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The first time I dipped a brush into a quart of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, I knew I had found a great way to keep myself out of trouble during retirement. The paint, developed by British designer Annie Sloan, is a marvel to behold as it can cover a variety of materials from wood to metal, walls and fabric without priming or sanding, dries quickly and with very little cleanup (soap and water does the trick). The colors range from creamy whites, grays and neutrals to a kaleidoscope of soft and brilliant blues, greens, reds and yellows — with 32 colors in all.

My Cleveland sister introduced me to the wonders of the chalk paint (there are several versions and copycats, but I think Annie Sloan’s is the best) and my first foray was to transform a tired-looking table into a sweet little side table for the guest bedroom, complete with a lovely stenciled top. I was hooked. I loved the velvety ultra matte finish and the way that a thrift-store (or, even better, a curb-side) find could have new life.

When I returned home, I went in search of an Annie Sloan stockist (that’s the term used by Sloan for her independent retailers across the world trained specifically in the technique and practical advice of applying all the colors) and met the fabulous Nada Abbate of Nada & Co. in Royal Oak. Thanks to her welcoming smile, her vast knowledge of the product and the way her shop was filled was some beautiful pieces, I knew I had come to the right place. We immediately became friends, and once and awhile she lets me come in and paint, choosing colors like selecting gumdrops in a candy store and finding just the right object to bring back to fabulous.

If you are familiar with Annie Sloan paint or want to learn more about this great way to redecorate with just a few strokes of a brush, you should pay a visit to Nada & Co., meet her and her great staff (Marsha and Ellen) and maybe I’ll be there playing in the paint and will come out and say hello.

Better yet, on Dec. 1 Nada & Co. is hosting a holiday open house so you can come in and see for yourself how cool these Annie Sloan paints are.

I’ll be there and am bringing these cranberry scones to serve along with an array of other treats. It’s a great way to begin the holidays and you may just get inspired to create your own special gifts to impress friends and family. Hope to see you there.

Kate Lawson is a retired Detroit News food writer. Reach her at katecook@comcast.net.

Fresh Cranberry Scones

Recipe adapted from thekitchn.com

1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries

1/3 cup light brown sugar

1 small orange or clementine, zested

2 1/4 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

12 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1/3 cup to 1/2 cup milk

Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling, optional

Rum glaze:

1/3 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons dark rum

2 teaspoons vanilla

Heat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare two baking sheets by lining with parchment or lightly spraying with spray oil.

In the bowl of a food processor, whiz the cranberries with the brown sugar and orange zest until lightly chopped. Remove to a separate large bowl. Back in the food processor, whiz the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut the chilled butter into small pieces and pulse with the flour in the processor just until roughly crumbled.

Mix the flour and butter mixture with the cranberries in their bowl. Add the milk and stir just until the dough comes together; it’s fine if there is still crumbly flour.

Sprinkle the countertop or a board with flour, and dump the dough out on it. Cut out rounds using a biscuit cutter or glass, or pat into a thick circle and cut into wedges. If you aren’t planning on using the rum glaze, sprinkle the scone tops with sugar.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until just golden. Serve warm.

To make the glaze, whisk the powdered sugar, rum, and vanilla together until they form a thick, glossy glaze.

If using the glaze, arrange the scones on a baking sheet or cooling rack and drizzle lightly with the rum glaze. Let sit and cool until the surface of the glaze dries. Makes 12 scones.

Per serving: 243 calories; 12 g fat (7 g saturated fat; 44 percent calories from fat); 30 g carbohydrates; 10 g sugar; 31 mg cholesterol; 196 mg sodium; 3 g protein; 1 g fiber.

Holiday Open House

Where: Nada & Co., 736 S. Washington Ave., Royal Oak 48067

When: 6 p.m. Dec. 1

Free admission with a raffle and door prizes.

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