q is for quandie, unplugged.

Oh my goodness, I can hardly believe it’s finally here!  Mr. Q and I are off on an adventure.  Way back in June I posted about booking a cruise on the Adriatic Sea.  It felt like it was a long way off then, and I didn’t want to wish the summer away being too excited for our trip.  But as we all know, time flies … and here we are in November!

Our itinerary mainly features smaller ports that we haven’t been to like Valletta (Malta) and Kotor (Montenegro).  Plus a couple of favorites that we are happy to return to, Venice and Monte Carlo.

The day in Venice also just happens to be my birthday.  Who wouldn’t want to spend their birthday in Venice?  Even if it is just a tad flooded at the moment.

This is the off-season for travel in Europe, so that made the trip much more affordable.  Plus not as many crowds, and definitely cooler weather.  Hopefully those things will work in our favor, but if you’ve been following the news you’ll know that the weather has been a bit crazy lately in Italy.  So we’ve packed our umbrellas and are just hoping for the best.

Here are the ports we will visit.

Genoa, Italy where we have booked a street food tour and we also plan to visit the aquarium.

Monte Carlo, Monaco where we’ve booked a side trip to Eze, France.

Naples, Italy where we’ll visit Herculaneum.

Messina, Italy  where we’ve booked a Godfather themed tour.  We’re not really big Godfather fans, but the tour itself goes to some small hillside towns that look really charming.

In Malta we’ve hired a private guide for the entire day.  It looks like such a fascinating place and we really want to see it all.  We had such an amazing time with the private guide we hired in Scotland, so we’re going to splurge this time as well.

We’ll see the famous balconies of Valletta …

Hagar Qim, a megalithic temple complex dating to 3,600 – 3,200 B.C.  How in the world did they move those huge stones back then?  I hope we’ll learn more about that …

Marsaxlokk, a small fishing village known for its colorful boats …

And Mdina, a medieval fortified city.

Mr. Q is looking forward to Kotor, Montenegro where we plan to do some exploring on our own.

But we also plan to take a boat over to Our Lady of the Rocks …

Split, Croatia is another spot that will be easy to navigate on our own …

Ravenna, Italy is famous for its Byzantine mosaics so we plan to take a look at them.  Just look at those beautiful colors!

And finally, our cruise ends in Venice, Italy.  We’ve spent time in Venice before, so we’ve seen all of the major sites.  This time I want to do something special, plus since it’s my birthday I get to choose what we do!  So we’ve hired another private guide who will take us to some unique spots in Venice that are off the beaten path.  Hopefully we won’t have to wade through too much water to get to them.

We’ll be back home just in time for my 5th blogiversary!  I’m planning an amazing giveaway after we return to celebrate five years of blogging.  I’ll be giving away a bunch of my favorite products plus I hope to find a few goodies to include while on my trip.  So be sure to check back for that in two weeks.

In the meantime, I’m going to take a bit of a blogging break.  I tend to mostly ‘unplug’ when I’m on a cruise.  I definitely won’t splurge and pay for the expensive WiFi on the ship.  My sister Debbie will be in charge of everything while we’re gone.  She’ll be house sitting and watching over our cat Lucy, and maybe I can convince her to occasionally check for blog comments too.  But I doubt I can get her to paint any furniture or write any blog posts for me 😉

I do plan on posting the occasional quick picture or two to Instagram on the fly though (when I have cell service), so if you don’t already follow me on Instagram be sure to do it now!  Otherwise, I’ll be back in a couple of weeks, so be sure to check back then!

your choice of toppings, on the lighter side.

On Monday I shared my favorite technique for using a dark wax over bare wood.  Today I thought I’d focus on using other colors of wax over bare wood (or white washed wood).

Once again, all of my favorite wax brands make a version of white wax.

Starting at the top and moving clockwise that’s Miss Mustard Seed White Wax, Homestead House White Wax, the Real Milk Paint Co Soft White Wax, and Fusion Liming Wax.

That brings up the first question, are white wax and liming wax the same thing?

I don’t have a definitive answer from the experts, but I’m pretty sure they can be used interchangeably.  One may have a slightly different color, or maybe a little more or less pigment, but as you can see all of the white waxes that I have are slightly different in color anyway.

You can apply white wax to bare wood in just the same way as the dark waxes that I talked about on Monday.  If you need a refresher you can refer back to that post.  However, I often choose to apply a coat of clear wax before applying the white.    The purpose of that is to soften the look of the white wax and allow it to blend a little bit more.  But if you want that cerused or lime waxed look to be more pronounced and you really want to see those streaks of white that catch in the grain of your wood, go ahead and just use the white wax right over your bare wood.

The tabletop below has a coat of clear wax followed by a coat of white wax.

As does the top of this washstand.

These days I almost always apply my wax with a brush and then remove any excess wax with an old t-shirt.  The large Miss Mustard Seed wax brush is a favorite of mine (you can find it online at Carver Junk Co if you need one).  Mine is well used …

Another favorite light wax of mine is grey wax.  I used to make my own grey wax by mixing black and white wax together.

But now when I want grey wax I just use Dixie Belle’s Best Dang Wax in Grunge Grey.

I used this wax on a coffee table last winter.

It gives that sort of driftwood appearance.

Finally, there is always the option of just using a clear furniture wax over bare wood.  That’s what I did on this buffet top.

Just keep in mind that clear wax won’t alter the color of your wood like the tinted waxes will, it also won’t help blend any discolorations that your wood might have.

But if you love the natural color of the wood on your piece, try just using clear wax.

Before I let you go I want to mention that besides being an incredibly easy and relatively foolproof technique to use, I think wax provides the most natural looking finish for beautiful wood.

It isn’t the most impervious finish, nor is it the shiniest.  If you’re looking for a perfect looking finish, maybe wax isn’t for you.

But if you like to embrace the imperfections in old furniture and bring them back to life just a bit, definitely give this a try!

Also, if you’d like to learn more about lime waxing or white washing, check out this post …

your choice of toppings.

I can still remember that ‘eureka moment’ when I realized it was possible to strip the old finish from furniture and then just use wax to refinish it.  Prior to that I had no idea that it could be just that simple.

I thought that you had to stain wood and also then finish it with some sort of poly topcoat, but I was wrong.  You don’t have to do it that way.  You can choose to just strip off the old finish and then wax it.  If you use a colored wax, the wax itself will give a beautiful color to the wood, so there’s no need for stain.

This is pretty much the most fool-proof method for refinishing a wood top that I’ve found.  No need to worry about your stain not taking evenly, or your poly topcoat looking streaky.  Anyone can wax.

And it doesn’t matter if your piece is solid wood or a wood veneer, this technique works beautifully for both.

Solid oak:

Burled walnut veneer:

Step 1:  Strip off the old varnish using Citristrip (or your stripper of choice).  Clean the piece well and sand it smooth using 220 grit sandpaper.

Step 2:  Apply the wax using a brush or a lint free cloth.  Remove any excess wax using a clean cloth.

Step 3:  Wait 10 or 15 minutes and then buff to bring out some shine.  If you prefer a more matte or rustic look, you can do very little buffing or even skip it altogether.

Are you wondering which wax product to use?  Here are my favorite dark waxes …

As you can see, they are all very well loved.  They are also all non-stinky and safe for indoor use (to read more about wax safety, be sure to check out this post).

All of the various wax brands that I use have dark and/or brown versions and they are all just slightly different in color.  I thought this would be a good opportunity to show you some options so you can compare.

First up, Miss Mustard Seed Antiquing Wax.

MMS Antiquing Wax is the color of dark chocolate.  I’m not a fan of eating dark chocolate (give me milk chocolate or white chocolate every time), but I love this wax.  It’s very creamy, has almost no smell, and it works beautifully.

Fusion also sells wax under their brand name.  Keep in mind that Fusion and Miss Mustard Seed are both from Homestead House Paint Company, so their waxes come from the same wax manufacturer.  As does the Homestead House brand wax.  It’s all museum quality, safe for you and the environment, non-smelly and I think it’s the creamiest wax out there.  It’s a bit softer than some of the others which makes it much easier to apply.

I’ve included the Cece Caldwell Aging Cream in my line up today because that was one of the first dark waxes I used over stripped wood.  I don’t tend to use it anymore mainly because the local shop where I used to buy it went out of business.  It has a bit more of a reddish tone than the others, so if you’re looking for that color this wax is a great choice for you.  Here it is on a dresser top …

I’ve only recently started using the Dixie Belle Best Dang Wax.  Their Brown wax is perfect for finishing bare wood tops.

It is just a bit harder (more firm, less soft and creamy) than the others.  So it takes a little more elbow grease to apply.  However, I think I’m also less prone to wasting product because I don’t accidentally get too much on my brush.  I also think it buffs up to more of a shine than the others.  I have a feeling that there is a relationship between how soft/hard the wax is and how much shine you can get out of it, but that might just be my own perception.

  One caveat regarding wax, it should be reapplied periodically to maintain the finish.  The good news is that wax is super easy to refresh, simply clean the surface and then apply more wax.  If you get a water ring or a scratch or two, just spot sand lightly, clean and re-wax.  It couldn’t be easier.

Personally I would not choose to use wax on a surface that is going to get a lot of wear, be exposed to a lot of moisture or require regular scrubbing such as kitchen cabinets or a bathroom vanity.  For those surfaces I would opt for something more durable like a poly finish or Fusion paint (which is very durable and washable once cured, even without a top coat).  However, I think wax is quite durable enough for a dresser or desk top.  I even have a wax finish on my dining table that has held up very well (although we do use coasters for sweaty glasses).

So if you haven’t already tried refinishing some pretty wood with wax, give it a go next time.  I’ll add a link for this post to my ‘how to‘ page so you can always find it for future reference.

And in the meantime, be sure to check back on Wednesday to learn about more choices in toppings!

an unassuming old suitcase.

You all know of my love for vintage suitcases, right?

I put them into two categories.  First there are those that are charming ‘as is’ and should not be altered.

Like these …

And then there is the 2nd category, those unassuming old suitcases that just don’t quite have enough personality on their own, like this one …

It’s rather beat up and just not terribly attractive (in my opinion).

I have used milk paint, chalk paint and Fusion acrylic paint on suitcases in the past.  I find that Fusion doesn’t always adhere well to vinyl.  Milk paint works perfectly well, but you don’t get the chippy quality that makes milk paint shine, so I feel like it’s rather wasted here.  So these days my go-to paint for a suitcase like this is chalk style paint.

Before I started painting, I cleaned the suitcase with Krud Kutter Kitchen Degreaser.  I then rinsed it down with a damp cloth.  Then I gave it two coats of Dixie Belle’s Caviar.

Once that was dry I added a French Laundry stencil using a warm white craft paint.

Somehow it seemed appropriate to put a laundry advertisement on a suitcase.

I used parts of the stencil on top of the suitcase too.

You’ll notice that I painted every bit of this suitcase including the handle and the clasps.  I don’t always do that, but this time I’ll admit I was feeling a bit too lazy to cut around those things.  Plus, I rather like this look.

Once painted I went over the surface ever so lightly with some 220 grit sandpaper just to smooth it out a bit.  I followed that up with some of Fusion’s Clear Wax.

Boy, I wasn’t planning on keeping it, but it sure does look great paired up with Collette and Lula.

I never planned to keep Collette either (the one on the left), but after I finished giving her a makeover I couldn’t part with her.

So now I have two dress forms in my bedroom.

And even though the suitcase looks fabulous with them, I don’t really need another suitcase at my house!

In fact, I already brought it in to Reclaiming Beautiful to be sold.

Plus I still have a couple more suitcases in this style waiting in the wings to be painted, so if I change my mind I can always paint up another one to keep for myself.

it’s beginning to look at lot like Christmas.

I know, I know.  It’s only Halloween.

But when you blog about fun craft projects for the holidays, today is far too late to blog about Halloween.  And almost even too late for autumn decorating ideas.

And then there’s the fact that I’m leaving for a cruise on the Adriatic in less than two weeks and I won’t be back home again until after Thanksgiving.

Yep, it snuck (hmmm, that’s not a real word, who knew?) up on me too.

I suddenly realized last week that I had to get all of my Christmas projects (at least the ones I want to sell at Reclaiming Beautiful) finished this past weekend.  Yikes!

So I got out my favorite stencils and some paint and I got busy.

I started with a pair of vintage sleds that I purchased at a garage sale over the summer.

Once again I totally neglected to get ‘before’ photos.  Drat.

But both of these started out with red metal runners and plain wood.  I painted just the wood parts on the first one using Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth (that same fabulous cream color I used on Monday’s washstand).  Then I added the stencil using craft paints.  I sanded vigorously to distress and then added a topcoat of Fusion’s Clear Wax.

The second sled got painted in Dixie Belle’s Caviar.  I painted the metal runners as well as most of the wood except for that cross piece at the top.

I stenciled this one in a french stencil that says something like ‘friends and family gather here’ which seems like a good sentiment for the holidays.

It’s a little less traditionally Christmas and could be displayed all fall and winter.

I also painted a couple of drawer front signs.  These drawer fronts came from the dresser that I turned into the farmer’s market kitchen island back in July.  If you remember back, I removed the lower two drawers from that piece because one of them wasn’t in great shape.  So I saved the drawer fronts and discarded the rest knowing they would make awesome ‘signs’ using my farm fresh Christmas trees stencil.

These are also painted in Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth and stenciled with craft paint.  One has plain wooden knobs, but the other has knobs with Prima Marketing re.design knob transfers added.

While I had the stencil out I also added it to a cute little wooden box that my picker found for me.

And speaking of my picker, she also came through on the vintage Shiny Brites.  Remember I mentioned that I just wasn’t finding many vintage ornaments at garage sales this year?  Well Sue found a whole slew of them for me!

Last but not least, I did another painted suitcase.  I started by painting the suitcase black and white using Dixie Belle’s Caviar and Drop Cloth, and then added the stencil.

To make it more versatile I added a more summery stencil to the other side, so now it’s reversible.

I did one of these last year at Christmas too and it was a big hit.

I also pulled out some of my other vintage Christmas goodies to take into the shop today like this festive Tom & Jerry set.

So, it may be Halloween at your house, but it’s definitely beginning to look a lot like Christmas at mine!

the autumn washstand.

First things first, the winner of Friday’s giveaway is Kristin from Hazel Mae Home.  I’ve already contacted her via email and will be getting those transfers in the mail to her.  Thank you all so much for your glowing comments, the Rustic Teal dresser was a huge hit!

Now, on with today’s post.

I picked up this pretty little washstand at a garage sale this summer.

I love doing these pieces, and checking back through my fab furniture page I realized that I’ve done quite a few of them.  In fact this will be the 11th one.  I love these pieces because they make excellent bedside tables.

I started this one by stripping the top with Citristrip.  That process made me realize that the stain on this piece was very, very orange (you can see the orange color coming off with the stripper).

Because of that I briefly toyed with the idea of painting it black.  I just knew that the orange stain was going to bleed through a lighter color.  But somehow I just couldn’t let go of the idea of painting it a creamy white.

So I painted just a little test patch on one side.  Sure enough, the stain started bleeding through almost immediately and quite heavily.  So I dug out the Dixie Belle BOSS.

I’ve learned from experience that you need to follow the directions with this stuff or it may not work.  So I followed them to a T.  I started by painting one coat of BOSS over the entire piece.  I let it dry, and then did another test patch.  Nope.  Still bleeding thru.  So I added a second coat and once dry, tested again.  Nope.  Still bleeding thru.  That means you need more drying time.

So I simply left the piece to dry for a full 24 hours.

That did the trick.  It seems weird that you don’t need more product, just more drying time, but it works!

Once I had that bleeding under control it took just two coats of Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth to get awesome coverage.

I did something this time that I rarely do.  I painted over the hardware in place.

The person who owned this piece before me had cut off the ends of the eye bolts inside the drawers.  That damaged the ends so that I couldn’t get the nuts off again.  I could have forced them off (or cut them off entirely), but that would have left me with the problem of either getting them back on again later or opting to change out the hardware.  Then again, I could have just purchased new eye bolts (FYI, you can find those for about 50 cents each at hardwareofthepast.com), but I didn’t think of that until I was writing this post.  Duh.

But instead I decided why not try painting them in place?  And in the end I really love how they turned out.

Once this piece was painted, I sanded it to distress and then I added one of my favorite Prima Marketing transfers called SeedsSeeds comes in two sizes and this is the smaller version which is 11″ x 14″.

I couldn’t quite fit the entire thing on the door lengthwise so I cut off the bit left at the bottom and then used it on the top drawer.

Prima Marketing makes so many fantastic transfers that it’s hard to choose favorites, but I still absolutely love this one every single time I use it.

After applying the transfer, I lightly sanded over it with 220 grit paper to give it more of a distressed look.  Then I waxed the base of the washstand with clear wax.  In this case I used up the very last bit of the Miss Mustard Seed Lavender scented clear wax that I had.  I love that wax.  It was a limited edition though so I’m not sure if you can still buy it.

Then finally I waxed the top of the washstand with Dixie Belle’s Best Dang Wax in Brown.

By the way, that monstrous thing in the background of these photos is my Limelight hydrangea.

It has grown much larger than I ever expected and is well over my head.  I’ll probably cut most of those flowers off and use them in my front window box along with some evergreens for winter.

Thank you to Prima Marketing, Dixie Belle Paint Co and Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint for supplying the products I used to transform this washstand.

If you’re wondering where to purchase the Prima Marketing Seeds transfer check out their ‘where to buy’ page.

If you’re wondering where to buy the Miss Mustard Seed Lavender wax (if you can still find it), check out her ‘find a retailer‘ page.

If you’re wondering where to buy the Dixie Belle Drop Cloth paint, Best Dang Wax in Brown or their BOSS, you can shop with them directly online or find a retailer near you.

And finally, if you happen to be local (Twin Cities, MN) and in need of a gorgeous autumn washstand, check out my ‘available for local sale’ page for more details.

the rustic teal dresser.

As promised, today I’m sharing the makeover of one of the dressers I purchased at an estate sale last week.

And be sure to read to the end because there’s a giveaway!

But first, the dresser.

I’m sure that some of you may be looking at that photo and thinking that this dresser didn’t even need a makeover.  But ‘before’ photos can often be misleading.  You can’t see the dings and scratches on the top of the dresser.  And then there’s the fact that I simply don’t like this style of veneer work.  It’s just not ‘me’.  It’s a personal preference thing.

So lets start with prep.  Once again I stripped the top of this dresser using Citristrip.  Next I sanded the entire piece lightly and then wiped it down with a wet cloth.  Then I painted the body of the dresser using two coats of Dixie Belle’s Stormy Seas.

I just happened to have that color on hand and it was an excellent companion for the Rustic Teal transfer from Prima Marketing’s re.design line.

Once the paint was dry, I added the transfer to the areas on the drawer fronts that were ‘framed’ out.

I’m not gonna lie, I struggled a bit with this one.  I simply wasn’t being patient enough.  I think I got a little cocky.  I’ve done so many of these transfers and I was thinking to myself that I could just whip this up in no time so I forgot to make sure my transfer was fully adhered before I pulled the backing away.

Fortunately I think the background color of my dresser was similar enough to the background color of the transfer so that it’s not a glaring issue.  I sanded the transfer lightly all over with some 220 grit sandpaper to give it a more distressed look overall which I think also helped.  I then used Dixie Belle’s Best Dang Wax in Clear over both the transfer and the paint.

I left the hardware alone this time and simply cleaned it up with soap and water and put it back on.  Aren’t these drawer pulls pretty?

After stripping, cleaning and then sanding the top smooth I simply added a coat of Dixie Belle’s Best Dang Wax in Brown and gave it a quick buff.

My handyman/neighbor Ken helped me re-attach the mirror at that point and we both agreed that it’s unlikely that this mirror is original to the dresser.

It just seems too narrow for the piece.  Plus there are extra screw holes on the wooden braces that don’t match up with anything on the back of the dresser.  Nonetheless, I painted it to match and will include it with the dresser.  The future owner will have the option of using it or not.

For my staged photos I balanced out the mirror and dresser by hanging those two adorable vintage kids chairs that I shared on Monday on either side of the mirror.

You know my decorating motto, whenever I have something cool and I don’t know what to do with it I hang it on the wall.

And now for the fun part.  I’m giving away two of the Rustic Teal transfers.

Each one comes with three sheets inside that are 22″ wide x 10″ tall each giving you an overall size of 22″ wide x 30″ tall.  Since I needed two sets to complete this dresser, I thought it would be most appropriate to have one winner who will get both sets.  Just in case whoever wins wants to also use them on a wider dresser like this one.

The basic rules:  to be eligible to win the transfers leave a comment on this blog post.  Your comment must be left on the blog, not on Facebook or Instagram.  You are not required to follow my blog, although it would be awesome if you did!

I will randomly draw the name of a winner from all of the comments left on this post by Saturday, October 27, 2018 at the stroke of midnight (U.S. central time).

The fine print: no purchase necessary, you must be 18 years of age or older to win, void where prohibited by law, the number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning, if the prize is not claimed by Friday, November 2, another name will be drawn at random to win, blah, blah, blah.

Good luck!

And P.S., this dresser is for sale locally.  Remember to check my ‘available for local sale‘ page for more details if interested.