a holiday play list.

Oh boy you guys.  I have been struggling to pull together some kind of blog post for today.  I so wish I had a beautiful piece of painted furniture to share.  Or even just a simple painting project of some kind.

And actually, I do have a couple of small completed projects that I could share if only I had good pictures of the finished pieces.  But these days I go to work before the sun comes up, and I return back home after it sets. I have to either take all of my photos on the weekend, or try to get home on my lunch break to take photos with natural light.  I’m playing catch up from my trip at the day job though, so that just hasn’t happened.

I was working on trying to pull together a post without good photos, but I just couldn’t do it.  I do have some standards after all 😉

In the meantime, I had gone back through my blog archives looking for something from last year and I was reminded that I did quite a few crafty projects last Christmas.  So I thought, hey, why not just recap all of them today and include links back so that you guys can revisit them as well.  Maybe you’ll get some ideas for things you want to play around with this weekend.  Let’s call it the blog version of a holiday play list.

Let’s start with the Cut & Carry Saws.

I’d picked up a bunch of old hand saws at an estate sale earlier in the year.  I transformed them into Christmas decor with some paint and a stencil.

I sold some of them at Reclaiming Beautiful, I gave one to my sister and I kept one for myself.  If only I could remember where I put it now!  I’ve been looking around for it, but so far it has not appeared.  I’m sure I’ll find it this weekend when I get serious about decorating for Christmas.

Updating a more traditional tree wall hanging was a quick and easy project last year.

The original red and green color scheme wasn’t really me.

So I painted the ‘branches’ white and added a Prima Marketing transfer.

Another black and white project involved revamping some vintage sleds.

I had simply stenciled over the original wood slats the year before, and that just didn’t have quite the right impact.

So this time I painted first and then stenciled.  I kept one, and sold one at Reclaiming Beautiful.

I also painted and stenciled some faux wooden skis.

It was another simple project that made a big impact.

Adding some Christmas spirit to a vintage wooden sock stretcher with some IOD Decor Stamps was a simple project too.

I was hoping to find more of these stock stretchers at garage sales last summer, but no such luck.

I might re-work this one this year.  I like it, but I have another idea for it too.  We’ll see if I get around to it.

And then there were the pretty in pink projects that I did using what was then a new color from Fusion called English Rose.

I painted cardboard gift boxes in English Rose and a paler Fusion pink called Little Piggy.

Then I used Fusion’s transfer gel to transfer some 12 Days of Christmas graphics onto the boxes.

Finally, I also painted a pair of ice skates in English Rose.

This was such a fun makeover, I think mainly because the skates started out so grungy …

but they ended up looking so gorgeous.

I hope you enjoyed revisiting some of these holiday projects and that maybe they’ve inspired you to create your own holiday play list this weekend.

I’ll definitely be working on a few things and hopefully I’ll have some new projects to share with you next week!

of mice and men.

And bam!  Just like that we’re back home from our whirlwind vacation.  Trips like these always go by in the blink of an eye.  One minute you are trying to make sure you remembered to pack everything, and the next thing you know you are back home in your own bed and wondering how it went by so fast.  But I have a confession to make, I’m always happy to be back home again in my familiar surroundings.  I’m also anxious to get back to my painting!

Don’t worry (although conversely, do worry if you aren’t into travel posts), I plan to share all of the details of our Adriatic Cruise much like I did last year with our Norway/Scotland cruise.  I’ll post about a different port each week until I get through them all.  I think some might even take more than one post because there was so much to see!

If you are one of those people who would rather poke your eye out with a sharp stick than look at someone’s travel photos you may want to avoid my blog on Wednesday’s for the next several months.

But for the rest of you, I’ll be saving one of the most awesome things we did for last.

We hired a private guide to take us on a tour of the Luigi Bevilacqua artisanal weaving workshop in Venice where they still make Soprarizzo velvet by hand using 18th century looms.  It was incredible and I’m looking forward to sharing more details of that with you guys.

I’ll start the travel posts this week with the details of our Street Food Tour in Genoa, so be sure to check back on Wednesday for that.

But in the meantime, today is a special day because it’s my fifth blogiversary.    I started q is for quandie on November 26, 2013.  At the time I remember thinking that if my blog lasted five years, I’d be lucky.  It seems like so many bloggers come and go, and believe me I can totally understand why.  Blogging is a time consuming activity and if you are hoping to make a bunch of money doing it, you are likely to be disappointed.

However, as it has turned out, I really enjoy blogging.  I love almost every aspect; the writing, the photography, the interaction with my readers, the brainstorming to come up with creative ideas for posts and of course the furniture painting and other projects that I blog about.  In the end, even if I wasn’t blogging, I would still be refurbishing furniture.  So as long as I keep that up, it seems to go hand in hand with blogging.

The one incredible benefit that I never anticipated when starting my blog has been the opportunity to work with some great companies like Homestead House Paint Co (which also includes Fusion Mineral Paint and Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint), Dixie Belle Paint Company and Prima Marketing.

So in anticipation of my blogiversary I reached out to all three of these companies and asked them if they would be willing to help me celebrate five years of blogging by providing some of my favorite products that I could include in a ‘give away’ today.

They all very graciously said yes.

However, you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men.  Something always manages to go awry.  I was hoping that all of the items would arrive in the mail while I was gone on my trip.  My neighbor Ken was in charge of keeping an eye out for delivery trucks and bringing in any packages so they wouldn’t sit on the porch.  I told him to expect at least three boxes, if not more.

Unfortunately the only box waiting for me when I got home Friday night was the one from Homestead House, so that left me with a conundrum.  Even though I was planning to have just one giant, fabulous prize for my blogiversary post today, I didn’t have everything yet.  So, should I delay my blogiversary post?  Or should I break it down and have multiple giveaways?  Maybe one per week up until Christmas?  The more I thought about it, the more that sounded like a great solution.

And this way I can pay homage to each line of products individually and focus on why they made it onto my list of favorites.

It makes sense to start with the first paint line that I really fell in love with, Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint.  One of the first pieces I painted with MMS milk paint was an antique oak buffet that I had in my piano room.

I painted this with Kitchen Scale and then used Miss Mustard Seed’s Hemp Oil as a finish.

That was the start of a long line of pieces painted in this same combination.  I love the way the hemp oil brings out the vibrant color of the Kitchen Scale.  I also love that hemp oil is so simple to use.  I apply it with a cheap chip brush and then wipe away any excess.  Another incredible feature of the hemp oil is that it is totally safe for both you and the environment.  In fact, it is even food safe and can be used to rejuvenate your wooden cutting boards.

Another MMS color that I absolutely love is Linen.  It’s the perfect creamy white.  Not so white that it makes other whites look dingy by comparison.  It’s a white that plays well with others.

I’ve used this color on a countless number of pieces over the years as well.

Another favorite of mine is the Miss Mustard Seed’s lavender scented furniture wax.  It really makes the work of waxing a piece so much more enjoyable when you’re surrounded by the relaxing scent of lavender.  And the MMS wax is so creamy and smooth, making it easier to apply.  I also love the fact that it does not contain aromatic hydrocarbons making it safe for indoor use in the winter.

This was a limited edition product and I’m not sure how readily available it is anymore, but I was able to snag a jar of it for my giveaway (thank you Miss Mustard Seed)!

I’ll also be adding a couple of things to this giveaway that I picked up on my trip including a Nadalina (a prize winning Croatian chocolate maker according to this article) chocolate bar in dark chocolate with Adriatic Sea Salt.

That little wrapped item that looks like a bon bon is actually lavender soap, also from Croatia.

Plus I’m including an Italian decorating magazine called Shabby Style.  You know I love checking out the foreign decorating magazines whenever I’m traveling.  I picked this one up at a news stand in Ravenna, Italy.  In case you are wondering, no, I don’t understand a word of Italian, but I still enjoy looking at the photos.  And apparently some things are universal, such as an admiration for vintage glass tree toppers.

And a love for worn, chippy, painted finishes on furniture.  As they say, it adds un tocco romantico e nostalgico alla stanza.

You could easily achieve this look using Miss Mustard Seed’s milk paint and I think the color is very similar to her Grain Sack which is a white with a grey undertone.

So to recap, today’s prize includes:  the Italian magazine, the Croatian soap and chocolate bar, Miss Mustard Seed’s Kitchen Scale and Linen paint, a 7 oz. lavender scented furniture wax and 250 mL of hemp oil.

The basic rules:  to be eligible to win today’s prize leave a comment of any kind on this blog post.  Your comment must be left on the blog, not on Facebook or Instagram.  You are not required to follow my blog, although it would be awesome if you did!

Normally I make a point of answering every comment left on my blog.  If someone takes the time to leave a comment, I like to acknowledge that.  I usually only get 10 to 20 comments so it’s easy to fulfill that promise.  But I suspect I’ll get a few more comments on this post so I’m going to warn you up front that I may not be able to answer each one, so I hope you guys will cut me some slack on that this week.

I will randomly draw the name of a winner for today’s prize from all of the comments left on this post by Friday, November 30, 2018 at the stroke of midnight (U.S. Central time).

The fine print: no purchase necessary, you must be 18 years of age or older to win, void where prohibited by law, the number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning, approximate retail value of prize is $110, if the prize is not claimed by Sunday, December 2, another name will be drawn at random to win, blah, blah, blah.

Good luck!

an unassuming old suitcase.

You all know of my love for vintage suitcases, right?

I put them into two categories.  First there are those that are charming ‘as is’ and should not be altered.

Like these …

And then there is the 2nd category, those unassuming old suitcases that just don’t quite have enough personality on their own, like this one …

It’s rather beat up and just not terribly attractive (in my opinion).

I have used milk paint, chalk paint and Fusion acrylic paint on suitcases in the past.  I find that Fusion doesn’t always adhere well to vinyl.  Milk paint works perfectly well, but you don’t get the chippy quality that makes milk paint shine, so I feel like it’s rather wasted here.  So these days my go-to paint for a suitcase like this is chalk style paint.

Before I started painting, I cleaned the suitcase with Krud Kutter Kitchen Degreaser.  I then rinsed it down with a damp cloth.  Then I gave it two coats of Dixie Belle’s Caviar.

Once that was dry I added a French Laundry stencil using a warm white craft paint.

Somehow it seemed appropriate to put a laundry advertisement on a suitcase.

I used parts of the stencil on top of the suitcase too.

You’ll notice that I painted every bit of this suitcase including the handle and the clasps.  I don’t always do that, but this time I’ll admit I was feeling a bit too lazy to cut around those things.  Plus, I rather like this look.

Once painted I went over the surface ever so lightly with some 220 grit sandpaper just to smooth it out a bit.  I followed that up with some of Fusion’s Clear Wax.

Boy, I wasn’t planning on keeping it, but it sure does look great paired up with Collette and Lula.

I never planned to keep Collette either (the one on the left), but after I finished giving her a makeover I couldn’t part with her.

So now I have two dress forms in my bedroom.

And even though the suitcase looks fabulous with them, I don’t really need another suitcase at my house!

In fact, I already brought it in to Reclaiming Beautiful to be sold.

Plus I still have a couple more suitcases in this style waiting in the wings to be painted, so if I change my mind I can always paint up another one to keep for myself.

it’s beginning to look at lot like Christmas.

I know, I know.  It’s only Halloween.

But when you blog about fun craft projects for the holidays, today is far too late to blog about Halloween.  And almost even too late for autumn decorating ideas.

And then there’s the fact that I’m leaving for a cruise on the Adriatic in less than two weeks and I won’t be back home again until after Thanksgiving.

Yep, it snuck (hmmm, that’s not a real word, who knew?) up on me too.

I suddenly realized last week that I had to get all of my Christmas projects (at least the ones I want to sell at Reclaiming Beautiful) finished this past weekend.  Yikes!

So I got out my favorite stencils and some paint and I got busy.

I started with a pair of vintage sleds that I purchased at a garage sale over the summer.

Once again I totally neglected to get ‘before’ photos.  Drat.

But both of these started out with red metal runners and plain wood.  I painted just the wood parts on the first one using Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth (that same fabulous cream color I used on Monday’s washstand).  Then I added the stencil using craft paints.  I sanded vigorously to distress and then added a topcoat of Fusion’s Clear Wax.

The second sled got painted in Dixie Belle’s Caviar.  I painted the metal runners as well as most of the wood except for that cross piece at the top.

I stenciled this one in a french stencil that says something like ‘friends and family gather here’ which seems like a good sentiment for the holidays.

It’s a little less traditionally Christmas and could be displayed all fall and winter.

I also painted a couple of drawer front signs.  These drawer fronts came from the dresser that I turned into the farmer’s market kitchen island back in July.  If you remember back, I removed the lower two drawers from that piece because one of them wasn’t in great shape.  So I saved the drawer fronts and discarded the rest knowing they would make awesome ‘signs’ using my farm fresh Christmas trees stencil.

These are also painted in Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth and stenciled with craft paint.  One has plain wooden knobs, but the other has knobs with Prima Marketing re.design knob transfers added.

While I had the stencil out I also added it to a cute little wooden box that my picker found for me.

And speaking of my picker, she also came through on the vintage Shiny Brites.  Remember I mentioned that I just wasn’t finding many vintage ornaments at garage sales this year?  Well Sue found a whole slew of them for me!

Last but not least, I did another painted suitcase.  I started by painting the suitcase black and white using Dixie Belle’s Caviar and Drop Cloth, and then added the stencil.

To make it more versatile I added a more summery stencil to the other side, so now it’s reversible.

I did one of these last year at Christmas too and it was a big hit.

I also pulled out some of my other vintage Christmas goodies to take into the shop today like this festive Tom & Jerry set.

So, it may be Halloween at your house, but it’s definitely beginning to look a lot like Christmas at mine!

it’s officially fall.

I tend to not do a whole lot of seasonal decorating.  How about you?  I find as I get older that time goes by so ridiculously fast that it doesn’t feel worth it to get out the Halloween decor because in five minutes it’s going to be time to get out the Christmas stuff.  Do any of you feel that way?

Plus, nature does such an amazing job of decorating for fall that it feels silly to have to add anything more!

Apparently nature is trying to reinforce my opinion on that because the tiny pumpkins I added to my fairy garden last week have already been stolen.

I suspect that squirrels are to blame rather than klepto fairies though.  The white pumpkin disappeared first, and the orange gourd followed a couple of days later.  So much for that plan.

I have done a few fall craft projects in the last couple of years though, so I thought I’d recap them for you today in case any of you want to do some fall decorating yourselves.

I’ll start with my ‘hello fall’ book page banner.

Last year I shared a quick tutorial on how to make one using old book pages and your printer.

You’ve also already seen my french pumpkins.

The one above was made using a cardboard pumpkin, paint and some Fusion transfer gel.  Get all of those details here.

My second french pumpkin looked like this …

It’s an old wooden pumpkin transformed with some paint and a Prima Marketing transfer (details here).

Then there were the ‘hello fall’ toolbox planters.  The one on the bottom is painted in Fusion’s Mustard.  The one on the top is in its original red.

I used my Cricut machine to cut the words out of adhesive vinyl.  These are perfect for just popping in some mums and calling it good.

While I had the Cricut out that year, I also made some ‘hello fall.’ plates …

They are fun to add to planters full of mums, kale and hydrangea flowers.

I did whip up one more quick fall decoration this year.  I had a fake plastic pumpkin in my stash so I painted it white using Fusion’s Limestone.  Then I pulled out some Prima Marketing supplies; decor wax in a color called Eternal and a transfer called Simplicity.

Rather than try to apply the transfer as one whole sheet, I just cut out sections of the design to place randomly on my pumpkin.

It was a little tricky to place the flat designs onto a curvy pumpkin, but I’m OK with a little imperfection.

I used the Eternal wax to give the pumpkin a gold stem.  This was the first time I tried the Eternal, but it definitely won’t be the last.  It’s the perfect gold, and it was so easy to apply using a q-tip.

My new toile pumpkin pairs nicely with my french pumpkin, don’t you think?  OK, maybe not the most traditional looking fall decorations but they suit my style for sure.

too sexy for my shirt.

Back in May I picked up this manikin at the Roseville city-wide garage sales.

She’s probably a shop manikin, not to be confused with a dress form that can be adjusted for size.  She didn’t have a stand, and she’s just a Styrofoam type material underneath a stretchy knit fabric cover, but I still figured I could do something with her.

After all, I’d worked with something similar when I came up with Lulu.

If you look closely you can see that Lulu is also Styrofoam and she has a doorknob for a head (poor thing).  I’ve turned her Styrofoam-ness into an asset by using her as a pin board for old photos.

I painted her with black chalkboard paint and used the base to one of those table/lamp combinations to create a stand.

I can’t remember precisely how long ago I cobbled Lulu together, but it was before I had a blog which makes her at least 5 years old or more.  She’s held up remarkably well for being made out of painted Styrofoam.

Anyway, I felt sure I could do something similar with the manikin from Roseville.

First I had to come up with a stand of some kind.  I’d been waiting all summer to magically find another table/lamp but no such luck.  But then I remembered that I had an antique metal floor lamp thingie tucked away out in the carriage house.

Please pardon the terrible photo.  It was raining when I took it, but I just wanted to grab a quick photo to show you what it looked like.

Initially I thought I was going to have to have my handyman Ken cut it down to the right height, or at a minimum cut that top decorative piece off.  However, as it turned out the top piece screwed right off and then when I added the manikin torso (which has a hollow metal pole up the center) it ended up being the perfect height already.

Next I removed that hideous stretchy knit fabric from the manikin.

This was about when that song “I’m too sexy for my shirt” popped into my head (who else remembers that song?).

This torso is just way more, well, sexy than Lulu.  It almost feels a bit wrong to leave her unclothed.  She seems to have a lot more curves to her.

But, I pressed on.

I first gave her a coat of Rustoleum black chalkboard paint.  Since it had worked so well on Lulu, I thought it would make a good base coat for this manikin too.  But ultimately I knew I wanted to add a Prima Marketing transfer to her like I did with Collette, the dress form that I refurbished earlier this summer …

I had some Homestead House milk paint on hand in a color called Algonquin, which I thought would be perfect for this look.  If the milk paint got chippy, I didn’t want to see the yellowish color of the Styrofoam underneath hence the black base coat.

So once the black paint was dry I mixed up the milk paint and added a coat.  So far, so good.  Once that was dry, I added a 2nd coat and then left the manikin to dry overnight.

The next day I was so excited to get home from work and get the transfer added.  But, that was not how it went at all.  Instead I went into my workshop only to find that the milk paint had chipped like mad.  Except instead of revealing the black chalkboard paint, it was taking it along for the chippy ride and chipping all the way down to the Styrofoam underneath.

This was that moment that you dread in any project.  The moment when you realize that you have to start over.  Well, actually, even worse.  First you have to remove all of the chipping paint, and then start over.  Ugh.

Lesson learned:  Styrofoam, chalkboard paint and milk paint don’t mix.

Well, it was an experiment.  And now we know.

After chipping away all of the loose paint, I gave the manikin a light sanding just to be sure she was ready for another go.  Luckily I had some Fusion paint in Algonquin on hand.  Yes, same color as the milk paint, but this time in an acrylic paint.

Ahhh, much better.  One coat of Algonquin later and things were looking up.

As you can see, I ended up with a lot of texture (some might call it damage, I prefer to call it texture), but that just gives it more character.

Next I applied the transfer.

I knew it would be somewhat challenging applying it to a curvy surface rather than a flat one.  To make that easier, I cut the transfer into smaller sections which helped quite a lot.

In the end it went surprisingly well.  If you try something similar, just be sure to go slowly and make sure each letter is adhered before moving on to the next.

I still wasn’t done though.  Next I added a coat of Miss Mustard Seed Clear Wax followed by a coat of Fusion’s Expresso Wax.  It’s always wise to use a base coat of clear wax before adding a dark wax to make it easier to blend your dark wax.

I also painted the wooden topper on her neck in Algonquin and then added a Tim Holtz number rub-on.  I finished that off by adding some of the Prima Marketing metallique wax in Bronze Age to the screw that holds it in place.

When she was all done I decided to call her Coco.

She almost looks a bit like she’s made out of stone or plaster.

I ended up bringing her in to Reclaiming Beautiful (the shop where I sell on consignment) on Wednesday evening and even though I still wonder if she’s just a bit too sexy for her shirt, someone snatched her up right away Thursday morning!


I went to sh*t, and the hogs ate me.

My mom was in town last week.  She was officially here for her 60th class reunion, but when she comes out she always tries to make time to go visit her cousins in South Dakota.  So for the first half of last week my sister, mom, niece and I drove out for a visit.

My mom’s mother, Carrie, was born on the family farm in Arlington, South Dakota in 1898.  If you’re trying to make some sense of dates and ages, Carrie was 42 years old when my mother was born in 1940.  My mom is now 78, thus the 60th class reunion.

Anyway, Carrie was born on the Moe farm and that farm is still in the family.  It’s now run by my cousin Travis.

The farm was passed down from Carrie’s parents to her brothers Gerhard and Knute Moe, and from there to Knute’s daughter Elaine and from there to her son Travis.  Travis has six really adorable children so I hope that at least one of them will be willing to continue on with the farm one day, thus keeping it in the family.

These days Travis just has goats, and a couple of llamas.

And currently quite a few adorable kittens who would not hold still for photos.  The beautiful grey one was my favorite.

I’m always tempted to take one home with me, but I’m pretty sure my cat Lucy would not approve of an interloper.

Although my mom grew up as a city kid in Minneapolis, she would spend several weeks every summer out at the farm so she developed some very close relationships with her cousins.  So whenever it was possible, my mom sent us out to stay in Arlington when we were kids too.  That was where I learned that potatoes grew in the ground, not on bushes or trees.  I definitely was a city kid.

These days we still love going out to visit the cousins.  They are the nicest people and we always have so much fun with them.  We tend to do a lot of laughing when we’re there.

While we were out there this time we were playing cards with a bunch of the cousins and at one point one of them looked at his hand and said ‘Well, I went to shit, and the hogs ate me.’  I burst out laughing, wondering what in the world that meant.

Apparently that translates to something along the lines of ‘things went from bad to worse.’  A trip to the outhouse being bad, being eaten by hogs even worse.

After I quit laughing I said ‘that would make an awesome blog post title, if only I could remember it’, so my niece whipped out her phone and texted it to me.  So now I have a record of it for posterity, or at least as long as I have my current phone.

Speaking of which, I took all of the photos for today’s post with my new phone.  I hadn’t really played around with that yet, and now I’m realizing I might want to change the picture size setting … at least the ratio.  But these long skinny photos were fun for today’s post.  They certainly do a good job of emphasizing the wide open spaces of the mid-west’s farmland.

Maybe I will just leave it on this setting after all.

And the next time I have a colossal fail while painting a piece of furniture, I’m going to try to remember to use that blog post title again!