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.

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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!

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.” (;

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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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Easy Thanksgiving Centerpiece and Autumn in November

cropped-img_0452-e1510254818805.pngby Trenda

Today was a cool day with gray skies that made the autumn colors so vivid, they almost glowed!  I went outside to “gather” some cuttings from our yard to make our Thanksgiving Centerpiece and afterwards, I walked around just taking pictures of beautiful Autumn in November at Cottage Green on the Lake! (:  And those yard “gatherings” I clipped and snipped from our yard made a lovely and grand arrangement on the dining room table that only took minutes to make; my only cost was the fresh Eucalyptus I bought from Trader Joe’s, for $2.99!

Thanksgiving Cpiece cover

If you want to keep this arrangement on your table throughout the Thanksgiving season you will need to use soaked floral foam (protect your table by placing the floral foam in a container!) or use floral vials to insert your live clippings into.  Both the floral foam and the arrangement vials are available at your florist or any craft store on the flowering arranging aisle.  However, this arrangement is so easy to assemble, you can do it the day of your Feast! 

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Much like setting out and marking your serving dishes with what you will be serving in them … set the preliminary stages of your arrangement.  I placed my table runner down the length of  the table, set my candlesticks where I wanted them, then interspersed my pheasant and pumpkins down the length of the runner so I could easily come back and tuck in my Loropetalum and Eucalyptus, later.  fresh eucalyptus.jpg

Any time you want to make an arrangement like this, just clip your branches the morning of “your event” and keep any live branches or flowers in a vase of water until you are ready to make your arrangement.  Then dry the ends of your branches before placing and tucking them along your table runner and light your candles!

Fresh Eucalyptus in a vase filled with water awaiting placement on table runner. closeup eucalyptus.png

Here is a great picture showing how I mixed the “faux” garland with autumn leaves with the live burgundy leaves and branches of the Loropetalum and the fresh Eucalyptus.  Even as I look at this picture I have a hard time distinguishing what leaves are real and fake!  I love making arrangements and since we serve our Thanksgiving meal buffet style, we only need enough room on our table for the plates and glasses, our Fitz and Floyd Pilgrim salt & pepper shakers, a basket full of yeast rolls, and a beautiful Golden Carnival Glass compote filled with ruby colored Apple-Cranberry Salad

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A brass pheasant matches the brass candlesticks I used in my arrangement and looks at home among the autumn foliage.

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Tiger striped miniature pumpkins are nestled among the burgundy foliage of the Loropetalum branches.

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Carved wooden pilgrims bring gifts of vegetables to the gathering.

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 Nestled among the real and “faux” flora and fauna, this miniature pumpkin looks so perfect, it almost looks unreal and reminds me again what a Master Artist and Creator the Lord is!

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Candles glow in the lengthening shadows and “I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart.” ❤

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AND those pictures I told you I took after gathering my clippings for my Thanksgiving centerpiece … I’ll share with you in my next blog, but here’s one I particularly love, this sweet moss-covered cherub pondering in our birdbath.  

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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 FOLLOW in my post above … or click on my site: cottagegreenonthelake.com

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Trenda@cottagegreenonthelake.com

This week I’m joining:

Carol from The Red Painted Cottage 

Courtney with Feathered Nest Friday

 

 

 

 

 

DIY Halloween Treat and Favor Bags

by Trenda

trick or treat

It’s almost time for our porch to be filled with ‘little feet’ and I always enjoy making special treats for everyone that ‘calls out, “Trick or Treat!”  These cute Halloween favors are fun to make and should cause all your little ghosts and goblins to break out in toothy grins that would rival any jack-o-lantern! (:

all treat bags

 

Supplies Needed:

  • Treat bags
  • Roll of “Cling Ons” (*picture below) assorted holiday trims w/self-adhesive backs on a spool 
  • Black tulle
  • Assorted Halloween ribbons
  • tag punch or a package of plain tags
  • standard hole puncher
  • Assorted Halloween stamps
  • alphabet stamps or black marker for lettering
  • black ink pad
  • scissors

Recollection tag punch and Halloween stamps …

pics of punch

 

Directions:

  1. If you are making your own tags, punch out gift tags using a die-cut punch or use a pattern to trace a tag for your treat bag.  I used a Recollection punch for my smaller tag and I traced a pattern out to make my larger tags.  Each of my treat bags had 2 tags; a larger white tag and a smaller orange tag.
  2. Stamp or write the words or design on your tags.  I stamped the word “BOO!” on each of my smaller, orange tags and I stamped “Happy Halloween” on the larger tag.

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3. Choose the trim *(“Cling On”) that you want to decorate your bag.  I used a different trim for each treat bag.

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4. Adhere the trim to the top of your favor bag.  Begin on the side so the final cut and matched ends will not show.

trim 5. Cut a 9″ length of tulle and a 8″ length of Halloween ribbon.  Place the tulle and the ribbon together. 

6. Slip both stamped tags onto the tulle and the ribbon (the larger tag beneath the smaller tag.)

7. Tie the tulle and ribbon into a simple knot on the left, front handle of the treat bag.

treat bag

8. Stuff treat bags with Halloween candy and favors.

all treat bags

I had fun stuffing my treat bags with Halloween candy, “Boo” notepads, pencils, and erasers, bubbles, playing cards, and stickers.  For more treats (click here for “No Tricks just Treats”)

final treat bags

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”  Matthew 5:16

Let your light so shine

 

From my cottage to yours  ~  Trenda

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

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Al Fresco Dining in Autumn … Easy Caramel Toffee Cream Cheese Dessert Dip by Trenda

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Autumn, sunshine and al fresco dining are, like the song says … “a few of my favorite things!”  Yesterday was a beautiful autumn day with a light breeze that “ruffled” the lake and teasingly tugged at the chimes taunting us for staying inside.  By noon, we happily “gave in” and I made lunch and served it “al fresco” on the deck.

img_6439118184And for lunch …

 

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Caramel & Toffee Cream Cheese Dessert Dip is delicious and takes longer to say, than it does to fix!  You’ll love how easy it is to “assemble” and the autumn flavors are perfect for afternoons snacks or unexpected guests! (:

Caramel & Toffee Cream Cheese Dessert Dip

Ingredients:

  • 1 block (8oz) cream cheese
  • Caramel Ice Cream Topping
  • Toffee bits or chocolate covered toffee bits
  • Apples

Instructions:

  1. Unwrap and place entire block of cream cheese onto a plate.
  2. Spoon enough caramel ice cream topping over the cream cheese to cover and  “pool” around the base of the cream cheese.
  3. Sprinkle toffee bits liberally over the caramel topping.
  4. Slice apples, brush sides with lime or lemon juice to prevent browning.
  5. Arrange apples around dessert dip.

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Apples on embossed leaf plates and miniature pumpkins sit atop silver chargers and a reed woven basket.

closeup of apple dip

 Rugged, textured tabletop with autumn leafed runner and  DIY Autumn Napkin Rings

 

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Tuscan Tomato Soup … another easy and delicious recipe I’ll include in another blog. (:

“All things are ready” … Buon appetito! (:

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“Apples of gold, in pictures of silver … “

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From my cottage to yours  ~  Trenda

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

FOLLOW ME on PINTEREST!  … Trenda@cottagegreenonthelake.com

 

Tablescape details:

Green leaf embossed plates – Pier 1 (several years ago)

Sage green napkins – Kirkland’s (available during the Christmas season)

Soup spoons – Oneida, Louisiana pattern

This week I’m joining Marie-Helene with Kingsbury Brook Farm

Chloe Crabtree with Celebrate & Decorate

 

 

 

 

 

 

Halloween DIY Napkin Rings …………. by Trenda

Look who suddenly appeared, looking like he flew straight from the pages of Edgar Allan Poe’s poem and obligingly perched, right next to me.  While I slowly reached for my phone, my mind began the recitation of these remembered words …  “Once upon a midnight dreary, when I pondered, weak and weary …” . 

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I love decorating the table for any occasion and for HALLOWEEN … I use all kinds of  “fol-der-ol and fid-dle-dy dee” to set the mood for a magical night that’s filled with possibilities and imagination!  During these next 3 weeks, I have several fun projects that I am going to be sharing with you that will help you create your own “boo-tiful” Halloween tablescape!  Today, I am going to show you how to make these spook-taular Halloween napkin rings!

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Supplies needed:

  • glue gun
  • glittered spiders 
  • copper wire (10 yds/20gauge)
  • beads (glass seed bead mix “Scream”)
  • assorted ribbons matching beads (I used Halloween polka dot & spider ribbon)
  • wire cutters
  • needle nose pliers

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Instructions: (see pictures below)

  1. Cut 4 pieces of copper wire, each approximately 12 inches long
  2. Lay the 4 lengths of wire together and pull the wires up and around your fingers to form a circle large enough for a napkin to be inserted into the opening.
  3. Twist where the wires cross at the top of the circle 1 or 2 times to secure the circle in place.
  4. Splay out the 8 wires above the now-formed wire circle.
  5. Begin threading beads, creating your own color pattern.
  6. Leave enough wire at the top exposed to bend the wire with your needle nose pliers, forming a small closed loop to secure the beads in place.
  7. After each wire is filled with beads and the wire is crimped, wrap the beaded wire around your little finger to “coil” your wire. 
  8. Remove your finger and bend each of the 8 coiled “legs” into desired shape.
  9. Using your hot glue gun, place a small amount of glue on your ribbon and begin wrapping the copper circle.
  10. Continue wrapping until the entire wire circle (the napkin ring) is covered with ribbon. 
  11. Cut the ribbon and hot glue in place, at the top of the napkin ring.  Shape and adjust beaded “legs” how you like them, then hot glue on glittery spider.

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Just look what a glitzy napkin ring this makes … perfect for all things “outlandish” for Halloween!

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Pumpkin patch and harmless spiders …

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Even just stacked in a pedestal votive cup “the eensy, weensy, spiders …” look frighteningly festive!

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“Candy-Coated Ghost Peeps” click here for instructions

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Little Ghost “Peeps” wearing “coats of chocolate” adorned with sprinkles and non-pareil’s make charming favors to take home or tuck into Halloween bags. 

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Click on the links below for all things “HALLOWEEN” 

Halloween DIY Treat Bags

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… DIY “Jolly Jack-o-Lantern” Halloween Wreath

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Have fun getting your home ready and making these Halloween napkin rings!  Before you know it, while your nodding … “nearly napping, suddenly” there will be “a tapping, as of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door” … shouting “Trick or Treat! (:

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From my cottage to yours  ~  Trenda

Trenda

 

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

This week I’m joining Courtney with Feathered Nest Friday

Chloe Crabtree at Celebrate & Decorate

All the supplies I used for making these Halloween napkin rings were bought from Hobby Lobby.

 

Creating Yummy Looking Party Tray’s …………………… by Trenda

Are you “insecure” about arranging party trays that look appetizing or do you cringe in apprehension when asked to bring a veggie tray to a Church potluck dinner … a neighborhood block party … or a weekend at your Mother-in-laws?  With these simple tips I am going to share, it’s easy to create a “pièce de résistance” and a yummy looking party tray!

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I love creating party “trays” of all sorts … trays filled with red and green slices of apples served with creamy, caramel dipping sauce … cookie trays stacked with cut-outs, pressed, rolled, and dropped cookies … sweet candy trays for Christmas … and appetizer trays filled with a mixture of fruits, vegetables, cheese, and crackers.   In the first party tray I’m showing you, I used a colorful Fitz & Floyd platter to “build” my arrangement on. I love using items on my trays that add novelty and color and I did this, on my first tray I’m showing you, by using a “bowl” carved from a purple cabbage, which holds my vegetable dip.  I peeled away the outer leaves of the cabbage until it was just the right size and wouldn’t “tower” over my platter.  You can see by the heap of leaves on my cutting board how much of the cabbage I peeled away.

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Then, using a sharp knife, I scored deep grooves into the center of my cabbage, forming a circle.  After making my “perforations” I switched to a table knife (you’ll need to use a knife with a duller blade so you won’t cut yourself, while carving!) to cut out the scored circle, making sure the “hole” was deep and wide enough to hold a substantial amount of dip.  Red, green, or yellow Bell Peppers also make charming dip holders, and hollowed out halves of melons make wonderful containers for my fruit trays.

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After placing the hollowed out cabbage in the center of my platter, I start placing my washed and cut vegetables and fruits around the platter, contrasting and coordinating the colors and placement of each.  Other tips which make my platter look more “attractive” … I tuck the stems of my broccoli where the florets face out … I place the woody stems of grapes underneath, so the grapes show, instead of the wood …  I peel cucumbers in strips and then cut the cucumber into attractive rounds.  For those vegetables that I have more of, like the tomatoes and broccoli, I divide the amount of each into 2 groups and place them on opposite sides of each other, on the platter.

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After the platter is filled, I added the dip for my vegetables to my cabbage “bowl” and tucked in these darling servers with handles covered in grape clusters and fruit.  Miniature silver tongs are just the right size for picking up “cherub” tomatoes.

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The second appetizer tray I am going to show you how to “build” today is arranged in a 13 x 9 casserole dish and placed in a wicker serving tray.  The sides of the casserole dish, make arranging this tray, EASY! (: The first thing I did was to place a sweet little bowl with etchings of berries on it, in my casserole dish.  This “anchors” my appetizer tray and makes a great place for the crackers I want to serve, on my tray. bowl.png

After filling the bowl with crackers (I used Wheat Thins) I took freshly washed “Looseleaf Lettuce” with it’s pretty, ruffled edges and tore off pieces to line the outer edges of the casserole dish.

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Then I  begin adding the vegetables I wanted to serve on my tray.  Since I have a lot of celery sticks, I divided the celery into two different bunches and stacked them at an angle, on either side of the cracker bowl.  Carrots are placed in 2 opposite corners and grapes fill up the other two corners.

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Then comes the fun part … piling cubes of cheese in the remaining spots; Colby Jack on one side, Pepper Jack on the other and filling in any remaining “vacancies” with cucumber rounds turned on their side, acting as partitions.  Where extra color is needed or “gaps” need filling, I “tuck in” more ruffly edged lettuce, between veggies.

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Looks good enough to eat, doesn’t it?! (:  And the woven basket with handles makes it easy to store in the refrigerator and transport to and from the table!  Hope these tips have helped and you’ll feel confident and enjoy creating your next party tray!  Before you know it, I’ll be making those autumn apple trays!

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Our last week in August and oh my, our hearts are heavy as we watch the catastrophic events in our dear Lone Star State, from Hurricane Harvey.  We love the charming seaside town of Rockport and I have been going there since I was “just a little girl” for summer vacations … and Richard and I have been going there since we married, for almost 40 years.  Seeing all the destruction of our beautiful, old, coastal towns, the flooding of Houston and the surrounding areas and the huge number of people suffering and loosing their homes is heartbreaking.  Houston, and it’s suburbs, is the 4th largest city in the United States with a population of over 6 million.   With astonishing realization … even if we were able to use every NFL football stadium in the United States for temporary shelter, there wouldn’t be enough room to “house” all the people that have been displaced by Hurricane Harvey!  I’m praying this scripture for all those affected and God’s watch care over them, as the rain continues and the flood waters rise … “Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief.”  Psalms 31:9

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From my cottage to yours  ~  Trenda

 

final xoxo

 

Thank you for spending 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  

This week I will be joining Marie-Helene of Kingsbury Brook Farm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello June! … Delicious BBQ Beans & DIY Place Cards for Father’s Day

~ Trenda

Hello June!  We’ve been looking forward to seeing you! (:

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“Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer …” It’s time to slow down, kick back, and relax!

 WONDERFUL SUMMER!  ~ by Trenda

“It’s the beginning of another …

Snow-cone dripping,

bare foot skipping, 

iced tea sipping,

front porch sitting, 

flip flop plopping,

baseball watching,

mattress floating,

snorkel snorting,

pink nose glowing, 

green grass mowing,

warm breeze blowing,

hot dog munching,

cricket chirping,

sparkler waving,

firework gazing,

sunset blazing …

 wonderful summer!” 

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The days of June are marked off the calendar with the “procession” of different celebrations and “happenings.”  Flag Day – June 14th … Father’s Day – June 18th … and the longest day of the year, Summer Solstice – June 21st.  Keep the “red, white, and blue” decorations handy and get out those summer recipes and “Father’s Favorites!”  Two of our favorite’s here at Cottage Green are … my recipe for Delicious BBQ Beans and Sand Pail Ice Cream

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We love the smoky flavor of these “Delicious BBQ Beans” and the enhanced layer of flavor that the bell pepper adds!  I also love that the beans are cooking in the crock pot while I’m away or I’m busy preparing other dishes.

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Now, for some elegant DIY place cards that are easy to make that will add an “air” of sophistication to your “Father’s Day” table.  If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you know I love “dressing” the table!  One of the easiest ways to make your table festive and make every guest feel important is by adding place cards to your tablescape.  I made these simple, but elegant place cards for a graduation party and they are perfect and serving “double-duty” … for our Father’s Day celebration!

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Here are supplies needed to make these place cards:

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I bought my miniature decorative tassels in the “Notions” section at Hobby Lobby (where the fabrics/buttons/ribbons are located).  I also bought my place cards and my clear stamp pads at Hobby Lobby, in the stationery section.

place cards.png Instructions:

  1. Punch a hole in upper left-hand corner of each place card, making sure you punch the hole through the front and back of the place card.
  2. Insert the opposite end of the tassel through the punched hole in the front of the card (insert, front to back) so that the tassel is in the front of the place card.
  3. Bring the looped end of cord over the top of the place card and insert (thread) the tassel through the corded opening and pull gently to secure the “tassel in place.  Make sure the knot is not taut, so the tassel drapes loosely down the front of the place card. * (see photo below)
  4. Stamp the front of each place card with a filigree frame of your choice from your selection of clear stamp pads.  Make sure you allow enough time for the ink to dry before handling.
  5. After ink has thoroughly dried, write each person’s name centered in the stamped frame.

*Close-up photo of #3 instructions:closeup tying

I love the elegant and “man-ly” look of these place cards and can’t wait to show you how they look “gracing” our Father’s Day tablescape!

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Now hang up your hammock, get out the ice cream maker, and drape your patio in party lights and “Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer … you’ll wish that summer could always be here.” ~ Nat King Cole

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From my cottage to yours ~ Trenda

cottage-green

I’m delighted that 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.