Tuesday, June 30, 2009

~ Happy 4th of July ~

I'm stopping in to wish you all a wonderful 4th of July!

I'll be heading out today to spend some vacation time at a nice cozy cottage in Northport , NY. It's Just a town away , but a nice little waterside village and a week away from routine and responsibility :)! I hope you are all enjoying a beautiful summer too! Have a wonderful week ladies!

Hugs and appreciation!

~ Cynthia ~

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

~ Homemade ~

Hello Ladies! I have to first say, thank you so much for your sweet and funny letters to my Mom from the previous post! My parents are coming up for a visit tomorrow and will be here for about a month, so I can't wait to show her your little pleas for my china :) She told me she couldn't bring any on the plane, lol, so hopefully that means the rest can be shipped when she gets back home :) Now on to the new post... We have had rain here for what seems like 60 days, and so instead of gardening and playing outside this past weekend, I spent the time baking and cleaning and getting ready for company. My middle Son Kyle is graduating High School and so this coming weekend I'm throwing him a party to celebrate. One of the items on the menu is homemade bread :) I find this recipe so easy and most of the work is "waiting" for it to rise, lol, so I got a lot of cleaning done in between and also spent an hour reading through my new magazines too. Just click on the pictures to make them bigger and you can copy the recipe if you'd like, it's delicious, so Enjoy!

~ The recipe comes from my Vintage Pillsbury cookbook, circa 1963 ~

The smell of homemade bread is amazing! I found the trick is using scalding milk, and soaking the yeast in warm water first too. Just as the recipe implies :)

And of course, kneading is everything, I use my palms and really get in there for about 10 minutes!

Then you end up with this silky smooth ball of dough and even that has a wonderful scent too! The little picture above on the right is the first rise, a slightly damp towel covering the finished dough is another great tip for rising!
~ Then you wait, and wait and wait :) then you wait again :) ~

I passed the time cleaning and then sat down to the new summer reads! Country Living Magazine and of course Victoria too! I think this is one of the prettiest issues yet from Victoria! Go grab your July issues if you haven't already! Victoria features Maryjanes Farm in this issue and the eye candy is fabulous and fresh! And the recipes from Country living are sure to be a big part of Kyles Graduation party too!

Then I did a little more waiting , lol, until the pretty dough had been turned and risen a few more times, it was ready to bake!
Can you smell it? I sure hope so , because you all deserve a nice big piece!

Baking bread wouldn't be complete for me if I couldn't store it in something pretty :) A few years back I went on a quest for some Vintage European bread bags, this one below was a great find on eBay and I just adore the colors. I believe it's Swedish or German for " Fresh Bread" ??, but if anyone knows for sure, let me know if I'm right or wrong :) I am on the hunt for an Italian or French one now :)

They even look pretty and fit right in with the aprons when not being used for Bread!

I let the loaves peek through for the picture, but if you pull the ties closed the linen will keep the bread fresher a bit longer! Of course, homemade bread doesn't usually last too long in my house , but it looks sweet on a table when you have guests or for a party too!

~ Fresh bread is best warm right out of the oven with fresh butter and jam preserves too! Enjoy! ~

I hope you all have a deliciously sweet week ahead! I am praying for a sunny day for Kyles graduation BBQ here! keep your fingers crossed for me! Thank you so much for always being such sweet friends, I hope the summer is finding you all blessed and content!

With appreciation and Hugs,

~ Cynthia ~

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

~ New Pretties ~

I hope you are all enjoying a wonderful week! It's been another busy one here at the Cottage :) First off, I finally finished transferring my old web page into a new blog, I'd love if you all gave it a peek and let me know what you think. I tried to keep it simple and bare with me because the items that were in the shop portion still have to be stocked again. But I'll get there soon :) Feel free to add the button above to your side bar so you can check in for new sales and items coming soon! Thank you all for your support and comments on the little change I made!

Now on to another note, I received another goody box from Mom again, wow, she really must have an over-stocked basement, because this time I really made out on her desire to "clean out and downsize", lol. I have adored this china since I was a little girl and she always promised me I could have it, well, lol, it's 40 plus years later and I finally can say I have my Royal Albert China :) Thank you Mom, you're slow, but your the bestest!
Along with my china , came so many mementos she thought I'd love too. And she was right. I'm saving some for another post, but along with their wedding picture ( above ) she also dropped in everything she had saved from her honeymoon 57 years ago. If you click on the picture above you can see the American Express Bill for their honeymoon in Bermuda ! Back then, that was a lot of money, but I couldn't help but giggle at the total, I couldn't find many places to go on that price anymore if I tried :)

~ My love for all things elegant and cottagey really makes this china a welcome addition to my collections ~

Now I just need her to send me up all the dinner plates and silverware she had that went with it, and I'll be a very happy girl :) Hint Hint Mom, I would love another box soon! :)

I don't even think they make china with this much 14kt gold trim anymore, so I'll be sure to keep it out of the dishwasher!
Even though this china has such an elegant look to it, I can't help but use the delivery of it as a chance to line my kitchen hutch with it and play again re-doing the shelves. Ok the hints are getting relentless Mom, so here's one more. I really want to take a wide shot photo of the kitchen hutch with all the rest of the serving for 12, it would fill my entire hutch and look so pretty! Don't you girls agree? if so, tell my Mom in a comment that she simply has to part with all the rest soon! The china will be much happier here , out of the box from the Georgia basement, and it will come to life again in my Cottage Royal Albert home...lol

Oh I hope she got the hint! :)

Wishing you all have a beautiful pink and fuchsia day! Or at least that's what I'm calling my day :)

Stop by the new site when you get a minute, I hope you enjoy the visit! and now it's time to visit all of you without a "to-do list" in front of me for the first time in 2 weeks :)

Happy Day and Hugs,

~ Cynthia ~

Thursday, June 11, 2009

~ Website Update ~

~ Everything but the kitchen sink ~

( 6/14/09 ...Update...: Just a quick note, if you try and view the Cottage Shop blog, it will come up "invite only", that's not true :) Its just the only way I can work on it without having you see the mess before it's done :) I didn't realize that blogger had that feature till after I did this post. I will do a post about it being ready soon... )

Well, lol, that was my dream at least....to have my website be a one stop shopping site for everything that makes a house a home. But , this is proving a little more difficult than I thought :) I had started the other site ( Cynthia's Cottage Design. com ) awhile back and sold out of most of the items fairly quickly, I thought it would be manageable to keep up with stocking the shelves, but I also have clients homes in our area to Design, so between work and family and trying to keep it all together, I was in over my head so to speak :) I know you've all been there too, the place where you realize you have to cut back on your schedule to keep that happiness factor going :) So I wanted to take a minute to let you know that I closed my website and have decided to switch to using another blogger page to open a smaller version, I will still feature the online consultations and accessories for sale , but in a simpler fashion this time... I have a few older posts with links to my old website, so hopefully I can correct those and link them to the new Cynthia's Cottage Design Shop on blogger. I'll be working on it a bit over the next week and I'll be sure to let you all know when it's up and running, in the meantime, if you peek in don't mind the renovations, you all know how messy things can look before we pretty them up :) ps: My blog here will remain the same and I'll provide buttons for the cottage shop when it opens too!

I hope you all have a fabulous day and thank you so much for all your support and friendship always!

Blessings,

~ Cynthia ~

Monday, June 8, 2009

~ Alfresco ~

Hi Girls! Come dine with me alfresco style! What a beautiful weekend it was, the sun was out , the evenings long and the cool breeze now and then made the 80 degrees feel like 75, just perfect! Summer is almost here!...eating outside, bbq's, and late nights by the outdoor fire place with the kids making S'mores, yummy! I also love squeezing in those girls nights when the food is more gourmet and the wine flows , and the eating doesn't include hot dogs and hamburgers :) Which was the idea behind this post...I made a table cloth out of one of my favorite farmhouse patterns and it became a great backdrop for all things delicious!

I like to put a few unusual things on the outdoor table to give it that cozy feel, and for me, that's bringing a bit of the inside, to the outside. Just grab a few of your favorite indoor things and bring them outside for a fresh look. I couldn't decide between the old "women harvesting" painting or the "french chicken" painting, so I brought both out and after a few minutes pondering , I chose the french chicken one :) I thought the girls might feel guilty about enjoying a meal while staring at women working in the field :) or maybe they would appreciate the meal knowing that someone worked so hard to bring it to the table?? lol, ok, that is just too much thought put into something, so that's why I opted for the french chicken :)

~ If I have a busy patterned table cloth, I try and keep the china basic and simple, but of course a little pop of color helps to pull it together, so for the 2nd course I used the blue and white china... ~

If you're wondering why the tea cup in the middle ?, I'll show you a great way to fill it with a delicious soup at the end of the post ...and the tea cup makes for a nice portion size in the summer :)

As you all know Inspiration is everywhere, I get tons of it from all the wonderful blogs out there and also from fabulous magazines . But , I also get Inspiration from those gorgeous catalogs the mail man drops off :) This is the summer issue of Williams Sonoma ( below ) and this particular color scheme was picked partly by the farmhouse print on my table cloth , and also from the "All American" feel that this summer issue has!

~ Before I set a table, I lay out a bunch of things and play a bit ....seeing which pieces and colors "speak" to me :) ~

Then it's time to set it all up and start cooking! I love serving chilled soups as a first course, they are so fresh and filled with garden goodies that delight the senses. This one below is a chilled vegetable soup, perfect in a small tea cup so my guests don't get too full, too early :)

One of my all time favorites is this one below...Cucumber-Avocado soup! and what a sweet way to serve it too... The good thing about cold soups is, you can prepare them ahead of time, set them out in ice and ladle them in when you are ready ...

~ If you click on the picture below , it will enlarge enough to get this delicious recipe!~

~ Happy Dining alfresco ~

A nice Summer menu: ~ Chilled soup and crusty french bread~ Clams on the half shell ~ Goat cheese salad with grilled chicken and fresh beets ~( serve with iced tea and fresh mint, or a nicely chilled Pino Grigio ) Simple and delicious!

Before I go, I had to let you know, My sweet and talented friend Elyse over at " Cottage" is having a gorgeous give-away!, so stop on over and see her pretties! But mind you, I want to win them! :) Aren't they so cottage perfect!?!

I hope you all enjoy a wonderfully delicious and beautiful week ahead!

Much love and Thanks,

~ Cynthia ~

Friday, June 5, 2009

~ Give-Away winner ~

Well first you'll have to bare with me for a minute :)...I was completely overwhelmed by all your kind and wonderful words!! I enjoy these give-aways so much because it gives me a chance to show you all how much you mean to me. But with that, I ended up wanting to give away something to each and every one of you! I mean that! It seems that even though I'm hosting a give-away, it's really me who is getting the best gift of all! I got to peek into so many blogs that I haven't seen before and that was such a treat! You are all such inspiring and wonderful women! I want to Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being a part of this wonderful world of blogging! And my answer to my own question is, like many of yours," blogging is simply the neatest thing since sliced bread :)"! Homemade of course :) Each blog is so unique and that homemade comment I just made isn't far from the truth, every blog is "home made" and the stories and people in them , are works of art! So before I type who won the draw, I want to say a Big THANK YOU to all who entered, I am so lucky to have such wonderful bloggettes as friends, both old and new!!

I used the random generator to pick the winner, and for everyone that did a post about it, I assigned another number to. It was a lot of work assigning the additional numbers , but the best kind of work ever! I got to visit your blogs all week and see such wonderful new ones! I can't wait visit again and stop in and say HI!

soooooo, drum roll please :)...... Congratulations to:

Kathleen Grace , From Kathy's Cottage!!

If you all haven't seen Kathy's Cottage yet, head on over now and say HI, she is such a sweetie and her blog is gorgeous too!! Congrats Kathy!!

Thank you all so much , for all your support , and for making my first year filled with so many wonderful and inspiring experiences! I wish you all a wonderful weekend ahead and many blessings!

Hugs and Gratitude,

~ Cynthia ~