Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Castles, Crowns and Cottages

I can't recall how or when I first discovered Anita Pelayo Rivera's blog Castles, Crowns and Cottages. Only that I've been following her now for several years -- perhaps more than that -- and have been immeasurably blessed by her person and her incredible talent that spans so many areas. She is a French teacher by profession, a harpist, a dancer, a poet and a photographer. This is the short list. There are so many more gifts that this beautiful soul possesses. 

anita pelayo rivera les dames d'abord

Anita posts frequently on Instragram at les_dames_dabord, however there are times when she graces the world with a blog post, and it's in those special moments where she combines her stunning photography with her poetry, and often a musical piece, that my heart rejoices. In a harsh and crude world where serenity and pure romance are in short supply, Anita gives us a lovely sanctuary that renews our weary spirits. I am grateful that Anita is in the world, and that I have the honor of calling this amazing woman my friend.

I hope you'll visit her gorgeous blog. You will not be disappointed. Here's the link. And here's the link to her Instagram page, too.



Sunday, July 14, 2019

Buy a Chair, Get a Job

If you've been following this latest chapter in our Texas journey, you know that I'm in the process of furnishing our new-to-us apartment. 

The first thing on my must-have list was  a dining table, which I blogged about here.

Next on the list was living room furniture. I had a vague idea of what I wanted. It needed to be comfortable, have a vintage look, fit my love of cottage style, and have a reasonable price tag. I looked at several local furniture stores, with no luck. Then I remembered I had seen a chair I liked at Pier 1 in Kerrville about six months ago. I thought I might find it, or something like it, at our local Pier 1. 

Dennis and I went to Pier 1 and within a few minutes of walking in the door I found the chair I wanted. On sale, with an additional special markdown for that particular store. Well, okay, then!

I love the details on this chair. Overstuffed and tufted, with nailhead trim and turned legs. It's described as blue-striped on the seat and arms, however the blue is more of a seafoam green. The back and seamed side panels are a gray blue.

Never mind the blue painter's tape on the floor. That's where the matching ottoman will go. (More about that later.) Dennis and I have measured out and taped the furniture placement in the living room to make sure everything fits.

Now here's where things get really interesting. While the sales associate was taking care of everything, I chatted with the assistant manager. One thing led to another and I asked her if they ever hire. She said they actually were in the process of hiring, and she suggested I go online and fill-out an application. I did, they interviewed me and I got the job. So for the past month I've been working part-time, and that's kept me pretty busy and slow to post here at A Joyful Cottage. 

One of the perks of working for Pier 1 is that I get a nice employee discount, which is really helping with the expense of furnishing our home. I ordered the matching ottoman and loveseat, and they should arrive this week. I also ordered a gray velvet wing chair for Dennis, which I think will be a nice addition to the pinstriped pieces. 

I've been working on the bedroom, too, and hope to soon be far enough along to show it to you. 

I'm really enjoying my new job. I mean, really, working in a home decor shop is a dream come true for me. Helping other people choose items for their home doesn't even feel like work. 

"And my God will supply every need of yours
 according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus." 
Philippians 4:19



Thursday, July 4, 2019

Bathroom Storage Reveal

Welcome Cottage Friends,

We've been in our new to us home for just over a month now and every day I thank God for bringing us here. Although it's a rental, I feel like it's home. I am content.

Thanks so much to all of you who left sweet, encouraging comments on my last two posts. I'm so blessed to have you in my life. You are my friends -- many of you have been with me even before I began blogging at A Joyful Cottage, way back in the days when I had my first blog Joyful Altitude. I still marvel at the fact that you've stuck with me through all the changes in my life. God bless you all.

Okay, at the end of my last post I promised to share with you Project #2 at A Joyful Cottage -- the makeover of this piece.


First, a little background. 

We have a very nice bathroom with double sinks and mirrors, two drawers in the vanity, and a large medicine cabinet over the commode. 

Realtor Photo

I've never had a bathroom with two sinks and wondered how we would utilize them. As I started to organize our bathroom I began to see the wisdom in this set-up. If I gave Dennis the medicine cabinet for his stuff (and believe me he has a lot of stuff), he could use the sink on the right side and have good access to everything he needed (plus, he's tall and the cabinet is mounted a bit high for my 5'5" frame). That left two drawers that I could use for my things. Hmmm, but I wanted to use the other sink on the left, and the drawers would not be handy.

But wait!

There's that open space under the vanity to the left of my sink. . .

It was meant to be used for a vanity stool, however it's in an awkward space right next to the bathroom door and, besides, although I think true vanity tables are terribly romantic, this set up doesn't match that vision. 

But what if I converted this space into usable storage? Could I find a little chest of drawers, or something else, to fit in that small space? There are space restrictions because of the way the bathroom was remodeled to accommodate the undermount sinks (which I love, by the way). So, I needed something no bigger than 20"Wx28"H. The depth was not a problem.

Was it possible I could bag something that would fit? I love a challenge, I'm patient, and I have an active imagination. The game was afoot!

One day while browsing through a resale shop in town I spied the black shelf unit in the corner of a dealer's booth. I got out my measuring tape and was delighted to find it was 

19.5"Wx28"H. It was being used as a display piece for milk glass. No price. I spoke to the woman in charge and she called the dealer and asked if she would sell it. "Yes, for $20," well within my $40 budget. So, I paid the nice lady and Dennis loaded the shelf into our car. All the way home  I imagined it painted white with baskets to hold my toiletries and other personal items. Similar to this. . .


I already had paint left-over from the dining table project, so no money spent there. The baskets took more time to find than the shelf unit did. They had too look good, be big enough to hold my stuff yet small enough to fit on the petite shelves, and to stay under budget they needed a price tag of no more than $10 each. I first found some light gray baskets at Lowes at my price point that I thought would work, but when I added them to the shelf I thought "Nah". They just didn't do it.

Then I found two white Broyhill baskets at TJ Maxx for $12.99 each and I knew they would be perfect. Since I didn't have to buy paint and the baskets were so right for my vision, I was happy to go over my budget by a few dollars.

And here is my bath storage reveal. 


I'm so happy with the way my bathroom storage unit turned out. It looks good, holds everything I need, and at $46 total it was way less expensive than any ready made piece I found. There's a space between the right side of the shelves and the cabinet that I'd like to fill with something. I'm still mulling over ideas.

Oh, and on a side note, there's a large empty space in the back of the storage unit that I'm using to store travel totes. If I need to get to them I can just take out the bottom basket, reach in and pull out the totes. (As nature abhors a vacuum, so does this space-maximizing girl.)

Are you wondering how I'm using the two remaining drawers in the bathroom? Well, it just so happens the bottom drawer perfectly holds 12 rolls of our favorite toilet tissue, and the drawer above it is available for overflow items that we both use. 

I just love it when an ideas takes wings and flies.

Happy Independence Day to all my American friends.

Joyful hugs,


Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Dining Table and Chairs - Check!

Hi Cottage Friends,

Thanks for joining me today. 

There's no end to the many decor projects I have on my list in this, our latest home. When we left Oregon for Texas we sold everything except some clothing, Dennis's artwork and supplies, and personal things individual to each of us. It was a great decluttering project, however now comes the challenge of creating a comfortable, welcoming cottage on a budget. (So many ideas. . .so little money.) 

As I mentioned in my last post, we brought a few things from the apartment we had rented the past year, including these two Duxbury dining arm chairs we discovered in a resale shop. Great lines and very comfortable. They had just been painted white before we bought them.

We used them with a table that we didn't really like all that much, so when we began preparations to move we gave the table away, figuring we'd find another table to replace it. One that we'd like much better. 

And so the hunt was on for a 48" round table, which I felt would work perfectly in our small dining area. Of course it had to be cottage style, and reasonably priced (translation: "pretty cheap"). There are plenty of resale, vintage and antique stores around us, so I was pretty sure we'd find something in a short amount of time. Turns out my hunch was correct.

In the back of an antique/vintage/used furniture store we found a rather odd dining set. The four chairs were way too big for the table, and everything was painted a dull brownish, tannish color that did nothing for the set. The table held promise though, so we talked to the person on duty and asked him to find out if we could buy just the table. He called us later that day and said the woman who was selling the set said she'd sell us the table for $75. We said "okay" and the deal was done. We were able to take the table apart and fit it into our Subaru Forrester, which saved us a delivery charge. So far, so good.

After we got the table home I set to work on a makeover. 

Of course you know I was already into the project before I remembered to take a before photo. I did manage to get these two before I went too far.

See what I mean about the colors? These photos are not touched up. The top really did look exactly like that before I started sanding. 

I think the woman who did this was going for a contrast look with an attempt to antique the tannish top with the darker brownish paint used on the base to somehow tie it in. Or maybe not. I really have no idea what she was thinking.

I had sanded about a quarter of the table top with my palm sander before I discovered that the top is laminate with a wood trim. Huh? No!

Ugh. Double ugh. 

Everything was solid wood except for the top. My plan to stain the top dark walnut (and paint the base white) was now shattered. 

Note: This is the risk every DIY'er takes when making a bargain purchase, and it's a lesson learned. Always ask what's under the paint. "Is that laminate, or is it wood?" Because, honestly you can't always tell. In this case the underside of the top was wood and so I made an assumption (and you know what they say about the word "assume") it was all wood.

Fortunately, I'm not easily deterred. 

Enter Plan B. . .I'll just paint the whole table white. 

It took some effort to get the top smoothed out (cuz, no, I was not going to sand all those layers of paint to get down to the bare laminate), but eventually I finished the top, and sanded the base enough to smooth it out (because, really, the paint job was horrible). Also, fortunately, my preferred paint type is chalk paint and laminate receives chalk paint very well. 

So, yes, my bargain purchase turned out to be a real pain in the neck. But! It was worth it. Because look how it turned out.

Isn't it pretty? And, honestly, I'm glad I was forced to paint the top white instead of staining it. The all white looks so good with the gray walls.

Normally, I like to do a bit of distressing on my painted pieces, but this time I decided to forego it and let the table distress naturally with use. The chairs are already showing some wear around the edges of the arm and seat, and I like the way they look. 

So the dining room is coming along. It just needs some accessories. 

With Project #1 out of the way I was on to #2. Next time we meet I'll share my makeover of this piece. (Hint: baskets are involved.)

Joyful hugs,


Sunday, June 9, 2019

A Place to Call Home

Three weeks ago I imagined a much different home than the one we're in today. I thought I would be blogging about a little cottage we were planning to close on May 30. 

The Little Cottage that Wasn't

But that didn't materialize. The appraisal came in $32,000 under the contract price, and after much consideration Dennis and I decided to pull out of the deal. That left us with ten days to find a place to live, as we had to be out of our apartment by the end of the month.

Immediately we set to work to find another place to lease. Whether it would be a temporary or long term resolution to our housing need didn't seem to matter. We just knew we had to do something. And so we sought God's wisdom and set our feet in motion. I won't go into all the details of this move, only to say that God provided a home for us that fits our needs nicely, and we were able to move in June 1, right on schedule. 

Here are the realtor photos of our new nest: a two bedroom, one bath duplex with an attached two-car garage.

The home was upgraded two years ago. It's on a quiet cul-de-sac just outside the city (four hours from our previous residence).

The walls look dark in some of these photos, but they're really a light gray throughout the home. All the woodwork has been painted white. The tile is white, too. Living room and hallway are planked laminate, which I'm finding is really easy to care for.

Overall, I'm happy with the decor. I wouldn't have chosen the lighting the landlord chose, but that doesn't keep me from liking everything else, and honestly I don't spend my time fixated on the lights (or the popcorn ceiling, 'nuf said). There's so much more I do like, such as the kitchen.

Though the ceiling fans aren't stylish, I'm grateful they're there. I have discovered in a warm climate it's essential to have them.

I love this bathroom. The kitchen and bathroom were huge "selling" points for me.

Behind these double doors is the laundry center. We've already ordered a new washer and dryer, and they'll be delivered on Tuesday. After a year of lugging laundry baskets up and down a flight of stairs every week and traveling to and from a laundromat, I'm thrilled and thankful to once again have laundry appliances in our home. 

We'll be using the master bedroom as an office/study for Dennis, as it's right off a tiled room that will be his studio.

The studio has access to the garage, and to the side yard, which is private.

We have a bed, a few chairs, a small table, a floor lamp, and Dennis's office furniture. It didn't take me long to set up the kitchen because, frankly, I didn't have much to unpack. We sold everything when we left Oregon and I bought just a few things to get us by for the past year. It's pretty amazing how much one can do without. I really don't need all those gadgets to cook a good meal. (Someday I may write a post about that.) We've already begun the hunt for new furnishings, and have found some real bargains. 

So, although things haven't worked out the way we had planned, and my joyful cottage is now a duplex, God is still on His throne, He still loves us, and I have to believe that everything we've been through is for our good and for His glory. 

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding, 
in all your ways submit to Him,
    and He will make your paths straight."
Proverbs 3:5-6

Joyful hugs,


Sunday, May 19, 2019

1940's Sunday House

Those of you who have followed my blog for awhile may remember my Living Large in Small Spaces series. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you can click on the 
LLISSS tab above for the whole story.

A little over a year ago we sold our little cottage in Oregon, and since then we've been living in an apartment while I've dreamed of owning another joyful cottage. 

Sometimes I'd sit in my chair with my laptop and search for hours on to see what might be available, even before we were ready to make a purchase.

Anyway, last December on one of my virtual home tours I came across what I think is an adorable "Sunday House" in Texas. It sold right away -- I mean within 48 hours it was gone (which is pretty typical in this hot -- no pun intended -- Texas real estate market ) -- but I always had in mind that one day I would share it with you. Today's the day, so here we go.

This 806 sq ft cottage appeared on the market in December, and the landscaping reflects the season. Not much to look at in the winter.

Step inside, though, and you'll see what drew me to this sweet place. 

Look at all the windows. Natural light everywhere.

I love the ceilings and the rustic beams. The hardwood floors are original to the home.

I wish there were more photos of the kitchen.

Personally, I would have done something different with the refrigerator and range, as I don't like them next to each other without a space in between, but that's me. Maybe that doesn't bother everyone. The kitchen floor is hand stenciled.

The master bedroom is pretty big for such a small home, and appears to have a nice closet.

I'm speculating, of course, but I think this cottage may have been a vacation rental before it was sold.

Whatever the case, I think the cottage is charming. 

It has a little deck and shed in back.

A very rustic privacy fence, and fire pit for relaxiing.

If this place were mine I'd plant a bunch of trees and add plenty of flowers.

There's always room for improvement, right?

If you're interested in learning about the history of the Sunday House (or Haus in German), click here.

Hope you enjoyed the tour. Have a great week!



Sunday, May 12, 2019

Our Texas Journey - Year One

"How did it get so late so soon? 
Its night before its afternoon. 
December is here before its June. 
My goodness how the time has flewn. 
How did it get so late so soon?"
-- Dr. Seuss 

Hunt, TX

When we arrived here in Texas 13 months ago I had all sorts of plans to blog about our adventure. Somehow, that didn't happen. Time slipped through my fingers and the plans I had for more writing never materialized. 

How did it get so late so soon?

After a year in Texas I can say this:
I like Texas just fine, thank you very much. 
I like Texans and their accents. 
I like Texans' friendliness, warmth and hospitality. 
I like how easy it is to make friends with Texans. 
I like the Texas climate and the culture and the food (from BBQ to German to Tex-Mex and everything in between). 
I like the Texas ranches and the history and the patriotism and the love of God and family. 
I like the fact that "Texas has no rules" as my son said when I sent him this photo.

Wow! There are no rules in Texas.

 That's right. No rules.

July 4th, 2018 Parade - Comfort, TX

I like the wildflowers in Texas. No, I LOVE the wildflowers in Texas. One of the first wildflowers to show up in spring, Bluebonnets are a big deal here, they're the official state flower, and they bloom a long time.

A nearby field awash in purple in late March.

Still visible the end of April

Soon after the Bluebonnets make their appearance a plethora of other wildflowers join them -- all along the highways and byways. Unfortunately, I can't tell you their names. Maybe I'll come to know them in time.

Not knowing the names of the wildflowers doesn't make them any less glorious.

Even the cactus join the performance.

It's as if they just can't help themselves. They simply have to bloom.

Every flower reminds me of its Creator. I have no doubt of God's existence when I see nature.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of His hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
Psalm 19:1-4

For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, 
so that men are without excuse.
Romans 1:20

I thank God that I have eyes to see the beauty of His creation.

I also thank Him for His answer to our prayers. We are in contract on a home, and if everything goes as we hope it will this cute little house will be ours on May 30.

I can hardly wait to share this next chapter in our journey with you (God willing). Thanks for stopping by (and for all your sweet comments and emails).