Do Something Worth Writing (About)

Hey! It’s been a minute, but I think I finally found something worth writing about. A few years ago, I purchased this print from Fleurish Home and Garden

at a Vintage Bazaar. Ben Franklin had it write*; interesting reads begin with purpose. This month, after two years of languishing in some sort of pandemic hell malaise, I have found just that purpose. Recently, I happened upon a TikTok video on my FYP. (for those who’ve not had the pleasure of this time-wasting activity, scrolling through videos about nothing and everything, FYP is the for you page-the algorithm that TikTok uses to determine what you’d like to watch, because apparently, you’re not able to do that on your own). The video I happened upon was of a woman’s voice-over, explaining how she was putting together some bedding to give to a refugee family while displaying her choices on screen.

And so, I discovered

Intrigued, I kept watching…and watching…the videos are short but incredibly heartfelt and places on full display what happens when people leave dire situations where they cannot exist peacefully or thrive. More often than not, moving with nothing more than the clothes on their backs and with little to no resources, these are the people: friends and neighbors, moms and dads, brothers and sisters, grandparents and teens, and so many little children who have nothing, that turn to Project Home Again for assistance in setting up their new living spaces-all free of charge. If you watch the video below, it will give you a better sense of what they are all about.

The brainchild of founder Nancy Kanell, Project Home Again has been in existence for over 19 years in the Lawrence/Andover area of Massachusetts. You can read all about the origins in their bio, linked here. Suffice to say that the fateful decision of Nancy’s to help one friend-a domestic abuse survivor-to replace a broken stove, has changed the lives of so many, many more. So why are they on Tiktok and where do I fit in this story? For years, they have simply relied on the kindness and generosity of their neighbors and friends in their surrounding towns-everything from bedding to kitchenware to furniture was donated, sorted and then readied to give to someone in need.

The clients would then go into the warehouse where everything is displayed, and they would choose what they wanted. Once the pandemic hit, the warehouse had to be closed to visitors, so Nancy would make the choices herself with the guidance of the social workers who were representing the clients. What a precious selection for a dino-loving little boy : )

Also, since people could no longer visit the facility or donate their goods, Nancy turned to Tiktok as a means of telling the story of Project Home and spreading some “good vibes” during such difficult times. Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine what would come next. Currently with 420K+ followers and over 10 million likes, her legion of donators log in to hear her stories and the thoughtful process in which she chooses the household goods to be given to each recipient. As her following has increased, so have the donations-from across the country and around the world. Bedding, bath, lamps, rugs, household appliances, curtains, decorations, kitchenware & furniture…

if she mentions a need, or it is listed on their wish list, it is fulfilled by her amazingly generous followers via Amazon and Target and Walmart and so many more. With the increased online exposure, the donations are increasing, but the requests from agencies and social workers are also growing exponentially. The beauty of this is that the more Project Home Again receives, the more they are able to give to the over 160+ agencies across the state requesting assistance.

As for me, since the town where they are based is literally 20 minutes north of me, I reached out to ask if they needed any volunteers (one of the great perks about being retired is having the time to give). And they did, so I am now a member of the volunteer army at Project Home Again. The volunteers that I am honored to be working alongside of are so generous with their time and happy to help out in any way necessary. This week, we hauled mattresses, opened mountains of boxes

(and BTW- to whomever the person is that invented those air-pocket plastic shipping pillows- UGH), sorted, marked and shelved the donations, moved furniture, and put together a full display of items for clients as they arrived to pick up their newly acquired goods. The work is gratifying, sometimes heavy, a lot of fun and quite emotional when you realize how those less fortunate are struggling just to survive.

To read more about this incredible organization, please visit their website. There, you can learn how to donate goods or money, request assistance or become a partnering institution or a volunteer (like me!). And as for TikTok, go ahead and take a look at her almost daily posts. I promise that you will be just as profoundly moved and awed as I am while watching Nancy’s videos. In this time of continued pandemic strife and amid all the negativity in this world, Project Home Again shines a bright light on the goodness and generosity of our fellow humans. Have the best day you deserve. XOXOXO Susan


Frustration in the Time of Covid…or I’m Not Throwing Away My Shot!

Since the Covid vaccines have become available in our state of Massachusetts, the overall experience of finding, then booking an appointment has been somewhere between ridiculous and impossible. Many friends & relatives have expressed continued frustrations over the NOT user-friendly websites, plus the daunting task of searching through multiple websites that are necessary to navigate in order to book a much-wanted appointment. I have been fortunate to book a few for family and friends when no one else could. So I thought I would give a little tutorial on how I am able to find the appointments when no one else seems to be able to. Two things: you have to be persistent, and you have to have your basic information at the ready once you begin the process. That includes, name, address, DOB, email, phone and some kind of Insurance #- whether its Medicare or something else-if you do not have that info handy, or don’t have insurance, then your SSN or drivers license# works too. The primary site here in MA is the – which was basically a free-for-all on Thursday mornings when they first released the open appointments for the upcoming days. Imagine a million people vying for tickets to their favorite concert venue for a performance that sold out in about 5 minutes time…well, you know, like getting tickets to Hamilton. That now has changed to a pre-registration format, so you can input your info there and wait ’til they email you with an open spot. Sounds great, right? No more sweating it out in front of your computer and laptop with multiple windows open, only to watch the number of available appointments dwindle to nothing? The thing is, at least for now, that resource is only for the MassVax sites- the giant venues like Gillette Stadium, Natick Mall and Fenway Park. However, aside from local health organizations like Lahey and MGH-Brigham-there are many other retail outlets-CVS, Osco, Walmart, Walgreens, Publix, Hannafords, that are offering the injections as well. Through this national website:, I have managed to book appointments for friends and family members from MA to FLA! When you click on this site, you are asked to input a zip code for your preferred area.

Once you click on the green bar, it will take you to this window, and the towns within the zip code area (across the US) you choose will pop up. You can see that there are 45 providers listed here, all with available stock. But WAIT, this website sometimes lags behind when the shots are going fast and furious. So even though it says they have the stock, that is not always the case.

For this example, I chose the CVS Pharmacy in Stoneham, MA. After that, you need to click on Check Appointment Availability to see if those particular sites actually have the shots in stock.

On this website, the updating can be a bit delayed, so you have to click on the locations and sometimes you’ll get this:

When you scroll down to the end, it lists every CVS in the state and says that they are completely booked. So, for that moment, you are out of luck at CVS. You can go back to the first page and try for another retail outlet. BUT, if you see this red link– you are in luck! There are still appointments to be had!

So you click on that link and the next window to open will be this:

Answer those and click on to the page that asks if you need to start the process or if you only need the 2nd dose. By the way, I’m not sure what happens if you answer yes to any of those questions…luckily, I haven’t had to do that. Choose the correct response and then click to the page where it verifies if you are eligible to receive the vaccine in your state- the rules differ from state to state at the moment. Once you have verified that you are eligible:

You will see a screen that will begin the scheduling process that asks for the zip code for the area you are looking for( in this case I used a California zip code because the MA ones are all booked and I couldn’t go on to the next pages to illustrate) As you can see, the zip code I chose has dose dates available. So you click on that, and then open the available times link at that location.

This is where it gets tricky and you must persevere! You may get through to this point and be all excited and think yay! and then ugh, you click on the Show Available Times bar, it says there are no times available. Frustrating? Yup! But don’t give up! Just go back up to the date and click on that to see if another date is available. Keep clicking back and forth on that and hopefully one will open up. If still no luck, then go back to the page with the lists of places and try another one. Don’t log out and start over! Just keep repeating the process until you get your selected time and date and then go on to complete the process of selecting the second time slot. (If, at this point you are getting a message that says all sites are completely booked, you can stop the process and try again later). So go ahead and schedule your second dose- from this point on its smooth sailing!

At this point, you will be asked for your information. Once the message states that they are holding the slots, you can calm down, catch your breath and complete the process.

Once you input your information and click schedule appointment- you’re done! You will receive an email with the confirmation of your time and place for shots one and two. Now, this example was basically for CVS, because that is where I have been able to book most of the appointments. You can access that same info if you go directly to the CVS link and follow the process from there. Just remember- if that magic red link says Schedule Your Appointment Now– then there are slots available. They may not be in your hometown, but if you are willing to travel a bit, you’ll have more of a chance.

If you go to Walmart, for example, that one will look a little different,

but generally will follow the same format. And finally, don’t give up hope of getting your shot, if you want one. There are more on the way every day, and I know I’m wanting my shot at being one step closer to getting back to our normal lives : ) And if you need any help or further explanation, please shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to help!

I hope you have a shot at a sunny weekend, everyone! xoxoxo Susan

Design & Decor with Redfin

Recently, I was contacted by the folks at Redfin, the real estate company, with an interesting request.

No, they didn’t want to sell my house for a million bucks…sigh. But, they were publishing a blog post entitled “How to Elevate Your Space with Design and Décor: 21 Must-Do’s” to help new homeowners navigate their way through the decorating process.

They asked if I would like to contribute some thoughts on my decorating process…in three sentences or less! Now, if you know me, you know I could chat for hours about the ins and outs of decorating and design, so three sentences seemed like an impossible task. I mulled it over for quite some time before I came up with my own personal formula:

1. When you enter a room, you should feel an emotional connection, not just a visual one.  Use what you already have on hand-an old cupboard or table, a collection of pottery or pictures that have special meaning for you, then build around that. For instance, in our newly redone dining room, I added this antique shoe rack and filled it with my blue pottery pieces that had been scattered throughout the house. Each piece holds its own special memory of a time and place in our lives, so when I look at them, I recall a birthday or anniversary, gifts from family, our old beloved dog Daisy or even a particular flea market or favorite “junk haunt”.

Check out the Redfin article to see what else I had to say! Interestingly enough, I shared a common view with many of the other 20 designers who were also quoted in this article: make it cozy, color can work wonders, mix and match styles, add natural elements and lots of light.

So, you ask, why is decorating important? I mean, with all the stuff going on in the world, certainly, there are more important things to think about than rug colors and furniture placement. Well, since this year has been so incredibly stressful and trying for oh, so many of us, it makes perfect sense to create spaces that give us peace, allow us to decompress at the end of the day and make us happy. Have a lovely Valentine’s Day, everyone! Keep smiling, keep dreaming, feel the love. xoxoxo Susan

Welcome Home Drop Zone

During this stay-at-home-forever-year-that-never-ends-when-will-this-be-over, I’ve been working on lots of DIY projects that have been on my to-do list. Our family TV room is situated in the back of the house, with an entrance that opens directly into the room. Since this is the door that our friends and family use when they visit (remember when people used to come over to your house and hang out?), I try to keep it tidy and neat. So many times, I have wished for a mud room to be able to remove snowy or muddy boots & shoes, coats, scarves and of course, masks. Over the years, I’ve tried baskets and shelves and benches, but somehow it always looked messy. So, adding an antique workbench to the entry was the perfect solution!

It offers lots of storage and looks great, but when I moved it into place initially, I thought it just looked rather small and plain against the painted wall.

So, since this is the room where I had previously installed the ship-lap wall surrounding the fireplace, I figured, why not? You can never have too much shiplap, amiright? The install was pretty simple, starting with measuring the width of the workbench, ensuring to leave enough clearance for the back door to fully open into the room. Nothing worse than trying to open a door, only to find it blocked half-way!

The shiplap I chose for both projects was from Lowes.

You can read the full DIY instructions in my previous post here. It is light weight and super easy to cut and install. That fireplace project took me many weeks, but this project took about 2 days to cut, install and add the hardware.

Once installed, I added an antique plank shelf on top-solely for decorative purposes-that I can change and arrange for the seasons. Love those antique white brackets!

Then I added vintage hooks to hold tote bags and scarves, gloves and anything else that would need to be hung to dry, plus a his & hers mask basket

and this cute little sign-a gift from my sister, because I was complaining that I kept forgetting them on my way out the door- no more! And once the mask-wearing finally comes to an end, and we certainly look forward to that day…we’ll just use it for other junk!

The workbench base was already the perfect shade of blue, so that remained untouched. The old worn top required a bit of TLC, so I used General Finishes Antique Wax in a medium brown shade called Scrub Pine. That same wax was used for the top and bottom shelves as well, to create a uniform look.

Paint on, wipe off, add a couple more coats and buff ’til it glows. We look at that antique plank of wood, and marvel at the scars from years of use in a basement workshop where we first discovered it.

Some people might look at it and think “what a mess”- we look at it and think “gorgeous”- happily saving a piece of history for another generation. It features a hand-hewn built-in trough, previously used to hold wood shavings and hardware, now useful for keys and glasses. There are hooks on the sides underneath…

previously used for tools, but now they’re for hanging umbrellas and purses. These drawers hold gloves and glasses, phone chargers and even a tape measure. Because, you know…”where’s the tape measure-we have like a dozen of them-where did they go?!”

Finally, there’s a shelf on the bottom where we store our shoes and boots in vintage crates.

Next to the workbench I added an old cabinet door chalkboard with lots of hooks for coats and sweatshirts to hang.

Obviously, I can’t write on it in chalk, because our coats would be a mess! But I could do a painted sign there. What should it say? Hang your coat seems rather obvious-any other clever ideas? So that’s it. One more project completed. It looks great and keeps everything neat and tidy by our back door. On to my next project…and praying for this pandemic to be over and masks to be a thing of the past.

Have a safe, Super (snowy) Sunday everyone! xoxoxo Sue

It’s Been Quite Awhile…Pandemically Speaking.

So, what have you all been up to these past looong months? It certainly has been a challenge keeping up with everything that is going on in the world

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Photo by Bruno Cervera on

without feeling overwhelmed, anxious and just a bit nuts. My solution? Stay busy! Since last winter, then through the spring and summer and into the fall, I have been working on many, many DIY projects, because doing all the work myself keeps me occupied & helps me to steady myself during these unsettling times.

Using a combination of Benjamin Moore Coventry Gray, Wickham Gray, Wedding Veil and Snowfall White,

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I am slowly making my way through our home, one room at a time, sanding and painting, adding wallpaper touches and new art. (I am not sure if it is my current mood, but everything inside is going gray…perhaps inspired by my hair, since I had not been to a hairdresser in soooo many months, until a few weeks ago!) Back in February, after I completed the master bedroom refresh,

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I moved onto the upstairs bathroom. Goodbye teal, hello Wickham Gray and Snowfall White. (and yes, that is an empty curtain rod because I still can’t decide what to hang there. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!)

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Once the warmer spring weather arrived, I moved outdoors and started with the old porch screen door that was literally falling apart. It was simple to remove and replace with a new one-this beauty was less than $40 at our local Home Depot!

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Painting the trim plus the back and side areas of the house was next, but some of the clapboards were pretty rotted, so those needed to be replaced, primed and painted.

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From there, I started painting and repairing the trellis below the deck, (apparently some critters have been eating their way into an entrance…)

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then the deck railings and porch trim, which led me to the realization that the leaky porch roof really needed to be redone. But NOT by me. It took 2 days and 5 workers to install our weather-proof porch roof…

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but while that was happening, I stripped the old, dark wallpaper off of the downstairs 1/2 bath (a work in progress) and built an “entry drop-zone” by the back door with shiplap and an antique work bench for shoes, keys, hats and of course, our masks.

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(DIY info to follow) Every day Coach comes home from school (yes, he is back in school full-time, which is a story for another day…but he is OK and safe and doing what he loves to do…teach) and checks on my seemingly never-ending progress. And somehow, in the midst of all these ongoing home projects, I’ve sewn well over 300 masks for my family and friends,

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and painted new signs for the shop.

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We’ve celebrated birthdays (socially-distanced, of course) and anniversaries, visited with friends & stayed in touch via Zoom.

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We even celebrated an epic virtual Boston Marathon run by our son-in-law!

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We’ve been back and forth to Maine, simply to unwind at the beach

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or indulge in a few too many Congdon’s Donuts.

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No dining-in for us, its strictly outdoors or take-out, which is fine and fun and makes everything seem OK, at least for a short time. Summer nights in the Kowloon parking lot feasting on pu-pu platters and rocking to our son’s band was definitely the new normal (if you can call any of this normal).

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As I am scrolling through all of my photos that I’ve taken since the pandemic started, its unimaginable that back in March we thought this would all be over by summer or fall. Where and when it finally ends, none of us really know. But what I do know that as long as every one of my loved ones are all still here when its over, I will be eternally grateful. In the meantime…in the words of the great Carole King…

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Be kind, be patient, be smart about where you go & who you go with,

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say thank you, as loudly and often as you can, to all the people who are working so hard in the most dire of circumstances,

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add an extra tip for your delivery people and at the drive-thru window, wear a mask, wash your hands, keep your distance, stay busy &

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tell the people you love the most that you love them…over and over.

and VOTE.

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Here’s to a totally terrific Thursday, everyone! xoxoxo Susan

Peel & Stick Brick!

img_5983It all started with the windows. You know, the old double-paned ones where the seal has broken and you can no longer see out of them because they’re all foggy? When you live in a very old house, there is always a longgggg to-do list and never enough time or resources. When we finally had them  replaced, we discovered…we actually have sunlight-and a view! Who knew we had a water view from our master bedroom-it had been so long since I actually looked out that window… Master Bedroom Makeover Water View… and spotted a tiny sliver of the lake, but a realtor would list it as a water view, am I right? So…new sparkly windows means its time for a refresh of the entire room from the (seafoam green) ceiling down. Whenever I mention the ceiling, people look at me quizzically and ask “was that a thing?” I don’t know, but at the time, many moons ago, I thought it was…

Master Bedroom Green CeilingWhen there isn’t much in the way of architectural detail in a room, you have to create some interest in other ways. I guess that was my thinking at the time…soooo, on to the refresh! I started by painting the ceiling with two coats of Benjamin Moore Ceiling White-my go-to for any ceiling painting. Once that was completed, I tackled the walls. I painted three of them in Benjamin Moore Wedding Veil, the same color we used in the Black & White Woodland Nursery.

Hudson the Polar Bear on CribIt is a very soft, subtle gray, (almost white), color that works well with the new brick wallpaper that was applied to the accent wall. Wait, what?! Bricks are made from wallpaper?? Well, these bricks are! Can you tell they’re not real…well, at least online?

1c7a4ef8-3203-488e-884f-3c994b5dc7caAnd I can tell you that they are a heck of a lot easier to lay than real bricks, or even faux bricks. No mortar involved- just the paper, a level and a pair of sharp scissors.

img_5691The paper is very forgiving with cuts and corners-it already has the appearance of old brick so a couple of wrinkles or slices cannot do anything but enhance the look. Last fall, I had decorated the “log room” in our Maine cottage with birch tree paper-also peel and stick.

Log Cabin PaperThat was pretty easy, but this peel-and-stick paper by NuWallpaper is truly mistake-proof. Super easy to cut, peel off and reposition if needed (and yes, it was needed) and looks soooo realistic. Can’t even see the seams (well, barely…if you stand back and squint…)

img_5704For each row, I positioned and leveled the top, then pulled back about 12 inches of the paper backing, allowing the paper to stick to the wall. From there, it was just a matter of peeling and sticking and smoothing all the way to the bottom.

img_5692You know the wise, old adage, “measure twice, cut once”? Well, I measured three times, then ordered it online, got started and promptly ran out of paper before the last window. With wallpaper, you typically start on the far left and work your way across, matching the seams and pattern as you go…until you run out : (

img_5677You see, I hadn’t accounted for the waste while matching the repeat pattern of the bricks. A rookie mistake, but trust me, I am no rookie at paper-hanging. So, what to do? I went back online to the original website to order another roll, but with the shipping costs (I had avoided that the first time because of the amount I had ordered) it was almost the cost of 2 rolls! So I decided to check Amazon because, well, you know, PRIME. And there was the same paper, same manufacturer-NuWallpaper- and code numbers-a bit cheaper and no shipping costs- except it had a different company name on each website-but it was the exact same paper from NuWallpaper. Go figure.  It was on my doorstep the next day. Perfect match, perfect accent wall! Still adding some finishing touches to the room, but now we have these gorgeous, super soft curtains! From HomeSense, of course : )

img_5988And an architectural accent piece for over our bed from Hobby Lobby. That “Always & Forever” pillow, also from HomeSense.

img_5986Still have loads to do, and the clock is ticking before we head back to Maine, but one step at a time…Next up, furniture painting. Have an immeasurably great weekend, everyone!

xoxoxo Susan

Pretty As A Picture Magnolia

Just before the holidays (yup, that’s how long it has taken me to write this post…all too often, life simply gets in the way) Coach informed me that he was attending a conference in Austin, Texas.

ATX SignAfter a quick google map search, I determined that Waco, Texas-the home of all things Chip & Joanna Gaines-was only a stones-throw away, so I asked if I could tag along, see the sights of Austin and maybe I could rent a car and head out to Waco on one of the days? And so, I did. First stop, the silos, not as huge as they appear on TV or in social media, but nevertheless impressive.

img_5011To see those rusty old silos that sit on a street corner alongside some railroad tracks and imagine them as the anchor to your empire…well, you’ve got to give Chip major credit for that! The silos, the bakery and the Magnolia Market are on this block, along with some food trucks and the most gorgeous public bathrooms I have ever seen. I mean…

img_5022If you are a Fixer-Upper addict, as I am, you will recognize every style,

img_5010décor and design choice-even the old Jeep parked by the garden center…

img_5021that is absolutely on brand and pretty as the pictures you have seen a thousand times.

593e348b-6b1b-4650-a454-311bb64fe8c1Shiplap, subway tiles, vintage tile floors, vintage wood doors, metal signage-walking into any of the many Magnolia establishments

img_5028feels like wandering into one of their many transformed homes-and it just makes you feel like you’re home.

img_5027The Silos Baking Company

img_5006is sweet…again, much smaller than it appeared on the show…the magic of television…

img_5008and filled with delectable treats.

img_5013The outside enclosed “compound” has places to sit a spell,

img_5012take pics

img_5019and wander around the field at the silos where they hold their concerts and “Silobrations“.

img_5023The Magnolia Market at the Silos

f2492795-c013-4539-a36f-2fdbf8115faehad been decked out for the holidays,

img_5030all vintage country style.

img_5029Once I did a bit of shopping and checked out

img_5037“Chip’s Corner”,

img_5038I headed over to the newer Magnolia Press and took a peek, but didn’t stay for a bite because I was off to find Magnolia Table

Magnolia Table Signtheir full-serve restaurant on the other side of town. Tasting yummy, hearty, stick-to-your-ribs fare while being surrounded by more of the Fixer-Upper signature style made for an enjoyable afternoon. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to take a drive through Waco to check out some of the many homes they have renovated (there are actually maps online to follow their reno path), so that will have to wait for another trip to Texas! Have a great Wednesday, everyone, and remember…

img_5025xoxoxo Susan


Coffee Toffee Pudding Pie

Have you ever needed to make a dessert quickly and don’t know what to do?! Here’s a simple recipe that you can adapt to whatever you happen to have handy in your cupboard or fridge.

img_5455A New Year’s Day lunch invite prompted me to create a simple and yummy dessert using only the ingredients left over from the holidays! Here’s the deal:

These are the ingredients I had on hand, but you can use whatever your cupboard has to offer: a Pillsbury Pie Crust (the one remaining frozen crust leftover from Christmas), a jar of Stonewall Kitchen Coffee Caramel Sauce, Jello Instant Chocolate Pudding, a 3/4 full container of Cool Whip, some confectioner’s sugar, a block of cream cheese, vanilla extract, milk and some Heath Toffee Chocolate Crunch Bits. img_5445I baked and cooled the pie crust according to the box instructions.

img_5446If you don’t happen to have a frozen pie crust, you can substitute some crushed up cookies mixed with melted butter! (or, this dessert is yummy without a crust!) Before it cooled, I added a layer of Heath Toffee Bits and drizzled some of the Stonewall Kitchen Caramel on top. That allowed the flavors to melt into the warm crust a bit. Don’t have Heath Toffee Bits on hand? Use some crushed up candy left over from Christmas (or Halloween for that matter!) Peanut butter cups with some PB added to the cream cheese, chocolate kisses or Santas, peanutty bars, even candy canes will give the dessert some yummy crunch! Or, you could use some frozen or fresh raspberries and substitute a raspberry puree for the caramel. The possibilities are endless!

img_5451While that was cooling, I creamed one 8 oz brick of light cream cheese until smooth. (OK, lets be real.

img_5448Using LITE cream cheese made me feel a little better about breaking my NY resolution on DAY 1.) Then I dumped in the confectioner’s sugar and a tsp of vanilla extract.

img_5447After beating that mixture until smooth, I folded in a cup of thawed Cool Whip.

img_5449I layered that into the prepared, cooled pie crust, then added a second layer of bits and coffee caramel sauce.

img_5452BTW, if you don’t happen to have a jar of caramel sauce on hand, you can make your own-try this super easy, super delicious recipe I Pinned using sweetened condensed milk! I put that back in the fridge to cool and made my chocolate layer using the box of Jello instant chocolate pudding mix and 1 1/2 cups of 2% milk. LOL-see, this really is a healthy dessert : 0

img_5453I smoothed the pudding onto the cream cheese layer, then added dollops of the remaining Cool Whip around the edges.

img_5454Finally, I drizzled some caramel and added handfuls of Heath Chocolate Toffee Bits until it looked like this:

img_5455When it was dessert time, the pie cut easily but messily- but isn’t that the way gooey, yummy, chocolatey good desserts should?!

img_5463Total time in kitchen, about 20 minutes. Total time to devour dessert?

img_5461About 5 minutes! Have a Happy New Year everyone- I hope you’ve made some sweet resolutions that you can keep too! xoxo Susan






Meet Hudson the Polar Bear

This is the story of Cuddle and Kind…and Hudson the Polar Bear.  Recently, while searching endlessly online for black and white “babystuff”- toys, clothing, decorations for the woodland nursery- this image kept popping up of these irresistibly adorable hand-crafted toys.

Cuddle and Kind Doll Per Meal

Something about their sweetness caught my eye, so I clicked on the link and discovered this cuddly world of wonder…with a twist. These beautifully hand-knit dolls were created for one reason…to eradicate childhood hunger around the world.

Cuddle and Kind Our Goal

The dolls are lovingly hand crafted in Peru by local artisans-and the effects of the sales of these adorable dolls are far reaching.

Cuddle and Kind Fair TradeThe mission?

Cuddle and Kind Mission Statement

For every doll sold, ten meals are provided for children around the world who would otherwise go hungry. Where do those meals go, you ask??

Cuddle and Kind MapSuch an amazing goal!

Cuddle and Kind GoalAfter browsing through page after page of cuddly cuteness, I chose this particular doll-Hudson the Polar Bear-because he is black and white (naturally) and has a woodland feel to him. And he is super cute and super soft. Check out the fineness of the stitching!

Hudson The Polar Bear Closeup DollSo Hudson the Polar Bear is now resting comfortably in his new home-perched on the crib in the Black & White Woodland Nursery. And he’s happy knowing that he is spreading the word, and the kindness, of the folks at Cuddle and Kind. Who, at this writing, have provided over 10 MILLION meals for hungry children.

10 Million CelebrationTo honor that remarkable achievement, the family of Cuddle and Kind is having a contest…enter for a chance to win an elephant or two! This is a win-win…you win a pair of elephants, more hungry children are fed. The message of kindness is spread.

Hudson the Polar Bear on CribAlong with Hudson the Polar Bear doll, I purchased a whimsical print that pairs beautifully with the theme of the baby nursery…and also provides an additional 5 meals to the Cuddle and Kind mission! Simple and sweet…You Can Move Mountains…for our new little bear.

Hudson the Polar Bear Print

Whom, by the way, has finally entered the world! Our new infant grandson is quite camera-shy so I’m not posting any pics of him. But I will tell you that his name is Torin (which translates to chief in Gaelic…the perfect name for a child who will be moving mountains someday.) So, if you head over to Cuddle and Kind …to browse or hopefully purchase one of these amazing dolls…be sure to tell them that Torin sent you! Have a kind and cuddly day, everyone.

xoxo Susan



The Art of the Nursery

As we continued to work on the nursery, my daughter and I looked at several black and white animal prints to use as artwork. She wanted something simple and graphic vs. “cutesy”, yet suitable for a nursery. A quick search online revealed these geometric, yet whimsical designs on Etsy. The company, Paint X Print designs all sorts of graphic prints for downloads-meaning they send you the file to print yourself-in whatever size and medium you choose. The mom-to-be chose three geometric designs in the shape of a pudgy bear,

Bear Esty Pic.jpga maple leaf

Maple Leaf Etsy and a wolf– to complement our Black & White Woodland Theme.

Nursery Wolf PrintSince the designs were sent to me in digital form, it was easy enough to copy them onto my Cricut Design Space to cut out. As you can see, the originals on the Etsy website were printed in black on a white background. We could have printed and framed them as is, but these natural wood slices (that were used a few years back for wedding shower décor blackboards and I hung on to for whatever reason…)

Life is Sweet Chalkboardwere the perfect “woodsy” theme frame- and a perfect graphic backdrop when re-painted black.
I think I have mentioned in the past that my Cricut machine is so much fun!

Cricut GoldFor the average DIY-er it is incredibly versatile-cutting anything from paper to poster board to vinyl-even thin layers of wood! whatever your imagination can dream up, it can cut. In this case, I used a white glossy vinyl, cutting each design to fit the wood slices, then transferring them to the wood. Look how intricate these cuts are-that would have taken me hours by hand! (No, actually, I never would have attempted this by hand…) The wood piece for the bear was an odd shape and didn’t seem complete until we had added an extra star from the moon and the stars decals (on hand from the wall mural).

Bear Graphic on Wood.JPGOnce completed, I sealed them all with a satin poly coating.

Animal Graphics on Wood.jpg
They are now hanging on the wall over the rocking chair in the nursery. Another project down, a few more to go (hopefully) before baby Arbra makes his entrance into the world. I’ll be back with more DIY nursery projects shortly! xoxoxo Susan

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