Thank you, New England…

by | Oct 10, 2016 | a slice of life, Travel | 41 comments

I’m still in Massachusetts as I write this, but I’m hanging out in a hotel room and wanted to share how my trip has been going so far.

First of all, I just love New England!  I felt that way when we came up here on a family trip to Maine and I feel even more so now.  I love the architecture and little towns and the brilliant fall colors and the history.

So, my trip started with a short flight on a beautiful day.  I usually pull out my computer and watch a movie or work offline on some e-mail, editing, or writing, but I just sat in my seat, listened to music, and looked out the window.

 The entire way.


I was looking specifically for cities that I recognized and was excited when I had a good view of New York City.  (You can see Manhattan is the spit of land between the forked river.  Central Park is a large rectangle in the middle of it.  See it?)


We landed, pick up our luggage and rental car, and headed north from Boston to Portsmouth, NH.  The GPS wanted to take us on 95, which is certainly the quickest, most direct route.  But who wants to drive on 95 when you can drive on 1A?  (Well, my husband when we’re on the way to Maine with two kids in the car, but other than him…)  If you don’t know, 1A runs along coast, right up to the ocean in some places.  My mom was the one who suggested it.  I was a bit focused on getting where we needed to go, but my mom said, “Let’s be adventurous and ignore the GPS.”  So, we did.  We just turned east, knowing we would hit the ocean at some point.


We were treated with a winding road through small coastal towns and ocean views.

mms-2600  mms-2602

We rolled down the windows and rubbernecked at the amazing architecture and historical buildings.  Oh, the houses.  Oh, my old-home-loving friends…the houses!!


I just wanted to photograph them all and knock on the doors and ask for a tour.  One town, Newburyport had me just about hyperventilating.  One amazing three-story historic home with gorgeous details after another.  It was a beautiful day and the whole experience felt like a gift.

We had a low-key evening at the hotel in Portsmouth, a charming sea-side town in New Hampshire.  We got to eat dinner outside and tuck in early to be rested for the full day ahead.

The whole reason I came this way was to attend the Sage Farm Antiques Autumn Festival.  Over 100 antique dealers set up in the quaint Victorian barn and surrounding buildings of the Rochester, NH fairgrounds.


I was brought there to teach two seminars – one on budget decorating and one on starting and running a creative business.  I also helped out with a MMS Milk Paint demo, so it was a full day.

mms-6843 mms-6844

The show itself was amazing.  I was tortured just about the entire time, because I didn’t drive up in my van and a large piece of furniture, which I was certain to fall in love with, wouldn’t fit in the overhead compartment.

I have been looking for an old drafting table and guess what I found?  Yep.  An old drafting table.  Actually, TWO drafting tables and a drafting stool.  In addition, I found an antique counter that was a fabulous piece.  The wood was buttery soft with age and it was only $350.  I expected it to be at least $600, so I got all fluttery when I saw the price.

I did have an offer from someone to bring it down to PA for me, but I knew that it would mean dragging several people into moving a heavy piece and delivering it to me, just because I wanted it.  I decided to let it go to someone else.  There will always be more amazing pieces.

I did pet it quite a bit…

I bought a few little things I could fit in my suitcase, though, so I’ll share those pieces when I get back.

The evening was capped off with a good dinner with a business acquaintance I’ve been working with for a few years, but had never met.  It’s so great when you can put a face to the voice and make more personal connections in the midst of doing business together.

I’m doing a meet and greet in Grafton, MA at Signature Finishes on Monday morning before I fly out, so Sunday was a free day, which is rare on these trips!  Usually I fly in and out and don’t have much time to see the sights.

The weather was misery, so we didn’t get to walk around cute little New England towns as planned, but we did go to Salem and toured the House of the Seven Gables.


As a lover of old things, it was really neat to tour such an old home that was actually quite quirky.  The tour included ascending a secret staircase that was built into an old chimney!  It was a tight squeeze, but quite the experience.


I didn’t bring my Nikon, because of the rain, but here is a picture of the house from the outside.  Built in 1668, it’s the oldest mansion in New England!

mms-6866 mms-6860

I wish I could’ve taken more pictures of the surrounding homes, but it was really raining and I wasn’t dressed for it at all!


So, maybe next time.

A few funny things about me when I travel.  I always put a ridiculous pillow case on my pillow, so I don’t leave it at the hotel accidentally.  This time, it’s a vintage flannel Peanuts pillow case.  Yes, I look like I’m carrying around my blankie or something.

I also do not pack light, even when I really, really try.


I always get the “heavy” tag.  I even did pack light-for-me this time, but I had to bring some of my sketching and painting supplies along, so that put me over.

And, I like to have options, so I usually pack a few extra clothes and accessories.


The two necklaces at the top are from Anthropologie.  The watch is from Jord, and the gray and brass necklace is this one from World Market (of all places!)

Despite lugging around a suitcase that feels like it’s full of bowling balls, it has been a wonderful trip.

Thank you, New England!


PS – Go Redskins!


Mens Wooden Watches


  1. Bonnie Kilgore

    Oh, gosh! I was at the House of Seven Gables too today! What a neat place, even in the rain! (Formerly lived in Gardners PA, but now live in Brimfield, and Salem is about 70 miles from home. I hope to visit again when the weather is better!) Your pictures are great!

  2. Sharon

    THANK YOU for visiting our lovely part of the country ! My sister & I attended the Sage Farm Autumn Spectacular…we intended to go only 1 day but had to return for day 2 to take it all in ! We took in your demo on milk paint & your seminar on How to start your own business…It was Great…informative & lots of FUN.
    Thank you for sharing your experiences, your thoughts, your expertise and your encouragement .
    Such a great weekend…..and right in my backyard ….who woulda’ thunk it ?! SEE YOU NEXT YEAR !

  3. Toni

    Show us the vintage Peanuts pillowcase!

    • Karen

      I second that!

  4. Cape Cod Chic

    How funny……I live on Cape Cod but last weekend I was in PA – Chester County – and was so in love with the field stone houses, the rolling hills, fields of corn and PA architecture!

    America the Beautiful!

  5. Jenny B.

    This post reminds me of a college-visiting trip my mom and I took the summer before my senior year in high school. I had a romantic idea about going to the Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT (I’m SO thankful my mom made me visit in person before applying!). 🙂 The campus was beautiful, but it was very much the military. Ha. Anyway… We really enjoyed what we saw of New England. It was lovely. One place that took us by surprise, though, was Bethlehem, PA. We drove right through there on our way to CT, and it was like nothing we had ever seen (never visited a steel mill town before). I would love to take a trip through that part of the country again someday. 🙂

    • Crystal

      It’s funny how we a have different perspectives & experiences…& really, THAT is what makes this country so great!
      My DH is from Bethlehem & graduated HS in Nazareth- & his grandmother was a nurse at Bethlehem Steel for a long, long time!
      I, am from right outside of Pittsburgh, PA & have a FEARLESS mother who was a (very skilled I might add) Welder at US Steel in the 70’s~ (She did things most of the men could only dream of being able to do & oh so well!) & I think it was just another way to work w/her hands ..she’s also a creative type & where I inherited my creative gene as well!
      Anyways, after 30+ yrs in PA we are in TX now & while there are things that I really love about it, it is certainly NOT PA 🙂
      &, I happen to cherish every. Single. Minute. I have ever spent in New England & cherish every memory. I have had some of the best vacations there ever! Maybe BC they are on US soil too? It’s awe & wonder & love…& in my very country…
      I think maybe that’s it! God Bless America for sure!
      & I am so trying to work on this…But, Happy Fall Y’all as well 😉

  6. TinaLou

    So, I grew up in Grafton; you must visit the Common, and then take a short drive down both North and South Streets. I take the loveliness and architecture for granted; it’s helpful to see it through the eyes of a visitor – and kindred spirit!

  7. Laura


    You made me start a whole new pinterest board for New England. I love the beach and ocean but not the hot weather so it’s perfect for me. I have always lived in Maryland but do dream of going up there at some point! And, I’m trying to be a gracious Ravens fan so congratulations on the win!

    Thanks for all the inspiration you continually provide!!

    • marian

      Oh, I feel for you! My oldest son in a Raven’s fan and it was a tough loss, I know. I’ve been there many, many times.

  8. Mary Ann

    Was planning on making the drive from Cape Cod to see your seminar, but having car problems? So upset! Glad you are enjoying fall in NE. My favorite time of year.

  9. Elizabeth

    Congrats on your successful trip to New England. Many thanks for taking and sharing the photos. I lived in Boston for 12 years before decamping to Texas. I still miss it. Your post helped me remember why.

    I loved seeing the posters promoting your workshops and demos. It’s a thrill to see your name in lights. I figured out on my own that you’re a star, but it’s still good to see it acknowledged by others.

  10. Elizabeth

    Oh be still my heart! Those houses! Swoon!

  11. Lynne Brundage

    It was an absolute delight to meet you and talk for a bit, Marian! I’m so glad you enjoyed your visit. We missed a most awesome flea market in Mass. on Sunday because of the rain. Sad, sad face.

  12. janpartist

    I’m originally from Kansas City but our family moved to Mass for three years about 20 years ago. I have only pleasant memories. I must have lived there in a previous life, it felt like home. I miss it every time I read a post like this.

  13. Cheryl

    How fun!! Someday I hope to go there too!

  14. Linda Charlton

    New England is a glorious place, my absolute fave.I have been to those same places, including the House of the Seven Gables. Although it was pouring that day we made the best of it. We saw many fabulous things in Salem. Portland it so cute, I would love to live there but the cost of living is out of sight. I wish I had been able to see the show andmeet you.

  15. MaryS

    Oh my gosh…. I WANT TO GO!! NOW!!! The trees look beautiful…. I wouldn’t even care if it rained on my parade.

  16. Lisa Silfwerbrand

    Oh my. I was just in Boston last week (hadn’t been back since I lived there in the 90s) and fell in love all over again with New England too. There is just something so special and gravitational about that area for me. The gorgeous architecture, the smell of the ocean, some of the oldest antiques in the land… it a little bit of Heaven on Earth <3 Isn't it just the loveliest and your pictures just made me want to hop back in the car right this minute and go back!

  17. Laura Higgins

    I flew from Texas to Maine last week ( lucky me my SIL lives on Drakes Island). Hubby and I are now in Cape Breton. If you get back to Maine, one of my all time fave antique shops is Arundel Antiques. They also have Junkers who set up in the huge parking lot every single day. I’ve always found treasures, even if they do have to fit in the overhead space. I know I was a New Englander in another life!

  18. Maggie

    I was at the SageFarm Antique Fair too. Saw you demoing your paint. I am from Beverly, Ma originally (next town to Salem) and went to The House of Seven Gables many times. Now live in New Hampshire and take New England’s beauty for granted but you made me see it through someone else’s eyes and now I appreciate it more. Glad you and your mom were able to see our beautiful part of the country.
    Come back soon!

  19. Regina Downing

    It was so great to meet you, listen to you and all your great ideas and tips. I don’t live far from Rochester and it was my first time there.
    Best wishes to you on your new adventures.

  20. Karen U

    Marian (and Kim),
    What an absolute pleasure to meet you both today at Signature Finishes today! I admit I was a bit starstruck, but it was so nice to hear you speak about your experiences in person and to speak with you! I (and my son) both left with great inspiration and hope to continue moving forward in our crafts.

    • marian

      My mom just raved and raved about your son, so you’ll have to send me an e-mail with his info for ordering wine stoppers and pens. 🙂 It was so great to meet both of you.

  21. Karen

    I wonder what it would cost to fill a rented POD and have it delivered? Just a thought…

  22. Amy

    For those of you who have yet to see Marian in action, she’s the real deal. After 2 days of speaking engagements and suffering from a cold with a nagging cough, I watched her graciously and energetically interact with people long after she could have left, myself included.

    Marian, so glad you enjoyed your time in New England. Thanks for sharing your journey with all of us!

    • marian

      Aw, thanks, Amy! It was so nice to meet you! Yes, that darn cough. I just could not shake it!

  23. Wendy York

    Marian you are so fun! ? Thanks for sharing this trip with us. Loved the views out the airplane window, your mom’s admonition to “be adventurous”, the colorful pillowcase and the too-heavy suitcase because you like to have options! And to top it off, the “Go Redskins!” at the end of your post was very relatable to me just now, as both my husband and I went to class reunions of our alma maters in two small towns in California where we are having to say good bye to our beloved and highly respected Redskin mascots this year. One reunion was a week ago and the other this past weekend, so there has been a lot of “Go Redskins!” and “Redskins forever!” going on around here lately!

  24. Marie

    Did you take a picture of the drafting tables, stool and antique counter that you raved about?

  25. Jolena

    It was so very nice to meet you and your mom at Signature Finishes. Thank you for being so generous with your time and advice to those of us who are just dipping out toes into the waters. Your encouragement to step out and try different things resonated with me. Thank you, again.

  26. Cheryl

    Thank you Marion. I’ve only been up that way once a couple years ago and have been longing to go back and spend some time. My dad was from Newburyport , he passed on two years ago. I so want to go back to see where he lived.

  27. Katherine~FurnishMyWay

    Wow! That sounds like an amazing trip. I’ve never been to New England, but I can only imagine how gorgeous it was!

  28. Karyn

    It was so nice to make the trip from Portsmouth (I live right off of 1A…how funny) to see you at the Sage Farm Antique Fair! I felt like I was seeing a celebrity and thus was too shy to formally introduce myself (even though I’m a super fan of yours). It was great to hear you talk about your milk paint and answer our questions, however, hearing you speak about your business was the best part of the day! You are such a dynamic presenter! My 25 year old niece who was with me even commented on how riveting you were! I only wish we had known the subjects of the presentations before I purchased tickets as your “Decor on a Budget” presentation would have been more applicable to us. I’m really grateful we were able to hear you speak and hopefully next time I’ll be brave enough to introduce myself! :o)

    It’s so nice to see my hometown presented here. Of course I’m biased and I love it, but I’m so glad others see it’s beauty too! There’s nothing like Portsmouth (or anywhere in New England) in the Fall!

  29. Amy

    We JUST moved to Maine a week ago from San Diego. I am LOVING it so far! It think maybe most of them antique stuff is over for the season, but in hoping to find some great stuff next summer!

  30. Lane

    Love New England. Lived in Brunswick, ME across the street from Bowden College in 1970 (husband was in the Navy.) bought fish from roadside stands where we left our money in a bucket and never saw the fisherman. Lived on 3rd floor of a 125 year old house. It was wonderful. Bought a square oak table with beautifully turned legs for $10 at a “junk store” when this was junk. Use it daily to the day. Bought an old trunk from a lady who was 70 years old and had carried it to boarding school. It is full of my treasures today. My son was born in Brunswick and I would love to take him back again.

  31. Stephanie Howard

    Really enjoyed your photos! So glad you had a wonderful time in New England…I totally get it. I am a California native who moved to New England a little over three years ago. I just love all the history, the beautiful old quirky homes, all the beautiful coastal towns, and the spectacular foliage. So glad I moved here!

  32. Caro

    Hey, you drove right through my town (Ipswich MA) and quite near my house. I enjoyed seeing all the familiar places from your drive and from Salem. We love to celebrate our anniversary by driving up 1A to beyond Portsmouth. We have a nice lunch at the end, then we speed home on Hwy 95. Really fun to see it through someone else’s eyes.

    Too bad about the rain, but we’ve had such a severe drought this summer that it was very welcome. The reservoirs have been at 10% of normal etc. and we have all been working hard to conserve every drop of water. So we needed it badly.

  33. Cris M

    How inspiring to read all the comments. We really are so connected. Like a couple of you, I now live in DFW, TX. But I grew up in green, verdant Ohio. Went to The Ohio State University then on to a specialty school in Pittsburgh in 1981 then moved to Texas. I have been soulfully in love with New England since the 6th grade. I remember so clearly staring at a wall calendar in Mrs. Harding’s classroom with one of those autumn ariel views overlooking the glorious fall colored trees with white church steeples rising up. I was in love with the idea of living there and felt an unexplainable connection to it as though I lived there in a past life like someone else mentioned. Like you Marian and so many who follow you, I have always loved old things, history, and especially the architecture of old houses. It is my dream to live in an older house that needs TLC. Through the years, my husband and I travel to New England every chance we get. Have been to Salem for Halloween 3 times and was based in Boston for AA years ago (my favorite big city). I can’t get enough of that area. This summer we re-visited our favorite Vermont town, Woodstock then drove through NH visiting Lake Winnipesaukee,then up 1A all the way to Bar Harbor, Maine. Pure heaven. All the while, assessing it all for retirement options. But last week, we were in your neck of the woods! Yep! We went to Gettysburg National Park in early spring and loved it! I didn’t realize Biglerville was so close. Last week, we flew into Philadelphia Airport with plans to go back to Gettysburg bc we didn’t get to the Eisenhower home. I asked my husband to google apple festivals and he found one…in Biglerville! So I was definitely in your back yard. We went on to re-visit Lancaster County and finished in Chester County to see Longwood Gardens, Winterthur and Wyeth art studios. It was all lovely. My husband retires from the airline industry in two years and we are hunting for our retirement home in the northeast. Since I have family in Ohio and North Carolina, PA is on the list. I thought I would prefer Bucks County but actually, we really like Adams County and Lancaster County more. In Ohio, I lived in the county next to the largest Amish community in Ohio just as you do living next to Lancaster County. Any thoughts?

  34. Margaret Morris

    Hi Marian,
    I just wanted you tell you how much I enjoyed meeting you after following your blog for many years. Thank you for the advice on my “Catty Corner (or as they say in NE, “Kitty”) dilemma and permission to have a custom made corner hutch or armoire made as my splurge item.
    I also wanted to tell you my first impression when I first saw you, you are taller and thinner than I expected. I know you have been working on eating healthier and you looked great! Loved your dress, (and now I know, antique petticoat) boots and necklace.
    By the way, my husband really enjoyed talking to you and your mother. I worried he would be bored, but while I was enjoying your presentation, he found me a lovely ironstone soup terrain.
    I wish you nothing but the best in your future endeavors.
    Take care.

  35. Sharyl Murphy

    Thank you for two great presentations and a fun visit Marian and mom 🙂 Have a wonderful holiday season and be Well!
    Sharyl Murphy Sage Farm Antiques

  36. Tina

    Glad you enjoyed your time in our neck of the woods!


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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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