the specimens de la decoration cupboard.

I’m not terribly savvy when it comes to Facebook.  I don’t seem to notice when people leave me messages there, so if you have ever left me one and it took me forever to get back to you, please don’t take it personally.  Somehow I just don’t see them.  I also rarely post stuff on Facebook.  I do have my blog linked to my Facebook page so my blog posts appear there automatically, but if you really want to interact with me the best way is to leave a comment here on the blog.

That being said, I recently joined a new Facebook group, How to Paint like a Pro, that was started by the Fusion people.  It has reminded me to never underestimate what you might learn from a group of like-minded individuals on Facebook.

I was randomly perusing the posts and I stumbled across one about some new furniture rub-on’s that are available from Sweet Pickins.

Seriously, are you freakin’ kidding me?  How long have I been wishing I could find large furniture sized rub-ons??  And how did I not know these were available?

I immediately dropped everything I was doing and went online and ordered two.  Each one was $23, plus I paid a flat $6 for shipping.  I think that is a bargain when you consider that one is 24″ x 36″ and the other is 18″ x 36″.  These are large rub-ons (or transfers, if you prefer).

They also arrived lickety split.  I ordered them on Wednesday and they arrived on Friday.

And I simply could not wait to give one a try and luckily I had the perfect ‘canvas’.

A couple of summers ago I purchased a pair of primitive cupboards.  I sold one, but kept the second one.  It was a bit dingy and had some water stains.

I was planning to use it in my bedroom, and I even went so far as to paint it with one coat of Miss Mustard Seed’s Eulalie’s Sky, but that was as far as I got.  It had been sitting out in my carriage house ever since.  I even removed the door and used it to display merchandise at my last Carriage House Sale.

I wanted to go back to white, so I started by painting the cupboard with a couple of coats of Rachel Ashwell’s Clear Primer.  Those water stains that I mentioned earlier had bled through the Eulalie’s Sky, and I didn’t want to see them coming through the white.  Next I added three coats of Miss Mustard Seed’s Linen milk paint.  The primer did its job perfectly, no stains.

I intentionally left the area around the door’s hardware unpainted and blended my paint around the edges of that area, I love the worn look it gives the cupboard.  I also sanded the edges a bit to distress.  You can’t see that very well in the photos but it did make a difference.

Next I separated the transfer from its backing paper and taped it in place on the door.

I adjusted it a couple of times to get it centered and straight.  Once I was satisfied with the placement, I used the little wooden tool that came with the transfer to carefully rub the entire design onto the door.  This was a little putzy and a bit of an arm workout to be honest.  It took close to 30 minutes to do the entire thing.  But it was so worth it!

Once I was satisfied that I had the design rubbed on sufficiently I very slowly and carefully pulled away the plastic sheet it came on making sure as I went that the entire design was adhered to the cupboard door.

It worked beautifully.

By the way, these transfers are charcoal grey rather than black.  I like that about them too.

In fact, I could not be any more in love with this product, or this cupboard.  So much so that I am going to keep it right here in this spot.

You may have realized at this point that this is where my Kitchen Scale buffet used to reside.

Yep, it’s being replaced.  I’ve actually been thinking about making this switch for a while.  You see, the thing is, this is the room that I paint in during the winter.  Instead of housing china and silver, my buffet was storing paint supplies.  This cupboard is going to work so much better for that.

Somehow it now seems entirely appropriate that the door to this cupboard says “specimens de la decoration et de l’ornementation” right?

By the way, I didn’t alter the inside of the cupboard at all.  It came with these painted boards as shelves and I just love their chippy patina.

After all, I’m just storing painting supplies in this cupboard.  If I was going to use it for clothes or linens I would add a coat of two of some kind of sealer to the boards.

What do you think?  Would you have kept the buffet, or made the switch like I have done?  And what do you think of the cupboard’s new look?

If you’re thinking of ordering a couple of transfers yourself, I should warn you that I went back and ordered six more yesterday so you better get on it before they are all sold out.

And P.S. the Kitchen Scale buffet is for sale.  Check out my ‘available for local sale’ page for more details.

Sharing at Silver Pennies Sunday.

a toolbox towel bar.

Last year I bought quite a few old toolboxes and turned them into planters.  My favorite was this ‘hello fall’ planter painted in Fusion’s Mustard.

This kind of toolbox often comes with a lift out handled tray, like this …

There are lots of fun ways to re-purpose one of these.  You could fill it up with succulents or use it to hold all of your craft paint.

But I like the idea of hanging it on the wall and using it as a towel bar.

So while I had my Cricut out last week I went ahead and cut out some vinyl letters for this project and after giving the tray a good cleaning, I added the word ‘dry’.

I also drilled a second hole in the tray so that it could be hung with nails or even with screws for more stability.

It would be perfect in a kitchen …

but it would work equally well for the bathroom.

It would also be a fun addition to a potting bench, if you are lucky enough to have one of those.

What do you think?  Toolbox towel bar, yes or no?

road trip.

One of the best things about having my sister and niece living in Minnesota now is that they like to explore the area and Mr. Q and I go along for the ride.  Last weekend we took a road trip south to visit the National Eagle Center.  Apparently this is prime eagle viewing season.  By the way, if you’re curious, that photo above is of Lake Pepin which is the widest naturally occurring part of the Mississippi River and is taken from the Wisconsin side looking towards Minnesota.

One of the things that my sister really loves about living here is our bald eagle population.  We often see them flying overhead, and occasionally even see one perched in a tree.  She gets excited every time she sees one.

We followed the route suggested in my sister’s Minnesota guide book, Quick Escapes.

We headed south on highway 61 through the charming towns of Hastings and Red Wing about 75 miles to Wabasha.

I love these old main streets with their brick buildings and beautiful ornamentation, don’t you?

We had some lunch in town and then headed over to the National Eagle Center.

There were some interesting displays with facts about eagles and other birds of prey.  One thing I learned is that eagles are actually much lighter than they look.  The average weight is between 6 and 13 lbs.  They look big but are mostly feathers.  The farther north you go, the bigger they get, so our Minnesota bald eagles are on the lighter end while eagles up in Alaska tend to be bigger and heavier.  It’s a total myth that an eagle can scoop up your dog or cat and fly away with it.  They can only lift about 3 lbs.

The best part about the center, in my opinion, was seeing the eagles up close and personal.

Don’t worry, these are not birds that were snatched out of the wild and put on display solely for our amusement.  They are rescued animals that are no longer able to fly or survive on their own in the wild.

I also enjoyed taking a quick photo of my sister and niece in the eagle nest.

After leaving the eagle center, we crossed over to the Wisconsin side of the river to head north again towards home.  We’d heard that this was the more scenic side, and I have to say those rumors are true.  Mr. Q claims it’s only because you’re looking across at Minnesota from that side.

You also get to see fun things over there like this fence made out of old skis.

Since we were feeling adventurous … well, OK, maybe it was just me feeling adventurous … when we passed a sign saying “this way to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s birthplace” I convinced everyone that we needed to make the slight detour to see it.

Of course this is not the actual home she was born in, it’s just a replica of her ‘little house in the big woods’.  You are able to go inside and get a bit of a feel for what living in a log cabin might be like.  It certainly wouldn’t be worth the trip all the way out to Pepin, Wisconsin just to see it, but if you happen to be passing by it’s a good spot to stretch your legs.

Plus, if we hadn’t made this little detour we also wouldn’t have chanced upon the Maiden Rock Winery & Cidery near Stockholm, Wisconsin.  This place was pretty much deserted, I suppose it’s not really winery touring season and by the time we got there it was overcast and drizzling.  However, the proprietor was pouring free samples to help warm us up.  We managed to leave there with some Honeycrisp Hard Cider and some Cyser.


When we finally met back up with highway 35 along the river, we had our greatest surprise of the whole trip.  Although we had seen dozens of bald eagles flying overhead, it was a real treat to see them roosting in the trees along the highway.  We saw so many that we lost count!

This was the perfect time of year for seeing them since there were no leaves on the trees to interfere.  Ironically, after a whole day of eagle watching, we had our best view as our trip was coming to an end.

This was a great way to spend the day and I highly recommend this little road trip to any of you locals.  As for the rest of you, do any of you have eagles where you are?

please watch your step.

Hey, any of you guys feel like you’re the only one who doesn’t get projects completed very quickly around your house?  Well, you are definitely not alone.  In fact, I may just be the poster child for unfinished projects.

Three years ago I posted about wanting to spruce up my front hallway and stairs.  I started a pinterest board (because isn’t that the way you start every project?) and Mr. Q starting ripping out the carpet.

Once the carpet was out, it looked like this.

And I’m embarrassed to admit that it stayed this way for well over two years!

I managed to get the risers and the baseboard painted last fall, and that was definitely an improvement.

But the treads still looked like this.

One of the factors that contributed to my procrastination on this project was the inability to make up my mind.  Numbered stairs?  Grain sack striped stairs?  Wallpapered risers?  All fun ideas, but I just wasn’t sure.

In the end I really just wanted old farmhouse stairs, maybe with a fun twist.

And I wanted worn looking stairs.  I love old stairs where the paint is worn away from years and years of use.

So in the end I decided to paint the treads with black milk paint (in this case, Miss Mustard Seed’s Typewriter), and I finally got around to doing exactly that last weekend.

I think it will be interesting to see how the milk paint wears over time.  Also, I was originally planning to put black wax over them, but quickly realized I didn’t have enough black wax on hand.  So instead I used hemp oil.  I know that hemp oil is not going to provide a lot of protection, and I’ll definitely have to re-apply at some point.  But I’m OK with experimenting a little and seeing how it goes.  I may end up ordering some more black wax and adding that over the hemp oil.  Ha, ha, is anyone else rolling their eyes?  Do you really think I’ll get around to doing that when it took me three years to get this far?

Maybe not.

But in the meantime, after I got the treads painted and oiled I decided I needed to add a little bit of quirky fun.  So I got out my Cricut and some black vinyl and added a simple message.

The nice thing about the vinyl is that it’s removable.  So if I get tired of this (or come up with a better idea), I can just take it right off.

But for now I kinda love it.

Isn’t it amazing what you can do with a little paint, some vinyl letters and three years?!

the queenstown gray buffet.

I shared the ‘before’ picture of this buffet with you last week.

My friend Sue purchased this piece via Craigslist for herself.  She got as far as removing the hardware to get it ready for painting, but then she decided she didn’t really want to tackle it after all and she offered to sell it to me.

Since Sue lives only a couple of blocks away, this was one of my easiest ‘Craigslist’ pickups ever!

I waffled between using Fusion’s Midnight Blue or the General Finishes Queenstown Gray on this buffet and I think either one would have been a great choice, but in the end I went with the gray.  Had I realized I would end up posting this on St. Patrick’s Day I would have chosen green!  No, not really.  Green might be a bit much on this one.

Plus, there was a pretty good chance that the red stain on this piece was going to bleed thru my paint, so going with a dark color helps disguise that.

I’ve generally had really good luck with this strategy, but be forewarned that a dark color does not always solve bleed thru problems.  Sometimes you will have to seal a piece to prevent bleed thru from showing and you can use shellac or a clear primer for that.  I like using the Rachel Ashwell clear primer when I need to seal something.

But I did not seal this piece.  I sanded it very lightly, wiped it clean with a damp rag and started painting.  After giving the first coat of paint about 24 hours to dry (because some times bleed thru can take a while to show up), I gave it a close inspection to see if there were any spots of bleeding.  If there had been, I would have then added some clear primer to those spots before adding a second coat of paint.  However, there weren’t, so I added a very light second coat of paint and voila …

I staged it with a lamp wearing my Florence map lamp shade.

I purchased my lamp shade at Junk Bonanza from a vendor called Light Reading (check them out here).  They make gorgeous stuff, and it looks like they will be at the Minnesota Junk Bonanza again this spring.  So if you are in the Twin Cities and could use a cool lamp shade, check them out.

The 2nd drawer down on this buffet is very shallow and has dividers for silverware storage.  It came with some pretty grungy felt lining.  I replaced the felt with some toile patterned fabric instead.

When my sister popped by to pick me for another afternoon of house hunting last weekend, she really loved this buffet.  But she has to wait until she has a house before she’ll know whether or not she needs any new furniture.  And actually that may be soon, but I don’t want to jinx it so I won’t say more.

 In the meantime, this buffet is for sale!  Check out my ‘available for local sale’ page for more details.

open air museums.

I am a huge fan of open air museums.  How about you?

If you aren’t familiar with the concept of an open air museum, it is basically a collection of historic structures that have been gathered from across the country and brought together in one park like area to preserve them.  Frequently they are also ‘living museums’ where ‘costumed interpreters portray period life in an earlier era’ (wikipedia).  The first open air museums were in Scandinavia, so it’s no surprise that they have lots of them there.

My first experience with an open air museum was Den Gamle By in Aarhus, Denmark.  I went on a tour of Scandinavia with my mom about 25 (or more?) years ago and this was one of our stops.

I loved everything about it; the quaint buildings, the history, and especially the gardens.

Fast forward to 2003 when Mr. Q and I were in Stockholm and we visited Skansen.

Skansen was the world’s first open air museum and it was established in 1891.

We spent a lovely day just wandering around.  The occasional building had a costumed interpreter inside and we had plenty of time to chat with them about life in Sweden, and Mr. Q really loved that.  He is a big fan of interacting with people from other places.

I have a photo somewhere of Mr. Q sitting on the patio shown below drinking a cup of coffee.  That was before I went digital though ,so I can’t share that with you here.  Why does the coffee always taste so much better in spots like this?

The cool thing about open air museums is that they encapsulate all of the different styles and time periods of a country in one convenient place.  Some critics of open air museums think they have a fake, Disney-esque quality to them since the buildings have been moved into an artificial setting and in some cases only parts of the buildings are original while other parts have been re-built.  I say bah humbug to those people.  There’s always got to be somebody to spoil the fun, right?

We have a couple of open air museums here in the Twin Cities including the Gammelgården Museum in Scandia, Minnesota that focuses on the lives of the Swedish immigrants who settled in this area in the 1800’s.  It’s a lovely little spot, but not nearly on the same grand scale as Skansen or Den Gamle By.

While researching our upcoming trip, I was super excited to discover that Oslo has an open air museum, the Norsk Folkemuseum, and it is very easy to get to on our own from our ship’s dock.  There is a ferry from there that goes over to Bygdoy and the museum is within walking distance from there.

We probably won’t get a chance to see a Norwegian stave church in situ during our trip, so how nice that we can see one at the museum.

Since this will be my 3rd (but Mr. Q’s 2nd) visit to Oslo, we have already seen many of the other sights in the city so we are planning to spend our entire time in Oslo at the Norsk Folkemuseum and I’m so excited about it!  I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for a lovely sunny day, but even if it is overcast and rainy I know I’ll still really enjoy it.

Initially I thought the one open air museum would be sufficient on this trip, but then I discovered the Beamish museum in County Durham, England.

Yeah, that’s not a real town folks, it’s an open air museum.  How cool is that?

And how could I possibly resist this place?

 So it has been added to the itinerary for our one port in England, which is Newcastle Upon Tyne.  I believe it is about an hour away by car and I couldn’t find any public transportation that could get us there in a timely fashion, so this is one case where we will take the ship’s shore excursion.

I can hardly wait!

How about you?  Have you been to any open air museums?  Do you have a favorite?  Have you been to the Beamish or the Norsk Folkemuseum?  If so, I’d love to hear about it so be sure to drop me a comment.

general finishes milk paint.

There are several furniture refurbishers out there whose work I really admire and they extol the virtues of General Finishes Milk Paint.  So when I ended up in a shop that sold this product while out shopping with some friends recently I decided to pick some up and give it a try.

The first thing you need to know about General Finishes Milk Paint is that it isn’t really milk paint.  I know, confusing right?

Here is what they say about the paint on their website:  GF’s Milk Paint is not a true Milk Paint – it is premixed and does not contain any casein based ingredients. We named our product Milk Paint with the intention of putting a clear, bright, contemporary spin on an old fashioned furniture paint tradition. It is designed to mimic the low luster finish of old world paints.

So if you are buying this paint and expecting to find a powder you’ll mix with water inside the can, guess again.  And if you are used to using this ‘milk paint’ and then you buy some Miss Mustard Seed or other true milk paint, don’t be surprised to find that it’s totally different.  Also, just know that you won’t get the chippy look that milk paint is known for with this paint.

The fine print on the can says that this is an acrylic paint, and for that reason it didn’t surprise me to find that it is very similar to Fusion paint.  Much like Fusion, it does not require a top coat (whereas chalk paint and milk paint require a top coat to be water resistant).  It also has the same self-leveling properties as Fusion.  It also distresses in a similar fashion, and by that I mean that neither of these paints distresses as easily as a chalk or milk paint.  These paints are meant to be very durable, so the longer you wait between painting and distressing, the harder it will be to sand off the edges for a distressed look.  Just be sure to distress promptly, if you plan to distress at all.  For those who prefer a non-distressed finish, both of these paints are perfect for that.

OK, so now that we have all of that info out of the way, let’s see how it looks.

I started with this petite desk that a friend gave me a while back.

I have to admit, I thought this desk was kind of hideous but it was either me or the Goodwill so I took it.  If nothing else, it provided a great canvas for testing out a different brand of paint.

You got a little sneak peek at this one in my post about my painting chair

Yep, this is where I paint in the winter.  Smack in the middle of my house.  And that chair was the perfect height for painting all of those spindly legs.

And now that it has a couple of coats of General Finishes Milk Paint in Queenstown Gray, well …

it’s kinda cute now, don’t you think?

As you can see, I did distress this piece and I did it about a week after I painted it.  So it can definitely still be done, it just takes a little more effort.

I lined the drawer with some pretty map paper.

Although I’ve called this piece a ‘petite desk’, it’s definitely too small for me to use as a desk.  It would be perfect for a youngster’s desk, but I think it would also work really well as a console table in a foyer or behind a sofa.  It also is the perfect height to be used as a nightstand.

Back in the day, it would have made a great telephone table, but nobody needs those anymore, right?

In the end I think this paint is very comparable to Fusion paint.  It’s just a bit more expensive (at least at the shops where I buy my paint), but not a lot.  If you love working with the General Finishes Milk Paint, you will also love Fusion paint and vice versa.  But obviously, if you’re looking for a true milk paint you aren’t going to find it here.

If you noticed in my first photo, I also bought a can of General Finishes Flat Out Flat topcoat.  I did not use that on this desk.  I have heard really good things about it as well, and I hope to test it out on something soon so stay tuned.

In the meantime, this little desk/nightstand/telephone table is for sale.  Be sure to check my ‘available for local sale’ page for more details.