bottomless chairs.

Are you a fan of cane chairs and benches?

I love them.  I have half a dozen of them myself.

But the sad truth about cane is that it’s easy to damage.  So far the cane on two of my chairs has ripped.  And I don’t have the patience for replacing damaged cane.  So, in my opinion, cane chairs are best reserved for occasional use, not rough every day use.

I see a lot of damaged cane chairs for sale at garage sales and on Craigslist.  Sometimes they are priced super cheap, although I also see plenty of ads for pricier chairs where the seller says ‘you can easily add new cane’.  I always laugh when I read those ads.  If it was so easy to do, why didn’t they do it themselves?

I’ve come up with a few ways to work around ruined caning.  On the bench I put in my bedroom I added a cushion where there once was caning.

  On the ‘cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater‘ chair I added an upholstered seat …

Originally I planned to do something similar with a pair of chairs that I picked up last summer at a garage sale.  Don’t be confused by the snow on the ground in this ‘before’ photo.  I purchased the chairs last summer, but took this photo sometime last winter.

 I did add a seat to one of the chairs, which I then paired with the Sea Glass dressing table.

But with spring just around the corner, I decided to turn the 2nd chair into a planter chair.

But first, in case you’re not familiar, what’s a planter chair?

Here is one that I gave to my mother-in-law for mother’s day a couple of years ago.

It’s basically a bottomless chair with a hanging basket of flowers filling up the hole where the caning or other seat once was.

I love the whimsical touch they add to a garden.

Obviously these chairs are not meant for outdoor use normally.  I find that they will hold up well for 2 or 3 years if you store them in the garage for the winter, but they won’t withstand outside weather indefinitely.

But that’s OK, everything in life doesn’t have to be permanent, right?

For this planter chair I decided to go bright.  I pulled out an old jar of The Urban Rooster chalky paint in a color called Jaded Rooster but I was worried I might not have quite enough paint left for the chair so I also grabbed a small tester size jar of Annie Sloan’s Florence that was half used.

As you can see, these two are practically the same color.  One has maybe just the tiniest bit more green than the other though, so I simply mixed them together to stretch my paint a little further.

I painted two coats on my chair.  Once dry I used acrylic craft paint in Oyster White to stencil “Fleurs” on the back of the chair.

Next I sanded to distress and then added a coat of Miss Mustard Seed’s Tough Coat Sealer to protect the paint from the elements.

When I went to add a hanging basket to the chair for photo purposes, I discovered that the hole in the chair was larger than the typical hanging pot size.  So I added a couple of straps to hold the pot in place.

And ta da!  There you have it, a planter chair!

 I took this chair and another I had on hand in to Reclaiming Beautiful this week to sell.  So if you’re local and you don’t feel like making your own planter chair, be sure to stop in and see if they have any left!

spring beauty.

One year ago today Mr. Q and I were in Copenhagen about to board our cruise ship to sail off to Norway, Scotland and England.

We had such an amazing time on that trip (to see all of my travel posts click on ‘travel.’ over to the right under ‘stuff.’).  We loved it so much that we tried to do something similar again this year.  We had a British Isles cruise all picked out.  In addition to visiting some ports in Scotland, it also stopped at several ports in Ireland, a couple of spots in England and even one port on the coast of France.

We were literally minutes away from booking it when Mr. Q remembered that he had some other obligations in May this year that meant the timing wasn’t going to work.

We next looked at the option of going later in the summer, but the price was more than $2,000 higher for the same trip.  Yikes!  We just couldn’t justify that.

Since then we have tried four more times to book a trip for this year and each one has fallen through for some reason or another.  So we decided maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.  At least for now.  Our travel agent (a.k.a. my mom) is keeping an eye out for some last minute deals, but otherwise maybe we’ll just try again next May.

But in the meantime, I’m feeling a little sad that we aren’t heading off to Ireland this month so I thought I’d re-live our last trip today by sharing some of the beautiful spring gardens that we saw.

Just before we left on our trip last year I was lamenting the fact that I would most likely miss seeing the lilacs bloom in my garden.  They last for such a short time, and sure enough I did miss it.  But in hindsight, it was really ridiculous to be worried about that.  Of course the gardens that I saw on my trip were spectacular, and I saw plenty of lilacs in bloom starting with these in Copenhagen

And these in Stavanger

I needn’t have worried about missing the last of the tulips either.  I saw plenty of tulips everywhere we went.  Hot pink tulips in Copenhagen …

Yellow tulips in Kristiansand

And these gorgeous red and white tulips at Dunrobin Castle.

I’m guessing that the growing climate in Norway, Denmark and Scotland is very similar to ours in Minnesota because I saw lots of plants that I recognized and that I grow in my own gardens, like hostas and allium.

But there were a few I wasn’t sure about, like this blooming shrub in Stavanger …

I’m guessing that is some sort of rhododendron or azalea?  Does anyone recognize it?

Here’s a close up of the flowers, which grow in a cluster.

I also didn’t recognize this blooming tree I saw in Kristiansand, Norway.

And I’m not at all sure what this pretty wildflower in Flåm is, but I think it might be called Spring Beauty.

Some flowers were unique to the areas we were in, like the Scotch broom.

and the Scottish Bluebells.

Although we saw this flower in Bergen too, so I don’t think Scotland can totally claim it as their own.

We enjoyed fields of wildflowers everywhere, like this one in Flåm, Norway.

We saw huge formal gardens in the French style at Dunrobin Castle.

And a little smaller but still formal garden at the Beamish.

 And charming little kitchen gardens at the Beamish also.

You know what I just realized?  Writing this blog post is not helping.  Now I’m wishing even more that we were heading off to sail around the British Isles this week!  Dang!

Well, at least I won’t miss seeing the lilacs bloom in my own garden this year.  How about you, any fantastic summer travel plans for 2018?  I’d love to hear about them, so be sure to leave a comment so I can live vicariously through you!

april blizzards bring may flowers.

It seems hard to believe that just a couple of weeks ago we had blizzard conditions.  But then spring seemingly arrived overnight, which is typical here in Minnesota.

And that means my other two favorite seasons have finally arrived as well.

Gardening season and neighborhood garage sale season!

This weekend my sister and I are heading to both the Tangletown neighborhood sales and one of my favorites, Bryn Mawr.  Keep your fingers crossed that we find lots of goodies.

But first, to get in the spirit of things I pulled out a couple of garden themed garage sale finds from last summer to give them a quick makeover.

Normally I don’t paint my galvanized watering cans, but this one had a bunch of orange paint spilled on it that was not very attractive.  And the tall metal flower bucket was just not quite doing it for me in a dry brushed red.

The flower bucket got three coats of Miss Mustard Seed milk paint in Linen.  Once dry, I sanded it to distress and then added one of the Iron Orchid Designs ‘French Pots V’ transfers.  Once that was in place I very lightly waxed the entire thing with Miss Mustard Seed clear furniture wax.

Although I did wash both the bucket and the watering can with soapy water, I did not sand them at all prior to painting.  I find that milk paint tends to adhere well to galvanized metal pieces liked these that have a dull finish.

The watering can got two coats of Miss Mustard Seed milk paint in Flow Blue.  Then I also sanded it to distress and added a coat of Miss Mustard Seed clear wax to bring out the richness of that gorgeous blue.

By the way, I went with Flow Blue because I had a bit of it left over from painting the desk I shared on Monday.

Remember I said that all I bought at Junk Bonanza were some magazines?

  One of them was the new Flea Market Style gardens issue.

If you enjoy adding junk-tastic finds to your gardens, you should be sure to pick up this issue.  It’s pretty fab.

It’s still too early to actually start planting here in Minnesota, and not much is up in the garden yet.  However, I have plenty of scilla in my gardens.  Scilla is a tiny bulb and it’s always one of the first things to come up and start blooming here.  It will even fight its way through the snow if necessary.  It multiplies rapidly, deer and other critters won’t eat it, and it can withstand very cold winters.

However, as with all things, there are two camps of thought on that.  What sound like great qualities to me are exactly the qualities that others say are bad.  They consider scilla to be a invasive pest, taking over areas where native wildflowers once flourished and becoming impossible to control.

I’m kind of bummed that I even came across that info online, because I love seeing the scilla come up every spring as the first sign of life in the garden.  Now I’ll just feel a little bit guilty about enjoying it every year.

By the way, I added that graphic to the clay pot using Fusion’s transfer gel.  I don’t think I ever blogged about that, or if I did I can’t find it now (which is why that ‘how to’ page is going to be so handy!)

So, how about you?  Are you excited about gardening/garage sale season?  Got any great neighborhood sales near you this weekend?



hello spring.

Woo hoo!  Happy spring!

OK, technically the first official day of spring was yesterday so I’m a day late.  It snowed here yesterday though, so it didn’t feel particularly spring-like.

Here in Minnesota we won’t actually be able to start gardening for at least another 4 to 6 weeks.  On average we are not safe from potential frosts until May 15.

But the days are definitely getting longer and last Saturday was bright and sunny with a high in the upper 40’s.  Some of you from warmer climates might be shaking your head at that, but for us sunshine and 48 degrees in March feels pretty dang awesome.  Lots of snow was melting!

To celebrate the arrival of spring, I hauled out my Cricut machine and added words to some stuff.

It may be too early to plant in the garden, but it’s not too early to plant up some succulents for your windowsill.

Reclaiming Beautiful (the shop in Stillwater, MN where I sell on commission) is bringing back their famous succulent bar starting tomorrow.  Basically they have everything set up for potting up some succulents.  You choose a container, fill it with soil, choose some succulents to add and then add some further embellishments if desired.  If you are local, check out the full details here.

I’ll be bringing in some vintage-ware that can be used as containers.

I love planting in old enamelware.

Pretty vintage china is perfect for succulents too.

So, if you’re local you should swing by Reclaiming Beautiful, and if you aren’t local, head to your favorite nursery and find something green to pot up in a vintage container to tide you over until spring really does arrive!

french pumpkins.

When it comes to fall decorating, I’m not exactly a traditionalist.

Last year I made a French pumpkin using Fusion’s transfer gel and a printed French opera graphic.  And you’ve all seen my ‘hello fall’ book page banners.

This year I decided to add another white pumpkin to my line up.

I started out with this orange wooden pumpkin wall hanging with a decidedly 90’s country look.  In fact, I do believe I’ve probably owned this since the 90’s.

First I de-countrified it by taking off the heart and the “Autumn Greetings” top.

Next I painted it white with some Homestead House milk paint in Sturbridge White.  Once that was dry I sanded it to distress, vacuumed off the dust and then added a Iron Orchid Designs transfer.

I totally ignored the fact that pieces of the design got lost in the cracks.  It really doesn’t matter.  I was going for a very distressed look anyway.

Next I sanded lightly over the transfer with 220 grit sandpaper.

Since I was planning to hang this outside, I added a top coat of the Real Milk Paint Co’s Dead Flat to protect both the milk paint and the transfer.  However, you should note that Dead Flat is not intended for outdoor use.

I have it hanging on the carriage house where it is partially protected from the elements by an overhang and it will only hang here for a month or two, not year round of course.  Still, I’m taking a bit of a chance.  If it gets ruined I will only have myself to blame.

How about you, are you more of a traditional orange pumpkin sort of decorator?  Or do you also prefer some pumpkins with a french twist?





the garden club.

I mentioned a while back that my neighbor across the street, nnK, won the Acorn Award this year.  The Acorn Award is our city’s award for landscaping that goes ‘above and beyond’ normal standards.  After nnK won the award, the garden club contacted her and asked if they could plan a time to tour her garden (I shared nnK’s pond garden here).  They also asked if they could tour my garden while they were in the neighborhood.

Unfortunately the date they had available for a visit was this past Monday which was definitely not the best time to visit my gardens.  I’ve mentioned in the past that I usually throw in the towel on gardening by mid-August.  The weeds begin to take over, I’ve usually got a fair amount of Asian beetle damage by now, and inevitably I have some (or in the case of this year, lots of) hail damage.  The Ostrich ferns start to die back in August and the prettiest perennials, such as the peonies and lilacs, are long past blooming.

But mid-August was what worked for the garden club schedule, so I made a little last ditch effort to spruce things up a bit for their visit.

The fact that the hydrangeas are blooming helped quite a bit.

And the annuals in my planters added a bit of color.

I planted New Guinea impatiens and fuchsias in my front window box this year and they are going gang busters.  I’ll plant them again next year.

I think the fairy garden was a big hit.

If you haven’t seen it before, my fairy garden is planted in an old concrete bird bath that is cracked so it won’t hold water anymore.  That makes it perfect for planting because it allows for drainage.

My bright green/yellow lamium has finally taken off after a very slow start this spring and luckily my concrete rabbit doesn’t eat much (you can see some of that hail damage on the hosta on the upper left side of the photo).

I love this stuff for adding a bright spot in a shady garden.

My statue, Cossetta, was a garage sale find.  I think some of the garden club members found her tiara amusing.

But hey, what girl doesn’t want to wear a tiara now and then?

Even though the Ostrich ferns in my fern garden were mostly brown, the Japanese painted ferns still look good.

As did the Maiden Hair ferns.

I feel like the summer is just slipping away from me again this year.  Fall is right around the corner, and this is probably the garden’s last hurrah so it was fun to share it with both the garden club and you guys.

My sister and I are off to Oronoco Gold Rush bright and early tomorrow morning.  Hopefully we’ll find some fun vintage goodies that I can share with you next week.  Fingers crossed!

an office terrarium.

A short while ago Danielle from Finding Silver Pennies wrote a blog post about making terrariums and it got me thinking about making one myself for my desk at the day job.

You have to get a nice close look to really properly admire a terrarium.  And since I have a desk job, well, I’m sitting right there for 8 hours a day.  Why not add something pretty to look at, right?

So last weekend my sister and I headed over to our local Bachman’s and picked up some supplies.


And I also pulled out some stuff I already had.  The glass jar was a garage sale find, and the mini Buddha and other items are from my fairy garden.


For anyone who is local and shops at Bachmans, they know that the purple striped plastic bag can only mean one thing, plants (or flowers) are inside!


In this case I have a tiny Cyclamen, a variegated flowering maple, a Selaginella and a Hemigraphis (you can barely see it, it’s that purple leaf poking out of the box in the foreground).

I followed Danielle’s instructions by washing my jar first, then adding a layer of pebbles, followed by a layer of dirt.  Then I added my plants and a little more dirt to fill in around them.  Finally I added my mini garden ornaments.

I might have overdone it a bit with the plants because my Buddha is barely peeking his head above them.

By the way, although I’ve had the Buddha and his little temple for a couple of years, I did notice that Bachman’s still carries them so if you are local you can still find them there.

My terrarium cost about $22 to make including the pebbles, potting soil, plants and the garage sale jar.  In other words, it was about the same price as a pretty bouquet of cut flowers, but it’s going to last a bit longer.

I say a ‘bit’ longer because the cyclamen won’t be blooming forever.  And there is a good chance that I will give up on the whole thing by spring and move the rest of the plants into my fairy garden.  But for now I’ll take this to work and enjoy having a tiny garden on my desk while I’m waiting patiently for spring to arrive.