Cookin’ Up Blue Kitchens

The other day I spotted this photo on the blog “The Decorista” by New York City-based interior designer Ashlina Kaposta. If you don’t follow her blog, you should, because her style and design photographs are nothing short of spectacular! Blue Kitchen House Beautiful via The Decorista She had posted this photo of a blue kitchen by House Beautiful with the caption: “They say that blue suppresses the appetite, thats why you rarely see a restaurant in blue. On that same note, you never really see a true blue kitchen either, blue is usually a color for the bathroom as it promotes a feel of relaxation. However, after seeing this gorgeous soft blue kitchen, I’m thinking why not. Hey, it might even help those looking to eat less. Whatever the case, it looks absolutely stunning especially with soft golden accents.”  With that color theory in mind, and my own kitchen being a gorgeous Benjamin Moore shade of Buxton Blue,

Benjamin Moore Buxton Blueyou would think that would have done something to suppress my appetite and make me more relaxed, but, well, no. But it did get me thinking about it a bit and realize that you don’t often see blue kitchens-more likely to find yellow or white or red. BUT, I did a little digging and came up with some of the most gorgeous blue kitchens ever.

Now, modern and contemporary is generally not my style, but wow-and I adore this backsplash! Makes me smile every time I look at it!

Blue Kitchen ino-getiashvili

Blue Kitchen by Ino Getiashvile

This one is also very sleek but so bright and cheery!

Blue Kitchen Fleur Ward Interior Design

Blue Kitchen Fleur Ward Interior Design

This is so charming with the white brick walls in contrast to the aqua retro cabinetry and open shelving

Blue Kitchen Bratislava Kitchen by Gut Gut

Blue Kitchen Bratislava Kitchen by Gut Gut

My design eye is always drawn to country, whether it’s rustic (check out that amazing hood over the stove!)

Blue Kitchen Welch Forsman Associates

Blue Kitchen Welch Forsman Associates

or charming-loving the red accents and the one blue cupboard in contrast to the otherwise white kitchen

Blue Kitchen TresHus Architects & Builders Cottage Revival

Blue Kitchen TresHus Architects & Builders

and cottage styles-this one in London by Pearce & Co Woodsmiths. That blue rustic tile backsplash simply amazing.

Blue Kitchen Pearce & Co Woodsmiths

Blue Kitchen Pearce & Co Woodsmiths

If you follow my blog, you know I love color. And these kitchens do not disappoint. Pulling in the color of the ocean in Bermuda, this stunner by Village Architects AIA.

Blue Kitchen Bermuda Residence Village Architects AIA

Blue Kitchen Bermuda Residence Village Architects AIA

The bright blue chairs pop nicely against the pale blue walls and white cabinetry.

Blue Kitchen David Scharff Architect PC

Blue Kitchen David Scharff Architect PC

While in this kitchen, it’s the dark cabinetry that contrasts with the lighter furnishings.

Blue Kitchen by Terri Rose CKD

Carlson Project by Terri Rose CKD

And in this space, the deep blue walls provide the dramatic backdrop to the white kitchen and dining areas.

Blue Kitchen LuLu Designs Online

Blue Kitchen HGTV LuLu Designs Online

More blue cabinetry. Now, I am not sure if I would be brave enough to go bold with the permanent fixtures in the room. And blue cabinets are permanent. In this case, a very bright blue. But, I love it! And, no wonder, it’s from a beach front cottage on Martha’s Vineyard. Sigh…

Blue Kitchen Marthas Vineyard Cottage ERS Design LLC

Blue Kitchen Marthas Vineyard Cottage ERS Design LLC

And even deeper blue, with the contrasting yellow tile backsplash. To me, reminiscent of Monet’s kitchen in Giverny. Blue Kitchen Michael Lyons Architect These last two kitchens are pastel and pretty perfect. Traditional & formal or

Blue Kitchen Ulrich Inc

Blue Kitchen by Julia Kleyman for Ulrich

more contemporary in style, they both are so soothing and inviting.

Blue Kitchen Nieman Architects

Weyand Residence by Nieman Architects

Even though my heart is all about country kitchens,  I find the color blue to be so welcoming, no matter what the style. Perhaps because it is the color of nature: the sky and the sea? Do you agree? Do you have a blue kitchen? I would LOVE to see and share it! And to be inspired by more fabulous blue kitchens, check out my Houzz.com “Cookin’ Up Blue Kitchens” Ideabook. In the meantime, have a (one-less-hour-of-sleep) Sunday, everyone! Susan 

RugsNow Giveaway & Coupon!

Recently, the good folks at RugsNow contacted me to ask if I would share an upcoming Facebook Spring Giveaway with all of you-$1500 total in prizes to three lucky winners! How exciting is that?! RugsNow Spring Giveaway FacebookAnd, of course, since it means that some of you, dear readers, will be able to win some great stuff, I obliged. And, they are allowing me to offer you an additional 25% off on any of the items offered on their website, including rugs, accent pillows, throws and poufs! (How did they know I was looking to freshen up my family room for spring?!) What I really like about the RugsNow shopping experience is that they are very user-friendly and so detailed in their product information. You can sort by color, popularity and price, and once you have found a product you MUST HAVE, they provide all the details you need to make an informed decision. And, did I mention you will get an extra 25% off by using the coupon code COUNTRY HOME?!? Country Home Coupon Code This is a web-shot of a beautiful jute and cotton, hand-woven area rug I have selected named Capalle.  Capalle Rug from RugsNow To the left is the full pic, but once you scroll over it, a very closeup and detailed image pops up so you can get a good feel for the materials and colors available. Below that is a color-wheel bar that picks up all of the colors in the item. Brilliant! RugsNow Capalle Content Cleaning InstructionsThey also carry gorgeous throws RUgsNow Throw and poufs and loads of accent pillows. I am thinking these would look great as a fun springy addition! RugsNow Accent Pillow So, how do you enter the contest? Just click the Spring Giveaway pic and it will bring you to their Facebook page. RugsNow Facebook Giveaway From there, you fill in the requested info, and for additional entries, you share the ad with your friends (and whomever you would like to see win-maybe they will split it with you : ). Don’t wait too long, because the contest is already well under way and ending soon!  If you just want to shop for some great home accents, then go directly to RugsNow.com and click away! RugsNow Home PageJust remember me when it’s time to check out and use the coupon code COUNTRY HOME for an additional 25% off! Have a great Thursday everyone-it’s going to be almost 40 degrees this weekend-yay!!!  Susan

MirrorMate Makeovers

I recently visited the home of a friend who was planning on framing out a large wall-mounted bathroom mirror rather than replacing it, a trick she had seen on Pinterest (of course : ). In her basement were the rough-cut trim moldings that she was priming and painting and then cutting prior to mounting them over the existing mirror. A perfectly great idea which I am certain will give her bath a whole new look. BUT, she could have saved some time and trouble by checking out this company: MirrorMate.com.

MirrorMate Logo

They offer custom mirror frame DIY kits in all types of styles and colors, so you can transform the look of your mirror with minimum muss and fuss! I LOVE brilliant ideas that save time and look great! Here are some examples from their website:

This frame sample is Tribeca Black

Tribeca Black Sample MirrorMateUnframed Before:

MirrorMate Tribeca Black FrameAnd this is the after. The mirror frame’s rich, dark tones enhance the dark tones of the existing wood work and vanity.

MirrorMate Tribeca Black Framed

This frame sample is Venetian Silver Wave.

Venetian Silver Wave Sample MirrorMateI can imagine this in any coastal bath-so pretty! The before is very nice, but the mirror is a non-factor in the overall decor:

MirrorMate Venetian Silver Wave BeforeThe after is pretty amazing! The silver brightens the space and highlights the marble vanity top.

MirrorMate Venentian SilverFor a dramatic change, you might like this rustic Lexington Metallic Ash

MirrorMate Lexington Metallic Ash

This is the before, again a very nice but ho hum kind of bath

MirrorMate Lexington Metallic AshAnd this is the after: that mirror!

MirrorMate Lexington Metallic AshFor more information, and the complete, simple measuring and DIY process, click here to visit their website.

MirrorMate Measuring

You can order samples to make sure you are choosing exactly the right frame for your space. And, you can check out many more before and afters on their Pinterest page. This is a perfect solution for a simple makeover, or even for staging a home for resale, adding lots of drama for minimal dollars. I hope you all have a transformative Tuesday, everyone! Susan

I’m a Bob’s Blogger!

Right. Huh? Who is Bob and why am I so excited about blogging for him? Well, Bob is none other than Bob Vila,

Bob Vila Photothe original American DIY’er and TV handyman/host of This Old House and Home Again, along with his new web series, Building Green. BobVila.com is a website dedicated to giving you the “HELP YOU NEED FOR THE HOME YOU WANT.” There are so many resources available for everyone from hapless homeowners to the most experienced contractors. SO, you ask, why am I blogging for him?!?  Well, Bob has a page for Bloggers-a Featured Contributors page that showcases “A Community of Bloggers who “Live and Die to DIY”that’s where you’ll find me and the links to my blog, Country Design Home!!

BobVila.com Home Page

My first official published DIY link? The Vintage Rolling Bar Cart.

Rustic Vintage Rolling Bar CartThis has to be one of my all-time favorite, most inspired DIY projects. And it’s posted for Bob Vila fans to read, along with a few other of my other most favorite DIY projects like my Love-ingly Restored Hope Chest.

Refinished Lane Mid Century Modern Hope Chest

and my recently-completed Antiqued Mirror On The Wall.

DIY Antiqued Mirror on BobVilaNation

I am pretty proud of the DIY projects I share, and now they are all together on one page for everyone to check out! And, as the weeks go by, I will be adding my newly completed projects, and possibly some oldies but goodies, like How To Shrink-Wrap Your Porch

Wicker and wood summer porch

and The Whale’s Tale.

 Whale Table  on Porch

Click here to check out my Featured Contributor page:

Bob Vila Nation

 And if you like what you see, could you be so kind as to add a comment or “favorite” my designs? Bob likes the love! Along with my projects, there are loads of other contributors who share information about everything DIY, like this “Rewiring a Lamp” from the AZ DIY GUY (I love his AZ DIY Guy’s Scary Warning – Electrical Edition)

Bob VIla Nation Rewiting a Lamp

or this DIY Bathroom Vanity by the Hudson Valley HandyMom

Bathroom Vanity Makeover Bob Vila Nation

There is just so much to see, so much incredible information to read, videos to watch, contests to enter, and of course, Country Design Home on BobVila.com. So make sure you check it out and let me know what you think. And now I am off to complete yet another DIY table makeover (that I will hopefully be posting to BobVilaNation very shortly). Have a terrific Thursday, everyone! Susan

 

Colonial Country Cupboard

Last summer, Coach and I took a long weekend trip to Bethel, Maine for a bit of golf and R & R.

Two Beers Please Bethel Maine PMWell, I should say R & S (Rest and Shopping) as we did quite a bit of antique shopping up and down the Maine coast. My heart skipped a beat when we turned a corner while wandering through the many aisles of Pa’s Tradin’ Post in Oxford, Maine.

Pa's Tradin Company Signand discovered this gorgeous old country cupboard!

Pa's Tradin Company MaineAnd, I was even more excited that it actually fit in our CRV, even with all the luggage, coolers and golf clubs! (Truth be told, I would have tossed those clubs to get this piece in my car…)

Country Cupboard in CRVIt was newer, but completely hand-crafted using old lumber and pieces from antique windows and dressers. It needed quite a bit of work, so I took my time refurbishing it, in between quicker, easier projects. Well, I am happy to say that it is finally finished, and styled, and sitting proudly next to the fireplace in my family room. So, what once looked like that, now looks like this!

Painted Country CupboardThe exterior body was painted with Annie Sloan French Linen Chalk Paint. I then sanded the edges and raised detail to give it the distressed look we like.

Country Cupboard Sanded Corner DetailThe shelves and doors I painted (after replacing and re-glazing many of the old panes-these were actually old windows that were repurposed-I LOVE that!)

Reglazing and painting window panesin Glidden Antique Beige “chalk-like” paint that I mixed myself. Here’s the recipe from “In My Own Style”

In My Own Style Chalk Paint RecipeThe back planked wall of the cupboard was painted with a custom color that I created-kind of a soft, denim blue.

Country Cupboard Custom PaintI had originally painted it with Miss Mustard Seed Eulalie’s Sky Milk Paint (you can read about that fiasco here),

Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint Eulalie's Skybut once I decided where it was going to be in our home, that needed changing. Oftentimes, I paint a piece with the colors I would like, only to realize that it just doesn’t work in the intended space. That’s the beauty of paint-one quick coat and you have a whole new look! I wanted it to be a close match, but a lighter blue tone to the drapes in the room, since it would be in proximity to the window where they hang. Finally, I waxed the entire piece with Fidde’s Supreme Wax to give it a nice, warm, glowing finish. The hardware remained the same. Chipped, rusted black? Perfect!

Fiddes and Son Supreme WaxThis is the before, dingy white, cracked windows, unpainted interior.

Country Cupboard Base Interior

Country Cupboard Base BeforeThis is now. A pretty painted piece that shows off many of the pieces that Coach and I have collected over the years.

Country Cupboard Design HomeThe showcased pieces are primarily from Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia, The custom color blue I chose for the background enhances the blues in the pottery and plates and brightens the brass trivets and pieces.

Country Cupboard StyledColonial Williamsburg is an historic site that Coach and I love and have visited many, many times. This is the William and Mary crest trivet-one of our very first mementos we purchased over thirty years ago.

William and Mary TrivetThe re-painted and re-loved cupboard now reminds me of the shop front windows and taverns on the Duke of Gloucester Street, filled with old glass and pottery pieces, brass trivets, plates and mugs.

Williamsburg Virgina JugNow, when I step back to admire my transformed country cupboard,

Country Cupboard Doors Opened Styled

I am transported back in time to our many wonderful trips to Williamsburg. And isn’t that why we save our souvenirs and mementos-to remind us of happy times and fun trips? I hope you all have mementos you keep to tell your story, and a beautiful cupboard in which to display them. Have a “think spring” Tuesday, everyone! Susan 

Facebook Follies

Yesterday I posted this picture from KMPH FOX 26 on Facebook. It must have resonated with a few folks, because as of this morning, it already has over 23,000 Facebook views and shares! The reason it is so popular? People are frustrated with the way Facebook keeps changing their parameters of how we can post and view our own pages. My favorite is #6: “Let me see every post from pages I like. If they post too much, I’ll hide them myself.” Too often, I find myself searching through my friends’ profiles because Facebook has determined their posts are something I don’t want to see-but if I didn’t want to see them, I wouldn’t have them in my friends’ list, correct? WKMP Fox 26 A few days ago I was directed to a web video about Facebook by my son, who happens to work in marketing. His company had thought that the information in the video was important enough to share with his marketing team, and he deemed it important enough to share with me. We all know the frustrations of Facebook: they keep changing the game, especially for the small business owner who is just trying to gain exposure through social media. Previously, if I posted something on my Country Design Home timeline, it would be shared with my followers-all my followers. But then Facebook started selling “BOOST YOUR POST” advertising, where you could garner “likes” with a small investment ($5 and up), and they stopped sharing my posts for free. My paid posts would be shared with my friends, and their friends, and their friends-a pyramid scheme of sorts-the more you spent, the more exposure you received. My unpaid post would sit there and perhaps be shared with a mere fraction of my total followers, unless they shared it. So, I tried the Boost Your Post a couple of times at $5 each. The first time was fairly successful with a couple of hundred new “likes”, the second time I saw no appreciable difference in my likes. BUT, what I did notice was that the paid “likes” that I received through Facebook advertising were not from followers who liked country design, did not comment or engage in my page at all, and many had blank profile pages. This is a recent typical “new like”: Vu Tuan (the profile states this person is male)-is there any indication here that she/he would be the least bit interested in country design? I don’t know for sure because I cannot translate Vietnamese, but I am thinking not, since most of her/his likes are American TV shows and companies.

Facebook Vu Tuan

So, where on earth are these likes being generated from? Is Facebook committing advertising fraud or not? This is a You Tube video from Derek Muller of Veritasium, who normally writes about scientific research and phenomena, but he published this video about Facebook advertising fraud because he believed it is an important topic. And, with over 1.5 million views, I would guess that he is not alone. Veritasium Video Pic This video (along with several other sources I have read) explains that most of the paid “likes” are being generated from “click farms” in developing countries like India, Indonesia and Bangladesh. The circled bubbles in this graph are the “likes”  from developing countries from a paid Facebook advertising campaign he had created specifically to test his theory. Veristasium Facebook Engagement These workers are paid $1 per thousand clicks to essentially sit all day and click away at anything and everything, whether it is directly related to the paid Facebook ad page or not. In essence, they are not “liking” you or your page, they are merely clicking away to make a dollar. Now, according to Veritasium, it is against Facebook rules to purchase likes through web companies that provide clicks per dollars, and your account can be suspended for that. But, the video goes on to claim that despite that rule, Facebook itself engages click farms to sell their advertising packages. In another article on Search Engine Watch, Facebook Ad Fraud: How Can Advertisers Combat Paid Likes? the author, Jennifer Slegg goes on to explain some strategies and steps to take to avoid having your advertising dollars being wasted on spam Facebook accounts. And, on Wikimotive: Why The Facebook Fraud Video Is Not Completely Accurate, author Erin Ryan refutes some of Veritasium’s key points, while citing her own advertising clicks to dollars spent, which is, on average, much more successful than those from the video. She states: “I’m not stating that the results that Veritasium have calculated are false, but the results may have been skewed, as the video doesn’t fully explain the targeting process.” Which is really the key issue here. We are all attempting to engage followers who are interested in what we are doing, selling, saying or creating so we must TARGET that audience specifically. So, what’s a low-budget, low-follower Facebook user to do if you’re not interested or able to purchase their ad boosts? Well, you can abandon Facebook altogether, there are plenty of other social media vehicles that are useful for spreading your information. But, like it or not, Facebook is still a powerful social media tool, and many bloggers and websites use Facebook “like” numbers as a gauge of how popular you really are. (However, I am typically suspicious of Facebook profiles that have 100,000+ “likes” if their other social media does not support that inflated number.) So-a few options. You can grow your followers organically, meaning that you search out other pages similar to yours, like them, follow them, comment on their pages and hopefully gain a follower and a new Facebook friend. This takes time, patience and the ability to sift through hundreds of pages, but once you have established that base, then more of your posts will be seen by more people, and you will gain more followers who will then in turn, see more of your posts. Or, you can join one of the many, many contests and giveaways that circumvent the paid Facebook advertising altogether. BUT, you are still paying for advertising, only now its going to the originators of the contest-the “hosts”. You pay them, sometimes upwards of $50, for a chance to participate in a “click-fest” hosted through a third-party contest portal like Rafflecopter. In order to win the prize, readers must click and like the hosts’ Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc… pages. There can be as many as 40-50 clicks that are required in order to enter the contest, which can be tedious, but hey, its a chance to win some quick cash or gift cards! Over the holidays,I participated in a Facebook New Year’s Giveaway, where the first prize was $500. I paid my $40 to the hosts, and watched my “likes” grow by approximately 1500, which was great! Some dropped off and “unliked” me once the contest was over : ( but my new followers are primarily from the US, engaged in what I am posting and continue to follow my page on Facebook. But, in the end, I felt that I was merely buying “likes” to boost my Facebook numbers, and for me, that is not the answer to gaining true fans of my blog, which is what I am really trying to promote. So, for now, I am going to keep my advertising dollars and focus on my true purpose: blogging and DIY’ing-and hope that my readers will “like” me because (as Sally Fields once declared), you really “like” me!!! If you have any thoughts, ideas or suggestions on this interesting and timely topic, let me know! I would love to hear how all of you promote your blogs and gain followers. In the meantime, have a spring-is-almost-here Sunday, everyone! Susan

French Lavender Side Table-Ooh-la-la!!

Writer’s Note: I am excited to share that my little French Lavender Table Transformation was featured as an Editor’s Pick on BlogHer!! To view that post, click here:

As featured on BlogHer

As featured on BlogHer

Now, onto the transformation! With some pieces of old furniture, I choose the style and color of the makeover according to my needs. Some pieces tell me what they need to be. This little table needed to be the center of attention in a lovely lavender French boudoir.

French Lavender Side Table Completed PMWe purchased it at auction and I could have chosen to paint it red or black or green, but Behr Lavender Lily seemed to be just the perfect, soft color for this delicate little beauty. Here is the how-I-did-it:

1. Cleaned and lightly sanded the entire piece. It was pretty dusty and dirty and topless-must have been a long, crazy trip from Paris!

French Lavender Side Table Before2. The base coat of paint was quite adhered and sturdy other than a few chipped edges, so I just sanded them, added a primer for the top and simply painted over it. Look at the sculpted details here!

French Lavender Table Before

French Lavender Table Behr Lily Lavender First CoatFirst 2 coats, Behr Lily Lavender.

French Lavender Table Behr Lily LavenderSo soft and pretty!

French Lavender Side Table Behr Lily Lavender Sample Pot3. Added a glaze of Behr Ridge View paint mixed with Martha Stewart Glaze Effects to highlight all of the exquisite detail on the legs, drawer and back.

French Lavender Table Martha Stewart Glaze EffectsI mixed it together in a 4 to1 ratio (glaze to paint) then painted it on (working in small sections because it dries pretty quickly),

French Lavender Side Table Paint on Glazethen wiped it off, leaving the glaze where I wanted it to remain as a highlight.

French Lavender Side Table Drawer Detail GlazedAllowed the piece to dry.

French Lavender Table Detail Glazed4. In the past, I have used waxed paper for my transfers, but this time I tried freezer paper instead.

French Lavender Table Freezer Paper for Graphics TransferThe freezer paper is a little heavier and easier to work with than the waxed paper. There are two sides, a matte side and a shiny “plastic-coated” side.

French Lavender Side Table Transfer Reverse PrintedYou want to print the graphic (thanks, Graphics Fairy : ) on the shiny side, in reverse! In this case, I wanted to use a small graphic to decorate the center of the table top, so I would be able to place things on it without completely hiding the picture.

French Lavender Table Printing with Freezer Paper5. Once printed, allowed to dry for a short time. DO NOT TOUCH IT or it will smear. Lightly dampened the painted surface.

French Lavender Side Table Dampening with SpongeDO NOT OVER-DAMPEN

French Lavender Side Table Too Wetor the graphic will come out all smeary and then you have to wipe it off and repaint it and start over again. Ok, well, that happened to me. More than once. So DON’T DO THAT.

6. Gently and carefully placed the graphic straight down onto the surface, then affixed with painter’s tape to create a “hinge” at the top.

French Lavender Side Table Taping Design for TransferThis allows you to check your progress without moving the graphic around and messing up the picture. WARNING: you only get one shot at this. If you attempt to moved the transfer around once it has touched the painted surface, you will need to start over. Ok, well that happened to me too. More than once. So DON’T DO THAT.

7. Once the transfer had successfully landed on my piece, I used a blunt object to rub the surface using firm pressure. I used the back of a spoon but I have seen others using credit cards (I prefer to use those at HomeGoods).

French Lavender Table Transferring with Spoon RubThis takes a minute or so to complete the transfer. Just keep rubbing all over, and check periodically by lifting the corner and then placing back down in the exact same spot. Hence, the tape hinges. Removed the paper from the design once I was happy with the transfer. Allowed to dry.

French Lavender Side Table Transfer Completed8. Once the piece had dried, I applied a coat of Fidde’s Supreme Wax

French Lavender Side Table Top Waxto protect the entire piece and provide a nice, glowing finish. Wiped it on, buffed it off with a soft cloth.

French Lavender Side Table Buffing Wax9. Drilled the hole for the antique brass pull

French Lavender Side Table Drilling Knob Holeand Ooh-la-la!

French Lavender Side Table Completed PMMy new precious French Provincial side table is magnifique!? Oui? This technique is pretty fool-proof as long as you allow time to dry between steps and follow the transfer instructions. But, before you transform a piece, make sure you really look at it to decide what it needs to be. Have a Bon Mardi, everyone! Susan

 

Friends of the Heart

Many years ago, in a college psychology class, I participated in a group discussion regarding friendships: how we enter into a friendship, how we maintain it and how friendship fades away, despite the best of intentions. Although much time has passed, an observation that one of my classmates made has remained with me to this day. That there are essentially two types of friends: Friends of the Road and Friends of the Heart. What does that mean, exactly? Friends of the Road are those that we encounter along the way while being busy with life. A childhood neighbor, a classmate, a co-worker, a teammate or dorm-mate, these friendships are formed due to time, place and circumstance. At that moment, the friendship appears to be unstoppable, an unbreakable link formed from a common bond that you promise will last forever. But once you change jobs, move away or graduate from school, the friendship, despite your most ardent efforts to keep in touch, fades into fond memories and Facebook reminders.

Friends of the Heart PM

Ah, but Friends of the Heart. Those people you meet along the way whose paths are forever intertwined with your own. They are not your family, but these are the friends you can turn to in a moment’s notice, in joy and in sorrow, in illness or trouble. They are your people. Your back door friends. The “I-don’t-have-to-clean-up-the-house-because-I-am-having-company” kind of friends. Because they see you, know you and love you just the way you are. I have been so very blessed, in my life, to have found a group of friends of the heart. We started out as neighbors, bonded by our children who shared classrooms and ball fields. The dads coached, the moms cheered on, brought the water and snacks and patched up skinned knees. As we proudly watched our children grow and thrive, we stood side by side on the sidelines, in the bleachers and auditoriums and cheered them on, comforted their sorrows, rejoiced in their victories, agonized over their defeats. And while that business of life was happening, our friendships became those of the heart: strong, unstoppable, unbreakable bonds. And then, once our children were grown and happily on their own, our friendships did not waver, but instead, grew stronger. We traveled around the world together, planned birthday parties and weddings and showers together and spent many an evening over dinner and drinks just enjoying each other’s company.  Recently, I lost one of my dearest friends of the heart after a much-too-short battle with pancreatic cancer. She was the youngest of our group, so much fun, full of life and eager to see whatever the world had to offer. Now, each passing day brings a fresh reminder of how very fragile and sometimes too short life can be on this earth.  If I could tell her one more time, if I could show her one more way, if I could only have a few more precious moments with her, I would let her know again just how special and truly blessed I was to have her in my life. Now, if you are fortunate enough, like me, to have a friend of the heart, choose today to tell them you love them. It doesn’t need to be a holiday or special occasion. You don’t need chocolate or fancy flowers, greeting cards or expensive gifts. Just text them or tweet them or Facebook message them or call them or even send them a copy of this and tell them how much they mean to you. It may be weirdly out-of-character, feel funny or awkward, but do it anyway. Because you never know when it may be your final chance to let them know how you feel.  And so, I would like to say to all of my dearest friends of the heart, I love you. You have enriched my life in immeasurable ways, and life will never be the same without all of you in it.

XOXOXO Susan 

Paint Night Boston

Well, so much for my 14 days of Valentine’s blog posts! Instead of feeling inspired, I am feeling tired and sick with a touch of the flu. Yech.

Crossed Out HeartSo, while I was laid out on the couch drinking tea with honey and lemon and watching a “Castle” marathon (and NOT blogging about Valentines), my family was busy sipping wine and painting at Clery’s Bar in Boston with The Next 26. (this pic just reminds me of finger painting in elementary school : )

Paint Night Paint Gallon JugsIf you are not familiar with The Next 26, they are a non-profit who has spent the past year in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings hosting 26 cultural and charitable events in hopes of keeping the Boston spirit alive until this year’s Marathon Monday.

The Next 26 Founders Chris Mathison & Nick Leydon

The Next 26 Founders Chris Mathison & Nick Leydon

To read more about them and join the fun-they still have more events to go-click their logo below.

The Next 26.

Don’t know about Paint Night?

Paint Night LogoWell, essentially you go to a restaurant or bar where they set up multiple easels side by side, and then provide wine to drink as you are painting (hmm, that seems rather counterproductive…)

Paint Night @ ClerysThere is an art teacher at the head of the class who provides step-by-step instructions to art students at all levels of expertise.

Art Instructor, paint night, cleary's bar, the next 26Everyone paints the same picture, in this case the Boston Skyline at dusk, but each one is unique. Loving The Next 26 blimp over Boston.

The Next 26, Paint Night, Clerys Bar,Coach came home with two paintings, of which he was quite proud. One was his,

paint night painting, the next 26the other, my daughter’s. Same subject, different styles. Do you have a favorite?

Paint Night, The Next 26And here is the Next 26 team showing off their creations. True works of art, no?

The Next 26, Paint Night, Clerys BarSo, sorry about the whole Valentine blog post thing. If you need some Valentine’s inspiration, check out my Pinterest “Be-Mine-Valentine” page. Everything from decadent chocolate desserts to print-from-home Valentines and home made decorations, like this cute Valentine Mantel by OneKriegerChick.

Mantel Styling by OneKriegerChickAnd, hopefully, I will be back on my feet shortly and able to join in the next Next 26 event!! Have an artful Wednesday, everyone! Susan

Heart of Gold

One Valentine’s Day, many, many, many years ago, I received this little gold heart pendant from my father as a gift.

Vintage Gold Heart Pendant

Despite its age, I am certain that the only true value it holds is one of deep and loving sentiment. Sometimes the simplest gift can have the biggest impact on the recipient. Valentines don’t have to be costly and extravagant to have lasting meaning, as long as they are presented with love.

Some hearts of gold are simple and sweet

Pink Ombre Wedding Cake with Gold Heart Topper

Wedding Cake via The Wedding Chicks

some are bold

Gold Heart by MetallicPrints Etsy

Heart of Gold Sign by MetallicHearts Etsy

some are strong

Heart of Gold Ring Maverick Western Wear

Heart of Gold Ring by Margaret Sullivan

some are fiery

Heart of Gold Earrings Via Nordstrom

Heart of Gold Earrings Via Nordstroms

and some are lacy and light.

Lacy Gold Hearts via JewelMint

Lacy Gold Hearts via JewelMint

Some hearts of gold can be soft

Heart of Gold Gatsby Throw Pillow by Monika Strigel

Heart of Gold Gatsby Throw Pillow by Monika Strigel

and some just find the soft spot in our hearts.

Heart of Gold Paw Heart Chic Style

Heart of Gold Paw Heart from Chic Style

Some hearts of gold are beautiful rings

Heart of Gold HauteLook

Heart of Gold HauteLook

and some ring true.

Heart of Gold iPhone case from FieldTrip Etsy

Heart of Gold iPhone case via FieldTrip Etsy

Some hearts of gold map out a future together

Heart of Gold Map Lockets Victoria Camp Designs Etsy

Heart of Gold Map Lockets Victoria Camp for MapJewelry Etsy

And some, like my little gold heart, celebrate the past.

Heart of Gold Vintage Pin via PaganCellar Etsy

Heart of Gold Vintage Pin via PaganCellar Etsy

It really doesn’t matter what you choose for your Valentine, as long as it is presented from your heart of gold, and then it, too, will be treasured for a lifetime. Have a happy Valentine’s week, everyone! Susan

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