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The Launch

Would have preferred to be blogging about “The Lunch” at a lovely little Italian bistro in Tuscany. But The Kayaks have been in dry dock for over a year now, and it was time to take them for their maiden voyage. These kayaks were a birthday gift for my husband, presented to him with grand fanfare a year ago May-yes 2011!  Amazing how an adult could be so excited about a big blue plastic boat : )  Since that time, there were many reasons (ah, excuses) why the kayaks had not been launched. Poor weather, wrist surgery (on my part), lack of PFD’s (for those of you not boating saavy, that stands for Personal Flotation Device, previously known as, and more accurately described as a LIFE JACKET), lack of roof racks and a cruise to the Baltics-my preferred style of boating-someone steers the boat while I relax on the deck with a bucket of beers : )Fast forward to this past Sunday, a glorious spring day, the peace and tranquility of my morning coffee on the porch rudely interrupted by a text from my daughter saying “get ready, we are going kayaking today!”. Great. Good. It’s time. We had recently purchased a new car with roof racks, which up until now, had been utilized for carrying home furniture and stuff from antique shops. No more excuses, or pretty soon, those Kayaks were going to be utilized in a much more artistic form if we didn’t get them water-borne.

Being a reluctant participant, I hung back and took pics while the J-hook racks, and then the kayaks were secured to the roof, and the PFD secured to Bartlet the dog.

Off we go to our local Lake Quannapowitt, which is very pretty in pictures from afar, but not so much up close-a fierce algae bloom has turned the shoreline a bright shade of green. Ok to boat on, but wouldn’t want to fall in!

Since the kayaks were my husband’s gift, it was only fair that he have the first go-round (and yes, I was stalling).  My daughter Kate and her dog Bartlet were right behind him, at least for a moment, until the dog decided to test his PFD and his swimming abilities! Frenchies are great little dogs, but we had read that because their heads are quite large, they have a tendency to sink when submerged in water. I am happy to report that his ability to keep afloat with his head above water was masterful, and his PFD worked beautifully! Kate paddled quickly to his side and scooped him out of the water by the handle on the top of the jacket. Of course, I don’t have any pictures of that, because I was doubled-over laughing at the sequence of events. Suffice to say I could never make a living as an official photographer. And with that, the kayaks were launched.

Remember that old Nike tagline “Just Do It?”. With that thought in mind, I finally took my turn around the lake in the periwinkle blue LL Bean Perception kayak. In all the time thinking about and worrying about tipping over and going in the drink, that never was an issue. I did have a few run-ins with some bushes along the shore, but for the most part, it was an uneventful event. Until we packed up and returned home. Now I would like to tell the story that my sore back and neck was from a large wave crashing and tossing me into the lake. Sadly, not true. Safely back home after our maiden voyage, having removed the kayaks from the roof of the car, I had jumped up along the side of the car to unscrew the J-hook racks. Stepping back down, I tripped and fell backwards into the kayaks on the ground! Thankfully, no cameras handy to record that moment in the kayak annals. So my take on the whole experience? Lots of work to secure J-hooks, strap the kayaks to the roof, drive to location, unstrap and carry kayak to water’s edge, PFD’s are not all that comfortable, paddling is quite a good upper body workout, being on the lake is fun, but I would just as soon walk around the lake for my exercise. Will I go again? Perhaps. In the meantime, anyone wanna borrow some kayaks???

Peaceful sailing…Susan

Up S***’S Creek…

…with not one, not two, but three paddles! When Coach brought a pile of old wooden paddles home last year (5 in all), I was pretty ticked off, because at the time, we just didn’t have any place to store them and I had no use for them. These are not the type of paddles you would use for kayaking, and since that is the watery mode of transportation we are sporting these days,

Kayaking- The Launch

it just didn’t make much sense to have a collection of wooden paddles. (For the record, these are paddles, not oars, as I kept calling them until Coach corrected me enough times.) Paddles Before

So they sat in the barn over the winter until 1. I sold a couple of them to Pat from Perfectly You, A Decorating Service for her awesome nautical hallway project

Perfectly You Hallway Paddles

and 2. I discovered this decorative box at, where else, HomeGoods,

Paddle Book Box

which became my inspiration for this month’s nautical theme at the Vintage Thymes Market. With three paddles remaining, I decided to paint and distress them to look the ones pictured above. Except those are oars, so I am taking some artistic license here. Do you know the difference?! I made the necessary repairs to the handles, sanded them down, taped off the lines and stripes,

Paddle 3 Taped

painted in the red and white and blue,

Paddle Red Stripe Taped

added the number 3 (found the one I wanted online and printed it out on a piece of paper. Cut it out, traced it on and painted it in. Easy!! You know you don’t have to paint perfectly when you are planning on sanding and distressing a piece, right?

Paddle Painting 3

I re-sanded the painted sections for that worn-out, been used to row across the ocean and back kind of look,

Paddle Sanding

then added a coat of Annie Sloan Soft Wax,

Paddle Annie Sloan Soft Wax

which restored the original luster of the exposed, unpainted wooden areas.

Paddle Waxed

Lovely. So I brought them, and the box to market, and only the #3 sold! So now there are two paddles remaining, which are presently hanging proudly in our summer porch.

Vintage Porch Paddles

The good news is that they are all painted and shiny and pretty. The bad news is that there is one short and one long-in case you have a lop-sided canoe. Which, thankfully, I do not. Hope you don’t spend your entire day paddling upstream!! Susan

A Big Thank You!

Zazzle Thank You

So, I didn’t realize until Word Press (my host server) sent me a little congrats card that this week marked my one year anniversary of this blog-unbelievable!! What started as a simple marketing assignment has blossomed into a full-fledged, time-consuming, educational, inspirational, often-times ridiculous look into the daily lives of myself and Coach and my family and friends. At 150 posts and counting, some of my personal favorites have included guests spots for New England Home Magazine featuring the works of Interior Designer Rachel Hazelton

 Rachel Hazelton

and photographer Paul Granese,

 Paul Granese Photography

my work on the Glidden Project,

The Glidden Project

my posts from some of the amazing weddings we attended this past yearWedding With A View

The Whale’s Tale, a refurbishing D.I.M. story

Ann Whale's Tale

the special tribute birthday cake I created for my sister in Faded Photographs

Ann Faded Photographs

and of course, my most recent post about our mission trip to the Dominican Republic.

Laundry on Barbed Wire

Over the years, I have always looked for new challenges and adventures-whether its traveling, cooking or creating art or design- and my motto is “I can do that”. Or, at the very least, I can try that (see Kayaking…The Launch)

Kayaking- The Launch

This blog has given me a voice, otherwise unheard, to share my successes and my abysmal failures (of which there are soooo many). Looking back over this past year, it is clear by your responses that you have enjoyed many of my posts about interior design, whether country pretty- yay Buffalo Plaid!

Buffalo Plaid

or chic and glamorous.

Green With Envy

Also big on the hit lists were my ventures to the SOWA Vintage Market

SOWA Market

and the Vintage Bazaar @ Pettengill Farm (can’t wait for that one again!)

Vintage Bazaar

and the Brimfield Antiques Show.

My Sister's Garage @ Brimfield

And, then, of course, there is that whole are you freaking kidding me, I dropped the whole can of paint?!?!” posts,

Hall of Shame Color Splash

where I have been sharing our crazy lives, living in, decorating and preserving our 1850’s farmhouse and barn- featured in Rejected and Dejected

Rejected and Dejected

and so many other posts. Those of you who know us personally have been hearing and witnessing those stories first hand for many years. For those of you in “blog land”, it has been great fun sharing those follies and receiving responses letting me know that you have been there too! For the coming year, I am hoping to expand my horizons and find new places, new spaces and new ideas to share both here and on my Pinterest pages. Endless adventures await, and I never go anywhere now without my camera and iPhone in my pocket. I love comments- so please feel free to weigh in on any subject and “like” a post (the button is at the bottom of the page) so I know you are reading! And if there is something you would like me to feature, check out or write about, drop me an email @ countrydesignhome@gmail.com. Thanks for following my blog everyone! Susan

**Pie Is Love**

I Love Pie.

Pie In The Sky Postcard Chocolate, blueberry, apple, pumpkin-if you bake it, I will eat it, but I’m not always crazy about cooking the filling and rolling out the dough. So, I am ever so grateful each year around this time, when I receive this postcard in the mail from a Boston-based food service called Community Servings. Comunity ServingsThis organization delivers nutritious meals to over 1500 homebound and critically ill patients daily. Their motto: Delivering Meals. Delivering Hope “As New England’s expert in home-delivered nutrition for the critically ill, Community Servings provides meals to the acutely ill, their families, and their caregivers. Our clients live in 18 cities and towns throughout Massachusetts and battle over 35 different types of illnesses, including HIV/AIDS, breast and other cancers, and kidney disease.”  The fund-raiser they sponsor each Thanksgiving is called Pie In The Sky, a way for the community to give to those in need and enjoy a tasty pie! Pie In the Sky Pumkpin Pie The History of Pie in the Sky  In 1993, members of the restaurant community — who lost many friends and colleagues to AIDS — conceptualized and launched Pie in the Sky. Knowing how food can improve someone’s emotional and physical well-being, Pie in the Sky was an ideal way for Boston’s chefs, caterers, and restaurateurs to support Community Servings’ clients. As our mission has expanded to serve people struggling with any life-threatening illness, our friends in the restaurant community have stood by us. Through their generosity, Pie in the Sky is now the World’s Greatest Bake Sale — raising 15% of Community Servings’ private fundraising revenue! We are deeply grateful for their ongoing support and encourage you to frequent their establishments. Sweet Potato Pie Pie In the Sky

It’s Your Turn To Buy A Pie!

Ordering is as easy as pie! You go on to their website and order a pie or pies that are baked by some of the best pie bakers in Boston. And let me tell you, these are hands-down some of the most amazing pies your taste buds will ever feast on!  You can buy a pie for yourself, for your neighbors, for your friends and especially for someone in need. You get a pie, and you get a pie and you get a pie-everybody gets a pie!! Or, if you really don’t like pie, (seriously!?!?) then you can make a donation here. The day before Thanksgiving, you go to a local “pickup” spot-they are scattered all over the greater Boston area-and pick up your freshly-baked pie to enjoy on Thanksgiving. You can even take it out of the box and pretend you slaved all day making the perfect flaky crust and rich, yummy fillings! But I don’t. Because I want to keep spreading the word about this amazing organization. BUT, here’s the catch. The deadline for ordering pies this year is the 19th-only two days away!!! So please click on the links and order your pies today. If you are so very thankful for the life that you have this Thanksgiving, then this is your chance to make this one holiday just a bit sweeter for someone in need. Pie In The Sky Pecan PieThanks, now go order a pie!! Susan

New England Home Guest Blog #2!

Rachel Hazelton Interior DesignIf you are reading this blog, you can thank a teacher…specifically, Rachel Hazelton of Rachel Hazelton Interior Design. One of my Interior Design instructors at North Shore Community College, Rachel is the subject of my second guest blog for NE Home Magazine’s Design Blog. She is an extraordinary designer, well-known for her strikingly glamorous interiors, and the marketing teacher who inspired me to launch this blog. To read more about Rachel, please click here: http://blog.nehomemag.com/2013/02/susan-mathison-rachel-hazelton/trackback/. There are links to Rachel’s blog and website, in the event that you are interested in seeing more of her work. Have a terrific Tuesday everyone! Susan

Wanderlust Wednesdays

Wanderlust is a strong desire for or impulse to wander or travel and explore the world…give me a plane ticket and rolling suitcase and I am off!!

Springtime each year I get a serious case of “itchy feet”. Having worked very hard since our last trip (August, 2011!!), we are looking forward to some vacation time this summer, but where to go?! Over the years, we have had the opportunity to visit some amazing places, both in the US and abroad. Still have a lot of the earth left to cover, but would like to share some of my favorite pics with you…so introducing…Wanderlust Wednesdays! (I realize today is Thursday, but I didn’t get to finish this post until this morning : ) Inspired by my daughter’s upcoming trip to Sweden, today’s travel pics will be about one of my favorite places, Stockholm.

Entering the Harbor by Ship

Downtown Shopping and Pubs…cobblestone streets, outdoor cafes, loads of “tourist” shopping

Searching for a place to enjoy the local pub culture, instead found this place! O’Leary’s Pub- completely decked out in Boston Sports Collectibles, while the Celtics were playing on the telly.

Colorful Architecture..even on the dreariest day the downtown is alive with people!

Phone Booth…don’t see these in the States

Hot Air Balloon…floating overhead between the buildings…breathtaking!

Ice Hotel…The Ice Bar in Stockholm. Everyone said “don’t bother, it’s just a tourist trap”…and it was. But it was very cool.

Where else could you get Vodka in the rocks?!?! And I got to wear this awesome fur cape. Pretty stylish, huh?

Fishing boats lined the harbor

This is our Princess Cruise Ship from the Alleyway

The Vasa Museum– the building was constructed around the Vasa ship that sank on its maiden voyage! The master boat builder thought it would be fun to add an upper deck, not factoring in that whole side to side balance thing. The ship was launched with much fanfare, two gusts of wind knocked it over and it sank to the bottom of the harbor! Early 1900’s, they figured out how to bring it back up, and with most of the ship’s carvings intact, they built the museum around it.

Vasa Ship Cherubs

Nightime Along the Docks…time to sail away to our next port! Hope you enjoyed my pics (taken with my Iphone : ) Happy Sailing… Susan

The Red Truck

I am the proud owner of a brand new 2012 Honda CRV. It’s a pretty silver color, has a moonroof, AWD, a backup camera and it’s Bluetooth enabled so I can talk and drive hands free, listening to my ITunes or Pandora. It’s super comfy and the back is large enough to hold anything I can haul out of HomeGoods. Even has a roof rack for the yet-to-be-launched kayaks! (but that’s a story for another day) Dream car, right?

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Nope. My dream car is an old-fashioned, shiny, fire engine red pickup truck, a farmer’s best friend. Used for everything from transporting chickens to market to carrying hay, that truck is the vehicle I have wanted for years. Part of the allure is surely the color- RED – the color of fire and blood and one that evokes feelings of energy, confidence and courage. That truck of my dreams has served as inspiration for many of my bold home color choices, including the exterior, the barn and my dining room walls. I may never own one, but I can thank the red truck for shaping my design sense: bold, functional, country, pretty.

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