A Woodland Christmas with … White Chocolate and Cranberry Dessert Dip

The buffet is set and ready for Christmas with a woodland scene starring a Santa or two from my collection of Old World Santa’s. This dapper Santa looks like a well-dressed woodsman with his fur rimmed hat, flocked buttoned vest, coat with brocade sleeves and draping chains, and a pack filled with surprises flung over his shoulder.  Snow flocked and copper colored bottle brush trees and gilded holly with berries create a magical Christmas backdrop.

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A birdhouse frosted with snow is tucked among “the holly and the ivy” and a little winter nest is filled with glittered acorns and glass copper pine cones.

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A pedestal cake plate with birdies perched on either side holds woodland treasures cushioned on a bed of moss … a wee lantern with a flickering light looks like it came straight from the set of Amahl and the Night Visitors and a tiny glass jewel box with a bird perched on it’s lid.

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Nestled under the cake plate is a little mercury glassed birdie near clusters of purple grapes tumbling out of an antique sugar bowl.

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Another Woodland Santa wears a wooly coat and carries a wooden staff encircled with twigs.  Pine cones and berries wreath his furry cap and white doves perch on a brim-filled pack and on his coat.

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A grove of bottle brush trees, a miniature bird bath filled with millet, mercury glass mushrooms and copper pine cones resting on their sides add storybook whimsy to the woodland setting.

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Another Santa perches on the tea cart waiting for some Christmas refreshment!

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An ornate silver bowl with brass interior holds a moss-lined nest and little brass bird and is decked “with boughs of holly.”silver bowl.jpg

Click on the following link from the “Cottage Chronicles” to see …

  A Woodland-Christmas Tablescape

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And a Christmas snack fitting for a woodland setting on the buffet … a delicious White Chocolate and Cranberry Dessert Dip formed in the shape of a hedgehog surrounded by a layer of Triple Ginger Cookie Thins and Butter Waffle Cookies from Trader Joe’s.

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I made this dessert dip for our Church Life Group Christmas Party this weekend.  The amount I had remaining in the refrigerator was just enough for one baby hedgehog! (:

 

White Chocolate & Cranberry Dessert Dip

Ingredients:

  • 1 (8oz) package softened cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 (3.4 oz) package Cheesecake Instant pudding mix
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup Nestle’s white chocolate morsels
  • whole almonds or slivered almonds to cover dip

Instructions:

  1. Beat the softened cream cheese and butter together in a mixer on medium-high speed until well blended. 
  2. Add the pudding mix and powdered sugar.  Beat on low to medium speed until the dry ingredients are incorporated.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of milk and beat on high until filling is mixed.
  4. Stir in dried cranberries and white chocolate morsels; mix well.
  5. Scrape the dessert dip into plastic wrap and gently mold into the shape desired for the hedgehog.
  6. Unwrap, place hedgehog shaped dessert dip on a serving platter.  Begin inserting almonds (at an angle and in staggered rows) into the dip to resemble the “body” of a hedgehog.  
  7. Place a chocolate morsel on the “face” (the dip that is not covered with almonds) of the hedgehog  to resemble the nose and use two mini-morsels for the eyes, or chop regular sized morsels into smaller pieces for the eyes.
  8. Refrigerate to “set” almonds in place, until ready to serve.  (NOTE: for traditional shaped dessert dip, after mixing, wrap dessert into plastic wrap and form into ball.  Refrigerate until ready to serve, then unwrap, place on serving plate and cover surface with slivered almonds.)
  9. Serve with gingersnaps, butter waffle cookies, vanilla wafers, graham crackers, animal crackers …

Baby hedgehog

Here’s a sweet little woodland poem about small gifts gathered from the heart; I think it’s the perfect way to end today’s Woodland themed blog!

Small Gifts

He gathers gifts for his dear friends
Searching among the forest trees
And only from his heart he spends. 

For Squirrel, an acorn split he mends
And with a quiet joyful ease
He gathers gifts for his dear friends. 

To Bear, a blueberry he sends
With tender care that it won’t freeze
And only from his heart he spends. 

For Deer, green leaves he subtly rends
Although found sparse in wintry breeze
He gathers gifts for his dear friends. 

To Bird, he gives a branch that bends
A perch to rest her tired knees
And only from his heart he spends. 

For all the creatures at Earth’s ends
As Christmas joy in time he sees
He gathers gifts for his dear friends
And only from his heart he spends. 

~  by Benjamin Oldham

Wishing you joy during this blessed season and that … only from the heart you’ll spend!

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From my cottage to yours  ~  Trenda

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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! (;

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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.

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 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.

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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!

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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.

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

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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 

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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The Gentle Caress of Autumn Comes to the Cottage ………………… by Trenda

“… the gentle caress of autumn steals the sultry heat of summer …” author unknown

Autumn comes gently in the South with the days slowly becoming cooler and just the tips of burnished leaves can be seen shining in the golden sunlight.

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Our Beauty Berry Bush is laden with brightly colored berries in a gorgeous shade of purple … autumn delicacies for our “feathered friends.” 

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A little birdhouse tucked among the leaves and blooms of an Encore Azalea that is putting on it’s “final act” with brilliant autumn blooms.  A flying squirrel, while house-hunting, decided this little house was going to be his new home with it’s green roof, lichen covered walls, and view of the lake.  Without waiting for “a showing” he gained entry by nibbling his way into the opening and took up residency! (;

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The sunlight in autumn highlights the green of the grass and leaves against the azure blue lake and sky.

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Lantana with harvest gold and red blossoms, red periwinkles, and Marguerite (ornamental sweet potato vine) “glow” in the autumn light.

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“The gentle caress of autumn” can also be seen inside our cottage as I add some touches of the season.  

Copper glittered ACORNS rest on golden leaves …

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Are tucked into moss-lined nests …

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… dangle from a display stand and top a Fitz & Floyd “trinket box.” 

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An array of soaps in scents of pumpkin “and spice and everything nice.” 

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Glossy pumpkins perch on chunky urns …

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And contrast strikingly with blue and white Ginger jars …

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And in the kitchen … a Swarovski crystal squirrel “gathers” provisions! (:

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I love adding whimsical touches and reminders of the season to our home … and for all of us, this is just the beginning of all things pumpkin and harvest to come!  Have fun using your imagination and “putting some autumn jewelry” on your house!

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From my cottage to yours ~  Trenda

 

Trenda

 

Thank you so much for reading my blog today!  This week I’m joining:

Lynn of the Vintage Nest

Courtney with Feathered Nest Friday

Spring Cleaning and Cottage Decorating

by Trenda

For the last two weeks we have been cleaning out landscape beds, training wandering Wisteria along trellises … and raking, raking, raking!  With our beautiful shade trees, there are a LOT of leaves! (:  This mountain of leaves is just one our many heaps we burned from the gigantic pile of leaves Richard raked up!  With all the debris we cleaned up, it’s hard to believe this is just the “remnants” or leftovers, after all our autumn raking!  After our day of work, we sat in the twilight and enjoyed watching the last embers glowing … gazing as the last visage of our winter went up in smoke!


Inside the cottage … spring cleaning and decorating continues. (: I love this time of year and bring out my collections of birds and little nests filled with eggs.  You can find them perching in unexpected places, peeking out of nooks and crannies, and on tabletop vignette’s.

A Saucer Magnolia swag drapes over the hall tree …

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A little nest nestles at the base of this Angel garden statuary …

front CupidDown the staircase is a favorite picture … “The Lord is my Shepherd” and a metal vase filled with fragrant eucalyptus and peacock feathers.

staircase finalA little alcove under the hall tree … another perfect nesting spot!

niche in halltree“Bird watching” (; … this vertigo green bird blends beautifully with the green shades of this collection of antique dishes from England.

bird sentinelAntique dishes on the lower deck … “The Old Curiosity Shop” by Currier and Ives.

left finalA nest entwined with spring buds and new leaves is perched on a miniature bird bath filled with millet.

milletLittle birds stand guard on a cake plate watching over two sweet eggs nestled on a bed of moss.  A mercury glass bird and a fairy tale toadstool look charming together, sheltered under the glass canopy.

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A blown glass cloche with a bird “finial” covers a little nest holding a glittered acorn.

bird clocheA silver bird perches on the edge of his nest … the perfect cache for a little treat of birdseed! (;  The color of the millet matches the hues in the painting above and the in-laid wood of the tea cart.

tea cartA beautiful azalea from our own front yard almost “glows” in an antique bird planter.  Under a “twiggy” lamp with a little wire nest ensconced in it’s branches, a cloche covers a pair of sweet owls and a moss-lined nest filled with speckled eggs.

owls and nestThe dusty red blossomed “trumpets” of  Crossvine cover our fence and are climbing over an antique variety of Boxwood growing nearby.  The buzzing bumblebees and bright blossoms seem to proclaim …

“WELCOME SPRING…!”

2 Welcome Spring!

“FLOWERS APPEAR ON THE EARTH: THE SEASON OF SINGING HAS COME.  THE COOING OF DOVES IS HEARD IN OUR LAND.  THE FIG TREE FORMS ITS EARLY FRUIT; THE BLOSSOMING VINES SPREAD THEIR FRAGRANCE.”  SONG OF SOLOMON 2:12-13

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 From my cottage to yours  ~  Trenda

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Thank you for spending some time with me today!  Please click on the box marked FOLLOW in my blog above to have each new post delivered directly to your e-mail address.  I’m joining Chloe Crabtree with Celebrate & Decorate (click here) and Lynn from The Vintage Nest (click here) for other great decorating ideas and DIY projects!

 

Cottage Decorating for Valentine’s Day, Romance and Spring …

by Trenda

After seeing the first coral blossoms on a Flowering Quince … a row of blooming daffodils … and a bluebird in our backyard hunting for a nesting spot, it’s time for the interior decor of our cottage to shrug out of it’s winter garments and get “dressed” for Valentine’s Day, Romance and Spring!

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My decorating transformation began on our mantle … using a collection of blue and white porcelain pieces … a favorite over-sized clock with a Carolina Wren painted on it’s face … and two matching crystal decanters (bought near the Czech border) and serving as bookends on either end of the mantle.  Then I took a swag that was covered with roses and eucalyptus and wove two strands of twinkle lights between the flowers – to add a little glimmer and magic (;  before draping the swag across the mantle.  I tucked in a few more grape clusters and moss covered bird nests “here and there” for additional cuteness!

A bird stands near his nest amidst the delightful setting of roses.  A stack of gardening books is a base for a collection of blue and white porcelain pieces and a Delft Ginger jar bought and brought all the way from Holland!


Atop a porcelain box and tucked at the base of the clock are little nests filled with ferns, prickly statice, Scottish heather, and green speckled eggs.

Large Ginger Jars in blue and white porcelain.

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I love the patina of this mirror!  It used to be a gaudy-gold until Richard and I painted the entire mirror frame with white paint.  After it dried, we “distressed” the surface with sand paper to let a little bit of the gold “peek through.”  Now, it’s “one of my favorite things” and one of our keepsakes – it’s been with us since we bought our first home! (P.S. I love this picture showing the beautiful patina of our mirror and the reflection of our dining room chandelier and our kitchen in the background.)

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Now, for the hearth!  Same colors and spring mood are reflected in both the mantle and hearth.  More blue and white porcelain and the “outside is brought in” with a green wreath bursting with white blossoms and sheltering an intricate obelisk.

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       A tiny birdbath is filled with mossy stones and more speckled eggs … a chunky white urn holds a white gardenia on a bed of moss … and two antique books serve as a base and staircase to a blue and white peacock plate.  I love the blue and green book on the top of the stack; everything about is darling! … from it’s jacket covered in dainty flowers and blue and green striping, the green oval “cameo” of a ladies profile encircled in gold, and it’s charming title … Haps and Mishaps Blackberry Jam  ❤

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Well, here in East Texas, the ground hog did not see his shadow.  It was 80 degrees today with warm weather predicted for the next 10 days!  Here on the lake it definitely “feels like” spring and adding to my list and sighting’s of spring harbinger’s … today I saw Saucer Magnolia blooming … a beautiful red-violet blossom unfolding on my Encore Azalea … and my White Lady Banks Rose Bush is covered in buds!

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From my cottage to yours  ~  Trenda

 

I’m delighted you read my blog today!  Please click on FOLLOW in the post above or on my site cottagegreenonthelake.com to have all posts delivered directly to your email address.  If you have any questions or comments, please leave those in the COMMENT section!  (:

 

Romantic Valentine Table for Two

~ written by Trenda

On a day celebrating L-O-V-E, there’s no limit to the amount of lace, flowers, hearts, or pink I use in setting and decorating our table for Valentine’s Day.  Richard and I begin our celebration of Valentine’s Day on February 13th and go out that evening for a special dinner.  Then, the next morning I make omelettes and “Berry Sweet Valentine’s” (recipe and pictures in a subsequent post!) and later “when twilight descends and evening begins”  we have a lovely dinner seated at a romantic “table for 2” at our favorite “getaway” … Cottage Green on the Lake! (; 

pink setting.pngA little table right next to the fireplace seems like the perfect spot for our Valentine reservation with the coziness of a fire, the glimmer of twinkle lights and the romance of candles.

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 Nestled next to  the fireplace, I wanted our Valentine table to blend in and be a part of the little nook and romantic backdrop I decorated and wrote about in my last post. (click here to see)  I love the way the mantle decorations look like they’ve tumbled over onto the table!

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The whimsical piece that visually ties the mantle and table together is a cement statue of “Cupid.” The same roses, eucalyptus and twinkle lights I used on the mantle, wrap around the base of the angel, entwine the statuary and encircle his wings.

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For our dinnerware, I chose Kaiser Porcelain in the Marseille pattern that we bought when we lived in Germany; it’s a fine  porcelain china and the white background trimmed with pink floral garlands and rosebuds is named “Romantica” and seemed the perfect choice for a day all about hearts and flowers!

I love these white scalloped plates with their painted garlands and rosebuds and the Valentine look of the pink, doily-like charger beneath each plate.  White napkins with a bit of crocheted lace and a sweet pink flower and Kaiser Porcelain roses are scattered about the table and adorn each place setting.

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Crystal “King Edward” Waterford glasses and pink blush stemware.

The King Midas touch … gold chargers and goldware add “gleam” to each place setting.

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The drape of roses, eucalyptus, grape clusters and twinkle lights adorning the mantle and Cupid, adds subtle lighting and enchantment to the table.

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Ready and waiting for a party of two … our Valentine table is set.  All that is needed is to light the fireplace and as Neil Diamond sings, it’s time to  … “Turn down the lights.  Turn up the music.  Let’s just be together tonight.  And turn down the lights.” ❤

lights dimmed.png“Love is patient, love is kind …”

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From my cottage to yours  ~ Trend

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I’m delighted you read my Blog today!  Please click on FOLLOW in my post above or FOLLOW on my site: cottagegreenonthelake.com to have all Cottage Green on the Lake news delivered directly to your email address.  If you have any questions or comments, please leave those in the COMMENT section!  For some other great ideas, please join me (click here) for “Share Your Style Link Party #104 with host Lisa from Feathering My Empty Nest.

 

 



 

A Woodland Christmas Tablescape

by Trenda

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“Christmas in the Woods” ~  by Frances Frost

Tonight when the hoar frost falls on the wood,

And the rabbit cowers, and the squirrel is cold,

And the horned owl huddles against a star,

And the drifts are deep, and the year is old,

All shy creatures will think of Him.

The shivering mouse, the hare, the wild young fox,

The doe with the startled fawn,

Will dream of gentleness and a Child:


The buck with budding horns will turn

His starry eyes to a silver hill tonight,

The chipmunk will awake and stir

And leave his burrow for the chill, dark midnight,

And all timid things will pause and sigh, and sighing, bless

That Child who loves the trembling hearts,

The shy hearts of the wilderness.

Thinking of this sweet poem, I created a tablescape that is a little forest haven where woodland creatures … The shivering mouse, the hare, the wild young fox (:  can gather among snow sprinkled bird nests, glimmering candlelight, and fir trees.

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In keeping with the woodland theme, deep green “forest” plates, bought from Pier 1 years ago have embossed edges of leaves and are resting on a “snowy bank” of Battenbug lace place mats … a surprise gift Richard bought for me from a little boutique, aptly named “Waldenwood.”plates2.png

I love the juxtaposition of this rustic twig basket lined with the white luxurious Battenburg lace and filled with silver cutlery … an enchanting and charming caddy for a woodland picnic!

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Christmas fantasies are easily imagined while dining among this forest scene; a woodland “critter” perches at each place setting, lace napkins are tied with red and green plaid ribbon and are adorned with glass pinecone ornaments (a favor your guests can take home in remembrance of their picnic amidst the woods!) and individual salt cellars are placed at each setting for a “light dusting” of seasoning.

critters.png Look at these darling, tiny, sterling silver, salt cellar spoons!  I love using these “fairy spoons” and it feels so elegant adding salt in this old-fashioned and queenly way!

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Each crystal salt cellar is as unique as the pattern of the spoons; I can never decide which is my favorite!  The larger cellar is used for pepper and is placed on the table where several people can share it.

Well, my woodland table is ready and set but before decorating any more I am going to “O bed!  O bed!  Delicious bed … that heaven on earth to the weary head.”    ~  Thomas Hood 

And as I nestle down in my feathered nest, I’ll close my eyes and I … “will pause and sigh, and sighing, bless … That Child who loves the trembling hearts.”

Have a blessed week while you are busy preparing for … the birthday of the King!

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From my cottage to yours  ~  Trenda

I’d love to hear from you!  Please leave any questions or comments, below.

Come join me on a Christmas Blog Hop “Celebrate #55” with hostess’ Chloe Crabtree from Celebrate and Decorate and Sandra from Sweet Sensations for more Christmas tablescapes.