Country Living Weekend-Day 2

As promised, I am sharing the remainder of the Country Living Fair with all of you. If you love living and shopping country, but didn’t have a chance to attend, at least I am giving you a tiny glimpse of what you missed this year! (and, there is still a chance to attend one in Georgia or Ohio in the coming months.) Of course, a country fair isn’t complete without a bright red tractor

Country Living Fair Ford Tractor

and a billy goat! This one was so funny-it kept standing up on its hind legs and peeking over the railings like a baby in a crib!

Country Living Fair GoatTo my delight, I discovered a couple of craftsmen from my neck of the woods, yay!

Sage Farm Antiques, in North Hampton, NH holds a “three day antiques and collectibles show with fresh stock monthly“. Unfortunately, the photo I took wasn’t useable, but rest assured the booth was stocked with totally vintage, reclaimed and repurposed goods. Going to be sure to check that one out soon!

Sage Farms Antiques LogoI had the pleasure of meeting Addie Peet  of APFloorclothDesign.com at last year’s Vintage Bazaar. Her expertly hand-crafted and vividly-colored floor cloths always catch my eye. How sweet are these waterproof doggie mats?

Addie Peet FloorClothsThis floorcloth design is brilliant! It is a runner that is painted to resemble a hopscotch game down to the very last details, including the cracking asphalt.

Hopscotch FloorCloth Addie Peet DesignsNo more chalk on the driveway to hose down! Unfortunately, she won’t be at the Vintage Bazaar next week, but she does sell on Etsy! you can check out her website here: apfloorclothdesign.com

I met the lovely and talented Jeanne van Etten of Nantucket Mermaid who has just opened a shop on the island of Nantucket.

Nantucket Mermaid Shop PhotoSuch sweet, intricately painted heart dishes

Hand Painted Hearts from Nanctuket Mermaidand adorable hand-crafted dolls. You can check out her blog here: Nantucket Mermaid.BlogSpot or visit her shop at 4 Fair St in Nantucket. And if you do, tell her Sue from Country Design Home sent you : )

Lavender Mermaid Doll from Nantucket MermaidI walked into the very large Earth Angel Studios booth and was instantly transported into a colorful, dreamlike fairyland. The owner, Jen O’Connor started this venture in 1996 and features the works of extremely talented female artists and crafters. A few samples:

Plush fanciful soft sculptures by Nicole Bowen

Plush Soft Sculptures by Nicole BowenFrom The Land of Enchantment by Debrina Pratt –The Starlight Ballet

Starlight Ballet from Debrina PrattFrench Paper Follies by Wendy Addison

Paper Follies by Wendy AddisonAnd from Valerie Weberpal of Harvest Moon-super cool cat box!

Cool Cat Fun Town Jody BattagliaYou just couldn’t stroll past the booth from Reclaimed State from Wappinger Falls, NY

Reclaimed Statewithout noticing the soft glowing copper and amazing workmanship used to build this completely hand-crafted trunk turned cooler!

Copper Trunk by Reclaimed State

Reclaimed State Copper Trunk Corner DetailLoved this school of unfinished wooden fish decoys from the St. Lawrence River Decoys so much that I bought a couple for my porch : ) Can’t wait to paint them!

School of Fish Decoys UnfinishedFolks were buzzing around the Homestead Collection like bees on a honeycomb! Filled with cleverly repurposed and recycled vintage items such as this chicken wire wall planter

Homestead Collectionand this potter’s bench complete with vintage porcelain sink.

HomeStead CollectionIf you love mason jar anything, then you would have loved the Sweet Tea Clothing Company. The entire booth was lit with strands of mason jar lighting, hanging from branches and overhead, creating an inviting ambiance.

Sweet Tea Clothing Co lightsCouldn’t resist this very sweet mounted mason jar wall flower vase filled with daisies. Who doesn’t love mason jars and daisies: )

Mason Jar Sconce by Sweet Tea Clothing CoFrom Vintage by Crystal we discovered these fanciful miniature dolls of all types, painstakingly hand-crafted of spun cotton.

Spun Cotton Dolls Vintage by Crystal With their tiny faces, they appeared almost lifelike with the detailed decorations!

Doll Vintage by CrystalSelina Vaughn Studios from LA will also be at the upcoming Vintage Bazaar, selling their vintage seed sack handbags.

Selina Vaughn Seed Sack Handbag These are gorgeous and just the perfect stylish accessory for a country girl : )

Selina Vaughn Seed Sack Handbag

I was so busy looking and taking pics that I didn’t have a chance to buy much, but I did purchase this beautiful little painting on a distressed wood box by Mary Gregory Studio, LTD. I don’t know why this pair of sheep spoke to me, but I just couldn’t walk away… and apparently neither could the mom sheep with the little one standing on her back…Mary Gregory ArtThe originals are hand-painted art, and the ones on display were giclee prints on wooden boxes. Not sure where I am going to hang it yet in my country-inspired home, but I will let ewe know!  And finally, when we were just plain tuckered out and so hot and tired, we were happy to have a seat at the main tent stage and enjoy a demonstration on casual outdoor entertaining by Denise from The Painted Home and Kelly from Eclectically Vintage.

Entertaining with The Painted Home and Eclectically Vintage

The two of them are hilarious together, and their presentation was a hoot, but with loads of great, simple outdoor decorating ideas! Kelly even posted the cupcake liner tea lights DIY on her blog : ) So that’s it for now-hope your enjoyed this little tour. And remember, the Vintage Bazaar is just around the corner, so get your walking shoes (and your shopping totes) ready!!! Susan

 

 

 

 

A Country Living Weekend!

Country Living Fair BannersThis past weekend, I had the great pleasure of attending the Country Living Fair in Rhinebeck, NY. So, where do I begin to describe the sights and sounds of this fabulous fair?!? Let’s start with Hometalk.com and Country Living Magazine who extended the invitation and provided the VIP blogger tickets for the three day event. Here’s me with all of my fellow bloggers-I met so many nice people!!

Hometalk Bloggers The VIP passes meant we were allowed early entrance before the massive crowds arrived (and let me tell you, there were MASSIVE crowds!)

Crowd Scene from Country Living Fairto do some shopping, one-on-one chatting with so many fellow bloggers and fantastic vendors and snapping photos for Tweeting and Instagram-ming. There is no possible way for me to share information about every single vendor or event on this blog post, but I will highlight some of my favs here, with more to come in the days ahead. The fair was held in The Dutchess County Fairgrounds (if you are from around the Boston area, think Topsfield Fair, only quadruple in size), where there are many barns and outbuildings that would typically house livestock, (there were a few little guys in the 4H tent…)

Donkey at Country Living Fairbut for this weekend were home to the hundreds of sellers of the finest country wares I have seen in quite some time: antiques, vintage wares, original artwork, amazing crafts and DIY’s from the simplest of everyday items. Every time I see these custom doll statues from CA Mataruso of Tin Hearts, they make me smile : ) Late for Work on a vintage thermos-brilliant!

Custom Thermos Doll by Tin HeartsThe array was dizzying and required several go-arounds to ensure that we didn’t miss anything! Because I have so many photos to share, I am just providing a sampling today, and will focus on several of the vendors in greater detail in the coming weeks. As you all know, I am drawn to COLOR, the brighter the better, mixed all together. Now, I can appreciate the dreamy whites and creams that are so popular today, but could I live in an all-white space? Heck, no!!  While strolling through the fair grounds, these particular vendors caught my eye:

Modern June-Cool Stuff For The Hip Housewife: offering a brilliant array of colorful vintage-look oilcloths and chalk-cloths

Modern June Cool Stuff Sign CDH

Oilcloth Clutch purses from Modern JuneSome of the nicest vintage original artwork at the fair from Terri Palmer Signs

Jersey Shore by Terri Palmer

HiHo Home Market was one of our favorite booths, chock full of vintage items and so colorfully decorated! Loved these vintage checked saucepans (now why didn’t I buy those?!?)

HiHo Home Market

From Sentimentally Me was a colorful collection of beautifully preserved vintage quilts, banners, books and memorabilia. The vendor was sharing hilarious stories about her moment of fame on Flea Market Flip at the Elephant’s Trunk Flea Market, where she normally sets up shop. So funny!

Sentimentally MeI was immediately drawn into the Olive Grace Studios booth because of the clever displays of vintage-inspired fabrics, pillows & quilts-so country pretty!

Olive Grace StudiosIn the showcase at Grandmother’s Buttons was this velvet case of brilliantly sparkling rings, each created from vintage buttons!

Grandmother's Buttons RingsOne of the very first booths we entered was that of Blue Bird Home Decor, where I was instantly taken by this beautifully painted country hutch (which was sold : (

Painted Cupboard by Blue Bird Home Decorand also of the lovingly rendered oil paintings of livestock by Shelly Broughton. Never thought I would think: “How sweet is this sheep?”

Cow Painting by Shelly Broughton

This willow porch swing from Around the Bend looked so inviting with the brightly colored pillows and cushions! Can you just imagine relaxing and sipping lemonade here on a beautiful summer day?

Willow Porch Swing from Around the BendAnd finally (at least for today!) we met up with Cari Cucksey from HGTV’s Cash & Cari, who was introducing her new line of Repurpose Paints, Stains and Finishes. Yummy colors, water-based and so easy to use! These will be available shortly on her website: RePurpose Shop.

RePurpose ShopCari was so sweet and incredibly gracious, standing in her space for hours and repeatedly explaining and demonstrating the how-to’s of her products, then posing for pictures with anyone who asked! Of course, I had to get in the act as well!

Sue & Cari from RePurposeSo, there you have it, today’s colorful commentary on the Country Living Fair. I have added links to all of the vendors above so you can click on them to read more and discover what else they have available. Check back soon for another episode of A Country Living Weekend! I hope you have a color-filled Tuesday, everyone! Susan

 

 

 

Mason Jar 3-Berry Cobblers

So, you would think that after that whole Cupcake Tower of Terror disaster that I would be staying away from baking for weddings, right? Well, that is the case where cakes are concerned-no more falling frosting fiascos! But, for the same wedding, I created some yummy individual three berry cobblers in little personalized mason jars as favors for the guests to enjoy. Those did NOT fail, or fall for that matter!

Three Berry Cobblers in Mason Jars Wedding FavorsThe recipe was a tried-and-true favorite from a co-worker (thanks, Krista!) that was adapted for the mini jelly jars, and two batches was enough for 6 dozen jars. Here is the how-I-did-it:

1. Prepare the jars. These are 1/2 pint, wide-mouth Kerr glass jelly jars I purchased from a local Ace Hardware store, ordering them online and picking them up at the store. Despite the fact that they were factory sealed in plastic, I still ran them through the dishwasher to ensure cleanliness.

2. Prepare the crumb topping/crust. This recipe is enough for one 13 x 9 pan of cobbler, or 3 dozen mini jars. So double it for the 6 dozen:

 TOPPING/CRUST

2 Cups All-Purpose Flour

2 Cups Rolled Oats (I used instant and it didn’t seem to matter at all)

1  1/2 Cups Packed Brown Sugar

1 Tsp Gground Cinnamon

1/2 Tsp Ground Nutmeg

1  1/2 Cups Cold Butter

Combine all dry ingredients in large bowl, then cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Set aside.

3. Prepare the berry filling, literally just mixing the berries and sugar in a large bowl and set aside.

FRESH FRUIT FILLING

1  1/2 Cups Fresh Blueberries

1  1/2 Cups Fresh Blackberries

1  1/2 Cups Raspberries

4 TBLSP Granulated Sugar

I used fresh blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, but you can use any berry combination you would enjoy. This recipe was enough for three dozen jars, so I doubled it to make the 6 dozen. One thing I noted: the large whole raw berries (like the raspberries) take up more space, but once cooked, they collapsed and left extra room in the jar so it didn’t appear as full. Next time (and for these there will be a next time : )  I will slightly chop the larger berries so more fits into each jar prior to baking.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place as many jars that will fit onto a cookie sheet and spray the insides with non-stick cooking spray.

Cobbler Mason Jars Non-Stick SprayTake 1 TBLSP of the crumble mixture and lightly press down into the bottom of each jar. I used this wooden thing that was in my pastry drawer. Don’t know where it came from, don’t know what it is, but it worked perfectly! Continue until all of the jars have the base crust.

Cobbler Mason Jars Tamping Down Crust5. Fill each just with the berry mixture, until it is about 1/4 inch from the top. Leave room for the crumble topping!

Cobbler Mason Jars Filled with Fruit6. Add 1 TBLSP crumble topping to each jar, pat lightly to secure. You can adjust the crumb topping/crust ratio as you like, but remember to adjust the recipe as well!

Cobbler Mason Jars with Crumb Topping7. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the filling is bubbly and the topping is lightly browned.

Mason Jar Cobblers Baked8. Remove from oven and cool. You can serve these warm from the oven with a bit of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, or save them for later. I kept them lightly wrapped, but did not seal the tops on until it was time to assemble them as favors. Which I did with the help of my dear friend-thanks Alice!

9. The personalized labels were purchased on Etsy from Snappy’s Boutique. The owner was great to work with and the labels were beautifully printed on vinyl round stickers, one for the top of each jar.

Vinyl Round Stickers for Mason Jars 10. The bamboo wooden spoons I stamped with cute little sayings like “berry happy” and “sweet love”. Of course, you could paint them or decorate them or simply leave them blank.

Mason Jar Cobbler Wood Spoon11. The spoons were attached to the jars with purple raffia ribbon-the wedding color- (and a little scotch tape to keep them from sliding off!)

Mason Jar Cobblers with Bowsand then we added a second bow for pretty : ) This was the best tool-a fork stuck in a ribbon reel taped to the counter-to tie the tiny bows with the chiffon-like material. Ah, necessity is indeed the mother of invention. Shark Tank, here we come!

Cobbler Bow Tie Fork12. I picked up the unfinished crate at Joanns (with a coupon, of course : ).

Unfinished wood crate from JoannsIn order to make it appear somewhat rustic, I “stained” it with paint thinned with water,

Cobbler Crate Stained with Bluethen added another coat of blueish-purplish-white paint that I dry-brushed to give it a more rustic look.

Dry brushed crate13. The little chalkboard was also from Joanns, that I backed with some fringed burlap, then added the chalk graphic.

unfinished crate from Joanns I used my easy chalkboard transfer method for the Three Berry Cobbler sign. Click the link for the DIY.

Three Berry Cobbler Graphic

14. To safely stack the jars in the crate,

3 Berry Mason Jar CobblersI added separators made from burlap-covered cardboard panels.

Cobbler Crate Layer SeparatorDone! Now who doesn’t love a rustic crate filled with pretty jars of yummy three-berry cobbler that is easily and safely transportable?!? Well, this girl does : )

Mason Jar Berry Cobblers in CrateAnd hopefully the guests did as well… Have a berry-licious Thursday everyone!! Susan

Creative Kitchen Makeover-DIY Series-The Prep

Recently, I was asked to sample and review a new paint primer called Kilz HIDE-ALL,

Kilz HIDE-ALL

which happens to be perfect timing for the kitchen makeover I have just begun! My mom, who lives in a townhome (that was once owned by my sister…long story) has been asking for a kitchen makeover for quite some time now. Although the budget does not allow for a full gut-job and remodel, we are using paints, glazes and some elbow grease to create that “French Country” look that she adores. The kitchen is circa 1980’s construction-grade with very dark oak cabinet doors and drawers and veneered plywood boxes. In the center of each door is a white vinyl panel that was glued into place, and the backsplash is alternating 4″ square ceramic tiles in black and white stripes that mirrors the white door panels.

Mom's Kitchen View 1The appliances are fairly new and white, so they are staying, and the floor is a sheet linoleum in a vintage black and white tile pattern, so that is most likely staying put as well. So, everyone knows that the key to a successful painting job is the prep work, which I personally despise, but it must be done! In this case, those white vinyl panels and the adhesive used to attach them had to be removed. I tried many, many de-glossing, de-gooing and de-sticking type products before I could get the edges ready for priming and painting.

Kitchen Cabinets with Vinyl Panels A messy job, but absolutely essential to ensure a good outcome!

Cabinet De-Greasing Fromula 409Once that was accomplished, it was time to try the new Kilz HIDE-ALL product.

Kilz HIDE-ALL PrimerThis is from their website:  “KILZ® HIDE-ALL™, a new primer sealer exclusively available at Lowe’s stores across the country. For home interior painting projects of all types—including covering dark colored walls, masking minor surface stains, smoothing out porous surfaces and more—the undercoat offers consumers excellent hide at an affordable price. KILZ HIDE-ALL helps prepare surfaces for painting by evening out porosity and creating a consistent canvas for adding the desired topcoat. With a multi-surface formula, KILZ HIDE-ALL can be used on drywall, cured plaster, woodwork, masonry, concrete block, brick and previously painted areas. The high-hiding, fast drying, latex primer sealer helps minimize issues caused by dark colors and minor surface stains to effectively transform bathrooms, kitchens, bedrooms and more.”

Did the primer live up to the hype? You betcha!! For only $26 and some change for a 2-gallon bucket, what I got was little to no prep work and no sanding-yay! Just a quick cleaning to remove any accumulated surface grease, dirt and dust-and that pesky glue.

Kilz HIDE-ALL PrimerThe odorless primer is a creamy white color with a slightly grayish hue. It has the consistency of a watered-down school glue. Very smooth, very little dripping, brushes on easily and cleanly without leaving brush stroke marks and creates a light, bright prepped surface. And a little goes a very long way! Since these cabinet doors have had a lot of wear, the surface finish in some areas was worn away, while other areas were still shiny. The primer covered all of that evenly so that you cannot see the difference. The directions indicate that the primed surface can be re-painted after one hour with oil or latex paint, but I didn’t attempt that, as I am doing this makeover in stages, which I will be sharing as I complete each one. Brushes easily cleaned up with soap and water.  Here is a before cabinet door

Kilz HIDE-ALL Cabinet Door Before

(note the taped #? Prior to removing the doors and drawers to paint them, remember to number them and make a map so you know where they go once you are finished):

Kitchen Cabinet MapHere is the primed cabinet door:

Kilz HIDE-ALL Primed DoorA perfectly smooth, matte surface awaiting the paint and glaze. But that will be in the next installment! I hope you are having a prime Tuesday, everyone!  Susan

Disclaimer: Although the product in this blog post was provided by the makers of Kilz HIDE-ALL, the opinions expressed are strictly my own and have not been edited or altered in any way. Susan

Country Living Fair Ticket Giveaway!

Next up on the blogging agenda is a trip to the Country Living Fair in Rhinebeck, NY on June 6-8.

Country Living Fair

I have been a huge fan of Country Living Magazine for as long as I can remember (after all, they are the bible of country design),

Country Living Fair Pictureand I am so excited to be finally attending their fabulous fair! For those of you who aren’t familiar, it truly is a celebration of all things country, “Bringing the pages of Country Living Magazine to Life”.

Country Living FairsThis 3-day event features vintage vendors with great wares to sell, DIY demonstrations, antiques appraisals, food and cooking demonstrations and meet & greets with HGTV and Cooking Channel Celebrities.

Country Living Fair LineupLuckily for you, I am hosting a ticket giveaway-2 three day VIP passes with early bird access- from the show’s organizers: StellaShows.com, Country Living Magazine and Hometalk! 

HomeTalk Country Design Home Logo

Since this is a quick turnaround-the fair is next weekend– the giveaway starts on May 31 (NOW!!) and ends at 11:59 pm on Sunday, June 1.  To enter, just click the Rafflecopter link below and complete the form. Not a whole bunch of stuff to click, and if you already follow me on Facebook or Pinterest or Twitter, you are way ahead of the game!

Rafflecoptor Fair Ticket Contest

Winners will be notified on Monday, June 2 and the tickets will be available at the “will call” window at the fair. Good luck, and I’ll see you at the fair!! (If you are not the lucky winner, there is still time to purchase the tickets from Stella Shows here. ) And for all of my local followers, it’s only 3+hours from Boston! Have a lucky weekend, everyone! Susan

 

Blogger In The Houzz(.com)!

Houzz.com Logo

With all of the traveling and cupcake fiascos that have been happening recently, I’ve been super busy, but I am happy to be back blogging and DIY’ing (for at least a few days until my next adventure!) But, I am so happy to reveal that I am now a contributing writer for Houzz.com, an online and mobile app for interior designers, homeowners and professional experts.

Houzz.com Mobile App

From their website info page: “Houzz is the leading platform for home remodeling and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from start to finish – online or from a mobile device. From decorating a room to building a custom home, Houzz connects millions of homeowners, home design enthusiasts and home improvement professionals across the country and around the world. With the largest residential design database in the world and a vibrant community powered by social tools, Houzz is the easiest way for people to get the design inspiration, project advice, product information and professional reviews they need to help turn ideas into reality.”

On Houzz.com, which is free to use, you are able to create “Ideabooks”, which are essentially a grouping of similar decorating and design ideas of your choosing with the accompanying design information. These can be uploaded photographs of your own work, as many interior designers and decorators do to create their online portfolios, or you can pull photos from other Ideabooks to create your own.  As you build your books, all of the original information remains with photograph, so there is no chance of your work being cut and pasted into someone else’s Ideabook without proper sourcing.

As for my Country Design Home Ideabooks? I will be writing and sharing photographs specifically about my personal design point of view which is, of course, country style, beginning with Give a Modern Bath Vintage Style

(creating a country bath vanity using antique or vintage furniture vs. stock cabinetry)  and Flooring Types for a Country Kitchen.

But that is just the beginning-in the months ahead, I will be writing about various design and decorating ideas that define country style, and how to create the look in your own home.

When you visit Houzz.com for the first time, you will be blown away by the sheer volume of fabulous design images (over 3 million and counting!) and the accompanying product and building information. Each “Ideabook” provides the reader with a wealth of valuable information which will take you from conception to completion of any imaginable building project.

Lake Arrowhead Kitchen Sue Murphy Designs

Plus, there is a Q & A sideline where readers can post questions to the design experts and receive materials information such as cabinetry used, chosen paint colors and flooring finishes.  Houzz.com is simple in concept: helping homeowners and builders to create the home of their dreams and sourcing out local experts and materials required to make it a reality. So, what are you waiting for? It’s simple (and free!) to create an account, and I guarantee you’ll wonder where the time went as you browse through the millions of photos searching for inspiration and information for your perfect dream space. I hope you have an inspired Thursday, everyone!  Susan

 

 

Cupcake Tower of Terror

These past few weeks have been so incredibly busy with 2 destination weddings and a law school graduation (with the accompanying parties : ) thrown in for good measure. All of which has left precious little time for blogging, never mind DIY’ing! For a spectacular wedding in the clouds this past weekend,

Wedding on Pinnacle Mountain

I had volunteered to make some desserts, specifically cupcakes and mini fruit cobblers in mason jars.

Mini Cobblers in Mason Jars

(I’ll share the successful cobbler story later. Today’s blog is about the cupcakes. And the tower.) Remember those Life-Changing Cupcakes I made last year for a wedding shower?

Chocolate Caramel Sea Salt Cupcakes

Well, I decided to use that recipe again, since those were such a big hit, but we had decided on two flavors for the wedding. The trouble really started with the lemon cupcakes. As I was baking the batches, one would come out OK, the next batch would collapse as soon as I took them out of the oven. As someone who has been baking since I was a kid, and having made my share of wedding cakes as well, I was baffled by this. But, I just kept baking until I had the necessary 6 dozen for the wedding guests. Those fallen lemon cupcakes were a sign…

Fallen Lemon Cupcakes

Now, everyone knows that the proper way to serve cupcakes at a wedding is to buy build a cupcake tower so that it has the appearance of a wedding cake, right? So, I did a little Pinterest research and came up with the best plans (or so I thought) for creating a strong and sturdy tower that would show off the decorated cupcakes. Here is the How-I-Did-It (but don’t you do this…)

5 stacked shelves were created, beginning with a 16 inch base and cutting them smaller in 2″ increments to the top. I purchased a package of cake rounds (these are moisture resistant cardboard that you can purchase at your local arts and crafts supply store).

Cupcake Boards and Foam Core Stacked

For added strength and support, I sandwiched a layer of foam core board that I cut to the same size for each shelf. For the supports in between, I took some old, empty, clean tin cans (OK, MISTAKE #1, they should have remained full to add extra weight to the tower), wrapped them in white craft foam cut to fit and hot glued into place

Cupcake Tower Wrapping Tin Can

(it looked like fondant, so I was quite happy with that).

Cupcake Cans Covered in Foam

But then I needed some sort of trim, so I used that foam faux wainscoting from my country cupboard makeover, cutting it along the ridges

Foam Wainscotting for Trim

and then hot gluing it into place for a nice clean edge. For a final trim, I glued purple satin ribbon around the edges.

Cupcake Tower Glueing Ribbon Trim

Once I had all the top layers ready, I stacked and hot glued as I built my tower, with the covered cans centered (MISTAKE #2-the top one was not quite centered, but once they were hot glued into place, there was no going back…) For an extra decorative touch, I cut some paper doilies

Cupcake Tower Lace Doilies

to fit around the edges and glued into place to create a lacy scalloped look.

Cupcake Tower Glueing Doilies

For the base, I used a 16″ scalloped plastic cake round on feet that is typically used for just this purpose. But, it was pretty plain, so I added the lacy doilies to that, but then also placed a scalloped, foiled cake round in the center. MISTAKE #3. Finally, I glued the entire tower to that foiled round (did I say MISTAKE #3 ?!?)

Cupcake Tower Completed

For the topper, I baked one six inch round, decorated it and then added a beautiful bouquet in shades of purple that was created by our friends at Parker Florist in Wakefield.

Parker Florist Cupcake Topper Bouquet

OK, everything was transported safely to the venue on the top of a mountain, the cupcakes tucked into these awesome boxes I picked up at Michaels (they have inserts with holes big enough to fit my fat fingers around the cakes to remove them once it was time to fill the tower.) Aren’t they so pretty!?

Cupcakes in Carrying Boxes from Michaels

Once the ceremony was performed and the delicious wedding dinner was finished, it was time to assemble the tower. So, with the help of my BFF’s,  we walked down the hill from the main house to the tent where the reception was taking place, me carrying the tower, them carrying the boxes of cupcakes (did I mention that it was raining as well?)

Wedding Venue Tent

The tower was settled down onto the designated table, which, because we were outdoors on the soggy lawn, had a bit of a tilt to it. (MISTAKE #4. NEVER ATTEMPT TO STACK A CUPCAKE TOWER ON A TILTED TABLE). I placed the floral round on the top (MISTAKE #5. DO NOT REST THE CAKE TOP ON THE TOP OF THE TOWER-IT MUST BE SECURED). As we were stacking the cupcakes on the tower, it started to wobble forward-remember, it was on a tilted table. So I decided to start stacking from the back to balance it. Reaching around behind to add more cupcakes, I accidentally hit the tower, which instantly fell forward, spilling cupcakes all over the table and ground.

Fallen Cupcakes in Grassy Box

And my shoes.

Cupcake Tower Frosting on Shoe

In an instant we went from Cupcake Wars to Cupcake Disaster. As the tower was plummeting to its grassy grave,  my dear friend Alice caught the flower topper as it was flying by, resulting in a splotch of bright purple frosting on her brand new jacket!! (Alice, please send me the dry cleaning bill : ) At one point, I attempted to put the tower back together, but if you recall MISTAKE #3, the piece that was glued to the foiled round based gave way, so there was no way to re-attach it to the base. Apparently, hot glue and foil don’t adhere well. Lesson learned.

Cupcake Holder After the Break

As we were scurrying around, attempting to save the remaining cupcakes, I was convulsed in laughter, thinking that this could have been an episode of I Love Lucy.  Turning around to see the table of guests directly behind me with their mouths agape, watching the spectacle unfolding before them,  I said “nobody saw that, right!?”, which resulted in more laughter from everyone involved. Now, if someone had been recording this, we most definitely would have won top prize on America’s Funniest Videos, which I then could have used to purchase a fabulous wooden cupcake tower like this one of these beauties on Etsy.  But, alas, I didn’t even have my camera with me until it was over! So, the remaining unharmed cupcakes were set out on the table for the guests to enjoy,

Cupcakes After the Fall

which they reportedly did. The bride graciously laughed it away and the party danced on into the night. My heartfelt congratulations to the bride and groom-hopefully this is the first and last disaster for many years to come. So, you ask, what’s my take-away from all of this? NEVER AGAIN. Don’t ask, I won’t bake them. I’m sticking to wood and paint, from this day forward. Hope you have a memorable Memorial Day, everyone! Susan

In A Country Garden

With the weather finally starting to turn a little more spring-like, it is time to head outside and do a little lot of landscaping in our much-neglected back yard. What used to be described as a backyard “oasis”

country garden purple phloxis now nothing more than a large brown patch of what used to be grass, overgrown flower beds and shrubs and a muddied, empty pond.

brown grass country gardenEven Bartlet the Frenchie doesn’t know quite what to do in the overgrown periwinkle mixed with dead leaves and scrub!

Country Garden Bartlet on Brick WalkThe problem with gardens is that they are quite beautiful when properly tended, but do require so much continuous work-weeding, trimming, feeding, watering, cutting back, mowing, pruning-the tasks are endless and oftentimes painful (thanks to Coach’s thorny rose bushes!) And with all of the DIY’ing and antiquing and barn-saleing we’ve been focusing on this year, we just haven’t had the time to spare. But, this is the summer that I am restoring my garden to its former lush beauty!

Country Garden by the BarnSo, in dire need of some gardening inspiration, I turned to Houzz.com, where I typed in the words Country Garden in the search box. Up popped literally thousands of garden photos, some by professionals, some by home improvement gurus, some by your average DIY’ers. All have one thing in common-lush, green grass, country pathways of cobblestone and brick, natural stone walls such as this one from Native Root Designs in Seattle

Native Root Designs Stone Walland colorful blooms. Here are just a few of my favorites:

The Seaside Garden in Wellfleet, Mass by Jean Brooks Landscapes.

Jean Brooks Landscapes WellfleetThe Traditional Garden by Maria Hickey & Associates Landscapes, Boston

Country Garden by Maria Hickey LandscapesNatural Stone Pathway and Stone Steps by Bret Achtenhagen Seasonal Services in Milwaukee

Bret Achtenhagens Seasonal ServicesRomantic Guest House Garden by Dear Garden Associates, Inc. in Philadelphia, PA.

Country Garden by DearGarden.Com

The lush green grass and bordered gardens lead up to the garden shed by Garden Tech Horticultural Services In Boston 

Garden Tech Horticultural Services

These gorgeous pink peonies and foxglove are in a sunken walled garden by Llama Property Developments in the UK.

llamadevelopments.comAlthough I am not a veggie gardener, I am loving the little white scalloped picket fence (it keeps the bunnies out so they don’t have their daily luncheon of carrots and lettuce : ) surrounding this Kitchen Garden by Green Craft Associates in NY

Green Craft Associates From A Blade of Grass Landscaping in Boston is this traditional pea stone driveway and plantings bordered by granite block.

Pea Stone Driveway A Blade of Grass LandscapingAnd, of course, I will need a super awesome potting bench to make all of this happen. This one by Amy Jesaitis would be perfect-rustic and repurposed!

Potter's Bench by Amy JesaitisAnd finally, a serenity pond with a rustic, flagstone patio by Myke Hodgins & Associates in Montreal, Canada. 

Country Pond MontrealDo you have a beautiful garden to share? We would love to see it!! Just send a photo or post to my Facebook Country Design Home page. I need inspiration, and I need it quickly!!  And with that, guess I better go change into my “playing in the dirt” clothes! Have a green thumb Thursday, everyone! Susan

 

Mother’s Day Forever Bouquet

Several Mother’s Days ago, I received a small wooden painted sign from my children. It reads:

Forever My Mother SignThat day, it brought me to tears, and it sits on my windowsill, where it catches my eye and is a never-ending reminder of how blessed I am to have the most amazing children whom I love dearly. Every year it is increasingly difficult to come up with unique gift ideas for my mom; after all, how many HomeGoods gift cards can one woman use?! (Well, in my case, I can never have enough of those, but I supposed that’s just me : ). Inspired by a gorgeous wedding bouquet that was created by a co-worker using vintage brooches and pins, I decided to make a “Forever Bouquet”. This floral forever bouquet uses only silk flowers, crystal pins and beads and any other embellishments you wish to add. Nothing to water and something that will last forever.

Mothers Day Forever Bouquet Closeup

Here is the how-I-did-it: The supplies:

1. A glass vase or vessel. It can be transparent or not. You can actually use any style vase you would like, even a martini glass or mason jar! The options are only limited by your imagination!

2. Any crystal beads, barrettes, pins and buttons you wish to use to create your bouquet. It can be multi-colored or simple.

Mother's Day Bouquet Jewels3. Florists foam, green florists tape plus any embellishments: rhinestones, lace doily, beads and a hot glue gun.

Mother's Day Bouquet Supplies5. Faux flowers: again, any type. The base of my bouquet is one large white sparkly hydrangea, which I encircled  with roses and feathers and berries- all faux (faux sounds so much better than fake, am I right?!) I also used white, pink and green roses.

Simply take the vase and place the foam in the base and press down firmly.

Mothers Day Bouquet Vase with FLorist FoamI added a touch of bling by cutting a rope of rhinestones

Mothers Day Bouquet Rhinetone Cutterand hot-gluing it to the middle of the vase.

Mothers Day  Bouquet With Rhinestone Trim

To assemble the jewelry flowers, remove any backing (such as the barrette or the pin). Add a spot of hot glue to the middle of the underside of the flower.

Mother's Day Bouquet Glueing Stem to BasePress cut stem into glue and hold until secured. When I cut the wood stems, I actually make the end rather jagged to give it better gripping power.

Floral Stem CutWrap entire stem with florists tape. Repeat with as many sparkly blossoms you would like to use in your bouquet.

Mothers Day Bouquet Wrapping StemsNow is the fun part! Start building your bouquet, beginning with the lace doily at the bottom of the vase.

Mothers Day Bouquet Vintage Doily DetailThis creates a base, much like a wedding nosegay. Next up was the one large sparkly hydrangea, to which I added a drop of glue to the base before I stuck it into the foam.

Mothers Day Forever BouquetAdded the feathers around the base, gluing each at the base and pressing them into place.

Mothers Day Bouquet Feather DetailAfter that, I arranged the flowers. I am not a flower-arranging expert, so I am not going to instruct you in the proper techniques, only to say that you should make a “dome” effect of the bouquet. I wanted it to have a tightly-packed look, but you could certainly do a more woodsy, organic look as well.

Mothers Day Forever Bouquet Closeup

I used primarily white flowers to really show off the jeweled blooms, but then added one pink rose in the center for a spot of color. Once my shape was complete and flower-filled, I started adding the jewelry flowers, one at a time, until the entire piece was completed. The final touches were some green berries and eucalyptus stems. There you have it!

Mother's Day Forever Bouquet Vintage Vignette

A forever sign of love for your forever friend or mom to cherish. And, since I won’t be blogging on Sunday, I will just say Happy Mother’s Day to all of you!! And to my mom? Well, it goes without saying, Forever My Mother, For Always My Friend. XOXOX Susan

 

 

DIY: To Paint or Not To Paint?

Ah, that is the million dollar question. Last week I posted a photo of a refurbishing painting project I did for my mom’s entryway. I took an old knotty pine cupboard that had seen better days, that we had purchased for next to nothing at auction…

Knotty Pine Cupboard

and transformed it using chalk paint and wax. The results were quite lovely,

Painted Pine Country Commodeor so I thought, until I posted the blog on an awesome home and garden website called HomeTalk that I contribute to on occasion. This is a website where homeowners and DIY’ers show off their latest projects, ask advice from novices and experts and share information and comment about everything from growing cabbage to building garages. The after picture I posted set off a torrent of comments that were sorted into three distinct groups.

Country Pine Commode Painted

A. The “I LOVE this!” These are the folks that appreciate a good paint job and had no problem with me transforming this piece for the sake of design and style. As Michele from MD stated:A new life for an old piece! Beautiful!”

B. The “Well, you did a nice job, but maybe you should have left it knotty pine and not painted it?” This group was being nice ( I thank you : ). Though deep down they thought I should have left it alone, they appreciated my painting efforts. From Tamara in IL: “Nice job, however, I am sad that yet another nice piece of wood has died an embarrassing death at the hands of someone with a can of white paint.”

C. Then, the third group, the “why the heck did you go and ruin a perfectly good piece of furniture by painting it!?” These folks were adamantly opposed to my taking a paint brush to this piece of furniture. As Barbara from IA said: “Again all I see is a beautiful piece of wood furniture painted white and then “distressed”. What happened to sanding and linseed oiling the beautiful wood. Natural wood is so much more beautiful! Paint something made out of junk wood, not good natural wood! “

My response was this: “… (back in the day) you just never painted over old varnished wood, no matter what the style or condition. But, there are times when paint is appropriate and necessary-ie: I love the look of deep, dark wood moldings and wainscoting in a magnificent victorian home, and would not paint that, but I don’t really care for stock stained molding and trim in more modern homes. Paint away, I say! But, I would also say that I would never paint an “important” vintage or antique piece! I appreciate the fact that furniture just serves a purpose in our homes and whatever decoration is on the exterior does not change its usefulness-it is simply a personal design preference. This currently popular “old chippy, distressed look” came about because DIY’ers started pulling pieces of old painted furniture out of attics and barns (instead of trashing them and adding them to landfills), taking a fresh look at them and then duplicating the look with newer pieces. The design world has come full circle, and I, for one, applaud the DIY Dumpster Divas out there who continue to rescue and re-beautify old pieces so that they can be enjoyed for many more years!”

This is an antique pine commode that we purchased in the same lot as the one I painted, but with a lovely patina from years of use. The drawer was broken on the inside, but the exterior was so pretty, that I decided to just rewax it and leave it alone. It is one of my favorite pieces on my porch. But I have seen these pine commodes painted as well, and thought they were quite nice. I just decided that the natural wood finish was the way to go for this particular piece.

Country Pine CommodeSo, which group are you in? A, B or C? There is no right answer, because this is all about personal taste. My design style has a country point of view, so I tend to like things a bit shabby and worn and rough around the edges.

Barn Door Coffee TableBut that doesn’t mean that I won’t paint a piece of furniture just because it wasn’t painted in the first place, especially if its dirty and scratched and stained and in dire need of a makeover. Or conversely, strip down an old painted piece and restore it to its natural wood finish. It all depends on where it will be displayed in my home and what function it will serve. Because, lets face it, furniture is really just about function: we sit on it, sleep on it, eat on it and live with it every day. So, it should reflect whatever style serves you best, and at the end of the day, you should be happy to have it in your home. If that means “throwing a can of white paint at another piece of wood”, then so be it. As Jannette said: “I really like it! makes it look inviting, light and cheerful. Very nice. To some of the comments posted. Maybe painting it is more her style. after all it’s her project.” Exactly right, Jannette! It’s my project and it’s my piece of wood, (or in this case, my mom’s) and this was exactly the intent when we decided to paint this piece. What are your thoughts on the subject? A, B, or C? Paint or no paint? Let me hear it all you DIY’ers out there! Hope you a thoughtful Tuesday everyone! Susan

 

 

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