my other hobby.

I’ve mentioned before that I have another hobby, scrapbooking.


I used to do a lot more of it, but these days I only scrapbook about once a year when I head off on a retreat with some friends.  My sister used to fly out from New Jersey for these scrapbook weekends, so it’s really fun now that she lives here in Minnesota and doesn’t have to come from so far away!  She can bring many more supplies when she doesn’t have to bring them on an airplane.

So instead of painting furniture last weekend, I was off creating scrapbook pages.  Since I don’t have any furniture makeovers to share with you, I thought I would share some of my favorite scrapbook page techniques instead.

One of my favorite techniques is to focus on one color, in this case pink.

This works great when there is an obvious color to pull from a photo on the page, like the pink flowers on the right.  I like to pair my colors with a charcoal gray background.

I used that same technique on this next page, only this time using yellow.

I also used a black and white photo on this one leaving just the yellow of my embellishments for color.

The ‘happy’ chipboard sticker (and the ‘love’ from the pink page and the ‘today’ from the title photo) is from Heidi Swapp, but unfortunately this design has been discontinued.


Such a bummer, they were one of my favorites.

Yellow was an obvious choice for this page of photos from Bonnet House in Ft. Lauderdale.

Here’s another example using red and grey.  Much like with decorating your home, it’s easy to combine different patterned papers if you stick with the same color.

In case you are wondering, Lucy is the name of the elephant and she is located in Margate, New Jersey.  These pics are from my trip to the Jersey Shore last summer.

Another technique I like to use is the two page spread.  Instead of focusing on just one 12″ x 12″ page, I create a design across the full 24″ width of two pages.  Even if that means cutting some elements down the middle.  Once you get the pages in the book your brain barely registers that they are cut apart.

Lago Mar is the hotel we stayed at in Ft. Lauderdale last November.

A Cricut machine really comes in handy for cutting page titles out of paper.


‘Jersey shore.’ was cut out on the Cricut in two different fonts.  I think a patterned paper works great for titles and outlining each letter with a fine tipped black pen helps give them more definition so they are easier to read.


 Here’s another title cut out with the Cricut.  Two fonts with two different papers is so much more interesting than doing the whole title the same.

By the way, if you’re wondering about the look of my photos and how I manage to not get any glare from them at all, it’s because I print my photos on matte photo paper.  I love the look of the matte paper.  I buy it at Target, but I’m sure you can find it many places.

October Afternoon products continue to be my favorites.  I like that I can mix and match their paper, stickers, chipboard and other embellishments and the colors always work well together.  Everything on this next page aside from the grey solid background (and the photos of course) is from October Afternoon.


I have just one last page to share with you. I basically did this page to torture my sister.  I’ve mentioned before that I have some old slides from when we were kids and I had a bunch of them turned in to jpeg files.  I print out a few here and there and I’m working on a scrapbook of just the slide photos.  This one of my sister cracks me up because the cowlicks in her hair are totally out of control.  As I was working on the page I realized that a photo I took of her while on vacation showed those same crazy cowlicks so I added that photo in the little Kodek slide frame.

I called them ‘devil horns’ and pointed out that she still has them just to annoy her.  Hey, I’m a little sister, I’m supposed to annoy her every now and then.  I’m pretty sure it’s in the job description.

If you missed seeing some of my other posts about scrapbook pages, you can them here, here and here.  And if you are thoroughly bored by scrapbooking, don’t worry, I’ll be back next week with some fun painting projects that I currently have underway.

See you then!


Today’s blog title ended up having a double meaning, although it wasn’t intended that way when I started writing it.  I ended up m.i.a. yesterday when I missed the self-imposed deadline for my normal Monday morning blog post.  Life has been getting in the way of my blogging hobby lately.  I’ve been busy doing all kinds of things, none of which involve painting furniture.  They don’t involve Valentine crafts either.  So here I am on Valentine’s Day with a post that is not even slightly Valentine related and only vaguely furniture related, but I hope you’ll enjoy it anyway.

Mr. Q and I have an annual Super Bowl Sunday tradition.  We go somewhere that is usually pretty crowded and we enjoy the fact that there is hardly anyone there.  You see, neither of us are sports fans.  This year we invited my sister Debbie to join us as well and we headed over to the MIA.  That’s the Minneapolis Institute of Arts for you non-locals, and also the real reason for my mia blog title.

The entrance to the MIA always cracks me up a little.  In typical Minnesota fashion, they have a grandiose front door but you aren’t allowed to use that entry.

You actually enter around the side at this much more unassuming entry, but you are allowed to keep your shoes on.Is that really a Minnesota thing, or do people do that everywhere?

Entrance to the MIA is free, which is pretty awesome.  However, we always park in the paid lot across the street that costs $5 for the first hour and another $1 an hour after that.  We also drop off our coats at the coat check because it always seems to be really warm inside and we don’t want to lug them around, so that requires a tip.  Of course, they do have a huge donation box in the entryway too, so we put some money in there as well.  We usually can’t resist getting a snack and a beverage (wine for me, coffee for Mr. Q) in the cafe too … so in the long run we shell out about $50.  But you don’t have to do that, you could find street parking, hang onto your coat, skip the snack and not leave a donation making your visit entirely free.  Or maybe just leave a little bit of a donation.

The MIA is huge.  We never see the entire thing in one visit.  This time we saw most of the third floor and just a smattering of the 2nd floor.

And see what I mean about Super Bowl Sunday?

Well, OK, the whole place wasn’t entirely deserted, but it was pretty empty.

My favorite thing to see at the MIA are the period rooms.  Complete rooms that have been dismantled from somewhere and rebuilt inside the museum, like this Charleston, South Carolina dining room.

Is it wrong that I want to paint that sideboard?  Wouldn’t it be gorgeous in Fusion’s Midnight Blue?  Those chairs would be much improved with some grain sack upholstery too.

Believe it or not, this is another of the period rooms …

You might be thinking that it looks more like some minion’s horrible tiny office, but no.  This is an art installation and you can read more about it here.  I hope you’ll take the time to follow that link and read about both the room and the artist, it’s really a fun story.  Basically, this is intended to be a lost curator’s office that was accidentally boarded up in the 1950’s and just recently unearthed.  There are some great details, like the bar cart (who doesn’t kinda wish we could still have these at the office?) and some of the old 50’s office equipment.

While at the museum I also discovered a great use for those vintage crocheted doilies and pot holders, not to mention any vintage toys you might have lying around …

Now why didn’t I think of that?

You all know how I love to turn mirrors into chalkboards.  This one would make a great candidate for that …

I could paint over the gold and black with some chippy Farmhouse White.

But finally, here is a piece of furniture that speaks my language, pardon the pun.

This is an 1870 pine cupboard that was painted by Aslak Lie, a Norwegian cabinetmaker who immigrated to the United States in the mid-1800’s.  It was made to commemorate the marriage of John Eriksen Engesaethe to Brithe Grinde.

My favorite part of the cabinet is the Norwegian inscription at the back …

Which just says John son of Erik, Brithe daugther of Sjurs, Engesaethe, year 1870.

Even I would never dream of covering this up with some milk paint 😉

I’ll leave you with this beautiful view of Minneapolis that you can see from inside the museum …

as well as the realization that next year we are going to have to come up with an entirely new plan for Super Bowl Sunday.  After all, next year the Super Bowl is taking place right here in Minneapolis.  We may have to leave town to find someplace that isn’t crowded next year!

the koningsdam.

The short cruise I took to the Bahamas last week was aboard the newest Holland America ship, the Koningsdam.  Did you know that Holland America is owned by Carnival Corporation?  As are Princess, Cunard, Seabourn and several others including, of course, Carnival.

I’ve sailed on Royal Caribbean, Princess, Carnival, Celebrity, Norwegian, Viking, and this was my 2nd cruise on a Holland America ship.  I guess much like with paint, I am not loyal to any one brand.  Also, much like paint, I can’t choose just one as a favorite.  They each have their place depending on what qualities you are looking for.

I have to say that of all the cruise lines I’ve been on, I feel like Holland America is the most … well … sedate.  Princess runs a close second.  If you are looking for a party at sea, stick with Carnival or Royal Caribbean.  But if you want a little more subdued and classy atmosphere, go with Celebrity, Princess or Holland America.

If I had to pick just one word to describe this ship I would have to go with ‘cultured’.  For one thing, there were lots of European passengers on board and overall the ship had a very European flavor right down to its Captain, Emiel de Vries from the Netherlands.  His accent was fun to listen to every day over the loud speaker.  There were many times when we were surrounded on deck by people speaking various foreign languages.  The ship had just crossed over from Europe, so many passengers had come along for the ride and stayed on board to see the Bahamas.  It was fun chatting with the many Dutch passengers and asking for advice on what to see when we go to Amsterdam next year.

In addition to that European feel, the ship was also filled with some truly gorgeous art.  The stairwell that was just outside our cabin had some pretty unique pieces at every landing.  This set of six was my favorite.


I’m afraid I didn’t do a very good job of capturing them.  From straight on at more of a distance they looked like traditional Dutch portraits.


But as you got closer to them you could see that they were actually made up of hundreds of tiny photos and other items that were held in place with stick pins.


Totally amazing.

They had several pieces that used some fairly unique mediums such as this pair that used colorful matchbox cars.


Those aren’t just photos of matchbox cars, they are actual matchbox cars under glass.


That’s some pretty impressive upcycling, don’t you think?

And who else remembers the floppy disk?

This next landing had a trio of portraits drawn on old maps.


You just can’t go wrong with an old map of Paris, right?


Another stairwell held some more surreal pieces.  My palms got a little sweaty every time I passed by this one.


If you are puzzled as to why, you aren’t looking closely enough.  Look again.

Don’t you want to just snatch that little girl off of that swing?

This last piece that I’m going to share was truly breathtaking.  It’s a cello made into a ship.

It was a bit hard to capture due to the combination of the glass case and my striped shirt.  Apparently I still haven’t learned not to wear stripes when taking photos.

But I hope you can still get a feel for how amazing this piece was.

 By the way, remember I said I would report back on how well the Holland America promo photo of the stateroom reflected reality?  Here is their official photo …


I didn’t get a photo of the room myself, but here is one that my sister took …


The promo photo is not entirely misleading, but it does appear to be missing that wall this side of the beds.  See it there in Debbie’s photo on the right?  I’m also fairly sure that they used smaller pillows in the promo photo to make the beds appear bigger.  This jumps out at me because the back set of pillows on our beds were wider than the bed itself (you can easily see that in Debbie’s photo).  We were constantly knocking stuff off our nightstands with the pillows.  The narrower pillows in the promo photo make the beds look wider than they really are.  Also, that space between the foot of the bed and the TV wall was quite narrow which is more obvious in Debbie’s photo.  Finally, the promo photo makes the room seem quite a bit deeper than it really was.  That desk looks so much further away in the promo photo.  A trick of the camera lens I’m sure.  And sadly, we didn’t get a room with those pretty shades of green, we got grey and blue, a color scheme that seems quite drab by comparison.

Three of us in this tiny room was a challenge.  When the couch was pulled out into a bed, we had to climb over it to get to the balcony.  You know those old sliding puzzles where you had to move one piece to make room to move another piece, then shuffle a third piece to get to the piece you really needed to move?  Moving around in this room was a lot like that.

But a small room is part of the package with a cruise.  Unless you are independently wealthy and can afford a suite.  But if you are claustrophobic, a cruise may not be the right choice for you!

Be sure to check back next week.  I’ll be comparing milk paint to Fusion paint!  See you then.

out of the loop.

There is just something about heading off on a tropical cruise two weeks before Thanksgiving.  Prior to leaving on my trip, I was really getting in the seasonal spirit.  I was decorating for fall and thinking ahead to Christmas.  I even ordered a new Christmas tree (you’ll see it in a couple of weeks).  My vintage ornament collection has grown to the point where I need a bigger tree.

But then I flew off to Florida and cruised around the Bahamas for a bit.  It was sunny and 80+ degrees nearly every day.


I was surrounded by blue skies and crystal clear turquoise water.  I drank tropical drinks on restaurant patios and strolled barefoot along beautiful beaches.


I didn’t need a jacket.  I went through an entire can of sunscreen.


I sat on the balcony with a glass of wine and a good book  and I didn’t really need that blanket, it’s just there for looks.


And then I came home.  What do you mean Thanksgiving is next week?  How is that possible?  I’m so disoriented!

Isn’t it still summer?


I checked a few of my favorite blogs when I got home and oh my gosh, they are already writing about Christmas decorations.

While I was gone all of the remaining leaves have fallen from the trees and the branches are all bare.

I feel so out of the loop.  Like a train that has run off the tracks.  I should be sharing a beautiful Thanksgiving table or how to make your own wreath out of dried hydrangeas.

Instead all I have to share are photos from my tropical vacation and I don’t feel the slightest bit like getting out the Christmas stuff.


So I hope you’ll indulge me for just a bit while I try to adjust and get back in the loop.  Perhaps I’ll come up with some sort of more seasonal post for next week, but in the meantime I hope you enjoyed a few tropical photos today!

a girl getaway.

Hey everybody!  I scheduled this post a couple of days ago, because today I am sitting on the beach in Ft. Lauderdale!


I’ll be spending a couple of days on the beach here followed by a quick 4 day cruise to the Bahamas.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that my mom is a travel agent.  And by the way, my mom just had her 76th birthday, but she is still working.  She has just cut back her hours from full time this year.  She mainly works for the perks.

A while back she mentioned to me that she and her co-worker had booked a short cruise on the newest Holland America ship, the Koningsdam.  They wanted to check out the new ship so that they could better represent it for future clients.


After she told me about this, I mentioned to my sister that maybe we should think about joining them.  Debbie was up for it, so we booked a cabin.

Mr. Q is not fond of Caribbean cruises, so he stayed home to man the fort.

After Debbie and I booked our boring but affordable interior cabin, I happened to mention the trip to my friend Terri and she asked if she could join us.  My travel agent, a.k.a. my mom, got busy and switched us from an inside cabin to a veranda cabin with room for three (Terri gets that couch by the sliding glass doors).


Looks positively spacious, doesn’t it?  We’ll see if it really looks like this in person when we board the ship on Wednesday.  Somehow I doubt it, but I’m excited about the balcony.  I don’t usually splurge on a cabin with a balcony but split three ways this cabin was cheaper than the inside cabin was for just Debbie and I.

This trip is going to be all about kicking back and relaxing.  I’ve loaded up my Kindle with several good books, I’ve packed a bunch of sunscreen, and I have budgeted for plenty of ‘boat drinks’ which I plan to sip on while sitting by the pool on board the ship.


I won’t bother with WiFi or anything like that while at sea, so you won’t be hearing from me for the rest of the week.

But I plan to be back next week with a recap of my trip.  I’ll be sure to let you know if our cabin looked anything like that promotional photo!

buying a new camera.

I take a lot of photos.  You’ve probably already noticed that about me.  But lately I’ve found that I tend to miss out on photo opportunities because I don’t want to lug around my big DSLR camera and lens(es).  On top of that, I’ve also been having some technical difficulties with it.  My Canon Rebel EOS XSi is somewhere around 10 years old I think.  Lately it has been ‘acting up’.  It just stops working.  It has happened twice now.  Each time I’ve been shooting a lot of photos on a hot, sunny day.  I find that if I let it ‘cool down’ by shutting it off and leaving it alone for about 20 minutes or so, it starts working again.  I don’t have any problems with it during short furniture photos shoots, but when I’m taking 300+ photos in the space of a couple of hours it acts up.  I have to admit, I get a little panicky when my camera stops working!  And it has stopped at some extremely inconvenient moments!  As of yet I have been unable to diagnose the problem because I don’t get an error message of any kind.  Changing the battery doesn’t help.  Changing the photo card doesn’t help.  I suspect it’s overheating, but I haven’t been able to find any definitive information on that online.

So I decided it might just be time for a new camera.  If you have absolutely no interest in cameras, stop reading now and come back next week for another post that might be more interesting to you.  But if you are considering a camera purchase of your own in the future, keep reading!

Since I have a lot of money invested in various lenses and filters for my Canon, the obvious first choice was to just buy a new Canon Rebel body that would work with the lenses I already have.  But I quickly realized that didn’t solve my first problem; that lugging around all of that equipment is not always practical.  Plus my current Canon still works well for furniture photo shoots as long as I don’t overuse it.  What I really need is a good travel camera for places like Budapest …

Budapest collage

Thus began the research.  I’m not a huge fan of techie research of any kind, but it has to be done.  There are so many options out there.  I started with reading a few different articles reviewing various cameras and their features.  That helps me narrow down the features that are available and whether or not they are important to me.  For example, I really prefer using an optical viewfinder.  I used my sister’s point and shoot camera at the McCrory Gardens when we were out in South Dakota and I hated using the LCD display to compose my shots.  I couldn’t see the screen at all in full sunlight, and even in shady areas it was difficult to see.  I felt like I was shooting blind.  I also realized that even though I want a more portable camera, I still want the ability to control my settings.  I also want good quality photos.  And down the road I want the option of investing in higher quality lenses for my camera if I decide I need them.

After doing a bit of reading, I quickly realized that what I wanted was a mirror-less camera.  Don’t know what that is?  Check out {this article}.

Can’t be bothered with reading that?  The short version; it’s smaller and lighter than a DSLR (so more convenient for traveling), but still allows you to have more control over settings than the typical point and shoot.  It also allows you to swap out lenses.

Not all mirror-less cameras come with an optical viewfinder though.  Some have an optional optical viewfinder (say that 10 times fast) that costs extra, and some don’t have a viewfinder at all.  I really wanted a viewfinder so that limited my choices.

I also was working with a budget of $500.  There were plenty of options that were priced way out of my price range!  I just can’t justify spending $1,500+ on a camera.

I ended up with two potential cameras on my list.  The Olympus OM-D E-M10 and the Canon EOS M3.

Once I had my choices narrowed down to these two I used a very helpful website to make my decision,

I used their comparison tool to see how the two cameras stacked up.  Check that out {here}.

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 came out just slightly ahead of the Canon overall according to this website.  Despite that, I was still leaning towards the Canon because I’m used to a Canon (less of a learning curve), plus I could use my current Canon lenses on it (with the help of an adapter, I think).

But in the end I went with the Olympus after all.


As it turned out, the price on the Canon EOS M3 on Amazon was $479 for just the body with no lens.  The camera with an 18-55 mm kit lens was $599.  To add on the optional viewfinder was another $189.  Yep, suddenly I’m looking at almost $800 for a camera that I thought was under $500.  If I also wanted an adapter so that I could fit my existing lenses on the camera, that’s another $100.

By comparison I found the Olympus (with its built in viewfinder) in a kit that included a 14-42 mm lens for $399.  Wow!  That’s half the price of the Canon and $100 under budget.

Purchasing the camera was just the first hurdle.  Somehow I had this crazy notion that my new camera would arrive and I’d pop it out of the box and start shooting.  Silly me.  It practically took me five minutes just to figure out where the memory card went!

After struggling with that, I went to youtube and found an awesome video tutorial for my camera by Tony Northrup.  That radically simplified things for me.  I find it so much easier to learn by watching and playing along.  Plus, that guy is not exactly hard to look at, if you know what I mean (although obviously not nearly as handsome as Mr. Q).

So, the new camera is up and running and I’m playing around with using it.


Whether or not I love it for travel remains to be seen, but so far I am getting some rather nice photos with it.

Sidebar:  this next photo is Hosta Sun Power.  It is a hosta that will not only tolerate a little more sun, it actually needs a little more sun to become this vibrant yellow-green.  It practically glows in the garden.

sunpower hosta

I’ll report back in a couple of months and let you know whether or not I continue to be happy with my camera choice.

Please note that this is not a sponsored post and there are no affiliate links for purchasing anything.  Both the camera decision website and the camera tutorial are free.  I paid for my new camera myself and all opinions are my own.  In addition, the camera I chose suits my needs but may not suit yours.  If you are in the market for a new camera, I hope you’ll find some of these resources helpful in choosing the best camera for you.  I know I did!


One of my favorite things about blogging is when other people interact with my posts by leaving comments.  When I posted about my South Dakota relatives on Wednesday I didn’t know I would get such great stories from my readers in return.  It was definitely an unexpected bonus!  If you don’t normally read the comments, I highly recommend that you go back to that post and read them (click here).  Several people left some great family stories of their own!  Maybe you’d like to leave one too, it’s not too late.

Although my family’s farm is in Arlington, when we visit we usually stay about 20 miles east in Brookings, South Dakota with my cousin Yvonne.  Arlington’s population is 894, Brookings’ population is 22,943.  So obviously Brookings has a little bit more to offer.

Brookings is home to South Dakota State University as evidenced by the numerous people milling around in Jackrabbit attire.  It definitely has a ‘college town’ feel, but with a ‘farm town’ twist.  By the way, in 2015 Brookings was ranked as the safest college town in the United States, so if you have a kid that will be going to college soon maybe give this one some thought.  Although we’ve been to Brookings many times, Debbie and I have never really explored the place at all.  So we decided to change that last weekend and be tourists for a day.

brookings title 2

I have to confess, the addition of the title on that photo was a little tongue in cheek.  You see so many of these sorts of lists on pinterest, 10 things to see in Amsterdam or 1 day in Paris.  But hey, if you are ever going to be in Brookings, be sure to pin that photo!

We started our day with a visit to McCrory Gardens, a botanical garden and arboretum that is operated by the University.  They have 25 acres of formal display gardens and another 45 acres of arboretum.  Debbie and I only visited the formal display gardens, which were quite lovely.  I especially liked some of their more unique plant pairings, like these ornamental grasses planted with ornamental cabbage.


They had an area devoted to interesting color combinations too.

color combo

My sister really liked the sunflowers …

sun flower

and these ornamental grasses …

ornamental grass

I think Debbie’s garden style leans more towards a prairie garden with wildflowers, while I am more a fan of cottage gardens.  This spot with its little cottage and white picket fence was definitely my favorite.

cottage garden

After touring the gardens, we met back up with my mom and her cousins Elaine & Yvonne for lunch at a locally famous hamburger joint called Nick’s.  The burgers really were delicious!


Before heading out to the family farm for the afternoon, our cousin David picked up Debbie and I and we stopped off at the local winery that was on the way, Schade’ Vineyard & Winery in Volga, South Dakota.

Schade' winery

We admired their grape vines…


took a selfie with our cousin David (he was trying to help us improve our selfie skills, he says it’s all about finding your good angle, but I still haven’t found mine) …

selfie by david

and we tasted some wine, including some interesting local specialties like Buffaloberry wine (hmmm, no) and Strawberry Rhubarb.  All of their wines are made with locally grown fruit.  I did bring home a few bottles of the Raspberry-Apple wine.

In addition to the wine, I also brought home some sweet corn from the family farm and a chest cold.  The corn is long gone but the chest cold has been lingering all week so I haven’t gotten much done out in my workshop.  But I’m definitely starting to feel better today and the temps are supposed to drop back into the 70’s this weekend, so it should be a good time for me to get a few pieces of furniture done.  So be sure to stay tuned next week!