Winter at Cottage Green – Evergreen Centerpiece and DIY Bird Treats

Twilight was closing in which was a signal to the Loons to begin their enchanting love calls over the lake.

Auld Lang Syne and best wishes for the brightest and merriest of new years! You know I haven’t written you since last year (; so I need to write about the last bit of our 2020 before I begin writing about the new year. Get comfy and pour yourself something warm to drink, and as a dear friend and I say to one another, “Let’s drink some tea and talk of happy things.”

It was a wonderful Christmas season filled with bustling and busy-ness, yuletide cheer, and enough merry making “to make the season bright.” Then on the night of Winter Solstice we all had the added excitement and wonder of the celestial 2,000 year phenomenon of Jupiter and Saturn coming so closely aligned in their orbits they appeared as “a double planet” and were nicknamed the Christmas Star. All-the-while, our days were intermingled with the holiness and awe of the season as we reflected on what Christmas truly means and marveled anew that Jesus chose to come down to earth as a little baby to be our Savior.

A thousand times in history a baby has become a king, but only once in history did a King become a baby.

As usual I ran out of time to do all I wanted to do. However, one fun project I did have time to do was to make a beautiful evergreen centerpiece. I wish I could share with you the wonderful, heady, fir fragrance that enveloped my greenhouse while I was making it! The beautiful winter day was fading into twilight, but it was still warm enough outside to leave my greenhouse door open to see the lake and hear the birds twittering as they enjoyed their evening meal together at the bird feeders, while I worked.

The fir boughs I was using I had saved and kept fresh in 2 big buckets of water in the greenhouse ever since Richard had trimmed them from our Christmas tree. I had plenty of branches to work with, but I still needed a little texture and color to mix in with my fir branches. Out into the backyard I went to forage with pruners in hand. I experienced a little thrill of resourcefulness when I found the perfect filler I needed…pointed, deep green, holly leaves with bright red berries from our very own holly bushes! I couldn’t help myself and began humming “The Holly and the Ivy” while I was clipping.

The holly and the ivy, 
When they are both full grown 
Of all the trees that are in the wood 
The holly bears the crown.

I was back in the Cottage Greenhouse, ready to make my arrangement, still humming, now on the refrain…

O, the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The playin of the merry organ
Sweet singing in the choir 

All done, just in time with the last light fading away.

The holly bears a blossom
As white as  lily flow'r
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To be our dear Saviour

My simple arrangement looked elegant on our woodland table and red tapers and red votive cups enhanced the red of the holly berries.

Then the Christmas season blended into New Year’s Eve and our son and daughter in law asked us to spend the festive evening with them and our 2 grand babies. ❤ Our DDIL had prepared a Mexican feast for us and we had corn and flour taquitos served with her homemade sausage queso and pico de gallo, Chicken Enchilada Dip (click here for recipe) served with chips and veggies, and a delicious Key Lime Pie. We spent the evening just enjoying each other’s company, watching the antics of our grand children, and toasting in the New Year with some sparkling White Grape Juice.

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year…This new day is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on the yesterdays.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Then, this weekend SNOW was forecasted for us! It was the perfect time for another fun winter project I always enjoy doing, especially on a cold winter afternoon during NFL Wild Card Weekend; I made treats to decorate a tree for the birds! Click on the highlighted link to see another one of my posts about DIY bird treats… “A Picnic for the Birds” Since reading all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books when I was in elementary school, I’ve always wanted to string popcorn. Finally, after all these years, I decided to do it. Unlike Laura, who had to pop her corn over the kitchen fireplace, I conveniently got a bag of popcorn out of our cabinet and placed it in the microwave. While the kernels were popping, I set out some fresh cranberries I wanted to add to my popcorn string, found some cute red, green, and white cording to use for stringing, and a tapestry needle.

Helpful hints to make popcorn stringing easier:

  • Stale popcorn is easier to string than fresh, crispy popcorn. Pop your popcorn the night before and spread it out on wax paper so your popcorn will be easier to thread the next day.
  • Use a smaller needle and thread. A tapestry needle is blunt and much larger then a regular needle. It is a great choice if you have young children that are helping you that you don’t want to get hurt when working with a needle, however, it is harder for the large tapestry needle to go through the popcorn without breaking the popped kernel. After a few trials, I switched to a finer needle and just “doubled” sewing thread instead of using the thicker cording I had been using. I was amazed how much quicker and easier the stringing became!

After I got through stringing my popcorn and cranberries, I cut a grapefruit, an orange, and a lemon into thin slices to dry in the oven and hang as ornaments and treats on my bird tree.

Directions:

  • Slice your choice of fruits (I used 1 grapefruit, 1 orange, and 1 lemon) into thin rounds.
  • Pat both sides of fruit with a paper towel to dry and place the slices on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.
  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and bake fruit slices for 1 hour.
  • Turn slices over after the first hour and continue baking for another 1-2 hours, checking periodically to make sure the slices don’t burn
  • Total baking time, 2-3 hours, or until fruits are dried and transparent
  • Remove from oven
  • When cool, make a small slit in each fruit round near the rind to insert jute or yarn for hanging.

Next, I cut apple slices and used a mini cookie cutter to punch out heart in each apple slice. After the apple slices, I made sweet little orange cups and filled them with a mixture of peanut butter, corn meal, and bird seed.

Directions for Apple Slices w/heart cutout:

  • Cut apple in thin slices
  • Brush slices with lemon juice to keep apples from discoloring
  • Use a mini cookie cutter to punch out a heart in each apple slice
  • Insert yarn through heart and tie for hanging…or fill heart cut out with peanut butter seed mixture

Directions for Orange Seed Cups :

  • Cut orange in half and scoop out orange segments and pulp
  • Dry inside of both orange halves with a paper towel
  • Using a knife, make 3 holes near the cut edge of each orange half, making sure the holes are evenly spaced around the circumference of your orange
  • Insert jute or yarn into each hole and tie a knot to secure each strand to the orange, allowing extra length of yarn/jute for hanging (see picture below)
  • Knot the 3 strands of jute/yarn together at the top for hanging
  • Fill cups with birdseed or…I made a blend of peanut butter, cornmeal (adding cornmeal to peanut butter makes it easier for the birds to swallow) and birdseed to fill each orange cup

All the special treats for the bird feast were done and I hung them on what-had-been our Christmas tree. Strings of popcorn and cranberries, stained glass grapefruit, orange, and lemon slices, apple slices with little punched out hearts, and charming orange cups soon filled the tree. When I had finished, dear Richard, who always goes along with my whims, carried the whole tree up to the landing on our stairs where I could watch the birds from my chair. Just look how cute the tree looks perched up there!

“Bon Appetit!”

Sweet apple rounds underneath an appetizer of popcorn and cranberries.

Everything for the next day was done; the fruit ornaments and festoons of popcorn strands were hung. A winter feast awaited my feathered friends and the only thing needed was the predicted and unaccustomed snow for our area in East Texas.

After taking some pictures, I was sitting on the upper stairs hoping to see some late visitors, though I knew it was unlikely at that hour. [Side note: Did you know that by 4:30 (here in East Texas) most birds have quit feeding and are already tucked away, safe in their nests? The cardinals are usually the latest birds to arrive at the feeders. My guess is they use the evening shadows to help diminish the visibility of their bright red feathers which makes them more vulnerable and highly visible to predators.] Twilight was closing in which was a signal to the Loons to begin their enchanting love calls over the lake. While I was enthralled and still listening to the Loons, 2 bald headed eagles flew by right above me, only 25 feet from where I was sitting! My winter evening came with gifts. ❤

And the next day, even earlier than predicted, our snow came!

The birds lined up in pecking order [which is a very important social order and strictly observed at our feeders!] Woodpeckers, with their strong, swift beaks are given the highest respect, with the Blue Jays next in line since they are bigger than most of the birds we typically see at our feeders. Regal Cardinals seem indifferent to all, but their own mate and cautiously watched from the snow covered branches eyeing and picking out which treats they wanted before they approached. The Junco’s, or Snow Birds as they’re commonly called and the Carolina Wrens happily ate the treats that fell to the deck, thus avoiding the wait and the line. The rest of the crew, the sweet, smaller birds, the Carolina and Black-capped Chickadees, all the Finches (the American Goldfinch, House Finch, and Red Finch) Warblers, and Titmouse stayed close by, flitting in and out, and rested on the branches between courses.

Beautiful, beautiful snow! I couldn’t get over it’s loveliness and how it felt falling “on my nose and eyelashes.”

or… thinking how clever God is to imagine and be so creative that He made what usually comes down as rain in other seasons, into something soft, fluffy, and fun to play in, just to soften the landscape and mood of winter.

Look how enchanting my Potting Cottage looks in the snow!

Well, I think that catches us all up. Our snow was a delight for the day, and the next day the sun was shining brightly and only the bravest and most stalwart of snowmen remained. Bemusedly, when Richard brought in the mail yesterday there on top of the stack of mail was my Burpee Seed Catalog, filled with the promise of Spring, zesty-mix zinnia’s, and Gloriosa Daisy’s!

From my cottage to yours ~ Trenda

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Christmas Tablescape “Not a Creature was Stirring”

This year we bought a real Christmas tree a “Noble Fir” for our downstairs living room! It is the first real tree we’ve had since we lived in Bad Kreuznach,Germany back in 1983-1986. Now, a brief visit from “The Ghost of Christmas Past”… When we lived in Germany, the boy scouts had an annual Christmas tree sale and fund raiser in December. The boy scout troop leaders (who were also soldiers in the Army) took the boys and a military cargo truck into the Black Forest where they spent the day cutting down Christmas trees. When the truck was filled with trees, they would drive back to the military base in Bad Kreuznach and set up a temporary Christmas tree lot where the American families could come and buy their Christmas trees. It was enchanting having a tree straight from the Black Forest, the storybook setting of many of the tales I’d read when I was little. The trees were so fragrant and the boughs were so dense, I always thought I might find a bird nest or something else “furry” hidden within the branches.

Porcupine nestled within the branches
A wise old owl perched high atop the Christmas tree
Little rattan angel made in Germany

I love having a real tree again, and didn’t realize until we brought the Noble Fir into the house that we were bringing in much more than a tree. As Richard slid fragrant, evergreen branches past the door frame, nostalgia and remembrance squeezed right in with them, and my mind was filled with sweet memories. Precious memories of a Christmas’ long ago: a memory of love I could actually see shining in my mother’s dear face when she showed me the doll Santa Claus had brought. just for me, when I was only 5…memories of our parents taking us to the Christmas parade in downtown Fort Worth where I shivered in my coat, waited and watched, and was thrilled when I saw Santa Claus high atop the last float, sitting in his sleigh loaded with toys, smiling and calling out “HO,HO,HO”…memories of Daddy bringing our Christmas tree in after he had been soaking it overnight in a bucket of water in the garage, and the wonderful way it filled the house with the fragrance of Christmas…memories of painstakingly hanging icicles 1 by 1 on the tree until my older brother showed me how fun it was to blow the icicles haphazardly all over the tree, much to the chagrin of my older sister…memories of trying to go to sleep when our “eyes were all aglow” on Christmas Eve and “there arose such a clatter” of crinkling paper and smells of celery, cornbread, and turkey wafting through the air which made “it hard to sleep that night. “Christmas memories of happy years gone by.”

"Christmas memories of happy years gone by
They come back to me and keep me warm inside
Still those memories make me cry"

Christmas Memories by Alabama

Well, it’s late on Christmas Eve and all this cheer-y tartan tablescape needs is a plate of cookies and a visit from St. Nick!

Open shutters look out into a midnight blue Christmas sky and draping patio lights…while inside, all is merry and bright. This antique minnow bucket, a gift from Richard goes perfectly with the rustic theme of the tablescape and the metal chargers under each plaid place setting. To make this simple arrangement, I cut the top part of a gallon milk jug off, filled the jug with water, and placed it into my minnow bucket. Then I simply filled the bucket with leftover boughs that Richard trimmed from our Christmas tree.

Plaid dinner and salad plates are stacked on top of metal chargers and Fitz & Floyd Christmas mugs are ready for hot cocoa. Remember when I dried these ferns and leaves ??? They made sweet woodland place cards and add to the cozy feel of the table. Bright red napkins are circled with jingle bell napkin rings.

Waiting for Santa.

A Santa boot planter is filled with buffalo check red and black straws. Red and white toile napkins in a rustic pine cone napkin holder add a nice contrast.

“Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.”

Wishing you all a blessed and Merry Christmas!

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

A Holly, Jolly Christmas …

“It’s the best time of the year!” 

This Christmas season we had an enchanting, never to be forgotten time when the “the fates allowed” … and our whole family spent a week together in Branson, Missouri. 

We went to Silver Dollar City’s “An Old Time Christmas” the first day of our vacation and we were “dazzled” with over 6.5 million lights, walk-through tunnels, a 5 story special-effect Christmas tree, and the most stunning Christmas lights and displays we’ve ever seen!

Christmas tunnel.jpgThe entire amusement park was “bejeweled”and the trees were wound and draped in lights.
Christmas village.jpg

We drank Christmas wassail and hot chocolate and wandered the pathways strewn with lights and Christmas decorations …

park SDC

Watched Rudolph’s Holly Jolly Christmas Parade.

ballerina music box.jpg

Saw Santa and Mrs. Claus in a Christmas sleigh loaded with toys.

Santa's sled.jpg

And PaPa and Grandma even rode some of the amusement rides and roller coaster’s with both our children and grandchildren! (:

riders SDC

 Each day of our week was filled with memories … Christmas movies, shopping, a visit and pictures with Santa Claus … bowling, go-carts, lazer tag, bumper cars, and wall climbing … and a magical evening aboard Branson’s Scenic Railroad on The Polar Express, complete with book reading, elves hopping on the train between stops, sugar cookies and cups of hot chocolate, and at last … a visit from Santa!  He surprised us when he suddenly appeared in our train car with a “Ho, ho, ho!  Our grandchildren were spell bound and he spent some time with each child, solemnly telling them when he handed each their shiny, silver, bell  … “that they would always here it ring, as long as they believed.”

Fun Mountain collage

“Christmas memories of happy years gone by/They come back to me and keep me warm inside/Oh they mean so much to me/Those Christmas memories make me cry.” ~ “Christmas Memories” by Alabama

family.jpg

 And now … a simple treat that looks like it came straight from the North Pole!  Chocolate covered marshmallow pop with a peppermint handle and lots of sprinkles … perfect for dunking and melting into mugs of hot cocoa while waiting for the New Year to arrive! 

closeup mmallows

So simple and fun to “assemble.”

Ingredients needed:

    • Large marshmallows (I used Campfire Giant Roasters)
    • Milk chocolate Almond Bark
    • Peppermint sticks and/or peppermint and chocolate peppermint sticks
    • Assorted sprinkles
    • Cellophane bags with ties
D

Directions:

  1. Cover kitchen counter or cookie sheet with wax paper or foil and spray lightly with non-stick cooking spray
  2. Melt chocolate according to directions on package
  3. Insert a peppermint stick into center of each marshmallow
  4. Dip marshmallow into melted chocolate and swirl to cover bottom half of marshmallow with melted chocolate
  5. Sprinkle nonpareils on the chocolate before it hardens
  6. After chocolate has hardened, place marshmallow pops into cellophane bags, or place unwrapped marshmallow pops on a tray or candy dish to serve with cocoa.

“Have a holly, jolly Christmas

And in case you didn’t hear

Oh by golly have a holly jolly Christmas”

This year”

Burl Ives

From my cottage to yours ~ Trenda

Christmas at Cottage Green

What a special season Christmas truly is.  It’s not just one day, but a culmination of days.  Days of … cookie making, shopping and wrapping, decorating the house, watching Hallmark movies, drinking hot cocoa, setting up the manger, being with family and friends, caroling, and worship . Then, hanging up stockings, putting out cookies for Santa, sprinkling reindeer food on the lawn, and finally (there’s a sermon in here!) “joy, comes in the morning.”  It’s a season of busyness, frenzy, stress, wonder, love, sadness of “memories of happy years gone by” gratitude, reflection, and marvel.  Here’s a last tribute to our Christmas season and moments at Cottage Green.  There’s lots to re-cap and lots of pictures, so get yourself a “cup of cheer” and make yourself comfy!

Silent night, holy night.  All is calm, all is bright …

mantle twilight

“Not a creature was stirring, not even a …” porcupine! Christmas porcupine

… or a hedgehog! (:

hedgehog and porcupine

“Away in a manger, no crib for a bed.  The little Lord Jesus lay down His sweet head.”

manger 1

“The stars in the sky look down where He lay  The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.”

OUTDOOR MANGER.jpg

“Angels we have heard on high, sweetly caroling o’er the plains.”

angel.jpg

“Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays”

HEARTH

“O Christmas Tree, o Christmas tree how lovely are thy branches …”

Christmas tree

“Rockin’ around the Christmas tree …”

ornaments.png

“Santa Claus is coming to town …”

Lbuffetlit

“It’s a marshmallow world in the winter …”

ff cannisters.jpg“I’ll have a blue Christmas without you …”

 

BLUETUNNEL.jpg

“The holly bears a prickle, as sharp as any thorn, and Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ, on Christmas Day in the morn”

kitchen bar.jpg“Here we come a-wassailing …”

teacart

“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire …”

fire

Then … family photos with little and big kids! ❤

“When it’s Christmas time in Texas …”

Texas

“It might just look like a summer day  There may not be snow in San Antonio  But it’s a Texas Christmas to me.”

HONEYWREATH

“Thank God for Kids”

“Thank God for kids there’s magic for a while …

(grand son <3)

PJ's.jpg

A special kind of sunshine in a smile …

(grand daughter <3)

gdaughter pkin

Do you ever stop to think or wonder why?  The nearest thing to Heaven is a child.”
KIDDOS“Daddy, how does this thing fly?”

 

 

Father Son.jpg“And a hundred other where’s and whys …”

(dear daughter-in-law DDIL <3)DDIL2

 

 

You really don’t know but you try, thank God for kids …”

(grand daughter and daughter <3) 

MOMMYBABYGIRL “When you look down in those trusting eyes that look to you, you realize …”

bike

It’s a love that you can’t buy thank God for kids.”

present hunt.jpg

Thank God for kids, there’s magic for a while …

gson.jpg

A special kind of sunshine in a smile …

laketime fineDo you ever stop to think or wonder why?  The nearest thing to Heaven is a child

cookies

When you get down on your knees tonight  To thank the Lord for his guiding light  And pray they turn out right, thank God for kids  Thank God for Kids”  ~ songwriters:  Edward Futch/Edward G. Futch

(our kids <3)

son daughter   Oh, I hope you enjoyed seeing our Christmas at Cottage Green and I hope you had a wonderful, blessed Christmas filled with moments that will warm your heart throughout the year.  Our grand daughter told me, “Grandma, I’m sad Christmas is over” … I’m sad Christmas is over, too, but I promised God I am keeping Christmas in my heart, all year long! ❤

His Prescence

From my cottage to yours  ~  Trenda

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Christmas Tablescape “Up on the Housetop Reindeer Pause …”

The table is set and ready for a Christmas Brunch with Fitz and Floyd “Florentine Christmas White Stag Reindeer” dressed and ready for their important flight on Christmas Eve! Saddles are trimmed with holly and tassels and lie cushioned on the reindeer’s back atop cheery red and green blankets (that look like they were made by Santa’s elves!)  Encircling their necks are pine branch harnesses festooned with pine cones, holly leaves and bows.

reindeer

Antique snack sets are stacked and ready to be filled with finger foods.  Christmas punch or Percolator Spiced Tea will fill the matching cups that set in special compartments on the glass trays.

s&amp;p snack sets

A gauzy runner with beaded edges weaves around a pine garland with tiny twinkle lights that add a touch of Christmas magic.

tablescape

 Shimmering gold is repeated in the brass stand holding a carafe … a shiny picture frame, … and a line of dessert spoons.  The colors in the picture “Noel” are a perfect match to the colors of the reindeer and serving pieces, so it became a bit of “whimsy” and a part of the tablescape, propped on a golden easel.  Nearby, a sweet little creamer and sugar bowl are nestled close and adorned with Christmas bows.

.    NOEL … From Church Latin in reference to the birthday of Christ, from natus, past participle of nasci “be born.” 

NOEL

Gold forks and linen napkins edged in lace are lined up for easy buffet-style serving.

napkins.jpg

This Fitz and Floyd “Florentine Christmas” Canape Plate will hold Peanut Cluster Blitz-ens!  (; topped with Christmas sprinkles!

dessert plate

Fitz and Floyd “Snowy Woods” stacked serving platter is waiting to be loaded with Cheesy Bacon Pinwheels  shortly after the Christmas guests, arrive.

duo dessert tray.jpg

Fitz and Floyd “Jolly St Nick” platter awaits Delicious Yuletide Appetizer – Chicken Enchilada Dip

serving platter

Everything is set and ready …

“Ho-Ho-Ho who wouldn’t go …” ??? (:

Santa bowing.png

From my cottage to yours ~  Trenda

 

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

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I’m joining Chloe Crabtree with Celebrate & Decorate

 

 

Countdown to Christmas! DIY Christmas Advent Calendar

“Haul out the holly; Put up the tree … Fill up the stocking.  I may be rushing things, but deck the halls again now.  Santa, dear, we’re in a hurry.”  I am in a hurry!  I planned on showing you how to make this charming and nostalgic Advent Calendar on the first day of December!  However, the countdown to Christmas continues and this Calendar is so easy and fun to make, you’ll be able to enjoy it for the rest of the season and psssst! …. your “kids” of all ages “from 1 to 92” will love playing catch-up when you finish making it and opening several envelopes at once! (;

Santa envelopes

Click on the following link Ella Claire Free Printable Vintage Christmas Advent Calendar for complete instructions and a free printable for making the envelopes and cards.  I love these miniature envelopes and the little pine cone sprig on the card insert.  I’m already planning other “fun” ways to use them!  The printable is free and I chose a creamy 8 1/2″ x 11″ card stock paper from Michael’s to print my envelopes and cards on.

supplies.png

 This is a sample of what the envelope looks like after I cut out the pattern.  I’ve penciled in dashed lines to show you where to fold your envelopes.  Note: The vertical fold-line on both sides is where the rounded slope of the paper meets the straight cut!  The card stock paper I used was thick and I used the plastic grip of my scissors to firmly crease each fold. (Hey, I just thought of a stocking stuffer I need … a bone folder! (: ) I didn’t want to wait for my envelopes to dry so instead of using glue, I taped my envelopes together with clear Scotch tape.

envelope folds.jpg

After you finish making all your envelopes, write different Christmas activities you would enjoy doing on each of the 25 cards and slip the card into a corresponding envelope. e.g. pop some popcorn and watch a Hallmark Christmas movie … make hot chocolate, top with Cool Whip, decorate with lots of sprinkles and sip with a peppermint straw! … put the kids in their pajamas and go for a drive to look at Christmas lights!   I wrote my activity on the card that wasn’t dated, so it will be easy to use the same calendar next year and I can easily re-arrange my activities. cards and envelopes snowman.png

 I also tucked a little “trinket” in each envelope. Little gifts of candy, Christmas cookie cutters and tiny ornaments for a special tiny Christmas tree for little folks!

Miss Mouse

I nailed my ribbons (needed for hanging the envelopes) to the frame of my “4 the seasons” chalkboard I love this rustic chalkboard with it’s natural cedar frame that a dear friend made for me.  I added some “chalk art” before nailing in my ribbon … with the heading “Countdown to Christmas” and a border of holly leaves.  Ella draped her calendar over a vintage ladder; you can hang your advent calendar across a mirror, on a bulletin board, or on a door in your family room.

chalkboard art

And … all the envelopes “were hung by the ‘chalkboard’ with care.” (;

filled chalkboard.png

I set up our Advent Calendar on a little table in our screened porch where Richard and I sit and have our morning coffee.  Our Texas winter’s are so delightful, we enjoy sitting out here every season, especially since we have an electric reproduction stove with “pretend” flames for the coldest days! (;

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A little “Holly Jolly” cuteness to start the day!

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 Daisy, our little grand dog … waiting for Santa!

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You know one of my favorite decorating “tricks” is using every day objects in unusual ways.  I filled this wrought iron planter with Christmas books and a basket of poinsettias … handy, and “at the ready” beside our chairs for reading!  I think it’s a perfect book cache for our outdoor room!

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“Have a holly, jolly Christmas; It’s the best time of the year …” 

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“I don’t know if there’ll be snow but have a cup of cheer …”

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Sweet little envelopes all pinned up on a ribbon clothesline … Countdown to Christmas!

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Get your paper and printer ready, make yourself a large “cup of cheer,” put your feet up and have fun making this Advent Calendar … 

“For we need a little Christmas

Right this very minute,

Candles in the window,

Carols at the spinet.

Yes, we need a little Christmas

Right this very minute.

It hasn’t snowed a single flurry,

But Santa, dear, we’re in a hurry;

So climb down the chimney;

Put up the brightest string of lights I’ve ever seen.

Slice up the fruitcake;

It’s time we hung some tinsel on that evergreen bough …”

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As this Christmas season of busy-ness begins, my desire is to have my heart “tuned” to focus on Jesus, the reason for the season!  These words from our Choir Christmas Cantata written by Sue Smith haunt me.  “There was no room in the inn.  No room for Heaven’s amazing gift of love.  No room for the long-awaited Messiah.  No room for our only hope of salvation.  No room.  Time and again these two simple words stir our hearts, and we vow to make sure it never happens with us.” 

These words are a solemn reminder; my prayer this Christmas is … Lord, whatever I do or don’t get done during this Christmas season, let my focus be on YOU!  I want Him to know … I have a room reserved just for Him; there IS room in the Inn! ❤

“O come let us adore Him … Christ the Lord!

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“Come, let us bow down in worship. let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker …”  Psalm 95:6

From my cottage to yours  ~  Trenda 

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“There’s Still My Joy for Christmas Day”

by Trenda

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Another blessed Christmas Day.  As I sit in a now silent house and gaze at the twinkling lights on the tree, I reflect on the day.  Memories, past and present … watching sweet little grandchildren with their “eyes all aglow” and remembering, remembering, remembering not so very long ago, our own dear little ones leaving carrots for reindeer and cookies for Santa, their little feet scampering about, their joy, and the delight of them jumping in bed with us on Christmas morning … missing dear ones no longer with us while trying to sing, through lumps in our throat, the poignant words of the Christmas melody “through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow.”  Another blessed Christmas Day with recollections and moments filled with  every emotion.  Through it all …
“there’s still my joy for Christmas Day” and that joy comes from Jesus!  God’s gift to us that very first Christmas in Bethlehem.  His very own Son!

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“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

At the close of this Christmas Day, you may have one more gift you haven’t opened.  It’s the gift that God gave to each of us, His Son, Jesus and the gift of eternal life He has given to you, if you believe in Him.  I love these words from the movie “Signed, Sealed, Delivered for Christmas.” ‘You may feel alone again this year, BUT you know you’re not, you never are; no matter what you’ve lost. Christmas is an opportunity to remember that LOVE came down to find you, right here, where you are – with or without a perfect delivery record, or a perfect marriage, and it happens year after year in a hospital lobby, or a post office, in the woods, or on a mountaintop, or on a rock by a tree, at the beach. Christmas is a gift, but it’s your choice to accept it.’

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It is as simple as ABC …

  • A – ADMIT admit that you have sinned (done things that are displeasing to God) Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” 
  • B – BELIEVE – “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
  • C – CONFESS – “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  Romans 10:9

The best gift you could ever receive … the gift of eternal life!  It’s your’s, God Himself has already “Signed, sealed, and delivered for Christmas” … for you!  “One tiny Child can change the world, one shining light can show the way.  Beyond these tears for what I’ve lost … there’s still my joy, there’s still my joy … for Christmas Day.    ~ Melissa Manchester(click here for song)

Merry Christmas!

From my Cottage to Yours  ~  Trenda

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Thank you so much for spending some time with me today!  I’d love to hear from you!  Please leave any questions or comments you may have n the “COMMENT” section.

Delicious Yuletide Appetizer – Chicken Enchilada Dip

by Trenda

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Here’s a delicious appetizer that takes just minutes to assemble and is ready to pop into the oven for a hearty snack after an “intense” day of shopping … after looking at Christmas lights … or to share after candlelight service and before hanging your “stockings by the chimney with care.”  Put your feet up and dip your chips into this creamy, melted goodness of cheese and chicken.

Chicken Enchilada Dip Ingredients …

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Directions:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Shred chicken. (I stewed 6 chicken breasts and made a double recipe of this dip, and still had 1 1/2 cups of chicken left over to make chicken salad! (:  but you could use a 13 oz can chicken breast or use a rotisserie chicken)  Place 13 oz. cooked chicken in a medium bowl and mix in softened cream cheese,  8 oz. (1 cup) Miracle Whip, 1 cup cheddar cheese, and 1 small can diced green Chile peppers.  Transfer the chicken mixture to a lightly greased medium baking dish.  Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until edges are golden brown …

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Before serving sprinkle top with paprika and garnish with cut bell pepper, for holly leaves.  Drain and roll small pieces of roasted red peppers, for berries.  Sprinkle top with grated cheese.

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Enjoy these last few days of hustle and bustle … “in the air, there’s a feeling of Christmas.” (:

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“O come let us adore Him …”

From my cottage to yours  ~  Trenda

Thank you so much for spending some time with me today!  I’d love to hear from you!  Please leave any questions or comments you have in the “COMMENT” section.

 

DIY Jingle Bell Napkin Rings and Christmas Parade at the Lake

written by Trenda

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Merry Christmas Eve! I found this post from 4 years ago in the archives that somehow was back in drafts.  I’m posting it again since I’m using these DIY Jingle Bell Napkin Rings in a tablescape I am writing about now, and I want to share with you how easy they are to make!

I first saw these merry jingle bell napkin rings displayed  in one of my favorite stores and loved them.  However, their cost was more than I wanted to spend … especially knowing how many sets I would have to buy for there to be “jingle all the way” and one at every place setting! (:

After inspecting  them a little more closely, I realized how simple they would be to make myself!  So “over the fields” I went and bought the materials needed (only 3 things!) … got out my scissors and started to play!  “Laughing all the way”… I was delighted how simple they were to make!

Materials needed:

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Instructions:

  1. cut 6″ of elastic cord
  2. begin threading jingle bells on cord, threading so bells are”packed” and bunched together so cording won’t show when your napkin ring is holding a napkin.
  3. continue threading on bells, leaving enough room on your cord to tie both ends into a tight knot.
  4. knot and tie your choice of ribbon into a little bow for a finishing festive touch!

Picture of napkin rings in 3 stages: 

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I made two different sets of napkin rings – 1 set of napkin rings is made with silver and gold jingle bells tied with a green checked ribbon and 1 set of napkin rings with gold jingle bells tied with a red satin ribbon.  Look how cute and festive they are wrapped around these napkins! (:

Napkin rings with silver and gold bells and a green checked ribbon trimmed in red …

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Napkin rings with gold bells and red ribbon …

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Our cold “snap” only lasted 2 days and yesterday I set a festive  table out on the back deck.  Snowmen, jingle bells, and colored sugar made our “spirits bright” while we enjoyed  munching on sugar cookies and listening to the Chickadees … “chi-chi-chi-ing!”  (:

Smiling Snowmen mugs and a sweet little snowman under a cloche …

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Annual Christmas Parade on Cedar Creek Lake …

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We love all our our little town’s celebrations and this past weekend was our annual Christmas Parade.  Through the years, our son and daughter, my husband and I have either … been spectators … been participants … or helped decorate the floats in the parade and it is still an extended family tradition for us “to gather together” for this special  event.

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The time before the parade starts is always a magical time, worthy of one of Norman Rockwell’s depictions of “small town life.”  At 5:30, Main Street is blocked off from any traffic and parade viewers are parked in local establishments and sit along the sidewalks on lawn chairs or tailgates … blankets and hot chocolate in hand … everyone visiting with one another while the children run about (with no worries of traffic) laughing and playing! Street vendors add another element of excitement and walk by selling cotton candy, neon light saber’s and fairy wands!  Then, just as darkness settles, the faint strands of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” is heard as the high school band begins leading the Christmas parade toward Main Street.  Kids begin squealing while parents round up their “little crew” … and everyone turns to see.

“Santa Claus is Coming to Town!”

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To the delight of the kids … candy is thrown from each of the parade floats, as they pass by.

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 After the last … horse cantors by … band member marches away … gleam of Christmas lights and floats are in the distance, there is a finale at the City Park with a be-dazzling firework display.  A perfect ending and the signal for our family to head to the house for some Chicken and Cheese Ravioli in Alfredo Sauce (that has been cooking in the slow-cooker while we were away!) tossed salad, and a tray of Christmas cookies and chocolate brownies with peppermint frosting! (:

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“Good tidings of comfort and joy …”

From my cottage to yours  ~  Trenda

I’d love to hear from you!  Please leave any questions or comments you may have, under “Comments.”