not exactly impressive.

Well, my sister and I made it out for our first garage saling Saturday of the season this past weekend and I have to say, the results were not exactly impressive.

In fact, they were a bit sad.

Oh boy, do I miss my Minneapolis neighborhood sales!

Typically there is at least one, if not a couple, of neighborhood sales in Minneapolis every weekend in May leading up to Memorial Day.  We usually start out with Bryn Mawr the first weekend, and then Tangletown, Linden Hills, Armitage Kenny and ECCO usually follow.  Last year they all were canceled due to COVID, no surprise there.  This year they seem to all be canceled again.  Although COVID is sometimes given as the reason, I can’t help but feel like the social unrest that is happening in Minneapolis is also playing a part in the decision to cancel.  Or possibly the people who organized these sales realized how much work it was and they enjoyed not having to do it last year!

Regardless of the reason, I am mourning the loss of my favorite sales for the 2nd year in a row.

That being said, this past weekend both my own home town and the neighboring town had city wide sales.  In the past I have never gone to either of these because they conflicted with the Minneapolis neighborhood sales.  And I always chose the Minneapolis sales because they tend to be ‘Saturday Only’ sales.  Both of the nearby city wide sales started on Thursday.  As you may know, I have a Monday thru Friday office job.  By the time I can get there on Saturday, everything is pretty picked over.  In fact, one of the proprietors we talked to on Saturday said he shouldn’t have even bothered being open on Saturday because he’d only made $2 so far.  I purchased that wooden box from him for $8 though, so I quadrupled his sales.

I did buy a couple of jar-type items while we were out.  In both cases they are new jars designed to look vintage.  But the lids just look too new to pull that off.

I also had another jar in my stash that needed sprucing up, so I decided to do some lid makeovers yesterday starting with this ‘coffee’ jar …

For this lid I used the Copper Gilding Wax from Dixie Belle to give it a new look.

I often apply the gilding wax using a q tip, but that would have not worked at all for this lid.  When doing a larger-ish flat surface like this one, I find it’s easiest to apply the wax using a disposable latex glove and my finger tip.

To get that look I applied two coats of the copper wax, waited a couple of hours for it to dry, and then buffed it with a clean t-shirt.

I’m constantly amazed how the smallest change, like adding copper wax to this lid, can make such a difference.

Next up was that set of 4 jars in a vintage style metal locker basket.

I have to say that I only purchased them because I loved the little locker basket.  Then afterwards I had buyer’s remorse and I thought “gosh, that was dumb, I don’t even like those jars and what am I going to do with a little locker basket?”

I painted the lids in Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth, once dry I sanded to distress them a bit, and then I added some of the knob transfers from with prima.  Finally I topped them off with some clear wax.

Seriously, how perfect were those knob transfers for the tops of these jars?  So cute.  This transformation definitely alleviated my buyer’s remorse!

Next up is this jar that I had in my stash.

I use this type of jar for flour, sugar, etc in my own cupboard.  But that blah beige lid just wasn’t working for me on this one.

So I simply painted the lid using Dixie Belle’s Kudzu.

And then I dressed up the jar itself with one of IOD’s French Pot transfers.

If you’re one of those people who don’t like the look of the ‘halo’ around transfers, you should probably never use them on glass.

But personally, I don’t have a problem with that look.

So, there you have it.  Some quick and easy jar updates.  Which one is your favorite?

But wait!  Before I go, even though my haul from Saturday wasn’t exactly stellar, I still want to share my ‘find of the day’.

I just love the colors on this Land O’Lake recipe box.  I don’t know how old it it, but I’m pretty sure the butter boxes themselves no longer say that the herds are tested for Tuberculosis (just checked the box in my fridge, and nope, they no longer say that).

My sister and I got a kick out of reading some of the recipes that were inside, like this one for a hearty he-man stack to be served with beer …

That’s a lotta meat!

I’m pretty sure that these recipe boxes didn’t originally come with Byerly’s recipes, so I suspect whoever owned it swapped out the originals for these.

I did a little googling and found some of these recipe boxes online for prices ranging from $79 to $249.99 … seriously?  Surely no one in their right mind would pay those prices.  I always look at online prices with a very healthy dose of skepticism.  How about you?  That being said, I am going to sell this one on with a price tag of $20.  Much more realistic I think.  If any of you locals are interested, be sure to hit me up (in other words, email me at


perfect for painting.

On Monday I showed you the mid-mod nightstand that my friend Jackie found for me free at the curb.

It was perfectly functional, but it did have a cigarette burn.

Well, I’m calling that a ‘cigarette’ burn but who knows what really caused it.  I can say that the piece does not smell of cigarette smoke, thank goodness, because that smell is hard to eliminate from old furniture (your best bet is to use Dixie Belle’s BOSS, but you do have to seal up the entire piece inside and out).

Anyway, that burn mark meant that this nightstand wasn’t a good candidate for stripping and refinishing.  Instead it was perfect for painting!

But first, I pulled out the Dixie Belle Mud to fill the burn mark, and then while I had it out, I decided to also fill the groove down the middle of the drawer (eliminating that faux two drawer look) plus I filled the holes for the original knobs because they were just a bit too far apart for my new hardware.

If you look closely at that photo you can see that I didn’t quite do a perfect job of disguising those holes for the knobs.  But you really have to be looking to see that.

I suppose those knobs were properly mid-century and certainly were original to the piece, but I thought they looked cheap.  I also wanted to go with gold hardware rather than silver.  I found that drawer pull at Hobby Lobby for $7.99, but knobs were 50% off that day so I only paid $4.

That pull totally elevates the entire look of this nightstand, don’t you think?

I painted it in the new line of paint from Dixie Belle, Silk All-In-One Mineral Paint.  The color I used is called Deep Sea and it’s a fabulous deep navy blue.

This is the first full on piece that I have painted using the new paint so I thought I’d give you all a run down on how this paint compares with their chalk paint starting with this handy chart that they created.

The Silk paint reminds me a bit of Fusion mineral paint, so if you’ve ever used that brand you’ll find this is very similar.  One big difference between the two brands though is that the Dixie Belle Silk paint has a built in stain blocker, and as far as I know the Fusion does not.  That being said, if you like using Fusion, you’ll like the Silk as well.

One big thing to keep in mind with both Fusion and Silk is that prep is more important with these products than with the chalk paints.  For the best results, I recommend a scuff sanding and a good cleaning before painting with Silk, and that’s what I did with this piece.

Let’s talk a minute about brush marks.  This seems to be a topic that gets lots of attention.  If you are super particular about not seeing brush strokes in your paint, you will have to be a bit more careful with the Silk paint than you are used to with the chalk paint.  Especially with the dark colors.  Be sure to use long, even strokes from end to end of your piece (don’t stop in the middle with your brush, this can be especially tricky on larger surfaces like the top of a buffet).  Don’t overwork the paint, in other words don’t keep going over the same spot over and over again.  If you need to go back over an area to get good coverage, wait until your initial coat of paint is dry and then add a 2nd coat.  Finally, be sure to use a synthetic brush with this style of paint.  I used Dixie Belle’s Scarlet Brush on this piece and it worked beautifully.

I got excellent coverage with two coats of paint.  This paint is a fabulous time saver because there is no need to top coat it.  So once your paint is dry, it’s done.  Really, the only complaint I have about this paint is that it doesn’t come in more colors!  I’m sure they’ll add more down the road though.

I happened to have the perfect amount of this paper on hand to line the drawer …

I purchased it on clearance from The Paper Source on Grand Avenue in St. Paul a couple of years ago and I’ve used it on several mid-mod pieces.  It pairs perfectly green, pink and navy.

For the final touch on this mid-mod nightstand, I added a little bit of Dixie Belle’s Gold Gilding Wax to the metal feet.

They were a sort of dull brass color to begin with, so the gold wax just brightened them up nicely.

Now that you can see the ‘before’ and ‘after’ side by side, do you agree that the change in hardware really gave this piece a more sleek, stylish look?

This nightstand is available for sale locally, so be sure to visit that page to get all of the details.

As always, thank you to Dixie Belle for providing the products used in this makeover.  Be sure to visit their website to check out the Silk All-In-One Mineral Paint.


There has been a little bit of a theme around here lately.  I’ve been getting a bunch of freebies.

First was the roadkill cupboard that I shared a couple of weeks ago.

My neighbor, nnK, found it on the side of the road and dragged it home for me.

Then the weekend before last my sister and I headed to a local town, White Bear Lake, for their trash to treasure day.  I’ve shared this event a couple of times before here on the blog (here and here).  Basically the residents of WBL are encouraged to put their cast off items at the curb and people are invited to drive around and pick up whatever they want.

We usually come home with a few things, but this year we filled up the entire back of the van.

Can you believe that washstand was free?  I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that one!

Those drawer pulls are all wrong for it, but I’ll find something better to replace them.

The concrete Asian style garden lantern was an awesome find as well.  Now, before you start wondering if I just stole that out of someone’s garden that was too close to the curb … no, it was in with a pile of other stuff and it’s broken.  The middle section is cracked.  But I am planning to try and repair that, and even if that isn’t successful, I can easily turn that part to the back and no one will ever know.  See …

Those two big boxes at the back of my photo contain a 7.5′ Balsam Hill BH Fraser Fir Christmas tree.  It was a bit of a gamble dragging that home with me.  It’s a pre-lit tree, so there’s a good chance that the lights may not work.  But I thought it was worth a shot since Balsam Hill seems to be a quality tree manufacturer.  I googled it, and when new, this tree costs $749!  Hopefully when it drag it out and put it together in November it lights up.

Otherwise it looks like it could be quite putzy to remove the lights and replace them.  But for a savings of $749, it seems like that might be worthwhile don’t you think?

The little black and white nightstand isn’t super exciting, but it was free and in fairly good shape so I thought why not?

Maybe I can do something funky with it.  We’ll see.

Finally, in addition to the roadkill cabinet and the haul from White Bear Lake, I also brought home this freebie recently.

My friend Jackie found this one on the side of the road as well.  It’s in great shape structurally.  There is a cigarette burn on the top though, so that meant that stripping and refinishing was out of the running as an option.

I actually already have this piece finished but I haven’t had time to photograph it yet.  I’ve been a bit busy.  My sister celebrated her 60th birthday this past weekend and my mom flew in from Las Vegas as a surprise for her.  My sister thought she was coming over to go garage saling on Saturday morning, and instead my mom greeted her when she got here.  You should have seen the look on my sister’s face!  It truly was priceless.

So, we spent a whirlwind weekend having lunch with my mom’s bff from high school (my parents were both born and raised in Minneapolis), a BBQ to celebrate my sister’s birthday, shoe shopping and lunch out on Sunday afternoon and then dropping mom back off at the airport Sunday evening.

Anyway, clearly I’ve been busy so you’ll have to wait until Friday to see how this mid-mod nightstand turned out.  Be sure to stay tuned!


old mother hubbard went to the cupboard.

Today I’m continuing my series of favorite non-furniture projects with a few different upcycles featuring old cupboard doors.

I’ve always grabbed cupboard doors when I find them cheap at garage sales.  Sometimes they even come with fab vintage hardware, which is always a bonus.

And a while back I also figured out that you can find cupboard doors fairly cheap at the ReStore.

Of course, my favorite thing to do with them is to simply turn them into signs.

Lately I’ve been using up a bunch of wooden knobs by adding them as ‘pegs’ of a sort to the bottom of the signs.

I think my all time favorites of these are the ones I did last Christmas.

Those knobs are perfect for hanging your Christmas stockings.

But I think a simple sign without knobs works well too.

Usually I use stencils to create my cupboard door signs, but sometimes a transfer works well for them too.

The Farm Life transfers from with prima were perfect for creating a set of 4 ‘signs’.

This giant ‘Market’ sign was made using a transfer too.

It’s fun to add a little something extra to the cupboard doors using molds.  I added some molds to this Halloween themed sign …

They are a bit subtle since I painted them the same black as the rest of the sign, but I like that subtle detail.

They are a little bit more noticeable on this one …

And a shell themed mold was the perfect accompaniment to the nautical themed transfer on this pair of doors.

Looking back through my old projects, I realized I’d completely forgotten about one of the projects I did with old cupboard doors.  Although most of them have been made into signs, I made this one into a tray.

Those fork drawer pulls were especially perfect for adding handles to a cupboard door to turn it into a tray.  I think I found those at Hobby Lobby, but when I stopped in there the other day they didn’t have them anymore (or I really didn’t get them there, I’m not sure).  Too bad because I was hoping to find more so I could make some more trays.

Oh well.  I’m sure I’ll find other ways to repurpose old cupboard doors.

How about you, do you like to snatch up old cupboard doors when you see them?  And if so, what have you done with them?

the spring flowers cupboard.

One of my favorite customers found this little wall cupboard thingie at an estate sale for me.

(Please ignore the reflection of me in my shabby painting clothes in the mirror.)

I have to admit that the veneer on this piece was actually quite pretty.  I would have felt bad about painting it, except for the fact that the veneer was starting to buckle in a few spots and it would have required refinishing to bring it back to its former glory due to some blotchy fading.  I suspect it was kept somewhere where it was exposed to some sunlight.

But then, there’s also the fact that it just wasn’t anything special ‘as is’.  I knew I could give it a bit more personality with a makeover.

I started by painting the inside in Dixie Belle’s new Silk paint in a color called Tide Pool.

If you haven’t heard must about Dixie Belle’s new line of paint, it is rather different from their chalk mineral paint.  It has a built in stain blocker, primer and top coat.  That’s a big plus because you only have to buy one product instead of three.  You also only have to apply one product instead of three, and it takes fewer coats to get good coverage at that. However, it still took two coats to get full coverage inside this cupboard.  Once cured (21 to 30 days) it is also washable.  All of these qualities make this the perfect paint for using inside a cupboard like this one.

Next up I painted the outside using Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth.  After sanding it a little with 220 grit paper to smooth it out and distress the edges a bit, I took a look at the transfers I had on hand.  In the end, I decided the Cosmic Roses transfer from with prima would work beautifully with the Tide Pool color.  Plus I just happened to have a partially used portion of it in my stash.

I just played around with various segments of the transfer and placed them where I thought they looked best on the cupboard.

I wrapped the transfer around each side.

If you look closely, you’ll see that I don’t achieve perfection when doing this.  Especially around those hinges.  But I’m OK with that.  Perfection is totally overrated.

After wrapping the section of transfer that was on the front of the cupboard up and over the top I was left with a harsh edge about 1″ in on the top where it ended.  I didn’t like the look of that.  So I sanded that edge to soften it, and then I layered another section of transfer over it.  It blends quite nicely now.

As you’ve probably noticed, I swapped out the original brass knobs for some clear glass.

I happened to have a couple of smaller ones on hand that fit perfectly and they add just the right amount of sparkle to the piece.

This was such a fun little project to work on, I totally enjoyed it!  Honestly, creating pieces like this is what keeps me going these days.  It’s so satisfying to take something that was boring and outdated and make it pretty again.

I don’t have anywhere to put this one though, so I will be selling it.  If any of you locals are interested, please be sure to reach out by Tuesday (the details are on my ‘available for local sale‘ page).  Otherwise it’s going in to Reclaiming Beautiful this week!

As always, thanks to Dixie Belle for providing the paint and to with prima for providing the transfer used on today’s project.

it’s raining buckets.

Continuing on with my themed posts about past projects, today it’s raining buckets!

I adore a good bucket makeover, so I pick up old buckets whenever I see them at reasonable prices at garage sales or thrift stores.Sometimes the patina is absolutely perfect ‘as is’ so I just clean them and add a little something to dress them up.

A segment of the IOD Label Ephemera transfer works beautifully for that.  The bucket above is one that I loved so much I had to keep it.  And if you’ve been following me for very long, you know that it’s fairly rare for me to hang onto stuff but occasionally I just can’t bear to part with something.

I also have hung on to this next bucket because I have this small faux Christmas tree that fits it perfectly.

And then sometimes I part with things and later regret it, as is the case with this giant bucket.

I purchased that at a garage sale and the sellers told me it was an old coal bucket.  It was super heavy and I think around 3′ tall.  I added the transfer, which is from the Parisian Letter transfer from with prima.  At the time I didn’t think I had a need for it, so I sold it.  Now I’m wishing I’d turned it into a planter, what was I thinking?

I’ve found a few buckets that have the perfect patina and only need a little something added.  Sometimes it’s a transfer, but some of my earlier buckets were stenciled.

Actually, that French Market bucket is another item I have hung on to.  It serves as the trash can in my bathroom.  I did do a couple more French Market buckets that I sold though.

But stenciling onto a curved surface can be slightly tricky so I usually take the easy way out and use transfers now.

Can you blame me?

It’s simple to do, and they turn out great.

I’ve been known to paint the entire bucket as well.  Sometimes that’s to cover up a surface that isn’t ‘pretty’ (beauty is in the eye of the beholder), but sometimes it’s just because I also love the look of a painted bucket.  This white one was one of my favorites.

That transfer is from with prima and is part of the Paris Valley transfer and the paint is Miss Mustard Seed’s milk paint in Ironstone.

I usually get a pretty fabulous result with milk paint over galvanized metal.  As long as it’s not metal that has been coated with a shiny, smooth finish.  This next bucket was painted in Homestead House milk paint in a color called Laurentien, and I just love the chippy result.

I recommend sealing the chippy ones with a clear water based sealer like Dixie Belle’s flat clear coat.  That will help limit the amount paint that continues to flake off in the future.

Both that bucket and the next one have transfers from with prima’s Everyday Farmhouse set, and this one is painted in a custom milk paint I mixed up using Miss Mustard Seed’s Boxwood and Kitchen Scale.

Painting isn’t just for galvanized buckets, I painted this wooden bucket in Homestead milk paint as well.

That gorgeous color is called Soldier Blue.

Way back in my early days, before I knew about the magic of rub-on transfers, I painted this next bucket in Fusion paint and then used the transfer gel method to add a graphic (you can find more details on how to do that here).

I have to admit though, I find that method a bit putzy as well.  It’s so much easier to just apply a transfer.

Transfers are a great choice for dressing up enamelware buckets especially.  They will stick to that glossy surface much better than paint would.

It’s a super simple way to add some oomph.

And then there are those times when I just leave a bucket as I found it.

I loved the original blue stripes going around that bucket and I felt like I just shouldn’t mess with a good thing.

Gosh, is anyone else really looking forward to peony season looking at these last couple of photos?

Sorry, I got distracted by pretty flowers for a minute there.

Anyway, there you have it.  I’ve given you 16 buckets from which to choose a favorite.  Can you do it?  Can you narrow it down to just one?  I know I can’t.  But if you can, be sure to leave me a comment and let me know!


suited to suitcases.

I was searching for something on my blog the other day and as I searched thru old posts I noticed a few themes when it came to my smaller, non-furniture, projects.  I was going to write just one post sharing all of those themes, but it started getting really long.  So I decided to make it a series starting today with the first one …

vintage suitcases.

First of all, I want to note here that I only paint the damaged and/or ‘ugly’ suitcases.  None of the suitcases in the photo above have been painted.  And of course, ugly is in the eye of the beholder.  But for me that means the 1950’s Samsonite style luggage like this one.

After painting them, I like to dress them up in a few different ways.

Back in the early years of the blog I was known to hand paint lettering on them.

I have to say, that was definitely one of my favorite suitcases.  It’s painted in Fusion paint in Seaside and Bedford.  You can get more details on the technique I used to add that lettering here.  Hand painting is very time consuming though, and I was never totally satisfied with the results.  We’re always most critical of on our own work, aren’t we?

I also tried adding a ‘chalk board’ to a couple of suitcases, which made the lettering a little bit easier using a chalk pen.

It was a little easier, but still too time consuming for me so I moved on to stenciling.

I have a few stencils that fit perfectly on an average sized suitcase, and stenciling is so much quicker than hand painting.

I even did a Christmas suitcase one year.

This past Christmas I found the perfect stencil for a suitcase, but didn’t actually find any suitcases.  Fingers crossed that I can stock up on some this summer at garage sales and then put that one to use.

Stenciling isn’t always the best choice for all suitcases though.  I purchased a cast off stenciled suitcase at the thrift store that was a good example of what not to do.

Getting a crisp edge to your stencil on a pebbled surface like that one would be pretty much impossible.  I gave this one a makeover using a transfer instead.

Many of the with prima transfers are perfectly suited to suitcases, like this one …

and this one …

If you’re wondering what one does with these suitcases, they are really just intended as decor items.  I shared Nancy’s house here on the blog last summer, and she is the one who purchased the suitcase in the photo above.  She had it out on her covered porch.

And adding a suitcase to my display of dress forms looks pretty good too.

As an added bonus, they can provide storage for items not used all the time.  I keep Christmas ornaments in some of my vintage suitcases,

and craft supplies in others.

By the way, if you’re ever trying to find posts on my blog about a specific subject matter, such as vintage suitcases,  there are a few ways to look.  You can use the search box over on the right hand side by typing in some key words where it says search for stuff here, or you can look at specific categories like “garden”, “house tours” or “travel” under sorted., and if you know approximately the month and year you can look in visit the archives for that time frame (also on the right).  If you’re looking specifically for a furniture makeover, check out the fab furniture (before & after) tab at the top of the page (just under my header photos).  You can find some specific how-to posts by clicking on the how to. tab up there as well.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look back at some of my suitcase makeovers.  I spent the entire weekend working in the garden rather than painting anything, so I don’t have much in the way of a new project to share this week.  You may have to bear with me until I get the gardens in order this year.

In the meantime, which suitcase look is your favorite?  Leave me a comment and let me know.

woodpeckers are picky eaters.

The other day my neighbor nnK called to say that she had picked up some trash on the side of the road for me.  Wasn’t that thoughtful?  I bet not everyone has a neighbor who brings them road kill now and then!

LOL, but seriously, she did pick this up off the curb somewhere, and she knew it was right up my alley.

cupboard before

I just recently mentioned here that my preference is working on old, primitive pieces and this one certainly fits that description.

It was definitely in need of some TLC.  The outside was bad enough, but the inside was positively gross.


I thought that upper shelf was just kittywampus on accident, but no, it was purposely installed on an angle like that.  I have absolutely no idea what it was used for.

I wonder if the wild bird food guide that was stuck to the front of the cupboard is a clue?


I just have to say, it looks like pheasants and woodpeckers are picky eaters, while mourning doves and redwing blackbirds will eat just about anything.  Perhaps this cupboard hung on the wall in a nature preserve and there were bird identification guides of some kind on that angled shelf.

Well, regardless of its original use, I knew that angled shelf had to go.  I called my handyman Ken over for a consultation and he advised removing the existing two shelves and replacing them with one simple shelf, and I seconded that motion.  We worked together to remove the existing shelves, and then Ken took the cupboard back to his workshop to add a new shelf.

Next up was cleaning.  As I mentioned, this thing was disgustingly filthy.  Luckily we’d had a patch of warm weather and I was able to hose it down out in the yard.  The first time around I cleaned it with some Dawn dishwashing soap.  That worked fairly well for the dirt, but there was some sort of oily residue on the inside bottom of this cupboard.  In fact, there was originally a piece of cardboard lining that bottom and it was totally saturated with oil (you can see it in the ‘before’ photo above), and that had seeped through and soaked into the wood as well.  Anyway, the Dawn barely touched the oil.  So I brought out my TSP substitute and cleaned those oily spots again.  The cupboard was drying out in the warm sunshine, and I noticed an interesting phenomenon.  Even though initially those oily spots looked clean, the warmth of the sun drew more oil to the surface as it heated up.  I basically repeated this process of cleaning with TSP substitute, letting the sun draw out more oil, and then cleaning again about 4 times.  By the 4th pass I had made pretty good progress, but the oil was definitely not entirely eliminated.  But I had a plan in mind for this.  I turned the cupboard upside down.

Now what was once the bottom is the top.  Next I decided to put Dixie Belle’s B.O.S.S. to the test.  I added two coats to all of the oily areas of the cupboard and then let them dry overnight.  After painting the interior in Dixie Belle’s Gravel Road and the exterior with their Drop Cloth, you can’t see a speck of oil seeping through either.  Here is the top (which again, was once the bottom) …

See any oily spots seeping through?  Nope, I didn’t think so.  Also, FYI, I took these photos about a week after painting so some time has elapsed.

I have to say, I am super impressed by this.  Even so, I am glad I flipped the cupboard so the once oil saturated interior bottom is now the inside top and you can’t even see it unless you stick your head inside the cupboard, or take photos of it from a low angle.

I wanted to retain some of the original patina on the outside of the cupboard, while also cleaning it up.  This is one of my favorite things to do with these old primitive sort of pieces.  To do that I simply added one quick coat of the Drop Cloth.  I wasn’t aiming for full coverage, just a sort of touch up (and some parts of the cupboard were not painted originally, like the back and the inside of the door, so those got a little more paint).  Then I sanded the fresh paint back again, especially in areas that would naturally be more worn like around the latch.

Now it looks deliciously worn, but not gross.

I simply had to keep Frank’s Wild Bird Food Guide as part of the finished cupboard, so I attached it inside the door.

It’s just stapled in place, so the future owner of this cupboard could easily remove it if they don’t want it.

By the way, those clay pots?

Yep, I found the size I needed for my wrought iron plant stand at my local plant nursery, Bachmans.  And I found it a bit ironic that they literally say ‘perfect size’ on the tag.

And conveniently enough, they were already white washed.  All I had to do was add the transfers.  I paid $2.99 each for the pots, and was able to buy just the four I needed.

The bucket I used for staging is a bit of foreshadowing.

I added that same section of the IOD Label Ephemera transfer to the front of the cupboard.

I recently stocked up on that transfer after learning that it was retired.  So yes, you’re going to continue to see a lot of that one added to random pieces this year.

The inside was finished with Dixie Belle’s flat clear coat and the outside has a clear wax topcoat.

Here is a side view because I realized that you can’t really get a good feel for the depth of the cupboard from the photos I’ve already shared.

You have a few options with this cupboard.  You could hang it on a wall using a french cleat to support the weight.  Or you could put it on top of a dresser to treat it like a hutch.  You could also add some casters, legs, or feet of some kind to the bottom and have it be a stand alone piece.  I decided not to do any of those things myself so that a potential buyer would have options.

It’s really a good size to use as a bed side table.

But I love the idea of mounting it to the wall in a potting shed and using it to store gardening supplies.

It’s really just a fun ‘container’ of sorts for pretty much anything you’d like to store inside of it.  If nothing else, I feel really good about taking something that was cast off on the side of the road and turning it into a functional item that hopefully someone can get some use out of.

If any of you local readers need a unique storage solution, be sure to check out my ‘available for local sale‘ page to see the details on this piece.

As always, thanks to Dixie Belle Paint Co for providing the all of their products used for restoring this cupboard.

garden inspiration.

I’ve got a few painting projects underway at the moment, but nothing is ready to share here yet so I thought I might just provide you guys with a little garden inspiration this morning.

These days I’m getting the majority of my garden inspiration from a fabulous British gardening show called Gardeners’ World.

gardeners world

I only discovered this show last year when I found it on BritBox, which is a paid channel on Amazon Prime (the show has has been around since 1968, we just haven’t been able to get it here in the U.S.).  Personally I think it’s worth every penny of the $6.99 per month subscription just for this one show (although we do watch a few other shows on BritBox too).  If you really don’t want to subscribe to BritBox, American viewers can potentially find older episodes on YouTube.

I was originally drawn to Gardener’s World because it’s filmed (at least partially) in fairly current time.  In other words, on the show they were dealing with COVID shut downs last summer just like we were.  It felt so relatable, and it really helped me feel like we really were all in this together.  And of course, gardening was one of the few things we could safely do last summer.

And then there is Monty.  He’s just so mesmerizing.  Even Mr. Q is drawn in by his soothing voice and calm demeanor.

And those dogs of his!  How did he get them to be so well behaved?  Are all British dogs so well-mannered?

I’m also fascinated by both the similarities and the differences between our two climates.  Did you know that the U.K. is actually further north than Minnesota?  London is at 51.5074° N, and Minneapolis is at 44.9778° N.  Monty’s garden, Longmeadow, is in Herefordshire at 52.0765° N.  So how is it that they have early spring bulbs blooming in February and we are lucky if ours are blooming by April?

Longmeadow in spring

  It all has to do with moderating influence of the Gulf Stream, I know, but it still boggles my mind when Monty says stuff like “today I’m planting winter cabbage.”  Huh?  Stuff grows over the winter there?  That’s crazy.

Anyway, if I’ve accomplished nothing more than introducing a few of my American readers to this gardening show, I feel like my work here is done.  But what I really want to do in this post is re-visit some of the garden tours I’ve posted here over the years starting with my friend Sue’s garden.

sue's arbor

Sue’s garden features a monochromatic theme of mainly white.  It’s very soothing and peaceful.

sues garden 1

Sue gardens mostly in shade, and I am a big fan of shade gardens.  They tend to be more subtle than gardens in full sun.  Not only that, but it’s also much more pleasant to work in a shady garden rather than a hot, sunny one.  You can see more of Sue’s garden in this post and this post.

Then there is Jackie’s scented garden.


Jackie’s garden is filled with color, and it’s also filled with scent.

She definitely embraces a bit of whimsy in her garden as well.

You can check out more of Jackie’s garden here and here.

Way back in 2014 I shared my neighbor nnK’s water garden.

A water garden is not for the faint of heart.  nnK puts in a fair amount of work maintaining this garden including having to remove all of the fish for the winter and keep them safe in tanks inside the house (I wonder if Monty has to do that? or if fish can survive winter in a very small pond in the U.K.?)

nnks garden 1

You can see my post about nnK’s garden here.

Not only have I shared a few local gardens here on my blog, but I’ve also had the good fortune to visit a few fantastic gardens in my travels.

Venice isn’t usually thought of as the place to find amazing gardens (they don’t actually have a lot of … like … um, ground?), but on our last trip there we asked our tour guide if there were any pretty gardens to be toured and she took us to Fortuny.

Isn’t that thing amazing?  I can’t decide if it’s scary, or beautiful.  I certainly wouldn’t want to encounter it after dark.

Le jardin exotique d’Eze is probably not everyone’s cup of tea with all of the cacti, but you can’t beat the location in Eze, France.

garden 3

The gardens at Dunrobin Castle in Scotland were definitely impressive, in a formal sort of way.

blog dunrobin 3

But if you prefer a more manageable garden, the garden at Pockerly Old Hall at the Beamish in County Durham, England is equally as formal but on a slightly more practical scale.

If I had a magic wand I would wave it and make my backyard look exactly like that.

The Jardin de Saint-Martin in Monaco was a lovely spot.

When money is no object, you can have public gardens that look like that!

I’ll wrap up this post with my own garden, which you can ‘tour’ here.

I like to keep my garden fairly low maintenance, after all I hardly have time for gardening because I’m too busy painting furniture.  I have mostly perennials that require minimal care.  I mulch in the spring, do a little pruning here and there, and that’s about it.  If a plant is high maintenance it doesn’t make the cut.

If you’re really into small scale gardening, give a fairy garden a try.

You don’t need much space, and it’s super easy to move plants around.

My fairy garden is in an old cracked bird bath that no longer held water which allowed it to drain properly for plants (see it in the photo below).  I bury it in a pile of leaves next to the house over the winter to protect the miniature hostas and I’m super bummed to report that we just dug it out last weekend and it had completely cracked in half.  Drat!  I’m still contemplating what to do about that little problem.  Maybe I can repair it well enough to continue using it.

Quite a few of my plants are from garage sales, although recently Jackie told me that there is concern locally about spreading jumping worms by exchanging plants (read more about that here on the U of M extension site).  Be sure to look into that if you are a local gardener.

Funny enough, I think what I most look forward to in gardening season is having a nice backdrop for my outdoor furniture photos.

So thank goodness spring is here.  I think COVID made winter even more isolating than normal this year in Minnesota.  I hope I’ve inspired some of my fellow gardeners with this post.  I can’t wait to get out in the garden, how about you?

the perfect sized pot.

Late last summer I picked up a vintage metal plant stand at a garage sale.  In my opinion, it already had the perfect rusty, chippy finish although I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who would think this needs a fresh paint job.  But I work really hard to replicate a layered finish like this, so there was no way I was painting over it.

I didn’t do anything with this last year, I just put it away in the carriage house to be stored for the winter.  I pulled it out recently to get it ready for gardening season.  I cleaned it well with some soapy water and then once it was dry again I gave it a coat of clear sealer to add a little protection.  I used the Rustoleum matte clear spray, but there are several brands out there that make a similar product.

What I needed next were some pots to fit in the holders it had.  I pulled out some of my clay pots to see what size worked best, and it ended up being my Queen Bee Laundry Co pot, which has a 5.5″ diameter.

I love that pot!  It’s perfectly aged, and quite beat up, but that’s what appeals to me.  I added the graphic using the transfer gel method and you can read more about that here.

But I only had one spare pot this size, so I put the pot in a bag to take with me for size comparison and headed to my local Hobby Lobby.  I thought I’d easily find a selection of clay pots to choose from.  As it turned out, Hobby Lobby had a bigger pot, and a smaller pot, but nothing in this exact size.  So then I went to Michaels.  Same story.  Then I went to Home Depot, and that’s when I started to realize that 5.5″ wasn’t a readily available standard size because they didn’t have it either.  Jeesh!  Who would have thought finding the right sized pot was going to be an issue here?

I finally ended up at my local Menards store and they didn’t have the right size either.  But that was when I decided to make do with the next size up, and at only $1.49 each even if they totally didn’t work I was only going to be out around $6.

So I brought them home and gave them a quick makeover.  I whitewashed them with a very watered down Dixie Belle Drop Cloth paint, added a Classic Vintage Label transfer to each one and then protected them with a coat of clear wax.

Now, at this point you are probably wondering how well the transfers (and the paint for that matter) hold up on the clay pots.  As we all know clay pots are porous on purpose.  That’s so that excess moisture can escape through the clay. So, good for your plants, but not so good for something trying to stick to the outside of the pot (like paint, or a transfer).

Luckily I started a little experiment with similar pots last year just so that I could ultimately answer this question.  I planted a house plant in one, and some geraniums in a couple of others to see how well each held up.

Here is the indoor house plant version …

When I water this plant I put it in the sink, add water, wait for it to drain and then put it back on its saucer.  So, it doesn’t typically get wet on the outside of the pot, but the plant is planted directly into the pot and thus water is seeping through the clay behind the transfer.  If you look closely, you can see that there is some bubbling of the transfer as a result.  The paint is holding up quite well.  Frankly, I didn’t expect results this good.  I thought for sure the transfer would be toast after a year of this, but I think it still looks pretty darn good.

I definitely expected worse results with the two outside pots.  I planted the geraniums in them and left them outside all of last summer.  I watered them with the hose, and they weren’t protected from rain either, so they got plenty wet.  Last fall I brought them in to my office to try over-wintering the geraniums (which, I might add, worked quite well in a bright southern facing window).

I was astonished at how well these pots held up even outside.  Obviously they aren’t fresh as the day they were created, but I rather like the look of them with a little age.

Unfortunately, the paint and transfers do little to protect the pot from breaking when you knock it off the table on the very day you plan to take some photos of it for your blog post.

Drat!  But as you can see from what’s left of it, the transfer on the 2nd outside pot also held up well right up until the pot broke.

Anyway, this brings me back to the pots that aren’t quite the right size for my plant stand.  Here’s how the new pots look in the stand.

I really thought I could live with this look, but the closet perfectionist in me is rebelling.

Here is how the proper sized pot fits in the stand.

Darn it anyway!  I was going to ask all of you to weigh in and let me know if you think I can get away with the larger pots, but I am betting you’ll all agree that they are wrong and I need to keep searching for the 5.5″ diameter pots.

I fear it is back to the drawing board on this one.  I think I’m going to tuck this plant stand back away for now and maybe I’ll get lucky and find the correct sized pots at garage sales this summer (I tend to see a lot of clay pots at garage sales).  Wish me luck on that!