Happy Holidays!

My baby girl is sick . . . 
and right now, all she wants is for her Momma to hold her.
So, that’s my cue to sign off for the holidays.
We leave mid-week for the beach . . . 
and we cannot wait.
A simple and relaxing Christmas at the beach . . . 
spending quality time with my family . . . 
unplugged.
I’ll be back after the new year with fun new posts . . . 
and I’m even daydreaming of a new look for this blog . . . which has me very excited!
Happy Holidays!
*Card by the fabulous Melissa Corder {original has our names at the bottom}
*Photo {my new favorite of the girls!} by Purple Owl Photography
~Cottage Gal

That’s A Wrap!

Everything from Anthropologie is pretty . . . even the receipt envelopes.  I haven’t decided what I’ll do with her.  For now, she’ll sit looking pretty in my downstairs craft caddy.  Most of my craft supplies are upstairs, but I fear out of sight, out of mind . . . so I keep a little caddy downstairs.  She makes me smile.

Holiday cards . . . signed, sealed, and should be delivered today.  I love sending cards.  It’s such a simple way of saying, I’m thinking of you.  And it’s a good excuse to use my favorite embosser. :)  It’s says our last name, and “established 2005.”  We purchased it on our first wedding anniversary.  It’s a simple reminder of how far we’ve come.  

Christmas presents – wrapped and ready thanks to our Wine & Wrap Party.  Thank goodness for my husband who loves to wrap presents, and who is so good at it!  He wraps, and I make them pretty.  Easy peasy.  

All dressed up with no place to go.  Carolina Girl was supposed to be at music class . . . we never even made it out of the neighborhood.  She was so tired that she was crying uncontrollably, and so we turned around and came home.  My baby is 6 months old.  Sleep is our top priority.

We attended a makeup class later in the week.

“Little children play on my drum . . . .”

There is one word that best describes my coffee bar:

Little Miss E takes all her buddies on horse rides.  All.  Day.  Long.

Hubby leaves for work super early and he is in charge of moving Alfie.  The first thing we do in the morning is look for him.  I wish I could bottle up Little Miss E’s excitement when she finds him and keep it forever.  I’ll have to pull out the video cameral tomorrow morning.  I love looking for him too – it always makes me smile when I see how creative my husband has been!  Yesterday, he came home from work and exclaimed, “apparently on Pinterest, there are 100 creative things to do with the elf!”  Where do I even begin with that statement?  I love him.

Little Miss E and I decorated cookies with friends yesterday.  We love our new friends and feel so blessed to be meeting such sweet people in our new town!

There was a surprise visit from Santa & Mrs. Claus.  Little Miss E asked for horses.  Real horses.  Ha! I hope she isn’t too disappointed on Christmas morning.

Within seconds of Santa and Mrs. Claus arriving, four dear walked by the window where they were sitting.  It was magical!  I’m a kid at heart, what can I say?

Our stockings are hung.  All four of them.  {Smile}

That’s a wrap!  Have a great weekend!
~Cottage Gal

A Fast Vegetarian Soup, Nursing, & Playful Carolina Girl

It happened after Little Miss E was born . . . and it’s happening again.  The thought of drinking milk and eating meat is becoming harder and harder, and I’m ready to drop them from my diet all together.  
I’ll never forget when this happened the first time.  When Little Miss E was 14 weeks old, I returned to work at a reduced schedule – 3 days-a-week.  I remember coming home from work and placing four bottles of pumped milk into the fridge, and then turning to grab the gallon of milk . . . only I couldn’t do it.  My thoughts were all over the board . . . they ranged from how hard those poor cows work to produce all of the milk on the grocery shelves . . . to whether the cows are treated well . . . to ew:  cow’s milk, really?!  The thought of drinking cow’s milk instantly grossed me out.  
I switched to soy milk, and soon after that, I stopped eating meat.  All meat – chicken included.  The Kind Diet – which I talked briefly about here – really convinced me that dropping milk and meat from my diet was the best choice for me.  During the months that I made this major change in my diet, I felt the healthiest that I have ever felt.
Fast forward several months, and in the Fall of 2010, I was blessed to be pregnant with Carolina Girl.  As luck would have it, I craved meat . . . and before I knew it, I was popping pepperoni like it was candy.  Seriously.  I really felt like there was a reason for this craving . . . and I listened to my body and ate meat . . . and drank milk.  Ugh.
As of the past couple of weeks, I’ve slowing been phasing out milk and meat again . . . and I am loving it.  For me, the trick is to find easy dinner substitutes.  Meals that I can make without too much effort, and ones that Hubby (and hopefully Little Miss E) will like too.
This Fall, my girlfriend made bean & kale soup, and it was delicious.  I found an easy recipe – from Whole Foods - and I have made it twice-a-month ever since.  They describe it as a “weekday wonder” – packed with veggies & beans . . . perfect!

White Bean & Kale Soup Recipe: 

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons EVOO
1 cup diced yellow onion 
4 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped 
1 (32-ounce) box low-sodium vegetable broth 
4 cups packed chopped kale 
1 (14.5-ounce) can Italian-style diced tomatoes 
1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added cannellini beans, drained and rinsed 
1 (14.5-ounce) can sliced carrots, drained, or two large carrots, peeled and sliced

Instructions:

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes longer. Add broth, kale and tomatoes (and fresh carrots, if using) and cover. Cook 5 minutes or until kale is tender. Add beans and canned carrots and heat thoroughly. Serve hot.

I usually make a double batch . . . which carries us through several dinners and carries me through many weekday lunches!  It freezes well, of course.  The first night, I serve it with a french baguette . . . and then I make up some homemade croutons with the leftover bread.  To make the croutons, I just cube the bread, toss the cubes into a skillet with EVOO, brown them a bit, and add a dash of sea salt.  Delicious!

As for nursing . . . well, this girl has it mastered:

In other news, Carolina Girl is so playful these days and we are having so much fun with her!

{You’ll have to excuse the sweet potatoes on her outfit . . . this was right after lunch.  Hence the orange-tinged baby face :)  Sure I could edit all of this, but why?  This is real life.  This is our life.}

{I’m finding that all I want to dress her in these days is warm footed pj’s. Hubby prefers her cute outfits . . . isn’t that funny . . . you’d think it would be the opposite.  I think it’s because I realize how fast she is growing up, and I’m holding on to her baby things for as long as I can.  Not to mention, they are her warmest outfits!}

That’s if for me today!  Have a great day!
~Cottage Gal

Our Christmas Family Room

Oooohhh, it feels so good to be back and posting real pictures on my blog!  We’ve had so much fun decorating our family room for Christmas this year.  It is such a comfortable & cozy room.  It’s the room that you see when you first walk through our front door, and where we spend the majority of our time in the evenings.  We have another sitting room off of our kitchen, which is where most of the girls’ toys are, so that’s where we spend the majority of our days.  It’s purely out of convenience – not because we want a kid-free room in our house.  We tend to go between the kitchen where we eat/snack & craft, and the sitting room where we play.  

We kept our Christmas decorating very simple this year.  Our fresh tree, wreath, and tree trimmings on the coffee table fill the house with that cozy Christmas smell.  

Most of our house is painted Benjamin Moore Bone White.  It is a great neutral color, but this room really needed some added warmth for the winter.  We swapped out the blue ticking cushion covers for a camel & cream houndstooth, and added some red accessories throughout the room.

We love all of the red!  .

I love to decorate with lanterns, and I also think they make the best gifts!

{This girl is loving the Christmas season!}

This chair was my great grandmother’s.  It has a small tear in the leather seat, so we’ve been using it more for decoration.  It’s a fun little spot to switch up frequently.  I picked up a bunch of magnolia leaves at the holiday farmers’ market, and have used them all throughout the house.  Here, I tied a couple of branches to the back of the chair with twine, added a mercury glass ornament that my mom gave us, and finished it off with a brown satin ribbon. I pinned the printout, and it is from A Gape Love.

I had good intentions of changing up our tree this year.  Only two of my several changes actually came to fruition.  I guess that’s why there’s always next year, right? My plan was to add burlap ribbon, miniature lanterns with LED tea lights, rolled sheet music, and wooden owls.  I was hoping to do all of that for under $50.  
I found the perfect miniature lanterns with tea lights and burlap ribbon in Colonial Williamsburg – all for about $50.  The lanterns matched the ones that are on our console table behind the couch.  However, they were way too heavy for our tree.  By the time I returned them, our tree was already decorated, and I decided to wait on the owls until next year! So lucky for me, I only had to spend $10 total this year . . . for the burlap ribbon . . . which I love.  :)  I’m looking forward to adding the wooden owls next year.

I pinned this 1958 version of Jolly Old St. Nicholas, and it was originally found at Maximum Embellishment.  

While I really like it, I think next year, I’ll go with the white rolled sheet music as I originally planned, which was inspired by this wreath:

Here is a “before” picture of our family room – at Little Miss E’s birthday.  By swapping out the awning stripped rug for a jute and wool rug and the ticking cushion covers for houndstooth covers, and adding red accents and fresh trimmings, we were able to make this room more cozy and inviting for the winter.

I hope you enjoyed the tour of our Christmas family room!  Have a great day!
Linking up with:

~Cottage Gal

A Colonial Christmas

Hello!  I hope your week is off to a great start!  I officially have all of our itunes music and videos transferred to an external hard drive, which means that I finally had a chance to upload all of our newest pictures – yay!  I already feel like a huge weight has been lifted.  All of our files are backed up with time capsule, and next up is subscribing to an outside service to back everything up for a second time just in case. My family pictures & videos are just too precious not to back up!  After the first of the year, I’ll share with you which hard drives, outside service, etc. we chose to use and discuss the process . . . hopefully it will be helpful for those of you wondering where to start with backing up your files!
Well, we are absolutely loving Williamsburg this time of year!  It is magical . . . there’s really no other way to describe it.  Growing up, we visited Williamsburg, but it was always in the Summer – on our way to the beach.  I can’t tell you the number of times my mom said she would love to go to Williamsburg around Christmas time.  She always had Colonial Williamsburg Christmas decorating books out around the holidays, and it was always fun to thumb through them.  Now we live just 10 minutes from Colonial Williamsburg, and it was really fun to have my family in town over Thanksgiving to share in the excitement of the season around here.
Everywhere you go, there is holiday decorating inspiration.  The outdoor decorations are gorgeous, and I thought it would be fun to share some with you!  
{I love using fresh green apples in wreaths and flower arrangements.  We used them in our wedding centerpieces, and it was one of my favorite decorations.}

{Beautiful peacock feathers}

{Pine cones are a popular choice. Beautiful and free!}

{I love the rolled sheet music and paper fan}

{More apples & pine cones}

{A fun wreath for all you foodies!}
Williams & Mary goes all out with decorating too!

{Strolling around a college campus is so exhilarating . . . even on a cold winter’s days.}

{These wreaths are my favorite!}

I hope you enjoyed the little Colonial Christmas tour!  I plan to share more of our Christmas decor with you this week!

~Cottage Gal

My Week In A Nutshell

Hi ya’ll!  Happy Friday!
Lucky for me, bloggers L-O-V-E to post their Instagram pics on Friday.
Seeing how my iphone pics are all that I have to share with you at the moment, I. Am. So. In. Style.
I am happy to report, however, that my external hard drive has made it’s way out of the box . . . 
and is now housing all of our itunes music.
Up next:  videos.
That’s a weekend project.
We’re making some progress folks!
I have finally had a couple of productive mornings around here.
Two productive mornings with my little strawberry + big sister at preschool = Christmas shopping complete!

I’ll have to get a better picture of Carolina Girl in her strawberry hat soon.  
It is way too big on her.
We purchased it this Fall when we were in Colonial Williamsburg . . . 
and I looked down and Carolina Girl’s hat was gone.  
Turns out, Hubby thought it looked better on the coffee table . . . 
but the problem was, it was too cold for her to be out without a hat . . . 
and so we had to run into a store a grab one.
The strawberry was the only one that came close to fitting her little head . . . 
luckily it has strings.
Because it is by far and away her warmest hat, 
we just pull the strings tight, and away we go with our little strawberry.
This next picture pretty well sums up our afternoons these days:

Coffee + Crafting with my girls = Love.

“Look Mommy, I made this all by myself!” 
What do you get when you tell this sweet girl that she can’t watch Dora?

She’s sweet.  But she’s also three.
Carolina Girl is really loving her Mum Mums now that she has a couple of teeth to actually crunch down on them . . . 
She gets them everywhere . . . 
even in her nose!

And now for the deal of the century.  
Santa is bringing Little Miss E a play table.  
I was all ready to purchase this one:
I love it.
I had a gazillion justifications for why Little Miss E needed a $159 play table.
Hubby wasn’t buying them.  Not. A. Single. One.
He is Mr. Practical.
I am Mrs. Semi-Practical.
I have to admit, when it comes to the girls, I usually find a way to justify such purchases.
Well, I took his advice and decided to wait until after this weekend – when we had some time to hit the antique shops.
Now, mind you, we have only been antiquing one time this past year . . . 
and it was when Little Miss E was high on sprinkle waffles  . . . 
and it wasn’t pretty.
So, I was mindful of the fact that we’d probably never have a successful antique store run . . . 
which meant, come Monday morning, I’d add the Finley Play Table to my cart, and away I’d go.
Well, last night, I ran to the printer to finally drop off our holiday cards . . . 
that have been ready for a week . . . 
and when I pulled in, my headlights lit up this baby outside a vintage consignment store:

Exact same look. 
Dimensions are within a couple of inches.
And for $32 buckaroos . . . 
she’s officially the deal of the year for our house!
The best part?  I now have a fun weekend project!
And now that I have options . . . 
afterall, I would never think to paint over the white Finley table . . . 
my mind is racing.  
White is the obvious choice . . . 
and, we all know that white is how all my painted furniture ends up anyway.
But, I’m thinking, why go there now?
and I’m thinking all white is just not going to cut it this time.
Oh, the options are endless!
Happy weekend everyone!  Wishing you luck in finding your deal of the year!

P. S.  I have a tip that might lead you to your deal of the year:  All Anthro sweaters & jackets are 50% off today and tomorrow.  :)

~Cottage Gal

{DIY} Table Centerpieces ~ Easy, Practical, & Whimsical

I have had so much fun decorating our house for the holidays this year!
Because we were having my family in town for Thanksgiving, I had a great excuse to decorate early for Christmas.
As is usually the case, I kept it simple, inexpensive, and very practical.
I love coming up with new ways to decorate with our family pictures . . . 
and I have used our family holiday pictures in almost every room in the house!
Here are the fun table centerpieces that I made for our Anthro-inspired dining room:

The blue mason jars were my great grandmother’s!  She was just shy of 105 years old when she passed away.  I’m seriously hoping I have her good genes.  I gathered the branches from our neighborhood playground one day.  Carolina girl needed a little strolling to help her drift off to sleep, so I took off while Hubby pushed Little Miss E in the swing.  They later caught me down the hill stashing branches into the stroller. :)  Yet another reason why I love our double stroller.  I ordered the poms from JulzBoutique from Etsy.

I placed one picture in front and a second one in the back so that people sitting on both sides could have a fun picture to look at.  It also helped cover the branch at the bottom.

I kept the one on the table pretty simple, so that people could see over it, and then made a bigger one for the baker’s table.

For this one, I used my new favorite picture of the girls.  Makes me smile.  Every time.

This week, I added some super cute printouts that I found on Pinterest – which were originally found here.

They went along perfectly with the style and feel of our dining room!  I’ve been so excited to use them.

I also printed a larger one (5×7″) and put it in a frame in our family room, which you can see from the dining room.

Doesn’t this just make you happy?  It does me!
While I made the centerpieces specifically for the holidays, I chose red, brown, and cream poms so that I can use them well past the holidays.  I love to decorate for Christmas, but while doing so, I try to think big picture whenever possible!
~Cottage Gal

In Case You Were Wondering

Girlfriend got her haircut . . . 
Her stylist did a mad blow out.
Her hair has never been straight before . . . 
Until now.
Girlfriend loved it . . . 
When her Daddy arrived home, she ran up to him and jumped 180 degrees to show it off.
Between her straight hair and her mannerisms, she was a mini me running around . . . 
it was super cute . . . 
for a day.
Then we washed it . . . 
and now it’s curly again.
Speaking of showing off, this girlfriend has her first two teeth poking through . . . 
she smiles and flicks them with her tongue like it’s nobody’s business.

This guy lives with us now.

Since last Monday, we’ve had at least one sickie in the house.
First it was hubby . . . 
then it was Little Miss E . . . 
Now it’s Carolina Girl.
We’ve all been taking naps like they’re going out of style . . . 
Carolina Girl woke up starving after a 3 hour nap . . . 
She was not happy.

Despite all of the sickies . . . 
{Oh, and you know who’s next, right?}
I managed all of my favorite runs yesterday.
Starbucks, Jo-Ann’s, Barnes & Noble, and Trader Joe’s.
All is well in the world when you have a soy gingerbread latte.  It’s true.
The only thing that could possibly make life any better is when you pair it with these . . . 
Trader Joe’s dark chocolate stars.  With sprinkles!  Best.  Off-the-shelf.  Cookie.  Ever.

Currently, Trader Joe’s is in the lead.

We go back-and-forth between Trader Joe’s and Fresh Market.
Lucky for us, they are right across the street from each other.
Obviously location,which is often the market decision-maker, makes no difference.
When we moved here, we made the conscious decision to go to Trader Joe’s first.
For starters, we hadn’t been in months because there isn’t one on Hilton Head.
And, we wanted to save Fresh Market as our special island store . . . 
our little vacation treat if you will.
Well, that lasted right up until Thanksgiving . . . 
when we went to Fresh Market twice . . . 
for all of our holiday meal food.
Thereafter, we proudly declared Fresh Market to be our favorite market.
And no, we can’t like them both.
One has to be in the lead.
Yes . . . 
we are that competitive apparently.

No, we are not competitive in front of our children.
We don’t think being overtly competitive is attractive . . . 
for anyone.
However, Little Miss E might have said “I beat you!” this weekend . . . 
with so much gusto . . . 
that you couldn’t help but admire her.
Ahem . . . 
where was I?
Ah yes, Trader Joe’s is now back in the lead.
And it’s not just because of the dark chocolate stars . . . 
checkout their holiday bags:
They have cutouts all over them!  Cute gift tag cutouts . . . and paper garland.  
It’s just couldn’t get cuter.

Trader Joe’s, you’ve won me over.
For now.
Now that I have my tags, I should probably set out to purchase my first Christmas gift.
Don’t judge.
I work better under pressure.
Just when my day couldn’t get any better . . . 
we couldn’t find the hooks to hang our ornaments on the tree.
One of the many beauties of moving.  Things. Just. Disappear.
So, hubby nominated me to run to Target.
Okay!
I set out like any savvy shopper would . . . 
with cash only . . . 
You know, so there’s a limit to my Target fun.
The hooks cost $1.
My bill totaled around $25.
That’s right, I spent 25 times more than I intended to at Target.
You’ve been there, don’t tell me you haven’t!
I think you’ll understand though.
I was craving cauliflower.
A reasonable purchase indeed.
Little Miss E won’t eat cauliflower without dip.
Dip.  Check.
And then I moseyed on over to the holiday section where I found this guy:
I adore owls.
I adore them even more now that Carolina Girls kind of looks like one.  Ha!
My new favorite ornament.
And he doesn’t even match our tree.
That’s okay, because I’ve found him the perfect home in our dining room.
He makes me smile.
The end.
P.S.  
Yes my external hard drive is still in the box.
Yes, that’s why this post is full of iphone pictures.

Thank goodness for my iphone.

It takes fabulous pictures.

I love it.

No, I don’t see getting the hard drive out anytime in the foreseeable future.
I mean, I haven’t even bought my first Christmas gift.

~Cottage Gal