a trio of milk cans.

A few weeks back my neighbor, nnK, spotted some old milk cans that were being given away, so she grabbed them for me.

I feel like milk cans often come dangerously close to looking like bad 80’s decorating.  Like if they are painted in a black and white cow hide pattern, or maybe with a goose or something on them.

But I think I was able to give these a bit of an update, and now they’d be perfect in the garden.

To start out, I scrubbed them up with some dishwashing soap and then left them to dry.  Once dry, I sprayed all three of them with some clear, matte finish spray sealer to seal any remaining flaking paint and rust.

Next, I started with the black can and simply stenciled it with a stencil from Maison de Stencils and some Dixie Belle paint in Sawmill Gravy.

I moved on to the smaller, really rusty can.  This time I used a white transfer from re.design with prima.  This is just a section from their Beautiful Home transfer.

I recently discovered that quite a few of their transfers are being ‘retired’ and this is one of them.  You may still be able to get it from a retailer who has it in stock, but once they are gone there will be no more.

The white really popped on that rusty can.

The final can had some great chippy remnants of green and blue paint.  To dress it up a just a little, I added a section from one of my all time favorite transfers, Everyday Farmhouse.

Sadly, this transfer is being retired as well.  Boo hoo.  I’m definitely going to miss it.  It added just the right touch to the final milk can.

For all three of the milk cans, I added another coat or two of the matte spray sealer after stenciling/adding a transfer.  I wanted to give them just a little extra durability for use outside.

So, what do you think of my upgrades?

As always, thank you to re.design with prima, Dixie Belle Paint Co and Maison de Stencils for providing some of the products used on today’s projects.

simple details.

Last summer I snagged this trio of galvanized buckets at a garage sale.

Admittedly, they aren’t really anything special.  They aren’t vintage, but they are heavy, good quality galvanized metal rather than the flimsy, cheap stuff.

Plus, I thought I could dress them up simply and quickly using some re.design with prima transfers.

And bam!

Just by adding that simple detail they have a lot more personality.

I used two different sets of transfers.  The Sky Valley Farm transfer is from the Everyday Farmhouse set.

While the other two buckets have sections from the Paris Valley transfer.

You can just pop a hanging basket into these and have an instant fabulous flower box.

Or you could punch holes in the bottom for drainage and then plant directly in them.  Wouldn’t they be fab with just some simple geraniums?

I’m often asked if I add a sealer over transfers, or whether or not they will hold up outside without being sealed.  In my opinion, you only need a sealer if the surface you put your transfer onto needs a sealer.  For example, if it’s painted wood or metal.  I’ve never sealed a transfer that has been applied to glass, mirror or unpainted metal.

Last year I experimented with a transfer on an old metal picnic basket.

I left it out all summer and the transfer never budged.  That being said, the metal container itself rusted quite a bit, but the transfer held up great without any kind of sealer.

I took these buckets, along with a huge pile of other stuff, in to Reclaiming Beautiful this week.  They are open today and tomorrow, so if you’re local and you feel the need for some retail therapy be sure to stop in.  They will be implementing the following safety measures:

* No more than 10 people in the store at a time
* Hand Sanitizer will be available
* Card transactions will be done by customers with no
signature required (we will clean between each use)
* Curbside pick up is still an option

Also please note that they have new hours! They will be open every Thursday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm, but will no longer be open on Sundays.

As always, thanks to re.design with prima for providing the transfers used on today’s project.

planter chairs.

I know I’ve shared planter chairs before, but I whipped up a couple of them last weekend and I couldn’t resist sharing these with you as well.

If you aren’t familiar, a planter chair is basically a chair turned into a plant holder.  I particularly like them for holding big baskets of flowering annuals, as you’ll see in a minute.

But first, I start with chairs that have seen better days.

Typically they are chairs that have ruined cane seats and I can usually pick them up super cheap at garage sales.

Let’s face it, repairing cane is probably best left to the professionals.  Or at least to people with far more patience than I have.

It takes all of my patience just to remove the bad cane, I can’t imagine sticking with it long enough to also replace it with new cane.  So instead, I turn them into planter chairs.

Once I’d removed the cane from both of these chairs (using a utility knife and a pair of needle nose pliers), I painted one in Dixie Belle’s Bunker Hill Blue and one in Kudzu.

Once the paint was dry, I sanded the chairs to distress and then added a topcoat of Dixie Belle’s Gator Hide.

Gator Hide is their most durable topcoat option, so it’s a great choice for outdoor pieces.  I will point out that the Gator Hide has a bit more sheen than I normally like for furniture, which is why I tend to stick with either clear wax, hemp oil or the flat clear coat.  But in this case, I thought I’d go for durability.

Here’s a  q tip for you on finishes.  The more shine to your finish, the harder it is to achieve perfection.  Drips, brush marks, streaks and imperfect coverage will all show up more readily in a satin or semi-gloss finish.  Shhhh … don’t tell anyone, but this might be the real reason why I usually go for a flat finish.

For these planter chairs though, I wasn’t concerned about perfection.  The gorgeous flowers will draw attention, not any possible flaws in the finish.

These chairs would be perfect as is for peony cages, much like the non-painted chair in my own garden that I shared last week.

But they also make great plant holders.  Just buy a big hanging pot of your favorite flowering annuals and pop it in the hole where the seat once was.

If your pot is smaller than the hole, you can staple a strap in place to hold it.

I added a big pot of Wave petunias and one of my wordy plates, and ta da …

I add words to pretty plates using adhesive vinyl and my Cricut machine (for more details on this process, check out this post).

It works great on old enamelware pot lids too.

And if you don’t happen to have a Cricut machine, the Classic Vintage Labels transfers from re.design with prima work beautifully for this purpose as well …

This pair of planter chairs, and some more wordy plates and enamelware lids are going into the growing pile of stuff that I’ll be taking in to Reclaiming Beautiful this week.  I’m so glad they’ll be able to open back up again on Thursday!

With some warmer weather finally here, and lots of plants coming up in the garden, it’s finally starting to feel like summer is coming this year after all.

As always, thanks to Dixie Belle Paint Co for providing the products used on my planter chairs.  If you’re looking for Dixie Belle products you can find them here.

old shovels.

There’s just something about worn, old garden tools that really appeals to me.

I have quite a few of them around my yard.  I’ve even used one as the handle for the door on my photo cottage …

I often use them as props in my photos too.

So when I see old gardening tools at garage sales, I generally snap them up.  Last summer I accumulated a few old shovels …

They don’t look like much there, do they?  I’m sure I didn’t pay more than a dollar or two for each one, but I thought they had potential.  After giving them all a good scrub with some soapy water, I experimented a bit to see what I could do with them.

Let’s start with the one in the back that looks more like a snow shovel, rather than a garden shovel.  It’s my least favorite, so it goes first.  The wooden shaft and handle were quite dried out and any finish they once had was completely worn off.  I decided to paint them black using Dixie Belle’s Midnight Sky.  Once dry, I distressed them heavily with sand paper and then added a nourishing coat of Dixie Belle’s Big Mama’s Butta, which is sort of like a mix between hemp oil and wax.  Finally, I added a re.design with prima transfer to the blade.

In hindsight, the blade was a bit dark for using a black transfer.

So let’s just quickly move on to the next one.  This one had a bit of red paint left on the blade, but again a very dried out wooden shaft and handle.  I darkened up the shaft with some Dixie Belle No Pain Gel Stain in Walnut, then I painted the handle with their Honky Tonk Red.

Once again I distressed it heavily and coated it with Big Mama’s Butta.

Then I added one of the sections of re.design with prima’s Vintage Seed transfers to the blade.

Wouldn’t that be fun hanging on the side of your potting shed?

This last one is my favorite, mainly because the wood had such a beautiful patina already.  I just brightened it up a bit with some of Dixie Belle’s Howdy Do hemp oil.

Then I added a transfer from the Classic Vintage Labels set to the blade.

It doesn’t show up quite as much as I would like, but it adds a little subtle detail.

Does anyone else use old seat-less chairs as peony cages?  They work great to keep your peonies from flopping over when the flower heads get heavy.  I have a couple of them that I found at garage sales for a few dollars.  They only hold up for a few years in the harsh Minnesota weather, but I pay so little that I don’t mind if they get ruined.

I’ll be adding these shovels to the pile of goodies that I’m bringing in to the shop where I sell on consignment, Reclaiming Beautiful in Stillwater, MN.  Now that our governor has switched us from a ‘Stay at Home’ order to a ‘Stay Safe’ order, retail shops can re-open next week.  So those of you who are local, if you’re ready for some much needed shopping therapy, be sure to stop by and shop safely by wearing masks, physical distancing and not congregating in groups.

As always, thank you to Dixie Belle Paint Co and to re.design with prima for providing the products used for today’s projects.

If you’re looking for Dixie Belle products you can find them here.

If you’re looking for re.design with prima products you can find local retailers here, or online sources here.

getting ready for gardening season.

This past weekend was your typical spring weather in Minnesota.  On Saturday it was 60 degrees and sunny.  Mr. Q and I took a long walk, started clearing the winter debris out of the gardens, and then sat on the deck and enjoyed the feel of sunshine on our faces.

On Sunday, those same chairs looked like this.

And my Scilla siberica looked like this …

This always happens here in April.  We get teased with a glimpse of spring, and then shot back down with the realization that this is Minnesota and we can’t actually count on good gardening weather until May.

Well, we can still dream of gardening weather.  And that brings me to my quick and easy project for today.

I started with one of the aprons from re.design with prima.

I couldn’t find a single online photo of this product that didn’t have the re.design logo blocking the front pocket.  In some of the photos it even looked like the logo was actually part of the apron.  It isn’t.  This is a 100% cotton apron that is essentially a ‘blank canvas’ that you can paint, dye, or otherwise embellish to suit your tastes.

It has that front pocket that I mentioned, plus a sweet ruffle along the bottom hemline.

Since it’s made out of 100% cotton, I recommend washing it before you get started.  I did wash and dry mine first.

Since I tend to like simple, uncluttered designs, I decided to add a quick and easy stencil to my apron to dress it up.  I used Dixie Belle Paint Co paint in Gravel Road (which is a warm, dark grey) and a couple of stencils from Maison de Stencils.

I placed different sections of each stencil wherever they fit best on my apron.

You can set the paint with heat by either throwing your apron in the dryer on high heat, or pressing the apron on the reverse side with a high heat iron.

It’s probably far more likely that I’ll use this apron to protect my clothes while painting, but it would work great for keeping the dirt off while re-potting plants.  And I also suppose one could wear it while cooking … but we all know I don’t do much of that.

How about you?  Are you much of an apron wearer?

As always, thanks to Dixie Belle Paint Co, re.design with prima and Maison de Stencils for providing the products used for this makeover.

frugal fall decorating.

The bill for the credit card that I used while in Disney World is going to be rolling in any day now and it’s not going to be pretty.  Disney World is not exactly a budget friendly place, and I’m not terribly good at being frugal while on vacation.

So I’ll have to make up for that now that I’m home, starting with some frugal fall decorating.

This is where my hydrangeas come in, and this is just one of the reasons why I love having several hydrangeas in the garden.  Hydrangeas, in particular the paniculata varieties, grow incredibly well for me here in my zone 4b garden.  They provide tons of dried flowers for fall and winter decorating with next to zero effort required on my part.

I filled the galvanized boiler that hangs beneath the window on the carriage house with the Vanilla Strawberry variety.

These dry to a darker, reddish-pink which works perfectly with the barn red of the carriage house.

The Limelight hydrangeas start turning pinkish in the fall as well, but mostly only on the side of the flower that faces the sun.  The undersides stay a pretty pale green.

So you can turn whichever side you prefer to face front in your arrangements.

I filled the planters on either side of my door with them.

By the way, as you can see, the pair of rusty planters that I painted using Dixie Belle’s patina products are holding up beautifully.

I used Limelights in the galvanized wash tub in front of the carriage house too, but I also included a few hosta leaves for added interest.

The sign that is hanging above the wash tub is an old table leaf that I painted up with Dixie Belle paint and then stenciled.  I coated it with some of their Gator Hide and then hung it outside as an experiment to see how it would hold up.  I like to do little experiments like these so that when I sell similar pieces I can let people know how durable they really are.

I used a combination of Vanilla Strawberry, Limelight, hosta leaves and a few last remaining salvia flowers in this galvanized container that hangs on the photo cottage door.

I applied the Prima Marketing transfer from their Everyday Farmhouse collection to the container a while back and it too has held up beautifully outdoors.

The transfers adhere really well to glass and smooth metal and I’ve found that they can absolutely be used outdoors on these surfaces.

Somehow I always get a lot more satisfaction out of decorating without spending much money, how about you?

These days it sometimes feels like the main goal of social media posts is to get you to buy something.  Instead, I hope that I’ve given you some ideas for fall decorating that you can do without spending any money at all.

Do you do any fall decorating on the cheap?  If so, I’d love to see some of your ideas in the comments!

a pair of motel chairs.

I showed you guys a terribly blurry photo of my haul from the Prospect Park sales last week.

I’m afraid this will have to do for a ‘before’ photo of the pair of motel chairs that I found there because I never took a better one.  It’s a bit hard to tell, but they were painted brown.  What’s with the brown anyway?  The planters I shared on Monday were originally brown too, but from an entirely different garage sale.

Anyway, I mainly snatched these up because they were super cheap and thus too good to pass up.  Once I got them home I realized I didn’t have a spot for them and would most likely sell them.

I knew I wanted to paint them, and I thought spray paint would be the easiest option.  Since I happened to have a bunch of black spray paint on hand, I decided to go black.  I also felt black would be a neutral choice that would sell well.

This is RustOleum Canyon Black in a satin finish.  And even with the satin finish I feel like they are just a bit too shiny for my taste.  Plus the sheen isn’t perfectly even, which bothers me.

But I went ahead and moved on anyway, adding one of my favorite stencils to the backs of the chairs.

I used my normal trick of stenciling in a color called Deep Taupe, which is actually a dark greige color but reads much lighter when used over black.  This worked beautifully on my baby grand …

But I think the sheen of the spray paint is messing with that combination.  At certain angles it’s hard to even tell that these chairs have a stencil on them.

I don’t know, maybe that subtlety works for them?

Or should I spray over them and try again with a lighter color?  or maybe a different stencil entirely?

It would be simple enough to do.

Or am I just being too critical of my own work (which has been known to happen)?

Go ahead and share your thoughts on that with me in a comment.

Fair warning though, I’m on the road today with my mom and sister.  My cell connection might be a bit spotty so I may not be responding to comments right away.  We are heading to South Dakota to visit my mom’s cousins for the 4th of July holiday.

Speaking of which, my simple staging of these photos was supposed to represent the holiday in question.

I’ve got the red, white and blue colors right, plus the Country Living American Style book.  But I have to laugh because I’ve paired it with French lemonade and a German stencil on the chairs.  What can I say?  I fully embrace all nationalities.

That being said, Happy 4th of July to my U.S. readers!