And just like that, it’s Monday, and what better way to start off a week that may include a springtime Nor’Easter!?! How about with a giveaway of a Pillowtex Duck Down and Feather Pillow to help you sleep through those stormy nights!?!

Pillowtex Triple Core Pillow Giveaway

Welcome to the Pillowtex Triple Core White Duck Down  & Feather Pillow Giveaway!

 Hosted By: So Simply Stephanie Sponsored By: Pillows.com

Giveaway Ends April 7th, 2014 11:59 EST

The Pillowtex Triple Core White Duck Down & Feather Pillow is a luxurious, high-quality down pillow that features a unique design to insure a superior support for a great night’s rest. The Pillowtex Triple Core Pillow is made up of 3 chambers to provide excellent support combined with comfort. The inner core is filled with 5% White Duck Down and 95% White Duck Feather, and the two outer cores are filled with 25%  White Duck Down and 75% White Duck Feather. The three cores are then covered with two plush layers of 230 thread-count fabric made of 100% cotton, with double-stitched seams to insure the durability of each pillow.

Want to know more about this amazingly comfortable pillow?
You can purchase the Pillowtex Triple Core White Duck Down & Feather Pillow or browse through their impressive line of luxury pillows, comforters, feather beds and more at Pillows.com. 
NOW, TIME FOR THE GIVEAWAY! Want to win a Pillowtex Triple Core White Duck Down & Feather Pillow? Here’s your chance! Enter via the Rafflecopter link below.

Be sure to come back daily for additional entries!
Void where prohibited. Open to US residents only. Must be of legal age to enter.  Odds of winning depend on number of entries. This blog has not been compensated to promote this giveaway and is not responsible for prize shipment. One (1) winner will be randomly chosen via the Rafflecopter widget below and will be notified via the email listed on their Rafflecopter contact info. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to the email with shipping information or a new winner will be chosen. Winner’s name may also be published on SoSimplyStephanie.com and applicable social media sites to congratulate and help with winning notification. Winner’s information will be shared with a Pillows.com representative to facilitate shipment. Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and other social media sites are not affiliated with, do not endorse, and are in no way responsible for this giveaway. 
If you have any questions regarding this giveaway, or would like to have your product featured, please contact Stephanie, owner & editor of So Simply Stephanie at sosimplystephanie@gmail.com
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It’s #throwback thursday! I’m not certain who came up with this idea, but it’s kinda fun to see so many friends and family posting old photos of loved ones on social media. This week’s throwback is actually a post I penned back in 2012, when I first started blogging (boy, that seems like a lifetime ago…) Back then, I had about 5 followers, maybe a half dozen “likes” on Facebook and I had no idea what Instagram even was! Since hardly anyone actually saw this post, I thought I would re-share it. Hopefully it inspires you to try one too!.

So, in the spirit of #tbt, here is the Memory Cake that I created for my sister’s (ahem, milestone) birthday, using old photographs that I printed on icing sheets. And, if you have a faded photograph of someone you hold near and dear, don’t forget to share it!!

“Faded photographs, covered now with lines and creases”. When it’s time to celebrate a special family occasion, such as a milestone birthday, people often create videos or scrapbooks using old photographs. This year, for my sister’s (I am not going to divulge the year she was born, but let’s just say Elvis was in the building) birthday celebration, I decided to add a sweet twist to an old idea. A photo cake!!  I have made hundreds of cakes over the years for birthdays, anniversaries, even weddings, but I have to say that this particular cake was really special, as it touched my heart, as well as my sister’s.  I am not going to give you a full tutorial on how to create a cake like this. It is not simple, and you do need a basic understanding of cake decorating and using fondant. However, I will provide you with what I think are the most important things a cake artist needs in his/her “tool box” in order to create a memorable photo cake.  Let’s start with the cake. You need a good solid cake that will hold up to the heavy fondant and piped icings. I normally make mine from scratch, but when I am pressed for time, I sometimes us a box cake mix, doctored up. This is a great basic

Once you have all your layers baked, cooled and chilled, it’s time to start decorating!!  I used to freak out when my cakes weren’t level, or pieces pulled off around the edges, but then I started watching Ace of Cakes. Duff Goldman describes cake decorating as using”‘smoke and mirrors” to get the desired results. He, by the way, has a line of awesome cake decorating stuff at Michael’s Crafts. A little extra glob of frosting here, a bit of fondant there can make what initially looks like a disaster into a beautiful edible work of art. This handy tool, a cake leveler (I know, it looks like a hacksaw, right!?) levels each layer so that they stack properly. When cakes bake, they rise and end up with a “dome” in the middle which needs to be planed down. This leveler makes a perfectly even cut, and you can use it to cut exact layers as well. I use a basic buttercream frosting recipe, especially if the cake will be covered in fondant, which is actually just sugar and water cooked until it becomes a pliable sweet dough. You can find fondant pre-made in your local arts and crafts store, but this recipe is super easy, a lot cheaper and the fondant actually tastes really delicious! Rolling out the fondant smoothly can be tricky- you have to keep covering your work surface with confectioner’s sugar to prevent sticking.  Once it is rolled out to your desired thickness (it should be 1/8-1/4 inch thick) and size, you simply roll it right right onto your rolling pin and then transfer it to the cake. It is important that the frosting “crumb” layer of the cake be smooth, as you will see every bump and lump through the fondant! Unfortunately, they don’t make “spanx” for cakes!!

Stacking the layers is the next step. Place each layer on it’s own base! Stick dowels or sticks into the layer below, cut exactly at the level of the fondant.  Without this step, your cake could end up unintentionally looking like the Leaning Tower of Pisa,

Family holding up leaning tower of Pisaas the weight of the higher layers will eventually sink into the one below.  Next up, adding the photos.

On this cake, the photographs were “pasted” on using a watered-down buttercream frosting. “Now where did she get those photographs, and are they edible?!?” you ask. The photos were printed on my Canon IP3600 photo printer, using special frosting paper from Icing Images (yes, its actually frosting on a plastic back that you put in your printer!) with special food coloring inks,

which make for edible decorations. (Disclaimer: on this cake, some of the photos became non-edible, as I ran out of food coloring ink at the last minute and had to switch to regular ink instead. Luckily I was there to cut the cake and remove the pics prior to serving : ).  The final touch: the ribbons. I was going for a “movie reel” look, but couldn’t find ribbon or tape anywhere.

So I fused these two ribbons together to make one long continuous piece to wrap around the cake and give it a vintage look. The topper was just a sparkly plastic Happy Birthday from the dollar store. And, again, I am not going to divulge the actual number of candles on the cake, but there was enough heat to start it on fire-lol!!! 

So there you have it. Photo cake deconstructed. Now,  I think there is some leftover pound cake that should go well with my morning coffee!! Have a sweet day everyone!

And a very special happy birthday to my big sister. XOXOXO Susan

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OneOceanArts Logo Baby Seal If you follow my blog, then you know I love showcasing new businesses and shops that are unique and have something special to offer. So, today I am super excited to share the newest venture of my niece, Jamie, a fur seal trainer by trade,

Jamie Mathison OneOceanArtsa talented artist and now a budding entrepreneur from Gloucester, MA. (Where she actually lives in a lighthouse, folks!!) Inspired by her love of the ocean and its beautiful creatures, she is taking the plunge and has opened her Etsy shop called OneOceanArts.

OneOceanArts Etsy ShopNow offered are beautifully block-printed clothing and accessories, including t-shirts and tanks, tote bags and baby onesies

baby whale onesie on OneOceanArtswith the sweetest sea-inspired illustrations. How awesome is this little guy!?!?

Baby Seal Onesie One Ocean ArtsEven the happy shark is adorable!

Shark Onesie from One Ocean ArtsAll of her artwork is original,

Sea Turtle Onesie from One Ocean Artsand each order is customized and hand-block-printed on 100% cotton, organic and blended materials, using colorfast and long-lasting inks in bright, vivid hues of blacks, whites, pinks and aquas.

Fish School Toddler T on OneOceanArtsMore examples: A block-printed women’s hoodie offered in grey with your choice of block print color.

Anchor Hoodie on OneOceanArtsHere is the description: “This is a one of a kind hoodie hand printed just for you. There are a variety of prints, shirt colors and ink colors to chose from so you can make it your own!  Any print you see in our store can go on this shirt, so feel free to customize your item. You can also chose placement of the image. Do you want it on the back of the shirt instead? No problem! Make sure to let us know what image and ink color you would like when placing your order. Don’t see your size or favorite color? Message us and we’ll do our best to make it happen!” Loving the design on this men’s nautical compass T.

Compass T on OneOceanArtsSo you choose your clothing or accessory item, then you have the option to choose the block print, the placement and the colors. Brilliant!! Each item has a full description including sizes with full measurements and color choices. Loads of options, each one ocean-inspired and uniquely created for you. Along with children’s and adult clothing, OneOceanArts is also offering block-printed canvas tote bags

Canvas Fish Tote Bag from OneOceanArtsmade from recycled materials, block-printed in the design and colors of your choosing. Loving the old VW bus with the surfboards!

Block printed tote bag on OnceOceanArtsJamie is continually adding new items and designs to the shop, so check back often to see what’s new! If you are searching for the perfect gift inspired by the ocean, or just want to “sea” Jamie’s new shop, check out OneOceanArts (and tell her that Auntie Sue sent you). Have a (not-so-top ‘o the morning after St. Paddy’s Day) Tuesday, everyone! Susan

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It’s #Throwback Thursday, everyone! What better way to celebrate than to show off my latest DIY project? This week it’s a turn-of-the-century table Coach had stashed in the barn. Pretty beat up, lacking polish and pizazz and missing the little finial in the base.

Antique Table Before Restoration B&WThis is the before when it was manufactured by the Denhard Furniture Company of Louisville, Kentucky, sometime between 1855 and 1905. This is the after.

Antique Table Clock and Books Staged PMHere is the how-I-did-it:

1. My first step is always to clean the piece to make sure there isn’t any dust or dirt or mold or mildew-after all, who knows where its traveled in these last 100 years? I wanted to preserve the top to stain, so I flipped it upside down and went to work.

Antique Table Primer Upside Down

2. I painted the base it with my favorite primer: Gripper by Glidden. Awesome stuff. Covers everything in one coat.

Antique Table Gripper Primer

3. Once that dried, I painted the body with a coat of Benjamin Moore matte finish paint in a custom color. And by that I mean that I mixed a couple of different cans of paint I had on hand to create this creamy white color. I will name it Buttercream Frosting. Because I love Buttercream Frosting. And it is a buttery cream color. Hence, the name.

Antique Table Benjamin Moore Custom Color4. I painted all of the raised detail blue-this is why I LOVE redoing old furniture. You don’t find this kind of carved detail at big box stores!

Antique Table Old Finish Detail

And this locking mechanism for the legs is brilliant! A screw-eye is attached to the leg, which then in turn is attached to the brace with the screw. So sturdy.

Antique Table Screw and HookOK, so I painted all of the raised detail with the same home-made blue paint concoction that I used in the Colonial Country Cupboard I recently completed. Love it, want to use it over and over again. But I am almost out, so I’m going to have to find a way to replicate it! OK, so now the detail was blue.

Antique Table Painting DetailThen I repainted the entire piece again with the Buttercream Frosting and wipe away the excess off the blue details.

Antique Table Wiping Off Paint from Detail5. I sanded everything down to give it that rustic, aged look that we like.

Antique Table Sanding DetailAnd by we, I mean myself and Coach. I know a lot of people are not fans of the painted, sanded, stained look, but that’s cool. One man’s trash is another family’s re-loved vintage table : )

5. I glazed the entire piece with General Finishes Brown Mahogany

Antique Table General Finishes Brown Mahogany Glaze

(I was planning on using this for the top, anyway, so this way it matched color tones. I’m kinda smart like that.) Simple process. Paint the stuff on.

Antique Table General Finishes Brown Mahogany Glaze Applied Try not to spill it. But if you do, use plastic drop cloths so it’s easier to scoop the stuff up and put it back in the can.

Antique Table Spilled GlazeI’m using plastic lace table cloths from the dollar store. I know, right? Cheap, pretty and practical (insert joke here). Used a damp rag to keep it workable while I wiped it off until I was satisfied with the results.

Antique Table Wiping off Glaze

Look how the detail pops now!

Antique Table Glaze completed

Antique Table Side Detail Finished6. The base has two cross pieces that meet in the middle. At one time there was most definitely a decorative finial, but that was  missing. I was searching for something suitable when I spotted these curtain rods at the Christmas Tree Shop. (If you don’t have one near you, and don’t know what this store is, let me assure you it does not merely sell Christmas Trees!) These were a glazed, antiqued metal and cost $5.99!

Antique Table Pineapple Rods Christmas Tree ShopSo I removed the finial from the rod,

Antique Table Removing Finial From Polethen filled the finial with glue

Antique Table Finial with glue filler

and also coated the spindle with glue so it would be very secure.

Antique Table Coating Post with Glue7. So now the new pineapple finial is a welcoming addition to the antique table. Is it the original? No. But I would never have been able to find that. This seemed like a sweet solution.

Antique Table fixating pineapple finial to post8. For the top, I used the aforementioned Brown Mahogany Stain to replicate the rich brown of the original color and finish. That was after Coach sanded it down, but I didn’t catch him in the act, so I don’t have a shot of that. But I do have a pic of him cleaning an old cupboard using my kitchen gloves. He worked for a few minutes and then said, and I quote: “This DIY stuff is hard work. I’ll finish it later.) And he removed the pink gloves and left! So I remind him of that whenever he drags home yet another piece of furniture and says “work your magic with this”. Ha.

Coach cleaning the cupboard7. I applied a couple of coats of Fidde’s Supreme Wax

Hope Chest Fiddes & Son Waxto give the top that glowing finish.

Antique Table Top Fiddes Wax Finish

8. Here is the final closeup reveal of the accented details and beautiful wood top!

Antique Table Top Dressed

I think Mr. Denhard would be very pleased with how I have lovingly restored his table. What do you think? Could you love a table like this in your home?! Do you have an old piece of furniture kicking around? If you do, then it’s your turn to add it to the #Throwback Thursday Collection! Susan 

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I recently wrote a post entitled the Dangers of DIY

Dangers of DIY

where I discussed the many chemicals and compounds that are in all of the seemingly harmless paints and finishes that DIY’ers use on a daily basis. If you didn’t see it, please click here and read it. It’s very important that you are aware of the pollutants and potentially hazardous materials that you are breathing in while working on your favorite old piece of furniture or wood trim in your homes!

However, there is another, less apparent danger that is also so important to know about and correct for your family’s safety. In another recent post, I showed off a gorgeous 1950’s Lane hope chest that I had completely restored.

Refinished Lane Mid Century Modern Hope ChestI am really proud of that piece, but what was I not aware of that needed changing? The locking mechanism of the chest was similar to the one that was in the news recently, when two small children climbed into it and tragically suffocated. How could that happen?! The old locks, in the chests built before 1987, had a push-button that was easily engaged so that the top could open up, and then instantly click into place and lock down once the top was lowered. There was no way to unlock it from the inside, and since it is a cedar-lined chest, it was built with a tight seal to keep out the moths and protect your clothing. Clearly, this needed to be changed.

The new locking mechanism was provided by the manufacturer, the Lane Company, free of charge.

Lane LogoThey have had several recalls in the past, most recently in 2014 due to this recent tragic incident. All we had to provide was the latch style and serial number (here is the online link to use)

Lane Furniture Latch Replacement Illustration

and we received the new lock in the mail in less than a week. The simple replacement process took just a few minutes, and you can see a video here by The Furniture Refinishing Studio on the exact procedure. Lane Hope Chest Lock Replacement VideoThe lock is not that difficult to open (and it does come with a key if you really want to keep it shut tight) but once it is opened, there is no way to lock it down from the inside. The mechanism remains disengaged and the top remains open about 1/2 inch until you re-engage it, which can only be done from the outside of the chest.

Lane Latch Operation Video

So now, there is no way that this tragedy can be repeated. If you have an old hope chest or any other old piece of furniture that you are DIY’ing, check the hardware! Old cupboards and cabinets and cribs and dressers were not built with the same safety procedures we have in place today. It is our responsibility, as we are refurbishing these pieces to use or sell to make sure that we change locks and alter pieces to ensure the safety of our children and pets, too! So, as you are working on your next DIY project, take a step back and make sure that what you are producing is not only beautiful but safe and secure for all to enjoy. Have a terrific Tuesday, everyone! Susan

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Welcome To Country Design Home!

Inspired. Rustic. New Country Style...in the suburbs. Because you don't have to live on a farm to create a warm and inviting country-styled home. Follow my DIY junkin' journey as I give tips of the trades and inspired fresh country design ideas to create your own Country Design Home.
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