a rusty garden pedestal.

Way, way back about two years ago I picked up this garden pedestal at the White Bear Lake Trash to Treasure Day.  You can click that link to read more about Trash to Treasure Day, but suffice to say, stuff is free at the curb.

After I brought it home I shoved it somewhere in the carriage house and there it sat for two years.

I looked at it a couple of times and thought ‘hmmmm, what should I do with that thing?’  But I never followed through.

That is until it occurred to me a few weeks ago that this piece was the perfect candidate for some Dixie Belle Patina Paint.

Last winter Dixie Belle sent me some of these products free of charge to give them a try.

I used the Prime Start, the Iron paint and the Green spray on a metal lamp to see how well the products worked.  To read those full instructions, check out this how-to post:

This time I decided to go with a slightly bigger project and turn this pedestal into a rusty masterpiece for the garden.

First I started with a little prep.  The paint was starting to peel off of the pedestal and under the paint is just a plaster of paris sort of material.  As I started to sand away the chippy spots of paint I realized that most of it was going to have to come off.

So I got out my razor blade and started scraping off the paint.  I didn’t completely remove all of it, but I did take it all off the top and the bottom portion of the pedestal where most of the peeling was occurring.

Here’s an important q-tip to keep in mind when it comes to working with pieces that are already painted.  Your paint job is only going to adhere as well as the paint underneath it.  So it doesn’t matter how durable your paint is, it’s only going to adhere to that original layer of paint.  And if that paint is peeling off, well, you get the picture, right?  Honestly, that’s probably the number one reason why I normally avoid pieces that have already been painted.  Because you just can’t be sure what you are working with, and I hate stripping paint.

But remember, this pedestal was free at the curb so I figured I could put a little extra work into it and if it’s a massive failure, well, no worries.  It was free.

After removing all of the peeling paint, I painted the entire piece with a coat of Dixie Belle’s Caviar.  If this piece was metal I would have used the Prime Start instead of the regular paint.  In this case my piece is plaster, so I could just use any Dixie Belle paint as a primer.

Once that I was dry I painted on a coat of the Iron paint.  I ended up having to let that dry overnight because it was quite humid outside and this piece has a lot of nooks and crannies that took a while to dry.

The next day I added a second coat of the Iron paint and while that was still wet, I sprayed it with the Green Patina Spray.

Then I just sat back and waited for the magic to happen.

The next day I put my reading glasses on and after taking a closer look I realized that I missed a few spots with the paint entirely, and a few spots weren’t as ‘rusty’ as I wanted them to be.  So I simply dabbed on some more of the Dixie Belle Iron paint and then sprayed those spots with the Green Patina Spray again.  That worked like a charm.

If you’re wondering whether or not this piece will hold up outside in the garden, I have to admit so am I.  I have a plaster Buddha out there and he’s deteriorating quite a bit after several years of year-round outdoor living.

Hmmmm … maybe I should rusty him up too?  But my point is that items made out of clay or plaster that is faux painted to look like concrete don’t last forever outside.  So I suspect this pillar won’t either.

However,  I have been surprised to find that after being in the garden for several weeks and being rained on a few times, if anything, so far the pedestal has developed an even more fabulously rusty patina.

Even the top which has had standing water on it (we’ve had quite a bit of rain) continues to look amazing.

But let’s call this an experiment, shall we?  I’ll keep the pedestal in my garden all summer and then share a review of how well it held up in the fall before I put it away for winter.

So far though, this is a massive improvement over the ‘before’ version wouldn’t you say?

I beg your pardon.

I never promised you a rose garden.

Nonetheless, if you are one of my local readers I am offering you a rose garden today.

This is the view from our back yard.

That is our neighbor Arlene’s rose garden.  Arlene is married to Ken, my handyman neighbor who does all (or most anyway) of my furniture repairs.  They live right next door to us and although we both have fences on the outside edges of our properties, there is no fence down the middle between us.

I’ve admired this lovely view for the past nearly 30 years, why would I want to block it?  And I certainly wouldn’t want to hinder Ken’s ability to walk back and forth from his workshop to my workshop!

As you can see, Ken and Arlene take immaculate care of their yard and garden.  Unfortunately they are starting to find that the roses are just a bit too much maintenance for them now that they are in their 80’s.

As the song goes, along with the sunshine there has to be a little rain sometimes.  So Arlene has decided that this will be the last year for her rose garden.

Both nnK and I offered to help her with the necessary gardening tasks that would allow her to keep the roses for a few more years, but Arlene is having none of it.  If she can’t do it herself, she doesn’t want to rely on others to do it for her.  I also suspect that she realizes that although our hearts are in the right place, it’s doubtful that nnK and I would maintain the roses to her exacting specifications.

So the roses have to go.

She’ll be keeping the rest of her perennial beds, but just digging out the roses and planting grass in that area.

I’m definitely going to miss them.

Arlene has always been very generous with her roses and I’ve used them in many furniture photo shoots.

This is where you come in.  If you are a local reader and you would like to try your hand at growing roses, or if you know someone who would, Arlene’s roses are up for grabs.  Free to a good home.  She plans to start digging them out this week, and hopefully finish up next week.  If you want one, or two, or a dozen, please send me an email at qisforquandie@gmail.com and we can make arrangements for you to pick some up.  If there are no takers we’ll likely put them on Craigslist where they are sure to go quickly.

So smile for a while and let’s be jolly
Love shouldn’t be so melancholy
Come along and share the good times (or at least the roses) while we can.



peony season.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a couple of years or so, you probably already know that peonies are one of my favorite flowers.  They have just two downsides; first, their blooming season is way too short (I wish they would last all summer) and second, ants love them.

I have quite a few old fashioned pink double peonies.  When we purchased our house about 30 years ago there were two of these plants in the existing garden.  Since then I’ve divided them many times, shared them with friends, and moved some back to the cutting garden behind the carriage house.

They are very reliable bloomers and really don’t require much care back there.  I find that the old fashioned varieties of most plants are usually less temperamental than the newer hybrids.  I like to have these out of sight in the cutting garden because then I don’t feel guilty about cutting them all off and bringing them in the house (shaking off the ants first).

I’ve also added a few other varieties to the garden over the years.  The white are definitely the most fragrant.

But my absolutely favorite peony is this gorgeous bright pink variety that I planted about 4 years ago.  I think this is going to be the first year that I get a really good quantity of blooms on the plant.

The color of these peonies just glows from the garden in the evening.  They are so vibrant!

And I think that is exactly what drew me to Dixie Belle’s paint color called Peony.

I wonder if whoever created and named this color also has these peonies growing in their garden.

By the way, I’m faking you out a little with all of the peony photos.  They are from previous years because this year’s peonies aren’t blooming quite yet.  Although they will be soon with this ridiculous heat we’ve been having!  But even though my peonies aren’t quite here, this gorgeous paint color is!  Dixie Belle was kind enough to provide me with some of this paint for a dresser makeover I have planned.  But whenever I try a brand new paint color that I haven’t used before, I like to test it out on a smaller piece before I put it on a large piece of furniture.

So I pulled out one of the chairs that I purchased at the Tangletown sales.

It’s another bottomless chair that is destined to become a planter chair.

So why not go with a vibrant pink!

Well, in the spirit of full disclosure, first I went with Rachel Ashwell chalk paint in a pale blue which was very pretty, but then I opted to try sealing it with Miss Mustard Seed’s Tough Coat Sealer and the original stain on the chair bled through the paint.

This brings me to a good q tip.  If you aren’t familiar with this phenomenon, sometimes even though a pre-existing stain didn’t initially bleed through your paint, once you add a water based sealer over it, the sealer will draw the bleeding stain through the paint.  This can be a huge bummer when you’ve painted your piece and it looks amazing and you’re at the final step of sealing it and bam!  Bleedy stains all over the place.  I don’t really have a great tip for preventing this (unless you want to pre-seal every piece just in case, but that seems extreme to me), but if this happens to you there are a couple of options for dealing with it.  1)  seal the piece with a stain blocking sealer (like Dixie Belle’s BOSS for example), re-paint and then add your water based sealing top coat.  2)  continue on with the water based sealer and once dry paint again, and then add a wax topcoat.  Waxes will not pull the stain through like a water based top coat will.

Or, you can do what I did.  Go with an entirely different color and then seal it with wax.

Speaking of wax, you know how chairs are so much easier to paint if you spray them?  Well, when I went to wax this chair I remembered that a while back Dixie Belle had sent me some of their Easy Peasy spray wax.

It occurred to me that … duh … this stuff would be perfect for chairs!  And it was.

Simply spray it on, wait 10 to 15 seconds and then wipe away any excess.  It truly is Easy Peasy.

So I’ve tested the Peony and I love it, but you probably won’t see that dresser for a couple of weeks.  In the meantime I’ll have a lovely buffet and a couple of other fun projects to share with you first.  So be sure to stay tuned!

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!