The Barn Workshop-Take One

Dear Readers: Sorry I haven’t been blogging much this week. Coach and I have been cleaning out and organizing the barn. Trying to sort through 25+ years of accumulated stuff (books, furniture, books, antiques, books, tools…did I say books- 5000+!?!?) takes time, patience and perseverance. Me, I am inclined to just toss everything in the dumpster and start from scratch, but Coach is more of a “save this I might need it someday” sorter. Well that “someday” is today- time to let go, move on, clean out. Which often leads to some, well, we’ll just call it “unpleasantness” in our soon-to-be barn workshop. So Coach decided it was best if we are not both in there at the same time, for the sake of our marriage. Which is OK by me today, because it is probably 100 degrees in there right now, and I am in the study with the fan : )

So I have been searching for some barn interiors that strike my fancy. We want to stay true to its roots, preserving the good and enhancing the amazing- like this wall painting of Old Black Nell.

I am looking for simple but dramatic



or maybe a more athletic endeavor??

 Perhaps a bit of industrial chic.

There is no plumbing, so I won’t have a kitchen. But if I did…

Shine up the floors. Add pops of color.  

And, of course, some rustic lighting.

Our target event date?

Thanksgiving Dinner at a farmhouse table for 20 stretching the length of the finished interior. Better get back out there and see what’s happening! Wish me luck… Susan

A Couch for Coach- Before and After

So, Coach and I have been trying to find a couch for the porch for a couple of months now. He insisted that the wicker love seat was just not long enough for afternoon napping, even using the Wally the Whale table as a foot rest. After many yard sales and curb alerts, we finally found this on one of our trash to treasure hunts at Todd Farm in Rowley.

Although it had clearly had been neglected, was filty and ragged and hosting a family of icky bugs, we decided to take a chance. For $20, the price of two burgers and fries at Five Guys, we had our couch! It was sturdy and well-made, just required some major TLC. We were even more excited when we checked online and discovered the same Benchcraft sofa selling used for $300!

The re-furbishing: We spruced it up with a bleach wash and bug spray, then primed it with Kilz to remove odors and stains. Finished with Rustoleum outdoor glossy white. So clean and pretty!! The original cushions had to be tossed, as they were smelly and moldy and just plain gross. So I created new ones from foam, poly batting and some fabulous European down-filled pillows I got on clearance at-where else-Home Goods for $20 each! (I am saving the pretty ruched satin covers for another project.)

I wanted the couch to have a more casual feel, so I made the covers from solid navy outdoor fabric, using a knife-edge for the pillows rather than formal welted cushions.   

Do you LOVE our new couch!?  It’s stylish and casual and plenty long enough for afternoon naps on the porch and it complements the other refurbished pieces already in place.

The cost breakdown: Sofa $20 Fabric $40 Foam Cushion $40  Poly Batting $5 Pillows $60 Thread $3  Paint: $7 Total Investment: $175

A little more than I usually spend on a re-furbished trash to treasure. But since it is the largest piece on the porch, and is going to be sitting right in front of the ever-stylin’ whale coffee table, I figure it was worth the investment. A whole new life for a down and out couch, saved from the dumpster with my Three R’s Principle: Re-cycle, Re-Furbish, Re-Love. Have a Terrific Tuesday! Susan

Under the Sea

I often get my blog inspiration while walking the lake, listening to Pandora. Today’s genre? Musicals! Sure to get your feet tapping and your heart thumping. The first song of the morning was Under The Sea from The Little Mermaid. Who doesn’t love a Disney flick with drama, music, a heroine and a her little side-kick? Ooo, lala! So that got me day-dreaming about nautical decor. Soft blues, creamy whites, seashells, ocean vistas.

On I discovered Anthony Baratta from NYC. Oh, my! His ocean-inspired interiors give you that sun and surf vibe without being too literal. Can you imagine dining here? The ocean vista mural combined with the rug that gives the illusion of circles in the sand, plus the white furniture that evokes images of outdoor living is perfect for a beach-side home.  Bring on the soft shell crab! (oops, sorry Sebastian!)

This kitchen. Wow. Watery Blue. Serenity. 

The living room, with the aqua walls and soffits and flowing waves of draperies that give an illusion of lagoon living.

This interior, with its all-white concept, showcases the crystal ship hanging from the bead board rafters.

I recently visited the Harmon House Decorator’s Showhouse in York Maine. Entering through the front door, the living-dining-kitchen space, designed by Boston-based Gerald Pomeroy Design Group is monotone Farrow and Ball blue-walls and trim-with a spectacular sparkling stone fireplace wall. This is my favorite nautical pallette: blues and creamy whites, linen and sisal, natural stone and dark woods for contrast. You have an immediate sense of calm, the soft hues creating an uninterrupted visual frame that leads your eye to the water views outside.

Whenever I am searching for online inspiration and photos, I turn to my Pinterest boards. This one, Seashells by the Seashore, has some of my all time favorite nautical interiors. White interior, dark blue stripes, sisal rug, grasscloth ceiling. Clean and natural. Coastal Living.

The focal point of this pic is the stunning stairway backdrop of water on canvas, creating the illusion of ocean.

How can I talk about nautical decor without showing at least one ship replica? This one, with its blonde wood and billowing white sails, contrasts nicely with the blue walls and white wainscotting. The view from this space alone is enough to garner your attention, but the white furniture with the striated wavy pattern on the rugs, along with the amazing solar system light fixture from American Lighting Association brings the outside in.  This bedroom is a bit more literal, but stunning still. Gives new meaning to “sleeping with the fishes” Here are a few accessorizing ideas…(we all know how much I adore whales : )

and vintage vignettes

to inspire you create your own space “under the sea”.

Which is a good place to be with this on going heat wave! Have a cool weekend everyone! Susan

Wanderlust Wednesday Cancelled…

…due to heavy rains. Since I spent the early part of the day carb-loading (no, I am not training for a marathon, just snacking on almond shortbread cake, chili-lime crackers and mini-butterfingers), I decided to take a quick walk/jog around Lake Quannapowitt before we went out for dinner. What do you call a walk/jog anyway? Wog? Jalk? In this case, it could have been a swim. Started out fine, but got half-way around the lake’s 3 mile circumference when I noticed a dark menacing grey cloud in the distance. Damn. Just as I turned the corner, the skies opened up and the rain poured down on me and the dozen or so other woggers that were getting in their afternoon exercise. In a matter of seconds, I was soaked to the bone, and managed to hide under a tree long enough to snap this photo-attractive, eh?

With the car parked 1.5 miles away, I started back, hoping the Coach would come to my rescue. Alas, that was not the case. All those cars driving by with headlights on? No search and rescue looking for me.

Soooo, I jumped some puddles,

snapped a couple of pics (neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays this writer from the swift completion of her blog)

until my camera started to blur from all the moisture!

Safely back in the car, I made my way home, the wipers working overtime to clear the ribbons of water cascading down the windshield.

Back on the porch-oh hey, my raincoat! I had hung it on the porch to clean off the bird poop I somehow managed to sit in while at SOWA on


That would have come in handy. A few moments later, the sun peeked through the clouds.

Wanderlust Wednesday returns next week…and remember, when you walk through a storm, hold your head up high- unless you don’t have an umbrella. Susan 

“SOWA’rd Ya Go Sunday?”

Coach and I spent the better part of Sunday afternoon at the SOWA Vintage Market and Open Market in Boston’s South End. What fun!

The indoor market vintage shops are crammed with various and curious items for sale like art

and style

…and just plain sexy. This loveseat and chair were heart-stoppers for me!!

The artist, Holly Czapski, from Re-Furnish of West Concord, transforms pieces of old furniture into works of art. Using vintage photographs that she transfers onto fabric, she creates one-of-a-kind, stunning functional art pieces that could be the focal point of any room. AMAZING. You can reach her at

The larger part of SOWA is the outdoor farmer’s market and arts and crafts show. With pop-up tents filled with hand-crafted and vintage goods surrounded by food trucks of all shapes and sizes (kickass gourmet grilled cheese at Roxy’s, the line was 20 deep at all times!) this weekly event is not to be missed. If you are traveling to Boston, or just looking for an entertaining Sunday afternoon, SOWA is a must see. There is not room enough on this blog to note every item I deamed awesome and noteworthy. But I will highlight a few of my favs- for the rest, you’ll just have to go and shop for yourself. I am always searching for unique, quirky, fun items. I found a few here:

Love On The Blocks Your favorite photographs printed on to handcrafted birch blocks. The images are soft but true.

Nonsense Institute Whimsical creations by Anisa Asakawa. Handmade. Screen Printed. Recycled. Adorable.

Darn Good Barn Wood unique furniture made from reclaimed antique barn wood. Gorgeous finishes. Perfect for a country kitchen!

Oh How Cute Coasters! Started when a small, piggy-tailed kid was constantly over the coals for not having a coaster under her drink. Morphing the fear of water rings on furniture and a love of photography, Oh how cute! Coaster Co began. Handmade in New Bedford, MA.

Marcart Graphic art by Marc Roulstone. A must-have, since we had Bartlet the French Bulldog tagging along with us (with his mommy, who was stopped approximately every ten feet by Frenchie fans wanting to pat him and play with him. We must have heard “Oh, he’s sooooo cute!” at least 100 times! Being the celebrity that he apparently is, he took it all in stride. He was more interested in eating food droppings off the ground than acknowledging his admirers.

Those of you who know me and my blog, know how much I appreciate recycling in any form or fashion.

So here was a very fashionable recycling booth!

Manswap, sponsered by SOWA,

where you could bring your clean, gently used items and swap them. “Swap is the New Shop”. LOVE.

And finally, another unique shop, this time a converted school bus filled with vintage clothing. Great way to set up shop: drive up, park, sell your stuff, drive home. Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “Sunday Drive”. Susan

A Whale’s Tale- The Reveal!

Here’s the story, about a Whale named Wally (well, it’s actually Wallace, but his “fins” and family call him Wally)  Back on the 4th of July, I started the D.I.M. project- Do. It. Myself. (Because If I Don’t, Who The Hell Else Will?!?)- I referred to as refurbishing Mr. Whale. Today, the reveal! That beat-up, barnacle-covered, down-in-the-spout old pine coffee table I picked up for $5.00 at a yard sale has a whole new look!!

After the whale -washing

the sanding 

then re-glueing and painting the base

taping  and striping

adding the stars

then re-sanding the edges and top and adding the antique glazing (this stuff is typically used for kitchen cabinets but when a whale needs a new coat, anything goes!) You paint it on…

then wipe it off-the more you leave, the darker the finished product.

Final step- polyurethaning  (I used water-based polyacrylic so it will remain clear and not yellow). I wanted to use a rub-on wax for a less shiny finish, but since Wally will be spending the majority of his time outdoors on the porch, he needed a strong, clear coat for protection. 

Wallace the Whale has a whole new life!

Pierce Brosnan (yup, 007 himself) once said: “We owe it to our children to be better stewards of the environment. The alternative? – a world without whales. It’s too terrible to imagine.” Along with tips from my recent “Saving Mother Earth” blog post, I’d like to think that I am doing my small part with my Three “R” principle: Re-Cycle, Re-Furbish, Re-Love. Most of the items on this porch wall were also re-claimed!Wally is a perfect example of what you can do with a little elbow grease and some imagination to re-love an object that might otherwise be headed for extinction. 

Now it’s a smooth sail for Mr. Whale! Time to tackle the couch…Susan

Dancin’ in the Moonlight

One of my very first posts, “Taking the Leap“, was about 2012, the year of the weddings. With five unique weddings on our calendar this year, we were looking forward to a season of food, fun & family. Last night’s nuptials were held at the Smith Barn at Brooksby FarmThe invitation had read: “Please come and enjoy a celebration of love, friendship, laughter and friends”, and the evening did not disappoint. A tranquil country setting, surrounded by orchards and vineyards, where 200+ family and friends spent the night dining and dancing under the stars in this sooo romantic setting. 

The bride and groom braved the elements and decided to hold the ceremony outdoors in the garden, under threats of torrential downpours and high 80’s temps in the forecast. Just as the guests were taking their seats, the cloudy sky cleared to blue, a sure sign of a bright future for the newlyweds, yes?

The reception was held inside the Smith Barn, an antique two-story structure built in 1904. Simply rustic, with a balcony looking over the dance floor, where we were able to get a bird’s eye view of the bride and groom’s  first dance as husband and wife. 

A few of my favorite unique touches for the affair:

Mason jar centerpieces, decorated with burlap and designed by Parker Florist  of Wakefield, added splashes of color in hues of purple, yellow and green. Perfectly casual country alongside the table markers, empty wine bottles with a stenciled number, the corks having served as the place cards. With 24 tables, that was a lot of wine to drink…gotta take one for the team, as they say. Cute!

The aisle markers, hung on shepherd’s hooks in the garden. Burlap cones filled with summer flowers. So country pretty!

The Wedding Tree. Upon entering the venue, we grabbed our place markers, but then were asked to add our thumb prints and signatures to a lovely hand-painted poster to create a lasting “wedding tree” momento for the bride and groom. (wipes were provided to remove the ink from our thumbs : )

Hanging pots of flowers from the beams. Since the venue is constructed of unvarnished, unpainted beams, walls and floor, it was up to the wedding planners to add a splash of color wherever possible. The rows of hanging flower baskets added a softer touch to the beams surrounding the dance floor.

Twinkle lights. No matter what the venue, these little lights always cast a warm glow, especially after the sun set and the moon emerged over the vineyards. And it got me to thinking, I have a barn…and twinkle lights. And I like to dance. Perhaps a new business venture?

Ice Cream Bar!! In lieu of the tradional wedding cake, an ice cream bar was offered as dessert. Vanilla ice cream with a choice of toppings including oreos, hot fudge, sprinkles, strawberries, whipped cream and a cherry on top : ) A very cool way to end the evening.

School Bus Rock. The night at Smith Barn ending, the bridal party and their guests who were staying at a local hotel were treated to the ultimate mode of transportation- the big yellow school bus! Packed to capacity, we overheard the cheering and chanting as they rode off into the night.

Congrats to the newlyweds!! May you have a long life of love, happiness and sunshine. Now I could use some coffee and an Advil…. Susan

Saving Mother Earth

You know when you have one of those never-ending dreams, that finally awakens you with a start? And you wonder, where the heck did that come from?!? Last night my dreams were filled with images of the end of the world. People banding together to channel the finite resources to those who needed it most. Slowly watching as the natural landscape dwindled, until the day turned to night, the earth slowly faded to black and gently spiraled away into the universe. It wasn’t violent or apocalyptic, just very sad to say goodbye to glorious Mother Earth.

Then the dog jumped on the bed and woke me up-first time I was happy to have her smiling face staring at me at 5am! My final thought before I was so rudely roused from my sleep was, “I have to do more to save our planet, I want to make a difference.” Upon awakening, my first thought was,  “No more pepperoni pizza before bedtime…”

So I found this great article from Wire and Twine: “50 Ways to Help the Planet”. It is filled with simple ideas that will preserve our finite resources, make us healthier and happier and keep Mother Earth spinning for the next millenium.

A few of my favorites, simple and effective:

If every household in the United State replaced one regular lightbulb with one of those new compact fluorescent bulbs, the pollution reduction would be equivalent to removing one million cars from the road.

 2.TURN OFF  COMPUTERS AT NIGHT (I am sooo guilty of this one!)
By turning off your computer instead of leaving it in sleep mode, you can save 40 watt-hours per day. That adds up to 4 cents a day, or $14 per year. If you don’t want to wait for your computer to start up, set it to turn on automatically a few minutes before you get to work, or boot up while you’re pouring your morning cup ‘o joe.

Skip  rinsing dishes before using your dishwasher and save up to 20 gallons of water each load. Plus, you’re saving time and the energy used to heat the additional water.

Recycled glass reduces related air pollution by 20 percent and related water pollution by 50 percent. If it isn’t recycled it can take a million years to decompose. Twenty recycled aluminium cans can be made with the energy it takes to manufacture one brand new one. Every ton of glass recycled saves the equivalent of nine gallons of fuel oil needed to make glass from virgin materials.

5.WASH IN COLD OR WARM   If all the households in the U.S. switched from hot-hot cycle to warm-cold, we could save the energy comparable to 100,000 barrels of oil a day. Only launder when you have a full load.

During an average year, an American uses approximately 2,200 napkins—around six each day. If everyone in the U.S. used one less napkin a day, more than a billion pounds of napkins could be saved from landfills each year. Same goes for paper towels. I have started using my cloth dish towels to clean the countertops with vinegar and water- not always, but I am making an effort. Switching to cloth will save a bundle! And you can do such creative things : )

You can reuse gift bags, bows and event paper, but you can also make something unique by using old maps, cloth or even newspaper. Flip a paper grocery bag inside out and give your child stamps or markers to create their own wrapping paper that’s environmentally friendly and extra special for the recipient.

You’ll conserve up to five gallons per day if you stop the running water while you brush. Daily savings in the U.S. alone could add up to 1.5 billion gallons–more water than folks use in the Big Apple. Every two minutes you save on your shower can conserve more than ten gallons of water. If everyone in the country saved just one gallon from their daily shower, over the course of the year it would equal twice the amount of freshwater withdrawn from the Great Lakes every day

Consider buying items from a second-hand store. Clothing. Toys. Furniture.  Second hand stores often sell these items in excellent condition, or sometimes requiring a bit of TLC. A little elbow grease goes a long way towards saving our resources! So much fun to refurbish, recycle, re-love an old piece of furniture.

The average cell phone lasts around 18 months, which means 130 million phones will be retired each year. If they go into landfills, the phones and their batteries introduce toxic substances into our environment. There are plenty of reputable programs, like Cell Phones for Soldiers where you can recycle your phone, many which benefit noble causes.

For loads of other great planet-saving ideas, go to The Mother Earth News. And remember to follow the Three R’s: Re-Cycle, Re-Purpose, Re-Love. Pledge to make every day Earth Day. Hope you have a great weekend, and don’t forget to turn off your computers when you leave your office  Susan

Come Sail Away…

…come sail away, come sail away with me. (Styx)  Exciting news!! For our anniversary, Coach presented me with a gift certificate from Community Boating Boston for sailing lessons!! Not really a surprise, since I had suggested that perhaps if someone needed to get me a gift for something…the surprise was that Coach is going to take them with me! He said, and I quote “I am not going to be on a sailboat with you if you are the only one who knows what’s going on”. hmmm. Now, If you are a devoted follower of my blog (which I hope you are : ), you are saying, “but, wait a minute, you have brand new kayaks!!” And you remember that recently we launched them-after a year in dry dock!- into Lake Quannapowitt. Other than Bartlet the dog taking a dunk in the drink, it was clear sailing, until I hit the deck in the driveway while unloading! But it was a pain in the butt loading the boats on the CRV roof, unloading them, kayaking, drying them off, loading them back on and then back off again to return to dry dock-phew!

So I thought, since we have a cute little yacht club right here in Wakefield, why not join?!? We could keep the kayaks there, take them for a paddle around the lake, and return them to their moor at the end of the day, have a cool one on the dock overlooking the lake before heading home.

So we took a visit to the Quannapowitt Yacht Club , the oldest inland boat club in America, founded in 1884. They even have regattas!! But alas, we discovered that they only accept sailboaters as members. Kayakers not welcome. But the clubhouse was kind of cute in a formica, 70’s kind of way, with a killer dock that stretches all the way around and has an unobstructed view of the lake in all its glory. The woman thought it was a little strange when I asked if we could join without having any sailboats. OK, so on to plan B. Not a big fan of those kayaks anyway, so let’s trade them for a nice little sailboat.

I had dreams of peacefully drifting along on a warm, sunny day

wind in my sails

glass of wine in hand as the day turned to evening

a totally peaceful way to spend a lazy summer afternoon.  And then if I got good enough, we could enter a race or two!

Perhaps I am destined for the Americas Cup? 

I could set the new world’s record for the oldest person to sail solo around the world! The youngest record is already held by Jessica Watson-way to go, Jessica!!

Tempting, but circling the earth,which is 70% water, would take awhile.  And I don’t think they have WiFi on the open ocean, so I may pass on that.  And there is always the fear of this…

In which case, I better look good when the rescuers come to pluck me out of the water. Soooo, I could get a very fashionable yellow slicker. I do watch Deadliest Catch, and they all wear them! But this one is super cute and functional too! And some really nice nautical shoes.

Perhaps a sailor outfit?  

This one’s not very practical for the open seas. Ahoy, matey!!

Love the brass buttons!  

This entire nautical theme from Project Lena Blog is awesome too! 

I am not sure, but I don’t think I could wear a PFD (personal flotation device) over this dress and be comfortable enough to be moving fore and aft (those are nautical terms, for the non-sailors among you)

OK, enough dreaming. Time to fill out my Adult Program Membership Application for Community Boating Boston! Anyone wanna buy some kayaks, cheap?!?  Hope you sail peacefully through your day… Susan

Happily Ever After

Today Coach and I are celebrating our wedding anniversary. Is it possible that it has been 33 years?!? It seems like yesterday that we met at a local drinking establishment, sitting on a couple of bar stools, sharing some stories and a beer, and the rest, shall we say, is history. Weddings back then were smaller, more intimate ceremonies, without much of the production and style of weddings today. There were typically no “themes”- just a bride and a groom in a gown and tux, celebrating their love with family and friends. Yup, that’s me in the horse-drawn carriage on our way to Glen Magna Farms. My own version of Cinderella : )

Today’s weddings are oftentimes elaborate celebrations

where guests are treated to spectacular venues that are lavishly decorated with flowers

out-of-this-world lighting

“Country Pretty” styling

With table settings fit for a king

or queen…

Where guests are invited to join in the fun with photo booths

stylized food

and synchronized dance moves

Themes range from underwater dives

or above water vows with a view

African safaris (is this elephant the best mammoth?)

even a Cinderella Castle!

But through all the glitz and glamour, one theme remains constant.

Two people fell in love and chose to spend their lives together.

And what could be more spectacular than that?

Happy Anniversary Coach! 143me

%d bloggers like this: