my big announcement.

I have big news to share with you today.  I’m retiring from the day job!

Honestly, I can hardly believe it myself.  It hasn’t really sunk in yet.  But November 30 will be my last day as a 9 to 5’er.

Most people plan months, or even years, in advance for retirement.  They have a target date in mind and they count down the remaining months, and then days, until the big day.  They have plenty of time to wrap their heads around the idea of being retired.

It didn’t quite happen that way for me.

Up until recently, I always said that I would work until 65 to avoid paying the high cost of health insurance.  After all, I loved my job.  It was my home away from home.  I had a beautiful office, tasks that I enjoyed doing, great benefits and pay, an easy commute, and co-workers that were like family to me.  Why wouldn’t I keep working?

But then the uppermost management position turned over.  Things started to go downhill, and then people started leaving.  One by one, people that I had worked with for decades were handing in their notices.

The atmosphere has grown increasingly stressful and I have never seen such low morale throughout the entire workforce in all of my 34 years with my employer.  It got to the point where the stress was causing me to toss and turn at night, and to dread Monday mornings.  When I found myself crying in my car in the Target parking lot over my lunch hour, I realized that it was time to move on.  Life is too short to spend it this way.

Fortunately, I am eligible for a pension and Mr. Q and I have been putting money away for years in anticipation of retirement.  Both of which will make it possible for me to retire so much earlier than I ever planned on.

And that brings me to the fun part of this post.  As of December 1, I am FREE!  No more full time job.  No more struggling to cram blog projects into the weekend.  No more alarm clock.  No more commuting in a snow storm.  No more feeling inadequate because I can’t meet unreasonable demands.

I am super excited to discover whatever the future might hold, the possibilities are endless.  And I’m also really looking forward to having more time to devote to painting furniture, repurposing vintage finds and posting here on q is for quandie!


the french linens box.

My picker, Sue, found this funky homemade wooden storage box for me a while back.

Here’s what it looked like on the inside.

I suspect it was meant for holding some particular item, possible a power tool of some kind?

Although I thought those built in features inside the lid were cool, I felt like the box would be more functional without them, so I removed them.

After giving the box a good clean, I painted the outside in Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth, and the inside in their Gravel Road.  Once the paint was dry, I took a step back and ultimately decided that I would prefer Sawmill Gravy on this piece rather than the Drop Cloth.  Especially since I planned to do another subtle tone on tone stencil design on the box.  So I painted over the Drop Cloth with Sawmill Gravy.  Then I pulled out the same stencils I used on the spooky nightstand and stenciled the outside of the box using Dixie Belle’s Fluff.

Next up I pulled out one of my French stencils and added some wording to the top of the box, and then a crown to the front of the box.

Once that was done, I sanded to distress and gave the outside a coat of clear wax.

Next up I decided to line the inside of the lid with some pretty decoupage paper that I’d purchased a while ago from Roycycled.  Someone here had left a comment once asking if I’d tried this paper, and I had not.  They have some really pretty designs, so I thought I’d give it a go.

Unfortunately, it was a complete failure.

I’m so used to using the with prima decoupage paper, which is pretty much completely fool proof, that I never even considered that this paper would be so delicate.  I used my normal process for decoupaging, I cut the paper to size first, then painted on a layer of Dixie Belle’s flat clear coat, then placed my paper down.  So far, so good.  Then I added a layer of the clear coat over the top of the paper, and it started to wrinkle.  As I tried to smooth out the wrinkles, I ended up tearing the paper instead.  Ugh.  So frustrating!  Then I tried to smooth the tear a bit, and tore the paper even more.

At that point I decided to cut my losses and pull the paper out of there before the clear coat had a chance to dry.

Well, live and learn.  Perhaps it was user error on my part, and I didn’t have quite the right technique for working with the Roycycled paper.  Regardless, I’m going back to using the with prima decoupage tissue paper, and, FYI, they just came out with a bunch of pretty new designs (check them out here).  But for this box, I pulled out an old black & white design that I had on hand from back when I was a content creator for them.

Not a wrinkle in sight.

If you gave up on decoupaging because it was so finicky, or you didn’t like the wrinkles, you really need to give it another go using this stuff.

In addition to using the Dixie Belle flat clear coat over the decoupage paper, I also gave the entire interior of the box a couple of coats for durability.

And now this box could be used to store your favorite vintage linens.

Or maybe a few of your winter sweaters, or possibly some of your Christmas decor.

Really, who doesn’t just need a cool box to store their treasures in?

If any of you locals are interested, this box is for sale and the details can be found on my ‘available for local sale‘ page.

Thank you to Dixie Belle Paint Co for supplying their products used in this makeover.


colors for fall.

Recently Dixie Belle was kind enough to send me all of the colors in their new Suzanne’s Fall Colors line.

They are all perfectly cozy colors for this time of year!

So I decided to use as many of them as possible on one project.  Well, lol, not really.  I didn’t make a concrete decision to do that, it just sort of turned out that I was able to use three out of the five colors on today’s project.

A while back one of my readers gave me a bunch of drop down table leaves that had been removed from tables.  A pair of them were the perfect size for my Farmers Market stencil from Wallcutz.

I decided to give them a little texture first using the Dixie Belle Sea Spray texture additive.  I mixed it with some of their Colonel Mustard paint and stippled it onto the surface of my table leaf.  Once that was fully dry, I sanded it back just a bit to take down the high peaks.  I’ve found that I prefer a slightly more subtle textured look, and this is a great way to achieve it.

Next up I painted the first leaf in one of Suzanne’s Fall Colors called Juniper.  Then I added a shadow of my stencil first using the Latte color.

I only ‘shadowed’ the word FARMERS and the little doo-dads on either side of MARKET.  Then I followed that up by painting the full stencil in Cashmere.

Full disclosure, I staged and photographed this sign before I left on my trip out to my mom’s.  So I didn’t really have any great fall color in my garden yet, although my Sweet Autumn clematis was blooming like mad.

So I had to fake the autumn vibes a bit with some pumpkins.

One of my regulars has already snagged this sign, so it’s not available for sale.

For the 2nd of the leaves, I painted it in Dixie Belle’s Midnight Sky (over the mustard sea spray texture).  And to be completely honest, I can’t exactly remember which colors I used for the stenciling on this second one!

I may have used the same ones, but then again, I may not have.  I think I used Dixie Belle’s Putty on this one instead though.  I really should write these things down when I’m not going to get to blogging about them right away!

And this one is still available, so if any of you locals have a spot for it, be sure to check out my ‘available for local sale‘ page for all of the details.

Anyway, what do you think of my table leaf signs?  And how about those new fall colors from Dixie Belle?  Which one is your favorite?

the floral anthology tackle box.

Today I have another toolbox to share with you guys.  Only, wait, it’s not technically a toolbox.  It’s a tackle box.

Here’s the before …

A fairly beat up, and rather dreary putty color.

Sometimes I choose to gut these tackle boxes so that they have more open space for storing something inside, but this time I decided to leave the tray in place and just spray paint the interior.  I used Rustoleum’s Chalked spray paint in Charcoal, and I gave it a couple of coats of their Matte Clear Coat spray for protection.

Now you could use this tackle box for jewelry, or for your makeup.  Or really anything you want.

Once I had the inside painted, I painted the outside in Dixie Belle’s Sawmill Gravy.  Once dry, naturally I followed that up with some fabulous transfers.

The little bee under the handle is one of with prima’s knob transfers.  The rest of the wording is from IOD’s Label Ephemera transfer, including the Paris 1858 on the front …

The floral transfer is more of the IOD Floral Anthology transfer that I’ve been using lately.

This time I used two halves, one to the right of the clasp and one to the left.

  I wrapped them around the sides …

And in front they meet in the middle.

Once the transfer was in place, I sanded lightly around all of the edges and then sealed this piece with Dixie Belle’s flat clear coat.

If you’re keeping track, this is the 3rd project that I have used sections of this one transfer on, starting with the belles fleurs suitcase

Followed by the the herbier toolbox

And now the floral anthology tackle box.  Plus I have enough left to do one more small project.

So if you’ve been looking at these transfers and thinking they are a bit pricey at around $30, keep in mind that you can get a number of small projects out of them.  Or of course, you could just do one large piece of furniture with them as well.

Isn’t she pretty?  The colors in the transfer look much more vibrant with the Sawmill Gravy behind them as opposed to the Putty and the original color of that suitcase.  Personally I love all three looks though, how about you?

FYI, this item has already gone to a good home and isn’t available for sale.

the naturalist’s toolbox.

I’ve got another toolbox to share with you guys today.

This time I gave the green one on the top of the pile a makeover.

I initially gave it a paint job using Dixie Belle’s Gravel Road on the inside, and Drop Cloth on the outside.  But it felt a bit too plain to me after that, so I painted the ends in Dixie Belle’s French Linen.

After distressing the paint job a bit, I dressed it up with transfers from a variety of sources.  The wording is from IOD’s Label Ephemera transfer, the butterfly on the top is from with prima’s Parisian Butterflies.

  The sprigs of flowers on the front are from another of with prima’s older retired transfers, and I didn’t even retain the name of it so I apologize for that.  However, if you’re looking for something similar, this one from Dixie Belle might work for you.

After painting the inside in the Gravel Road, I added a bit of with prima’s Dark Damask decoupage décor tissue paper to the bottom.

I’ve yet to find another product that works as well for decoupaging.  I did give another brand of tissue paper a try and it was a dismal failure (I’ll be sharing that in a future post).  This décor tissue paper doesn’t tear and it doesn’t wrinkle, and it’s super easy to apply with some Dixie Belle clear flat coat.  I just ordered a couple of their newest designs to have on hand for my next toolboxes!

In the meantime, I hate to tell you, but this one is already sold.  One of my regulars purchased it along with the Farmers Market headboard sign that I shared a couple of weeks ago.

But I thought I’d still share it here with all of you.

What do you think?

the bloom where you are planted toolbox.

I have another painted toolbox to share with you today.

Unfortunately I totally neglected to get a good ‘before’ photo of this one.

It’s actually the one at the back beneath the dark green one.  You can just see a bit of it there, and you can sort of see that someone half spray painted it brown.

Well, I painted over the outside in Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth and I painted the inside in their Mint Julep.  Then I pulled out some scraps from the Cosmic Roses transfer from with prima.  I’ve been using bits and pieces of this transfer on various things.  You last saw it on the Laundry Co sign …

I only had a few scraps left, but I was still able to trim them up and place them on both the outside of this toolbox …

plus on the inner tray …

This toolbox has a sort of bump out that holds the tray in place about half way down, and I was easily able to wrap the transfer around that.

I stenciled the top, and inside the tray using Dixie Belle’s Golden Gem Mousse.

I think the colors on this one are so pretty.

Normally this is the part where I mention that this toolbox is for sale locally, but this one has already gone home with its new owner.

I have a few more toolboxes coming up in the line up, plus a few other small projects I’ve been working on.  So be sure to check back next week!

As always, thanks to Dixie Belle Paint Co for providing the paint used for this project and to with prima for supplying the Cosmic Roses transfer.

the herbier toolbox.

First up, I just want to thank everyone who left a comment on Monday’s post.  I didn’t have time to respond to all of them this week, but I did read every one.  Also, for anyone who didn’t leave a comment, you can still get one in by midnight tonight for a chance to win a bag of Dixie Belle’s Sea Spray so be sure to check that out.

I did find time to do a little toolbox painting over the last week or two, so I thought I’d share one of those with you guys today.

Since my workshop out in the carriage house is not climate controlled, I have to strike while the iron is hot … or, well … not too hot, but not too cold either, and also not too humid.  In other words, when the conditions outside are perfect for painting, it’s a good chance for me to get a lot of stuff painted assembly line style.

With the toolboxes I start by piling them up on the lawn and giving them all a good wash with the hose and some spray Dawn dish soap.  Once dry, I sand them lightly (more if they are rusty, less if they aren’t) and then wipe them down again.  Then I add a coat of Dixie Belle’s clear BOSS to the rusty ones to slow down the rust coming through the paint.  I say ‘slow down’ because I don’t know that BOSS inhibits further rusting.  I suspect that over time they will continue to rust, just not as quickly.

I leave the BOSS to dry for a day, then start with painting the insides of all the toolboxes.  I painted one inside with DB’s Drop Cloth, one in their Mint Julep, one in Gravel Road, and one in Blueberry.  It’s lucky that I have a lot of paint brushes so that I can have lots of colors going at one time.

Once the insides are done, I move on to the outsides.  I used DB’s Putty, Drop Cloth, and French Linen on the outsides.  I generally paint all of the sides and tops one day, then the bottoms another day.  Sometimes that process takes twice as long because I decide to do a two-tone look on the outside (you’ll see that one later).  Once all of that is dry they are finally ready for the fun part, dressing them up.

Here is how this first toolbox started out …

Super red, and super crusty.  I love the shape of it though, and the way it opens up with two sides that are on hinges.

After its coat of BOSS, this one got two coats of Drop Cloth on the inside followed by a couple of coats of DB’s flat clear coat to protect it.  Then I added some of with prima’s decoupage paper to line the bottom.

For the outside of this one I decided to step outside of my Dropcloth box and paint it in Dixie Belle’s Putty.  I thought that the Putty would create the perfect backdrop for the IOD Floral Anthology transfer that I wanted to put on the front.

I think this color provided a little more depth to the overall look of the toolbox.

Once I had the floral section in place, I added some wording from the IOD Label Ephemera transfer.

The little crown on the top is from a with prima Classic Vintage Labels transfer.

I added a couple of coats of Dixie Belle’s flat clear coat over everything to protect it.

I absolutely love how this one turned out.  It may be my favorite toolbox so far.

It would be perfect for storing craft supplies.  But I think I’d consider keeping my makeup in there too.  You could also store your scarves in there.  So many possibilities!

I am selling this one, and I’m pretty sure there wasn’t anyone left on my painted toolbox waiting list, so this one will be up for grabs.  Be sure to check out my ‘available for local sale‘ page if you are local and in need of a fabulous painted toolbox.

As always, thank you to Dixie Belle Paint Co for supplying the BOSS, the paint and the clear coat used on this project.

the crackled box.

Remember the wooden box I found while garage saling a few weeks back?  You can see it here behind the Land O’Lakes recipe box …

The seller said he thought it was part of an old record player or radio cabinet, although he really wasn’t sure.

I thought it would be fun to paint it up so someone could use it to store their treasures, whatever they might be.

I also thought this old box was a great candidate for milk paint.  I haven’t been using as much milk paint these days simply because it can be so unpredictable.  And as you’re about to see, once again it surprised me.

I wanted to do some color layering on this one too.  So I started with painting the entire thing with a base coat of Dixie Belle’s Kudzu inside and out.  Next I mixed up some of Sweet Pickens milk paint in Window Pane and added it to the outside of the box.  When I went back out to my workshop the next day the milk paint was thoroughly crackled.

I’m not entirely sure why this happened.  I mixed the milk paint on the thicker side, so that might be part of it.  I also don’t know what kind of finish was on this box originally.  Sometimes milk paint will crackle when applied over shellac, although I had painted this one with that coat of Kudzu so that shouldn’t have mattered.  Otherwise it usually takes some heat to get this kind of crackling, and it certainly wasn’t hot here when I painted this (it was before the massive heat wave we had last week).  However, if you ever want to end up with a crackle finish using milk paint you can dry it using the high heat on your blow dryer to get this effect on purpose.  Putting your piece out in the hot sun to dry will sometimes cause crackling as well.

Anyway, like I said, milk paint can be unpredictable.  Sometimes it crackles and you’re not sure why.  If you’re using milk paint you will save your sanity if you are prepared to go with the flow.

And the crackling looks pretty cool on this old box, not to mention authentic.

To give the box even more character, I added some sections from the IOD Label Ephemera transfer to the front …

and to the top …

Use caution when adding a transfer over chippy, crackled milk paint.  If there is any loose paint, the sticky transfer will pick up the paint rather than the transfer sticking to your piece.  To prevent that you can either sand well, being sure to vacuum away any dust or chips, which is what I did here.  Or you can topcoat the paint with a clear water based sealer like Dixie Belle’s flat clear coat, before applying the transfer.

As you can see in my photos, not much of my undercoat of the Kudzu green shows through.  Instead the milk paint took the Kudzu with it and chipped right down to the wood.  However, I did keep the Kudzu on the interior.

And then I lined it with some October Afternoon scrapbook paper.

So, like I said, milk paint can be unpredictable.  But as long as you are OK with rolling the dice a bit, it’s a fun medium to work with.  If you love the chippy look, it can’t be beat.

How about you?  Are you a fan of the crackled or chippy look?  Or would you rather just stick with chalk paint for a more predictable, smooth finish?

I took this box in to Reclaiming Beautiful, the shop in Stillwater where I sell on consignment, this week.  So if any of you locals are in need of a cool treasure box it might be time for a shopping trip!


and now for the fun part.

I mentioned a week or two ago that I was working on a pair of custom painted toolboxes.  I held off on posting them until today because one (or both?) of them was intended as a birthday present to be gifted to its recipient yesterday and I didn’t want to give away the surprise.

I have to confess, I don’t exactly enjoy the prep phase of toolbox painting.  The toolboxes are often super grungy and need to be cleaned, sanded and sealed before I can even get to the painting part.  But that is a necessary evil and you can’t skip those steps.  Fortunately, these two toolboxes weren’t terribly dirty so the prep wasn’t too difficult.

I do enjoy the painting phase.  Picking out pretty colors for the insides is fun, and it’s not as though it’s hard labor doing the actual painting.  It’s just a bit time consuming with painting the full insides and outsides, and having to wait for different bits to dry before moving on to other bits.

In this case I painted one toolbox in solid Dixie Belle Drop Cloth, and the other is Drop Cloth with a French Linen stripe down the middle (I’ll share the inside colors in a minute).

Once painted, I sanded to distress and then added a coat of Dixie Belle’s flat clear coat.

And now for the fun part!  Each of them is like a blank canvas just waiting for me to dress them up however I like.  Although this particular customer requested ‘words’, so that’s what I went with … at least on the outside.

I came up with a fun plan to make one of the toolboxes ‘British’ and the other ‘French’.  I used a variety of transfer scraps from IOD’s Label Ephemera and with prima’s Lovely Ledger furniture transfer and Parisienne knob transfers.

I started with the smaller one.

Obviously this is the ‘British’ version complete with crown.

Or should I say crowns …

since the little bees on the front have crowns too.

This one is painted in Dixie Belle’s Peony inside giving it a lovely pop of bright pink.

I lined it with with prima’s Celeste decoupage décor tissue paper.

The larger toolbox is the ‘French’ version, which seemed appropriate since it had that stripe of French Linen down the middle.

I just love the look of French text even though I have very little idea what it says.  Something about herbs, and amateurs, and maybe the king?

I used one of my favorite Classic Vintage Labels from with prima on the top.

I brought Dixie Belle’s Blueberry paint back out for the interior of this one.

I loved it so much from the last toolbox that I used again here, and I ordered more of it!

And this time I did something new.  I kept the tray that came with the toolbox and painted it up as well.

I lined it with with prima’s Fancy Essence decoupage decor tissue paper, which worked beautifully with the Blueberry paint color.  This time I used Dixie Belle’s flat clear coat as a decoupage medium and it worked beautifully.  So if you like a flat finish, even over your decoupage, give it a try.

I don’t typically keep the trays, but in this case the customer requested it.  I worry that taking the tray in and out is likely to scratch up the interior paint.  Those trays typically have some pretty sharp corners.  No matter how durable the paint finish, those sharp corners are going to scratch it.

But heck, a little wear and tear never hurt anyone, right?

So, tell me, which is your favorite?

French or English?

Thank you to Dixie Belle for providing the paint and flat clear coat that I used on these toolboxes.

when it rains, it pours.

At the middle of last week I was lamenting how dry the ground was for spring.  Typically we get plenty of rain this time of year, so it was odd that I was debating getting out the sprinkler in mid-May.  But then it rained … and rained … and then rained some more.  That’s because I had taken a couple of days off at the day job.  First to recover from vaccination number two, and second, to get some stuff done in the garden.  If we need rain, all I have to do is take a vacation day to work in the garden and voila!  Rain.

OK, maybe I’m being just a little bit dramatic.

And the real reason for that blog post title has to do with old toolboxes rather than weather.

You may remember that the last time I posted one of my painted toolboxes it was already spoken for and I had several people who wanted to buy it.  I was really wishing I had more.

Here’s the thing about the toolboxes.  At the price I sell them for, I really can’t pay more than $10 for the toolbox to start with.  And it’s better if I can get them for $5 or less (even then I’m probably making about $5 an hour for the time that goes into them).

That may sound impossible, but they can be found at garage sales for those kind of prices.  At least here in my area (Twin Cities, MN).  I never find them that cheap at thrift stores though.  So back in February when I posted that last toolbox, I knew I probably wouldn’t have more to paint until garage sale season.

Then one of my readers contacted me and asked if I’d paint up a couple of toolboxes that she already had.  Typically I don’t do custom work, but I will make an exception if the client gives me carte blanche to do what I want, which she did.  I’ll be sharing what I did with her toolboxes in a separate post, so stay tuned for that one.

Next one of my co-workers found another toolbox for me and oops, I totally forgot to get a ‘before’ picture.  Well, no worries, you can just imagine an old rusty metal ‘before’.

For this one, I followed my usual prep process for old toolboxes; sanding down the rust a bit, cleaning well (in this case I used Dixie Belle’s White Lightning cleaner to remove any greasy residue), and then sealing the box with Dixie Belle’s BOSS which will help prevent the rust from coming back through the paint.

Then I painted the inside in a Dixie Belle color that I had not used before, Blueberry.

Isn’t that a lovely color?  Sort of a periwinkle blue.  I love pulling out these pretty colors for the insides of the toolboxes.  I’m not sure I’d ever paint a full on piece of furniture in this shade, but it’s perfect for a pop of color inside something like this.  And I’d definitely use this color on a kid sized chair.

Next I painted the outside in Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth.  Then I pulled out my transfer scrap pile.  I have quite a few remnants of transfers left over from projects where the entire transfer didn’t quite fit.  I had a 4″ section left from the bottom of the large version of IOD’s Le Petit Rosier transfer and it fit perfectly on the front of the toolbox.

Then I pondered what to put on the top.  With all of my other toolboxes, I’ve been sticking with just black transfers.  This time I decided to add a little color with some florals.

I had a partially used with prima transfer called Wondrous Floral II, it has the prettiest flowers and in particular I thought the blue hydrangea would tie in well with the Blueberry interior of the toolbox.  The transfer didn’t fit perfectly ‘as is’, I ‘cut and pasted’ the individual flowers where I wanted them.

I added one to the side of the toolbox as well.

I left the handle and latch untouched.

They have an awesome patina, don’t they?

This toolbox would be the perfect container for gardening, or floral arranging, supplies.

Sidebar note, that is one of my favorite lilacs.  Isn’t it gorgeous?

If you’ve followed the saga of my sad lilac hedge, that lilac is one of the original plants I put in 10 years ago.  I started out with a row of really gorgeous modern hybrids rather than the classic old fashioned variety (because of course, who wouldn’t want the prettier ones?).  None of the hybrids have done well.  Over the last 8 years or so I have ended up pulling out at least one or two at a time and replacing them with the plain, old fashioned ones.

The old fashioned ones are growing (and blooming) like gangbusters now, while the hybrids continue to look scraggly.  I’ll be pulling out two more this year and replacing them.

Anyway, I digress.  Back to today’s post.  You might be thinking hey, she said ‘when it rains it pours’ and three toolboxes don’t really constitute pouring.  Especially when two of them are custom projects.

Well, while I was working on these three, my picker found 4 more toolboxes for me!

So there’s going to be a few more painted toolboxes in my future.

In the meantime, this one is already spoken for.  If anyone would like to be on a waiting list for the next four, be sure to send me an email at

So, tell me, what do you think of this one?  Are you a fan of the flowers, or do you prefer the wordier ones?  And have any of you had success with hybrid lilacs?  I’d love to know, so be sure to leave me a comment.

Thank you to Dixie Belle Paint Co for providing some of the products used in this toolbox makeover.