Merry Christmas!

It’s the week before Christmas!
How did this happen, time going so fast?
A year ago we were just leaving Colorado,
seven months ago our first son was born;
this year ~ WHERE has it gone?
Is it having three children that makes time nearly a blur?

I don’t like a life that feels busy.
I like it full, in a positive sense of the word, but not busy.
I like time to sit, to enjoy, to rest, to refresh, to create.
Lately it seems that we’ve been on a race against time,
and that I do not like.

Today, however, we slowed.
Unfortunately, it was the two little ladies of the cottage who awoke with fevers.
Too bad it was that which made us slow, but slow we did.
Sitting on the sofa reading books, watching Little House movies.
Drinking tea and hot chocolate.
Cuddling precious little children, because I can.

I love to watch life through the eyes of my children.
And Christmas ~ that added sparkle in their eyes,
the laugh that easily bubbles from their mouths,
the innocence, the wonder, the enjoyment of living.
From the a.m.a.z.i.n.g. gingerbread house party my neighbor Lauren did for a bunch of kids,
to digging in the depths of boxes hauled from the attic,
to singing songs
to the excitement of the gifts…
There is that precious innocence,
that feeling that all is right with the world.
It’s how it should be.

[mailing cards is a family affair. ♥]

I love to see it, to be reminded of the innocence of children.
Because this year, more than ever before, I’m aware of how all is not right with the world.
There is so much hurt, so much pain, so much brokenness.

There is my friend Ruth, who is spending Christmas with Jesus for real this year, and every day hereafter.
For her, there is absolutely nothing better. But for her family, her husband, her children, even as friends, it’s a loss so deep.
To walk life without her? How do we do it?

There is the school shooting last week, the loss of so many innocent lives, so brutal.
And they were only children, still only babies.
I cry when I think of it, I cry reading the news.
Because I have a kindergartner. How absolutely unbearable to lose a child in such a way.

And even in my own little world, there is the reality of pain, of woundedness,
of how imperfect life is, how imperfect I am.

I still love to look at Christmas through the eyes of my children ~
remembering the magical feel of Christmas.

[the most beautiful gingerbread party ever, given by Lauren!]

[zoe and olivia’s houses]


But this year? Maybe I’m realizing more than ever WHY there needed to be a Christmas.
I see more of the world how it really is.
Jesus came not because of a magical feeling,
not because this was an innocent world,
not because there was no hurt or pain.

He came because there was pain,
because there needed to be healing,
because there needed to be forgiveness of sins.
He came because His Redemption was desperately needed in this world.
There was simply no other answer, but a Savior.

So maybe I’m not feeling the “magical Christmas” of a starry-eyed child.
But I do have a heart filled with gratitude to Jesus.
That He didn’t leave us alone in depravity, in pain, in sin.
But He came to rescue us, to help us, to enable us to truly live.
What a Jesus!

I read a quote soon before my friend died that I’ve thought of often since then.
It’s not just about how life feels: it’s about the bigger reality.

Any alleged Christianity which fails to express itself in gaity,
at some point, is clearly spurious.
The Christian is joyful not because he is blind to the injustice and suffering,
but because he is convinced that these, in the light of Divine Sovereignty,
are never ultimate.
Though he can be sad, and is often perplexed, he is never really worried.
The well-known humor of a Christian is not a way of denying the tears,
but rather a way of affirming something which is deeper than the tears.”
[Elton Trueblood]


And I am strengthened in my God, even in the midst of a wounded world.
This is not the end of the story!


We’ve brought a little of the outdoors inside again this year.
I have a box or two that I bring down from the attic when I want to decorate,
a few ornaments, bows, the nativity set.
But it’s mostly greenery that I love to put around.
It smells just divine, and it makes the house so cozy.
If it weren’t that the pine and cedar start shedding needles by January I’d never want to take them down!

So, if you like, welcome to the Cottage at Christmas.
It’s simple, it’s what we like.

The pictures are just kinda snapshot quality, I guess.
I was having terrible troubles with my lighting and camera combination! :)

The Kitchen.

pinecones with snow spray = i have snow in south georgia!! :)

twine-wrapped bottles = nothing new.
modge-podge doily bottle = inspiration hit :)

The Front Door and Dining Room.

The Restroom.

The Girls Room.

The Music Room.

The Master Bath.

The Master Bedroom.

The Living Room.

 This room is not coming together for me like I would wish.
Red drapes or white ones?
White slip covers or the natural sofas?
Color pillows or neutral?

Oh well.
Today I sit and enjoy it as it is. :)


I needed wanted a big chalkboard for the living room, but didn’t have one, didn’t want to buy one.
A trip out to Husband’s shed, several coats of paint on very rough plywood and voila!

And I must be real.
Those pictures of everything in place? That’s true.
It does look like that sometimes.

And at the very same moment, we can have spots like this:

or this.

It’s real life! :)

To all of you who take the time to stop by this little corner of blogland ~
thank you for reading and your encouragement through this past year!
I have been blessed so many times by you!

Merry Christmas!

63 thoughts on “A Cottage Christmas

  1. Elizabethmarie_1

    Oh Clarita! You have one of the most beautiful houses I have ever seen. It looks like a magazine..or a pinterest board!
    I too love greenery. Yours looks so pretty and cozy.

    I actually have thought of your friend Ruth’s family here and there, prayed for them.
    Those little kids without their mom, a husband without his wife during a time where family is so special.
    I didn’t know her, but just typing that makes me tear up. Life is so short. Eternity so long. It’s so important to stay focused. I love the hymn Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus…Look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth grow strangely’s so true! The petty things just fade away and what’s important, truly important stands out.

    Hope your girls get better soon.
    We’re still on the couch over here..Jeff actually read us the Little House Christmas book tonight. We love Little House here too. We watched Little Women a couple times between yesterday and today. My poor boys are being annihilated with girl movies since their mom is sick. Ha!

    You are one of the sweetest and gentle hearted people I know. You are such a great mom and a beautiful woman.
    Your family is blessed to have you.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  2. aSeriesofFortunateEvents

    I love your style! The way your house is put together is so charming and inviting. I love that.
    You’re right, the world is full of heartache. It feels to me this year, more than ever, I’m excited to celebrate the coming of the savior. He is truly the light that scatters the darkness.
    Back to your house, I’m thankful for your real pictures, too! Makes me feel better about our stuff lying around. Ha

  3. Raisingahandful

    Love your posts with pictures of your house. Charming is a perfect word. I love that you have “real life” pictures as well. What I always wonder looking at your pictures is where are all the toys? And your TV?? I never see toys scattered where do you keep them?

  4. smilesbymiles

    Your little cottage is absolutely charming! I love the way you add details everywhere … it looks so warm and cozy and inviting! I remember those little ice skates on your front door wreath from last year and think they are just the cutest ever!

    That quote is so, so powerful! I think sometimes christians almost get the idea they should feel guilty for celebrating when there is so much pain in the world …. I love this quote because it is not a hiding or burying of grief, but realizing fully that we live in two kingdoms … here where there is so much pain, and eternally where there is so much joy!

  5. down_onthefarm

    i always enjoy peeking in your lovely home. and even more? the peek into your heart. also lovely. the WHY of Christmas that you wrote. and redemption. bigBIG hugs and much love.

  6. singingrachel

    that was like a bolt of refreshing…just so pretty and cozy. the wagon in the girls room is the cutest idea…I can just picture them laying in bed discussing the pretty tree.

    loved the quote too.

  7. miamimyamy

    fun fun post! -and you turned 30! i missed that one! Yes yes to the Trueblood quote, our hope is much deeper! and you know i think that’s the wonder of growing older – that reality can just become more firmly planted beneath us in every experience that life brings. Ruth included. I cry when i think of our loss, how i can’t see her now, but never because hope is lost! Just thinking about that makes me excited!
    When i see photos of your house i always have this thought that your Ben must be such a happy man. The living room looks great, you should continue to enjoy it as is. I thought my house wasn’t coming together as i wanted it (Yes the WHOLE house!) but finally i just let it be and i’ve been enjoying it much more.
    I laugh, seeing your piles and pj-wearing child. Women.. always such tendencies to compare.. =)

  8. fruitloops115

    love seeing a glimpse of your cottage again. Of course your chalkboard art caught my eye immediately, and I realize you prly did that free-hand out of your head in prly 5 minutes, cuz I know you’re talented like that Loved the lettering I glimpsed on your christmas cards too.
    Also. I like the pops of red in your living room. Gives it a differant, but very cozy, feel.
    Merriest of Christmas’ to you and yours!

  9. redladybug18

    I love your cottage!!!! It’s always fun to see into the houses of my friends! So many things I just find so fun and simple in your house! Lucky for you that you have all that nice greenery around to decorate with! We have to buy all ours :) Really love how you incorporated the ice skates into your front door wreath. I ended up pulling my mom’s old ones out from her highschool days and her box and decorating a sled with them. It looks better than it sounds :)
    As I say, if you have a perfectly clean house and no messes then that means you must not be having any fun :)

  10. quiet_hearts

    My thoughts:  You have beautiful writing.  Your home is sooo pretty.  And this:  “because he is convinced that these, in the light of Divine Sovereignty,are never ultimate.”  (Yes and AMEN!)

  11. baileyandme

    well, i finally got a chance to come back and comment! i got to look at part of this a few days ago when nursing…. now i came back to “soak”.
    you know how people say “thank you for posting?” well, i really mean it. i know it takes time to load all these pictures and everything but they so make my day. so i just wanted to say thank you…
    this whole post is just. aw.e.some. i love how you use a lot of natural and handmade things. i think that’s what makes it special for me. i especially love your dining room- every time i see it- i think, i want to sit there and eat and drink.
    i LOVE your kitchen too and all your wreaths. i have a dinky one in my kitchen that makes me happy… after seeing all yours i think i will go stand in front of mine and laugh at its dinkiness. hahaha
    i love your handwriting- especially on that chalkboard. if you ever come to my house, i am going to make you write on mine. then i will spray it with sealer or something.
    ok, well, i will say good bye. thanks again for the GORGEOUS post!

  12. baileyandme

    ps. i think my elle has a black wool coat like the ones on your header. it is like the prettiest coat she has ever owned.
    but “dry clean only”– are you kidding me??!! i was not happy. old navy? i always love to see what your girls wear, we often have the same cute things. :) (oh, wait, maybe i just flattered myself… i think i did.)

  13. appalolly

    I was just commenting to my sisters a day or two ago about your writing! It is unbelievably pretty. I just looked at your writing in amazement (on the envelope when I got it)!  I loved much about this post…that quote you included…Awesome!  Such great perspective.  And then those pictures at the end of the “real life”…I loved how you included that amongst the prettiness of your house all decorated for the season.  And I also really related to what you wrote about liking life to be “full” but not “busy”. 

  14. brokenmiracle

    such a beautiful little home :) merry christmas! and i would just like to add that you have gorgeous handwriting! LOVE the typography of the addresses on your christmas card envelopes :)

  15. lonnasjoy

    I love how beautifully your house is decorated! And you absolutely made my day with the “real” pictures as well. I actually took some similar pictures thinking about doing the same thing! I love having a sparkly clean house beautifully decorated for Christmas, but I’m learning to relax a little more than I used to and let my children have fun, which sometimes needing to put up with a mess for a while. I also love the sprinkling of joy in the midst of sorrow in this post. Bless you my friend, your heart is such an inspiration, and I feel blessed to know you even though it is mostly via blogging. May you feel his comfort this year in a special way!

  16. Falber02

    Wow, wish I had a neighbor like yours! That was so very kind for her to host for the new mother you are! I had great intentions of hosting a ‘Happy Birthday Jesus’ party and letting the kids bring money and than pick out of the Gospel for Asia magazine what gift they would like to give Jesus but it was only an idea that never developed! Merry Christmas friend! Dawn

  17. tdenison

    Hey Clarita!!!! I can hardly believe this…but we actually know each other. I’m Jonathan Denison’s wife. Ben and my husband, along with Rod, use to work together. It saw a picture on Pinterest of your kitchen and ended up here on your blog. How amazing…and such a small world!:) We are remodeling, too and I was looking on Pinterest for ideas. Believe it or not…Jon did the same exact butcher block style counter tops in our kitchen to save money and they are equally beautiful. I blog as well… We are very excited about finishing up on our remodel and hope to be in soon. I love your style of decorating and will probably use a lot of the ideas:D Hope to talk with you again, soon!:)

  18. tdenison

    This is my second attempt at posting, so maybe you won’t have a duplicate post:( I happened on your blog through Pinterest….and WE KNOW EACH OTHER!!!! I am Jonathan Denison’s wife, Tiffany. Rod, Ben and Jon use to work together. We are remodeling our home and I was on Pinterest looking for ideas…and found your beautiful kitchen with OH SO MANY GREAT IDEAS!!!! I blog as well… Jon actually used the same technique for counter tops as Ben because of the expense but ours is much darker, but equally beautiful. I love your home and have always wanted to take a peek inside…thanks for that opportunity. :D I look forward to talking with you again!

  19. lifeisadance

    @tdenison – Oh my goodness, what a small world!! :) Ha ha! Oh, I’d love to see your house after your remodel! Isn’t it just great having a husband who can do so much of the world?! It saves so much money! And you are welcome to stop by anytime at our REAL home! :) I hope you’ll post pictures on your blog, I’d love to follow you there!

  20. lifeisadance

    @baileyandme – your comments are delicious. :) i always love when you stop by! and PLEASE, I hope you kept that darling wreath in your kitchen!! my decor was green everywhere – there is nothing fancy about it at all!! oh, and the black coat? are you kidding me, it’s dry clean only? i never looked, i didn’t expect that from Old Navy, and it was just so CUTE. :)

  21. inanorchard

    I know I commented on this post on FB but I just had to come back and scroll through all your Christmas goodness one more time! I love your header Clarita! Is it new or have I just been that out of it for that long?

    Hope your new year has been restful and happy! XO April

  22. lifeisadance

    @inanorchard – you are so dear, April! i’ve been missing your posts too! your blog is a favorite of mine. :) and yes, my header is new. i was hoping it would get me in the blogging mood again, but so far it hasn’t worked. :) love to you!!

  23. Rhoni T

    Kinda in love with your kitchen, this is what I am working towards, white cabinets with wood counters, white subway tile and bead board above cabinets painted a version of teal.

  24. Meghan

    Love this house! I have to know what floring you used? Love it with the contrast of white cabinets and light counter top color. You have great taste in!

  25. Carolyne Carrick

    I found your wonderful site through a photo of your lovely kitchen on Pinterest. I loved the Trueblood quote but expecially the photos at the end of your post.
    You may be surprised, but someday~seemingly waayy too soon, I predict those photo shots will be your favourites~! When you become a Grammie the most treasured memories will be the imperfect moments when Real Life was lived in your happy Home. I must admit to loving browsing through the ‘eye candy’ all over the Pinterest world, but my Mind’s Eye has treasure untold when I look back at some of those natural moments in our past. And I’m so very glad to have saved those photos of mine. ♥~Carolyne

    1. The Cottage at 341 South Post author

      Thanks so much for visiting, and for your lovely words! That is a very good reminder for me, and I think it is so true. The best gifts are these precious people in our lives; not the things we have. I love this stage of our lives so much!

  26. Kat

    Out of all the pins I have in my “Home ideas” board, your kitchen is my absolute favorite. I love the color on the walls, the butcher block counter tops, the white cabinets with the dishes exposed, even the rug. It is truly a kitchen picture I will look at when we finally buy a house to make our own. Many blessings to you and your beautiful family this Christmas!

  27. Bri

    Your home is so beautiful! You managed to create a look that is both cozy and elegant. Your kitchen is so similar to our own, but upped a bit in the style department. Our counters are wood, like yours, but unfinished. Do you know what yours are lacquered or varnished with? Ours have a nice “raw” look, but oiling them and keeping them moisture free al the time isn’t that practical, and yours look even nicer than ours. Thanks! Good tidings to you this Christmas season!

    1. The Cottage at 341 South Post author

      Hi Janice!
      Yes, the kitchen cabinets are “Dove White” by Benjamin Moore, and the kitchen wall color is discontinued, but the closest match we’ve found it “Harbor Fog” by Benjamin Moore.

  28. Mary Heinz

    Thank you for sharing your words of faith . Everything is just beautiful …..
    (pics look good … check your camera manual and look into the white balance….settings ….
    sounds like you would like to learn more about the inside photo lighting) God’s continued
    blessings. Merry Christmas .

  29. Becky

    Your home is just delightful and I love your heart for our Lord!!! All the details are lovely and I hope your Christmas is full of joy! So glad to have found you via your pretty kitchen on Pinterest!!


  30. Crystal

    I love, love, love how you talk about your thankfulness for the Lord in your post!!! I came to your blog because I love your butcher block counter tops and was blessed by your openness and love for Jesus. :) Do you happen to know the stain color you used for your countertops?

  31. Nadine Drake

    What I think? That you are absolutely amazing! Your family is as beautiful as your home. I came to see the decor, for some new ideas maybe. I received so much more! Your post is such a blessing to me! I found a sister in Christ! I lost a brother last August, a daughter and a son over the past few years. I know that Jesus carried me through these times of sorrow. Finding someone else that shares this love and knowledge of Jesus, our Savior, is so up lifting! When He brings us to it, He also brings us through it! Thank you ever so much for your post! Nadine

  32. Amanda

    I love your pictures!!! And your home!
    Are you willing to share the paint color in your kitchen? It’s so pretty.
    Wish you could come to my house and help me decorate. I am not good at it at all!

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