Signature Finishes

It’s Wanderlust Wednesday, and this week we are off to North Grafton, Massachusetts to visit the fabulous antiques, vintage furniture and home decor shop, Signature Finishes.

Signature Finishes Maureen Bane

Owned and operated by the lovely Maureen Bane, Signature Finishes is the nearest vendor to me for Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paints and finishes. And since I was on the hunt for my “Eulalie’s Sky” milk paint,

MMS Eulalie's Sky sampler

a recent road trip was in order. All of the pieces for sale in the shop have been expertly and artistically rescued and refurbished by Maureen,

Signature Finishes Arch Window Vignette

and she offers several workshops on how to achieve that “instantly antiqued” look using her paints and finishes.

Signature Finishes Green Desk

Stocked on her shelves are two lines of paints for both the the novice and accomplished DIY’er.

Paint Cupboard

The first, Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint, is available in a powdered form that you mix at home with water. (Remember my Mixing Milk Paint Misstep?

Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint

Perhaps I should have taken the class before I attempted to mix the paint with my cake mixer!?) The newer line is Paint Couture, a pre-mixed, self-priming, matte finish paint that is available in the most gorgeous country colors-perfect for refurbishing an antique or “junk-tique” piece.

Paint Couture Samples

Along with the paints, Maureen also offers many one-of-a-kind decorative

Signature Finishes Vintage Tablescape

and gift items.

Signature Finishes Store View

LOVE these amazing canvas and leather tote bags,

Signature Finishes Canvas Totes

and these candles and soaps by Sweet Grass Farm.,

Sweet Grass Farm Products

and this beautiful vintage glassware-you’ll be sure to find something for everyone on your holiday shopping list!

Signature Finishes Glasses and Trays

So if you have a piece of old furniture that you would like to put your “signature finish” on, make sure to visit Signature Finishes in North Grafton. It’s right off 495 near Worcester, and you won’t believe the incredible scenery along the way!

Signature Finishes Scenery

Tell Maureen “hello” from Sue @ Country Design Home, and have a wanderful Wednesday, everyone! Susan

Sweet & Salty Showers of Happiness

Last weekend I gave a sneak peek of the sweet stuff we served at the bridal shower that my dear friend was hosting for her adorable soon-to-be daughter-in-law.

Smores Bowl of Popcorn

Since I love me a good shower of any kind, I volunteered to assist with the food and decorations. This was planned as a small shower with a few special guests, since the bride-to-be originally hails from Maryland, and another shower had already been held in her honor back home. The decision was made to host this shower as a “wine-tasting party” at a great little gourmet shop in Sandwich

Shower The Brown Jugcalled The Brown Jug.

Shower Brown Jug Sign

Purveyors of fine beverages, and adjacent to a gourmet food shop, the wine shop has a charming, rustic feel, with floor to ceiling crates and shelves filled with wines and craft beers,

Shower Brown Jug Tables

chunky, aged butcher block tables and sweet little café sets in the front windows. Along with some vintage enamelware overflowing with colorful garden flowers (these cut glass vases were filled with sand and seashells, borrowed, ah-hem, from the dunes of Cape Cod…)

Shower Flowers and Candles

and the inspired nautical decorations,

Smores Bags on Table

it made for a fun and relaxed party setting. And how can you not be in a party mood anyway, surrounded by great food

Shower Cheese Board

and hundreds of bottles of wine, just waiting to be opened and tasted?!  BTW, do you happen to recognize those gorgeous chevron striped table runners?

Shower Favors and Flowers

I don’t know what it is about chevron, but it’s just so appealing, and blends with a variety of styles and colors, including Caribbean Blue (St. John wedding), Baby Girl Pink (Wakefield baby shower) and Nautical Navy (on Ol’ Cape Cod). Those runners have certainly been around the block-thanks Lindsey-I owe you!!  The shop’s manager pulled out all the stop(pers) to make this shower a memorable occasion for the guests and guest of honor alike. Along with the gorgeous cheese, meat and fruit board that the shop had provided (with cheeses I had never even heard of, but boy were they delicious!),

Shower Cheese Board Closeup

we also put together a few scrumptious bites for the guests.

Shower Brown Jug Food Platters

Included on the menu were homemade bruschetta, chicken and grape croissant sandwiches, stuffed spinach cheese bread and of course, the various wines and Prosecco chosen by the sommelier,

Shower Brown Jug Wine Assortment

just for this very special occasion. Finished off with our “life-changing” Sea Salt Caramel Dark Chocolate Cupcakes, and S’Mores Popcorn,

Chocolate Caramel Sea Salt Cupcakes

the shower was deemed a sweet success! It was truly a magical evening, with family and friends coming together with this loving young couple to celebrate their upcoming nuptials, and to shower the new bride with gifts and love.

Shower Gift Table

And isn’t that what a shower is supposed to be about? Here’s hoping someone showers a little love on you today! Susan

The Beautiful Aloha State

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

Horseback Mountainside

to the deepest, dankest rainforests

Fern Grotto

and fern grottos

Rainforest

to the smoldering volcanic landscapes,

volcanic crater smoke

this state is a lush tropical paradise,

Hawaii Waterfall

resplendent with colorful flora

Fern Grotto Flower

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

Silver Leaf Plant

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

Water, water, everywhere.

crashing surf in Kona

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

Maui blowhole

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

The Big Island

pretty lighthouses standing watch along the rocky shore

Kona Lighthouse

and amazing sunsets and sunrises

Sunset from the Ship

Sunset from ship

and softly colored rainbows in the distance.

Morning Rainbow

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

Pearl Harbor Memorial

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

Fireworks over Honolulu

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

The Emerald Isle

Enjoy this old Irish Blessing with a sampling of some of my favorite photos from our last visit to Ireland…

Irish Foothills

Irish Blessing

May the road rise up to meet you

Kinsale

May the wind be always at your back

Blarney Castle

May the sun shine warm upon your face (yup, that’s me kissing the Blarney Stone!)

Kissing the Blarney Stone

And the rains fall soft upon your fields

Ireland

And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.

Irish Abbey

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!! Susan

Sleigh Rides In The Snow

It’s Wanderlust Wednesday, and since we are enjoying unseasonably balmy weather here in the Boston area today, I thought I would share some snow-covered photos taken just a couple of weeks ago in Jackson, New Hampshire. Jackson is the quintessential New England town with its covered bridges, Jackson Covered Bridge

white steepled church and the quaint town library,

Jackson Library

with the ice-capped Ellis river running through it.

Jackson Riverview

Over the New Year’s weekend, we were so fortunate to spend quality time with some dear friends, eating and drinking, doing puzzles and shopping, generally just relaxing by the roaring fire in their log cabin in the woods (literally!). We ventured out one evening to Nestlenook Farms for a horse-drawn sleigh ride. So fun!!

Jackson Sleigh Ride

 If Jackson is the perfect NE town, then Nestlenook is the picture perfect postcard place.

Jackson Nestlenook @ Day

Gingerbread-style victorian pink cottages and gazebos-even a chapel-

Jackson Nestlenook Chapel

the paddock with horses and burros,

Jackson Horse

and the bed and breakfast inn (presently under renovation), are scattered throughout the perfectly manicured grounds that, at night, transform into a magical winter wonderland.

Jackson Magical Tree

Under thousands of twinkling lights, the horse-drawn sleighs go dashing through the snow (well, not exactly dashing, more like strolling) past the victorian skating pond,

Jackson Skaters at Night

the paddocks and stables

Jackson Horse and Burro

and arbors and gazebos,

Jackson Gazebo

all dressed in their sparkling winter whites- so country pretty!!! Jackson Skating House @ Night

Jackson Archway @ Night

Add a cup of hot chocolate, a group of lifelong friends and a roaring fire, and you have the perfect winter evening! Here’s to our January thaw-enjoy the weather today! Susan

Excited About Electrolux!

I know, excited about a vacuum- seriously!?!?! But, it’s arrived!! My brand new sparkling, shiny, super sexy and sleek black Electrolux Jet Maxx Green Canister Vacuum– this week’s High Five For Friday! We immediately got off to a good start when I noticed a little tag line on the box-“thinking of you”-awwww, so nice!

vacuum box

A few weeks ago I published a blog about finding the perfect vacuum cleaner: Living In A Vacuum. From that blog post, I received multiple suggestions regarding styles and brands to try. The one name that kept popping up was Electrolux. Comments like: “my grandmother/mother/aunt had one for years and it sucked up everything in sight -heck it would have sucked up the dog!”  (note that not one person said “my grandfather/dad/uncle- just saying…) made me take a serious look at this brand that has been around since 1918. I did a lot of online reseach, and headed out to my local stores to do some hands-on brand demos from other manufacturers, but this Electrolux Jet Maxx was the clean winner. Where to buy? Online, of course. The MSRP is $499.00, a hefty price for a small appliance! But, on Kohls.com, it was on sale, and then I had the magic 30% off coupon code from Retail Me Not– AND free shipping!!! Plus, I received $60 in Kohls Cash (if you are unaware of this deal, for every $50 you spend you get $10 in Kohls dollars to spend-sweet!) So, with the sale + tax and the coupon and the Kohls Cash, my final price was $274.68- almost half off! (Coach, just ignore that part-OK?)

But nothing is a good deal if it doesn’t work- right? Right off the bat, I was pretty impressed by the overall appearance-looks quite space-aged, kind of Darth Vader-ish, don’t you think?! Very heavy components, and the plastic, which is made from 55% recycled materials, was hefty and strong, unlike some of the other brands’ I had sampled.

vacuum coupling mechanism

Good thing they marked this package in the box. Had I tossed this,  I would have spent most of my vacuuming time on my hands and knees!

vacuum box warning

Love the shape of the handle-looks like a gas pump nozzle! But it contours to your hand, and has the on-board tools that you can switch easily.

Loving the retractable cord feature. You just touch the button with your toe and the cord gets sucked back up inside- brilliant!

Electrolux Retractable Cord

Although gotta be careful- awhile ago I had an old dust buggy with a retractable cord- touched the button with my foot and the cord end-with a plug adapter attached-came flying up and hit me across the bridge of my nose and almost knocked me out! (Still haven’t regained my sense of smell from that trauma) OK, so the true test is in the suction and the Jet Maxx passed with flying colors. My beloved dining room area rug, that hasn’t had a good cleaning in months, took on a new life once the nap was raised with the powerful Jet Maxx suction.

vacuum carpet

With little pushing or pulling effort on my part, the vacuum powers its way across the rugs and, on the low nap ones, it actually took off on me! The canister follows me around like a puppy on a leash, and the floor adapter with a swivel head makes it simple to get around and under the furniture on the hard wood floors. The stairs. The toughest area for any vacuum. Apparently there is a separate rotating brush you can get for the stairs, but it didn’t come with my vacuum. So, I used the crevice tool for the corners and edges, and the power head for the treads. Perfect.

vacuum hall of shame

Lightweight, easy to maneuver, got all of the dog fur and raised the nap so it looks somewhat presentable (part of the Hall of Shame project, it’s threadbare, and oh, it’s maroon! and needs replacing, so not even this vac can save it). So, there you have it- my unbiased, non-sponsored, personal opinion and a well-deserved High Five for this canister vac. I will let you know in six months if this is the vac of my dreams, but for now- this one’s a keeper!! It’s Friday everyone-have fun!! Susan

What’s Old Is New in Newburyport

It’s Wanderlust Wednesday, and this week we are off to Newburyport, Massachusetts! This charming historic seaport town north of Boston that was settled in 1634, Newburyport Brown Square

boasts some of the grandest 17th century colonial homes of seafaring entrepreneurs who owned and worked in the shipyards. Lining the main streets and back roads, many of these stately homes feature widow’s walks, structures on the roof where the women could watch for the return of their loved ones on sailing vessels that had been out to sea for months, sometimes years.

Newburyport Dalton House

Rich in history, dating back to the slave trades prior to the Revolutionary War, this city is charming in stature, and provides residents and tourists alike with plenty of fabulous dining and shopping options. The hub of the waterfront shopping district is Merchant Square and State Street,

Newburyport Market Square

where shoppers are tempted with an array of offered goods, ranging from gourmet eats at Stonewall Kitchen to gourmet doggie treats @ Just Dogs Gourmet! Some of my favorite shops, including Flukes and Finds and Friends, a co-op shop where vendors always greet you with a smile (and possibly a witch’s hat and a cup of brew, if you happen to visit during Halloween : )

Such a fun place to shop, warm and welcoming, full of hidden gems around every corner.

Newburyport Flukes and Finds

Both Ivy Lane and Vintage Chic Boutique offer a bit of everything old that’s new again-from vintage broaches to refurbished furnishings, many of which may have come from those historic homes.  I first stumbled upon the Vintage Chic Boutique

Newburyport Vintage Chic Boutique

last spring at the Vintage Bazaar @ Pettingill Farm. Although there were many vendors selling re-painted furniture featuring chalk paint finishes (presently quite the rage for the DIY fan), their pieces were outstanding in their choice of color and finishes.  Their refurbished vintage pieces were done in rich, muted tones with a gorgeous waxy patina finish, my first introduction to Annie Sloan paints and waxes. I have since tried it myself (see Coffee, Tea or Free for details) and have to say I love the finish!

At the fall fair, I discovered the newly-opened Ivy Lane, a shop with a similar design sense: taking something old and making it new and beautiful again.

Newburyport Ivy Lane

The owners, along with their in-house interior designer Holly Gagne (who drives a fabulous tricked-out vintage aqua VW to showcase her wares) Newburyport Holly Gagne VW create a warm and inviting shop featuring antiques, collectibles and upcycled furniture using eco-friendly CeCe Caldwell paints and finishes. Newburyport CeCe Caldwell Paints

I could go on for another ten blog posts, but there are just so many great shops and restaurants in Newburyport-way too many to mention here. But definitely worth the trip to spend a day strolling cobblestone streets, dining at one of the many pubs and shopping for your new favorite collectible. Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone! Susan

A Lousy Im”Press”ion

So, it appears as if you all received an email from Country Design Home yesterday that held no content, just a link to a post that was password protected. Apologies for that! Apparently, if you privately publish a post, Word Press (my blog hosting site) still sends out an email with the link to all of your followers, even if they cannot view it! I am not sure what the concept is there, but I will tell you that the blog post in question is now live, and I would love for you to read it- it is part 1 of 2 posts! Here is the link: https://countrydesignhome.com/2012/12/18/thegliddenproject/ This is a project I have been working hard on for the past couple of months, and would love any comments or feedback! Again, I apologize for the snafu…and I hope you enjoy the blog! Susan

Wandering Through Williamsburg

It’s Wanderlust Wednesday! This week, while we are wandering off to our next (and final!) wedding of 2012, I am sending you back in time to the 1700’s to Williamsburg, Virginia!

This past summer Coach and I went to the revolutionary epicenter of America, Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, one of our favorite touristy-type spots. Anything you want to learn about colonial life in Revolutionary times, you will find it here in intricate detail,

where actors and performers portray colonial men and women working and living as they did in the 1700’s, in startlingly realistic fashion.

Stroll down the Duke of Gloucester Street, which appears as it did in the 1700’s, and you will find most shops and taverns lovingly restored and maintained through the efforts of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

This is one of our favorite shops, owned by Mr. Prentis,

a purveyor of authentically fine colonial goods.

Since there is so much rustic architecture and beautiful hand-wrought brick and iron works, I decided to attempt to photograph the alphabet letters that spell Williamsburg. Not as easy as one might think! So use your imagination as I take you on the tour…

ig Makers Shop. These two lovely ladies patiently answered questions about where and when wigs were made and worn…by the colonial men!

ron Works were being created in the Blacksmith’s Shop, where despite the blazing heat and the roaring fires, the workers answered questions from the crowd.

Throughout Williamsburg you can see their handiwork, like this beautiful garden gate at the Governer’s Palace.

ivestock abound throughout Williamsburg, and can be found pulling carts and supplies.

When they weren’t working, they were resting behind post and rail fences, munching on lush green pastures.

ittle Lambs having their lunch-baaah!

nspired signs decorate the buildings, telling the story of the offerings inside. This mug of ale beckons the thirsty traveler into Chownings Tavern.

rchaeological dig sites spotted behind the buildings. Since Williamsburg has so much history buried beneath it’s pathways, dig sites are set up to unearth treasures from the 1700’s.

Many of the items for sale in the local shops, like this blue Delft jug

these salt and pepper vessels

and this politically-inspired teapot, are replicas of period pieces discovered under the ground. (you’ll have to ask Coach about the Stamp Act)

illinery Shop. These ladies spend their days stitching and creating hand-sewn dresses, skirts and accessories.

tomping the clay to created the thousands of bricks used annually to build and maintain the streets and pathways. Many of the characters that perform in the town are actually students at the College of William and Mary, whose campus sits adjacent to Williamsburg Proper.

irds for pie-baking. Four and twenty at least!!

nder the hot summer sun, women wore these colorful straw bonnets to keep cool and protected.

einactments are performed throughout the day, as soldiers and town folk tell the story of the days leading up to the American Revolution.

loves from the Milliner’s Shop, worn by the town’s gentrified elite.

So that was my walking tour, sharing some of my fav pics from Williamsburg. If you have an interest in American History, and you have the opportunity, Williamsburg Virginia is a must-see! Have a revolutionary day! Susan

Wedding With A View

After a year in the making, and months of anticipation, this joyful wedding celebration of Jenn and Jeff was unlike any of the others we have attended in this “2012 year of the wedding”.

The ceremony was simple and heartfelt, taking place in the Charlotte Trolley Museum  and officiated by their good friend who was reportedly instrumental in their introduction.

The bride, Jenn, resplendant in a creamy white couture gown, alongside her handsome groom, Jeff

could have easily graced the cover of any glossy bridal mag. (photo via WeddingSnap.com)

After vows were exchanged in front of a hundred+ family and friends, we were off to the reception venue: “Roof With A View“. As we approached the historic old mill/converted office building, we were a little unsure about what to expect. But upon entering the office lobby, we were immediately greeted by servers with baskets of mini-muffins and glasses of red and white wine-and then escorted to the elevators to the rooftop venue. The name says it all. Roof With A View. A renovated industrial space with glossy wood floors surrounded by floor-to-ceiling glass

and an outdoor balcony with spectacular views overlooking the city and the Carolina Panthers Football Stadium. AMAZING.

The decor, simply autumn-inspired, with creamy linen tablecloths and various centerpieces that included shafts of wheat, pumpkins and gourds and ruby red cranberries was a colorful contrast to the white walls and ceiling of the venue. 

After the introductions and the official first dance as husband and wife, the party was on! Every wedding menu its own special style, this one being elegantly rustic, with a never-ending delicious variety of passed hors d’oeuvres (this was the Tomato Bisque Shooter : )

A scrumptious meal of beef tenderloin, salmon, shrimp and grits, mac ‘n cheese and lobster bisque was served, followed by a yummy dessert table. These little canning jars, tucked inside an antique frame trays, were filled with apple and cherry cobbler. Delish!

In lieu of a traditional wedding cake, a sweet tower of cupcake bites drizzled in chocolate and caramel.

And of course, the bride’s favorite gummy bears (that, as it turns out, are quite delicious soaked in a bath of vodka : )

As the evening wore on and the sun began to set, the venue glowed with thousands of twinkle lights reflected in the glass, and the cityscape turned shades of blues and pinks.

From outside, you could see the dance floor was hopping!  

A few special touches: the photo booth by Fun Mugs – so much fun to be dressed up and silly with all of these props!

A little high-tech wedding share: WeddingSnap.com, where guests were able to text or download their pics from their smartphones. As the night progressed, the pics were posted for all to see and enjoy-brilliant! (Although, I do have to say that the quality of the photos trended downward as the evening wore on. Perhaps something to do with the fabulous top shelf open bar?!?)

A table featuring framed family photos- a loving touch.

This was the city view at nightfall.

A special thanks to our hosts, Kathie and Rich, who invited us to share in this most special occasion and hosted quite a party!

And congrats to Jenn and Jeff, the new bride and groom! Our wishes for a lifetime of great love and great adventure from your own roof with a view. Susan (& Coach)

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