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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Following My Path

Proverbs 16:9
A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.
Proverbs 31:
18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.
22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.
I hope that you are getting ready for a wonderful New Year. I pray that you are steadfast in following whatever path our Lord has set your feet on for your life. I have been giving a lot of thought to the idea of my life's path and have been asking the Lord to help me better understand why I do the things that I do-what meaning does it have in His grand design? Now don't get me wrong, my Faith is strong! I have complete Trust that my Lord leads my life; though sometimes I tend to want to fight Him for the reigns a bit ;-} I just have been dealing with coming to terms about: why He lead me to a carreer that has so much to do with things that are material and why I am so driven to do this work from my home? So I turned to my Bible and began to read, I turned to my knees and began to pray.

The 31st Chapter of Proverbs has always held such an attraction for me. I have always admired all that the woman described in those verses accomplished in her lifetime. I love the fact that, despite her clearly being a business woman of the day, her family never suffers because of her efforts. To the contrary, her husband praises her and her children call her blessed. As I read these verses again, a new meaning came to me. I realize that God has given me an appreciation of things beautiful so that I can help other women create a beautiful gathering place for their families. I also came to realize that the Lord has always called me to work from my home using the skills that He has blessed me with and that this is why I was always so restless and unfulfilled anytime that I went to work outside my home and away from my family. I am not saying that this is true for all women, I Praise God every day for those that work away from home who so lovingly serve in hospitals, restaurants, offices, schools and all other realms of work so that they may provide for their families and bless others. But this is the path that the Lord has set before me and I am so very glad that it is a business that I can do from my home. I am able to be there for our aging parents, able to homeschool my precious last little one (ADHD and not best served by the public school system-he was literally wasting away) and I am able to be a better helpmeet to my own dear husband with health problems of his own.

I feel that for the very first time in my life that I am completely at peace with this path. I know that I am not yet earning exactly what I would like to, but that with my continued Faith in God's direction, persistance in letting Him control the reigns and the forsight to set worthy goals with His leading that All Things will be accomplished according to His will. I pray that each of you will have a Blessed New Year and that each of you is following the path that God has for your life. He will never lead you wrong.

Hugs from WV,

Charlotte

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Candle Lady

My life as a Decorator/Designer has been an exciting one. Though I have often not recognized my path or have played down my experiences, I have been VERY Blessed by God with a real appreciation of beauty and order and these are the qualities that direct me in my career. I love to help people with their homes and with finding just the right beautiful look that will delight their friends and their families and make their home a place that everyone wants to gather into for fun and fellowship; a place where wonderful memories are made!
My all time favorite element used to add to ambience of any room are candles!!! I love the way that they glow and add instant warmth to a room and the distinct way that they can make any ordinary day just seem like a special occasion. My personal favorite scent is Hot Apple Pie since it makes my home smell so much like my mom's when she would bake her famous Apple Crisp in the fall and winter months. I bake my own version from time to time, but, since I don't need that many calories added to my diet, the scent of the candle is a nice, no-calorie way to enjoy the sweet tingle of warm-fuzzy memories that this smell brings to my mind.
This week-end I happened on an interesting opportunity: Diamond Creek Candles. I am happy to announce that I am now a consultant for them and am VERY Excited about this venture!!! Their candles are BEAUTIFUL and unique as they are what I like to call Cathedral Chunk style. This means that the candles have lovely colored chunks of wax suspended in a white base. The effect when they are burned is reminiscent of light coming from Cathedral windows---just GORGEOUS! They are soy based, clean burning and have the most WONDERFUL range of fragrances available for you to choose from. You can order them directly online from my page at:
http://www.diamondcreekcandles.com/reps/char503.php
I would love for you to stop by and visit the page and see for yourself just how lovely these adders of instant atmosphere really are. Let me know what you think and don't forget to order a few for those guests that stop by your home for the Christmas visits this year. I will leave you with the words to one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs; one that is quite appropriate for this time in our history and for the subject at hand:

ONE LITTLE CANDLE
(George Mysels / J. Maloy Roach)

It's better to light just one little candle
Than to stumble in the dark
Better far that you light just one little candle
All you need's a tiny spark
If we'd all say a prayer that the world would be free
The wonderful dawn on the new day we'll see
And if everyone lit just one little candle
What a bright world this would be

Let's all light one little candle
Why stumble on in the dark
When the day is dark and dreary
And your way is hard to find
Don't let your heart be weary
Just keep this thought in mind

It is better to light just one little candle
Than to stumble in the dark
Better far to light just one little candle
All you need's a tiny spark
If we'd all say a prayer that the world would be free
The wonderful dawn of the new day we'll see
And if everyone lit just one little candle
What a bright world this would be

Love to all, Stay Cozy,
Charlotte

Monday, November 24, 2008

As Time Goes By....

Yes, I realize it has been MONTHS since I last posted anything. I am sorry for that. We have been caught up in the usual daily ups and downs of family life as well as conducting a little unforseen business ventures.

My dear MIL has been experiencing some balance issues and has had a few falls in the last few months. No bones were broken, but she did end up with a BAD bruise, sprained knee and a shoulder injury. We have been going to her house every other Friday for a while to make sure she is OK and to take dinner, help her with house work and have some family time together. My SIL checks on her during the week and my husband is on the phone with her daily, also. It has been hard on her as she is very independent and loves to go to her church every time the doors are opened, and is not used to slowing down to just be still. She is beginning to feel much stronger now and is looking into some changes for around her home to make daily chores a bit easier. One of those changes is installing a stacked washer/dryer pair upstairs in the spare bedroom closet so that she does not have to go down to the basement to do laundry. This will be such a blessing to her, I know.

Our little one is now involved in a homeschool co-op on the Fridays that we are not at my MIL's. As a homeschool family that also means that we are involved. No drop-off kids here. The parents are part of the group and help with the nursery duties, teaching the classes, clean-up and general
over-seeing of order and helping students with the projects they are working on for the day. The kids have Geography/cooking, Science, Art, lunch time, Music and play time together. They all enjoy seeing each other and learning together. It has been a wonderful blessing to us. I am glad that I now have a group of supportive homeschool moms to talk to as well. I was starting to feel very lonely. These ladies are great and have so many good ideas to share. We are already planning for the Spring classes after the Holidays.

Now for the decorating-business portion of my life. I have been blessed with a number of wonderful opportunities in the past couple of months. I had a friend's daughter recommend me to do a candle fundraiser for her school's FBLA Club. That was fun and the kids did a really wonderful job of selling the candles. They earned a good deal of money for their organization, too. I really enjoy doing fundraisers, it is a good feeling to know that the money goes for good causes. I have also had a home organizing job with a client that called me out of the blue. She is a sweet lady and we have been working very hard to get her home organized so that it is the haven she wants for her family. Life is so much easier and more pleasant when things are well organized. This past week-end, I was invited by a marketing group out of Chicago to demonstrate "How to Set a Holiday Table" at our local Kmart. This was so much FUN!!! All of the items used on the tables were Kmart merchandise and the ideas just kept coming. If you have not been to your local Kmart store lately, you are in for a pleasant surprise. They really have a LOT of cute stuff and the prices are GREAT! The marketing group paid me for my time and I had a really fun time working with them. This was a blessing to me. I have also been helping my wonderful friend set up her new window treatment and fabric shop in a nearby town. We always have such fun working together, and her mastery at creating window treatments and upholstery are AWESOME. I can't wait for her shop to open officially, she has been in business for the last 31 years but just recently decided to start offering budget fabrics from the bolt and to showcase her talents in her own shop. This is going to be exciting and I will keep you posted on how things are progressing for her.

I hope to commit myself to a new blogging schedule that I have come up with so that it will not be so long between posts next time. I have 3 blogs and it has been just as long between my last visit on each of them. For now I will say, "good-bye and have a Blessed Thanksgiving with your family and friends."

Hugs from WV,
Charlotte

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I must be just a bit narcissistic because I love taking those little quizzes online that reveal what type of personallity you have. I am amazed that, no matter what mood I am in when I take them, I always turn out to be some type of "dreamer" or "idealist". Well, mom did get a lot of notes from my teachers about my "daydreaming" in class. C'est la vie, for some of us there is just no hope, I guess they will have to bury me someday with my rose colored glasses firmly on my face. Here are the results from my latest exploration into what makes me "tick":


You Are a Dreaming Soul
Your vivid emotions and imagination takes you away from this world so much so that you tend to live in your head most of the time. You have great dreams and ambitions that could be the envy of all...But for you, following through with your dreams is a bit difficult. You are charming, endearing, and people tend to love you. Forgiving and tolerant, you see the world through rose colored glasses. Underneath it all, you have a ton of passion that you hide from others. Always hopeful, you tend to expect positive outcomes in your life.

If you would like to take the quiz for yourself, the link is:

http://www.blogthings.com/whatkindofsoulareyouquiz/

Hope you are having a Cozy day,
Charlotte

Sunday, July 27, 2008

What's In/Out

Happy greetings, cottage buddies!!! I hope you are all having a great day and soaking up all the summer sun you can in those lovely cottage gardens. I have just a small "patch" in front of my little home and the "August Lilys" (an old fashioned name for Hostas) have finished blooming their pretty purple blooms and the tall stalks need to be cut back. Good activity for a Sunday afternoon, huh?

In my spare time (whatever that is==LOL) I love to read magazines and articles by others interested in design and decorating. I often come on articles with lists of what is "In" and what is "Out" in popular culture in reguards to materials and furnishings used in homes. I tend to chuckle a little at these lists as they always seem to guide the reader into thinking that they need to drop everything, shovel out the contents of their homes this very minute and rush down to the local home supply and furniture store so that they wont be outdone by their more contemporary, hip and happenin' neighbors. (Yes, child of the 60s that I am, I said. "Hip and Happenin'-sorry-heehee). I always have to wonder if anyone that read the list has done just that, hmmm. It really rubs my fur the wrong way when I find "the list" in well established interior design magazines as these should, above all others, hold to the time honored philosophy that design is more than just what is "popular" at the time. Here's what I mean; GOOD design is timeless, it is the combining of elements in a seemless flow. The very heart of good design is defined as the client works with the designer to create a space that is not only pleasing to the eye, but works well for the client after the designer has finished and gone on to the next project.
The design should encompass the classic principles of scale, harmony, rythm, balance and unity as well as the elements of line, color, shape and form. The materials selected should be those that add to the balance and are pleasing to the client and conductive to their intent of the way the room or rooms will be used at any given time.

You can see, then why it bothered me a great deal to see hardwood flooring mentioned in the "Out" column on one of these lists this week. WHAT were they thinking, timeless, beautiful, durable, re-cycleable, renewable, linear, wonderful hardwood flooring. I couldn't imagine a cottage without it!!! I think you all know me well enough by now to know how I feel about the cold, all concrete and steel world of post modernism--leave that stuff for prison design. Give me a home that is warm and welcoming with plenty of warm wood tones and natural materials around me (as well as my well-placed tchachkis and trinkets and books). Hardwood flooring-"Out"--INDEED!!! (Harumph). Oh well, to each his own...I think I will go tend to that garden patch now and then have some tea on the porch swing. After my rant I am pretty well spent.

Enjoy your Sunday,
Charlotte

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Teas for Summer Sippin'

Hello to all and I hope that everyone had a WONDERFUL 4th of July Celebration! I have been having a calm, quiet Saturday morning and enjoying one of my favorite "guilty pleasures"--a good cup of tea! I wanted to share some of my favorites with you:

Bigelow and Celestial Seasonings lead the pack in my book by way of variety, availability and price. Here are a few suggestions for warm weather sippin'.

Lemon: Need I say more? This classic summertime favorite is perfect with little cucumber sandwiches--quite refreshing!
Camomile: The light, honey-like flavor of this floral based tea is just the ticket to sooth an upset tummy or sooth jangled nerves--aahhh.
Blackberry: mmm, remember picking blackberries in the summer? This tea always takes me back to my childhood and stories of Peter Rabbit. If you decide to share a cup of this wonderful tea with a little one you might want to read the classic Beatrix Potter story with them as well. Treat yourself to a little Bunny Carrot Salad (recipe below) to round out the experience.

Bunny Carrot Salad

1- 8 oz pkg Cream Cheese (well chilled)
Parsley Sprigs (1 per salad for looks)
Finely shredded carrots on a plate
Lettuce or spinach leaves

Shred the carrots as fine as possible with either a grater or food processor. Place them on a plate for later. Cut the cream cheese into four equal portions (2 oz each)
and shape into "carrots". You may want to wear plastic gloves for this step. When you have finished shaping the cheese, roll each one in the shredded carrots. Place a parsley sprig in the end of each to complete the "carrot". Serve on a bed of lettuce or spinach leaves. This is as much fun to make as it is to eat--especially for children; of all ages.

For now, Stay Cozy,

Charlotte




Friday, June 27, 2008

Just My Place to Chat

I wanted take a minute this morning to post a note and say "hello" to all those that take a minute to stop by my little corner of the blog world to see what I am up to. As I was tooling through my posts, low and behold, I came upon some new comments. I can tell you, I LOVE comments!!! That is friendly, heartfelt comments from other bloggers. I was quite disturbed, however to learn that one of my commenters was using my little chatty, friendly blog to advertise a paid informational blog. The blog owner did not have a list of "friends" blogs, the content was all "canned" articles and no where on the site was anything about the owner's profile. Although the content was all about interior design, it was all from the very technical spectrum. Dear readers, I made one committment when I decided to create this little place on the web, it was to keep things chatty and nice and not to intimidate people with all of the jargon that is taught in interior design classes. This is my place to come and just share fun little tips and to learn fun little tips from fellow cottage enthusiasts like myself. I have hidden the comment from the canned blogger and, though I wish them best of luck with their business ventures, I will ask that this not be the place that they choose for FREE advertisement. I do love to link to fellow friendly bloggers with honest, original content. My friends list increases almost daily and I would, indeed, be honored to be listed as a friend on other blogs. Sorry for the bit of a rant this morning, just kind of hit me the wrong way.

Love to all, Stay Cozy,
Charlotte

Monday, June 2, 2008

Get Organized, Get Happy

When you think about your favorite places to visit what is the first thing that comes to mind. You probably have memories of pleasant times and experiences that had while you were there, right. Now think about what makes the experiences pleasant and the nature of these surroundings. Were the areas well organized or cluttered. How would the experiences change if the areas became cluttered and unorganized? Our emotions are affected by our surroundings. It is much easier to focus on our thoughts in a space that is well organized and free from clutter. This does not mean, however, that the area needs to feel sterile and cold. Keeping a few well placed accessories that give depth and meaning to a room will lend to a feeling of well being and contentment as well. Striking a balance between stark minimalism and packed to the rafters is the key to creating a wonderful welcoming cozy home.

As Always, Keep Cozy,
Charlotte

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Simple Touches

Hello to all and hope you are having a BEAUTIFUL DAY! We have sunshine here this morning and the wonderful scent of spring fills the air. I hope you have been inspired to spruce up your home a bit for the new season as summer is quickly approaching and we will all be spending more wonderful time outdoors. Little things such as changing out floral arrangements or hanging lighter window treatments can have a big impact on the appearance of your home for the warmer months. If you can, change out your heavy wool area rugs for lighter feeling sisal or cotton versions. Slip covers in light cotton or cotton duck fabrics also lend an air of summer to a room. Place big bowls of selected seasonal fresh fruits on the kitchen counter or dining room table for snackers as they pass by. Put some summer sounds on the radio or CD player to create a relaxed or energized ambience in your home. Change the scent of your home by exchanging the spicy tones that are used in the fall for lighter floral or fruit scents. The smell of your home is just as important as the appearance as you create long standing memories for your friends and family. These memories, by the way, should be your ultimate goal as you create home around you. They are the very reason that drives us to decorating, organizing and creating that haven known as our unique version of a Cozy Home. Remember as you move from room to room to think about how the sights, smells and sounds will impact the people that mean the most to you.

Until next time,
Stay Cozy,
Charlotte

Monday, April 21, 2008

Inspiring!!!

The earth is bursting with splendid COLOR in my little corner of the world. My mother's yard looks like a prim English Garden with beautiful flowers in every color. Her lilac bush was FULL this past week-end and she has the most beautiful lipstick red tulips that I have ever seen. I should also mention that our Azalea bush is getting ready to pop and that the fruit trees across from us are in full regalia with lovely pink and white blooms. If there is any one season that simply inspires us to create beauty aroud us in our homes, it is, in my humble opinion, Spring. From the first light haze of green on the trees to the last petal that drops from the flowers, the earth never seems more ALIVE!!! Take the occasion to look at all of the beauty around your little corner of the world this spring season (if you are in an area where it is now spring) and take your cue from all that you observe. Then get busy and CREATE!!!
Hugs,
Charlotte

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Post Modernism in Interior Design vs. Cottage Romance

Just a short note this morning as I must get ready to start my day. I have been touring my favorite Cottage Blogs this morning (as I so often do) it is always such a pleasant journey to see familiar places and read the latest entries. I was thinking of my college courses in design as I visited these wonderful, whimsical, romantic sites. My college professors (as well as so many in the interior design field) quite frankly pooh-poohed the idea of cottage appeal as a form of "Good Design". It is often seen as "fodder" to many of the upper-echelon of the industry. Post Modernism in all of its sterility is touted as the high road for designers to travel. Clean lines, bold pops of color against neutral backgrounds (often some shade of white). Our projects in college were closely scrutinized to make sure that we were not adding too much "clutter" to the space we were working on. True, in our little valley traditional 18th Century styles still remain the pinnacle of style, but heaven forbid, that too many items should be added as accessories. Still, there is something so charming, so appealing about the romantic cottage look. Even luring serious designers such as Mario Buatto and Rachel Ashwell away from the Ivory Palaces of the design world. To me it is comforting to know that, as long as there are those of us who appreciate the little comforts of life, there will always be a place for Cottage Design. Bring on the Clutter!!!

Have a Cozy Day,
Char

Monday, March 24, 2008

My Portfolio Favorites

But What Will it Cost?

Good morning to all and I hope you had a Wonderful Easter!!! We had a truly Blessed and relaxed day starting at our Church with a very beautiful and meaningful service and then came home and enjoyed a good meal together---ate too much, as usual. I am glad that we don't cook what we call "holiday meals" every day or I would be as Big-as-a-BARN.

Now back to design stuff. Have you ever wanted to do something FABULOUS to your home, but wondered what the cost of construction and materials would be? Wouldn't it be GREAT to know a good ball-park figure even before you call your local designer or contractor?-without having to spend the whole day at one of those BIG home improvement stores? I have found a site that is just for you. At Building-Cost.net you can type in your information, choose your materials and let the magic cost estimator do the rest. It is based on national averages for building costs and can give you a clear picture of just what you are looking at spending for that dream re-do. Check it out at: http://www.building-cost.net/

Meanwhile, I am going to sneak a little bite of that left-over ham for breakfast...YUM-O!!!

Until next time, Stay Cozy!!!
Charlotte

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Favorite Things

This morning I have been visiting some of my favorite places this morning. I enjoy stopping by these friendly blogs to see what is new from time to time. I especially like to see what types of decorating and crafts these incredibly creative and talented folks have been up to lately. I have placed a few of them in the side bar in My Favorite Places. Stop by and see what they have been up to for yourself and be inspired.

Stay Cozy,
Char

Sunday, March 9, 2008

A Little Poetry

Simple Pleasures
Virginia Borman Grimmer

I like a simple little house
With flowers by the door,
An ample larder for my needs
And not much more in store.

I like a window toward the sun
And doors that open wide,
The trickle of a bath for birds
With feathered friends beside.

I like a tidy nook inside
Where my books and slippers lie,
A cup for tea, a magazine,
And warming hearth nearby.

I like some trinkets on the sills,
White ruffles at the panes,
The comfort of a sturdy roof
To shelter me from rains.

I like the Cozy ambience,
A place of sweet retreat
Where life unfolds along the way
And each new day's a treat.


This poem is one of my all time favorites and the inspiration behind the Cozy Home name for my business, homeschool and my publishing projects. Doesn't it just make you want to cuddle into your favorite chair with a book and a cup of tea?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Fresh looks

The most popular look in most every home decorating magazine today is the look of simplicity. Clean clear lines, uncluttered tables and simple color schemes rule the pages of nearly every publication from the most traditional to the avant guard. To achieve this look, start with freshly painted walls in a light, neutral tone such as off white or light tan. Add furnishings with straight lines and solid fabrics in a slightly deeper, coordinating tone. Tan, aqua and blue tones are the most favorable and fabrics used are often micro-fibers and twilled cotton blends for their ease of care. Select your accessories carefully, a few go a long way and make sure they are of a medium to large scale as too many tiny trinkets will cause even the most carefully coordinated room to feel cluttered. The accessories should fit the overall personality of the region or emotion that you are trying to create within the space.
Remember, the most important thing to remember is to keep it simple. For more information, look to sources such as Coastal Living or Real Simple magazines. You might also check out The Not So Big House books by Sarah Susanka for further inspiration.

Hope all is Cozy at your home,
Char