Bringing Spring Inside … with Spring Vignette’s

~by Trenda

Spring has arrived in Texas in a profusion of azalea blooms, perky bluebonnets and the unfurling of spring green leaves.  Sweet trills and twittering’s are heard throughout the day as birds flit about gathering building materials for their new homes.  Just like outside, it’s time to dress your home in Spring decor!  It’s easy to do with touches of romance, charm and whimsy tucked in unexpected places.  Little nests placed in crystal bowls … a gathering of eggs in decorative containers … fresh flowers “about the house” and the use of bright and pastel colors suggest all things Spring-y.

Spring wreath and birdbath filled with moss and speckled eggs.birdbath filled with eggs

An etched cache with blown glass finial is filled with Spring proffering’s … some spongy moss and sweet little eggs.  A crystal Frog Prince and favorite childhood books are reminiscent of fairy tales and magical possibilities.

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A little pewter bunny on a chartreuse pedestal … a matching chartreuse bird … and a little bird’s nest woven with spring leaves and blossoms perched on a chunky urn herald Spring’s arrival.

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All things bird- y! (:

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A desk corner in my music room is filled with “suggestions” of Spring and some “of my favorite things.”  A mottled watering can filled with a collection of paintbrushes … antique glass frogs for flower arrangements … miniature hinged birdhouses from a precious son … and a favorite miniature from a dear daughter that says, “A Mother’s love is what make a house a home.” ❤

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A chippy mirrored frame holds a picture of a pair of White-breast Nuthatches atop a twig-y silver easel.

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A miniature wooden easel holds a rough textured canvas of an egg-filled nest among leafy boughs … a collection of bird nests are perched, nearby.Spring buffet

Books, eggs, and birds … ❤

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A pair of lovebirds gaze into a mirror … a spring green bucket is filled with carved wooden pencils and a spool of twine is easily reached and handy.

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What was just a resting spot for this sweet, what-not shelf (while I went to get a nail to hang it) became the new, permanent location and a favorite spot once I saw how all the “lovelies” on the shelves were reflected in the mirror.  Treasures from our children, my grandmother, two of my dearest friends … fill these compartments and are looked on each day with fond memories.

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Reflection …

NESTGazing beyond the window at blue skies and spring blossoms, and inside … lace-y tree branches reflected on my grandmother’s glass-topped table … a dreamy place to work!music desk

Have fun finding special ways and little nooks to “bring” Spring into your home!

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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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 This week I’m joining:

Lynn from The Vintage Nest

Chloe Crabtree from Celebrate & Decorate

Courtney with Feathered Nest Fridays at French Country Cottage

 

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

 

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Azalea & Spring Flower Trail in Tyler, Texas

~ Trenda

One of our highlights each spring is going to the Azalea & Spring Flower Trails in Tyler, Texas.  The brick paved roads on the trail meander through neighborhoods lined with charming and prestigious historic homes and gardens that visitors are “invited” to walk through and are filled with blooming azaleas, Dogwood Trees, tulips, and “all things Spring.”  Completing the feeling of “gentler days” and nostalgia, Azalea Belles (young ladies chosen from Tyler’s high schools and home schools) meander around the gardens and greet visitors wearing beautiful antebellum gowns reminiscent of those worn by the Southern Belle’s in the years prior and during the Civil War.

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Each spring over 100,000 people come from all over the USA to visit Tyler and the Azalea Trails.  Today you can open this “garden gate” and vicariously enjoy a “scroll” through these enchanting gardens. (:  All of the pictures I am sharing in my blog today are pictures of people’s homes and their backyards (not parks!) that they so kindly let us “tour” and walk through on the Azalea Trails.  The owners of this next home (pictured below) chatted with us and told us that every afternoon they come and sit under this gorgeous wisteria-covered pergola and enjoy a glass of ice cold Dr. Pepper! (:pergola 2.pngLeatherleaf Mahonia nestled next to Coral Bells ‘Azaleas’ …berry bush.pngCharming “greenhouse” among the azaleas … greenhouse.pngBeautiful blooming White Dogwood Trees shading George L. Taber Azaleas. dogwood.pngStone columns mark the entry to a quaint stone bridge … just the sort-of-bridge that a Troll might live under and 3 Billy Goats would like to trot over! (: bridge moss.pngA bronze statue of a little girl in overalls with a picking basket stands among the Azaleas and Aucuba …girl statue 2.pngA large jardiniere filled with ivy and a cobble-stoned walkway along lichen covered walls.umbrellas background.pngAl Fresco Dining at it’s best!  “Table for 2?”  Yes, please!” (:table for 2.pngSide courtyardside courtyard.pngThe perfect spot to read (: … tucked behind a diminutive wrought iron fence, this reader  is in “good company” with Angel Wing Begonia, azaleas, and a hedge of boxwood.reading statue.pngA charming basket filled with frolicking bunnies … I would love to hang a basket like this from one of our trees!bunnies 3.pngRed tulips are particularly striking against a backdrop of wine-colored Loropetalum.tulips 2A double hedge of azaleas …2 double row azaleas.pngPine trees tower over brilliant azaleas …pines.pngA little cherub greets visitors as they come into the garden.cherub.pngI hope you enjoyed your stroll along the Azalea Trails today!  The last picture I’ve added is a picture of our own Coral Bells ‘Azaleas’ blooming in our front yard at Cottage Green on the Lake!  Hope your day is filled with blossom and bird song! (:front yard.png

From my cottage to yours  ~  Trenda

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Thank you for spending some time with me today!  I love reading your comments and hearing from you! (:

 

 

Texas-style Winter and the last of Thanksgiving … Recipe for Delicious Thanksgiving Soup

Trenda

It has been another delightful autumn here in East Texas but today’s temperature never “got out of” the 30’s and tonight, December 8th, we are finally expected to have our first freeze!  Fall is certainly a Southerner’s reward for surviving summer!

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Just a peek at Cottage Green on the Lake during the winter … 4the seasons!

leaves.pngPresuming it will freeze tonight, I gazed a little sadly at our still blooming Encore azaleas, roses, begonias, impatiens, coleus, and ferns.  However, Richard (forever surprising me) brought in one last winter rosebud he found blooming in our yard, put it in an antique vase that belonged to my grandmother, and set it on my vanity, where I happily discovered “it” after I showered! (imagine a picture of a heart, here!)

rose.png  Getting ready for “winter-on-the-lake” comes with a long to-do list … filling bird feeders, decorating the outside of the house with Christmas decorations, putting the potted begonias and impatiens away in their winter residence -our cedar greenhouse (: and last, covering the boat and draining our sprinkler system (which our son came over and helped his father with. PLUS … he also helped his father with our latest DIY project, the remodeling of our upstairs bathroom (pictures upon completion!)

Winter Twilight on the Lake …

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Thanksgiving Soup …

A delicious and easy soup that is made with Thanksgiving leftovers!  After enjoying our Thanksgiving leftovers for several meals, one of the simplest things we enjoy is making a big pot of comforting soup that uses all the “bits and pieces”still left from our Thanksgiving.

Instructions:

(So simple and delicious!)  In a Dutch Oven, add the last of your Thanksgiving leftovers.  (You’ll want to add only those leftovers whose flavors will compliment each other, when combined … no dill pickles from the relish tray or pumpkin pie!)  The leftovers I had which blended perfectly together were … dressing, a little turkey gravy, squash casserole, some leftover Rotel and Velvetta cheese dip (from football snacks!) and some turkey, I diced into smaller pieces.  To this mixture I added 6 cups of water and 6 teaspoons of dried chicken bouillon granules, stirring to mix.  Turn heat to high, until broth boils, then add uncooked pasta (I used 8 oz. from a 1 lb.box of Fideo Spaghetti.)  Return to boil, then lower heat “to simmer” until pasta is done.  That’s it!  Ladle soup into bowls and top with grated mild cheese and buttered breadcrumbs (leftover from my squash casserole!)  Delicious!  My husband and son had 2 bowls!


I ladled our soup into these favorite Fitz & Floyd “Tis the Season” mugs.  These mugs are “jumbo size” and hold 4 cups of liquid, each! Since they are so large, I only filled each mug, half full, topped with grated cheese and buttered bread crumbs

Wherever you are while reading this, I hope … you are nice and warm … have lots of sweet birdies twittering around your bird feeders … a pot of soup is simmering on your stove, beautiful Christmas carols are playing in the background!

From my cottage to yours  ~  Trenda

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Cottage Green on the Lake … Labor Day Weekend on the shores of Cedar Creek Lake and 2 Favorite Picnic-Fare Recipes by Trenda 

By Friday afternoon our little town’s population began to increase with the number of people coming for their last summer outing at the lake. The waves began to bob as the lake slowly filled with bright, neon rafts, jet-skis, speed boats, and sailboats … and laughter could be heard from backyard decks and docks.
It was a quiet weekend for us, relatively speaking (what a pun!) with only our own dear little family coming to visit for Labor Day.

However, no matter how small the gathering, getting ready for “our gang” is always labor intensive … and after all, seemed apropos for Labor Day weekend! 😉

TO DO LIST:

Edging & weed-eating  … ✔️✔️

Lawn mowed … ✔️

Decks cleaned with blower … ✔️

Floats & Water Toys aired up … ✔️

Canoe checked for “sea-worthiness” … ✔️

 House cleaned … ✔️

Grocery shopping … ✔️ Menus Made … ✔️


BBQ BEANS made & crock pot filled … ✔️




Salad prepared … Teas made … all chilling in the refrigerator … ✔️✔️✔️



TIME FOR FAMILY & FUN! … ✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️ 


And afterwards … everyone is ready for dinner!
Below, I’ve included 2 of our family-favorite recipes!  Both are easy and delicious and we enjoyed both of these sides on our Labor Day picnic.

The first recipe is my own recipe for DELICIOUS BBQ BEANS.  We love the smoky flavor of the bacon that intensifies as it cooks in the  the crock pot and the enhanced layering of flavor that the bell pepper adds!  I also love that it is baking in the crock pot while I’m away or other dishes are being prepared, freeing up the grill and oven!

The second recipe I have included is Paula Deen’s Frito & Corn Salad.  This salad is so quick and easy to “put together” and so far, we have never had anyone who doesn’t love it!  Cold salads are always a favorite during our hot summer months and the spicy, crisp addition of the Fritoes adds just the right amount of crunch to the sweet flavor of the corn.


And … always a sweet ending to any celebration is our Sand Pail Ice Cream Dessert.  It is our family tradition that we have been enjoying and making together, since our chidren were small!  We still look forward and include making it together in our summertime traditions, every summer!

I’ll include pictures and instructions for that fun & easy treat … soon!

The last rays of the day …  ending another Labor Day.

From my cottage to your’s!  ~ Trenda