Vintage Treasures aka ‘Junk I Don’t Need’

You know the feeling. I know you do.

You see something at a garage sale and your heart skips a beat.

But you’ve been down this road before, so you remain cool.

So cool you would make James Dean look like George Costanza, minus the hat and leather jacket.

You say to the guy, very casually – what are you asking for this thing?

You try to appear nonchalant, as if you’re the only person who would be interested in his junk. But, you’re ready to pay almost anything he asks, within reason. When he says $15, your heart skips ANOTHER beat. You tell him you don’t really have a place for it and the items inside the drawers are of no use to you. You ask ‘will you take $10′? 

A few moments later you’re smiling like the Cheshire cat. Yup. YOU are ;). 



Before we get to my treasure (tell the truth, you knew it was me all along didn’t you?), I’m going to share some pictures I took while on a bike ride the other day. 

It’s no secret New England is gorgeous this time of year. We went on a trail called the Noratuck trail near Northhampton, Massachusetts, a lively college town about 1 hour away. 

I fell in love with this shed and the silver trough on the side. Love the cupola and how pristine the surroundings are, nicer than most homes actually, mine definitely included! I had to brave the elements, the brush and poison ivy to get this shot. Who loves ya’ baby?

vintage treasures



Now here’s the money shot. 


Now on to my recent treasures. In spite of the title of this post, I don’t consider this junk, although I know many, many, people who would

But that’s only because they’re sane.

After all, it was filthy and almost falling apart. After cleaning it up with rust remover and mineral spirits, (and yes, this is the ‘after’ if you can believe it) and hammering in a couple of pieces of wood that had fallen off, I’m giving this a place of honor in my craft room. And I’m not putting manly things inside. I’m not even putting brushes or sewing supplies inside. I’m putting the goodies that I have leftover from the bouquet. Talk about a juxtaposition of materials.

I love it.

I love it in a way most rationale people wouldn’t understand. I love the patina, the well worn look and its history.

It was owned by the grandfather of the man I bought it from and he said it’s from the ’40′s. Judging by it’s condition and some of the items inside, I’d say that’s a conservative estimate. 

It was filled to the brim with small tools, screws and items I couldn’t even identify. Between the steel drawers and the heavy tools, this thing weighed more than moi, and that’s saying a lot since within a 48 hour time span I had some of my apple pie, a cannoli and a Brontosaurus Rex for an appetizer.

 I imagine the man who owned this was one handy dude.


The hinges on the right are exactly like the hinges that are on this console that I acquired several months ago and refinished. They were, and still are, my favorite part of that piece and I hope I can find a use for these hinges someday, not to mention the pretty knobs on the left. 


I’ve been wanting a metal planter like this one in the middle but they’re about $50-75 in the stores and of course they’re lacking that all important patina that I covet. I picked this one up for $5 and the pail on the left was free. And free is good.

vintage drawers

I bought the pails at a different tag sale than the tool chest. The owner of the pails had owned an antique shop and was selling everything off to move to South Dakota. I also picked up an old Waring blender for $3.00. I actually donated one when we moved several months ago but lived to regret it when I started using MMSMP. That stuff really needs to be blended and there’s just no better way to do it than with a blender. 


We’ve been working a bit outside and trying to clean things up so maybe next year there will be a place for these items outside. I imagine they’ll be put to use as planters. Our yard is a hot mess, but I’m hoping that will change in the next year or two. Unlike working inside, I actually don’t enjoy outside work and neither does Fisherman so it’s something that gets put off. Our former home had lovely landscaping but other than the planning of it, I couldn’t take credit for it. We had help with that, but it’s difficult to get reliable, knowledgeable help here and besides, now that we’re retired we have the time so I feel we should do what we can on our own.



In other news…


The storage shed under the deck is complete, although we’re having some issues with water coming in when it rains hard, which it recently did. It’s not terrible, but it needs to be addressed. I spent some time organizing the basement storage areas that are now free of all the stuff that have found a new home in the shed and I feel like I can finally breathe! I’ll show you some pictures next week. They’re not pretty, but since I’ve been yapping about this shed for months I think I should come clean with some pictures.


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The Bridge of Flowers

It’s been a busy week. Places to go, people to see, not the least of which was our daughter and her hubby. By the time you read this, they’ll be on a plane homeward bound and it most likely will be at least a year before we see them again. 

I’m writing this post a little at a time. In a few minutes, I have to get my face on and go to a wedding in NY. I didn’t have much time this week to get as much done as I would have liked around the house, but I thought you might enjoy these pictures, and in between I’ll update you on a few things.

Last week we went to Shelburne Falls which is well known for its ‘Bridge of Flowers’. Although we’ve been coming to Massachusetts as weekenders for nine years and now live here full time, for some reason we never took the time to visit this cute little artsy town, but what better time to visit if not a lovely Autumn day?



I had some fun editing some of these pictures, but believe it or not the above picture isn’t edited at all. I really don’t know how I pulled off this black background other than having the aperture wide open, but isn’t it cool?

Just before we entered the town I saw this house and knew I was headed somewhere I wanted to be. This house happens to be home to a photography business, and I don’t know about you, but I think I’d be happy to go to work every day if it looked like this.


At the end of the main street in town is where the Bridge of Flowers is. Shortly after entering, you will see this well established Wisteria tree. Just look at the trunk on this beauty! I don’t think I’ve ever seen one quite this large.

bridge of flowers

Like many of you, I love flowers, but admittedly I’m terrible about naming the different varieties. I just know what I like. Most of what is on display now on the Bridge are Dahlias, and I think next to Peonies, they’re one of my favorites. 

bridge of flowers

Some of you know I’ve been having issues with my iPad after updating a couple of weeks ago. One of the most notable problems is what I’m experiencing if I try to comment on a Blogger blog. If you don’t have the option for a name/url, I have to comment by just typing in a character so I’m fooling it into thinking I commented, then logging into Google, then returning to your blog and typing my comment. It took me a while to figure it out. At first, I was typing my entire comment only to come back after logging in and it would be gone. Another option is to type the entire comment then copy it, log in, then paste upon returning, but that didn’t always work so I’m sticking with what does. So…if you’re on Blogger and you have that comment system and I’m commenting, know that I love you mucho!


The wedding was lovely last night! The ceremony took place on the Hudson in NY, overlooking beautiful scenery just as the sun was setting. I hope to share some pictures soon. Looks like I used up my data for the month on my phone. I took a couple of videos at the wedding, one of which was more than 10 minutes long of my daughter giving her speech to the bride. She was the matron of honor and I have to say did a fabulous job! She had a recollection of something that happened when she was 4 with the bride that involved me. While it was vivid in her mind, it’s something I barely recall happening. Funny, the things we remember…




We are having dinner at a friends tonight and yesterday before we left for NY I made a cheesecake to bring. It is by far the best cheesecake I’ve ever eaten! After having it at a friend’s a couple of weeks ago I had to get the recipe. I hope to share that too, but it’s always difficult to get pictures in situations like this (but I’ll try). 


I’m still blown away by this picture! Do you like the black background, or am I just weird?











bridge of flowers







There’s a little store just at the foot of the Bridge. The side faces the water and there are three window boxes. I was able to get a close up shot of one. Isn’t it pretty?


Few things can rival Mother Nature’s beauty in the Fall, especially in New England. This was taken a little over a week ago. From now until next week, the leaves will be at their peak.


I know what you’re thinking…’what the heck is that?’ Shelburne Falls is home to granite pot holes, millions of years in the making, taking on the shapes we see today about 14,000 years ago, during the last glacial ice age. It looks surreal and almost creepy doesn’t it? If you’d like to learn a bit more about them and see pictures far better than mine, here’s a link.



In other news…


Have you noticed my new profile pic? The other one was three years old. I was starting to look at it and wondering who that person was, so I got my hair cut and colored on Friday and did a selfie using my tripod. General consensus dictates changing one’s profile pic every two years, so I was long overdue. 

For several months now I’ve been posting once a week, usually on Sunday evenings. I’m enjoying this slower pace, but at the same time there are lots of tidbits that are getting lost in the sauce. You know…the kinds of things that on their own aren’t necessarily worth posting about but really make up our day to day lives. I’m not big with social media, but lately I’ve been posting random pics on Instagram so if you’d like to keep up with my super exciting, celebrity filled life you can follow me by clicking here. I would love to see you there!


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Sometimes you just need some fabric…

Some fabric, and at least half a day all to yourself. That about sums up my day last Thursday. It was a day of revelations and courage. 


Pretty strong words for a post about tablecloths and napkins.

Revelations because I finally realized I wanted to return to my color roots, aka THE LAND OF NEUTRALS. I’ve been getting tired of the reds and greens . Although I love almost all colors and at one time or another I’ve decorated with every color of the rainbow, I think I prefer color in OTHER people’s homes more. 

As for courage…well, my friends, have you met my Serger?

I finally decided to give this beast yet ANOTHER try.

That, I can assure you, takes courage. The likes of which you have never seen. And this is coming from a woman who has stared down bears, had root canal sans novacaine, and once smacked a man sitting next to me on a train so hard his glasses flew three chairs over. 

Don’t ask.


Suffice it to say, I’m no woos. But just the thought of sitting down with this thing leaves me cowering in fear. I’ve had it for YEARS and it has always driven me to the brink of madness. I decided it’s now or never. I would either make something with it, or throw it off the top of a roof, preferably at the Empire State building…just to make sure its demise would be certain.


It must have sensed my fortitude, because…

it actually worked! When I managed to serge a full seam without spewing out any four letter words, or the needle breaking, or the thread getting tangled, I thought the gates of heaven had parted.




Believe me when I tell you my joy and bliss was palpable. So after I whizzed through the tablecloth, I moved on to napkins, napkin rings and placemats. I was a serging maniac and soaked in every last perfectly finished edge.

I can die happy.

Now let me tell you a little bit about this table. We got it shortly after we bought the cabin nine years ago. It’s not super high quality, but it serves its purpose and I’ve always liked its round shape. I’ve been contemplating painting it a soft creamy white color and if anything drew me closer to that thought it’s when the finish was stripped a bit a couple of months ago. You know those tubes that are glow in the dark? Well, our grandson left one on the table and it leaked and this was the result.


Until I get around to painting it, covering it is a good solution. This dining area has gone through lots of changes, and I’m pretty sure it will go through lots more. No. Make that I’m positive it will go through lots more. I’m already thinking of what I’m going to do with this space next, which may or may not involve tan gingham checked drapes, matching or coordinating chair cushions, painting the table a soft white, and maybe some long overdue new dinnerware in a contrasting color. I was originally thinking of painting just the bottom of the table but unless I’m willing to totally strip the top, that idea may go buy the wayside and I’ll end up painting the whole thing.

Here’s the naked table:


In my quest to keep things light and neutral, I borrowed a cream fuzzy rug from the living room. It immediately added lightness and texture to the space which was exactly what I was going for. 


I had some cute trim that I used around the edge of the tablecloth and as an accent for the napkin rings. I also made placemats with some fabric that luckily matched perfectly. (Yes, I also had both of these for years. Are you seeing a pattern here? And are you getting the fact that in one afternoon I made a tablecloth, napkin rings, napkins AND placemats? I’m getting tingly all over just thinking about it).




I made a burlap wreath last year and decided to use that in the center of the table around an organic wooden bowl, and I added some burlap ribbon for a little fullness.


Last but not least, here’s my attempt at a floral arrangement. Can you stand the mind blowing creativity here?

simple floral arrangement


So there you have it.

My first attempt at making a round tablecloth. √

Using fabric and trim I’ve had for years. √

My first time using my Serger and not needing Prosac √

Life is good.


In other news…the now internet famous storage shed is complete, and it took about a New York minute to fill it. Seriously. I can’t believe all that junk stuff was in our house! As I’m typing this (on Saturday) our daughter and her hubby are flying to NY from their home in Singapore for a week. We will see her Wednesday and next Saturday, so we’re looking forward to that, but in between visits I’ll be working on a small storage room in the house that I’ve newly acquired because of the outside shed freeing up some inside space and I’ll be cleaning up a tiny little storage chest I scored yesterday which needs lots of TLC. I’m talking TSP, wire brush and rust remover kinda TLC. I’ll show you soon.


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Blue Ribbon Apple Pie

I will admit, I’m not a *huge* fan of pies. Don’t get me wrong. I like them and have been known to indulge on more than one occasion. But given a choice, I’d much rather use up my daily calorie allotment for something like this, or this, or this.

At least until now. 

Recently I received a catalog from King Arthur with this pie illustrated on the cover. Good move King Arthur, because I couldn’t resist making this if for no other reason but to see if it would be any different than a million other apple pie recipes out there.

Well, the verdict is in.



I served it for dessert when our friends came to dinner last week. You know how you can tell it’s a winner? When a seemingly lively conversation pretty much stops dead in its tracks and everyone barely picks their head up while woofing down the calorie laden concoction in front of them.

Admit it. You know exactly what I’m talking about. ;)

This pie won first place at the Lancaster, NH fair, and it’s easy to see why. The crust is crispy but moist, the apples hold their shape but aren’t under done, and the unconventional addition of a crumb topping and caramel sauce gives it great texture and flavor. I added dried cherries simply because I love them, but eliminate them if you’d like. But whatever you do, make this. Maybe your bikini won’t thank you, but your friends and family will. Besides, that’s what elastic is for. 





This is just a self-indulgent, gratuitous picture of the table I set the night I served the pie. I put this in in case I want to submit this post to any ‘tablescape’ link parties so it will qualify. I have no shame.


The soup bowls were used to serve this soup, one of my favorites and so unbelievably easy to make you would be just plain silly not to try it. I also served an appetizer that uses pretty much just two ingredients and took about 3 minutes to make (not counting the time in the refrigerator to ‘set’). I’ll share that with you soon.

apple pie


Blue Ribbon Caramel Apple Pie
A delicious apple pie that combines a flaky, buttery crust with a streusel topping.
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  1. Crust
  2. 2 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  3. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  4. 1 cup cold unsalted butter
  5. 1/2 cup ice water
  6. Filling
  7. 1 cup sugar
  8. 1/4 cup King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose Flour
  9. 1 teaspoon Vietnamese Cinnamon
  10. 1 1/2 pounds apples, peeled, cored and sliced (I used a combination of Honey Crisp and Granny Smith)
  11. 1 cup dried cherries (optional)
  12. 1/2 cup caramel apple dip, divided
  13. 2 tablespoons milk or cream (I used cream)
  14. Streusel
  15. 1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  16. 1/2 cup brown sugar
  17. 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
  2. Combine the flour and salt. Work in the butter to make an unevenly crumbly mixture. Add enough water to bring the dough together. (I did this step in a food processor, but doing it by hand is even better). Divide it in half, shape into disks, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  4. Combine the sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Stir in the apples and dried cherries if using. Combine 2 tablespoons caramel apple dip with the milk or cream. Toss with the apples.
  6. Combine the flour and sugar. Work in the butter until crumbly.
  8. Roll one piece of dough into a 12" round, and lay it into a 9" pie plate. Spoon in the filling; sprinkle with the topping.
  9. Roll the second piece of dough into a circle slightly larger than your pie plate. Cut 2" wide strips, and weave a lattice crust. Seal and crimp the edges.
  10. Bake the pie in a preheated 375 degree oven for 40-55 minutes (the original recipe says 45-55 but using my convection setting 40 minutes was perfect). Cool it for 15 minutes, then drizzle with the remaining caramel apple dip; warming the dip slightly helps with drizzling. Cool the pie for at least 2 hours before serving.
  1. Tip: to keep your crust cold, while rolling the first dough and filling the pie I kept the 'lattice' in the refrigerator.
Adapted from Anita Newell for King Arthur
Adapted from Anita Newell for King Arthur


In other news… 


As I’m typing this Fisherman is vacuuming up water in our basement. We were away for the weekend and when we returned some of our pipes seemed to have sprung some leaks. If ever there was a case for endorsing carpet tiles, this is one of them.

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The House With A Broken Heart


Not too far from the side of the country roads, the old houses still stand. 




A testament to the workmanship of centuries ago.  

But neglected vines climb up the rain spout and work their way under the roof shingles, seemingly choking what were once no doubt spirited, lovely homes.

But there is still beauty in it.


The kind of beauty only something old can bring. I love old things. Their memories, struggles and joys remain with us. I suppose if you think of a house as little more than wood and nails, you might find this strange. But if you believe, as I do, that a house, especially one that has provided shelter for generations, takes on a life of it’s own, then you understand.


There are many houses not far from our cabin that have fallen victim to neglect. Each time I pass them it makes me sad and I secretly, albeit irrationally, hope that one day they will all magically be returned to their former beauty. 


I came across this poem and knew I had to share it with you. It expresses my sentiments precisely.

The House with Nobody In It
Joyce Kilmer

Whenever I walk to Suffern along the Erie track

I go by a poor old farmhouse with its shingles broken and black.

I suppose I’ve passed it a hundred times, but I always stop for a minute

And look at the house, the tragic house, the house with nobody in it.


I never have seen a haunted house, but I hear there are such things;

That they hold the talk of spirits, their mirth and sorrowings.


I know this house isn’t haunted, and I wish it were, I do;

For it wouldn’t be so lonely if it had a ghost or two.


This house on the road to Suffern needs a dozen panes of glass,

And somebody ought to weed the walk and take a scythe to the grass.

It needs new paint and shingles, and the vines should be trimmed and tied;

But what it needs the most of all is some people living inside. 


If I had a lot of money and all my debts were paid

I’d put a gang of men to work with brush and saw and spade.

I’d buy that place and fix it up the way it used to be

And I’d find some people who wanted a home and give it to them free.


Now, a new house standing empty, with staring window and door,

Looks idle, perhaps, and foolish, like a hat on its block in the store.


But there’s nothing mournful about it; it cannot be sad and lone

For the lack of something within it that it has never known.


But a house that has done what a house should do,

a house that has sheltered life,


That has put its loving wooden arms around a man and his wife,


A house that has echoed a baby’s laugh and held up his stumbling feet,

Is the saddest sight, when it’s left alone, that ever your eyes could meet.


So whenever I go to Suffern along the Erie track

I never go by the empty house without stopping and looking back,


Yet it hurts me to look at the crumbling roof and the shutters fallen apart,

For I can’t help thinking the poor old house is a house with a broken heart.


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Our Excellent RV Adventure

Well, we finally did it. We rented an RV and went to the Cape to get a feel for the lifestyle and figure out if we might want to purchase one. As you might have guessed from the name of this post, I believe the answer is a resounding ‘YES’!


Many people who know me might be surprised to learn I was driving this glorified truck, cooking outdoors on a small propane grill, using the shower facilities on the campsite alongside spiders and other creepy crawlers, and generally embracing the rustic and casual lifestyle. My friends are more likely to imagine me spending a day at a Spa getting kneaded and waxed and primped. Come to think of it, so do I.


But I love nature. I love the outdoors. And I love the freedom RV’ing allows. Now, make no mistake, we had full hook ups, and all the other amenities one might expect in a new RV. I am, after all, not quite ready for a corn cob pipe and overalls.

Now about that RV. Wanna see the inside?

Here’s the Queen size bed. It was comfy and cozy, but upon seeing it I bowed to the Pilates Gods and thanked them for keeping me limber. Forget about making the bed every day. It’s almost impossible to tuck the sheets in. I just gave in to the fact things wouldn’t be perfect for a few days, while making a mental note to self *get an RV with full access around the bed*. 


At night, we removed the table and watched countless episodes of Breaking Bad from this spot (best show EVER!!).


I never used the Barbie oven or stove top. No amount of Pilates would provide the flexibility I would need to cook in this kitchen. Practically NO counter space. There’s a little fold up table to the left of the sink, which, by the way, would rattle like crazy while driving if we forgot to put it up. And you see that little wand for the blinds above the sink? We finally figured out we needed to remove it while driving or that too would shake like a James Bond martini. And should I mention we each hit out heads on the cabinet door near the entry when we forgot to close it about a million times?


Here’s the bathroom, and I use that term loosely. A hobbit would feel claustrophobic in here. Which explains why I was happy to shower alongside spiders using the campground facilities. And did I mention there were spiders? Hah! Spiders would run from the insect I saw the first day I showered! There was a bug the likes I’ve never seen before, just making himself at home by my feet in the shower. This thing was at LEAST two inches long by about one inch wide. A lesser woman would have run with her feet touching her head, but I’m macho in case you didn’t know. 


So there’s the penny tour. Our renting experiment was a great exercise is learning what *not* to buy. We’re thinking maybe something around 28′ with a slide-out would be just about perfect. We shall see.

One thing we did think was adequately sized were the windows. We found THAT out when we left the keys locked inside the RV and Fisherman had to boost me up with his hands while pushing me head first inside. And yes, the visual of my ass hanging out the window was every bit as funny as you might imagine.

Now let’s move on, shall we??

Now how about a blow-by-blow of our trip? You know you’re dying to hear all about it ;).

Here’s a shot I took of our neighbor across the street from our RV the night we first got there. Lots of people have park homes that are kept in this community year round and they come from places like Florida to spend the summers, or they live within a few hours and spend weekends almost year round.

cape cod



So many of the park homes or RV’s had sheds, and from what I saw, this community knows how to do sheds right. 





The homes ranged from permanent structures, complete with screened in porches, to freestanding RV’s like we had, to trailers that have add ons like this one. I did some research and found that some of these homes are being sold for anywhere between $7,500 for a basic, dated trailer to $60,000+ for fully equipped and modernized park homes. 




The weather cooperated, and we were able to enjoy time on the beach…


with the seagulls…


and the hundreds, if not thousands, of horseshoe crabs that washed up to shore and met their demise.


On Thursday we did one of my favorite things. We took the short drive to the seaside community of Chatham, notable for being the easternmost point in the US and one of the Cape’s most well known and beautiful destinations, and took a walk around this lovely area. Here on the Cape understated elegance abounds, with weathered gray clapboard siding complete with white picket fences and window boxes filled with fire engine red geraniums.

These are the homes that make you want to leave the hustle and bustle behind, if only you had maybe a million or two…or three. In stark contrast to the opulent homes I posted about a few weeks ago in Newport, Cape Cod has a far more relaxed, livable and unpretentious vibe.

But don’t take my word for it. Come along with me on a walking tour!

yellow house





Adding just the right amount of whimsy, neutral exteriors are often punctuated by a brightly colored door such as this. So charming! 








beach house

Nestled amongst the casual and neutral colored exteriors of the homes in Chatham is this brightly colored storefront. Surprisingly, it didn’t look out of place or garish in any way, but rather cheerful and welcoming and a nice respite from the neutrality that abounds. 


Our our last day there, we went to the beach and stayed till sunset. When the tide is out, you can walk for a mile or more before ever getting close to water. It was an interesting sight to see dozens of boats, almost as if they were shipwrecked and abandoned, simply waiting for the tide to come in and be called to duty.

Notice the changes in the light, all within a relatively short time span.




We changed in the RV and went to dinner before heading back to the camp grounds for the night, something that certainly can’t be done in a car. On Saturday, we reluctantly said goodbye not only to Cape Cod, but summer. Inevitably, Autumn has taken hold here in Massachusetts. How about where you are? Are you putting on your flannel jammies yet? 


In other news…I’ve been busy booking us into a few places in Florida for the months of January and February. We’re spending January on the east coast and February on the west. Those two months can be the bleakest here in the Northeast, and it will be nice to get away for an extended period of time. Something we haven’t done in a very, very long time.


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Styling Tips for Console Tables

Looks like I’ve succumbed to the Fall decorating bug. Even though I decided to keep things simple this year and use what I already have, I made the mistake of going to HomeGoods the other day. Need I say more? Probably not.

But that’s never stopped me before. 


I love console tables. They’re easily one of the most versatile, multi-functional pieces you can own. They’re fabulous in entryways, mudrooms, behind sofas…just about anywhere you might need a narrow piece to showcase some treasures or provide a handy place to throw some keys.




I finally finished painting these shelves. In their previous life, they were placed one on top of the other vertically in sets of two, back to back, and housed our sheets and towels in a narrow closet in our master bath. They were a little too narrow to be as functional as I wanted so I replaced them with wider shelving and decided to repurpose them in a hallway just outside our bedroom and turn them into a console table.

hallway console


We bought some wooden legs at Home Depot and attached them to the sides, turned them horizontally and arranged them so they weren’t identical for a bit more interest. I started out using some Milk Paint in Lucketts Green but quickly realized that was overkill. These shelves are so poorly made and cheap they weren’t worthy, so I used some paint I had leftover from a previous project and it worked out fine. It turned out to be a pretty good match with the existing rug too.

I was going to call this post ‘a console table two ways’, but then it turned into three ways, then four. I was a little outta control. I tried a few different items and as of this writing still haven’t settled on what I want to end up with. The one thing that I know will stay is the rice paper lamp on the right. It gives off a lovely glow but boy, is it hard to take good pictures of that! Actually, this entire space is one of the most difficult to photograph. To the right is a door that leads to our deck with a glass panel that casts such a glaring light I had to cover it with some fabric to soften it a bit. Oh, the things we bloggers do!

Now on to some styling tips…


1 – Don’t over complicate things


I think styling can sometimes be a little intimidating. There’s a fine line between too simple and too busy. This first example is about as simple as it gets! In looking at it, I think I need one more thing on the bottom left, but I think it shows that not every ‘cubby’ or space needs to be filled. Don’t be afraid to let a space breathe.



2 – Use different textures


Texture is one of the most important elements in a space, and yet it’s one aspect of designing so many people don’t even think about. To give a space life, combine shiny finishes with dull, or try a chippy or rough texture with some bling. Think old shutters with shiny crystal. So pretty, right?

(This ModPodge bowl was lots of fun to do, and was featured on ModPodge Rocks. It’s one of my most viewed posts so click here if you’d like the ‘how-to’.)



hallway console


3 – Don’t forget scale and proportion


Varying heights create interest, and keeps your eye moving around the space. Have a statement piece like this one, or a lamp to add height and function.



4 – Create a theme


Here’s a big surprise for you (and yes, that was sarcastic). For this table, I went with a nature inspired feel. This is the one thing I got at HomeGoods. It’s long so it takes up a fair amount of space on the table and is super versatile! I can use it on the mantel, the cocktail table, even the antique ironing board by the dining table. Love stuff like that!



5 – Don’t be afraid of neutrals


Now, that’s a tip you don’t hear too often, right? With few exceptions, I decided to use neutrals almost entirely for this table. The rug, painting and the console itself brings more than enough color into the space.  Be aware though, if you opt for neutrals, varying textures becomes even more important.

hallway console

Although I like this piece, I’m leaning more toward the chunkier one in the second picture. What do you think?




I’m also in the market for another console table for the master bedroom, but I’m looking for something a little unique and artsy, but affordable. I should have gone to Brimfield to look for one this week, but…

cape cod

This will be a first for both of us. The closest either one of us has gotten to camping was sitting around a campfire making smores in our friends’ backyards, so it should be interesting. We spent the better part of today getting ready and gathering together what we need. I’ll have lots to share next week! 


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A Week In Newport

Newport Rhode Island is a place like no other. More than any other town, it stands as a visual reminder of the Gilded Age, the period between 1878-1899, when Americans who achieved monumental wealth celebrated it in ways never before, nor since, seen.

A few weeks ago my friend invited us to spend the night at a house she was renting for the week (pictured here), located approximately 30 minutes outside of Newport.


It sat so close to the ocean that the water, when the tide was in, was just feet away from the house. If you look closely you can see the lines in the sand where the surf settled. Fisherman and I slept on the lower level which consisted of a bedroom and powder room,  but we had a front row seat to ocean views, and the sounds of the waves crashing on the shore lulled us to sleep.





We hadn’t given much thought originally to extending our trip into Newport, but once we decided to do so I did some research and found an excellent deal at a B&B located in the heart of town. The deal was so good I was afraid of what we might find (it had mixed reviews on TripAdvisor). In fact, I felt compelled to bring our own sheets and towels fearing bed bugs or other such creatures that go bump in the night.

Thankfully, my concerns were unfounded. The room, while small, was tastefully and simply decorated with lovely antiques, and was sans any bed bugs.

This picture was taken along the famous Cliff Walk, a short walk from our B&B. Look closely. Do you see a dog’s face in the rocks? 


Have you ever seen a fence with locks on it and wondered its significance? Apparently couples place a lock on a bridge, fence or gate to represent  their love. Typically their names or initials are inscribed on the lock and the key is thrown away to symbolize unbreakable love.


A trip to Newport would not be complete without a tour or two of its famous mansions. The Breakers, Newport’s ‘Crown Jewel’, is arguably the most famous of them all and has long been Rhode Island’s most popular tourist attraction. Built by Cornelius Vanderbilt III, it consists of 70 rooms (33 reserved for the help) and I believe is approximately 128,000 square feet. And to think this is what The Vanderbilt’s called a ‘cottage’!


No interior pictures are permitted on any of the tours. You will just have to use your imagination when I tell you many of the ceilings would give the Sistine Chapel a run for its money. Countless ornate, hand carved moldings, covered in gold leaf, sparkle throughout this opulent home. This masterpiece of French and Italian influence amazingly took only two years to build (1893-1895) at a cost of over 7 million dollars, which is equivalent to over $150 million today. Many sections of the home were built in Europe then taken apart and shipped to their final destination in Newport. Whether the ornate character of most of the Newport Mansions is to your liking or not, one must appreciate the exceptional craftsmanship and attention to detail that is apparent throughout these homes.


At the back of the mansion to the right, is this large but oh-so-charming home that stole my heart. Imagine waking up to that setting every morning!!



We toured one other mansion, ‘Marble House’, built by William Vanderbilt (Cornelius’ younger brother) between 1888-1892, as a gift to his wife Alva for her 39th birthday. True to its name, the house has 500,000 cubic feet of marble. Marble floors, ceilings, walls…just about everything imaginable is marble.



Having divorced in 1895, just three years after the completion of the home, Alva and William didn’t enjoy Marble House as a couple for long. After William’s death, she had this Chinese Tea House built where she hosted rallies for women’s right to vote. Her political activism was in stark contrast to her sister-in-law Grace (Cornelius’ wife), who very much played the role of a high society ‘proper’ lady. If you’ve watched Downton Abbey, does that call to mind any similarities between Mary, Edith and Sybil?


How many faces can you find in this tree? I see eight, once of which looks like a monster. Hint: it’s toward the bottom right side of the tree.


On our way home we stopped off in the upscale community of Watch Hill and had lunch. Afterwards we took a short walk to The Ocean House, a fabulous resort that recently underwent a $157 million dollar renovation. Yes, you read that right.  


A short walk from The Ocean House and you can catch a glimpse of Taylor Swift’s home. Rumor has it this lovely home was in ruins and was purchased by her for $4 million. Looks like she did a fabulous job of returning this stately home to is original glory.


Here’s a view from the beach. Apparently, the front of the house is constantly being guarded and we did in fact see guards while we were there. I found it amusing that there was also two signs on each side of the gate reading ‘I knew you were trouble when you walked in…No Trespassing’.




In contrast to many of its neighbors, this home is fairly modest, but I love it, and I have a feeling many of you reading this would rather have this one than some of the other behemoth mansions we’ve seen so far.


Visiting Newport is like stepping back in time. You can almost hear the sound of the galloping horses in a game of polo, or the laughter of the children on the great lawns playing croquet, or the excitement of the crowds as Harold Vanderbilt, and expert yacht racer, defended the America’s Cup. 

Without exception, these fabulous homes from America’s Gilded Age are our windows into a time of rapid change and creativity in American culture.  Technology was advancing at an unprecedented pace, bringing with it fortunes we can barely comprehend. I’m glad that for us and future generations to come, most of these homes have been preserved as museums and are now part of our cultural heritage. Without them our appreciation and understanding of this fascinating period in our history would be severely handicapped.

If you’d like to learn more about the Vanderbilt’s and the fabulous history of Newport, go here, here and here


In other news…we have the grandkids this weekend, and this week we hope to work on the storage under the deck, installing the lattice and trying to fix up any openings that could potentially be considered ‘welcome home’ signs for a few critters. 

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Canning 101 (and a bonus recipe)

As I type this, it’s a bit rainy, perfect for catching up on some things indoors like canning. Last week I mentioned I was going to make some tomato sauce and I did, but unlike my original intentions to make the same recipe as this one, I mixed it up a bit. Tomatoes are at their peak right about now, and I fully intend on taking advantage of the great prices that are available but once a year. 




Based on some conversations I’ve had in the past, I’m convinced that most people think canning is a lot more complicated than it actually is and are intimidated by the process, but once you get the hang of it, it’s quite easy and downright therapeutic. There’s something about seeing those sparkling jars all lined up in my pantry that gets my heart to flutter. ;)





Before I get to the recipe, I’m going to share some tips which will hopefully save you some time and money should you decide to give canning a try. These are just a few of the books/magazines I have on canning. You see that one in the front by BHG?? It’s on the newsstands right now, and has tons of beautiful, easy to do recipes as well as a handy ‘how to’ guide on canning basics.  




1. Can what you like to eat and know when it’s available:


This may sound quite simple, but I’ve been known to can many foods that were not my favorites, only to have them sit on the shelves and go to waste. I’ve also missed the boat on a few things I’ve wanted to can because the prime season was over. Since every area is different, I can’t tell what’s in season where you are, but a quick search for farms in your area will give you some ideas.









2. Make sure you set aside a full day for the process:


I know. This is a huge time commitment, but it includes picking your fruit because it’s best to gather your fruit or veggies and can the same day. Plus, if you’re a beginner, you’ll want to make sure you’re not rushed the first time around.





Right now in the northeast, tons of produce are in season such as blueberries and picking them makes for a nice family activity.






3. Before you begin, make sure you have all the necessary supplies:


Few things are more frustrating than getting stopped in your tracks because you didn’t have the proper amount of rings and lids, pectin, jars, or whatever else you may need. This Amazon link has pretty much everything you might need and more for starters, but keep in mind you probably already have some items on hand. For one, you do NOT have to buy a canning pot. All you really need is a large pot, tall enough to hold whatever sized jars you’re using. In lieu of a rack that typically comes with ‘canning pots’, line the bottom of your pot with a clean kitchen towel to prevent the jars from direct contact with the heat and rattling around. 




4. Start out with the easy stuff:


Jams are some of the easiest items to can, but if you like apricots I found this recipe to be just about the easiest I’ve ever done.


canned tomatos


canned sauce


5. Remember…safety first!


While canning is not complicated, you need to follow correct procedures to avoid spoilage. Only follow trusted sources and don’t cut corners. I recommend the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving for beginners.  It’s reasonably priced at less than $13 and you’ll use it again and again.

This recipe, like many others, can be adapted to suit your tastes. If you don’t like onions, don’t use them! Prefer more or less spice? No problem. Adjust the red pepper and/or jalapeños accordingly.

Now on to the recipe!

Spicy Tomato Sauce
A delicious tomato sauce perfect for any tomato based dish. Try it as a sauce for pizza, chicken parmigiana, or simple spaghetti and meatballs.
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Prep Time
2 hr
Cook Time
1 hr 10 min
Prep Time
2 hr
Cook Time
1 hr 10 min
  1. 12 pounds of ripe, Roma tomatoes (these are best for sauces since they provide the best flavor and thickness). Before starting, peel tomatoes by cutting an 'x' in the stem end and place in boiling water until you see the skin split. Remove and set aside.
  2. 3 tablespoons olive oil
  3. 2 large onions, roughly chopped
  4. 6 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  5. 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  6. 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  7. 1/4 cup red wine or balsamic vinegar
  8. 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  9. 2 cups fresh basil snipped into small pieces
  10. 1 1/2 cup assorted herbs such as oregano, thyme, flat leaf parsley
  11. 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  12. 2 jalapeños, chopped finely (optional)
  13. 4 tablespoons lemon juice (to place in quart jars just prior to filling)
  1. 1. In a large 8 quart pot over medium heat, place the onions and jalapeños and sauté lightly. Add garlic, being careful not to let it turn brown. If you have a hand held blender, place tomatoes into the pot and puree. If you don't have one, working in batches use a food processor then place in large pot with onions.
  2. 2. Add brown sugar, salt, wine, and black pepper. Bring to boiling, stirring frequently and reduce heat to low-medium. Simmer, uncovered for approximately 80 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in chopped herbs and crushed red pepper.
  3. 3. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice into each of 4 quart jars that have been sterilized. Ladle the hot sauce into the jars, leaving 1/4 headspace. Wipe jar lids and screw on bands lightly.
  4. 4. Process filled jars in a boiling water canner for 35 minutes. Remove jars and let cool on wire racks.
  1. Tip: If you are able to press the center of the lid in, you do not have a proper seal. Turn over the jar and let cool. This usually does the trick. If not, refrigerate and use within one week or freeze in freezer proof containers.
  2. Before beginning, sterilize your jars in a water bath for approximately 10 minutes. Toward the end of the cooking process, I place my jars and lids in a 200 degree oven to keep them warm. This step is optional.


In other news…the storage area under the deck is coming along. The lattice has been delivered to the store, and Fisherman will be picking it up today. We’re headed to Rhode Island this week so that project is on hold a bit, but the good news is I should have some pretty pictures to share next week of the gorgeous mansions in Newport! 


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Bears, Painting, and Tomatoes

It’s barely past mid August, but the chill of Autumn is already in the air. The gentle night breezes are slowly but surely bringing autumn to us, easing us ever so gently into cooler weather.

We are already seeing Halloween candy in the stores. Soon, Christmas decorations shall follow suit. I sometimes wonder why retailers seem to rush the seasons. I don’t think it’s just my imagination that each year the onslaught of bags of Almond Joy and Reeses arrives earlier and earlier. I suppose they wouldn’t do it if people didn’t buy their products.

We should all try to slow down and enjoy the moment.

Here in New England, summer is all too fleeting not to be savored. We spent the weekend exploring some local farms, listening to country music at outdoor concerts, shopping for treasures at tag sales and cooking s’mores over a bonfire. Much better than visiting Walmart to buy some Halloween candy, don’t you agree?

But it hasn’t been all play and no work, and we haven’t been without our share of mishaps. Our local bear in residence made sure of that.

We’ve been working on building the storage area beneath the deck for several days and one of the many reasons we need this space is to store our garbage. We don’t have a garage or a shed, and now that we are at the cabin full time, the garbage is vulnerable to the bears that have made our community their home.

The other night Fisherman and I were watching House of Cards downstairs (don’t even get me started on how much I love it!). It was around midnight, and we heard a suspicious bang. We immediately ran upstairs, turned on the porch light and were immediately confronted by the scene below. We then saw a bear running away in our driveway, but not before he had the opportunity to enter our porch by ripping the screen, waddling over the porch sofa (and I’ve got the dirty paw prints to prove it), opening up the garbage can and taking out the bag. Apparently, he dropped it when he heard us coming because that’s the bag to the left of the table on the floor. 

porch break in


porch scrfeen

We spent a good part of the day Thursday replacing the screen, which is a lot more time consuming than I ever imagined. We still have one more to do, but now that we are pros it should go faster. ;)

Here’s what we’ve done so far under the deck. We purchased inexpensive OSB board, which is about 1/3 the price of plywood. We built a basic frame, using the existing posts as support and painted the OSB with some leftover paint from when our house was done a few years ago.  This weekend we’ve ordered some vinyl lattice in tan to place over the boards to dress it up a bit and so it won’t look so boxy.


Deck Storage

Here’s a picture of the inside. The downside of doing this project is we had to block off a window in the downstairs bedroom. Most of the time that room is only used when we have guests and then they’re really just there when they’re sleeping. There’s another window so it’s not completely dark anyway. When we’re done, we will be gaining approximately 375 sq. ft of storage space, so it’s well worth it. I’ll post about it again when it’s completed.

deck storage

Beside painting the OSB, I’ve been doing some painting on a couple of projects. My friend gave me this cute tote that I decided to use for some kitchen gadgets that I use frequently. It was a lovely shade of sage green and I would have loved to leave it that way, but it didn’t look quite right in the kitchen so I dry brushed it with some ASCP in Emperor’s Red which had been toned down a bit with some black paint, and I let a little of the green show through.

wood tote

Wood Tote

I’ve also been painting some inexpensive particleboard shelves which I hope to turn into a hall table. It’s turned into a larger project than anticipated because it seems to need several layers of paint, but I’m just working on it when/if I feel like it and not stressing out about the end result. If it works, fine. If not, that’s fine too!  

hall table

It’s been several years since I’ve done any kind of vegetable gardening, but this year I bought two small tomato plants and they seem to be thriving. I was thrilled when I saw these two ripe tomatoes the other day! The containers are too small so I’m thinking the yield will suffer as a result. I’ll use bigger containers next year.




I moved them yesterday from the side of the house to the deck. They get more sun here and the deck rails work to give the plants some support which they could use.


I didn’t get any treasure at any tag sales this weekend, but I did get some flowers, plants and veggies. 



I’ve been eating these blackberries while writing this post. Love them! Tomorrow I’ll be planting the flowers and making some tomato sauce (I posted the recipe two years ago and it’s one of my favorite sauces so be sure to check it out) and summer squash soup and maybe some of this soup which is also one of my favorites.  I love soup! Stay tuned for the easy and delish recipes.


In other news…looks like my name wasn’t spelled Dor_en on my BC after all, but rather Dorien, which I actually do seem to remember seeing that. I spoke with a different representative who is the one that told me that. I won’t get into too many details, but suffice it to say I’ve concluded if you talk to 10 different government workers, you will get 10 different opinions and instructions. I’m still working on getting a new BC, but in the meantime I’ve received a new passport which is a relief!



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