Sunday, December 23, 2012

The 2012 Xmas Tree Strike is Over

 T'was the week before Christmas and Mac the Labradoodle began her Christmas tree strike.

"No tree until the Hillcrest Cottage guys plus the awesome new girl have arrived."

No one dared to cross her picket line. Hillcrest Cottage was in solidarity with the shaggy canine's plan.

Hillcrest Cottage has a very unique philosophy regarding Holiday frivolity. Traditionally, there is no tree until two weeks prior to the big day. After all, who wants to dust their Christmas tree; trees must always be real. I truly do not get the fake tree pulled out of a dusty, attic box the day after Thanksgiving. Who can sustain a "fa la la la la" for that extended period of time?

Mac Staging the Great Christmas Tree Strike of 2012

And behold, when there were yet three days until Christmas, the fullness of time had come for Hillcrest Cottage to get its Holiday tree. For, in all honesty, Hillcrest Cottage has come to realize the tree means nothing without a family to enjoy it.

The Strike is Over!!!!

The Expedition, loaded with the most important people in the world, headed to the tree farm. And the quest for the perfect tree began.

"This one?"

Our Good Friend Assists Us.

First Christmas as Married People

Clayton Saws the Trunk

Jeff Drags the Tree Toward the Car

Total Silliness...Of Course

Wow. The Griswolds.

 One for My 2012 Christmas Frame
Hillcrest Cottage's tree is not of the designer variety. It is real. It sheds needles all over the floor. It needs to be watered. It has no theme. It could have used more strands of lights.

However, it was chosen by a family who loves one another. It was decorated with ornaments from Christmas' past. It gave us a very fun and memorable Hillcrest Cottage memory. With a married son in the military, we know he will share future Christmas' with his new family and may even be many other places... but... for now... this Christmas... we are thankful to have everyone next to this very beautiful tree decorated with the love that only a family can provide.

Ta Da!
P.S. Thank you, God, for the 8" of snow which You brought to Hillcrest Cottage on Christmas day. My 2LT had been ordered to return to post by Christmas night at 11:00 p.m; the snow allowed an extra day. We had a very fun late night romp in the snow with Mac the Labradoodle, Lucy, and the entire Hillcrest Cottage family. Icing on the cake to the best Christmas ever. The days which followed were full of record-breaking power outages (80% of our city), but Hillcrest Cottage survived unscathed!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christmas Revelry

So...our caroling was cancelled due to rain. 

This following is a public service message for those who might be inclined to consume too much fudge this holiday season.

 Warning: These images may be disturbing to those with coulrophobia (may be referred to as 'chuckie syndrome' or the fear of clowns and dolls).

Monday, December 10, 2012

Best Finishes from 2012

When my children were small, we had a daily dinner-table tradition. We would ask our boys: What's the best thing that happened to you today? As you can imagine, some days were filled with incredible tales from the grade school playground; other times it is was struggle to find even a grain of goodness. With our house of boys, imagine some more about the crazy responses Jeff and I would receive.

As my year named  "Finish Strong" is ending, I am reviewing the 2012 goals. I am wondering if I have finished well... or even finished at all. 

I stumbled upon this December 31, 2011 journal entry where I was anticipating 2012.

December 31, 2011

I don't do well with transitions, so a day like today finds me sad. I look ahead and see nothing but changes in 2012. There will be goals achieved. There will be celebrations of huge importance. One son will toss his cap into the air in a way which only a West Point cadet can truly understand

Class of 2012 Hat Toss
A month later that son will have birdseed tossed at him with a zeal which only wedding guests can joyously perform.

Wedding Images by Stephanie Parsley Photography

My youngest son will finish high school and begin college.

Welcome to Dorm Life

I will finish 23 years of parenting and begin to hear Hillcrest Cottage's walls quietly whisper the story of grade school sword fights, marathon video game parties, late night study sessions, and the laughter of family gatherings.

Hillcrest Cottage's walls will talk. They will talk a lot. They will speak of the love we do here, of forgiveness, of grace, of the thousands of "I love you's", of acceptance and belonging somewhere special in this big, impersonal world. The yucky stuff, sifted through grace, will be trampled underfoot and swept aside. The good stuff will rise as a sweet aroma full of goodness... like the smell of bacon frying on a snowy morning.

I will think about "finishing" in 2012... a lot. I will try to understand what it means to accomplish a worthy goal. This new 2012 will be a roller coaster ride where I imagine the highs and lows to be quite exaggerated. 
Okay...So... This Would be an Exaggerate High from 2012...the Mother-Son Dance

Most of all, I pray that I will sprint to the end and "finish strong".

Hillcrest Cottage is a home where our greatest accomplishments are people. Since my children have left we have not been lonely or bored. A typical week may have 15 to 25 people come through our Hillcrest Cottage doors to share a meal, spend some time around the chiminea, or to encourage one another in our relationships with our Creator. Our days are very full... just in a different way.

Thanksgiving was incredible as everyone was home plus the two new German Shepherd grand pups.

Gotta Take a LOT of Pics to Get a Good One... Got It!

Every time we have together becomes more precious... especially with having a cadet-turned-2LT- married- Army man in the family.
Lots of Hello's and Good-By's These Days

Following in the dinner table tradition, I asked myself...What's the best thing that happened to you this year? 

The answer: We got a brand new Kinley... and she's a girl!!!!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Craft Sale Season

It is Craft Sale Season at Hillcrest Cottage.

Add to my craft- making: Single-handedly moving my mom to her new place living with my brother & painting her new bedroom for her.

I think this "HOPE" banner is for me... hope to get back to my blog-reading & writing; hope for afternoons riding my bike before the winter weather comes; hope that Mac the Labradoodle, Beautiful Lucy the Doodle-less & I will take some long walks down by the river; hope that I can FINISH STRONG in my year of "Finish" ( looking more like I will have to extend this motto to 2013 & I don't want to do that!); hope that life might slow down... just a tad... not enough to be boring, but enough to allow me to live my life value of : Slow Down & Simplify.

Breaks over... sigh... back to the Hillcrest Cottage sweatshop.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I Believe in Time Travel

A mysterious letter arrived in my mailbox. A friend from high school was thoughtful enough to return a letter, newspaper clipping, and pictures to me. This friend and I used to write letters back and forth, from high school all the way into our college days.

In the middle of  de-cluttering an attic trunk last spring, I had actually found his high school picture in an old wallet. The photo had been stuck to the plastic of the wallet's photo section for three decades. I had looked at the picture, smiled, then tossed it into the waste can thinking, "I will never hear from him again."

Ironically, the very next day I received a Facebook friend request from this same friend. This is how he was able to deliver some very amusing documents to Hillcrest Cottage.

Look! A Real Letter with a Real Stamp!

I opened the letter quickly, not even realizing it was more than junk mail. After all, who receives a real-live, personal letter these days? Imagine my amazement as these photographs began to emerge from the white envelope. High school junior and senior pictures!

Some of my young friends, who have just completed their catalog-layout type senior picture sessions with location shots and three clothing changes, had been asking me, "Ms. Bev, what did you do for your senior pictures?"

Well, the answer is right here: the blue senior drape... with the Dorothy Hamill hairstyle.

A Much Younger Me Began Spilling Out.

By this time, it was obvious that something really special and unique had just arrived! Time to pour a cup of Community Coffee dark roast with whole milk and sugar from the Keurig, which I love dearly. Time to do some heavier- than- expected reading. ( Hot Tip: See my new iPhone5 which I was able to get for free because I use the money from selling old phones to get it. It's one of the smartest things we do.)

That's Me in the Left Picture... My Awesome Rival on the Right.

The true date is revealed when I see the letter I had written to my friend, being returned back to me! What an insight into my old self. As I have been going through the de-cluttering process, I have returned pictures, letters, books, and knick-knacks to friends and family. So much more fun than tossing stuff into the trash. It takes more effort, but the joy it brings to the recipient can not be measured!

A True Time Capsule from My High School Senior Year

Soooo... apparently I wrote goofy letters about trivial things. I talk about the Carter-Ford election, homecoming court, a new ice skating rink in my town, visiting the University, needing to get back to my homework, and plant fertilizer which was making my room smell like "dirty tennis shoes".


This Might be an example of a Girl with Too Much Time to Kill

My favorite part of the envelope's contents was a photo I had not seen since 1976. The picture was taken during track practice the spring of my junior high school year. I am coming around the last curve on the track; I can tell by the way my foot is planted that I am so not enjoying this work-out. 

More fun than seeing my awesome calf muscles in action, however, was the expression on my face... looks like my 19 year old son. 

Weird. I guess we are related.

The Grueling Daily Work-Outs for Track Team

I do believe in Time Travel because it just happened to me. What a fun excursion back to 1976.

This time capsule came unexpectedly back to me in the midst of furniture painting and Etsy/Ebay posting and all the crazy stuff I do in my artistic life  here at Hillcrest Cottage.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Hillcrest Cottage Weekly Highlights

This has been a crazy week. I have been very busy painting furniture for clients. Below is a beautiful chest of drawers! I am very pleased with the results.

I especially love the keyhole and how it now stands out becoming the chest's best feature. 

I experimented with an old chair of my own. I had fun with a splattering technique I used to use years ago. The spatters really help to age the pieces.

And... I continue to make personalized Subway signs. This is a sign I made for a college guy who loves Arkansas and loves to duck hunt. He wanted his sign to reflect his favorite cities and hunting spots.

I am very delighted to see my college guy develop new relationships. His intramural football team is beginning their season well. He has been voted the MVP in two games...very cool. He sent me this pic as a screen shot from an instagram account.

I had several trips this past week to my favorite hometown hardware store. I love their phone.

I love the hardware store's floor. Years of feet have been helped by these knowledgeable hardware men.

Craft Show season is approaching... lots of work ahead. I am excited about all the new things Hillcrest Cottage will be creating.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Seaside Chest

I always forget to snap the "before" photo because once I set my mind to a project, I dive right in and quickly begin!

This chest of drawers was a very common brown antique piece which had belonged to my client's grandmother. The client's husband had said, "Why don't you just buy a new chest?" The client wanted to do something different to give the chest new life instead.

The antique is a very sturdy piece and finds its home in a powder room decorated in posters from the client's favorite vacation spot: Seaside, Florida. I immediately knew that I wanted to give the chest a soft sand- meets- the- ocean type feel.

One of the chest's best features was the drawers' keyholes. The keyholes had been hidden in drab brown-ness for over a century, so I distressed around them to make their presence known!

And... of  course... I had a bit of fun with the knobs.

The original brown shows forth in this picture.

After the painting, I added a very smooth coat of hand-rubbed wax. I love the silky finish!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Fresh Produce Skirt

This Fresh Produce skirt has been my best friend since late Spring. It is the most versatile clothing piece in my closet. The pewter color allows it to go well with pastels and pink. It dresses up, as you can see in this picture. It also dresses down with flip flops and a tank top for those 100 plus degree temps we have had all summer long (and will have again this upcoming week). Had I been able to vacate at the beach this past summer, the skirt would have been perfect also as a bathing suit cover-up.

Let me just ask this question: Have you ever had a skirt which would take you from the beach to a wedding shower to an event at West Point? My Fresh Produce skirt did and will... minus the fun beach part which I have already lamented.

I also think this skirt would look very cute with a pair of boots. It can definitely carry me into the fall. March through October... that's the hardest working item in my closet!

And another thing... it packs like a dream. I think it would be perfect for a European trip where clothes have to work extra hard to be versatile. I can iron this skirt or leave it wrinkle-dy for different looks.

Lastly, this skirt is just plain fun to wear. Whenever I wear my Fresh Produce jersey- tiered skirt, the playful style just makes me happy!

Click over to Fresh Produce and check it out for yourself.

Friday, July 27, 2012

House Organization Tip of the Day

I once asked if my kids would have to be gone before I could have a clean, organized house.

Answer: Yes.

Is this really what I wanted?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Left Behind

 Twenty three years of a wild, swirling whirlwind winding down before my eyes. No soothsayer could have foreseen a month like Hillcrest Cottage is experiencing.

DAY ONE: Now-married son and awesome daughter-in-law cram their U-Haul full and hit the highway towards their first post assignment in Oklahoma.

Very Tired After Hours and Hours of Packing

The bookshelves tell the story best about my book-loving oldest son. I guess he really meant it... 
this time he's gone for real.

Day Two: Now-college-senior son returns to his newest digs in University Town. It has been an incredible summer of having him around Hillcrest Cottage.

The Perfect College Guy House Complete with Peeling Paint

College-senior's latest house has a bit more space so he left this Hillcrest Cottage room very... 

This Room Needs a Creative Touch 

With two gone, and the last son leaving in three weeks, Lucy's face conveys the mood around here more than words can accomplish. 

And, she will wait in his room for several days until she finally realizes he's not coming back.

Lucy... Your buddy is gone.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says "There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven... a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance."

This has been a summer of dancing, laughing, celebrating, but also... 

weeping and mourning 

because what mom watches with delight as her children leave... one-by-one... all in one month's time? 

When a chapter is ending, it is healthy and good to mourn the closing. 

I know God has cool things ahead for me; I am greatly anticipating all the new adventures which I know He will bring to me. In this parenthesis period, however, I am finding it is good to move slowly and thoughtfully toward the newness. 

As for today, I will continue to clean and vacuum all the cyclone has left behind.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Fourth of July

Spent my Fourth on the bike trail. It was 104 degrees. It was hot. After 15 miles I was done.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hillcrest Cottage Calligraphy & Art

A behind- the -scenes look at my art and happenings around the Hillcrest Cottage studio. Occasionally, I may have a tutorial. Who knows what may happen here....

Currently, I am in wedding mode... hustling calligraphy jobs.

Hop over to Hillcrest Cottage Calligraphy & Art. You can see the cute rehearsal dinner envelopes I created for Clayton's wedding.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Finishing Strong - The Wedding

Words are not always needed. Some stories are best told in silence.

As I have written several times before, I am surprisingly stoic at ceremonies such as graduations and weddings. But, I did cry while making Clayton's last school lunch. Ceremonies are symbolic and only happen once. Having been a mom who has been very present in my son's life, the simple  stuff is that  which I hate seeing end.

I  have enjoyed growing with every new twist and turn of this mother-son journey. From singing good-night songs, making Play-Doh spaghetti, building pirate forts, and catching lizards to cheering crazily at high school football games and keeping the surprise honeymoon destination a closely- guarded secret.

With the whirlwind of a week-long graduation trip, rehearsal dinner and wedding preparations behind me, I watched my son exit through a tunnel of sparklers holding the hand of his beautiful bride. 

"He's gone," I whispered as tears filled my eyes.

Like an arrow from a bow, we have launched our son into the world. He will make his own unique mark with his awesome life companion. 

Mission accomplished. I have finished strong and well.

P.S. Many thanks to my middle son who has always been the calming influence in my life. Thanks for helping me throughout his wild month of total craziness. I love you.

Photo Acknowledgements : Sparkler Farewell photo by Stephanie Parsley Photography.