frugal fall decorating.

The bill for the credit card that I used while in Disney World is going to be rolling in any day now and it’s not going to be pretty.  Disney World is not exactly a budget friendly place, and I’m not terribly good at being frugal while on vacation.

So I’ll have to make up for that now that I’m home, starting with some frugal fall decorating.

This is where my hydrangeas come in, and this is just one of the reasons why I love having several hydrangeas in the garden.  Hydrangeas, in particular the paniculata varieties, grow incredibly well for me here in my zone 4b garden.  They provide tons of dried flowers for fall and winter decorating with next to zero effort required on my part.

I filled the galvanized boiler that hangs beneath the window on the carriage house with the Vanilla Strawberry variety.

These dry to a darker, reddish-pink which works perfectly with the barn red of the carriage house.

The Limelight hydrangeas start turning pinkish in the fall as well, but mostly only on the side of the flower that faces the sun.  The undersides stay a pretty pale green.

So you can turn whichever side you prefer to face front in your arrangements.

I filled the planters on either side of my door with them.

By the way, as you can see, the pair of rusty planters that I painted using Dixie Belle’s patina products are holding up beautifully.

I used Limelights in the galvanized wash tub in front of the carriage house too, but I also included a few hosta leaves for added interest.

The sign that is hanging above the wash tub is an old table leaf that I painted up with Dixie Belle paint and then stenciled.  I coated it with some of their Gator Hide and then hung it outside as an experiment to see how it would hold up.  I like to do little experiments like these so that when I sell similar pieces I can let people know how durable they really are.

I used a combination of Vanilla Strawberry, Limelight, hosta leaves and a few last remaining salvia flowers in this galvanized container that hangs on the photo cottage door.

I applied the Prima Marketing transfer from their Everyday Farmhouse collection to the container a while back and it too has held up beautifully outdoors.

The transfers adhere really well to glass and smooth metal and I’ve found that they can absolutely be used outdoors on these surfaces.

Somehow I always get a lot more satisfaction out of decorating without spending much money, how about you?

These days it sometimes feels like the main goal of social media posts is to get you to buy something.  Instead, I hope that I’ve given you some ideas for fall decorating that you can do without spending any money at all.

Do you do any fall decorating on the cheap?  If so, I’d love to see some of your ideas in the comments!

the dining room.

Today we are continuing the tour of our house with the dining room.

This room was added on to our 1904 farmhouse by the previous owners.  I’m guessing they added it sometime in the 70’s.  They salvaged the wood for the paneled walls from an old barn that was being torn down.  I’m sure they intended the room to be a family room, but since we’ve turned what was likely the formal dining room into a piano room, we now use this room as a dining room.

Over the years I have thought about painting the walls white, but I can’t help but feel like I might regret that down the road.  And once it’s done, there’s no going back to the original patina of the red barn wood.  Here’s a photo that shows that more clearly.

Back when dark stain was really in for wood floors, I had the wide pine floors in this room stained dark and I really regret that decision.  I wish now that I had left them alone too.  I’m not sure how difficult it would be to strip the dark and go back to a natural pine.  Maybe one of these days I’ll pursue that.

But in the meantime, I’ve tried to add lots of light colored furnishings to help brighten up the room starting with the huge Welsh cupboard on the back wall that houses my non-collection of ironstone.

I purchased this cupboard via Craigslist and then painted it in Miss Mustard Seed’s Linen on the outside and Fusion’s Linen on the inside.  In some lighting situations the Fusion Linen looks more grey, but in this room it has a strong green undertone that I don’t really like.  I’ve been meaning to re-paint that since I initially finished this cabinet back in 2015, but I haven’t quite gotten around to it.

  And gosh, I can’t believe it’s been 4 years since then!  Obviously it’s not an urgent matter.

I also whitewashed the cedar table that Mr. Q made.  He made it at least 25 years ago.  It was originally finished in a very shiny poly and the cedar was quite orange.  The whitewashing totally updated the look of the table.

The chairs were also a Craigslist find.  I painted them in Annie Sloan’s Old White and recovered the seats with old grain sacks.

I have another large piece of furniture painted in a shade of white in the room.

I purchased this bench at a garage sale.  Well, technically, my friend Meggan texted me about it and then I sent Mr. Q over to buy it.  The owners said that this bench was originally from Belgium.  I painted it in Miss Mustard Seed’s Farmhouse White.

This bench is a good example of milk paint that has continued to chip over time.  One of these days I should sand it down and add a water based sealer like Miss Mustard Seed’s Tough Coat to halt any further chipping (much like I did with this uber chippy chair).

Are you wondering what is on the wall behind the bench?  I’ve ‘wallpapered’ the walls on either side of the window using old rolls of player piano music.

They are just stapled in place, so when I get tired of them they will be easy to remove.

The ‘Charles Strand’ sign hanging above the clock is from the general store that Mr. Q’s great grandfather owned in Marine on the St. Croix, MN.  I found this photo from 1910 that shows the sign hanging above the door.  How cool is that?

I love how those guys are all just casually standing around in front of the store, probably telling tall tales.  I’m quite sure that one or more of them have to be Mr. Q’s ancestors because that is obviously where he gets his love of socializing.  I can totally see him hanging out down at the general store with a bunch of cronies.

Now, don’t be fooled by these photos into thinking I’m one of those people who keeps the dining room table fully set all the time.  I just thought it would be fun to dress it up for you guys.  I even pulled out my grandmother’s glassware.

The amber depression glass was perfect for a fall table.

After sharing all of these pretty pictures of our dining room with you, I now have to admit to the truth.  Our dining room is seldom used for actual dining and it almost never looks like it does in these photos.  It is far more often used as a storage facility.

You see, this is the only space inside the house where I can store my completed pieces until they sell.  I can line up as many as six or seven pieces of furniture along the walls in this room.

Right before I left for Florida I sold six pieces of furniture.  That pretty much cleaned out my inventory making this the perfect time to get some pictures of the dining room without extra furniture lining the walls.  Hopefully it won’t stay empty for long.  I’ve got a few Christmas projects to work on before I get back to painting furniture though.

There is just one room left on our house tour, Mr. Q’s study.  After I mentioned it here last week he decided to clean it out, which led to re-arranging the furniture.  He’s totally game to let me share it with you guys, so I’m planning that for next Wednesday.  Remember, keep your expectations low, but be sure to stay tuned 😉

a magical tour.

My sister and I try to take a guided tour each time we visit a Disney park.

In 2009 we did the Segway tour in Disneyland’s California Adventure …

That was really a fun one because the entire tour took place before the park opened to the public.  How else could they have everyone zooming around on Segways and not running people over?!

Unfortunately Segway tours in the parks themselves are no longer being offered, however there is still a Segway tour available in Fort Wilderness, the campground area of Disney World.  But let’s face it, that’s just not the same thing at all.

In 2017 we did the World Showcase: DestiNations Discovered tour in EPCOT.

That time we had access to the World Showcase part of EPCOT before it opened to the public for the first couple of hours of our tour.  You can read all about that tour here.

In 2013 we did the Keys to the Kingdom tour.  That tour takes you into the underground service tunnels, or the Utilidor, beneath the Magic Kingdom.

Taking a guided tour used to be a great way to get into the park ahead of everyone else thus giving you a little time to get some great photos of a mostly empty main street.

I’ve always felt like there is something especially magical about having the park all to ourselves.

However, this time around the parks were all open early for extra magic hours every day including the Magic Kingdom which was open at 7 a.m.  That pretty much meant that we didn’t get in ahead of anyone else for our 8 a.m. tour.

Nonetheless, the Marceline to Magic Kingdom tour that we did this trip was one of the most amazing tours we’ve done in the Magic Kingdom.

It was a 3 hour walking tour and cost $49 per person (and you must have a valid park ticket for the day as well).  Honestly, it would have been a bargain at twice the price.

We signed in at Main Street’s Town Square Theater, were issued name tags and listening devices and were offered bottled water.  We were a small group of only 8 people.  Our guide, Darlene, began our tour by explaining that this wouldn’t be your typical guided tour where she simply told us about the park and answered questions.  Instead she was going to tell us a story.  The story of Walter Elias Disney.

As soon as Darlene began speaking I knew we were in for a treat.  She was obviously a born story teller.

The story begins on Main Street.  Darlene explained that although Walt Disney only lived in Marceline, Missouri for four years he always considered it his ‘home town’.  Main Street was not modeled after the way the town of Marceline looked, but instead it was based on the way it always felt to Walt.

Walt wanted Main Street to feel like everyone’s home town, not just his own.

As we continued to walk towards Adventureland and the home of the Tiki birds, Darlene told us some great stories about the early days of Disneyland planning and the beginnings of audio animatronics, explaining just how innovative Walt and his Imagineers were.

Our tour next included a ride on the Haunted Mansion, followed by a top secret peak behind the scenes into the workings of the famous ballroom scene.

We were led into the basement of the building where we were able to see how the effect of ghosts enjoying a birthday ball is created.  I won’t give any of those secrets away here, you’ll just have to take the tour yourselves if you want to know more.

Next we headed onto It’s a Small World as Darlene continued to tell us about Walt’s life and how he created Disney World as a place where families could have fun together.  He didn’t want parents to just sit on benches watching their children on rides, he wanted them to ride together.

At the end of our tour, Darlene explained that she had dreamed of being a Disney tour guide since she was five years old.  That was when she first met Walt Disney himself.  You see, her dad was one of those early Imagineers.  Her grandparents also worked for Disney.

She had been watching those Disney guides with their plaid skirts and riding crops and she knew that was what she wanted to be when she grew up.  Her mom made her a plaid dress, and her dad fashioned a riding crop out of a tree branch and Darlene conducted her own tours of Tom Sawyer’s Island for other kids.  Uncle Walt (as she called him) told her that as soon as she turned 18 he would give her an official job at Disneyland.  Sadly, Walt died just two years later when Darlene was 7.  But she still went on to work for Disney, and now she has an authentic plaid skirt and riding crop.

I can’t possibly tell the story as well as Darlene did, but I can tell you that there wasn’t a dry eye in the group by the end.  It really felt like Darlene brought Walt Disney to life for us for those three hours.  If you are heading to Disney World any time soon, I highly recommend taking this tour … although maybe not with kids.  Kids would likely find it boring.  In fact, kids who are 12 years old or more can participate, but even the official Disney description of the tour says it is better suited for adults.  But if you’re looking for a unique way to see Walt Disney World, you should definitely consider taking this tour.

How about any of you?  Have you ever taken a guided tour at a Disney park?  If so, I’d love to hear about it!

notice of decommission.

Who says you have to go over the top with pumpkins and spooky skeletons for Halloween?

How about a more subtle approach?  Like creating the head office at the Olde Salem Sanitarium.

To create my vignette, I started with the farmhouse table from my front porch …

and then I added the firehouse captain’s chair that I purchased at the Tangletown garage sales.

But first I painted the chair using Dixie Belle’s Caviar and then added a stencil to the seat. Dixie Belle’s chalk style paint is my paint of choice when I’m going to stencil over it.  The matte finish creates a surface that sort of grips the paint and helps keep the stencil crisp.  Stenciling over a shinier painted surface seems to allow the stencil paint to slide around a bit more giving it a tendency to seep under the edges of the stencil.

To add a little Halloween spooky-ness, I added this notice of decommission sign to the wall.

This is an old cupboard door that I painted with Dixie Belle’s Midnight Sky, then added the stencil using a pale grey craft paint.

Once I had the door stenciled I decided it need a little more oomph, so I pulled out my Prima Marketing molds and modeling material.  I used the crown from the Royalty mold and a laurel swag sort of thingie from the Sorrento Laurels.

One of the cool things about these molds is that you can customize them somewhat while the modeling material is still soft.  In this case I used the full swag coming down the side of my sign, but I only used half of it across the top creating a corner design.

I also adjusted the swag a little making it skinnier and longer to fit the trim on my door.  I glued it all in place (using a basic wood glue) while the modeling material was still a little bit pliable.  Once it was all fully dry (I waited a full day), I painted the molds black.

Did you notice that amazing vintage desk lamp in my photos?

That is one of my picker Sue’s (who, FYI, is celebrating her birthday today!) finds.  I absolutely love it.  The patina is amazing.  The wiring is original, but it’s still in great shape.  I was surprised to find that the lamp has two settings, dim and bright.

I’m not sure what the ultimate fate of the lamp will be, but for now I’m determined to find a spot for it at my house.  Or I may even just hang onto it for staging future furniture photos, I’m not sure.  As for the chair, it is already sold.

I meant to take the notice of decommission sign into Reclaiming Beautiful to sell but I never quite got around to it, and now it’s a bit too late in the season.  How did that happen?  That trip to Florida just totally threw me off.  I’m going to have to dive right into the Christmas projects next!


the guest room.

Today I’m resuming the tour of our house with the guest room.

A couple of years ago when we had the upstairs floors refinished, we took the opportunity to swap the guest room and Mr. Q’s study.  This is the smaller of the two rooms and it was kind of a tight squeeze for Mr. Q’s study.  Since he’s in there all the time, and we rarely have house guests, it seemed silly to continue that way.

It meant getting rid of the full sized guest room bed and bringing in a twin sized bed.

I found the headboard at a garage sale and painted it with Homestead House milk paint in a color called Ochre.

I applied a Prima Marketing transfer to the wall above the bed.

If you’ve ever wondering about whether or not they can be applied to a wall, they sure can.  It was easy enough to do, and it has held up perfectly well.  Down the road if I get tired of it, I will just have to sand it down somewhat and paint over it.  I don’t think actually removing it would be an option.

I have a chair that I painted in Miss Mustard Seed’s Apron Strings at the foot of the bed.

I’ve added a few vintage pieces to the room that echo this gorgeous coral color including a hat box, and old book and a crocheted dress that my grandmother made for my mother when she was a toddler.

The jelly cupboard stores board games.  It’s a piece that I painted to sell, and it never sold so eventually I just kept it for myself.

My weakness for pretty vintage china is apparent in the display hanging over the cupboard.

I also have a weakness for toy telephones for some reason …

and old typewriters …

And they all make their home in the guest room for now.

There are only two rooms left in our house that I haven’t shared here yet.  The dining room, which I’ll try to photograph this coming weekend, and Mr. Q’s study.  I’m still debating the merits of including that room on the tour.  It’s home to an ugly recliner and lots of piles of stuff.  I’m just not sure it’s blog worthy, and I’m also not sure Mr. Q will want to cooperate by cleaning it up a bit.  What do you think, should I try to talk him into it?


the most magical place on earth.

My sister and I are back from our stay at Disney World, also known as the most magical place on earth (in case you didn’t know, Disneyland is the happiest place on earth).

We stayed at one of Disney’s newest hotels, the Gran Destino in Coronado Springs.

This is considered a ‘moderate’ resort, meaning it’s not a budget (ie. cheap) resort and it’s not a deluxe (ie. expensive) resort, it’s somewhere in the middle.  Usually we stay at the budget resorts.  We consider the room a place to sleep and that’s about it, so why spend extra money on it.  But this time we splurged.

When we booked our trip this hotel was still under construction.  It opened in July, so we thought it would be fun to stay in a brand new hotel.  Just in case you’re interested, I’ll give you what I thought were the pros and cons of staying at the Gran Destino.

First, the pros.  The hotel and grounds were gorgeous and everything was fresh and new.  The room itself was nice although not really terribly special except for the view.  The view from our room was spectacular.

We had chosen a ‘water view’ room and since it faced west we had a beautiful view of the sunset.  Of course, we ended up being in our room for the sunset exactly one time.  Still, it was lovely.  We were not able to see any fireworks in any of the parks from our room though.  The only park we could really see was Animal Kingdom.  That ‘mountain’ on the horizon at the left of my photo above is Expedition Everest.

Another really great thing about a room in the tower is that when you return from the parks completely exhausted after spending hours on your feet, you just have to walk up a staircase from the bus stop, through the lobby and to the elevator.  Then it’s just a short ride up to your floor and down the hall to your room.  At many of the other Disney World resorts it can be quite a hike from the bus stop to your room and you tend to start dreading it at the end of each day.

As for the cons to the Gran Destino, I think they are still working out some kinks in the actual operations at the hotel.  We were there for 7 nights, and our room was only cleaned 3 times.  The first day we were missed we were told that they were short staffed that day, but it continued to happen.  We were able to call down to housekeeping to get fresh towels, so it wasn’t too big of a hardship.  Still, I was expecting more from an upgraded (to us anyway) hotel.

We also had issues with getting our luggage.  We waited more than 3 hours for our luggage to be brought up to our room.  We called down twice and were told it was on its way each time.  Finally when we called again they suggested it would be faster to just come down and get it from bell services.  Gosh!  If they’d just said that in the first place we would have been happy to go get it and save ourselves three hours of waiting.

So my q tip for you today is to handle your own luggage if you don’t want to wait hours for it to arrive in your room.

One of the highlights of our trip was enjoying some of EPCOT’s food and wine experiences.

If you aren’t familiar, the Food & Wine Festival takes place from late August through mid-November.  There are kiosks throughout the World Showcase that have small plates and beverages from countries around the world.  It’s a great way to sample new things.

I was telling one of my co-workers about this before we left on our trip and she thought these were free samples, so just to be clear, that is not the case.  It really adds up fairly quickly.  For example the charcuterie board was $6.50 and flight of wines shown above cost $9.50.  On our first afternoon in EPCOT we spent $69 on food and wine.  But we split everything, so really $35/person isn’t terrible and it is really fun to wander around the world showcase trying different food and wines.

Another highlight of our trip was attending Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.

This was the second time we’ve attended this separately ticketed event, and we learned a few great tips this time around.

First of all, by ‘separately ticketed event’ I mean that you pay extra for this party.  We paid $115 each for our tickets (prices vary depending on the date you attend).  However, you do not have to pay for regular park admission that day as well.  We planned this for our first day in Orlando and we did not pay for regular park admission that day.  We could show up in the Magic Kingdom starting at 4 pm and stay until the end of the party at midnight.  Since our flight arrived at 1:30, and we knew we wouldn’t be checked into our hotel and ready to head to the park until after 4 pm anyway, this made perfect sense for us.

The No So Scary party has a unique parade that is fantastic, and the most awesome fireworks show.  There are also treat trails throughout the park that hand out ‘free’ candy, and believe me when I say they are extremely generous with the candy.  There are also special characters around the park including that guy up above with my sister.

As you can imagine, they really play it up at the Haunted Mansion with special effects and extra characters.

We were also able to get on tons of rides with really low wait times.  I don’t think we waited more than 10 to 15 minutes for anything, even the coveted Peter Pan.  Not all of the rides are open, but most are.

So if you’ve ever thought about going to the Not So Scary party, I totally recommend it.  Just try to do it on a day when you haven’t already paid for park admission.

There were two ‘lands’ in the parks that were new to us this trip, Toy Story Land …

and Galaxy’s Edge, both in Hollywood Studios.

You may be tempted to think that the photo in Galaxy’s Edge was taken at night, but no.  In order to avoid the crowds, we took advantage of the extra magic hours offered to people staying on Disney property and we went to Hollywood studios at 6 a.m.  The sun wasn’t up yet.  That gave us the opportunity to see it in the ‘dark’ when we first arrived.

As is usual for Disney, the theming in both lands was impeccable.

Neither of us are really Star Wars fans though, so I have to admit we did not even attempt to get on the only ride open so far in this land.  My sister wanted to give priority to the rides in Toy Story Land, so after just taking a few photos in Galaxy’s Edge we headed over there.  By the time we came back after the sun was up, the line for Smuggler’s Run was a two hour wait and people were continuing to pour in.

We decided to save trying the new ride for our next Disney vacation.

I’m saving the story of the best part of our trip for another post, so be sure to check back next week for that one.

In the meantime, as always, I’m really glad to be home.  I’m itching to get my paint brushes out soon.  So I’ll have some painted furniture and other fun projects to share with you guys plus I’ll be continuing my house tour posts starting on Wednesday.  But first, I may need to sleep for about a week to recover from Disney!

see ya real soon.

I’m super excited to be headed off to Orlando, Florida this morning with my sister!

She and I have been going to Disney parks for 50 years!  Our first trip was to Disneyland in 1969 when I was 5 and she was 8.

We’ve lost count of how many times we’ve gone since then.  There were some decades in there when life got in the way and we weren’t able to go, and there was also a period of time when we lived in Florida so we went quite a lot.  But lately we’ve managed to get to either Disneyland or Disney World at least every other year.

Debbie’s daughter (a.k.a. my niece Kris) usually joins us …

and sometimes my mom joins us too.

but this time it’s just the two of us.

We’ve been known to behave like complete dorks while we are there.

But of course, that’s part of the fun.  Everybody gets to act like a kid in Disney World, right?

We’ll be there for nine days.  I’m sure I’ll be totally wiped out by the end.  I may act like a child, but I definitely don’t have the energy of a kid.

We’re planning to adopt a more leisurely pace than usual though (we’ll just see if we can stick with that plan).

So, I’ll be back a week from Saturday and in the meantime I’ll be taking a break from the blog.  So try not to miss me, and I’ll see ya real soon!