Saturday, December 19, 2015

Living Large In Small Spaces - Loire Valley, France Stone House

This photo of our cottage was taken this morning. Last summer while we were painting the exterior falu red I envisioned how our home would appear nestled in winter's snow. All these months later I am not disappointed.

Forgive me for shamelessly beginning today's edition of Living Large In Small Spaces this way, but I wanted to share my joy with you -- my friends. Seeing dreams come to life is a wonderful gift, and I thank God for ours.

Welcome to the sixty-second post in the series
"Living Large in Small Spaces".

Now on to our featured home in France. I chose this small space for its wonderful character and the fact that it's decorated for Christmas. What can I say? The Christmas spirit has a hold of me in a big way.

The front door of this two bedroom, one bath home opens directly into the living room.

Picture 1

The living room opens into a dining area with aged terracotta floor tiles, a ceiling with painted beams and an original old cupboard.

Picture 2

Double glazed French windows open onto the delightful courtyard. 

Picture 6

Unfortunately, there are no photos of the kitchen, which is stated to be right off the living room and has a window that overlooks the courtyard. 

This old original cupboard is wonderful with all the dishes and glassware.

The bathroom floor is tiled with old terracotta tiles. 

Bedroom 1 features a large tuffeau stone fireplace, two original cupboards and natural finished ceiling beams.

More terra cotta floor tiles.

The second bedroom, which is accessed by stairs from the first bedroom, is not shown.

I hope you enjoyed this home in Loire Valley, France. 

Interior Design: Stephen Shubel

This is the last edition of Living Large In Small Spaces in 2015. I'll be taking a blogging break to enjoy Christmas and New Years with my beloved Dennis.

I'll be back in 2016 with more Living Large In Small Spaces.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 
to all of you. 
May all the blessings of the season be yours. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Country Cottage Christmas - Part Two and Other Cottage News

God Jul!

I'm in the Scandinavian Christmas spirit, Cottage Friends. No, I'm not Scandinavian by birth, I just happen to like many of their Christmas traditions, and especially their yuletide decorations.

This is our first Christmas in our tiny cottage; a very special time for us. I shared the start of our decorating here.  Now we're finished and I can show you the rest. Still keeping it simple.

Our little tree came from a heavily forested area that is part of our friends' homestead. They had a festive party on December 6th and invited their guests to cut a Christmas tree to take home. It took 3 seconds for Dennis to cut ours with pruning shears. I proclaimed it "the shortest Christmas tree cutting ceremony ever."

I was thrilled when Dennis spotted the tablecloth at a local second hand shop last week. We knew it had to be a needlecrafter's handiwork, as it has two sets of initials and "1997"  stitched on one end. After doing some research I discovered the needlework is Swedish weaving, and this piece was most likely a wedding gift to a couple. "Swedish weaving creates patterns on even weave fabric by the way colorful yarn or thread is exposed or hidden by the fabric threads. Fabrics include huck cloth, monks cloth and aida fabric, among others." (Source:

It's really amazing needlework that I'm certain took hours to complete.  It makes me smile every time I see it. 

Other Christmas decorations include this vignette on the stove hood shelf.

Our garden window.

And this primitive Christmas doll I snagged at the thrift store for 10 cents (Christmas clearance). I've nicknamed her "Holly".

I guess you can tell I have a weakness for folk art. (More about that later.)

The outdoor decorations are completed, too.

I tried getting a good photograph of the front porch, but after several tries at different stages of light, I finally gave up and this is it. (You can see the snow reflected in the door glass. It's still snowing as I write this.)

I'm happy with the way the porch decor turned out. (I wrote about the wreath in my Part One post.) The ice skates and scarf are thrift store finds. Well, actually, everything but the chair came from thrift stores. I bought the old chair at a local shop that just opened.

Other wreaths that I made hang on the cottage back door and Dennis' studio door.

Back Door

Our little thrift store here in town has an amazing collection of Christmas decor from which I gathered the jingle bells, pine cones, cinnamon sticks and other decorative pieces for the wreaths.

Studio Door

Two weeks ago I posted my Crazy Easy Mug Rug Tutorial. I wondered if it would actually be of interest to readers, and apparently it was. Last week I received a very nice email from Barbara Anne in Virginia telling me that my mug rug tutorial inspired her to make this reversible Scottie dog ornament.



Isn't it adorable? 

Barbara Anne wrote that she fussy cut two 4" fabric squares, and that it took "perhaps 10 minutes" to make the ornament. It's a Christmas gift to her husband's aunts who own a Scottie.

Thanks, Barbara Anne, for your sweet email and for sharing photos of your beautiful ornament with us.

Earlier I mentioned my weakness for folk art. Especially folk art defined as primarily utilitarian and decorative rather than purely aesthetic. I don't want to just collect folk art, though. I want to create it. It's why I learned to quilt. It's also why I'm learning the art of twining.  This is my first rug, which I started about a week ago.

Since I work on it on and off -- in between other tasks -- I can't say how long it's actually taking me to make this rug. However, I do know I get faster as I go along. I also know that I love doing this. It's very economical too, as I recycle old sheets, curtains, fabric yardage, etc.

Check out my Pinterest Twining board for more information about this very old way of weaving.

I hope you're enjoying this wonderful season.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Living Large In Small Spaces - Green Cottage

Welcome to the sixty-first post in the series
"Living Large in Small Spaces".

I confess that I really love discovering cottages in other parts of the world to share with you. It's not always easy to find one with interior photos, so when I came across this one in Poland I nearly jumped through my computer screen. (Okay, not really. But I did feel a little giddy.)

The charmometer jumped way up on this one. Look at those stained glass windows and the scallop molding. Plank walls and ceiling -- yes, please.

From what I could gather about this cottage, it is a weekend and holiday getaway for the owners and their children. It was in pretty rough shape when they found it and they have been slowly restoring it.

The banner over the sofa reads "Gość w dom - Bóg w dom"
English translation: Guest coming into house - God coming into house. A guest is a blessing for the household.

Though color is used sparingly in the decor, its impact against the neutral backdrop is generous.

Dark woods contrast beautifully against the white.

This cottage has a comfortable, collected look that I love.

Blue and white with touches of yellow is a classic combination. Timeless.

Enchanting touches everywhere.

The outdoor living is just as charming.

Zielona Chatka translated: Green Cottage

Could this be my new favorite small space living large? It's at least in my Top 10. How about you?

Source: Decoholic

Join me next Saturday for another post in the special series

 Living Large in Small Spaces

See more home tours and small living ideas in the 
Living Large In Small Spaces Series here.

From the comments I've received, many
people have been encouraged by the homes and lives 
shared in this series.
If you live in a small space I'd 
love to feature your story, too.

Send me an email and let's collaborate.
(See the "Contact Me" page for my email address.)

Friday, December 11, 2015

Christmas Giveaway Winner

Greetings and salutations Cottage Friends.

I'm popping in to announce the winner of my Christmas giveaway.

The winner is


I don't have Carol's last name or email address, but I do know that she posted her comment on December 7, 2015 at 6:17 AM.

So Carol, if you're reading this please email me at and give me your mailing address so I can get your prizes off to you. Congratulations and thanks for reading my blog. I hope you enjoy your prizes.

To all my other wonderful cottage friends, I wish I could give each of you a gift. You're so  special to me and I appreciate every one of you more than you know. 

Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Crazy Easy Mug Rug Tutorial

Greetings Cottage Friends.

Last week I showed you the snow globe AnnMarie sent me and the little patchwork rug I whipped up here.

Little Patchwork Rug

Rebecca asked me to explain how I made it. There are so many great mug rug tutorials on the web from professional quilters and sewists that I'm almost embarrassed to share my own ridiculous method. However, it's really easy and quick if you just want to make some basic no-frills mug rugs. Once you get rolling you can whip out a bunch of these in no time. And they're inexpensive to make. So, if you're interested, read on. 

I made a couple of different rug mugs (or coasters if you want to call them that) just for this tutorial. As I mentioned, these are very basic. You could certainly add some interfacing or a little batting for added thickness, bind and quilt them, add ric-rac, buttons or other decoration. Make them shabby chic. Whatever your mind can dream up.

As do most quilters, I have lots of scraps. Mug rugs are great scrap busters.

Here we go:

1. I start with a 5" square. (I cut this one from a larger piece of fabric.)

2. Choose a fabric scrap and lay it over the first square. This scrap needs to be 5" wide so I had to trim it a bit. (I don't worry about the length. My scrap just happens to be about 3-1/2" long, but any length will do. You'll see why in a minute.)

3. Choose a second 5" wide scrap and lay it next to the first scrap. Together the total length of the two scraps is more than 5". That's okay. I'll take care of that soon. 

4. Place the two scraps together, right sides facing.
    Join with a 1/4" seam.
    Open, and press seam down with my fingernail.

5. Turn the joined piece over and lay the 5" square on top. You can see that the two pieces I joined are now longer than the 5" green square by about 1-1/2"

6. I'm trimming off that excess.

7. Now I have a 5" square. If I wanted to I could just call this newly made square good. But it's pretty boring. . .it needs another patch.

8. I choose a white scrap (this happens to be about 2-1/2" wide) and place it on top of the joined piece.

9. Now I trim the length of that white piece down to 5".

10. Line up the white strip even with the top of the joined piece, right sides together.
Sew the white strip to the pieced square with a 1/4" seam.
I end up with a larger than 5" square.

11. Using my grid I decide how I want my patchwork to line up and trim off the excess.

12. Now I've got two 5" squares. 

13. I place them right sides together and sew 1/4" seam around all sides, making sure to leave  a 2" opening on one side (for turning the inside out). 
Clip the corners.
Turn the inside out.

14. Gently push out the corners with a pointed tool. 
Turn under the salvage of the 2" opening  and press.

15. Top stitch 1/4" from the edge on all sides.

And that's it.

A pretty mug rug.

Now here's another mug rug that's super fun to make and a good way to use up really small strips of leftover fabric.

Choose whatever scrap strips you like and sew them together with 1/4" seams. Here I'm using 5" long strips in various widths.

Just keep adding and sewing until you have the look and size you want.

Trim as needed. In this case I'm trimming to a 5" square. 

Remember this scrap leftover from the first mug rug tutorial above?

I'm going to use it for the reverse side.

Adding another, larger scrap.

Sew the two pieces right sides together with a 1/4" seam.

Trim to 5" width.

Here are my two completed squares. Follow steps #13-15 above to finish.

Here's the second finished mug rug -- front and back.

So now I've showed you how to easily make two different mug rugs. 
Aren't my dollar store mugs cute?

Have you made mug rugs? 
If not, is this something you might try?
If you make one using my tutorial, I'd love to see it. And please let me know if you have questions.

Hey, if you haven't entered my Christmas Giveaway, there's still time.  Here's what you can win.

To enter go here.