The Tree

As many parts of the country (world) experience their first blast of Winter, here in central California we are still savoring a late Fall color. I love this time of the year so much that it is almost impossible to feel that state of mind required for transporting the cottage into a Winter Wonderland.

This year we are co-hosting an early Annual Christmas Dinner for our group of friends and today I need to decorate the lake cottage for Christmas. It is a busy time of year with two back-to back Holidays. Yesterday, within minutes of the Thanksgiving guests leaving for the airport, I began swapping-out pumpkins with pine cones and whisking away all the amber tones to a giant pile in the now-vacated (recently organized) guestroom. New season, new piles…

Since I am just sitting here I may as well share the moment with you…first off, I should not be sitting…

The blazing pistache tree that only a few days ago was the photo backdrop for our family Christmas card is the Big Disruptor today for me moving forward to Winter. The sun shining through the yellow and orange leaves make the tree look like it is on fire. As I pulled myself away from the kitchen window to head to the living room to start my Christmas decoration, I am stopped in my tracks…by the golden glow of the entire room. I can’t do IT, at least not quite yet…maybe once the sun gets high and the intense color settles down, then, maybe, I can catch the spirit of a new season.

thanks for Meeting Me Lakeside! (stuck in the moment)


Time to Learn Something

(Revised, Yikes) SURPRISE!!  I had a little free time, so I popped in today to tell you what’s up and to test my ol’ WordPress skills. I am a bit rusty, I messed up this post’s scheduling over the weekend. Then it slipped out this morning. Anyway, back to it…

Now that I am NOT Blogging, ahem, I often find myself asked, “What are you doing Now?”


For starters, last week I updated the saying on my Farmhouse Kraft Paper Roller. If you want to do the same or maybe print & frame the saying, you can go to Home Stories A to Z blog. I used one of Beth’s many terrific free printable downloads. Check out this blog, she has great style!

This quote really spoke to me since I am, it seems, in the midst of “learning something” new every day.

Here’s what I am learning…

I’m working more on my Photography, as I near the end of my year-long Kim Klassen Studio 2.0 course, of which I have not been diligent about. This morning I ran outside to capture an amazing crack-of-dawn sunrise photo of our colorful Autumn lake. to edit in Topaz Labs and Lightroom. Topaz Labs has many new updates that I want to experiment with. You may remember my “snowy” Winter lake sunrise photo tutorial HERE. Wow, that was in 2015…seems like yesterday (morning.)

Then, after sitting a lot at my computer this past year…to get myself moving more…I am learning Pickleball. Yep, practicing with a friend, although we’re at that level of chasing the ball, we both have a goal to get good enough to challenge “real” players.

Let’s see…my extra time has allowed me to read more and take part in an online (app) book discussion group. Don’t you love having a world internet community?

I’m also doing several Friend Meet-ups, each centered around different purpose…coffee chat, girls’ day out, neighborhood Bunko, and a meetup with a friend to make wood projects. So fun!

Then there are PLANS…

Captain finally has relented to (help) shiplap our livingroom wall in the lake cottage. Sooo, I am planning that project to happen after the Holidays, maybe in March when the weather is warmer and dry…and when I have more time. Woo Hoo, I can’t stand the wait!

I’m spinning my wheels in one place, can’t seem to get started…learning Esperanto.

Political Action & Volunteering is something weighing on me now, too. With so much happening in the world and in the U.S. it is time to get involved in purposeful work. There are many groups to join, I just need to find one that fits.

I GoogledMeetups” (for my city) and found a site with all kinds of groups to join. It filters by  a list of Interests that can be checked-off. That is how I found Pickleball groups, then was able to see their meetup schedule and RSVP ad go to learn & play. If you can’t find a group, it is easy to start one of yourself to connect with like-minded people. Cool.

In all this learning something new, there is the normal busy of preparing for the Holidays; cleaning, decorating, cooking – so, it’s no wonder why Beth’s Autumn Quote touched a nerve! Autumn is my season to learn something.

as always, stay Busy, but keep it Simple – Thanks for Meeting Me Lakeside!




Thanksgiving Tablescape 2017

My 2017 Thanksgiving Tablescape is a warm & cozy Modern Rustic style. I layered neutral colored dishware, copper, wood, plaid fabric, and succulents planted in a dough bowl to get the Look.

The plaid tablecloth has plenty of ivory colored background and not too many stripes to create a clean contemporary base for my Modern Rustic tablescape. Hammered copper utensils, even with clean line, throw a twist of rustic into the tablescape. I love the understated Fall vibe of my Boho Dough Bowl Centerpiece. Once I placed the light wooden dough bowl in the center of the table, I knew I must add more wood to pull all the elements together.

For that beautiful golden glow during dinner, I added copper and bronze glass votive candles to the centerpiece.

And finally, for that extra wood element, a “Place Tray” for under each place setting, bringing another layer of Rustic charm to my Thanksgiving Tablescape. I designed my wooden “Place Trays” (yep, that’s what I named them) to be a raised stage upon which to stack a very Simple dish combination. The lift of the stage seems to visually elevate the importance of each person at the table. It really does, without a place card, make each setting very personal & special.

A casual coffee/dessert station is set up near the table for after-dinner lingering. Copper coffee pot & white mugs carry over the Modern Rustic style of the tablescape. (Wall Art DIY.)

The feature that makes my Place Tray unique is the 1-3/4″ hole in the upper left corner, where a cloth napkin can be gracefully draped. In order for the napkin to be easily removed I have cleverly elevated the wooden tray. (More details next week.)

Since I was not bringing pumpkins this year to the tablescape, I used orange napkins. The orange napkin did not “match” any of the colors in the tablecloth, but rather went well with the copper utensil and a provided a warm ambiance to the overall look.

I chose two different types of wood and stain contrasts for the Modern Rustic style. The lower portion of wood is distressed and stained medium brown, whereas, the upper wood is left more natural so its blueish-gray tones can be seen. The Yin/Yang Modern Rustic contrast makes these Place Trays versatile for many tablescape styles.

Plain white plates layered with an amber glass compote and a pine cone & faux autumn leaves keep the tablescape Fresh & Simple…

Pop in next week when I share a How-to make my wooden Place Tray. They are easy enough to make in time for your Holiday tablescape, or as a great gift for the decor enthusiast in your life.

Thanks for Meeting Me Lakeside!


Halloween Cocktails at the Cottage

It’s such fun to welcome October guests to the lake cottage, by handing them a spooky cocktail as they walk through the door…or gate…or up from the dock – guests drop-by from many directions around here, sometimes even over the fence…so we try to be “ready” with a fun signature drink.

We convert the potting bench into a serving table & bar for the Holidays and concoct one or two specialty cocktails fitting for a particular month. My favorite part is to come-up an appropriate name for each cocktail. Surely, I’m not the only one who lays awake at night dreaming of a clever name to fit a special house brew.

This year I was working with pretty black-stemmed martini glasses (Home Goods) for our October cocktail, so we shook-up a blackberry-infused vodka martini and christened it the Black Widow.

I used a low temperature glue gun to attach a rubber spider to the glass rim and darkened the blackberry infused vodka with black food coloring, a little goes a long way, then I dropped a sweet cherry pepper into the glass. Adding a few small chunks of dry ice creates one smokin’ Halloween drink. By the time the glass is empty your guests won’t care that their lips are black, too.

Just add affordable spooky decorations from the Dollar store and Walmart, so you can spend more on the fixin’s. Remember last year’s Forgotten Bag from Target bargain bin? That is where I found the Apothecary jars and Lab glasses for the drink ingredients. A quick Google search landed me free Halloween apothecary labels from HERE and HERE. Wow!

The best cocktail for any season is a Bloody Mary, I love that it can be served any time of the day. Captain always makes a crazy-good Bloody Mary, so we keep the ingredients for that perfect cocktail always on-hand. Again, the fun is in re-naming it to fit the season, and to add personality to the swizzle stick. It doesn’t have to be a celery stick; this year’s Scary Mary sports a pickled okra, jalapeño stuffed olive, lemon, and a sweet cherry pepper, with a non-edible eyeball to top the swizzle.

Don’t forget to serve Bites during cocktail hour! We keep a few Simple choices in the pantry; jars of artichokes, olives, chips/dips and cheeses, popcorn and always bottled water so I don’t have guests to cook breakfast for the next morning.

Now that the party is rockin’, the moon is out, and the guests are not feeling inclined to “sail-on”…Hey, Whose ordering pizza delivered?

Do you have a “House” Signature drink?

Thanks for Meeting Me Lakeside!

October Coffee Table Styling & Printable

Styling a small area like a coffee table for October or Halloween can be both fun & affordable. It’s amazing how such a small styled area can bring a special mood to the whole room. I like that I didn’t spend much time or money on my October decorating yet it feels complete. BTW, I’m talking affordable decoration! I purchased plastic (hand) bones for a couple of dollars (Walmart), and made a graphic of Edgar Allen Poe’s spooky Halloween verse, The Raven, with a raven in the moonlight graphic from

I’m sharing so you can print one for your own spooky vignette – Download: Freebie Printable, The Raven.

For Fall color, I added a couple of flannel & suede pumpkins from a previous DIY Post . That’s it, an October coffee table styling that’s not too creepy and is easy on the budget. I could say, It only cost a Hand, not an Arm & Leg, but I won’t.

As I was pulling the pumpkins from “the closet,” I came across a shopping bag FULL of Halloween goodies I had purchased last year from Target‘s seasonal bargain bin, sooo I decorated more areas using two $3. items from that “forgotten” bag…

A Raven picture for the living room fireplace mantel

Each season I put new decorations in my giant cloche, like HERE.

October 31 burlap sign, Target, perfect size for my Halloween cloche display.

First taste of pumpkin pie <I :>)

When the kids were young we really decked-out the lake cottage with spider webs, bats, and other not-too-ghoulish decorations, but sadly, I don’t decorate much for Halloween anymore. Nowadays I barely get out the witch cauldron that holds trick-or-treat candy, before the first little ones knock on the door. And definitely no spider webs! Don’t you hate taking that stuff down? BUT, this year, on Halloween, I turn 65 (that’s scary) so I purchased ONE bag of spider webs to put up and Just Sayin’…then got a little cray with using the other stuff from the Bag. You may want to grab your broom and Meet Me Lakeside in the coming weeks, because a lot is brewin’ at the lake cottage…I found a place for ALL that Target stuff.

Do YOU decorate for Halloween?


2 Simple Ways to Refresh a Room

This gallery contains 4 photos.

Sometimes it takes more than a vase of fresh flowers to make a room feel REALLY light & bright Fresh. This month I put my final touches on our dark cave-like family room before summer ends. I always like to … Continue reading