Once again, this weekend flew by, along with my best intentions to work on the Hall of Shame. I know, it’s getting to be old news by now. But it was just so darn hot, especially in the hall, where heat rises and turns the upstairs into an inferno. The alternative? Hit the road in the CRV with the AC and music cranked up, on yet another trash to treasures hunt. Had some major scores, including these pretty vintage fruit compotes ($1.00!), this amazing pressed glass punch bowl set ($5.00!) and

…my new favorite piece of porch furniture- meet Mr. Whale!!! I have been searching for quite some time for a whale coffee table to replace one that Coach and I had acquired for our first apartment- is it possible that was 30+ years ago!?! Not sure why we ever gave it away the first time, but I am so happy to give this little guy a new home. We had (shall I say it?) a whale wash today, and it will be sanded, primed and painted, hopefully in time to celebrate the 4th in patriotic fashion. After a few yard sales, we made the trip to Todd Farm in Rowley, still searching for a final piece for the porch- a couch. Although I think we have done a fine job of filling the porch with vintage wicker, Coach has complained loudly and often that he needs a couch for his afternoon siesta. After months of fruitlessly searching yard sales, antique shops and

craigslist, we came upon this vintage Benchcraft rattan sofa. Vintage is putting it nicely. It is smelly, dirty, has UGLY cushions and some unexpected guests-yuck! These creepy little things started crawling out of the sides when we were hiking it up on to the roof rack. Brought back memories of Rod Serling’s Night Gallery– remember the episode when the earwig laid eggs in the guy’s brain and they hatched?!?!?!? Not sure if I will ever be able to lay down on this couch, but the reno has begun in ernest. Washed, bleached, cushions tossed. Stay tuned for the final results.

Along with the couch, Coach picked up yet another crock for his growing collection, this one a George Washington Commemorative Crock! (Click the link if you would like one of your very own)

Him being a history teacher and all, anything presidential always peaks his interest. Me being married to a history teacher, I am all about learning important historical origins. So I wanted to find out where the phrase “that’s a crock of Sxxx!“came from. Let’s just say the Romans could have used a little indoor plumbing while waxing philosophical.

Walking along the dusty paths of Todd Farm, saw some really cute vintage yellow kitchenware I love it when the dealers actually bring some sense of order and style to their offerings like these stacks of vintage crates

Anyone got the time?

I am kicking myself for not buying this beautiful set of Virgina Glassware- Tangerine Tango!!

But I am not kicking myself for not buying this clock. Vintage and pretty, but not sure if it worked (if there is a worm stuck on the second hand, does that slow the time?) and just saw it listed on Ebay for $10 less than the dealer wanted. Phew!

So that’s a wrap (gotta find out where that saying came from). Time to start sanding Mr. Whale. For those of you who have the whole week of the 4th off, have a great vacation! For the rest of you, does anyone have a red,white and blue punch recipe? If you do, send it to me at countrydesignhome@gmail.com and I will post it! Susan

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Dreary gray sky today, hot and humid-temps in the 90’s-severe thunderstorms,  per  the weatherman. Having my morning coffee on the back porch, looking at the exploding garden that all of a sudden needs some serious pruning and weeding. We have rose bushes, daisies, tiger lilies, phlox in several shades of purples and pinks (thanks to the cross-pollination from the bees : ). One forbidden flower in our garden? The Sunflower, aptly named because of their ability to follow the sun with their giant heads. Now, Coach loves sunflowers, perhaps because they are so big that they give a little extra bang for your buck? Me, not so much. They remind me of that giant man-eating Venus Fly Trap in “The Little Shop of Horrors”. (for those of you unfamiliar with this vintage cult film, click here. When I imagine those ginormous flowers hovering around my back porch, the phrase “what’s eating you” always comes to mind. Do you think there is such a thing as SAD (Sunflower Affected Disorder)? If so, I believe I may be afflicted with that particular malady. ..That being said, I do appreciate that sunflowers, with their bright yellow petals and chocolate brown anther (that’s the middle) can make a colorful impact in a small space. Because of the various shades of yellows and browns and golds, they are comfortable in any color scheme.

Most often used in what I consider to be rustic country decor (with chickens too!)sunflowers in today’s modern eclectic esthetic can add a touch of whimsy

a pop of color in an otherwise black and white and red scheme-LOVE THIS!)They can be bright and cheery or

add a bold contrast (yikes! this shower would slay me-literally!)

Sunflowers can bring a touch of country to a city dwelling

Or create a cozy colorful outdoor nook for reading and relaxing (where they are safely ensconced in that large glass cylinder : )

You might like to know that the color Yellow shines with optimism, enlightenment, happiness and energy and carries the promise of a positive future. Impressionist Vincent Van Gogh thought so, as they were a favorite subject, but most likely that was before he cut off his ear in the throes of depression…

Here’s hoping that this blog about Sunflowers will brighten your day!  Susan

Addendum: Dried Sunflower seeds are also a fun, nutritious treat that can be used in many recipes to add some crunch and flavor. This cold broccoli salad with raisins, bacon and sunflower seeds is a family favorite at any BBQ. DO NOT USE UNSHELLED SEEDS in this recipe! Lesson learned the hard way-literally. Have a sunny Friday!

 

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“Italy With My Family” in Wanderlust Wednesdays

The first time I saw the movie “Under The Tuscan Sun“, I immediately added a stay in Tuscany to my bucket list. Longing became a reality the summer of 2010, when we rented suites in a rustic villa  Il Castello di Fulignano located on the hilly outskirts of the medieval town of San Giminano.

The living room…

The pool at sunset…The view from our villa…a gathering storm over San GiminanoThe streets of San Giminano were lined with shops and cafes, a feast for the eyes and the palate…this is me and coach having dinner in an outdoor cafe… 

We ventured out to see the tuscan countryside, with trips to Lucca

and Pisa…who could go there and not assume some crazy pose with the Leaning Tower??!

We enjoyed fabulous wine tastings (not quite as enjoyable at one villa, as we were shown the door by the somelier, whom we apparently insulted.) However, this wine came from a  farmhouse winery, Fattorio Poggio Alloro, where we enjoyed a delicious local lunch : )

We made day trips to Siena, home of the spectacular Duomo Di Siena (Cathedral of Siena) a Gothic marble treasure dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries and  Il Palio, an annual horse race through the city square harking back to medieval times.

 We toured Florence, the capital of the Tuscan region of Italy, and home of Michelangelo’s David (sorry, no picture-taking allowed)

and the Ponte Vecchio bridge, lovely at sunset.

Lovely vacation, spectacular scenery, amazing food and wine, beautiful people…next stop…Venice!!!  But that’s a blog for another day. Ciao! Susan

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Weekends around here are typically saved for yard work, house cleaning, reno projects and getting together with family and friends. Weekends are also earmarked for yard and estate sale-ing, trash to treasure hunting and attending an occasional country fair or arts festival. This past Saturday and Sunday, The Vintage Bazaar hosted ‘The Summer Bazaar and Music Festival” at Pettengill Farm in Salisbury, MA. Featuring local live musicians, food and over 125 vendors from 11 states, this fair was billed as “an inspiring experience for all the senses”, and it delivered on all points. Although we did not partake of the amazing variety of foods, the music was folksy and fun, but the star of the show was the variety of vintage vendors. Wandering through the gardens with rows of tents filled with antiques, collectibles, and loads of salvaged and upcycled furniture and household items, it was clear that everything old is absolutely new again.

Searching for unique and unusual, here are a few of my personal favorites:

Jwrobel, where we discovered these pillows created from old, threadbare wool carpets. To that end, the artist “sources her materials to be organic, fair trade, recycled, vintage, and/or re-purposed”. Where most would have seen junk, Jess, the studio artisan, saw art and stitched these timeless pillows, the perfect complement to any country home decor.

From Garden Guardians came these whimsical characters, born of concrete, created by Valerie McCaffrey of Ballard Street Studios in Portland Maine. These mysterious stone faces are fashioned to add grace and charm to your natural landscape.

“If I Only Had a Heart” sang the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz. He would have found his in this amazing shop, “Tin Hearts”, where metal artist Carol Mataruso creates these fanciful dolls from “anything and everything”. “Reborn, with lost objects and a new heart”.  Extraordinary.  

There were loads of booths with all sorts of salvaged, re-purposed, re-painted furniture. The best of the bunch, in my humble opinion, were at the “Vintage Chic Boutique”. Painstakingly hand-painted, distressed and waxed by Kimberley Wilson and Sheila Bussone, using Annie Sloan Chalk Products, these recycled pieces were eye-catchingly colorful and sooo “country pretty”.

Reminiscent of a 30’s flapper dress, this “A Dress Book” was created by artisan Susan Perrine with “fringe” made from hundreds of pieces of childrens books stitched on to silk! I haven’t quite figured out the logistics of wearing this outfit and actually sitting down, but it sure would turn some heads-as it did mine while I was attempting to read the mini pages!

These epic pieces of rusted iron sculpture would be at home guardingany fortress or castle. Larger than life, striking in appearance, handcrafted by Gordon Frost of Rusty Iron Art.

A few vintage vignettes at Eccentrique…

And finally…be still my heart…This perfect little vintage turquoise VW Beetle, re-purposed and morphed into a bug with a rump, this inventive traveling design studio by Holly Gagne Interior Design caught my eye.

Stuffed with pillows that created a vintage vibe, with a sheepskin driver’s seat, and a little pop-up window to sell your wares.

Recycling and re-purposing at its best….and so perfectly country cute!!!

So next time you see a sign pointing the way to an arts fair or bazaar, make it a “Hobbit” to check it out. You never know what you might find!  Susan

PS: Does anyone know where I can find an old VW Beetle, circa 1968?

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It’s Friday here in the Boston area, and finally a relief from the blistering heat that has blanketed the state for the past few days. Today’s forecast is for temps in the 80’s with some thundershowers to cool things off. Every year, it seems as if we get one brief preview of the upcoming summer heat, and it is always then that Coach states “we need to get the air conditioners in the windows TODAY.” Now let me point out that I have attempted to persuade him, on more than one occasion, that perhaps central air conditioning might be a wise investment, saving us from the annual “haul them out of the closets and install them in the windows” dance that we do with the portable AC units. He is of the belief, however, that if James Buchanan (the US President when our house was built in 1857) could live in the White House without air conditioning, then we should be of hardy enough stock to do the same. Can I point out that I am almost 100% certain that the White House is now centrally air-conditioned in 2012!?!

SO… the dance begins. We go searching in the closets for three units, one for each upstairs window. Since our home is a cape cod style house, we are essentially living in the attic upstairs- hotter than blazes during a heat wave. Then I remember that the unit we had in our bedroom previously had finally kicked the bucket last summer and was tossed. I also recalled that the one previous to that had an unfortunate and abrupt ending to its “shelf-life”. The story goes something like this:

Coach: “Come help me get this AC unit in the window. (as he hoists it up on to the inside windowsill). Can you hold this for a minute?”

Me: “OK” (as I place ONE FINGER against the unit to stabilize it-you know where this is going, right?)

Coach: “OK, I just need to adjust the tilt angle” (as he whips the window open!)

Me: “Oh, x#$#!!!!” (yeah, that fingertip balance thing not happening- air conditioner falls out of the window and smashes to the ground two stories below)

Coach (angrily): “Why the hell did you let it go!?!?!?!?” (as he stomps down the stairs to go retrieve the unit. Actually, he had to dig it out of the muddy ground…he was not amused) This is not the actual pic, although it would be nice to live next door to a wine bar…

Me: Immediately pick up the phone and call my mom- who else do you call when you need a friend, a shoulder to cry on or to share something so ridiculously funny!? She can’t understand what I am saying because I am doubled-over, laughing hysterically…until I hear Coach coming back up the stairs, broken air conditioner in his arms, covered in dirt with sprays of grass sticking out of the bent and broken corners (this was before cell phones with cameras- so unfortunately, no pics)

Needless to say, that AC unit never made it back into the window, the EPA frowns on leaking Freon into the ozone layer- apparently that hole is big enough already.

Two units down, one to go. The installation of AC #3-the last unit standing-was pretty uneventful despite the fact that it was Wednesday night at 8 PM, and we were both hot and tired. This unit is very old-it’s not even DIGITAL!! Therefore, the two “wingy” things- you know, the little accordians that you pull over to the side to block out the bugs and birds and stuff? Well that was broken…on both sides. Duct tape to the rescue. Desperate times call for desperate measures. At least the gray matches my night stand. And, I discovered another use for duct tape- cup holders for margaritas!!!

Hope you have a cool day…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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