a sample sized giveaway.

Last week while my sister, niece and I were at Disney World the Food & Wine Festival was taking place at Epcot.

During the F & W Festival there are kiosks set up in each of the various countries around the World Showcase where you can purchase samples of food and wine from those parts of the world.  Some of my favorites included the Bougatsa from Greece, a phyllo dough strudel with sweet vanilla custard filling drizzled with lemon-honey syrup, and the Canadian cheddar cheese soup and pretzel roll.  The Grand Marnier orange slush at the France pavilion was pretty fab as well.

The samples are sized smaller so that you can try lots of different things, rather than just one.  What a great concept, right?

Last month when I attended the Miss Mustard Seed paint workshop at Carver Junk Co I saw that each participant received a little sample sized bag of milk paint to take home along with their finished projects.  I’d forgotten that you could get MMS milk paint in these adorable little sample size bags.

Each bag contains just enough paint to mix up and try out on something small.

What a great way to try milk paint for the first time!  I always recommend that you start with something small if you’re a milk paint newbie.  Maybe a wooden picture frame, or a small shelf or a little keepsake box.

But really, it’s also the best way to try a  particular color for the first time.  As much as I try to get the white balance right in my photos, the bottom line is that colors don’t always look true in a photo.  The color settings on your device might be different than mine.  Even between my computer monitor and my phone the colors in my photos can look quite different.  I really prefer to see a color in person before I commit to using it on a piece of furniture.

Although I’ve worked with almost all of the Miss Mustard Seed paint colors, there are a couple that I haven’t tried yet.  One of them is Bergere.  What color is that anyway?  Blue?  Gray?  How pale is it?  What will it look like with my chosen top coat?

Before committing to using Bergere on a big piece of furniture, I decided to mix up a sample to paint on this little wooden recipe box that my friend Sue gave me.

I mixed about 1.5 tablespoons of paint with the same amount of water (the sample bags contain 30 g of paint powder, or roughly 2 T).  I gave the paint powder about 10 minutes for the ingredients to fully dissolve in the water.  Then I gave my paint another good stir and painted it on.

I probably could have gotten away with two coats of this color, but since I had the paint mixed and there was still enough to go around I added a 3rd coat for good measure.

Here is the box painted, but without a top coat.

Then to add a little something extra, I decided to add another of my IOD french pot transfers.  I didn’t do any prep work on this box, and as a result I did get a bit more chipping than I anticipated, and that gave me a little trouble with the transfer.  I’ve mentioned this before, but if your paint is chippy it will stick to the transfer sheet rather than the transfer coming off on your painted surface.  As a result I had to be very gentle while pulling the backing sheet off, but I managed to get it off without losing any of it.

To make sure the transfer didn’t chip off along with some paint down the road, I added two coats of Miss Mustard Seed Tough Coat Sealer to seal everything up.  The Tough Coat darkened up the color just a bit, and added just a little bit of shine.

This is just an example of what you can do with a sample of Miss Mustard Seed milk paint!

I love little projects like this that can be completed in a couple of hours.  They are so satisfying!

And now it’s your chance to see what you can paint with a sample sized bag of Miss Mustard Seed milk paint.  I have 10 sample bags provided by the manufacturer to give away.  To be eligible to win, just leave a comment on this post by Sunday, November 12 at noon central time telling me which Miss Mustard Seed color(s) you’d pick to try out.

The fine print:  5 winners will be chosen at random.  Each winner will receive two sample sized bags of milk paint.  The winners won’t necessarily receive their colors of choice, although I’ll do what I can.

Even if you don’t win a sample, consider ordering some colors to give them a try.  Specially for us,  Carver Junk Co is offering 3 sample bags of Miss Mustard Seed milk paint for $18 with free shipping!  Use the code MILKPAINT when you place your order to get the free shipping!

Be sure to check back here next week to see who won, to read more details about my trip to Epcot and to see the latest piece of furniture I painted!


the green alligator farmhouse table.

Before I get on with today’s post about the Green Alligator farmhouse table, two things.  First, the Vintage Holiday magazine with the article about my vintage Christmas ornaments is on stands now!

I was so excited to see my name in print for the very first time!

But in addition to my feature, the magazine is jam packed with great vintage holiday decor including an article featuring Pam Kessler from House of Hawthornes (if you aren’t familiar with Pam, you should check her out).  If you want to pick up a copy, I’m told they can be found at Target and Barnes & Noble.  If you’re a local, I found my copies at Cub Foods.  I picked up a couple of extra copies and plan to have a giveaway later this month, so stay tuned for that.

Second, I have to report that my ‘product differentiation‘ really paid off.  I sold my sleigh bed yesterday afternoon.  So, just over 24 hours!  Possibly a new record.  I truly believe it was the paint that made the difference, don’t you?

And now, on with today’s regularly scheduled post …

A while back I mixed a custom color that I called Blue Alligator.  Not because blue alligators are a real thing, but because the surface of the piece I was painting was ‘alligatored’ and the color was a pretty blue-green.  I found a lot of conflicting information on the web about what causes an alligatored finish and I don’t want to contribute to that further by pretending like I’m an expert.  All I know is that sometimes the finish on old pieces will crack and separate leaving a bumpy surface similar to that of an alligator’s hide.

Well … anyway … I really loved the color I mixed for that dresser which was a combination of Miss Mustard Seed’s Kitchen Scale, Homestead House Upper Canada Green and Loyalist.

So I knew I wanted to use this color on something I was keeping for myself someday.

Flash forward to a week or so ago when Mr. Q and I brought home this drop leaf table.

Technically, that’s not a true ‘before’ photo.  I’d already removed the leaves and added new casters.  I’ve done a few of these tables over the past several years (here, here and here).  I’ve kept two of them for use in my own home.  One is being used as the desk in my Q branch, and the other is now being used as a desk in Mr. Q’s study.  The one that Mr. Q is using used to be on my front porch.

I found it so handy to have it in that spot because it made the perfect surface for close up photos for the blog, like this one …

But it was easy to move out of the way when I wanted to take a photo of something larger, like a piece of furniture, in that spot.

So after Mr. Q commandeered that table for his study I quickly realized how much I missed it and started looking for another.  I find that tables like this are fairly common in my area, but prices for them on Craigslist can be all over the place.  I was holding out for a bargain.  When I saw the ad for this one at $25, and only 15 minutes away, I jumped on it.

After I got it home I started by removing those leaves.  I’ve already turned one of them into a sign, and I’ll do the same with the other.  And as I mentioned, I added some new casters to the legs.  As much as I love the look of old metal or wood casters, I will be rolling this table in and out of position frequently.  And I have a painted floor on my porch.  So I decided it would be wise to add new rubber casters to this one to save my floor.

Next I stripped the finish off the top of the table and then waxed it with Homestead House white wax.

Qtip of the day:  when using white wax on bare wood you need to decide how much white you want to see before you start.  Full strength white wax on bare wood will leave obvious white areas in the grain.  If you want a more subtle look you can either wax first with clear wax and then add white wax over that, or mix some white and clear wax together to get a ‘reduced strength’ white wax.  For this table top I started with one coat of mixed wax, and then followed up with a 2nd coat of straight up white wax.  White wax will be easier to blend over a base coat of clear or mixed wax rather than on bare wood.

This particular tabletop had some black spots.  Had I planned to sell this piece I would have probably opted to go with dark wax on the top.  But since I’m keeping it, and I wanted a lighter surface for taking photos on, I just chose to ignore them.

My next step was to mix up some Blue Alligator milk paint based on my recipe.  That’s when I discovered that I didn’t have much Miss Mustard Seed Kitchen Scale paint left.  So my ratio this time was a bit off.  I used a little more Upper Canada Green and a little less Kitchen Scale.  The resulting color is just a bit more green than the Blue Alligator.  Thus, I give you, Green Alligator!

Fortunately, I love this color just as much as the Blue Alligator.

Possibly even just a little bit more.

I used clear wax as my top coat over the paint which darkened up the color just a tad.

By the way, I took all of these pictures on a rather gloomy day so you can see why I love this spot for photos.  I get great light here even on the most dismal days.  With November and December just around the corner, I know I’ll be using this spot a lot in the next couple of months.  Since this porch isn’t heated it can get pretty chilly mid-winter, but you’ll still find me out there taking photos even when I can see my breath in the air.

The chalkboard is made out of the framed mirror from a dresser Mr. Q picked up the other day.  You’ll see more of that dresser and it’s mirror harp soon, but in the meantime I whipped up this chalkboard.

I simply removed the back panel, took out the mirror, flipped the panel over to its smooth side, painted it with black Rustoleum chalkboard paint, and reattached it.  Easy peasy.

I freshened up the wood frame with a little of Miss Mustard Seed’s hemp oil.

It wasn’t until I was editing the photos for this post that I remembered that I had planned to embellish the frame with an old metal number plate, so I added it quickly and took one more photo.

It’s a small detail, but I love the small details, don’t you?


vintage greens.

In addition to all of the fab stuff I found at the Lynnhurst sales on Saturday, I also found time to check out a few sales during my lunch hour last week.

I wasn’t specifically trying to find things that were green, but somehow I ended up with several items in that perfectly vintage shade of green.

First of all was this lovely little box.  I was drawn to the original painted finish.

This is the kind of chippy, distressed patina that I am trying to replicate every time I use milk paint.  I want to study the wear patterns on this box and make my next piece of furniture look just like this.  But really, although you can do amazing things with milk paint, it’s hard to beat the real deal.

I also love the fact that the box looks very homemade.  Even the handle looks like it was just cobbled together from some bent wire and bits of scrap sheet metal.

I’m not sure what I’m going to store in this box, but clearly it needs to be something special.  But for now it even looks fab with some green books.

This amazing little green birdhouse came from the same sale.

When I got it home I immediately replaced the scrapbook paper that was lining the bottom with some pages from an old German book that I purchased at Carver Junk Co.

It also has an amazing patina.  Wouldn’t it be adorable with a little plant inside?  Or filled with vintage books.

I also found a couple of old green toolboxes.

I actually came home with 4 old toolboxes, 3 of them from one sale.  The other two aren’t green though, so they didn’t make the cut for this blog post.  Although sometimes the original color and patina should be left alone, oftentimes I paint them like this …

You can see what I’ve done with other toolboxes in the past here, herehere and here.

I’m still working on finding the perfect spot in my house for a touch of green, but I’m determined to find it.

In the meantime, I’m just having fun playing around with my vintage greens.

just the right white.

There are so many shades of white out there!  And I’m sure you will all agree with me that sometimes choosing the right shade of white can be just as difficult as choosing a color!

Normally I lean towards the creamy whites; Miss Mustard Seed’s Linen, Fusion’s Limestone and Annie Sloan’s Old White.  These warmer shades of white tend to play well with others.  A piece painted in one of these colors can be brought into your room without everything else suddenly looking dingy.  My ‘Specimens Cupboard’ (below) is painted in MMS Linen as are most of the white pieces in my own home.

When I brought home this charming antique washstand last week, I initially thought maybe I should paint it black.

You see, it has these amazing original black knobs.

I don’t know exactly what it is that appeals to me about these knobs, but I just love them.

And had I painted the washstand black, the knobs would have just blended in and I wanted them to really pop.  I also rejected the idea of pairing a color with the black knobs.  So that left white.

  As for what type of white paint, with an old piece like this washstand I like to go with milk paint.  I feel like nothing emphasizes the vintage character of an old piece like a chippy milk paint finish.

Choosing which shade of white ended up being a bit more complicated.

I started with my current go-to warm white milk paint, Homestead House’s Limestone (which is very similar to MMS Linen).  After painting the first coat I realized that it felt just a bit too creamy for this piece, so I decided to switch it up and for the 2nd coat of paint I went with Miss Mustard Seed’s Farmhouse White.  Once that was dry, it was really just a bit too … well … white.  It felt a bit sterile on this piece.

So I decided to try Miss Mustard Seed’s Grain Sack for my 3rd coat of paint.  Grain Sack is a white with a definite grey undertone.  I’ve paired this color with black accents before and loved the results (here).

Sure enough, the 3rd time was the charm!  The Grain Sack is perfect on this piece.

Now you might be thinking to yourself, “what a bummer to waste all of that paint before landing on the right white.”  But actually, this piece would have required three coats of paint for good coverage anyway.  And since these were all shades of white, I was able to get away with just that one final coat of Grain Sack.

The chippy-ness gods were smiling on me with this piece.  I got just the right amount of chipping.  It looks authentic, but not overdone.  I’ll admit I didn’t use any special technique to get this result.  I did scuff sand this piece, followed by a good cleaning with TSP substitute and then I just started painting.

Once the paint was dry, I sanded lightly and then vacuumed away any chipping paint.  The last step was to add some Miss Mustard Seed furniture wax which brought out a little more of the grey and also added some ‘age’ back to the finish.

Oh, but wait, I almost forgot!  Before I waxed I added just the tiniest portion of an Iron Orchid Designs furniture transfer to the upper drawer.  ‘1871.’

It’s just a subtle little touch that adds a bit of whimsy.

I have to note here that sometimes the white that works perfectly on one piece doesn’t work at all on another.  I was perfectly happy with Farmhouse White on my belgian bench, and I loved Homestead House Limestone on the farm fresh chalkboard, I just didn’t love either of those colors on this piece.  I’ve also found Grain Sack to be too grey for some pieces, while it worked perfectly on this washstand.

 Sometimes you just have to experiment a little to find the white that is just right.

Andy by the way, sometimes you have to experiment to find the staging for your photos that is just right too.  I started out using some geraniums and other green accents …

but out of two dozen photos this was the only one that I liked.

Next I decided to play up the black knobs a little more by using black props.

But I found I was having a really hard time getting the correct color of the grainsack in my photos because there was so much white inside the photo cottage.

So once again I resorted to photographing the piece outside.

Maybe outside photos are just going to be my thing and I should stop trying to fight it.  What do you think?

Meanwhile this sweet little washstand is for sale.  If interested, be sure to check out my ‘available for local sale’ page for more details.



choosing a color.

Sometimes when I bring home a piece of furniture to refurbish I have an immediate vision of what color I’m going to put on it.  Other times I really struggle with this decision.

Usually that’s because I’m trying to walk the line between choosing a color that I think will look amazing on something and choosing a color that I think will sell.  Sometimes these two are the same thing, but oftentimes they aren’t.  Since I can’t keep every piece I paint no matter how much I love them, I have to consider how well something is going to sell.  I find that the neutral pieces usually sell faster than colors.

Black is always a big seller (this next piece is painted in Miss Mustard Seed’s Typewriter).  It’s a classic, and every room needs a pop of black!

It’s easy for potential buyers to fit a neutral piece into their existing décor like this book shelf painted in Little Billy Goat’s Greyson.

A creamy almond is also an easy color to blend into an existing room.  The Miss Mustard Seed’s Marzipan on this little washstand is perfect.

It’s not quite as easy to add a vibrant blue like the Real Milk Paint Co’s Dragonfly on this dresser.  This one took a while to sell.

The fresh green of Sweet Pickins’ In a Pickle is one of my favorite greens.  This fab desk sold pretty quickly painted in this color …

but this dresser in the same color took over a year to sell.

On the other hand, I have to say that most shades of aqua sell pretty quickly, like this sweet dresser painted in Little Billy Goat’s Momma’s Fridge.

Even more saturated aqua’s have traditionally sold really well for me, like the Fusion Laurentien on this bar cart.

I’m always a little nervous when I paint something yellow, but most of my yellow pieces sell well also.  This next piece is painted in Fusion’s Buttermilk Cream and Limestone.

And this is Miss Mustard Seed’s Mustard Seed.

And just to prove my friend Lisa wrong (because she can’t believe I’ve ever painted anything red), here is a piece I painted in Miss Mustard Seed’s Tricycle.  This piece sold pretty quickly, but another dresser I painted in Tricycle was around for over a year as well.

Since I have a day job that pays the bills, I have the luxury of not relying on furniture sales to put food on the table.  But I also don’t have room to store unsold pieces indefinitely.

And honestly, it saps my motivation to paint more furniture when my finished pieces linger for too long unsold.  So I think long and hard before using colors with a bad track record.

Another consideration when deciding what color to use on a particular piece is what colors I have on hand.  I have so much paint!  Some women have so many shoes in their closet that they could never possibly wear them all, I have so much paint in my cupboard that I’m not sure I’ll ever use it all, mainly half used paint.  There isn’t enough left of each color to paint an entire piece of furniture, but I certainly can’t just throw it away!  This is where custom mixing comes in handy like this mix of equal parts Miss Mustard Seed Shutter Grey, Eulalie’s Sky and Layla’s Mint.

I mixed Fusion’s Liberty Blue and Homestead Blue to create a color called Lake Superior Blue.

Yet another factor that I keep in mind when choosing a color is you guys.  After all, how boring would my blog be if I painted everything in neutral shades like Annie Sloan’s Coco?

That would get old fast, right?  It would get boring for me too, always painting in the same old neutrals.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that they aren’t lovely!

But sometimes you just gotta mix it up.

How about you, do you have a favorite color?  Or if you are a furniture seller, what color sells best for you?  Is there a color that you absolutely love, but avoid using because it just doesn’t sell?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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!

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.