Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Family Picking!!

My husband and I have been obsessed lately with American Pickers on the History Channel.  So when we heard of an opportunity to do our own picking in a warehouse nearby we could not turn it down!  On Saturday morning we dressed in our grungy clothes, grabbed our flashlights, piled the kids in the truck and drove to North Eastern Connecticut for our first real picking experience!  We had no idea what to expect accept that it was in a 14,000 square foot warehouse and we were told it was packed with tons of random items.

When we pulled up to the warehouse in Plainfield, CT we met up with owner Brian Burchman and one of his managers Geri.  They led us into the huge back storage room.  Immediately I got goose bumps - boxes everywhere ready for us to explore!  After speaking with Brian, I got a little bit of history on this building.  In 1973, he built the first part of the building as a motorcycle business and then in 1980 he expanded and opened a Ford dealership which he sold in 1992.  As he is now retiring, he is looking to sell the very large collection of items he has obtained in his life and has stored in this building.

If you are a motorcycle lover or boat lover - you would be in heaven.  We had two floors to scavenge through and although most of it was related to motorcycles we did happen upon some pretty amazing items - one of which is a pair of original wooden skis dating back to the early 1900's which belonged to Brian's parents.  Take a look at what we found.....


They plan to have a flea market type of event in their parking lot on one Saturday of every month for the next few months as well as they still have plenty of items to pick through.  They also offer help with selling your items on different types of e-commerce markets...eBay, Amazon, etc.  For more information call Geri at 860-455-6619 or by email  

After speaking with Brian we met another co-worker, Thomas, that took us into see every child of the 70's and 80's dream - vintage toys!!  From Chatty Cathy to Jaclyn Smith barbie dolls to Mork and Mindy - he had it all and all still in the boxes.  Cool fact - he actually takes these toys on tour! To learn more about Back in Time Traveling Toy show check them out at


We had so much fun uncovering long discarded items and the kids loved it as well.  It was great to see them get involved and find their own discoveries to transform!  Gotta start them young!! 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Outdoor Summer DIY Projects

Hopefully today is the day the doctors take my sling off and I can start to use both my arms - or at least hands!!  But as I still am one handed at the moment, I thought I would share some fun DIY projects we have done in the past to spruce up our outdoor living space - especially as we love to entertain!!


Have an old ladder hanging around - put it to good use as a way to hang flowers.  We had this ladder in our back yard not being used.  We cut it down to the size we needed and then used a few lag bolts to hang.  Viola you have a vintage looking plant hanger.  We left ours in its natural state but it would also look great painted.


As I have mentioned numerous times - we love to party here.  As there are loads of young ones in our family, we built this photo booth for them to have a bit of fun - although the adults enjoyed it just as much.  We simply took a piece of plywood and cut a window out of it big enough to make sure a few faces can fit in there.  Make sure you do not cut the hole out too low - you can always use a step stool for the little ones as we did - as it is harder for the adults to bend over.  I decided to paint the wood with chalkboard paint as I felt it would be fun for the kids to draw on it before taking their photo.  I used 3 coats of paint.  You can also choose to use paint, wallpaper or anything else to cover the plywood with.  I then took some decorative trim and screwed it on to make it look like a frame.  We took 2- 2x4's and screwed them at an angle to the back to make legs to prop the photo booth up.  Now you have a fun addition to any party!!

For props, I took heavy cardboard paper and drew various fun items - mustache, glasses, super hero hats, top hats, lips, etc - then colored them in with sharpies and added some trim here and there.  These were then hot glue gunned to wooden sticks - I actually used the wooden skewers you use for grilling.


Have any empty wine bottles lying around?  Here is a good use for them.  Start by soaking them to peel of any labels.  Then you will need to hit the hardware store for some items - copper top plate connector, split ring hanger, copper coupling and cap, threaded rod, wick, some screws and bolts - most of these items you can find in the plumbing section.  You can find detailed instructions all over the web so just google it - but here is one site that does a good job showing all the steps -  We love ours - not only is it a stylish way to keep the bugs away but it becomes a talking piece at all of our backyard gatherings.


I love mason jars.  I use them in many ways at all of our parties.  They look vintage but you also can't beat the price.  You can buy a case of 12 for $8-14 depending on the size.  I get mine at Walmart or the grocery store.  Here are some of the ways I have incorporated them into my summer parties

Flower Vase - Painting Mason Jars can transform them into many things.  There are many ways to paint them but for these, as they were going to be outside, I used spray paint.  You can find spray paint in so many great colors now.  I use Rustoleum especially for outdoor projects (even the green chair you see in the background was spray painted)

Drink Cups - I don't know about you but one of my pet peeves about outdoor dining is bugs!!!  A very simple way to solve that problem yet still stay vintage and pretty is cupcake liners over the mason jars.  I have also drilled holes in the regular tops they come with but the above method tends to be much simpler!

 Now this one is for the adults - Candied flavored shots in a mason jar!  Take some candy and add vodka and let it sit for a day or two and here is what you have.  Add some ribbon and a little label and the party can get started!!

Hope you enjoy some of these projects!  Do you have a favorite backyard DIY?  If so send it over and we will post about it!!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Country Living Fair

I have been a huge fan of Country Living Magazine for as long as I can remember.  It is always a good day when the magazine arrives in the mail and I can sit down with a cup of tea and pour through all the beautiful pictures and ideas.  So it is no surprise that I have always wanted to attend their fair and up until this weekend I have not had the chance - I was either traveling for work or had some type of obligation.  But finally on Sunday I was able to make the drive with my husband to Rhinebeck and boy was it worth it!!!  Because I am still in a sling and still in considerable amount of pain from my surgery, we didn't stay for as long as I would have liked and maybe only saw 50% of the show but WOW so many amazingly creative people - take a look at what we saw!!

To me the finer details mean everything and this fair was full of little details.  From the moment I walked in and saw the country print swags that were decorating the walkway - I was on sensory overload!!

The first display we came across was from Sisters On the Fly - - a really cool organization of women that go on incredible outdoor journeys.  But take a look at how they travel - by vintage caravan trailers decorated to the nines - yes this is really the inside of a trailer!!!

After that, we walked up the path and browsed through the various barns.  I have to say that just about every booth was not only beautifully displayed but filled with unique items - some antiques, some vintage items, a lot of repurposed treasures and many creative handmade wares.  Here are a few booths I thought were displayed nicely -

My highlight of the event had to be meeting Cari Cucksey from HGTV's Cash & Cari.  She has a warehouse in Michigan and a shop called RePurpose.  You can find out more about her at  She is amazing at upcycling vintage items and repurposing them - hence the name of her store.  It was great to meet her and chat for a bit.  She has a new line of paint out that I was very excited to learn about and of course purchase!!  The paint comes in some amazing colors as well as the stain.  I purchased a stain in Denim Blue and a paint in Mohair Blue. She gave me some great tips and now I cant wait to get started on some new paint techniques with her products!!  Thanks Cari for your time.

Of course her booth was displayed beautifully and she had some amazing items for sale as well.  Take a look.

Despite the heat and my achy arm, we had a great time and I was even able to meet up with my Aunt - also a big fan of Cari!!  Definitely something you should do over two days rather than one and also more of a retailers market rather than a dealers but such an inspiring event.  My wheels have been turning non-stop since I got home - my shoulder can't heal fast enough!!!  Can't wait for next year!  Thanks Country Living Magazine!! Here are some of our finds -

Friday, June 6, 2014

Bringing Life Back into this Outdoor Work Table

Since I am still in a sling from my shoulder surgery, there is not a ton of creating I can do one handed - and boy is it driving me crazy!!!  My mind is ever spinning with ideas and designs I can't wait to make come to life and anyone who knows me, knows I can not sit still!  So in trying to not go stir crazy, I found a simple project that my one good hand could handle - painting!  We have a work table that years ago we bought for our kitchen - nothing fancy from Ikea even - that when buying grown up furniture we decided to move it outside by our grill and use as a work table when we are cooking out - which in the summer is always!!  We were a little lazy and did not finish it but always kept it covered so the wood is still sturdy and the piece is still in tact but with some rough winters its appearance is not so pretty!



We started by sanding the piece really well.  My husband used a palm sander with 80 grit sandpaper.  After the sanding he put a coat of mineral oil on the piece to clean it and help the stain take better.

Once that dried, I applied the first coat of stain.  We live on the beach so I wanted to have this piece look somewhat like beach wood to give it a beachy feeling.  The first coat of stain I used was Minwax Wood Stain in White Wash Pickling.  This does not go on like normal stain - it is a bit thicker and goes on almost like paint.  I brushed this on with a foam brush.  Here is what it looked like with one coat.

After that dried, I applied Minwax Wood Finish in Classic Grey.  This I applied with a dry rag.  I would brush the stain on, let it sit for a minute or two and then with another rag wipe it down.  This part is really to your liking.  I did not want the piece to be too dark and i still wanted the white to come through so in some places I only did one coat, in others I did 2 or sometimes 3.

To finish the project and make it usable for the outdoors, we applied a Spar Urethane that is meant to protect from the outside elements - sun, rain, temperature changes.  Again we went with Minwax and we used a semi-gloss finish in clear.  Remember that a lot of these top coats do have a faint tint to them so if you want to stay away from drastically changing the look of you paint, make sure to use a clear.  Even with the clear it darkened our colors a tad bit.

It is great to give life back to this piece that most people would have disposed of.  Now I can't wait to use it at our next big cookout!!