stuff is happening.

Now that spring has finally sprung here in Minnesota, stuff is happening.  I have to admit, those last couple of months of winter were tough ones.  I’m going to have to adjust to being retired and figure out what to do with all of my time in the winter.  But that’s a (first world) problem for next winter.

Now that the weather has warmed up, the gardens are growing, garage sales are everywhere, and I can work out in my carriage house workshop … so, as I said, stuff is happening!

In fact, I have so much stuff to share with you guys this week that I’m going to post daily, at least on the weekdays.

First up for today, the garden.  I would say that this time of year is when my gardens are the most work.  I keep them packed full with perennials that don’t require much maintenance throughout the summer.  If I get everything pruned, weeded and mulched with compost now, before the plants get too big, the rest of the summer just involves occasional watering and deadheading.  If you want my top q tip for gardening, I think this is it.

If your plants take up every available space and you add a good layer of mulch, weeds have a much harder time taking over.

Here’s what my garden looks like once it has filled out (early June).

See?  Jam packed.

Of course, I know this isn’t easy if you’re starting from scratch.  Plants can be expensive (and the prices are going up this year, just like with everything else).  But you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg.  I recommend buying plants at garage sales, getting divisions from friends, or keeping an eye on Facebook Marketplace for people dividing their perennials.  You can often get them free, or in exchange for helping to dig them up.

My tulips seem to have done really well this year.  For the last several years, deer have treated my spring garden as a salad bar, munching all of the flower buds right off the tulips before they could even open.  As a result, I decided to give up on planting tulip bulbs again last fall.

So now, of course, we seem to be having a really good year for tulips.  The red ones in my photo above are tulips that I planted at least 20 years ago.  They literally hadn’t bloomed in years.

Now I wish I’d planted more tulips!

Here’s another q tip for you.  Take photos of your garden regularly throughout the season, and keep notes regarding where you’d like to add things like tulip bulbs.  I plan to get more in this fall, especially since my neighbor has one of those fancy garden augers to make planting easy.

But wait a minute, this post isn’t supposed to be about gardening.  It’s actually supposed to be about sharing last week’s garage sale haul.

I went out on Thursday with my friend/picker Sue.  Now that we are both retired we can take advantage of sales that start on Thursday.  We went to a small neighborhood sale around Como Park in St. Paul.  Not all of the participating homes were starting their sales on Thursday (some started on Friday, some were Saturday only), but we were able to hit up all of the ones that were.

Although I didn’t bring home a huge load of stuff, I did get some really cool finds.  Plus Sue had a box load of stuff for me as well.

I found the mini dresser on the left (below) at Como, Sue found the rest of the items in this photo including that really, really tiny dresser.

I’ve already added an I.O.D. white transfer to the tiny oil can.

It’s hard to judge the size of it from my photos, but in total it’s only 6″ tall, but the can part is only about 2″ tall.

I like to add little clips to these and use them as photo holders.

And of course I’m going to give both of the small dressers a new look.

I feel like the combination of the cup pulls plus the scrolly embellishments on this one is too much.  I may remove those embellishments.  Or, I could remove the cup pulls and replace them with little glass knobs. What do you think?  And of course I’ll be painting both of them.

I also picked up these things.

I thought Mr. Q might like to have the books, since he tends to be a Goethe fan, but no, he didn’t want to keep them, so I’ll be selling them on.

They are a nice looking set to add to someone’s décor, even if they don’t want to read them.

Sue spotted the glass vessel at one of the sales we visited and handed it over to me.

Neither of us really knew what this was, we just liked the ‘writing’ on it.

I googled it later and discovered it would have been part of a butter churn like this one.

Isn’t that kind of cool?  I think it would make a great vase, or one could fill it with pens and pencils on a desk, or use it to corral your paint brushes.

I purchased the camera from a guy who was a collector.  He was refining his collection and thus getting rid of some.

I’m not sure why this one didn’t make the cut for him.

I thought I’d take this opportunity to show you guys how these cameras work, and especially how to identify them if you see them and they are closed up (as this one was when I found it).

They really don’t look like much when they are closed, right?

There is always some sort of lever or catch that opens it up.  In this case, I had to ask the seller how to open it because it wasn’t obvious.  I was trying to slide that little lever on the lower right in the photo above, but you had to lift up rather than slide.

The case opens up and then the lens can be pulled out all the way.

So the next time you see a closed case like this, be sure to take a closer look.

Sue had also brought me a camera, along with this little train case.

Check out the back of this camera …

Doesn’t that look complicated?  Imagine having to putz with that before each shot.  We’ve got it so easy now!

In true Baader–Meinhof phenomenon fashion, I came across another stoneware pitcher.

If you aren’t familiar, the Baader–Meinhof phenomenon “is a cognitive bias in which, after noticing something for the first time, there is a tendency to notice it more often, leading someone to believe that it has a high frequency of occurrence.”

I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that I found a similar stoneware pitcher at the thrift store back in April …

but we’ll see if finding these pitchers really has a ‘high frequency of occurrence’ this summer!

I’m still picking up nice copper pieces when I see them.  They seem to be selling like hotcakes at the shop.  If only I could raid my handyman Ken’s kitchen!  His wife has a serious collection of vintage copper … and when she originally purchased it, it was not vintage.  I’m sure those pieces have been in her kitchen since they built their house 50 years ago.

That gorgeous ironstone platter is one that Sue had and is now passing on to me.  It’s a nice big heavy one, and just check out the mark on the back …

I sometimes will hang an ironstone piece on the wall backwards just to show the mark because they can be so pretty.  I’m not sure if I’ll keep this one, or sell it on.  I have to look around to see if I have a spot for it first.

I’ve saved my ‘find of the day’ for last.

Now, I’m sure this primitive dollhouse made out of an Old Dutch Cleanser crate isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I found it totally charming.

I just love that someone made this out of simple items they had on hand, and they took the time to paint a couple of the ‘rooms’ in different colors.

And add those shaky looking windows painted onto the sides.

But I bet some little girl absolutely loved it and spent hours playing with it.

I’m not sure what the fate of this piece will be.  I may keep it, I may let it go.  Those little cubbies (rooms) could be used for all kinds of things …

I like the idea of using it on a potting bench.

Hmmm, yeah, I may not be able to part with this one.  I’m considering turning my photo cottage back into a potting shed this summer, so this is going to go in the pile of potential décor for the potting shed.

So tell me, what is your favorite from amongst my finds this week?  And if you’re local, did your tulips do especially well this year, or is it just me?  Also, are you OK with five posts this week, or will it seem like I’m flooding your in box with blog posts?  Oh, and P.S., there will be a giveaway included with one of them, so be sure to stay tuned for that!

the festival of garage sales.

The Bryn Mawr neighborhood garage sale in Minneapolis has traditionally been the one that kicks off the summer garage sale season for me.  I can’t even remember when I first started going to this sale, but I’ve been going to it for a long time.

Then, along came COVID in 2020 and of course Bryn Mawr was canceled.  I was hoping it would be back in 2021, but it wasn’t.  But this year, it was back!

This sale is officially called the ‘Festival of Garage Sales’ and with good reason.  It does feel like a festival.  Especially this year.  It was packed with party-goers, um, I mean garage salers.

It’s not just the crowds that make it feel like a festival.  It’s also the food truck, and the police officer directing traffic, and the people having a tailgate party with snacks and drinks, and definitely the guy serving margaritas.

I really typically don’t come home after Bryn Mawr with a ton of finds, but it’s just so much fun to go to this sale.  Really, it’s the people that make it so fantastic.  There was the guy who was drinking a glass of wine at 10 a.m. because he asked his wife to bring him a drink expecting water, but she brought him wine.  Why not?

And then there were the ladies who were explaining what a peach emoji represents, which drew us into an entire conversation about the not-so-secret meanings all of the various fruit and veg emojis.

My sister and I also ended up in a 15 minute discussion of the pros and cons of the various Disney World resorts with the guy wearing a Disney World t-shirt who admired the vintage Mickey t-shirt my sister was wearing (FYI fellow Disney fans, he swears that the Be Our Guest restaurant is well worth the money despite what everyone says online).

I purchased a vintage American flag on a pole from a guy for $5 and as I was handing over my money he explained that he had a hard time pricing it because how to you put a price on patriotism?  Well, apparently it’s worth about 5 bucks these days.  He told me not to use it as a weapon and I promised that storming the capitol wasn’t really my style.

All joking aside, I am calling this my ‘find of the day’.  Not because I’m all that into flying the American flag (and in fact will be selling this one), but simply because it has this beautiful vintage quality.  The soft cotton fabric is gently faded, but not torn or tattered.  And then there is also the fact that my friend Sue had found some vintage metal flag pole brackets for me recently, so now I have the vintage flag to go with one of them.

We don’t normally get to see inside any of the houses during the Festival of Garage Sales, but this year one house was having an estate sale and everything inside was for sale.

I just had to snap a few photos of the attic because it was like taking a step back in time.

It was tiny, but it was filled with vintage trunks.

You just have to wonder how long these trunks had been stored up there, untouched.

As well as what kinds of voyages they’d been on.

In addition to Bryn Mawr (which is a Saturday only sale), I also spent some time at a couple of other local neighborhood sales on Thursday and Friday.  Now that I’m retired I can scoop up some of the bargains I always missed out on as a working stiff.

Here are the majority of my finds from the weekend.

Runner up for find of the day is this adorable Scottie dog boot scraper.

The price was right on this set of 4 canisters …

and I recently purchased another set of the I.O.D. Traditional Pots transfers so I’d been looking for more white ceramic items for the blue ones.

I made quick work of washing these up and adding the transfers.

I have to admit I mainly was drawn to this Watkins Household Hints book because of the color.

I also have this idea of putting together a grouping of stuff that will include this book, but I’m still working on it.

I think I mentioned last week that I’m grabbing vintage books in red and green for the Christmas season.  Well, red and navy works for 4th of July too.

I just have to share the book on the top of that pile especially.  This is one that my friend Sue found for me …

This was published in 1920, and FYI, it’s not at all valuable.  I see it for sale online for $10.  I just think the title is amusing, wouldn’t it make a great gift for a farmer?

I really don’t know why I was drawn to these fish shaped pâté molds.

The guy selling them said he used them as Christmas tree ornaments one year.

I found a tackle box that I’ll eventually paint …

and I purchased that black oval tin because apparently I have a weakness for oval tins.

That stack resides in my pantry, but there isn’t room for a 4th one to be added to the stack where it is.  So now what?  Clearly I’m going to have to re-arrange the pantry again.  Or maybe I’ll part with that striped one on the bottom.  I’m not sure.

By the way, I painted the pink one in the middle (here’s that post if you’re curious about the process).

If you’re wondering about the 3 canning jars filled with a brown liquid in my first photo, that’s syrup.

The Lakedon’s from Lakedon Family Syrup had a table set up at Bryn Mawr to sell their pure maple syrup.  They had three grades available and were kind enough to let us test taste all three to see the difference.  I hadn’t realized that there were specific grades of maple syrup, or that you could easily taste the difference.

Both my sister and I ended up purchasing three different grades; golden, amber and dark.  The Lakedon’s pointed out that the dark version has a stronger taste similar to molasses and is perfect added to baked beans.  Yum!  Can’t wait to try that.

I did bring home a few larger pieces; a vintage dry sink, a pair of small wooden benches, and a huge pot that I’m going to use patina paint on.  But it was raining yesterday so I decided against hauling them out of the carriage house to get photos.  I’m sure I’ll be sharing all of those projects with you as they get completed though.

So, I’m curious, what would you choose as the find of the day from my weekend haul?  Leave a comment and let me know!

check the box.

Aside from the occasional winter estate sale here and there, I got in my first real bit of garage saling this past weekend and I’m so excited that garage sale season is finally here!  OK, maybe not quite in a big way yet, but in dribs and drabs.

My picker Sue gave me a heads up on a sale taking place nearby last Friday while I was out plant shopping with my neighbor, nnK.  So we headed over there after purchasing our plants.

I didn’t find a ton of things, but I did come home with these items from that sale …

First up, I grabbed that vintage camera.  It was priced a little higher than I wanted it to be, but I purchased it anyway.  I didn’t realize it was brown rather than black until I got it home and was cleaning it up.

Boy, it’s really hard to see that it’s brown even in that photo.  You’ll just have to trust me.  It’s dark brown rather than true black.

I won’t be hanging onto this one, I will be taking it into the shop to sell.  My non-collection of cameras is mostly black.  Although I guess I do have one brown one, the Brownie Holiday camera is also dark brown.

I hang onto this one to use for staging photos around holiday time, although looking back it doesn’t seem as if I’ve ever remembered to do that.  Hmmmm, I need to work on that.

And speaking of photo props, I snagged the vintage, green handled garden clippers to use for that purpose as well.  They were 50¢, how do you pass that up?

I plan to keep an eye out for red and green vintage books this summer at garage sales.  I will hang onto them until Christmas and then sell them as sets.  They work great for elevating Christmas village pieces …

But also, well, the book called The Boy Scouts to the Rescue is just kind of fun.

Finally, I couldn’t resist the box because I thought the zinc lining was kind of cool.

I have no idea what the original purpose of this box would have been?  nnK suggested it was for storing one’s plutonium.

I’m pretty sure that’s not it.

Could it be a milk box like this example on chairish?  Priced at $275!  What?!  Anyway, it does seem feasible that this box could have been for milk.  It seems like the right size for bottles of milk.  Do any of you have a better idea what it might have been used for?

Well, regardless of the original purpose, there is some water damage at the bottom of the box.

So I decided to paint it.

I mixed up some Homestead House Milk Paint in Algonquin.  If that color sounds familiar to you, it might be because there is also a Fusion paint by the same name (Homestead House is the parent of Fusion).  I brushed two coats of Algonquin onto the box.  I specifically chose to use milk paint because I wanted a chippy look.  So once the paint was dry, I sanded lightly with 220 grit paper but there was no chipping.

No worries, I can fake it with tape.

I always start out with the yellow Frog tape when I’m using this technique.  This is the tape for delicate surfaces, so it has minimal sticky-ness.  I have run into pieces where the yellow tape won’t pull off any paint, and then I switch up to regular masking tape.  If that still doesn’t work, I’ve even been known to use duct tape … but those instances are few and far between.

All you have to do with the tape is press it onto your surface randomly and then whisk it back off again.  It’s a lot like using tape to remove cat hair from your favorite black trousers (I have a fair amount of experience with that too).  Just use caution and go slowly, especially with that first strip of tape.  It can surprise you and pull off more paint than you think it will.  Go slowly and get a feel for it as you go.

Next up I added a coat of Dixie Belle’s flat clear coat before adding some I.O.D. transfers.  If you have chippy paint, sometimes the paint will stick to your transfer (much like with the tape), rather than the transfer sticking to your surface.  In fact, even though I’d taken the precaution of adding the clear coat, I still had this happen in one little area …

I lost most of my ‘S’ and a little bit off the end of that flower bud above it.  I should have let my clear coat dry longer before applying the transfer, but I’m an instant gratification sort of gal.  I can’t make myself wait the recommended 24 hours before adding a transfer.

So, to be on the safe side, let your clear coat dry overnight if you’re going to be adding transfers.  Or, if you’re willing to live on the edge, do as I do and wing it.

Just be prepared to live with the consequences.

And P.S., I used sections from both I.O.D.’s Label Ephemera and their Floral Anthology transfers on my box.

This box is for sale if any of you locals are interested (you can store your plutonium in it!).  Check out my ‘available for local sale‘ page for more details.  I’ll likely take it into the shop in the next week or two.

We had stopped off at one more sale before heading back home that day, and that’s where I found another wooden box.

This box came filled with everything needed to shine your shoes.  There were something like 10 brushes for various colors of shoe polish, multiple tins of dried up shoe polish, and lots of well used polishing rags.  I tossed all of that.

When I initially grabbed this box I definitely planned to paint it.

But when I looked at it more closely, I thought the markings on the sides of the box were pretty cool.

And I really liked the back of the box too.

So I’m kind of loathe to cover all of that up.

But I don’t love the front of the box, and the top lid is in pretty rough shape.

As is the inside …

So here are some options I thought of …

□ option no 1 – I could paint the interior of the box, and the lid, but just clean up and wax or hemp oil the rest of the box.  But what color?  Black, green, dark grey?

□ option no 2 – I could do the painting in option no 1, and then also re-attach the lid facing the other way so that what was the back of the box becomes the front of the box (because I much prefer the graphics on the back of the box).

□ option no 3 I could remove the lid from the box entirely.  Paint the interior of the box black or grey, clean up and wax the exterior, but leave it unpainted.

□ option no 4 – I could paint the whole shebang, inside and out, and dress it up similar to the zinc lined box.

This is where you come in.  Which box would you check?  Option 1, 2, 3 or 4?  Or do you have an option 5 that I should consider?  Leave a comment and let me know.


mac-grove 2021.

First up, I drew the names of the winners of the two bags of Dixie Belle’s Sea Spray that I’m giving away.  I swear to you guys that I totally draw the names of my winners at random (I use an online random number generator to pick them), so it was a funny coincidence that both winners are named Wendy!  Seriously, what were the chances?  But anyway, congrats to both Wendy’s!

I feel as though I never really got back into my garage saling groove this year.  Last year everything was up in the air because of Covid.  This year, things have sort of picked back up.  Some of the regular neighborhood sales came back, but not all.

My sister and I went to a couple of sales back in early June, but I didn’t bring home an impressive haul from any of them.

Then somehow two and a half months went by in the blink of an eye, and here we are at nearly September.  Not at all sure how that happened.  Did your summer fly by as well?

This past weekend one of my favorite St. Paul neighborhoods was having their annual sale day, Macalester-Groveland a.k.a. Mac-Grove.  Look at this fab haul from Mac-Grove in 2018 …

How in the world we fit all of that into the back of my sister’s SUV I’ll never know, but we did.

Here’s another really fun one from 2019 …

My niece happened to have a rare Saturday off work this past weekend, so the three of us headed out early feeling optimistic.

Unfortunately, I didn’t come home with another pile of fabulous stuff from Mac-Grove.  However, I brought home something a lot more important.  A renewed sense of faith in my fellow man.  That might sound a little dramatic, but honestly, every person we interacted with on Saturday was so friendly and just plain nice.  And it all felt just so very normal.

I think we’ve all been so overwhelmed lately with bad news coming at us from all directions whether it’s suicide bombers in Kabul, forest fires all over the place, a hurricane headed for Louisiana, or the latest Covid numbers.  In addition, on a personal level, things at my day job continue to be super stressful these days.  I don’t think anyone is having fun there right now.

So it was really, really good for me to get out and interact with other human beings in a such a positive way.  I really needed that this past weekend!

I did bring home a few fun things including this pair of chairs.

We currently have just 4 chairs around our patio table, and sometimes we have more than 2 other people over and I have to resort to pulling our dining room chairs outside.

Sure, I have this other pair of folding chairs that I painted a year or two ago …

But they are a bit rickety.  I certainly wouldn’t want a guest to go crashing to the floor during dinner.

The pair I purchased at Mac-Grove also fold up and I can store them out of the way unless needed.  But they are also really sturdy, and I think if I add a little seat cushion to them they will be plenty comfortable for dinner on the deck.  Of course, I plan to give them a makeover and you’ll have to stay tuned for that.

The woman I purchased these from told us the sweetest story about a little girl who had just purchased a Barbie dreamhouse from her for $2.50.  She said the girl counted out her money very carefully and was just thrilled to be getting that dreamhouse and the seller was just tickled to see it going to someone who would love it.

I purchased this set of birch bark pieces to use as part of a thank you gift for an upcoming stay at a friend’s cabin …

and when I mentioned that to the gals selling it, they were so happy.  It had come from their aunt’s cabin and she had passed away.

They loved hearing that it would go to another cabin up north!

Then there was the couple who had tons of tomato plants in their garden including one that was a yellow, pear shaped tomato.  My sister thought they were peppers, and so she asked about them.  The husband said they were Yellow Pear Tomatoes (named simply enough), but that they didn’t taste good so don’t bother growing them.  His wife then piped in and said that wasn’t true, they were perfectly good.  She then popped one in her mouth to prove it, and offered us the chance to try them as well.  I suppose if we were tomato lovers we would have taken her up on it, but none of us really like tomatoes so we passed on that.  As we were walking away he was still insisting they were terrible, and she was insisting they were good, and we laughed all the way to the car.

Somehow I just can’t pass up a good vintage scale, so I grabbed this one when I saw it.

Are people still buying these?  Does anyone know?  I hope so.

How about vintage glassware?  I thought these poinsettia glasses were really fun.

I’ll put them away until the holiday season when they’ll go to the shop as well.

I also purchased another old galvanized bucket that I’ll add a little something to, but that was about it for my garage sale finds at Mac-Grove this year.

My niece was in charge of driving this time around and she pointed out that she really only goes to these neighborhood sales to see the houses, so when we’d had enough garage saling we had a quick brunch at the Red Rabbit on Grand Ave (they have delicious mimosas, FYI) and then we strolled up Summit Ave to look at houses.

Who can resist admiring a few of these beautiful mansions from the past?

No one else loved that all white one above, but I really did, no surprise there.

We decided that this next house must be haunted …

It was clearly unloved and had a bit of a foreboding spirit about it.

Speaking of haunts, with Halloween just around the corner (well, OK, for retail at least, and judging by how fast time is flying by these days, for me as well), I’m just putting the finishing touches on a few spooky items that I’ll be sharing with you guys soon so be sure to stay tuned!

an iowa estate sale.

A week or so ago my neighbor, nnK, traveled to Iowa to help clear out the old family farm.  Apparently her uncle (cousin twice removed?  something like that) had passed away after living on the family farm for his entire life.  And he liked to hold onto things.  In other words, the place was packed with stuff.

She promised to send me pictures of things that she thought I might like to purchase from the estate sale.  So as they were setting up, she sent me some texts with photos of items that were for sale …

Hello suitcases!

Good gracious, that’s a lotta suitcases.  I asked nnK why in the world her uncle would have had so many suitcases.  Did he love to travel?  But apparently the story goes that he thought if he kept his most treasured belongings inside suitcases, then if a tornado came the items wouldn’t get blown all around, they would stay intact inside the suitcase.  Well, I guess that would explain the need for 11 suitcases.

I purchased three of them, mainly sticking to the style that I like to paint …

Next up was this painted piece …

This piece totally spoke to me, so I said yes! to purchasing it despite its obviously poor condition (and luckily nnK was driving a truck back home).

Here’s how it looked once I got it home …

It definitely needs some work.  Ken is going to have to rebuild some parts of it, starting with the drawers.

I’m hoping I can figure out a way to salvage, or at least replicate, the color inside the drawers.

I have lots of idea swirling around in my head for this piece.  It may take some time, but hopefully with Ken’s help I can give it a new life.

We’ve tackled similar projects in the past and have been happy with the results.  Do any of you remember the In a Pickle farmhouse table?

Gosh, back in the day I even staged my ‘before’ photos, didn’t I?

Anyway, it started out in pretty rough shape too, but in the end it looked like this …

And then there was the primitive cabinet that I scored.  It started out like this …

And it actually stayed like that for quite a while until I got around to refurbishing it and putting it in my piano room.

I also said yes to this desk from the estate sale.

I’ve painted a couple of pieces like this in the past and really liked how they turned out.

I’ve actually already gotten this one painted, and now I’m working on the final touches.  I hope to share it with you guys on Monday, so be sure to stay tuned.

One last thing, in case you were wondering, although technically the Soldier Blue dresser is not officially sold, I do have someone who is away at her cabin that wants to see it when she returns.  And honestly, she wanted to pay me for it sight unseen via paypal or venmo but I said no to that.  Why?  Well, I just hate to sell things unless the buyer has seen them in person and is absolutely sure they want the piece.  Things can look different on the computer screen than they look in real life.  I’d hate for someone to pay me for a piece, then show up, decide they don’t really like it, yet feel like they are stuck with it.

So for now I’m not advertising it anywhere else, and just sort of hanging onto it until later this month when my potential buyer returns to town.  I’m not sure if I can count that as sold or not.  Either way, the black dresser and the floral dresser both sold more quickly than the blue, but I think we can just call all three a win!

OK, well, have a great weekend all!

a sweet, petite desk.

On Saturday my sister and I headed out to a city wide sale that was new to us, Columbia Heights.  It didn’t exactly meet my normal requirements, it wasn’t a neighborhood filled with gorgeous vintage homes and although technically it was a Saturday-only sale, the ad I saw said that many of them would be open starting on Thursday.  Quite a lot of the signs we saw said ‘Thurs – Sat’ as well.

But beggars can’t be choosers, as they say, so we gave it a shot.

Things started out real slow.  After about an hour of struggling to get our bearings on the map (only the major streets had names on the map), I’d made only one purchase so far, a blue Oxford Stoneware pitcher.

You may remember that I had a couple of these blue Oxford Stoneware pitchers last year.

After deciding ‘blue’ wasn’t my thing (I go through these phases), I ended up taking them into the shop and they all sold.

Then last week I was scrolling through Instagram and I saw a lovely floral arrangment in one of these pitchers and immediately regretted not keeping one of them to use as a vase.  So how serendipitous that I just happened to come across one?

And it’s perfect for the last of peonies.  The heat wave we had last week was the very worst timing for the peonies.  They opened, wilted and dried up all within the space of a week.  My pink roses aren’t looking so great either.  I should have watered them, many of the buds just dried up and turned brown.  I had to supplement my arrangement with some verbena and scabiosa.  I do still have my peony buds in the fridge, I’ll probably take them out in the next week or two to see how that experiment fared.

Anyway, it was a beautiful morning and we didn’t have anywhere else that we needed to be, so we hung in there in Columbia Heights and we ended up filling the vehicle (mainly because I purchased a large dresser, but still, it was full).  Here’s my complete haul.

The planter (on left) is a real concrete urn and super heavy.  Those are a rare find so I grabbed it.  At some point in its life someone painted it white and the paint is now peeling.  I’m going to have to see what I can do with that one.  Can I use a paint stripper on concrete?  Do any of you know?

I couldn’t pass up the dresser.

I love chest over chest style dressers, they look great painted.  This one even came apart so that we could easily load it into our still mostly empty SUV.  It’s going to need a little repair work from Ken before I get to painting it though.

I’m going to call the wooden toy truck my find of the day.

Mainly because my sister gave me the great idea of saving it for the holiday season and then putting a Christmas stencil on the side.  That truck bed is open on the top, so one could add an arrangment of greens, or fill it with small wrapped presents.  It’s totally going to be adorable!  So it’s being added to my growing pile of stuff I’m saving to paint up for the Christmas season.

I passed on another pile of old metal toolboxes that were too rich for my blood.  They weren’t quite as expensive as the ones I saw the week before, but still too high for me at $15 and $20 …

And that leaves the little desk.

Isn’t that sweet?  It looked as though someone had thought about re-painting it themselves because the top was already sanded down.  It felt quite sturdy despite its beat-up appearance, so I grabbed it.

And I’ve already given it a new look.

I continued the sanding job that someone had already started, gave it a good clean, and then painted it in one of my old favorites, Homestead House milk paint in Laurentien.  If you’re familiar with the Fusion paint color with the same name, yes, this milk paint is made by the same company and is the same color.  I thought this piece would look amazing in some chippy milk paint, and luck was on my side because it chipped just perfectly.  I even got a little crackle to the finish in some spots, like on the drawer front.

I used Dixie Belle’s Flat Clear Coat to seal this.  It’s a bit more durable than my usual wax, plus the clear coat does a better job of containing any further chipping down the road.

I added one of the Classic Vintage Labels transfers to the back …

And I added a section from the IOD Label Ephemera transfer to the drawer front.

I also switched out the wooden knob for a pretty little glass knob.

I don’t always line the drawers of my pieces, but when the drawer is 12″ or less square I like to add a piece of scrapbook paper as liner (the scrapbook paper is 12″ x 12″, so as long as I stay under that measurement it works).

This paper from October Afternoon was perfect with the Laurentien.

This is such an adorable little desk, and it is quite petite at only 21.25″ tall.  As sweet as it is, I don’t have a spot for it.  If any of you locals do, be sure to check out my ‘available for local sale page‘ for more details.

sticker shock.

As I’ve mentioned (possibly too many times), the whole COVID thing, followed by the social unrest thing, has totally messed with the neighborhood garage sale scene in the Twin Cities.  In 2020 most of my favorite neighborhood sales were canceled.  I say most, but not all, because the Lowry Hill & East Isles sale was held in September and I picked up a few things there.

I was really hoping that some of my other favorite Minneapolis neighborhood sales would be back this spring, but was disappointed to find that many of them were canceled once again in 2021.

So I was super excited when my picker, Sue, shared some info with me regarding a combined neighborhood sale.  Usually these neighborhoods have their own sales, but this year Nokomis, Standish-Ericsson, Longfellow & Corcoran banded together to have one giant neighborhood sale this past Saturday.

It wasn’t until I was able to download the map at precisely 7 a.m. on Saturday morning (they withhold the map until then, I assume to prevent people from showing up the day before looking to score all of the good stuff) that I saw just how many sales there were … 139 to be precise.  Eureka!

My sister picked me up bright and early and we headed out, armed with the map and lots of bottled water.  You see, even though the prior weekend I had to bring my potted plants inside because we had temps in the 30’s at night, this past Saturday we had a high of 97.

What the what?

Can you say ‘not acclimated yet!’?  I thought 75 was a little on the warm side earlier in the week.  I certainly wasn’t ready for 97.  Well, let’s be honest, I’m never ready for 97.  And some of those Minneapolis alleys just bake in that hot sun.

All of this to say that my sister and I did not hold up well against the heat.  We only managed to last until about 11 a.m.  We made it to a mere fraction of the sales, and this is my slightly pathetic little haul.

Hmmm.  Not exactly noteworthy is it?

Let’s mention the ‘toolbox’ first.

I put that in quotes because it’s actually a tackle box, not a toolbox.

And for that reason I almost walked away from it because I wasn’t sure I wanted to tackle it (sorry, couldn’t resist that terrible pun).  But it was only $3.  How could I pass it by?

Especially since we’d just come from a sale with this toolbox …

Your eyes do not deceive you, that is a $40 price tag!  WTH?  To be fair, I did not open it up to see if it was filled with gold ingots.  There was a second toolbox right next to this one that was priced at $60!!  Perhaps they both were filled with high quality vintage tools of some kind?  I really don’t know.  I was so stunned by the sticker shock that I was afraid to even touch them.

After the shock of those price tags, the $3 on the tackle box at a different sale seemed like a no-brainer, so I grabbed it.

I also picked up this chicken feeder at a fairly decent price.

I’m planning to turn it into a flower planter that can be hung on the wall.  I’ll keep you posted on that one.

I hemmed and hawed about purchasing this pair of chairs.

I thought they might be fun to paint up for Christmas, like the smaller kid sized chairs I’ve done …

I’m totally not sure if they will sell as well as the smaller ones, but it’s worth a shot.  If this idea is a bust, I’m only out $20.

I also picked up a few smaller items …

The scale isn’t in the greatest shape, but I remembered my friend Jackie’s scale in her garden and thought this one could be used in a similar way …

The galvanized containers have already gotten some transfers added to them.

Those are IOD transfers from their Classic Pots set.  Just a quick heads up on these.  These are the new IOD version of these transfers and they are black.  You can still find some of the old versions of these that were marketed by Prima Marketing (called French Pots 3 and 4) and although they are the same design, those old ones are a dark grey color and don’t show up nearly as well on galvanized metal, FYI.

As you can see, the black ones looks great on galvanized metal.  In addition, they were actually quite easy to apply over that ribbed surface as well.  I wasn’t sure how that would work out, but it was no problem at all.

These would be quite fabulous with some small standards planted in them, or maybe even just a small lemon cypress.

I couldn’t resist the little mustard jars.  They make sweet little vases.

Now, not to worry, even though I didn’t have an amazing haul on Saturday, I did come in to work on Monday to find a few goodies waiting for me that my picker had found (we also work together at the day job, fyi).  I didn’t photograph them all, but here’s a cute little kid sized chair that I’ll also probably hang onto until it gets a Christmas makeover.

One of the items in Sue’s box was this massive vintage screw driver.

This thing is about a foot long.  And it has such a gorgeous patina.  Sue has an eye for patina, and an eye for a bargain.  It was only 25 cents.  She’s thinking I can do something with it.  I’m thinking it would make an amazing handle for a cabinet of some kind.  I wonder if Ken could figure that out?  Do you have any ideas for it?

I also stopped at a couple of sales on my lunch hour yesterday, which totally proves that I am a glutton for punishment since it was once again in the upper 90’s and even more humid than last Saturday.  But I did find a few more goodies including a sled that will also go in the ‘stuff to paint for Christmas’ pile.

I also nabbed another toolbox.

In keeping with my ‘sticker shock’ theme though, at the very same sale they had another vintage toolbox that I saw first and it was priced at $25.  Far too high for me.  But then I walked into the garage a bit further and found this one for $2.  Isn’t that odd?  Two vintage toolboxes at the same sale, one is $2 and the other $25.  What gives?  I even went back and checked again, yep, that first tag definitely said $25.  So then I opened up that toolbox to look for the gold ingots, but nope, it was empty.  Go figure.

Finally, I also made a bit of an impulse buy at the lunchtime sale.

It would be totally fair if you’re thinking ‘uh, what in world is that, and why in the world did you buy it?’

Well, because I’ve been watching so much of Monty Don on Gardener’s World lately, I’m fairly sure that this is a seed tray tamper.  Here’s the only picture I could find of Monty  with his seed tray tamper …

See it there to his right?  Basically it’s just a flat bit of wood with a handle that you use to tamp down the soil after you put it into your seed tray.

I plan to give it the quandie treatment, and then who knows?  I may keep it as potting bench décor, or I may just try to sell it on.  I’ll never actually use it.  Minnesota’s growing season is just way too short to grown things from seed.

So, I’m curious, do any of you own a seed tray tamper?  Or do you think this object is something else?  Leave me a comment and let me know.


not exactly impressive.

Well, my sister and I made it out for our first garage saling Saturday of the season this past weekend and I have to say, the results were not exactly impressive.

In fact, they were a bit sad.

Oh boy, do I miss my Minneapolis neighborhood sales!

Typically there is at least one, if not a couple, of neighborhood sales in Minneapolis every weekend in May leading up to Memorial Day.  We usually start out with Bryn Mawr the first weekend, and then Tangletown, Linden Hills, Armitage Kenny and ECCO usually follow.  Last year they all were canceled due to COVID, no surprise there.  This year they seem to all be canceled again.  Although COVID is sometimes given as the reason, I can’t help but feel like the social unrest that is happening in Minneapolis is also playing a part in the decision to cancel.  Or possibly the people who organized these sales realized how much work it was and they enjoyed not having to do it last year!

Regardless of the reason, I am mourning the loss of my favorite sales for the 2nd year in a row.

That being said, this past weekend both my own home town and the neighboring town had city wide sales.  In the past I have never gone to either of these because they conflicted with the Minneapolis neighborhood sales.  And I always chose the Minneapolis sales because they tend to be ‘Saturday Only’ sales.  Both of the nearby city wide sales started on Thursday.  As you may know, I have a Monday thru Friday office job.  By the time I can get there on Saturday, everything is pretty picked over.  In fact, one of the proprietors we talked to on Saturday said he shouldn’t have even bothered being open on Saturday because he’d only made $2 so far.  I purchased that wooden box from him for $8 though, so I quadrupled his sales.

I did buy a couple of jar-type items while we were out.  In both cases they are new jars designed to look vintage.  But the lids just look too new to pull that off.

I also had another jar in my stash that needed sprucing up, so I decided to do some lid makeovers yesterday starting with this ‘coffee’ jar …

For this lid I used the Copper Gilding Wax from Dixie Belle to give it a new look.

I often apply the gilding wax using a q tip, but that would have not worked at all for this lid.  When doing a larger-ish flat surface like this one, I find it’s easiest to apply the wax using a disposable latex glove and my finger tip.

To get that look I applied two coats of the copper wax, waited a couple of hours for it to dry, and then buffed it with a clean t-shirt.

I’m constantly amazed how the smallest change, like adding copper wax to this lid, can make such a difference.

Next up was that set of 4 jars in a vintage style metal locker basket.

I have to say that I only purchased them because I loved the little locker basket.  Then afterwards I had buyer’s remorse and I thought “gosh, that was dumb, I don’t even like those jars and what am I going to do with a little locker basket?”

I painted the lids in Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth, once dry I sanded to distress them a bit, and then I added some of the knob transfers from with prima.  Finally I topped them off with some clear wax.

Seriously, how perfect were those knob transfers for the tops of these jars?  So cute.  This transformation definitely alleviated my buyer’s remorse!

Next up is this jar that I had in my stash.

I use this type of jar for flour, sugar, etc in my own cupboard.  But that blah beige lid just wasn’t working for me on this one.

So I simply painted the lid using Dixie Belle’s Kudzu.

And then I dressed up the jar itself with one of IOD’s French Pot transfers.

If you’re one of those people who don’t like the look of the ‘halo’ around transfers, you should probably never use them on glass.

But personally, I don’t have a problem with that look.

So, there you have it.  Some quick and easy jar updates.  Which one is your favorite?

But wait!  Before I go, even though my haul from Saturday wasn’t exactly stellar, I still want to share my ‘find of the day’.

I just love the colors on this Land O’Lake recipe box.  I don’t know how old it it, but I’m pretty sure the butter boxes themselves no longer say that the herds are tested for Tuberculosis (just checked the box in my fridge, and nope, they no longer say that).

My sister and I got a kick out of reading some of the recipes that were inside, like this one for a hearty he-man stack to be served with beer …

That’s a lotta meat!

I’m pretty sure that these recipe boxes didn’t originally come with Byerly’s recipes, so I suspect whoever owned it swapped out the originals for these.

I did a little googling and found some of these recipe boxes online for prices ranging from $79 to $249.99 … seriously?  Surely no one in their right mind would pay those prices.  I always look at online prices with a very healthy dose of skepticism.  How about you?  That being said, I am going to sell this one on with a price tag of $20.  Much more realistic I think.  If any of you locals are interested, be sure to hit me up (in other words, email me at


a thrift store haul.

My sister and I were out the other day and just happened to be driving past the Goodwill, so we decided to pop in and see what they had.  We had actually been in the same Goodwill store about a week earlier and didn’t find a single thing.  But this time I managed to fill up a shopping cart with goodies.

Nothing earth shattering, but I did find some simple things that made for fun small projects that I’m going to share with you today.

First up, the chicken box.

You’re probably wondering why in the world I picked that up, but what you can’t see in that photo is that it’s really just a simple box made out of old barn wood with an ugly chicken on the front.

I cut off the broken rafia handle, sanded down the chicken and re-painted just the front of the box in Dixie Belle’s French Linen.

Then I added just part of the Farm Fresh Honey Bee stencil that I purchased from Wallcutz.

My q tip for today is to always remember that you don’t have to use a stencil in its entirety.  You can tape off sections to fit on a smaller item like this little box.  Stencils have tons of versatility!

Once the paint was fully dry, I sanded to distress and added a clear wax finish.  Then I used some decorative cording to replace the handle.

And as I was writing up this post I realized that you still couldn’t see the barn wood that makes up the rest of the box, so here’s a shot that shows it off a little bit better.  Sort of.

Next up is the blue box.

The very flat finish on this box makes me think it was painted in either chalk paint or milk paint.  The color reminds me quite a bit of Miss Mustard Seed’s Flow Blue, or maybe Dixie Belle’s Antebellum Blue or Annie Sloan’s Aubusson.  Although I really like all of those colors, I felt that the color wasn’t really working on this box.  However, the real problem for me was the hideous black wrought iron handle more than the color.

OK, maybe ‘hideous’ is too strong a word, but I really didn’t like that handle.  So much so that I tossed it in the trash as soon as I removed it and I never really got a good photo of it.

Anyway, after removing that handle, I painted the entire box, inside and out, in Dixie Belle’s Sawmill Gravy.  Once dry I added one of the Classic Vintage Label transfers from with prima to the front.

To jazz up the inside of the box, I added some of prima’s decoupage décor tissue papers to the inside of the lid.  This one is called Floral Wallpaper.

I luckily just happened to have a scrap of this tissue that was the perfect size leftover from another project .  It’s always good to hang onto those scraps!

By the way, I really do love these decoupage tissue papers.

They go on beautifully using Dixie Belle’s Gator Hide (check out this post for more details on that).  They don’t wrinkle or get bubbles because they are made out of a porous material, and at the same time they are really strong and don’t tear when wet.  Now that I’m no longer a brand ambassador for with prima, I am totally out of the loop on new designs that come out.  However, I happened to do a little googling, and I found some new ones to purchase online.  I’ll keep you posted on those when they arrive and I find something to use them on.

Finally, I pulled out this pretty distressed mirror knob that I had in my stash of singles and added it to the top of the box.

I have a whole jar of single knobs.  I used to buy a lot of knobs when they were on sale at Hobby Lobby.  You know, sort of on speculation.  I figured I’d eventually have a piece to use them on.  But what I discovered was that nine times out of ten I would need 8 knobs for a piece, but I’d only have 6.  Or I’d need 6 and have 8, so now I had two left over.  It rarely seemed to work out perfectly, and as  I result I have a whole pile of single (or maybe a pair of) knobs.  Now I’ve sworn to only buy the knobs when I need them, and when I know exactly how many I need.

Still, it’s always a good feeling when I find a use for one of those singles!

You can see that a little of that original blue color is peeking through my distressed edges.

OK, the next makeover was the cold, black heart of love sign.

I really shouldn’t make fun.  The person who created this could very possibly be a reader of my blog, in which case, I apologize.  The bones of this sign were fantastic, but I’m just not sure about that big black heart.

Not that I have anything against black, because in the end I repainted the entire sign black.  Dixie Belle’s Midnight Sky to be exact.

I added a stencil using Dixie Belle’s Putty and then sanded to distress.  Unfortunately I can’t share a source for this stencil because I purchased it on Etsy from a seller that isn’t out there anymore.

It looks pretty good hanging in my piano room, but I won’t be keeping it.  It’s going in the pile of stuff to sell.

Next up, I always debate picking up these reproduction-ish decorative watering cans.  To me they always look just a bit too faux.

This one has an antiqued copper paint job that I didn’t particularly care for, but I liked the shape of it and the  style of the spout.  Plus the price was right, so I grabbed it.

Paint doesn’t always want to stick to a surface like this metal, so I usually spray paint something like this.  That was the plan here, except I didn’t have enough spray paint on hand.  So instead I gave it a quick base coat of spray paint, and then topped that off with some of Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth.  I really prefer to make do with supplies that I already have rather than buy something more.

If you’re wondering how I spray paint in the winter in Minnesota even though I don’t have a heated workshop space, here’s my trick.  I take the item outside in a big cardboard box lid with low sides, spray it quick, and then bring it all back in.  It’s probably not ideal, but it does seem to work and my house doesn’t end up filled with spray paint fumes.

Once the paint was dry, I sanded to distress and added another Classic Vintage Label.

Then I added clear wax as a finish.

A bit of an improvement I think.

Alright, so out of the six items I picked up at the Goodwill, I’ve made over four of them.

That leaves the little rocking chair, which I’m going to save for another day.  I purchased that chair because it has awesome, authentic, chippy green paint.  However, it’s filthy dirty.  Rather than try to clean it up in the house, I’m going to wait until I can give it a good bath with the hose out in the yard.  That’s gonna be a while.

And last up is the little wooden recipe box.

I purchased it fully intending to paint it up (like this one or this one), but after I got it home I started to second guess that.  It has that fab vintage decal on the front, and although it’s a little beat up, the patina on the wood is quite lovely.

So now I’m torn.  Should I paint it up, or should I just clean it up and otherwise leave it alone?  Let’s take a poll, what do you think?

And what do you think of the rest of my thrifted item makeovers?

small garage sale finds.

Last weekend my friend/picker/garage sale spotter Sue texted early in the morning to give me a heads up on a garage sale that was only two blocks away from my house.

So I ran a comb through my hair, brushed my teeth, threw on a particular undergarment that was necessary for appearing in public, made sure I had some cash in my pocket and headed out.

It was one of those sales where nothing was marked, but the proprietor said ‘everything is for sale, even if it’s nailed down’.  So one of the first things I grabbed was this little wooden box that was hanging above a workbench and had some old plastic shopping bags in it.

I can’t even really say how much I paid for it because I paid a blanket price of $20 for everything I purchased from the sale.  That included this item, a small cheese box that I’ll share in a minute, a dozen floral plates (that I’ll add words to for summer), a vintage nativity set, a wooden bucket, a gingham tray, and a small homemade bench.

So let me show you what I did with this one first.

I painted it in Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth, and then added part of a Classic Vintage Label transfer to the front.

Easy peasy.

I lined it with some polka dot scrapbook paper too.

Now it’s perfect for containing a non-collection (because I’m in denial when it comes to whether or not I collect things) of old salt & pepper shakers.

I won’t be keeping it though, it will go to the shop to be sold.

Next up is the little cheese box, which started out like this …

If you look closely, you can see just how grungy it was!  So step one was to give it a good cleaning.

I didn’t want to lose the Land O’Lakes label on the sides of the box …

so after cleaning the box, I decided to just spruce up the end that had already been painted black with a fresh coat of Dixie Belle’s Midnight Sky.

After sanding that to distress it a bit, I glued on that Design Studio tag from Tim Holtz with some E6000 glue.  It’s from his Factory Tags set and I found it at Hobby Lobby.

After waxing the whole box with some clear wax, I lined it with some more of the polka dot paper.

The box isn’t quite big enough to accommodate some old silver knives, but it would make a sweet little container for something.

I’ll be taking both of these little items in to Reclaiming Beautiful, the shop where I sell on consignment in Stillwater, MN sometime soon.  Hopefully they’ll find a home with someone who loves them!

Thanks to Dixie Belle Paint Co for providing the paint used on these projects.