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!

decorating for free.

I’ve been hemming and hawing a bit about my outside Christmas decorations this year.  I really didn’t want to spend any money on them and usually I spend well over $100 on pretty evergreens to fill my planters.  So initially I was thinking I would just skip the outside stuff this time around.

I’ve got to be honest and admit that part of the problem is my tendency to compare myself to other bloggers.  I have been admiring all of the gorgeous decorating that some of the other bloggers out there are doing, and I really didn’t think I could measure up on my budget of $0.  I really wasn’t even sure if I could measure up on my $100+ budget.

So the insecure defeatist inside of me decided to give up before I even started.

But then last weekend we had a bright and sunny (albeit a bit chilly) Saturday and I decided to at least put the twig lights up in my front window box.  Once those were in place I thought, what the heck, I could certainly fill the window box with a few of the bazillion dried hydrangea flowers that were still on my bushes.  Once those were in place I could see that the arrangement desperately needed at least a bit of evergreen, so I clipped some random clumps from my arborvitae hedge and threw those in.

And guess what?  For a cost of $0 it looked pretty good.  At that point I was on a roll.  Why not go ahead and do the planter by the back door too?

I used some birch logs and some rusty metal ornaments that I already had, plus the same arborvitae and dried hydrangeas from my garden.

Next why not do the galvanized boiler planter on the side of the carriage house too?!

While working on that one I remembered the old pair of snow shoes that my neighbor, nnK, dug out of a dumpster for me.

What?  Don’t your neighbors bring you treasures from the trash?

I wasn’t quite sure what I would do with those when she first brought them over, but I realized they would fit perfectly in this planter.

I just tucked them in the back behind the evergreens.

And then I added some hydrangea.  As the crowning touch (pardon the pun), I tossed in a metal crown that usually sits in the garden.

It feels like the planter is positively bursting with stuff, all of which cost me again, $0.

But wait, there’s more!

While I was digging around in the carriage house for stuff I could use, I came across an old fake Christmas tree that was also being discarded when I grabbed it (so again, $0).  I’ve always thought it would be fun to have a Christmas tree out in the garden, but I’d never gotten around to putting it up before.

Up it went.

I added a string of white lights that I already had on hand, and then I decorated it from the garden.

In addition to the dried hydrangeas, I also used dried allium flower heads as well as some curly willow branches.

Then I tucked in things like this watering can …

and a vintage kid sized shovel.  Just fun vintage garden stuff that I already had on hand.

I placed the tree so that it’s perfectly centered outside the bay window in my piano room, just behind Cossetta, my statue.  I love the way the tree looks lit up at night just outside the window.  I think it will be even prettier when we get a bit of snow.

For spending $0, I think I did pretty good.  I’ve definitely proven that you don’t have to spend a bunch of money to decorate for the holidays.  I realize that not everyone has loads of dried flowers to harvest, or a spare faux Christmas tree lying around somewhere.  But today when everyone else is out spending a gazillion dollars, I hope I’ve inspired you to think about using whatever you already have in a new way and decorating for free this Christmas!


vintage sled, take two.

Last year I picked up a few vintage sleds at garage sales and then added stencils to them.

I had them at my occasional sale that fall and two out of three sold.

But there were no takers for this one.

It’s easy to see why.  There just isn’t enough contrast between the wood sled and the black stencil.  But at the time my sale was looming and I didn’t have time to re-work it.  After my sale I tucked it away in the back of the carriage house and there it sat along with those ski’s that I posted on Tuesday.

So I pulled the sled out a week or so ago knowing that a do-over was in order.

I started by painting the wood with just one coat of Homestead House’s Coal Black milk paint.  I really just slapped it on somewhat haphazardly because I planned to distress it heavily anyway so I didn’t need precise coverage.  Plus, because I was painting over bare wood (much like with the ski’s) the paint really soaked in and provided great coverage with just one coat.

Then I debated what stencil to use.  I thought about another Christmas stencil, but that would mean that the sled has to be put away after Christmas.  Why not go more generic so that the sled can be a winter decoration rather than just a Christmas decoration?  No need to put it away until spring!

I also needed a stencil that would fit the width of the sled.  I ended up pulling out this pretty stencil that I’ve only used a couple of times.

I know it’s a little hard to believe looking at the pictures, but I used an acrylic craft paint in a dark greige for the stencil.  This color from FolkArt is called Barn Wood.  I prefer using this cheap acrylic paint for stenciling because it tends to dry out a bit over time, getting nice and thick, which helps give my stenciling a crisp edge.

I got a more ‘faded ‘ sort of look by using this color rather than white, and in contrast to the black background it still reads as ‘white’.

After sanding the wood heavily to distress I put the tiniest amount of Miss Mustard Seed furniture wax on a cloth and then wiped the painted wood down.  I didn’t really apply wax like one would normally, I didn’t work it into the surface or buff it or anything like that.  I mainly just used the tackiness of it on my cloth to remove any remaining loose paint.

I love the worn, dull, muted appearance of the black without any other top coat.  It works perfectly with the metal rails of the sled.

Once I had it all done I really loved the way it looked paired with my Specimens cupboard, but size-wise it just wasn’t working with some other plans I have for that spot.

Then I remembered that I had another sled out in the carriage house, so I pulled that one in the house and painted it the same exact way.

This one is a bit smaller and will be staying with me.

I took the larger sled in to Reclaiming Beautiful this week, so hopefully it will go to a new home soon!

Meanwhile Mr. Q and I are off to a creative writing workshop this morning taught by one of his favorite college professors Alison McGhee, so obviously next week my blog posts are going to be massively improved.  At least the writing part.  So be sure to stay tuned!


and I’m back.

It feels so good to be back home from my trip to Disney World.  Last night I got the best night’s sleep in my own cozy bed, and this morning my feet feel like they might actually eventually recover from all of that walking.

I have a fun milk paint giveaway planned for later this week …

And I’ll also be sharing a gorgeous hutch that I recently finished but have yet to post about here on the blog …

But for today my plan was to tell you all about the tour around the world that we took in Epcot last week.  As it turns out that was an incredibly optimistic plan.  Between catching up on laundry, an 80th birthday party for my handyman/neighbor Ken and prepping holiday items to take to Reclaiming Beautiful, I really didn’t find the time to pull together the Epcot blog post yesterday.  I didn’t find time for a nap either, and that was way at the top of my to-do list!

But I did pull out lots of great Christmas stuff to take in to the shop.  I’m going through my massive non-collection of vintage glass ornaments and pulling out some to sell, so if you are local and love vintage ornaments even half as much as I do, be sure to check out Reclaiming Beautiful in Stillwater this coming weekend!

I’ve got quite a few ideas swirling around in my head for some upcoming holiday projects, I’m working on another fab giveaway for my blogiversary later this month, and I even have a couple more awesome furniture makeovers to share, so be sure to stay tuned!