Recently, the good folks at RugsNow contacted me to ask if I would share an upcoming Facebook Spring Giveaway with all of you-$1500 total in prizes to three lucky winners! How exciting is that?! And, of course, since it means that some of you, dear readers, will be able to win some great stuff, I obliged. And, they are allowing me to offer you an additional 25% off on any of the items offered on their website, including rugs, accent pillows, throws and poufs! (How did they know I was looking to freshen up my family room for spring?!) What I really like about the RugsNow shopping experience is that they are very user-friendly and so detailed in their product information. You can sort by color, popularity and price, and once you have found a product you MUST HAVE, they provide all the details you need to make an informed decision. And, did I mention you will get an extra 25% off by using the coupon code COUNTRY HOME?!? This is a web-shot of a beautiful jute and cotton, hand-woven area rug I have selected named Capalle. To the left is the full pic, but once you scroll over it, a very closeup and detailed image pops up so you can get a good feel for the materials and colors available. Below that is a color-wheel bar that picks up all of the colors in the item. Brilliant! They also carry gorgeous throws and poufs and loads of accent pillows. I am thinking these would look great as a fun springy addition! So, how do you enter the contest? Just click the Spring Giveaway pic and it will bring you to their Facebook page. From there, you fill in the requested info, and for additional entries, you share the ad with your friends (and whomever you would like to see win-maybe they will split it with you : ). Don’t wait too long, because the contest is already well under way and ending soon! If you just want to shop for some great home accents, then go directly to RugsNow.com and click away! Just remember me when it’s time to check out and use the coupon code COUNTRY HOME for an additional 25% off! Have a great Thursday everyone-it’s going to be almost 40 degrees this weekend-yay!!! Susan
I recently visited the home of a friend who was planning on framing out a large wall-mounted bathroom mirror rather than replacing it, a trick she had seen on Pinterest (of course : ). In her basement were the rough-cut trim moldings that she was priming and painting and then cutting prior to mounting them over the existing mirror. A perfectly great idea which I am certain will give her bath a whole new look. BUT, she could have saved some time and trouble by checking out this company: MirrorMate.com.
They offer custom mirror frame DIY kits in all types of styles and colors, so you can transform the look of your mirror with minimum muss and fuss! I LOVE brilliant ideas that save time and look great! Here are some examples from their website:
This frame sample is Tribeca Black
This frame sample is Venetian Silver Wave.
For a dramatic change, you might like this rustic Lexington Metallic Ash
This is the before, again a very nice but ho hum kind of bath
For more information, and the complete, simple measuring and DIY process, click here to visit their website.
You can order samples to make sure you are choosing exactly the right frame for your space. And, you can check out many more before and afters on their Pinterest page. This is a perfect solution for a simple makeover, or even for staging a home for resale, adding lots of drama for minimal dollars. I hope you all have a transformative Tuesday, everyone! Susan
Right. Huh? Who is Bob and why am I so excited about blogging for him? Well, Bob is none other than Bob Vila,
the original American DIY’er and TV handyman/host of This Old House and Home Again, along with his new web series, Building Green. BobVila.com is a website dedicated to giving you the “HELP YOU NEED FOR THE HOME YOU WANT.” There are so many resources available for everyone from hapless homeowners to the most experienced contractors. SO, you ask, why am I blogging for him?!? Well, Bob has a page for Bloggers-a Featured Contributors page that showcases “A Community of Bloggers who “Live and Die to DIY”-that’s where you’ll find me and the links to my blog, Country Design Home!!
My first official published DIY link? The Vintage Rolling Bar Cart.
This has to be one of my all-time favorite, most inspired DIY projects. And it’s posted for Bob Vila fans to read, along with a few other of my other most favorite DIY projects like my Love-ingly Restored Hope Chest.
and my recently-completed Antiqued Mirror On The Wall.
I am pretty proud of the DIY projects I share, and now they are all together on one page for everyone to check out! And, as the weeks go by, I will be adding my newly completed projects, and possibly some oldies but goodies, like How To Shrink-Wrap Your Porch
and The Whale’s Tale.
Click here to check out my Featured Contributor page:
And if you like what you see, could you be so kind as to add a comment or “favorite” my designs? Bob likes the love! Along with my projects, there are loads of other contributors who share information about everything DIY, like this “Rewiring a Lamp” from the AZ DIY GUY (I love his AZ DIY Guy’s Scary Warning – Electrical Edition)
or this DIY Bathroom Vanity by the Hudson Valley HandyMom
There is just so much to see, so much incredible information to read, videos to watch, contests to enter, and of course, Country Design Home on BobVila.com. So make sure you check it out and let me know what you think. And now I am off to complete yet another DIY table makeover (that I will hopefully be posting to BobVilaNation very shortly). Have a terrific Thursday, everyone! Susan
Last summer, Coach and I took a long weekend trip to Bethel, Maine for a bit of golf and R & R.
Well, I should say R & S (Rest and Shopping) as we did quite a bit of antique shopping up and down the Maine coast. My heart skipped a beat when we turned a corner while wandering through the many aisles of Pa’s Tradin’ Post in Oxford, Maine.
It was newer, but completely hand-crafted using old lumber and pieces from antique windows and dressers. It needed quite a bit of work, so I took my time refurbishing it, in between quicker, easier projects. Well, I am happy to say that it is finally finished, and styled, and sitting proudly next to the fireplace in my family room. So, what once looked like that, now looks like this!
The exterior body was painted with Annie Sloan French Linen Chalk Paint. I then sanded the edges and raised detail to give it the distressed look we like.
I had originally painted it with Miss Mustard Seed Eulalie’s Sky Milk Paint (you can read about that fiasco here),
but once I decided where it was going to be in our home, that needed changing. Oftentimes, I paint a piece with the colors I would like, only to realize that it just doesn’t work in the intended space. That’s the beauty of paint-one quick coat and you have a whole new look! I wanted it to be a close match, but a lighter blue tone to the drapes in the room, since it would be in proximity to the window where they hang. Finally, I waxed the entire piece with Fidde’s Supreme Wax to give it a nice, warm, glowing finish. The hardware remained the same. Chipped, rusted black? Perfect!
The showcased pieces are primarily from Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia, The custom color blue I chose for the background enhances the blues in the pottery and plates and brightens the brass trivets and pieces.
Colonial Williamsburg is an historic site that Coach and I love and have visited many, many times. This is the William and Mary crest trivet-one of our very first mementos we purchased over thirty years ago.
The re-painted and re-loved cupboard now reminds me of the shop front windows and taverns on the Duke of Gloucester Street, filled with old glass and pottery pieces, brass trivets, plates and mugs.
I am transported back in time to our many wonderful trips to Williamsburg. And isn’t that why we save our souvenirs and mementos-to remind us of happy times and fun trips? I hope you all have mementos you keep to tell your story, and a beautiful cupboard in which to display them. Have a “think spring” Tuesday, everyone! Susan
Writer’s Note: I am excited to share that my little French Lavender Table Transformation was featured as an Editor’s Pick on BlogHer!! To view that post, click here:
Now, onto the transformation! With some pieces of old furniture, I choose the style and color of the makeover according to my needs. Some pieces tell me what they need to be. This little table needed to be the center of attention in a lovely lavender French boudoir.
We purchased it at auction and I could have chosen to paint it red or black or green, but Behr Lavender Lily seemed to be just the perfect, soft color for this delicate little beauty. Here is the how-I-did-it:
1. Cleaned and lightly sanded the entire piece. It was pretty dusty and dirty and topless-must have been a long, crazy trip from Paris!
First 2 coats, Behr Lily Lavender.
You want to print the graphic (thanks, Graphics Fairy : ) on the shiny side, in reverse! In this case, I wanted to use a small graphic to decorate the center of the table top, so I would be able to place things on it without completely hiding the picture.
6. Gently and carefully placed the graphic straight down onto the surface, then affixed with painter’s tape to create a “hinge” at the top.
This allows you to check your progress without moving the graphic around and messing up the picture. WARNING: you only get one shot at this. If you attempt to moved the transfer around once it has touched the painted surface, you will need to start over. Ok, well that happened to me too. More than once. So DON’T DO THAT.
7. Once the transfer had successfully landed on my piece, I used a blunt object to rub the surface using firm pressure. I used the back of a spoon but I have seen others using credit cards (I prefer to use those at HomeGoods).
This takes a minute or so to complete the transfer. Just keep rubbing all over, and check periodically by lifting the corner and then placing back down in the exact same spot. Hence, the tape hinges. Removed the paper from the design once I was happy with the transfer. Allowed to dry.
8. Once the piece had dried, I applied a coat of Fidde’s Supreme Wax
My new precious French Provincial side table is magnifique!? Oui? This technique is pretty fool-proof as long as you allow time to dry between steps and follow the transfer instructions. But, before you transform a piece, make sure you really look at it to decide what it needs to be. Have a Bon Mardi, everyone! Susan
Many years ago, in a college psychology class, we had a discussion regarding friendship: how we enter into a friendship, how we maintain it and how friendship fades away. There was an observation that one of my classmates had made that day that has stuck with me throughout the years. There are basically two types of friends: Friends of the Road and Friends of the Heart. What does that mean, exactly? Friends of the Road are those that we encounter along the way while being busy with life. A childhood neighbor, a classmate, a co-worker, a teammate or dorm-mate, these friendships are formed due to time and circumstance. At that moment, the friendship appears to be unstoppable, an unbreakable link formed from a common bond that you promise will last forever. But once you change jobs, move away or graduate from school, the friendship, despite your most ardent efforts to keep in touch, fades into fond memories and Facebook reminders.
Ah, but Friends of the Heart. Those people we meet along the way whose paths are forever intertwined with your own. These are the friends you can turn to on a moment’s notice, in joy and in sorrow, in illness or trouble. They are your people. Your back door friends. The “I-don’t-have-to-clean-up-the-house-because-I-am-having-company” kind of friends. Because they see you, know you and love you just the way you are. I have been so very blessed, in my life, to have found a group of Friends of the Heart. We started out as neighbors, bonded by our children who shared classrooms and ball fields. The dads coached, the moms cheered on, brought the water and snacks and patched up skinned knees. As we proudly watched our children grow and thrive, we stood side by side on the sidelines, in the bleachers and auditoriums and cheered them on, comforted their sorrows, rejoiced in their victories, agonized over their defeats. And while all of that was happening, our friendships became those of the heart: strong, unstoppable, unbreakable bonds. And then, once our children were grown and happily on their own, our friendships did not waver, but instead, grew stronger. We traveled around the world together, planned birthday parties and weddings and showers together and spent many an evening over dinner and drinks just enjoying each other’s company. Each passing day brings a fresh reminder of how fragile and sometimes too short life can be on this earth, and how special and truly unique it is to have such a wonderful group of friends in my life. If you are fortunate enough, like me, to have Friends of the Heart, use this Valentine’s Day to tell them you love them. You don’t need chocolate or fancy flowers, greeting cards or expensive gifts. Just text them or tweet them or Facebook message them or call them or even send them this post and tell them how much they mean to you. It may be weirdly out-of-character, feel funny or awkward, but do it anyway. Because you never know when it may be your final chance to let them know how you feel. And so, on this very, very special Valentine’s Day, I would like to say to all of my dearest Friends of the Heart, thank you, and I love you with all my heart. You have enriched my life in immeasurable ways, and my life will never be the same without all of you in it.
Well, so much for my 14 days of Valentine’s blog posts! Instead of feeling inspired, I am feeling tired and sick with a touch of the flu. Yech.
So, while I was laid out on the couch drinking tea with honey and lemon and watching a “Castle” marathon (and NOT blogging about Valentines), my family was busy sipping wine and painting at Clery’s Bar in Boston with The Next 26. (this pic just reminds me of finger painting in elementary school : )
If you are not familiar with The Next 26, they are a non-profit who has spent the past year in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings hosting 26 cultural and charitable events in hopes of keeping the Boston spirit alive until this year’s Marathon Monday.
To read more about them and join the fun-they still have more events to go-click their logo below.
Don’t know about Paint Night?
And here is the Next 26 team showing off their creations. True works of art, no?
So, sorry about the whole Valentine blog post thing. If you need some Valentine’s inspiration, check out my Pinterest “Be-Mine-Valentine” page. Everything from decadent chocolate desserts to print-from-home Valentines and home made decorations, like this cute Valentine Mantel by OneKriegerChick.
One Valentine’s Day, many, many, many years ago, I received this little gold heart pendant from my father as a gift.
Despite its age, I am certain that the only true value it holds is one of deep and loving sentiment. Sometimes the simplest gift can have the biggest impact on the recipient. Valentines don’t have to be costly and extravagant to have lasting meaning, as long as they are presented with love.
Some hearts of gold are simple and sweet
some are bold
some are strong
some are fiery
and some are lacy and light.
Some hearts of gold can be soft
and some just find the soft spot in our hearts.
Some hearts of gold are beautiful rings
and some ring true.
Some hearts of gold map out a future together
And some, like my little gold heart, celebrate the past.
It really doesn’t matter what you choose for your Valentine, as long as it is presented from your heart of gold, and then it, too, will be treasured for a lifetime. Have a happy Valentine’s week, everyone! Susan
OK, so this is post #8. I honestly don’t know how all you bloggers out there manage to post every day! All of the writing and photographing and editing and posting and social media-ing (I think that’s a word) and cooking and sewing and painting and antiquing and junking and dumpster-diving and organizing and cleaning with homemade organic products-how are you getting that all done and still living a normal, productive life?!
I am trying to keep up, but feeling a bit more frazzled every day-just don’t know how to make this happen! That being said, for this blog post I was searching for a decadent chocolate recipe that you could make for your special someone for Valentine’s Day, when I remembered this one I had published from last year: Dark Chocolate Fudgy Sea Salt Caramel Cupcakes! So, in order to keep my blogging sanity and provide you with a scrumptious recipe, I am reblogging it. So, enjoy the blog, and the cupcakes. Have a sweet, sweet Sunday everyone! XOXOXOXO Susan
“This past weekend was another crazy whirlwind of activity featuring a trip to Cape Cod, a bridal shower and a birthday party-whew! We had planned the shower the prior weekend (in between coats of paint on the whale table) and had decided that cupcakes would be the featured dessert. So I found this amazing recipe on, where else, Pinterest from the blog Jan Can Cook (tons of great recipes! If you want to take a look, just click the link below : ) and we decided they would be perfect.
I mean, after all, who doesn’t love dark chocolate and caramel and buttercream and a pinch of sea salt?!? I followed her recipe (click the link above) with a couple of exceptions. For the cupcakes, I used Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge
and I added a cup of Toll House mini semi-sweet bits
into the batter before pouring it into the cupcake liners. For the caramel to put inside the cupcakes, I used good ol’ Hersheys ice cream topping-quicker and easier and oh, so gooey and yummy!
Just warmed it up in the double boiler and then spooned it into the little cavities
we had scooped out of the centers.
(By the way, this bowl filled with little cone-shaped fudgy chocolate goodness are leftovers- and fabulous dipped in the warm caramel for a snack : )
The Caramel Buttercream Frosting Recipe
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 Tblsp water
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 (1.5 sticks) cup salted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
Stir together granulated sugar and water in small saucepan until clear. Heat in small saucepan over med-high heat and cook for 5-7 minutes without stirring until liquid turns a light amber color- do not overcook- it will burn!!! Remove from heat, allow to cool for a bit and then slowly beat in the cream and vanilla with a spoon. In a mixing bowl, beat the softened butter until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed and slowly add confectioners sugar until it is all incorporated and smooth. Turn off mixer and slowly drizzle in caramel mixture. Turn mixer to med-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Cool until ready to frost cakes.
(Normally I would insert a photo here, but we were having so much fun I forgot to take it! So I am just going to show you some pretty garden flowers : )
The buttercream frosting mixture was pretty soft, as it was hot and we were down the Cape, so there is a lot of moisture in the air. Once I piped it onto the cupcakes, we put them in the fridge to firm up. You don’t even need a piping bag- you can just scoop the frosting with a spoon and plop it on top- the more the better! In the recipe it says to pour the chocolate ganache on the frosted cupcakes, but we just dipped them right into the bowl and allowed them to drip a bit, then inverted them.
The Ganache Recipe:
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate-chopped. I used the 10 ounce bag of Ghiradelli Square chips-perfect for melting.
1 cup heavy cream. 1 Tblsp Dark Rum (Optional)
Melt in a pan over low heat and beat with wooden spoon til smooth. Allow to cool slightly before glazing cupcakes.
For the final touch, we snipped some mini-marshmallows (snatched from the S’Mores Popcorn Mix- recipe soon!) into flower shapes and popped them on top of the ganache. Cute! (we tried to figure out how to cut them into starfish, as the shower had a beachy theme, but that wasn’t happening…)
So the shower was moving along, and the cupcakes were just sitting there lonely and forgotten, next to the lemon water. I mean, it was a wine-tasting- who’s drinking lemon water?!?
So my friend grabbed the tower and some napkins and started passing them around. Suddenly, the room was filled with “oohs and aahhs” as each person took their first scrumptious bite. The hostess declared that she would choose me for her Cupcake Wars team, but the sommelier’s comment was the best when she exclaimed: “These are life-changing cupcakes!” Now I’m not certain if that is the case, but they were a big hit! Don’t be afraid to try these, even if you are a novice baker. Perfectly simple recipe. Perfectly delicious. Susan”