Saturday, December 25, 2010

Keeping Christmas Simple

Hillcrest Cottage's Christmas Eve began with a gumbo made from whatever was shot from whomever shot it, and the picture is grainy because permission was not granted to post to this blog. But... the gumbo was very good. Thanks, hunter person!

Hillcrest Cottage's dinner table, and I have to brag that I made my best bread pudding EVER with the whiskey sauce being equally awesome!

This poster, found by my husband in a London thrift store, once lived as a pre-WWII street evangelist's sandwich sign. The sign now reminds me to not stray from the simplicity of the Christmas message.

Also In the spirit of simplicity, Hillcrest Cottage's decorations were scaled way back this season... intentionally... so that...

I would celebrate the importance of a family being together. Love seeing this cadet's uniform hanging around!

In my opinion, diamonds, pearls, and Christmas trees must always be real.

Memories of my childhood are found in this ornament.

Stockings hand knitted by my mom and given at each of the boys' births, are filled with fun. Next came the traditional pic of the guys holding stockings in front of the tree, but I'm not allowed to show that one.

And, finally, the debris that always follows.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Bike Ride

Cycling through the French countryside is on my bucket list.

But, the beauty of this River Trail today rivaled scenery anywhere.

Today the air was fresh, crisp, and wintery. The sun was warm enough to take the cold's edge away. The trail was populated with walkers, runners, and bikers... an armadillo and a huge jack rabbit.

Peace, quiet, and the wind in my face.

Friday, December 17, 2010

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

Hillcrest Cottage's postbox has been filling up with cards.

I still love mail... real mail!

Outside has been a bit chilly, so follow the arrow inside.

Help yourself to some hot spicy cider sipped from one of my always growing collection of vintage 1960's made- in- Japan- Santa- mugs ( 48 at this writing!).

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Comes... Ready or Not!

The funny thing about Christmas is... it comes whether I am ready or not!

I like to cut down my own tree, and these were my helpers this year.

I LOVED the girl-help... and it was her first Christmas tree farm experience: Free hot chocolate and fresh REAL trees!

Hang on there, tree. I'll get back to you on Monday!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Gingerbread Tradition

The years roll by; I discover I enjoy doing the same things each holiday. That's what I would call a 'tradition'. At times I have thought no one pays attention or cares.... until a traditions changes. Then... my guys speak up, and I understand the importance of continuity. The traditions we create become a part of the family fabric.

During Christmas time, I make two treats: homemade fudge and gingerbread men. I make homemade fudge because I love it, and fudge reminds me of my own childhood. I make gingerbread for a very different reason.

When Davis was in kindergarten, the teacher asked each child to tell their favorite Christmas tradition. Davis replied, " My favorite tradition is when my mom bakes gingerbread."

"Whaaaa?" was my response, "I have never before baked gingerbread!" Of course, I immediately found a recipe and chained myself in the kitchen.

And have every year since.

The baking of the gingerbread is the beginning of my Christmas. We have yet to put up a tree or anything else Christmas-y. I can only ho-ho-ho for 2 weeks.

Oops... I just looked at the calendar. So, some years I'm a little bit slow-er.

And... it is true... molasses is also slow.

I had planned on stepping up the artistic quality of my men this year, but it didn't happen.They still look like an army of Mr. Bills (SNL 70's icon).

Quality control is my job.

So here's the product of two hard days of back-breaking work.

The packaging alone took a full day. But, I felt very accomplished when I had made it to the post office this afternoon.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Help! I've Been Mugged!

It all began with an innocent flea market outing. When I was suddenly and unexpectedly....


I fell in love with this kitschy, corny design. Then, I wondered if there could be more. The answer was "yes!" ,
and I added this one:

And this one:

Three makes an official collection. I began to establish some collecting rules: No more online buying (too easy). No more than $5.00 (there must be limits!)

Has to be 1950-60 era and preferably made here:

Who could resist this face?

Or this face?

Okay... I'm going....

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Hillcrest Cottage Thanksgiving

You know you are fully "grown up" when... and the blank can be filled in with various words. A few years back my husband said, "You are no fun on holidays. All you do is work."


It's true, but despite all the work, I still love Thanksgiving.

A peaceful walk before the wildness of preparation began.

Davis had a week-long vacation from school and was able to go duck hunting. I have been forbidden to show the very bad picture of him hold the following because duck hunting begins at 3 a.m. and his face looked like it. He came in the door holding what is in this picture, and I laughed because I thought it was a rubber duck ( like a rubber chicken), but it was real.

Don't hate. This is how boys in Arkansas roll.

Next came the many hours of preparation. Polishing the silver, cleaning the house, seating charts, setting the tables, cooking all day, guests arriving. Too busy for pictures, but you get the picture.

The menu: Oven roasted 25 pound turkey, cornbread dressing with giblet gravy, cranberries, sweet potato casserole, homemade buttery yeast rolls, corn casserole, fruit salad with pecans, green beans bundled in bacon followed by a choice of homemade pumpkin topped with whipped cream, pecan, or chocolate meringue pie coupled with fresh ground hazelnut coffee.

After the food, here are the cousins minus one.

This is the first Thanksgiving holiday we have had Clayton at home since his going to West Point.

My very silly guys all on big brother's back

I have learned if want to spend time with my college guys, I must keep college guy hours, so there were several nights when the chiminea fire lasted until 3 a.m. We watched the Hogs (our football team) beat LSU and are now ranked nationally #7. I managed to get in several rounds of a fast-paced Scrabble game. Lucy discovered she doesn't enjoy large crowds.

This morning Davis rattled out of the driveway in his Jeep, and the college guys are back at school. All I can hear is the peaceful napping of Lucy and Mac.

Today... the quiet in Hillcrest Cottage sounds like music to my tired, but happy, self.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thoughts from a Fall Walk

This, my fall- inspired knapsack, is perfect for holding my I-Phone tuned into Pandora Radio (Coldplay Station). I simply sling the pack onto my back and head out the door for a power walk. I know I have shown this knapsack before, but I recently added a new twist... the vintage 1952 "Paris in 4 Days" brochure and Paris Metropolitain map peeking from the pocket (iron on transfer method I have recently discovered... the possibilities become endless!)

On my walk I noticed how pretty the foliage is becoming.

Thoughts drifting through my head today went something like this:
Today is all I have right now; most days are simple, ordinary, and routine. Somehow,in the middle of doing all that calls my name, I am compelled to put an exclamation point on a sentence or two. There! I did it!

Even if I have to tell a funny story to my own self while pouring a cup of Tazo spearmint-flavored green tea from my owl tea pot...

... and while cleaning the plaque off my brain, I might raise my favorite Emma Bridgewater mug in a teatime toast.

Should I tell you about how my husband went to London, and I asked him to bring back this very, specific mug, and he had to walk into the shop asking for the "Blue Tit" mug? Maybe I shouldn't... but I just did... ha ha.

I will celebrate life, breathing, hot baths at night, puppy dogs who lick my ear, a family who lets me live with them, outdoor fires on cool nights...

... good oatmeal, the smell of chocolate chip cookies baking, warm covers piled high on the bed, my rickety fence in need of repair, the ability to love myself and enjoy my own company...


P.S. I am looking forward to my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, because of its simplicity: food, family, and a grateful heart.

I wish Christmas could take a cue.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Even More Estate Sale Fun

I'm thinking that autumn is the best time for estate sales in my neighborhood. The crisp fall air brings out the shoppers... including me! I would tell you how much (little) I paid for these new and awesome red pillows... but, then, you know what I would have to do to you, and we don't want that.

Mac the Labradoodle graciously volunteered to pose amidst my new additions. The pillows have down inserts and are matelasse. I don't speak French, so I had to look up how to pronounce this word which I was pronouncing incorrectly: Matelasse

Gotta run some freshly baked brownies (addressed to my off-campus college guy who cooks for himself and exists on Dollar Store food) to the post office.

I'll be on my purple cruiser, of course!

Eggplant Art

A friend gave to me these eggplants from her garden. They are so beautiful, I feel guilty eating them.

Soooo... if I am going to eat art, I need some suggestions on how to cook these lovely purple vegetables. Any recipes would be greatly appreciated.

P.S. I LOVE my "new" old Coffee Hound mug for which I paid $1.00. Currently, I am really "into" kitschy dime store ceramics from the 1950's. Inside is a hound dog and the back reads: Coffee Hound, Half Cupper, Kid Stuff. Soooo... funny.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

New Item from Hillcrest Cottage

Autumn is a great time for Estate Sales in my Hillcrest neighborhood. The element of surprise is always half the fun. I'll never forget a sale that I happened upon where the family was selling their grandfather's Vaudeville magic act stuff. Some spooky puppets and even a real mummy were included. I had a laugh when I was alone in a back room with a fellow shopper.

"Wow," I commented to the gentleman, "these dummies look like they could sit-up and talk." The man exited quickly upon pondering my creepy thought.

I am so pumped about my recent estate sale vintage fabric finds, that I must share what's new at Hillcrest Cottage (even before it makes it to the Etsy site!). This knapsack is sewn out of vintage wool fabric and the pocket is re-cycled denim.

I love to use a knapsack when I am walking or when riding my bike. They are perfect for IPhone, doggie poop bags, water, wallet, and car keys!

I love the autumn colors!

Denim goes well with most everything, but this picks up the denim-colored part of the plaid pattern.

Front side wool fabric.

Back side wool fabric.

Hillcrest Cottage will be selling these knapsacks through my Etsy site, by contacting me personally (Facebook or Hillcrest Cottage Life blog), or...

The Green Corner Store on South Main Street. I have always wanted to be on Main Street so this new partnership makes me happy!

Size: 14" X 14"

Retails for: $20.00

Monday, October 25, 2010

Estate Sale Booty

This weekend my neighborhood was full of estate sales! That's a good thing... Martha.

I was driving home from teacher conferences on Friday and was suddenly caught up following a maze of "estate sale" signs. Before I knew it, the whole afternoon was practically over... oops.

My favorite house on the Estate Sale Tour was this fairy tale cottage. Getting the opportunity to see inside the estate sale houses is half the fun.

I love the 1920's architecture on the entryway and path leading to the door. I'm probably going to draw it sometime soon.

Here's a sweet, little suitcase I got for $1.00.

It's a fixer-upper, but I see its potential.

Three dollars for these vintage 1940/50's era hunt scene curtains. The colors are incredible!

1950's bridge club tablecloth: $3.00

These jeans were $2.00 and became...

this denim backpack.

For sale: $20.00

Beautiful red linen fabric: $1.00

Vintage 1970's seersucker bedspread in fun, fall colors: $2.00

Front porch fall makeover.

Estate Sale Booty Total Cost: $12.00