I get a lot of emails asking about my favorite thrift stores.   There are quite a few, but these are the ones I love.  The great thing about thrift stores is that they are always adding new things everyday. I love thrifting with friends or my daughter because it’s just that more knowledge about the stuff we are seeing and potentially buying.  Madeline found a summer shift dress just after the holidays that was priced $60.  It fit perfectly and after a little research, she found it for $495.   I probably wouldn’t have even noticed it, but that’s what’s fun about thrifting with friends (or Madeline)!   When I’m out and about and close to one of these shops, I’ll always stop in to see what they have. The ladies that work at these thrift stores are all volunteers and are absolutely the sweetest and most helpful people you’ll ever meet.  They seem genuinely thrilled when you’ve found a treasure.  So below is my short list starting in Greenwich, then Darien, New Canaan and ending in Southport, Connecticut.  The one thing I would advise is to call first!   They have different hours and often close for extended periods during the holidays and in the summer.  If you know of a thrift shop I should check out, please let me know and I’ll add it to the list.

Thrif Stores + Fairfield County, CT

I found another copy of Joy of cooking and a copper vessel for $7 yesterday.

ACT II-Greenwich-CT-Thrift-Stores

One of our favorites is Act II Boutique in Greenwich.  It’s on the main floor of this beautiful stone house on Maple Avenue, just a few blocks from Greenwich Avenue.  Also in Greenwich is the Greenwich Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Shop .  A little further north is the Darien Community Association Thrift Shop. Next Stop is The New Canaan Thrift Shop, which is about 15 minutes away. And here’s an interesting fact, The New Canaan Thrift shop is the oldest volunteer run thrift shop in the country.  From New Canaan head over to the Carousel Thrift Shop in Southport, Connecticut.  If you are in these areas and need a little sustenance, here’s our list of faves for coffee, sweet treats or a little lunch.

Greenwich – Meli-Melo

Darien – Brown and Co.

New Canaan – Gingerbitz

Westport – The Granola Bar

Thrift Stores + Fairfield County, CT + Silver Tray Collection

A few of the silver trays we had, most came from thrift stores I mentioned and a few from Goodwill.  The most I paid was $10 and once I had the idea to put them on a wall, I think we found at least six of them in one day.

Valentine’s Day banner {diy}

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Last year I made tiny watercolor hearts.  This year I made my watercolor hearts in the same way, but instead of tiny ones using a heart punch, I used a cookie cutter to trace the heart shape.  Not as quick and easy as a punch, but it still allowed me to see the pattern that would be on the heart shape.  This project is perfect for children of all ages.  Even preschoolers could paint and then see their work made into heart shaped watercolor masterpieces. 

Valentine's Day Banner {diy}

Watercolor Hearts {diy}

Watercolor hearts {diy} banner

watercolor hearts banner {diy}

My birch branch with white twinkle lights started out as decoration for Thanksgiving, then Christmas–  I’m still loving the extra light, so it will be around at least through Valentine’s day!

watercolor hearts banner {diy}

I used a small heart shaped hole punch, but any hole punch would work.  Twine that’s a little wax coated makes it easy to lace through the holes if this project is for little ones.

Neighbor Holiday Gifts

Monday, December 22, 2014

For my sweet neighbors this year I made Union Square Cafe’s Bar Nuts.  All they’ll need to do is toast the cashews and then mix the contents of the spice packet with a tablespoon of melted butter.  They are best when served warm right out of the oven.  I used  small Ikea bowls and then wrapped them in black and white fabric (also from Ikea) tied up with red ribbon and a sprig of fresh rosemary.

Union Square Cafe's Bar Nuts + Neighbor Gifts


Union Square Cafe's Bar Nuts + Neighbor Gifts

Union Square Cafe's Bar Nuts

Tags and Baker's TwineUnion Square Cafe's Bar Nuts

Union Square Cafe's Bar Nuts

Merry Christmas!  xo annie

The winner of the Tinyprints giveaway is:  ET Pruitt

I was recently sent a copy of The Cave of Santa Clops by Gig Wailgum.  I must admit my first reaction to a one eyed Santa was a little less than enthusiastic, but once I started reading and seeing the beautiful vintage style illustrations, I completely changed my mind.  The story is full of the magic of Christmas and the idea of believing in a Santa Clause or in this case, Santa Clops.  It is traditional in its core, but with a completely new twist that is refreshing.  The story cleverly rhymes its way through adventures that includes caves with holly bats and flying dino-penguins.

Mr. Wailgum created the one-eyed Santa over 20 years ago and it has appeared in comics, newspapers, greeting cards and art galleries.  The Cave of Santa Clops is available on Amazon.

Miniature Boxwood Wreaths {DIY}

Saturday, December 20, 2014

With just a few sprigs of boxwood you can make {DIY} miniature boxwood wreaths to hang all through the house.   It takes just a few minutes using picture hanging wire to make a frame.  Then use floral tape or wire to secure the boxwood.  Add a ribbon and hang on a door, small mirror or from hardware on furniture or cabinets.

Miniature Boxwood Wreaths {DIY}

Miniature Boxwood Wreaths {DIY}

Miniature Boxwood Wreaths {DIY}

Miniature Boxwood Wreaths {DIY}

I even made napkin rings.  My sister Lynn and her family will not actually be joining us for Christmas….she’s miles away in sunny Phoenix, but a girl can dream, right?  (I used tape to cover the ends of the picture wire on the napkin rings to make them a little safer for linens and fingers).

Happy Holidays!  xo annie


This year I used the letterpress cards by tinyprints.  I of course loved the birch tree in black and white design and the matching address labels.  If you haven’t quite gotten to your cards this year, why not send New Years cards?!  Tinyprints is giving away one reader 50 New Years cards.  Leave a comment and I will select a winner (by random.org) on Monday!

Christmas Cards + Tinyprints + A Giveaway

Hand Lettering + Christmas Cards + Sharpie

I’m not sure what it is about Sharpie Metallic Markers, but they make it so easy to make it through a stack of cards.

Happy Holidays!

xo  annie



Modern rustic christmas + Connecticut

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Modern Rustic Christmas

Decorating for Christmas at our house in Connecticut means candles in every window, wreaths, greens everywhere and lots of twinkle lights. Just driving around or walking through town make you feel as though every Christmas carol is about the scene that’s right there in front of you.  Here is my take on a modern rustic Christmas table at our home in New Canaan, Connecticut.   Last year I made these tiny tree place cards.  This time I used cuttings from a flocked mini tree I picked up at Trader Joe’s and added a star sticker on the top of each “tree.”  I plan to use them for a cozy lunch next week and then again on our Christmas morning breakfast table.

modern rustic christmas

Christmas Morning Breakfast-syrup

The Bear Hug Maple Syrup from The Vermont Country Store was the inspiration for the entire table.  Even my 15 year old declared it “cute” when he saw it in the kitchen the first time.

modern rustic christmas

Our backyard is pretty much a dream come true when it comes to the variety of evergreens and holly bushes.  Perfect for making wreaths and arrangements for all over the house.

modern rustic christmas

modern rustic christmas

Hope you are enjoying the holiday season! xo annie

Advent Calendar {diy}

Monday, December 1, 2014

Every year I try and come up with a simple {DIY} Advent Calendar.   My brown paper bag advent calendar remains my most popular post and pin.    The one I made for this year took very little time and just a few supplies from the backyard and a trip to Michaels. The only tricky part is trying to find 24 tiny gifts.  It was a lot easier when my kids were younger.   A piece of candy, a holiday book or DVD….now the expectations (mostly mine) are so much higher, but it’s still fun at all ages.

Advent Calendar {diy}

Advent Calendar {diy}

Advent Calendar {diy}

Advent Calendar {diy}

Advent Calendar {diy}

The supplies started with having my husband cut a few branches from a tree and then I spray painted them gold.  I found tiny and small size bags at michaels and some small take-out containers.  I wrote numbers one through 24 on each bag or container with a gold Sharpie and hung them with white twine from ikea.  I added a strand of of white lights, because one can never have too many twinkle lights!

Advent Calendar {diy}

Tree stump side table and owl from west elm


Modern rustic table top + thanksgiving

Monday, November 17, 2014

Modern Rustic Table Top + Thanksgiving


modern rustic table top + thanksgiving

modern rustic table top + thanksgiving

Modern Rustic Table Top + Thanksgiving

modern rustic table top + thanksgiving

Modern Rustic Table Top + Thanksgiving

Modern Rustic Table Top

This year for our Thanksgiving table I am staying with my usual color (or maybe lack of color) scheme.  In the New york Times SundayStyle section,  Bill Cunningham’s “On the Street” calls it “Autumnal Mood, moody combinations of black, white and gray.”  That pretty much describes how I dress and the way my house looks.  I used my everyday white dishes because I have so many platters, bowls and covered tureens that I like to use.  I’ll add in a few pieces from Juliska in gray and some tarnished silver along with table runners in black and white buffalo check.  I used small succulents to take the place of flowers on the table saving room for the platters of food.  I painted tiny clay pots with chalkboard paint and added our names with a paint marker.  For a little extra lighting I used an old birch branch wrapped with white twinkle lights and suspended it from the window trim using clear fishing line.  The light is so soft and warm I plan to keep it all winter.  Now for the menu, the shopping list…are you cooking this year?


Smooth Mashed Potatoes + thanksgiving

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Our Thanksgiving menu changes a little from year to year, but one dish that never (ever) changes is our traditional mashed potatoes.  These potatoes are the creamy, pound of butter, smooth kind of potatoes that even the pickiest eater will love.  Mashed potatoes are easy to make, but to get that really creamy, smooth kind, there are a few tricks I’ve learned along the way.

Here’s what you need:

8 to 10 medium russet potatoes

3/4 to 1 pound butter, melted

about 4 ounces heavy cream, warmed


 and you need this equipment:

potato peeler

vegetable scrub brush

sharp knife

cutting board

large bowl

large pot

small sauce pan

potato ricer

stand mixer with stainless bowl

Whisk attachment for mixer

Here’s what I do to to make the most luxurious mashed potatoes:

Making Mashed Potatoes + New Canaan Farmer's Market

–  Buy 8 to 10 medium russet potatoes that are similar in size.  Buy fresh, you’ll notice the difference.

–  Scrub the potatoes clean

– Peel the potatoes and rinse them in cool water and place in a bowl of cold water (this step is not necessary if you are only making a small batch).  Potatoes start to turn black if not in water so when peeling several potatoes at a time, you’ll need to keep them in cold, salted water until you are ready to cube and cook them.

– Cut the potatoes horizontally down the middle, then cut again so that you have 6 to 8 pieces that are similar in size. Cutting them the same size makes the potatoes cook at the same time.

– Put all the cut potatoes into a large pot filled with cold, salted  water completely covering the potatoes.  Boil for approximately 20 – 25 minutes until potatoes are very tender.  They need to be really fork tender.

– Once the potatoes are done, drain them in a colander and then put them back into the same pot.  Put the pot back onto the burner for a few seconds so that any moisture that remained in the potatoes will evaporate.

– In order to make really smooth mashed potatoes, this next step is crucial.  Rice the potatoes.  Place spoonfuls of cooked potatoes into the ricer until done.  Work fast at this point.

– Now the riced potatoes need to go into the prepared bowl of a electric mixer. The bowl has to be warmed.  If you add hot riced potatoes into a stainless steel bowl that is cold or even room temperature, the starch reacts and the potatoes won’t blend well.  I warm the bowl by pouring boiling water from a tea kettle into the bowl.  It stays warm until I’m ready to add my potatoes.  I pour the water out and add the hot riced potatoes to the hot mixing bowl.

– Now add your melted hot butter, warmed heavy cream and salt.  Start mixer very slowly until everything combines, then continue to mix at a higher speed until they are smooth.  Scoop them into a serving bowl and serve hot!  (They can actually be made ahead and reheated slowly).

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