a day of rest.

I don’t know how things are going where you are, but here in Minnesota our governor recently announced a ‘four-week dial back’ in response to sky-rocketing COVID cases.  As part of that plan, ‘in-person social gatherings with individuals outside your household’ are prohibited.

That meant it was time to re-evaluate the plans for my birthday yesterday.  We were initially planning to have a wild party with 50 of my closest friends.  OK, not really.  But we were thinking about having a few people over for Chinese takeout.  Instead, we canceled those plans and I decided to treat myself to a day of rest.

Do I know how to have a good time or what?

Actually, not only do I not know how to have a good time, I also don’t know how to have a day of rest.  The previous Sunday I had also planned to have a day of rest but instead I painted the inside of my Welsh cupboard.

Quite honestly, this is something that I have been putting off since I first painted this cupboard back in 2015.

I originally painted the outside in Miss Mustard Seed’s Linen, and the inside in Fusion’s Linen.  And I never really liked the Fusion Linen (and this color has been discontinued, so maybe I’m not alone in that).  I always felt like it had a sickly greenish cast to it.

So finally, five years later, I’ve gotten around to painting over it.  This time I went with Dixie Belle’s Gravel Road, a gorgeous, deep, charcoal grey.

I’ve used this color on the insides of a couple of cabinets lately and I loved the way it made my ironstone pieces pop when I used them to stage the photos of those cabinets.

So I emptied all of the ironstone out of my cupboard and gave just the inside two quick coats of Gravel Road (I left the outside as is), followed by a coat of flat clear sealer.  While waiting between coats for the paint to dry, I washed up my non-collection of ironstone.

At least I chose the appropriate dish towel for my day of rest 😉

I’m fairly sure that it took me longer to wash all of the ironstone than it did to do the painting.

I broke all kinds of rules by putting my ironstone back in the cupboard without giving the paint enough time to cure.  In this case, do as I say, not as I do.  You really should give your paint a week or so to cure before loading it down with lots of heavy china.  But hey, it’s just my own cupboard, I don’t care if it’s not perfect.  I probably won’t move any of these ironstone pieces for another five years (or more).

I re-styled the contents a bit as I put them back in.  I chose not to put everything back, this time I wanted to keep the look just a tad cleaner.

I recently pulled out my Cricut machine and added some holiday-ish words to plates to bring in to the shop.  I hadn’t planned on keeping any, but ‘joy’ and ‘peace’ looked so good in my newly painted cupboard that I had to keep them.

Since I was on a roll with the holiday decorating, I added some greenery to the top of the cupboard to snazz it up for Christmas.

I love the fresh new look of the cupboard, and I love the way that ironstone really pops now.

How about you, do you like the new look or did you prefer the old one?

what’s in your stocking?

My sister picked up a bunch of plain white linen-ish Christmas stockings for me at an after Christmas sale last year … or maybe it was the year before … I’m not sure, they all start to blend together when you reach a certain age, am I right?

I’d really forgotten all about them until I was pulling out a few other holiday projects this year and there they were.

So I decided to change them up a bit and see if they would sell at the shop.  I started by removing the red yarn balls that hung from the top (you can’t really see them well in the ‘before’ photo) because I wanted a more neutral, monochromatic look.  Then I pulled out my mini-stencils from JRV Stencil Co.

These were the perfect size to give these stockings a ‘grain sack’ style look.

Now, I have a confession to make.  Sometimes I get lazy, and this is one of those times.  I was going to put a grain sack stripe on each stocking, but I decided to skip it.  I have a grain sack stripe stencil (say that 10 times fast!), but it was just a tad too short for these.  That meant I would have had to tape all of the grain sack lines and that would have been time consuming.

So instead I just added the JRV stencils on their own.

I used Dixie Belle’s Gravel Road paint for all of the stenciling.

Whenever stenciling on fabric, you’ll get a more crisp result if you have a nice hard surface behind your fabric.  In addition, if you’re stenciling over something with two layers of fabric like these stockings, or a pillow cover for example, be sure to place a barrier between the two layers so that your paint doesn’t bleed through to the back layer.

For my stockings, I used an old chunk of wood that I also use to test paint colors on.

I just tucked it inside and that gave me a nice hard, flat surface for stenciling.

I also used that re.design with prima stencil brush shown above.  The 2″ diameter of this brush makes stenciling go much faster than using a smaller brush.  I did look around online to see if I could find this brush available for sale and I did find it for around $40.  That’s pretty steep unless you do a fair amount of stenciling.  But if you do, I’d say it’s definitely worth it.  Search for ‘redesign with prima 2″ round stencil brush’ if you’re looking for it.

In my opinion, these particular stockings are a bit too small to be functional as actual Christmas stockings.  In other words, Santa could only fit a few small things inside and in general you want to encourage Santa to bring you a few bigger things, am I right?  But I think they are well suited as just decoration.

So I added some greens and some old photos to one pair and hung them on my old ladder.

And this next pair contains greens and some bleached bottle brush trees.

I had fun playing around with different ideas for filling the stockings.

The sky is the limit.

I can picture these all hung along a stairway railing, can’t you?

Gosh, now I’m tempted to keep them after all.  Maybe I’ll just keep a pair of them, but sell the rest.  I can’t keep all of the things, right?

So tell me, what’s in your stocking?

ironing board makeovers.

So, first up today, I have to report back to you on the bench makeover that I shared a week ago Monday.  It has already sold!  So, to recap, painted in the pale blue it sat for what, nine months, and didn’t sell.  I painted it white, and bam!  Sold within a week.  I listed it for the same price as the first version.  Both versions had a transfer on them.  I did paint the legs this time, whereas I left the legs bare the first time around.  But I really believe it was my choice of paint color the first time around that was the problem.

I often feel like painting everything in the same creamy white color gets boring for you guys here on the blog, but the thing is, that’s what sells.  And ultimately, I do need to be able to sell my pieces.  I can’t just store them in my dining room forever.  So if you’re ever wondering why I seem to paint so many things in Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth, this is why.

Speaking of storing things that haven’t sold, remember a while back I brought home some painted ironing boards that didn’t sell at the shop?

Just to refresh your memory, the white one on the left is the only one that sold while at the shop (yes, also painted in Drop Cloth), so I brought the other 4 all back home again.

Then I listed them here on the blog, and I was able to sell the black one and the Laundry Co. one.  But I had no takers for the blue one …

and the Apricot one …

I have to confess, I really didn’t like the Apricot one myself, so it didn’t surprise me that it didn’t sell.  That design was just a mistake from the start.  Who hangs an ironing board in a nursery?  Apparently no one.

Anyway, I decided to salvage that board by cutting off the wonky end and turning the rectangle that was left into a sign.  So I sent it home with Ken and he cut off the end for me.

Next I sanded off the transfers.  That’s fairly easy to do with some 80 grit sandpaper and an orbital sander.  I gave it a fresh paint job, also in Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth, and then I added some stencils from Maison de Stencils.

So now it’s a Christmas themed sign.  It’s not even recognizable, right?

Wouldn’t it be adorable hanging over the bed.

I think this was a great way to do something with an old wooden ironing board that just wasn’t going to sell.  I’m still working on an idea for that wonky triangle shaped end, I may just come up with a use for that too.

As for the blue one, I decided to leave the shape of that one alone.  But again, I sanded off the transfer, repainted it in Drop Cloth and added some stencils.

This one would also be fabulous hung above the bed, or really anywhere that you have space for it.

I took these signs, plus a couple more, into Reclaiming Beautiful a couple of weeks ago so it’s possible they have already sold but as of last Wednesday they were still there.  So if any of you locals are looking for something fun to do in the next few days, be sure to head in to Stillwater.  Keep in mind that Reclaiming Beautiful is only open on Thursday – Saturday.

And for the rest of you, if you have a piece that isn’t selling, maybe it’s time to consider a makeover.

thin ice.

Do we all feel a little bit like we are on thin ice these days?  Some days watching/listening to the news is just too much.  I’ve started taking a break from it all on the weekends.  From the time I leave work on Friday until I return on Monday, I avoid the news.

I work on my painting projects, I listen to music, we stream TV or movies, we have my sister and niece over for game nights, and we just generally try to forget about all of the chaos that seems to be happening in the world right now.

I have to face reality again every Monday when I go back to work, but for a couple of days each week I enjoy a little peace and quiet while I paint things.

Speaking of thin ice, I just love the look of vintage ice skates, how about you?

My friend Sue sold that pair shown above at one of our Carriage House sales back in the day.

Unfortunately, I don’t often find really awesome vintage skates at garage sales, but I can usually pick up less attractive old skates for only a few dollars.  In fact, I think I paid $2 for this pair last summer.

They aren’t much to look at ‘as is’, but I knew I could dress them up.

A few years ago I painted a similarly grungy pair of skates pink.

And last year, rather than painting, I just added a re.design with prima transfer to this pair of skates …

This time around I decided to do both, paint and transfer.

I started out by removing the laces and soaking them in some OxyClean.  While they were soaking, I painted the skates in Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth.

I didn’t want to use sandpaper on them because I didn’t want to remove too much paint, but I did want to smooth out the surface so I used the Dixie Belle Finishing Pad to buff them, which worked perfectly.

I then wiped away any dust and applied some left over bits from prima’s Violet Hill transfer.

I definitely don’t aim for perfection when doing this.  I try to place the bits and pieces in a way that looks purposeful and follows the line of the ice skates.

Whenever you are applying a transfer to a non-flat surface, you are going to get cracks and other imperfections.  I know some people fret about those cracks, but let’s get real, we all have far more serious things to fret about these days.  Who cares about a few little cracks in your transfer here and there?

Once the transfer is in place, I waxed the skates using clear wax.  Then after rinsing and drying the laces, I re-laced them.

Of course, I intend these skates as decoration only.  I don’t think that the paint and/or transfer would hold up to actual ice skating use.

Then again, I’ve seen plenty of people out there painting and adding transfers to shoes, so if you’re an ice skater and you want to dress up your skates, give it a shot and let me know how it holds up.

But if you’re just looking for a creative way to decorate for winter, try dressing up some skates.  If you don’t happen to have any, check out your local thrift store.

winter returns.

I’m so glad that I took advantage of our ‘second summer’ last weekend and finished up my bench makeover.  I have it posted on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, so hopefully it will sell soon.

I also sold that large cupboard that I refinished back in September on Monday.

I was really happy to sell that one before winter set in.  It was rather large, and really heavy, so I was storing it out in the carriage house.  I really didn’t want it to sit out there all winter.

And as it turned out, we got it out the door just in time because winter returned with a vengeance on Tuesday.

Second summer is glorious, but it’s also fleeting.  Winter always returns.

Another task that I was determined to take care of during our second summer weekend was filling all of my window boxes with evergreens.  The past several years I haven’t been able to get to this before the soil in the boxes froze rock solid, but this year luck was on my side.

Mr. Q and I popped over to our local Home Depot and we picked up a variety of evergreens.

No matter how many I buy, I still never have enough to fill all of my planters totally.  These really are just the background to which I add dried flowers harvested from my garden (or my neighbor’s garden).

The window box on the side of my carriage house is always my favorite.

In addition to the greens, I added some dried flowers from my Vanilla Strawberry hydrangea.  The flowers on this one turn a deep shade of pink/purple as the season progresses.  You have to cut them and dry them before you get a really hard freeze though, because eventually they turn brown if left on the shrub.

I added a few other dried flowers (astilbe and sedum), plus a few rusty ornaments.

I took all of these photos before Tuesday’s snow.  I really thought I’d have a little more time to enjoy my work before it looked like this …

But that’s OK.  This snow will melt soon.

I also dressed up the Farmer’s Market basket that hangs on the photo cottage.

I added some battery operated lights to this one which is pretty at night.  This planter is a bit more sheltered from the elements by the overhanging roof on the cottage.

Next up was the galvanized laundry tub that sits in front of my carriage house.  This is where I hung my painted sled.

It’s looking quite festive with the addition of some snow!

We share a mailbox post with nnK (our neighbor across the street) and quite a few years ago we added some planters to either side of the mailboxes.  nnK fills them up in the summer, and I fill them for the winter.  Last year I swapped out the plastic planter box on my side for an old metal toolbox (I’m still working on finding a good one for her side).

I used quite a bit more dried flowers in these arrangements, and many of them came from nnK’s garden.

If you’re wondering how well these things stand up to a Minnesota winter, well, the truth is they definitely don’t look this good all the way to spring.  But they usually look good at least through Christmas.

Some of you who have followed me for a few years are probably wondering about the big daddy of them all, my front window box.

Well, silly me, I managed to forget to take any photos of it before the snow.  But here it is after …

It’s a little hard to see the details 😉

I have some twig lights in here though, and it looks amazing lit up at night both from inside the house and from the street.

How about you?  Do you fill up your outdoor planters for winter?  Got any tips to share on what works well for you?  Be sure to leave a comment and let me know.

st. nick’s tree farm.

Well, so much for second summer.  I enjoyed it while it lasted, and then enjoyed watching the snow come down last night.  Looks like I’ll be getting the parka back out again.

I apologize to all of you who are not local.  Rather than an in depth how-to, today’s post is really just a sales pitch.

For this box.

I purchased this box back when my friend Sue and I were hosting occasional sales out of my carriage house.

Now that we no longer have a sale, the box has been wasting away up in my carriage house storage.  When we hauled all of our summer things up there to store them for the winter, I realized the existing green paint made this box perfect for Christmas.

And it’s big enough that you could put a full size Christmas tree in it.

So I brought it out and cleaned it up.  Then I pulled out a couple of stencils and some Dixie Belle paint in Drop Cloth and added a little design to one side.

This is a combination of two different stencils from Maison de Stencils, this one and this one.  I put a quick coat of Dixie Belle’s flat clear coat over the whole side of the box and called it good.

I realized after taking my initial photos that the box looked deceivingly small in most of them, as though it’s just the size of a typical wooden fruit crate.

However, sitting as it is in the photo above, it is 14.5″ tall, 32.25″ wide and 23.25″ deep (front to back).  It’s big.  Plenty big enough to hold a tree.

I typically used it standing on its side during the sales to display items on top and inside.  Standing on its side the tall way, the box is 32.25″ tall, so a nice height for display.

I could also stand it on its side the other way and have it be 23.25″ tall.  Either way, it was quite versatile for display purposes and I loved the look of those slats of mismatched faded wood in the back.

That oversized jingle ball that I used as a prop really isn’t helping to show the size of the box at all, so I threw my Christmas tree farm truck on the top.

I’m not sure that’s helping either.  This is one of those cases where you’ll have to rely on the measurements.

By the way, Sue painted that truck aqua, added the Christmas tree label on the door, and gave it to me for my birthday one year (I told you she was good!).

Normally I would take something like this box in to Reclaiming Beautiful to sell, but this box is large enough to be a bit unwieldy.  So I decided to attempt to sell it on my own before dragging it down there.

So, if any of you locals are looking for an amazing, authentically aged wooden crate to put your tree in this year, this one is for sale for $45.  Email me at qisforquandie@gmail.com if interested.

second summer.

I’ve been wondering lately whether the term Indian summer is no longer politically correct.  I think you have to go back to the origins of the term and see if it was meant to be derogatory to determine that.  So I did some research and found a few good articles including this one on MPR.

It seems that no one knows for sure why early Americans called it Indian summer but the term has been around for well over 200 years.  I always thought that it was an exclusively American thing, but recently our Venetian tour guide, whom I follow on Instagram, posted a lovely photo of the Grand Canal and mentioned their Indian summer temperatures.  So apparently the term has caught on outside of the U.S. as well.

Since the jury is out on whether or not it’s offensive, I think I’ll start calling it ‘second summer’ instead.  Sort of like in The Lord of the Rings when they have second breakfast (two of Mr. Q’s favorites; the movie and the 2nd breakfast).

And boy did we ever have a second summer here this past weekend!  Beautiful, sunny days in the 70’s.  Since we’d had temps in the teens and measurable snow just a week or two ago, it was quite a change.

I took Friday off at the day job so I could enjoy the weather, and I tried to cram as many of my summer favorites into second summer as I could.  We had my niece and sister over for a BBQ, nnK and I helped Ken’s wife Arlene clean up her garden and then we ate lunch on the deck (albeit without furniture, since that was already put away for the winter), I hung my laundry out on the clothesline, I did some work in my own garden (mostly planting bulbs) and best of all, I was able to work in my unheated carriage house workshop for three days in a row.

I took advantage of the opportunity to do a makeover on the bench that Ken made out of a headboard way back in January.

Here is the bench before I painted it.

And here is how the bench looked up until this past weekend.

And it did not sell.  I tried reducing the price, but still it didn’t sell.  Ken was convinced that the problem was that I left the legs and that piece on top unpainted.  Maybe he was right, but I think the bigger problem was my color choice.  No one is really decorating with pale, smoky blue these days are they?  I also wasn’t entirely happy with my transfer choice.  It looks like the very top of it was cut off a bit.

Regardless of the reason, I decided it was time for a do-over on this one.

So I took advantage of the nice weather and moved the bench back out into my workshop where I attacked it with an orbital sander and 80-grit paper.  It took a fair amount of elbow grease, and several sheets of sandpaper, but I sanded off the transfer and then I re-painted the bench in Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth.

And this time I painted the whole thing, legs and all.

Once it was fully painted, it really looked rather boring.  Up until that point I hadn’t decided whether or not to add a different transfer, but the plain-ness of the bench unadorned convinced me that it needed a little something more.

So I added part of re.design with prima’s Parisian Letter transfer to the back.

And I added another section of the transfer to the lower part of the bench.

That little bit of trim at the top of the bench definitely needed something too, so I went with the bee from the Classic Vintage Labels transfer.

One bonus to having to re-paint this piece is the layered effect I got when I distressed the edges.

You can see hints of the pale blue underneath the white.  Having a couple of layers of color always gives a bit more ‘age’ to a piece, and I like that.

So now the question is, will this piece have as amazing a ‘second summer’ as we had here in Minnesota this weekend?  Will it sell now that it’s painted in a more neutral color?  Or will it continue to linger unsold?

Which version is your favorite?

Thanks to Dixie Belle Paint Co for supplying the paint and wax, and to re.design with prima for providing the transfer used on this project.

If you’re local and you have just the spot for a bench, be sure to check out my ‘available for local sale‘ page for more details on this one.

the laundry co bench.

I picked up this homemade bench a couple of weeks ago at a garage sale.

I figured it would be a quick and easy makeover, and it was.  I painted it with Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth and then added a couple of stencils.

The stencil on the top is from Maison de Stencils …

and the one on the bottom is one of the Jami Ray Vintage mini stencils I bought a while back.

I had visions of a cute outdoor photo shoot to get pics of it, but it was super windy on the only day I had available for it.

I thought I’d be able to wait for a calm moment and snap a quick photo with some linens hanging on the line.

Yeah, that didn’t quite work out.

I even thought I’d just leave everything in place and wait until later in the day when the wind died down.  But that didn’t happen either.  If anything, the winds just continued to worsen over the course of the day.

So I eventually gave up and decided to just work with the photos I had.

I think they do a decent job of showing the transformation of this little bench using some paint and some stencils though.

What do you think?

This bench is for sale locally, be sure to check out my ‘available for local sale’ page for more details.

As always, thank you to Dixie Belle for providing the paint used for this project.

too soon?

OK, OK, I know, it’s way too soon for Christmas.

But that snow we had a week or so ago really put me in the holiday spirit.  Then add on the fact that the shop wants to start putting out the holiday stuff this week, so I need to have things ready to go.  Plus it has been unseasonably cold here.  One morning last week I checked the temp to help decide which coat to wear to work and it was 18 degrees (that meant the parka, in case you’re wondering).  In October!

Anyway, all of that added up to me getting my holiday items ready to go before Halloween.

For the past several years I’ve been painting up sleds as Christmas decor.  Way back in the early days, my first few sleds were flops.  I tried to stencil over the existing finishes on the sleds and that didn’t work well at all.

The stencil designs that I used were too delicate, so you just couldn’t see them well enough.

When those didn’t sell, I realized I needed to paint the sleds first, then stencil with a contrasting paint color.

Ah, much better.  Although sometimes it still works to keep the original finish, especially when it’s a perfect chippy red like this sled that I stenciled last year.

You may remember that back in June I came across a stash of old sleds at a lunchtime garage sale.  I had resigned myself to not being able to find much at garage sales this year due to COVID (ie. no neighborhood sales), so it was a bonus to find 4 sleds all together at one sale.

I started out with the two taller sleds with black metal runners.  These were actually newer looking and they had some stickers on them promoting Special Export beer.  I suppose they were giveaways at an event or something.

I removed the stickers using Goof Off, sanded down the wood and painted one in Dixie Belle’s Midnight Sky, and one in their Drop Cloth.

I followed my usual process of painting all of the wooden parts of the sled, front and back.  Then I added some stenciling.  I used an old favorite stencil on the white one (sorry, I’m not exactly sure where I purchased that one) and I used a new stencil I ordered this summer from Maison de Stencils on the black one.

After painting both of these, I realized that it was quite time consuming to paint all of the wood parts, front and back.  I decided to do a little experiment on one of the smaller sleds and just paint the front of the flat wood slats and then add a stencil.

Once I had it done, I realized it was perfectly fine this way.  In fact, I might even like it a bit better than the fully painted ones, and it was so much easier to accomplish.

However, I think this method of painting just part of the sled worked so well on the two smaller sleds because they were old and had nicely patina’d worn wood.  The two taller sleds with newer wood might not have looked as good with partial paint jobs.

By the way, if you’re looking for this exact stencil design on Maison de Stencils website, you won’t find it.  I pieced together parts from three different stencils to create that look (this one, this one and this one).  It’s difficult to find a stencil that works perfectly ‘as is’ on a sled.  You have to get creative to fit things to those narrow slats.

I just painted the wide slats on the 2nd smaller sled as well.

The stenciling on this sled is all from one stencil (it’s this one).

If you’re wondering about paint colors, I used all Dixie Belle paints on these including for the stenciling, and the colors I used are Honky Tonk Red, Evergreen, Drop Cloth and Midnight Sky.

Last year I kept the red, chippy sled for myself and hung it on my photo cottage.  But now I’ve kinda fallen in love with the Saint Nick’s sled and it looks perfect hanging on the carriage house, so I’m going to keep that one instead.

But the rest, include the chippy red one, will be going to Reclaiming Beautiful on Wednesday.

That is, unless one of you local readers wants to snatch one up before then.

I’ve listed the sleds, plus quite a few other Christmas things on my available for local sale page. Be sure to take a look and see if there is anything you are interested in.

If so, you can email me at qisforquandie@gmail.com to call dibs up until Wednesday morning.  First come, first served.  After that, I’m bringing most of the stuff to the shop.


the art of presentation.

My friend Sue has a lot of titles here on q is for quandie.  She is my picker, my co-worker, my garage sale mentor, my occasional sale partner, my garage sale spotter, my garden advisor and of course, my friend.

She is also the master at putting together amazing gift baskets.  Every year she gifts me with a spectacular collection of stuff for my birthday.

A while back when my sister and I were shopping in Excelsior, I came across this book …

and I immediately thought of Sue.  She loves the art of presentation, and this book is all about that.

The book also provided a jumping off point for creating a cheesy themed gift basket to give Sue for her recent birthday.

I started out by pulling out a galvanized container that I used to give a gift to Ken a couple of years ago.

Although he enjoyed all of the contents, as is his style, he returned the container for me to re-use.

So I started by sanding down the chalkboard paint on the front, and then painting the entire box with Dixie Belle’s Midnight Sky.

Then I added some transfers from prima’s Somewhere in France.

They don’t quite have a cheesy theme, but I thought they would do.

While I was out thrifting with Meggan last week, I asked her to help me keep an eye out for some items that I could add to my cheesy themed gift and she helped me spot a couple of good options.

I like finding things that I can add my own touch to using paint.  The wooden handle of the cheese knife got a coat of Dixie Belle’s Midnight Sky, and the wooden wedge shaped gift set got a paint job in Drop Cloth.

Then I added a JRV stencil to the front using the Midnight Sky.

Here’s the inside …

Next it was just a matter of adding some edibles.

Hopefully Sue will have fun putting together some cheese plates that will change lives!