Monday, March 26, 2012

Chicago Weekend and Meal Planning

This past weekend was my annual pilgrimage to Chicago with my stepdaughter, sister-in-law and niece. We started the weekend with some fun gifts from The Pleated Poppy:


We spent a few hours here:


I adore these girls! We found many treasures…like these awesome baskets…perfect for beach towels. I plan to use the smaller basket for sun tan lotion, extra hats and other lake supplies.



We ended our trip at Trader Joe’s. For those of you lucky enough to have one of these in your town, you know why this is part of the pilgrimage. We stocked up on all our favorites and this is what the car looked like:

Chicago 1

I would say the trip was a great success and am already looking forward to next year!

It was back to reality today, but I was armed with my meal plan for the week:

Monday: Pork grillers, rice, salad and broccoli.

Tuesday: Whole wheat penne with pesto, chicken and sun-dried tomatoes, salad.

Wednesday: Grilled tilapia fish tacos with roasted corn salsa (Trader Joe’s).

Thursday: Layered taco bake (new recipe…if it turns out, I will share it with you next week).

Friday:  Dad B’s bean soup in the crockpot

Saturday:  Heading to Great Wolf Lodge for the weekend!

Have a great week!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring mantle

Happy first day of Spring! The gorgeous weather is still holding out here…the perfect way to usher in the new season.

To put together our Spring mantle, I mostly “shopped” the house, trying to look at objects in a different light to see how they might fit the Spring theme. I did make a trip to Hobby Lobby and spent $25 on supplies.

First, I took some pink buds I found at HL, cut them apart and added them to a wreath I already had to give it some more color. I also bought the faux grass and put it in a pot I already had.


Next, I found one of my favorite photographs. I bought this photo at an art fair in San Diego almost 20 years ago. If you look closely at the matte, it says “her favorites” in gold. The photographer was Dane Greir.


Aren’t those felt wool chicks adorable? I got them a couple of years ago from an Esty shop called Bossy Feltworks. I have several items from them…right now I am coveting their chocolate wool bunny. The ladies that own the shop are lovely…I highly recommend their shop.

Last summer, I saw a tutorial on how to make moss balls at The Yellow Cape Cod. Brilliant! What a great way to add green to a vase. I bought foam balls and moss at HL and this is what I ended up with:



I love how they turned out! It was an easy project and took about an hour to complete…the only sacrifice were my husband’s water skiing gloves…I thought they were work gloves and used them to keep my hands from getting burned with the hot glue. Sorry, Babe…I promise to replace them before the water warms up!

Here is the complete mantle:


I am linking up with The Lettered Cottage for the Spring Fling link party!

Enjoy your week!

The Lettered Cottage

Monday, March 19, 2012

Meal Planning

I have been reading One Bite at a Time ...52 Projects for Making Life Simpler by Tsh Oxenreider. One of the projects that inspired me was on meal planning.

Hubby and I both work outside the home, arrive home about 6 PM and scramble to put a meal together. We have meal-planned in the past and it worked out great…it makes our meals less stressful and more enjoyable and healthy. So, why don’t we do it every week?? In an effort to be more organized and create some accountability, I am going to plan our meals on my blog each week.  If you have any great go-to recipes, I would love for you to share them with me.

This week we have a head start. We had a dinner party on Saturday night and roasted 4 chickens for the event. Hubby made his Dad’s “Hot Cabbage Creole” to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and it was a huge hit!

Here is the recipe if you are interested. Cabbage is loaded with Vitamin C and antioxidants (plus, the recipe has BACON).

Cabbage Creole

  • 4 slices bacon
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 28 oz. can of tomatoes
  • 1 medium-size head of cabbage (he used red) cut into strips
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 10 drops hot sauce
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar

Cut bacon and fry. Add onion and red pepper and sauté with bacon. Add tomatoes with juice. Add cabbage, hot sauce and vinegar. Bring to boil and simmer about 35 minutes.

Without further ado, here is our meal plan for the week:

Sunday:  Stuffed artichokes.

Monday: Corned beef and cabbage in crock pot. (belated St. Patrick’s Day)

Tuesday:  Chicken tacos in whole wheat tortillas with black beans, guacamole, and rice.

Wednesday: Caesar salads with grilled chicken breast.

Thursday: Carnival at school…the flyer indicated a ”delicious hot dog dinner” will be served. We told O. we would take him to his favorite Mexican restaurant after the carnival…but he is completely sold on having hot dogs with his friends. Anything for our little man cub. Smile

Friday:  Momma is going to Chicago for a weekend with the Girls! Boys are on their own…which most likely means German wieners and sausage.

Have a great week!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

AMAZING weather!

I was going to continue the house tour today…but got distracted by the amazing weather we are having in West Michigan. It was 78 degrees today…that is 35 degrees above average…these are SUMMER temps…and I am loving it. Hubby, O. and I spent the entire day outside…and finished the day here:

Like Summer

What a treat to eat dinner on the porch! This is what our porch looks like in the summer:


Everything still looks cold with no green trees or flowers. The table on the porch was my grandmother’s kitchen table. The table was dark brown and we painted it white. She would LOVE that we are using it still. In the summer, we eat dinner out here every night. The chairs are from IKEA.

This fabulous weather has me thinking about our garden. The first year we planted our garden, we had great success; tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, pumpkins…we were hooked on the fresh and organic food we were growing…and then…we had several poor years…a summer that was too wet, a summer that was too dry, a summer that was too cold…you get the idea.

When I saw an idea on winter seed sowing and how it can create stronger plants I was SOLD. You can read the post  here at Life is Good, but the basic idea is to create a “greenhouse” out of milk jugs.

O. and I planted tomatoes and “magic” green bean seeds. We taped the milk jugs back together and placed them in the ground in our garden:

Sowing Seeds 1We also planted cilantro, basil and rosemary in my “aged” clay pots. Look at all that sunshine…ahhhh.

Sowing Seeds 3

Several years ago I “aged” these clay pots using a cornstarch mixture. Submerge the pots in water. When the pots begin to dry, they dry unevenly…mix cornstarch and water into a paste and apply it to the pot with a foam brush or your hand…it will stick to the wet spots. Once the pot is dry, you may want to sand some areas. Once the pot is to your desired aging, apply a medium brown varnish over the top. I just used whatever I had on hand.

I also managed to start some Spring decorating. I will be linking up with The Lettered Cottage on Tuesday for the start of the Spring Fling Link parties. Here is a sneak peak:

Spring 1

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Welcome to my first post!

Why My Cottage Love? Well, the story began seven years ago when I married an amazing guy that had a cute little cottage on a lake.

House 3

Cute. Right? Well, maybe not our dream home…but the views of the lake and the sandy beach just outside the back door…heavenly. My brain couldn’t stop thinking of the possibilities for this future nest of ours. I made notes, tore out magazine pages, and scoured the web looking for ideas.

Soon, the little cottage was in transition…

House construction

My apologies for the poor picture quality…I didn’t document the building process well…maybe because it was January in Michigan.

Six months later, this WAS our dream house. My cottage love…



Of course, this picture was taken just last summer…that’s my little guy in the picture…he makes the cottage love even more sweet.

I spend much of my spare time (outside my full-time job and being a wife and momma) thinking of and carrying out ideas to create a beautiful, happy and comfortable home for my family.

Here is a sneak peak of the interior of our cottage. This was the summer after we moved in:


I will give you the full house tour next week…I hope you will join me!