winter silver.

Remember I said I had a plan for that pile of silver pieces from the winter garage sale?


With the addition of some greens and some ribbon …


I used the tray on the bottom of the pile and the creamer and sugar to create this …


I used hot glue to attach the lid to the sugar bowl so that it stays on.  I can always pick the hot glue back off if I ever decide to turn it back into a functioning sugar bowl.

I saw this idea on pinterest and it immediately popped into my head when I saw the silver pieces for sale so I decided to make one myself.  I get most of my best ideas from pinterest!

I hung this tray between the two windows in my dining room.


I turned the second silver tray into a chalkboard.


Fair warning, I had a little trouble with the sharp chalk pencil that I used for my design scratching through the paint.  Although you wouldn’t notice it unless you look really closely.  If I had stuck with regular chalk I think I would have been OK.

I hung it over the Belgian bench in my dining room with some fresh evergreen branches tucked in the top.


And the last tray I bought because I couldn’t resist how pretty it is.


It’s the perfect size for catching water draining from a geranium that I am over-wintering in the house.

Do you ever bring geraniums in for the winter?  I love having just a few around because they remind me that summer is never really that far away.  The trick is to trim them way back when you bring them in to keep them from getting too leggy in the weak winter sun.  Place them in a bright and sunny window.  Mine sometimes even bloom over the winter.


I see a lot of silver pieces like these at garage sales and thrift stores.  No one seems to want them for their traditional purpose, but if you think outside the box you can still make use of them.  Do you have any great ideas for using vintage silver in an unexpected way?

the rare and elusive winter garage sale.

First things first, I used a random number generator to choose a winner for my blogiversary giveaway and that winner is Tamara Pompilio.  Congrats Tamara!  I also want to take another minute to thank all of you so much for the kind comments left on that post.  They served to remind me that there are plenty of you out there reading along and that really motivates me to continue trying to provide some awesome content for you!  So let’s get on with that, shall we?

Last Saturday my sister and I experienced a phenomenon rarely seen here in Minnesota.  A winter garage sale.


I feel a little like a wildlife photographer who finally got a shot of the rare and elusive snow leopard.

My friend and Carriage House Sale partner Sue gave me the heads up on this sale after seeing it posted on Craigslist (thanks Sue!).


Debbie and I had to make two trips to the car to load up all of our goodies, so that gives you an idea of how much stuff we found at the sale!  I have a plan for that pile of silver, by the way.

It helped that the person selling was a bit of a collector and was moving to a much smaller place.  She’d already had several sales where I’m guessing things were priced higher.  This was her final ‘everything must go’ sale.


And she literally meant everything.  We took things off the walls like that ‘Washroom’ sign and the enamel soap dish in my first photo.  I also purchased two rugs right off the floor (and they had the dirt to prove it).

And this birdbath came right out of the garden.


As I mentioned in my post about finding vintage ornaments at garage sales in the summer, it’s always a good idea to grab off-season items when you see them like these Halloween books.


I saved ‘find of the day’ status for this gorgeous old camera.


When I came across it in a pile of other items it looked like this …


It is in pretty rough condition on the outside.  And I’m guessing that a lot of of shoppers didn’t even realize what it was.  When Debbie and I first got it home we couldn’t get it open and I was beginning to think that was probably why it was priced at only $3, because it was permanently ruined.

But I asked Mr. Q to take a look and he used a little ingenuity and got it open for me.

One thing you probably haven’t figured out from these photos is that this camera is ginormous.  Here it is next to a similar camera that I already owned, just to give you an idea of its size.

winter-camera-sizeSee?  Ginormous.  OK, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it is almost a foot tall.

By the way, I purchased this camera without getting it open because 1) it was only $3 and 2) I had a massive pile of other things in my arms that I was trying to juggle.  Normally I would recommend making sure you can get the camera open and that the bellows are intact before you buy one.  I did end up with a camera like this once …


Those bellows were permanently stuck to the back of the camera.  They are very fragile, so trying to force them out would likely just rip them to pieces.

So I was very happy to find that my latest addition to my non-collection of vintage cameras was in good condition on the inside!

By the way, that snow you saw on the birdbath arrived overnight Saturday.  On Sunday I awoke to this gorgeous view from my window …


I ran outside in flip flops just to capture a couple of quick photos.


That snow practically looks fake, doesn’t it?


Luckily all of this snow arrived after the winter garage sale.

Do you find many winter garage sales in your neck of the woods?  Or are they as rare and elusive as snow leopards like they are here in the frozen Northland?

this year’s tree.

Just before I left on vacation I ordered a new Christmas tree online from Target (no affiliation).  I had been shopping for boring stuff at my local store during my lunch break and I saw this pretty 6’ pre-lit silver tree.  I’m calling it silver, but they call it rose gold.  It looks pinkish in their photo (below) but in person it looks pretty much silver.


I didn’t want to attempt to wrestle it into my car, and in fact I wasn’t even sure how well it would fit.  As a reminder I drive a VW Beetle convertible.  Not a lot of cargo room, especially in the winter when you can’t have the top down.

So instead I took a quick pic of the tag with my phone so I would have all the info and when I got home later that night I ordered the tree online.

I wasn’t especially thinking about getting a new tree, but the price was pretty reasonable at $127.  Then I got an additional 15% off because it was on sale, then another 5% off for using my Target red card.  Plus I got free shipping because I used the red card.  Heck of a deal to get the tree delivered right to my door instead of having to try and squeeze it into my car, right?

And since my vintage ornament non-collection (because I don’t really collect stuff) has been growing by leaps and bounds, I decided a bigger tree was a good idea for this year.


I picked up quite a few vintage ornaments at garage sales over the summer.  Garage sales and estate sales are a great source for them.  Most shoppers aren’t thinking ahead to Christmas in the middle of summer, so it’s easy to snap them up on the cheap.  I bought these for 75 cents per box …


My other favorite source for vintage ornaments is a little shop in downtown North Saint Paul called La’ Garage.  The inventory at La’ Garage comes from the purchase of entire estates or just random second hand stuff, along with some new goods.  Every year they close up shop the week before Thanksgiving and completely revamp the store for Christmas.  They open bright and early on black Friday full of vintage goodies.  This year Debbie, Kris and I headed over there bright and early that morning.

Normally I wait and shop later because I’m not a fan of the crazy crowds, but I did find more ornaments this way.  I came home with this stash including the funky cake pan.  I just loved the ‘look’ of the cake pan.  I’m not sure what I’ll do with it yet, but it had to come home with me.


Anyway, lucky I have the bigger tree this year because it is chock full with all of these additions.


The size of this tree is perfect to tuck into this corner of my piano room.


I really don’t have much room in the living room itself for a tree, even this slim model.  So instead it’s just around the corner.


I put my collection of tree toppers in the window next to the tree.


I feel a bit like a broken record at Christmas.  This is year 4 of sharing my vintage ornaments on a silver tree.  I’m really going to have to come up with something new next year.  But whatever it is, it will have to be in addition to my silver tree of vintage ornaments because I enjoy pulling these fragile glass balls out of their tissue paper each year and hanging them on the tree.  I have my favorites that always get placed front and center.

How about you, do you decorate your tree the same way every year, or do you change it up each time?



elegant gift wrap on a budget.

My vacation earlier this month really threw a monkey wrench into my holiday budget.  I’ll admit that I spent a little more money than I had intended.  Or more precisely, I hadn’t taken the time to really add up the expenses; the resort, the cruise, the airfare, the meals at the resort, the rental car, the drinks … each one on its own seemed entirely reasonable.  Added up altogether, well, I went a little over budget.

Now I have to cut back on spending.  Right in time for the holidays.  Yikes!


So rather than buying Christmas wrapping paper this year I decided to pull out some supplies that I already had on hand and whip up some of my own.


I dug out the giant roll of brown craft paper that I purchased a few years ago, some generic shipping tags, a few old book pages, some string and Fusion’s gorgeous Copper metallic paint.

Then I added one more special ingredient; a roll of old player piano music.


I found these at a local antique store recently.  They were $1.25 per roll.  I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to do with them at the time but I figured for that price I could afford to speculate.


I painted an old gift box with the Fusion paint, wrapped it in a strip of player piano music that had been folded in half, and then added a layer of painted ribbon (plain white ribbon that is also painted with the Fusion Copper) over that.


I layered painted shipping tags with book pages to create my tags.


I used the full width of the player piano music to dress up this larger gift box that was simply wrapped in plain brown craft paper.


I especially saved the very beginning of the roll for this box so that I could feature the label.


The copper paint and the brown craft paper work beautifully together.  The dichotomy between the utilitarian craft paper and the shimmering metallic really works.  I used painters tape to tape off stripes for this next package.


In addition to painted paper and boxes, I also painted a brown craft paper gift bag, which was then stuffed with some more player piano music.  You can also see that I stenciled copper snowflakes onto one package.  And while I had the paint out anyway I painted that reindeer who started out a more garish gold color.  I much prefer him in copper!


I may have produced my gift wrap on a budget, but I don’t think it looks that way.  What do you think?  I hope I’ve inspired you to get creative with your gift wrapping this year!

farm fresh chalkboard.

Before I get on with today’s blog post I just want to say thank you, thank you, thank you for all of the kind comments that were left on my blogiversary post.  I think I need to do a similar post a couple of times a year just to remind myself that there are lots of you out there reading and enjoying my blog even if you aren’t commenting regularly.  And that’s OK.  If you want to follow along without leaving comments, no worries.  I’ll just seek out a reminder that you are out there every now and then with a giveaway!

A quick little story about that post.  I had finished up writing it at about 8 a.m. Saturday morning and I scheduled it to post at 9 a.m.  Then I went about starting my day; drank some coffee, put up some Christmas decorations and then at about 10 a.m. I realized that I hadn’t gotten a single ping on my phone indicating a comment.  I panicked for a moment.  Had I forgotten to click ‘publish’?  Or was it just that not one single person had felt like commenting?  Perhaps no one cared!  Or was it just that everyone was busy Christmas shopping instead of reading blogs?  Yes, I’ll admit, these kinds of thoughts go through my head.  I picked up my phone.  Not a single email notifying me of a comment (I get these from WordPress).  I checked my computer … ooohhhh … I had published the post and there were comments.  Every once in a while my phone loses its connection with my email account and that’s what had happened.  I just had to reboot my phone and all of the emails came flooding in.  But how ironic that this should happen that morning!

It was so nice to get so many comments, and very nice to hear from some of you who have been reading for a while and had never introduced yourselves via a comment.  Welcome to all of you, and again thank you for so many amazing comments.  If you haven’t left a comment on that post yet, be sure to do so by Friday, Dec 2 at midnight to be eligible to win!

And now, on with today’s post …

It’s official, the furniture moratorium is over!  I have a handful of small projects in the carriage house waiting their turn, but one whole side was practically empty.  So after I came back from my trip I started scouring Craigslist for potential candidates for a makeover.  I also had an idea brewing in the back of my mind for re-purposing an Eastlake style dresser mirror frame.  When I found a nice Eastlake dresser with a mirror that was available in Hopkins, I remembered that I’d also seen another nice piece that was in Hopkins.  I had passed up the first one because Hopkins is on the other side of the cities from me, but it was worth the trip for two pieces!

So on a recent Saturday afternoon Mr. Q and I headed out to Hopkins.  The first dresser we picked up was this one …


The seller was moving out of her townhome and into a condo and thus was downsizing.  She mentioned that the bed in the room was also for sale.  It was lovely, but not a piece I would want to paint.  However, I asked if the small side table was also for sale.  At first she said no, but then she thought about it and said she would sell it to me after all.  She wasn’t that attached to it and her new place is pretty small.  So it came home with me too.  You’ve already seen it in my photos with the Midnight Blue chairs.

We headed to our next stop to pick up the Eastlake style dresser.


I felt like the mirror overpowered the dresser on this piece, what do you think?

No worries though, I wanted to separate these two anyway.  I first removed the swiveling mirror.  Then I sent the frame off to Ken’s workshop along with a beadboard ceiling board that originally came from nnK’s house (she ripped out a gorgeous original beadboard ceiling in her breezeway in favor of a vaulted ceiling and she gave me all of the salvage).  Ken cut the board down to make a small shelf and two brackets at the bottom of the frame.  He also cut a piece of backer board to fit the mirror opening so that I could turn it into a chalkboard.

Once Ken was done with those tasks, I painted the frame and its new shelf with some Homestead House milk paint in Limestone.  I mentioned a week or so ago that Homestead House sent me some samples of their milk paint to try out and this is another color that I received from them.


I painted the backer board using the green chalkboard paint recipe from Allison at The Golden Sycamore (click on that link to visit her blog and read about the recipe, it’s a combo of two Miss Mustard milk paint colors and I love how it turns out every time).

Finally, I copied a Farm Fresh Christmas Tree design that I also found on pinterest, and voila!


I used a brighter white acrylic craft paint to highlight the spoon carving at the top of the frame.


After using my painters tape trick to encourage some chipping I got just the right amount of chippy-ness out of the milk paint.  That’s three coats of Limestone, by the way.  I generally find that it takes about 3 coats when covering a dark-ish wood with white paint.

I’ve been finding lately that it works well for me to add just the most sparing amount of wax to my milk painted pieces.  I don’t thoroughly wax it by any means.  I take about a dime sized dab of wax and work it into my cloth really well.  Then I just lightly wipe over the piece.  I don’t think this method is going to provide much in the way of water protection.  But since this is a frame that will just hang on the wall and get very little human contact, I think it will be fine.


I draped a cotton bole swag across the top of the frame after I hung it over my sofa.  I picked the swag up at Home Goods last year, but I bet you can find these all over this year.


I never intended to keep this piece but once it was finished I realized I just wasn’t going to be able to part with it.  I absolutely love how it turned out.

And it does fit perfectly above the sofa in my living room.


But not to worry.  I also loved it so much that I decided to make another one.  The frame I’ll use is a little bit different, but I think it will still be just as fab.  It’s over in Ken’s workshop now.  I’ll be sure to share that one with you when it’s finished too!

measuring success, and a blogiversary giveaway.

It was three years ago today that I started this blog.  Wowza.  Time flies!  I can’t believe it has been three years already.


It seems like an anniversary is always a good time to evaluate where you are and where you want to go.


A good time to stop and wonder, why do I do this?  And am I successful at it?

Success is defined as:

  • the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.
  • the attainment of popularity or profit.
  • a person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains prosperity.


When I began my blog the goal was to use it to sell my painted furniture.  As it turns out, that has been hit or miss.  While I do occasionally sell a piece to a reader, those sales are not the norm.  Most of my pieces end up being sold on Craigslist.  So I can’t say that I have really achieved that goal.


I’ve read that on average it takes 8 to 10 hours to write a blog post.  That includes writing the post as well as taking & editing photos for the post.  And it also includes the time invested in the project itself whether it be painting a piece of furniture or decorating a room for the holidays.  That sounds about right to me.

I usually post about 3 times a week.  That translates to 24 to 30 hours per week.  Holy cow.  Do I really spend that much time on it?  I think I might.  If you count the time spent painting furniture.  But the thing is, I’d be painting furniture anyway so even if I wasn’t writing a blog I’d still be spending a significant amount of time on that.  The time I spend just writing the blog is more like 6 – 8 hours per week.


Earlier this week I came across an article about how to drive more traffic to your blog.  I got about halfway through the article and then I just grew bored and stopped reading it.  I realized I didn’t want the goal of my blog to be gaining more followers.  I don’t want to tailor the content of my posts for the sole purpose of attracting a wider audience.

So, if I’m not meeting my original goal of selling furniture via the blog and I’m not particularly motivated to ‘attain popularity’ in the form of more followers, why do I spend that much time on this?


Well, the answer is simple.  I really enjoy the process.

This is not a job for me.  It’s a pleasant pastime.


Every now and then I have to stop and remind myself that it doesn’t matter how many followers I have, or how many ‘views’ my blog gets every day.  I have to resist the accountant side of my brain that wants to crunch the numbers.

I am not going to measure the success of my blog by the numbers.  I’m going to measure my success by whether or not I am having fun with it because that is why I do it.


That being said, an anniversary is also a good excuse to host a giveaway to express how much I do appreciate my readers, even if I’m not counting you to measure my success.  Especially those of you who take the time to leave comments and let me know that you are out there.  Getting comments is one of the things that makes blogging fun for me, so please keep them coming.

I’m going to give away two gifts today.  The first is already spoken for and is going to Victoria.  Victoria and I have never met.  She lives down south, while I am up north.  Victoria found my blog back in December of 2013, so only one month after I started blogging.  Since then she has left me 557 comments making her far and away the most prolific ‘commenter’ (not a real word, I know) on my blog!  And I have appreciated each and every one of those comments.  Thank you for all of your kinds words of encouragement Victoria!  I hope you enjoy your gift, it will be on its way to you soon.

For the 2nd prize, I will draw a name at random from any comments left on this post by Friday, December 2 at midnight.  There are no special requirements, you don’t have to follow me or click on a link to something; you just have to leave a comment.  I hope you’ll take a moment to do so.  Here’s what you’ll get (MMS milk paint in Schloss, a tiny green vintage floral frog with a Christmas greeting, a set of vintage cookie cutters, the latest issue of Flea Market Style and the Winter 2016 issue of Flea Market Decor).


Flea Market Style has a great article about re-purposing vintage cookie cutters …


So when I saw this Christmas-y set at a local shop I knew I had to grab them and throw them in.

I hope you’ll continue to read my blog and leave the occasional comment or two down the road just to encourage me.  Here’s to another year!  And don’t forget to leave a comment for your chance to win!

please pass the gravy.

Here in Minnesota I never have much luck finding ironstone in antique shops.  If I do find some, it’s usually quite pricey … or it’s a chamber pot.  So most of my ironstone pieces have come from garage sales or estate sales.  One of the pieces I find most often is the gravy boat.


I wonder why that is?  Do we eat more gravy in the mid-west than in other parts of the country?


Maybe it’s just because a gravy boat is so darn practical so there were lots of them.


Or perhaps it’s because a gravy boat is a less expensive piece than a covered casserole or other more elaborate pieces.


A gravy boat with a lid is handy for keeping your gravy warm.


When not in use you can add some rolled up book pages for display.


Or maybe a pretty silver ladle.  I found this one in a local antique shop and it was only $4.


I hang some of my gravy boats on a rod behind the stove.  I like that I can also see the marks on the bottoms.


How about you?  Do you have a stash of pretty gravy boats to use on Thanksgiving?


Whether in a pretty gravy boat or not, I still say ‘please pass the gravy’.