A Once Upon a Cottage Story, Mine… And Yours

The Story of How We Arrived at Chocolate Box Cottage. You might call this a “Once Upon a Cottage Story.”

Hi, I want to take a moment to share my heart with you. Yes, you.

You see, I want you to know that I’m a real person like you with good days and hard days. Days when I can (and do) lay out on a quilt in the grass with my husband, gaze up at the starry heavens, and breathe in the fragrance of a blue night that feels perfect against my skin and days like last spring when we awoke to find nearly all of our small, curated flock of Painted Desert sheep, along with our plans for paying our property taxes, strewn across the pasture – dead – victims of mountain lion predation.

Movies, books, and social media paint a 🍓 strawberries, ruffled curtains, and sunshine view of rural living, and I am a romantic at heart, but I must confess that living in the countryside didn’t exactly come easily to me. It is easy to look at another person’s life in photos like the ones I share here and think that your own life is somehow lacking. Oh, dear reader, please don’t!

If you and I were in my kitchen talking over 🫖 teacups with a plate of cream biscuits and lemon curd between us there are things going on in both our lives that we would share: concerns about our children, ongoing health issues, fears about aging, and more.

Leaving our home of 17 years, the one painted the perfect shade of yellow, with majestic oaks and an established garden, where we raised our blended family of five children, and moving to a new community that didn’t feel (to me) welcoming and that necessitated a long commute to work made for a difficult and prolonged adjustment.

Are you contemplating a move to the countryside, dear reader, but plagued by fears of the unknown? Let me leave you with the advice given to me by a true friend upon finding out we were moving.

“I dare say you will like it after a while. It will take a couple years, maybe longer, but I think, in the long run, you’ll be glad,” my friend said.

And, oh, was she ever right!

Some of the long list of reasons we moved to the countryside include:

  1. to pursue a more independent lifestyle
  2. to breathe great lungfuls of pristine, mountain air
  3. to have room for more animals
  4. to be surrounded by the beauty of nature
  5. to create a place for our family to come home to for holidays

You have your own reasons for wanting to move to the countryside. I would love to know what they are in the comments, but the good news is you don’t need to move to enjoy an authentic, beautiful, and utterly fulfilling cottage lifestyle wherever you are!


Cottage Economy is that sweet spot between old-fashioned values (like thrift and DIY) and modern conveniences (like a good electric mixer and a sewing machine) that save you time and effort and make life easier.

If you have a moment, click over to link Cottage Diary page and take in the recent happenings at Chocolate Box Cottage. To make the most of it, pour a cup of your favorite beverage and settle in for a few minutes. My phone (an iPhone 12 Pro Max) is usually in my pocket, so there are always some interesting captures and I enjoy sharing with you! The ups as well as the downs. For, you see, nature is beautiful…and fearsome.



  • I remember the story (and title) of your move from town and seeing the house for the first time. It has stuck with me through the years. I remember my own fears about leaving town life for country life. We have been here for 8 years and I love it more every year.

    • You’re my first commenter! Yes, it certainly was a rough adjustment. Some days I think I am still adjusting. I’m so glad you’re happy with where you are. Living in the countryside teaches us so much.

    • Thank you, Rhonda. Perhaps we will get a chance to chat someday.

  • Lovely site my lovely Michele. Working side by side we learned much from each other but now I get to see you everyday (although it’s virtual) and I get to continue learning from you. Thank you, thank you for inspiring so many people and now even more! God Bless you as you Bless others!

    • ❤️Hi Robin, those were fun times when we worked together. I am so glad God brought you into my life.

  • I admire you for taking the risk. Whenever we change our lifestyle, there’s great risk involved. Thank you for being a lovely example for me and so many others. I know there are really hard days. Prayers that the lovely outweighs the difficult.

  • We have land in the side of a countryside mountain and we call it “our woods”. We hope to build a timber frame home some day which will be a refuge band sanctuary for our family and friends.

    • Hi Lisa Anne, it’s so nice to “see” you here. Your home in the woods sounds like it would be a blessing to your entire family. Something to look forward to.

  • Michele, It’s such a pleasure to chat with you! I enjoy the calmness you bring to this wonderful life we have that God gave us!
    My husband & I left city life right when I retired. We’ve moved to east Texas, leaving California, my birth place. I grew up in the mountains of CA, but moved to the city as an adult. The first year we lived there I was assaulted, beat up, & contracted the chicken pox. On our year celebration of living in the city our truck was broken into & stolen from our driveway.
    We stuck it out living in the city, trying to build a good retirement fund. We did build a decent next egg, however at what cost? Our bodies have been injured so many times from the physical & mental hard work we cannot do many things we would like to do.
    That was then… now we are enjoying every day on our nearly 5 acres here in the Piney Woods of Texas! There are more churches here than liquor stores, & that was a good sign! We are thoroughly enjoying learning about healthy foods & growing them ourselves. This is something we did not have the time to do or space. Now with friends & connections like yourself we have the opportunity we are able to learn, grow, & thrive! I can only hope more folks join up with people like yourself. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to chat with someone daily; someone who does not talk about the bad news; someone who loves God & wants to help one another. Thank you, for your kindness & for sharing your experiences with learning about living a healthier, happier life!

    • Hi Annie! What a pleasure to “see” you here! You certainly have a story to tell. My goodness. This is proof that God works all things together for good. Even the awful things that you mentioned. They’re part of your story and He alone is able to redeem loss and weave it into something more beautiful than we can imagine. Sending you a hug. Love, Michele

  • Hi Michele! You have a wonderful site & I must say, you look great in pink! Looking at your pictures of animals in the snow reminds me of our first home in CA. It was in the Sierras at 6,000′ elevation, thus we got a lot of snow every winter. I must say, I don’t miss the snow, but I miss the mountains. We moved here to east Texas for the very same 5 reasons you listed above, and we love it here. This is what led us to eating healthier, but this takes more time to grow the foods, process the meals, etc. I love it & I love what you teach us! Thank you so much!

  • Hello Michelle! I found your lovely cottage through HSF and am so glad I did. I am really looking forward to spending some time here with you when the homestead allows. You mentioned sitting in your kitchen with tea cups and visiting; oh, that sounds lovely. We are in Upstate NY, so many miles are between us, so I’ll have to settle for a virtual chat. I’m looking forward to it. May God richly bless you, your family, your cottage life and your work with HSF. You are so appreciated.

  • Hi Michelle! I found you strolling through FB as I use mainly to follow pages I love. I must say yours intrigued me to the point I started digging deeper and I landed here. I’ve lived the country life since day one and I’d never want anything different. I as well have five grown children that live here on our farm with their spouses and children. I am Blessed beyond measure if I only had this family of mine surrounding me daily. Thise grandbabies are the hilight of each day. Yes there are hard times for sure but the Good times far out weigh the bad. I just love your stories, recipes, poems, love for the Lord and just every little thing you share. You are such a beautiful person inside and out. Looking so forward to following through your journey of life and feel so Blessed to have found you.

  • Hi! The Facebook algorithm was at it again. It decided I needed to see your page since you visited Trees of Mystery and I live nearby. We just moved here and I’ve been having a hard time adjusting, but your words and the advice your friend gave you are an encouragement. I’m looking forward to browsing your site and learning some things!


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