Sunday, November 5, 2017

celebrating 'end of daylight savings time' day

When people ask about my favorite holiday, I've started to answer, the End of Daylight Savings Time (let's refer to it as EDST). I'm almost giddy at the onset of winter. It's no wonder that I felt an immediate connection to the concept of hygge upon being introduced to it by a book cover.

Similar to how many people don't understand my extreme dislike of cheese (yup, I detest it and order my pizza sans yellow stuff with extra sauce and pepperoni), I often need to explain why the fondness of EDST, shorter days, and winter in general. So, here goes...

Have you ever received a present as needed and desired as a glorious extra hour? Sixty wonderful guilt-free no-strings-attached minutes. And it's a gift that keeps on giving the whole day through. At each check-in with a clock I'll smile, and for those few devices that still need adjusting manually, I'll get to those later, after all, I have time.

via Pinterest: Marcy Cottage, Lake Placid, NY

The Shorter Day
During my workday I'll witness both sunrise and sunset, and most evenings will travel the back-roads home to enjoy the cozy amber glow emitting from the multitudes of rectangles amidst silhouettes of trees against the ink-blue sky. With the heat blasting at my feet and the windows rolled down, the promise of changing into flannel pajamas is just miles away.
The Cold
Ahh, the brisk chilly air... an even better pairing for hot coffee than a slice of birthday cake. Some outdoor evenings smell of burning wood from a neighbor's chimney. Look up and the cold dark sky is cleared of clouds and bright with stars; below, crisp leaves and twigs swirl at my feet. Boot and tights and sweaters in varying shades of charcoal grey replace flimsy prints and flip-flops, and plaid become the new floral.

Stay Inside
And just like I hear my mom's voice telling me to go outside and play on a warm, sunny day, I'm to stay inside because it's bitter bitter cold out there. And perhaps this is my favorite part of all, being indoors to bake something sweet, leaf through magazines, binge-watch TV shows with my guys, and of course, tinker or write the weekend away!

Happy EDST to you!


Saturday, September 9, 2017

salted and stirred: saltwash project step-by-step

I'm excited to share that I've recently become a Brand Ambassador for Saltwash®, an easy to use base coat formula which gives a layered and textured effect when mixed with any brand or type of paint. This is kind of big for me because I've generally shied away from endorsements BUT I like and use this product so often since being introduced to it at my friend Nancy's shop Sea Rose Cottage, making it a natural fit.

After agreeing to collaborate, I was sent a complete tray project kit. All I needed was paint and inspiration!

Which I found at this farm stand, mentioned in a previous post.

I rounded up stencils, paint, glue, and my usual go-tos: wax paper to protect my work area; paper plates as paint palettes; craft sticks as stirrers; various types of glue; and a hot cup of coffee!

For this project I wanted to begin with a white base so a day earlier I spray-painted the tray and handles white but this step is optional.

Taking my inspiration from the strawberries sign, I knew I wanted my Saltwash® base coat to be a muddy coffee brown. 

I started by using up an off-white sample of house paint and mixed in brown and black until it was the color I wanted; then I blended it well and began to add-in the Saltwash® powder. 

At the Saltwash® website they have the ratios all worked out but I tend to pour and mix by-eye until the paint is like brownie batter.

What makes using Saltwash® so fun is that you are aiming for a weathered and worn result that is anything but perfect so just spread that batter on without fear. I aim for a relatively even application paying special attention to the corners and sides, which are my favorite spots to sand-down later. Once this step is done and thoroughly dried, follow with a coat or two of paint, sans Saltwash®. I used white house paint that I applied with a paint pad. Allow to dry well and then sand to reveal the batter layer below. The sanding part may take some experimentation on your part -- start by sanding lightly and decide how much base coat you wish to reveal.

While waiting for the paint to dry I practiced using the stencils so that when the tray's surface was ready, so was I! 

The final step was decoupaging the handles with a printed paper napkin to add pattern and charm. 

And then of course, capturing the result in photos, starting with this one taken by the talented Tim Marshall

And this one I snapped at my own dining room table.

I have other projects -- large and small -- that I'll be sure to share soon.

Find Saltwash where I did at Sea Rose Cottage online or at the shop in Bristol, Rhode Island
or order online at and use the special discount code: tinkered for 10% off.

As always, thanks for visiting!


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

in pursuit of pip studio

Through international blogging friendships I've discovered all kinds of beautiful decor lines across the sea. There's Cabbages & Roses and Cath Kidston in the UK, Greengate in Denmark, Tilda in Norway, and Pip Studio in The Netherlands, among others.
My sister Betsy and I occasionally spot random Pip Studio products at HomeGoods: paper napkins, a tin tray, small porcelain bowls, all with the tell-tale vivid color combos, thin patterned borders, and over-sized motifs of birds and flowers. 

But alas, we're at the mercy of HomeGoods' limited and sporadic offerings, and shipping from the Pip website is around 57 Euros making it rather cost-prohibitive, even for a rationalized indulgence. Every now and then Betsy would say to me, "Imagine going to Amsterdam? To Pip Studio?"

Well, yadda yadda yadda, Betsy, our sister Dede and I, just returned from a whirlwind trip to Amsterdam. And guess what? There's no physical location of Pip Studio! A department store called De Bijenkorf in the main square of the city is the exclusive carrier and so of course, that's where we headed on Day 1.

We arrived in Amsterdam so excited but tired having ventured from plane to train to taxi to our hotel after a red-eye flight from Newark on zero sleep. 

Here I am, dressed in layers for hot, cold and anything in between. Our room wouldn't be available for hours and so we three sisters decided to trek to De Bijenkorf! We were tired, warm, and a little cranky, and when we make our way up the escalator to the Pip Studio display, we were underwhelmed by the porcelain-only selection. 

Around the corner there were also robes and duvet covers. Punch line: I don't wear a robe and am not a fan of duvet covers. No wallpaper or towels or quilts. Boo hoo.

We kind of shook our heads and had a chuckle and wearily walked back to the hotel to rest before heading to the Van Gogh Museum (quite an aggressive agenda). 

A few days later, we were well-rested and ready to revisit De Bijenkorf!

With a fresh set of eyes, we reconciled that the Pip Studio display sufficed. Betsy (center) didn't quite need the space in her suitcase as planned but she and I both bought a few special pieces. 

While we didn't find the Pip wares of our dreams, we did embark on an international trip that would make our parents proud. We navigated trams and cabs, took a canal cruise, enjoyed a half-day tour of the countryside, and so much more! It was a fabulous trip that I'll never forget. You can find many photos on my Instagram page but below are some favorites of the 500 I snapped! Top to bottom (captions isn't working properly): 1) There are bikes all over Amsterdam and shops that sell decorative bells and seat covers; 2) My favorite shop Juffrouw Splinter; 3) The salon/cafe of 't hotel where we stayed; 4) and the hotel exterior at dusk; 5) The windmills at Zaanse Schans 6) glossy-green exteriors in the area; 7) A narrow path in Voldendam; 8) Typical canal view; 9) Souvenirs! 10) Childhood fave Miffy aka Ninjte; 11) My souvenirs; 12) Flowers drying above and fresh varieties below at Bloemenmarkt.

Thank you for reading! Wishing you happy adventures and Pip Studio sightings at a HomeGoods near you!


Sunday, June 25, 2017

farm stands and newsstands

I have just two ink pads -- black and fuscia -- and a few stamps that don't get used very often, but one day last August I had myself a little stampernoon and enjoyed pressing words letter-by-letter onto all kinds of scraps. I liked how the bold type looked against floral papers and fabric and used this effect to complete a picture frame project which I decided to submit and ship off to Somerset Home. At the last minute I tossed-in some of the other stamped pieces as potential styling props.

The frames made it into the next issue {Explore More, Spring 2017} and I forgot all about the random little things that went along for the ride, so in March when an editor of sister publication Somerset Life contacted me at first I thought it was a mistake. They wanted to use the berry baskets, stamped ribbon, clothespins, and the lunch bag I had sent and needed accompanying text: an essay and instructions.

Knowing it would be used for the summer issue, I decided to write about how it always takes me a while to warm-up to the hot months and how fresh produce plays a big role in that transition.

The magazine's stylists and photographers worked magic and turned all kinds of nothings into beautiful somethings, garnished with strawberries and sweets. And the timing couldn't be more perfect because yesterday I headed to my favorite farm stand for strawberries 4 Town Farm, and in a few days the issue will be on newsstands. Life imitating art, art imitating life ...

And with the baskets emptied to make things like strawberry rhubarb crisp bars from smitten kitchen, the tinkering fun can commence!

Find Holding Summer in the summer issue of Somerset Life


tinkering tip:

Sunday, June 4, 2017

my fifi and me

Image credit: @vintagefarmhome
Image credit: Hollie @vintagefarmhome
Seven years ago Fifi O'Neill arrived at my house for a photo shoot and my life hasn't been quite the same since. I alternately refer to Fifi as my fairygodmother, my French mommy, my Fifi, and she calls me sweet names like Cupcake Girl and Baby. Just last week Fifi returned as my home had changed enough to get the editorial green-light for a second round of styling and shooting for an upcoming publication.

Fifi and I are in touch regularly. We chat about life and new ideas. I write for many of the magazines for which she is the editor-in-chief and founder, and occasionally I develop DIY projects as well. Some location scouting has lead Fifi and her stellar crew of longtime photographer Mark Lohman and his son Taylor, to photograph the homes and businesses of my friends where I'm sure to visit, generally with cupcakes in-hand! I drive to meet her for dinner (she loves to have lobster when she's in New England) and it's always so much fun.

Fifi sets a "let's all flourish" and pay-it-forward example by her actions and I'm compelled to do the same. Her work ethic of "the more you work the more you learn" has helped me reconcile the many jobs and chapters of my life when I felt a lack of direction but now see the bigger picture of how all of these experiences have lead me to the person I am today and the skills I offer.

And don't let the ruffled frocks and hair ribbons fool you, Fifi is a bad-ass. She works harder than anyone I know and is no chump. I love that her mind is always racing with new ideas on which she doesn't hesitate to act -- um, just like me!

Fifi has graciously opened doors for me, introducing me to who would become my first book publisher. She's believed in me and encouraged me from the start. Fifi offered me my first feature writing assignment the day after I'd received the worst call a person could ever get (details). I mentioned nothing, accepted the work, and have always considered it a sign, a blessing.

I've spend the entire weekend assembling images to share about Fifi's return last week after all these years for a second photo shoot here at my house and the things done to prepare, but as I started to write instead the words began to flow about Fifi and I just went with it. So I'll save this stuff for next time:

Click to enlarge

Thank you for reading! If you're not familiar with Fifi O'Neill, below are some links to get you started. Tell her Cupcake Girl sent you.  ;)

Fifi's Florida home in Country Living
Fifi on Instagram