Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Cottage - How small is big enough?

How much room do we really need 
to live joyfully?

That's the question Captain and I have been asking ourselves and each other the past month.  

I knew when I entitled my last new cottage post "Our New Cottage - Is This It?" that the chances were very good that it wasn't "It"; that we hadn't yet arrived at THE cottage.  By that I mean a pleasing, livable cottage design that wouldn't break the bank.

"Piggy Bank/Breaking and Entering?"  Photo by Pascal  Some Rights Reserved

Even with excellent credit and a big down payment, when we saw the costs from the lender to build the "Is This It?" design (construction loan and closing costs + final mortgage and closing costs), we knew we wouldn't be moving forward.  

We're not comfortable with spending that much cash now, plus incurring the burden of the final mortgage.

"If Mamma Ain't Happy" Photo by Patrick Q  Some Rights Reserved
Not at our age.

In truth, we'd like no debt at all.  Which means in order to meet that goal we'll have to build small. 

Very small.

Now, I love small homes.  Cozy has always appealed to me more than spacious, so I don't consider downsizing a punishment.

"The Entrance" Photo by Nicolas Boullosa  Some Rights Reserved
But I'm also realistic enough to know that there is a point at which "tiny house" loses it's appeal for me.  I've followed the Tiny House Movement for the past four years, and I greatly admire people who can live debt free in 102 SF of space, but that's not me.  

I know this to be a fact.

So. . .

How small is big enough?

Blaentrothy Cottages - The Wash House

When I saw this Welsh cottage I showed it to Captain and said, "I think I could live in a cottage floor plan like this."

Blaentrothy Cottages - The Wash House

An open floor plan.

Blaentrothy Cottages - The Wash House

Kitchen open to the living room and dining nook.

Blaentrothy Cottages - The Wash House

Blaentrothy Cottages - The Wash House

Small, functional kitchen.

Blaentrothy Cottages - The Wash House

No corridors.

Blaentrothy Cottages - The Wash House

Bedroom directly off the living room.

Blaentrothy Cottages - The Wash House

The bathroom is off the living room, on the opposite end of the cottage from the bedroom.  I'd change that to make the bath accessible from the bedroom.

My friend Magali at The Little White House on The Seaside pinned this floor plan for me.  (Isn't she thoughtful?  I just love her, and her blog.)

1st Floor Plan
The Weekender by Home Design Central

This is a 600 SF cottage which, coincidentally, has similarities to the 528 SF one bedroom cottage plan we just finished, and which is now in the hands of our builder for pricing.  

If that plan flies, I'll show it to you.

In the meantime I've been connecting with small home dwellers; people who have chosen to live simply, many of them debt free. They're smart, kind, creative people and I'll be sharing their homes, lifestyles and tips for small space and simple living right here at A Joyful Cottage in a new blog series:

 "Living Large in Small Spaces"  

We'll be touring Tim and Leslie's 540 SF cottage this Saturday.  

If you're not yet a follower of A Joyful Cottage you may want to become one so you don't miss any of these fun and informative posts.

So, what do you think?  I'd love to hear your thoughts about downsizing, living in small spaces, simple living, etc.

I party with:
Amaze Me Monday at Dwellings
Tweak it Tuesday at Cozy Little House
Wow Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style
The Homemaking Party at Hope In Every Season
Home and Garden Thursday at A Delightsome Life
Share Your Cup Thursday at Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson
Home Sweet Home at The Charm of Home
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage

The Art of Homemaking at Strangers & Pilgrims on Earth

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Excellent Dutch Apple Pie

Hello Cottage Friends,

I've been MIA for over a week as we work through more set backs with our new cottage.  

It's back to the drawing board, literally.  

I won't bore you with the details, just let me say that building a new home in this economy isn't all that fun.  Unless you have a bazillion dollars holed up somewhere.

I'm okay though, because. . .

When the going gets tough
The tough get baking.

Yesterday I made a Dutch Apple Pie for our Bible Study group, and the pronouncement from those that tasted it was "Excellent!"  

So, of course I'm going to share the recipe with you.  

That's what cottage friends do, right?

I'm also going to give you some tips on how I get a flaky pie crust every single time.  I've been making my crusts this way since I was 19 years old and I've never had a crust fail.  (I'm a grandmother, so you can guess how long I've been doing this.)

Excellent Dutch Apple Pie
(Adapted from Food.com recipe)


This recipe works best with a 9" pie plate.

1 unbaked pie shell (recipe follows)

6 1/2 cups peeled, cored and sliced Granny Smith apples 
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 c granulated sugar
1/4 brown sugar, packed
3 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger

3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup butter, room temperature

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a large bowl mix sliced apples with the rest of the filling ingredients.

Spoon into prepared, unbaked pie crust.

In a medium bowl, with a pastry blender or fork, mix flour, both sugars, and butter until coarsely crumbled.

Sprinkle topping evenly over apples.

Bake at 375°F for 50 minutes.

Pie Crust
Makes dough for one double crust pie, or 2 single crust pies.
Extra dough can be refrigerated up to 2 days, or freeze up to 3 months (thaw dough and roll out while it's still chilled).

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup Crisco
4 - 5 Tbsp cold water

In a bowl stir together flour and salt.  Using a pastry blender (two table knives or fork), cut Crisco into flour until particles are about the size of small peas.

A word about Crisco:  It's the only shortening I use for my pie crusts.  Crisco's not paying me to say that.  I just believe it's the best shortening brand to use.  Period.

Pour cold water into a cup.
Tip: Add an ice cube to the water to make sure it's very cold.

While stirring lightly and quickly with a fork, sprinkle water over flour mixture 1 Tbsp at a time (up to 4 Tbsps) until all flour is moist. If mixture seems dry and crumbly, sprinkle 1 tsp of water at a time until the mixture is moist, but not wet or sticky.  The dough should be at the point where it will hold together if pressed between your fingers.

Gather up the mixture with your hands and form into a ball.  Divide the dough in half and flatten each half into 4" round.  Wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.  

My most important tip for flaky, no fail crust!
Do not roll out your dough on a floured board.
Roll out your chilled dough between two pieces of waxed paper.

Friends, my late husband's grandmother was a fabulous cook and baker who made melt-in-your-mouth pie crusts.  Grandma Peggy shared her waxed paper secret with me one day when I was a new bride.  I tried it, and from then on my crusts have been every bit as flaky and tender as hers. 

Can you see that flaky goodness? Yum.

I'm sorry I don't have a prettier piece of the pie to show you.  Captain brought this serving home for me in a little plastic container. I've got a cold and didn't want to infect our friends, so I didn't attend the study. 

I love the aroma of home baked apple pie.  Cinnamon, ginger, butter, brown sugar -- the best air freshener there is.

Do you make homemade pie?  

I party with:
Amaze Me Monday at Dwellings
Tweak it Tuesday at Cozy Little House
Treasure Box Tuesday
Wow Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style
What's It Wednesday at Ivy & Elephants
Home and Garden Thursday at A Delightsome Life
Share Your Cup Thursday at Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson
Creative Ways Link Party at Posed Perfection
Home Sweet Home at The Charm of Home
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage

Craft Frenzy Friday
The Art of Homemaking at Strangers & Pilgrims on Earth