random garage sales.

Normally I stick with the big community wide garage sales on a Saturday.  It’s a great way to fit in 50 – 60 sales in just a few hours.  The reality of garage saling is that you’ll find great vintage stuff at about one out of 10 sales (I totally made up that stat, but you get my point, right?).

This past Saturday my sister and I had planned to go to the Cannon Falls community wide sales.  We were going to make a day of it and also visit the winery in town.  I was picturing a beautiful, crisp fall day when we made these plans.  In years past I’ve had to wear a jacket and a hat for the Cannon Falls sales because we usually get a cold snap right about now.  However, it was 92 and humid here on Saturday and I just didn’t have it in me to get up at 7 a.m. and drive the 40 minutes to Cannon Falls.

So instead my sister and I decided to hop in my convertible and drive into the city stopping at random sales along the way.  It was the perfect day to buzz around with the top down on the car.  My sister was in charge of sign spotting, although she still needs to work on those skills.  I definitely needed one of those bumper stickers that say “I brake for garage sales” because she never saw the signs until the last possible second.  We only got cursed at once, and that time we weren’t even stopping at a sale, I was turning off to let a very impatient driver get ahead of me.

My sister and I are really very compatible garage salers.  Neither of us wants to spend time looking at clothes or toys and other kid stuff, so we pass those sales right on by.  My sister is only looking for things to use in her own home whereas I am looking for cool vintage stuff to re-purpose and ultimately sell, so we tend to not pick the same stuff most of the time.  And my sister is a Disney fanatic.  So you can imagine the fun we had when one of the first sales we stopped at had tables full of Disney collectibles.

Debbie bought some pieces for herself, and I bought some pieces to wrap up for her for Christmas.  That sale had a nice selection of vintage stuff too, including quite a few vintage suitcases.  I just bought one, although in hindsight I don’t know why I didn’t buy more.  Garage sale regret strikes again.

Another sale we stopped at also had some great vintage pieces.  I grabbed the red oil can and talked my sister into the copper one.

She has always admired the oil cans I painted and turned into photo holders …

So now is her chance to make her own.  We later stopped off at Hobby Lobby for some of the little clips I used to hold the photos in place, plus a small jar of dark blue chalk paint for Debbie to use to paint hers.

When the garage sales started to dry up, and the day started to really heat up, we stopped off at a huge, very nicely air conditioned, thrift store.  Debbie has been looking for vintage plaid Faribo wool throws for her patio.

I just love that their tags say “purveyors of warmth and comfort since 1865”.  So far she has only found one genuine Faribo, and several no-name wool throws.  But the no-name versions will do until she has a Faribo for every chair.

I found a cute pair of bowls at the thrift store.

I’d been looking for some new dishes for my cat.  This is embarrassing to admit, but she has been eating out of the old dog dishes that we’ve had since we had a dog … um, like five years ago.  It’s about time I got her some pretty cat sized dishes!

Now Lucy can dine in style.

For me the find of the day was this old photo of a farmstead that someone enlarged and put on a canvas.

I don’t know what it is that I find so appealing about it, but I’m just drawn to it.

Check out the back …

It definitely has some age to it.

I wish I had realized how fragile the front was before I put it in the trunk of the car.  I ended up cracking the photo in several places and I’m very bummed about that.  But I still think it’s going to look awesome just as soon as I find the perfect spot for it in my home.

In general, the prices were lower at these random sales than they tend to be at neighborhood sales.  But we also came home with fewer items overall.  It’s a trade-off.  We had a fun time just driving around following the signs where they took us though.  We’d definitely do it again!

Oh, and I almost forgot, the winners of the hello fall banners were Barbara and Laura.  I know I have more than one Barbara and Laura among my readers, but I sent an email to the correct ones, so if you didn’t get an email, I’m sorry to say it’s not you.  Thanks so much to everyone who took the time to leave a comment last Friday though, and if you didn’t win one, I promise they are quite easy to make so just follow my directions from Friday and give it a go.


hello fall book page banner.

Fall officially arrives today, and I don’t know about you but I love this time of year.  As much as I enjoy summer, I don’t enjoy frizzy hair on humid days, the way my upper arms jiggle in sleeveless shirts or how the weeds take over my garden in what feels like a day!

Ironically it’s going to be 90 and humid today in the Twin Cities, so frizzy hair and jiggly arms it is for at least one more day.  But I’m looking forward to long sleeves, good hair days and not feeling guilty about reading a book on the sofa instead of weeding the garden.  Oh, and a trip to Disney World.  Yep, my sister, niece and I are going to Disney World for Halloween.  Mr. Q will stay home and man the fort.  I think he’d rather poke his eye out with a sharp stick than go to Disney World.  Anyway …

Last year I made some petite book page banners to say hello to fall for my occasional sale.

I thought they were pretty adorable.  At least a couple of other people must have thought so as well because the items I added them to sold really quickly.

So I made some more to sell at Reclaiming Beautiful this year, and while I was at it I thought I would do a tutorial for you guys.  Be sure to read all the way to the end of this post even if you don’t want to know how I made them because I’m giving a couple away.

step 1.  Print your message on vintage book paper.

I use pages from some old atlases for my banners.

The pages are a little bit bigger than 8” x 10”, so I trim them down to size.  Then I use the manual feed option on my printer and print directly onto the book page.  Click this link to open the word document that I used to make my banners:  hello fall

Q-tip:  you can play around with fonts and sizes as much as you want to, but be sure to leave enough spacing to cut your letters into flag shapes.  I recommend practicing on plain paper until you have the spacing just right so you don’t waste any of your book pages.

My doc will fit on an 8” x 10” page, and the end result will be 2” x 3” ‘flags’ for each letter.

step 2.  Cut out your flags.

For a uniform look to your banner, remember that you want your flags to all be the same size and you want the letter centered on each one.  I use my larger paper cutter at first to cut each strip of letters to 3″ tall ….

Then I switch over to my smaller Creative Memories paper cutter to cut them down into 2” wide pieces.

Finally I just free-hand the notch out of the bottom to give them a flag shape.

step 3.  Add string.

Use a hole punch to add holes to the top of each flag, string them on some pretty striped baker’s twine and you’re done!

Now all you have to do is find the perfect spot for your banner.  I have mine draped across an old window screen that is just hanging on the wall .

But it also looked great on my chalkboard door.

So many options.

And speaking of options, you have some options for getting your own ‘hello fall’ book page banner.

Option 1, make your own.

Option 2, if you’re local, go buy one of mine at Reclaiming Beautiful ($12 each, while supplies last).

Option 3, win one!  I have a couple of extras, so I’ll be drawing the names of two winners from comments left on this blog post by Saturday (September 23, 2017) at midnight (central time).  So leave a comment to be in the running to win, best of luck!

living with it.

Mr. Q and I invited my sister over for dinner one Friday evening a while back, but it was all part of a secret ruse to get some help moving my giant English cupboard into the house.

We followed the advice that Marilee gave me and removed the doors from the cabinet to both lighten it up and make it easier to grab onto (thanks so much for that piece of advice Marilee, it made this so much easier).  Of course we also took all of the shelves out.  Even so, this cupboard is still big, bulky and heavy.  We used some moving straps to lift it, Mr. Q on one end, my sister and me on the other.

It actually went more smoothly than any of us thought it would.  I gotta tell you, in person the size of this cupboard is pretty intimidating.

I’d asked all of you to give your opinion as to whether I should paint the cupboard, or leave it ‘as is’.  I totally expected the majority to say I should paint it.  After all, painting furniture is what I do and also I assume why most of you enjoy my blog.  In the end I only got two votes for painting it, one of them from my sister which really surprised me (after all, I’m pretty sure she reads this blog because she’s my very supportive sister, not because she loves painted furniture).  On the other hand, several of my fellow furniture painters voted for leaving it ‘as is’ which also really surprised me.  But the really unexpected result was how many of you suggested I consider adding a lime wax finish.  Eureka!  I hadn’t even considered that, and what a great idea.

But for the moment, the advice I decided to follow is to live with the cupboard for a while ‘as is’ and see how it feels.  At a minimum I wanted to at least bring it into the room to see how it looked in place.

So far, so good.  It fits perfectly into this space and I absolutely love it.  I still have the blue rooster cupboard directly across from it next to my desk.

I was worried the room was going to look a bit cupboard-heavy with two large cupboards, but I don’t think it does in person.

Of course, the inherent danger with this ‘live with it for a while’ plan is that I’ll grow complacent.  Now that the cupboard is in place, it will be a little bit more trouble to refinish it and I won’t be as motivated to get it done.  Will I end up just leaving it ‘as is’ because it’s the easiest option?  Or will it truly be because I love it ‘as is’?  We’ll just have to wait and see.

In the meantime, I’ve decided to fill ‘er up and see how well it functions for storing my many craft supplies.

Since I was transitioning from a dresser with drawers to a cupboard with shelves, I had to come up with containers for holding things.  In other words, I didn’t want to just pile my glue guns, craft paints, greeting cards and colored pencils in a jumble on the shelves.

Fortunately I already kept quite a few of my craft supplies in cool vintage tool boxes.

My glue guns and extra glue fit perfectly into the rusty aqua toolbox my co-worker Jodie gave me for my birthday last year (the same aqua toolbox that’s pictured in Vintage Holiday!).

And although they aren’t here yet, the green box and possibly one or two of the toolboxes I brought home from those lunchtime garage sales last week will probably make their way into this cupboard as well.

My unopened bags of milk paint can just line up on the shelves along with an ironstone pitcher full of wax brushes and some glass canisters full of knobs (I keep my opened bags of milk paint in an air tight rubbermaid bin to extend their shelf life, exposure to too much moisture can ruin the powder).

I’m still thinking about that lime wax that so many of you suggested, but for the moment I’m just happy to have this giant storage piece in my Q branch.  It holds so much stuff, and I know I’m going to get some great use out of it.



the farmers market ladder.

My niece Kris salvaged several of these ladders for me from a shop she worked in briefly.  They aren’t old, and they were never meant to actually function as ladders.  They were used for display only.

I decided to paint this one to give it a little more personality and since I seem to be on a green kick this week, I dug out one of my favorite shades of green milk paint, In A Pickle from Sweet Pickins.  It only took one coat of paint to cover the ladder.  Once dry, I added some farmers market stencils in an off-white craft paint.

Then I sanded to distress and added a top coat of Miss Mustard Seed hemp oil.  I brushed on the oil with a cheap chip brush and then wiped off the excess with an old black t-shirt (I didn’t want to leave any white fluff behind).

Hemp oil adds a bit more richness and depth to darker milk paint colors than wax does.  You can really see that with this shade of green.

But here’s a tip for you, although the hemp oil changes the color of the milk paint quite a bit, it does not change the color of the acrylic craft paint.  So keep that in mind when choosing your colors on a project like this.

By the way, how do you like the ‘q-tip’?  It was Mr. Q’s idea and I thought it was pretty clever.  From now on I’ll try to remember to give you a q-tip every now and then.

I added a basket to the ladder and put a potted lavender plant inside along with some vintage gardening tools.

Totally off-season for September I know.  I’m supposed to be sharing fall themed stuff now, right?

Well, one last hurrah for summer?  We’ve got two more official days of summer left, so I say let’s make the most of them.

I brought this ladder to Reclaiming Beautiful last week and it sold within days, so there must be some other green lover out there!

I still had one last ladder, so I painted it in Miss Mustard Seed’s Flow Blue and added the same farmers market stencils.  My sister was thinking she’d like to have this one for her house, but she really couldn’t come up with a spot for it, so I’ll most likely take it into Reclaiming Beautiful as well.

I think the ladders make great magazine racks, especially when one of the magazines displayed happens to be one that I am in!

Wait, what?!  Did you read that right?  Yep.  There is a story about my non-collection of vintage ornaments in the Fall 2017 issue of Vintage Holiday magazine!

Somehow we’ve gone straight from summer to winter today.

But seriously, my preview copy of the magazine just arrived yesterday and I couldn’t wait to share it with you guys.  I’m super excited and flattered to have my work in a real magazine.  The irony that it’s an article about my vintage ornament collection, despite the fact that I try so hard to deny being a collector of anything, is not lost on me.

The magazine is full of great vintage holiday decor, so be sure to watch for it on newsstands near you and pick up a copy.


vintage greens.

In addition to all of the fab stuff I found at the Lynnhurst sales on Saturday, I also found time to check out a few sales during my lunch hour last week.

I wasn’t specifically trying to find things that were green, but somehow I ended up with several items in that perfectly vintage shade of green.

First of all was this lovely little box.  I was drawn to the original painted finish.

This is the kind of chippy, distressed patina that I am trying to replicate every time I use milk paint.  I want to study the wear patterns on this box and make my next piece of furniture look just like this.  But really, although you can do amazing things with milk paint, it’s hard to beat the real deal.

I also love the fact that the box looks very homemade.  Even the handle looks like it was just cobbled together from some bent wire and bits of scrap sheet metal.

I’m not sure what I’m going to store in this box, but clearly it needs to be something special.  But for now it even looks fab with some green books.

This amazing little green birdhouse came from the same sale.

When I got it home I immediately replaced the scrapbook paper that was lining the bottom with some pages from an old German book that I purchased at Carver Junk Co.

It also has an amazing patina.  Wouldn’t it be adorable with a little plant inside?  Or filled with vintage books.

I also found a couple of old green toolboxes.

I actually came home with 4 old toolboxes, 3 of them from one sale.  The other two aren’t green though, so they didn’t make the cut for this blog post.  Although sometimes the original color and patina should be left alone, oftentimes I paint them like this …

You can see what I’ve done with other toolboxes in the past here, herehere and here.

I’m still working on finding the perfect spot in my house for a touch of green, but I’m determined to find it.

In the meantime, I’m just having fun playing around with my vintage greens.

lynnhurst 2017.

Fall garage sale season is in full swing.  My sister and I have plans to hit the neighborhood sales every Saturday for the rest of this month.  So far, we’ve been finding lots of great stuff.  This past Saturday we went to another Minneapolis neighborhood, Lynnhurst, for their neighborhood sales.

Once again, we filled up my sister’s SUV.  As it turns out, people in Lynnhurst price their stuff to sell!

My sister and I each had one specific item we were looking for.

Debbie wanted some pretty dishtowels to put in a bowl that was going back to her neighbor.  I don’t think I mentioned this here, but a week ago Debbie had a house warming party at her new place and a neighbor brought over a bowl of watermelon.  Debbie follows the rule that you never return a container empty, you put a thoughtful little ‘thank you’ gift inside.

Sure enough, she found a set of pretty blue and white dishtowels.

You might think it’s … well … icky to buy linens like these at a garage sale, but these have obviously not been used.  Often times people have been given stuff like this as a gift and it’s not the right color for them, or for whatever reason they just never used them.  So they sell them.

The one item on my list was a globe.  Not for me actually, but for my co-worker Jodie.  She mentioned that she was looking for a globe to turn into something.  I’m not entirely sure what, but she is very crafty.

Sure enough, we found a globe too.

Granted, it doesn’t always work out this way, but you’d be surprised how much luck we often have finding just what we need at garage sales!

I also came home with a glass canister and a bunch of old blocks.

As well as some more vintage graters to turn into photo holders.

I also found this adorable whisk broom with an embroidered cover.

Have you ever seen anything like this before?  I hadn’t.  I just couldn’t resist it.  I’m going to try soaking the cover in some OxyClean and see if I can clean it up a bit.

My sister added to her Disney ornament collection.  She likes that they are Disney, I like that they are vintage.

She also came home with a fab mid-century ice bucket.

I found a pretty little side table that I’ve already begun to make over, here is the before photo.

But the find of the day was definitely this oak washstand (or as some like to call them, commode).

The drawer pulls on this piece are gorgeous.  I think I would have purchased it for the hardware alone.  But it’s also quite lovely overall.  And look what I found when I opened the top drawer …

It looks hand drawn to me.  Only the top drawer has this liner.  I’m debating whether or not to leave it.  Unfortunately it has some water damage spots.

Do I rip it out?  Or do I leave it and let whomever buys it decide?

Also, I won’t be putting the mirror back on.  These pieces make perfect nightstands, but not with a mirror, because a mirror would be weird on a nightstand, right?  I know it seems like a bit of a shame, but they are both just far more versatile on their own.

The mirror and the harp that held it on the washstand are really pretty though, and in great condition ‘as is’.  I think they would look amazing hung on the wall over the sink in a bathroom.  Especially since it has that towel bar.

I added some hangers to it and hung it in my photo cottage just to give you an idea of what that would look like.  I wish I had a fabulous pedestal sink to use as a prop, but no such luck.  Instead, I’ll share this photo from pinterest to inspire you.  I love the look of the darker wood with the white ship lap behind it.

So if any of you locals happen to have the perfect spot for a mirror over your sink, be sure to check my ‘available for local sale’ page for details.

We didn’t come across the washstand until one of our last stops.  The SUV was fairly full at that point, but I was determined to fit it in.  So there we were once again, unloading the contents of our vehicle onto the curb and packing it all back in around the washstand.  Debbie’s girl scout camping trip packing skills come to our rescue yet again!

Currently I’ve got three furniture makeovers underway out in the carriage house.  Each one is taking much longer than I anticipated.  So let’s all keep our fingers crossed that I manage to get at least one of them finished this week to share with you, but in the meantime I think I still might be able to eke out another five post week.  Be sure to stay tuned!


the société dresser.

I’m pretty sure Mr. Q and I purchased this dresser via Craigslist way back in early spring and it has been hanging out in my carriage house ever since.

It was in quite good shape.  At some point someone refinished it complete with a shiny poly topcoat.  If you know me at all, you know I’m not a fan of shiny and I’m not a big fan of the heavy grain of oak either.

I was in the mood to work with Fusion paint when I started this dresser, so I prepped the piece by scuff sanding it lightly, and then cleaned it with some TSP substitute before painting on two coats of Fusion’s Limestone.  Limestone is the warmest of the Fusion whites.

Once dry, I sanded the edges to distress.  Here is a close up of the mirror to give you a better idea of what that looks like.

To feed my current addiction, I added an Iron Orchid Designs transfer to the drawer fronts and the mirror frame.

In hindsight this dresser would have been pretty with sparkly glass knobs, but I opted to keep the hardware that came with it since I had all of the pieces.

This dresser has pin and cove dovetailing.

I’ve talked about this kind of dovetailing before.  Pin and cove dovetails were only used for a short time, from around 1870 to 1890 or so, and they were only used in the U.S. and Canada.  They never caught on in Europe.  Although I’m sure that the dresser itself dates back that far, I don’t think the hardware does.  I think this is reproduction hardware because it’s very flimsy and light.  Older drawer pulls like these were much heavier and thicker.

You may have noticed in the past that I often split up mirrors and dressers.  I find that dressers tend to be a little more versatile without a mirror.  You can use it as a changing table, or as a TV stand, or as a buffet.  But this time I kept the mirror.  The dresser just has so much more personality with the mirror in place.  It even looks amazing without any staging at all.

But since it’s way more fun to add some fab vintage props, I added my apron strings chair from Tuesday as well as the other ‘apron strings’ colored items.  I also added a few of my Limelight hydrangeas which are starting to turn a little pink for fall.

And I set it all up in the driveway for a photo shoot.

Sometimes I wonder if people driving by my house notice that I always seems to have furniture in the driveway.

Here’s the official ‘before & after’, what do you think?

This dresser is for sale locally.  If interested, please check my ‘available for local sale’ tab for more details.