The Beautiful Aloha State

It’s Wanderlust Wednesday, and this week we are off to the great state of Hawaii, our 50th state, joining the Union in 1959. Some of my favorite photos from an epic Hawaiian Cruise.           From the highest volcanic peaks and craters

Horseback Mountainside

to the deepest, dankest rainforests

Fern Grotto

and fern grottos


to the smoldering volcanic landscapes,

volcanic crater smoke

this state is a lush tropical paradise,

Hawaii Waterfall

resplendent with colorful flora

Fern Grotto Flower

and fawna (this is the rare Haleakalā Silversword that is found on the island of Maui at an elevation of 6,900 to 9,800 feet on the dormant Haleakalā Volcano)

Silver Leaf Plant

and of course, an occasional peacock. (I don’t know how Coach got this close, but this girl doesn’t chance any bird encounter, no matter how beautiful the feathers!)Peacock Blue

Water, water, everywhere.

crashing surf in Kona

Comprised of 6 major islands and surrounded by the vast Pacific, the Hawaiian islands have shorelines of breathtaking scenery. These “blow-holes”, that give the appearance of whale spouts, are actually created by years of erosion, the pounding surf carving crevices in the rocky ledge that blows through as the waves crash against the shore. And, yes, the water really is that blue.

Maui blowhole

From the cruise ship, the view is to shore, floating by craggy mountainsides in the morning mist,

The Big Island

pretty lighthouses standing watch along the rocky shore

Kona Lighthouse

and amazing sunsets and sunrises

Sunset from the Ship

Sunset from ship

and softly colored rainbows in the distance.

Morning Rainbow

Pearl Harbor. Crowds silently cueing in line, patiently waiting their turn for a boat ride out to view the memorial constructed over the sunken remains of the USS Arizona.

Pearl Harbor Memorial

And on our final evening in this great state, a fitting tribute: fireworks over Honolulu on the 4th of July. Our Independence Day.

Fireworks over Honolulu

Mahalo for stopping by, and have a wanderful Wednesday, everyone!! Susan

A Gem of a Weekend

So here it is Monday again. That weekend flew by! Between my first Vintage Market,

Vintage Thymes Market Shop

collecting our winnings from the Mill 77 Trading Company’s Guerilla Staging Contest-$500!!! and of course, Mother’s Day, I had barely closed my eyes and the 6:15 alarm was sounding this morning…groan..Monday. But I am happy to share so many great weekend happenings with you! First, my beautiful antique shutter slat table that I featured last week sold at Market!!

Vintage Thymes Market Set

I hope whomever bought it knows how much elbow grease went into it (along with some soft paste wax), and I hope they enjoy using it as much as I enjoyed creating it. On Saturday, our Mother Knows Best team headed back to Mill 77 in Amesbury.

Mother Knows Best Winner

Once we had collected our winnings, we headed downtown for a little celebratory lunch. If you haven’t been to the Amesbury Ale House, you MUST make a trip there soon!

Ale House Logo

They have all sorts of interesting beers and ales on tap, and the pub food is yummy. But the winning dish was: a S’Mores Calzone! What?!? You heard me right. (we dug into it so fast I forgot to take a pic- this is one I found on google- looks close…)

smores calzone

Reasonable Facsimile of Smores Calzone

smores menu item

Perhaps they need me to write a proper description? “A warmed calzone made from a sweet, light dough stuffed with melted chocolate, graham crackers and marshmallows, drizzled with chocolate fudge accompanied by three scoops of vanilla ice cream”. Un-freakin-believable!!! Just print that menu section out and hand it to the waiter.)  And just when I thought the weekend couldn’t get any better, we celebrated Mother’s Day all day long, where I had an opportunity to kick back, relax and just enjoy our amazing families and our two incredible moms. My Mother’s Day gift from my children: this beautiful pendant from Gemvara with their birth stones in an Inner Circle Sterling pendant.

gemvara necklace

How lucky can one girl get, seriously?!?  But now it’s Monday, back down to earth, back to work, back to beginning some new DIY projects for next month’s Market. Does anyone have any antique shutters I can use? Susan

It’s High Time to Shop!

In an early High Five for Friday!, I wanted to give you a sneak peek at all things country being offered in my shop at the Vintage Thymes Monthly Market. After what seems like a year (actually its only been 6 weeks since I agreed to join the market- but boy my arms are tired!) of sanding, staining, waxing, painting, cleaning and hauling loads of great vintage stuff in my poor car-soooo many dings and bumps : ( CRV Hauling Stuff

 I am finally ready to debut my collection!

Country Design Home: A Carefully Curated Collection of  Simply Casual Country Style Furnishings & Accessories.

Market Sign

This was the before:

Market Space Before

And this was during (I really thought I was going to need a bigger booth!)

Market Pre-Staging

And this is now:

Country Design Home Shop

In my shop, you will find hand-crafted items, like these very cute shutter chalkboard signs,

Chalkboard Signs

refurbished beauties like this pink and gray Victorian commode that was featured in a previous blog post: Coming Unhinged

Market Pink Commode

and of course, my newly created wrought iron shutter top patio set! Shutter Patio Set If you get there early, you might find this amazing aqua blue vintage hinged and locking steel box Market Aqua Steel Box presumably from the back of my dream pickup truck

Vintage Pickup Truck

(but I have a feeling that one’s not going to be there long, judging from the oohs and ahs of anyone who saw it…), loads of creamy white stoneware and crocks, mason jars by the barrel, vintage tin milking pails, luscious yellow enamel bowls and these cute tin daisy canisters with cut glass knobs.  If you follow my blog, you know I am all about color. This month is pretty pastels, reflected in the paints and accessories I chose to highlight. I love muted grays and blues as much as the next girl, but for me, color brightens my world and makes me happy : ) market cupboard closeup The cupboard shown here was in my dining room for years. Moved around a bit, but finally landed back in the barn. What was once an old, tired dark brown stained wood was transformed with Annie Sloan French Linen Paint and Soft Wax Finish and Benjamin Moore Chalkboard Paint on the buffet top.  Or, if you have a hankering for some home-made ice cream, how about this vintage ice cream maker? market aqua ice cream maker If you are getting ready to plant, I suggest this 9 clay pot vintage iron rack. The pots are chalkboard painted, so you can erase my numbers and label them with the various plants and herbs you are nursing along.Clay Pot Planter I had a blast putting my shop together, with special thanks to Coach, who is my fabulous picker, Lisa Mokaba, my right hand girl and lover of all things vintage, Nancy Granese, who added her amazing artwork for my space and the fabulous ladies from Vintage Thymes Monthly Market-Robin and Nancy-who have helped me immeasurably with great staging and pricing advice : ) Vintage Thymes Market Shop The entire market is stacked to the rafters with great vintage finds, and ready for opening day-tomorrow!  So much to see, so much to buy! I hope you have a truck : ) The hours of operation are Friday, May 10 from 9-6, Saturday May 11 from 9-6 and Sunday May 12  from 12-5. The address: WinSmith Mill Market at the Norwood Commerce Center, 61 Endicott Street, Norwood, MA.  Google Map Here. Hope to see you all there! Now I’m going to take a breath and have a cup of coffee before I start getting ready for June. Happy Shopping, and a very Happy Mother’s Day everyone! Susan

I Shutter To Think…

          …what would’ve happened if Coach and I hadn’t wandered down to Cape Cod last summer and found some old shutters on the side of the road. Seriously! On a beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon, we were driving down the Old King’s Highway, or Rte 6A, for some antique shopping and ocean viewing. All of a sudden we spotted some old, weathered, beautiful pastel shutters on the side of the road. patio map So Coach pulls over and tells me to get out and grab them! Which I did, but only after looking at all of the surrounding homes to ensure that a strong wind hadn’t just blown them off and the owners were set to retrieve them.

Old House

All clear! So I threw them in the CRV and off we went, but not very far before I noticed the strong oceany, mildew, rotten seaweedy kind of smell emanating from the back seat. Yuck! But we brought them home, along with some others that a shopkeeper gave us-yup, it was just that kind of day. So I soaked them in bleach, mildew remover, sanded them, washed them again, then laid them out in the sun for weeks. As the summer wore on, the stench slowly dissipated as I anxiously awaited the opportunity to use them in some special project. Fast forward to last weekend’s patio table project. We had scooped this topless table at a yard sale, realizing that I would have to create a new top for it.     patio table

My first thought was to use this old rain barrel- the staves were old and beautifully weathered, and unlike the shutter slats, were smell-free.

Antique Barrel

However, after spending hours deconstructing it, I discovered that 1. old barrel wood is really brittle and 2.old barrel staves are curved, which makes for a precarious perch for a cup of coffee.

Old Barrel Staves

The Plan B inspiration hit me at 4:30 am- the cleaned, pastel shutter slats would be perfect! So here’s my how-to:

1. Cut out a round piece of pressure treated plywood for the base in the size you want for the table top.

patio plywood

2. Arrange the slats in a pleasing “patchwork quilt” style pattern.

patio pattern

3. Glue, then nail the slats to the top of the plywood circle. I used this little sharpshooter- it shoots tiny little brads that are almost invisible.

patio sharpshooter

4. Flip the top over, then using a jigsaw, trim all of the excess wood away to create a perfect round. Well, not exactly perfect. I’m working on my sawing skills : ). Then flip it back over and

patio jigsaw

sand the top and the edges until smooth and even. Stain the bottom and sides.

patio top cut

6. Finish sides with black spray painted hanging strapping stuff with little black tacks.

patio tacks

Patio set strapping

I had High Heat paint so that’s what I used, but unless you are planning on using this as a fire pit, I think regular Krylon will do the trick.

patio black strapping

7. Spray the entire surface with matte clear acrylic finish. Allow to dry, then finish with a coat of Annie Sloan Soft Wax on top and sides, both the wood and the metal. Place on your patio for all to admire and enjoy!

Patio Set finished


9. Set it up in your booth for the Vintage Thymes Monthly Market coming this weekend! This one’s for sale : )

patio booth

So see, if we had never wandered to the Cape that day, I never would have scooped those shutters and created this beautiful table and chairs and offered it to you! Now, does anyone need a box of cut up antique barrel staves? Happy wandering Wednesday everyone! Susan

So…Mother Did Know Best


A few weeks ago, I blogged about the First Annual Guerilla Staging Competition at Mill 77 Trading Company in Amesbury to benefit “Our Neighbor’s Table”. To refresh: we chose a category out of a hat, then had 40 minutes to race through the shops collecting whatever we could move to create a beautiful, photo-worthy room. What a blast!! Our team, Mother Knows Best, with the category Clothing and Accessories, used our collective creative minds to produce a Paris-inspired turn-of-the-century boudoir. This was the before: 


This was the after:20130507-071505.jpg

Then I sent out a request to all of you in internet-land for votes! For two weeks we sat on pins and needles awaiting the final word. The votes were finally tallied over the weekend, and guess what?!? We won first place!! So I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone out there who visited the website, clicked on the YouTube link and either “liked” the video or voted for us online. We couldn’t have done it without you. It was great fun, for a really great cause, and we can’t wait til next year’s competition! I like the sound of defending champions : ) As for me, I think I’ll use my winnings to purchase a new nail gun!! Have a terrific Tuesday everyone!! Susan





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

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