mom’s patio makeover.

You may or may not have noticed that I took a while to respond to comments on my blog last week.  That’s because I was out west visiting my mom.  If you’ve followed me for long, then you may know that my mom lives out near Las Vegas (she’s in the suburb of Henderson).

My mom turned 80 last year.  I had always thought we’d do something amazing for her 80th.  After all, we took her on a cruise for her 70th, so we had to top that.

But then there was COVID.

I didn’t even think going out there to see her would be a good idea, let alone going on some kind of trip together.  So her 80th birthday came and went with nothing more than a phone call between us.

Some of you also know that my mom was a travel agent who specialized in cruises.  She was still working at 79.  Not full time, but she had her regular clients and she would still go in to the office and set up trips for them (myself included).  But again, then there was COVID.  Obviously, the travel industry was hit hard, and one of the segments hit the hardest was cruising (for obvious reasons).  So after helping all of her clients with canceled cruises and making sure they got refunds (myself included), she decided to officially retire late last year.

At the end of 2020, my mom also sold her big house (it was 4 bedrooms, 3 baths) and moved into a much smaller townhome.  The house was too much for her to handle, and although my brother is there to help her, it made sense to move into something a bit more reasonable.  Again, I really wanted to go out there and help her with the move, but then there were all of those COVID surges right after the holidays.

More recently, my mom has had some health issues and I realized that I could no longer let COVID stop me from flying out to spend some time with her.  My sister was planning to go with or without me, so last week I masked up, hopped on a plane and few out to Vegas.

Because my mom has been feeling so poorly, she hasn’t really done much with her new place.  Her townhome is accessed through a small courtyard …

and quite honestly, it was looking a bit sad when we got there.

There were some tired old patio chairs, a cast off kitchen chair and some empty planters.  It definitely needed some help.

So we piled my mom into the car and headed off to her local Lowes, which was literally just around the corner.  We picked out a fun bistro set and had my mom pick out some plants to fill the empty pots.  We also grabbed some solar lights on our way out.

Mom has always been a big fan of bougainvillea, so that was an obvious choice.  I don’t know much about gardening in the desert climate of her area, so I hope we made some good choices with the other plants as well.

In the end, it was really lucky that the Lowes was just around the corner.  The box that the bistro set came in was so huge that we had to put the back seat down to fit it in Mom’s SUV.  That meant we had to leave someone behind, go home and unload the box, then turn around and go back for them.  Fortunately, this was in the same shopping center …

I was more than happy to spend a little time checking out their local Goodwill while my mom and sister unloaded the car.

I have to say, it’s kind of amazing how a Goodwill looks pretty much the same no matter where you go.  Sadly I didn’t find a single thing that I just had to make room in my suitcase for.

Anyway, once we returned back to the house again, my sister tackled assembling the bistro set and I set to work filling up the pots.

That variegated cactus looking thing went in a pot that is out front beside her gate.

Honestly, I don’t know what that plant is, but it looks like something that can survive the occasional lack of watering.  Since this planter is outside the gate (and my mom will access the courtyard through her garage instead), I suspect that my mom may forget to water it on a regular basis, so I wanted something that would have a better chance of surviving a few droughts.

For the remaining planters, I emptied out the old, worn out dirt and refilled them with some Miracle Grow potting soil.  This way Mom won’t have to worry about feeding them for about six months.  Then I planted them up with the rest of the plants.

The tall skinny planters got some bright pink geraniums and some sedum that I hope will spill over the sides.

The larger pot was planted with the bougainvillea, some bright yellow ornamental grass and some more sedum.  This is the same sedum that I grew in my window box last summer and it did really well for me.  Hopefully it will do as well in my mom’s pots.

I sure was wishing I had some of my Dixie Belle products on hand!  This pot would have been the perfect candidate for some rusty patina.

By the time I had everything planted, my sister was working on the final touches to the bistro set.  Have I ever mentioned how much I dislike assembling things that come in a box?  Yeah, it’s not my cup of tea.  But my sister is good at it.

Fortunately, the chairs came fully assembled.

And aren’t they fab?  They totally look straight out of a Parisian bistro.

My sister just had to put the legs on the table, and that was touch and go.

If I’d had access to my full compliment of painting supplies and a little more time, I would have totally preferred to make over a vintage set of some kind.  After working with this set (which cost $248, check it out here), I was reminded of what I love about refurbishing vintage pieces rather than buying new.  This new stuff is super flimsy, way over priced, and a huge pain to assemble.

The solar lights went alongside the sidewalk leading from the gate up to the courtyard.

As a final touch, we found a cute lantern at Target for $10 and added a faux candle with a timer and placed that on the table.

Now this is the perfect spot to enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning, maybe even one drunk out of my mom’s wedding china.

To be quite honest, I don’t think my mom will actually spend much time sitting in her courtyard (and she doesn’t actually drink coffee).  She and I could not be any more different in that regard.  I would eat every meal out there, and spend a little bit of time every evening sitting there with a glass of wine (she doesn’t drink that either) and listening to the birds in the huge tree that is nearby.  But my mom isn’t really a ‘sitting outside’ sort of person.

But I couldn’t stand thinking of her being greeted by that sad old kitchen chair every time she returned home from somewhere.  Now she has a cheery spot with bright flowers and a little European flair to greet her instead.

Hopefully every time she passes through here on her way into her home she will not only be reminded of her many travels to Europe, but also of my sister and me even though we can’t be there with her on a regular basis.

a mirror makeover.

I find mirrors so challenging to photograph.  I re-do my share of mirrors, but I rarely share them here on the blog simply because I can’t seem to figure out how to take a good picture of one.

But I thought I’d give it a go today.  Please don’t judge my photos too harshly, starting with this ‘before’ picture.

Of course this is simply a mirror that I removed from a dresser.  As you probably know by now, I like to do that.  Dressers just seem to sell more quickly without their mirrors, in my opinion.

But I don’t just trash the mirrors, I generally revamp them.  Sometimes I remove the mirror and switch it out for a chalkboard (like these).  Sometimes I paint the frames and add hangers to the back so that they can be hung on the wall instead of mounted on a dresser (like these).

In the case of this particular mirror, neither of those two options seemed like exactly the right choice.  The silvering was not in great shape so leaving it a mirror wasn’t going to be the best choice.  The frame wasn’t terribly interesting, so turning it into a chalkboard wasn’t going to be a great option either.

This was the best I could do trying to capture the look of that silvering on film.  All of those black spots and markings are in the silvering behind the glass of the mirror.  In other words, they could not be cleaned off.

So ultimately I decided to let those flaws add to my piece rather than detracting from it by adding a transfer over the front of the mirror.

But first I painted out the wood frame in Miss Mustard Seed milk paint in Typewriter (a.k.a. black).

Here’s a quick q tip for you; I never tape off mirrors or windows when painting them.  I find that it’s quite easy to remove excess paint from the glass using a razor blade.  Just be sure to use a sharp blade.  No need to waste your tape!

It’s interesting how milk paint reverts back to powder when you do this, while chalk paint comes off in curls or strips.  I wonder if you could sort of reconstitute that milk paint powder by adding water to turn it back into paint again.  Hmmmm.  That would be an interesting experiment.  Maybe one for another day.

I was hoping to get some good chipping on the frame, so the only prep work I did was to clean it with some TSP substitute.  I didn’t do any sanding.  Sure enough, I got some amazing chippy-ness.

Next up was applying the transfer.

I must warn you that applying a transfer to glass or mirror can be a little tricky.  The transfer will be attracted to your glass surface like a magnet.  Seriously.  Get too close and it will reach out and grab that glass and not let go.

So when working with glass, my advice is to dry fit your transfer with the backing paper still in place.  When you have it exactly where you want it to go, tape it down along one side.

Next, carefully, keeping that taped edge down, fold the transfer towards you along that taped edge and then remove the backing paper.

Then very carefully flip it back over and apply as usual.

Goodness.  Trying to get my camera to focus on that was an exercise in futility.

By the way, that is a section from the Parisian Letter transfer from with prima.

For my photos I’ve hung the mirror over a desk.  It would work really well in any spot where you want to reflect some light, or maybe get a quick glimpse of your hair before you head out of the house.  It certainly won’t let you examine yourself in any kind of detail though.  At my age, that seems like a bonus rather than a flaw.

I probably would have had better luck with my photos if I’d waited for an overcast day.  Instead it was bright and sunny and we had lots of snow to reflect the light as well, so my piano room was flooded with bright light.

But hopefully my photos do some justice to the end result.  I think it looks pretty fabulous and if I had a spot for it, I’d keep it.  But I don’t, so this mirror will be for sale.  If you’re local and you need a mirror to bounce some light around be sure to check out my ‘available for local sale‘ page for more details.

a simple (or maybe not so simple) wooden box.

Last summer my friend Sue picked up a couple of old wooden boxes for me.  I painted one of them last summer and I ended up selling it before I even had a chance to take photos of it.

I tucked the 2nd one away to save for a winter project.  I like to have some smaller things to work on when I’m stuck doing all of my painting in the house.

Here’s the outside of the box …

Yep, it was pretty grungy.  And the inside was even worse, making it the perfect candidate for some paint.

Once again, this is a story of an original idea that was modified a few times before I got to the end.

First I thought I’d paint it in Dixie Belle Drop Cloth inside and a dark blue outside.  I have a really gorgeous with prima decoupage tissue that I wanted to use to line the bottom that I thought would work beautifully with that color scheme.

So after cleaning the box, I painted the inside with a coat of Drop Cloth.  As it dried I could see that some of those gross stains on the inside were bleeding thru my paint.  Ewwww!

I could have stopped and added a coat of Dixie Belle’s BOSS at this point, but as I was contemplating the situation I decided that I didn’t want to paint the inside white after all.  Instead I wanted to paint the outside white and add a pop of color inside, and switch up my choice of decoupage tissue.  So I pulled out all of my tissue and chose another option that had a lot of pink in it.

That’s when I realized that this would be the perfect opportunity to try some of the new Silk paint from Dixie Belle for a few reasons.

First of all, the Silk paint has a built in top coat that is washable once cured.  That makes it perfect for the insides of things (cupboards, hutches, boxes).  Two coats of paint and you’re done, no need to add a durable top coat as well.  Once cured, the inside of the box will be washable.

Second of all, and this is key, the Silk paint also has a built in stain blocker.  Holy cow, that could be a game changer.  Why purchase three products; a stain blocking primer (like BOSS), the paint, and a top coat, when one will do?

Third, Dixie Belle had sent me a color that I thought would be perfect for the inside of the box, a pale-ish pink called Conch.

So, I painted a coat of Conch on the inside of the box.  It went on beautifully, and it blocked the stain completely in just one coat.  See …

Now, just a heads up on that.  Although the Silk blocked my stain in one coat, some more stubborn bleeders might require more coats.  Dixie Belle recommends three coats of paint with 4 hours of drying time between each coat for the really stubborn bleeders.

I was really impressed with the stain blocking quality of the paint on my box.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t terribly fond of this color.  I would describe it as a cool, muddy sort of pink with a lavender-ish undertone.  Personally, I like my pinks to be warm rather than cool.  It’s just a preference thing, and this particular color wasn’t working for me.

So I went back to the drawing board again.  I chose yet another decoupage tissue paper, and this time decided to pair it with Dixie Belle’s Gravel Road.

The inside of the box got two coats of Gravel Road, the outside got two coats of Drop Cloth.

Once dry, I lined the box with with prima’s decoupage tissue paper in Celeste.  I used Dixie Belle’s Gator Hide as a decoupage medium (you can read more about that technique here).  I also added a top coat of Gator Hide over the Gravel Road so that the inside would be durable and water repellant.

Then I stenciled two sides of the box on the outside using a stencil from Maison de Stencils and some Gravel Road paint.  I used one of Dixie Belle’s new brushes, the Best Dang Brush, for the stenciling.

I think this brush is meant to be a wax brush, and it would work fantastically for that I’m sure, but I’m loving it for stenciling.  Since it’s quite large with a 2.5″ diameter you can cover a lot of area quickly, which is great when doing these larger stenciling jobs.

Once the stenciled design was dry, I sanded the outside of the box heavily to distress it and then gave it a coat of clear wax.

I popped it up on top of my giant pine cupboard and it would work beautifully there for storing additional items that I don’t need to get to frequently, but I am not going to keep this one.

To be entirely honest, and I probably shouldn’t admit to this, but I never would have dressed up the inside of this box to keep for myself.  I only do that to make it special for someone else.

It adds a nice touch, don’t you think?

As always, thanks to Dixie Belle for providing all of their products that were used on this box.  You can find Dixie Belle products here.

watering cans.

Anyone else out there have a thing for watering cans?

That is my friend Sue’s watering can non-collection, so I know that she does.  I have quite a thing for them myself as well.  How about you?

Watering cans are such a quintessential gardening tool, yet I’ll admit I rarely use one to actually water my plants.  I mostly use the hose for that.  For me, they are more for decoration rather than actual function.

I’ve shared a few watering can transformations here on the blog, one of my favorites being this one

I simply added the small version of the IOD Le Petit Rosier transfer to a can that had already been painted white.  I ended up selling that particular watering can, but I loved it so much that I did another one just like it to keep for myself.

That was one that was also already painted when I found it, as was this green one that is part of my own non-collection …

I enjoy painting them myself as well though.  I painted this one in Miss Mustard Seeds Flow Blue.

This next one is also painted in milk paint, Maritime Blue from Homestead House.

That one was another one that I loved so much that I kept it.  I also decided the color should be called Hydrangea Blue rather than Maritime Blue since it was such a lovely match to those pretty hydrangeas.

Your q tip of the day;  I have found that milk paint will adhere fairly well to clean galvanized metal that has a dull finish that feels a little toothy to the touch.

The next little can had a shinier, smoother finish and probably wouldn’t have been a good candidate for milk paint.  Instead I just added a Classic Vintage Label transfer from with prima …

This next watering can also has a Classic Vintage Label added, and this is another that I’ve kept for myself since I love it so much.

I’ve found that the original version of the IOD French Pots transfers (the grey ones from Prima Marketing) were a bit too pale for use on galvanized metal.

Unless of course you like that very subtle look.

The newer French Pots transfers that were released by IOD are black rather than grey, so they stand out quite nicely.

Anyway, all of this wandering down memory lane was my way of gathering inspiration for another watering can that I picked up at a garage sale last season.

If you look closely, you can see that it isn’t sitting flat on my work surface.  I don’t know why watering cans often develop a sort of bulge in the bottom.  Maybe because water is left in them over the winter and it freezes and expands?  For whatever reason, they are often wonky like this when I get them.

That is easily remedied by turning the can over and smacking the bottom with a hammer a few times so that it become concave rather than convex.  Now it sits flat.

After reviewing those watering cans that I painted in pretty shades of milk paint, I decided to pull out the Sweet Pickins Patina for this one.

I absolutely love this color, couldn’t you just eat it up?

Unfortunately, I’ve found that it is a tough sell on furniture.  I painted a dresser in it several years ago and it took a quite a while to sell.  So now I tend to reserve it for smaller projects, like this one.

I felt fairly sure that the milk paint would stick to this piece, but just to be on the safe side I scuff sanded it just a bit.  As you can see, I did get good adherence for the most part, with a little chipping here and there … in my opinion, the perfect result.

I got the most chipping on the handle, which makes me think that I didn’t clean it well enough to remove any oily residue from the previous owners handling of it.

As I’m sure you realize, I love that chippy look though, so this is just fine by me.

In order to preserve it, I gave the watering can two coats of Dixie Belle’s Flat clear coat.  That should reduce any further chipping down the road.

I waited until after the clear coat was dry to add the IOD transfer.  I find that transfers adhere really well over the flat clear coat.

Now, you may be wondering what happened to that medallion sort of thingie on the side with the bee on it?

Well, I was unable to remove it, so it’s still there on the other side.

Before selling them on, I like to test watering cans to make sure they are water tight and they function properly.

This can is water tight, but oddly enough the rose (that’s what they call the spray nozzle thingie on a watering can) is removable.  Which also means that it leaks quite a bit.

So I wouldn’t use this as an actual watering can, but it makes a fantastic vase for a bunch of tulips.

This one won’t be joining my own non-collection though, I think I’ll sell it on.  So it’s in the pile of stuff to take to Reclaiming Beautiful and has a price tag of $22 on it.

toolbox no. 3

Sometimes when you have a formula that’s working really well you just have to stick with it.

This is the umpteenth toolbox that I have painted, and the 3rd one that I have specifically painted in Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth.  Each time I post one of these I have multiple people who’d like to purchase it, so I thought, why not do another?

Before I proceed with today’s post though, I want to mention that this one is already sold.  I offered it to one of the people that missed out on the last one and she has already come by and picked it up.  In fact, I think I am going to start keeping a list of who wants one so if you want to be on the list let me know (you can leave a comment on this post, or email me at  I am definitely going to be on the lookout for more toolboxes!

In the meantime, I popped out into the carriage house and looked around to see if I had any toolboxes left, and sure enough I did.

Yikes!  It was in rough shape though.  But then again, they have all been in pretty rough shape.  I think that is part of their charm.

So, once again I sanded off the rough spots a bit, then scrubbed it up with Dawn dish soap, let it dry and then gave it a coat of Dixie Belle’s BOSS to seal up that rust. Although all three of the toolboxes have been painted in Drop Cloth on the outside, I’ve chosen a different color for the inside of each.

The first one was Peony.

The second one was Flamingo.

And now this one is Apricot.

I apologize that I haven’t really kept track of the names of the different decoupage tissue papers I’ve used to line them.  If you really want to know, leave me a comment and I’ll look them up for you.

But in the meantime, which is your favorite color for the inside?  I originally thought the Peony was perfect, but then I loved the warmer color of the Flamingo, and now I must say that I also think the Apricot is lovely.

Although the outside is Drop Cloth on all three, the snippets of transfers I’ve used are slightly different on each.

The first one had the large crown on top, and sort of naturalist themed wording.

The second one has a crest on top and the historic styles of ornament wording.

This last one is similar with the wording just moved around a bit.

I did treat the hardware a bit differently this time around.  It was quite rusted up, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing in my opinion …

But I decided to spruce it up a bit.  So I pulled out the new Gilding Waxes from Dixie Belle.

I chose the Bronze and applied it to both the latch and the handle.

I had first sanded the handle to get it a little more smooth, but I think you can see that I left the texture of the rust in place for the most part on the latch and just applied the wax over it.  Once again I used a small artists brush to apply the wax because I wanted to be precise and not get any on my white paint.

After letting the wax dry overnight, I buffed it a bit to bring out some shine.

I just love working on these toolboxes, although they can be a bit putzy.  There is a lot of ‘paint the outside, let it dry, paint the inside, let it dry, paint the bottom, let it dry,’ going on.  Each step doesn’t take more than 5 minutes, but there is a lot of drying time in between.  They are great projects for those of us who have day jobs because each evening after work you can add a coat of something and by Saturday you are ready to add transfers!

And that’s the really fun part.  I cut them up and place them where I think they look best, and sometimes I keep adding more here and there until I have a look that I like.

Here’s hoping I find a few more toolboxes to paint at garage sales this summer!

a tote for les fleurs.

I picked this item up at a garage sale at some point in the past.  Honestly, it was in my front hall closet for at least a year, maybe two.  Then it got moved out to the carriage house workshop last spring so that I would be sure to get to it over the summer … and well, here we are in February and I’m just getting to it now.

I suspect that this item was some sort of promotional giveaway from Frerichs Construction.  I bet it came with beer inside, hence the bottle opener on the side.

But if you ignore those two things, this has a lot of potential as just an adorable little tote.

So I removed the bottle opener (and am saving that for another project that I have in mind).  The company logo seemed almost branded into the wood, so I added a little of Dixie Belle’s Mud to fill it in.

I just smoothed it on with a putty knife and once it was fully dry, I sanded over it to smooth it out a bit.

A quick q tip on the Mud; never wash it down your sink drain.  You don’t want this stuff hanging out in your pipes.  Instead I use a damp paper towel to clean off my putty knife, and then I can just toss the paper towel in the trash.

Next I simply painted the tote with two coats of Dixie Belle’s Sawmill Gravy.

Then came the fun part, digging through all of my transfer scraps to come up with some fun things to dress up it up.

The front of the tote got some scraps from the IOD Label Ephemera transfer.

The sides got the left over bits from the IOD Flora Parisiensis transfer that I used on a washstand I painted back in the fall.

Once I had the transfers applied, I sanded the tote to distress and than added some clear wax.

I also lined the inside with some pretty scrapbook paper.

I asked Mr. Q to pick up some tulips at the grocery store so that I could stage this with some real fleurs.

Aren’t they pretty?  They barely survived the trip back to our house in the 20 below wind chill, but I’m glad they did because they added such a lovely pop of pink to my photos.

This was such a fun little project for a cold winter afternoon, and also a great way to bring a little early spring into the air.  I suspect we all could use a little bit of spring right about now, am I right?

hello old friend.

I found this lidded stave bucket at a garage sale last fall.

It’s obviously old, and seems genuine rather than a reproduction sort of piece (although I’m definitely no expert on antique buckets and it could just be one of those 80’s look-a-likes).  It is constructed of wooden staves that are held in place by the metal band that goes around them.

I suspect there will be some of you who think I should have just spruced it up and left it unpainted.  Sort of like I did with the recipe box a few weeks back.

But I really wanted to paint it.  I love the look of an old, worn paint finish on these wooden buckets.  So I headed to pinterest for some pinspiration and I found this …

Isn’t that a gorgeous shade of blue?  There were actually quite a few examples of wooden buckets and/or firkins in similar shades of bright blue.

So I was pondering how to recreate that look, or at least something similar, when I remembered the gorgeous color of Soldier Blue milk paint by Homestead House.

I used this paint on a small chair in January 2020 and I absolutely loved the color.

As I was digging it out of my stash of milk paint, I realized that it has been quite some time since I’ve used milk paint.  I did attempt to use it on a large cupboard last summer, but ended up painting over it with Dixie Belle chalk paint.  In fact, I think the last time I used milk paint was when I painted that chair last January.

I have to confess that I have been seduced by the ease of using Dixie Belle paint.  No mixing required, no clumps of undissolved pigments, no variations in color from one drawer to the next, no worries about whether or not the paint will stick.

All of that aside, I went ahead and mixed up some Soldier Blue.  And you know what?  It mixed up beautifully despite having been stored for over a year.  I always leave my mixed milk paint to sit for 10 minutes or so before using it to make sure that all of the pigments have had a chance to dissolve.  For more tips on using milk paint, check out my milk paint basics post:

While letting the paint rest for 10 minutes, I prepped the bucket for painting.

The metal ring that holds the staves in place slipped off quite easily, and then I taped off the metal base of the bucket.  I wanted to make sure I didn’t drip any paint onto it.

Next I added a bit of the Homestead House Salad Bowl Finish around the edges to encourage chipping and/or distressing.

I’ve shared this technique before, so if you want more details check out this post.  The Salad Bowl Finish is a beeswax finish that is food safe (so you could use it on cutting boards or wooden salad bowls, hence the name).  It’s very similar to the Miss Mustard Seed 100% beeswax (which is also food safe).

Once that was done, I gave my paint another good stir to make sure it was mixed well and then painted the bucket with two coats.

Once dry, I added one of my favorite stencils from Maison de Stencils to the lid.

That’s not white paint by the way, it is Dixie Belle’s French Linen which is a greige sort of color.  I rarely use white (or black) to stencil.  Using a shade of grey gives you a more subtle look.

Once that was fully dry, I sanded the lid and bucket with 120 grit sandpaper.  I wanted a worn look around those edges where I had applied the beeswax, and that is exactly what I got.  I think it looks quite authentic, don’t you?

Ahhh, hello old friend.  I have missed you, milk paint.  You just can’t beat milk paint for creating a worn over time finish that looks authentic.

It was easy to sand the edges of each of the staves before putting the metal ring back in place to hold them together tightly.

I topcoated the milk paint with clear wax.  I had also pulled out my antiquing wax thinking that I’d need some of that to give it a more aged look, but in the end I thought it looked perfectly aged even without it.

The Soldier Blue brings out the pretty blue color in my bluebird china.

Milk paint was the perfect choice to recreate the look from the inspiration piece from pinterest.

Now, I know some of you may still think I should have left this stave bucket unpainted, but I beg to differ.

I think it needed this brilliant pop of Soldier Blue to fully bring out its character.

If you’re looking for Homestead House Milk Paint, you can find it here.

making the most of winter.

Although I tend to complain now and then about winter, the truth is, I rather look forward to it.  Mainly because it gives me a chance to slow down a bit.  I can spend a Saturday afternoon watching movies on the sofa without feeling like I really should be outside weeding the garden, or refinishing the deck, or painting furniture assembly line style out in my carriage house workshop.

There is also something really peaceful about the quietness of winter.  The windows are all sealed up, so outside noises don’t invade my space.  A nice layer of snow also tends to muffle sound nicely.

I also think winter is one of the most beautiful seasons.  Especially when there is a layer of freshly fallen snow, or a coating of hoarfrost on everything.

I have to admit though, it took me years to learn to appreciate this season and one of the tricks that helped is to find ways to get outside.

Mr. Q and I walk in our local park almost every day throughout the winter, although I admit we took a pass yesterday when the temp was below zero even at noon.  But for the most part we have had a very mild winter this year, which is lucky because it has felt more important than ever to get outside with this whole COVID thing still going on.

Another way I got outside (well, sort of) recently was to head to the Drive Thru Ice & Snow Sculpture Park that was part of the St. Paul Winter Carnival this year.

Typically this is not a drive-thru event, but to keep everyone safe from COVID this year you were able to remain in the heated comfort of your vehicle as you drove through the St. Paul fairgrounds and admired the sculptures.

I much preferred the snow sculptures over the ice sculptures, I think because you could see more detail on them from the car.

Mr. Q opted to stay home, so I was with my sister and niece.  However, as a huge Lord of the Rings fan, he would have really liked this one called “You Shall Not Pass” …

And I think my bff would have loved this one …

I probably should choose this next one as my favorite, you know … because it’s furniture …

But no, I absolutely loved this next one.

It totally brings to mind Georges Méliès Le Voyage dans la Lune.

In hindsight, I think we probably would have been better off going at night when the sculptures are all lit up with colored lights (and the lights and all of their electrical lines running everywhere wouldn’t have been so obvious).

For you locals, I’m sorry to say this event ended last weekend.  But even if I had posted sooner, the tickets (yes, it was a ticketed event) sold out early.  Maybe they’ll do it again next year!  I’m not sure whether to hope for that or not since the drive-thru feature was specifically a result of COVID.

This coming weekend is going to be another tough one.  Our highs are going to be in the negative digits, and that’s the high.  I’m afraid to even look a what the lows will be, let alone the wind chill.  It might be a great weekend to do some of that guilt-free movie watching on the sofa!

a fresh look.

In case you didn’t notice, I’ve changed up my look.  Not personally (although that is well overdue also), but the look of my blog page.

Recently my friend/picker/co-worker/garage sale mentor Sue gently suggested that my blog header needed a makeover.  And she was right, the one I was using was rather dated and didn’t really reflect my most recent work.

I’d added it back in 2016.  Holy cow!  Can you believe it?!  That was nearly five years ago.  Man, time flies.

Here’s the one from before that …

Not terribly different.  Same color palette.  I really loved that buffet painted in Miss Mustard Seed’s Kitchen Scale.

In the very beginning, I used this one.

Once upon a time I changed up my header for the holiday season too.

Hmmm.  Definitely not loving that font/logo.  Ugh.

This past frigid February weekend seemed like the ideal time to sit down and come up with some changes.

This was the first collage I tried.

It features some of my most recent pieces, along with my renewed love of painting things white.  I wasn’t super happy with that center photo though, for some reason it kept ending up blurry looking (even though the original photo on its own is not blurry at all).

So next I switched it up for this …

I like that this one represents the variety of things I do here on q is for quandie.  I’m not just about painted furniture these days.  I was going to stick with this one, but then I thought … hey … maybe I should put one of my painted toolboxes in the mix.

So I came up with this one.


Next up was changing the background.  I felt like my old aqua and white background didn’t work at all with my new photo collage, so I switched it up for simple, chippy, white painted wood.

At that point, my original logo looked totally out of place with its aqua and coral.

I’d paid someone to design that logo for me way back in the beginning.  Not only did I have the colorful one above, but I also had a black one (and a white one) that I used to watermark my photos for a while.

I gave up doing that because I felt like the logo was hard to read as a watermark.  Here’s an example of a photo with this watermark.

For me, the purpose of watermarking my photos is to help people find my blog (not to mark my territory), so I quit using that watermark and just started adding my blog name in a simple, clean, easy to read font to my photos.

Still, I’d paid good money for those logos so I thought maybe I should try using the black one on my blog header.  Nope, it really just wasn’t working.

So I played around on PicMonkey and came up with a couple of different options to try.

First up was this one …

Again, kind of blurry … or maybe it’s just my aging eyesight.

Next I tried this one …

Ah, a bit clearer.  I love the font and it was simple enough to mesh well with the other elements of my header.

But in the end I went with this one …

Really, mainly because it feels really similar to my original font, so I thought it would be a smoother transition to my new look.  But I admit I’m a little on the fence on this one and may end up using one of those first two down the road.

So everybody, what do you think of the new look?  Was it about time?  Should I switch out the logo to one of those non-cursive fonts?  Leave me a comment a let me know.

adding just a little glam.

First up, congrats to Jill O. I drew her name and will be sending her the paint blending giveaway from last week.  Second thing, the toolbox from Wednesday went super fast and I had about 4 more people who wanted it.  Clearly I need to be on the lookout for more toolboxes to paint!

In the meantime, remember a while back when I painted these faux bamboo picture frames?

I have to confess that in the end, the paint was just a little bit too flat.  It didn’t bring out the bamboo-ish-ness of the frames at all.

So when Dixie Belle sent me some of their new gilding waxes to try I decided to dress them back up again.

The gilding waxes come in six colors; gold, copper, silver, bronze, black and zinc and they have a metallic look to them.

Although these are just little bitty pots of wax, a little bit goes a long way with them.  I suspect one pot will last a long time unless you are gilding an entire piece of furniture or something.

Dixie Belle also sent some of their iridescent wax called Chameleon Wax.

The first step was to test out all of the waxes to see how they looked, so I pulled out an old painted board and used a q tip to add a swatch of each wax.

My favorites are the gold (seriously, isn’t that gold amazing?) and the copper, and I really can’t wait to find something to use the zinc on.  You can really see the iridescence of the Chameleon waxes on my sample board too.

The black doesn’t look like much in my photo, but it does have a bit of a metallic look to it in person and reminds me quite a lot of the wax I used on this piece.

All of these Dixie Belle waxes would work brilliantly when applied with a stencil like I did on that buffet.

But for my frames I ended up deciding to go with the bronze.

I used a small artists brush to apply the wax, but you could use your finger, a cloth, or a q tip.  In my case I wanted to wax the frame without removing the glass (pure laziness on my part), so I needed to be precise and the brush worked perfectly for that.

After applying the wax you can wipe it back immediately if you want to remove some of the product (and I did do that).  You need to do that right away, the wax will dry in 30 to 60 minutes and then you won’t be able to wipe it back.  Once the wax has dried for 12 hours, you can buff it to bring out more shine.

I tried to get a good photo of the difference once you buff it (above), but I’m not sure you can really see it.  The frame on top is not buffed, the one underneath is.  It does add quite a bit of shine if you buff it after 12 hours.

Just a couple of q tips on these waxes.  Keep in mind that they are not VOC free like so many of the products I use, so be sure to use them in a well ventilated area.  Also, they are an oil based product, so you’ll have to clean your brush (if you choose to use one) using mineral spirits.  Although in my case I used the Fusion brush cleaner and that seemed to work perfectly fine.

I had debated whether to use the gold or the bronze, but in the end I chose the more subtle look of the bronze.  The warmth of the bronze color works well with my collages of old family photos and ephemera.

Then again, if I change my mind later I could always add the gold over the bronze because these gilding waxes can be layered …

In fact, as I’m writing this I’m thinking maybe I should try that.  Just add a little touch of gold here and there.  Maybe I’ll just go do that real quick …

OK, I added just a dab of the gold here and there, mostly at the joints of the faux bamboo.  It really brightened things up, didn’t it?

If you’ve never tried any of these metallic waxes, I highly recommend giving them a try.  They are perfect for use on old metal hardware, or in this case on old picture frames.

What do you think?  Would you have left the frames in the flat black paint, or left them with just the bronze wax added?  Or do you like the brighter look with the gold added?

Thank you to Dixie Belle for providing me with the gilding wax used on today’s project.