Michaels Crafts A Brand New Look

I’ve gotta say, I was more than a bit excited when I recently received an invite to attend a “Sneak Peek Blogger Event” at the newly remodeled Michaels Craft Store in Saugus, Mass.

Michaels Crafts Get Crafty Boston Sign

After all, I do spend quite a bit of time (and $$$!) there gathering materials for my very many, many DIY projects! And, I love to blog about them. So, I was delighted to have an opportunity to meet other area bloggers, take part in a craft session and have a tour of the fresh new look of my local Michaels store! Along with 27 other Boston area stores, the Saugus Michaels is unveiling a brighter, fresher style that is less cluttered, much more organized and shopper friendly.

Michaels Crafts Flower PlantersUpon our arrival, we were greeted and escorted into the Michaels Craft Room (which is, FYI, available to the public for group craft projects-good to know : ) After having a yummy bite and an Italian Soda (many of us had never heard of it, but so delish!), we were instructed in our craft projects, then left to our own devices and Exacto knives to create the perfect Boston Skyline from scrapbook paper and canvas.

Michaels Crafts Blogger IntroductionOnce our projects were completed, we were off on the store tour, led by Brett, the district manager along with several store employees, all of whom are now sporting bright red shirts so they are easy to spot when you need a crafty, helping hand.

Michaels Crafts DM TourHaving shopped here numerous times in the past, the first change I noticed was the wall banner circling the entire store, high enough to spot from any vantage point and identifying key shopping areas. Other new features include signage that not only identifies the area, but informs the shopper what is available in each aisle.

Michaels Crafts End Cap SignA newly expanded section, by customer request, is Home Decor, where you will find aisles stocked with latest trends in home fashions and accessories.

Sea Shell Statues Michaels CraftsLoving these ruffled pillows and ottomans!

Michaels Home Decor PillowsOne of the most noticeable changes throughout the store were the information boards associated with the products. I dabble in cake decorating from time to time, and I know my way around a pastry bag. BUT, what would be a simple cake decorating project for me could be an overwhelming task to an aspiring Cake Boss wanna be. So, Michaels solved this dilemma by not only stocking the shelves with the necessary tools, but also by adding these information and instruction boards (kind of like Pinterest in real life : )

Michaels Crafts Cake Decorating BoardThe chalk and chalkboard section, which is still so trending on Pinterest right now, has it’s own “Pin” board, where customers can get inspiration, then grab the necessary supplies to create the project of their choice.

Michaels Chalk Craft DisplayWhile on the tour, this new Tint It Spray caught my eye, (of course, with all the bright, pretty colors : ) with craft ideas and a color sample, plus supplies-brilliant!

Michaels Crafts Tint It Spray PMAs we turned each corner, I continued to be impressed by the overall look of the store with its colorful displays and variety of items for any imaginable craft project. AND, so excited to see that they are finally carrying my latest DIY obsession-Americana Chalky Paint by DecoArt!! I have just started using this product, and I can’t wait to share my first project with all of you. But for now, you will have to take my word for it that these paints and finishes are like nothing you may have worked with in the past.

Americana Chalky Finish PaintSo, now that I’ve given you the condensed tour, its your turn to head to your nearest Michaels to see what the blogging fuss is about! On Sunday, May 4th, there will be a grand re-opening of the Boston-area Michaels Stores featuring a 9:45 am ribbon-cutting ceremony, and over $1000 in gift card giveaways!! So, get crafty Boston, and…

Michaels Crafts Creative JourneyI hope you have a creative and inspired Sunday, everyone. And if you do happen to visit your local Michaels, tell them Sue from Country Design Home sent you! Susan 

Country Pine Commode Transformed

Another day, another DIY project done! This is an old commode Coach and I picked up at auction last fall for $25.

Country Pine Commode Before

Unfortunately, it was buried in the back of the barn until our most recent barn sale (which was quite a success, I must say). My mom had been searching for a nice storage cupboard for her entryway, and I knew this would be the perfect piece once I rescued it from under the piles of books and bric-a-brac!

Stacks of books in the barn

All it took was a bit of cleaning, a few coats of Annie Sloane Chalk Paint in Old White, a bit of sanding around the edges and a new product (more about this later), a crème wax by Americana Paints that you literally paint on with a brush and then buff off. It has no odor, has the consistency of a clear paint, leaves a nice, soft sheen and a very smooth protective finish. Our original intent was to paint the hardware as well, but once the piece was sanded and finished, we liked the dark contrast against the light wood.

Country Pine Commode Painted

But, the best part about this makeover is the staging that occurred once the commode was finished and moved into place. Because my mom is an artist, she sees everything a bit differently than most folks. The surfaces in her home become a canvas that she transforms from simple and unadorned to simply beautiful,  with a little help from her favorite HomeGoods store(s).

Country Pine Commode Staged

Each of these decorative items were purchased separately, but together they become a lovely vignette in shades of blues and silvers, with a few natural elements from the sea. Flanked by two antique ladder back chairs with gunny sack pillows, some of my mom’s paintings and the pediment mirror that is more than 25 years old, the vintage country pine commode has a new life greeting visitors in my mom’s entryway.

Painted Pine Country CommodeAnd that is what the three “R”‘s are all about- reclaim, recycle, relove. Have a lovely weekend everyone, the sun is about to shine!! Susan

DIY Air Conditioner Via NKY DIY

As I was scrolling through my morning emails (of which there are sooo many) this particularly one caught my eye and made me chuckle.

(DIY) Redneck Airconditioner (Modified) Cheap…

DIY Air Conditioner

Of course, I had to click on it to see what exactly this meant. I have seen redneck swimming pools (essentially a pickup truck with a plastic tarp liner filled with water) before, but this was a new one for me. This person, NKY DIY is a member of the Google + social media network, where folks add their DIY and home improvement projects to share with others, This particular member, NKY DIY  (there isn’t any other information, so I really can’t tell you more about him…) has posted many interesting YouTube videos with various helpful hints on everything from sightseeing and gardening, to this particular DIY Redneck Air Conditioner project. Watch the video here:

It’s cheap (essentially the cost of a Styrofoam cooler, a small portable fan and a PVC pipe, plus some empty 2L and gallon jugs filled with water and frozen.), requires no tools to build and no Freon!! Of course, can’t say it will do much for your decor, but I am certain that all of you DIY’ers out there can make this look beautiful!! Grab those old wooden pallets and start building your own decorative DIY AC Unit, if you are fortunate enough to be needing an air conditioner right now (we are at 40 degrees in Boston). Have a (hopefully warmer) Wednesday everyone. Susan

Beautiful Bonita Springs

Luckily for me, I have friends and relatives on both (warm) coasts of the US. A few weeks ago, I traveled to California

View of San Diego Harbor from Coronado

for a bit of R & R. So, it was only fair that last week I hopped on a flight to Florida, returning just in time to host Easter festivities on Sunday! While the trip to Cali was merely for fun, my Florida jaunt had a more lofty purpose. My wonderful friend Jan-a two time cancer survivor-is quite involved with an organization called Relay for Life.

Relay for Life

If you have not heard of it, you can click here for more information and to get involved.

Relay for Life

The primary fundraising campaign for the American Cancer Society, Relay for Life events are staged throughout the country to raise funds for research and cancer awareness and hopefully, someday, a cure. Which brings me to last week, when I traveled to Florida to lend Jan a hand while she held a RFL fundraiser at her winter home in Bonita Springs.

IMG_6643The Relay for Life fundraiser event was held indoors, because (unfortunately, we had threats of rain. But it didn’t dampen the spirits of the people who came to participate in such a worthwhile event. The Luminaria bags are purchased in honor of, or in memory of loved ones who have bravely battled cancer.

IMG_6681On the evening of the event, the bags are filled with sand and tealights to illuminate the HOPE

Relay for Life HOPEin all of us that someday will lead to a CURE.

IMG_6702Of course, while I was there, we did do some sightseeing and shopping (have you heard of Charming Charlie and Ross Dress for Less?!? OMG!!!) and some power walking, (have you ever visited someone and decided to go for a walk in their neighborhood, only to discover after an hour, that you are lost and have to rely on Siri to guide you back home? No? So that’s just me…) admiring the scenery while enjoying some much-needed sunshine and warm tropical breezes.

IMG_6649A few pics from my weekend: Sunrise in Bonita (although it was overcast quite a bit, the Florida sunshine still managed to peek through the clouds : )

IMG_6718Breakfast at Flippers on the Bay overlooking the Gulf

IMG_6721The Easter Bunny came and hid tons of eggs for the kids

IMG_6720Beautiful inlaid mosaic sea creatures at the entrance to the Naples Pier.

Sea Turtle At Naples PierA fun, relaxing, but very moving weekend, as once again, I mourned the loss of beloved ones, but rejoiced in the continued good health of others who have fought the fight and are winning the battle against cancer!  Hope you have a sunny Friday everyone, and please wish Jan and her team good luck while participating in this weekend’s Relay for Life in Bonita Springs! Susan

 

 

 

 

Broken Mirror=Lucky Find!

 

HomeGoods Driftwood MirrorYou know that moment when you see something in a store and your heart starts beating faster and you think “wow, I really need to have that-I don’t care how much it costs!!” And then you discover it is marked down in the clearance section and you think “OK, you’re mine!!” Recently, I stumbled upon this large painted driftwood flower mirror in the clearance bin at HomeGoods. It is painted the perfect colors for my kitchen/family room, and I knew in an instant it was to be mine!

driftwood mirror beforeSo ridiculously cheap, and it was there because the center mirror was missing so it was being sold-I love these words-AS IS. To whomever broke the mirror- sorry about your seven years of bad luck. But for me, my lucky day!! Now, how to repair it and replace the missing mirror? Simple. The back piece was already pulled away from the frame. I am assuming that it was removed to clear away all of the broken glass shards. No problem, easier for me. I happened to have a large round unframed mirror that I had purchased from Ikea quite awhile ago, and it was just the right size to fit in the opening.

Ikea Mirror

So, I pried the backing off the frame,

Driftwood Mirror Backing Removedthen centered the mirror into the opening, ensuring that the little squares around the edges of the mirror were evenly distributed.

Driftwood Mirror Insert

Now, how to affix it to the irregular driftwood pieces of the frame? What else but duct tape? Super strong and pliable so I could wrap it around the circular shape and affix it to the frame. (of course, this is where I should insert the pic of the duct taped mirror, but alas, I was so excited I forgot!) Once secured, I re-attached the backing to the frame with some screws,

Driftwood Mirror Backing Screws

making sure I missed the mirror (that would have changed my luck in a flash!), and then re-attached the large hanging bracket, again avoiding the mirror with the screws and hiding it behind one of the large driftwood petals.

Hanging Bracket Behind Driftwood

And now it has a perfect new home in my kitchen, where it is a constant reminder of the hope of spring (yup, it’s coming…) and the thrill of bargain hunting. I received so many compliments about my latest find on Easter Sunday as well! Oh, and PS: the floral runner is from HomeGoods too!

Driftwood Mirror Easter Vignette PM

Always goes to show you, one shopper’s junk is another shopper’s treasure.  And, you don’t always need to go dumpster diving to find a hidden one that just needs a bit of TLC. Hope you are having a #HomeGoodsHappy Thursday, everyone! Susan 

BOSTON: Fierce, Loyal, Proud: STRONG

Boston Strong.

Boston Strong LogoOver the past year, since the momentous events of last year’s Boston Marathon, we’ve heard that phrase used time and time again. For some, it means rebuilding a life without a loved one who was tragically lost during the bombings. For others, it is the day-to-day reminders-the scars, the wounds, the prostheses-that force them to remember those horrible events but pushes them to keep moving forward.

Ballgame Heroes Courtesy of The Next 26

Photo courtesy of The Next 26

For the majority of us, who were not present and could only watch in horror from afar as the events of that day, and week, unfolded, where heroes stepped forward and lives were permanently altered, it is a call to arms to help, to fight back and support the neediest among us.

The Next 26 Greater Boston Food BankAnd, it is a daily reminder of who we are, and who we choose to be as a city: fierce, loyal, proud. STRONG.

Nicholas Leydon & Chris Mathison The Next 26 Co-Founders

Photo Courtesy of Dear World: Boston Marathon

I am re-sharing this blog with all of you, one of my very first, for any curious onlookers watching and reading from afar who are interested in learning the origins and essence of this amazing, wonderful, joyful city we call Boston, our home.

“In honor of Patriots Day, a uniquely Massachusetts holiday, a little Boston history for your reading pleasure. Facts confirmed by Wikipedia, several historical societies and my historian-in-residence, Coach.  Click on the pictures for links to websites and information.

Boston (pronounced baws-tun). The Capital of Massachusetts. The Hub. The City of Champions (see Boston Red Sox, N.E. Patriots, Boston Celtics, Boston Bruins). Although significantly smaller in population than The Big Apple, what we lack in size we make up for in historic stature. We are the site of the world’s oldest marathon, begun in 1897, the Boston Marathon.We have the oldest MLB ballpark, Fenway Park (c.1912)

Boston Strong Fenway Park

the Swan Boats (c.1877) in the Public Garden

and Harvard University, founded in 1636 and the alma mater of 7 US Presidents.

We are Beantown named for Boston Baked Beans, a dish created by the Colonials, using beans cooked in molasses, a plentiful product due to the slave trade. We are home of the USS Constitution, nicknamed “Old Ironsides”, (C.1787) the world’s oldest commissioned warship afloat.

Named The Cradle of Liberty, and founded by the Puritans in 1630, Boston is one of the oldest cities in the United States. Instigators of the American Revolution, and the site of the Boston Tea Party

Boston Tea party

and the Boston Massacre

The Boston Massacreand the famous Midnight Ride of Paul Revere (the reason for this holiday!)

The Midnight Ride of Paul ReverePenned by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1860, this poem details Revere’s April 18th journey by horseback from Charlestown to Lexington & Concord to warn the townspeople to take up arms in defense of the oncoming British invasion.

Paul Revere's Ride Map“…He said to his friend, “If the British march By land or sea from the town to-night, Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch Of the North Church tower as a signal light,– One if by land, and two if by sea; And I on the opposite shore will be, Ready to ride and spread the alarm Through every Middlesex village and farm, For the country folk to be up and to arm.” 

Old North Church

The British, whose ships were in Boston Harbor, were planning a march to Concord, where they were to destroy supplies and munitions stored by the local militia. Revere’s plan was to make his way there ahead of the advancing British troops, alerting the locals along the way of the impending British invasion. On the night of April 18, 1775,  alerted by the two lanterns hanging in the Old North Church, indicating the British would be advancing in boats over the Charles River, Revere began his historic journey on horseback. He travelled from Charlestown to Concord, alerting the local minutemen of the advancing regiments. Captured and subsequently released by the British, he made his way to the Old North Bridge in Concord,

The Old North Bridge Concord Mass

the site of the Battles of Lexington and Concord , on April 19, 1775, the beginning of the American Revolution

There you have it. A quick US History lesson of Boston, featuring heroes and patriots, who were not unlike so many of the present day heroes among us who bravely stepped into the fray without fear or trepidation and altered the course of Boston’s history. So, whether this is a holiday for you or not, enjoy the day. And if you are one of the elite 36,000 running the 118th Boston Marathon-congratulations on such an amazing achievement and best of luck to you-stay strong! Happy Patriots Day, everyone! Susan

Cottage Fresh Country Cupboard

A few days ago I shared a project that I had been working on: transforming a country cupboard from this ugly, broken, junky piece to a cottage fresh country cupboard. This was the before:

Country Cupboard Unpainted

this was the during

Country Cupboard Painted

this is now.

White Country Cupboard Signed

A simple fresh white country cupboard that is filled with some of my cherished blue and white pieces, including this vintage set of Block China that I have kept stored away for over 30 years!

Block China Blue Strawberries

I have treasured this dinner set with the luscious blue strawberries for so long, but have never had an open cupboard to display them…and now I do! In this close-up pic you can also see the wainscoting wallpaper that I had installed and painted. It just gives a little extra depth to the otherwise plain back of the piece.

Blue & White Country Cupboard

You can read about the initial transformation process, including the prepping and installation of the wainscoting wallpaper here:

https://countrydesignhome.com/2014/04/10/wow-wainscoting-wallpaper/

Once I had finished painting the cupboard, I wanted to add just a bit of glazing to the detailed trim to enhance it. BUT, I did not want to change the overall look of the piece. It needed to remain bright white to contrast with the red walls of my dining room. This concoction of DecoArt Metallic Pearl White Paint + Behr Custom Color Sample (kind of a soft tan-but I’m not sure of the color because it was in the OOPs bin at HomeDepot for 50 cents!) + Martha Stewart Tintable Glaze Effects.

Martha Stewart Glaze, Americana Metallic Paint, Behr

I mixed it all together- lets say 6 parts glaze to two parts metallic paint to one part tan paint. Very scientific.

Martha Stewart Glazing Mixture

Then I painted it only on the areas where I wanted the trim to be defined- then wiped it off with a damp rag.

brushing on glazing mixture

Just a hint of color was left behind to enhance the deep trim work.

Country Cupboard Trim Glazed

Once it dried, I then mixed the Metallic Pearl White paint and the Tintable Glaze (about 50/50) and painted over all of the raised detail and trim areas. So what I have now is an elegant piece with a pearlescent glaze finish that captures the light and makes the detail pop.

Country Design Home White Glazed Trim

Perfect. It just goes to show you what a little TLC and elbow grease can do to transform any ugly duckling into a beautiful swan. And just in time-now I can clean up the dining room and get ready for Easter, whew!! Have a terrific Tuesday, everyone! Susan

 

 

An Easter Bunny Pattern For You!

I know Easter is just around the corner, and you are probably Easter-crafted out, but I couldn’t resist the chance to share my chunky wood bunny with all of you! Many, many years ago, a dear friend of mine made this wooden Easter Bunny for me.

Pink Wood Easter BunnyFor all these years, he has been the center of my Easter decor, whether on the table, on the mantel or sitting on the buffet surrounded by yummy desserts. When Coach brought him down from the barn loft this year, I noticed that his pink coat had become dirty, worn and scratched. Not good for a bunny who needs to look his best while roaming the world delivering Easter baskets! I decided he was in dire need of a facelift. And, since I was taking him apart anyway, I thought I would trace the pattern and share it with all of you!  He was cut out of 1 1/2″ planks-very heavy and sturdy. But you could certainly use any width you would like. Here are the patterns (you just need to right-click and download them, then resize them to your specs)

The body is  14 3/4″ high by 8″ wide. You will need to cut one.

Wood Easter Bunny Pattern   The ears are  7″ long by 3 1/4″ wide. You will need to cut two of those, one for each side.

Wood Pattern Easter Bunny Ear

The arms are  7 1/2″ long by 3″ wide. You will need to cut two of those, one for each side.

Wood Pattern Easter Bunny Arm

The legs are  10″ wide by 6″ high.  You will need to cut two of those.

Wood Easter Bunny Leg

Once you have cut the pieces, you will need to cut three 3/8″ dowel pieces into 2 1/2″ lengths (assuming you are using the 1 1/2″ width wood for the bunny), one each for the arms, the ears and the legs. Using the proper size drill bit (it needs to be snug, so don’t use a larger one or else the extremities will just flop around!), drill the three hole completely through the bunny’s body. Tap the dowel through so there is 1/2″ protruding from either side.

With the same 3/8″ drill bit, drill 1/2″ deep holes into the extremities in the indicated spots on the patterns (the big black dot). Make sure you drill one on each side to create mirror images. Otherwise you’ll have a holy bunny!

The fun part: paint the bunny! Go nuts and make him polka dot or plaid or just plain and simple. He’s your bunny to keep, so have a ball. You can even have your kids give him the finger paint treatment : )If you do decide to make one, please share your pics!!

Painted Wood BunnyNow just gently twist the extremities onto the dowel sections of the body: Ears on top, arms in the middle, legs on the bottom. Or, you can mix it up and go all Picasso on him- that’s fine too. The fit should be snug so they stay in place and he stays upright. If you have made the holes too large, you will need to glue the pieces in place or add a little putty. And there you have it- a bunny that is ready to join in all the Easter fun! And my little guy? Well, he’s being painted right now, and he’s not quite ready to show off. But I wanted to get this pattern to you, just in case you need some last minute Easter fun. Have a warm and wonderful Wednesday, everyone! (I know I will : ) Susan

 

 

A Whale of a Sign from Nantucket!

Nantucket Brand Whale PaintingAs you all know, Coach and I are HUGE fans of all types of nautical decor, and especially anything with whales. Any time we come across a whale sign or carving (and tables, of course), we add them to our ever-growing collection for our nautical summer porch and family room. So, when I was presented with the opportunity to receive and review this hand-crafted Wooden Whale Sign from Nantucket Brand,

Nantucket Brand Logo

I jumped at the chance! This one is a beauty!! From the Nantucket Brand Emporium website,

The Emporium of Nantucketthe description reads: “Wooden sign featuring a painted black whale on a white background. This sign is handmade in the USA and makes for great nautical decor. Since each sign is handmade, colors and sizes will vary slightly. Sign measures approximately 10.5 x 30.”

Nantucket Brand Whale SignAll true, but, honestly, that description does not do this sign justice. The distressed, wooden hand-painted sign is hefty, quite large, and the design is bold but aged and weathered as if it had been sitting on a dock in the Nantucket sun for quite some time. Which fits in so nicely with our rustic, nautical summer porch decor! Nantucket Brand Whale SignThe Emporium of Nantucket also offers the inverse design: a black, distressed background with a white whale. Just as majestic and a perfect focal point for any nautical vignette.

Nantucket Brand White Whale SignIf you’ve never had the pleasure of visiting their shop on the beautiful island of Nantucket, then luckily for you, they offer their home decor items online at nantucketbrand.com.  You can purchase the whale sign, along with all types of nautical decor, like these gorgeous brass door knockers

Nantucket Brand Door Knockers Emporium

or these 3D WoodCut Nautical Charts

3D Wood Cut Nautical Chart

at nantucketbrand.com/shop/emporium, the online store of the Emporium of Nantucket,

The Emporium of Nantucketa family-owned island retail store that was established in 1947.  Additionally, if you visit their website, nantucketbrand.com and either like them on Facebook, Tweet about them @NantucketBrand or add your email to their mailing list, you automatically receive a 15% discount on your first order! So shop ahoy!! But if you are interested in the whale sign like mine, you’d better move quickly- there are only a couple left in stock! And the next time you drop anchor at the Emporium of Nantucket, tell them Sue from Country Design Home sent you. Anchors away, everyone!! Susan

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