how to polish your copper.

After I brought home the pretty little copper watering can from the Roseville garage sales, I decided that I should try polishing it up.

I’m not usually a polish-er.  I prefer my silver tarnished rather than freshly polished, for example.  But I wanted to see what this piece would look like all spruced up.

So I googled how to polish copper and discovered that you can just use a lemon and some coarse salt, no need to use harsh chemicals.

And you don’t specifically need Kosher salt, but it’s what I happened to have on hand at the moment.

The process is simple.  Cut your lemon in half, dredge the cut side in the salt and then use it to scrub the copper.

It took a little elbow grease, but not much.  As an added bonus the lemon smells fantastic, and your hands get a bit of spa treatment at the same time.

I found it a little hard to get into tight crevices, and it didn’t turn out perfect, but not bad for just using a lemon and some salt.

Since I had a watering can, and my gardens are looking quite fab at the moment, it seemed like I should take some photos in the garden.  Let’s all keep our fingers crossed that we don’t have a repeat of last year’s hail storm that shredded all of my hostas.

‘Cuz right now they are looking pretty fine.

On the bright side, that means none of the damage from last year was permanent.  But they never really did ever look good again last season.

Knock on wood.

Now go find some copper, lemons and salt and get polishing!


another rainy Saturday.

Two of my favorite garage sales took place this past week.

First there was the ‘breakfast meeting’ garage sale.  My friend/co-worker Sue and I go to this sale every year.  We both pass the sign for it on our way in to work, so when we see it we know that we need to head back out for our annual ‘breakfast meeting’.  Shhhhh, don’t tell anyone.  This is our little secret.

I always find some great stuff.  Here is last year’s haul.

Seeing this photo reminded me that I did some fun stuff with a few of those items.

I kept the bucket ‘as is’ and I even used it as a prop in last Friday’s blog post after filling it up with peonies.

The little stool under the bucket was revived with some of Miss Mustard Seed’s Flow Blue milk paint and I’ve kept that so far too.

And in fact, the little watering can in that last photo was also from the ‘breakfast meeting’ sale last year and it got a coat of Flow Blue as well.  I brought that in to Reclaiming Beautiful to sell.  I figure my non-collection of 10 watering cans is sufficient and I don’t need to add to it.

The plain plywood box in that photo went from drab to fab with a paint job and an IOD transfer applied to it.  So far I have it in my giant English cupboard holding all of my photography supplies like extra lenses and so forth.

I still have the chair that’s in the photo.  I’m saving it to pair up with a desk sometime down the road.

The rest of the stuff I purchased that day was sold as is.

At this year’s sale I found another little pile of fun goodies like this pretty pair of pyrex dishes.

And this set of McCoy nesting bowls.

Isn’t this ‘cottage’ doorstop adorable?

With a house as old as mine there is always a need for doorstops.  My doors all have a mind of their own.

I also nabbed this pretty quilt to use in my guest room.

In addition to the ‘breakfast meeting’ sale, the Nokomis neighborhood sales were on Saturday.  My sister and I love to go to those because that’s the neighborhood where our parents grew up.  We always drive by our grandparent’s old houses.

Once again though, this past Saturday was rainy.  If you’re keeping track, this was our third Saturday in a row with rainy weather for garage saling.  As we headed into Minneapolis there was thunder, lightening and a heavy downpour of rain.  But we were not to be deterred.  And this time we had my niece with us, which is a rarity, so we really were hoping to find some great stuff.

We really didn’t have much luck though.  Even though there were around 100 sales listed on the map, most of them did not open due to the weather.  I’m sure many of them planned to have their sales out in the yard, and that just wasn’t going to happen.  I always feel so bad for people when they’ve gone to all of the trouble to get ready for a garage sale, and then the weather doesn’t cooperate at all.

I did find some fun things though, like a bag full of mid-century modern drawer pulls for only a quarter.

You never know when I might run across a mid-century piece that needs hardware.  For a quarter, this was definitely a good investment.

I also came home with some more mid-mod barware.  This set is in pristine condition and has six glasses plus the ice bowl and tongs.

It wasn’t all mid-century though.  I also purchased this ginormous scale.

I really should have taken a ‘before’ photo so you could see the transformation.  This was probably the most disgustingly grimy thing I’ve ever purchased at a garage sale (and that is definitely saying something).  The entire thing was covered in a thick layer of greasy dirt.  It also had quite a few paint splatters on it.  But it cleaned up beautifully with just some Dawn dish washing soap and a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.

By the way, if any of my local readers are lucky enough to have a large kitchen with space for displaying something like this (which would look great with a plant on it, or maybe a couple of ironstone pitchers) this scale is going to be for sale, so be sure to leave a comment if interested.

We finally gave up on the sales at around 11 a.m.  We were driving around in circles at that point and not finding very many sales that were actually open.

So we did what any normal people would do, we drove over to Minnehaha Falls to do some sightseeing and to admire the amount of water going over the falls.

And then despite the fact that we looked like drowned rats, we stopped off for lunch on the way home.  We may not have scored many bargains, but we still had a great rainy Saturday!

modernized traditional.

A while back Mr. Q stopped off at the thrift store to drop off some things and while he was there he decided to take a look at the furniture for me.  He ended up purchasing this piece.

Funny, I didn’t realize exactly quite how long ago it was until I dug out the before photo and realized there were no leaves on the trees yet!

Anyway, the piece is pretty traditional and not quite my normal style but I decided to modernize it a bit with Fusions’ Ash, a beautiful dark grey.

I’d done a similar piece in the same color last year and it turned out gorgeous (my sister ended up with that one).

This was a fairly simple makeover.  My handyman Ken had to re-glue a couple of runners for the drawers first, then I sanded the entire thing down to try and smooth out some of the more obvious scratches in the finish.  I cleaned the piece with TSP Substitute and then painted it with two coats of the Ash.

Once that was dry I sanded just the edges very lightly for some subtle distressing.

I was determined to keep the original knobs and pulls because there are 14 drawers on this thing!  The cost for new ones would add up rather quickly at that rate.

I love using the Fusion paint on a large piece like this because you don’t have to add a topcoat which saves a lot of time, effort and money.  Once cured, the Fusion paint will be fully washable as is.

I did use a little bit of the Homestead House Salad Bowl Finish around the distressed areas to protect any bare wood that was exposed.

A little bit of this stuff goes a long way.  I’ve had this one small 1.75 oz jar for ages and have used it on many pieces, yet it is still more than half full.

The peonies were in full bloom when I took the pictures of this piece last weekend and I thought the varying shades of pink worked beautifully with the color of this dresser so it was a no-brainer to use them for staging.

The white, dark pink and medium pink peonies are all from my own garden while those gorgeously subtle pale pink ones are from nnK’s garden.

We’ve had some relatively cool weather lately so it seems like the peonies are lasting just a little bit longer this year.

There’s nothing like a whole bucket full of peonies to make your house smell amazing!

As you can see, things have changed a bit around here since I took that ‘before’ photo.

The trees definitely have leaves now, and everything is a lot greener!

And I think the dresser itself is much improved as well.

This piece is available for sale while it lasts.  Check out my ‘available for local sale‘ page to see all of the pieces I currently have in stock.

a painting fairy tale.

Once upon a time in a land far, far away (Stillwater) I saw a beautiful painted dresser in a shop.  The color was a gorgeous, deep, dark blue-green.  I ask the proprietress of the shop if she knew what paint was used on the dresser and she said it was milk paint from The Real Milk Paint Co.  Sadly though, the evil queen had cast a spell upon her and she couldn’t remember exactly which color it was.

OK, I made up the part about the evil queen, but the rest is true.  The shop owner thought it was either Dragonfly or Peacock, but she just wasn’t sure.

So I embarked upon a quest to find that magical color and paint something with it myself.

I started with Dragonfly

But it was clearly way too blue.

Next I tried Peacock

It was much closer, definitely the same level of darkness, but it was a bit too green.

Trying to recreate a color exactly like one on a piece that you’ve seen, in person or even worse, online, can be rather difficult.  Especially so with milk paint which is far more translucent than other kinds of paint.  Sometimes the original color of the wood that you are painting over will make a difference in the look of the final color.  I’ve also found that there can be pretty wide variations from package to package of the same color of milk paint (well, that can be true of other paints too).  In addition, the topcoat you use can also really affect the color.  In the case of that Peacock dresser, I think the hemp oil topcoat combined with the orange-ish color of the wood really brought out the green.

Still hoping that I would be able to find that magical color, I tried The Real Milk Paint Co’s Blue Spruce next.  But as it turns out, this was no fairy tale.  The third color I tried was not ‘just right’.  Instead it was even more green than the Peacock.

After giving it some more thought, I realized that the original dresser I saw in that shop was probably painted in Peacock.  Maybe it just didn’t have a hemp oil topcoat?  I had enough Peacock left to give it another go, so I pulled out this dresser that I purchased at the Linden Hills sales.

Before painting it I stripped the top using Citristrip.  While the Citristrip was working its magic, I started prep on the drawers.  I grabbed my screwdriver so I could remove those wooden knobs for painting.  Imagine my surprise when I couldn’t find screws on the back.

Turned out that the knobs themselves just screwed into the drawer.  Pretty cool, right?

After the top was stripped and I’d prepped the rest of the piece by sanding it lightly and cleaning it with TSP Substitute, I mixed my paint.  That’s when I had what turned out to be kind of a dumb idea.  I decided to mix a little blue milk paint into the Peacock to ensure it would be a little less green than last time.  So I pulled out some of Homestead House’s Homestead Blue.  I didn’t add much, maybe a heaping tablespoon of Homestead Blue to a quarter cup of Peacock.

And after two coats of paint and a top coat of Miss Mustard Seed’s clear wax, here’s the color I got.

Hmmmmm.  In case you are in doubt, this is nowhere near the color I wanted or expected.  How did it end up so light, and so very blue?  What happened to the green?

For a minute I even thought maybe I confused the Dragonfly for the Peacock while I was mixing, but no, I checked.  This was definitely the Peacock.

Go figure.

Did that heaping tablespoon of Homestead Blue really make that much of  difference to the Peacock?  Or was it the clear wax topcoat?  Honestly, I’m baffled.  This color not at all what I envisioned for this dresser, so I’m having trouble being happy with how it turned out.

But I’ve realized that even though this isn’t what I expected, it is a pretty color.

The moral to our fairy tale story is that you don’t always get what you wish for when mixing your own shade of milk paint, so you have to be flexible and willing to just go with the flow.

The top of the dresser turned out beautifully.  As I said, I stripped it.  Then I sanded it a bit and finished it with Miss Mustard Seed’s Antiquing Wax.  I love that it has some dings from many years of use, but looks clean and fresh with the wax.

I staged this piece for a laundry room complete with my new dress form, Collette, and some pretty vintage linens.

I’m going to be bringing some of these linens to Reclaiming Beautiful to see if they will sell.  I’ve always sold pretty vintage pillowcases, napkins, tablecloths and sheets at my own occasional sale so I’ll see if they sell well in a shop or not.

These are all in incredibly good condition, which tends to mean that the owner received them as a gift and never used them.  I hate to see them wasting away in a linen closet, so I hope someone buys them and uses them.

I hope you enjoyed today’s painting fairy tale.  I’ve got another for you on Friday!


And in the meantime, if any of you locals need a pretty blue antique dresser be sure to check out my ‘available for local sale’ page!



You’ll remember the dress form that I purchased at a garage sale a week or so ago.

Her knit jersey outfit had certainly seen better days.  Not only did it have some holes, but it was really filthy dirty.

So first things first, I stripped her down.

Her fabric was glued along all of the edges of each piece, but on the inside not the visible outside.  So it was fairly easy to cut most of the fabric off and then just rip the edges from where they were glued.  This worked for most of it, but there were a few spots where I had to use a razor blade to cut away the fabric.

Her shiny chrome topper was a bit too shiny and modern for me and I knew I wanted to swap out the knob part for something else with a little more detail.  So this past weekend while garage saling (in the rain again) I was on the lookout for some type of wooden finial that I could paint.  When I came across this pair I thought one of them might just be perfect for the job

I started with having Ken cut the unpainted one down a bit because it was obviously too tall.  Then I painted it with Dixie Belle’s Caviar.  I also painted the chrome that remained behind with the Caviar.

Once the Caviar was dry, I sanded the finial to distress it and added some of Fusion’s Espresso wax to it.

As for the remaining chrome around her neck, I added some of Prima Marketing’s Metallique wax in Bronze Age over the Caviar paint.

I simply used a q-tip to apply the wax all over the painted metal.  Then I immediately blended it by rubbing it lightly with a paper towel.  I usually wait until the wax has dried to buff it with a soft cloth, but since I was working with a larger, flatter surface this time I found that it worked better to immediately smooth it out.

The Bronze Age wax worked perfectly to make the metal look more like old aged bronze rather than shiny modern chrome.  Having the black paint underneath helped give some depth to the bronze and to make sure none of the chrome would be peeking through the wax.

If you’ll remember back, Prima Marketing sent me several of their metallic waxes to try out and I have found them to be indispensable.  They are great for sprucing up old drawer pulls and knobs, they work beautifully on old ornate frames, and now I’ve used them for this project as well.  Also, as you can see in my photo of the wax itself, a little goes a long way.  I’ve used very little of the wax so far, and I’ve completed several projects with it.

Once all of that was done, I had one of those ‘light bulb going off’ moments.  I really can’t even say how this idea came to me, but I thought to myself what if I put a Prima Marketing rub-on transfer right on the cardboard dress form?  That could potentially look amazing.

But first I thought it might be wise to test a portion of a transfer on the back just in case it went horribly wrong.  So I pulled out a left-over section from a transfer and I added it to the dress form’s behind.

And it worked beautifully!  If anything, it went on even easier than it does on furniture and walls.

So I pulled out the full Prima Marketing Catalogue transfer.  I cut it up into various pieces and sections based on where they would fit best on the dress form.

You guys, I honestly think this might be one of the coolest things I’ve ever concocted.

I absolutely love how it turned out.

Seriously, how frickin’ amazing is that thing?

Since the transfer I used is written in French, I decided my dress form needed a french name.  So thus, Collette it is.

If you happen to have one of these dress forms lying around you should be running out to get your own Catalogue transfer right now.  Just google ‘Prima Marketing Catalogue transfer’ and you’ll find multiple options for purchasing one on line.

As for that dresser, I’ll be sharing that on Wednesday so be sure to stay tuned!


crafting a.d.d.

I think it’s possible that I have crafting attention deficit disorder (a.d.d.).

On a rainy day during my staycation last week I decided to organize the q branch, and most especially my giant English cupboard.

It hasn’t looked that neat and tidy since I first brought it into the room.

I started going through my supplies and deciding what to keep and what to throw.  I came across a couple of scraps of vintage wallpaper from past projects and decided to toss them.  I was trying to be merciless about getting rid of stuff I’ll never use.

But then I also noticed a couple of my scrapbooking punches that needed to be put away.

And I had a thought.

Why not create a little vintage wallpaper flag banner for my pretty green birdcage?

That would be so much more fun than continuing to organize my cupboard!

So I punched some flag shapes out of the wallpaper scraps …

Then I punched some holes in them and strung them up on some pink and white butcher’s string.

Easy peasy.

I started out with a banner that had two sizes and shapes of flags …

But after studying it for a bit, I realized I didn’t like the larger flags so I swapped them out for all small.

Ahhhh … much better.

I never really did finish organizing that cupboard.  That’s just how it goes when you are afflicted with crafting a.d.d.  Anybody else out there with this condition?

the old switcheroo.

In the past I have always gone to the ECCO neighborhood sale the first weekend in June.  I’m not going to lie, I mainly go for the tacos.  There is a family in that neighborhood that makes authentic tacos and sells them out of their garage during the sale.  But early this past Saturday when I printed out their map just before heading out I discovered that ECCO had only 21 houses participating this year.  I’m not sure what happened with that, but when you’re used to sales with 80+ participants, 21 is a small number.

So I did a little googling and discovered that the Kenny/Armitage neighborhood had moved its sale from Memorial Day weekend to this past weekend instead.  I always wondered why they chose a holiday weekend in the past.  It can’t have been good timing for many.  It was obvious that more households were participating as a result.  There were 74 homes on their list.

So I pulled a last minute switcheroo.  Instead of ECCO, my sister and I headed to Kenny/Armitage.

The weather forecast was fairly dire.  The chance of rain starting by 9 a.m. was 80%, 100% chance of rain by noon.  So we went prepared with hats and rain jackets, but we actually stayed fairly dry until about 11 a.m.  We had a few things in the car by then but we were hardly full up.  Still we thought about packing it in at that point.  But then we saw just one more sign, and then just one more, and, well, you get the picture.  A little rain never hurt anyone, although it does make life difficult for those having a ‘yard sale’ rather than a ‘garage sale’.  Besides, I feel really sympathetic for those people who have gone to all the work of having a sale only to have it rain on their parade.

Some of our best bargains of the day were found after the rain started.  One plus to a rainy garage sale day is that it keeps the crowds down.  There were very few shoppers out and about in Kenny/Armitage.

Our very first purchases in the morning were hostas.

Probably not terribly exciting for you guys to see, but these were probably one of the best bargains of the day.  The small ones were $1 and the larger ones were $2.  The guy selling them had a gorgeously landscaped garden full of a variety of hostas.  He was just dividing off some of them to control their size.  I bought three, but my sister bought six!  These weren’t your run of the mill boring hostas either.  One of mine is a Sunpower, and my sister got a couple Guacamole’s.  I’m a big fan of ‘garage sale gardening‘, why pay $20 for a hosta when you can get it for $2?

It was a sort of garden-y themed day.  I also found this fab garden pedestal for $15 …

By the way, that is my own Guacamole hosta there on the right, and June on the left.

Another garden item I purchased was this clay pot brush.

I never knew they made such a thing, but it has a really stiff bristle that is designed to brush the dried dirt out of your clay pots.  How fab!  It was just $2.

I also purchased this vintage enamelware pitcher for $2.  You don’t normally see them with a flower design on them.

I thought this one would make a great vase for my peonies, which are just starting to open.

However, as is sometimes the case with vintage pieces like this, this one was not watertight.  So I thought I’d share my trick for dealing with that.  Just use a jar that fits inside to hold the water and the flowers.

I’ve learned the hard way to always test vintage containers for their water tightness before I fill them with flowers and place them on my table!

The last garden-ish find of the day was a box full of glass cloches.

OK, a couple of them look more like cake stand domes rather than cloches, but potato-potahto.

I love using these to bring more interest to a vignette.  Everything seems slightly more important when it’s under a glass cloche.

Even just a simple photograph.

You may have noticed that I used the largest one while staging the Bunker Hill Blue buffet that I shared on Monday.

A couple of you left comments about my luck in finding a mannequin at the Roseville sales last week, but you’ll never guess what.  I found a genuine dress form this time!

She’s wearing a rather unattractive and slightly holey grey jersey right now, but once I get that off you won’t even recognize her.  I’m saving that transformation for another post.

The guy I bought her from said he found her in the attic of his house.  Every time he went up to the attic to look for something he was freaked out by seeing a headless woman out of the corner of his eye, so he had to get rid of her.

As for the desk, it was such a good bargain that I couldn’t possibly not buy it.

It’s going to need just a little help from my handyman Ken in the form of some glue and clamps.  But aren’t those knobs kind of fantastic?

I’ve reserved ‘find of the day’ status for this amazing vintage portable typewriter.

Isn’t it gorgeous?

It’s quite small and even fits on the Colliers’ Atlas that I purchased last week.

The gal who sold it to me said that her grandmother used to type all of her letters on this typewriter!

All in all, my sister and I had a great time at the Kenny/Armitage sales despite the rain, although we did miss those tacos!