recipes for success.

I really enjoy mixing my own custom colors with milk paint.  Of course you can also do the same thing with Fusion’s acrylic paint and also with chalk paint, but somehow measuring the different powders and mixing them up with water is so much more fun.  It’s a little ironic since I have absolutely no interest in baking.  I definitely get far more use out of my vintage measuring spoons with paint than I ever would if I used them for baking.

So far my all time favorite custom mix is the Blue Alligator that I came up with last month for this dresser …

The recipe for Blue Alligator is equal parts Miss Mustard Seed Kitchen Scale, Homestead House Upper Canada Green and Homestead House Loyalist.

A close second for favorite status is a color I called Robin’s Egg Blue.  I mixed this one up way back in April 2014 and used it on this dresser …

The recipe for this one is a little more complicated than some of the others I’ve done.

 I used 1/4 cup of MMS Luckett’s Green, 1/2 cup MMS Eulalie’s Sky and 2 T of MMS Flow Blue mixed with 3/4 cup of water.  This quantity was enough to paint two coats on the dresser, plus there was enough left over for a mirror frame.

Another pretty combo is one that I copied from Miss Mustard Seed and used on this chippy little table.

This color is a mix of equal parts Shutter Grey, Eulalie’s Sky and Layla’s Mint (all Miss Mustard Seed milk paint).

Tropical Island is a a mix of 3 parts MMS Luckett’s Green to 2 parts MMS French Enamel.  I used it on this little wall shelf.

It really easy to lighten up a color by adding some white.  When I painted this empire style buffet I wanted a pale grey, so I went with 1 part MMS Trophy to 2 parts MMS Ironstone which gave me the perfect shade of grey.

Back in July 2014 I created my own Minty Fresh green by mixing together some MMS Luckett’s, Eulalie’s Sky and Grain Sack.  Grain Sack is a white with very grey undertones and I love using it to both lighten and to tone down a color.

If you are thinking about creating a custom mixed color of your own, I have a couple of tips for you.

First of all, be sure that you mixed enough color to finish the job.  If you run out of paint halfway through your final coat, you are not going to be able to mix more that exactly matches.  That kind of precision is not something you’ll ever achieve with milk paint.

I know that it can be difficult to predict exactly how much paint you’ll need.  It’s something you’ll get a feel for over time, but at first you may struggle with it.  So, I have another tip for you just in case you didn’t get the quantity right.  Always pay a little bit of attention to how much paint you mixed up at the start, let’s say it was about 1 cup.  Then when you’ve completed your first coat, take a look at how much paint is left.  Do you still have at least half a cup left?  If you think you might be just a tad short, can you add just a little water at this point and go with a thinner 2nd coat?  If that’s not going to work, or if you think you may even end up needing a third coat, now is the time to mix more paint before you start your 2nd coat.  If the color is a little off, it won’t matter if you paint a full 2nd coat in this new mix.

My final tip; be sure to mix your paint thoroughly and then let it sit at least 15 minutes or so before you start painting.  This gives all of the pigments time to dissolve properly.  I don’t use any fancy mixing tools (like a whisk or blender), I just super cheap craft sticks and a red solo cup and then I toss them after each project.  I know, that’s not very ecologically sound of me.  When I first started using milk paint I used glass canning jars so that I could shake my paint to mix it, but cleaning those jars was a pain (just ask Mr. Q, he usually ended up with that job).

As always with milk paint, be sure you mix the paint frequently as you are using it to keep your color well blended and consistent throughout.

Do you have any favorite custom mixes of milk paint that you’d like to share?  If so, be sure to leave a comment!

the unrealistic nature of blogging.

One of my favorite paintings by Vermeer is called The Astronomer.  He painted it in 1668 and usually it hangs in the Louvre in Paris.  It’s a gorgeous example of Dutch realism, or genre painting.

I was lucky enough to see it in person in 2009 when the Louvre loaned it to the Minneapolis Institute of Art.  Paintings are always so much more beautiful in person.

Have you ever wondered what Dutch realism and blogging have in common?

OK, probably not.

But I was reading an interesting article about Vermeer by Alistair Sooke on recently, and the parallels between Dutch genre paintings and blogging really struck me.

First a quick lesson in art history.  Dutch genre paintings are basically paintings of everyday scenes painted in a ‘realistic’ style.  Here’s another nice example, Vermeer’s The Milkmaid.

Don’t you love that basket hanging on the wall?  And don’t you want to just take a bite of that delicious crusty bread?

I think when most of us look at a painting like this we assume we are looking at a realistic representation of life at the time it was painted; a woman pouring milk out of a jug in a seemingly utilitarian room with a simple basket of bread on the table.

But Sooke’s article explained that we would be wrong.  Instead it would be more accurate to consider these paintings an idealized version of real life.  The women are always beautiful, the lighting is perfect, the colors are rich and vibrant, the scene is very intentionally composed, that blue cloth on the table is draped just so.  Sooke calls this the “unrealistic nature of Dutch realism.”

Of course the Dutch painters did this on purpose.  Their goal wasn’t to provide a historically accurate representation of real life for future generations, they were trying to sell a painting.

Do you see where I’m going with this?  The same can be said about bloggers today, myself included.

When I take photos for my blog I often wait until the light is just right.

I compose my shot with seemingly utilitarian pieces arranged just so, in colors that work well together.  I try to tell a story with my composition.  But if you think about, rarely would you actually have things arranged this artfully in your home all of the time.

And it’s not likely that I’m ever going to set up a beautiful dining table like this outdoors.

But it sure did look pretty for the pictures.

I find it interesting that in the almost 360 years that have passed since Vermeer painted The Milkmaid, not much has changed in this regard.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a fan of unrealistic realism.  I like being inspired by pretty pictures that I see online, I just have to remind myself that I can’t expect my own very real home to look like that.

leaving Debbie in charge.

Hey everybody!

Mr. Q and I have officially set sail for Denmark, Norway, Scotland and England.  Woo hoo!

We have some great plans made for our trip.  We’re taking a castle tour in Copenhagen to see Kronborg Castle, Fredriksborg Castle and Fredensborg Castle all in one day.  That’s alotta castles!

I’m really looking forward to visiting the open air museum in Oslo.

We’ll wander around Bryggen, the old Hanseatic wharf area in Bergen.

Maybe we’ll take the Funicular up to Mount Fløyen for the view, or maybe we’ll just wander around enjoying the overall ambiance of Bergen.


We’ll sail up the Sognefjorden to Flåm and do some hiking around the fjords.

We are looking forward to visiting Castle Dunvegan on the Isle of Skye, the seat of the MacLeod of MacLeod, chief of the Clan MacLeod.  Mr. Q’s step-dad is a McLeod, so we have to see it just so that we can report back to him.

Our tour to Dunvegan also includes a whisky tasting, which should be interesting since neither of us are whiskey drinkers!  But when in Rome … or in this case Scotland …

We plan to take a book lovers’ tour in Edinburgh, and maybe we’ll manage to also find the Circus Mews …

We’ve hired a private guide in Inverness to take us to Dunrobin Castle …

Can you tell that I like touring castles?

And we have the guide and her car for six full hours, so we plan to tour around and see as much as we can of the surrounding area.  Perhaps we’ll run into Jaime and Claire (fingers crossed!) …

Most of all we are looking forward to having two solid weeks to chill out and not even think about things like day jobs, house work, yard work, and yes … even blog writing!

Although I was originally planning to take a blog break while on vacation, I ended up writing and scheduling a couple of blog posts to keep you mildly entertained while I am gone, but I won’t be posting from the ship.  I also probably won’t find the time to respond to comments, so I’ve left my sister Debbie in charge of that.  She’s under strict instructions to respond to comments and answer any questions that you might pose (if she can).  By the way, my blog is set up to allow comments from anyone who has previously had a comment approved, but if you have never left a comment before your first comment will need to be approved and Debbie won’t be able to do that.  So if you are new to commenting on q is for quandie, don’t think your comment got lost or is being ignored.  I promise to approve you when I get back!

Debbie will also be holding down the fort at our house.  She’s going to be house sitting so that our cat Lucy has some company.  I’ve convinced her to mow the lawn for us while we’re gone, and hopefully she won’t let my houseplants die.  But she flat out refused to paint any furniture for me, so that will have to wait until I come back too!

a few of my favorite neighborhood sales.

Before I get on with today’s post I’m wondering if any of you can help me out.  Last Saturday there were a whole bunch of new visitors here on the blog, and I got quite a few new followers.  So, first of all, welcome to all of my new followers, I’m glad you are joining us!  Second of all, how did you find me?  I’d like to thank whomever it was that shared my blog, but since it seems to have been a Facebook thing, my stats don’t tell me where you all came from.  So if you’re willing, please share how you found out about me in a comment.

Earlier this year when Mr. Q and I were trying to decide when and where to go on vacation this year we ran into some scheduling problems.  Between both of our day jobs, both of our side jobs (mine is furniture artist/blogger, his is wedding officiant), scheduling my occasional sale and numerous other things on the calendar it was hard to find a time that we could both be away for any significant length of time.

So when we found the cruise to Norway & Scotland that we’re taking next week it seemed like kismet.  It worked perfectly with our work schedules.  It wasn’t until after we had booked it that we realized we’d be missing Mr. Q’s grandpa’s 100th birthday!  Argh!  Luckily the party is scheduled for the day before we leave, so we weren’t aren’t going to miss the party, just the actual day.

We’re also going to be gone the day my sister closes on her new house.  Dang, I would have liked to share a champagne toast with her the first time she opened the door to her new home with her very own key.  But, we’ll be home just a few days later and in plenty of time to actually help her move (she’ll be doing some painting and cleaning before she moves in).

I also think I’m going to miss the lilacs!  They generally bloom during the last half of May, while I’ll be gone.

But what I didn’t even think to factor in was which of my favorite neighborhood garage sales I would be missing!  What was I thinking planning a trip right at the height of garage sale season?!

In a recent comment, Carol asked me to share some of my favorite sales so I thought I’d do that in a post.  Even though I’m missing out on some of them this year, maybe some of you local readers can check them out.

It’s tradition to kick off the start of garage sale season with the Bryn Mawr neighborhood sale.

Bryn Mawr is always the first weekend in May.  You can check out some of my previous posts about Bryn Mawr here, here and here.

Bryn Mawr is an extremely popular neighborhood sale.  There is traffic congestion, limited parking, and tons of people.  Many of the residents have a sale every year, and in some cases that means they pull out the same ol’ stuff each year, then pack it up when it doesn’t sell and pull it out again next year.  It also means you probably won’t find any really amazing bargain prices.  Usually I manage to come home with at least a few fun things, but this year I didn’t have much luck.  The few things I found didn’t even merit a photo or a blog post.

Although you’ve already missed them, there are several other great neighborhood sales to pick from the first weekend in May including Tangletown and Summit Hill and I may try one of those next year instead of Bryn Mawr.

Another big favorite of mine is Linden Hills, and that’s one I will be missing this year.

Much like Bryn Mawr, Linden Hills is very popular (ie. crowded) and it has a great festival-like atmosphere.  Last year they even had live music.  I’m not positive, but I think Linden Hills is always the first weekend after Mother’s Day.  This year it’s on May 20.

Yep, I’m bummed to be missing it, but since I’ll be spending that day in Stavanger, Norway I guess I can’t complain, right?

The Hale-Page-Diamond Lake neighborhood sale is also on May 20 this year.  If you’re looking for something a little less crowded than Linden Hills, Hale-Page might be a good choice for you.  You can read about my last trip to Hale-Page here.

I’ll also be missing the Roseville city-wide sale this year on June 1 – 3.  This is one that I discovered last year after a tip from a blog reader.  I was on vacation from the day job so was able to get there on the first day of the sale, which is a Thursday.  My friend Meggan joined me and we had a great time.

Since I do work full time, sales that start during the week usually don’t make it onto my list.  I prefer to stick with Saturday only sales whenever possible.  Otherwise all of the good stuff is long gone before I can get there.

Although you don’t usually find many garage sales on holiday weekends, believe it or not the Armitage-Kenny sale is usually held on Memorial Day weekend and so I was assuming I’d miss this one too.  But this year they have moved it to a week later on June 3.

I always enjoyed the fact that Armitage-Kenny was so quiet compared to the other neighborhood sales.  I’m sure that was because of the holiday weekend.  In 2015 we came home with fake tattoos and plastic spoons and not much else.  Although Debbie found a great table with benches.

The East Calhoun neighborhood’s ECCO Super Sale is the sale I usually pick for the first weekend in June (also being held on June 3 this year).

Last year I found a stash of vintage cameras at reasonable prices at ECCO and I even gave one of them away here on the blog since it was a duplicate of one I already had.

Speaking of vintage camera hauls, I hit the mother lode at the Nokomis neighborhood sale in June 2015.

Eureka, right?!

But both my sister Debbie and I love Nokomis for another reason as well.  Our parents both grew up in this neighborhood.  We always make a pilgrimage to our grandparent’s former houses that day in addition to hitting the sales.

The ‘find of the day’ from last year’s Nokomis sale was a croquet set that my sister bought.  I just loved the black and white graphic on it.

This year the Nokomis sales will be held on Saturday, June 17.

Organized neighborhood sales tend to take a hiatus after Nokomis.  There isn’t much going on in July or early August.  It’s too hot for garage sales!

But they start back up again in late August with the MacGrove sale which will be on August 26 this year.  MacGrove is another of my favorites.  Last year I got a gorgeous french desk at MacGrove …

Here is how it looked when I was done with it …

Vintage luggage was the find of the day two years ago at MacGrove.

The St. Anthony Park sales and the Lake of the Isles sales take place in the fall.  I couldn’t find dates yet for this year, so you’ll just have to keep them in mind and watch for dates later this summer.

If any of you locals make it to Linden Hills while I’m gone, be sure to let me know if you find some great stuff.  Or, on second thought, just tell me it was a bust this year so I don’t feel so bad about missing it, OK?

my color comfort zone.

I mentioned last week that Homestead House recently sent me some more of their milk paint.  I had requested some neutral shades, and I got plenty of those (and will be sharing a piece in one later this week), but they also sent me quite a few colors that I probably wouldn’t have chosen on my own.  One of those colors is called Gatineau.

Here’s how it looks on their website.

Hmmmm.  Yep, I definitely would not have put this one at the top of my wish list.  I’m not gonna lie, when I pulled it out of the box of paint I received I really didn’t think I would ever use it.  It was way outside my color comfort zone.

We all have a color comfort zone, right?  I actually have two.  One for items I’m keeping for myself and one for items I’m planning to sell.  My own personal color comfort zone is pretty wide open.  In fact, the front door of my house is quite similar to the Gatineau

But I tend to be a bit more cautious about color with items I want to sell.  Almost anyone can work a neutral color into their existing décor, but there just aren’t as many buyers who will be able to use a color with a lot of personality.

Regardless, while testing out a few of the more neutral shades last weekend I decided to mix up a little Gatineau to see what it looked like IRL (that’s ‘in real life’ in case you didn’t know).  I painted it on a Popsicle stick and then pushed it aside for a bit, but I kept glancing at it and finding that the color was really growing on me.  It wasn’t until the paint on the Popsicle stick was fully dry that I realized it wasn’t nearly as yellow as I thought it might be.

If you’ve mixed up green milk paint before, you’ll know that the dry powder looks yellow.  Your first reaction when seeing it will likely be ‘uh oh, I’ve got the wrong color’.  When you add the water and start to mix, the paint will still look much more yellow than the final color.  You have to be sure to give the green shades of milk paint plenty of time (15 to 20 minutes at least) for the blue pigments to dissolve before starting to paint with it, always mix frequently while working with it, and always paint your entire piece at one time (cautionary tale here).

After admiring the color on that Popsicle stick for a while I decided to be daring and step outside of my color comfort zone and paint something in Gatineau.  Specifically, this incredibly adorable little table that I picked up recently.

After re-gluing some veneer that was lifting up on the top, I sanded it lightly and then wiped it down with some TSP substitute.  Next I painted it with two coats of Gatineau.  I followed that up with some Homestead House Limestone milk paint on the details including that really cool ribbed section.

It’s interesting to note that I got a lot more chipping in the areas that were painted with the Limestone than I did with the Gatineau.  Normally I would say that is because I didn’t sand those detailed areas as much as the flat areas before I started painting, but in this case even the legs didn’t chip much and I hardly sanded those at all (the distressing you are seeing on the legs is more the result of post-paint sanding rather than chipping).  So, I wish I had an answer for you on this, but it’s a mystery to me.

With milk paint, sometimes you just have to go with the flow.  Personally, I was happy to do that with this table.

Had I lined up all of the paint colors from Homestead House in order from most favorite to least favorite, I think Gatineau would have been somewhere near the end of line.  So imagine my surprise when it ended up being one of the first colors I chose to use, and then my total astonishment when it turned out to be so perfect on this little table!

Sometimes you just have to step outside of your color comfort zone!  But the real test will be whether or not this table sells.  If any of my local readers are interested, be sure to check my ‘available for local sale’ tab for more info.

But hey, how about you, do you like to experiment with color?  Any favorites that you’ve used lately?  Please share.

why I love my olympus.

First things first, the winner of the milk paint giveaway is Vicki Bougie.  Congrats Vicki!  And thanks so much to everyone who left a comment.  You all have so many great projects lined up, I just wish I could send milk paint to all of you!

OK, so I’m not a techie person, let’s just get that straight right up front.  I rarely have the patience to sit down and learn the ins and outs of a new device.  I’ve never loaded a single app on my phone.  And I should probably spend a little more time tweaking the design of my blog.  But all in all, I’d much rather be painting furniture.

That being said, I do occasionally force myself to try and learn more about my photography equipment so I can take good photos of the aforementioned painted furniture.

Today I thought I’d share an update regarding the camera I purchased back in September since I promised to report back on how I like it.  For those of you with absolutely no interest in camera equipment, this is the point where you should go do something more interesting with your time.

For the rest of you, the camera I purchased is an Olympus OM-D E-M10 mirrorless camera and I paid $399 for it.  If you want to refresh your memory regarding why I made this choice or what a mirrorless camera is, go back and read the post.  It’s OK.  I’ll wait.

This is a great little camera in a decent price range.  If you want a little more than just the camera on your phone or a simple point and shoot, this camera is a great step up.

 Here’s why I love it.

the size.

Whoever said ‘size doesn’t matter’ would be just plain wrong when it comes to having a camera that you want to carry around with you.  The Olympus OM-D is just so much smaller and lighter than my Canon Rebel (which is a DSLR camera).  This is one of the major pros to a mirrorless camera.

 I can throw it in my regular purse without having to switch to a larger bag.  If you don’t want to carry a big bag of gear around, this is a great feature.  Just to give you an idea of the size I took a photo of it on my Salvage Style book because I thought that would put it into perspective for many of you.

In comparison, here is my Canon with the Tamron lens that I normally use.

I’ve found that I’m much more likely to throw the Olympus in my bag when taking a day trip somewhere, like when we went looking for bald eagles back in March.  Even though I don’t have much of a zoom lens on the Olympus, I find that it takes such good quality photos that I can crop my photos with photo editing software later to ‘zoom in’ on my subject.  That’s how I got so ‘close’ to this eagle.

the touch screen shooting.

I totally underestimated how much I would love using the touch screen, especially when I want to redirect the camera’s focus.  Here’s how that works, the LCD screen displays the image you’re about to take and to choose the spot where you want the camera to focus you just touch the screen there.  The camera focuses and takes the shot with just one touch, no need to depress the shutter release button.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.  In this first photo I touched the screen over the vintage tablecloth in the foreground.

And here is that same shot, only this time I touched the screen over the bread box.

 Is that slick or what?  It’s something that I use really frequently.  When taking photos for the blog I often want to focus on a specific spot that isn’t centered in the shot, such as the drawer pull on this dresser …

With my Canon I have to reset the focal point, and then change it back every time, requiring multiple button pushes.  With the Olympus I can take unlimited photos one after the other with different focal points by just touching the screen in a different spot for each.

the LCD display.

I really like the LCD display more than I thought I would as well.  I’m a little embarrassed to admit the reason, but here it is.  I can take photos without having to remove my reading glasses!  I can see how my photo is composed, I can see all kinds of settings around the perimeter of the screen including a histogram, and then I can take the shot without have to take off my readers first.  I still have the viewfinder as a backup for outdoor shooting on bright, sunny days, but I rarely find myself using it otherwise.  With my Canon DSLR I am constantly putting readers on, then taking them off, putting them on, then taking them off.  You younger punks may not appreciate this feature, but those of you closer to my age know exactly what I’m talking about here.

Another handy feature of the screen is that it tilts, even as far as perpendicular to the camera.

This can be super handy when you want to hold the camera at about waist level and shoot straight on at your subject (usually a piece of furniture for me).  You can still easily see the screen.

how easy it is to adjust the exposure.

It’s also far easier to make quick changes to adjust the exposure on this camera.  You just turn the ring that is around the shutter button.  It couldn’t be easier to go just a hair lighter or darker and you can immediately see the results either through the viewfinder or on the screen.  With the Canon I have to hold down the AV button with one finger, move the ring with another and you can’t see the results until after you take the photo and then check it on the view screen (take the readers off, put the readers back on).

photo quality.

 After reading all of these glowing reasons why I love my Olympus camera you must be assuming that I don’t even use my Canon any more, but no, that’s not true.

The biggest reason that I continue to use the Canon is that I have several expensive lenses for it, and I don’t want to fork out the money for similar lenses for the Olympus.  At least not all at once.  And personally I find that the lens I’m using makes the biggest difference to the quality of my photos.  Lately I’ve been experimenting with prime lenses and have found that the sharpness of my photos (especially in lower light situations) is much better with a prime lens.  I have a 50 mm prime lens for my Canon, and it takes really sharp photos.  The 50 mm is not quite wide enough for taking photos of furniture indoors though.  At least not in my house.  I can’t get far enough away to get the whole piece of furniture in the frame.  That’s why I’ve been doing a lot of outside shots lately.

However, I did just splurge on a wide-angle 17 mm prime lens for the Olympus both in anticipation of my upcoming trip and so that I can work on my indoor shots (the 17 mm for a mirrorless camera is approximately equal to a 35 mm prime for a DSLR, so a bit wider than the 50 mm that I’ve been using, I know, this all gets so confusing, doesn’t it?).  I have two weeks to decide if I love it enough to justify the expense (it cost more than the camera itself at $599 including a good quality UV filter), so I plan to do a lot of practicing with it between now and then.  I used it to take the photos of the watering can in Monday’s post, and so far so good.

The other reason I don’t always reach for the Olympus is that little thing I mentioned at the beginning of this post.  I’m not patient about learning new technologies.  The Olympus has so many bells and whistles that it’s a serious challenge to learn about all of them.  I’ve been using it for over six months now and I still struggle with making adjustments on the fly.  But the more I learn about this camera and the more I practice, the more I use it.  I suspect that I will be using it a lot in Norway and Scotland, so I’ll be sure to report back on how it worked out for me after my trip, which is coming up soon!

In the meantime, I’ll be back next week with some more furniture makeovers so be sure to stay tuned.

the vintage crawl.

Hey all of you local readers, don’t forget that the Vintage Crawl presented by the Two Rivers Vintage Collective starts tomorrow!

If you’d like to read a little bit more about each of the shops that is participating, be sure to head over to my more detailed post on the Reclaiming Beautiful blog (click here).

I’ll be dropping off a truck load of goodies at Reclaiming Beautiful later this evening including the black and white dresser …

and the headboard sign …

and this chalkboard shelf …

and who knows what else I might come up with!

The forecast for the next four days calls for beautiful spring weather, perfect for checking out some vintage shops!