Labor Day Weekend … “The Gang’s All Here!”

Hail, hail, the gang's all here, 
Never mind the weather, here we are together;
Hail, hail, the gang's all here,
Sure we're glad that you're here, too!

If you’re not barefoot, then you’re overdressed.

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Labor Day is the last big fanfare of the summer here at the lake and I’ve been getting ready for our weekend with “the gang all here!” I thought you might like reading and seeing some of the tips, preps, how to’s, menu’s, and recipes we use for our family get together’s and what we do here at Cottage Green preparing “4theseasons” and for our family celebrations. P.S. For those of you that don’t know … my Twitter and Instagram account is 4theseasons. (;

I love how summer just wraps it’s arms around you like a warm blanket.

Kellie Elmore

Since we’ll have several different areas set up for food and drink, I always like to have multiple caddy’s ready that are easy to carry and set up and hold all our cutlery and napkins. I use this rugged twig caddy often, since it’s so handy. (See it in the picture above when we had watermelon on the dock while watching the gorgeous sunset and (click here to see the same twiggy caddy in a Woodland Christmas Tablescape) I always tuck cloth napkins into the basket to line and soften the edges of the twigs, and to match the cutlery we’ll be using. Our color theme for Labor Day is red, white, and blue and a basket of red anchor napkins on a blue and white striped background will be whimsical setting on the dock table and will fit in perfectly with our lake theme, in just the right colors.

Next … this cute and showy rowboat caddy will be for our Farewell BBQ dinner. No frail paper napkins will do when finger lickin’ ribs and homemade barbeque sauce are on the menu! Red cloth bandanna’s are folded up to secure cutlery, then are wrapped around the bundle and festooned with red, white and blue wired tinsel.

Red, white and blue plastic sandwich baskets are lined with festive red and white checked deli papers. The baskets are sturdy and easy for small hands to carry even when their baskets are filled with ribs, cool pasta salad, and a little bean pot filled with (Delicious BBQ Beans – click here for recipe.)

Pictures and Instructions … How to Assemble Cutlery and Napkin Packages

1.Fold napkin into quarters. Place folded edge to your left side and open selvage of your napkin to your right. Fold up the bottom edge of your napkin, about 5 inches, if you are using larger napkins like these bandanna’s. If the napkins you use are smaller, fold up less material, according to size, but so you still have ample material left to pull up, cover and secure your cutlery.

2.Place a knife, fork, and spoon with the tips of the cutlery just beneath the left hand corner of your napkin and fan out so bottom of utensils are in line with the right hand bottom corner. FYI: Placing the cutlery beneath the edge of the material makes a prettier presentation and helps keep the utensils from getting dirty.

3.Now fold the left side of the napkin over the top of the utensils and fold the bottom right hand corner of the napkin straight up, over the top of the first fold. This secures your cutlery and keeps it from falling out when it’s picked up. Remember those unfortunate times all your silverware has fallen out when you were picking up your silverware bundle at a restaurant or cafeteria??? This tuck keeps that from happening!

4.Holding the left side of folded napkin and keeping the cutlery in place in the center (the cutlery will slide somewhat as you keep rolling your napkin, you can flare it out, again, if you need to, after you have secured the napkin bundle with your tinsel wire or cording) Just keep rolling your bundle to the right until all the material of the napkin is entirely wrapped around the bundle inside. When your napkin is rolled around in a concise package, hold or place the cutlery bundle down on the surface you are working on so it doesn’t unroll while you are getting your wired tinsel to secure the package. In the picture below I wanted you to be able to see how your bundle should look before securing. TIP: I usually have my tinsel or cording already cut and ready before I start my bundles so I can tie each place setting immediately, after I’m through rolling my napkin bundle.

5.Finished rolled cutlery bundle before cording.

6.I am not too exact when I am using tinsel wiring since I don’t like to pull out all the bends, plus any excess tinsel always looks cuter when there’s more! Each strand of tinsel wire I cut is approximately 13 inches long. Don’t worry if you don’t have any tinsel wire, I have made these bundles using colored raffia (click here to see Easter bundles made with smaller paper napkins and tied with raffia) silk red and green plaid ribbon with pine cone ornaments attached, rugged jute with white lifesavers dangling to mimic life preservers, and thin white macrame cording with anchor buttons; whatever tinsel or cording I’ve used, these bundles are always darling.

7.Center your tinsel or cording around your bundle so there is an equal amount of wire or cording on each side of the napkin to twist or tie.

8.Wrap the 2 strands of your tinsel or cording around your bundle to meet in the middle and twist together, or tie in a simple knot if you or using cording . When I use tinsel wiring, after twisting the tinsel to hold in place,I twirl first one end and side of the wiring loosely around my index finger, then I slip my finger out, which leaves the tinsel in loose coils. Then I gently pull the coils out to the desired length I want … then I do the same thing to the opposite side of the tinsel.

One more caddy finished and one to go for our Sand Pail Ice Cream Finale (click here for pictures of our Fun Summer Tradition)

Gotta go, the Gang’s Almost Here! Hope you have a wonderful and safe Labor Day Weekend … AND I hope you liked this post. I’m planning on this being a new series of blogs I share with you whenever “our gang” is coming! ❤

From my cottage to yours  ~  Trenda

I’d love to hear from you!  Please ask any questions you may have or post any comments, below. To have all my posts delivered directly to your email address, just click on FOLLOW in the post above … or click on my site: cottagegreenonthelake.com

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In the Cottage Greenhouse … DIY Nature Place Cards

~ Trenda

Look at the latest sparkle I’ve added in the Cottage Greenhouse! I found this quaint and quirky vanity tray mirror covered in a layer of dust at a local Thrift Store for only $1.00! When I found it, I had no idea where I was going to put it, but I couldn’t bear to leave it there forgotten and forlorn.

Now, look how perfectly charming it looks in The Cottage Greenhouse!

Instead of the usual cosmetics and perfumes that sit on a vanity tray, I loaded my Greenhouse vanity tray with a few of my antique metal floral frogs and a tiny silver platter with ruffled edges I topped with a chunky cloche. A crystal watering can fits in perfectly with this garden vignette.

Pretty DIY place cards are propped up on the prongs of antique floral frogs. They look fetching in this greenhouse setting, but they’re especially sweet when I use them in a Nature themed tablescape!

To make this flower place card I cut an image from an old garden book that I was lucky to find at a library sale for only $1.00! I cut the flower image into a smaller rectangle and rounded the corners of the card to soften the edges, then inked the edges. Complete instructions for all Nature place cards below.

To make this little card under the cloche, I photo-copied a favorite vintage green and white crocheted table runner onto cream card stock, then cut the paper copy into small cards. I punched out a round tab from an old book page and distressed it by inking along the edges. Then I stamped the tab with a letter “T” and stapled it onto a bit of lace.

I love the look of this unique and layered place card and made it by first laying a lace handkerchief on the copy machine. Then I placed a cloth napkin on top of the lace handkerchief, closed the lid on my copy machine, and copied the layered cloths onto cream colored card stock. Look at the beautiful texture on the card below and how the photo copied lace looks like actual lace overlapping the card.

Instructions for DIY Nature Place Cards

  1. Instead of using decorative papers or colored card stock for this project, I used an assortment of materials … a page from a garden book, a vintage green and white table runner, a lace handkerchief, and a floral napkin. I love the look and visual texture of materials photo-copied onto cream colored card stock. So use your imagination when making your place cards and have fun looking for the textiles or other images you want to photo copy for your place card backgrounds.
  2. After making your photo copies, cut the paper copy into the shapes you desire for your project. I cut my photo-copied paper into petite rectangles to fit in my antique floral frogs.
  3. For variety, I left some of the corners of my cards square, other’s I rounded using a corner punch I have. If you don’t have a corner punch, you can round the edges of your place cards with scissors.
  4. No inking is necessary, but if you want to add an antique or aged look to your place cards, ink the edges of your cards using a blending tool and stamp pad. I used Tim Holtz’s mini ink blending tool and Tim Holtz’s Distress Ink Pad, Color: Vintage Photo
  5. To add stamped images to your cards, you will need cling or acrylic stamps or wood block stamps. I used an acrylic bird image stamp, an acrylic bumble bee stamp, and a set of wood block miniature alphabet letters I bought at CVS for only $1.00. (Seems I’ve found a lot of good deals for only a $1.00!) I used the alphabet set to stamp the letters at the top of my card to spell PRETTY.
  6. Punch or cut out round tabs using old book pages and staple them to the card on top of a bit of lace … or use buttons and glue the lace to the button and attach both to the card.

A little embellishment for a lot of charm!

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

In other news … my dear Richard cleaned out and organized his sprinkler pipes, fertilizers, and tools that were in the Cottage Greenhouse and he built two more sets of shelves for my bedding plants and greenhouse accouterments. ❤ Now I have twice as much room for planting and playing in the Cottage Greenhouse! Coming soon … pictures of my new addition, plus a Greenhouse tablescape using my Nature place cards!

WELCOME SEPTEMBER!

From my cottage to yours ~ Trenda

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

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Outdoor Tablescape and Garden Drink Station

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

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

Iris Murdock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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

From my cottage to yours ~ Trenda

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

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

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

~ by Trenda

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

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

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

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

Our Simple Charcuterie Platter

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

Charcuterie arrangement tips:

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

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

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

William Cowper

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

More April “rambling’s” around our cottage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From my cottage to yours ~ Trenda

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

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Breakfast “out of bed” and 2 Delicious Recipes … “Bell Pepper, Onion and Mushroom Medley” and “Breakfast Frittata”

Here is a quick and easy side dish that “dresses up” any meal!  It’s especially delicious with grilled steaks and chicken and it makes a wonderful filler when you’re making frittata’s, fajitas, omelettes or quesadillas!

*BELL PEPPER, ONION AND MUSHROOM MEDLEY

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons steak sauce (I used A1 steak sauce)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 medium onion, sliced into thin strips
  • 1- 4 oz. can of sliced mushrooms, drained (or fresh) 

Directions:

  1. Add olive oil, soy sauce, your favorite steak sauce, and garlic powder to a medium frying pan; begin heating mixture on medium heat.
  2. Cut 1 medium onion and 1 bell pepper into thin strips and add to skillet 
  3. Add mushrooms to the onions and bell pepper in skillet
  4. Stir vegetables in the skillet, incorporating all the vegetables into the sauce
  5. Sauté until peppers and mushrooms are tender and onions are translucent
  6. Serve warm; delicious with grilled steaks, chicken or as a filler for frittata’s, quesadillas, fajitas, omelette’s …

This past week Richard and I headed down to the Texas coast to the romantic seaside town of Rockport to celebrate our 42nd wedding anniversary. Since we were going to be travelling on our anniversary, I decided to surprise Richard the day before we left, with breakfast served “out of bed.” (; I made a breakfast Frittata using the veggie medley above.

Breakfast frittata and mixed berries

Though a frittata sounds fancy and hard to make, it’s a simple Italian dish that is made with eggs and enhanced with additional ingredients such as meats, cheeses, and vegetables. It is similar to an omelette or crustless quiche. Just about anything can be added to your egg base, but to reduce excess moisture and baking time that makes your eggs dry or spongy, your ingredients should already be cooked. Below is the recipe I created for the frittata I made, using the *bell pepper, onion and mushroom vegetable medley from above.

Breakfast Frittata

  • 6 eggs, beaten slightly to blend whites and yolks
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
  • pepper “to taste”
  • 1 1/2 cups *bell pepper, onion, and mushroom medley
  • 6 strips of bacon cooked and cut into bite size pieces (I used pre-cooked)
  • 1 cup grated Colby/Monterrey Jack cheese + additional 1/2 cup cheese for topping frittata when it comes out of the oven

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Grease a cast iron skillet for a traditional frittata
  3. Place cast iron skillet on burner turned on medium heat
  4. Add already cooked *bell pepper, onion, and mushroom medley (recipe above) to skillet or baking dish
  5. Stir together eggs, milk, chicken bouillon, and pepper
  6. Add cooked bacon and 1 cup grated cheese to egg mixture
  7. Stir egg mixture, meat, and cheese together gently and add to vegetable medley in the skillet or in your baking dish
  8. Cook mixture without stirring, just until the edges begin to”set”
  9. Place skillet or baking dish in oven
  10. Cook for 15- 20 minutes (in cast iron skillet) watching closely the last 5 minutes.
  11. Cook only until knife inserted in the middle of the frittata comes out clean, but center still has a glossy appearance
  12. Sprinkle additional 1/2 cup of cheese on top of the frittata
“until edges are set”

While the frittata was cooking, I filled a diamond shaped antique dish with a mixture of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries, and gave them a sprinkling of sugar. Then came the fun of finding a cozy corner in the bedroom. This seemed the perfect spot … like sitting in a treehouse that overlooked the lake with a low table waiting for setting, a rustic little bear lamp for a little glow, and seating with lots of pillows. You’ve heard of breakfast “in bed.” This was breakfast served “out of bed” … just for two. ❤

A whole lot of cozy.

I love combining rustic and elegant pieces. Crystal, china, and crocheted lace napkins mixed well with my rugged cast iron skillet, miniature braided fish rug, and frayed patchwork napkins circled with wooden napkin rings.

Villeroy & Boch china Design Naif

Even though we cooks are usually our own worst critics, the frittata was delicious, and the setting was perfect.

We had a wonderful time on our anniversary. Here are just a few pictures of the picturesque seaside towns of Rockport and Port Aransus on the Texas Coast.

Beach cottages in Rockport, Texas

Beach at Rockport, Texas

Port Aransus Ferry, Harbor and Beach

Then the rugged beauty of the Texas Hill Country we traveled through on our way back home AND the awesome and incredible “Jacob’s Well” an artesian spring with an underground cave system and crystal clear waters that allow you to see the layers of bedrock and strata in the depths of the water in Wimberly, Texas near New Braunfels. Look it up; my pictures don’t do it justice and Richard was getting nervous I was getting so close to the edge! (:

Hope you are enjoying some adventures on these dog days of summer! Try the Breakfast Frittata and set a cozy table in a “new spot” to enjoy it in. You’ll be surprised at the sense of adventure and the fun it adds having your meal in a different place!

From my cottage to yours ~ Trenda

Autumn Picnic and “Skillet Express … Smoked Sausage and Squash”

“There is something incredibly nostalgic and significant about the annual cascade of autumn leaves.”  ~  Joe L. Wheeler

autumn canopy

Also incredibly nostalgic … picnics with charming, wicker picnic baskets with little clasp fasteners, bright, cheer-y interiors, picnic-ware fastened to the lid, and a most delicious meal served “al fresco” tucked within it’s confines. 

green hound's tooth

The setting for our autumn picnic was serene among “the annual cascade of leaves” that lazily drifted down from the canopy above … 

lake view

Floated atop the lake …

floating leaves

Drifted by like golden paper boats …

5 leaves

Nestled in the azalea bushes …

Encore azaleas

Rested on the green lawn and Mondo Grass …

Mondo grass

Lay cushioned on a bed of mushrooms …

mushrooms

And formed a golden frame around our picnic area.

leaf frame.jpg

Look how the green and white “hound’s tooth” on the interior of the picnic basket became the perfect background for these bright sunflowers and bittersweet I was getting ready to use in a centerpiece.  I just propped “the whole bunch” in the corner of the picnic basket … and instantly loved the color and casual centerpiece it became for our picnic!

green hound's tooth .jpg

Our picnic meal was equally casual with left-over “Skillet Express … Smoked Sausage and Squash” (recipe below) that we kept warm in a cheer-y red plaid thermos … an easy dessert of 2 crisp, autumn apples … and cups of hot spiced tea.

front basket.jpgThrough the years, I’ve created some easy meals for our family that I call … “Skillet Express Meals.”  Cooking criteria that “must” be met in each of these recipes: it “must” take less than 30 minutes to fix, it “must” be delicious, and it “must” use only 1 skillet to make the recipe, from start to finish.  The first “Skillet Express” recipe I shared on this blog was Autumn Dinner … Smoked Sausage, Spinach and Orzo topped with grated parmesan cheese and today I’m going to share with you …

“Skillet Express … Smoked Sausage and Squash.”  


Hope you have a wonderful weekend and that you’re able to schedule in some nostalgia and enjoyment of “the annual cascade of autumn leaves” … perhaps with a picnic and delicious bowls of Smoked Sausage and Squash! (:

From my cottage to yours ~  Trenda

leaves scripture

 

final xoxo

Thank you for reading my blog.  This week I’ll be joining …

Carol from The Red Painted Wagon

Chloe Crabtree from Celebrate & Decorate

 

Autumn Tablescape … with a “side” of Provincial France

With beautiful, tangible evidence of autumn in the air and a birthday to celebrate with “la famille” last weekend, I polished the brass candlesticks and started decorating the table.  I always have a general idea of how I want to set my table … if I’ll be using a table runner, a tablecloth, or place mats … which plates, napkins, and cutlery I want to use … and what I’ll be using as a centerpiece, but setting a table and creating a tablescape are two different things.  Sprinkles and touches of  “this and that” are what magically transform a set table into a tablescape.

tablescape 1 The definition of tablescape according to the English Oxford dictionary is … “A decorative arrangement of ornaments or other objects on a tabletop.”  Embellishing Oxford’s definition of tablescape a little further … a tablescape for me  is created by arranging a tabletop in an artful way by using decorative objects … decor … centerpieces … lighting … and color in combination with the items needed in the table setting to create a certain mood or theme. 

overhead closeup

To begin “building” my tablescape, I chose what colors I wanted.  I envisioned the autumn shades of squatty, Cinderella pumpkins, golden wheat fields, and the colors of the leaves that were beginning to turn different shades outside.   With those colors in mind, I chose a beautiful soft yellow tablecloth with borders edged with harvest bounty, autumn leaves and acorns.  My choice of dinnerware was an elegant, ivory colored Wedgwood china that was rimmed with rich, harvest colors and had a deep cornflower blue border.  A cluster of silk autumn leaves in dusty orange, burgundy, and golden yellow became my centerpiece mixed with faux clusters of deep purple grapes, and fresh sprigs of burgundy Loropetalum (Chinese Fringe Flower) that I tucked in among the leaves from bushes Richard had just trimmed outside. (click here to see pictures and instructions)

Pierre and Belle

When creating a tablescape, it’s important to imagine what idea, mood, or theme you are trying to convey.  In my mind I pictured a French villa on a warm autumn afternoon that overlooked a valley of the French countryside.  As I visualized what I wanted my table to look like, I knew the French provincial figurines in my kitchen hutch. (click here to see) would look perfect on the table and voilá! … with the placement of Pierre and Belle, my table was suddenly transformed into the beginnings of a tablescape!

closeup Pierre and Belle

Then, the fun really began as I begin to sprinkle in a little “magic” … “this and that” … “the jewelry” to make our table gleam: brass and crystal candlesticks were placed, tall against my autumn foliage and copper and gold votive cups were tucked among the foliage and grape clusters for sparkle.

burgundy and gold

Goldware glistens atop sage green napkins and next to gold chargers …

goldware

Antique berry bowls and grape clustered German stemware with golden rims and pedestals,

antique berry bowls grape clustered stemware

Blush and gold colored stemware …

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A copper colored votive and a twinkling Cinderella pumpkin are placed among burgundy leaves and purple clusters of grapes …

pumpkins, grapes, candlelight

“Salagadoola mechicka boola

Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo

Put them together and what have you got

Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo …”     

~ Walt Disney’s “Cinderella”

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The autumn afternoon is ready and waiting for the family …

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Chandelier draped in autumn finery … rose hips, colored leaves, grape clusters and strings of gilded acorns.

chandelier

“Salagadoola mechicka boola

Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo 

It’ll do magic, believe it or not

  Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo …”

~ Walt Disney’s “Cinderella”

“It’ll do magic, believe it or not” creating your own tablescapes, when you use these tips … bibbidi-bobbidi-boo!  (: 

down the head of the table 

From my cottage to yours ~ Trenda

scripture

I was reminded of this scripture when we were out on our boat last Saturday and saw this spectacular view of the eastern sky at sunset … “For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”   Matthew 24:27

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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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Trenda@cottagegreenonthelake.com

This week I’m joining:

Barb Chapman of French Etherial

Chloe Crabtree with Celebrate & Decorate

Between the Months of June and August … at the Lake

 It’s hard to believe it’s the end of August and our golden, lazy, summer days are waning.  Another summer filled with happy laughter, cannonball splashes. bobbing rafts, sunset boat rides, locust droning and warm breezes blowing against cooled bodies in wet bathing suits. 

~ Trenda

“Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August.”   —Jenny Han

 It’s hard to believe it’s the end of August and our golden, lazy, summer days are waning.  Another summer filled with happy laughter, cannonball splashes. bobbing rafts, sunset boat rides, locust droning and warm breezes blowing against cooled bodies in wet bathing suits.  Here are some of the good and magical moments of our summer.

Days of boating …

Bentley

Feeding the geese and ducks …

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PaPa’s First Mate and Skipper …  This look on our little grandson’s face is priceless as he samples the duck food (pumpernickel bread) and tells me … “Grandma, this tastes yucky!” (: (: (:

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Days of floating …

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Precious lullaby moments …

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These white herons flew in from their day wandering’s to roost and “bed down” in the boughs of this tree for the night.

white herons

Deer grazing on the green grasses beside the lake at twilight.

deer

Watching summer sunsets tinge the lake color to shades of pink and purple.

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There were summer “Cousin Days” and playing hide ‘n seek …

Hide 'n Seek

Riding piggy-back …

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Riding skate boards … painting faces … climbing walls at the park … happy faces and happy hearts!  “Your cousin is your very first friend.”  

cousin collage

Enjoying fun family tradition’s … Sand Pail Ice Cream!

sand pail ice cream

“PaPa and Grandma’s House … where cousins become best friends.”  This is what king size beds were made for … sleepover’s with my grand babies snuggled next to me and sweet, little hands patting and holding mine in the night.  

bedtime at Grandma's

All in all, it was a never to be forgotten summer — one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going …                 ~L. M. Montgomery

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Summer slips away in a lilac sky.
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It was indeed “a good and magical time.”  Goodbye summer, we’re going to miss you!

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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Trenda@cottagegreenonthelake.com

This week I’m joining Chloe Crabtree with Celebrate & Decorate

 

The Last of Autumn … “Something Told the Wild Geese”

As I was taking a picture of this glorious Ash Tree, I recognized a sound above me, like the whoosh of a wave approaching the shore.  I hurriedly snapped the picture and was thrilled when I saw I had “captured” these pelicans in flight!  As I stood there and marveled, phone still poised and ready, 3 more “squadron” of pelicans flew over!  I felt like I had just been presented with a gift … as indeed, I had! (:  NOTE: A group of pelicans have many collective names … BRIEF, POD, POUCH, SCOOP, and SQUADRON … are all names for a group of pelicans.

 ash tree geese

As I stood there reflecting on what I had just seen, I thought of this poem …

Something Told the Wild Geese

Something told the wild geese

It was time to go,

Though the fields lay golden

Something whispered, “snow.”

Leaves were green and stirring,

Berries, luster-glossed,

But beneath warm feathers

Something cautioned, “frost.”

All the sagging orchards

Steamed with amber spice,

But each wild breast stiffened

At remembered ice.

Something told the wild geese

It was time to fly,

Summer sun was on their wings,

Winter in their cry.  

 ~by Rachel Fields

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Here are the pictures I promised I would share with you of Autumn in November at Cottage Green on the Lake.

Golden leaves on this young Eastern Redbud and more golden leaves on our Ash tree down by the lake contrast beautifully with the red bark and the red roof on our boat dock and stand out brilliantly against a backdrop of green.

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The red leaves of the Sweet Gum Tree and the golden yellow leaves of our Ash trees blaze against the blue of the lake and autumn sky.  Fallen leaves cover the lawn in gold!

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Chartreuse Sweet potato vine rambles over a treasured hand pump that Richard’s mother used in “days gone by.” ❤

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Flowering Kale and Cabbage and sweet-faced pansies line the the paved sideyard.

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Azaleas, Coleus, and Impatiens in varying shades of vivid pink.

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 “It was November … the month of crimson sunsets, parting birds, deep, sad hymns of the sea, passionate winds songs in the pines.”  ~ L.M. Montgomery

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” … let the whole earth be filled with His glory.”  Psalms 72:19

Today is the last day of November and Autumn.  I hope you enjoyed seeing “The Last of Autumn” on Cedar Creek Lake!  Tomorrow is the beginning of Winter and December and I will be showing you how to make a fun and nostalgic Advent Calendar to begin the countdown to … C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S!  (:

  From my cottage to yours  ~  Trenda

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This week I’m joining:

Lisa from Feathering My Empty Nest

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

 

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

 

palm frond

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

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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