Cleaning Copper Caper

This past weekend, I scored this beautiful copper coffee pot at an estate sale.

Copper Coffee Pot Before

It even had the cute little card inside, but that did not have any cleaning instructions inside.

Copper Pot Portugal

So once I brought it into the house, I decided to give it a quick wash just to remove the surface dust. Then I thought I might try to polish it up just a bit. Then I decided I liked the polished finish, so I kept cleaning. So first, I tried my trusty Cape Cod Metal Polish, which typically does the job with little effort, and a pleasant scent too.

Copper Cleaner Can

It was working, but that required a lot of elbow grease. So, I pulled out my Mr. Clean Dry Eraser Sponge.

Copper Mr. Clean Magic Eraser

That also worked, but I was still using a lot of elbow grease. And I am all about getting stuff done quickly and not using up all of my energy so that I can’t go tile the front hall or build a table top. So now I had dull coffee pot with shiny spots. My mom suggested salt and lemon juice-nope. So I went online to see if anyone else had come up with a non-elbow-grease solution to clean tarnished copper. Some guy on You Tube had created a magical formula from everyday kitchen items: salt, flour and white vinegar. So because everything you see on the internet is true, and I liked the idea of not using chemicals anyway, I decided to try it. Here is the recipe: Place 1 tsp salt and 3 tsp flour in a small bowl, then slowly add enough white vinegar to make a creamy paste. Looks good enough to eat, right?

Copper Salt and Flour

At first I added too much vinegar and it was watery, so I added another dose of the flour and salt. Bingo! Nice smooth paste, ready to make my copper pot shiny and new. The video said to pat it on the item with a rag-I used a moist sponge, but you get the idea, you want to coat the surface.

Copper Solution Sponged

Then allow it to sit for thirty minutes.

Copper Timer

Then rinse. No rubbing or buffing required!

Copper Rinse

In the video, his copper-clad saucepan came alive with pretty copper color-away old tarnish! In my kitchen sink, this technique was a big FAIL. No difference after I had rinsed, then rubbed, then rinsed again. Hmmm. So now I have a beautiful copper coffee pot that is shiny and bright in the middle of each side, but tarnished all around the bottom and tops.

Copper Pot Half Shined

So, thus far, this is the collection of stuff I have tried.

Copper cleaners

Anyone else have any bright ideas? Susan

Junk ‘n History

Over the past year, I have researched and blogged about so many topics, including some of my favorite DIY projects like my shutter slat table

Patio Set finished

Reclaimed Shutter Slat Table

and my preppy pin-striped whale coffee table

Whale Table with Eye

Preppy Pin-Striped Whale Table

and scrumptious recipes,

Smores Popcorn Trays

Yummy S’Mores Popcorn!

our travels, both at home

Maine Two Beers Please

Two Beers Please!

and abroad,

village laundry

Village Laundry Dominican Republic

and all kinds of fabulous country-style decorating ideas.

Summer Porch Country Design Home

But I have to say, of all the topics I have blogged about, vintage and flea markets, antique sales and auctions have won this recycled, repurposed, reloved girl’s heart! So, in order to share that love of junk and fabulous finds with all of you, I have created a special new category called Junk ‘n History. It appears in the left hand column of my blog home page. There you will find the links of many of my favorite blog posts featuring not only our fabulous finds at places like The Vintage Bazaar @ Pettengill Farm,

Chicken @ Vintage Bazaar

The Vintage Thymes Monthly Market @ WinSmith Mill Marketplace,

Vintage Thymes

The Elephant’s Trunk in Connecticut,

Flea Jaws

The Brimfield Antiques Show,

Brimfield Crash Test Dummy

and the SOWA Open Market in Boston,

SOWA Market

but also the story behind the story. I like to share where the market originated, who runs the place and what do they offer for the avid flea market junkie. From this day forward, I am making it my mission to find the best (and the worst-remember the hairy guy getting a massage-yuck!) of the flea marketing world. To date, Coach and I have travelled all around Massachusetts, as well as New Hampshire, Maine & Connecticut in search of the best places to find treasures and trinkets, but I am certain we have not even scratched the surface of the flea market world! So now, we need your help! We are hitting the road again in a couple of weeks,

Aqua Thunderbird

and are searching for new places to explore and share with you! This time around, we are heading out by auto, so we are sticking to the Eastern part of the US. If you have a great flea market or antiques co-op in your area, or even a cute little town where there are lots of shops to browse in, drop me an email @ countrydesignhome@gmail.com, post in the comment section here or on my Twitter or Facebook pages. Your market or auction can be indoors or out, seasonal or year-round, but it must be some sort of medium to large-scale, co-operative effort (we are not looking for local yard sales or single antique shops, for instance). It must have interesting and colorful stuff,

Flea Circus Sutdent Desks

Flea Circus

old and refurbished or freshly dug out of the barn stuff,

Vintage Collection from Repurpose Shop

fun and funny stuff,

Flea Soldier

Elephant Trunk Flea

painted stuff,

Yellow Dot Bear

The Yellow Bear at Brimfield

just plain old stuff

Mill Old Bean Carriage

The Old Bean

or even gilded gold stuff.

Flea Trinkets

Gilded trinkets at The Elephants Trunk

Doesn’t matter, as long as we can shop there, learn a little about the history of the place and share that information with my readers.  And, for all of you who are lusting after the amazing items Coach and I (well, mostly Coach) have dug up at the various sales, shortly we will be introducing his new Etsy page: Junk ‘n History. Here you will find many of his favorite items (well, except the anchor, we can’t ship an anchor…)

Anchor

available for purchase. So, dear readers, you’re up-start sharing your auctions, fleas and markets now! We will need the name of the place, an address or town and hopefully a website or link to the Facebook or Twitter page for reference. The more the merrier, we just need to know soon so we can chart our path for the upcoming road trip. (thankfully, it’s summer, so this is probably not likely to happen, but you never know…)

snow in lap

And, from this point forward, Fridays will be now known as Fabulous Finds Friday. Whatever we find, we will share with all of you! Have a fabulous Friday everyone! Susan

Maine, Unplugged

Literally. Last week Coach and I spent a few days away at the lovely Bethel Inn and Resort in, where else, Bethel, Maine.

Maine Bethel Inn

A quaint, rural town with a few little downtown shops and pubs, Bethel is a great place to kick back and unwind for a couple of days. The resort special was 2 nights, 2 full breakfasts (I made that waffle myself-yum!)

Maine Breakfast

one four-course dinner in the tavern and unlimited golf. Now for Coach that meant 3 days of 9 holes of golf each day. (Now if this had been me searching for my ball hit from the first tee of the first hole on the first day in the blazing sun, not sure I would have persevered for three days…just saying…)

Maine Coach Search

For me that meant one day of 7 holes, driving the cart around and replacing the divots I had made on the greens and fairways PLUS two other days of hanging around, trying to find somewhere that gave me some bars on my iPhone. (because what’s a blogger without internet?!?) I would like to know, AT&T, why Coach can call me from Germany on his old 1990’s flip-phone and it sounds like he’s in the next room, but I take a road trip to Maine and have no service at all!?!?!

Maine No Service

So, since my iPhone was not much use except as a camera and since today is Wanderlust Wednesday, I am sharing some of my favorite sights from our road trip. We took the inland route up (or down, depending on who you ask), but the coastal route home. Hope you enjoy!!!

Maine Road to Nowhere

The Road To Nowhere

Maine Cow Barn

Cow Barn in Bethel

Maine Chicken Barn

Chicken Barn

Maine Log House

Bethel Inn Lake House

Maine Porch Rocker

Porch Rocker on The Lake House Dock

Maine Bales of Hay

Bales of Hay

Maine Antler Tree

Antler Tree

Maine Ocean Edge York

Ocean Edge York Maine

Maine Kennebunkport Harbor

Kennebunkport View from the Bridge

Maine River Cottage Kennebunkport

River Cottage in Kennebunkport

Maine Sunset Kennebunkport

Sunset in Kennebunkport

Aside from all of the golfing and eating, we managed to do quite a bit of junking and antiquing. It is just astounding what my little CRV will hold!

Maine Cupboard 1

Have loads of pics of shops and treasures and finds, but that’s a blog for another day! Hope you had a “main”ly great day!!  Susan

Sweet & Salty Showers of Happiness

Last weekend I gave a sneak peek of the sweet stuff we served at the bridal shower that my dear friend was hosting for her adorable soon-to-be daughter-in-law.

Smores Bowl of Popcorn

Since I love me a good shower of any kind, I volunteered to assist with the food and decorations. This was planned as a small shower with a few special guests, since the bride-to-be originally hails from Maryland, and another shower had already been held in her honor back home. The decision was made to host this shower as a “wine-tasting party” at a great little gourmet shop in Sandwich

Shower The Brown Jugcalled The Brown Jug.

Shower Brown Jug Sign

Purveyors of fine beverages, and adjacent to a gourmet food shop, the wine shop has a charming, rustic feel, with floor to ceiling crates and shelves filled with wines and craft beers,

Shower Brown Jug Tables

chunky, aged butcher block tables and sweet little café sets in the front windows. Along with some vintage enamelware overflowing with colorful garden flowers (these cut glass vases were filled with sand and seashells, borrowed, ah-hem, from the dunes of Cape Cod…)

Shower Flowers and Candles

and the inspired nautical decorations,

Smores Bags on Table

it made for a fun and relaxed party setting. And how can you not be in a party mood anyway, surrounded by great food

Shower Cheese Board

and hundreds of bottles of wine, just waiting to be opened and tasted?!  BTW, do you happen to recognize those gorgeous chevron striped table runners?

Shower Favors and Flowers

I don’t know what it is about chevron, but it’s just so appealing, and blends with a variety of styles and colors, including Caribbean Blue (St. John wedding), Baby Girl Pink (Wakefield baby shower) and Nautical Navy (on Ol’ Cape Cod). Those runners have certainly been around the block-thanks Lindsey-I owe you!!  The shop’s manager pulled out all the stop(pers) to make this shower a memorable occasion for the guests and guest of honor alike. Along with the gorgeous cheese, meat and fruit board that the shop had provided (with cheeses I had never even heard of, but boy were they delicious!),

Shower Cheese Board Closeup

we also put together a few scrumptious bites for the guests.

Shower Brown Jug Food Platters

Included on the menu were homemade bruschetta, chicken and grape croissant sandwiches, stuffed spinach cheese bread and of course, the various wines and Prosecco chosen by the sommelier,

Shower Brown Jug Wine Assortment

just for this very special occasion. Finished off with our “life-changing” Sea Salt Caramel Dark Chocolate Cupcakes, and S’Mores Popcorn,

Chocolate Caramel Sea Salt Cupcakes

the shower was deemed a sweet success! It was truly a magical evening, with family and friends coming together with this loving young couple to celebrate their upcoming nuptials, and to shower the new bride with gifts and love.

Shower Gift Table

And isn’t that what a shower is supposed to be about? Here’s hoping someone showers a little love on you today! Susan

Greater Boston Food Bank

Saturday was Volunteer Day with The Next 26 at the Greater Boston Food Bank. If you have never been to this gigantic 117,000 square foot warehouse on South Bay Ave in Boston, you will be astonished (as we were) by the overwhelming size and scope of this incredible organization.

Greater Boston Food Bank Shelves

Entering into the main lobby, I noticed this symbol on the wall,

Greater Boston Food Bank X Symbol

which is there to pay tribute to Kip Kiernan, a social activist whose grandmother fed the hungry during the Great Depression. After eating, upon leaving her grandmother’s  home, the people would mark an X by the entrance to let others know that it was a safe house. Kip was the founder behind many of Boston’s great service organizations, including Rosie’s Place, Boston Healthcare for the Homeless and Boston’s Emergency Shelter Commission. To read more about this incredible woman, click here:

Kip Tiernan

Once entering the distribution center, you are facing vast shelves stocked with food and supplies, two stories high, stretching as far as the eye can see.

Greater Boston Food Bank Warehouse Shelves

41 million pounds annually are distributed to eastern Massachusetts families and children. Folks, the statistics are staggering. 8% of the population in eastern Massachusetts are hungry- one of every four are children.  This food bank provides meals for 475,000 on a daily basis, just for eastern Massachusetts!! There goal is to provide one solid meal per day per person, distributed through the various hunger-relief agencies scattered throughout the commonwealth.

Greater Boston Food Bank Stats

Our job, for this day, was to sort frozen foods that had been donated by various grocery chains and stores. We were to open the boxes, sort them, then have them weighed (each was to be between 34-37 pounds), seal them up and move on to the next box. (Oops, Coach, you’re just a bit over on that one!)

Greater Boston Food Bank Coach Weighs In

We had been forewarned that we would be lifting 30# boxes repeatedly, and they weren’t kidding. Two long tables were set up, and forklifts started bringing over palettes stacked with the boxes filled with a variety of assorted frozen offerings-everything from gizzards to prime rib were available to sort.

Greater Boston Food Bank Sorting

We opened the boxes, sorted the foods into new boxes labeled Poultry, Beef, Processed (sausages, etc), Misc (frozen meals), Pork and finally, garbage (these were products with ripped packaging, browned or frost bitten meat, etc. The general rule of thumb was “If you wouldn’t want to eat it, then no one else should-toss it! We filled two gigantic crates with those throwaways!)

Greater Boston Food Bank Discards

Initially, during our orientation, our supervisor made a comment that we didn’t have quite the number of volunteers he had expected, so we would get done whatever we could, but we would stop working at noon sharp. But what he underestimated was the grit and determination of this hardy crew of workers, some with groups, (like our 14 Next 26 participants!)

Greater Boston Food Bank Next 26 Team

others just kind-hearted individuals willing to give up a Saturday to work for the greater good. We grabbed our work gloves, (these make quite a fashion statement, no?)

Greater Boston Food Bank Fashion

and cracked open the first boxes at 9:25 am, cranked up the music and began the sorting process. The supervisor kept mentioning we should take a break, because it was hot, and we were working so hard, but we were so determined to finish our shift, that just wasn’t happening! At 10:30, He finally shut us down for 15 minutes to grab a cold water (thanks for providing that GBFB!) and take a breather in the air conditioned break room. Quickly back in the warehouse, the time just flew by, and suddenly, at 11:42 AM, there were no more boxes to sort! We had, our little band of 41 volunteers, sorted and repacked 20,195 pounds of frozen foods!!! Which, I am so proud to say, translates to these stats:

Number of meals made possible:12,423

NET pounds of food salvaged: 16,156

Total pounds sorted per volunteer: 492

NET Meals made possible per volunteer: 303

Our leader, Ann, was so grateful for the amount of work we had done in such a short time.

Greater Boston Food Bank Ann

We were so grateful for the opportunity to give back just a little. Knowing that what we had accomplished in so little time was going to touch so many lives was a bit overwhelming and so very gratifying. If you are interested in volunteering at the food bank, click here for info.:

Greater Boston Food Bank Sign

Even if you can’t do the grunt work, there are plenty of other ways to help too! For all of the Greater Boston Opportunities available, including donating food, money or partnering, click here:

GBFB Donate

A special thanks to the amazing folks at Greater Boston Food Bank, who strive to feed so many people that otherwise would go hungry. And also thanks to our team leaders, Chris Mathison

Greater Boston Food Bank Chris Mathison

and Nicholas Leydon, the co-founders of The Next 26, who organized this volunteer effort.  The Next 26 is a non-profit that was founded to bring Boston together in the aftermath of the Marathon bombings, raising awareness and funds for the One Fund Boston. Their goal? To raise $100,000 in 26 volunteer and fun-filled events in the months leading up to the 2014 Boston Marathon, in hopes of raising money and awareness of the great city we call home. With Event #3 under our belts, it’s on to event #4 at Fenway Park! For more information, or to join in the movement, click here:

Next 26 1

Have a great Sunday, everyone. It’s a birthday and anniversary celebration day (34 years today for me and Coach-amazing!!) for us! Stay cool and strive to do one thing today to give back! Susan 

Yummy S’mores (without the campfire)

Since it’s soooo freakin’ hot around here, who wants to sit out around a roaring campfire roasting marshmallows to make s’mores?!? Count me out! And we all know how much I love camping anyway…

Smores Campfire

So, a few weeks back I discovered this website called Thirty Handmade Days on Pinterest-this week’s High Five For Friday. Loaded with all kinds of great DIY and cooking ideas from various sources, there is so much there to repin and enjoy! On this particular day, she was featuring the S’Mores Popcorn recipe from Your Home Based Mom.

Smores Your Home Based Mom Recipe

Your Home Based Mom S’Mores Popcorn

You won’t believe the photography on this website-all of the food offerings literally jump off the page- makes you want to go and try every darn recipe.

Smores Home Based Mom Pics 2

But the S’Mores Popcorn recipe caught my eye because I was looking to make something easy, sweet and plentiful for a wedding shower we were planning. See how yummy it looks in a nice big bowl next to the Ooey Gooey Life Changing Caramel Cupcakes?!

Smores Bowl of Popcorn

So we followed the microwave recipe she had posted for the caramel corn.  Sounded perfect- no oven to turn on. But, because we were on Cape Cod and it was pretty hot and steamy outside and in, the resultant corn was a bit soggy, especially once we added the chocolate and marshmallows. (it was devoured anyway…never let a sweet treat go uneaten…). So we made the second batch using my old tried and true oven recipe (the beauty of living in an air conditioned society). First, you pop two bags of popcorn. We used this Smart Balance low-cal popcorn, figuring that it wouldn’t be quite so decadent-ha! Then we drizzled it with caramel (recipe below) and melted chocolate…

Smores Smart Balance Popcorn

Caramel Popcorn Recipe

1/2 Cup Light Corn Syrup

2 Cups Lightly Packed Light Brown Sugar

1 Cup Margarine or Butter

1 tsp Salt

1/2 tsp Baking Soda

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

In medium saucepan, melt butter, then stir in brown sugar. Bring to boil over med/high heat. Continue to boil, stirring constantly, for five minutes. Remove from heat, stir in remaining ingredients. Allow to cool for 2-3 minutes. Pour over popped popcorn that’s spread evenly on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake @ 250 degrees for 30-45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to allow even coating of caramel and the popcorn is lightly browned. DO NOT OVERBAKE!! Pour the still warm popcorn onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.

Smores Golden Grahams

Sprinkle the mini-marshmallows and Golden Grahams evenly over the warm caramel corn. Watch out for the mini-minions-they’re hiding in the box!

Minions

Drizzle the melted chocolate all over-as much as you like-but with all things chocolate-more is better!

Smores Tray

I found this melting chocolate stuff at Hannafords and it was actually quite good. Melted easily and smoothly, poured well from the pan or drizzled with a spoon, tasted delish! We used 1/2 package for each batch we made.

Smores Candi Quik

So this recipe ended up making three sheet pans filled with the golden goodness!

Smores Popcorn Trays

Which we broke apart and placed in the large bowl (did you know that you can turn a covered glass domed cake dish into an elevated serving bowl? No? Me neither! You just simply flip the stand upside down

Caked Plated Domed

Bowl Inverted and the ball of the top goes into the hole-who knew!?  For the shower, we packaged some of the caramel corn into clear plastic bags

Smores Bags on Table

and tied pink and blue ribbons with a little tag I made from the Avery.com website. Super easy and cute little gift bags for guests to take home and munch on later.

Smores Tags

So I hope you have S’More fun this coming weekend. It’s Friday, and the hot weather is supposed to clear out soon!! In the meantime, keep your ovens off and stay cool, everyone! Susan 

Life-Changing Cupcakes!

This past weekend was another crazy whirlwind of activity featuring a trip to Cape Cod, a bridal shower and a birthday party-whew! We had planned the shower the prior weekend (in between coats of paint on the whale table) and had decided that cupcakes would be the featured dessert. So I found this amazing recipe on, where else, Pinterest from the blog Jan Can Cook (tons of great recipes! If you want to take a look, just click the link below : ) and we decided they would be perfect.

Cupcakes Jan Can Cook Blog

I mean, after all, who doesn’t love dark chocolate and caramel and buttercream and a pinch of sea salt?!? I followed her recipe (click the link above) with a couple of exceptions. For the cupcakes, I used Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge

Cupcakes Duncan Hines Mix

and I added a cup of Toll House mini semi-sweet bits

Cupcakes Nestles Morsels

into the batter before pouring it into the cupcake liners. For the caramel to put inside the cupcakes, I used good ol’ Hersheys ice cream topping-quicker and easier and oh, so gooey and yummy!

Cupcakes Hersheys Caramel Topping

Just warmed it up in the double boiler and then spooned it into the little cavities

Cupcakes Filling

we had scooped out of the centers.

Cupcakes Caramel Filled

(By the way, this bowl filled with little cone-shaped fudgy chocolate goodness are leftovers- and fabulous dipped in the warm caramel for a snack : )

Cupcakes Mini Bites

The Caramel Buttercream Frosting Recipe

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 Tblsp water

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

3/4 (1.5 sticks) cup salted butter, room temperature

2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

Stir together granulated sugar and water in small saucepan until clear. Heat in small saucepan over med-high heat and cook for 5-7 minutes without stirring until liquid turns a light amber color- do not overcook- it will burn!!! Remove from heat, allow to cool for a bit and then slowly beat in the cream and vanilla with a spoon.  In a mixing bowl, beat the softened butter until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed and slowly add confectioners sugar until it is all incorporated and smooth. Turn off mixer and slowly drizzle in caramel mixture. Turn mixer to med-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Cool until ready to frost cakes.

(Normally I would insert a photo here, but we were having so much fun I forgot to take it! So I am just going to show you some pretty garden flowers : )

Cupcake Flowers

The buttercream frosting mixture was pretty soft, as it was hot and we were down the Cape, so there is a lot of moisture in the air. Once I piped it onto the cupcakes, we put them in the fridge to firm up. You don’t even need a piping bag- you can just scoop the frosting with a spoon and plop it on top- the more the better! In the recipe it says to pour the chocolate ganache on the frosted cupcakes, but we just dipped them right into the bowl and allowed them to drip a bit, then inverted them.

The Ganache Recipe:

9 ounces bittersweet chocolate-chopped. I used the 10 ounce bag of Ghiradelli Square chips-perfect for melting.

Cupcakes Ghiradelli Chocolate Chips

1 cup heavy cream. 1 Tblsp Dark Rum (Optional)

Melt in a pan over low heat and beat with wooden spoon til smooth. Allow to cool slightly before glazing cupcakes.

For the final touch, we snipped some mini-marshmallows (snatched from the S’Mores Popcorn Mix- recipe soon!) into flower shapes and popped them on top of the ganache. Cute! (we tried to figure out how to cut them into starfish, as the shower had a beachy theme, but that wasn’t happening…)

Cupcake Closeup

So the shower was moving along, and the cupcakes were just sitting there lonely and forgotten, next to the lemon water. I mean, it was a wine-tasting- who’s drinking lemon water?!?

Cupcakes in Tower

So my friend grabbed the tower and some napkins and started passing them around. Suddenly, the room was filled with “oohs and aahhs” as each person took their first scrumptious bite. The hostess declared that she would choose me for her Cupcake Wars team, but the sommelier’s comment was the best when she exclaimed: “These are life-changing cupcakes!”  Now I’m not certain if that is the case, but they were a big hit! Don’t be afraid to try these, even if you are a novice baker. Perfectly simple recipe. Perfectly delicious. Have a sweet, sweet Monday everyone!! It’s especially sweet for me because I am on vacation…woo hoo!! Susan

Summer Porch Envy

The weather has been nothing short of yucky the past month or so. Blazingly hot, thunderstorms and an occasional tornado watch has made for not-so-great outdoor relaxing and entertaining. Even our screened-in porch, which we converted from a deck a couple of summers ago, isn’t always so pleasant when it’s 95 degrees! So, since it’s Wanderlust Wednesday, I thought we might take a virtual tour of some of my favorite porch images on the web.   I would love to dine here-bright, comfortable and cozy. Perfect summer porch.

Summer Porch Between Naps

Between Naps on the Porch

As I was scrolling along, I noticed a trend in the images that caught my eye. Bright colors,

Summer Porch Flower Garden Girl

Photo courtesy of Flower Garden Girl

texture, natural woods and wicker

Summer Porch SV Designs

Siemasko and Verbridge Architecture

all make my list of things that create that “come on in and set a spell” look. I adore this bohemian chic look…

Summer Porch Tumbleweed and Dandelion

Summer Porch Tumbleweed & Dandelion

Although I am a huge fan of white wicker, an all-white porch does nothing for me. Adding a pop of color in the woodwork

Summer Porch Michelle

Houzz.com French Flair

or the pillows makes a dramatic contrast that draws you into the space.

Summer Porch Stephanies Cottage

Stephanies Cottage by Gerald Cowart

Even adding a pot of brightly colored flowers makes an impact!

Summer Porch Pinewold

Porch by Whitten Architects

Nothing beats a porch with a water view, whether surfside (amazing, no?!)

Summer Porch Stelleco

Summer Residence by Stelle Architects

or poolside (equally amazing)

Summer Porch by E B Mahoney

Oasis by E. B. Mahoney

or at lake-water’s edge. Can’t you just feel the cool breezes?

Summer Porch Smith and Vasant

Porch by Smith and Vansant Architects

And then there are the sleepers.

Summer Porch Historical Concepts

Porch by Historical Concepts

Can you imagine taking an afternoon nap in one of these cozy nooks?

Summer Porch Lands End Development

Sleeping Porch By Bede Design

But at the end of the day, when we make our way to our own back porch,

Summer Porch Country Design Home

Summer Porch by Country Design Home

I realize that it isn’t so much about the style or the design, whether it’s dramatic or simple, it really is just about the place you call home.

Summer Porch Pillow

Time to head outside for this evening’s cool brew: Sam Adams Porch Rocker! It’s so yummy!

Summer Porch Rocker

Care to join us? We’ll be on the porch! Susan

A Whale of a Weekend!

Over the 4th of July weekend, I traveled to Cape Cod to spend the holiday with a good friend at her family’s beach-side cottage in Falmouth. Is there anything more quintessentially Cape Cod than magnificent blooming hydrangeas against grey cedar shingles? Beautiful!!

Whale Table Flag

We ate too much, drank margaritas, chatted for hours, watched the neighborhood fireworks and delighted in the joy of her two adorable tow-headed grandsons. The cottage is circa 1930’s, with dark beadboard walls and ceiling in the living room,

Whale Table Bead Board Walls

a vintage kitchy kitchen and many of the original furnishings still in place. Since she is slowly attempting to freshen and lighten the decor, her most recent flea market find was a white rattan living room set with green and blue striped cushions-so comfy and pretty!

Whale Cushion Colors

But the dark brown, pressed-board, veneered-top coffee table had seen many better days,

Whale Table Before

so the choice was to toss it and get something new or refurbish it-nothing that a little paint, tape and time can’t fix! Since she has often admired my whale table,

This Old House Whale Table

our original plan was to cut the top of this table into the proper shape and then paint it. But the base was too wide, which didn’t leave  a lot of room for cutting definition. The next choice was to define the background with a contrasting color and then paint the whale-perfect! The red, white and blue of my whale table would not have cut it in her beachy blues room, so we chose the Behr sample pots

Whale Behr Paints

that most closely matched the stripes in the cushion fabric.

Whale Side View

(Funny story, when we went to the mixing counter to order our colors, the clerk said “Why is everyone calling these paint pots? They are jars!” I guess we can thank the British invasion for that one-so thanks, Annie Sloan!)

Here’s the how-to:

1. Get a table that fits a whale shape well. This one is oblong in shape so it was a natural fit with a curved middle and rounded edges. But since most coffee tables are rectangular, they lend themselves to the whale shape well. Prime it. I usually use Glidden Gripper

Glidden Gripper

for its awesome priming ability to stick to pretty much anything.

2. Decide on a pattern

Whale Chalk Outline

and then draw a whale on the primed table top surface.

Whale Pattern Pencil

It you don’t have any drawing skills, the next best thing is to find the shape online and then print it. My skills are primitive, at best, but they get the job done.

Whale pattern

Whales are pretty simple though. They are kind of just a big old long blob with a mouth and a tail.

3. Paint the background color. In this case, we used the darker green to give it a good definition. That also wrapped around the edge of the table. Then we painted the skirt and the legs the other contrasting colors of Mother Nature, Grape Vine and Blue Fox.

Whale Table Color Palette

4. Painted the background color of the whale. In this case, it was a Behr plain white.

Whale Painting White Coat

Now you can really see the shape taking shape against the darker green background.

Whale White Undercoat

5. Tape off the stripes. I originally measured true center, then started a line across using the table edge as a guide. However, I soon realized that since the table is oblong, it gracefully slopes down as it nears the edges. We could have followed those lines and created a curved effect, but we were going with pin-striped preppy whale so we just started with the center lines, then pulled the tape taut across.

Whale Taped Stripes

A quick tip: instead of measuring each individual stripe row spacing, we just placed a small piece of tape, then started the next row-quick and easy!

Whale Tape Spacers

6. Painted the blue lines and tail. Make sure that when you are painting along the tape, you use light coats and strokes so it doesn’t bleed underneath the tape lines! Two light coats are better than one heavy coat. This paint takes so little time to dry, especially in the hot Cape Cod sunshine, that it was only a matter of minutes between coats.

7. Pull the tape and step back and admire the cute preppy whale emerging.

Whale Blue Tail

8. Decorate the tail. We wanted to make him look a little more fresh and beachy, so we used a starfish shape cut from an old sponge.

Whale Sponge Starfish

With the white paint, we began sponging the stars on his tail in a random pleasing pattern. This is your chance to use your creativity! Don’t want stars? Use circles or spirals! Anything you can think of you can cut out of a sponge or potato or find a stencil or stamp at your local craft store.

Whale Tail with Stars

Tip: try to stamp a couple along the edges with a partial pattern so the overall effect is more even and not cramped into the defined space.

Whale Tail with Star Edges Defined

The sponge effect is lighter and makes for more realistic starfish.

Whale Completed

9. Add an eye. This is a personal choice, but since whales have eyes and we wanted to add a touch of the soft green to the top, this half-moon shape worked beautifully.

Whale Table with Eye

10. Stand back and admire. The table is back in place in front of the new sofa, and it instantly added a bright, whimsical touch to the living room.

Whale table complete

At that point, it was time for me to head back home (to avoid the notorious Cape bridge traffic). So she’ll be finishing her whale with a touch of glazing and a couple of coats of polyurethane. Need to protect our project from the battle beasts that were once played with by her sons, and now by her grandsons.

Whale Battle Beasts

So thanks for a whale of a weekend, Mary! See you very soon. I’ll bring the sandpaper…and the margaritas. Susan

PS: Check out my links on the Thirty HandMade Days Pity Party and on My Repurposed Life!

Hooray for the Red, White & Blue!

As you can see by my back porch decor, I’m a sucker for good ol’ American flag red, white and blue.

whale full porch

I wear my patriotic heart on my sleeve, and the singing of the national anthem still sends chills down my spine (especially the Whitney Houston version). I love the idea of using our American flag for design and color inspiration.

RWB Truck

And sometimes just for fun : ) This is Yankee Doodle Bartlet!

Bartlet Calendar

So for your Independence Day pleasure, please enjoy some of my favorite flag-inspired red, white and blue design images.

RWB Pottery Barn

Flag by Pottery Barn

RWB

Kitchen Eric Gedney

Gloss NY

Gloss NY

Barn by James McAdam

Barn by James McAdam

Flag by Holly Anderson Art

Flag by Holly Anderson Art

RWB Childs Room

Childs Room by The Uncommon Law

RWB Family Room

Living Room by Billy Beson Company

Cottage by Shoreline Architecture

Cottage by Shoreline Architecture

Amazing Sideboard by Chic Relics

Amazing Sideboard by Chic Relics

RWB Fireworks

To see many more of my favorite pics, check out my Pinterest board: Hooray for the Red, White and Blue.

Have a safe and joyful 4th of July everyone!! Susan

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