“SOWA’rd Ya Go Sunday?”

Coach and I spent the better part of Sunday afternoon at the SOWA Vintage Market and Open Market in Boston’s South End. What fun!

The indoor market vintage shops are crammed with various and curious items for sale like art

and style

…and just plain sexy. This loveseat and chair were heart-stoppers for me!!

The artist, Holly Czapski, from Re-Furnish of West Concord, transforms pieces of old furniture into works of art. Using vintage photographs that she transfers onto fabric, she creates one-of-a-kind, stunning functional art pieces that could be the focal point of any room. AMAZING. You can reach her at holly@re-furnish.com

The larger part of SOWA is the outdoor farmer’s market and arts and crafts show. With pop-up tents filled with hand-crafted and vintage goods surrounded by food trucks of all shapes and sizes (kickass gourmet grilled cheese at Roxy’s, the line was 20 deep at all times!) this weekly event is not to be missed. If you are traveling to Boston, or just looking for an entertaining Sunday afternoon, SOWA is a must see. There is not room enough on this blog to note every item I deamed awesome and noteworthy. But I will highlight a few of my favs- for the rest, you’ll just have to go and shop for yourself. I am always searching for unique, quirky, fun items. I found a few here:

Love On The Blocks Your favorite photographs printed on to handcrafted birch blocks. The images are soft but true.

Nonsense Institute Whimsical creations by Anisa Asakawa. Handmade. Screen Printed. Recycled. Adorable.

Darn Good Barn Wood unique furniture made from reclaimed antique barn wood. Gorgeous finishes. Perfect for a country kitchen!

Oh How Cute Coasters! Started when a small, piggy-tailed kid was constantly over the coals for not having a coaster under her drink. Morphing the fear of water rings on furniture and a love of photography, Oh how cute! Coaster Co began. Handmade in New Bedford, MA.

Marcart Graphic art by Marc Roulstone. A must-have, since we had Bartlet the French Bulldog tagging along with us (with his mommy, who was stopped approximately every ten feet by Frenchie fans wanting to pat him and play with him. We must have heard “Oh, he’s sooooo cute!” at least 100 times! Being the celebrity that he apparently is, he took it all in stride. He was more interested in eating food droppings off the ground than acknowledging his admirers.

Those of you who know me and my blog, know how much I appreciate recycling in any form or fashion.

So here was a very fashionable recycling booth!

Manswap, sponsered by SOWA,

where you could bring your clean, gently used items and swap them. “Swap is the New Shop”. LOVE.

And finally, another unique shop, this time a converted school bus filled with vintage clothing. Great way to set up shop: drive up, park, sell your stuff, drive home. Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “Sunday Drive”. Susan

A Whale’s Tale- The Reveal!

Here’s the story, about a Whale named Wally (well, it’s actually Wallace, but his “fins” and family call him Wally)  Back on the 4th of July, I started the D.I.M. project- Do. It. Myself. (Because If I Don’t, Who The Hell Else Will?!?)- I referred to as refurbishing Mr. Whale. Today, the reveal! That beat-up, barnacle-covered, down-in-the-spout old pine coffee table I picked up for $5.00 at a yard sale has a whole new look!!

After the whale -washing

the sanding 

then re-glueing and painting the base

taping  and striping

adding the stars

then re-sanding the edges and top and adding the antique glazing (this stuff is typically used for kitchen cabinets but when a whale needs a new coat, anything goes!) You paint it on…

then wipe it off-the more you leave, the darker the finished product.

Final step- polyurethaning  (I used water-based polyacrylic so it will remain clear and not yellow). I wanted to use a rub-on wax for a less shiny finish, but since Wally will be spending the majority of his time outdoors on the porch, he needed a strong, clear coat for protection. 

Wallace the Whale has a whole new life!

Pierce Brosnan (yup, 007 himself) once said: “We owe it to our children to be better stewards of the environment. The alternative? – a world without whales. It’s too terrible to imagine.” Along with tips from my recent “Saving Mother Earth” blog post, I’d like to think that I am doing my small part with my Three “R” principle: Re-Cycle, Re-Furbish, Re-Love. Most of the items on this porch wall were also re-claimed!Wally is a perfect example of what you can do with a little elbow grease and some imagination to re-love an object that might otherwise be headed for extinction. 

Now it’s a smooth sail for Mr. Whale! Time to tackle the couch…Susan

Dancin’ in the Moonlight

One of my very first posts, “Taking the Leap“, was about 2012, the year of the weddings. With five unique weddings on our calendar this year, we were looking forward to a season of food, fun & family. Last night’s nuptials were held at the Smith Barn at Brooksby FarmThe invitation had read: “Please come and enjoy a celebration of love, friendship, laughter and friends”, and the evening did not disappoint. A tranquil country setting, surrounded by orchards and vineyards, where 200+ family and friends spent the night dining and dancing under the stars in this sooo romantic setting. 

The bride and groom braved the elements and decided to hold the ceremony outdoors in the garden, under threats of torrential downpours and high 80’s temps in the forecast. Just as the guests were taking their seats, the cloudy sky cleared to blue, a sure sign of a bright future for the newlyweds, yes?

The reception was held inside the Smith Barn, an antique two-story structure built in 1904. Simply rustic, with a balcony looking over the dance floor, where we were able to get a bird’s eye view of the bride and groom’s  first dance as husband and wife. 

A few of my favorite unique touches for the affair:

Mason jar centerpieces, decorated with burlap and designed by Parker Florist  of Wakefield, added splashes of color in hues of purple, yellow and green. Perfectly casual country alongside the table markers, empty wine bottles with a stenciled number, the corks having served as the place cards. With 24 tables, that was a lot of wine to drink…gotta take one for the team, as they say. Cute!

The aisle markers, hung on shepherd’s hooks in the garden. Burlap cones filled with summer flowers. So country pretty!

The Wedding Tree. Upon entering the venue, we grabbed our place markers, but then were asked to add our thumb prints and signatures to a lovely hand-painted poster to create a lasting “wedding tree” momento for the bride and groom. (wipes were provided to remove the ink from our thumbs : )

Hanging pots of flowers from the beams. Since the venue is constructed of unvarnished, unpainted beams, walls and floor, it was up to the wedding planners to add a splash of color wherever possible. The rows of hanging flower baskets added a softer touch to the beams surrounding the dance floor.

Twinkle lights. No matter what the venue, these little lights always cast a warm glow, especially after the sun set and the moon emerged over the vineyards. And it got me to thinking, I have a barn…and twinkle lights. And I like to dance. Perhaps a new business venture?

Ice Cream Bar!! In lieu of the tradional wedding cake, an ice cream bar was offered as dessert. Vanilla ice cream with a choice of toppings including oreos, hot fudge, sprinkles, strawberries, whipped cream and a cherry on top : ) A very cool way to end the evening.

School Bus Rock. The night at Smith Barn ending, the bridal party and their guests who were staying at a local hotel were treated to the ultimate mode of transportation- the big yellow school bus! Packed to capacity, we overheard the cheering and chanting as they rode off into the night.

Congrats to the newlyweds!! May you have a long life of love, happiness and sunshine. Now I could use some coffee and an Advil…. Susan

Saving Mother Earth

You know when you have one of those never-ending dreams, that finally awakens you with a start? And you wonder, where the heck did that come from?!? Last night my dreams were filled with images of the end of the world. People banding together to channel the finite resources to those who needed it most. Slowly watching as the natural landscape dwindled, until the day turned to night, the earth slowly faded to black and gently spiraled away into the universe. It wasn’t violent or apocalyptic, just very sad to say goodbye to glorious Mother Earth.

Then the dog jumped on the bed and woke me up-first time I was happy to have her smiling face staring at me at 5am! My final thought before I was so rudely roused from my sleep was, “I have to do more to save our planet, I want to make a difference.” Upon awakening, my first thought was,  “No more pepperoni pizza before bedtime…”

So I found this great article from Wire and Twine: “50 Ways to Help the Planet”. It is filled with simple ideas that will preserve our finite resources, make us healthier and happier and keep Mother Earth spinning for the next millenium.

A few of my favorites, simple and effective:

If every household in the United State replaced one regular lightbulb with one of those new compact fluorescent bulbs, the pollution reduction would be equivalent to removing one million cars from the road.

 2.TURN OFF  COMPUTERS AT NIGHT (I am sooo guilty of this one!)
By turning off your computer instead of leaving it in sleep mode, you can save 40 watt-hours per day. That adds up to 4 cents a day, or $14 per year. If you don’t want to wait for your computer to start up, set it to turn on automatically a few minutes before you get to work, or boot up while you’re pouring your morning cup ‘o joe.

Skip  rinsing dishes before using your dishwasher and save up to 20 gallons of water each load. Plus, you’re saving time and the energy used to heat the additional water.

Recycled glass reduces related air pollution by 20 percent and related water pollution by 50 percent. If it isn’t recycled it can take a million years to decompose. Twenty recycled aluminium cans can be made with the energy it takes to manufacture one brand new one. Every ton of glass recycled saves the equivalent of nine gallons of fuel oil needed to make glass from virgin materials.

5.WASH IN COLD OR WARM   If all the households in the U.S. switched from hot-hot cycle to warm-cold, we could save the energy comparable to 100,000 barrels of oil a day. Only launder when you have a full load.

During an average year, an American uses approximately 2,200 napkins—around six each day. If everyone in the U.S. used one less napkin a day, more than a billion pounds of napkins could be saved from landfills each year. Same goes for paper towels. I have started using my cloth dish towels to clean the countertops with vinegar and water- not always, but I am making an effort. Switching to cloth will save a bundle! And you can do such creative things : )

You can reuse gift bags, bows and event paper, but you can also make something unique by using old maps, cloth or even newspaper. Flip a paper grocery bag inside out and give your child stamps or markers to create their own wrapping paper that’s environmentally friendly and extra special for the recipient.

You’ll conserve up to five gallons per day if you stop the running water while you brush. Daily savings in the U.S. alone could add up to 1.5 billion gallons–more water than folks use in the Big Apple. Every two minutes you save on your shower can conserve more than ten gallons of water. If everyone in the country saved just one gallon from their daily shower, over the course of the year it would equal twice the amount of freshwater withdrawn from the Great Lakes every day

Consider buying items from a second-hand store. Clothing. Toys. Furniture.  Second hand stores often sell these items in excellent condition, or sometimes requiring a bit of TLC. A little elbow grease goes a long way towards saving our resources! So much fun to refurbish, recycle, re-love an old piece of furniture.

The average cell phone lasts around 18 months, which means 130 million phones will be retired each year. If they go into landfills, the phones and their batteries introduce toxic substances into our environment. There are plenty of reputable programs, like Cell Phones for Soldiers where you can recycle your phone, many which benefit noble causes.

For loads of other great planet-saving ideas, go to The Mother Earth News. And remember to follow the Three R’s: Re-Cycle, Re-Purpose, Re-Love. Pledge to make every day Earth Day. Hope you have a great weekend, and don’t forget to turn off your computers when you leave your office  Susan

Come Sail Away…

…come sail away, come sail away with me. (Styx)  Exciting news!! For our anniversary, Coach presented me with a gift certificate from Community Boating Boston for sailing lessons!! Not really a surprise, since I had suggested that perhaps if someone needed to get me a gift for something…the surprise was that Coach is going to take them with me! He said, and I quote “I am not going to be on a sailboat with you if you are the only one who knows what’s going on”. hmmm. Now, If you are a devoted follower of my blog (which I hope you are : ), you are saying, “but, wait a minute, you have brand new kayaks!!” And you remember that recently we launched them-after a year in dry dock!- into Lake Quannapowitt. Other than Bartlet the dog taking a dunk in the drink, it was clear sailing, until I hit the deck in the driveway while unloading! But it was a pain in the butt loading the boats on the CRV roof, unloading them, kayaking, drying them off, loading them back on and then back off again to return to dry dock-phew!

So I thought, since we have a cute little yacht club right here in Wakefield, why not join?!? We could keep the kayaks there, take them for a paddle around the lake, and return them to their moor at the end of the day, have a cool one on the dock overlooking the lake before heading home.

So we took a visit to the Quannapowitt Yacht Club , the oldest inland boat club in America, founded in 1884. They even have regattas!! But alas, we discovered that they only accept sailboaters as members. Kayakers not welcome. But the clubhouse was kind of cute in a formica, 70’s kind of way, with a killer dock that stretches all the way around and has an unobstructed view of the lake in all its glory. The woman thought it was a little strange when I asked if we could join without having any sailboats. OK, so on to plan B. Not a big fan of those kayaks anyway, so let’s trade them for a nice little sailboat.

I had dreams of peacefully drifting along on a warm, sunny day

wind in my sails

glass of wine in hand as the day turned to evening

a totally peaceful way to spend a lazy summer afternoon.  And then if I got good enough, we could enter a race or two!

Perhaps I am destined for the Americas Cup? 

I could set the new world’s record for the oldest person to sail solo around the world! The youngest record is already held by Jessica Watson-way to go, Jessica!!

Tempting, but circling the earth,which is 70% water, would take awhile.  And I don’t think they have WiFi on the open ocean, so I may pass on that.  And there is always the fear of this…

In which case, I better look good when the rescuers come to pluck me out of the water. Soooo, I could get a very fashionable yellow slicker. I do watch Deadliest Catch, and they all wear them! But this one is super cute and functional too! And some really nice nautical shoes.

Perhaps a sailor outfit?  

This one’s not very practical for the open seas. Ahoy, matey!!

Love the brass buttons!  

This entire nautical theme from Project Lena Blog is awesome too! 

I am not sure, but I don’t think I could wear a PFD (personal flotation device) over this dress and be comfortable enough to be moving fore and aft (those are nautical terms, for the non-sailors among you)

OK, enough dreaming. Time to fill out my Adult Program Membership Application for Community Boating Boston! Anyone wanna buy some kayaks, cheap?!?  Hope you sail peacefully through your day… Susan

Happily Ever After

Today Coach and I are celebrating our wedding anniversary. Is it possible that it has been 33 years?!? It seems like yesterday that we met at a local drinking establishment, sitting on a couple of bar stools, sharing some stories and a beer, and the rest, shall we say, is history. Weddings back then were smaller, more intimate ceremonies, without much of the production and style of weddings today. There were typically no “themes”- just a bride and a groom in a gown and tux, celebrating their love with family and friends. Yup, that’s me in the horse-drawn carriage on our way to Glen Magna Farms. My own version of Cinderella : )

Today’s weddings are oftentimes elaborate celebrations

where guests are treated to spectacular venues that are lavishly decorated with flowers

out-of-this-world lighting

“Country Pretty” styling

With table settings fit for a king

or queen…

Where guests are invited to join in the fun with photo booths

stylized food

and synchronized dance moves

Themes range from underwater dives

or above water vows with a view

African safaris (is this elephant the best mammoth?)

even a Cinderella Castle!

But through all the glitz and glamour, one theme remains constant.

Two people fell in love and chose to spend their lives together.

And what could be more spectacular than that?

Happy Anniversary Coach! 143me

We’re Talking Hot Hot Hot!

“It’s hot.” “Wow, it’s hot!” “Can you believe how hot it is!?!” If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard that in the past week… In the winter, we New Englanders are hardy stock. Ten feet of snow?! No problem!  I’ve got my boots and a shovel- let’s get to the mall! But when the thermometer tips 90+ for more than a few days, we tend to get a little wilted and cranky around here.  Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a good 9,000 BTU air conditioner as much as the next girl, but going from my AC’d house to my AC’d car to my AC’d work and back home again, I start to long for some crisp, clean fresh air. Living within a stone’s throw of some of the most beautiful beaches on the North Shore, you would think that oceanside would be my preferred destination when the temp is approaching 100+.

But I have to admit, as much as I love the ocean to look at, I much prefer the clean, chlorinated, fake azure blue, no-fish-allowed water of a beautiful swimming pool.

Perhaps it is the childhood memory of that crunchy bite of a sandy wax-paper-wrapped tuna salad sandwich at Sandy Beach?

 Or the sunburned afterglow with a scratchy topical application of sand mixed with SPF 40 after a beach day under cloudy skies. Or being knocked to the ocean floor by a rogue wave with a strong undertow…and struggling to stand up, minus half of my bathing suit! Suffice to say I was on the wrong beach in Martha’s Vineyard for topless sun-bathing! Talk about a great white sighting…dundun, dundun…

So I went searching for some really cool pools to share with you.

Near a beach for the view without an undertow? Great.

On a tropical resort… this one’s in Hawaii

Would never be bored in Bora Bora!!

Or at this resort in Turks and Caicos 

At a villa in Tuscany…

To Infinity…

…and beyond!! 


Add a bar…

…with a frosty tropical umbrella drink?

And then there’s this…apparently called the “Redneck Pool”. Pickup truck, plastic tarp, fill with water add a few beers. Hey, desperate times call for desperate measures y’all! 

The best of both worlds…wave pools in Australia

The end to a perfect day in paradise 

Stay cool, everyone!!! Winter will be here before you know it! Susan

Bathing Beauties

For the past couple of years, Coach and I have been discussing the hot topic of replacing our “upstairs bath”. Living in an antique cape that did not come equipped with a “master bath” (heck, it didn’t even have a master bed), we have made do over the years with one tiny bath at the top of the stairs. The 9′ x 5′ bath that we inherited when we purchased our home had what I would refer to as an eclectic style-lol! Old dark grey bathtub, aqua porcelain tiles, beige toilet,  grey sink on stainless spindles, speckled linoleum floor tile. Seems like whatever the plumber had handy when something needed replacing, that’s what was installed.   Over the years, the D.I.M. (Do It Myself-because if I don’t, who the hell else will!?!) projects have included tearing out and replacing the aqua tiles with wainscotting, painting and wallpapering and painting again,  and replacing the linoleum with stick-down tiles. That one required a trip to the ER and a few stitches in my thumb. Time for a new bath, this time done right by the professionals!

There isn’t anything vintage or pretty about this room except for this floor grate and this faucet both of which I would like to keep.

I was fortunate to find these pretty glass tiles at a yard sale- $20 for 3 cases of 4 x 4’s!!

So I’ve got my start, time to find some inspiration. I’ve been searching for pictures, starting with Pinterest and Houzz, working my way over to Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn & Google Images, where I have seen the good, the bad and the very, very bad.

Seriously, a Christmas tree and two white shag rugs!?!? Santa’s boots would leave some pretty nasty footprints in that bath!

I have found that my eye is drawn to vintage style… And Bling.

And of course, I love color, but not this color!!  

Or this one…can  you imagine stumbling in there after a night of partying!?!? Talk about green around the gills!I have found a few baths that have my brain bubbling… this one is so country pretty~

This one is simply beautiful, but a bit too modern for my vintage home.Who wouldn’t want to have a long soak in this sun-filled space from Pottery Barn? Although this Stainless Lab Bath by Restoration Hardware is striking, I think it’s a bit too clinical for my space. I adore farmhouse vintage, but I worry that the rough, unvarnished surfaces may not clean well.

This is the one. The bath of my dreams. Colorful. Restful. Vintage look with marble and modern chrome finishes.But way too big for my space. Perhaps Coach would be open to taking down a wall…

Here’s hoping you make a splash today, no matter what you do!! Susan

Where’d she go this week? I dunno, Alaska!!

Old corny joke. I know. But it kept running through my head as I was writing this blog post. It’s Wanderlust Wednesday, and this week we are off to the great state of Alaska! America’s 49th state.

The Last Frontier. Home of  Mt. McKinley – @ 20,320 feet (6,194 m) above sea level  – the highest point in the USA. Although Alaska is the largest state in square miles, it is 48th in population. Alaska borders Canada to the East and the Pacific Ocean and Arctic Sea, but no other US states. And contrary to popular belief, you cannot see Russia from your back porch.

A few years back, we had the amazing opportunity to cruise with Princess through the fjords and glacial passages of Alaska.

Forget what you’ve seen in travel brochures and read in glossy magazines. There is no way to accurately portray the immense beauty, the pristine countryside, the majestic mountains of this great state unless you have seen them with your own eyes.

Whether we were river rafting next to a glacier

soaring to new heights (no I was not on that plane, have a hard enough time getting on a 747!!)

panning for gold

and that’s what we got (certainly not enough for the new bracelet I had in mind!)

mushing with the dogs (It was summer, so no snow- but it still was fun!)

sailing away  at sunset

…we were never out of sight of some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world. 

As our ship made its way into the Fjords, the spectacular glaciers came into full focus.

Mountains peaks of turquoise blue, black and white ice,

with melting sections “calving” into the water with deafening crashes.

The Mendenhall Glacier 

Our Inside Passage cruise from Whittier to Vancouver, British Columbia took us to Juneau, the state capitol,

Skagway … part of the setting for Jack London‘s book The Call of the Wild.

and Ketchikan known for it’s Alaskan Native Culture and Salmon Fishing. 

Each stop along the way was rich with scenic vistas

and local customs and history, including the Totem Bight State Historical Park

Mt. McKinley again! Apparently people travel from all over the world to view and climb the majestic Mt. McKinley. We were told that some folks visit for years and never actually see it, due to constant cloud cover. Every time we walked outdoors, someone said, “Hey, look at that, it’s Mt. McKinely again!” The highest mountain in North America, Mt. McKinley has been the goal of aspiring high altitude climbers since it was first climbed in 1913. Its reputation as a highly coveted summit derives from its location near the Arctic Circle and the Pacific Ocean giving it some of the most ferocious weather in the world. Because of its weather and ease of access, some climbers use McKinley as a training ground for climbing the 8,000 meter peaks of the Himalaya, including Everest.

And with that I will sign off, as my dogs are tired (uggh, another bad joke) . Happy Mushing! Susan

Bartlet…The Dog, The Myth, The Legend

A year ago today, Bartlet the French Bulldog was born. When my daughter and her boyfriend decided to get a puppy to shares their lives in the new condo, she was adamant about getting a “Frenchie”.  After doing quite a bit of reading and research, she was certain this was the dog for her. Her boyfriend was not quite as excited due to the fact that they are reportedly terrible swimmers (as a matter of fact, some literature suggests not having them near open water, beacause due to the size of their heads, there is a threat of drowning.), they are supposedly somewhat lazy, cannot run, are rather reserved and don’t like to play all that much. But he was quickly won over by the Big “B”! He is comical, endearing, loveable and guess what- he can swim!! Well, with a PFD (personal flotation device). He loves chasing Frisbees on the beach,  playing with other dogs at doggy day care and the park, and will run to the point of exhaustion chasing a beach ball.

Last year, not soon after they brought him home, Coach and I (I’m Nana in Bartlet-speak) were called upon to “puppy-sit” for a long weekend. I hatched a plan to create The Year of Bartlet Calendar for his “mommy and daddy” for Christmas. Along with my so talented sister-in-law, the marketing guru, and my nieces, we posed Bartlet and put together what we think is a hilarious calendar, that they have enjoyed this entire year. Not sure what I am going to do to top it, but I am puppy-sitting again soon…hope you enjoy it too!

January … Jingle Bells!

February… Who Woofs Ya Baby?

March… Slainte!

April…Thanks Easter Bunny!

May…The Most Interesting Dog In the World

June… Let’s Go Red Sox!!

July…Yankee Doodle Dandy

August…Beach Blanket Bingo!

September…Liverpool or Bust!

October…Trick or Treat

November…Let’s Go Patriots!

December…Santa Paws is Coming to Town

Disclaimer: no puppies were harmed in the making of this calendar 🙂

                                                                                          Happy Birthday Big B!! We love you!!! Nana

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