Fruits Of My Labor

Have you ever found yourself perched on the top of a step-ladder on your front stairs, attempting to hang a decorative Apple Fan Board

Fruits of Labor Apple Fan

to enter a Holiday Front Door Decorating Contest in your town? And once you were at the very top, having the centerpiece pineapple fall off the fan board, hitting you in the head and nearly knocking you out, then having to chase it as it rolled down the sidewalk and into the street? No? So that’s just me. A little back story…

The first time Coach took me to Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia for the Christmas holidays, I immediately fell in love with all of the natural decorating elements that were used to adorn homes Fruits of Labor Apple Wreath

front doors

Citrus Wreath from Colonial Willamsburg Decorates for Christmas

Citrus Wreath from Colonial Willamsburg Decorates for Christmas

dining tables Fruits of Labor Table Setting

and front gates. Fruits of Labor Gate Wreath

No giant blow-up snowglobe lawn ornaments here! Fruits of Labor Snow Globe

Just fresh fruit, greens, pinecones, nuts and berries were used to create beautiful centerpieces and fresh garland door decorations. Since we live in an old colonial home that is perfect for this style of decor,


my thoughts turned to natural decor when our town announced its annual Holiday Front Door Decorating Contest a few years ago. This book, Colonial Willamsburg Decorates for Christmas“, has instructions on how to create your own fruit-laden garlands, wreaths and mantels. Perfect!

Colonial Williamsburg Book

Coach  I got out my jigsaw and cut out the half-moon shaped piece of plywood, hammering in the nails in rows where the fruit would be attached. (See illustration below)

Colonial Williamsburg Decorates for Chrismas Apple Fan Board

Colonial Williamsburg Decorates for Chrismas Apple Fan Board

Once that is done, simply staple some magnolia leaves (yeah, I know, we have plenty of those in the Northeast in winter!) to create a fan border. Impale the apples on to the nails in rows. Now here is the part I skipped…”Drive 3 tenpenny nails (that’s the size in colonial jargon- they are big) into the center of the frame in a triangle. Drive the fourpenny nail into the frame above the triangle. Twist a piece of #22 gauge floral wire around the nail. IT WILL BE USED TO SECURE THE PINEAPPLE TOP.”  No need for wire, I thought! That pineapple will stay on those nails just fine. Finished with my masterpiece and anxious to hang it for all to see and admire, I dragged out the ladder and hoisted the board over head. Now I am not certain as to the weight of this piece of art, but figuring a large plywood board with dozens of apples and a large pineapple, you’re talking 20lbs., easy. The rest, shall we say, is history. Fruits of Labor Pineapple on Street

I retrieved the rolling pineapple, stuck it back on the board after I had secured the board to the house. Perfect! Now I know you are wondering if I won the Holiday Front Door Decorating Contest, right? I think I came in second, but you really can’t hold me to that, since I had a bit of a head injury. Hope you enjoy the fruits of your decorating labor! Susan

Green With Envy

Emerald PantoneFor all of you decoristas and fashionistas out there, the 2013 “Color of the Year” was just announce by Pantone– and it is luscious Emerald Green!

Valentino Coat via Fashion In Details

Gotta say, I am just a bit envious that this company gets to determine the color that the entire world-wide fashion and design industry will set its collective sights on, but this spring you most definitely will begin to see sprinklings of emerald on runways and in design showrooms. By the summer, emerald accents will be on every shelf in every big box store and gracing every magazine cover. Which is kind of a bummer, because I am still crushing on orange, and orange, as if I need to remind you, was the color I chose for my hall of shame mirror (no, the hall is still not done, and now I have to repaint!!) Hall of Shame Mirror Luckily for me, the painter’s tape is still on it…

Emerald Ring Gemvara

Ring from

The Emerald is thought to possess powers of luck and hope, and more kinds of physical healing have been ascribed to the emerald than to almost any other stone. It is supposed to improve mental skills, bringing clarity and focus to the workplace. Emerald is also known to have physical healing properties that boost your immune system and improve eyesight, healing infections of the respiratory system (which really might come in handy, since I have developed this barking cough in the past couple of months that is so real, I am actually scaring the dog.) I am thinking that perhaps one of these  in my Christmas stocking might help chase those germs away! At the very least, it could help me focus on writing more blogs : ) In the meantime, I thought I would share a few pics with you to get your next decorating project in focus. I, myself, would not consider painting an entire room emerald, unless, of course, it was in my castle. Emerald Castle Walls

Otherwise, an emerald accent pillow would add a little drama in a white room

Emerald Accent Pillows via Better Homes and Gardens

Emerald Accent Pillows via Better Homes and Gardens

Or to brighten a neutral interior

Lilving Room via Martha O'Hara Interiors

Lilving Room via Martha O’Hara Interiors

You could add green with these amazing buffalo plaid curtains (you all know how much I LOVE buffalo plaid!)

Living Room via Alexandra Rae Interior Design

Living Room via Alexandra Rae Interior Design

Or to bring focus to the amazing bed in this divine bedroom.

Bedroom by Edwin Pepper Interiors

Bedroom by Edwin Pepper Interiors

Try adding a touch of bright color to a charming white country kitchen

Kitchen by Katie Ridder

Kitchen by Katie Ridder

or a rustic outdoor dining space- magnifique!

Emerald Chairs in Rustic Courtyard via La Belle Vie

Emerald Chairs in Rustic Courtyard via La Belle Vie

After all, Emerald is the color of nature- manicured green lawns, Emerald Lawn

sprigs of clover, mossy caverns. I wonder where the name Emerald Gorge came from?

Emerald Gorge Oregon

So if you happen to be redecorating your space, consider adding a touch of emerald. I cannot guarantee that it will make you smarter or healthier, but your friends will be green with envy! Happy Friday everyone!! Susan

Holiday Happenings

So, I feel like I have some serious catching-up to do for the Christmas holiday that is just three weeks away!! I am receiving hundreds of emails from vendors and bloggers with so many great ideas for gifts and holiday decor- a wee bit overwhelming, as I have not even made my list, never mind checking it twice. Wenham Santa-Wish-List

This time of year I especially enjoy local craft fairs and events that highlight the Christmas season without being too “mall”ish. Because of our crazy schedule last month, I have missed many of my favs already. However, on Wednesday, December 5th, I am hoping to check out the Holiday Shop and Sip at the Wenham Tea House,

Wenham Tea House Shop logo

to benefit the Wenham Village Improvement Society. Formed in 1893 by a small group of women,  its original objective was to beautify the Town of Wenham, Massachusetts and make it a better place to live. Today the mission statement of the WVIS is “To serve the changing needs of the Wenham community, while honoring the history and traditions of the Wenham Village Improvement Society.” The Wenham Tea House, owned by the WVIS, hosts various events, including breakfasts, luncheons and teas, Wenham Teacatered by Henry’s Market of Beverly, a favorite local gourmet grocer for over 65 years.

Wenham Tea House

So I am hoping to make a dent in my shopping at the Shop and Sip, while listening to some Christmas music and having a glass of cheer. And if that doesn’t get me into the swing of things, there is always the Gingerbread House Construction Party on the 8th!

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Now that would be a sweet way to start the holidays! Susan

I’m Dreaming of A Tropical Holiday

While I was whiling away the hours ocean-side in a tropical paradise called St. John this past weekend

Tropical Paradise

I was only too aware that upon our return to Boston, we would be in for some dramatically different weather. The virgin white sands

Tropical Beach on Country Design Home

would be replaced by drifting white snow (although today is it 60 degrees, so there’s that!)

Holiday Snow Covered Street

and the tropical green palm trees swaying in the gentle breeze Holiday Palm Trees

would be replaced with tall evergreens bedecked in Christmas finery.

Holiday Christmas Tree

Other than a few evergreen-swagged railingsHoliday Swag Railing

and balconies (which looked oddly out of place in this land of pastel blues…)

Holiday swag

or a lighted palm tree (although I suspect this was a year-round part of the decor)

Holiday Palm Lit

and an occasional surfing santa Holiday Surfin' Santathere wasn’t much in the way of holiday decor. So while I was hanging around the pool in between all of the wedding festivites, I found a few online suggestions for decorating your sea-side villa for the holidays. A simple seashell ornament could be the start of a dramatic tree design using blues and golds Holiday Seashell Ornament Or you could do an entire tree in seashells and starfish for dramatic tropical effect

Holiday Interior Yellow

Some colorful twinkling lights and baubles on your palm trees or Holiday Free Christmas

multi-colored lights reflecting on the water make a dazzling display that will surely attract Santa’s attention!

Holiday Outdoor display

Or you could go full-on tropical holiday with starfish trees- so pretty!! Holiday Starfish Tree on DIYnetwork

One final tree image today…one of the most ridiculously scrumptious desserts I have ever tasted! Deep-fried Key Lime Pie. I know, right?!?

Deep Fried Key Lime Pie on Country Design Home

Take a big slice of pie, wrap it in what appears to be jelly donut dough, deep fry it and then dust it with sugar and cinammon. Add the fruity red and green drizzle for a holiday effect. AMAZING. And with that, I need to unpack (both my suitcases and the Christmas decorations-yikes!) Have a sunny Monday, no matter where you are! Susan

A Gem of A Christmas Gift

You know when you have an idea in your head of the perfect gift you want to buy, and you wander around the mall or scour the internet for hours trying to find it? Only to settle for something less than perfect because it just doesn’t exist!? Then this week’s High Five for Friday is for you! Gemvara is a Boston-based online jewelry company that allows you to create your own custom piece of gorgeous jewelry. Recently featured on Oprah’s “My Favorite Things” show for military spouses, these Naked Cushion Triple Earrings were worn by Oprah during the show,

and she presented a pair to each of the incredibly deserving recipients in the audience. Not to be outdone, this is me modeling my “Mother’s Day” ring that I received this past May. With both of my children’s stones, it was a meaningful and so special gift. LOVE. On the website,, the offerings are endless, as they provide the inspired original designs for custom rings, necklaces, earrings and bracelets and you take it from there. Any stone, from brilliant top-quality diamonds (I know, right?!?)and exquisite emeralds are available, and they have golds I have never seen before- check out this Whirling Heart Pendant in 18k Rose Gold-amazing!! The description: “Lined with tiny round gems, this heart pendant whirls into abstraction, forever suspended in a blissful dance” Couldn’t have said it better myself!

So if you are looking for a bit of sparkle and bling to light up your Christmas morning, check out And if you happen to see Coach wandering the mall, could you mention it to him? Thanks and have a gem of a Friday! Susan

Wandering Through Williamsburg

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

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

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

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

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

a purveyor of authentically fine colonial goods.

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

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

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

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

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

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

ittle Lambs having their lunch-baaah!

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

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

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

these salt and pepper vessels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So Very Thankful…

…that my holiday prep is over!! Sorry I haven’t been blogging much, it has been such a busy time around here and something had to give. Thanksgiving is absolutely my favorite holiday, and we love to entertain family and friends with a traditional turkey dinner with all the fixins! This year we had special guests from Ireland, New York and Oregon, so we tried to make it especially festive.

Since last year, my plan had been to host a primitive dinner in our re-furbished barn, but those hopes were dashed when we were rejected by HGTV. Sooo, necessity being the mother of invention, I decided to hold our annual feast on our newly vinyl-clad porch. After three long hard weekends of cutting and taping and grommeting, we had this:

So I hung thermal-lined drapes, added three tables and chairs for 22, twinkle lights and candles and then it looked like this:

Each table had its own centerpieces and decorations, using autumn leaves, burlap runners, rustic vases and candles to add a warm glow:

Once the candles were lit and the twinkle lights were glowing, it made for a pretty special (if not a bit chilly-could only use one portable heater as the others kept blowing a fuse!) outdoor dining room.

One of my young nieces walked in and said “Wow, awesome, it looks like a wedding!”

Mission accomplished. I would like to thank everyone who joined in to celebrate this special day, bringing wine and sides and pies and last-minute, hand-made place cards

and delicious hors d’oeuvres to make this dinner the best ever! Funny story about the hors d’oeuvres. My brother texted me to ask what time the party started. This was my unintended response (thank you, auto correct!)

Look for it on Ellen’s Clumsy Thumbsy : ) Hope you all had a lovely holiday as well.

On to wedding #6! Susan

Rejuvenating Your Space

It’s Friday again?!? This week’s High Five for Friday goes to a vintage lighting company called Rejuvenation. LOVE. I mean like heart palpatation love. Their motto? “History Is Our Designer”. This Portland, Oregon company creates hand-crafted vintage-inspired lighting. If you are redecorating and redesigning your older home or building a new “old” home, the pieces they offer are simply stunning and can be custom-designed just for your space!

Upon receiving their gorgeous glossy catalog in the mail, I immediately fell in love with this glamorous cover girl: Meteor.

Perfect for a mid-century modern space, inspired by out of this world styles of the 50’s and 60’s (anyone reading this remember Sputnik?).

Thumbing through page after page of styles and spaces, I could envision many of these fixtures in my country-style home. This McCoy pendant is simple and elegant.

And this “Hood” pendant can be customized with your choice of metals, globes and bulbs to give your space your own personal style.

Industrial chic is all the rage right now, and all of the items in this picture are offered,

including the salvage table and the wire chairs. This Bar Cart was fashioned from a salvaged metal aircraft mechanics tool chest- amazing!

So after looking through the catalog, I did a little online research and discovered that Rejuvenation was founded by Jim Kelly in 1977 with a few bucks and an idea to open a salvage restoration shop. In 2011, the company was sold to mega-company Williams Sonoma (you know, Pottery Barn, West Elm, etal). The plan is to keep the Rejuvenation brand intact, meaning that you will still be purchasing custom, hand-crafted lighting but have the benefit of the Williams Sonoma access and customer service. Brilliant! Literally.

Have an enlightened Friday everyone! Susan

Settling the Estate

Cleaning out my blog files and came across these pics taken this past summer at The Kaminski Estate Auction in Nahant, MA. The Devereaux Family Estate was once a stately white colonial surrounded by lush landscapes with views of the ocean.

Now reduced to a shadow of its former self,

with torn and moldy wallpapers,

crumbling ceilings

and ancient, broken-down kitchens and baths.

But oh, if you could only imagine what this place must have been in it’s prime-a real show stopper worthy of any decorator’s showhouse! This fabulous dining room with its wainscotted walls, crown moldings and glorious wood floors would have been the setting for many a fancy dinner party.

And the mahogany railings that spiraled up three floors were magnificent- just needing a little TLC (I guess they never heard of Glidden Gripper)

Inside the home was the tag sale with the entire contents being sold for a song. There were buyers swarming throughout the home, like red ants on a hill, scooping up boxes of vintage fabrics, mahogany furniture, antique dolls

and period lighting fixtures.

While outside, a large auction tent had been erected and was filled with Americana antiques,

unusual items like this bronze elephant

and this fortune tellers booth. Do you think one of the family members was in a traveling circus!? Also on display was an impressive collection of nautical works by important artists such as William Pierce Stubbs and Antonio Nicolo Gasparo, and a spectacular reproduction Jaguar!! A check of the website in the weeks following the auction revealed that this collection had garnered in excess of 100k!

These kinds of sales always make me wonder about the family who inhabited this space, and why it was allowed to crumble around them. We’ll never know. But my hope is that the new owners do not tear down what was once a treasured New England Home, but instead restore it to its’ former glory and pass it on to the next generation.  Moving forward… Susan

Charming Charlotte

It’s Wanderlust Wednesday, and I am sharing one last look at Charlotte, North Carolina, where the fabulous Wedding With A View took place. It was a whirlwind weekend, flying in on Friday afternoon and departing Sunday morning, with little time for sightseeing. But we managed to steal away for a couple of hours in between the planned wedding festivities to take a stroll in the Uptown City Center area, which is where our Marriott Hotel was located. Inside the hotel, this lovely bronze sculpture greeted us

while this amazing light fixture illuminated the front lobby.

Other than several museums, including the Wells Fargo HistoryLevine Museum of the New South and NASCAR Hall of Fame, downtown Charlotte is populated with restaurants, gastropubs and bars. Great for dining and night life, not so much for finding souvenirs! A few images to share: This spectacular firebird sculpture stands guard at the entrance of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art.

As we walked the streets, we couldn’t help but notice how beautiful and clean this city is- not a piece of litter or cigarette butt to be found!

Surrounded by skyscrapers sandwiched in between the hotels and parks,

we spent a lot of time looking way up to note the varied architecture.

After walking for a couple of hours, Coach and I happened upon this cute little pub called the Dandelion Market, where we stopped for lunch.

With a full-on Bloody Mary bar,

and deliciously fresh, home-made everything,

the perfect place to rest up for the wedding taking place later on in the day. LOVE this wall of antique shoe forms-it added a rustic touch to the decor.

After a couple of hours of walking, it was tempting to treat ourselves to a carriage ride, but this guy looked pretty sleepy…

So that is just a small glimpse of the charming Charlotte we experienced- I know there is a whole lot more to see!

Apparently there is a saying in these here parts: that people only come to visit Charlotte once- then they decide to move there! We certainly could see why : ) Have a charmed Wednesday! Susan

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