Thursday, September 3, 2009

Changing Seasons

The first day of September arrived with the feel of fall in the air. Is anyone ever ready to say goodbye to summer? It's the end of so many things, but it's also the beginning of just as many or even more. With the start of the new school year, all of the traditions ramp up for another go round. There's all of the team sports, and band, and scouting, school projects, plus a myriad of things that are too numerous to mention. For those folks that don't have school children in their midst, it is still the beginning of football season, fall foliage coming on and of course the start of the holiday shopping for many.

The saying that everything happens for a reason, is one that gets tossed around pretty freely. But, when something profound happens that alters your entire life; you have to believe wholeheartedly in this particular ideology. In this changed season, we're completely altering everything in our life as we know it. Moving off of the pond, and up to the family compound near Augusta, is a really big transformation in so many ways. The changes will be all encompassing and surely will include things we haven't even thought of yet.

Hopefully, this will be a big growth spurt for both of us in our creative as well as our spiritual selves. We'll be wrestling with old habits and adding new routines. With that, we say goodbye to the cottage, and the pond; but know that "cottage living" is an attitude that we will keep in our hearts forever. We both feel extremely blessed to have been given the opportunity to experience such splendor. We have high hopes that Classic Cottage Living will continue to gain momentum and become all that it can be. With that, I sign off for the last time from this sweet cottage on Kennebunk Pond - and I'll pick back up once we're settled in.

Till next time, all is well and tomorrow brings new promises and new hope - be well my friend ~

Friday, August 21, 2009

Avon Calling . . .

Being an avid FaceBook user, from time to time someone will invite me to join their group. I usually look at what it is that I'm being asked to "join". I found the recent request from Karen in Houston to join her Avon page, very interesting in more ways than one, but mainly because of the memories that rushed in just thinking about the Avon Lady.

Even though I'm not old enough to have been an Avon Lady, when this particular ad was published in the 50's; I still remember
when I was growing up, when our Avon Lady would come to our door every now and then. I don't have room here, but the stories my husband tells of when the Avon Lady came to his house will leave you ROTFL, (that's shorthand for Rolling-On-The-Floor-Laughing if you didn't know) but I promise to tell it soon. Anyway, it must have left a good impression on me, as I too became one of the brave women who decides to become the Avon Lady for their neighborhood or in many cases for the entire town.

The children were little and I was a stay-at-home-mother (which I just saw is now under the job title of SAHM) but needed a little extra cash AND some adults to speak to. You SAHM's know what I'm talking about! Back in those days, there wasn't a Gymboree to take our kids to, in fact I'll bet out in Windsor, Maine it is still just Hussy's General Store (pronounced: huzzes genraaal sto-ah) as the only place to go other than the Fair Grounds; which if memory serves correct is about to ramp up again for the annual big times! They even let the kids out of school to help their folks tend the livestock they've entered, or handle parking and such. So you see, the Windsor Fair really is a big deal, but it only comes once a year and once it's over, it's a long winter ahead for all the folks around there.

Back to the Avon Lady story. I only had two decent - go out of the house - outfits, 'cuz who needs more than that when the most dressed up you need to get, is to go to the pot-luck supper over to the primary school once a month. Please note: I don't talk like this anymore, but just telling the story makes all of those language habits come rushing back along with the memories. My first day being the Avon Lady, I got all "dressed-up", put on some of my new Avon perfume, a bit of the Avon eye shadow (probably blue) and of course a pair of Avon earrings just to round things out. I asked the neighbor to watch the kids for a couple of hours, and off I went.

Whew, I was scared! First of all, we were from AWAY! For those of you that aren't familiar with that saying; let me be clear; (as our President likes to say, and it seems to work most times) it means exactly what you think it does. In fact if one were to dig a little deeper, it means unless there are two generations before you; born and raised in Maine, you are STILL "from away". Get my drift? And the worst of if was that we came from that cereal state - California. You know, fruits, nuts and flakes! Geez 'em crow, that's baaaad. Honest, people really say that and I'll even admit to it myself, once or twice.

So I drove down the road a bit, pulled onto a road I'd never been on; because I'm pretty adventuresome, and pulled into the driveway of the first house I came to that didn't look too scary. Thank heavens no one was home, and I just stuck a book in the door! Okay, one down and nine to go. That was my goal, to go to ten houses that day. Next house I saw looked pretty decent, so I took a deep breath and pulled into their drive or as it is referred to here; door-yard, and parked the car. I could see someone peeking out at me, so I got my Avon case out of the back seat and proceeded to march up to their door, with my knees 'a knocking.

I can't remember that woman's name, but she was just the sweetest person you could ask to meet. She seemed to be looking for someone to talk to, only on a different level than I, as she was older than me, and just seemed kind of lonely, sitting there. She wound up being a real regular customer and I suspect that the motive behind it was that in two weeks time, I would be back to sit and chat for another 15 minutes or so. That's not a bad thing in my book. Bringing a little socializing along with something sweet smelling or the latest lipstick sample worked out to be okay. Speaking of lipstick, I know I had some of that on too! All those little samples were my favorite part.

Turned out that I got to know a lot of really nice people in that little town of Windsor, and when I get a chance to go back for the Fair; all of those old memories come flooding back. When my babies were babies and I was a young mother just trying to make life a little easier by doing a little extra. Much has changed but then little has changed. We all need a little company to take our mind off of the daily pressures. Now days we can turn to the internet anytime, day or night and "chat" with folks from all over the world. But I must say, it's still nice to sit with a friend, even if only for a little while, and just socialize. Who do you know that needs a visit? Get goin . . .

Till next time, all is well on the pond and tomorrow brings new promises and new hope - be well my friend ~



Tuesday, August 18, 2009

When You're Hot, You're Hot

Do you remember aluminum cups or tumblers as they were sometimes called? I do, with the most delicious memory one could have. When it was really hot outside, Mom would give us a glass of lemonade or Kool-aid in an aluminum cup, and nothing could beat how good that cup made our drinks taste.

In fact I loved it so much, when I recently saw a place that carried these wonderful marvels of modern day manufacturing, and I had (that should be in capitol letters) to get a set of them to share with my children and grandchildren.

Now that we're adding products to our web-store, you can bet that I'm going to find a distributor for these precious gems, and have them for next summer's round-up! Don't be fooled by the ones that are silver inside, 'cuz they are just impostors! The ones I remember had color outside and inside, and man 'o man, they did the best job one could ask to refresh you after playing long and hard in the hot days of summer.

Enjoy the memory (if you have one) and if not, stay tuned as I WILL find them to add to our website! On that note, go get a tall glass of something cold, and enjoy ~ Cheers, Ahhhhh!

Monday, August 17, 2009

My Big Green Tractor

I have a passion for tractors. Now not everyone knows of this; but my heart skips a beat when I see one - especially an old one. Recently there have been several really good Country songs that are all about tractors. I may as well confess, I love Country Music almost as much as tractors. The most recent one is "My Big Green Tractor" by Jason Aldean, and I always get so excited when it plays on the radio that I just have to turn it up and usually wind up dancing around the house.

One day a few weeks ago, my hubby called from his shop saying he had a surprise for me, and that he couldn't wait to get home. Since he's been making all sorts of cool things for our new venture Classic Cottage Living, I assumed it was something new he had made. When he pulled in the driveway, I went out to see what it was that had him all jazzed. He opened the back hatch, and pulled out his old childhood (and now put together) John Deer riding tractor and said it was for me. He told me he knew how much I loved tractors and now I had one of my very own. I was speechless - and that takes a lot, some might say.

I still love to go out and just look at it. First of all because it's a TRACTOR, but even more importantly; to know my husband used to tool around on this great piece of Americana when he was a little boy. He told me the story of his older brother riding it down a hill with one of his friends and breaking it up very badly, probably on purpose. You know how big brothers are sometimes. Funny thing was that his mother kept it all those years, albeit in pieces; and gave it to him about 10 years ago. We've hauled it around some, and nothing was ever done to put it back together, but yet it still remained part of the "stuff' we felt important enough to keep.

Let me tell you, I doubt that I was any less excited than that little boy was when Santa brought him that wonderful bright green tractor on Christmas morning 40+ years ago. Time has passed, but obviously not the thrill of having your very own John Deer Tractor, no matter what the size. What a wonderful man he is to know all the joy such a thing would bring me, I guess I'll keep him (and my little green tractor).

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Our Baby Is Born . . . Classic Cottage Living

Classic Cottage Living Homepage
When we started this process, I had a grand idea of all of the things I wanted encompassed under the heading of Classic Cottage Living. This vision had many different facets; there's a physical location, the on-line storefront, the HGTV Show, the Podcasts, the magazine . . . you get the idea ~

Then the hard reality of being laid off from my "day-job" hit home, and this venture took a different turn. My dear friend Karen always says, "baby steps", and it appeared we were going to be forced to do just that. Which, by the way, is probably exactly what we needed to do anyhow but not my normal approach. I'm more of a bull in a china closet kind of girl. Funny how things work out. I guess, once again; I am being reminded that I am exactly where I am supposed to be, doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing. I am a little hard headed or slow, maybe both!

Instead, we are starting the venture of growing the Classic Cottage Living brand with the things WE make and will then round out the collection by adding items from others at some point. It only makes sense; as both my hubby & I are very creative and we make everything (literally). Nearly every gift we give is something we've made and often we're told that our gifts are the favorite, because of that very fact.

Well, fast forward and mix in that old adage of "necessity being the mother of invention", and that's where we are today. We are taking our God given talents, and applying them to the things we love to do, and then making them available to everyone. If you could see what my "craft room" looks like, you would know that I dabble in nearly every sort of thing you can make yourself. I've always made my own greeting cards for family and friends as I've been a Graphic Artist for a looong time; so making cards for Classic Cottage Living was a logical choice. Shooting pictures is something that I just love to do - most of the time I just click away and hope the feeling of that particular moment is what I've captured. That doesn't make me a trained "photographer", but people seem to like the pictures I take; which is good enough for me. Combine the two and viola' you have an entire line of products: Notecards, giftcards, bookmarks, matted prints, and on it goes.

Jewelry making is another thing I've always done for myself and as gifts; especially with seaglass. So there's another thing we added to the list for our store . . . I enjoy putting up preserves (it's blueberry season, guess what I'll be doing next week) and then there's the herb & spice concoctions for cooking and dip making. I also make soaps and lotions; lots of wreaths, oh and gift baskets; love to make them - that's pretty much a whole store right there.

Top all that off with the gorgeous furniture and wooden gift items my husband Scott makes, and we've just filled up a good portion of an online store; and that's exactly what we did - or I should say, are doing. That's another of our collective talents; I dream up the look of the website and how I want it to function and Scott builds it. Perhaps we should have done a much simpler shopping cart type website to get started, but that's not how we wanted folks to perceive what Classic Cottage Living is. Looking back, it was definitely the right choice. Now, when you enter our on-line store, it feels just like it should; cozy, welcoming and a place to hang out at, again and again. I hope you all agree, and stop by from time to time to see what's new at the cottage. Be watching for that HGTV show, coming soon . . . well not that soon; but someday, maybe ~

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Summertime at the Cottage

One of the best parts of living on a body of water is that when it's a good day, it's an exceptional day, and summertime seems to give us more than our share of them. We woke this morning to see a clear blue sky and a glass still pond out our bedroom window. When we moved in, my very clever husband had the wonderful idea to break up our long bedroom by putting the bed right in the middle of the room, facing the water. So now, we wake every day to a beautiful view. Great idea and I love sharing the concept, as I never would have thought of it.

The next wonderful thing about summertime at the cottage is that the grandkids are out of school, and are able to come for longer visits to "Nanny & Papa's". When they are here we seem to do more of the fun things that one does with children. For example, little Miles & I went to the ocean and had my iPhone playing music while we were taking a break from the waves. I decided it was a good tune to dance to; so started dancing, and sure enough, Miles joined right in. There we were, dancing in the sand on the beach; just because we could. Ahh, the joys of grandchildren. Perhaps it's just the excuse needed to bring out the kid in us once again.

As the songs says, if you have a choice to sit it out or dance . . . dance, dance, dance! Here's to summertime - cheers!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day


We are subscribed to the movies-by-mail service as it seems to work well in keeping us entertained relatively inexpensively and we like the convenience. Lately we're over the moon about all things from the history section like the Boleyn Sisters, Henry VIII, and just this week John Adams story. I'm not even sure when I selected the John Adams mini-series, but if there could have been a perfect time to watch it, the week of July 4th would be it.

You know how it is said that you get the messages you need, when you nee
d them? Well, this has proven to remind both my husband and myself of the kind of stock we come from, and that even though things are quite tough in our lives personally, in our country, and in our world; those who came before us saw much tougher times, and managed to endure and come out stronger because of it. Let us all remember that and on this Independence Day, take stock of what makes living in the Land of the Free so special. We are allowed freedoms that so many others around the world would give anything for, and somehow most of us take most of them for granted.

Before this day is out, I plan to spend some time preparing a short list of the things that I can do to be a better American, to be a better citizen of our free country. A country that allows me the freedom to write this very post on my own Blog, about whatever I want. God Bless America! Happy 4th of July!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Aprons and Such


I was just looking at some pictures of the "retro aprons" in a magazine and had an image flash in front of me of a photograph that I have somewhere, but I just can't put my finger on it right now, so I'll paint one with words. When my daughter was just a little thing, I made her an apron just like Mommy's because she loved to help me in the kitchen, and I've always worn an apron when cooking.

In fact I have five or six hanging on the "apron hook" at this very minute. Well, as children are suppose to; she grew up and out of her little apron, but I kept it anyway. Probably for sentimental reasons mostly. Every once in a while I'd run across it in the back of the kitchen towel drawer, pull it out, run my hands over the little waistband and remember how quickly those times went by.

Also in testament to how fast time goes, I've now been able to put that very same apron on three of the four grandchildren that have been bestowed upon me, and #4; little Miss Georgia is just about ready as she'll be 3 in August. Certainly she will love to have me put that apron around her tiny little waist, pull that old yellow stool up to the counter for her to kneel on, and help Nanny measure and stir whatever treat it is that we are cooking up.

Even though I can't find that picture I was thinking of, I can see all of them in my mind's eye; each with that same little apron on, beaming up at me with the enthusiasm only a little child can possess. Thrilled with the task at hand of combining ingredients to make some delectable treat that they will then proudly proclaim to have helped make.

Ah yes, another good thing happening at the cottage -

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Go To Market

We are working really hard to get things ready to "go to market" this week. My new business cards came in and look absolutely great, which is a very encouraging sign. So far there are several items that are part of the Maine picture series sets. There are 12 sets in all:
  1. "Loons"
  2. "Maine Lighthouses"
  3. "Springtime in Maine"
  4. "Autumn in Maine"
  5. "Four Seasons in Maine"
  6. "Serenity"
  7. "Solitude"
  8. "Ocean's Edge"
  9. "Linekin Bay"
  10. "Country Roads"
  11. "Sunsets I"
  12. "Sunsets II"
It's so exciting to see all of the things I picture in my mind's eye coming into reality. My husband & I usually start most of the plans while sitting at the dinner table, looking out onto the pond. It seems to be a very creative space and now, more times than not; it looks like a work table that has space cleared so we can eat. We don't have to feed anyone but ourselves , so I guess that's why we can get away with this. Good thing!

Currently there are single Notecards, Notecard Sets, 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" Magnets and 2" x 2" Magnets and then the Serving Tray that is currently in final design stages. Very exciting!

Then there is the Maine Sea Treasures Box, which came out so lovely. At the suggestion of my "Baby Sister" (and yes, she'll always be my Baby Sister; even when we're 80), we made a smaller version, and are calling it Nance's Sea Treasure Box. Once it was done - and it is SO adorable - I knew there would soon be a medium size, as it seems only right. Besides, both my husband and I are middle children, so we're pretty partial to that "middle thing".

This seems like we are on a roll to making Classic Cottage Living a reality, despite the rather large obstacles that are currently smack dab in the middle of our road. Oh, I forgot to mention; we were able to get the website hosted this week, and so that will be coming together quickly at the same time. Most excellent!

Let's not forget FaceBook, we now have a Classic Cottage Living page and also a group that you can make one of your favorite's. Not sure that I totally have that under control, but it's coming along.

Whew, I just read this and no wonder my house is a mess - it appears there is a lot going on in our world and this is just the tip of the iceberg for sure. Stay tuned or better yet, sign up to receive posts from our Blog and Twitter and Facebook, yes I'm a geek and I admit it!

Back to work - much to be done . . .

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Ride 'Em Cowboy

A week ago our 5 year old grandson graduated from pre-school. His one request of us was to be able to stay at our house for 7 whole days. How does one say no to that, I ask? I went to his pre-school for the last goodbyes and pictures with his teachers and then off we went to Nanny & Papa's cottage. I'm thinking this is as good as it gets when you're 5, but surely it is even better when you're the Nanny!

We filled our days with lots of fun things including crafts and kayak rides, bonfires and s'mores, whirlpool baths with tons of bubbles, and of course; lots and lots of stories. On our way home on day 8, (because we wanted 7 whole days of fun) we stopped by Stover's Cove for some beach combing, and a picnic lunch. Miles was so excited when we drove out to the point, and found this ginormous piece of driftwood; just waiting to be climbed upon. As you can see in this picture, besides being adorable; he was having the time of his life. He started to ride it like a horse and that was when we decided it was a Sea Pony and he was the Cowboy; I can still hear him yelling "ye haw" . . .

And so, the memory goes into the recesses of his mind; to be pulled out again one day when he's all grown up. Perhaps he'll be telling his little ones about his visit to his Nanny & Papa's and the stop at the beach on the way home from a wonderful week's visit. That's the good stuff, for sure.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Coupons

Today we're getting ready for the big Memorial Day cookout with all the fixins. I think I have everything I need, and am especially excited because I saved so much money at the grocery store with my new source for coupons. The store even doubles any coupons that are under $1.00, which is just extra-fantastic.

I remember when the kids were little, and coupon-ing was all the rage. There were clubs for exchanging your extra ones, newsletters to subscribe to that told you where to find more coupons. It was pretty much a coupon craze. We were on gas rationing then, and I'll tell you; to sit in a line in my Volkswagen Bug for only 10 gallons of gas, seemed like a huge waste of time. Besides the fact they were long lines; it was more bothersome because I could be coupon-ing instead, for Pete's sake!

You looked in every magazine and every paper that come into your clutches, even pawing through the newspapers stacks from the neighbors, just in case they missed any good ones.

So here we are 30+ years later, we still sit in lines when one of the stations has lowered gas prices below what the competition is offering, and yes still collect coupons. But this time we have the INTERNET! We can get them online and don't have to waste time scouring pages and pages of magazines in hopes of finding one.

In fact I just found this wonderful site that connects me to the manufactureres of the products I'm going to buy, along with their latest coupon offers. I loved it so much, I even put a banner on my homepage for this Blog and my marketing website. This way I can just click through, choose which ones I want to print off, and viola'; here they come - hot off the press. Now that my friends is progress! To all my fellow coupon-ers out there - Happy Couponing!


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Rich

I have visited the Old Port several times in the past few weeks; which has allowed me to check out stores that carry the type of jewelry I'm currently designing; in the capacity of a burgeoning Jewelery Artistan. I've always given my creations as gifts, and the thought of "selling" my designs requires me to take a look at what I have in stock so that I can get to the pleasurable task of making pieces to sell.

One thing I feel compelled to make is Sea Glass & Sterling Silver jewelry. Many of our beach trips require me getting sea glass hunting time in; just ask my husband, kids/grandkids, friends, visiting relatives; okay so you get it.

Today I took the various baggies from different beach combing trips and sorted them, so I can get busy making pieces. You have to know your stock so you know what you have access to, for your pieces. So I sorted, and graded, and had the most fun one can have; that is totally legal in all 50 states.

My husband would stop by my sorting tray and remember the various collecting trips that pieces had come from. My jewelry creating self was past excited to see all of the"Jems of the Sea", I have right in front of me; just waiting for me to make it into a piece of jewelry. Once I finished the task, I felt like I was rich - in my own way. Wohoo!!

Plus, I add; it's a wonderful pass time - spent with family and friends, walking the craggy beaches of Maine, looking for the next treasure, just waiting to be found.

Soon we'll be uploading to our Classic Cottage Living website; so you can see exactly what we're up to with all of these treasures. Now, look at the tide chart, the weather channel and start planning your own treasure hunt.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Marlena & Me

A few years ago, when I was working for a company that printed pictures on cabinets; I had one made up for my husband for his birthday. I thought he would get a kick out of it, and used a picture of me taken 30 years ago. It was certainly one of those glimpses into the past that you cherish as you get older. Yes, I used to look like that! So what happened you ask? Time my friend; time happened.

At any rate, several people have commented that they thought it was Marlena Deitrich's picture; and he proudly proclaims, "No, that's my wife" to their dismayed stares. Today I was witness to this exact discussion. Someone came into the shop on business, and asked my husband about the picture on the cabinet, saying he thought it was Ms. Deitrich.

When we got home, just for fun I pulled up a picture of Marlena and put it next to the one of me used on the cabinet. I'll let you draw your own conclusions. I would then ask, if you feel the need to ask what happened; you should know, I've enjoyed the journey of going from that young woman to the woman I am now. I recently read getting older is when the beauty on the outside moves to the inside, so that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Cheers, dahhling . . .

Friday, May 15, 2009

Beachcomber's Delight

We went out to one of our favorite cove's yesterday. Knowing it is still early in the season by Maine standards, we were rewarded with a significant bounty of treasure as you can see. Our daughter, who lives in Canada; was down for a few days and joined us for a sunny afternoon of beachcombing followed with a lovely picnic lunch.

Now that my jewelry endeavor is official and Lisa-Marie's Made In Maine of Bath is carrying my pieces; I was on a hunt for more seaglass and was richly rewarded in my quest. My husband is making sea treasure boxes this spring, so his efforts turned searching for the stuff one finds washed up on shore.

We felt like we had struck it rich upon pooling our take at the end of the day. I sorted the seaglass by color and then by size to add to my existing stash. Found an interesting piece of aquamarine colored glass that I hadn't run across before, so that was especially exciting. I wonder if I'll ever find red? I get so excited to find cobalt but red might just send me over the moon, who knows?

The picnic lunch was a real treat - as eating outdoors usually is, but this day came with a view extrordinaire; as you can see. The splendor of the day wasn't lost on any of us and we soon settled into that contented silence that takes over after all of your sense are full up. You know the feeling . . . all your tensions drain out, and the peace of nature takes over. The rhythm of the ocean's tide lulls your busy mind into a relaxed state. The air cleans out the cobwebs that have been building up over the winter. Just what a body needs, and just in time; as here comes summer! Sure glad we were able to steal away on this day and go out to this wonderful little hideaway; in fact I think it was just what the doctor ordered.

Must get busy at the jewelry bench . . . 'till next time

Monday, March 30, 2009

Chipmunk in the Window

Yesterday was what I used to long for in a Sunday afternoon. When everything was bustling and we had to go here and do this and then that, I longed to be able to just sit and listen to the rain hitting the window, on a Sunday afternoon. Such was our day yesterday, and while I am thankful for the peace and quiet, there was a moment that made me think that perhaps it was just a bit too quiet.


Sitting in the rocker facing out toward the still frozen pond, with my feet up on the hearth, reading a great mystery novel; I saw something move out of the corner of my eye. First I checked for the cat and then the dog and they were both peacefully sleeping away in the immediate vicinity. Slowly I turned my head so I could see out of the side window, and there sat this fat and sassy little chipmunk just staring at me as if to say, “How you doin’ Mrs. D? Did you miss me?”


That of course set off a whole round of thoughts in my mind about all the trouble these cute little rodents have caused over the past few years. First is the fact that they are smart enough to know where the cat and dog can see them but not get to them. They will purposefully sit on the back step that is just outside of the French doors, eating an acorn or some other morsel. Knowing full well that they are out of harms way, and that with any luck they will be spotted by either the cat or the dog or on a good day; both. They love it when the dog gets racing from one window to the other, barking her high pitched “I see you and I’m going to get you” bark.


We’ve had things knocked off the shelves in the basement by these little critters. We’ve had our cable TV wires chewed nearly through, holes dug in all sorts of places one doesn’t want holes in and of course torturing the animals with their loud screechy chatter when they dare to venture into the basement.


We’ve tried to use natural repellents with no visible response. In fact I think I heard that guy yesterday laughing at me, saying “Nice job Mrs. D, sprinkling those deer urine crystals around was amazing – really sacred us away, ha-ha-ha. Putting out mouse traps was really a waste of time too – as you can see. And by the way, good choice not using that bar bait stuff, as your fat cat would have just eaten it.”


Perhaps this year I should try reverse psychology tactics. Maybe we should make them pets of sorts, kind of like those little chipmunks in the cartoons. If we aren’t working so hard to get rid of them, just maybe they will tire of the game and go somewhere else more fun. Doubt that it will work, but short of calling the exterminator; it may be worth a try. After all, what else have I to do while I wait for Ice Out and all of the springtime activities that await us here at the cottage? Alllllllllvvvvvviiiiiiiiiiinnnnn!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

New Beginnings

Spring officially arrived on the pond this week, but remembering that we're in Maine doesn't mean that we're picking tulips just yet. What the arrival of spring does bring is the onslaught of renewed energy and the excitement of things to come. We know that soon the ice will melt off the pond - in fact there are many "Ice Out" parties had in that honor.

Once the ice melts, that will bring all of the summer birds back we so miss all winter long. I feel particularly thrilled when I hear the loons begin their mating calls in their first nights back home. The calls are entrancing and quite magical, and fill your heart with the spirit of love. Give it a listen (click title for audio clip) and let your mind wander to a warm spring evening, sitting out on the dock. Perhaps you've even had the great fortune to see the loons swimming nearby as we have. The speed at which they swim underwater is amazing.

Of course getting the cottage ready for visitors now seems much more important than it has all these long slow winter months. We must empty out the closets of boots and hats and coats to make room for life jackets and water shoes and paddles. Yes indeed, spring certainly is a season of renewed energy. For that I'm thankful I enjoyed the quiet restful months of winter, building up a reserve; as there is much to be done at the cottage this spring.




Sunday, March 1, 2009

In Like A Lion


You know the old nursery rhyme, that says March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. Just to be true to form we have a big old storm that arrived mid-day, just when we'd finally chipped away the ice from last week's event. About now, we are all ready to think of spring and all that offers us. In fact today my 6 year old grandson Isaac, said he wanted it to be springtime, and that he was sick of winter. I second that!

We have decided to have a little St. Patty's day fun in two weeks with a kids party for the three wee ones. I'll bet we'll have some cupcakes festooned (that must be a good Irish word), with green frosting and green sprinkles and of course the magic green milk.

That reminds me of a great story. When my kids were little I would always be excited for St. Patrick's Day to arrive, for no other reason than to have a little fun after yet another long winter. I would always make sure to "treat" the milk the night before to insure the desired results. We would once again be surprised and amazed that the Leprechaun had visited while we were all sleeping and magically made our milk green.

It was a tradition easy to carry on, with the exception of one year that we had baked lots of Christmas cookies and had used up all of the green food coloring. Even though I was sure my youngest child had long ago figured out who was at the root of the green milk, I still wanted to perpetuate the charade. I scoured the cupboards in high hopes that maybe there was a little bottle of green food coloring stuck somewhere it didn't belong with no luck. The only thing left was a half bottle of green sprinkles. With fingers crossed, I sprinkled and sprinkled until I had used all that was in the bottle and only had a tint of green in the milk.

The next morning, my daughter went to the kitchen, poured herself a bowl of cereal and proceeded to cover it with milk. Very soon she yelled, "Mom, there's something really wrong with the milk - it has little green specs in it and I think it's moldy." Oh dear, the jig was up. I had to fess up to my misdeeds and admit I had cau
sed this issue in the milk, and assure her that it was fit to use. No matter what I said, there was no convincing an already fussy eater that I was the cause of the green spotted milk, and thus ended a generation of green St. Patty's Day milk.

I am proud to say that the tradition has been carried on and now at least three of my grandkids have the thrill of a visit from St. Patty each March 17th.
By the way, the picture at the top is of Ross Castle in Ireland. Sláinte!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Morning After

There are still close to 80,000 people without power as we listen to this evening's news. We were among the lucky ones that were only in the dark for 15 hours. This being the third such storm this winter, we are all winter weary. What are the bright spots, because there has to be some, right? I took a call from someone on the cellphone yesterday and confirmed that we were among the 160,000 that had lost power in this latest visit from Old Man Winter. I did admit that I was "forced" to sit in my rocking chair next to a roaring fire and read a thick novel about those testy Boleyn Girls of the frisky King Henry era, Oh my.

Hmmm, yes I had to go out and shovel, and yes I had to tote a couple of loads of wood in; but all in all - I'm no worse for the wear. To be honest, we had the generator as our backup so we didn't suffer by any means. But then, the power came on shortly after 6:00 p.m. and we were able to get back to life as we know it. Truth be told, I had pulled out the lanterns (or lant-ins as they say in Maine) and had candles strategically placed, had the mancala board ready for a night of games, and was just a little sad when the power came back on. We went back to the TV shows, the computer that was calling me, and all of the other distractions that keep us preoccupied.

I'll will tell you, that waking up to such a beautiful morning view makes it hard to remember how crabby I was as I was filling the wood totes while braving 40+ MPH winds. The picture at the top of this article was taken from our front room, facing the water (ice). I will leave you with the thought that no matter how unhappy you may be in a particular situation, if you'll take an attitude adjustment moment (maybe I'm reminding myself), you may be pleasantly surprised at the outcome. Another storm on its way for the weekend - wohoo!

P.S. Hurry Spring!!!!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Tenacity

Justify FullTenacity is a word that evokes a picture, so I'll describe the image I just saw out our lakeside picture window. We received at least 7 or 8 inches of snow yesterday plus a good amount of rain in the middle; so walking out on the "pond" ain't easy I'll bet! The wind is whipping the snow at a pretty good clip so it would sting in your face no doubt.

Here I am at my computer warm and snug , just poking through today's online work, when what to my wondering eyes did appear? A robust fellow - trudging through the snow, face into the wind; pulling his sled full of ice fishing gear heading over to the southwest side of the pond. Now that, in my estimation; is tenacity.

To have a goal in mind, and in this case catching fish; which would compel a person to brave the elements in hopes of having just the right bait, at the right time, for a passing fish to choose this hook to nibble on. Yep, that's tenacity or lunacy, depending on your outlook. Back to business; in my warm, dry, comfortable spot, looking out on Kennebunk Pond.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

THE six letter word – C-H-A-N-G-E


Today I had a conversation about all the hoopla of social networking. First I had to try to explain what the various elements are from Skype to Twitter and everything in between including IM, Podcasts, LinkedIn, Blogging, MySpace, Facebook, Delicious, RSS and on and on. The long and short of it is that today’s forms of communications are changing at the speed of light or perhaps faster and it is very hard to keep up, even if you’re a geek like me.


If you want to make a difference in your marketing plans for the coming year(s), you had best be including these forms of communicating with potential and existing customers; or you’re out of the game before it even begins. Companies can be made virtually overnight by placing the right messaging in the right people’s hands – literally. Viral Marketing is the buzz phrase, but it really is all about creating the "on-line buzz" in as many forms ,by as many people, as quickly as possible.


Realizing that companies are closing their doors left and right, the formula for success will be one of tenacity but also of mastering today’s rapidly changing marketplace. Look at any of the industries that are morphing right before our very eyes and you’ll see the companies that succeed are the ones that that will have embraced the change and found their next opportunity in that very thing that could have been their demise. Ah, the root of this article. A six letter word – C-H-A-N-G-E. Some fear it others revel in it, and I for one am glad I’m in the latter group. Happy Social Networking!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Which Is The Right Card?


I'm absolutely positive women like to give and receive cards more than men. Some people take great care in choosing cards for their loved ones, others it's probably more obligation that sends them card shopping. As we approach Valentine's Day, thoughts of sentiments proclaiming our love in a card are running through most women's minds.

Conversely, much like Christmas presents; some men seem to like the challenge of getting something at the last minute that earns the proper appreciation. I've even heard it is somewhat of a sport; that is discussed as to how close to the wire one came, and still pulled it off. Know that I don't understand it, but that's okay, as I'm sure the same can be said about my Christmas shopping starting in late spring or if I'm "late", mid summer.

Which card to choose is influenced by what is happening in your life at the moment. For this special holiday of love, there are ooey-gooey cards of young lovers, the profound love of new parents, a card made by a child, a card filled with encouragement for someone you love, and especially sweet is the card for that special love - after all those years.

Which cards will make you feel just a little closer to the one's you love? I for one, am going to get busy this afternoon; and get my Valentine Cards finished in plenty of time. Which is the right card for you to tell the recipient just how much you love them? You'll know when you find it.


Happy Valentine's Day!



Saturday, February 7, 2009

Outpouring of Support

It's been quite a week, this first week of February. Spending my time equally on researching new products for our on-line store that is starting to take shape, to reaching out to my network of friends. I have appreciated the outpouring of support from my colleagues, friends and family, sharing job leads and sending invitations to meet for lunch.

When the going gets tough, the tough really do get going, so now I need to do just that! I've found that I have a really strong support base and even though this will take some doing, we'll get through this latest round of setbacks; no worse for the wear. With that I think I'll count my blessings, appreciate the beautiful day; and get back to work. Thank you my friends!

Monday, February 2, 2009

A Little Bit of Paradise



I've been intrigued by Ice Shanties since I was a little girl, and my father would take me out Ice Fishing. It wasn't a regular occasion, but one that when I had worn him down sufficiently, he would finally agree to bring me along. Looking back, I'm sure that was a sure sign of a short day out on the ice, as kids generally have pretty short attention spans and I doubt I was an exception in that department.

Today being Ground Hog Day seemed like a perfect day to go out to capture images of this year's crop of shanties (click on the image for an enlarged view). If you take a look you'll see all manner of variety. There are some that were quickly put together, others that might double as a camper for a truck, and then the deluxe version that appears to be a duplex of sorts. There are ones that have curtains and those without, some are brightly colored and others that could use a good coat of paint.

But the real question is what do they do in those shanties that calls them back, day after day in the coldest of days, with Mother Nature showing who's in charge? I'll tell you what I think; there are no chores to do at the Ice Shanty. No nagging or stress happens at the Ice Shanty. I think it's safe to say that there is a fair amount of "anti-freeze" or adult beverages consumed by many out in their Ice Shanty. So, is it any wonder that grown men (for the most part it's predominately men) spend all their spare time out on the ice; visiting, fishing, day dreaming, just getting away from it all? It's clear to me, it really is a little bit of paradise. Let's go Ice Fishing . . .

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Snowmen In January


When you were a kid, wasn't it a great day when you could go out to make a snowman? When did the desire for that kind of fun go away? Personally, it never did for me; but some folks just don't appreciate the simple pleasures in life - that's for sure. My nephew went outside today and was building a snowman with his dad. I'm telling you, that is one of THE best projects you can do with your kids.

I asked if they had all the fixin's to dress up the snowman and found out they have a snowman kit. Now how cool is that? Everything you need to dress your snowman, all in one box: the hat, scarf, charcoal eyes, buttons, carrot nose and even a heart.

We will definitely have to carry those Snowman Kits in our Classic Cottage Living store! I mentioned it to my husband over lunch, and he immediately began thinking how we could make our own kits. I think we are going to have some really neat stuff in our store - things that we love and evoke memories of great times at the cottage, or camp, or your own back yard! So get out and make your own snowman, times a wastin' . . .

Friday, January 23, 2009

Give A Little Bit of Your Love To Me

When I hear that song in my head, "Give A Little Bit of Your Love To Me", I hear Supertramp singing away . . . but that's really not what this story is about - or is it? In our declining economy most things that we've taken for granted are being rewritten into something much different than we're used to. This occurrence manifested itself when the Annual Meeting or perhaps I should say, lack thereof; became a problem this week.


Knowing that a sales reps' job on a good day can be fulfilling is one thing, but the other side of that coin is that when it's bad, it can really stink - big time, to do that job. The sales team is awarded monthly and quarterly awards (plaques) and at some encouragement even a Sales Person of The Year Award was developed this year. However; with no Annual Meeting, how do such awards get distributed? How do we recognize the very people that whom without, our entire organization would cease to exist immediately?

After a brief conversation with our Sales Manager, Steve; he and I agreed that w
e could do a "stand alone" Annual Meeting for just the sales and marketing departments, at which time the much needed recognition would be the centerpiece. We even agreed that we could have lunch - but here's where it gets interesting.

When we discussed the menu, the disparity between my opinion of what would be acceptable fare and that of the his, was vast to say the least. After thinking about it all night long, knowing that the very next day was when we were going to hold this "celebration", I had to move swiftly and convincingly. After deliberating for several hours that morning and revving up my courage by speaking to several people to get their positive feedback to the idea, I approached the Steve with my idea.


I told him I felt it sent the wrong message to tell the sales reps they are doing a great job and encourage them to keep up the pace with something resembling cardboard in the shape of pizza. He quickly agreed but felt we had little or no budget to do anything grandiose nor the time to pull it off. That's when I put on my "Superwoman" cape and said I was confident that I could find a place in the budget to afford the food and that I was volunteering to cook and serve the entire group, some 22+ people. With that, this wonderful man said, "
MJ, you humble me." Not wanting to get all choked up like I usually do with such praise, I quickly retreated saying I have to leave early to get shopping and then cooking.

Fast forward 24 hours, the food is all cooked, brought into the
conference room and presented in a fashion fit for a king. One by one, they all came in for lunch and enjoy the fruits of my labor. I made a point of raising a toast to the Sales Reps, because (as I've already mentioned) without them there would be no company for which to work.

After lunch was the Award Presentation portion of the gathering and the much deserved accolades to the
appropriate folks. Once again, our Sales Manager nearly brought me to tears, by publicly telling the story of my insistence to give them a good meal to go with the Annual Sales Meeting ; which was met with a round of applause in appreciation for my efforts. I don't do that part very well!

When it was all done everyone went back to work, but I left things out for them to pick at
it throughout the afternoon. Finally around 3:00, I went in and started to clean up and Denise; one of the sales reps that I've had the distinct pleasure to work with on a couple of community event committees, came in and helped me put everything away, clean up, wash dishes and generally put things back in order.

While we were in the kitchen cleaning up, Denise told me how much she liked the Broccoli Slaw I had made, and in fact had shared the recipe with her mother from the last time we had a potluck as I had brought the same salad. She then said that she is always telling her mother about me as I inspire her. Being quite taken back by that, I asked how so? She told me that it was obvious that I follow my passions and live life to the fullest. She said most people are kind of lazy, but it was obvious that I never let a minute go to waste based on the number of things I'm always doing. For the second time that day, I became reclempt and tried very hard to accept the compliment without showing what an emotional person I am (doubt I fooled her though).

Driving home; one very tired girl, partly because I had cooked for 9 hours after shopping for this impromptu feast and partly because it had been a long day at work on top of the luncheon; I felt that it's people like Steve the Sales Manager and Denise the Sales Rep, why I do what I do. To share my appreciation and joy of life through a little effort like cooking is really what the human experience is all about, and I started humming "Give A Little Bit of Your Love To Me". To you I say, pass it on, Give A Little Bit of Your Love . . .

Monday, January 19, 2009

Weather IS The Topic

When you live in the North, it seems as though weather is a topic that everyone puts into their communications. If it's an email, you'll get a snippet talking about what the latest weather has been or is about to be. If it's a phone call, surely upwards of three to four minutes will be devoted to talking about the weather. And of course, should you run into someone at the store; you had better loosen your scarf, and be ready to talk about the perils of our most recent bout of "weather", whatever it was. It could be an ice storm, it could be a cold snap or as it was for the last 24 hours, a big ol' snow storm.

For whatever reason, I was not aware of this impending storm other than we would probably get something that was "shovel-able" as the forecasters said, on Sunday evening. Imagine my surprise to wake up Sunday morning to three or more inches of snow already, and boy did it snow and snow. All day, big fluffy flakes that just kept coming. We wound up with somewhere in the vicinity of 14" - 16" of the powdery stuff.

Three passes on the sidewalks still left more to shovel this morning. We've yet to go out and dig out the vehicles. Pre-planning is criticle, so we park across the street before a big storm which gives our "plow-guy" full access to our long narrow driveway. These tricks are learned the hard way. After a big snowfall total (+100") year last year, we could barely park in the driveway or open up the car doors. Perhaps we're a little extra cautious this year, but so far it's working. Check back in March and see if I still have the same attitude.

Goin' out to shovel (again)
MJ

Friday, January 16, 2009

Baby It's Cold Outside

When the only words you hear from the weather people are blustery, frigid, bone chilling and wind chill; you know you're in for it. Knowing that we have chosen to live in Maine; as my son who lives in Tennessee reminds me, one must expect a fair amount of extreme winter weather, right? Well we can always hope that we'll have a mild winter, can't we?

Then, reality settles right on our doorstep and we once again remember that we are strong enough to live in MAINE, so quit with the whining and bundle up and carry on. There is a really big part of me that wants to be a sissy and stay home, snuggled up and cozy. But then the reality of life comes knocking at the door, and the people that rely on me to show up at work makes me get up hours before the first rays of the sun appear, make the coffee; feed the animals and plan which layers I will wear today as I brave the elements.

As I listen to the weather, I realize we are some of the lucky ones; it's colder elsewhere which is always comforting. You know the old saying, "misery loves company". With that I'd better grab a hot breakfast and get out and hope the car starts!

Stay warm,
MJ

Monday, January 12, 2009

Eagles Soaring

About six weeks ago, I saw a pair of Bald Eagles in a tree about 30 feet from where I was standing on our back yard. I couldn't have been more excited so of course immediately went in and retrieved my camera. The excitement seeped into my photography skillset and the images were less than award winning - however they did capture the moment.

After this they both took to the air and flew out over the water calling to one another in Eagle speak, probably saying something like "The tree over there has a clearer view of possible fish jumping." The water had yet to freeze and I recall asking my husband what they do once it has iced over. He reminded me that rodents are on their delicacy list too, so perhaps that tides them over.

We didn't factor in that they are a very resourceful bird as was proven yesterday as the daylight hours were waning. The Ice Fishermen (and women) had all packed up and headed home, so all was quiet on the pond. I had just come in from shoveling and was taking a break, sitting on the sofa near the window; looking out onto the pond. And what to my wondering eyes did appear, but a Bald Eagle swooped down from a nearby tree to check all of the fishing holes. He first went left and then doubled back with a lovely show with the last rays of sun shining though his white tail feathers, much to my delight. He methodically went from shanty to shanty and hole to hole to check for cast off fish. Brilliant! Who knew that they were so clever? To realize man's wastefulness of those little fish that are discarded onto the ice would turn into a feast for the Bald Eagle, was enlightening. Obviously I didn't get the memo, but he had!

A few minutes later my husband came into the room and I was telling him about what I had just seen, and there he was again, making another fly by; just to make sure he hadn't missed anything. This time he was in view for even longer so we both just basked in our fortune to be lucky enough to be right there at that very moment to see something so majestic.

I would have to guess that little sign we have hanging by the back door must have been coined after a moment like this: "If you're lucky enough to be on the lake, you're lucky enough."

'till next time,
MJ
Classic Cottage Living (website coming soon)

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Special Request - Winter Drink Recipe

I've been asked by my dear friend Margaret to write a post including a winter drink recipe and this story is one of my favorites to tell and drink!

It was probably around 18 years ago that I was in the heart of Boston, mid-February with an old friend; and we were taking in all that city has to offer. As I recall I was grossly under dressed but for fashion's sake I had to look good! Some time within the first hour I remember buying a scarf which did little to ward off the cold wind, but we kept on our journey. We walked much of it, going from the Museum of Fine Art to Faneuil Hall and many places in between including where the Boston Tea Party had taken place.

When I really could go no further, we stopped at the Irish Pub; The Black Rose, which took me in and kept my heart. Of course when you walk into an Irish Pub, you're speaking normally and by the time you leave you have an Irish brogue so thick it's as if you just stepped off the boat! Upon our arrival the astute bartender could see that I was nearly frozen and suggested an Irish Coffee, which was "guaranteed to warm your insides in no time at all". When I sadly proclaimed my one deficiency in that I dislike coffee - which most people cannot understand, he stood back; sized me up and said, "I have something that will do just fine for the lady".

With that, he turned around to make an Irish Coffee for my equally cold friend and this special concoction for me. When he returned, he placed this large coffee mug heaped with whipped cream in front of me and said I should try it and let him know if I liked it. Let me tell you; if there is heaven in a mug, I felt it had just been delivered to me in the form of an Irish Cocoa. In there is of course the base of a good cup of hot chocolate but the rest of the ingredients are where the magic comes in. I'll post the recipe here, and would encourage you all to find an excuse to have a cup or three and you too will be singing Irish Ballads and speaking as if you had just kissed the Blarney Stone!

Irish Cocoa

I Large Coffee Mug (don't get one of those skimpy ones)
1 1/2 packages of hot cocoa mix
Hot water to make 3/4 of a mug of cocoa
Mix together and then add:
1 oz Irish Cream
1 oz Spiced Rum
1 oz Regular Rum or Vodka (your choice)
stir together
Top off with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon

Enjoy . . . repeat

And to my friend, I raise a toast:
"May the hinges of our friendship never grow rusty, Slàinte. "

MJ
Classic Cottage Living

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Walk On Kennebunk Pond


After the shopping was done and the chores were finished, my husband and I decided to take a late afternoon walk out on the ice. We had each taken our little dog out earlier, so felt less guilty about leaving her behind, as we knew for sure; she could never handle these temperatures for any length of time.

I've included a picture of me to show you what one needs to dress like to be warm enough (note the fourteen layers and that by the time we were home that hood was up and cinched tight) plus another picture of how quickly the day is over. Remember, I am writing this before 5:00 in the evening, so that speaks for itself. Having lived in Alaska for some time before coming to Maine, I always appreciate what the day has to offer, as those daylight hours can be very short, and should you suffer the woes of seasonal disorder; (thank heavens I do not) you certainly need to pay homage to the sun's presence, no matter how short.

We made the trek out to the middle of the pond to talk with a few of the Ice Fishermen about the day's catch, and to get the latest scoop on what's happening on the pond. We heard that most of the fish were not the coveted rainbow trout that had been stocked in quantity earlier in the year, but only a few "measly yellow perch" had been caught for an entire days effort. However, there was a vast quantity of antifreeze of various brands consumed, as was evident buy the boxes laying about the site surrounding their Ice Shanty.

This is Ice Fishing at it's best or perhaps I should say winter! The last piece of advice one of the fishermen gave was, "A walk around the pond requires at least a fifth, so you shouldn't venture too far away from home without the proper beverages." Probably good advice, as once we made it back home it was getting dark and we were both cold and ready to go in and sit by the fire.

Ahhh, the comforts of winter . . . and now for the impending snowstorm. We are ready and may even drop a line (that's Ice Fishing terminology - and we would hope to see the flags fly which refers to the tip-up flags that pop up when you have a bite) tomorrow. The "low pressure"; one of the Ice Fishermen told us, would surely help in the fishing, versus the full moon that was messing up today's efforts.

Must go stoke the fire . . .
MJ

Classic Cottage Living (website soon to come)

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A Cold Winter's Day on Kennebunk Pond


A
s most January mornings are in Maine, today is no exception. We have single digits on the thermometer and the constant sounds of new holes being drilled where the next big fish is sure to be caught. Last time I counted we have somewhere around 35 plus Ice Shanties scattered around the pond.

It's quite a site when they show up on New Years Day. This year proved to be no exception. At exactly 5:15, the sound of the first Ice Auger firing up woke us out of a short winter's night slumber. We peeked out of the bedroom shade to see folks with their miner's lights strapped to their mad bomber hats, getting a head start on claiming the "best spots" on the pond.

As it stands, for some reason; just feet from the shoreline behind our house seems to be one of those spots and our little dog is none to pleased to find people mere feet from our house - in the dark no less. If you calculated the time I just mentioned and remembering that it was New Year's Eve that had just passed some 5 hours ago; it gives you a new appreciation for celebrating sober.

Here we are 10 days into the New Year and the exuberance to be the first out for the day has waned to waiting until after the dawn's first light (thank heavens). We have yet to venture out but are prepared with all of our gear right by the back door but still need to pick up some fresh "shiners". As we approach February, the talk is turning to our annual Ice Fishing Party that is more party and less Ice Fishing but none the less a good time for all. Plus it's an excuse for me to cook all my favorite party foods and make the most of living in a cottage on the pond.

We're expecting another 6 - 8 inches of snow tonight and tomorrow, so we will join all of the others that go and stock up at the grocery store; just in case. You might think that once it begins snowing we are all going to be shut in for months, which is really quite ingenious marketing from my perspective.

Winter is one of those seasons that you either love or hate. I love the fact that we are more or less forced to slow it down and work on projects that if it were warm outside, we just wouldn't take time to do. Plus you somehow feel a little less guilty snuggling up with a good book in front of the fire if it's snowing out! Best go bring in a load of firewood, come to think of it.

'till next time,
MJ
Classic Cottage Living (website coming soon)

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