the gothic hanky drawers.

Are you wondering what I did with the hanky drawers that were on the gothic dresser?

Well, first of all I should mention that it was very easy to take them off the dresser.  There was a felt liner inside each one, so I pulled that out and could see that they were held in place by a couple of screws.  I simply unscrewed them and they came right off.

You might be wondering if that meant there were screw holes in the dresser top, and yes, there were … or more correctly there are.  I just left them.  They were small, and the wood top of the dresser had plenty of dings and other blemishes.  I like to embrace those rather than try to hide them.  Since I gave the dresser top a rustic waxed finish the dings just blend right in.

I keep referring to these as hanky ‘drawers’, but really in this case they are just a hinged box not technically a drawer.

Once I had them removed I realized they would make fun little keepsake boxes.

I started by painting them with some Homestead House milk paint in a color called Stone Fence.  This is one of my favorites.  It’s a pale, warm grey (you can see more of it on this foot board shelf).

I didn’t do much in the way of prep before painting.  I was OK with as much or as little chipping as fate would deliver.  I did wipe them down with some TSP substitute though.

After the second coat of paint was dry, I sanded rather haphazardly.  Again, I wasn’t feeling very picky about my results.  I wanted an aged, distressed look.

Next I added some Iron Orchid Designs transfers to the tops of the boxes.  Both are from their French Pots line and are intended to be used on clay pots, but I have found any number of other great uses for them!

This design is from French Pots I.

And this one is from French Pots III.

After applying the transfers, I sanded very lightly with some 220 grit sandpaper.  Next I wiped the boxes down and then added a top coat of The Real Milk Paint Co’s Dead Flat.

I lined the insides of the boxes with a page from an old Atlas.

You could keep a stash of old photos in one of these boxes.

Or maybe your old love letters.  I don’t know, does anyone write letters anymore?

Maybe you can just keep your vintage jewelry in it.

So many possibilities, what would you keep in yours?


the gothic chalkboard.

The minute I laid eyes on the Craigslist ad for the gothic dresser that I posted yesterday I knew I had to have it just for the mirror.  In fact, I was so excited to get my hands on it that I didn’t even take the time to get a proper ‘before’ photo, which is unfortunate.

Mr. Q went and picked it up in the afternoon while I was still at work, and the minute I got home from work I separated the mirror from its ‘harp’ and sent the harp home with Ken to cut a chalkboard back for it.

While Ken was working on that, I also made a chalkboard out of the framed mirror itself.  I shared that a while back.

Once I got the harp back from Ken, I went to work painting it.  I knew I wanted a warm white milk paint, which for me means either Homestead House Limestone or Miss Mustard Seed Linen.  Unfortunately, when I dug into my milk paint stash I discovered I was fresh out of Linen and I only had a small amount of Limestone left.  Maybe enough for just one coat on the harp.  I knew that I’d likely need at least 3 coats of paint to cover the dark wood with white.

So I decided to employ one of my favorite tricks.

Today’s Qtip:  If you know you don’t have enough paint left for multiple coats, start with a coat or two of another similar shade and just do your final coat in your chosen color.

In this case I mixed together the dregs of a couple of shades of white Homestead House milk paint, Raw Silk and Sturbridge White, and started with a coat of that on my piece.

I would have gone right into a second coat, but that’s when I discovered I had a bleeder.  The orange-ish stain was coming through and turning the paint a lovely shade of peachy orange right before my eyes.  If this has never happened to you, be aware that no amount of paint will ever solve this problem.  The stain will just continue to bleed through multiple coats of paint.  At this point, you have to seal the stain before continuing on.  Shellac works really well for that.

So once the paint was fully dry I got out a can of spray Shellac.  I keep this on hand for moments such as these.  If you have an entire piece of furniture with a bleed thru stain, it’s probably not cost effective to use spray Shellac, but when you have a smaller piece or just one or two spots of bleed-thru I find it’s convenient to just get out the spray.  And of course I only use the spray outdoors.

So, I sprayed the mirror quickly with a coat of Shellac.  Once dry, I added a second coat of my random mix of whites.  I could see that I’d solved my bleeding problem and I was getting good coverage with the 2nd coat of white.  So once that was dry, I mixed up the little bit of Limestone that I had left and added one last coat of that color.

My trick worked perfectly.  You can’t tell that I have a different shade of white under that Limestone.

The chalkboard itself is painted with Homestead House milk paint in Bayberry.  I find it makes the perfect green chalkboard.  To use milk paint for a chalkboard you simply mix the paint as usual (equal parts water and paint powder), paint two coats sanding lightly in between with 220 grit paper to keep your chalkboard smooth.  Also lightly sand the final coat.  Then season the chalkboard by rubbing white chalk all over it and ‘erasing’ it back off with a dry cloth.  Do not add any other sort of top coat over the paint.

After sanding the frame to distress the edges a bit, I added one last detail.  I used part of an Iron Orchid Designs transfer to add the year ‘1888’ to the top of the mirror.

I just love all of the detail on this frame including the little shelves on either side.

They make a great perch for a vintage camera, or an old family photo.

When I grabbed those two little books to put under that photo I took a moment to take a closer look at them.  The pretty little blue book was signed inside.

It was a gift from Great Aunt Nettie to my mother, which reminded me of a funny story.  Many years ago my sister and I were going through my mom’s family photo album.  It’s an ancient thing that has photos of our ancestors going back to the 1800’s.  One photo was labeled “Great Aunt Nettie Fleaner and her daughter Flossie.”

I thought about it for a minute and then I just burst out laughing.  Flossie Fleaner?!  Really?!

Poor Flossie.  That can’t have been easy to live with.  Then again, I’m sure Flossie was just a nickname, short for Florence or something like that.  Although Florence Fleaner isn’t much better, is it?

Anyway, I’m still deciding on the perfect spot in my house for this chalkboard.

Just for now it looks good hanging above my farmhouse table though.

the farmers market ladder.

My niece Kris salvaged several of these ladders for me from a shop she worked in briefly.  They aren’t old, and they were never meant to actually function as ladders.  They were used for display only.

I decided to paint this one to give it a little more personality and since I seem to be on a green kick this week, I dug out one of my favorite shades of green milk paint, In A Pickle from Sweet Pickins.  It only took one coat of paint to cover the ladder.  Once dry, I added some farmers market stencils in an off-white craft paint.

Then I sanded to distress and added a top coat of Miss Mustard Seed hemp oil.  I brushed on the oil with a cheap chip brush and then wiped off the excess with an old black t-shirt (I didn’t want to leave any white fluff behind).

Hemp oil adds a bit more richness and depth to darker milk paint colors than wax does.  You can really see that with this shade of green.

But here’s a tip for you, although the hemp oil changes the color of the milk paint quite a bit, it does not change the color of the acrylic craft paint.  So keep that in mind when choosing your colors on a project like this.

By the way, how do you like the ‘q-tip’?  It was Mr. Q’s idea and I thought it was pretty clever.  From now on I’ll try to remember to give you a q-tip every now and then.

I added a basket to the ladder and put a potted lavender plant inside along with some vintage gardening tools.

Totally off-season for September I know.  I’m supposed to be sharing fall themed stuff now, right?

Well, one last hurrah for summer?  We’ve got two more official days of summer left, so I say let’s make the most of them.

I brought this ladder to Reclaiming Beautiful last week and it sold within days, so there must be some other green lover out there!

I still had one last ladder, so I painted it in Miss Mustard Seed’s Flow Blue and added the same farmers market stencils.  My sister was thinking she’d like to have this one for her house, but she really couldn’t come up with a spot for it, so I’ll most likely take it into Reclaiming Beautiful as well.

I think the ladders make great magazine racks, especially when one of the magazines displayed happens to be one that I am in!

Wait, what?!  Did you read that right?  Yep.  There is a story about my non-collection of vintage ornaments in the Fall 2017 issue of Vintage Holiday magazine!

Somehow we’ve gone straight from summer to winter today.

But seriously, my preview copy of the magazine just arrived yesterday and I couldn’t wait to share it with you guys.  I’m super excited and flattered to have my work in a real magazine.  The irony that it’s an article about my vintage ornament collection, despite the fact that I try so hard to deny being a collector of anything, is not lost on me.

The magazine is full of great vintage holiday decor, so be sure to watch for it on newsstands near you and pick up a copy.


hanging it up.

I really debated using that title for this post.  I didn’t want to give any of you a scare, thinking that I was giving up blogging.  Nope, so far I am hanging in there (bwa, ha, ha, ha).

This post is about actual hangers.  Although maybe I could give the title a double meaning.  I’m hanging up the Wednesday travel posts, and instead I’m going to try to feature a small decorating project every Wednesday.  Something that can be pulled together in an afternoon.  We’ll see how long I can keep it up.

So, as I said, today’s post is about actual hangers.  Vintage wooden advertisement hangers that is.

I pick these up whenever I see them at garage sales.  Sometimes if you dig through a box of plain wooden hangers you’ll find one or two with advertising on them.  I usually pay less than a dollar each.

Oddly enough, I rarely find hangers from local shops.  So far I just have one, and it’s not one of my favorites.

I decided to use a few of the hangers in the simplest way possible in my master bedroom.

First I printed out some of my favorite travel photos (oh, maybe there is a hint of a travel theme to this Wednesday post after all).  The top two photos on the wall are from Prague, the bottom photo is from Vienna.

Several years ago I had Photoshop on my computer and I had some great plug in’s.  When my computer crashed in 2014 I lost them and never took the time to reinstall them.  Now I can’t even remember the name of the plug in!  Ugh.  But the two Prague photos were altered using that plug in.  The Vienna photo was altered using a Picmonkey effect called Filmstock.

Isn’t that a gorgeous building?

I printed the photos on matte photo paper (I use Target’s Up & Up brand).

  Then I gathered up some vintage metal clips (another thing I like to grab whenever I see them at garage sales) and simply clipped the photos to the hangers.

Easy peasy.

I hung them on the wall between my windows and my closet.  They fit perfectly there and it seems apropos to have ‘hanger art’ next to the closet.

I wondered whether or not the photo paper would curl a bit in humidity, but they’ve been up for close to a month now and we’ve had plenty of rainy weather and so far, so good.

Down the road I can easily change up the photos on a whim, or if they start to look less than fresh.

So the next time you see some old advertisement hangers, consider nabbing them and creating a gallery of ‘hanger art’ yourself!

the gold rush.

My sister picked me up bright and early this past Saturday and after a quick stop at the local cash machine we headed south on highway 52 towards the Oronoco Gold Rush.

Gold Rush is an antiques market that has been taking place since 1972 in the little town of Oronoco, just north of Rochester, MN.  Their website is pretty basic and doesn’t really provide much in the way of stats.  I’d love to know how many vendors they had, and what the estimated attendance was but I couldn’t find that info.

Let’s just say that on Saturday there were LOTS of people there.

And there were also LOTS of vendors.  I don’t think we made it to all of them.  It’s easy to get turned around and lose your way.  Did we go down that street?  Did we head up that hill?  We lost track after a while.

Update:  since originally posting I found an article with some numbers, 275 – 300 vendors and 20,000 shoppers per day.  Yep, like I said, lots!

There was a real mix of stuff at this event.  There were traditional antique dealers with things like glassware, military collectibles, and expensive furniture.  There were Scentsy vendors and Tastefully Simple vendors.  There were lots of vendors selling those welded metal lawn ornament type things.  There were vendors with food items, like fudge or those wine slushy mixes (yep, purchased some of each).

I’m always amazed by the vendors who have a whole lot of one kind of thing, like this one with a table full of vintage woodworking tools.

Or this guy who had all kinds of vintage, rutsy iron fence/railing thingies (do these things have a name?)

My sister bought a couple of them to use in her garden.  I have some already, and I use mine in my planters and window boxes.

This vendor had a whole bunch of gorgeous chandeliers.

There are a couple of booths that really stand out as show stoppers.  One is the booth by Checkpoint 19 Antiques.

Their stuff is just so incredibly cool.  It has a vintage science experiment sort of vibe.

You guys, I was so busy admiring the style of this next vignette that it didn’t even occur to me that I should check the price on that fab aqua metal box.  Dang!  I’m kicking myself now.

I just loved all of their adorable topiaries and I was so tempted to buy one of those.  But sadly, I have a bad track record with topiaries.  I consider myself to have a fairly green thumb too, but somehow proper topiary care eludes me and every one I’ve ever had has died within a year.

Another vendor that really stood out above the rest was Angry Minnow Vintage.  They create the most amazing upcycled flannel shirts.

I really loved the ones that had flared cuffs made out of vintage linens.  What an awesome idea, right?

Corrabelle Rose had a stunning booth full of pretties.

This was a great spot for getting your color fix.

Everything in this booth was just lavish!  There were luxurious piles of vintage florals.

This was the only booth where I saw any ironstone.

It was out of my price range though.  As were most of the things in this booth.

You know, I’m really just a garage sale girl at heart.  I tend to look at a lot of these things and think to myself I bet I can find that at a garage sale for a couple of dollars.

The gals from Vintage Junkies and Sparrow Antiques were much more my speed.

They really had a knack for display.  Both my sister and I made some purchases at their booth.  I came home with a great grain sack pillow, and Debbie got some dish towels and some vintage cookie cutters.

By about 1:30 in the afternoon we were getting pretty hot, our feel were killing us, Debbie was out of cash and our cart had gotten really heavy (we brought a ‘granny cart’ for our haul), so we decided to call it good.

On the way home we made time to stop off in Zumbrota to see the covered bridge.

The day could not have been any more beautiful with that blue sky filled with white fluffy clouds.

And here is the modest pile of goodies that we came home with.

Nothing too earth shattering.  My sister is going to plant a fairy garden in the radio flyer wagon next year.  I’ll add the vintage tablecloth to my non-collection (because remember, I don’t collect stuff).  Even though we didn’t buy a ton of stuff and a lot of things were way out of our price range, we’re still looking forward to going back next year!  Any you never know, maybe next year we’ll get to visit a Miss Mustard Seed booth at Oronoco, after all it’s practically in her backyard now, right?  Fingers crossed!

the dollhouse.

Once upon a time, way back in the early 90’s, my dad took an early retirement from his job at IBM.  I believe he was around 55 or so at the time.  Back in the day an early retirement from an excellent company was totally do-able because companies were more likely to provide you with health insurance after retirement.  That’s no longer very likely and now people like me will have to work until they are medicare eligible because health insurance has gotten so ridiculously expensive.  But I digress.  This is not a post about the ongoing woes of our health care system, this is a post about a dollhouse.

You see, once retired my dad quickly grew bored.  He desperately needed a project.  So when I casually mentioned how I’d always wanted a dollhouse, he took that idea and ran with it.

At the time my parents lived in Kentucky, and I was here in Minnesota.  Now remember, this was the early 90’s.  We didn’t have email.  Nor did we have cell phones.  My dad would take photos of his progress, get them developed and then send them to me in the mail.  I would send paint chips, wallpaper (dollhouse sized) and tiny furnishings back to him in the mail.  It was an awesome way for my dad and I to connect.  We were both so excited about the project.  I will always have fond memories of that time (my dad passed away about 10 years ago).

All of that being said, the dollhouse is large and heavy.  For a long time it resided in what is now the Q Branch and it took up the entire room since you really need to be able to get around all sides of it.  I used to decorate it for the holidays when it was on display in that room, I even had a Christmas tree with working lights.  But eventually I decided that it was a poor use of a really great room so we moved the dollhouse up to the guest room where it has been sitting and gathering dust for quite some time.

Since we had to move the dollhouse downstairs to refinish the floors in the guest room, I did some serious thinking and decided it wasn’t going back up.  This will allow Mr. Q to take over the larger room as his study, and the smaller room will become the guest room  with no space for the dollhouse.  I just don’t have a large enough house to devote so much space to something that I barely pay attention to anymore.

My niece used to always say she would take the dollhouse one day, so I asked her if she really wanted it.  The answer was no.  I offered it to a couple of other family members who also didn’t want it.  I was starting to think I might have to just sell it, when Mr. Q’s step-dad mentioned that he would love to have it!  He loves anything miniature (just check out this post about his workshop for proof of that), plus he’s an extremely talented wood worker, so the dollhouse will be in good hands.

So it’s a happy ending.  The dollhouse is going to a wonderful new home.  Tom is in the process of adding a three season wrap around porch at their farmhouse and the dollhouse will fit neatly at one end.  I’ll be able to visit it whenever I want to, and the grandkids will all be able to play with it whenever they visit.

Before I send it off to its new home, I thought I’d take a few photos to share with you guys.

Gosh, where do I even start?  If you haven’t already gotten yourself a fresh cup of coffee, you might want to do that now.  This may be a long one.

Since this dollhouse was for me, obviously it had to have impressive gardens.

Most of the flowers are made out of Fimo clay.  I made some of them myself, like the trailing vines in the window boxes, but it didn’t take me long to figure out that I really don’t have the patience for working with tiny things.

Let’s head inside …

 and begin our tour in the kitchen.

Did you notice the tin ceiling or the ceiling fan?

Remember, this was decorated back in the early 90’s.  Stenciled borders were all the rage.  I added that stencil myself with a tiny little metal stencil.  And even though farmhouse sinks weren’t quite as popular yet, I wanted one in my dollhouse!

My dad was very detail oriented.  The door between the kitchen and the dining room is a swinging door.  And check out the paneling below the chair rail, the parquet floor and the dentil crown molding above the stenciled border.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed yet, but the dollhouse is fully electrified.

Another example of attention to detail, there is a little door under the stairs that opens and closes.  I suppose I could store the Christmas tree under there.  See it back there?

You can catch a glimpse of the foyer through the arched opening in the dining room.  The floor in the foyer is a type of blue shale that is found in Kentucky.  My dad just gathered some up from a field near his house and ’tiled’ the floor with it.

Boy, you can also tell the era of this dollhouse by all of the wallpaper!  My real house was entirely wallpapered at that time as well.  And the garish shades of pink, burgundy, sea foam green and forest green (all chosen by yours truly).  Yikes!

Here’s the living room.  See that wedding photo on the wall to the left?  That’s me and Mr. Q!

Oh, and did I mention that my dollhouse has two original water colors on the walls?  Yep, my dad was friends with local artist at the time and he asked him to paint a couple of paintings for the dollhouse.  The first one hangs over the living room fireplace.

The second one hangs over the master bedroom fireplace.  I really can’t decide which one of these is my favorite, I love them both.  Had I ended up having to sell the dollhouse I would have removed these and kept them.  But now they will stay in place.

Can I just mention here how much I love that fireplace?  Isn’t it fantastic!  This is another great example of my dad’s attention to detail.  He purposely added black ‘soot’ to the brick fireplace insert so it would look well used.  See it?  The little pile of logs on the fire is electrified so that it glows like a real fireplace.

Currently the master bedroom is sparsely furnished with just this lovely four poster bed.

Next door is the bathroom.  Originally there was just going to be the claw foot tub with the towel bar above it, but my dad found this amazing hot water heater and had to have it.

I love all of the details in this room; the tile floor, the wainscoted wall, the tin ceiling, the wall mounted sink, even the little toothpaste box next to the sink.

But I can’t lie.  My favorite detail in the bathroom is the tiny roll of toilet paper.  Seriously, does that thing just crack you up or what?

I decorated the second bedroom in the house as a young girl’s room.  Naturally.

Complete with a faux wicker vanity.

Just above the girl’s room is the attic.

I believe my dad originally came up with the idea for this space when he found the newspaper wallpaper.

My dad had a lot of fun with the details of this room like the exposed studs and electrical, and we both had fun coming up with stuff to ‘store’ in the attic.

The other room on the 3rd floor was inspired by the pool table.  When my dad found that, he knew he had to have a room for it.

Last, but not least, there is one more tiny room tucked away in the tower.

A cozy little reading nook.

I hope you enjoyed this tour of the dollhouse.

I’m looking forward to a week off the day job next week.  A little staycation, during which I plan to work on my master bedroom makeover.  I’ve got several projects planned, so be sure to stay tuned!



forget about you? never.

I bet you guys thought I forgot all about you while I was off on my trip to Norway and Scotland.

sailing away from Bergen, Norway

And really, who could blame me with scenery like that to distract me?

I didn’t bring a laptop or anything like that with me on my trip, just my phone.  And my cell service was spotty at best.  For some reason I couldn’t get my email to load on my phone after the first couple of days either (remember, I’ve said it before, I’m not very good at the techie stuff).  I had been planning on at least attempting to respond to some blog comments while I was away, but that didn’t happen.

None the less, I was still thinking about you guys!

I wanted to bring back a fun giveaway and I remembered that I brought some German decorating magazines home after my Danube River cruise and they were a big hit.  So while I was hanging out in the Copenhagen airport I checked out the magazine stand and found some great stuff.

Now, I’m not entirely positive, but I think this first one is a Norwegian publication (can any of you confirm that by reading the cover?).

You may be thinking ‘why would I want a magazine that I can’t even read?’, I will counter that with ‘come on, do you really read the articles or do you mostly just look at the pictures?’

But I also grabbed a copy of the British edition of Country Living just in case you really do want to read the articles.

The tiny french garden chair in this article has me drooling all over the page (see it below in the lower right corner?).

But the really exciting find was this!

Jeanne d’ Arc Living magazine, right off the newsstand!  I got so excited about it because getting your hands on a Jeanne d’ Arc Living magazine in the U.S. is a bit more complicated than just heading to your local newsstand (although you can easily order them online from my friend Michelle, and they will be in English).

Of course it’s silly of me to be surprised.  This is a Danish magazine after all, so why wouldn’t it be right there on the airport newsstand in Copenhagen?!

I bought a copy for myself and a copy to give away.  The clerk at the cash register asked me if I realized I had two of the same magazine.  ‘Yep!’, I said.  And then I explained how excited I was to find them and she mentioned that she envied the quantity and variety of magazines that we have in the U.S.  The grass is always greener, right?

Anyway, this is the Danish version of the magazine, so not in English.  But still, again, the pictures …

Don’t need any translation to appreciate the pictures!

There is a great article about a garden house made from old doors.

How funny is it that the only thing I can read on this page is ‘Linda’ and ‘handy woman’?!  Seems as though this magazine was meant to wind up in my hands, and possible yours as well!

So now for the fun part, I’m giving all three of these magazines away to one lucky reader.  Would you like to have them?  All you have to do to be eligible to win is leave a comment on this blog post by Friday, June 9.  I will draw a name at random from among those who comment and ship off the magazines to the lucky winner.  Maybe I’ll throw in some milk paint too.  How about it?  Should I also add some milk paint?

Don’t forget to leave a comment to be eligible to win!