coloring as therapy.

I mentioned last week that while I was sick a while back my sister and niece brought me a get well gift that included an adult coloring book and some colored pencils.

As it turns out, I really enjoy coloring!

Did you know that coloring can be incredibly therapeutic?  Just google it, there are tons of articles out there about how it is similar to meditation in that it allows us to switch off our brains from other thoughts and focus on the moment .

According to this article, ‘researchers have discovered that coloring activities help relax the amygdala – the section of the brain that is activated in situations where you feel stressed or scared.’

Do you suppose people would look at me funny if I brought a coloring book to my next dentist appointment?

In addition, according to that same article, coloring ‘opens up the frontal lobe of the brain- the home of organizing and problem solving – and focuses the mind.’

I don’t know about you, but I can certainly use more of all of the above.  And I have to admit, I do feel more relaxed and less stressed while coloring.  I suspect that painting furniture has a similar impact on the brain.  It’s just a bit more physical labor than coloring.

Recently my niece got a new job as a manager at a Barnes & Noble, so last weekend my sister and I visited her at work.  While there I found some great coloring books, like the Secret London one pictured above (and below).

I also purchased a set of 75 colored pencils.  At 75% off, they only cost a little over $8 … a bargain.  Although to be honest, as I’ve been using them I think I got what I paid for.  The leads are broken in many of them, so as I try to sharpen them the points just keep falling off.  I think I’m going to have to invest in some better pencils if I keep this up.  After all, it’s supposed to be relaxing, not frustrating.

But meanwhile, the pencils came in a huge, tacky, molded plastic case.  Obviously that was not going to cut it for me.  So I pulled out this toolbox I picked up last summer at a garage sale.

It just needed a bit of a re-do to make it perfect for storing my ‘art supplies’ (I can call them that even though I’m just coloring, right?)

I started out by painting it with the same Homestead House Laurentien milk paint that I used on those adorable little folding chairs from last week.  I had a bit leftover from that project so this was a great way to use it up.  But first I added a bit of Miss Mustard Seeds’ Bonding Agent to make sure the paint would adhere well to the metal toolbox.  I wasn’t sure what kind of oily residue might still be on the box, although I did scrub it down with some grease cutting dish soap first.

Once it was painted, I sanded it down to both make it smooth and to distress the edges.  Then I pulled out the same Overflowing Love transfer that I used on the last toolbox I revamped.

I still had quite a few designs left in this set to choose from.

I added a section of french wording (at least I’m assuming that is French) to the front of the toolbox, and a little butterfly above it on the lid.

Then I wrapped a floral section of the transfer around the opposite corner of the toolbox.

Once I had the transfers in place I sealed the entire box inside and out with The Real Milk Paint Co’s Finishing Cream in Dead Flat.  Then I used some scrapbook paper to line the inside.

So much better than a molded plastic case, don’t you agree?

If, like me, you’re looking for a way to turn off the noise in your head for a bit, consider giving coloring a try.  You’ll probably need a cool toolbox to keep your supplies in too!

toolboxes playing dress up.

Recently Prima Marketing sent me a few of their newest transfer designs.  To be honest, it might have been the best thing I received for Christmas this year!

They’ve got a couple of new kinds of transfers; foil transfers and adhesive transfers which are used with metallic foils.  I’ll be experimenting with both of those styles down the road, but for today I’m sharing some of their newest transfer collections.

I’m calling them ‘collections’ because these sets aren’t meant to be used as one large design on a single piece, but instead they have a bunch of smaller designs on each sheet that are meant to be cut up and used separately.  This makes them perfect for smaller projects, like dressing up some old toolboxes.

I’m guessing that I’m not the only one here who likes a rusty old toolbox.  Sometimes I re-paint old toolboxes, but when they are already a fab color I like to leave their original rusty patina alone.

But adding a little something extra is good too.

I started with this collection of transfers called Overflowing Love.

This one comes with two sheets of transfers, the one shown above which has several different designs and is meant to be cut apart and used individually (on the right below) and a second sheet with a full design meant to be kept together (on the left below).

It’s like getting two for one!

I added a couple of the big roses to the top and side of my turquoise toolbox.

They were super easy to apply.  I made sure the toolboxes were clean and dry first, and then I just rubbed them on.

Next I pulled out the Everyday Farmhouse collection.  This one comes with three sheets inside, all with various wording or numbers.

This is perfect for giving something a less flowery, more farmhouse-y rustic look.

You could literally do dozens of small projects with just this one set of transfers.

Finally, for a definitively industrial look, I pulled out the Industrial Mechanics transfer.

This set comes with three sheets that could be joined up together to create one large design.  Or you could use just part of it like I’ve done on this last metal case.

It has a chalkboard-ish sort of look to it, don’t you think?  This transfer would be perfect on a desk.

I use these toolboxes to store my craft supplies.

They work great for holding my hot glue gun or other crafting tools too.

Got any ideas for things you could use these new transfers on?  If so, please share in a comment.

If you’re wondering where to purchase the Prima Marketing transfers check out their ‘where to buy’ page.

the black bag.

A couple of months ago my friend Sue found this old black leather bag for me.

It doesn’t look like much in that photo, but I knew I could dress it up with a stencil.

The trick with stenciling something like this is being able to provide some support behind the surface you are stenciling.  In this case I laid the case on its side and filled it up with a stack of large books so that I would have a firm, flat surface for stenciling.

I stenciled it with Ceramcoat acrylic craft paint in Deep Taupe.  I know it appears white next to the black, but trust me.  It’s this color …

This is one of my favorite tricks for stenciling on black.  If you use a white paint the contrast will be much more stark.

I used just the lower portion of a stencil that I purchased from Maison de Stencils (and I noticed it just happens to be on sale at the moment).

Sue tells me that the person selling this bag said it was actually used as a doctor’s bag.  It is quite old, but unfortunately not in the greatest of shape.  You wouldn’t be able to use it as a bag anymore.  The zipper is broken and the leather handles are starting to give way.

But it works perfectly if you just want to use it as decor.

I filled it with crumpled paper to give it some shape and then I stitched the opening closed since the zipper wasn’t functional.

It looks great on a stack of vintage suitcases …

It has a bit of a spooky feel which is perfect for this time of year.

Adding a quick stencil is a super easy way to give something just a little more interest, don’t you think?

waste not, want not.

Remember the bed bench that my handyman Ken made out of a headboard and foot board?

When I posted about it, I mentioned that he didn’t use the entire foot board.  He cut a chunk out of the middle because we only wanted the bench to be about 20″ deep, so we only needed about 21″ off each end.

He was going to just toss that middle section, but he always checks with me first before he throws any excess pieces in the trash because he knows me pretty well.  He knows how much I enjoy salvaging things.  It’s so much fun to take something that seemed like trash and turn it into something new.  After all, waste not, want not, right?

So I took a look at the chunk of foot board that was left and and then asked Ken to add some trim pieces onto the sides for me, and here’s what he came up with.

And just coincidentally, it happened to be about the perfect size for one of the new transfers that Prima Marketing sent my way from their Always Fresh set.


I painted the piece using Fusion’s Plaster first.  I think Plaster is an underappreciated color in the Fusion line.  I feel like I hardly ever see anyone using it, but I love it.  It’s the perfect cream.

Once the paint was dry, I lightly distressed the edges and then added the transfer.

These solid transfers are incredibly easy to apply.

I also painted some wooden knobs in Plaster, and then added some of the Farm Fresh knob transfers from the Re.Design line.

And it was that simple to take a piece that would have been thrown away and turn it into an adorable Farm Fresh sign.

I hung it on the door to my photo cottage to get some photos.

That actually does seem somewhat appropriate since our property was originally a dairy farm until suburbia grew up around it.

I’m not at all sure how well these transfers would hold up to outdoor use though, so I don’t want to give the impression that this could be hung outdoors.  I’m planning to do a bit of an experiment on that down the road though, so I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

But in the meantime, I took the sign to Reclaiming Beautiful on Wednesday and hopefully it will go to a new home soon!

my picker’s finds.

It’s official, I have a picker!  What’s a picker, you ask?

Here’s the official definition.

pick·er ˈpikər/ noun

a person or machine that gathers or collects something. “a tomato picker”

a person who plays a plucked instrument, especially a guitar, banjo, or mandolin.

“banjo pickers”

My picker doesn’t play the banjo or pick tomatoes (although she does pick strawberries every year), but when she sees something at a garage sale that she thinks I might like she buys it for me.  My picker is my friend Sue, who is also my partner for the Carriage House sales (which are currently on an indefinite hiatus) and also a co-worker at my day job, and also a neighbor, but most importantly she is my garage sale mentor.  If it weren’t for Sue, I probably never would have even tried garage saling.  She taught me the ins and outs of finding the good stuff over 20 years ago.  I shared a tour of Sue’s beautiful home and garden back in the early days of my blog (you can see that here and here).  I’ve been wanting to update that house tour this summer but haven’t found time yet.

But today I’m sharing a couple of fun pieces that she picked for me lately.

The first is this cute little stool.

OK, well maybe not so cute in its ‘before’ state.  But it’s very sturdy and I like the little slot that can be used as a handle to carry it around.  This would make a great gardening stool.

I started by sanding it down, especially trying to remove all of those paint drips.  If you don’t get all of those off of there, they will come back to haunt you when you later sand to distress your paint job as you may notice in my ‘after’ photos below.

Next I mixed up the same custom color of milk paint that I used on the bookcase I shared on Monday.  Mostly Homestead House’s Craftsman with a little of Homestead House’s Loyalist mixed in.

After two coats of paint, I sanded it well to distress, then wiped the dust off and added my favorite Prima Marketing transfer.  This is the small version of the Seeds transfer.

For you hosta lovers out there, that one on the upper left is called Lakeside Dragonfly.  It’s perfect for the front of the garden because it doesn’t get huge.

 By the way, I had to cut the transfer in half to space it around the handle opening and I didn’t use the entire thing.  I’m sure I’ll find somewhere to use the rest of the transfer.

After the transfer was applied, I lightly sanded over the whole top again and then added a top coat of the Real Milk Paint Co’s Dead Flat Finishing Cream.

I really do love using this finish over milk paint.  It’s so easy to apply and it provides a little more protection than wax or hemp oil.  It has a thick gel-like consistency, so you don’t have to worry about drips.  It will also provide plenty of protection for the transfer.

Sue also found a simple wooden tote (or toolbox if you prefer) for me.  I neglected to get a ‘before’ photo of it though.  Drat.  But it was made out of fresh, new wood and had never been painted.

So I added a couple of coats of different colored paints to give it a little fake history.  First a coat of Fusion’s Laurentien, then a coat of Miss Mustard Seed’s French Enamel, and finally a coat of Homestead House milk paint in Raw Silk.

I sanded the edges to distress down to some of those other layers of color.

Initially I was going to stencil this tote, but the stencil I had in mind didn’t fit so I used a remnant of another one of my Prima Marketing transfers instead, this time the large Seeds transfer.  I’d already used the rest of this transfer on a dresser.

That’s one of the things I love about these Prima Marketing transfers, you can cut them up and create several masterpieces with just one of them.

I originally filled the tote with books for the photos, but then I thought ‘what the heck, it’s summer, let’s fill it with greenery instead.’

Plus, I used a portion of the transfer on both sides of the tote so I wanted to show the other side anyway.

By the way, that gorgeous purple flower is a purple astilbe.  It just started blooming last week.

Since both sides of this tote have a design, one could easily use it in the center of the dining room table.

In case you are wondering what in the world I do with all of this smaller stuff after I transform it, the answer is that I take it to Reclaiming Beautiful (a shop in nearby Stillwater) to sell on consignment.

The stool is already sold, but this week I’ll be bringing in the tote along with a few other fun things I’ve finished up lately.

Some stenciled buckets …

The blue bucket is painted with Miss Mustard Seed milk paint in French Enamel.  As I’ve mentioned before, milk paint works beautifully over dull galvanized metal (it may chip more if the metal has a shiny coating over it).

A vibrant aqua toy truck …

Yes, I painted it this color.  It had also been painted by the previous owner, so I wasn’t defacing a collectible toy or anything.  This is Cece Caldwell chalk paint in Santa Fe Turquoise.  Just for fun I also added a small rub-on transfer to the hood too.

My sister picked up that truck for me at a garage sale one of her neighbor’s was having, so technically I guess I have two pickers!

I also have another painted wood tote (this one I found at a garage sale myself).  It’s also painted in Miss Mustard Seed’s French Enamel and then stenciled with a warm white acrylic craft paint.

So if you’re local, be sure to swing by Reclaiming Beautiful this weekend to see what other fab items they have in stock (open Thursday – Sunday only).

cupboard door upcycle.

One of my favorite things to do is to re-purpose an item that someone cast off.  It’s not the same as taking an old piece of furniture and fixing it up, making it prettier with paint so that someone can continue to use it as a dresser (although obviously I enjoy doing that too).  I’m talking about true upcycling, where you give something a new purpose (like turning a door into a Market sign for example).  There is just something really satisfying about it.

After purchasing this pair of old cupboard doors at the Tangletown garage sales, I decided to do just that.

I started by painting one of the doors with Fusion’s Algonquin.

I love this color.  It’s a rich deep taupe.  But I mainly chose it because I thought it would work well with one of the new transfers from Prima Marketing’s line (thank you to Prima Marketing for providing me with the transfer).

One thing that is different about this transfer versus others that I’ve used so far is that it has a background color.  That sort of parchment look behind the black words and flowers is part of the transfer.

I wasn’t sure how that was going to work when it came to actually applying the transfer.  I thought it might make it more difficult, but in reality it made it much, much easier.  I didn’t have to worry about little bitty tails on letters that might not be stuck down properly.  I really just rubbed over the whole thing fairly quickly with the applicator stick that is provided with the transfer, and when I carefully pulled up the backing sheet … voila!  Perfect!

Although there is a background to this transfer that has some color to it, it is also fairly sheer.  So the color that you choose to put under it is going to make a difference in how the transfer looks.  I went with the Algonquin because I wanted my transfer to blend a bit with the background.  A white background would provide more contrast.

After the transfer was in place, I sanded the door to distress the paint.  I did not sand over the transfer, just the painted areas of the door.  Then I added some wax to get a consistent sheen over the entire piece.

Finally, I found some discarded wooden dresser knobs in my stash of rejected hardware and added them in a row at the bottom of the door.

The original wood stain on the knobs worked beautifully with the Algonquin and the colors in the transfer.

Thus the cupboard door becomes a kitchen towel holder.  Or a place to hang your bathrobe.  Or a pretty spot to hang some necklaces.

The people at Prima Marketing were kind enough to send a couple extra of this style transfer so that I could give some away today thus rounding out my week of of Prima Marketing transfer giveaways.

To be eligible to win one of these transfers all you have to do is leave a comment on this blog post by tonight (Friday, June 29) at midnight (U.S. central).  I’ll draw two names at random and each winner will get one transfer.

To spice up the comments today I thought I would ask you guys to tell me who your second favorite blogger is (ha, I’m being sarcastic, of course I’m not really assuming I am your favorite).  But seriously, share another blog that you enjoy in your comment.  Maybe a few of us (including me) will discover some new blogs to love today!

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 $25, if the prize is not claimed by Friday, July 6, 2018 another name will be drawn at random to win, blah, blah, blah.

the market sign.

I’m pretty much in love with using signs as décor.  I have a few in my own home, but let’s not add up how many because it might sound excessive.  OK?  Let’s just call it another non-collection.

That being said, genuine vintage signs are pretty pricey.  And these days even buying a newly made sign in a shop can be a bit expensive.  Especially if you want something with a bit of size to it.

So I recommend a DIY approach.

There are lots of different methods out there for achieving this including; using stencils (which aren’t cost effective if you want to make just one item with the stencil, their value lies in repetitive use), hand lettering (which never really looks good for me), transferring a graphic using a gel (which involves printing a graphic the size of your sign, so unless you use a printing service then size is limited) or using a cutting machine like a Cricut or Silhouette to cut vinyl and apply it like a sign (the machines are expensive, there is a bit of a learning curve for using them, and again size is an issue).

All of these methods have their place, but they all have their limitations too.

That brings me to the fab new transfers available from Prima Marketing’s line.  There are several that are perfect for making your own large sign.  I tried it out myself using their Market transfer (transfer provided by Prima Marketing).

This is a large transfer.  I want to point out here that the dimensions listed on the packaging are off.  They say 27.5″ x 24″.  I have no idea what those dimensions are meant to represent, but the actual size of the word ‘MARKET’ is 10″ tall by 47″ wide.  It does come in two separate pieces, one with ‘MAR’ and one with ‘KET’.  Still, those dimensions on the packaging make little sense.  The tube itself is only 13″ tall.

Nonetheless, I had the perfect piece to turn into a sign with this large transfer.  It’s an old closet door!  You might recognize it because I posted about it once before.  Who remembers the door to nowhere?

I thought it turned out pretty fab and would look great just leaning on the wall in someone’s home.  But apparently no one agreed with me on that because it sat unsold at Reclaiming Beautiful.  So a while back I decided to go back to the drawing board on this one.  I brought it home from the shop and realized it would be the perfect size to turn into a jumbo sign using the Market transfer.

But first, the door had suffered a bit of damage over time and I wanted to eliminate the stenciled “1918” because that wouldn’t work for my sign.  So I sanded the door down and added two coats of Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth, a lovely warm white.

This next step could not have been any easier, and it was definitely faster than most of the other options for making your own sign.

I simply placed the transfer sheet onto my door where I wanted it, taped it in place and then rubbed over the design using the little black wooden stick they supply with the transfer.

Carefully peel the shiny plastic off and ta da!

One large Market sign.

As you can see it just barely fit in my photo cottage (and yes, those are roses from Arlene’s garden).  The sign (ie. door) itself is 77″ wide and 16″ tall.

Of course I realize that not everyone happens to have a vintage door that is exactly the right size for a Market sign, but as I reminded you on Monday these transfers can also be applied directly to the wall.

Try to think of a creative way that you could use one of these in your home.  I can see it applied vertically directly to a pantry door.  It would also look cool applied across the front of a sideboard or buffet.

For those of you wondering where you can purchase the Prima Marketing products, check out their “Where To Buy” page.

But now it’s your chance to win one of three Prima Marketing transfers that would make great signs; Farmers Market, Market and Farm Fresh.

To be eligible to win one of these transfers all you have to do is leave a comment on this blog post by Friday, June 29, 2018 at midnight (U.S. central).  I’ll draw three names at random and each winner will get one transfer.

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 $25, if the prize is not claimed by Friday, July 6, 2018 another name will be drawn at random to win, blah, blah, blah.

And by the way, my Market sign is also for sale locally.  If you live near the Twin Cities and happen to need a large sign to hang in your house, be sure to check out my ‘available for local sale’ page.