Friday, March 31, 2017

Short Break

Hi Everyone,

I'll be taking a short blogging break while we prepare for and participate in the Spring Fling Bazaar on April 8.

If you're in the area, I hope you'll stop by and see us. Dennis will be selling his paintings and prints, and I'll be selling my rug and mixed media collages.

I'll be back here at the blog the week of April 9. Hopefully, with some photos of the bazaar and a story or two to tell.



Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Cottage Life - This 'n That

It's a busy time at the cottage right now, but I wanted to take the time to thank all of you for your very kind comments on my Weave Your Own Life post. I guess the subject resonated with you.

Also, thanks for your encouragement on the Spring Fling Bazaar. It's coming up fast -- Saturday, April 8th. Just a little over a week away. Whew! I'm busily crafting collages and checking my Bazaar To-Do list. (I have to make lists to make sure I don't miss anything? Are you a list maker, too?)

Yesterday while Dennis met with Les, our insurance man, I chatted with Ava, his wife. We share common interests and she asked me what I've been up to. I pulled out my iphone and showed her my latest collages. She fell in love with this one.

And I made a sale. Right there on the spot. She said they are the exact colors of her sewing room. I'm glad this one when to Ava. She's a sweetheart. 

So now I'm working on another collage to replace this one for the Bazaar. Replacement only in number, not in style. Each collage is unique -- no two are ever alike. And that's what makes them so fun.

While we were in Enterprise I noticed the courthouse lawn had just been mowed. Seeing and smelling the freshly mowed green grass made me giddy, so you know I had to take some photographs to share with you.

Isn't it beautiful? This says spring to me, for sure. Some day I'll take photographs of the courthouse itself to share with you. It's really a grand structure.

I made a stop at the thrift store before we headed home and found this sweet little bunny for $1.

I wanted something springy and fun to hold my business cards at the Bazaar,

Isn't she cute? A little flower would be pretty in that basket, too, and I may just replace my business cards with a potted pansy or some other flower after the Bazaar. Maybe put it on my front porch table.

Well, I'm off to have coffee with a friend before the day gets totally crazy. 

You gotta have some fun along the way. Never take life too seriously, I always say.

"A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." Proverbs 17:22 ESV

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Living Large In Small Spaces - Baix Empordà, Spain Stone Cottage

A fabulous stone cottage in Baix Empordà, Spain is this week's Living Large In Small Spaces featured home.

Welcome to the ninety-eighth post in the series
"Living Large in Small Spaces".

Nothing brings me more pleasure than to discover small homes from other parts of the world to share with you here at A Joyful Cottage.  From last week's wee cottage -- a new build in Scotland -- we travel to Baix Empordà, Spain for a look at a stone cottage literally raised up from the ruins of an old barn by architect Lluís Auquer.

Stone walls and plenty of wood (including the beams original to the barn) create a rustic backdrop for the eclectic furnishings. The addition of skylights, windows, and doors that allow a relationship with the outdoors, bring natural light and cheerful living to this space.

One great room serves as living, dining and kitchen. The custom dining table, which doubles as an island, was sized for the space. Floor pavers are traditional tuff made in La Bisbal.

The countertop -- made from a pile of recovered antique marble-- was designed to complement the restored marble sink.

The bathroom is so charming. I wouldn't change a thing.

The arch is original to the barn. Sliding doors divide the space for a second bedroom.

Glycine, a deciduous plant, creates shady outdoor living on this pretty porch. 

How could you resist this spot?

After our lunch settles, let's head for the pool.

Whatever activity one chooses, living in this cottage would be lovely.

Enchanting, wouldn't you agree?

Read more about the stone cottage on El Mueble here
Architect: Auquer i Prats.

Join me next Saturday for another post 
in the special series

Living Large in Small Spaces

See more home tours in the 
Living Large In Small Spaces Series here.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Cottage Life - Weave Your Own Life

"We sleep, but the loom of life never stops, 
and the pattern which was weaving 
when the sun went down 
is still weaving when it comes up in the morning."  
-- Henry Ward Beecher

Last night I added fringe to my latest twined rug, so now I can pronounce it finished.

I'll be selling the rug at the Spring Fling Bazaar April 8, which I am organizing. And which, by the way, is coming together nicely. We have 20 participants lined up. I've distributed the flyer I created and did a phone interview with our local radio station that will air the week of the Fling. 

Besides the rug, I'll be selling my fabric/mixed media collages. This is one I completed on Monday.

I experimented with adding hand embroidery to my design.

The butterfly is just one image from The Graphics Fairy Vintage Spring Printables she has available for download. I printed it onto a Lutradur mixed media sheet. In person it has a faded look reminiscent of an old stamp. 

I was happy to find the butterfly, as it works so well with the florals and the bit of sheet music I used in the collage.

My collages aren't refined. Certainly not polished. I like to think of each one as a homey collection of odd little things -- sweet bits of frayed memories -- that tell a story and, hopefully, evoke an emotional response.

Most of you know I'm married to an artist. His art is refined. He's received awards, has showed his art in galleries, been interviewed by periodicals. It would be so easy to feel intimidated by his work, to feel what I do is so. . .amateurish. My rugs, my collages, these pieces are in a completely different realm. But here's how I see it:

It's not a competition.

I applaud his talent. I'm thrilled that God has gifted him with the ability to put brush to canvas and create a painting that brings joy to those who see it. 

Silver Plume Antique Shop Watercolor by Dennis Reinke

And I'm blessed to have many of his paintings in our cottage.

Spring Mantel at A Joyful Cottage

This week Rue at An Old Fashioned World wrote an excellent post about being yourself on your blog. Just be who you are. Be real. Good advice. 

I stopped comparing my blog to all the mega popular blogs a long time ago. I even broke the cardinal rule of blogging. . .

"Do not take a blogging break or you'll lose your followers."

You mean all 10 of them? 

Ok, I'm kidding about only having 10 readers. I think it's currently up to 11.

Seriously, though, if I need a break I'm going to take one. Believe me, it's better for everyone involved. Especially my sweet husband. 

It took me awhile to figure out this whole blogging thing, but I feel like I've nailed it. I don't say that pridefully. I say that gratefully. And I'm not talking about building my blog's readership, improving SEO, Analytics, yada-yada-yada. Heck, I don't even know what most of that stuff is. I just write about what I love -- cottages and cottage gardens. Small spaces that live large. And I hope that once in awhile I'll actually encourage someone by writing about these things.

And maybe it's working. Because every so often I get an email that makes my day, like the one I received a week ago from a reader whose husband is retiring, and now they're in the process of downsizing:

     I don't have a blog but really enjoy reading yours. . .

     I am struggling with moving from a 3 bedroom ranch to a 2 bedroom apartment. I have been de-cluttering (amazing how much stuff one collects over the years) and reading about your small spaces has been really helpful. . .

Just wanted to say thanks for the inspirations!

See, this is one of the reasons -- perhaps even the #1 reason -- I blog. To encourage others. To inspire them to weave their own life the way they dream it could be. 

I'm doing it. 

Little by little I'm doing it. And so can you. 

Let's do it together, shall we? 

I'm cheering you on!


Saturday, March 18, 2017

Living Large In Small Spaces - Wee Scottish Cottage

Located in the Village of Drongan in East Ayrshire, Scotland, this week's featured cottage may be wee, but it's big on comfort and style.

Welcome to the ninety-seventh post in the series
"Living Large in Small Spaces".

This home is owned by Jennifer Higgins, and was the prototype for the The Wee House Company, a family business established by Jennifer and her father Ian Hope. The company educates and involves young people in the building of their homes through hands-on training, alongside their own experienced craftsmen.

Built in 2013, the exterior of the 430 sq ft timber frame cottage is painted a beautiful deep dark blue with crisp white trim. Flower boxes welcome visitors to the front entrance. 

A charming mudroom, that includes a lift-up lid bench and a shelf with hooks for hanging outdoor wear, leads to the interior.

The living room is painted a creamy white. Corner shelves provide storage, as well as a place to display favorite objects; a good way to conserve floor space.

Natural light floods into the room through the french doors and large window. 

Neutral upholstery, window coverings and the painted floor keep the room bright and airy.

I like the way Jennifer introduced color via the rug, cushions and artwork. Easy, inexpensive color changes can be made to the room at any time.

Tongue and groove paneling used throughout the home adds so much character. The kitchen walls were painted Blue Ribbon from the Dulux Heritage collection by Dulux Trade, a UK company.

The white kitchen cabinetry makes a nice contrast with the blue. Leaving the wall above the sink open makes the room seem more spacious.

I've always liked dining near a window. This little vignette is very inviting.

Between the living room and bathroom a sizable closet keeps necessary household items organized.

For a home this size, I have to say the bathroom is a nice surprise -- spacious and nicely appointed.

The blue and white theme continues into the bedroom with the use of Swedish White and Oxford Blue from the Dulux Heritage collection. Quite striking. The wardrobe units on either side of the bed were custom designed by Jennifer and made by her carpenter. A very clever and attractive solution for a small space.

This is a very relaxed room. Streamlined, but not sparse.

French doors provide lovely views of the countryside.

The french doors in the living room open to a delightful terrace. 

Located on land at the end of her parents’ garden, Jennifer has created a warm and welcoming wee cottage.

Read more about the cottage on Houzz here.
View the floor plan on The Wee House Company website here.

Join me next Saturday for another post 
in the special series

Living Large in Small Spaces

See more home tours in the 
Living Large In Small Spaces Series here.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Cottage Life - Signs of Spring

The crocuses in my garden testify that our long, bitterly cold winter is nearing its end. I hesitate to say it's over, for just as Mark Twain said, "In the Spring I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours."

“And the Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth's dark breast
Rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.” 
― Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Complete Poems

“Spring shows what God can do with a drab and dirty world.” 
― Victor Kraft

My latest rug is finished and waiting removal from the loom. It reminds me of a spring garden.

“Despite the forecast, live like it's spring.” 
― Lilly Pulitzer

Thank you to Kris of Junk Chic Cottage for hosting the Hello Spring Giveaway. The tote I won expresses perfectly my sentiments this morning (even if it's not yet officially spring).