Beginning Anew & A Giveaway!

This past year has been one of great joys and great sorrows for me personally. The birth of our very first grandchild (he’s a wee bit camera shy, but suffice to say-and this is my totally unbiased opinion- that he is the cutest baby in the whole world…) followed by the incredible wedding celebration of our son to his lovely bride, were both the happiest of  occasions.

Let's Dance 2016

But, those extraordinary events were overshadowed by the diagnosis, illness and subsequent death of my mother,

Mom Green Sweater

(their beloved grandmother and great-grandmother) who passed away recently at 89 years young from cancer. To say that the events of the past year were overwhelming is an understatement. Each presented its own set of unique demands and daily challenges, and each was equally important in its own right. So, during that time, blogging was most definitely not in the forefront of my mind. Getting through each day, surviving until the next dawn broke was about all I had the time and energy for…and so it had been some time, until quite recently, since I had put “pen to paper” to write my stories. But time marches on, as they say, and life settles down, and we move forward…or in this case, backwards…to a time when I was happily painting and sawing and sanding and DIY’ing and sharing it all with you on social media.

Vintage Americana Heart Logo

In the past few weeks, I have started (and finished!) some new projects, remembered to take photos

Hail to the Whale Finished Logo

and share them on social media-which, in itself, was pretty amazing! So, I am finally beginning to re-furbish and re-love the pieces that have been lying dormant in the basement…and the barn…and the shed during this long and lonely winter. Loving this sweet little side table I recently re-did but completely forgot to write about.

IMG_0037

But I do have one problem. I recently moved my blog server back to WordPress.com (a long and frustrating story for another day). But with that move, I was not able to bring all of you, my lovely readers along with me! Those of you who had joined the ranks of my blog followers over the past few years will no longer receive my blog posts…unless we take action…so I need your help! If you wish to continue receiving email notices of my blog posts and DIY escapades (and, remember, we never, ever, EVER use your email for any other purpose : ), and I hope that you do, you need to click on this link to the home page of my blog https://countrydesignhome.com/

Blog Home Page

scroll down to the right side of the screen until you get to the line that reads “follow my blog”. Fill in the little window your email address, click send, and you will receive a confirmation email from me via Word Press. Just hit confirm, and you are done! Now, I know this is a pain in the neck and you are thinking, “well, this is a pain in the neck”, so I am going to sweeten the pot a wee bit. All of the email confirmations I receive by April 15th will be placed in a random drawing and one lucky person will win a $50 Amazon.com gift card…as a personal thanks from me to you…

Amazon Gift Card

…because we can all use a little fun news on Tax Day, right? So, thanks for understanding, and thanks for being part of my life and allowing me to share my stories with you…and I am hoping that we can now we can finally begin anew. Susan xoxo

 

Bathroom Remodel Week One

Since the bathroom remodel is in week one and moving full steam ahead, I thought I would share a few photos along the way, kind of a NON-DIY diary. I am very, very grateful that this is NOT a DIY project by me, but instead is in the very capable hands of our contractor Matt from Couture Construction. I know that working in a 160-year-old house has its unique challenges and I think Matt has his hands full trying to make sense of the Jenga-style construction techniques

Jenga Game Amazon.com

 

that were used to build this bathroom back in the day.

Bathroom Demo Wall ExposedBetween the horsehair plaster and the patchwork of flooring (using whatever boards they happened to have handy) and an occasional mouse in the wall,

Bathroom Remodel Trapped Mouseevery day I see Matt digging in and pulling junk out until now there is less actual bathroom and more bags of demo trash sitting in the driveway next to the toilet and sink. So here is the before…please don’t judge me because of the seashell sink. It was a thing once…


Bathroom Remodel BeforeThis is day one: horsehair plaster & lathing exposed (wait, is there supposed to be daylight shining through along that eave?)

Bathroom Remodel Horsehair Plaster Wallsday two: the walls come down

Bathroom Remodel Day 2day three-whoops- almost fell in!

Bathroom Remodel Day Three FloorRemember the time when I tore up the hall carpet to remodel the hallway in time for Easter (in 2012?!?)? Well, thank goodness we never added the carpeting to the as of yet unfinished Hall of Shame, knowing that we would eventually be remodeling the bath at the top of the stairs. Because look at these stairs now!

Bathroom Remodel StairsThey were really bad to begin with after two years of white paint and no carpet, but now with muddy shoes and boots coming and going, they’re just plain gross. I cannot wait for this bathroom reno to be finished so I can finally carpet those stairs-perhaps in time for Easter 2014?? But from that point on, its shoes off when you hit the hallway! Have a great Thursday, everyone. Just remember to be grateful for the simple things we so often take for granted here in the US, like a functional toilet and a nice, hot shower…mine soon enough. Susan

 

 

Wax On, Wax Off

Winter. Cold outside. Cold inside. (with oil at $3.99 per gallon, our home doesn’t reach much higher than 62 degrees-EVER). Forced hot air furnace. Dry. Dusty. Dry. I am continually washing my hands, both at work (in the medical field, sterile is key) and at home. All of the painting, sanding, cleaning and woodworking I am doing has left my hands incredibly cracked and painful and bloody.

Cracked, Dy and Bleeding HandThe other day I looked down and saw the hands of a longshoreman, not a creative DIY blogger! I have tried all kinds of creams and potions and lotions and goops, but nothing has any lasting effects that have soothed my aching and crackling digits. So, I went on Amazon.com and ordered a Dr. Scholl’s for Her (I am not sure why guys can’t use this…) Quick Heat Thermal Therapy Paraffin Bath.

Dr. Scholls Bath and Supplies

Only took a couple of days to get here, and I was anxious to give it a try. The kit, for $29.95 came complete with the unit that has adjustable heat settings, 3 pounds of scented paraffin wax, 2 thermal mitts & 30 plastic glove liners. Now, one word of caution: the included paraffin was very heavily scented. so if you have allergies, this may not be the one for you! Once it was plugged in and warming up, the entire upstairs of our home had the strong scent of orchids. Which kind of made me feel like I was in Hawaii…OK, well, maybe not. But be forewarned. Unpacked the unit, followed the basic instructions.

Dr. Scholls Instructions

Placed it on a flat surface. I would also say that you need to place it somewhere where a little splattering wax won’t harm the surface. The three pounds of wax were packaged in three separately sealed bags.

Dr. Scholls Paraffin in Bag

The instructions were to open each one, then break the wax brick into quarters. Really?! Unless you are the Incredible Hulk

The Incredible Hulk Mitts(and he wouldn’t be using this anyway because it’s for HER), I don’t see how this is possible without some sort of large, sharp implement. In this case, some old, heavy Fiskar shears did the trick-don’t use your good scissors unless you want them to be waxed and slippery!

Waxed ScissorsI used the stab and split method.

Paraffin Bath Wax CuttingPlaced the wax pieces into the unit and turned it to high. The red light indicates it is heating.

Dr. Scholls Paraffin Bath LightsThere is also a flat plastic plate with holes in it that is to rest inside on the bottom of the unit once the wax is melted. This is clearly to keep you from resting your hands on the hot elements. Smart move, Dr. Scholl.

Bottom Surface PlateNow, I realize that the name on the box says “Quick Heat Paraffin Bath“, but if you were in a hurry to smooth your rough edges before a night on the town, I’m afraid you would be sorely disappointed. The warming time is 2 hours! (the instructions say 120 minutes, I think to throw you off, but I can do the math…) So I plugged it in and went off to do more stuff in my workshop and get ready for the football game, which I determined would coincide with the precise melting point time. Fast forward…green light on…dipping time! You place your hand into the warm pretty hot wax, fingers slightly apart, dipping for just a couple of seconds, then pulling your hand out.

Dipping hand in wax bathWait a few seconds until the wax starts to harden, then dip again, each time adding another coat of wax to your hand. They recommended 5 coats, and that was just about right to create a waxy, sealed glove.

Re-dipping to for wax glove

Placed my hand in one of the baggies,

Plastic bag covering wax

then donned the terry mitt.

One Mitt OnClearly, at this point, I could not longer take pics, so I came downstairs at the start of the game and asked Coach to help me out. He had no clue why I was wearing pastel blue oven mitts, nor why I was asking him to take my photo-lol!

Mitts onDuring the first quarter, the wax slowly cooled off (as did the Colts), so after approx. 15 minutes I removed the mitts and the plastic baggies to uncover this-

Waxed hand afterthe wax had cooled but stayed somewhat soft, so I pulled that off too and I was left with a baggie full of cooled wax.

Remainder Wax After The instructions recommend discarding the wax, (you know, germs and all) but I figured, since I am the only one using it, why not recycle? What was left on my hands was a layer of lotion that I then massaged into my hands, per the instructions. Which felt great, but the scent was still quite heavy, so I ended up washing them a couple of times and then creaming them up.

Hand after wax bath

The verdict? Overall, I love this Dr. Scholl’s paraffin bath! My hands felt instantly smoother and less cracked and my knuckles were less achy too! For the time being, I am planning on making this a nightly ritual until my hands start looking less like a lumberjack’s, or until the warm weather arrives, whichever comes first. However, I am planning on purchasing some new, unscented wax to replace the orchids-if I can’t be in Hawaii, then I don’t want to be reminded of tropical breezes while the wind is howling outside here in New England.

Holiday Palm Trees

Hopefully it’s warm where you are, and just remember to do a bit of pampering for yourself today…Susan

High Five for Easy Holiday Decorating!

Loving Christmas carols this time of year. One of my favs is “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas“…but I’m not really. Although I love a bit of white on the ground, the rest of it (shoveling, boots, cleaning off the car, dodging giant icicles hanging from the roof, etc) is not my cup of tea.

My Little Red Ice House

But, we live in New England, so we take what we get! So far, no snow to be seen-yay! So I wanted to make some decorations with a little fake snow to give the illusion of winter, without the hassle. So, this week’s High Five For Friday goes to Santa Snow in a can!! Makes everything merry and bright and cheerful and white : )Wreath Santa Snow & Glitter My latest D.I.M. project: needing a new holiday front door wreath, I found an old autumn wreath in the barn.

 

Wreath Autumn

It was a little beat up, and quite a few of the berries had little bites taken out of them. Hmmm…

Wreath Berries

I think one of our barn critters thought they were having themselves a feast! So I pulled out all of the autumn leaves, and sprayed an undercoat of white enamel paint. I always keep a few of these around- at 99 cents a can, you can’t go wrong!

Wreath White Quick Color

 

Wreath Painted

Then I hit it with my new favorite decorating tool- fake Santa Snow in a can!! This week’s High Five For Friday! LOVE. And some sprinkle glitter- it’s bling in a bottle. LOVE. So then the berries looked like this (well, it looks prettier in person- this kind of looks like a magnified science experiment…)Winter Berries on Country Design Home Added a cheery bow (thanks to my new bowmaking skills I learned on Pinterest : ) And we have a pretty new Christmas wreath!!

Wreath Winter White

Total investment: $2.99 for the Santa Snow, $4.99 for the glitter (but I had a 40% coupon, so do the math on that) $.99 for the paint. But I only  used a fraction of those supplies, so I have plenty left over to decorate more stuff! Ribbon: $1.50 for a 5 yard roll. The wreath was a free reclaimed castoff!  Total investment: $3.00 tops! (Disclaimer: just be warned that it is very possible that you are having soooo much fun spraying snow and tying bows that you forget to go to work on time. Just saying…)

My other High Five goes to this amazing Krinner Christmas Tree Standsation.

Krinner Tree Stand Box

Nicknamed the “marriage-saver” for a reason, this is the absolutely world’s best fresh tree stand!

Krinner Tree Stand

For many years, Coach and I have done the annual tree dance of anger using one of those old screw-in type stands. There was always lots of hammering and sawing and rope-tieing and occasional yelling and frustrated sighs…Tree Stand

It would typically take a couple of hours for us to get the tree up in the stand, straightened and tightened, and then tethered to the wall. This year, putting the tree up took…1 minute!!! Straight and secure, no worries about toppling over. Simply amazing. To watch a YouTube how-to video, click here  (Note- this is NOT me and Coach!!!) We purchased ours last year at Orvis.com, but this year every major retailer has them, including Amazon.com. Best investment you will ever make, guaranteed!!! Now we just need to decorate it…anyone have an easy way to string lights?!10 Days til Christmas- make every minute count. Susan

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