American Flag Coffee Table

Inspired by the red, white and blue decor from last week’s blog, this past weekend I decided to create an American Flag Coffee Table.

American Flag Coffee Table LogoUsing an old brown table that we picked up at a flea market for $5 (you know, those ones that were mass-produced in the 70’s and are at every flea market and yard sale throughout the land…)

American Flag Coffee Table BeforeI transformed it from a drab brown circle to a colorful Americana coffee table! Here is the how-I-did-it:

1. I painted the base legs with a couple of coats of Heritage Blue Stain by General Finishes.

General Finished Hertiage Blue Water Based StainLove this stuff. It is water-based, has very little odor, dries quickly, can go on any surface and leaves a beautiful, satin finish.

2. Sanded the scratched and worn top…I am not sure what the finish was, but it certainly made a powdery white mess! Thank goodness it is finally warm enough to use my mouse sander outdoors!

American Flag Coffee Table Sanded3. Once it was sanded and wiped clean, I taped it off. The American Flag is probably one of the simplest designs you can use-stars and stripes. Easy to do with painter’s tape and a stencil. The table was just the right size to have 13 2″ stripes, so I doubled up my rows of 1″ painter’s tape from top to bottom.

American Flag Coffee Table Taped StripesThen I blocked off the area that would be the star field, and used the Heritage Blue to paint that area as well.

3. Painted the red stripes first, then allowed to dry completely…actually overnight. Because I knew I would be taping right on them and didn’t want to risk pulling the red paint off if it wasn’t completely dry. I used some homemade red chalk paint…need the recipe? Click here…

American Flag Coffee Table Red Stripes4. Re-taped along the edges of the red stripes and painted with white (also used some homemade custom chalk paint).

American Flag Coffee Table White Stripes5. Using the same white from the stripes, I stenciled the stars onto the blue field. You could also use a star-shaped stamp as well. I just happened to have a whole bunch of different style star stencils…

American Flag Star StencilI knew I would not be able to fit 50 stars, so I just went with a pleasing arrangement using a simple star pattern.

American Flag Coffee Table Stars and Stripes6. Sanded down the entire piece to distress it just a bit.

American Flag Coffee Table Sanded and DistressedTIP: when you are sanding red alongside white, keep the sanders separate. The red builds up on the sanding bar and can smear onto the white.

Red Tinted Sanding SpongeIn which case you end up with pink stripes. Which is cute, but not necessarily  all-american.

7. Finished with 2 coats of General Finishes Natural Stain. 

General Finishes Water Based Wood Stain NaturalIt is clear and works as a nice satin finish for any surface where you don’t want to add color.

8. Voila! A Red, white and blue table-perfect for a nautical or Americana theme for your red, white and blue porch or family room!

American Flag Coffee Table CompleteSo where is the table now? At the Barn at Todd Farm! Since I already have an American Flag Whale Table,

This Old House Whale Tableit only seems right that someone else has this beauty for their home. Wow-it’s Thursday again already, everyone!! Hope it is memorable! Susan

 

BHG Flea Market Decorating Book…A Review

Better Homes and Gardens Flea Market Decorating Book

Photo Courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens

Everyone know Coach has books. Lots of books. Thousands of books.

Stacks of books in the barnAlthough typically he is more inclined to pick up historical books and vintage magazines rather than novels or DIY manuals, he recently came across this Flea Market Decorating Book at a…where else…flea market, so he grabbed it for me. This Flea Market Decorating…Creating Style with Vintage Finds book by Better Homes and Gardens (*BHG) was published in 2000, but is even more relevant today than it was than a decade ago. Today, flea marketing is big business, and dealers, decorators and homeowners alike know the thrill of the hunt and how to create home environs with one amazing found piece as the inspiration. This book contains page after page of glossy photos with inspired decorating ideas utilizing all styles of flea market finds. Some are maintained in their original form, some are altered in the necessary way to fit the intended space, like this hospital gurney turned bathroom vanity.

BHG Flea Market Decorating Hospital Gurney Bathroom Vanity

Photo Courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens

The book is separated into chapters: The hunt (what to look for when flea market shopping), defining a style (which style suits you?

Cottage Style

BHG Flea Market Decorating Antique Cupboard Cottage Style

Photo Courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens

Retro Rustic

BHG Flea Market Decorating Retro Rustic Dining Set

Photo Courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens

Modern Country

BHG Flea Market Modern Country Decorating Bedroom

Photo Courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens

Salvage Chic

BHG Defining a Style Salvage Chic

Photo Courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens

or Fifties Plus

BHG Flea Market Decorating Mid-Century Modern Fifties Plus

Photo Courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens

Once you find your treasure, you’ll find the chapters bringing it home (integrating your newly found pieces into your existing home decor, both inside…

BHG Flea Market Decorating Dresser in Kitchen

Photo Courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens

…and out

BHG Flea Market Decorating Outdoor Patio

Photo Courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens

&  can it be saved (with helpful DIY tips…everything from refinishing wood to rewiring old lamps)

BHG Flea Market Decorating Book Restoring Finish on Table

Photo Courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens

to be most invaluable. At the end there is a national listing of flea markets and look here..my two favorite Massachusetts markets! Brimfield Flea Market and our very own Todd Farm Flea Market (April can’t come fast enough, my friends!)

BHG Flea Market Decorating Book Todd Farm AdIf you are an avid flea marketer (like me and Coach) and love to decorate with vintage furnishings, this book could quickly become your flea market bible. So many inspired ideas and great design mixed in with helpful hints and information. If you are lucky enough, you can find it at your local flea market, or it is still available on Amazon.com. Now if you will excuse me, I have to go make a bowling pin trunk : )

BHG Bowling Pin Trunk Table

Photo Courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens

Do you have a favorite room designs with flea market decor?? If so, please share it with me- just send a pic and I will post it here and on my social media pages : ) Have a great (& not too snowy) Sunday everyone!! Susan

 

Paint By Number…Vintage Sideboard Makeover

Today’s Vintage Sideboard Makeover brought to you by DecoArt’s Americana Paints and the numbers 1 through 7 : )

Americana Sideboard Makeover on Country Design HomeI’m so pleased to announce that I am now a contributing blogger to the Deco Art Blogger Outreach Program!

DecoArt Blogger Outreach ProgramI use their line of Americana chalky paints and finishes quite frequently and am happy to share my latest furniture makeover featuring their great products with you! This vintage sideboard has been in our family room since we purchased it at a second-hand shop a few years back. Every time I walked in the back door, I was greeted by this drab brown large block of wood.

Americana SideBoard BeforeNo matter how I styled the top, the fact was that it was dark and sucked up all the light in the space. I have been on a painting and DIY overdrive since all of the snow started piling up, and I figured it was high time to take this old wood-paneled station wagon and transform it into a bright, shiny red cadillac. Here is the how-to:

1. Cleaned the wood surfaces. The top was not part of the original piece, it was constructed with reclaimed wood, attached and sanded down to a clean blonde wood (but not by me-thanks to whomever did this step for me : ) Which is how has remained until I got inspired. Because the plank wood was quite pretty in its raw state, I knew I did not want to paint it, so decided to wax/stain it instead.

Americana Vintage Sideboard Top Before Unfinished2. So I finished the top with two coats of Americana Crème Wax in Golden Brown, allowing time to dry between the coats, which enhances the color and grain of the wood while providing a beautiful glowing finish.

Americana Creme Wax Golden Brown RagThese waxes are water based, have no odor, are very easy to apply and clean up. You paint on or wipe on with a soft rag,

Vintage Sideboard Wiping on Golden Brown Wax on Topthen wipe off the excess. If it gets too tacky while you are working, you can dampen the rag to soften the wax and smooth the edges. Allow to dry, then buff with a soft cloth.

3. I was on the fence about the wood knobs-whether to replace them or not-when I realized they were screwed and glued into place. Decision made. I taped them and painted around them to keep the wood knobs to match the wood top.

Americana Painted Sideboard Taped Off KnobsFor the doors and drawers, I painted them with two coats of Americana Chalky Paint called Primitive, which is a creamy greige (that’s a gray and beige combined). Using Americana stencils and Chalky Paint called Relic (a deep charcoal gray) per my No-Fail Stenciling Techniques, I added the numbers to the drawers and doors for a touch of whimsy, then sanded the edges and finished with a coat of Americana Clear Creme Wax. 

Americana Vintage Door Panel Antiqued4. I decided to antique the doors’ center panels for a little bit of color and contrast, so I taped them off, then painted with two coats of Americana Serene Blue Chalky Paint.

Americana Painted Sideboard Serene Blue Chalky Paint5. Allowed to dry, then painted with a coat of Americana Crackle Medium. This is a clear finish that you paint on to a sealed or painted surface, then allow to dry. As it dries, it crackles the paint underneath it and antiques it at the same time. If I had the time-lapse option on my camera, I could’ve shared this process. But trust me when I tell you it looks like a science experiment! The thicker you paint it on, the more crackling appears. In this case, I put it on really thick and most of the blue paint actually crackled off.

Americana Vintage Sideboard Door Panel FinishedWhoops. But I was OK with that, as it gave the panels the appearance of old paint that had been worn away by time and use.

6. For the body of the piece, I had decided to paint it an antique red to co-ordinate with the rug that sits directly in front of it. The plan was to paint with two coats, then add the darker wax finish. But, when I started painting the Americana Chalky Paint in Romance Red

Americana Chalky Paint Romance Redover the dark brown finished wood (remember, with these paints you do not need to prep or sand…just paint away!)

Vintage Brown Sideboard Panel BeforeI got a little panicky because it was really, really bright!

Americana Painted Sideboard Romance Red Chalky PaintBUT, then a miracle happened (not unlike that end zone interception with 30 seconds left in the game last night…) it basically antiqued itself! I painted it on, then wiped off the excess with a rag,

Americana Chalky Paint Romance Red Wiping Offessentially staining it red while allowing the brown tone and grain of the wood to show through! The chalky paint acted like a stain, allowing me to leave on as much or little as I preferred to get the perfect shade of antique red. I love it when the unexpected happens…in a good way : ) Had I preferred, I could have painted the entire piece with the two coats of red and then waxed with the darker finish. But this was so much easier! So all it took was one quick coat of paint on the wood, wiping it off, allowing it to dry, then coating with the Americana Clear Crème Wax, which gives the entire piece a bright, glowing finish.

Americana Painted Sideboard Closeup TM7. After I re-affixed the doors back onto the sideboard, I then re-staged it with some of my favorite things. And although much of those are the same, the entire wall takes on a whole new look with this bright, fun Americana Vintage Sideboard Makeover. This sideboard is a very functional piece of furniture in our home, holding a variety of household items like glasses, batteries, candles and more-essentially one large junk drawer…now when Coach asks me where I can find the IPhone chargers and cases, I can direct him to drawer #5!

Americana Sideboard Drawer #5Thanks to Deco-Art for supplying the Americana Chalky Paints and finishes but allowing me to use my own DIY imagination. Hope you all had a Super Sunday, everyone-I know we Pats fans sure did!  Time for some more snow shoveling… but at least we’ll know where to find our winter scarves…behind door #6!! Xoxo Susan

 

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 Avery.com.

Wedding Date Chalkboard Avery.com 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 http://www.marcyrolerson.com/ 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

Thanks, Black & Decker For My Big Finish!

Recently, I had heard of a contest sponsored by Black & Decker called Your Big Finish!

Black & Decker Your Big FinishTheir goal is to get America to finish what they started-“It’s All For Done…And Done For All”! You know all of those projects you have started along the way that are in different stages of completion…like my Hall of Shame...and my mom’s thrifty kitchen makeover? Well, those were not eligible because they are still (unbelievably) in the works. BUT, there is one finished project that I am super proud of…my HI! Rusty Bedspring Marquee Sign.

Rusty Bedspring Marquee SignSo I thought, sure why not enter it? Well, I did, and guess what? My mug is now plastered on a billboard in Times Square!

Black & Decker Times Square Billboard  Times SquareWhat?!?! Now, since I don’t live in NYC, I have no way of actually seeing my face in lights  (ugh, I hope it’s not high def so you can see all those wrinkles), but I am told that it is on the CNN billboard on the corner of 46th and 47th street. So, if anyone happens to be in Manhattan between now and December 27th, could you take a peek? Just look for the giant HI! that is rotating along with the 100’s of other featured projects. You can check out some of the others here (you’ll note that the Times Square featured projects have a little green street sign in the top right corner : )

Black & Decker Project Page

Like my friend Sarah, from Little Red Brick House’s beautiful Fireplace Makeover.

Little Red Brick House Fireplace MakeoverIn the meantime, if you would like to see the now famous Rusty Bedspring Marquee Light in person, it’s hanging in the shop at the Barn at Todd Farm. But right now it says JOY.

Joy Sign in the Barn at Todd FarmBecause that’s a little of what I am feeling right now : ) Thanks to Black & Decker for sponsoring this contest and allowing everyday folks the opportunity for their 15 minutes of fame. And for encouraging all of us procrastinators to finish what we started!! You, too can enter for the chance to have your photo plastered on a billboard in Times Square, but also for some great prizes like some new Black & Decker tools and a grand prize of $10,000!! (which I could then use to buy the new cordless drill that I have been coveting-Santa, are you reading this?!?) Have a great finish to your Friday everyone!! xoxo Susan

Candy Cane Mason Jars-DIY!

For the past couple of weeks, I have been spending lots of time working on Christmasy crafts in preparation for this weekend’s Holiday Open House at the Barn at Todd Farm. (Full details on Friday, but it is going to be fun, I promise : ). This Candy Cane Mason Jar

Candy Cane Mason Jar from Country Design Home
is one that I created last year and it was a big hit. Very simple and quick to make, it only requires a jar, masking tape, red and white paint and whatever holiday embellishments you may have hanging around. Here are the DIY instructions:

1. Clean and dry the mason jar to make sure there is no dirt or dust on the inside or outside.

2. Paint the jars an under color. In this case, these were home made red chalk paint, but you can start with white, since the stripes are the same size.

Candy Cane Mason Jars Painted Red Undercoat

3. Measure around the neck of the jar.

Candy Cane Mason Jar Measuring Neck
This one was 9 inches around the narrow part of the neck, which is where I was going to begin taping.

4. Mark off @ one inch intervals all the way around, depending on the width of the tape, which was one inch.

Candy Cane Mason Jar Measuring masking tape width

 

If you have different size tape, you need to figure out the math to make the stripes equidistant.

Candy Cane Mason Jar Measuring One Inch Intervals
5. Following those marks, start your tape at the rim and bring it down the jar to the base at an angle, depending on how much of a “swirl” you want to create.

Candy Cane Mason Jar Taped Jars

Make sure that you press the tape down firmly along the edges so you don’t get “bleeding” underneath. “Bleeding” is when the paint sneaks underneath the tape and creates little bits of color where you don’t want it to be.

Candy Cane Mason Jars Pressing Tape Edges
6. This is where you can change your stripes to be as fat or skinny as you would like. Just make sure you start at the top markings so the stripes are the same approximate width. They don’t have to be perfect, just close enough : )

7. Paint inside the taped stripes with the white paint, not too thickly, because you want it to be slightly transparent to allow the candlelight to shine through. On this jar I’m using Chroma Color by Cari Cucksey in a Crisp Linen White.

Candy Cane Mason Jar Painting White StripeThis is not chalk paint, but a very smooth finish latex that can be painted on any surface, then left with a shine or sanded down for a matte finish. One coat is all you need.

8. Allow the paint to dry completely.

9. Peel off the tape, and you are left with a striped candy cane mason jar…but, you’re not done yet! See all those little jaggedey edges? Those are the “bleeding” dots I was talking about. Very bad. They must go.

Candy Cane Mason Jar Tape Removed Striped

10. Take a piece of sandpaper and lightly sand the jar, exposing the raised lettering of the glass and smoothing out any rough areas and dots of paint that my have bled under the tape. The more you sand, the more rustic the jar appears and the more light shines through. Totally personal preference.

Candy Cane Mason Jar Sanding Edges

11. Decorate the neck of the jar. In this case, a bit of jute rope and some jingle bells completes the look.

Candy Cane Mason Jar Jute Rope Jingle Bells Decoration

12. When you light the votive inside the jar, it glows and shows off the mason jar raised glass lettering. The more you sand the more the light shines through. And there you have it, a pretty perfect Candy Cane Mason Jar to decorate your mantel or tabletop and light up your Christmas decor.

Candy Cane Mason Jar from Country Design Home

OK, back to my workshop to finish up for the weekend-I know how Santa’s elves must feel right about now : ) Have a sweet Thursday everyone! Susan

Easy No-Sew Fleece Tree Skirt

This past weekend, my company took part in a charity holiday tree decorating event. For the past couple of weeks my co-workers and I have been collecting ornaments and trimmings to decorate the perfect tree. Saturday morning, we met at the old school building to decorate our tree for the upcoming Festival of Trees.  And although we had enough decorations to trim not one, but two trees, we realized we had neglected to bring tree skirts! Even though that wasn’t required, the skirts give the trees a finished look that ours were lacking. So back home I went to see what I had handy in my fabric bin. I found this pretty piece of soft polar bear fleece

No Sew Fleece Tree Skirt Polar Bear Fleecewhich I thought would be perfect with the silver and white snowflake theme of tree #2. So I cut and knotted it and created a cute little skirt for the tree. Here is the HOW-I-DID-IT:

1. Fold the fleece in half lengthwise and make sure it is long enough to go around the base of the tree.

No Sew Fleece Tree Skirt Matched Edges2. Cut the unfolded end into a semi-circle, making sure the edges are even. I happen to have a round dining room table which was the perfect pattern, but you can just do the old pie plate method where you fold it in 1/2 and then cut an arc from corner to corner.

No Sew Fleece Tree Skirt Cut Circle Edges3. Starting at one end of the cut edges, cut strips of the fleece approximately 1 inch apart.

No Sew Tree Skirt Cutting FringeI typically measure these lengths to 5-6 inches, but this time I just used the scissors as my guide and did one cut to the end of the blades for each strip. The deeper the cuts, the longer the fringe.

No Sew Fleece Tree Skirt Cutting Scissors

4. Moving around the arc, you need to cheat in just a bit; the top of the cut will be a bit narrower than the edge.

5. Once the semi-circle is cut, you can start knotting. Take a top and bottom strip that match up.

No Sew Tree Skirt Fleece Matching StripsTie the ends into decorative knots I use a square knot, but you can do any type you like. I took pics of this, but their not very clear so check out this Animated Decorative Knots by Grog-any type of knot is illustrated here!

6. Knot all the way around the arc, creating the fringe effect, until you get to the other side.

No Sew Tree Skirt Fringed Edge7. Decision time! To have this skirt fit properly you can leave the folded edge as is and just drape it around the tree base to create a “blanketed” look like this. It reminds me of Linus’ blanket wrapped around Charlie Brown’s little tree.

Linus Blanket Around TreeOR you can cut a semi-circle in the middle of the folded half that is large enough to accommodate the tree base. This will allow the skirt to lay flatter on the floor. Either way is great and your holiday tree will look pretty and toasty warm.

8. Step back and admire your decorated tree : ) We did good, ladies!

No Sew Fleece Christmas Tree Skirt Logo

Total time for the skirt: 45 minutes. And, at this time of year the local craft stores stock an endless style and variety of fleece designs, so you can do anything from a jazzy zebra print to Star Wars to a Frozen theme. Have a warm and toasty Sunday everyone!! Susan

S’Mores Chocolate Pie Bites-YUM!

One of our  annual Thanksgiving family favorite desserts is chocolate cream pie. Over the years, I have baked many an apple, pumpkin or squash pie, only to see them get pushed aside in favor of the creamy-chocolate-graham-cracker-crust delight. This year, I made the chocolate pies (shhh, no one knows that I served one, but there is another one left in the fridge), but also created a new family favorite: S’Mores Chocolate Pie Bites!

S'Mores Chocolate Pie Bites from Country Design HomeThese yummy little clouds of toasty chocolate goodness were a fam favorite, and sure to become another traditional holiday treat! I originally saw these marshmallow melted cups transformed into shot glasses, but since this was a kid-friendly holiday, I decided to create the pie bites instead. Here is the How-I-Did-It:

These are quite simple to make and only require four key ingredients: Chocolate Pudding Mix… I used the Jello Cook and Serve Chocolate Fudge Pudding.

Jello Cook "n Serve Pudding

I was making the pies at the same time and planned to use the pudding as the filling, but you could certainly save some time and make the instant stuff.  Milk to make the pudding according to the box, Large Marshmallows…these Jet Puffed Marshmallows

Jet Puffed Marshmallowsare just that-large and fluffy. These misshapen sugary lumps were sent off to the land of misfit marshmallows.

S'Mores Pie Bites Misshapen MarshmallowsI figured if they weren’t straight before I toasted them, they would become melted molten messes once the heat hit them. Saving them for some hot cocoa action : )

 Keebler Graham Cracker Crumbs…

Keebler Graham Cracker Crumbsyou can make your own crumbs, but I happened to have these already crushed and ready to go. OK, ready?

1.Toast the marshmallows. If you are lucky enough to live in a part of the country where freezing cold weather is not a factor, then do this outside on your firepit or campfire. We, unfortunately, had quite a snow fall on the day I was making these, so the stove top burner it was. Mine is a glass topped burner, so I just cranked it to high.

S'Mores Pie Bites Hot BurnerWARNING!!!! Do NOT TOUCH THE HOT BURNER. THIS IS NOT A KID’S PROJECT. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DO THIS AFTER HAVING A WEE BIT TOO MCUH SPIKED CIDER… THIS IS DANGEROUS!!!!

2. Spear the marshmallow with whatever implement you wish to use. I tried a single metal skewer but the marshmallow kept turning as the inside melted. This three-tined fork was the perfect length and the tines created heating holes that caused the inside of the marshmallow to melt more evenly.

S'Mores Pie Bites Three Tined Fork

Now, don’t ask me why, but the fork handle never got hot to the touch. Which was interesting, because the hot glow from the burner on HIGH made me feel like I was under a sun lamp!

3. Starting with the bottom, hold the marshmallow over your heat source approximately 1-2 inches above the surface.

S'Mores Pie Bites Holding Marshmallow Over Heat

DO NOT TOUCH THE BURNER. Hold it there until you see a light smoking from the marshmallow, this means the sugar is starting to melt. Time to turn the marshmallow. Look at that-a thing of golden sugary beauty!

S'Mores Pie Bites Golden Toasted Marshmallow Bottom

4. Repeat around the sides, turning when you see the pale smoke trail as you lightly brown each side until the entire marshmallow,

S'Mores Pie Bites Toasted Marshmallow Sidesexcept the top,  is a light golden brown.

…this is what happens when Coach distracts you and asks a question about the upcoming Holiday Fair in the Barn at Todd Farm.

S'Mores Pie Bites Flaming Marshmallow

5. Remove the marshmallow from your fork using another implement- DO NOT USE YOUR FINGER!! The interior of the marshmallow is HOT and melty.

S'Mores Pie Bites Removing Marshmallow From Fork

6. Place toasted marshmallow on foil to cool.  Not wax paper, that will melt. And then you’ll have a S’Mores Pie Waxed Paper Bites. As they cool, you will notice that the marshmallow centers begin to implode, but the toasted exteriors stay upright. The hot melted middles sink down, creating the cup vessel you will need to hold the pudding. So cool!!

S'Mores Pie Bites Sunken Middles

7. Make your pudding according to the instructions on the box. This is the cook-‘n serve style, so it takes a few minutes cooking in a sauce pan to get to the molten lava stage.

S'Mores Pie Bites Molten Pudding in Pan

8. Using a teaspoon, fill the toasted marshmallow cups to the top (each one will take about a teaspoon of pudding). I was a bit worried that the hot pudding would disintegrate the marshmallow cups, but they were little toasty troopers and stood up fine.

S'Mores Pie Bites Filling Marshmallow Cups with Pudding

9. Immediately sprinkle with the graham cracker crumbs. This is a sprinkle-as-you-go project…you have to add the crumbs to each one after you fill them.

S'Mores Pie Bites with Graham Cracker Crumbs

If you wait until the pudding has cooled, the crumbs will just fall off. And you cannot have a S’Mores Chocolate Pie Bite without graham cracker crumbs!

10. Cool in fridge. An hour or so should do, since each S’Mores Chocolate Pie Bite only holds about a teaspoon of pudding.

S'Mores Pie Bites Cooling in Fridge11. Arrange on pretty platter and serve. The best part is no serving implements required, just pick up with your fingers and enjoy!

S'Mores Chocolate Pie Bites from Country Design Home

I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving that you shared with family and friends. Now it’s time to go continue with the kitchen clean-up…hope you’re planning s’more fun today! Susan

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