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.

people of mature age and respected morals.

The third port of call on our recent Adriatic cruise was Naples, Italy.  This was also the third time I’ve been to Naples.  The first time I went to Pompeii with my mom and sister, the second time I went to Capri with Mr. Q and my bff, so this time we decided to visit Herculaneum.

But our tour of Herculaneum was in the afternoon, so that left us the morning to do something else in Naples.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it here yet, but we were lucky enough to have the ship’s port lecturer at our dinner table on this cruise.

Let me elaborate for those of you who may not be familiar with cruising.  When you book a cruise these days you can usually decide between anytime dining or a set dining time of either the ‘early’ or ‘late’ seating.  If you choose a set dining time, you can also choose to be at your own table for two (or however many are in your party) or you can roll the dice and choose to be seated with strangers.  When Mr. Q and I travel alone we prefer late dining and as large a table as we can get.  Mr. Q is a social butterfly/extrovert and the more, the merrier in his opinion.  And the ‘late seating’ always gives me time for a nap before dinner 😉

I’m always a tad nervous about the possibility of ending up with unpleasant dinner companions, but so far we’ve always been lucky.

Once again, we were quite fortunate this time.  We were at a table for 8 with three other couples.  The first couple was from Canada and were retired from the travel business.  The second couple was from Connecticut currently, however they had immigrated to the U.S. from Moldova (a former Soviet republic) back in the 90’s.  I have to say, Nathan and Svetlana were the nicest people.  We had to work hard to understand them through their still rather thick accents, but it was worth it.  Mr. Q was in heaven because he loves Russian literature and Nathan was clearly a fan as well.  The third couple, Ken and Leslie, were from England.  We were well into our second dinner together before Ken fessed up that he was the cruise’s port lecturer.

How convenient to have the ship’s expert on our ports of call right there at our dinner table every night!

It certainly came in handy for Naples.  When we asked Ken (not to be confused with my neighbor/handyman Ken) what we should do with our morning in Naples he recommended visiting the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli.

He explained that all of the really good stuff from both Pompeii and Herculaneum is at the museum.  Most of the items that you see at the sites themselves are reproductions.  Naturally the originals have been sent to the museum to be protected.

Plus the museum is within walking distance from the ship, or just a short and inexpensive taxi ride away therefore it would be easy to visit in the morning before our tour.

So after breakfast that morning Mr. Q and I headed out on foot to the museum.  It was a bit longer of a walk than we anticipated, but maybe that’s because we had to stop and have coffee at a small sidewalk cafe along the way.  Italian coffee is the best!

I was highly amused by this poster plastered on the wall along our route.

I would never have admitted it out loud on the streets of Naples, but pizza with pineapple on it is pretty much the only pizza that I like.  Shhhhh, don’t tell the Italians!

We were greeted just inside the door of the museum by a young man offering a personal one hour guided tour in English, but it was €60 which seemed a little pricey.  In hindsight, we probably should have at least rented the audio guides which were only €5 each, but at the time we didn’t think we needed them. We hadn’t realized that many of the printed explanations in the museum would be written in Italian only.  Luckily some of the more major exhibits were also explained in English, but I’m sure we would have gotten much more out of our visit with the audio guides.

Also just inside was this model.

It was roped off and surrounded by people working on it though.  I wish I knew more about what is was, but I haven’t been able to find any info on it at all.

Of all the pieces in the museum, I was the most impressed by the mosaics.

It’s really hard to appreciate these in photos.  The one above is only about 2.5′ tall or so, it’s not an entire wall sized mosaic as it may seem in the photo.  So look again at how incredibly tiny those pieces are that make up the mosaic, and the detailed shading in the design giving it a three dimensional look.  Here’s another …

I can’t even imagine the patience it would require to place all of those tiny little pieces!

These little niches likely held small statues, but perhaps they were the inspiration for the telephone niches of the 1950’s!  Who else remember those?

They didn’t just have small mosaics in the museum, they had huge mosaics too.

This is the Alexander Mosaic.  It was a floor in the House of the Faun at Pompeii and it dates to around 120 B.C.

 We also stumbled across a section of the museum called the secret cabinet.  Port Lecturer Ken had warned us about this area … or did he simply tell us that we should be sure to see it?  I’m not sure which now.  Believe it or not, until the 1960’s the items on display here were ‘only accessible to “people of mature age and respected morals”, which in practice meant only educated men’ (Wikipedia).  I’m sure that Mr. Q and I are of a mature enough age, but not so sure about those respected morals.

Anyway, they let us in.  In fact I was even able to take photos at will.  I debated sharing a photo or two here, but I don’t want to end up on some sort of restricted internet list or anything.  I also don’t want to offend the sensibilities of any of my readers.  But if interested, be sure to check out the Wikipedia entry here to read more about the sorts of items that were found throughout Herculaneum and Pompeii.

We ran out of time to see anything more at the museum after that, so we grabbed a cab out front and headed back to the port for a quick lunch before heading out to Herculaneum.  I’ll be sharing that next Wednesday, so if you’re enjoying these travel posts be sure to check back then!

wishing you a very merry.

As I’ve mentioned before, I use an online random number generator to choose the winners for my giveaways.  There is just no way that I could simply ‘pick’ a winner based on merit, or how much I liked that person’s comment.  If I did that, I’d have to choose every one of you and I just don’t have enough prizes for that!

Imagine my surprise when the number generated this time was number 1!  I guess it does pay to be first in line sometimes 😉

So congrats to Stephanie, and a huge thank you to everyone who left a comment on the four giveaway posts for my blogiversary.  You all said so many kind things.  At one point I told Mr. Q that maybe I should have said something like “you’re not required to say something flattering to win”.  I felt a bit like I was fishing for compliments, when in reality I just wanted to thank all of you for your continued support of my blog.  I couldn’t do it without you!

For those of you who celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a very merry holiday with friends and family.

Don’t forget to leave some cookies out for Santa!

And for those of you who don’t, I hope you at least get to enjoy a couple of days off work to rest and relax.

I’ll be back on Wednesday with the next port of call from our Adriatic cruise, Naples.  I’ve also got some fun quick projects to share with your on Friday.  See you then!

keeping it simple.

While I was gone on my cruise last month I received a text from one of my favorite customers.  Nikkii has purchased a gazillion pieces of furniture from me, I do believe I have lost count of just how many.  Last summer she purchased the gorgeous bed I painted in Dixie Belle’s Caviar.

She got in touch because she was looking for a dresser to pair up with the bed.  She wanted something that would hold a decent amount of stuff.

Mr. Q and I happened to have just returned to the ship after our Street Food Tour in Genoa when she texted, but I promised to get back to her when our trip was over because I had a couple of dressers that I thought might work for her.

She ended up going with this one.

Initially you might be thinking that the simple, clean lines of this chest on chest dresser don’t relate to the more ornate style of the bed at all.  However, I knew that painting it the same color would go a long way towards making them work together.

I prepped the dresser using my regular m.o.; removed the hardware, sanded lightly, vacuumed inside and out, cleaned with Krud Kutter Kitchen Degreaser, and rinsed with a damp cloth.  Then I added two coats of Dixie Belle’s Caviar.

Once that was dry I added my Blanchisserie de Francaise stencil using Ceramcoat craft paint in a color called Deep Taupe.  The curvy lines of the stencil will also help this piece relate to the curvier lines of the bed.

Readers frequently ask where I got this stencil, but unfortunately the Etsy vendor I purchased it from is no longer in business so I can’t provide a source for it.

After adding the stencil it was simply a matter of sanding lightly again using 220 grit paper, vacuuming again and then waxing the piece using Dixie Belle’s Best Dang Wax in Black.

Gosh, I’d forgotten what a workout it is to wax a large piece of furniture.  And this one is large at 53.5″ tall.  I never feel guilty about skipping the gym when I’m spending time waxing a piece of furniture.

And it sure did feel good to be painting again.  I’d definitely missed it!

I retained the original drawer pulls on this piece.  I initially debated swapping them out, but they had two screws each which would have meant filling holes and re-centering new holes for knobs.

When I think about it, this dresser makeover really was an exercise in keeping in simple.

First of all, that original red stain would have definitely bled through a lighter color of paint.  Sure, I could have used a stain blocking primer like Dixie Belle’s BOSS and that would have solved that problem.  That would have been an extra expense, and an extra step or possibly two (if it had required two coats).  Just painting it black was much simpler.

Second, keeping the original hardware meant I didn’t have to fill those extra holes.  Plus there would have been the added expense of buying 10 knobs.

Some days it feels like the competition out there on social media is so fierce, and everyone is trying to out-do each other with the most elaborate makeover possible.  Sometimes it’s good to remind myself that keeping it simple is OK too.

You can really change the look of a piece of furniture with just some paint, don’t you agree?


eze in the off-season.

I veered off track a bit with my Wednesday travel post last week and skipped ahead to the end of our Adriatic cruise, but now I’m back on track and today I’m sharing what we did during the first half of the day while our ship was docked in Monaco.

We took a ship sponsored shore excursion to Eze, France.

Eze is a small medieval hilltop village just across the border from Monaco.  It probably took us less than 30 minutes to get there, so it’s not far.  I’m not really sure of the exact timing because our very charming tour guide kept us entertained the entire way sharing interesting tidbits about both Monaco and Eze.

Once again I’m wishing I had a drone so that I could show you the amazing location of this pretty little village using my own photo.  Coincidentally, I was just reading the December 2018 issue of Martha Stewart magazine and guess what?  Martha has a drone.  She uses it to take photos of the sweeping vistas of her own property.  I don’t really think I need one for that, but it sure would be fun to have one for travel.  In the article she claims that drones are ‘more accessible and affordable’ these days.

Regardless, I doubt I’ll get a drone anytime soon.  Plus, I suspect Martha’s definition of ‘affordable’ is slightly different than mine.

In the meantime I’ll borrow this next photo from the web just so you get a feel for the location of Eze, which is perched at the top of a hill overlooking the sea.  You can see the church in about the center of the photo, and above it just a little to the right at the very top is the exotic garden.

Eze has been on my bucket list since the last time we went to Monaco, which was about 10 years ago.  That time we didn’t make it to Eze and I really regretted it.  So when I realized this cruise made a stop in Monaco I knew I had to get there this time.

The only downside to Eze is that it tends to be terribly touristy.  I always say that the reason why places become touristy is because they have something fantastic to offer.  People start talking about the place because it’s uniquely charming, or interesting, or historically significant and then word gets out and everyone wants to go there.  Suddenly the place is overrun with tourists.

But here’s the trick to visiting really touristy places, go in the off-season.  These captivating little alleyways can be thronged with people in the summer, but they were practically empty while we were there.

We stopped for a cup of coffee at this lovely cafe and were literally the only people in the place.

Granted, probably at least half of the shops were closed.  But that doesn’t matter one bit to me, I’m not a shopper when I travel.  I’d much rather spend my time running around taking photos rather than shopping.

While in Eze, we toured the Église Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption d’Èze.

This church was built between 1764 and 1778 on the ruins of an original 12th century church.

I thought the interior had a very French look with all of the gold, pale blue and crystal chandeliers.

Our guide pointed out the permanent arm holding a crucifix coming out from the pulpit.  Do you see it there in the photo above?  I’m not sure I would necessarily have noticed it otherwise.  She said that the priest’s arm got too tired holding up that heavy crucifix so he had a permanent one installed.  I’m not sure if that’s the true story behind it or not, but it was entertaining.

Le jardin exotique d’Eze is located up at the very top of the hill above the rooftops of the village.

  The first time we were in Monaco and visited the Jardin Exotique de Monaco, I was surprised to find that it was mainly a garden of succulents.  That time I was expecting something entirely different, a typical french garden like the one in Giverny that was featured in so many Monet paintings.  But this time I knew what to expect.

I have to admit cacti and other succulents are not my favorites.  I much prefer a lush cottage garden.  But the views from le jardin exotique d’Eze were spectacular.

I don’t think I would have enjoyed Eze nearly as much if we had visited during the summer, but seeing it in November was fantastic.

Not only were there fewer tourists, but the fall colors were beautiful too.

So I say if you ever have the chance to visit Eze in the off-season, and you enjoy charming little medieval French villages, definitely go for it!

blogiversary giveaway no. 4

Congrats to Ellen, the winner of last week’s blogiversary giveaway.

Back at the end of November I promised to give away a few of my favorite things from some of the companies that have provided me with products to try and share with all of you here on the blog.  I’ve already given away Miss Mustard Seed’s products, Fusion products and Dixie Belle products.  Today will be the final giveaway and it features transfers from Prima Marketing.

I have to say, discovering these transfers has been a game changer for me.  I absolutely LOVE them and really can’t say enough good things about them.

I will put them on just about anything including dress forms …

or ironing boards …

or walls …

or on wooden tool boxes …

or galvanized watering cans …

or foot boards made into shelves.

But my favorite thing to put them on is furniture.

My first transfer project was fairly simple.  I added the Specimens transfer to the primitive cupboard where I store my painting supplies in the winter …

This Specimens transfer also looked amazing on a bench that my handyman/neighbor Ken made out of a bed …

There are a few transfer designs that I’ve only used once …

That’s not because I didn’t love them, but simply because there are just so many to choose from.

But I quickly grew attached to the Seeds transfer and used it on numerous pieces.

There is just something about the typography on this one that appeals to me.

So I keep using it, over and over again.

It was the perfect choice for the ‘garden beds’.

It comes in the large size, but also in a smaller size that is perfect for smaller pieces of furniture.

or for small stools.

And then Prima Marketing came out with some more elaborate and more colorful designs earlier this year like the Rose Celebration transfer.

And the Imperial Garden transfer.

The French Ceramics transfer was perfect on the inner drawers of this linen press dresser.

They keep upping the game and coming out with even more fabulous transfers.

I totally fell in love with their new knob transfers the minute I saw them.

I’ve done a couple of projects with them.

If you haven’t already tried the transfers you really should!

I’ve found them quite easy to apply, although you do have to be somewhat careful with them.  Here are some q-tips for working with the transfers.

  • If your transfer is stuck to the waxy backing sheet, try popping it in the fridge for 15 minutes or so first.
  • If your transfer isn’t sticking to your surface, try warming up the surface first with a blow dryer just a bit.
  • Don’t allow the transfer to fold over on itself, that can create a mess as it will stick together.
  • Don’t apply a transfer over a freshly waxed surface, wait until after applying the transfer to add wax.
  • When working with a transfer that comes on multiple sheets like the Imperial Garden or the Rose Celebration transfers, lay them out and make sure you have them in the right order before removing the backing and placing them on your piece.
  • It’s tricky to apply a transfer over really chippy milk paint that hasn’t been sealed.  The milk paint chips will stick to the transfer sheet rather than the transfer sticking to your piece.  If you want to use a transfer over chippy milk paint, seal your milk paint first with something like Miss Mustard Seed’s Tough Coat and then apply the transfer.
  • When applying a transfer on glass be sure that you have it positioned exactly where you want it before it gets too close to the glass.  Once the transfer and the glass meet, the transfer is there to stay.

And now, here’s your chance to give them a try without having to buy them.  Today’s giveaway includes these three Prima Marketing transfers.

And I say three because there are three packages, but you’ll really end up with 7 transfers because the Dairy set comes with 2 versions of the word ‘Dairy’ and the Always Fresh set comes with 4 designs.

Of course, I’m also including another Italian decorating magazine and some Croatian soap and chocolates with this prize as well.

Thank you so much to Prima Marketing for supplying the transfers that I am giving away today!

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.

I will randomly draw the name of a winner for today’s prize from all of the comments left on this post by Friday, December 21, 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 $100, if the prize is not claimed by Sunday, December 23, another name will be drawn at random to win, blah, blah, blah.

Good luck!

velvet inspired wrapping paper.

On Wednesday I shared our incredible tour of the Luigi Bevilacqua velvet weaving workshop in Venice.

The gorgeous velvet fabrics they create are filled with rich colors and many of them have metallic threads shot through them as well.  I especially loved this combo …

A vibrant pink with a metallic gold background.

Although their fabric is well out of my price range, I decided I could easily make my own Bevilacqua velvet inspired wrapping paper for Christmas.

I started by gathering my supplies.

I’ve got plain brown wrapping paper, Dixie Belle’s Peony, Fusion’s Pale Gold, Prima Marketing stencils in Imperial Damask and French Damask and a small foam roller.

Next I added gold ‘threads’ to the brown wrapping paper by using a cheap chip brush to dry brush Fusion’s Studio Metallics Pale Gold over the paper.  The texture of the cheap brush made it perfect for this technique.  Just use a small amount of paint and lightly brush it over the paper.

It didn’t take long to do the entire roll.  I just kept unrolling the paper as I went and stretching the roll across the room to dry.

By the time I got to the end, the beginning was dry enough to start loosely rolling the paper back up again.

Next, in an ‘it was meant to be’ sort of way, I found that the Prima Marketing Imperial Damask and French Damask stencils fit almost perfectly across the width of the brown paper.  The design portion of the stencils is about 22″ x 26″.

I like to use a small foam roller when working with these larger stencils because the paint goes on much more quickly than it does with a stencil brush.

I just pour the paint onto a paper plate and then apply it to the roller.  As always with stenciling, I used a fairly dry roller so that my paint wasn’t too sloppy.

I just kept going down the length of the paper, lining up the pattern at the edge of the previous pattern each time.  I wasn’t super careful about that, this was only wrapping paper after all.  But even so, I can’t really tell where the edges were in the finished paper.

I think the matte finish of the Dixie Belle Peony paint was perfect for recreating the look of velvet, and the Fusion Studio Metallics Pale Gold underneath adds just enough shimmer and mimics gold threads perfectly.

You aren’t limited to just wrapping paper with this technique, it also worked beautifully on a cardboard hatbox …

and also on brown craft paper gift bags.

So even if we can’t quite afford that beautiful velvet fabric from Venice, we can certainly make our own knock-off faux velvet wrapping paper at a fraction of the price!

The only problem is that these presents are so pretty no one is going to want to unwrap them!

If you enjoyed this post and you like the idea of making your own gift wrap, be sure to check out the copper gift wrap I made a couple of years ago.  I paired it up with some lengths of old player piano music rolls …

And then there are last year’s pink gift boxes.

It seems like it’s turning into a bit of a tradition for me to create my own gift wrapping each year.  I suspect it’s a bit of a luxury to have the time to get this elaborate with my gift wrapping.

How about you?  Do you take time with your wrapping, or are you up until midnight on Christmas Eve just hoping you don’t run out of tape?