Friday, February 12, 2010

Snow Days & Cottage Fever

I can't believe it! It's my third snow day this week! I think my students are going to forget me if we don't get back to school soon. And, Monday is "President's Day." That means, no school until Tuesday! Crazy.

Anyhoo, we have had fun. My youngest daughter enjoyed building a Snow Dude. However, he collapsed under the pressure of the later snow that engulfed him. Poor Snow Dude, he never had a chance.

My car was lost in the "blizzard," along with Bogie the Dancing Wonder Dog! This pic of my car was taken AFTER having already cleaned it off once before a few hours earlier!

I can't complain. Even though it can be stressful knowing that you're falling behind on work matters, building snowmen, enjoying hot cocoa, watching it snow sheets outside, and just being warm and toasty at home with the family makes it all worth it. These days are few and far between. They are meant to be enjoyed.

Hope you are warm and toasty with your loved ones!

xoxo CJ

Shoe Mood:

Did you think I had much of a choice?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Thankful Heart

Every Thanksgiving, I revisit those things that I'm most grateful for... family, friends, wonderful employment, a place to live and call home, etc. Most years, my children were at the forefront of my heart and mind on Thanksgiving, as I was not supposed to have any. But, by the Grace of God, we were truly blessed to have two beautiful daughters, one through adoption and one through a miracle taking place in my body. We find so much joy in parenthood. For all of the tests, trials, and stretching of one's self that occurs when one becomes a parent, my hubby and I have found that we are better individuals because of the gift of our wonderful children.

This year, I had another thing to be very thankful for. In June, we were fortunate enough to detect that I had uterine cancer at the early stage of 1. After having surgery in July, I have the blessed assurance that I'll not have to deal with a cancer threat in the future. For that, my family and myself are truly thankful.

I hope that you and your family had a blessed Thanksgiving. Even in the darkest times, we can certainly think of something that we can be thankful and grateful for. Sometimes, when things seem difficult, or we're walking through a challenging situation, taking time to list those things that bring us joy can change our outlook on our current circumstances.

I've had my challenges myself. We all do. And, looking back over the past few years, I've found that during times of challenge or difficulty, I've let go of those various activities that have brought me sweet relief. I've decided that I, as a woman, cannot afford to do that. We, as women, are nurturers, creators, tactile individuals, who need to be functioning in a creative spirit. Since I've re-tapped into my creative side (whether it be decorating, baking, embroidering, etc), I'm finding that the stresses of my life are diminishing as I afford myself an artistic and inspired outlet.

Currently, I'm enjoying getting my new home organized and decorated. And, now that it's the Christmas Season, it makes it all the more exciting for me.

These are my most requested holiday treats that I make for my family. My pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. (Yes, I will send some to my Dad and brother, tucked in with their Christmas gifts!) These are such yummy drops of goodness! Soft like little pumpkin breads with melted chocolate throughout. OOOOHHHHHH!

I finally got my kitchen in perfect order! There's nothing like waking up in the morning with the sun peeping through the windows draped in batten burg lace, onto the pristine white walls and cranberry red accents. Not only does this yell "Christmas!" But, it reminds me of my Nanny, Gertrude's house, when I was little. Her whole cottage was dressed in red and white.

I had a thought...

My dining chairs were dark green (beautiful, but dark for the space). So, I took two sets of batten burg lace pillowcases that matched my curtains, and I slipped them over the chair backs. They make quaint slipcovers. Instant style!

A dear friend blessed me with this wooden swan for my birthday one year. I absolutely love "her." She sits out all year long, and I decorate her according to the seasons. For Christmas, I place a berry and pine cone wreath about her lovely neck.

These are a few of my hand-painted votive holders. I use to paint glass items fairly often. Even paid for Christmas one year by selling my painted votive holders, wine glasses, and mason jars.( I'll post more pics of my stuff later. If your interested in having me paint something for you, just shoot me an email, and I'd be happy to!)

It's a tradition in our home (if we are at home in Pennsylvania during Thanksgiving and not at "home" visiting the family in Florida) to decorate for Christmas on Thanksgiving night after we've eaten and made our rounds visiting friends. Bogie (the dancing wonder-dog) loves to have the tree go up. It affords him a peaceful place of
respite to lounge and nap.

(Personally, I think he's having sweet doggy-treat dreams.)

I hope that you are enjoying the beginning of the Christmas Season. Remember to breathe and to take things one at a time. It's a shame that such a lovely and delightful time of year can bring such stress and harried-ness if we allow it. Try not to. Keep a sense of remembrance of what this season means. Joy, peace, love, and much Grace.

Live the beautiful life!


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Creative Juices Taste the Sweetest

Well, I just got back from taking my 11yr-old to her mixed martial arts class, and found myself chomping at the bit to post something new. It's a great feeling, actually. I haven't wanted to sit down at the computer for some time now, as I would inevitably end up with a deep sense of guilt or regret for not posting as often as I thought that I should.

Truth is, I was burned out. I needed a refreshing. As many of you know, I've kept a writer's blog for a few years now. I love it. However, it holds great conviction for me. It, at times, becomes a slave-driver to my soul. I'm reminded how short I fall with regard to my writing goals and daily word counts and such. I needed a reprieve... a sweet-spot of self-forgiveness. I needed a stress-free blogging experience.

Now, if you're not a writer with a writer's blog, you most likely will not "get" it, and think I'm crazy. But, if you are one, you know exactly what I mean. Especially with the year I've had. (If you are new to my blogs, you can get the scoop at I fell away from my tactile creativeness and was only creating words. I needed to create "home," once again. I needed to return to me.

This is when I decided, with much inner-debate, that I needed a blog where I could pour out my creative juices in other ways than just dialogue. That's when "The Cottage Dweller" was born. And, I want to thank you for coming along with me.

I'm so excited to share what I do with my hands as well as my mind. Embroidery, painting, drawing, cooking, baking, decorating, crafting... all the things that I love to do that bring me such joy. All the things that I allowed the business of life to pull me away from for quite a while.

Who knows? I may actually finish that tablecloth that I have been working on for eight years... or, maybe not.

Live the beautiful life!


I did manage to finish Boo-Bear's pillow cases. She was so happy.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Place to Be Yourself

I don't know about you, but the last place where I want to feel stiff and uncomfortable is in my own home. I need a kick your shoes off kinda place, to be able to shrug off the funk from the day and just breathe. Simplicity over grandeur. Comfort over stateliness.

We all have stresses of one type or another. Or maybe several, in fact. Our home should be a blessed respite from those places that pull and tug at our time and energies. A haven, if you will, from the taxing world outside of its doors.

We just recently relocated to a new home. Another cottage, of course. I'm in the process of finding a place for everything. But, I have to tell you that my bedroom was the first to be completed. It's a place for hubby and I to withdraw and unwind from our demanding daily routines.

I love the master bedroom. I have to say that it's my favorite of all our homes. Light and airy, it's simply a breathe of fresh air the moment I walk up the stairs. A true retreat. (And, when the breeze blows through the feather light curtains, it's like heaven.)

And what girl doesn't love a fancy (albeit, incredibly comfortable) large chair?

I also believe that the bedroom should have items of remembrance. Things that make your heart sing. Those things shouldn't be relegated to the living room and kitchen only!

I'm a native Floridian, and visit home once a year. We always make a point to visit the ocean, where our girls and I take lots of time to pick the perfect sea shells to bring back with us. Every now and then, I pick one up and smell the salt that has permeated the shell. Simply delightful. I've put them into this lovely porcelain bowl my mother bought me for my birthday, this year. Thanks, Mom! XOXO

My sweet friend, Maria, gave me this beautiful necklace holder. (It's a little hard to see it, as it is tone on tone with the walls.) I love it! It's so swirly and girlie.

You know, It means something when pulling up to your dwelling invokes an involuntary smile. It means, your home.

Live the beautiful life!


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Welcome to My Cottage

If you know me for any amount of time, you will soon discover that I'm a cottage-girl through and through. I love cottages. I'm not sure why that is. It may stem from my years growing up in Miami, Florida where the majority of the population lived in bungalow type dwellings. You had to make the most of the space you had, but, you didn't really mind it, as you were always close and cozy with the ones you loved.

Or, it could come from my passion for all things Irish, and the fantasy of ocean spray rising near the old thatched roof cottage of an Irish island village home. The emerald green grasses with various brilliant flowers spotted throughout. Can't you just hear the creaking of the old weathered gate with its white chipped and peeling paint?

Then, there's the quintessential Cape Cod style cottage, that has always made my heart pitter-patter (of which I'm blessed to say that I have the pleasure of living in). The feeling of history prevails. A simplified life. A lot of hard work, but beautiful work. Hand-sewing, home-made cooking, and reading by candlelight. We romanticize the cottage. We long for the illusion of simpler times that it brings. We wish that we could jump into a Thomas Kincade painting and revel in the beaty of it all. We long to breathe.

That's why I've started this blog. It's a celebration of cottage-living, and all that the dream entails. I'm a real person with a real job, with real pressures and stress. But, I have to say, living beautifully and simply has saved me. And, just so you know, you don't have to live in a cottage to live the cottage life. I hope you will enjoy my new blog.

Live a beautiful life!


My sweet hubby found this box of embroidered hankies that I thought I had lost a few years back. Most of them were my Grandfather's, and were given to me when he passed on. I quickly took to embroidering delicate flowers and designs on them, so that they would have a touch of femininity to them. I simply adore them. It keeps a part of Pap-Paw with me wherever I go.