BBB Hublinks Feature

Lately, I have been fortunate to become a member of a few local (to Boston and New England) blogging groups, because social networking really is about, well, social networking. Blog Better Boston is a site that was founded to help local bloggers put forth their best blogs through educational events and conferences.  I was pretty excited when I was notified that my blog post Snowflakes and Sopapillas 

Snowflake Blocks with Candles.png

was recently featured in their Winter-Themed HubLinks Series. Along with my blog, there were 5 other notable local blogs that were highlighted:

Styled by Jess, who shares a yummy recipe for making S’Mores Hot Chocolate

Nick Burka On the Music: Monday Mixtape: Finding Your Beach

Take Time Away, sharing her Top Three Best Travel Apps (to distract us from the freezing cold : )

Union Jack Creative, featuring Crafts And Craft Cocktails

 Trends & Tolstoy sharing some Cold Weather Tips & Tricks
So, thanks to Blog Better Boston for featuring our blogs, and showcasing Boston! Would you like to be featured in the next edition?
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Have a social weekend, everyone! Susan
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Or not so much? If you haven’t heard (and seen) by now, Pantone’s Color of the Year is Radiant Orchid. Beautiful color, sort of a purp[y-pinkish hue, perfect for the runway.

Photo by

On the color wheel, it is complementary to yellow, and leans towards the red-violet family rather than the blues.

Color Wheel

But, honestly, when I first saw the announcement, I thought “where would you use this in design?!” Where does this lovely shade of purple fit in, other than Hawaii? Especially if you live in and design in a country style home?! So, I went searching on to see how designers and decorators are treating this latest trend, and what I discovered was amazing. Room after room of orchids and lavenders in all shades and hues, from the deepest purple to the loveliest, palest lavender.  Here are a few inspirational spaces, and some simple ways to add just a touch of Radiant Orchid to your life (without having to spring for a plane ticket to Hawaii : )

City Style

Robert Schwartz and Karen Williams for St Charles
Robert Schwartz and Karen Williams for St Charles

Country Style

Bedroom by Locati Architects
Bedroom by Locati Architects

Pretty Little Girl’s Room

Child's Room by Nicole Freezer Rubens
Child’s Room by Nicole Freezer Rubens

Country Cupboard in Rustic Entryway

Rustic Cupboard by Mark EnglishArchitects AIA
Rustic Cupboard by Mark EnglishArchitects AIA

Tropical Paradise

Kim E Courtney Interiors and Design
Kim E Courtney Interiors and Design

Dreamy White Style

Table Vignette by Dreamy WhitesSlick and Modern Kitchen

Kitchen by Mokomo MortonOMG-Kitty!!! (Jackie, this one’s for you : )

One Beacon Court Contemporary by Duane Kaschak
Kitty Room by Duane Kaschak

Man Cave-golfer’s paradise.

Study by Dave Fox Design Build
Study by Dave Fox Design Build

Who would think to paint a man’s study lavender? Love the rustic table, old leather chair, stone fireplace with lavender hued stone. Genius!

Office by Benjamin Moore. I could work here. All day long.

Office by Benjamin Moore
Office by Benjamin Moore

Sweet Dreams.

Bedroom by Tara Dudley Interiors
Bedroom by Tara Dudley Interiors

One Little Perfect Pillow

Passionate Purple by Mark English ArchitectsComplementary

Complementary Colors by Capitol Lighting
Complementary by Capitol Lighting

To see more of my favorite purple rooms, check out Passionate Purple on or Pinterest. So what do you think? Are you passionate about purple? Have a radiant Thursday, everyone! Susan

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When doing any DIY project, there is always an inherent danger in using a table saw or a razor blade improperly,

Stitched up Thumb

or even using a large, unsecured pineapple that could hit you in the head and give you a concussion.

Williamsburg Apple Fan Holiday DecorationOr even this: fortunately, I realized I had dipped my paintbrush in my coffee before I took another sip. In my defense, the coffee and the paint were almost exactly the same color…

Paintbrush in Coffee CupBut recently, I came across this “Pin” for a collapsible spray painting tent made with PVC pipes and disposable clear plastic drop cloths from the DIY blog Makely School for Girls that gave me pause…

Makely Collapsible Spray TentWhat a great idea to be able to set up an enclosed area where you can spray, and then break it down and get it out of the way, right?! If you look closely at the tent, it is completely sealed on all sides, except for the double-draped opening.  Which is the intention, after all, to contain the spray to a confined area, but clearly you also have to be inside the sealed tent while spraying. Now, on this blog, called Makely School for Girls (so adorable!) the writer repeatedly cautions everyone about being properly protected from fumes and spray, encouraging, no, demanding that anyone who builds and uses this tent must wear proper protective clothing to cover her/him AND a respirator (NOT one of those little surgical masks either-we are talking the big mask with an air vent-like this 3M Tekk Protection Demolition one from Home Depot.

3M Respirator Mask @ Home Depot

(Imagine that $24.97 is all it takes to keep you safe from harmful fumes!)  In this post, the blogger, Lindsay Ballard’s cautions:

“*****IMPORTANT!  I also need to say that you MUST wear a respirator when you are in the tent.  MUST, MUST, MUST.  If you go in there without one, I’ll drive to your house and give you a stern talking to.  And no, those little paper masks just won’t work.  You should ALWAYS use a respirator for your projects if there’s any chance that some harmful particles (paint, wood sand, metal etc) will be in the air.  Don’t make me hunt you down.  Because I will.  And I can be mean.  Not really, but seriously.  My granddaddy was a machinist and we are certain that the metal dust is what caused his lung disease. I also recommend wearing safety glasses (which you should be wearing anyway when you spray paint), nitrile/latex gloves and long sleeves/pants when you go in there (so you won’t be covered in a fine mist of paint yourself).”

Kudos to the author for stressing the importance of proper protection and educating us all about the dangers of spray painting in an enclosed space. BUT, I know, myself, (and I am sure that there are many, many more guilty DIY’ers out there), and I might just be tempted to jump in there and spray one little thing without being hazmatted up.

Cordova Defender Hazmat Suit Home Depot
Cordova Defender ll Microporous Suit from Home Depot

Because even now I sometimes just grab a can of spray adhesive or paint while working in my (essentially unvented) basement workshop and think, “oh, it’s just this little bit, It will be fine.” Well, its not, folks. Not in the least. These companies are putting the warnings on their products for a reason! Just for my own FYI, I grabbed a few of my favorite products that I use on a daily basis in my workshop and was astounded at the levels of toxicity present in so many cans and bottles of goop and spray and paints that I thought were completely safe!! Here are just a few samples- this one is from a little pot of latex paint. It contains Ethylene Glycol– the chemical they use to make anti-freeze & airplane de-icer . According to eHow: Ethylene Glycol is a colorless, odorless synthetic liquid substance used to make antifreeze and for de-icing airplanes and runways. Ethylene glycol breaks down in the body, producing poisons that can damage the brain, heart and kidneys. Even with medical treatment, swallowing antifreeze is often fatal. Read more:

 Paint Pot Warning Label

Now clearly, I am not going to drink the stuff, unless, of course I happen to dip my paintbrush in it by mistake. But, breathing in stuff can be just as harmful. This is from my favorite spray adhesive:

Spray Adhesive Warning LabelProbably not the best decision to have a portable space heater right next to my work table… This label is from a popular brand of chalk paint:

Chalk Paint Can WarningAnd this one is from a can of furniture refinisher that I like to use:

Furniture Refinisher LabelAnd this one from my “odorless mineral spirits” that I sometimes use to clean up brushes:

Mineral Spirits Label

And finally this bottle of a cleaner/degreaser that I got at a natural food store to transfer prints onto wood. I saw this on a DIY show where the host actually put her nose to the bottle and took a deep breath to illustrate how non-toxic and great-smelling and harmless this stuff was! Yikes!

Citrisolv CleanerI looked up some of the ingredients on the above labels and this one scared the crap out of me!! Toluene: Toluene is primarily used as an octane-boosting additive to gasoline. It is also used as a solvent in paints, household aerosols, adhesives, solvent-based cleaning agents, and synthetic fragrances.
Read more: According to Wikipedia: “Inhalation of toluene in low to moderate levels can cause tiredness, confusion, weakness, drunken-type actions, memory loss, nausea, loss of appetite, and hearing and color vision loss. These symptoms usually disappear when exposure is stopped. Inhaling high levels of toluene in a short time may cause light-headedness, nausea, or sleepiness. It can also cause unconsciousness, and even death.” 
On top of that, I started thinking about all of the old furniture I have been working on, sanding and releasing particles into the air-that I am breathing in without a mask-that could very well be mold, old toxic chemicals and even lead paint. If you notice, all of the above labels contain warnings about making sure that your work area is properly ventilated, and the importance of wearing protective masks and clothing.

Dangers poisonSo, enough label reading, time for action! What’s a DIY’er to do if you don’t have a vented workshop or an outdoor space you can use year-round? Well, for myself, a few decisions have been made and are being implemented immediately. No more spray painting or sanding or gluing in the basement, PERIOD. Until spring, when I can set up shop outdoors again, (at which time I may entertain the idea of a collapsible painting tent ala the Makely School for Girls project, because that is AWESOME : ) I am temporarily going to roll up the oriental rug and move my workshop to our upstairs living room (which is quite lovely, but essentially gets used once a year, on Thanksgiving. Hopefully, by then I will be moved out of our house and into a nice, open studio or workshop.)

Living Room Fireplace PMThis parlor has high ceilings, 4 windows for ventilation and a fake fireplace for a little ambiance : ). Electric sanding will be done outdoors, regardless of the temperature, and masks and gloves on from now on! Just out of curiosity, where do all of you DIY’ers do your painting, sanding and staining? Do you have the luxury of a beautiful, vented and well-lit workshop? Do you have any suggestions on the best place to DIY? And, on that note, gotta head to Home Depot  to pick up my mask and gloves. I suggest, if you are planning on doing any future painting, gluing, sanding or staining DIY projects, that you do the same. Have a happy and non-toxic Sunday, everyone! Susan

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Yet another DIY project to share. This butcher block table was actually in two pieces-the bottom had been kicking around the barn loft for the past 15-20 years, and the top was a throw-away Coach picked up over the summer at a yard sale.

The bottom looked like this:

Butcher Block Base Before

The top looked like this:

Butcher Block Top Before

And now the whole piece looks like this!

Finished Butcher Block Table CDH LOGO

I started with the base, painting it in my favorite dark charcoal gray home-made chalk-like paint.

CDH Parisiian Gray Paint

You can find that recipe here. Then I sanded down the edges, added a glaze finish with Martha Stewart Antique Glaze  mixed with Madagascar Mocha Couture Paint.

Paint Couture Madagascar Mocha

The glazing technique is so simple: Mix the glaze and paint together, paint it on your piece,

Martha Stewart Glaze painting on

then wipe it off where you don’t want it.

Martha Stewart Glaze wiping off

Allowed the entire base to dry. Finished with a coat of Fidde’s Soft Wax, which gives it a nice glowing finish.

Sanded and Glazed Leg

The top required a bit more elbow grease and some heavy implements.

Butcher Block Top Distressed

I wanted to rough it up just a bit to give it a more “antiqued” appearance, but since there will be food prep on it, I didn’t want it to be so rustic as to have holes in it where food could get caught!

Butcher Block Distressing ToolsUsed a chain, a hammer and a screwdriver and just banged it around a bit. (I wonder why my hands are so cracked and bleeding…) Since I wanted this to be a food safe butcher block top, but also wanted a shade or two darker, I attempted a technique I had found online: staining with brewed coffee grounds.

Staining with Coffee Grounds

Really didn’t work out too well, but it smelled great! The butcher block top is finished with Howard Butcher Block Conditioner. This is a product that I picked up at Home Depot -its FDA food safe-perfect!

Howard Butcher Block Conditioner

To secure the top to the base, I used some old black iron decorative brackets Coach got from somewhere…(seems to be a recurrent theme, right? I tell him what I need, he finds it.)

Ornamental Brackets

The brackets were a little too black and “new-looking”, even though they are pretty old, so I sprayed them with Rustoleum Gray gloss paint,

Rustoleum Gray Painters Touch

but that was a bit too shiny, so I resprayed them with Rustoelum soft flat iron black spray paint.

Rustoleum Metallic Paint for Brackets

to complement the antiqued gray base color. I found that the simplest way to attach the top to the base was to place it on top, measured the four corners to ensure they were evenly spaced,

Measuring corners

marked the holes with a sharpie, (apologies for the blurry pic-too much leftover coffee, perhaps?)

Marking holes for drillingthen drilled starter holes for the screws,

Predrilling holes for bracketsflipped the top upside down and secured the brackets to the underside of the top.

Brackets affixed to bottom of butcher block top

Slipped the top back onto the base and secured it with screws. For the embellishments, I added this cool, rustic, vintage, winged front piece to be used as a towel or utensil hanger.

Bracket on front of Butcher Block

I am told it was the handle to an old wood planer. These side pieces

Butcher Block Hooks

are old window lock parts.

Butcher Block Side Ring Hangers

Perfect for hanging a pot or pan with an “s” hook. Old wooden rulers are kind of a thing right now, so I added one from “A.J. Wilkinson, The Oldest Hardware Company in Boston” across the front (perfect for measuring out dough!) and secured it with some rustic corner brackets to give it industrial “old general store” kind of vibe. Then I rubbed that with the Howard Butcher Block Conditioning to finish it.

Butcher Block Ruler and Corner BracketsDone and ready for some butchering, or pie-making, or whatever. But it won’t be in my kitchen, or my daughter’s (sorry, Kate-I promise I will make you another one), because it was sold this past weekend at the Vintage Thymes Monthly Market-yay! And, if you are in the market for an old wooden ruler, drop me a line. Since I mentioned to Coach that I needed a few, he’s been on the lookout, and now I have an immeasurable amount to choose from!


Have a “block-buster” Tuesday everyone! Susan

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Winter. Cold outside. Cold inside. (with oil at $3.99 per gallon, our home doesn’t reach much higher than 62 degrees-EVER). Forced hot air furnace. Dry. Dusty. Dry. I am continually washing my hands, both at work (in the medical field, sterile is key) and at home. All of the painting, sanding, cleaning and woodworking I am doing has left my hands incredibly cracked and painful and bloody.

Cracked, Dy and Bleeding HandThe other day I looked down and saw the hands of a longshoreman, not a creative DIY blogger! I have tried all kinds of creams and potions and lotions and goops, but nothing has any lasting effects that have soothed my aching and crackling digits. So, I went on and ordered a Dr. Scholl’s for Her (I am not sure why guys can’t use this…) Quick Heat Thermal Therapy Paraffin Bath.

Dr. Scholls Bath and Supplies

Only took a couple of days to get here, and I was anxious to give it a try. The kit, for $29.95 came complete with the unit that has adjustable heat settings, 3 pounds of scented paraffin wax, 2 thermal mitts & 30 plastic glove liners. Now, one word of caution: the included paraffin was very heavily scented. so if you have allergies, this may not be the one for you! Once it was plugged in and warming up, the entire upstairs of our home had the strong scent of orchids. Which kind of made me feel like I was in Hawaii…OK, well, maybe not. But be forewarned. Unpacked the unit, followed the basic instructions.

Dr. Scholls Instructions

Placed it on a flat surface. I would also say that you need to place it somewhere where a little splattering wax won’t harm the surface. The three pounds of wax were packaged in three separately sealed bags.

Dr. Scholls Paraffin in Bag

The instructions were to open each one, then break the wax brick into quarters. Really?! Unless you are the Incredible Hulk

The Incredible Hulk Mitts(and he wouldn’t be using this anyway because it’s for HER), I don’t see how this is possible without some sort of large, sharp implement. In this case, some old, heavy Fiskar shears did the trick-don’t use your good scissors unless you want them to be waxed and slippery!

Waxed ScissorsI used the stab and split method.

Paraffin Bath Wax CuttingPlaced the wax pieces into the unit and turned it to high. The red light indicates it is heating.

Dr. Scholls Paraffin Bath LightsThere is also a flat plastic plate with holes in it that is to rest inside on the bottom of the unit once the wax is melted. This is clearly to keep you from resting your hands on the hot elements. Smart move, Dr. Scholl.

Bottom Surface PlateNow, I realize that the name on the box says “Quick Heat Paraffin Bath“, but if you were in a hurry to smooth your rough edges before a night on the town, I’m afraid you would be sorely disappointed. The warming time is 2 hours! (the instructions say 120 minutes, I think to throw you off, but I can do the math…) So I plugged it in and went off to do more stuff in my workshop and get ready for the football game, which I determined would coincide with the precise melting point time. Fast forward…green light on…dipping time! You place your hand into the warm pretty hot wax, fingers slightly apart, dipping for just a couple of seconds, then pulling your hand out.

Dipping hand in wax bathWait a few seconds until the wax starts to harden, then dip again, each time adding another coat of wax to your hand. They recommended 5 coats, and that was just about right to create a waxy, sealed glove.

Re-dipping to for wax glove

Placed my hand in one of the baggies,

Plastic bag covering wax

then donned the terry mitt.

One Mitt OnClearly, at this point, I could not longer take pics, so I came downstairs at the start of the game and asked Coach to help me out. He had no clue why I was wearing pastel blue oven mitts, nor why I was asking him to take my photo-lol!

Mitts onDuring the first quarter, the wax slowly cooled off (as did the Colts), so after approx. 15 minutes I removed the mitts and the plastic baggies to uncover this-

Waxed hand afterthe wax had cooled but stayed somewhat soft, so I pulled that off too and I was left with a baggie full of cooled wax.

Remainder Wax After The instructions recommend discarding the wax, (you know, germs and all) but I figured, since I am the only one using it, why not recycle? What was left on my hands was a layer of lotion that I then massaged into my hands, per the instructions. Which felt great, but the scent was still quite heavy, so I ended up washing them a couple of times and then creaming them up.

Hand after wax bath

The verdict? Overall, I love this Dr. Scholl’s paraffin bath! My hands felt instantly smoother and less cracked and my knuckles were less achy too! For the time being, I am planning on making this a nightly ritual until my hands start looking less like a lumberjack’s, or until the warm weather arrives, whichever comes first. However, I am planning on purchasing some new, unscented wax to replace the orchids-if I can’t be in Hawaii, then I don’t want to be reminded of tropical breezes while the wind is howling outside here in New England.

Holiday Palm Trees

Hopefully it’s warm where you are, and just remember to do a bit of pampering for yourself today…Susan

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Inspired. Rustic. New Country Style.


Welcome To Country Design Home!

Inspired. Rustic. New Country 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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