, 2020

Christmas Favorites

It can be a risky business rating one's Christmas gifts, 
however, I am confident that there won't be any offense taken.  I saved my favorites for last, but the rest are in no particular order
Allbirds shoes have been showing up as a sponsored post on my Instagram feed for months.  Though I never clicked on any of the sponsored posts, they showed up on Christmas morning with my name on the gift tag!  Thankfully, our kids are savvy about good products and thought these would be a good "fit" (pun intended) for me.  I've recently had Plantar Fasciitis and while it has healed, I can still feel it could trouble me again.  These shoes though.  They are so comfortable.  They look nice, annnnnd they don't make my feet smell (TMI?) like some other shoes I own.  After my first day wearing them I pretty much decided I'd be purchasing another pair or two in different styles.  Kirk and I are taking a trip to France and Italy in the spring and these shoes are going to be feet-savers!

Ina Garten is one of my favorite cooks.  Until recently I had only made her recipes I found on the internet or that my sister and cousin shared with me.  This is my second Barefoot Contessa cookbook - and I've already bookmarked several recipes to try this winter.

Another favorite gift, a Wallace Bell - from Kirk.  1986 - was the year our firstborn entered our lives.  I'd love to have a collection of all the bells, but for now, I'm starting with significant years in our lives.  I'll share in a future post how I came to collecting the Wallace Bells.
This next gift was on my list however it didn't show up on Christmas.  On January 6th I found two unopened gifts hiding in a corner of our family room.  After some quick investigation via texting family a photo of the wrapped boxes, Kirk confessed that he had the scoop.
The gift was for me!
And, this Able leather backpack was in one of the boxes!
I LOVE it!  It is going to be perfect for our 2020 travels.
 This little nugget, arrived as an early Christmas gift on December 2nd.
Milo Alan joined our tribe as grandbaby #5!
 Finally, having all our children and their families together in the same house for a week was my absolute favorite gift of all.  We celebrated one little turning two, went to see Frozen 2, played games, snuggled, played in the snow and savored our time together.
2020 is bringing travel, adventure, a niece getting married and family time and I am so excited for this coming year!

H A P P Y  N E W  Y E A R Friends!


Monday, December 16, 2019


I must have flowers, always, and always.
~ Claude Monet

 Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring - I appreciate having flowers in the house, in the garden, on the porch. 
When winter arrives and stays too long, I appreciate them even more!  Making arrangements in pretty containers or wood boxes is my favorite way to enjoy them.  While flowers are non-existent outside in Minnesota once the frost hits, foraging our yard for greens like boxwood, pine and spruce branches, and pine cones is still an option.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with buying a mixed bouquet of flowers and plopping them in a vase, but if you want to kick it up a notch, try arranging them.  Floral centerpieces that I make for less than $20 cost between $50 and $60 at local florists depending on the flowers.  Trader Joe's has the best deal in town for flowers, but you can also find good prices at Sam's Club and in some supermarkets.

When shopping for flowers look for:
Larger flowers:  larger mums, carnations, roses, hydrangea
Medium flowers:  cushion mums, daisies, button mums, mini carnations
Filler flowers: babies breath, berries, any tiny flowers
Foliage: leather fern, ivy, dusty miller, lemon leaf, eucalyptus, spruce, pine, etc.

Before we get to the video tutorial, know that I made 3 different arrangements from the flowers I bought at Trader Joe's for less than $20.  One large centerpiece and two smaller arrangements.

Here's a quick look at the steps to make a centerpiece.
For this arrangement, I started with a small bowl.
 next, I added floral foam that had soaked in water for about 30 min. Floral foam can be found at Hobby Lobby, Michael's, and sometimes local florists will even sell it to you.  
Florists typically have the best price, around $1-$2.
 The foam should be slightly higher than your container.
Next, add foliage.  Boxwood, Juniper, Spruce, Pine all work nicely for Christmas arrangements.
Put a taller piece in the center of the foam.  An old school rule of thumb was to make arrangements 1.5 times higher than the container.  I rarely follow that guideline these days, but it's a good starting place.  Continue adding foliage around the edges of the container, and fill in with the branches.  You don't have to fill the container at this point.  Leave room for the flowers!
 Continue filling in between the foliage with your flowers.  Add larger flowers first, then move on to the smaller, filler flowers.  Flower arrangments look best with an odd number of flowers!
Here's a quick video of me putting together a centerpiece.  This was my first time using iMovie.  There is a bit of a learning curve - and I'm so thankful for modern technology that allowed my son, Nate, to see my laptop (and control it) all the way from Jacksonville, FL to help me (ok, practically do it all) with this video - while I learned alongside him.  (Check out Nate's Mid-Century IG account at
Being a beginner at something is difficult, I've decided to not be afraid of being a beginner!

I didn't plan to use the dried hydrangea from our yard, but I'm sure glad I did, it was just the right soft green color against the red and creamy whites.
 Plenty of flowers left over to make a second arrangement.  These make nice hostess gifts.
Containers are plentiful at thrift stores for making hostess gifts or to give away small arrangements.  Mugs make nice containers too.

 This little vase was the perfect vessel for the leftover blooms... and I just love having flowers and something pretty to look at when I'm washing up dishes.
Don't be afraid of being a beginner! You've got this.
Enjoy the process and please post your photos and be sure to tag me (mycottagelife) if you post on Instagram so I can see your beautiful creations!

Here are some other great Christmas decorating, craft and baking ideas from a few of my friends in the Miss Mustard Seed Mentoring program.  Please click, leave comments and pin/subscribe to their posts if you like the content!

 The Lemon Tree Home       |       Miss Mustard Seed                |     Color Filled Cottage
Hearthside Comforts      |    Well Purposed Woman      |      Efex           |           My Cottage Life

Merry Christmas,

Credit:  Thank you, Nate, for giving up your free time, teaching me and assisting with my project.

Sunday, December 01, 2019


Thanksgiving was home in Minnesota this year.
In the previous two years, we have traveled to Jacksonville, Florida to spend the week with Nate.  This year we traded a beach for snow - because we are waiting on our fifth grandchild to make an appearance here in town.  While we would have loved to have all our children and grandchildren here we loved having our friends join us.

We had a lovely afternoon and evening with our growing Minnesota family
and our friends the Parsons. 
Inviting others into our home for holidays and really any time is normal.

Memories were made, traditions continued, friendships deepened.
Games were played, football was watched, silliness happened.
Though we couldn't be with all our immediate or extended family for the holiday we cherished the time we enjoyed with the friends and family we gathered with.

We have so much to be thankful for,