a thrift store desk.

My friend Meggan is a master thrifter.  I’m not sure what qualifications are required for that title, but whatever they are, she has ’em.  A while back she texted me from the thrift shop with a heads up on a sweet desk.  It had been marked down and she could tell it had potential.  Luckily Mr. Q was available that day, so I sent him right over to nab it.

old pickup before

Its biggest problem was that it was GRUNGY!  Someone had treated this poor thing like crap.  It was also missing a couple of handles as you can see.  That’s OK, I didn’t love them anyway.  But otherwise it was structurally sound and the drawers open and close as smooth as silk.

Oddly enough, each drawer had 3 holes for hardware …

old pickup 3 holes

… which leads me to believe that the original hardware had been swapped out at some point anyway.

I started by stripping the top of the desk and while that was percolating, I filled two holes on each drawer just leaving the center hole.  To accomplish that I always put a piece of painters tape over the back of the hole so that I don’t loose any filler out the back, then I fill with wood filler.  In this case I used Elmer’s Wood Filler in Mahogany.  I let the first load of fill dry, then went back and topped off each hole.  Once dry again, I sanded to make it smooth.

Remember last Friday when I mentioned that my sister said she preferred stained and poly’ed over rustic and waxed?  Well, she was looking at the Dragonfly dresser and this desk side by side when she said that.

old pickup top

You can’t blame her for preferring this look, it is gorgeous.  This is Dark Walnut gel stain topped with a matte finish wipe on poly.

I seem to paint a lot of desks black.  I’m not sure why that is except that they always turn out so fantastic.  There is just something about pairing black paint with a wood top on a desk that appeals to me.  This time I used Little Billy Goat’s Old Pickup (which is the name of their black).  Here’s a funny side story.  Whenever I try a new brand and/or color of paint, I always go to pinterest first to see if I can find any finished pieces in that brand and color.  So I entered “Little Billy Goat Old Pickup” into the search field on pinterest, and here is what I got.

little billy goat

Bwa ha ha, kinda literal, huh?

What I did not get was any sort of photo of furniture painted in this paint.  I want to change that, so could y’all please pin some of these next few photos for me?

Desk painted in Little Billy Goat's Old Pickup

I want to mention that this is just one coat of paint.  I’ve talked before about how the Little Billy Goat paint goes on thick if you don’t water it down a little.  Sometimes it works great to just leave it thick and get away with one coat.

desk painted in Little Billy Goat's Old Pickup

Next thing I want to mention is that this paint distresses extremely easily.  I just use fine sandpaper for my distressing, but you can also use a damp paper towel which will take the paint right off.  Keeping that in mind, you definitely have to top coat this paint with either wax or a sealer of some kind.

This time around I used a new black wax that Little Billy Goat will be adding to their product line up soon.  I don’t have all of the details about this product yet, so I was just kind of winging it.  I applied lightly with a rag, waited a couple of minutes and then buffed with a clean old sock.  It went on quite easily.  I felt like it didn’t require nearly as much elbow grease as some of the other waxes on the market.

old pickup

  The black wax sort of reminded me of shoe polish in appearance.

black wax

I will warn you though, it does have that chemical-ish smell that I’m not too fond of.  This is one that I would reserve for use in my outdoor workshop, or a well ventilated room.

That being said, I loved the results of the black wax over the black paint.  It gave me a deep, rich black color.

old pickup corner

The level of sheen is contingent upon how much you want to buff it.  I’d say I stopped at a mid-point.  If I had kept buffing I could have gone shinier, but for me this sheen is perfect.  I will definitely continue using this black wax on my future black pieces.

There was no getting out of lining the drawers on this one.  As I mentioned earlier, the previous owner had not taken good care of it.  Which was too bad because some of the drawers were in good shape and the wood bottoms were lovely, but others were a mess.  So I lined all of them.

old pickup lined drawer

old pickup lined drawers

When it came time to put some knobs back on, I checked my stash and I had 4 of these Hobby Lobby knobs that were a perfect fit.

old pickup knobs

Luckily I was able to find 4 more at my local store since I needed 8 of them.

I’m beginning to realize that I should be picking up single chairs when I see them at garage sales so that I have some to pair up with desks.  I don’t have a chair to go with this desk. I used my super chippy farmhouse chair for staging some of the photos, but it’s not quite the right partner for the desk.

old pickup desk 2

Note to self:  buy chairs!

Note to you:  buy desk (that’s not very subliminal is it?)!

the dragonfly.

It has been a busy, busy week here!  Two home tours on two different blogs and now to cap it off, a furniture makeover.  All to be followed by some serious napping time this weekend I think.

I’d forgotten just how long ago I picked up this pretty little dresser until I dug out the ‘before’ photos.

dragonfly before

Hmmmm.  No leaves on the trees, brown grass and last year’s hydrangea blossoms still on the bush.  This had to have been April, if not earlier.

I’m not sure my ‘before’ photo captured it, but this dresser had a really ugly finish on it.  It looked like one of those ‘antiquing’ finishes.  You remember ‘antiquing’ from the 70’s, right?  It was weird.  All I know is that it had to go.

I followed my usual m.o.  I stripped the top and then waxed it.  I used Miss Mustard Seed furniture wax instead of a tinted wax.  I love the pale wood top, and I’m happy with leaving all of its imperfections as is.  My sister took a look at it and declared that she prefers when I stain and poly the tops.  That’s OK.  There are lots of different opinions out there, I’m just hoping that there are potential customers out there who like the rustic patina of this top as much as I do.

dragonfly top

Next I painted the body in the Real Milk Paint Co. milk paint that Reclaiming Beautiful is now carrying.  This time I chose a color called Dragonfly.  Just for fun I snapped a ‘behind the scenes’ photo for you guys while the paint was still drying.

behind the scenes

This is my preferred method of painting lower pieces like this one.  I find it difficult to sit on the floor for too long, or to bend over for too long, so I hoist the furniture up onto the horses and this way I can reach everything with ease.  It also makes it so much easier to paint the feet.  Sometimes I stand while painting and sometimes I use my painting stool.  It is far easier to sand and wax things at this height also.  And yes, I did finish this one with a coat of Miss Mustard Seed’s furniture wax.

Here is the finished dresser.

dragonfly 1

I am officially in love with this color and with the perfectly distressed finish I got using the Real Milk Paint Co. paint.

The Dragonfly is a gorgeous rich blue green.

Dragonfly corner

By the way, those are my Endless Summer hydrangeas and that is the sum total of blossoms that were on it this year.  So sad.  And yes, the pink and the blue came from just the one bush.  I know that supposedly the acidity in the soil determines the color, but it seems odd to me that one bush has differing levels of acidity in different branches.  What do you think?


Anyway, I got plenty of chipping on this piece, which I think works perfectly with the age and style of it.

dragonfly close up

I discarded the knobs that came on the dresser.  I’m quite sure they weren’t original to the piece, they had a sort of tacky 70’s vibe.  These gorgeous glass knobs from D Lawless are much better suited.

dragonfly 3

I’ll be sharing a more in-depth tutorial on using the Real Milk Paint Co. paint on the Reclaiming Beautiful blog in a week or two.  It’s going to include a giveaway of some of the products I used.  However, the giveaway will only be open to those who can pick up the prize in person at their shop in Stillwater, so you locals might want to keep an eye out for that.  I apologize non-local readers, first you had to suffer through not being able to go to the barn sale, and now you miss out on a giveaway.  I’ll try to make it up to you down the road somehow.  But for you locals, if you don’t already follow me on the Reclaiming Beautiful blog, you should pop over there and do so (by clicking here).  If you follow by email you’ll get an email every time I post something new.  I promise you won’t be inundated with numerous emails since I only post over there 2 or 3 times a month and that way you’ll be sure not to miss the post.

Meanwhile, this lovely dresser is available to the first person that wants to snap it up.  For more details, check out my ‘available for local sale’ page (click on it just below my logo at the top of this page).

stone hill farm, part 3.

As promised, today I’m back with the final leg of my Stone Hill Farm tour.  Although everything at John & Kim’s house is amazing, I feel a little bit like I’ve saved the best for last.  You’ll have to let me know if you agree.

stone hill farm

Kim and John are blessed to have several outbuildings at Stone Hill Farm including a barn, potting shed, outhouse, grainery and a small creamery that they have turned into the chicken coop.

Let’s start at the chicken coop.

chicken coop

While Debbie and I were there the chickens were out and about.  Those darn birds would not hold still for a photo!


Kim says these chickens lay about a dozen eggs a week, and they love corn on the cob which is how she bribed them to come together for a photo.

Kim’s potting shed has to be one of the most darling I’ve seen (the smaller building on the left is the outhouse).

tool shed

Seriously, could this be any more adorable?

motel chairs

Kim has it set up so perfectly.

shed door

shed window

The outhouse is a crack up.


It’s big enough to seat three!

3 holer

 There is a pretty little garden between the potting shed and the house that is enclosed by a white picket fence.

watering cans

garden gate

enclosed garden

tea pot planter

John built a pizza oven at one end of the garden and now he and Kim have lots of pizza parties.

pizza oven

They can serve everything up on this outdoor buffet that John built from salvaged barn wood and metal roofing.

outdoor buffet

Never mind pizza, this looks like the perfect spot for a morning cup of coffee to me.

deck dining set

Let’s head out towards that fabulous barn next.

barn distance



barn side

Before we leave John & Kim’s beautiful property, I have one more thing to share with you.  It’s out past the barn, and then beyond this fence.


Here they are …

hops 1

Any guesses at what you’re looking at?  Nope, it’s not a maze.  John grows hops.  He’s also the president of the Hop Growers Association of Minnesota.

To give you a better idea of the height of these hop vines, here’s a photo that includes John.  Yep, those babies go way up there.

John and the hops

In addition to the hops, John & Kim also have a vegetable garden, a pumpkin patch, an orchard that has pear, plum, apple and cherry trees and they have some bee hives too.


Are you getting the impression that they like to keep busy?!

Well, this concludes the tour of John & Kim’s home and farm.  I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have.

 Remember, the Barn Chic Vintage sale starts this morning 9 a.m. at 2946 Oakgreen Avenue N in Stillwater (cash and checks only, fyi).  The sale runs from Thursday to Saturday 9 – 5 each day, rain or shine (or ridiculous heat and humidity).

If you come home with some fun goodies, I hope you’ll share them in a comment!

On another note, I’m blogging a second home tour over on the Reclaiming Beautiful blog today.  It’s another lovely home in Stillwater, but this one belongs to Monique, one of the owners of Reclaiming Beautiful.  Her 1892 home is located ‘in town’ rather than out in the country and it has a charm all of it’s own.  I hope you’ll pop over there and check out that post too!

the barn chic vintage sale.

Originally I planned on posting part 3 of my Stone Hill Farm tour today, but then last night I went and took photos of their Barn Chic Vintage Sale set up and Kim asked me if I would switch things around.  It totally made sense to post the photos of sale items today, so that any of my local readers can see them before the sale starts.  Tomorrow I’ll share the final leg of the tour of Stone Hill Farm.

If you locals see anything you just have to have, you should get to the sale promptly at 9 tomorrow morning to nab it.  I know there are a few things that I have my eye on, but maybe you can beat me to it since I have to wait until my lunch hour to head over there.  For all of you non-locals, I’m so sorry to tease you with all of this eye candy knowing that you can’t be here for the sale.  You might want to just quit reading now and come back tomorrow.

sale sign

I have to tell you guys, since the first time I went to this sale I have been envious of Kim’s amazing set up.  The inside of the barn is sectioned off into little ‘rooms’ using gorgeous architectural salvage like those big square pillars and that gorgeous arch.

sale 1

sale 2

They have lots of great space to work with and it’s all filled to the brim with amazing vintage pieces.

sale 4

I’m going to just kick back and let the photos speak for themselves.

sale suitcases

sale green desk

sale 3

sale clocks

sale bench

sale spice jars

sale 6

sale pillow

sale 7

Oh boy, I’m kinda wishing I could buy this blue stool.  I wonder if it will still be there by my lunch hour!

sale 8

I tell you, I was like a kid let loose in a candy store taking these photos!  I wanted to devour everything in sight.

sale 9

There was so much more that I didn’t get photos of.  They really have pulled together an amazing amount of fantastic items.

And guess what?  There’s more stuff outside too!

sale outside

Most of that was not yet set up when I was there, but I’m sure that come Thursday the yard will be chock full of goodies as well.

 Remember, the sale starts tomorrow, July 21, at 9 a.m. at 2946 Oakgreen Avenue N in Stillwater (cash and checks only, fyi).  The sale runs from Thursday to Saturday 9 – 5 each day, rain or shine (or ridiculous heat and humidity).  Be sure to check mapquest or use your GPS.  Although Kim has a Stillwater address, she is about halfway between highway 36 and I94, and about halfway between Manning Avenue and highway 95, just east of Lake Elmo Park Reserve (just to give you a general idea of her location).  Also, as I keep finding out the hard way, 10th Street is closed between Manning and Neal, but there is an easy to follow detour.

Hey, by the way, if you’re in town anyway this weekend be sure to check out the St. Croix Valley Vintage Crawl.

vintage crawl

Reclaiming Beautiful is featuring special prices, a lollipop pull with every purchase for a chance to win a free candle, a gift basket drawing and they will be serving refreshments.

Be sure to pick up a map from any one of the participating shops including My Sister’s Cottage, Mama’s Happy, Reclaiming Beautiful, UnHinged, Dwell. Furniture & Home Décor, The Foundry on St. Croix and Eye Candy REfind, and then make sure to stop by all 7 shops to get your ‘passport stamped’ and be entered to win a $25 gift card from every shop!  Hmmmm, that sounds like a pretty awesome prize, and they are giving away three of them!

I hope some of my local readers can make it out to the Barn Chic sale!  If so, let me know what you get!

stone hill farm, part 2.

Welcome back for part 2 of the tour of Stone Hill Farm.  Today we’re going to check out the upstairs.  Although originally there was just attic space above the main living space, Kim and John raised the roof and added out to the side to make space for the master bedroom and upstairs hallway, which includes laundry facilities.

Just at the top of the stairs is this little landing area.


Those of you who know me well will know that I gravitated right towards that darling little cupboard.

tiny cupboard

So sweet!

vintage books

The clothes washer and dryer are tucked away behind this sliding barn door.

laundry door

The master bedroom is tucked away to one side.

master bedroom

Kim has several beautiful vintage quilts including this lovely example.

master quilt

The marble topped washstand that Kim & John used in the master bathroom is gorgeous.

master washstand

There are two additional bedrooms upstairs.   The first has a masculine feel with a sportsman theme.  The twin headboards were made from wood salvaged from an old log cabin up north.

boys room

Kim salvaged the “cabin 4” sign above the window from the trash pile when a place they rent up north was remodeling.  They always stayed in cabin no. 4.

cabin 4

Those dishtowel curtains are adorable!  As are the vintage fish plates hanging on the wall.

fish plate

The second spare room upstairs is set up as a sewing room/girl’s bedroom.  Let’s pop in there for a look around.

girls room 2

I love Kim’s wall color choice in this room, it’s the prettiest robin’s egg blue.  And isn’t the collection of mirrors that are hung on the wall over the bed fab?

girls room bed

Kim painted this gorgeous white dressing table herself.

girls room vanity

I absolutely love how she has it styled with the pink lamps and the blue hobnail decanters.  So pretty.

girls room vanity top

This washstand with bowl and pitcher work perfectly beside it.

girls room wash stand

Here is another of Kim’s lovely quilts.

girls room quilt

There is also a stack of pretty quilts that sit on top of a cabinet in the room.

girls room quilt stack

She has the sweetest touches in unexpected places, like these vintage pieces hanging from some hooks behind the door.

girls room hooks

There is also a shared bathroom upstairs between the two guest rooms.

upstairs bath

The classic black and white hex tile floor is perfect for a farmhouse bathroom.  I really wish I had chosen that for my own bathroom when I re-did it several years ago.

This concludes part 2 of our tour of Kim’s house.  I hope you enjoyed taking a peek at her upstairs.  Be sure to check back tomorrow to see the outbuildings and gardens!

stone hill farm.

When I started this blogging thing a couple of years ago I really didn’t think about what I might blog about aside from my furniture makeovers.  I started my blog in November, so I added a few posts about holiday decorating into the mix.  Then when spring came, I added a few posts about gardening.  Then one day it occurred to me that I should share my friend Sue’s house on the blog.  I’ve always loved her style, and I knew that my readers here would love it too.  Since then I’ve done a couple of other house tours (select the ‘house tours’ category on the right to see them all), and I have to say that it has turned out to be one of my favorite things to do.  An unexpected bonus to having a blog!

A few weeks ago my sister and I had the pleasure of touring Kim’s house at Stone Hill Farm.

stone hill farm title

I was introduced to Kim by Lisa, whose home I featured on the Reclaiming Beautiful blog a while back (if you didn’t see that one, you should check it out {here} and {here}).  Kim and Lisa host an occasional sale together in Kim’s barn.  Coincidentally, I had been to their sale several times, but I just never knew them personally.  Remember these suitcases from last year?  Yep, I bought them at their sale.

example of black watermark

Anyway,when Lisa mentioned that she knew Kim and that her house was gorgeous inside and out, I jumped at the chance to take a tour.  In exchange for letting me feature her home here on the blog, I promised to help promote Kim’s barn sale which is coming up on Thursday – Saturday.  I’ll be sharing more info on that at the end of this post, so be sure to check that out.

But let’s start our tour, shall we?

Kim’s beautifully restored farmhouse is located in Stillwater, Minnesota.  Kim and her husband John are not new to the home restoration game, this is the 4th home they have restored.

There is a lovely porch on the front with some fab bentwood furniture.

front porch

After buying the other pieces, Kim & John had the swing custom made by the artisan.

bentwood swing

Debbie and I entered from the back side of the house though which also has an equally lovely porch.

back porch

The first room we came to once inside is a pretty little sun room.


I just love the bead board walls as well as all of the architectural salvage that Kim has used in this room.

architectural salvage

I think the simplicity of this stained glass window is just perfect.

sun room 1

Leaving the sun room behind, we head in to Kim’s kitchen which is spectacular.  Adding a tin ceiling was a great way to give this room a vintage farmhouse feel.


Those are the original fir floor boards.  Kim and her husband had to remove 7 other layers of flooring to get to them!  That’s dedication.  Mr. Q and I only had to remove one layer of linoleum from our kitchen floor and that was hard enough.  I can’t imagine doing seven!

There are so many gorgeous details in the kitchen that I don’t even know where to start.  How about the fantastic farmhouse style sink?

kitchen sink

depression glasskitchen scale


And just get a gander at this stove.

kitchen stoveKim and her husband purchased this from Elmira Stoveworks.  Just for fun check out their website {here}, they have some seriously drool worthy stuff.  If money were no object their Northstar model would be perfect in my kitchen!

One of my favorite features in the kitchen in this gorgeous built in cabinet.

kitchen built in

Just off the kitchen is a pantry with another amazing cabinet.  Kim made a decision to retain the original painted finish on this piece and I’m so glad she did.


Isn’t it fantastic?  Kim mentioned that it took a bit of scrubbing to clean it up, but I can see it was totally worth it.

Kim’s choice of red gingham wallpaper is perfect for this small room.  She’s used a lot of red vintage kitchen items to accessorize the space.

pantry dustpan

Using a ladder is a clever way to display a set of vintage ‘day of the week’ dish towels.


There is a sweet little powder room just off the pantry.

powder room

 Somehow I neglected to get a shot of the dining room as a whole, but I did get photos of two lovely cabinets that reside there.

dining room hutch

You can also admire the gorgeous pine floors in this next photo.

dining room hall tree

We’re heading into the living room next (more of those gorgeous floors).

living room

living room rocker

Kim has a number of lovely pieces of furniture in her living room.  This one came from her husband’s boyhood cabin and he remembers keeping crayons inside.

living room secretary

Kim has some art in her home that had me positively drooling.

barn painting

The gorgeous paintings of barns were painted by John’s grandfather, Robert Brach.

living room paintings

There is also an original Andrew Wyeth hanging over the fireplace.  To me it has an almost haunted quality.  I wish I could have captured a better photo of it, it is quite beautiful in person and I’m not sure I did it justice here.

living room fireplace

This giant cabinet is one of my favorite pieces in the whole house.  My sister suggested that if I got my hands on it I would likely paint it, but no, she’s wrong.  There is such a lovely original patina on this cupboard I’m pretty sure I couldn’t bring myself to paint it.

living room cabinet

Tucked away next to the living room is John’s office.  It can be entered through either of the doors on each side of that large cabinet.  The whimsical deer with the plaid scarf brings a smile to my face every time I look at this photo.

office 1

I fell in love with the original color and patina on this sweet little stool.


John built this bank of cabinets on the opposite wall to incorporate an old piece used for storing nuts and bolts.

office 2

You can still see the various hardware sizes written on each cubby hole.

nuts and bolts

This is where we conclude our tour for today.  I hope you enjoyed it.  Please leave lots of comments for Kim to see, I know she’ll love hearing from you.

Also, for you local readers, Kim & Lisa’s Barn Chic Vintage sale starts on Thursday July 21 at 9 a.m. at 2946 Oakgreen Avenue N in Stillwater (cash and checks only, fyi).  The sale runs from Thursday to Saturday 9 – 5 each day, rain or shine.  This weekend is also the St. Croix Valley Vintage crawl, so why not make a day of it!

Please check back tomorrow to see the upstairs at Kim’s home, on Wednesday I’ll share the gardens and out buildings, including the barn where the sale is held.

I’ll be heading back over to Kim’s place this week to get some actual photos of items in the sale, which I will share on Thursday.  I also am blogging another house tour over at the Reclaiming Beautiful blog on Thursday and Friday, I’ll be sure to provide a link to that one then.  Finally, I also have a great furniture makeover to share with you all on Friday.  I’ve been busy, busy, busy here at q is for quandie!  Stay tuned.

the peacock.

This dresser came to me from my friend Cecelia.

peacock before

When Mr. Q picked it up, the top was separated from the bottom.  That was probably one of the easier fixes that Ken has had to deal with for me.  One of these days I have to write a blog post about the cool little tool that he uses for reattaching tops like this.  Next time he does that I’ll have to try and get some photos of the tool and the process.

The strange thing about this dresser is how discolored that middle drawer is, it really kind of jumps out at you.  I really don’t know what would cause this phenomenon.  If any of you have any ideas, I’m all ears.  IMHO, this ‘flaw’ made it a good candidate for a paint job and I love using milk paint on these old pieces. The shop in Stillwater where I occasionally sell my pieces, Reclaiming Beautiful, just started carrying a line of milk paint from The Real Milk Paint Co.

peacock paint

I picked out Peacock based on the sample sticks they have in the shop.  For me the hardest part of using a new brand of paint is getting to know the colors.  You can look at photos of the colors online all day long, and somehow the color always looks different in person.  The plus for me with Miss Mustard Seed milk paint is that I know exactly what all of her colors look like in real life.

But I also have to admit that I’m getting a little bored with the MMS colors.  It’s time for a change.

So after stripping and waxing the top of this dresser (with Cece Caldwell’s Aging Cream), I mixed up some Peacock.  It mixed up pretty much exactly like the MMS milk paint that I’m used to.  The only slight difference I’ll note is that it foamed up a little more than I’m used to.  The Real Milk Paint Co has a product called Anti-Foaming Agent that I’m going to try next time.  But I didn’t run into any trouble with the foaminess, I just let the paint settle a bit before I started working with it.

peacock close up

This color is deep, rich blue green that almost looks black in low light.  It leans a little more towards green on my piece than on others I’ve seen it used on.  I wonder if that is because there was a lot of red to the wood underneath.  Milk paint can be a little more transparent than other paints, so the color you are painting over can make a difference.

I also used hemp oil as my topcoat and that really changed up the color.  It brought out a lot more green, and darkened it up quite a bit as is typical of hemp oil.  By the way, the Real Milk Paint Co has a hemp oil in their line, but I used MMS hemp oil because I already had it on hand.

peacock corner close up

The hardware on this dresser is just stunning, isn’t it?

peacock hardware

You can also see the green of the color a little better in that last photo.

I was hoping for more chippiness, but it eluded me once again.  Next time I’m going to try another product from this line called Chippy Paste.  Have any of you heard or it, or used it?  I’ll be sure to let you all know what I think of it when I try it.

peacock 1

I used an old copy of Moby Dick in staging this piece.


The colors on it worked perfectly with the Peacock.

moby dick

Funny though, it wasn’t until I was editing the photos for this post that I noticed the sea horse motif on the cover.  See it? Isn’t that cool?

Have any of you tried the Real Milk Paint Co milk paint?  If so, let me know what you thought of it.  I’ll be trying out a few more of their colors soon.

As usual, please check my ‘available for local sale’ page for more details if you’re interested in purchasing this dresser.

chillaxing at the shore.

My sis and I have returned from our vacation at the Jersey shore.

chillaxing at the shore

We had several really relaxing days of just chillin’ on the beach.  In other words, chillaxing!

My shore vacation was spent in Ventnor City, New Jersey.  It’s just south of Atlantic City, in fact you can see AC from the beach in Ventnor.  We stayed at my sister’s friend Kim’s shore house which was about 4 or 5 blocks from the beach.  I never did get a photo of Kim’s shore house because I was too busy being enthralled with this little cottage that was across the street.

shore house

There was just something about it that made me wish I could save it.  It was in serious need of a fresh paint job, there was a noticeable sag in the roof line and obviously it would benefit from some gardening in the front.  I was dying to know what was behind those dormer windows.  Was there a sleeping loft up there?  Or is it just attic storage?  The back of the cottage hangs out over the “Inside Thorofare”, a little body of water that runs through Ventnor and connects up with Lakes Bay.

Most of the homes in this area were badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy back in 2012.  In case you don’t remember Sandy, it was the second most destructive hurricane to ever hit the United States.  First place of course goes to Hurricane Katrina.  Ventnor was hit hard by Sandy.  Kim lost pretty much the entire contents of her house, plus had major damage to floors, walls and so on.  I’m sure that this little cottage had extensive damage as well and I wonder if it will ever be properly restored.  It seems like most people choose to tear down and build new which always makes me a little sad.  Which isn’t to say that these newly constructed homes aren’t gorgeous …

new shore house

But they just don’t capture my imagination the way that the older homes do.

Let me tell you, I was totally green with envy over the hydrangeas out there.

hydrangea pink

They were everywhere and they were stunning.  I like the showy ‘mophead’ varieties.

hydrangea pink and purple

But Kim preferred the more delicate looking ‘lacecap’ version.

hydrangea lacecap

We just can’t get this kind of flowering out of Hydrangea macrophylla here in Minnesota.  They bloom on the previous season’s wood, and in Minnesota that wood generally dies back to the ground in our harsh winters.  We try with the Endless Summer variety, which is supposed to bloom on both new and old wood, but I am lucky to get 3 or 4 blooms on mine.

We headed in to Atlantic City one evening.  I have to say, that sort of thing is not really my cup of tea.  Not a huge fan of Las Vegas either, even though my mom lives there.  But there were some charming scenes, like the rides on the pier.

ac pier

ac rides

We also went to Smithville one morning.


Smithville is a little village made up of historic buildings that have been moved onto the site.  They are all filled with shops and restaurants now.  I loved seeing the buildings, but the shops inside were pretty touristy.  We had lunch at a great diner there, my chicken salad wrap was delish and filled with chicken, chunks of apple and craisins.  New Jersey has some of the best diners.

smithville shops

But what I really enjoyed most on the trip was just sitting on the beach in Ventnor.  We had plenty of sunshine and hot weather, and the water was perfectly refreshing. We got up early on the last day of our trip to see the sunrise and get some photos at the beach.


There was a dense curtain of fog hanging in the air that morning though.

beach path

Still, it was worth it to get up at 5 a.m. while on vacation … at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

sea bird

I must admit I feel a little bit like that friend that totally bores you with photos of her vacation, so I’m going to stop now.

But be sure to check back later in the week.  I have a great furniture makeover coming your way, followed by an amazing tour of Kim’s house next week.

Also, congrats to Barb from Missouri whose name I chose at random for the salt water taffy giveaway!

chalkboards coming out of my ears.

Whenever I see really awesome old frames at garage sales, I tend to snatch them up.  Especially if they are bargain priced.

chalkboard hello

I love the gold frames with plenty of wear to them.  There is something about that shabby patina that draws me in.

gold frames

Through the years though, I’ve found that I rarely also end up with just the perfect sized piece of art to put in them.  That’s why turning them into chalkboards has been the perfect solution.

chalkboards 1

I buy a 4′ x 2′ piece of hardboard at Menards for a few dollars, then Ken cuts it to size for me.  I paint it with chalkboard paint, and voila!

chalkboards closeup 2

Always make sure to season a new chalkboard by rubbing chalk all over it and then ‘erasing’ it back off.

chalkboards closeup

It seems I have chalkboards coming out of my ears these days.  They are all going to end up at the Carriage House sale in October.  Unless any of you locals needs one now?  In which case just leave me a comment and I’ll get back to you with details.

a doll bed centerpiece.

Remember the fabulous vintage doll bed that I purchased at the Nokomis sales?

doll bed

I had visions of adding a bottom and then using it as a plant box, or as a centerpiece on my dining room table.  Well, before I left for the shore, I did turn it into a centerpiece.

Is it odd to have a doll bed centerpiece?  Maybe.

But I went ahead and sent it off with Ken to have a piece of wood cut to fit the bottom.  When I got it back I mixed up some MMS milk paint and tried to match the existing color as best I could.  I really just played around and added a little of this and a little of that until it looked about right.  I started with some Luckett’s Green, Eulalie’s Sky and Grain Sack.  That combo looked a bit light and washed out so I added some Kitchen Scale and then some Boxwood.

doll bed bottom

The color I came up with is actually fairly close.  It does look quite a bit ‘cleaner’ than the old stuff.  I could have added some dark wax if I wanted it to blend better, but I’m OK with it as is.

Next I cleaned the bed using a magic eraser and plain water, and then I filled it up with ironstone and placed it in the middle of my dining table.

doll bed side view

Still think it looks odd?

doll bed with ironstone

Would you use a doll bed filled with ironstone as your centerpiece?

doll bed angle

Please tell me I’m not the only one.

doll bed centerpiece