Design. Create. Decorate.

Design. Create. Decorate.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Cherry Bombs

February is the month of cherries--red like Valentine's Day hearts, secondary character in that tale of young George Washington and his axe... So, we decided to make a simple treat featuring these sweet berries and turned to Pinterest, where we found a lovely, easy recipe from lemontreedwelling(dot)com. Here's a photo of the Cherry Pie Cookie Cup. Pretty, isn't it?

Photo from lemontreedwelling(dot)com

One roll of sugar cookie dough
One can of cherry (or other) pie filling
1 C confectioner's sugar
1 TBS butter
2 TBS milk

1. Cut cookie dough into 24 pieces (or buy the pre-cut kind, like we did), and roll each piece into a ball.
2. Spray mini-muffin pan with cooking spray and place a cookie ball in each cup.
3. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
4. Remove from oven and after 1 minute use a cookie scoop to push down the center of each cookie, making a well.
5. Place 2-3 cherries in each cookie cup.
6. Return to oven and bake another 2-3 minutes.
7. Remove from oven and let stand about 5 minutes before CAREFULLY removing. This will be much easier of course if you've used liners.
8. Mix the sugar, butter and milk together, whisk smooth. Drizzle across cookie cups.

Here are some photos of what ours looked like, in process and upon completion.

Cookie cups after being pushed down with a cookie scoop © Rhiann Wynn-Nolet

Took a bite © Rhiann Wynn-Nolet

While we wouldn't dub these quite bad enough to be featured in a Pinterest Fails Tumblr, still they aren't quite ready for prime time. The cookies didn't crest over the edge of the tins, they were very hard to dig out (hence the breakage and collapse issue), and the icing was too thin. Next time we'd definitely use liners, and try to improve the consistency of the icing. Also, there was definitely an artificial taste from the prefab sugar cookies. It would be worth making the cookie dough from scratch. Despite those flaws, they were pretty yummy. And like all of Quince Cottage's favorite recipes, they can be modified. Maybe next time we'll use peach pie filling, or blackberry jam, or add some toasted pecans, or...

Quince Cottage style is where rustic and sparkly rub shoulders. 
Think gilded mirror against a plank wall, and you'll know what we mean. 
We prefer our opulence a little beat up and our recipes 
GOOF-PROOF! (yeah, these aren't quite "there" yet)

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Dogs, Allergies, and Veterinarians

As you may already know, the Quince Cottage team includes two Jack Russell Terriers of the Irish, short-legged variety. Their names are Daisy and Buster. Before we had Jacks, we had a whippet whose name was Sophie.

Sophie Snugglebug © Rhiann Wynn-Nolet

Now whippets aren't exactly blessed in the fur department. Most have virtually no hair on their underside. The poor cold things become heat-seeking missiles in winter, sunbathing in front of south-facing windows, curling up by the fireplace, and burrowing under bed-covers with great determination. Sophie's fur began to thin once she hit middle age, first on her tail, then her thighs. By the time she was a senior she looked like a leggy Chinese crested, without the crest. We asked her breeder about whippet hair loss, we read online articles, we tried over the counter remedies and food specifically formulated for healthy skin and coat. We took her to the vet, who eventually conceded she had no good suggestions--it was most likely allergies. This led to a consultation with a canine-allergy specialist veterinarian. Hundreds of dollars later we learned it was probably genetic, and without lengthy allergy-testing for specifics we'd never really know for sure. So, bald she remained. We loved her anyway, of course.

Daisy © Rhiann Wynn-Nolet

Fast forward to Terrier Time. Both Buster and Daisy have allergies which cause itchy ears. Buster's seem to be fairly well-managed by a limited diet. Daisy's have been harder to treat. We've tried ear drops (which help during critical periods), steroids (stopped the itching but led to lots of drinking, followed by many potty accidents), antihistamines (no effect) and a new medication, Atopica, which actually seemed to make it worse. Our vet said allergy testing could be done. We declined. She also suggested yet another protein source - kangaroo. Ack! For the price we should have been getting a bag of gold nuggets. We declined that too. This vet wanted Daisy in for an exam whenever we wanted a prescription renewal (ear drops) or when we wanted to try something different.


Based on a friend's recommendation, we brought Daisy to a different vet for a second opinion. He examined her ears, looked at her history of treatment, and came up with a number of possible medications we could try - including a GENERIC, LESS EXPENSIVE version of the ear drops, and a pill that had less prednizone than the one that caused the excessive peeing. Additionally, he named a few other Rx drugs we could try and suggested we switch to a grain-free fish-based diet and put down a cotton blanket wherever she naps regularly. His advice regarding testing was, "Don't bother, it's likely to turn up something like dust mites that really can't be eliminated from a dog's environment." He said that if the ear drops and new medication don't help, to stop in and he'd set us up with one of the other alternative medications he'd mentioned. He also told us about a new drug that takes 7 months to make, and is expected back on the market in April (apparently the company ran out of it a while ago).

All of which leads us to say, if you're not happy with your vet, for whatever reason, try another one! If your vet is suggesting expensive treatment or is out of ideas for treatment, consider getting a second opinion. Ask if the medication being prescribed comes in a generic form. Advocate not only for your pet, but also for yourself.

Our final piece of advice: when you don't know what to do about a problem, take a walk on the beach.

Daisy (front) and Buster at the beach in Maine © Rhiann Wynn-Nolet

Or take a nap.

Drowsy Daisy © Rhiann Wynn-Nolet
Quince Cottage believes any house can be transformed into a beautiful home that reflects the unique taste and personality of its owner. In our own place, we mix vintage Southern style with some global spice. 
We also believe pets are part of the family, and should be treated as such. Played with, allowed indoors, and loved like the little fur-children they are.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Hygge and Cwtch (and Cookies)

Hygge. Decoristas tell us this Danish word is having its fifteen minutes of fame, give or take. It means cozy gathering and includes the state of mind that goes along with the action. Something like, "Yeah, the weather is BLEAK, so let's light some candles, bake cookies, and pull our comfy chairs a little closer to the hearth." That's what CottageLife is all about, right?

Another word we like is "cwtch" which is Welsh and means cuddle or hug. It rhymes with "butch". "Give us a cwtch, Cariad." (Cariad means sweetheart, and apparently was an endearment often used by Rhiann's great grandmother).
Wales is a magical place. If you ever get the chance to go, take it! In the meantime, enjoy an armchair tour by feasting on our Wales Pinterest board Cymru Hiraeth .

But, speaking of feasting, back to the cookies...

As you may know by now, Quince Cottage loves super EASY, customizable recipes. An easier, more forgiving cookie recipe would be hard to find. You'll need to tear yourself away from snuggling by the fire for only a few minutes to make them!
Various recipes for these goodies have been floating around social media, so citing an original source would be close to impossible. We looked at a few and modified.
This recipe makes approximately 3 dozen cookies.


1 box of cake mix (flavor of your choice)
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cornstarch (because we now know this helps make a thicker cookie)
1/2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 C white chocolate chips

Customization: Use the cake mix flavor of your choice, and the chips or other add-ins of your choice (nuts, dried fruit etc.)

1. Mix the first five ingredients together.
2. Stir in whatever extras you want.
3. You can and probably should chill the dough at this point (it will help prevent cookie "spread" when you cook them, and make the dough easier to work with, as in less sticky).
4. Scoop by TBS onto parchment lined cookie sheet. With your fingers shape the individual lumps into elongated spheres (see photo below). This also helps curtail cookie spread.
5. Bake 8-9 min. at 350 degrees
6. Let sit on sheet 5 min. then remove to wire rack for cooling.

Now, if you want to sprinkle them with confectioner's sugar, or drizzle them with glaze, or dunk them in melted chocolate, don't let us stop you!

Elongated cookie balls © Rhiann Wynn-Nolet
Cake Batter Cookies © Rhiann Wynn-Nolet

Quince Cottage style is where rustic and sparkly rub shoulders. 
Think gilded mirror against a plank wall, and you'll know what we mean. 
We prefer our opulence a little beat up and our recipes 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Where We've Been...

Decorating a new home doesn't often start from scratch. Before deciding to get rid of a piece of furniture or accessory, consider whether or not it meets these guidelines:

a. it's broken or worn out beyond repair/upcycling  
b. you never really liked it (maybe you bought it because it was a deal, or you inherited it, or you bought something trendy that went out of style by the time you got it home) 
c. it literally won't fit anywhere in your new space

If the piece in question falls into category b or c, we highly recommend Craigslist and Facebook local on-line yard sales. Price your item to sell and be honest about its condition. If nobody bites, then donate it. Our favorite thrift store gives the proceeds to a local animal shelter. When we sold our Maine house, the new owners were happy to buy several of the pieces we offered them.

But, back to the items you're keeping. You might be surprised how fresh they look in a different setting. Here are photos of the house we owned in Kennebunkport, Maine. We built it in 2002, and remodeled it about ten years later. At the time, we figured we'd be staying a while. We didn't get to enjoy the improvements for long, but we learned a lot during the process, and the changes we made helped it sell. Honestly, I'd forgotten about those off-white wicker dining chairs--we could use them at Quince Cottage. Ah well, we made that decision knowing they had nowhere to live in our current house and didn't realize we'd be moving again so quickly.

Our Kennebunkport Home © Rhiann Wynn-Nolet

Family Room © Rhiann Wynn-Nolet
That Oriental rug is a perfect example of something that looked great in a new space. I grew up with that rug and really disliked it, but we couldn't find a way to sell it for what it's worth, so we moved it and fell back in love with it!

© Rhiann Wynn-Nolet
Yep, there are those wicker dining chairs I mentioned earlier. The sixth one served as a drafting table chair in the office.

© Rhiann Wynn-Nolet
We had a pressed tin backsplash. It was awesome. 
Behind the shelves we installed beadboard to match the sink cabinet.

Entry © Rhiann Wynn-Nolet
Office © Rhiann Wynn-Nolet
The braided rug was really cool. Unfortunately it didn't hold up well to terriers...

Master Bath © Rhiann Wynn-Nolet
We loved everything about this bathroom. The shower was subway tile with a natural stone floor.

Master Bedroom © Rhiann Wynn-Nolet
Nothing says romantic bedroom like a fireplace and a chandelier. Also, that gas fireplace kept our pipes from freezing during a three day blackout following a blizzard. The house was so cold, we had to sleep with hats, mittens, and sweaters. All our fish died.

Screen porch © Rhiann Wynn-Nolet
We spent a LOT of time out here. Our younger daughter used to nap on the sofa.

 Upstairs loft © Rhiann Wynn-Nolet
One of our daughter's bedrooms © Rhiann Wynn-Nolet

Stay tuned to see some of these same pieces in our current house and a bit later, in their new surroundings!

Quince Cottage believes a vanilla subdivision house can be transformed into a beautiful home that reflects the unique taste and personality of its owner. 
In our own place, rustic, opulent, and exotic rub shoulders. Think gilded mirror, an embroidered velvet robe from Uzbekistan, and a ship-lap wall. 
Stick around, and we'll not only show you what we mean, we'll also give you tips on creating your own special style. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Sweet Valentine's Day!

Chocolate is great, we'll never argue that, but why not surprise your sweetheart with something a little less "expected"? (And buy the boxed chocolates the day AFTER Valentine's, at fifty percent off).
Pinterest is always a go-to destination for new recipes and it hasn't let us down yet. We found one for Strawberry Shortcake Fudge that looked pretty, and simple.
The link took us to

Shortbread Crust © Rhiann Wynn-Nolet

Saucepan © Rhiann Wynn-Nolet
© Rhiann Wynn-Nolet

© Rhiann Wynn-Nolet


2 C shortbread cookie crumbs
3 1/4 C white chocolate chips, divided (3 cups, 1/4 cup)
2 TBS butter
1/8 tsp salt
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 jar (7 oz.) marshmallow creme
2 packets Duncan Hines strawberry shortcake frosting creations

1. Combine crumbs and butter. Stir until well mixed. Press into 8x8 pan lined with parchment paper.
2. In a large saucepan (non-stick is best), place 3 C white chocolate chips, 2 TBS butter, salt, and milk. Stir frequently over low heat until melted and smooth. Add marshmallow creme and flavor packets. Keep stirring until smooth and melted.
3. Pour on top of crust. Refrigerate for several hours.
4. Unmold fudge by gently lifting edges of the paper. Place on hard surface and slice into desired size squares with large knife.
5. Melt 1/4 C white chocolate chips in microwave safe glass bowl.
6. Make a waxed paper pastry bag and fill with glaze. Pipe desired pattern.

Quince Cottage style is where rustic and sparkly rub shoulders. Think gilded mirror against a weathered plank wall, and you'll know what we mean. 
We prefer our opulence a little beat up and our recipes 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Windows, and Shingles, and Doors, Oh My!

Confession Time: we go peek at Quince Cottage once a day. Okay. SOMETIMES twice. We can't help ourselves, it's just so exciting to see it take shape! The last time we had a house built we were in Maine and the house was in NC, so we had to survive with very occasional photos during the process. And the time before that we lived in New Hampshire and the house was in Maine. Yeah, there was that time we went up to check on it during a snow storm and nearly ended up skidding off the road into an icy swamp...
Anyway, just LOOK at what's happening! Those Capitol City Homes people have accomplished a lot during the last week or so. Our plan is the Montpelier, if you're interested.

Here's what it looked like early last week.

© Rhiann Wynn-Nolet
And here it is last Sunday, February 1.

© Rhiann Wynn-Nolet

© Rhiann Wynn-Nolet

And here's what it looks like today, February 8!

Feb 8 @Rhiann Wynn-Nolet 

Feb 8 © Rhiann Wynn-Nolet

Our neighbors houses have been coming along nicely too.
We went inside and we have ductwork, roughed-in plumbing, and tubs! It was really nice to see the spaces, even without sheetrock. Oh, our gas fireplace is in place too.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Brown Bananas & Silver Linings

Wasted food makes us just a little crazy, and with two picky-eater kiddos, this is a pretty regular occurrence at Quince Cottage. At least with bananas, there's a way to use food that's past not only its "sell by" date, but also its "eat in its natural state" date.
So, when we saw those two extremely dark bananas languishing in the fruit basket there was only one thing to do - make Banana Bread.
A long time ago we stumbled on this delicious recipe, and therefore we don't even know where credit is due. But whoever you are, thanks!
This particular banana bread is dense, not soft and crumbly like a typical quick bread. It tastes like bananas, and isn't overly sweet. You can add pecans, or walnuts if you like. Chocolate chips would be great too.

Greek Yogurt Banana Bread © Rhiann Wynn-Nolet


1/4 C butter (half stick)
2/3 C sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
8 oz. plain Greek yogurt
2 mashed bananas
2 C flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt

1. Cream butter and sugar in mixing bowl until light and fluffy
2. Add eggs, one at a time, then vanilla
3. Add yogurt and mashed bananas
4. Combine dry ingredients and add in batches (this controls flour "puff")
5. Grease bottom only of loaf pan
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes (toothpick test)
7. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing

Quince Cottage style is where rustic and sparkly rub shoulders. Think gilded mirror against a weathered plank wall, and you'll know what we mean. 
We prefer our opulence a little beat up and our recipes 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

2015 Colors of the Year, Theirs, Ours and Yours

Here at Quince Cottage we believe a home's design shouldn't be dictated by trends and forecasts, but instead should reflect the taste and preferences of those who live there. Having said that, it's still fun to see what colors the "experts" are telling us we should love for 2015.

Pantone always generates a lot of buzz when they release their Color Of The Year, and in this case it's Marsala, an earthy deep red. What do you think?

Courtesy of

Not wanting to be left out, paint companies also offer their opinions on what's the next big thing. Here is Sherwin-Williams' choice, Coral Reef. Makes us think of flip flops and the NC Azalea Festival in Wilmington.

Courtesy of
For those of you who don't love saturated, warm palettes, maybe Benjamin Moore's serene Guilford Green will do the trick.

Courtesy of 

Which is your favorite? Will you be featuring one of these trendy colors in a 2015 room re-do? We'd love to hear about your favorite 2015 home decor color in Comments.

p.s. we like the Ben Moore color best, but we do have pillows in a gorgeous coral velvet that looks just lovely with Miss Daisy's coloring. Our love of the woods and the ocean is behind our preference for quieter, cooler tones. Generally, we use warm, bright hues for pops of color, like wildflowers in a forest, or beach roses along the shore.

Miss Daisy © Rhiann Wynn-Nolet
A color that hasn't made "news" but which we suspect is poised for popularity is Butter. We've already based the color scheme for our younger daughter's future bathroom around it. That's Sherwin Williams Tea Light, by the way. In person it's not as gray, darn those iPhone photos...

Butter © Rhiann Wynn-Nolet
These buttery yellow pansies were part of our container gardens last spring.

Yellow pansy © Rhiann Wynn-Nolet

Here are some other colors we'll be using in our new home.

Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray

The one above will cover nearly every wall in our house, at least to begin with. It's actually a bit warmer and more khaki-ish than it appears here (or at least on our monitor). A really fabulous neutral that looks great with everything!

Sherwin Williams High Tea
The one above will be going in our master bedroom. It's got a lovely dark bronze tone in person.

Sherwin Williams Dutch Tile Blue

Our exterior shutters will be this color and we'll be bringing blue into the kitchen as well - but perhaps a lighter, slightly greener version. Not sure yet.

Quince Cottage style is where rustic and opulent rub shoulders. Gilded mirror against a plank wall, 
crystal chandeliers and antique farm tools sharing space, 
that's what we're talking about.