Fancy That! Easy Chalkboard Art!

We’ve all seen the signs. Fancy chalkboard art is all over Pinterest, it’s at weddings and birthday parties and on this month’s cover of Country Living Magazine.

Chalkboard Country Living Magazine

So, you ask, how does one (who really cannot draw more than stick figures) create a great-looking sign that you can be proud of? Well, I have done quite a bit of research and have read many, many how-to tutorials. Most involved special transfer paper, graph paper, rulers and grids and painstaking copying. That didn’t appeal to me-I like quick, fast and easy (insert joke here). The more things I get done, the more things I get to keep doing! I needed a sign for next week’s booth, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try my own approach to chalking it up. Here we go:

Step 1: Go to the barn and get an antique cupboard door that’s been hanging around for generation or two-thanks, Coach!

Antique Door

If you are making your own chalkboard, like I did, I recommend Benjamin Moore Chalkboard paint.

Chalkboard Paint-Benjamin MooreI have tried many brands and this one is very smooth and creates a nice writing surface. You need two coats. Follow the directions on the can. It takes 3 days to cure. Follow the directions on the can. Make sure you “size” the board before you write on it with chalk. Then wipe it down. Follow the directions on the can.

Step 2. Decide what you want to say. I needed to make two signs: one for Country Design Home and one for the name of the monthly market. For the May market, its Mom’s Garden.

Mom;s Garden

Use your basic paint program or photoshop or whatever you use to create the words and graphics you would like to have on your sign. You can be as fancy or plain as you like. Size them to the exact specs of the board you are decorating. You will need to create the entire board, and you can do that in sections or all on one 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper. Print them as you normally would on regular printer paper, do not flip them to the reverse. If you have printed a large design in sections, you need to tape the whole thing together before you tape it to the board. You can use the program from Blockposters to create a large mural-type board.

Step 3. Flip the paper over and then take some sharpened chalk and draw along the lines of the print. I will call this reverse chalking. Be neat, but you don’t have to be fanatical about it. That’s what wet wipes are for.

Reverse Chalking

And yes, you can sharpen chalk with a regular pencil sharpener-who knew?! And it doesn’t make that squeaky “nails on the blackboard” noise either!

Chalk Sharpener

Step 4. Carefully place the paper, chalk side down on your prepared surface. Don’t move it around too much or it will leave smudgy stuff on your nice clean board. Tape it in place. Repeat, tape it in place.

Taped Design

Step 5. Take something smooth but pointy- like this cuticle thingy (lord knows, I don’t use it for my nails…) and rub all of the lines that you want to magically appear on the chalkboard.

Cuticle Press

Step 6. You can carefully lift the paper up just to make sure you have transferred all of the chalk lines you need as you go.

Chalkboard Design Check

Step 7. When you are happy that the design has been transferred to your liking, you carefully remove the paper, and voila! Instant fancy printing!  I added just a few corner embellishments, but this is where you can go crazy adding all kinds of cute graphics free hand!Chalkboard Sign

You will most likely need to use your sharpened chalk to clean up the edges, deepen the color and thicken the lines. (I also read somewhere that you should wet the chalk or the board to make the lines darker and clearer. That didn’t work for me, but have at it if you don’t think your lines are dark enough.) If you make a mistake, just use a wet wipe and try again.

Step 8. If you wish to make this permanent, then spray with some matte acrylic spray. I read somewhere that you could use hairspray, but I didn’t try it so I can’t vouch for that technique.Krylon Matte Finish

Step 9. Chalk it up to another great D.I.M. (Do It Myself) tip from Country Design Home! Susan

Hail To Crown Auctions!

It’s Friday again- that was fast- and this week’s High Five for Friday goes to Crown Auctions in Medford, Mass. Since Coach and I have been on the flea market, yard and estate sale hunt for treasures for the upcoming market, we decided to try an auction or two. Until we recently attended one of Crown’s Monday night events,Crown Auctions LLCmy overall impression of auctions had been of a room filled with antiques, with well-dressed bidders quietly wielding their numbered paddles as the auctioneer rattled on quickly and without humor. Monday night changed all that-what a blast! The owners, Arthur and Klia Crisafulli, put on a show. This is part commerce, part comedy and mostly getting incredible pieces at cut-rate prices! When we first arrived, we felt like we were the new kids on the block amidst the assembled group of approximately 100 buyers and bidders. People were eating, knitting, checking out the merchandise and just hanging out and chatting-clearly they had been there many times before. During the auction, Arthur called many of them out by name, joking and laughing while moving the sales along at break neck speed. At one point I counted 30 second intervals for each item bid and gone! By then end of the three hours, he had liquidated an entire estate from Fitchburg, with items like this pottery whiskey jug

Whiskey Jug

and quite a few pieces from an un-named museum in Boston. (apparently the museum folks didn’t want it to be public knowledge that they were selling off pieces at auction!). So, what did we get for our $121 we paid (that’s the winning bids, plus tax plus a “buyers premium” of 15%)? This beautiful antique pine blanket chest,

Pine Blanket Chest

a maple commode, a little Windsor chair and a ballot box (that one was for Coach). We also bid on and won an entire banquet table of pottery and china- including these beauties! An antique pottery footwarmer from the now-defunct Dorchester Pottery Works

Dorchester Pottery Foot Warmer

and this gorgeous Weller Pottery (established in 1872) large pale green planter with the base.

Weller Pottery Planter with Base

The Modern Method of Preparing Delightful Foods by Ida Bailey Allen.

The Modern Method Cookbook

Known as The Nation’s Homemaker and the “original domestic goddess”, she was apparently quite famous back in the day, according to her bio.

 Ida Bailey Allen

We also won so many jugs and vases and hand-painted items-like this precious little hand-thrown “No Nukes”pottery vase- perhaps made by some child in art class?

No Nukes Bud Vase

(At first, without my glasses, I thought it said “No Nuns”, which would have been appropriate for someone who had attended Catholic School in the 60’s : ) If you are interested in getting in on the action at the auction, you can go to their website here and add your email to the list. You won’t want to miss next month’s auction- they are liquidating the estate of Herb Reed (of the Platters!)

auction herb reedThey will send you an update when a new auction is coming up! As for now, I’m bidding on a great spring weekend coming up! Susan

Steel & Magnolias

Hi there! I know it’s been awhile since my last blog post, but every spare moment I have has been spent sanding and waxing and polishing and painting and tagging and pricing. Yikes! This is exhausting work getting ready for the Market! But I did manage to sneak away on one of the first beautiful spring days we are finally having to take a walk around the lake and clear my head. What caught my eye as I was taking a stroll? Beautiful trees springing back to life, forsythia and magnolia in full bloom against the bluest of blue skies.

Magnolia Tree

There are so many pretty pinks in this picture, it made me want to rush home and repaint the spare bedroom-so pretty!! So I took a few pics with my iPhone, and used my Ben Moore Color Capture to find the right colors to use for the walls, trim and accents. Nothing trendier than soft and hot pinks with industrial grays right now. Steel and Magnolias. Like Dolly Parton and Julia Roberts. Strength and Beauty. An old tin bucket overflowing with lilacs from Dreamy Whites Blog Spot. Gorgeous.

Dreamy Whites Lilacs

There are so many pinks and grays in the Benjamin Moore collection. Any combination would look great, but I found a few rooms that blew me away on So I chose the color captures from that beautiful tree that match each of the amazing spaces.Steel & Magnolias PlumsLove the juxtaposition of industrial gray architecture and furnishings with pretty pink accents. Think I have to go with Wrought Iron for the walls in this Mid-City Loft in Atlanta……by Niki Papadopoulos , that highlights the architecture by using the dark grays and pinks with stark white trim. The large industrial graphic is the focal point, but the rounded edges of the pink chairs soften the look. Room by Niki Papadopolous

While this room has an eclectic look-ornate mantel with antiques and pale gray walls, it’s accented with one fabulously modern hot pink egg chair-looks like a giant gum drop!Pink Egg Chair

For this room, I think Mirage White would be perfect for the mantel, while a slightly darker Metallic Silver Gray, would work for the walls to create a soft background for the statement piece-that chair.

Steel & MagnoliasIn this room By Celia James, the hard edges of the crystal and steel wall art and the gothic chair are again softened with the multi pink accents. Would choose the Iced Slate to create a soft, neutral background for these fabulous art pieces.

 Celia James Sitting Room

This platform bed dressed in hot pink poppies pops in an otherwise stark industrial space by Renovation Design Group. The colors for this lofty space? Black Knight-stark and bold. Mulberry for the bed linens. (not quite as bright as the hot pink shown here…)

Steel Renovation Design Group

And finally, this dramatic dining space by Marco Dellatorre. The salmon pink for the distressed walls? Modern Romance. For the grays I am going back to Wrought Iron. Deep and rich. (Most likely like the folks in Italy that own this incredible space.)Marco Dellatorre

So next time you are taking a walk, take a look around you, and look up! There is so much inspiration in nature, especially this time of year when the sun is shining, the grass is growing, the tulips are sprouting and the trees are in full magnificent bloom-now where did I put my Claritin? As far as re-painting the spare room goes, no time for that! It’s back to the work bench for me…Susan

High Five For Boston Magazine

It’s Friday…phew. It’s been a long week, and have lots to do this weekend to prepare for the upcoming Vintage Market. But it’s high time for another High Five for Friday-so here it is:

Boston Magazine Cover

Boston Magazine’s cover from Marathon Monday. WE WILL FINISH THE RACE. No other words can express more eloquently what that cover says. Well done, Boston. Make sure you read the back story on how the cover was conceived and created in three days. All of the sneakers in this photo were worn by the marathon runners, family and friends and co-workers who loaned their shoes for the magazine shoot. The magazine hits the newsstands today. The publisher is in the process of creating posters to sell, with the proceeds going directly to the One Fund Boston. (amazingly, in one week’s time, they have raised over $25 million!!) Hard to imagine that one week ago today, we awoke to the news that there was a manhunt in Watertown that had essentially shut down our beautiful city. Here’s hoping that this weekend is quiet, safe and sunshiny fun. TGIF everyone!! Susan

To Market We Go!!

It’s Wanderlust Wednesday, and this past couple of weeks Coach and I have been driving all around the Boston area. Logged 185 miles in one day last weekend, pickin’ and junkin’ and packing up the CRV!

Market Odometer

Why, you ask!? Well, I have finally decided to put my money where my blog is and join the Vintage Thymes Monthly Market beginning in May-so excited!!! This is my empty booth, waiting for some country design treasures…

Market Space Before

The first time I ventured down to visit the WinSmith Mill Market (remember that whole “snow through the sunroof“, mixing up photos fiasco!?), I was completely impressed by the all of the shops, but my attention was drawn to the Vintage Thymes Monthly Market in particular.

 Vintage Thymes Monthly Market

I loved the feel of the old tannery space, with soaring ceilings and wooden floors, with shoppers everywhere clutching their newly prized possessions, reminiscent of a bustling General Store offering vintage goods and wares. Busy as it was, one of the owners, Nancy Murphy, spent time with me chatting about the Market, the participating vendors and their goals and aspirations. It became clear to me that this is way more than just a job for her, it is a passion, one that is shared by millions of others out there who love to refurbish and recycle and make what was once old, new and beautiful again. And since we have a barn full of “junque”, and Coach is adding to the collection daily, like this gorgeous red Radio Flyer wagon we found over the weekend… Radio Flyer Wagon

…I figured it was high time to join in the fun! So, beginning the weekend of May 10, 11 and 12th, I will be offering a carefully curated collection of  of antiques and vintage goods,

Market Tasco Sign

reflecting the simple casual country style I love to feature in my blog posts. LOVE this old crackled scale…

Market Simmons Scale

Some of the items are untouched and will be offered as they were discovered at estate sales and auctions (minus the dust and cobwebs)

Vintage Aqua Ice Cream Maker

but many pieces have required painting & polishing, (like this pink commode I wrote about in “Coming Unhinged” a couple of weeks ago)

Market Pink Commode

and staining and waxing as well. This is the table I decorated with the wax paper printer transfer technique in “Waxing Nostalgic

 Cacao Telephone Table

To give you an idea of what will be available, I have added a Pinterest Board: Vintage Thymes Monthly Market, that you can visit.

Wooden Footstool with Rubber Treads

This month’s theme is Mom’s Garden, so you can expect to see quite a bit of garden-inspired furniture and accessories. (and, yes, that’s a real anchor- Coach dragged it home last weekend- what the heck am I supposed to do with that!?)


Not everything posted there will be available each month, as I only have so much room in my booth!  And once it’s sold, it’s gone, and I will mark it as such on the Pinterest board. Some things will have a “before” pic, and once I complete the refurbishing, I will post the “after” as well. I adore this dreamy mint farmhouse table, but it did need a lot of TLC. Wait til you see the after!!   Market Mint Table

I will be pinning additional items as the date gets closer, so check back often, and if you see something you must have, drop me an email @ and I will see if I can squeeze it into the CRV! OK, back to work…see you in May! Susan

Boston Strong Logo Help!

Hi readers! I need your help again! Since I published my recent post “Boston, You’re the One”, I have had several requests for information about the beautiful Boston Strong Logo that I used in my blog post, featuring all of the Boston sports teams and the Marathon logo.Boston Strong LogoI do know that the originator of the slogan “Boston Strong” was Red Sox player Will Middlebrooks, so thanks for that. Unfortunately, I had copied this pic from a Facebook posting that also had no information regarding the person or company who designed this logo. I have searched Google and Google images to no avail. If you are out there, or you know the true origin, could you please post here or email me @ I would like to give credit where credit is due, and also want to forward the information to the people who are interested in purchasing merchandise with this logo! Thanks, Susan

“Mother Knows Best” Needs You!!

Two weekends ago (it actually seems like eons ago, with all the events of the past week!), I participated in a team Guerilla Staging Competition at Mill 77 Trading Company in Amesbury. What a blast!

Mill 77 Trading Company

I was part of the team “Mother Knows Best“, two moms and daughters who love vintage style and decorating, fun competition and winning $$! Just to refresh, we blindly chose a category, then had 40 minutes to transform an empty room from four blank walls with lots of nails and a couple of white columns and hanging ladders into a gorgeous camera-ready vignette. Choosing “Clothing and Accessories” out of a hat, we raced through the store, collecting draperies (our apologies to the owner of that booth) and wrought iron gates, vintage clothing and jewelry, dressers and chairs to create a vintage vignette worthy of any Parisian Boudoir. This is the before:

Mill 77 Before

Here is the after:

Mill 77 Parisian Boudoir

Here’s the how-to: we suspended the toile drapes from the two columns, creating a focal wall. In front of that we wheeled in the vintage painted dresser, and used the tall wrought iron gate as a clothing rack. The dresser is laden with crystal and jewels, which, unfortunately you cannot see clearly here. On padded hangers we draped satin dresses and slips, scarves and a fox wrap. Sparkling shoes and boots were tucked under the dresser and antique frames served as jewelry hangers. The chic wool coat with mink trim and the chiffon scarf were on an antique dress form. We added the vintage needlepoint rug featuring many of the room’s muted colors and an antique blue ceramic heater. Finally, we created a small seating area with the painted table and chairs and dressed that with crystal and lace.  And then I Instagrammed it to give it a true vintage feel (well, minus the lime green price tags which we couldn’t remove)

Parisian Boudoir Instagram

So now comes the part where you can help! We have one more week to collect enough votes, either on Mill 77’s Website or YouTube links, where you can actually see us in action! The team’s room with the most votes wins $500, the runners-up win gift certificates to Mill 77. Great prizes, plus it was actually a fund-raiser for Our Neighbor’s Table in Amesbury- a win, win all around! So now all we need is your vote! If, after viewing our before and after (and remember, we only had 40 minutes!!) you think our Parisian Boudoir is worthy of your vote, please click here by filling in the info requested, along with our team name: Mother Knows Best or here to “Like” our video. If not, c’est la vie, there’s always next year. Here’s hoping for a great week, and lots of votes!! Stay Strong, everyone. Susan

Boston, You’re The One

So it appears that this long week of terror in our fair city has finally come to an abrupt end. Beginning on Marathon Monday, and culminating in the death of one, and the capture of another suspect in the bombings, this week has been filled with 24-7 news coverage, lockdowns, shootouts and horrific deaths. Nothing short of an epic Hollywood motion picture, only this time it was real…and personal.

Boston Skyline Chris Mathison

It has been difficult to imagine and write about anything other than the events that were unfolding before our eyes, in our hometown. Blogging about design and decor seemed irrelevant while all of this was happening, and now reflecting on that drama brings a few thoughts to mind. Firstly, thanking the law enforcement officials and officers who bravely put their own lives on the line in the pursuit and ultimate capture of these suspects. Secondly, being grateful that our friends and families are safe, and that we are free to resume our normal daily activities, whether it’s shopping, taking in a show or just enjoying a walk outside without fearing for our safety. Lastly, remembering and honoring those who have lost their lives, and those whose lives have been forever changed by this week’s tragic events. To that end, the Governor and Mayor of Boston have set up

The One Fund

The One Fund

From their website: “Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Menino today announced the formation of The One Fund Boston, the purpose of which is to raise money to help those families most affected by the tragic events that unfolded during Monday’s Boston Marathon.

“I am humbled by the outpouring of support by the business community and individuals who are united in their desire to help. The One Fund Boston will act as a central fund to receive much needed financial support,” Governor Patrick said. “At moments like this, we are one state, one city, and one people.””

Donating any amount will assist those most affected by the bombings. You can do that here, knowing that your donations will provide financial assistance to those citizens in greatest need during their, in many cases, long and painful and costly recovery. Stay strong, Boston,

Boston Strong Logo

and have a safe and finally peaceful weekend everyone. Susan  

Boston, You’re My Home…

Boston, You’re My Home…

It’s Wanderlust Wednesday, but this week, instead of my usual trip across the pond or from the deck of a cruise ship, I am reposting this blog I wrote one year ago on April 15, 2012, Patriots Day. Our hearts and prayers go out to all of those who were impacted by the horrific events that unfolded on Marathon Monday. In the wake of those recent tragedies at this year’s Boston Marathon, I wanted to re-share this blog with all of my readers, and any onlookers watching from afar who are interested in capturing the essence of the amazing, wonderful, joyful city we call Boston.

So here it is:

In honor of Patriots Day, a uniquely Massachusetts holiday, a little Boston history for your reading pleasure. Facts confirmed by Wikipedia, several historical societies and my historian-in-residence, Coach.  Click on the pictures for links to websites and information.

Boston (pronounced baws-tun). The Capital of Massachusetts. The Hub. The City of Champions (see Boston Red Sox, N.E. Patriots, Boston Celtics, Boston Bruins). Although significantly smaller in population than The Big Apple, what we lack in size we make up for in historic stature. We are the site of the world’s oldest marathon, begun in 1897, the Boston Marathon.We have the oldest MLB ballpark, Fenway Park (c.1912)

the Swan Boats (c.1877) in the Public Garden

and Harvard University, founded in 1636 and the alma mater of 7 US Presidents.

We are Beantown, named for Boston Baked Beans, a dish created by the Colonials, using beans cooked in molasses, a plentiful product due to the slave trade.

Home of the USS Constitution, nicknamed “Old Ironsides”, (C.1787) the world’s oldest commissioned warship afloat.

Named The Cradle of Liberty, and founded by the Puritans in 1630, Boston is one of the oldest cities in the United States. Instigators of the American Revolution, and the site of the Boston Tea Party

The Boston Massacre 

and the famous Midnight Ride of Paul Revere (the reason for this holiday!)

Penned by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1860, this poem details Revere’s April 18th journey by horseback from Charlestown to Lexington & Concord to warn the townspeople to take up arms in defense of the oncoming British invasion.

“…He said to his friend, “If the British march By land or sea from the town to-night, Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch Of the North Church tower as a signal light,– One if by land, and two if by sea; And I on the opposite shore will be, Ready to ride and spread the alarm Through every Middlesex village and farm, For the country folk to be up and to arm.” 

The British, whose ships were in Boston Harbor, were planning a march to Concord, where they were to destroy supplies and munitions stored by the local militia. Revere’s plan was to make his way there ahead of the advancing British troops, alerting the locals along the way of the impending British invasion. On the night of April 18, 1775,  alerted by the two lanterns hanging in the Old North Church, indicating the British would be advancing in boats over the Charles River, Revere began his historic journey on horseback. He travelled from Charlestown to Concord, alerting the local minutemen of the advancing regiments. Captured and released by the British, he made his way to

The Old North Bridge, the site of the Battles of Lexington and Concord

on April 19, 1775, the beginning of the American Revolution. Yes, you do need to know this for the exam. No, you cannot bring your musket to class for show and tell. Whether this is a holiday for you or not, enjoy the day. And whether you are running or watching the Boston Marathon tomorrow, be careful in the heat! Happy Patriots Day! Susan

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