Friday, November 29, 2013

Do you shop on Black Friday?

Are you one of the hardy shoppers that springs into action to get the best deals the day after Thanksgiving? Or even the night of Thanksgiving?  I never was.  I dislike crowds and like to shop when it feels leisurely and not stressful.  But now with our new life of running a small business I am thrown into the very thing I tried to avoid!!  Its a paradox alright.  My sisters and I used to have a Christmas shopping tradition when we lived in the small suburban town of Winchester, Mass.  We would shop on Christmas Eve day and visit all the cute shops in downtown Winchester buying gifts for one another and other family members.  Then we would have a bite to eat in one of the small eateries in the town to cap it off.  We all enjoyed that for the years that it lasted before geography separated us. We were shopping local, in the cute little town we grew up in.  "Shopping local" has become a catch phrase these days, and for good reason.  Small businesses need shoppers to survive, and if we don't the world will be filled with only the Walmarts and Targets. 
I managed to get a small feast prepared for our small Thanksgiving.   
(Though not much else in the way of table decor as I was working 
in the store the day before Thanksgiving until 5 pm.) 
We had a nice quiet dinner and then went off to the movies to 
see Captain Phillips, the true life thriller of the Somali pirates taking over
 an American tanker. The movie stars Tom Hanks.
The funny thing about Captain Phillips, is that he also grew up
in my small town of Winchester and was a friend of mine.
His nickname was "Jungle". Hah!
While he was going to the Mass Maritime Academy he would
go out to sea for weeks at a time, and then come home for a few weeks off.
I would go pick him up in black VW or he would swing by
my house and pick me up in Steve's vintage fleetwood Cadillac.
It was always a good time hanging out with him!
What a nice guy~he was a funny guy too, but they never
showed him telling jokes or doing funny stuff in the movie.
(Good movie, by the way.)
But I digress....back to the point of the blog post.
While I never shopped Black Friday, I did shop local.
Which brings me to this shameless pitch:
We will be behind the counters for this weekend of
Black Friday and Small Business Saturday at
150 Main Street Reading Mass.
50% off sales?! You won't see that at small businesses.
We don't price our things with that much meat on the bone
like they do at the big box stores.
We have to start our with competitive pricing to begin 
with, so when we have sales the discounts are smaller
but the value is real.
Just know that whatever small business you shop at
you will be making a difference. 
And isn't that a nice feeling?

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Feeling Lucky? One smartphone pic is all thats needed for $1500 in Chalk Paint!

Win $1500 in Annie Sloan products from Annie Sloan Unfolded by visiting your local Annie Sloan Stockist and snapping a pic of yourself in front of the paint display. We will happily take your photo! Then upload your photo on the ASU Facebook page and follow the simple instructions. Contest starts today! Seriously, can you imagine having one quart of every color, every paint brush and more?? Wow! 
Merry Christmas from our corporate headquarters to someone who is simply going to LUCK out on this huge giveaway! So Snap &  Share! 
For more information visit Annie Sloan Unfolded on Facebook here.

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Friday, November 22, 2013

Style a kitchen with color!

Dill Pickle Green!
This was the wall color I chose for Colleen's lovely kitchen.
I did a color consult on a kitchen this week for my favorite
painting contractor, Jason Murphy of
Murphy Brothers Painting Company of Woburn, MA.
Jason and I have worked on more than a few projects together.
 Colleen's kitchen was what most of us would dream of having~
 plenty of cabinets and loads of countertop space, all in beautiful finishes.
 But something about the space fell short.  
It needed a dose of personality and some accessories to 
create a warm and welcoming space.  The easiest way to do that
is to use the power of paint! This time it would be paint for the walls however,
 as most of you  know I blog about painting furniture quite often 
these days as my sons and I sell Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan 
at our home decor shop Maison Decor in Reading, MA.
So the color was chosen: Ben Moore Dill Pickle.
There actually wasn't a lot of wall space, so it was easy to 
go with this bright and citrusy green color.
The next part of the plan was to accessorize with 
great affordable items from HomeGoods and my shop, Maison Decor.
The accessories would pull it all together, and my plan
was to repeat this vibrant green color throughout the space.
 A chevron area rug from HomeGoods in black and white stands
 up to the green wall color and ties in the black island and stools.
The space in front of the bar area was a big empty space
waiting for an identity.  A piece of furniture with lamps and 
lots of interesting accessories created a sense of place.
This furniture vignette made the kitchen feel more homey.
The bar area before was a big empty space 
that was all tile floor and cabinetry.
The bar area after~the wall paint sets off the cabinetry 
and the rug warms up the tile floor and gives the space style.
A vintage server from Maison Decor in rustic Old White finish
gets a helping hand from HomeGoods with some great lamps
with linen shades, topiaries and some smalls.
 Its always fun to buy colored stemware for a festive party note,
and color coordinate your cocktail napkins as well. 
These HomeGoods topiaries had red velvet bows, which I 
just snipped off and replaced with a black and white striped ribbon.
Mixing up black, white, dill pickle green and natural elements
is what the plan was for decorating this kitchen. 
 Little moments in rustic naturals with the bright citrus green
 are dotted around the kitchen.
 Fruit, faux or fresh is one of the easiest accessories in kitchen decor.
I accessorized the bookcase in the other cabinet wall area too using
different shades of greens in old books, artichoke bookends and antique
style metal crowns for a european touch.
Checkerboard dishes in green and white on french style quilted place mats
over the stone counter adds softness as does a mix and match variety of 
toss pillows on the seats of the black rustic bar stools.
Too often in a kitchen there is very little softness and when you can 
add fabrics it really makes a difference in warming up the space.
So this is how a dill pickle and a decorator
 rescued this kitchen from its formerly formal self!

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Amy goes Antiquing in Maine, Mora clocks and more

Not too long ago we got these great looking Iron Orb chandeliers in the shop.
We have an array of different light fixtures in the front window,
both vintage and reproduction styles.
My sister Ellen has a log house in the state of Maine and she was looking
for an updated chandelier for over the table in the kitchen.
I thought this fixture would be perfect for her log house!
And she agreed~thankfully so did her husband.
Her home has a bunch of acres and a view of Mount Washington!
The tallest mountain in New England!
Anyway, the iron orb chandy would be perfect for this house!
They installed it a week ago and then last week I finally took a little 
break over the weekend and went up to see it for myself and spend
some fun time with my sister doing some antiquing.
 Its hard to get a shot of a lit fixture, especially with your iphone!
And if you look over the sink, you can see we are on the hunt for 
a fixture there as well.
 Ellen has a big open floor plan and you can see the walls are real logs
 and where they meet an interior wall it is a plastered finish. 
 So there is an interesting combination of rustic meets regular
I guess you could say~and the iron orb fits right in with that style. 
Its the perfect balance of masculine meets feminine. 
 And its pretty big so it can carry a big space without being too weighty.
 My hubby decides its funny to run through the shot I am trying to get! 
And it was~we all laughed. 
 The message was that we are supposed to be taking a weekend off!!
 Then one or two more and off we went to do some antiquing 
in the quaint little towns in the Sebago Lakes region,
leaving the men to their own devices.
 You never know what you are going to find, so its best to
 just keep an open mind and see what finds you.  
I headed into Harry Barker's Emporium! 
I love that word "emporium"! Sounds like a wealth of objects await, doesn't it? 
And in my hands I had taken off my eyeglasses while Ellen took a pic of me....
guess where I left them?  Right in Harry's! I only wear them half the time, 
so apparently I didn't realize that I had taken them off and left them in the shop. 
I bet it happened right when I decided to try on this 
wool poncho with the hand knit collar.
I took them off and slid on the poncho and then left my glasses behind.
 Luckily I was able to figure it out and after calling a couple of the shops, 
the gal at Harry's had them!  I loved the poncho by the way, 
and bought that and the antlers for our shop in Reading
 as they are popular in home decor right now.
 My sister Ellen peeking in a window. 
Darn it~it was closed!! On a Saturday!! 
 This was a shop that had frenchy stuff in it~
I think they made a mistake being closed while I was in town.
After awhile of drooling in the doorway we moved on....
We went to Harry Barkers Too!! 
This company has two locations~woo hoo!
 I got this vintage Claire Murray Turkey Rug for the shop. How fun! 
It would make a great centerpiece on a table or just throw it
 on the floor in the powder room for the big holiday or in front of the kitchen sink! 
Huge wicker trunk for Maison Decor and a vintage cow etching for Ellen's place.
 More shopping along the cute country village sidewalks.
 Snow could be arriving anyday in New England and
 that is when these sleds and toboggans will sell like hotcakes.
 When I see a red white and blue ANTIQUES
 flag my heart starts beating a little bit faster!
This place looked amazing, but the only thing that was 
amazing were the sky high prices!
So on we went to another antique shop.
 When antiquing you have to be able to separate the junky stuff from the cool stuff. 
Often it will all be in a jumbled display. I bought this vintage silver Pom-Pom tree
 for our shop window for Christmas.
You will be seeing it after Thanksgiving in our shop window
 and we hope to create a beautiful display with the tree as the centerpiece.
 The husbands joined us for drinks and dinner at the end of the day, 
as well as to load up some furniture we purchased as well. 
 Going away for the weekend was just what I needed!
 Of course we left the dogs behind and Justin sent me 
this snap shot of all the dogs around 9pm.
We never leave them, so it was a bit of an adjustment, mostly for Dillon.
 Justin had a Saturday workshop and Colin snapped a pic
 of Jay ready to rock and roll!
It was a private workshop for a group of 8 ladies~  
a mini 2 hour technique class on Chalk Paint®.
They had a blast with Justin at the helm. Colin was running the shop while the
workshop was in progress and they had quite the day in sales 
while I was away playing in Maine,
which made me very happy! I will have to leave more often!
 By the end of the weekend, it was time to leave.
 I wanted to hit an apple farm on the way 
home so we looked up the location of the Five Fields Farm and headed there.
 Ellen came along in her own car to get a peck of apples for making a pie.
What a cute little farmstand.  They also offer Cross country Skiing in the winter.
 All kinds of varieties of apples. 
 I am not sure if everyone has an apple farm in their area,
but this one used to do a bigger apple business and now 
it is branching off into the outdoors 
recreation field with all of their land dotted with trails.
 Pretty quintessential New England landscape view.
 Meanwhile back at the shop, we have been selling a lot of our painted Mora clocks.
The new handpainted faces on the Deluxe version is as appealing as 
we thought it might be to buyers who are looking for a nice affordable repro Mora.
We are selling more of them in house now, not just online.
 This one was done for Beth and she came in 
with her husband to pick it up and was 
overjoyed by the sight of it! It was so nice to see her reaction,
 as when we send these off in the
mail, we never get to witness that part. 
 Justin does such a great job on these clocks!
 Justin carried out Beth's Mora clock while she held the door.
 into the parking lot in front of our shop~
 The clocks stand over 6 feet tall, and Justin is probably the same height!
He lifted it gently into the back of Beth's car.
There she got a quilted wrapping and was whisked off to her forever home!
We will be sharing photos of our clocks in customers home, so if 
you purchased one of the Maison Decor Moras, please send us a photo 
of it in its forever home so we can share with our readers.
We would love to see them!     
Email pics to
 See that big green cabinet/dresser?
It was a custom painted job we did for a decorator.
We offer custom painted furniture services for our customers.
We can easily give you a quote if you are looking to have something
made over like this.  We even custom mixed the green color to go
with the designer's draperies in her clients dining room!
Of course you just might luck out on a piece we have already
painted and have sitting on the floor, like this pretty little sideboard.
We will be having an advanced Workshop called Shimmer and Shine!
This workshop will focus on adding metallics in many forms to your
painted projects. Using foils, pearl plaster, gilding pastes and waxes
we will create samples using these exciting products.
For more information on the furniture we sell, the mora clocks 
as well as workshops and selling Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan
you can find it all with a click of the button to our website.

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