cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater.

When I was a kid my mom sewed most of my clothes and she whipped up some really cute things.  I can remember going through a pinafore stage in grade school.  I loved those pinafores and my mom made several for me.  They had made a come-back in the 60’s people, so don’t judge.  My mom also made matching halter-tops for me and my bff.  My bff’s mom made some for us too.  We loved matching!

My mom tried to turn me into a seamstress.  When I was in my early 20’s and broke, she helped me sew some wool suits for my office wardrobe.  I still get a little itchy remembering those wool pieces that weren’t lined.  I probably should have tried some less ambitious projects because in the end I just got frustrated with how much work was involved and the ‘sewing thing’ just didn’t take.

Although I have absolutely no interest in sewing clothing, every once in a while I do wish I had the sewing skills and equipment necessary for upholstery work or even just for sewing simple pillow covers or curtains.  Obviously I don’t wish it badly enough to do something about it though.

Instead, I find ways to cheat!

I suspect that the cane chair that I brought home from a garage sale a few weeks ago originally had a loose cushion for the bottom.

cane back chair

It would be preferable to replace it with another cushion because that would give it a softer, more comfortable seat with some give.  But since I can’t sew, I decided to add an upholstered seat similar to those on your typical dining room chair.  I started by having Ken cut a base out of plywood.  He cut a cardboard template to get the size and shape right, and then just used that to cut the plywood.  Then I added a bunch of layers of thick batting and covered it with a feed sack that I picked up at a garage sale (out of the free pile, believe it or not!).  I stapled the feed sack on and voila.

chair seat 3

It’s perhaps not the perfect solution, but it works for me.  I only spent about $6 for this chair.  The chair frame was $3 at a garage sale, the grain sack was $0, the plywood seat base was a little less than $3, the batting and the paint were items I had on hand but of course they would add to the cost if you had to buy those supplies.

chair half

By the way, I painted the rest of the chair using Miss Mustard Seed milk paint in Linen.

chair angle

I got a little chipping, but I’m hoping that over time the chair will wear and get even chippier.

cheater chair

What do you think of my cheater chair?  Not bad for $6, right?

the dresser that refused to be staged.

andrea's dresser title

Normally I don’t do custom work, but if you’ve read my blog for long then you know that I like to break my own rules all the time.  And I’ve broken this one a few times.

A very nice woman named Andrea purchased the spoon carved dresser from me a while back.

Remember that one?

spoon carved title

It was so pretty.  And when Andrea bought it she asked me if I would be willing to paint another one to match.  Ironically, if you read back to the post about that first one I mentioned that I’d custom mixed the color because I ran out of MMS Marzipan and I had to stretch my paint out by adding some other whites.  So I explained to Andrea that I didn’t think I could match the color exactly, and that I don’t often do custom work.  But … all of that being said, I do love painting these spoon carved pieces and I was willing to give it a shot if she was OK with not getting an exact match.

So Andrea kept her eye out for another spoon carved dresser that she liked and when she found one she sent it over to be painted.  Here is how it turned out.

andrea's dresser 1

Although I used what I thought was close to the same mix of Marzipan, Linen and Ironstone, the color on this one is a bit lighter than the other.  Andrea had mentioned that if I couldn’t get the color quite the same, she’d prefer I went lighter rather than darker.

Andrea's dresser side view

I used the same straight up Ironstone to highlight the spoon carving.  It doesn’t stand out quite as much on this piece, I think partially because there isn’t quite as much contrast between the colors but also because the spoon carving details are smaller on this one.

andrea's dresser corner

I really struggled with staging this dresser for photos.  I didn’t necessarily want to cover up the spoon carving that is at the middle back, but I tried putting various objects on the hankie drawers and leaving the middle empty and that just always looked odd.  I tried using a really pretty transferware pitcher and some vintage books.  Nope.  I tried adding a suitcase into the mix.  Nope.  I tried using several ironstone casseroles.  Still, no dice.

So finally I just filled my large ironstone bowl with a floral arrangement and called it good.

floral arrangement

I just used flowers that were available in my yard; some Vanilla Strawberry hydrangea (they are just barely starting to show a hint of pink), some hosta flower stalks, some sedum flower clusters that haven’t opened yet and a sprig or two of variegated ivy.

Andrea picked up her dresser earlier this week and she loved how it turned out.  Phew!  I’m always a little bit relieved when custom jobs go well.

the rejects.

I came home from South Dakota with a pile of old family photos that no one wanted.

rejects title

While there, we got together with my mom’s cousins and we all sat around the dining room table and sorted through a big tub of photos that came from my Great Aunt Lula Perline Moe.

I’ve mentioned Lu before, I named my manikin after her.  When we were kids we would go out and stay on Aunt Lu and Uncle Homer’s farm in the summer.  Here are Homer and Lu …

lu and homer  You see, Aunt Lu never had any children of her own so she enjoyed having various nieces and nephews come to stay.  And sadly, what comes of having no direct descendants is a big tub of photos that got shoved into someone’s attic after she passed away.  None of the South Dakota relatives seemed to want Lu’s photos.

So we sorted through them during our last visit.  All of the photos that included the other aunts and uncles were put into piles to be shipped off to their branches of the family.  Most of rest were put into the ‘reject’ pile, otherwise known as the pile I would take home with me!

We weren’t able to identify the people in most of these.  For example, no one knew who these guys were …

reject farmer

Although clearly they were farmers who were outstanding in their fields, or should I say out standing in their fields?

I seem to be the only one who wants old photos of unknown people.  But some of them are crazy adorable, so how could I resist?

reject cowboy

These little cowboys are cute as can be.

reject cowboy 2

I did also nab a couple of semi-recognizable photos such as this one.

reject group

Remember ‘blind John the peddler’, my great grandfather?  That’s him on the far left.  He is usually recognizable in photos because he wore dark glasses that covered his eyes.

I wonder why they didn’t ask him to turn his head forward.  Perhaps he heard a sound and turned his head at the last minute.  Maybe they re-shot the group photo and this one was just discarded.  It does seem like an slightly cruel joke, hey, look at the blind guy, he doesn’t know which way to face for the photo.

But then I looked at another photo that included John (on far left) and same thing, he’s not facing the camera with everyone else.

reject group 2

Perhaps that was just his way of posing and no one questioned it.  Here he is again with 4 of his daughters, Olga, Carrie (my grandmother), Evelyn and Lu.

grandma's sisters

My grandmother had 7 sisters and two brothers total, although the youngest girl died as a baby.

I think that my grandmother fully enjoyed her sisters.  After moving to Minneapolis with my grandfather, she would go back to the farm every summer to visit and spend time with her family.  In fact, I think she even went back to the farm to give birth to her first child.  Her sisters would come and visit her in Minneapolis as well.

Just for fun, I thought I’d share a behind the scenes photo from my photo shoot.  The whole time I was setting up and taking these photos, I had a little assistant.

behind the scenes

She’s not a very hardworking assistant though, she mostly tends to just get in the way.

Do any of you have a fascination for old family photos?  Or even just old photos of strangers?

the pirate desk.

Ahoy matey’s, today I have a pirate desk to share with you.

pirate desk before

You are probably wondering what makes it a pirate desk, right?  Well, it had a peg leg when I bought it.  You can’t see it in the ‘before’ photo unfortunately, so you’ll just have to trust me on this one.  See those curvy feet (well, as much as isn’t covered by grass)?  Well, the back right one was missing and the previous owner of the desk just nailed on a chunk of 2 x 4 instead.  That explains why the price on this desk was ridiculously low.  Well, that and the numerous spots where veneer was chipping off, and maybe all of the dings too and that one mismatched drawer pull.  Yep, this baby had a few flaws.

But it was especially unfortunate about the foot because otherwise the back of this desk is finished, meaning it could be floated in a room with the back facing out.  But certainly not with a 2 x 4 foot.

So after I brought this one home I called Ken to come over for consultation (which involves him going out his back door and crossing over though my backyard to my workshop).  He looked seriously skeptical as I stood there saying I was quite confident that he could come up with a fix.  Ken may not have faith in his abilities, but I do!

I told him it didn’t have to be perfect, it just had to blend a little bit.  He hemmed and he hawed, and then he studied the other feet, and then he went home and thought about it for a while.  Then when I came home from work a few days later he had done this.

peg leg repair

Ken, being a bit of a perfectionist, was not entirely happy with it but I thought it was amazing!  I knew once I got it painted you wouldn’t even notice that it was different from the other feet.  It certainly beats a 2 x 4!

I decided to go with Little Billy Goat’s Prizewinner on this desk.  I really love this blue!

pirate desk close up

To deepen the blue a bit, I used Little Billy Goat’s new black wax as a finish.  I had only used the black wax on top of black before, so I wasn’t sure how it would work over a color, but it worked perfectly over the Prizewinner.

Did you notice in the ‘before’ photo that there was one mismatched drawer pull on the lower left hand drawer?  I find it odd that the previous owner chose to put the mismatch on that drawer rather than the upper middle.  Duh.  That fix is a no brainer.  I was able to use all of the original pulls on the side drawers and I just added a coordinating knob from my stash to the middle drawer.

pirate desk hardware

I also added a little Paris, France stencil just to give the desk a little extra personality.

Remember I posted a week or two ago about finding some chairs to use with desks?  Then my sister-in-law brought over this chair.

harp back chair

Seemed like kismet, so I painted it up to match the desk and I added a pretty faux grain sack seat.

pirate desk with chair

But guess what?  It doesn’t quite fit under the desk.  Argh.  However, not all desk chairs have to be tucked in, right?  For example, my own desk chair does not fit under my desk because it has arms.

chair seat

By the way, in case you’re wondering how that replacement foot ended up blending in once painted, check it out.

pirate desk back

Be honest, if I hadn’t told you about it would you have even noticed?  Can you even tell which one it is?

I did go ahead and paint the back because with Ken’s faux foot, I think this desk would be perfectly fine facing out.  This way whomever purchases the desk will have options.

I actually did two different photo shoots.  I started out in the photo cottage, but I wasn’t super happy with any of those photos.

pirate desk

So then I pulled it out into the driveway where I staged it simply with a cream colored vintage typewriter and some Reader’s Digest books.

desk

I picked up the books at a garage sale because the colors were so pretty.  I knew they would come in handy for furniture photos.

books

I almost forgot.  I have one more thing to take care of before this desk is available.  I need to line that middle drawer.  I have to admit though, I’m a little drawn to the graffiti art that I’ll be covering up.

desk drawer

How about you?

 

brookings.

One of my favorite things about blogging is when other people interact with my posts by leaving comments.  When I posted about my South Dakota relatives on Wednesday I didn’t know I would get such great stories from my readers in return.  It was definitely an unexpected bonus!  If you don’t normally read the comments, I highly recommend that you go back to that post and read them (click here).  Several people left some great family stories of their own!  Maybe you’d like to leave one too, it’s not too late.

Although my family’s farm is in Arlington, when we visit we usually stay about 20 miles east in Brookings, South Dakota with my cousin Yvonne.  Arlington’s population is 894, Brookings’ population is 22,943.  So obviously Brookings has a little bit more to offer.

Brookings is home to South Dakota State University as evidenced by the numerous people milling around in Jackrabbit attire.  It definitely has a ‘college town’ feel, but with a ‘farm town’ twist.  By the way, in 2015 Brookings was ranked as the safest college town in the United States, so if you have a kid that will be going to college soon maybe give this one some thought.  Although we’ve been to Brookings many times, Debbie and I have never really explored the place at all.  So we decided to change that last weekend and be tourists for a day.

brookings title 2

I have to confess, the addition of the title on that photo was a little tongue in cheek.  You see so many of these sorts of lists on pinterest, 10 things to see in Amsterdam or 1 day in Paris.  But hey, if you are ever going to be in Brookings, be sure to pin that photo!

We started our day with a visit to McCrory Gardens, a botanical garden and arboretum that is operated by the University.  They have 25 acres of formal display gardens and another 45 acres of arboretum.  Debbie and I only visited the formal display gardens, which were quite lovely.  I especially liked some of their more unique plant pairings, like these ornamental grasses planted with ornamental cabbage.

cabbages

They had an area devoted to interesting color combinations too.

color combo

My sister really liked the sunflowers …

sun flower

and these ornamental grasses …

ornamental grass

I think Debbie’s garden style leans more towards a prairie garden with wildflowers, while I am more a fan of cottage gardens.  This spot with its little cottage and white picket fence was definitely my favorite.

cottage garden

After touring the gardens, we met back up with my mom and her cousins Elaine & Yvonne for lunch at a locally famous hamburger joint called Nick’s.  The burgers really were delicious!

Nicks

Before heading out to the family farm for the afternoon, our cousin David picked up Debbie and I and we stopped off at the local winery that was on the way, Schade’ Vineyard & Winery in Volga, South Dakota.

Schade' winery

We admired their grape vines…

grapes

took a selfie with our cousin David (he was trying to help us improve our selfie skills, he says it’s all about finding your good angle, but I still haven’t found mine) …

selfie by david

and we tasted some wine, including some interesting local specialties like Buffaloberry wine (hmmm, no) and Strawberry Rhubarb.  All of their wines are made with locally grown fruit.  I did bring home a few bottles of the Raspberry-Apple wine.

In addition to the wine, I also brought home some sweet corn from the family farm and a chest cold.  The corn is long gone but the chest cold has been lingering all week so I haven’t gotten much done out in my workshop.  But I’m definitely starting to feel better today and the temps are supposed to drop back into the 70’s this weekend, so it should be a good time for me to get a few pieces of furniture done.  So be sure to stay tuned next week!

blind John the peddler.

Last weekend my mom flew in from Vegas (she lives there) and, along with my sister, we drove out to South Dakota for a funeral.  The funeral was for my mom’s cousin’s wife.  Although I had met her a few times, I didn’t know her well.  But funerals are always a good time to connect with family and to see many of our South Dakota cousins while they are gathered together in one place.

For me the drive is somewhat torturous.  I’m not a fan of the road trip.  It’s about 4 hours through mostly farm country.  I always know that we are getting close though when I begin to see these.

windmills

I don’t think my photo does justice to how gigantic these things are.  According to my research, on average these are 260′ tall.

There are 100’s of these strewn across the landscape along the Minnesota border with South Dakota.

windmills 2

I find them rather creepy, like something out of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds.  Giant alien beings that have landed in the corn and soybean fields.

My maternal grandmother’s father, John P. Nordaune, immigrated to the United States from Haltdalen, Norway with his parents when he was a young child.  At that time the family name was changed to Moe. I’m pretty sure he didn’t see any of these wind turbines when he got to South Dakota!

Moe headstone

Have any of you read Laura Ingalls’ books?  If so, perhaps you remember her book The Long Winter which was about how her family survived the winter of 1880-1881 in De Smet, South Dakota.  That winter is still considered to be the most severe winter ever recorded in the United States.  The snow was so deep that trains stopped running for a good part of the winter and thus were not able to bring in supplies.

snowblockade

Not only that, but the snow came so early that many farmers hadn’t yet harvested their fields.  If you’re familiar with the book, you’ll know that the Ingalls family came close to starvation that winter.  You can read an account of that winter {here}.  That spring my great grandfather, his two brothers and their mother were on the first train to come through the area after the thaw.  They were coming to join their husband/father on the land he had claimed in Arlington, South Dakota.  My great, great grandmother once said that they had more food in the trunk they brought with them than was in the entire town where they disembarked from the train.  My cousin Ronnie actually still has that trunk, by the way.

The Moe Farm is still in the family 135 years later.  My cousin Travis now lives in the farmhouse with his wife and six children and he farms the land.

Moe farm

Travis (on left) took my sister, our cousin David and me (at the back) on a tour of the farm last weekend.

cousins

That corn is tall when you get up close to it!  Well over my head and I’m 5’10” tall.

My great grandfather, John J. Moe, was blinded in an accident as child.  I’m not sure of the exact details, but somehow he ended up piercing one of his eyes with a nail.  Infection set in and he ended up completely blind in both eyes.  Despite complete blindness, he married and had 10 children.  No only did he farm, but he also was a peddler.  I think ‘peddler’ has a slightly negative connotation these days, but all that meant was that he traveled from place to place selling small goods out of his wagon.  Thus my cousin Ronnie claims that he was called ‘blind John the peddler.’  When I was first told about this, I wondered how in the world he managed this while blind.  I was told that he used a horse drawn wagon and he relied on the horse to know the route.  He also carried a small pistol for protection.  My cousin Ronnie has the pistol now too.  I’m not sure exactly how he would have aimed that thing!  I suspect it was more for ‘looks’ than actual reliable protection.  Then again, perhaps a blind man with a pistol would scare most people!  As for the money, I’m told that he kept track of exactly how many bills he had and he kept them in numeric order.  So he knew what he had for making change.  He most likely relied heavily on the honesty of his customers.  When he returned home, his wife, my great grandmother, would make sure that they he had been paid correctly.

Many of my Moe ancestors are buried in the Bangor Cemetery which is a small family cemetery just down the road from the Moe Farm that is surrounded by cornfields.

It has the most gorgeous view that includes the farm.

cemetery view

OK, I have to get a little closer for you to see the farm.

farm

Can you see the dragonfly in that photo?  Look to the right, yep, that’s not a helicopter.

I always enjoy spending some time out on the farm and being reminded of my roots.  Each time I visit I’m gifted with a few more old family photos that no one out there wants.  I love using them when staging my furniture photo shoots.

washstand staging

aunt lu

I came home with a fresh pile of photos, so hopefully I’ll have some furniture photo shoots coming up soon.  Stay tuned!

all out girly.

I was planning to wait until tomorrow to post this one, but an expected turn of events has my mom coming to town, and then she, my sister, and I will hop in the car and drive to South Dakota for the weekend.  I’ve been told I have to show up at my sister’s place at 5 a.m. tomorrow morning.  Gack!  We’ll be on the road for about 4 hours and quite honestly to a city girl like me it feels like we are out in the middle of nowhere on that drive.  Farm fields as far as the eye can see.  Spotty cell service at best.  So I decided to share this one today instead!

This sweet little vanity was part of a bedroom set that I picked up a while back.

pink vanity before

I thought it had some great potential, but it badly needed an update.

Since a dressing table is definitely a feminine piece of furniture, I decided to go all out girly on this one and paint it pink.  So I pulled out Fusion’s Little Piggy.  In case you are keeping track, so far I have painted a small chair, a dresser and now this vanity and bench all from the one 16.9 oz jar of paint and I still have a little bit left.

pink vanity angle

The Little Piggy is a classy pink, not an obnoxious bubble gum pink.  I popped out some details by highlighting them with Fusion’s Limestone.  I also added a stencil to the front in Limestone as well.  This was the first time I stenciled using Fusion paint and it worked out quite well.  I just made sure that my stencil brush was ‘dry’ by blotting it on a paper towel after dipping it in the paint.

bench

I swapped out the knobs that came with the vanity because they were just sort of blah.  These cream colored knobs from Hobby Lobby work much better with my color scheme.

pink vanity close up

I recovered the bench in some fabric from a beautiful bark cloth curtain panel that I purchased at a garage sale earlier this summer.

pink vanity and bench

I dug out one of my hatboxes for staging …

hat box

Wouldn’t this piece be perfect in a young girl’s room?  Or maybe an older girl’s room too!

pink vanity

If you have the perfect spot for this sweet vanity, be sure to check out my ‘available for local sale’ tab to find out if it’s still available.

Due to my unexpected weekend in South Dakota, I’m not at all sure if I’ll find stuff to post about next week but hopefully I can come up with something.  I hope you’ll stay tuned!