Crown Molding Installation…Kitchen Makeover Redux

Hey, so it’s been awhile since we visited the thrifty transformation of my mom’s kitchen. My last episode of the kitchen makeover saga was the installation of the travertine subway tile backsplash...and that was back in the fall! I’ve been slowly making my way through multiple projects, including transforming a charming bookcase for all of mom’s cookbooks, painting the adjacent dining room, adding a shelf…but mainly I just kept putting off the crown molding installation along the top of the cabinets…because I simply didn’t know how to do it. This is the before picture, with painted and glazed cabinets ready for their crown. They just look so square…

Thrifty Kitchen Makeover Before Crown InstallationI had attempted crown molding cutting in the past, with miserable results. I just couldn’t figure out all the angles…until I found Sawdust Girl on Pinterest!

Crown Molding Illustration via Sawdust Girl

Crown Molding Illustration Courtesy of Sawdust Girl

This tutorial with the photos and graphics is simply the best with the most complete and least confusing instructions for the proper installation of crown molding. My post today is not actually the how-to, I am leaving that to Sawdust Girl to show you the way…to a crowning achievement! I am simply sharing a few do’s and don’ts for your reading pleasure. I downloaded these pics onto my phone for easy reference as I went along. I referred to them continuously while I was trying to figure out which way to mitre and bevel.

Outside right

Crown Molding Outside Right via Sawdust Girl


Outside left cut:

Crown Molding Outside Right via Sawdust Girl

Crown Molding Outside Right via Sawdust Girl

As I was trying to figure out how exactly I was going to find 36.1 and 33.9 for my bevels and miters (kind of sound like I know what I’m talking about, right?), I looked more closely at my Ryobi Miter Saw and lo and behold, the numbers were right there on the saw! With a locking position for each one-woo hoo!

Crown Molding Ryobi Saw Mitre MarksWith a sigh of relief I started my measuring and cutting according to Sawdust Girl’s instructions. It made me feel a little better when I was reading her instructions and she said that she gets confused every time she does these cuts! So, its not just me…

The first cut may be the deepest, but the last cut is the scariest. This is the final cut to the exact measurement of the length of the piece. Fortunately my little Ryobi Miter Saw has a laser beam that helped keep my on the straight and narrow : ) Too bad that laser couldn’t make the cuts as well…

Crown Molding Ryobi Chop Saw Laser Mark

This is the money shot, the one you cannot screw up or you have to start over. Which I did, more than once, despite Sawdust Girl’s best efforts to guide me.

Crown Molding Perfect CutsNOTE: A big DON’T. In the middle of the installation, DO NOT offer to cut some wire flower stems in your little miter saw for your mom’s spring flower arrangement she is working on in another room…because you’re procrastinating and not cutting molding. They will melt and get all twisty and stuck in your saw blade.

Crown Molding Wire Stems Stuck in SawWhich require an hour of your time to take the saw apart and remove the twisty wire.

Crown Molding Twisted and Melted Wire StemsOnce the cuts were made, it was time for the installation. Now, with short pieces, its pretty easy to hold it with one hand and hammer it in with the other as long as you hammer the nail into the trim 1/2 way to get it started. (Well, actually its not that easy, and I am totally getting a nail gun, despite Coach’s fear that I will somehow maim myself with an errant shot.) But with the long pieces, its near impossible to attach one end if the other end it hanging down. Sometimes you just need your mom…to use her fabulous zebra broom stick to hold up the other end while hammer yours into place.

Crown Molding Install Mom holding other endThere…installed crown molding!

Crown Molding InstalledI finished one section, then had to leave for the day. When I returned the next day to finish up, I was delighted to discover that the molding I had installed was still hanging proudly on the cabinet! Yay! I finished the install, using a hefty amount of spackle to fill up those nail holes and even out the corners…which were not quite as perfect as I would have liked. But, hey, that’s why they invented spackle, right? So here is the finished molding, my crowning achievement in the Thrifty Kitchen Makeover, all painted and glazed to match the cabinets. Is it perfect? Heck. no! But it looks great and mom is loving it…and that is all that really matters.

Crown Molding Painted and GlazedA special thanks to Sandra Powel AKA Sawdust Girl , my new DIY BFF, who gave me the courage to make those cuts and finally finish the crown molding installation! Just a few more tweaks and we’ll be ready for the final reveal. Hope you achieve something special today as well! Susan



New Life For An Old Cupboard-Without Paint!

When Coach first acquired this unpainted vintage glass front cupboard, my first inclination was to paint it, distress it and add some new knobs.

Vintage Glass Cupboard Before

But every time I walked past it, for some reason it tugged at my heartstrings just a bit, although I was not sure why. We don’t have anything else like it in our home, and its just a simple little cupboard…one that you would find in your grandmother’s kitchen. And then it hit me…it was reminiscent of my grandmother’s kitchen table…the same wood color, the same glowing finish. So, as an homage to time gone by and Sunday Pot Roast dinners at my grandmother’s house, I decided to clean it up, shine it up and give it new life, but to leave it unpainted. Some old furniture just screams for a coat of paint and some embellishment, but this vintage hutch quietly begged to be restored to its former quaint and simple beauty. It was quite dirty and greasy, so I cleaned it up with some household cleaner. I was left with a rather splotchy finish…it appears that someone along the way decided to add a layer of varnish or stain in a rather streaky fashion. Using some Mastercraft Poly Gel Wipe On Stain,

Vintage Cupboard Mastercraft Wipe On Gel StainI attempted to even out the overall color as best I could. You simply paint or wipe the stain on,

Vintage Cupboard Side Panel Gel Stainlet it sit for a couple of minutes, then wipe it off, leaving as much or as little as you would like.

Vintage Cupboard Front Panel Gel AppliedYou need to work quickly and in small areas, as this stuff gets tacky fast. (It is a bit smelly, so despite the below freezing temps, I had the window open and a fan running continuously.) Once all of the wood was finished, I decided to add some vintage wallpaper to the back of it to add some color…this fresh green check is simple and looks like it could have been in grandma’s vintage kitchen.


Vintage Cupboard Check Paper Background and Drawer LinerI papered the back using decoupage glue…this wallpaper was not pre-pasted, and then followed suit with the drawer as well. The hinges were dirty and in need of some cleaning,

Vintage Cupboard Hinges Varnishedso I left them, along with a bottle of brass cleaner for Coach to use, thinking that would do the trick…until he called me and said it wasn’t working. So I instructed him to try the silver cleaner…again no luck. So I took another look at them, first thinking it was rust and then finally realized that whoever varnished the piece left the hinges in place and varnished right over them! Time for the heavy duty stuff: this LIFT-OFF varnish remover does the trick,

Vintage Cupboard Lift Off Varnish Removerhas very little odor and is water-based…so not too offensive to use indoors. I put the hinges in a metal tin with the remover, waited 20 minutes, scrubbed with a little warm water and an old toothbrush (do you save yours? I always do, just for times like these…,)

Vintage Cupboard Scrubbing Hinge with Toothbrushthen buffed with a bit of steel wool and they were good to go.

Vintage Hinge Buffed with Steel WoolI love the detail on these hinges…very art deco, and matched to top crown of the piece,

Vintage Cupboard Refurbish No Paint Top Crownwhich helps to determine what time period it originated from. There were six rather beat up wood knobs,

Vintage Cupboard Knobs Beforeso I replaced the glass door hardware with some cut glass knobs,

Vintage Glass Front Cupboard with Glass Knobsthen crackled and painted the door and drawer knobs to match the green plaid paper.

Vintage Cupboard Crackled Wood KnobsFinally, I filled the finished piece with some of my milk glass collection…can this be any cuter!?!

Vintage Cupboard Finished Filled with Milk GlassIs the finish perfect? No. I would’ve had to strip the entire piece down and start fresh if that was the look I was hoping to achieve. What I wanted was a fresh piece of furniture that looked as if it had been used and loved and worn, so that it would tug at someone else’s heart strings. Then they would use it for their own collectibles and kitchen wares…and someday their grandchildren would remember it fondly.

Vintage Glass Front Cupboard FinishedBecause, alas, I have no room for it in our home, so this one is in the Barn at Todd Farm if you’re interested in taking a look. Have a fresh new week, everyone! Susan

Wedding Date Chalkboard DIY

If you have been following my blog, you know that 2015 is the “Year of the Wedding” in our family. Our daughter and her fiance have set the date and plans are well under way for what we hope will be a great wedding weekend come this August. Of course, since we are a DIY kind of family, lots of the decor will be created by yours truly, with assistance from our multi-talented family and friends. One of the first things the newly engaged couple did…other than book the venue, the band, the photographer and the florist…and buy a dress, or two…was schedule a photo shoot for their engagement photographs. Since their dog Bartlet is such a big part of their lives, there could be no photos taken without the little guy in tow. The engagement photos are courtesy of Marcy Rolerson Photography and were taken in the North End of Boston.

Bartlet Photo Courtesy of Marcy Rolerson PhotographyMy daughter requested that I create a small sign with the wedding date that she could hang around his neck or attach to his collar, so I created this Wedding Date Chalkboard Sign. It is so simple and makes a really cute addition to the engagement photos, don’t you think?

Wedding Date Chalkboard Marcy Rolerson PhotographyHere is the How-I-Did-It:

1. I found an old chalkboard kicking around my workshop, but you can purchase these at any local crafts store.

Wedding Date Chalkboard Before Sanded EdgesSince Bartlet is mighty in personality but quite small in stature, we had to make sure it was little enough so it wouldn’t hang on the ground once it was attached to his collar. I dry-brushed it white and then sanded the edges, just for a bit of rustic contrast.

2. I created the chalkboard pattern on

Wedding Date Chalkboard Screen ShotThere are a limitless amount of fonts and styles to choose from on this website, typically used for designing labels and cards. Design what you would like, then re-size it to the dimensions of the surface of your chalkboard. Simply print it out on a regular piece of copy paper that has been cut to the size of your chalkboard.

Wedding Date Chalkboard Printed Pattern3. Coat the BACK of the printed paper with the chalk-rubbing with the side of the chalk all over the surface until it is covered.

Wedding Date Chalkboard Coating Reverse Side of Pattern with Chalk4. Place the chalk-covered pattern on the surface you are transferring it onto-tape it down along the edges to secure-then take a sharpened pencil and trace the lines of the pattern onto the chalkboard.

Wedding Date Chalkboard Tracing Pattern with Pencil5. Carefully remove the paper pattern from the board and you will see the transferred pattern, faint but there.

Wedding Date Chalkboard Peeling off Pattern from Chalkboard6. Sharpen your chalk…did you know you can sharpen pieces of chalk with a little pencil sharpener? No? well, now you do!

Wedding Date Chalkboard Sharpening Chalk with pencil sharpening7. Begin tracing the transferred pattern with the chalk, re-sharpening as you go until the entire pattern is clearly defined. Try not to press on the paper other than what you are tracing, otherwise you’ll have more chalk than you bargained for on the chalkboard.

Wedding Date Chalkboard Re-chalking Printed Chalk8. To clean up the edges and smudges, you will need some Q-tips and water.

Wedding Date Chalkboard Q-Tip and Water CleanupJust dip the tip into the water, then squeeze most of it out until it is damp only. Use the dampened tip to wipe away all of the smudges and unwanted lines.

Wedding Date Chalkboard Cleaning up Chalk with damp Q-tip9. I had originally added some side scrolls on the printed pattern, but decided to erase those and add some color instead. That’s the beauty of chalk-simple to erase and start over! So I used some scroll stencils to create the blue side scrolls.

Wedding Date Chalkboard Stenciling Scroll Pattern10. It’s simple to make a perfect dot! Dip the butt end of your paint brush into the paint-just the very tip-

Wedding Date Chalkboard Paint Dot

and then dot it onto the board. The bigger the brush end, the bigger the dot. Makes a perfect circle every time.

Wedding Date Chalkboard Adding Paint Dot Embellishment11. The finished wedding date chalkboard. Now at this point, you have some options. I actually drilled two holes in the top and added the raffia rope for hanging, but you won’t need to do that if you are planning on hanging it on a wall rather than a dog. If you don’t have a drill, you can hot glue the rope or ribbon to the top- this piece is super light-weight so it should be fine.

DIY Wedding Chalkboard By Country Design Home12. Also, if you want this to be permanent, then you would just need to spray it with a light coating of varnish or acrylic finish so it doesn’t smudge or erase. NOTE: You cannot brush on a top coat because it will smear the chalk. Or, you can keep the painted pattern on there and use the chalkboard again (perhaps you could update it each anniversary with a new love message : )

13. So here is Big B with his chalkboard sign attached to his collar. Apparently he was quite the rock star that day and posed perfectly for the camera. Thanks to for the beautiful photographs!

Wedding Date Chalkboard Bartlet with SignAnd we’ll just chalk this one up as wedding project number one-done! Have a terrific Thursday, everyone! Susan

A Bad Case Of…Craftus Interruptus

While searching through my blog for some recent project before and after photos, I realized that I really haven’t posted any DIY projects lately!! What the heck!?! I had been so busy painting and waxing and building in the months leading up to Christmas, I cannot believe I didn’t share any projects with all of you! Well, I went back through my photos albums on my camera and there it was…concrete evidence of…a very bad case of craftus interruptus. Definition: working on but not finishing DIY projects or not taking before and after pics of the DIY projects to blog about. Scattered pics of multiple projects that were in the works simultaneously..the photos were in complete disarray (as was I during the last couple of months).

Array of DIY Photos

And the final blow was that I have a whole bunch of “before” and “during” pictures, but none of the final results! Why?! Primarily because I was working at a feverous pitch to prepare items for the Barn shop and before I could take the final shots, Coach would pack ’em up and bring them up to the Barn…and wham… SOLD! OK, let’s stop right there and say that I am not complaining about that part, just sayin’. So lest you think I have been lazing around doing nothing for the past couple of months except eating Christmas cookies…which I was…I present to you a short journey through my most recent projects. This trio of items: a cane back side chair with a velvet brocade padded seat, the vanity bench with the velvet brocade padded seat and the vintage dresser were all done about the same time. I used Annie Sloan Old White Chalk Paint on all of them. Distressed and waxed, with recovered cushions in this lush fabric, they were a bit hit at the shop!

Annie Sloan Old White Dresser and Vanity Bench

Cane Back Chair Brocade Velvet Seat Annie Sloan Old White Painted an old brown side table

Brown Painted Side Tableand added a crackled and stenciled French Typography top.

Painted Brown Side Table Annie Sloan Old WhiteIt was really cute, I swear!

Brown Side Table Crackled and Stenciled TopApparently there are a lot of Parisian natives around the North Shore, where our shop is. Because no matter what I paint, if it has a Paris graphic on it, it’s SOLD almost immediately.

Annie Sloan Old White Painted Table Top ParisPainted this vintage headboard a beautiful Benjamin Moore shade called Thunder Cloud Gray

Vintage Twin Headboardand added the curved stenciled graphic.

Americana Stencil Fleurs De LisBright yellow spotted leopard before. Weird.

Vintage Headboard BeforeCute little victorian bench with cat fabric. Before, with cats. There is no “after” on this one : ( Actually, I don’t even remember what I recovered it with!

Victorian Cat BenchRooster table made from an old table with legs but no top and a punched tin door panel.

Tin Punched Panel Rooster DoorPainted the table and frame in a mixture of reds I had hanging around.

Mixing Red PaintThen I crackled the frame surrounding the rooster, distressed it and waxed.

Painted and Crackled Rooster TableAttached the punched tin rooster top with some L-brackets.

Vintage Hall Tree.

Pine Hall Tree BeforeThe before was dark brown chunky pine, missing some pegs, pretty scratched and beaten up.

Pine Hall Tree scratched

Painted with Annie Sloan Old White, distressed and waxed. The “after” pic courtesy of The Barn at Todd Farm. (otherwise there would be no after pic!)

Hall Tree in the Barn at Todd FarmI also painted a red step-back cupboard, created quite a few Christmas decorations and managed to repaint a guest room in my son’s apartment, also in that shade of Thunder Cloud Gray (not to be confused with Storm Cloud Gray, I assure you…)

Painted Guest RoomBut from this point forward, I am back on track and snapping away as I go. Wait til you see the crown molding shots coming soon, because believe it or not, I am almost completely finished with mom’s kitchen makeover! I hope you have a completely awesome weekend everyone! Susan

When Is A Clock…Not a Clock?

…when it’s time to make it into a coffee table! A few years ago, my daughter purchased a vintage look clock coffee table at HomeGoods very similar to this one from Goods Home Design.

Coffee Table Goods Home Design

It served her well…for quite awhile…but since she used her coffee table as a TV watching-dining surface, as many of us do, she noticed that crumbs were always getting stuck around the inside edges and the glass was constantly in need of cleaning. So, the clock coffee table was banished to one of the closets in our home where it has remained for quite some time. Whenever I asked her about taking it back to her house, she would state that 1.she really didn’t want to use it as a coffee table any more and 2. she had no room to store it, but 3. to please keep it because “someday” she will need it again…for something. In the closet it sat, until I recently asked if perhaps she would like us to try and sell it up at our shop we have in the old barn at Todd Farm. An idea to which she readily agreed (any little bit helps when paying off monstrous law school loans : ). So, I took it out and cleaned it up with the intent of bringing it up to the barn…but then a funny thing happened. It was Thanksgiving week and I was searching for places to store (actually HIDE) things that were hanging around the house in a hurry and plopped the giant clock (sans legs, of course) onto the mantel in my living room.

Mantel Clock Country Design Home

Where it has remained as the dramatic new focal point of the room. Which no one ever sees because we hardly ever go in there. (Which is why, when I am looking at this pic I realize that the stark white fireplace mantel could use a little TLC…new project : ) So I started looking around the web for other ways to use a clock but not as a clock. And I discovered that clocks, any kind of clocks, can be used in all sorts of imaginative ways. Like this Vintage Christmas Assemblage Clock decoration from

Christmas Assemblage from Joann.comA cool room divider like this one from Nexxt Design…

Clock Room Divider by Nexxt DesignHow about a sleek digital bookcase version from

Digital CLock Bookcase from OhGizmoCan birds tell time? Do they even need to know what time it is?

Clock Birdcage from Mousie MasalaA pillow from Creative with Clay. This might be hard to lean against on a sofa, but at least you’ll know what time it is to stop watching TV and get to work! (Actually, its made out of clay…quite inspired design, I would say : )

Wall Clock Pillow from Creative with Clay

A vintage look table top made from an old clock face from

Clock Table Top from GaryCSharpe via PinterestVintage look Chronograph Drawer Pulls from Anthropologie

Anthopologie Drawer PullsA steampunk loft window in Brooklyn Heights…amazing.

Steampunk Loft Window from Michael R. Davis via PinterestAnd clock dinner plates from Not On The High Street via Pinterest

Clock Dinner Plates from Not On The High Street via Pinterest

If you have a few minutes to spare, check out my Tick Tock Pinterest page with all sorts of amazing time pieces that serve dual purposes. For now, its time for me to get a move on! Have a timeless Tuesday, everyone! Susan

What Would You Change?

It’s New Years Day, 2015. So I figure this is a good time to change a few things around here. Freshen up, clean out, add and subtract and shuffle around a few things in our home; this is the best part about home ownership. If I want to paint my room with pastel polka dots…I can. Not that I would, but this person from Home Design Inspirations did and look how cute!

Home Design Inspirations Polka Dot RoomOne of the fun parts of design blogging is that readers will often reach out for decorating ideas or DIY dilemma solutions because they know I might be able to help or offer suggestions. Oftentimes on my Facebook Country Design Home page, bloggers and companies will post a pic of some room or decor with a caption that reads: “if you could change something”, or “do you like this”, “are these lamps too big” or something along those lines. Sometimes I respond, sometimes I share them and check out what other people have to say about a particular style or space. I know what I like, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the world shares my country style and design aesthetic. Typically, a few people might respond and share the pic and we all move on. So, the other day, when I spotted this photo from Architectural Digest that came across my feed from Lamps Plus with the caption: “The first thing you would change in this living room is___________________”, I decided to share it on my Facebook page.

Peter Marino Living Room Fireplace ViewWhy? 1. because I thought it was very eclectic & interesting and 2. there were many parts of it that I personally didn’t care for, but a lot that I really liked, but I was curious what other people thought. Well, imagine my surprise when it reached well over 1000 views and garnered loads of comments!! Most of the comments were fairly negative (I did ask people to play nice : ) but many offered some constructive criticism such as painting the walls, removing the green couches, paint the fireplace mantel (I think that’s marble, so a no-go there), taking the box of Evian water off the modern coffee table…which they also did not like.  So I searched online for the origins of the room, which I traced back to internationally acclaimed Architect Peter Marino,  whose work was in the home of Muffy and Xavier Flouret in the Upper East Side of Manhattan and featured in Architectural Digest. According to the article, Muffy’s instructions were: “Let’s do it stylish, original, fun.” Which is exactly what the homeowners got: it’s fun, eclectic and every item in this room is an absolute conversation starter! On the AD website, I  discovered additional photographs of the same room, and this one in particular with a full view of the entire space.

Peter Marino Living Room AD 2012To me, the one piece that anchors the room is the large painting on the far wall that clearly inspired the color palette in the furnishings, wall color and accessories. So I posted the new pic, which again created another firestorm of activity; all told, between the two pics, we are presently at 2300+ views and 90 comments!  Now, everyone knows that I am a huge fan of color…the more the better…and even here I think it could work. But its the clashing patterns everywhere that are throwing me off. I re-imagined that if this were my room, (if I were so fortunate to have an apartment on the Upper East Side…) I’d keep the green and orange sofas ( I love those!), remove the brocade wallpaper and repaint the walls a creamy gold. Also replace the plaid drapes with a soft drapey silk, keeping the coffee table but recovering the top to remove the primary color splashes and change the artwork on the fireplace wall to more proportional pieces that don’t compete so much with the brown marble swirls. And that all made sense to me, which again is just my personal opinion. But THEN, I discovered the third photo, from the opposite vantage point of the fireplace. With the cool gigantic black & white cow painting by Donald Baechler. 

Peter Marino Design AD 2012 Living RoomAnd now I am at a crossroads about the space, so I am curious as to what you all think? Love the couches? Or not? Love the big fruit painting? The coffee table? The artwork? Why or why not? And how about that cow? Did the designer accomplish his goals for the homeowner: “stylish, original, fun” ? Remember to play nice and offer good advice: this is an exercise in constructive design choices : ) Hope your 2015 is off to a fun and stylish year!! Susan

HGTV 2015 Dream Home…Martha’s Vineyard Bound

HGTV 2015 Dream Home Martha's VineyardMartha’s Vineyard here we come (fingers crossed xxxxxxx)!! For many, many years past, Coach and I, along with friends and families, had rented vacation homes during the summer months on Martha’s Vineyard. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Martha’s Vineyard is a small island off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, a quick trip by ferry boat or flight. Summer home to presidents and celebrities, this little gem of an island is the perfect getaway if you are longing for the sweet scent of salty air and the quintessential look of New England style architecture. Back when we were renting, a four bedroom home with a view of the sea would cost approximately $800 per week: nowawdays, that same four bedroom would now run you $5000+ for a week’s stay. So imagine my incredible delight when I received the email that this year’s HGTV Dream Home Giveaway is in Martha’s Vineyard!!

HGTV 2015 Dream Home Martha's Vineyard Front EntryNow, initially I was hesitant to share this with you, because the less people who enter means more chance for me to win. But, HGTV has a prettttty big following, so I am assuming that my little mention won’t make a whole lotta difference in the outcome of this contest… but just so you know, I am going to win this home… Here are a few of my favorite pics…

Welcome to my humble abode…

HGTV 2015 Dream Home Living Room EntranceThe soaring ceilings in this great room with rough-hewn posts and beams

HGTV 2015 Dream Home Great RoomCan you imagine having a dinner party in this combination kitchen…

HGTV 2015 Dream Home Kitchenand dining room space?

HGTV 2015 Dream Home Dining Room

Master Bedroom…sweet dreams.

HGTV 2015 Dream Home Master BedroomMaster Bath…what a view!

HGTV 2015 Dream Home Master BathGuest bedroom…if I were a guest here…would I ever leave?

HGTV 2015 Dream Home Guest BedroomNo Vineyard home is complete without some gorgeous outdoor living space. I can see me now, watching the sunset while sipping white wine…and don’t worry, I’ll invite all of you down for a visit : )

HGTV 2015 Dream Home Rear PatioFor more information and to enter, click here:

HGTV 2015 Dream Home Giveaway(but don’t really, because I’m going to win this anyway : ) Have a dreamy Tuesday, everyone! Susan


Hello, Again.

Whew! Well that was quite a whirlwind of shopping, cooking, eating and so much family fun! This year’s Secret Santa clue poems were over the top and so incredibly inspired and hilarious! But now it’s over and the reality is setting in that it’s time to get back into the “making and blogging” saddle and start creating again! During one of my pre-Christmas shopping excursions, I headed down to Vintage Thymes Monthly Market for some “one for me, one for you” kind of shopping. When I happened upon this sign at Fleurish Home & Garden,

Benjamin Franklin Quote from Fleurish Home & Garden

I knew I had to have it for my desk (a “one for me” purchase : ) Its a constant reminder to me that what I do with this blog was never intended to be for the numbers-how many page views, how many readers, how many followers-but instead, it was meant as a vehicle to share my creative endeavors with all of you to enjoy and replicate (if you were so inclined). OR, to share my famous follies (for you to have a good laugh). Remember the time that I drove with the snow pile on my roof with the moon roof open…

snow falling on my head I often say to Coach (typically around the end of May when he’s teaching his last classes and getting ready for his two month summer break…) “why did I not become a teacher too!?” But then I remember that I am doing what I love: building & painting & creating…then teaching all of you the how-tos! Which is just as rewarding…except I don’t get my summers off…especially with the new barn shop at Todd Farm.

Vintage Sink in the Barn at Todd FarmThis year was definitely a DIY Christmas extravaganza for me! I’m excited to say that I received not one, but two shiny black cordless drills from Santa!

Drill Master Cordless DrillsA big one for those massive projects I work on, and the little guy just to have hanging around to tighten a screw or hang a picture. AND, a pile of HomeDepot gift cards to add stuff to my DIY arsenal.  See the one that says “for the one that wears a lot of hats around the house.” That’s me!

Home Depot Gift CardsAnd this year I’ll be packin’ some heat with this 1500w gun, which I am a little nervous about, I gotta say.

Heat GunApparently Santa had the same idea and added some cool bandaids to my tool box.

Glow In The Dark BandaidsAnd with all my new stuff, I am gearing up for a new year of more inspired, vintage rustic projects than ever that I can’t wait to share with you!  So here’s to all of you, my faithful readers (I haven’t popped the champagne yet, but this yummy frozen margarita will have to do for now!)

Margarita thanks for following & commenting & sharing my blog. See you in 2015! Susan  

Being Sick (& Yummy Sea Salt Caramel Pretzel) Bites

I’ve been sick these past few+ days with some sort of flu or cold or whatever is “going around”. Sick as in I couldn’t go to work, couldn’t attend the annual neighborhood Christmas party and essentially just found myself lying on the couch for hours watching Hallmark Christmas Movie Marathons. This week so far has been a total frustrating fail for me. I kind of felt like this guy-agghhh!

Sea Salt Caramel Bites SnowmanNo big DIY projects, no blogging, no nothing, other than trips back and forth from the couch to the fridge to the pantry to open yet another can of soup or box of crackers. Coach would leave saying “my poor darlin'” and come home hours later with me still in the exact same position on the couch and say “really??”-lol-he’s not used to seeing me doing nothing, and I mean nothing-not a paint brush or sandpaper in sight-for days. But, you know, it hasn’t been all that bad. This little forced break given me an opportunity to step back and take stock of what I’m doing with this blog and the barn shop and start implementing a plan moving forward that doesn’t result in me being so run down and exhausted that I end up lying on the couch watching endless Castle reruns and stocking up on kleenex tissues whilst staring at a large, dark green evergreen in the corner of my family room.

Blank Christmas TreeThe house is not even close to being decorated, because I just didn’t have the energy to open up all of the giant bins and sort them out, never mind actually placing the items somewhere decoratively. Coach and I finally got a tree Monday night (good thing I’m not part of any of those blogging holiday house tours…) & it finally has lights but no ornaments.

Lighted Christmas TreeBUT, today marks a new day and newly inspired (and sugared up : ) by our annual work cookie swap which took place yesterday,

Cookie Swap Platter WrappedI’m on the mend and ready to add some holiday spirit to our home : ) In the meantime, I figured I’d share this yummy recipe for Sea Salt Caramel Pretzel Bites I used for the cookie swap. (And I assured my co-workers that I did not breathe on them and repeatedly washed and disinfected my hands before handling!) The original recipe for Salted Caramel Pretzel Pecan BonBons

Salted Caramel Pecan Pretzel BonBons by Baker By Naturewas via BakerByNature...but mine didn’t come out exactly as the photo (aren’t these gorgeous?!?), but they were still pretty tasty, if not a bit extra chewy! Here’s the how-to:

1. Assemble ingredients: Bag of caramels, bag of pecan 1/2’s, bag of mini pretzels (these I did not have in my pantry),

Sea Salt Caramel Pretzel Bites Ingredients from Walgreenssome melting chocolate, sea salt, holiday sprinkles (these I had on hand). I didn’t have any of the main three ingredients at home, so I ran over to Walgreens since that is the closest store to my home, and I figured they would have the basic snack bags the recipe required. Which they did, which made me happy, so I didn’t have to trek all the way to the grocery store. And they had more kleenex and cough drops too, which made me healthy (sort of). And that is why they are at the corner of Happy & Healthy. So that was a win.

2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place a piece of parchment paper on a large cookie sheet. Or a small one depending on the # of bites you wish to make. The beauty of this recipe is that you can make small batches as you go.

3. Place the number of mini-pretzels equivalent to the number of bites you wish to make. 12 makes a dozen. 24 makes 2 dozen. Simple math.

Sea Salt Caramel Pretzel Bites on Parchment Paper

4. Unwrap the caramels…meh, not fun. When my kids were little and I needed unwrapped caramels, I used to have them race to see who could open them all the fastest-worked every time!

Unwrapped CaramelsBut the only “little one” I have around me these days is a Frenchie named Bartlet,

Bartland unwrapping caramels is near-impossible without opposable thumbs, unless you want caramels with drool and bite marks. Place an unwrapped caramel on top of each mini-pretzel. The recipe mentioned above called for chocolate mixed with coconut oil and vanilla, so I skipped that step by buying caramels that were coconut and vanilla flavored. Right?!?

Sea Salt Caramel Pretzel Bites Caramels on Pretzels

5. Place in oven and bake just until they soften. Now the original instructions said 7-8 minutes, JUST TO SOFTEN. But, I left mine in a bit too long (I swear I was watching them, but then I got distracted and…they over-melted. So I scrambled to put the caramel back onto the pretzel by taking a small knife and scooping it back up.

Sea Salt Caramel Pretzel Bites Over Melted Caramel

6. Quickly place a pecan 1/2 on each one. These look pretty messy because I was placing pecans and scooping up oozing caramel lava as I went along.

Sea Salt Caramel Bites Scooping Melted Caramel Over Pecan

If you melt them correctly, you won’t have this problem. Lightly sprinkle each with sea salt. Good thing sea salt is a thing right now, because I have this giant cannister full that will probably last me forever!

Sea Salt



7. While they cool, you melt the bag of chocolate in the microwave according to the directions. These are the bags of Wilton Candy Melts you can get at your local crafts store. They have many flavors and colors, but I happen to like my chocolate dark, especially when mixed with salted caramel.

Sea Salt Caramel Bites Wilton Candy Melts Dark Cocoa

I always use a heavy bowl and cook in the microwave on high, the first go round for 30 seconds, then take it out and stir.

Sea Salt Caramel Bites Melting Chocolate Disks

Then every 15 seconds until the chocolate is drippy and all the little disks are melted.


8. I dipped the bottom of the cooled pretzel in the chocolate, then flipped them over on the parchment to let them dry.

Sea Salt Caramel Bites Dipping Base in Chocolate9. Once dry, I flipped them back over, reheated the chocolate just enough to melt,

Sea Salt Caramel Bites Drippy Chocolate

then drizzled it over the top,

Sea Salt Caramel Bites Drizzling with Chocolateadding a few holiday sprinkles.

Sea Salt Caramel Pretzel Bite DecoratedCoconut is optional as well.

Sea Salt Caramel Pretzel Bites by Country Design Home

10. Allow to dry, then store in the fridge or a cool, dry place. Like my family room. Because we don’t turn the heat past 55. Sweaters, folks!! Unless I’m sick, in which case I got to turn it up to 60-lol! Then you share the goodies with friends and family, because you can’t eat all of them yourself. Or could you….have a sweet Thursday everyone! Susan

#SoMe2 #64-Facebook Party!!

SOcial MEdia is all about ENGAGEMENT, and we want to do more than find new followers, we want to grow our engagement!

The more we comment, like, and share each other’s posts, the more engaged we become and that makes the SOcial MEdia “algorithms” happy!
 This week we are growing and engaging with

#SoMe2- Social Media Link Party~ Linky Party~ Social Party

  Do you want to GROW your Social Media channels and GROW your engagement?

This is the party for you! 

The more you put in to this SOcial MEdia link party, the more you will get out!

Don’t link and run: share-comment-pin-like and tell your friends!

 #SoMe2 is a SOcial MEdia link party, we link up 2 items every Tuesday @ 7:00 (est)

#SoMe2-hostess~ Social Media Party

We are pleased to meet this weeks feature and Co-Host!

Meet Sue from “Little Shack on the Hill”

 photo SueattheShack_zps04ba167f.jpg

Bio: Hi! I’m Sue from the Little Shack on the Hill!  Wife, mom to 5, Nana Sue to 3 (with #4 on the way!) and now living full time in our RV. The Little Shack is still our home base, but retirement has taken us on a new path.  Come visit me and join in the fun of cooking, crafting and trying to fit it all into a small space!

Check out our awesome weekly feature.

 Everyone who enters the Rafflecopter below each week will have a chance to win a spot as our featured blogger. We will feature your blog, and links to your social media. Your links will be inserted into the Rafflecopter for that week – gaining you more followers.

So be sure to enter to win the weekly featured blogger spot!

Note: Please be sure to fill out the Rafflecopter form accurately. Entries are verified.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
//  ~Party Rules~   1) Please follow your hosts and featured blogger. DON’T link and RUN! ~ No one likes Party Poopers!   2) Please add the ~#SoMe2~ button to your sidebar or link page.   3) Tweet about the party! More partiers = more followers! All you have to do is click the “tweet” button Tweet it button  4) Use our hashtag #SoMe2 when tagging or posting so we can find each other! You will automatically be entered into our email reminder list by entering a link. You may remove yourself from the list by using the unsubscribe option. facebook-banner 1) Link up your main Facebook Page 2) Follow All the Hostesses and Featured Blogger(First 6 links) 3) Follow 2 people before your link, if you already follow them, find 2 new people to follow // < ![CDATA[
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1) Link up 1 recent Facebook post –

(Go to your Facebook page, click on the time stamp right below your page name on the individual post, copy the URL, and paste that URL into link party.)

2) Share, like and comment on All the Hostesses and Featured Blogger(the first 6 links).

3) Share, like and comment on the 2 links in front of yours. One of hostesses will make sure the last two links get comments.


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I want to let you know that we will be taking a break from SoMe2 so we can focus of our holiday baking, shopping, wrapping and families instead of our laptops!  party-reminder
Thanks for joining our SOcial MEdia link party! See you next week – same time, same place!
DeDe,  Kim,  Sarah V.,  Sarah C.,  & Susan



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