Memorial Day – The Weekend Update

The long weekend update : ) So far, this Memorial Day weekend has been well spent day-tripping, yard-saleing, dining (best nachos and view of the bay at the Black Cow in Newburyport) and hanging out with family and friends.  Took a ride up the coast on Saturday. Not sure whose idea it was, but never a smart choice to hit Hampton Beach on the first sunny day of a long holiday weekend (especially when you are stuck in miles of traffic with an empty tank of gas)!

Yesterday, I attended Boston’s Run to Remember (mentioned previously in this post), not as a runner, but as a spectator, cheering on my kids, their cousins and friends.

It was quite an impressive spectacle, with over 8000 runners participating in either a half-marathon or a 5 mile run, all to raise funds in honor of fallen Boston Police Officers. Coptors buzzing overhead, thousands of pounding feet, police motorcades and cheering spectators made for a memorable Sunday morning.

 Did a little window shopping while waiting at the 12 mile marker for our runners to arrive. Not sure what the marketing concept is behind the bird cage hat-bizarre!!!

Before I published the original post about Memorial Day, I asked my mom if she had any pictures of my dad in his naval uniform.

He served in the US Navy, aboard the USS Wakefield in WWII. Unexpectedly, the other day, she arrived at my house with an old leather scrapbook of my dad’s dated 1944-1946, filled with pictures and newspaper clippings of his time spent in Guam and the Phillipines. Especially amazing since I wasn’t even aware that this book existed! The edges literally crumbling in my hands as I carefully turn the pages, I am discovering a another chapter of my dad’s life he rarely mentioned during his lifetime. There are maps, typed clippings of naval co-ordinates, photos of his naval buddies and an “official” letter to his mom from the U.S. Naval Training Center.

A family treasure, to be sure, and one that I will try to preserve to pass on to the next generation. With this album they will discover that the man they knew simply as Grandpere was once a young man himself, with a love of family, an adventurous spirit and a wish to serve his country. Enjoy the rest of this long beautiful weekend!! Susan

Previous Post: With Memorial Day fast approaching, rather than discussing the latest decorating trends in red, white and blue or backyard BBQ’s, I would like to take a moment to share my thoughts about heroes. Male or female, military or civilian, heroes are just regular people who, when faced with extraordinary circumstances, rise to the occasion. Without thoughts of their own personal well-being, they give their bodies, hearts, souls and sometimes make the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom and safety of others. To them, our friends and families, co-workers and neighbors, soldiers, firefighters and police officers, we say thank you on this upcoming Memorial Day.

In our family, we often participate in charitable events for organizations that honor and help our heroes. This is a legacy passed down from my father, a WWII veteran who donated his time and energy in many ways, and always expected the same from his children. A friend once referred to it as “the crazy charity gene”, which I am pleased to say has been passed on to my own children. My recollections of his generous spirit go way back to when I was attending St. Mary’s Annunciation Elementary School. I remember driving up to the convent in our Ford station wagon laden with donated loaves of bread for the Sisters of Notre Dame.

Fast forward a few decades, and that spirit of generosity and service lives on in this generation. There are so many charities striving to help those less fortunate, every penny counts, and there are countless ways to pitch in. Whether you run, walk, dance, sew, auction,  crawl, counsel or just volunteer your time or donate dollars, it matters.

 With that spirit of giving in mind, I would like to take a moment to mention a few events in the Boston area that support many of our local heroes. Last weekend, my brother ran the “Run to Home Base” at Fenway Park, where over 2 million dollars was raised for the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program. These funds are essential to continue to care for veterans and their families affected by combat stress and traumatic brain injury.  Congrats to Bob-so proud of you!!

This upcoming weekend, our children, their cousins and many of their friends will be running in Boston’s Run to Remember, a half-marathon and 5K to honor Massachusetts Law Enforcement Officers killed in the line of duty. The net proceeds benefit community and kids’ programs of the Boston Police Department and their families.

On May 30th, our family, along with hundreds of supporters, will be attending a benefit at Fenway Park for the Pete Frates #3 Fund. Pete is a 27-year-old, former Division 1 college athlete and Captain of Boston College Baseball, who was recently diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.  Having recently learned of his devastating diagnosis, Pete, along with his family and friends have stepped up to the plate, coordinating fund-raising events to aid in the research and development of a cure for ALS. Our best wishes go out to Pete, and we are excited to see him throw out the first pitch at Fenway Park next week!

Now me, I am not much of a runner, and I hung up my cleats years ago.(yup, that’s me at bat in bell-bottom jeans-we were lucky to have game shirts back then! Thank you Title IX : )  Sewing is my thing, and I make quilts, lots of them, to donate to local charities. On my Facebook page,  “Threads of Hope”, you can view some samples of my quilts that have helped to raise over $11,000.00 for local charities. And if you happen to know of a charity that could use a quilt, email me!

Click on the links above to learn more about, to participate in, or to make a donation to any of these great causes.If you have a charitable event you would like to share or have a picture of your hero, send it to me and I will post it here. On this Memorial Day weekend, it’s all about remembering and paying it forward. Have a safe and happy holiday weekend! Susan

You Light Up My Life

Recently, we have been searching for a new chandelier for our dining room. Now, as my husband would say, “there is nothing wrong with the old one”. Except that it is Colonial Williamsburg style, shiny brass, double tiered, circa 1983, and has no business being in my casual country dining room. Just because it still works, doesn’t mean it still works. So I have finally talked him into replacing it with something a bit more current. The trick is agreeing on a finish and style. Since it typically takes us a year or so to agree on a new couch or chair or car, I can see that this is going to be another “work in progress“. But I have pinned a few, in the hopes that one might spark his interest.

There is this popular iron orb style we saw last week in Brimfield. But it only has one bulb, and being the only light source in what is currently my sewing/workroom/office just won’t work-these old eyes require a bit more wattage. I spotted this wrought iron pyramid style on a recent trip to the Boston Design Center. Gorgeous, but more suited for a medieval castle perhaps?

This rustic reclaimed wood style from Urban Chandy might not necessarily work for the dining room, but I am keeping it in the back of my mind for the Barn Project.

The crystal chandeliers I lust after are a bit too “blingy”, definitely NOT country casual. I am still hoping to add this to the Hall of Shame!

Mason jar chandeliers are the rage right now, but those just scream porch to me. Speaking of which, I just finished my porch mason jar creation. Remember those rustic green hanging baskets I found back in Essex? I sealed all of the chipping paint with a spray rust inhibitor, added some mason jars we found in Brimfield– LOVE!

Sparkly starfish are stunning, but more suited for a beach house… and these million raindrops lights from Junk Gypsies definitely belong in a grand ballroom- which would be great if I had a castle!

Ever have one of these days…? I’m not sure what is going on here, but if I ever have a food truck or Airstream trailer, this is definitely my go-to look!

Now I love color as much as the next girl (or guy), but these lights scream Taj Mahal Vegas to me- the colors are right, but the mood is so wrong!

This is my oil-rubbed bronze kitchen chandelier from Great Windsor Chairs. I love the simplicity of it and it lights up our lives every day-I wonder if they have this in red? If you have any other suggestions, please drop me an email and enlighten me! Susan

HomeGoods Happy : )

I was killing time the other night, hanging around the HomeGoods parking lot, waiting for a car to be delivered. Long story. Since the truck was over an hour behind schedule, and I was already there, I figured I may as well check out the inside of the store. You know that commercial tagline: “HomeGoods Happy?”- that’s how I feel when I wander through the aisles of my local store. Now I know some high end designers wouldn’t dream of shopping at HomeGoods. Me? I am all about beauty and value. If it’s good enough for David Bromstad from HGTV (my color splash hero), it’s good enough for me! You just never know what you might find. Like this British-inspired wing chair. These French dressing mannequins.  Or one perfect seashell.


Inspiration around every corner.

Then I spotted the reflection of an amazing Ikat rug in this wall of mirrors! My favorite shades of blue, hand-hooked, 9X12 for $399! I thought “Jeez, I could build an entire room around this rug!”.  I decided to do a virtual bedroom-this is what happens when I have time to kill-the voices in my head start decorating! So I wandered around some more, snapping Iphone pics of items I thought would complement the rug-going with a rustic, ethnic, elegant vibe. (As a disclaimer, I will tell you the the Iphone pics aren’t the greatest, and the colors are slightly off. The rug tends more to the dark teal and grey/blue.)

This grey/blue painted, distressed cabinet would be great as a media console-TV on top, everything else hidden inside. The Trees painting was dreamy, and I thought it would hang perfectly over the bed(which they did not have at this HomeGoods, so I am improvising here) 

An antique spool bed adds a darker element that complements the the dark rattan chair. Obviously it needs a cushion, a pillow and a nubby, woven throw to make it a welcome reading nook. Found this throw at Joss and Main, another favorite online shopping place!

These sconces and mirror would give the room a touch of bling. I needed to find

some lamps but didn’t see anything that would work in my virtual room, and I didn’t have time to drive to the other three HomeGoods in my immediate area-which is what I typically would do. So I found these gorgeous rustic silver lamps online- perfect! I still had a lot more to find, but the truck finally arrived, so this shopping session was over. Now, if I only had another bedroom, so I could transform my virtual room into a reality! Anyone got a spare room they could volunteer for a makeover!?

Wishing you a “HomeGoods Happy” day! Susan

Filled to the “Brim”

We spent Saturday tromping through the fields of The Brimfield Antiques Show, “The world’s largest outdoor antique show”. One mile in length, scattered over 23 fields, with over 3000 dealers and 130,000 visitors that shop during the four show days, Brimfield is an adventure, to be sure. After spending the better part of 8 hours sorting through tents of refurbished furniture, industrial re-makes, textiles, bric-a-brac and other assorted “junktiques”, I can honestly say that I have had more than my fill of “treasure hunting”- at least for a while.  So many vendors, so little time…so I am just going to show you a few highlights here.

Color was the name of the game, like this row of pretty vintage dresses hanging in the sunshine. The landscape was littered with painted pots, buckets, stools, signs- anything you could paint got a splash of color- sometimes with good results, sometimes not so much.

Late in the afternoon I stumbled upon (literally, I was sunburned, sick, hungry and about to call it quits) this lovely tent from Windham, Maine, by the girls from My Sister’s Garage. Beautifully decorated, it had more the appearance of a lovely shabby chic showroom than the random piles of goods many dealers had laying around on the ground. Rejuvinated, I moved on to Beth Hylan Designs, another pretty booth featuring vintage creations by Beth, next to her partners from Nesting on Main, another lovely tent at the show.  The next stop was at Painted Pretty– and boy was it ever! The show-tent pulled me in with the color palette- teals and grays and black- so country pretty! I had seen badly re-painted furniture all day long, so I was so impressed with the quality and the beauty of their work. (By the way, they sell at the SoWa Vintage Market in Boston- definitely worth the trip if you are in the market for a vintage painted piece).

And the winner is..Industrial Chic! This table from Vintage Studios is an example of what you can do with some old factory parts, ingenuity and a lot of heavy lifting.

The biggest presence at the fair (other than those blue glazed jugs that seemed to be on every single table!) – was Industrial. If it came from an old warehouse, factory, barn or henhouse, someone up-cycled and re-purposed it into a bed, desk, sign, table, lamp, bench or light fixture. The more rustic and rustier the better. AMAZING. Got some great ideas for the Barn Workshop Project (details soon)

So with that I will leave you with a few more images of the best of the day, like these fabulous woven bags by Ahinsa Lifetime Weavers or these colorfully painted stools…and if you were wishing you had gone to “The Show”which I guess you could call the Big Leagues of Antiquing, don’t fret, they’ll be back in July! Signing off to put more sunburn cream on my face… Susan

Industrial Chic?

When you have to hold your screen on to the storm door with duct tape, is that considered “industrial chic!?”


Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…

…I found a mirror for my new front hall!!! With the Hall of Shame project still ongoing, I have been searching for artwork, occasional tables and other assorted items to fill the space once it is completed. (and, yes, it is still a work in progress- but good things come to those who wait, right?) Along with my usual trips to HomeGoods and the various local antique and junque shops I frequent, I do make an occasional stop at my local Salvation Army Store. With a large furniture showroom in the back, you never know what you might find- like my fabulous new $10.00 mirror!

It’s a horrible brown circa 1970’s faux wood grain, but it’s the perfect size and the top detail is exquisite-it actually mirrors the curved shapes of the soon-to-be-hung damask wallpaper. You would almost think that was intentional, right?

Time to hit it with a coat of Kilz to cover that faux wood paint and the faint odor of mildew/smoke that often accompanies a cast-off piece of furniture, origins unknown. Looks better already! So I grabbed my Ipad and started searching on Pinterest and some of my favorite blogs for color inspiration.

Thinking bold and bright

or soft and dreamy

daring (not sure what happens when your toe hits those mirrors!)

or darling

Mirrors can open up your space (Ah,Versailles…)

Reflect your true face

And welcome you into a warm, homey space (hopefully mine : )

And then I saw this Jonathan Adler mirror and this entryway with pieces from Oomph! and that was it-color chosen.

Tangerine Tango is the Pantone Color of the Year, and what goes better with the Smoke Blue I’ve chosen for the walls than its complementary color, orange? So I chose this yummy shade called Mesa Sunrise from Behr. Now, Benjamin Moore is my go-to paint for just about everything, but Behr sells these little custom mixed sample pots for $2.95, with just enough paint in them for a small project. Here is a sneak preview of the Mesa Sunrise Mirror that will soon be welcoming you into my new front hall. And if Pantone comes out with the newest “color of the year” I can always change it! Total investment for this project: $12.95 + tax.

Mesa Sunrise Mirror in the making

Enjoy your Friday- and just remember to make each day a reflection of your best you! Susan

Classe de couleur avec Claude Monet

Bonjour, les etudiants! Today’s class is “color inspiration from the famous impressionist artist Claude Monet“. A few year’s ago we took a Seine River Cruise from Normandy to Paris (magnifique!) with many stops along the way, including Rouen (where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake), Normandy (where the allies stormed the beaches in WWII) and one of my favorites, Giverny, the home of French Impressionist Claude Monet. Monet was a master in the use of color, both in his famous paintings and in his home and gardens, which he planted to inspire his works of art.

Let’s take the tour of Monet’s Home in Giverny…and use it as your own inspiration!

Monet’s Parlor in MonoChromatic Blue

Monochromatic Living Rooms Today

The Yellow and Red Dining Room of GivernyInspired Yellow and Red Dining Rooms

                 Blue and Copper Kitchens- Complementary Blue and Orange

Monet’s Stunning Kitchen at Giverny

Modern Blue and Copper Kitchens-beautiful!                           The Pastel Bedroom Upstairs in Monet’s Home-

Split Complementary Colors of Yellow, Green and LavenderAn adorable children’s room from with yellow, green and lavender- so pretty!

What’s in a Name?

Since the design blogging world appears to be populated with primarily smart, stylish, young and mostly female designers/writers, it has occurred to me that some of what I am writing about may be irrelevant or puzzling to this generation of bloggers. Whether I am referencing Petula Clark, or quoting Shakespeare,  I am thinking that my readers “get it”. But apparently that isn’t always case.

I had recently started drafting my latest blog about Buffalo Plaid. You know-big, giant check fabric- very popular and used on everything from Wellies to shams. Then I received a blogger’s email entitled “Gingham”- with pics of buffalo plaid- which is SO not gingham. Does it matter? To me, it does. I figure if I am going to put “pen to paper’, I should have my facts straight. So I polled my co-workers- smart, well-educated young women-and was greeted with blank stares when I asked them if they could identify Buffalo Plaid. Hmmm. So my first thought was perhaps I need to change the way I write and the content to appeal to this young generation of bloggers. But then I recalled a comment made by my marketing instructor, Interior Designer Rachel Hazelton, who had recently returned from the Design Bloggers Conference in LA with this thought: “Be who you are and write about what you know. You cannot be everything to everyone. Just find your niche and write about that.” I guess if it worked for Dr. Seuss, it can work for me too! So without further ado, introducing BUFFALO PLAID!!

I have loved it since I was a kid. It is big, bold and graphic, whether in pastels or primary colors. The identifiable characteristics are the squares that are large and equal in size, so you can turn the pattern horizontally or vertically and it will look the same.Trending today in every rainbow hue, it marries just as well with toile and florals as it does standing alone. It can be rusticor elegant simple or simply charming

Legend has it that Buffalo Plaid made its 1914 American debut with a logging company’s ad campaign featuring Lumberjack Paul Bunyan, but it actually dates back to Scottishman Rob Roy Macgregor, who was stylin’ in his tartan kilt. Buffalo plaid has everything to do with MacGregor’s ancestors in the buffalo trade (hence the name), and nothing to do with cowboys and farmers. For the full unabridged story, click here:

So there you have it. Everything you ever wanted to know about Buffalo Plaid. And the next time someone asks you the difference between checks and plaids, because I know that comes up often in conversation, please refer them to this blog. In the meantime, enjoy the pics on my Pinterest Buffalo Plaid Page. “Checking” out for today…Susan 


I recently attended a Language of Color class and discovered, much to my delight and amazement, that I LOVE PINK!! Always thought of myself as a blue person- cool, calm, confident. Ah, but pink makes me sigh,

it catches my eye

makes me smile

brightens my life

Pink sky at morning, sailors take warning

Pink sky at night, sailor’s delight

Pink Has Attraction

Pink is Perfection 

Pink is Seduction

Pink Makes a Splash

The elegant Audrey Hepburn once said “I believe in pink…”

So I guess I am in good company. Don’t be afraid to add a bit of pink to your life! Have a colorful day! Susan

Treasures and Trash-The Reveal!

The big reveal… how’d I do?


So after a couple of weeks of treasure hunting, bargain shopping and using what I already had on hand, here is the finished product! I just love it : ) Hanging cozily in the corner of my dining room, the colorful pieces create a bright mosaic that is soooo eye-catching and country pretty! Although it looks similar in style to my inspiration piece from Country Living Magazine, it has my unique color stamp on it. And isn’t that what decorating your life is all about? Let me know if you like it! (and if you happen to come across and red and white teapot in your treasure hunt, I’m your girl)

Before…Blue Botanicals…my inspiration from Country Living.

(Previous post below)

My first thought was “Ooh, that’s so country pretty!”. My second thought was “Wait, I have one of those plate racks in the barn!”. (I know, I know, who has a barn, anyway?!? And where did I get all this stuff that’s in the barn? Yard sales!!) Time for a recycling project. So I dug out this dusty old black painted rack from the loft, cleaned it off, and then painted it with several coats of Benjamin Moore Atrium White  Regal Aqual Pearl.

Now, realizing that the dining room where the rack will be hanging is red and white, I decided to hit the road in seach of yard sales to find some pretty red platters, plates and cups for my as-yet-to-be-hung plate rack. And since today was Small Business Saturday, I checked out some of our local downtown antique shops as well. First up, the Craigslist resale store. Didn’t know these existed! Apparently you give them your stuff on commission and they sell them on CL. You get rid of stuff, they make money-brilliant! The place was packed with stuff and shoppers, but no luck there, unless I happened to be in the market for a pink car. So, off to check out an estate sale.  Sadly, these typically hold the belongings of a deceased love one, whose life will be measured in the profits gained from the sale of their treasures. I found these pretty little scalloped plates-and I will give them a good home and pass them on to the next generation, who will most likely sell them at my estate sale-hopefully for a profit…

Then on to The Queen’s Vault Antique Shop. Loads of victorian furniture, silver, crystal and blue and white dishes galore! Discovered that although blue and white is quite common for porcelain and pottery, red and white is much rarer and difficult to come across. But I did find a pretty red cup and saucer, and left my “wish list” in case he comes across anything else.  Next up was Wakefield Uncommon Antiques.

(We have a beautiful lake in Wakefield, and at one end is a large common with a gazebo. Hence the clever name…) Score! Loads of red and white to choose from. Didn’t buy anything because the prices weren’t marked and the young lad manning the register had no idea what to charge. Will have to return when the owner is present. I need those dishes! After that, a drive around town to admire the gloriously blooming trees and tulips, a few more yard sales and then all of a sudden I was at HomeGoods! Now I don’t know about your car, but it appears that my new CRV has a Blue-tooth enabled homing device that guides me directly to the nearest HomeGoods. Scored again with two plates in the clearance racks that will add a bit more color to my collection. Tomorrow’s task will be to hang the shelf securely so that it won’t come crashing down with all of my new-found treasures. When you have a home that was built during the James Buchanan Administration, chances are you have walls made of horsehair and lathing. This lathing is small skinny strips of wood, held together with plaster mixed with the hair of a horses mane or tail. Seriously? Every time I hammer anything, all I hear is chunks of the stuff falling out of the wall. This ought to be good…pics to follow.

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