It's a little house that I thought only lived in my mind, a place I conjured up there as I listened to childhood fairy tales with their requisite quaint little cottages in the woods. You might remember these cottages too. They were freshly painted, secret places where dwarfs adopted lost princesses, happy bears ate porridge and poor peasant families sent hooded children off into the forest with baskets of goodies for a sick Grandma. Remember? They were magic and make believe.
Or so I thought.
Then my friend invited me to come see the little place she was renting on a big University campus. The directions went something like this: Turn left on University, right on Race Street and park near the corner. In between the two big houses you'll see a clump of bushes. Push them aside and there will be a path that leads to the front door..............and I'll be darned, there it was.....a rocky little path that led to a small cottage tucked beneath the trees somewhere no one would ever think to look.
Here. Let me show you.......
The cool thing is that everything you see in these photos came straight from a second-hand store, right down to the English Country Garden sorts of slipcovers on the sofa that my friend Judy stitched up from someones old bedspread. The dishes, the lamp shades, the pillows and chairs and every single book on the cozy shelves - gently used, all of it. The house is a teensy, tiny place but last Friday when she hosted a group of six of us in for wine and snacks in her little cottage under the trees, we all learned a valuable lesson. Hospitality has everything to do with how you make your guests feel, not about the size or grandeur of your house.
Judy's house is very real. It is definitely not make believe.
But it's undeniably magic.