a pretty darn good year.

Happy New Year!

I’m back from my blog hiatus and I have to say, it was a little weird.  I’ve taken some breaks from blogging before, but usually I take them while I’m traveling so my time is pretty much occupied.  This time I was just at home, and although I was busy with holiday gatherings, taking down the decorations and even painting a couple of pieces of furniture, I really missed interacting with you guys!  Plus, it was frigidly cold here in Minnesota.  Yesterday we woke up to a windchill of -37.   Funny side story, Mr. Q told me that when he was a kid he thought it was the “windshield factor” and they were talking about how cold the windshield of the car would feel.  Well, either way, -37 feels cold and I was not motivated to go out much.

But that gave me a good opportunity for reflection, and thinking back I realized that 2017 was a pretty darn good year.

In March Mr. Q and I went looking for bald eagles along the Mississippi River with my sister and niece, and we found plenty of them.

I still thank my lucky stars almost daily that my sister and niece moved to Minnesota over two years ago.

Mr. Q and I took an amazing trip in May that started in Copenhagen.

Then there was Norway.

And Scotland.

And finally, England.

I inherited my travel bug from my mom who still works as a travel agent at the age of 77.  Mr. Q and I have been fortunate in being able to travel to some amazing places over the years.  Check out the ‘travel’ category under ‘stuff.’ over on the right side of the page to read some of my travel posts.

My sister bought her house and we helped her move in June.

I feel like this really made it official.  My sister will definitely not be deciding that she hates Minnesota (even though the windshield is -37) and wants to return to New Jersey.  Not that she ever was considering that, but it still feels good that she has put down permanent roots here.

In late summer we redecorated our master bedroom.

We had the floors refinished, added a faux ship lap wall, new light fixtures, a new to us headboard, and I painted all of the furniture in the room (except that bench).

We had help from Ken on the ship lap and the bed, help painting from my sister and help from nnK finding some college kids to do the floors.  I really couldn’t do these things without help from friends and family!

Although we missed a few of our favorite neighborhood sales while I was gone on my trip in May, my sister and I did score some hauls in the fall.

My sister has become the perfect garage saling companion.  She drives, she brings snacks, she’s an expert at packing stuff into the vehicle (all of that stuff fit into her SUV), and most importantly she doesn’t really compete with me for the good stuff.  We have very different styles, so that works out quite well.

I met my idol, Miss Mustard Seed, in October.

Much like many of you, I have been following the Miss Mustard Seed blog for several years.  Earlier this year when Marian announced that she was moving to Minnesota I thought that maybe, just maybe, I’d get a chance to meet her in person.  So it was super exciting to not only get the opportunity to meet her, but also to spend a day at a painting workshop she co-hosted with Carver Junk Co.

That was followed by a fun trip to Disney World with my sister and my niece over Halloween.

I was included in my first magazine just before Christmas which was pretty exciting.

I celebrated my 4th blogiversary in November.

And sprinkled in between all of that I did some painting.

A few of my faves from 2017 include the antique headboard that we used in our master bedroom makeover.

I discovered the Iron Orchid Designs transfers last year and immediately fell in love with them.  One of my favorite pieces with a transfer was this gorgeous Eastlake style dresser.

 A friend of mine suggested using Fusion’s Mustard on this union jack desk, and I loved how it turned out.

My next favorite also included an IOD transfer.  The sizing of the transfers is just about perfect for a typical piece of furniture like this linen press.

My final fave for 2017 isn’t exactly just one thing, and it isn’t exactly a piece of furniture.  It’s more of a … well … what should I call it?  It’s the idea of turning a mirror frame into a chalkboard frame with a shelf instead.  This was one of my greatest discoveries in 2017.  Well, technically I did the first one in November 2016.  I love re-purposing these beautiful frames into something that people want to have in their home.

So there you have it, 2017 was a pretty darn good year.  In fact, I’m beginning to suspect that there is no way I can top it for 2018.  Well, we’ll just have to wait and see.  I did paint some fab pieces during my blog hiatus so be sure to check back later this week to see them.

But in the meantime, did you have a favorite from among the pieces I painted in 2017.  Check out my ‘fab furniture’ page and let me know which one was your favorite!

happy solstice.

Today is the winter solstice here in the Northern Hemisphere.  This is the day of the year with the shortest period of daylight.  Did you know that the Twin Cities are located on the 45th parallel.  That’s exactly halfway between the equator and the North Pole.  This makes us further north than some parts of Canada, like Toronto for example.

I am betting that I am not alone when I say that I struggle with the dark and gloomy days of November and December here at the 45th parallel.  Typically November and December are the least sunny months of the year for us.  Even January has more sunshine.  This time of year I leave for work in the dark, and return back home in the dark, which makes blog photo taking very challenging.

I often tell people that I don’t mind the cold or the snow, but if only winter weren’t so dark.

So I greet the arrival of the winter solstice with some relief knowing that from here on in we are going to slowly start getting more daylight hours each day.  We’ll also start getting more sunshine during those daylight hours.

I am more than ready for that.

In the meantime, I’m going to take a bit of a blogging break over the holidays to regroup, spend time with friends and family, maybe even take a few naps.  But I also want to focus on painting some furniture.

As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve been posting five days a week since September.  I didn’t really mean to start posting every week day, it just sort of happened because I had a lot of smaller projects going on that I wanted to share.

Plus, a I received a few comments on how much readers were enjoying getting a post every day.  I didn’t want to disappoint people by cutting back on the frequency of my posts.

But after taking a bit of time to reflect on that, I’ve realized that daily blogging has taken too much time away from my true love which is painting furniture.  Suddenly the furniture painting is taking a back seat to the blogging instead of the other way around.  In addition, I often find myself rushing thru my projects so that I can get them done in time for another blog post.  Quality is suffering in favor of quantity, and nobody wants that, right?

But don’t worry, I promise I won’t abandon you.  I’ll be back to help you celebrate the new year (and the longer days).

I’ll share a recap of my favorite pieces from 2017 and I’ll definitely have some new furniture makeovers for you.

So be sure to stay tuned and in the meantime happy holidays to you and yours!


family traditions.

Those of you who have been following my blog for a while know that my sister and niece moved here from New Jersey a couple of years ago.  Since they’ve been here we’ve started some new Christmas traditions.  Last year we drove around looking at Christmas lights on Christmas Eve, and I think we’ll do the same this year.

And last Saturday, for the third year in a row, I went to my sister’s house to help with her Christmas baking.  My sister definitely got all of the baking genes in our family, and basically there were none left over for me.  She loves to bake, and she makes a ton of cookies, quick breads and candy at Christmas.

Let’s face it, I really just go over on baking day to hang out, watch Christmas movies and eat cookies.  I do however have one official duty.  Ball rolling.  I wrote about discovering my mad skills at ball rolling the first year I helped Debbie with her baking.

Apparently no one really enjoys this part of the baking process.  My niece made up some lame excuse about being the godmother at a baby christening back in New Jersey just to get out of it.  So this year most of the ball rolling fell to me.

And although my sister cut down on the number of kinds of cookies she was making this year, apparently most of the cookies that require ball rolling remain on the list!  That includes Snicker Doodles, Almond Cookies, Ginger Cookies and Peanut Blossoms.

And this year a new task was added to my to-do list, Hershey Kiss unwrapping.

Yep, I can handle that one too, no problem.  Although now that I think about, maybe that is a bit of a demotion from ball rolling.

When I’m not rolling balls, or surfing Netflix in search of Christmas movies, I play around taking photos with some of my sister’s vintage cookie cutters (even though we really didn’t use these to make any actual cookies).

With all of this going on last weekend, I didn’t have much time to paint furniture or even finish the final post about my tour of Jodie’s house.  But I hope to be sharing that by Friday, and maybe this coming weekend I’ll find time to paint some real furniture.  I’m starting to suffer from withdrawal.

Oh, and one quick public service announcement.  If you’ve been thinking about painting your own gift boxes

Or maybe even just a decorative hat box or two …

the plain cardboard boxes are 50% off this week (thru Saturday, 12/16) at Hobby Lobby making it a great time to stock up.

a two-faced suit case.

One of the things I started painted on the painting day that I shared a last week was a suitcase that I picked up at a garage sale last summer.

That’s it in the ‘before’ photo above.

I think it looks slightly more interesting in that photo that it really was.  It was just your basic hard sided Samsonite.  So I decided to paint it.

I started by painting the bottom portion with Fusion’s Coal Black.  Once that was dry, I taped off a line and painted the top portion in Fusion’s Casement, which is one of their brightest whites.

If this is starting to feel familiar to you, that’s probably because I’ve painted a few of these over the years.  You can see them here, here and here.  That last link is to a post from 2015 when I was going to have a suitcase painting class at my house.  That idea was a bust, by the way.  No one signed up, which was a bit of a bummer.

But anyway, after getting that far with the suitcase I was debating what stencil to use on it when the Christmas sign I painted for my sister caught my eye.

I realized it would fit perfectly on the suitcase.

How cute would that be set up beneath your Christmas tree?  Or sitting beside the door in your foyer to welcome your holiday guests?

But of course it occurs to me that no one wants a suitcase that they can only put out at Christmas.

So why not add a different stencil to the other side?

Once Christmas is over, you can just flip it around.

Now it’s a two-faced suitcase!

a few of my favorites.

This year I decided to pare down my non-collection of vintage ornaments.  Or maybe I should say ‘refine’.  Yes, I like the sound of that better, I decided to refine my non-collection.

I pulled out all of my ornaments and went through them one by one.

I started with all of the solid colored balls.  I sorted them by color and I packaged all of them up to be sold at Reclaiming Beautiful.  Next I sorted through the rest of them and set aside any that I didn’t absolutely love, and those got sold as well.

Leaving me with just a few of my favorites (that is totally sarcastic, unless you consider about 150 or so ornaments to be ‘a few’, bwa, ha, ha).

One of the characteristics that pretty much guarantees a spot in my ‘favorites’ category is hand-painting of any kind.

I find the hand-painted ornaments just so darn charming even when it’s nothing more than a couple of swipes with a brush.

The ornaments also have to fit into my color scheme of pink, aqua, green or silver.

I don’t have a lot of green ornaments, and you’d think this would be a fairly common color, but for some reason it doesn’t seem to be.

But sometimes I deviate from my color palette if the ornament is pretty enough.  For example, just a handful of blue ornaments made the cut.

I also have a small contingent of gold ornaments.

I can’t really explain why these next two ornaments, with their oranges and yellows, made it through.  Except that I love those daisies, and the combination of orange, hot pink and red works for me too.  I think both of these have a 60’s vibe, don’t you?

This last ornament is one of my particular favorites with its hand-painted flowers.  I think they are supposed to be lily of the valley, or possibly white bleeding hearts.  What do you think?

If you are new to my blog and you haven’t already heard me say it, I find most of my vintage ornaments at garage sales and estate sales.  Oftentimes people are selling a bag full of ornaments and the vintage glass ornaments are mixed in with plastic, pipe cleaner, wood or other sorts of ornaments.

It’s less common to find ornaments as a set, or in their original box, but I do sometimes find boxes.

It’s even more rare to find boxes in really good condition like this one.

I almost never find a boxed set of ornaments intact like the one shown above.  I purchased all of those ornaments separately and then put them in a box that came with other mismatched ornaments.  Antique shops will almost always break up sets like these and sell them individually.  I think it’s easier to sell single ornaments for $3.95 each than it is to sell a box of a dozen for $48.

This year I put my silver tree full of vintage ornaments up in my Q Branch next to my giant English cupboard, just around the corner from my black and white decorations.

My pink painted gift boxes are perfect underneath it.

Speaking of which, don’t forget, tonight is the deadline for leaving a comment on my blogiversary post to be in the running to win the Seven Swans a Swimming box full of goodies.  If you haven’t left a comment yet, you still can up until midnight tonight (US Central time).

And gosh, I totally forgot to mention it in my original post, but Fusion also provided a jar of one of their new waxes to throw in with the giveaway.

This is their Rose Gold wax.  I haven’t tried this one yet, but I have tried the new Clear Wax and I loved it (I’ll be sharing more on that tomorrow).  If you win, I hope you’ll try out the Rose Gold wax and let us all know how you like it!

painting day.

A while back my friend Terri mentioned that she’d picked up a couple of boxes and a little stool at a garage sale that she wanted to paint up for Christmas gifts.  So last weekend I suggested she come over to my house for a painting day.  I invited my sister to join us as well.

Terri has become a big fan of Fusion paint since painting her kitchen cabinets with it earlier this fall.  I am planning to write a post about her kitchen, but I haven’t quite gotten around to that yet.

So anyway, she wanted no part of using milk paint, she just wanted to stick with the Fusion.  She started with the little stool and some Limestone.  Once it was painted, I suggested she add a stenciled number to it.  I just happened to have some number stencils that I thought would fit perfectly.  So I asked her what her lucky number is and guess what?  She doesn’t have one!  Of course mine is 22, or in a pinch just 2.  When Terri asked my sister if she had one, she immediately answered “Five!”

Doesn’t everyone have a lucky number?

Well, Terri has one now!  We officially chose the number ‘7’ for her (which, by the way, is the number of siblings in her family).

She chose Coal Black for painting the larger of her boxes, which will be a gift for her son (I’m pretty sure he doesn’t read my blog, so no spoiler alert necessary).

We went through my stash of stencils again for this box and Terri chose the Apothicaire stencil which I think has a more masculine vibe.

Although I only included one of the smaller boxes in my ‘before’ photo, Terri actually had two of them.  The first is intended for her daughter and when I asked her what color she wanted to paint it she settled on yellow.  Believe it or not, Terri carries around the lid to a can of yellow spray paint in her purse that exactly matches the yellow in her daughter’s living room.  Talk about a dedicated mom, right?

It happened to be almost the exact shade of Fusion’s Prairie Sunset.  I had to dig around in my paint stash, but I knew I had a little sample jar of that color somewhere.

I had just enough paint left in the jar to cover the box one time.  Since we weren’t sure if one coat would do it, we started with a base coat of Fusion’s Little Star, which is a brighter yellow, and then we covered that with the Prairie Sunset.

And that’s your q-tip of the day:  if you aren’t sure you have enough paint in your chosen color, but you know you’ll need more than one coat.  Use a similar color as your base coat saving your final color for your last coat.  I suppose you could also just buy more paint, but that’s not very frugal, now is it?

Terri’s second smaller box got painted in the Limestone.  She’s keeping this one, along with the little stool, for her own craft room.

By the way, she chose the warmer Limestone white for these pieces because she also has this dresser in her craft room …

I painted it last spring in Miss Mustard Seed’s Linen which is also a warm white and is very similar to Fusion’s Limestone.

You might be getting the impression that we only worked on Terri’s projects on painting day, but that’s not the case.  My sister brought over a little oil can to paint, but I neglected to get any photos of it.  And I had my own stash of stuff to paint …

But, uh, I sort of didn’t manage to get any of my own pieces finished!  So, you’ll just have stay tuned to see how they all turn out!

four years in.

It’s my blogiversary!  As of today I have four years of blogging under my belt.  I’ve written 736 posts and had 121,042 visitors to the blog with 338,987 views of my posts, and those numbers don’t include those who are following via email (another 86,000 views for 2017 alone).

Wowza!  I definitely did not see those kinds of numbers in my future when I started this blogging thing.

I started my blog on Thanksgiving weekend, 2013.  The only reason I started then was because I happened to have some time on my hands with the four day weekend.  I wasn’t thinking ahead to the idea that my upcoming blogiversaries would coincide with Thanksgiving weekend and thus become the perfect opportunity each year to express my gratitude for my readers.

In other words, I couldn’t have planned that better if I’d tried.

So here we are at the perfect time of year for thinking about the things we are thankful for, and I want to take this opportunity to say that I am extremely thankful for all of you!  I have the most supportive, thoughtful, kind, enthusiastic, insightful, creative … well, let’s just face it, positively brilliant readers out there in all of blogland.

I cherish each one of you and I appreciate each and every comment that you leave whether it be short or long.

It wouldn’t be a blogiversary celebration without a giveaway, so be sure to read to the end of the post for more details!

In light of the announcement earlier this fall that this will be the last season of Fixer Upper, I’ve been thinking about longevity a lot lately.  How quickly people rise to the height of fame, and then either move on to other things or disappear off the map entirely (not that I’m saying that will happen to Chip & Joanna!).  Or conversely, how many start something and then just fizzle out quietly.

I’ve been at my day job for 30 years (I know, crazy right?), we’ve lived in our house for 29 years.  We’ve been married for 28 years (yes, Mr. Q and I shacked up before we got married).

And I’ve been painting furniture for more than 20 years.  Since long before chalk paint or milk paint became all the rage, and definitely before blogging was even a thing.  Actually, the internet itself was just getting rolling back then.

I know it’s terribly ‘old school’ of me, but I place some value on longevity.

I guess it goes without saying that when I find something that works for me, I tend to stick with it through thick or thin (whether it’s a job or a marriage, or so far even a blog).

That seems to definitely be the exception rather than the rule when it comes to blogging.

I’ve watched so many blogs come and go over the past four years.  And I totally get it.  Blogging is very time consuming, and the financial payoff for most is fairly minimal if not pretty much non-existent.

I could work harder to promote my blog, and I could ‘monetize’ it (by adding those annoying pop-up ads).  I know there are a handful of bloggers out there who have been able to quit their day jobs and live on their blog revenue, but I think that is pretty rare and not always long lasting.  I have no plans to ‘monetize’, and in fact I just upgraded to the next level of WordPress which means you’ll no longer even see those ads at the bottom of each post (you’re welcome!).

I do get one awesome financial benefit from the blog though, free product.  I’ve gotten paint and other supplies from Little Billy Goat, Rachel Ashwell, Real Milk Paint Co, Fusion, Homestead House and Miss Mustard Seed.  This benefit has been totally amazing!  It’s like getting a fun gift every time I receive a box of stuff in the mail. Although most of these have been one time deals, the Fusion/Homestead House people have been incredibly generous in continuing to send product on an ongoing basis.

Over time I’ve dabbled with increasing my exposure through HomeTalk and a Facebook page, and I’ve thought about adding Instagram.  There seem to be a million other options for social media these days.  But those things all take up valuable time that I’d rather be devoting to either refurbishing vintage furniture or to writing the blog posts themselves.  After putting in the time at my full-time day job (the one that actually pays the bills), there are only so many hours left in a day and I have to choose what I spend them on wisely based on my personal goals.

So, if I’m not doing this blog thing for financial gain and I have no immediate desire to focus on expanding my exposure, why am I doing it?

The answer is really very simple.  Because I love it.

It totally makes my day when I get comments from you guys about how much you enjoyed a post.  I also get a huge kick out of meeting people and having them say “I just love your blog!”  It’s always fun when someone tells me they were inspired by one of my projects.

I really enjoy the photography side of blogging as well.  Staging a piece to take photos of it is one my favorite aspects of blogging.  I’ve been working on improving my photography skills which has been pretty fulfilling.

Writing blog posts is also something I enjoy.  I’d never considered myself much of a writer before, but as it turns out I take some pleasure in writing a good blog post.

But most especially, I really relish the process of taking a beat up old piece of furniture and giving it a new lease on life.  I feel a certain zen-like sense of peace when I am alone in my workshop with some Pink Martini playing (anyone?) and a paint brush in my hand.  I could (and often do) spend hours just painting stuff.  I know I would do this with or without a blog.

You see, I am a furniture painter first and a blogger second and maybe that’s why I have managed to keep at it for four years now.

So thanks to all of you for sticking at it with me, and here’s to many more years!

As I mentioned at the start of this post, it wouldn’t be a blogiversary without a giveaway right?!  I wish I could just send this gift to each and every one of you, but that isn’t possible so instead I will draw a name at random from the comments left on this blog post by Thursday, November 30 at midnight (U.S. Central time).  The winner will receive a Seven Swans a Swimming box, a copy of the issue of Vintage Holiday magazine with a story about my ornament non-collection, a jar of Fusion’s English Rose (provided by Fusion!), five vintage pink bell ornaments (crossing my fingers that they will arrive intact!), and a pretty hair pin I made using a pretty vintage earring.  I might find a few other things to toss in as well.

Best of luck to you!  And thanks for helping me celebrate my 4 year blogiversary!