Bench Dressing

Not to be confused with ranch dressing,

Bench Ranch Dressing

which has much more white than this restyled country bench does! So the bench is finally done and done. From the painting poll that I took on a recent blog post, the colors that won were distressed aqua/blue/gray/mint.

Behr Paint Palette

I have to admit, I tried the mint and it didn’t really work with my nautical vision, so I stuck with the blues and grays. Before I committed to the final colors, I wanted to find the co-ordinating fabrics I was planning to use for the cushions and pillows. Made a trip to my local Joann’s and-go figure-I fell in love with these lobsters.

Bench Fabrics

(Folks that know me realize that this is rather puzzling, as I think that the best part of any lobster is the melted butter : ). Fanciful fellows, bright reds on a background of dark teal. Perfect! Had some difficulty choosing the cushion fabric, but then discovered 1.this gorgeous aqua and navy block fabric that looked to me like nautical flags

Bench HGTV Fabric

2. and then discovered that, of course, it’s from HGTV-sold! So starting with the old worn bench,

Bench Pediment Detail

I added a layer of Annie Sloan French Linen, mixed with water to give it a washed look.

Bench Annie Sloan French Linen

Then I added on layers of Behr’s Gulf Wind Blue, Peaceful Night, Battleship Gray and Gray Morning

Bench Annie Sloan Gray Wash

by dry-brushing to allow the lower layers of paints to be more transparent and add another dimension to the finished product. To enhance the spiral detail at the bottom, I added a touch of dark blue.

Bench Painted

Time to dress the bench! We all know that any delicious salad is just a bunch of veggies in a bowl until you add the spice and flavor with the dressing. Same holds true with decorating-it’s the finishing touches that define the piece. I love layering mis-matched co-ordinating pillows to achieve a casual, comfortable effect. So I started with the HGTV Home nautical flag cushion.

Bench Cushion

Added a large middle pillow-soft and sinkable for maximum comfort, created with two cotton kitchen towels from HomeGoods).

Bench Towel Cushion

The sailboat pillow came next-again, created with an embroidered kitchen towel (also thank you HomeGoods!) that I added the “SAIL” to.

Bench Sail Pillow

The next pillow was lobsters and sailboats with star buttons, both of those from Joann’s Fabrics.

Bench Three Pillows

When I stepped back to admire the bench, utilizing the squint test, I realized it needed one red item in the center. One more nautical towel, surrounded by the flag fabic, completed the vignette.

Bench Completed

The finally finished, decorated bench is now sitting proudly in the perfect spot on my country styled summer porch that is now patiently awaiting spring. Which cannot come soon enough! Susan



Chicken Wire Memory Frame

Today I am sharing a simple D.I.M. (Do It Myself) project that’s fun and quick and pretty simple, assuming you have the right tools and stuff. I saw something similar to this at HomeGoods awhile back and thought, gee, I have some chicken wire and an old frame, I can make that!

Chicken Wire Memory Frame Blue

So I did. Here’s the how-to:

1. Ask Coach if he knows where that old frame and the chicken wire is. He disappears into the barn, and a few minutes later he emerges with both in hand.

Frame and Chicken Wire

2. Fix the frame- it was a little old and dinged and faded, so I glued the edges and added a touch of Minwax to brighten it up.

memo board minwax

I painted the inside edge, first with a coat of off-white, then I dry-brushed it with Gulf Winds.

Dry Brush on Frame

Dry-brushing technique is what it sounds like: take a small amount of paint on the brush, then wipe most of it off onto paper.

Dry Brush Technique

You lightly brush the surface with the remaining paint, which gives you a soft, aged look.

Chicken Wire attached to frame

I always keep a supply of wet wipes to clean up the many errant paint marks I make along the way. To get into really tight spaces, just wrap it around the end of a flat head screw driver-perfect edge!

Wipes on edge of frame

3. Cut the chicken wire-turns out that scissors work just fine. But not your good sewing scissors, unless you want to go with the raggedy look the next time you are cutting taffeta!

Cutting Chicken Wire

4. Attach the chicken wire to the back of the frame. This got tricky because I couldn’t figure out what would work. Tried my electric staple gun- those staples were too big. Then I tried thumb tacks. Well first I had to find some thumb tacks, which you would think would be a breeze considering I have a “thumb tacks” drawer in my little nail organizer. NOT. Anyone need a giant bolt?

Thumb Tack Drawer

So I went to the junk drawer- please tell me you all have a junk drawer that looks like this?!

Junk Drawer

Nope, none there, either. Finally found a few, along with an American flag pin-so that’s where that went!- in my desk drawer.

Tacks in Drawer

And so, after all that, I tried the tacks and guess what-big fail!

Chicken Wire with tack

I would push them into place, then as soon as I tugged on another corner, the wire would slide over and the tack would pop off! Next option, my trusty old Bostitch stapler, which worked great.

Stapler and Chicken Wire

5. Add the decorative lettering. I had a bag of old “fake” Scrabble letters hanging around (doesn’t everyone?), so I used those.

Scrabble Letters

You could put whatever you want, but no profanities please : ) Well, I suppose you could, but it probably wouldn’t sell very well. Then again, maybe it would. Something like The F***ing Egg Plate might work. (If you have no idea what I am referring to, click the link for a good laugh…) So, now you measure out the amount of twine you will require to fit all of the letters.

Measuring twine

Hot glue the letters to the twine and affix twine to the frame with the glue.

Scrabble Tiles Attached

6. Color the clothespins. I threw them in a little can with some watered down paint and stirred them around, then let them sit for awhile.

Paint wash for clothespins

Hung them to dry-the reverse clothespin effect.

Clothespins drying

You’re going to use the clothespins to affix the photos or whatever else you would like to display.

Memory Board Completed

7. Add a picture hanger to the back and you’re done! Cute, simple project. I like the fact that there is no backing, that way you can use it on whichever wall you would like to have as the background color (like the red shown here from my dining room, or the blue above from my hall).

Chicken Wire Memory Frame Red

8. So, I guess for this week’s High Five for Friday will go to chicken wire! It’s cheap, pliable, cuttable with scissors and adds a rustic, country charm to any project you might be considering. Happy weekend everyone! Susan

RitaJos Vintage & Me

True story. Loved this hilarious account by Lisa of RitaJosVintage of the Saturday we just spent wheeling and dealing (NOT) at the Mill 77 Flea Market. The only thing she forgot was the part about all the crap falling from the trees that had both of us sneezing and coughing and popping Benedryls. Apparently nature and flea markets just don’t mix-lol!

Ritajos Vintage

Thanks, Lisa, for giving me a hearty laugh after more than a couple of days of sadness. Have a terrific Tuesday, everyone! Susan

Mill 77 Outdoor Bazaar

This week’s High Five for Friday goes to Mill 77 Trading Company in Amesbury!

Mill 77

As you may recall, yours truly recently entered and won a staging contest at the Mill-yay team Mother Knows Best! Well, this weekend, for one day only (Saturday, June 1), the Mill is hosting their Macy Street Bazaar from 8-noon.

Macy Street Bazaar

This is a monthly outdoor marketplace event featuring many of the inside vendors, as well as outsiders, like myself. I am teaming up with Lisa from RitaJosVintage


to offer a variety of vintage and “junk-tique” wares. By the way, if you haven’t started reading Lisa’s new blog, check it out! You are in for one hilarious ride : ) We will have refurbished furniture (the finished bench, perhaps?), china, glassware, linens and so much more! Please stop by for a visit-we will be there from 8-noon only! Which means we have to be up at the crack of dawn…I take my coffee iced and black, thanks! Here’s a map: Mill 77 Map

It’s a straight shot up 95 north, or just a quick ride from 495 (unless you are using your car’s compass, yes, COMPASS, in which case you may find yourself driving through cow pastures and hayfields…just saying) Have a sunny weekend everyone, hope to see you at the Mill! Susan

Impossible Dreams At The Ballpark

It’s Wanderlust Wednesday, and this week we are off to Fenway Park, the “beloved ballpark’ of the Boston Red Sox.

Ballgame Boston Strong Photo

My love affair with the Sox began in 1967, thanks to my math teacher, Sister Margaret Catherine. She tuned into the World Series on our classroom TV when we were supposed to be watching “Signed By the Artist” on Channel 2, while keeping one eye on the classroom door, in the event that Sister Superior might make a surprise visit.

Ballgame Yaz Homers

Yaz and Rico, Lonborg and Scott…my heroes back then, when I was able to recite batting averages and league standings verbatim, and hit a ball just about as well as any boy on the block. The anthem for that fateful baseball season? The Impossible Dream from Man of La Manchia.

 “To dream the impossible dream
  To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
  To run where the brave dare not go”

Fast forward to this glorious night at Fenway, where the emotional pre-game ceremony honored many new heroes among us, all worthy of that often-used, but not always deserved title. Standing behind home plate with my family, despite the best efforts of the security guards to move us along, (and the ticket-holders who graciously allowed us to remain in place) I had the opportunity to shoot some photos during the very moving introductions.

Ballgame Pete Frates

First announced, this young man, Pete Frates, at one time a standout high school and college baseball player, and a friend of my children and Coach, was diagnosed with ALS-Lou Gehrig’s Disease-last winter. Now, through his Frate Train #3 Fund, he follows his dream to raise awareness and money in hopes of finding a cure for this dreaded disease.

“This is my quest
  To follow that star
  No matter how hopeless
  No matter how far”

Then came this group of Boston Marathon runners…who, because of the bombings, ran short of their quest of 26.2 miles…but have achieved something much greater. Together they have raised thousands of dollars to find a cure for ALS.

Ballgame Marathon Runners

And finally, the introduction of the men who would throw out the ceremonial first pitch, marathon bombing victim Jeff Bauman, and the man in the cowboy hat who rushed to his rescue at the marathon bombings, Carlos Arredondo.

Ballgame Heroes

 “To fight for the right
  Without question or pause
  To be willing to march into Hell
  For a heavenly cause”

Instead of running to safety, Carlos ran into the mayhem to assist the bloodied bombing victims. This photo, seen on every front page around the globe, shows Carlos wheeling Jeff, who was gravely injured in the blast, to safety and medical attention.

Ballgame Marathon Bombing Photos

 On this night, they were back together again to throw out the first pitch-and they both threw perfect strikes, to the roaring ovation of the Fenway faithful! Is there nothing better in American sports than the sight of families and friends, athletes and fans, all together for one great cause, cheering on victims and heroes alike?

Ballgame First Pitch

Those of you who have never been to Fenway Park, whether a fan of the game of baseball or not, need to just once, stroll along the concourse

Ballgame concession signs

and then up through the tunnel to view that vast expanse of brilliant green lawn, glowing in the evening sky, and then tell me that it’s just a ballpark.

Fenway Park

This is the same lush grass that Yaz and Tony C. and Andrews and Smith played on back in the 60’s,

Ballgame 67 Sox Cartoon

and the grass where Papi and Manny and Pedro and Schilling made us fall in love with the Sox all over again.

Ballgame 2004

1967 seems impossibly dream-like now, so many years have past. But the memories of sitting out on the porch as a kid with my dad on a warm summer’s night, listening to the ballgame on the radio will remain, just as the memories of the night’s ceremony, celebrated with family and friends by our sides, will as well.

Ballgame Kate and Wally

And that’s what sports is really about-not big contracts or egos, trades and standings, but a time to get together and root, root, root for your home team, whether its pros, high school or little league. It’s a chance to capture moments in time with the people you love, and snap a photo to pin to your heart and keep forever. So thank you, Fenway, my most beloved ballpark. Susan

Giveaway Winner!

Well, the bench painting has commenced…but not completed.

Chalk Paint French Linen

Started out this morning with the best of intentions, getting the gray undercoat finished, but quickly got sidetracked helping Coach host an impromptu barn sale, of all things! So the day was spent cleaning and clearing out, moving furniture in and out of the barn and selling a few things (have to remember that people don’t go to yard sales to purchase nice, re-purposed furniture-they want bargains!!) Had loads of interest in the tini table I finished yesterday,

Aqua Table Full Shot

but when it gone down to $15 and people were still walking away, I just called it a day. However, we still have some cool stuff left, so if you are in the market for an antique cupola that was removed from the roof of an 1857 barn (could be a really cute dog house with some TLC)

Antique Cupola

a thirty foot sail (old and with some holes, which makes for some pretty slow sailing, I would imagine)

Hood sail

a vintage beverage dispenser from the Cardullos in Cambridge (clearly used way before plastics were invented!)

Cardullo Catering Can

or an awesome mid-century modern hope chest…

Mid-Century Modern Hope Chest

you’ll know the first person to contact! But, on to more important things: the winner of the shutter chalkboard sign

Chalkboard Signs

is Mary Gasbarrino of Decorate in Style, Inc.  Congrats, Mary! If you could contact me with your color preference and a shipping address, I will send it to you! Thanks to all who voted and voiced their color opinions, I really appreciated needed the assistance with this one! Will post the finished bench later this week. Back to work tomorrow- hope its a terrific Tuesday for all…Susan



Color Me (Gulf Wind) Blue

An update on the bench color poll: Aqua blue/mint/distressed was the clear winner! Also of note, the colors Provence and Duck Egg Blue were chosen more than any other.

Behr Paint Palette

So the majority had spoken…but I still wasn’t convinced this was the way to go. So I grabbed an old tini table we had in the basement workshop and gave the colors a spin to see how the final product would look. Like it? Are you sure?

Aqua Table Full Shot

I used the color samples from Behr which closely resemble the Annie Sloan Paints from the palette I had posted. And, no, it isn’t chalk paint, but it is a high quality latex matte finish paint, which I think will look great on the bench.

Annie Sloan Paint Colors Chosen

Since I was going to use so many different colors, the Behr samples, at $2.94 apiece, allowed me to experiment and blend colors without breaking the bank. The colors I chose for the table project were:

Behr Gray MorningGray Morning, on the flat side of the leg turnings

Blue Table Closeup Gray Morning

Behr Gulf WindsGulf Winds (shown on the turned leg section here)

Blue Table Leg Detail Gulf Winds

Mint Frappe (this one is kind of hidden underneath the top for just a surprise of color : )

Behr Mint Frappe

For the grays I went with Battleship Gray & Sparrow.

Gray Table Top

The end result was soft and pretty, muted and just perfect for the table, and I think for the bench as well. It will have a whole new look, but still retain its rustic, antique feel. So, my question is, dear readers, is this the right palette for the bench?

If not, speak now or forever hold your piece, as I am painting it tomorrow!! And, I will also reveal the winner of the chalkboard sign. Coach will draw the name out of his helmet, since there were soooo many entries choosing that color palette. Good luck to all who voted, and let me know for sure if aqua blue is the way to go. Susan

Bench Voting Update!!

Woops! As the votes have been coming in, I realized that there is no way for me to track who is voting for what!! So if you do vote, please send me an email at, post it on my Facebook Page, add a comment in the comments section at the bottom of the blog post or Tweet it to me here: I am country pretty on Twitter.

Keep the votes coming!! Add your own ideas if you’d like : ) Susan

I’m Being Benched…

…due to my inability to make a clutch painting decision about this fine pine country style bench.

country pine bench front

Coach brought this one home last summer, and it has been sitting in the barn, awaiting its transformation. Alas, I have found myself stymied over the best course of action to take to turn this Plain Jane into a showpiece worthy of Vintage Thymes. I brought it to market last month, as is, with a cute embroidered Home Sweet Home cushion

Country Design Home Shop

where it sat in the back of my booth, apparently going unnoticed and unloved. Didn’t help that it was covered with stuff and completely overshadowed by its glamorous booth-mate, the shutter table : ) It has some really nice detail, like this curvy pediment top,

country pine bench top detail

and the circle cutouts on the bottom. As you can see, it does have a worn white-washed finish on it.

country pine bench front detail

Typically, furniture speaks to me (I know, I know) and the choices become apparent-painted, stained, crackled, sanded? But, the next market is almost upon us, I am still at a loss, and nothing has been done to highlight this piece! So it’s time for the seventh inning stretch and a trip to the hot dog stand for a dog and a cold one.

fenway franks

While I’m gone, I am hoping that you can pinch hit for me and decide what to do with this fabulous country bench!? My assumption is that it will reside on someone’s porch or deck, hopefully with a view of the ocean (wouldn’t a brightly colored bench look amazing on this porch!?!)

Porch white

Presently, the bench sits sadly on my back porch, where everyone who sees it says “Wow, that’s really nice”. Hmmm. But leaving it alone is no longer an option.

country pine bench side view

That being said, most New England homes are painted white, and the ones along the shore are typically weathered gray, so I am thinking that a pop of color, or Annie Sloan Graphite with a hint of color underneath is the way to hit a home run with this piece. Like this great piece from Lily Pad Cottage

Annie Sloan Painted Hutch Lily Pad Cottage

Or, I could even transform it like Mr. Whale Table here-I am ditching the cushion, so don’t worry about matching that!

 Whale Table Center

So, I am leaving this totally up to you. Here’s the deal: click your choice in the box below. You can add your own answer in the blank box-I am certainly open for any and all suggestions! Here is an Annie Sloan Color Chart you can use for ideas. (Just an FYI, probably not going to go with pink…unless you want to buy it and consign me to paint it pink for you…)

Annie Sloan Paint Colors

There is a one day limit on the poll, because it needs to be transformed over this long holiday weekend. The choice with the most votes wins, I will paint/stain it and show the results right here, and you win one of these cute little chalkboard signs in your choice of colors.

Chalkboard Signs

In the event of multiple choices of the same color, I’ll have Coach pick one out of a hat-or an old batting helmet-for the winner. If you choose other, then write in the box what you think it should be!

batting helmet

Thanks, and good luck! Let’s hit this one out of the park! Susan

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