Outdoor Tablescape and Garden Drink Station

Yesterday, while I had on my “rose-colored glasses” I saw this charming spot winking and beckoning from the shade of our Oak Tree. The secluded corner and the panorama view of the lake kept enticing me until I was inspired to set up a drink station for the big pitcher of lemonade and pineapple punch I’d made for our hot summer afternoon.

One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats.

Iris Murdock

This little drink oasis looks so refreshing and is aesthetically pleasing “amid and amongst” the surrounding landscape. It makes me smile just looking at it.

Doesn’t this make you want to grab a punch cup and put it under the spigot? It’s just what I had envisioned in my “mind’s eye.” (:

This little desk once set in our son’s bedroom. When I gaze back at remembered times, I can still see him bending over his desk drawing pictures, gluing airplane models, or working on homework. ❤ I could never bear to part with it, and now it’s keeps me company inside my greenhouse. It was so convenient to open the greenhouse door, pull it out and transform it into an impromptu beverage cart!

I love the juxtaposition of the chunky little desk setting against the cedar fence background mixed with the crystal and delicate lace. The lace and ferns soften the look of the cement bird bath and angel statuary.

Beautiful visual textures … the smooth clay of the terracotta planter, feathery wispy ferns, the grooved lines of the punch cups and crystal biscuit barrel, and the woven lines of the lace.

This miniature birdbath nestled between the Plumosa and Asparagus Ferns usually sits under our Japanese Maple Tree. If you look carefully you can see the last line from the song “His Eye Is On the Sparrow” inscribed around the edge of the birdbath, “And I Know He Watches Me.”

A terracotta duck planter filled with Creeping Jenny sits below a desk drawer that has a bit of lace and an Angel Wing Begonia tucked inside.

The whole time I was arranging this garden drink station, the melody of Ricky Nelson’s song, “Garden Party” was wafting through my mind. I had so much fun putting this all together and the punch seemed to taste even better in it’s garden party setting! I can tell we’re going to be using this little spot for all kinds of al fresco enjoyment … serving hot apple cider in the autumn … pumpkin latte’s in winter(click here for recipe) … even holding a tureen full of soup for cozy afternoon’s spent around the bonfire! (click here for Stuffed Pepper Soup recipe) (click here for Tuscan Tomato Soup recipe) … and (click here for Easy Potato Soup recipe)

"I went to a garden party to reminisce with my old friends
A chance to share old memories and play our songs again ..." 
 ~ Garden Party by Ricky Nelson 

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“For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.” Isaiah 61:11

From my cottage to yours ~ Trenda

Thank you for reading my blog. To have all my posts delivered directly to your email address, just click on FOLLOW in the post above … or click on my site: cottagegreenonthelake.com

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Summer Days at the Lake and Recipe for Smashed and Loaded Skillet Potatoes

Summer days at the lake served with lemonade and a side of Tiger Lilies.

Today the sound of locusts chattering from tree to tree took me back to sweet, remembered days of … screen doors slapping shut and nipping at the back of my heels … sitting and playing jacks on cement porches that felt cool against my short clad legs … lovely, rackety sounds that came from our bicycle tires after we clothes-pinned playing cards to the spokes of our wheels … taking turns drinking warm, musty water out of the hose … and days of playing “Red Light, Green Light” “Freeze Tag” and “Mother May I” until the lightening bugs came out.

Summer afternoon – summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.

Henry James

Summer days at the lake served with lemonade …

… and a side of Tiger Lilies.

Breakfast enjoyed on the deck is hearty and befitting lake days and outdoor appetite’s. Look, the first Smoothie (Blueberry & Banana) our grand daughter made without Grandma’s help. (:

Darling, dimpled, smoothie-maker takes her turn on the Gladiator.

Two of Grandma’s heart throbs. ❤

This picture makes my heart brim as I look at these sweet faces … one jubilant, the other, a little timid, but a great sport! ❤

A beautiful early-rising full moon over the evening lake.

A parting gift from the setting sun.

The loveliest moonlit path led us home.

Such stuff as dreams are made on …

William Shakespeare

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Now, the recipe I’m sharing with you today is “Smashed & Loaded Skillet Potatoes. If you cook your potatoes in a cast iron skillet, you can prepare it alongside whatever is cooking on the grill … or toss a quick salad and stuff your potatoes full of all kinds of goodness and this side dish transforms into a delicious and hearty meal.

However, before we begin on the recipe for Smashed and Loaded Skillet Potatoes, I want to share another cooking gem with you … my favorite way to make baked potatoes, using a crock pot! Whenever I make baked potatoes I fix a whole batch in my crock pot so I have extra’s ready in the refrigerator for making potato salad, dicing and adding to a pot of green beans, or for making this easy recipe. Crock Pot baked potatoes have a delicious “in-depth flavor” and because they’re cooked slowly, they have a dense and perfect baked potato texture.

*CROCK POT BAKED POTATOES

  1. Clean and scrub the number of potatoes you want to prepare and lay them on paper towels to dry.
  2. Prick the skins of the potatoes with the tines of a fork to prevent the skin from splitting, then rub the skin of each potato with butter. Butter softens the potato skins and makes them more flavorful.
  3. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and garlic powder on each potato and wrap them individually in aluminum foil (dull side of the foil, out) and place them in your crock pot, no more than 2/3’s full. For easier clean up, place the wrapped potatoes into the bottom of your crock pot with “folded seam” of the aluminum foil up.
  4. Place lid on crock pot and cook on high power, for 6 hours (I always use medium sized potatoes.) Cook time will vary depending on the size of your potatoes. To see if potatoes are done, use a sharp knife and pierce your potato through the foil. If the knife does not go through the potato easily, additional baking time is needed.

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SMASHED AND LOADED SKILLET POTATOES

Ingredients for 6 servings:

  • 6 potatoes, already baked
  • 3 slices of bacon, cut into 1/4″ pieces
  • 1/2 cup diced mild, sweet onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped red & green bell pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon salted butter
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
  • baked potato toppings (butter, cheese, sour cream, finely chopped green onions)
Instructions:
  1. Cook and stir bacon in a large skillet, until almost crisp. Add onions and bell peppers to the same skillet and saute until vegetables are tender and bacon is to desired crispness
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of butter to the skillet and melt to cover pan and add to bacon and vegetable mixture
  3. With a spatula, push the bacon and vegetable mixture to one side of the skillet leaving room to place the baked potatoes in the same skillet.
  4. Add baked potatoes to the skillet to heat
  5. Smash or flatten each potato by using a heavy spatula or a small bowl. Do not smash the potato so much that it breaks apart or looses it’s shape!
  6. Sprinkle outside of potatoes with salt and pepper, if desired
  7. Cook your potatoes until they are heated throughout, turning over to heat both sides.
  8. Spoon some of the bacon and bell pepper mixture into each potato, add salt and pepper to taste. Add butter and sprinkle cheese into each potato
  9. Cover skillet with a lid and cook 3-5 minutes, or until cheese melts.
  10. Remove lid and add a dollop of sour cream to each potato and chopped green onions before serving.

For a heartier meal, these potatoes would be delicious stuffed with broccoli and covered with cheese … or for winter meals, top them with Chili con Carne. I hope you’ll try them, I think they’ll become a family favorite!

Yesterday for lunch, Richard and I had our first “Sugar Kissed Melon.” Before even tasting it, I loved it because of it’s name! (: According to the tag, the Sugar Kissed Melon is the sweetest of the melon family. The Sugar Kissed Melon looks like a cantaloupe, though it is a little smaller … the outside skin wasn’t as deeply textured and veined as the cantaloupe … the pulp and seeds in the center of the melon looked the same as a cantaloupe. I cut it into pieces and served the Sugar Kissed Melon the same way I do a cantaloupe. It was sweet and delicious, a new favorite that lived up to it’s name.

It’s the little things that add enjoyment to each day. Plan a picnic in your own backyard, work a puzzle, read a good book or magazine while enjoying a glass of iced tea, burn the favorite candle you’ve been saving, get a drippy snow cone, lay in the hammock and take a nap, sit outside and look at the stars, and relish this last half of summer!

Time flies whether you’re having fun or not.

Claire Cook

I hope that reading my blog and about the things that go on here at Cottage Green on the Lake brighten your day. I know these are uncertain and troubling times, but read this wonderful reminder that Jesus said, telling us not to worry.

Whatever may be, it is such a blessing knowing that God is in control. Jesus said these comforting words in the Bible, in John 14:1 … “Do not let your hearts be troubled” and in 1 Peter 5:7, Jesus says for us to “cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” What wonderful words of reassurance during these stressful times! If you don’t have that peace and blessed assurance that comes from having a relationship with the Lord, please don’t leave this page before writing me so I can pray with you and answer any questions you may have … or go to my “About Me” page and read “My Faith in Jesus Christ.” Don’t let another day go by without knowing that Jesus is your Savior and your Friend.

From my cottage to yours ~ Trenda

Thank you for reading my blog. To have all my posts delivered directly to your email address, just click on FOLLOW in the post above … or click on my site: cottagegreenonthelake.com

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In the Cottage Greenhouse … DIY Plant Markers and Propagating Hydrangea

It was a delightful day for working in the cottage greenhouse.
Breezes from the north swept past the greenhouse door and I could see the lake winking at me while I worked at my garden desk.

I love hydrangeas and each spring I look forward to the gorgeous purple-blue blooms that fill our bushes. However, between the weather and furry folks, my hydrangea hedge has dwindled down to one lone bush. When I looked on-line to order more hydrangea’s, the nursery selections were limited and costly. With both those incentives, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to propagate some hydrangea cuttings from my Mophead Hydrangea … something I’ve wanted and meant to do every summer. It was a delightful day for working in the cottage greenhouse. Breezes from the north swept past the greenhouse door and I could see the lake winking at me while I worked at my garden desk.

Before beginning my propagation project I ordered a set of peat pot trays, though I could have used a pot or any other container for my cuttings, provided they had good drainage. My seedling trays came with a set of bedding plant markers. I was disappointed when I opened my package and saw the plant markers were made of plastic and were stark white. I had envisioned something a little more “earthy” and rustic for my first greenhouse project. Undaunted, I went out in the yard, gathered up some twigs, and whittled my own set of charming plant markers!

These plant markers made from twigs are just what I had envisioned, they are so rustic and winsome … AND so simple and fun to make! The only thing you’ll need for this project is twigs, a pocket knife for whittling, and a permanent marker. Are you ready? (: …. Go outside and pick up some twigs that are all about the same length and diameter, and that are reasonably straight (though some crooks and knot holes in your twigs add character!) Then sit down and begin whittling away the bark at the wider end of your stick. Carve enough bark away on your twig to expose the smooth wood underneath. You’ll only want to whittle away enough of the rough bark so you can easily write the names of the plants or seeds on your twig marker for identification. In the little red pail below, are ALL of the twig plant markers I made. I wrote Hydrangea and Morning Glory on 2 of them and I left the other markers with empty “nameplates” for future projects. Before I made these plant markers, I had never whittled anything in my life. I found the task mesmerizing and had to stop myself from carving away too much of the twig! P.S. – See the white plastic marker that came with the seedling trays that I placed next to my twig plant markers! (:

PROPAGATING HYDRANGEAS … SUPPLIES NEEDED:

  1. seedling trays or other container w/good drainage
  2. Potting Mix (I used Miracle Gro)
  3. pruners
  4. container of water
  5. rooting hormone (I used Garden Safe Rooting Hormone)
  6. Sharp stick or pencil

The best time to take “cuttings” from a hydrangea is around the first day of summer. The first day of summer is the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere and is also known as Summer Solstice … and this year Summer Solstice is today, June 20th! Around this time is when the leaves of the hydrangea are lush and green and it’s also the fastest time for the hydrangea to begin generating roots. Starting your hydrangea cutting’s at this time allows enough time for the cuttings (also known as strikes) to develop root systems before the hydrangea’s go dormant in the fall. Look for new, tender green limbs, known as “soft wood” on your hydrangea, as opposed to the brown, rigid woody sticks known as “old growth.” Cut 3″- 5″ stems, making the cut right below a leaf node (leaf nodes are horizontal segments on the stem where the leaves grow out) and include 3 leaf nodes in the stem you cut.

Carry a cup or container of water with you as you make your cuttings and place your hydrangea cuttings in the water so they won’t become taxed or wilted.

After you have as many cuttings as you want, trim your cuttings, taking off all the leaves except for the top 2. If your leaves are very small, you can leave them whole. However, if you are propagating large leaf hydrangea varieties, cut these leaves to about 1/4 of their original size so the cutting won’t be strained trying to supply water to the large leaf. Return your cuttings to the water after cutting the leaves. Fill your seedling trays or other container with potting mix and use a pencil (I used the the sharp end of my new whittled twig plant markers!) to poke a hole into the potting mix … 1 hole for each of your cutting’s, then dampen your potting mix before inserting your hydrangea cuttings.

Dip each wet hydrangea stem into the rooting hormone and insert cutting, coated with rooting hormone into your prepared potting mix. At least one set of leaf nodes, preferably 2, need to be covered in the potting mix since the nodes and stem are where the new roots will begin growing.

Gently push the potting mix around the cutting to hold it firmly in place, and continue until all cuttings are planted, then water thoroughly until the water flows freely from the drainage hole. If you use peat pots or trays like I did, I watered my cuttings until the sides of the tray were sodden. Keep your cuttings in a bright, warm place, but out of direct sunlight, and make sure your potting mix is moist at all times.

Don’t disturb your hydrangea strikes and continue to let them grow in your container or trays, making sure they are kept moist; I watered mine once each day. In 4 weeks your hydrangea cuttings, or strikes, should have produced new roots. At this time you can transfer your hydrangea’s to a bigger container. When you feel like your new hydrangea plants have become strong enough, or they have outgrown their container, they can be planted in your yard. This method of propagation works for all varieties of hydrangeas. I planted 10 hydrangea cuttings which hopefully will grow into 10 more Mophead Hydrangea bushes for our yard. Did you know a 1 gallon plant of Endless Summer Mophead Hydrangeas cost $29.99 on Amazon?!!! Go get on your garden gloves! (:

I love puttering around in my cottage greenhouse and below I have included some pictures of some of the knick-knacks I’ve added for some greenhouse charm. This wrought iron chair under my garden desk ~ is 1 of 4 that belongs with a beautiful glass topped garden table that my grandmother always had on her covered front porch. My mother gave the cherished table set to me and Richard sweetly sanded it and gave it a new coat of white paint. Now, I keep the table inside and use it in my music/craft room. I have dear memories of my grandmother and me sitting on her porch as she worked with her plants, sitting in this very chair! ❤

An Angel Wing Begonia looks beautiful tucked in a planter until I have the time to transplant it to an antique washtub outside my Potting Shed. See the sweet antique planter with the little bear sitting on top of the log? I love to find and collect these whimsical planters when we go antiqu’ing, and I have them in all kinds of unexpected places, not only in the greenhouse!

A grapevine wrapped pencil cup holds carved colored pencils and a chunky votive burns citronella and vanilla candles when I’m in the greenhouse. Here’s another one of my antique planters … a sweet little birdhouse with a red roof and a little birdie perched by the front door.

An old handmade wheelbarrow holds a spool of jute and scissors ready for tying up plants and other garden projects.

I love this tiny little flower vase with the kissing birds and I love to tuck tiny flowers inside. The colors of the birds and the coral-orange of the impatien’s bloom match perfectly with the box of wildflower seeds.

This is the canvas I told you about in my post “Charcuterie Charm” (click here to see) that my dear friend, Patricia made from the picture I sent her of the metal table I covered with broken pieces of blue and white pottery. Patricia told me she had this canvas made for me to hang in my greenhouse. I love it (and the giver) ❤ Doesn’t it make a great backdrop for my folksy handmade windmill with adjoining planter that holds an Asparagus Fern?

This miniature bistro table belonged to our daughter when she was little. ❤ The tabletop was always set with her Beatrix Potter tea set, ready for impromptu Teddy Bear Tea Party’s. I couldn’t think of parting with it, or the memories of sweet days gone by. Now, I love seeing it on my garden desk with a nest propped on one of the bistro chairs, a little bird keeping watch from the feathery fronds of a Plumosa Asparagus Fern, and another planter topped with little frogs, and filled with carved colored pencils.

Hope you enjoyed your day … your Summer Solstice, and the beginning of summer! Look who obligingly walked right into the picture below as I was taking our beautiful sunset. A Great Blue Heron we’ve fondly named Whiskers. He comes to our backyard buffet every evening, looking for dinner!

From my cottage to yours ~ Trenda

Thank you for reading my blog. To have all my posts delivered directly to your email address, just click on FOLLOW in the post above … or click on my site: cottagegreenonthelake.com

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Father’s Day Tribute and a Special Father’s Day Tablescape

My father’s love for us made it easy for me to understand the great love my heavenly Father has for me … and also taught me what I wanted and needed in my husband when it was time for me to marry.

~ Trenda

I wrote the post below for Father’s Day 3 years ago, but somehow, it was not in my archives of published blogs, so I’m re-posting it today.  Today is FATHER’S DAY!  I was so fortunate and blessed to have a wonderful and loving father.  I’ll always miss my father, especially on days like this, but oh, what a blessing it was to be his daughter!  I remember … Saturday morning wagon rides he would take us on, telling us the names of the trees as we “rolled by” and how to identify them by their leaves.  I remember … picnic’s Mom packed for the family to take to the Benbrook Lake and how strong my father’s hands looked when he whittled long sticks for us to roast our wieners on.  Later, those same strong hands would throw a rope into the tall trees for us to swing on.  I remember … Daddy pitching a tent for us in the backyard and frying bologna in a skillet over a small campfire.  I remember … being scared the first time I held a Roman candle, my apprehension stilled when his large hand  closed over mine and the golden fireworks shot out of the end and into the sky.  I remember … that he taught me how to make and fly a kite, how to swim, how to fish (though he always baited my hook and took the fish off for me!) ❤  My father was a Pastor and I remember … watching his unwavering trust and faith in God.  I remember … seeing him sitting in his recliner and reading his Bible.  I remember … how he loved the Lord and worshiped HIM.  My father’s love for us made it easy for me to understand the great love my heavenly Father has for me … and also taught me what I wanted and needed in my husband when it was time for me to marry.

My father and mother …

Daddy & Momma collage.png

Richard, my husband, personifies all those same traits my father had.  He is the loving father of our children; he is my best friend; he is my soul mate.  I love his giving nature, “can-do” attitude, thoughtfulness, quiet strength, playfulness, spontaneity and faith.  There is no sweeter feeling than him wrapping his arms around me and praying for me.  He “makes me happy, when skies are gray.”  When we married and we were “oh, so young” … he taught me how to write a check and how to add Downy to a wash load.  He put up with dinners of pancakes and Swedish meatballs (the only 2 things I knew how to cook, besides homemade bread, fudge, and pumpkin pies!)  He wordlessly cleaned up “spitup” when our children were sick … he made every meal for us when I broke my foot and ruptured a tendon that required surgery and I was in a cast for 3 months and had to keep my foot elevated … whenever it is raining and we are out, he thoughtfully drops me off at the front door, then he goes and parks … he brings me my coffee every morning … he makes me feel beautiful even when I’m just wearing (as Conway Twitty sang) my “faded cotton gown” and as my “auburn hair has faded and silver takes it’s place.”  Waking up … and going to sleep next to him makes every day “a good day.”

Richard and Trenda …

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Richard … “Dad” … “Daddy” … “PaPa” 

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Today, I want everything to be special … starting with the table!  A woven runner decorated with pheasants and Mallard ducks “anchors” my collection of all things “masculine” for our special guest of honor.

table1.jpg

2 place cards

Many of the items I gathered up to use on this tablescape are treasured gifts from our dear son and daughter, picked and chosen for “Dad” from Father’s Days, past.  A stack of favorite books, sailing and basketball trophies, a special DAD plaque, antique dog figurines and a pair of binoculars are all part of the centerpiece.

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A collection of crystal decanters and antique trophies add to the “Polo Club look” I wanted to achieve with this tablescape.

shipsnsails

The dishes are a mixed collection of Hull and Pfaltzgraff that Richard bought for me in the “Brown Drip” pattern.

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Sage green napkins are inserted into wooden napkin rings.  The elegant DIY place cards from my “Hello June” blog … add a personal touch to each place setting.

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Sparkle and glow … crystal stemware and handled mugs (ready for after- dinner coffee and blackberry cobbler!) and a ship’s decanter add sparkle … and a woven grass lamp, a gift from our daughter, shines cozily over the table and goldware adds more “glow.”

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Now, all that’s left is to fill these seats with loved ones and these plates with a menu  especially selected by the guest of honor!  Hope you have a special day shared with dear ones you love!  Happy Father’s Day!

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From my cottage to yours  ~  Trenda

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I’m delighted you spent some time reading my blog today.  To have all my posts delivered directly to your email address, just click on FOLLOW in the post above … or click on my site cottagegreenonthelake.com and follow the prompts.

Memorial Day … A Day of Remembering

As the sun sets on another Memorial Day, I didn’t want the day to end without remembering and honoring our military men and women who have given their lives for our Country and without acknowledging the heartache’s endured by the families and friends of those heroes. Below are some thoughts my husband wrote down this weekend as he was remembering and reflecting during this Memorial Weekend. I asked him if I could use his words in my blog.

“When I was a small boy and lacking in any worldly knowledge, my heroes were Roy Rogers, Zorro, and Gene Autry. My heroes rode into town , took care of the bad guys and rode away with a sense of self pride … the good winning over a make-believe evil. As I grew older, my heroes sometimes did die, but they rose again to star in a brand new show or movie.

Then I grew up; I joined the Army and became a helicopter pilot, no longer living in someone else’s story. My heroes were no longer fictitious characters who felt no pain and did not die. My heroes were now soldiers. They were my friends, my brothers in arms, someone’s forever relative. They fought not for money, but for an idea … a cause … a proud nation. They were vulnerable to pain and death.

I have shed many a tear for my friends, my fellow soldiers, and I always will, but my tears will never, ever compare to those tears shed and the heartaches that are felt by their families.

Parent’s, wife’s, fiancee’s, children, brother’s, sister’s, cousins, aunt’s, uncle’s, niece’s and nephew’s … to those family members, I am with you forever in sorrow, but I will never know the true heartbreak you have and what you continue to struggle with. But, I know one thing for certain … within the deepest parts of my heart is a place set aside for your relative, my true hero. Their sacrifice will never be forgotten … and to your family’s … your sacrifice is and always will be something I may never fully feel or comprehend, but I am beside you always, and thank you for yesterday, today, and tomorrow. God bless our heroes and God bless their families who continue to feel the emptiness.” ~ written by Richard

(Click here) To see this Memorial in honor of all the helicopter pilots and crewmen who lost their lives in the Vietnam War held in Arlington National Cemetery in 2018 Richard looking over one of the many hillsides covered with the graves at Arlington National Cemetery

For those of you that have asked me what my husband did in the military and about his time as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam … his story and the speech Richard gave at Bill Seaborn’s Memorial in 2017 has now been written in a book Helicopter Rescues Vietnam Vol. XI … True Stories of Daring Helicopter Rescues as Told by the Men Who Flew Them written by Phil Marshall. The publication of this book is in perfect timing with this Memorial Weekend and is a reminder that “FREEDOM ISN’T FREE.”

A day of reflection and remembering …

From my cottage to yours ~ Trenda

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Thank you for reading my blog. To have all my posts delivered directly to your email address, just click on FOLLOW in the post above … or click on my site: cottagegreenonthelake.com

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The Cottage Greenhouse, Garden Pathway & New Landscape Beds

Inside the greenhouse is cozy and “crunchy” with a pea gravel floor and smells wonderfully of cedar, cut grass, and earthy things. There are rows of shelves for bedding plants, hangers for trowels and garden gloves, and a little garden desk that Richard built “just for me.” ❤

After I took the picture of my Frog Prince standing in an enchanted forest of Wandering Jew in my blog “Charcuterie Charm” Richard and I both realized the plant had wandered way past it’s confine’s; it had overtaken the flower bed, tumbled over the brick wall, and begun a march across the patio. Richard cleared out all the “wandering nomads” then he reworked, leveled, and widened the old pathway that leads to our greenhouse. The greenhouse is tucked away on the side of our house, nestled under the boughs of a Cherry Laurel.

We’ve always used the greenhouse for storage and to house an occasional winter resident or two (an Areca Palm and some hanging plants) but since we’ve lived here, it has never been “user friendly” or very functional … until my sweet hubby remodeled the whole greenhouse and turned it into my “greenhouse dream come true.”

Now, the greenhouse has wide cedar doors that swing open on black hinges, cedar sides and a new clear greenhouse roof that rain merrily patters and plays on.

Back cedar doors of greenhouse

Inside the greenhouse is cozy and “crunchy” with a pea gravel floor and smells wonderfully of cedar, cut grass, and earthy things. There are rows of shelves for bedding plants, hangers for trowels and garden gloves, and a little garden desk that Richard built “just for me.”

The pathway Richard widened and re-lay from the greenhouse goes past new, curvy landscape beds …

… a bench my sister painted at the base of a large Oak tree

The bush in the front-left of this picture is an old variety of Mophead Hydrangea and has flowers in gorgeous shades of blue when blooming.

… and past the elevated landscape bed the Wandering Jew had taken over. Now, the only thing in this freshly mulched bed is a Cherry Laurel and a hedge of Richard Harland Boxwood’s that I planted 27 years ago. I bet you can guess why I picked that variety! (;

The pathway continues and meanders around the birdbath

… to the patio below.

View from the lower patio … I filled the flower bed beneath the birdbath with these perky impatiens.(It’s the only thing my dear husband and private medic would “allow me” to do, afraid I’d overdue.) Soon, the flowers will spill over the edges of the bed and tumble out onto the pathway.

Up a slight incline past the new landscape beds and our “upper” seating area on the left … then on toward the greenhouse.

Patio lights glowing in the twilight

I love and cultivate the moss that grows around our cottage. When Richard was working on the path, he sweetly scraped off the moss that had grown on the old pathway, so I could replant it. I smooshed the moss down into the cracks and crevices, and along the sides of the pathway so it would look natural.

I am already having fun pondering what to do with the upper seating area and I am happily anticipating “decorating” my greenhouse and filling my new fluffed and waiting “beds.” I’ve ordered some Autumn Ember Encore Azaleas to plant around the Ash Tree and the earliest expected delivery date for their arrival is June 1st. I’m also envisioning some Red Rover Heucherella and would love to tuck in some Brilliance Autumn Fern Dryopteris, but haven’t found any on-line, yet! Look for more pictures, later!

Spring work is going on with joyful enthusiasm.

John Muir

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From my cottage to yours ~ Trenda

Thank you for reading my blog. To have all my posts delivered directly to your email address, just click on FOLLOW in the post above … or click on my site: cottagegreenonthelake.com  

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Lakeside Spring Picnic and Recipe for Chicken and Cucumber Salad

Yesterday it was such beautiful day here in Texas, I started day dreaming of picnic’s! Picnics with ruffly edged napkins, table linens, quaint dishes, and (usually my last consideration when “dreaming up” picnics) what picnic food to fix. With my daydream in mind, I went inside and opened our linen cabinet that’s filled with all kinds of vintage “lovely’s.”

My dear followers, I can never thank you enough for all your prayers, “get well” wishes, and notes you’ve written to me during these last 2 1/2 months. Knowing you cared meant so much to me. We have certainly felt the Lord’s Presence and seen His Intervention again and again since I first went into the hospital. Thank you so much for brightening my days.

❤ Trenda

I am slowly getting better though, frustratingly, it doesn’t take very much effort to exhaust me. I’m supposed to spend as much time as possible outside, and yesterday it was such beautiful day here in Texas, I started day dreaming of picnic’s! Picnics with ruffly edged napkins, table linens, quaint dishes, and (usually my last consideration when “dreaming up” picnics) what picnic food to fix. With my daydream in mind, I went inside to see what I could find in our linen cabinet that’s filled with all kinds of vintage “lovely’s.”

… and chose these White Battenberg napkins edged with scallops of lace and a bright green and white gingham runner trimmed with cheery orange stitches.

After picking out the napkins and table runner I wanted to use, I went to our corner hutch in the kitchen downstairs and started picking out dishes and deciding what picnic food to serve on each.

I pulled out 2 soda fountain glasses from the bottom cabinets and thought how cute they would look filled with something other than the usual ice cream! With my mind whirling with that bit of whimsy, the rest of the menu came easy and I selected my dishes … a darling egg plate, some green and white salad plates to match the table runner, a dark green bowl with lines etched into the glass to look like lettuce leaves, a banana split tray (helping to carry out the soda fountain theme!) and a quart-sized Mason jar my mother gave to me.

I quickly chopped cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and chicken and tossed in some other yummy ingredients for an easy “main course” salad (recipe below) then dipped the rims of the soda glasses in lemon juice and dusted the edges with paprika. I added “scoops” of chicken salad to the soda fountain glasses and topped it all off with a final touch … celery “straws.”(;

Since there were only 2 of us, I put the extra chicken salad into the green bowl with etched leaves.

Then I deviled some eggs to place in this sweet hen “egg tray.”

Crystal tumblers filled with ice … and Lemonade Tea, made in my mother’s Mason jar beckoned us to “come sit” and Toasted Parmesan and Cheddar Toasted Crostini (click on highlighted link to see how to make) are stacked appealingly in an antique, scalloped edged, banana split tray.

Green and White “Old Curiosity Shop” salad plates by Royal (USA)

Chicken & Cucumber Salad

~ recipe by Trenda at Cottage Green on the Lake

  1. 1 – 12.5 oz can Chicken Breast (drained)
  2. 1 English cucumber (English cucumbers are the extra long cucumbers; they are milder in taste and have fewer seeds than their American cousin’s! (:
  3. Cherry tomatoes (I used 14 tomatoes)
  4. 1/2 cup Ranch Dressing (I use Ken’s Steak House Ranch)
  5. 1/3 cup roasted and salted sunflower kernels
  6. black pepper – to taste
  7. 1/2 cup French’s Crispy Fried Onions (added, right before serving to remain crispy)

Instructions:

Wash, peel, and slice cucumber lengthwise to form “half round” slices. Place all sliced cucumber into a medium sized bowl. Halve cherry tomatoes (add tomatoes according to your own taste and preference; I prefer fewer tomatoes than cucumbers in my salad and I used 14 cherry tomatoes) Add drained chicken to the cucumber and tomato mixture and using a fork, separate the chicken into bite sized pieces. To the mixture, add 1/2 cup Ranch dressing, 1/3 cup sunflower kernels, and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Before serving, add 1/2 cup of French’s Crispy Fried Onions, stir into salad and serve.

Lakeside picnic on a beautiful spring day at Cottage Green.

After Richard and I were “done” with our picnic I was “done in” (: and just sat outside the rest of the afternoon until the sun went down.

Now, I want to share one more thing with you that I hope and pray will help you during these troubling times. A dear friend sent me this little tin sign after I got out of the hospital and I kept it right where I could see it during those first scary weeks after I got home. I would look at the scripture inscribed on this sign and read over and over … “She confidently trusts the Lord to take care of her.” Psalms 112:7 Hmmm … “She confidently trusts!” So instead of worrying each day I decided I needed to confidently trust and be secure in the knowledge that the Lord WOULD take care of me. Daily I prayed, “Lord, help me to truly embody that verse and be confident that YOU will take care of me. Thank you for Your Word that promises that security and blessed assurance. Thank you Jesus, for loving me and thank you for being my Savior and my Friend.” The “New International Version” of the Bible and translation of that same verse is an anchor we can hold on to in “these days” we are living through and to remember in the coming weeks … “They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” Psalms 112:7 I am praying this verse for each of you during this time. “Have no fear of bad news … be steadfast … trust the Lord to take care of you. ❤ If you long for that security and relationship with the Lord where you can trust that He will take care of you, no matter what the circumstances, please go to the top of my blog on the right side titled ABOUT ME … and click on My Faith in Jesus Christ. It’s as easy as saying A-B-C and it will change your life and your eternal life forever! The Bible says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 If you have any questions or you would like me to pray with you, please don’t hesitate to write me and ask. I’ve already prayed for everyone that reads this blog and the Lord already knows your name. ❤

From my cottage to yours ~ Trenda

Thank you for reading my blog! To have all my posts delivered directly to your email address, just click on FOLLOW in the post above … or click on my site: Trenda @cottagegreenonthelake.com

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Charcuterie Charm … the tips and how to’s of charcuterie arrangements

I hoped to be inspired by the view and listening to the birds tweedle-dee-dee’ing … however, just the opposite happened; clever words are much harder to conjure up when surrounded by such bliss.

~ by Trenda

Today a sweet neighbor slipped into our garden gate and left a beautiful bouquet of roses and a get well card on our table outside. That was the only invitation and incentive I needed to fill a vase for my posy, grab my computer, and sit outside to write. The roses left by the sweet neighbor and their perfume kept me company while dear Richard worked on our garage door pulley that had broken … the nerve of the pulley breaking on such a day! I hoped to be inspired by the view and listening to the birds tweedle-dee-dee’ing … however, just the opposite happened; clever words are much harder to conjure up when surrounded by such bliss. So away from the dreamy pondering’s and on to “strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff”

Earlier this spring, Richard and I were sitting outside and it was time to start thinking about dinner. I didn’t really feel like “fixing” anything and I was reluctant for our evening outside to end. I went inside and started rummaging around in our cabinets and refrigerator to see what I could put together that would be quick and easy, substantial enough for a meal, and convenient enough to carry outside to eat. Hmmm … I pulled crackers and pretzels from the cabinets … pickled okra and cheeses out of the refrigerator … one apple, some deli roast chicken … a little of this and that. Then, I got out a platter and started arranging “my collection of foods” so they looked appealing and appetizing. I was pleased how quickly and easily it all came together … a platter of finger foods, a thermos for hot tea, and voila … dinner was ready! A charming charcuterie platter, just the perfect thing for a beautiful spring evening outdoors!

Charcuterie (pronounced shar-cute-uh-ree) is a French word and in Miriam Webster’s time was … “a delicatessen specializing in dressed meats and meat dishes.” Today, the trendy word charcuterie is a reference to any foods (appetizer’s, finger foods, or dessert’s) that are arranged on a cutting board or actual charcuterie board. The charcuterie boards available in the stores are vast and the selections range from elegant to rustic … marble slabs to knotty boards … and come in all shapes and sizes.

However, I love being enterprising and using items I already have. Platters, different sized chopping boards, and casserole dishes all work well for arranging and displaying charcuterie. Look in your kitchen and re-purpose items you already have for your own charcuterie display … any flat and “food safe” surface can be used. A 13 x 9 casserole dish makes an excellent base and helps keep accouterments in place. I use pretty, ruffly, “Loose Leaf Lettuce” to camouflage the sides of my casserole dish and the lettuce adds dimension to my charcuterie display. click here

Our Simple Charcuterie Platter

  1. Roasted chicken
  2. Pepperjack cheese
  3. American cheese
  4. Pickled okra
  5. Honeycrisp apple
  6. Stuffed peanut butter pretzels
  7. Wheat Thins crackers
  8. Zesty bread & butter pickles
  9. Pimiento cheese
  10. Celery

Charcuterie arrangement tips:

  • Roll or fold deli meats
  • Cube or cut cheeses into smaller squares
  • Cut fruits and vegetables into bite sized pieces
  • Arrange foods with contrasting colors and textures to compliment each other and make your charcuterie look more appetizing
  • Incorporate smaller dishes on your board or platter to create different heights and to add interest. Pictured Below … Crackers that tend to “spread out” and look messy on a platter I have contained in a miniature pedestal bowl. Now they stand upright, and look “fetching.” (: Another low oblong dish holds a mound of pimiento cheese. Celery sticks are on one side, ready for dipping while Zesty Bread & Butter pickles encircle the golden cheese. Small dishes are also a clever way to contain “wayward” foods … like my pickled okra! The okra, grouped together and standing upright in a glass creamer makes them look more appealing and urges in an “Alice in Wonderland” kind of way … “EAT ME!”

With my charcuterie platter ready, I gathered up a few more pieces of charm … an antique table runner trimmed in red, sprinkled with red daisy’s, and dear little cottages … a red plaid thermos to hold our tea … and tartan red napkins fit perfectly in our grand daughter’s miniature wicker picnic basket.

Variety is the very spice of life, that gives it all it’s flavor

William Cowper

Richard loved our impromptu dinner! The informality of the charcuterie platter added a subtle charm and carefree feeling to our al fresco dining that evening … and we stayed outside until the sun slipped away and tinged the sky and lake a beautiful pink.

More April “rambling’s” around our cottage

Encore Azaleas, Purple Iris, and Woodland Ferns in the rain … I went out while it was still dripping to take these pictures. The canopy of the trees shielded me for the most part, except when an occasional drop of rain would land on my shoulders … which only added to the loveliness.

Our Japanese Maple with a tiny birdbath I love tucked beneath it. Inscribed around the rim are the words, “His eye is on the sparrow.”

Our carefully cultivated moss-lined path and Japanese Maple almost glow in the light rain.

Easter was different this year since we couldn’t be with our kids and grand kids or have our traditional Family Hunt because of COVID – 19, but it was still a glorious day. “It was not about the bunny, it was about the LAMB.” After our Sunday Service on-line and Easter lunch, I made these decoupaged Easter Eggs using 2 different sets of napkins. “Let’s Go on an Easter Egg Hunt” by Meri Meri and Beatrix Potter’s dear little ducks, butterflies, pots, and pails alongside Peter Rabbit, and Jemima Puddle Duck look darling on these hard boiled eggs. It was a fun and sweet project on a reflective Easter afternoon.

This was just a forlorn and plain metal table that I covered with broken pieces of blue and white pottery. I love the look of the mossy enchantment and eclectic blend of the treasures I keep on this table. Shells gathered from the beaches of Texas, Florida, and Virginia … a collection of glass frogs that peep out of crevices … terra cotta planters with scrolls, frilly lines, and rusty iron rings … a bunny weather vane … and a little trough for thirsty birds inscribed with these words … “Life’s greatest treasures are life’s simplest pleasures.” A dear friend of our’s had a canvas of this picture made for me to hang in our greenhouse. ❤

Setting below the table a little Frog Prince can barely peep above the spring flush of Wandering Jew (Tradescantia Fluminensis). He clings to his crown trying carefully to balance the blue and white pottery ball that perches there.

Hope you enjoyed seeing spring around our cottage and you are ready to have fun, assembling your own charcuterie board!

From my cottage to yours ~ Trenda

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Winter Woodland Tablescape with Birches, Bottlebrush, Birdies, and Burlap

After filling up our bird feeders with suet and seed, I was “inspired” to set up a Winter Woodland Tablescape that looked perfectly suited for my feathered friends.

I had fun gathering a little of “this” … little birdhouses, nests, bottle brush trees, and … “that” a collection of metal bird baths, interesting little urns, cloches, and gold sprinkled votives for my woodland tablescape.

Sparkly bottle brush trees and twiggy nests covered in glitter added depth and gleam in their bronzed hues of nature.

A delicate blown glass cloche with a bird finial sets atop a bed of moss and adds another layer to my woodland table.

A little bejeweled acorn fits snugly inside a moss lined nest and rests in an ornate silver bowl.

While a chunky little bird rests beneath a twiggy winter nest trimmed with winter berries and holly leaves.

A burlap runner runs down the length of the table with another gauzy, runner on top of it which softens the rough burlap and blends the rustic and elegant elements together. “The Friendly Village” dinnerware by Johnson Brothers seemed the the perfect choice for this wintry, woodland tablescape with it’s snowy village scene and earth tone colors.

Moss green napkins are tucked into mini-grapevine wreaths and make charming napkin rings with tags tied on with bows of green satin ribbon. Click on both of these links to see these napkin rings I made in a “Rustic Tablescape” and the woodland tags I used in a “Winter Tablescape for the Birds.”

This pedestal-ed cloche is a favorite of mine and holds a ceramic owl next to a teeny tiny nest with a soft little feather from a Downy Woodpecker I stuck into the top of it.

A little bird tea light and a golden votive completes this birdie vignette.

You know I love to use items in unexpected ways and these little bird baths and urns I collect look darling used as salt cellars for this Woodland Tablescape.

Birch candles on rustic candle holders complete the tablescape and add a winter glow to the scene.

Twilight on the lake highlights the winter tablescape.

There was a beautiful full moon shining on the lake tonight and we saw some white pelicans floating, like large bars of Ivory soap, lustrously highlighted by the moon. Hope you’re taking some time each day to enjoy the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of this glorious season.

From my cottage to yours ~ Trenda

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:11-12

Thanksgiving Ideas, Tablescapes, Decorating Tips, DIY Projects and Recipes plus … Autumn in the Ozarks

I’ve gathered an assortment of Thanksgiving ideas, decorating tips, recipes, tablescapes, centerpieces, and DIY projects from “Thanksgiving’s Past” at Cottage Green. For the full instructions and details about each, click on the highlighted links. I am so sorry, some of these older pictures are really “grainy” and are not very clear.

A Welcome Home for Thanksgiving has some ideas on how to “dress up” your front porch and a simple DIY project using grapevine around your front door frame.

Click on Easy Thanksgiving Centerpiece for one of my favorite ways to create a centerpiece. It assembles in minutes!

Here’s an easy appetizer to enjoy while awaiting the feast Easy Caramel Toffee Cream Cheese Dessert Dip served with apples. It’s harder to say than it is to put together! (;

Decadent ruby red Apple Cranberry Salad is the perfect mixture of cranberry tartness mixed with the sweet fillings of jello, pineapple, crispy apples and pecan pieces.

Click on autumn-napkin-rings for these charming, grapevine napkin rings. The silk autumn leaves and sprig of bittersweet brighten each table setting and they are so easy to make!

An Autumn Tablescape gives tips and how to’s for creating your own beautiful table for Thanksgiving.

Click on Easy Thanksgiving Favors to learn how to make these sweet little favors. Miniature Kraft bags are tied with colored twine and topped with a whimsical acorn and assemble in minutes.

Plus, on the same blog … learn how to make this decorative bow and this beautiful autumn wreath filled with glittered stalks of wheat, purple clusters of grapes and autumn leaves. Both the favors bags and the autumn wreath instructions are on Easy Thanksgiving Favors & DIY Autumn Wreath.

Now for a re-cap and some pictures of “all things autumn” from our recent trip to Missouri. Autumn is our favorite season to travel and we love seeing the beautiful colors of the Ozark deepen each day we’re there. Look at this blazing Maple Tree!

Chrysanthemums in rustic pails perched above squat-y pumpkins.

Fuchsia colored Coleus that almost glowed.

Short pumpkins, tall pumpkins, Cinderella’s and Baby Boo’s gathered beside more gorgeous Coleus.

Dark green, light green, orange, and white pumpkins contrast beautifully with a huge decorative pot of flowering Kale and burgundy Coleus.

Look at these amazing pumpkin displays we saw at Silver Dollar City.

Pumpkins stacked to the treetops …

And my favorite … a darling little pumpkin cottage with a fern lined roof!

This spot was so enchanting, Richard and I walked along the creek bed and the only sounds were the burbling creek and the evening crickets.

A lone Sycamore leaf drifting along in the crystal clear waters.

Look at this perfectly charming cafe … Sugar Leaf Cafe & Bakery where we had lunch one day.

… and came back for dessert on another day! (:

We loved the beauty and mystique of “Pumpkin Nights” at Silver Dollar City in Branson … with owls dangling from the treetops.

One King Owl ruling over his parliament of owls.

A camp site with glowing pumpkin flames.

And the last picture … this “Chapel in the Woods” we were thrilled to find.

Hope you enjoyed the pictures of our vacation and the Thanksgiving ideas will inspire and motivate you as you begin planning your own Thanksgiving.

From my cottage to yours ~ Trenda

Thank you for reading my blog! Click on the Follow button above to have all my posts delivered directly to your email address AND follow me on Pinterest … Trenda@CottageGreenontheLake.com