the flower collector secretary.

Finally, I have a piece of furniture to share with you guys today!

I purchased this secretary desk/hutch last fall, as evidenced by the fall colors in the ‘before’ photo which I took right away when I brought it home …

I partially chose this piece because the price was right, but I also thought it would be a fun challenge to totally change it up.

I’ve been storing this one in the carriage house all winter, so it feels good to have it out of there now.  When I first started to work on it, I pulled out the little drawer inside the drop down desk section to find that the previous owners hadn’t emptied it out.

Once again, I was disappointed when I didn’t find a wad of cash or maybe a lost Van Gogh.  Instead I was gifted with Hannah Montana tattoos and some questionable film negatives.  But I did find it slightly magical that the owner of the handmade drivers license and I share the same birthday.  It feels meant to be.

Step one with this piece was to remove that header on the top.  I think this may end up being a controversial approach, but I feel like that colonial sort of look is pretty dated … and not in a good way.  I also removed the fretwork in front of the glass, the faux key hole escutcheons and the drawer pulls (also decidedly colonial in style).  Finally, I removed those very 80’s looking round ball wheels.  I’ll admit, they worked really well … but they looked totally out of place on this piece.

I painted the interior of the piece in Dixie Belle’s Sea Glass, and the exterior in their Drop Cloth.

This is such a pretty combination.

It was seriously putzy to paint the interior of the drop down desk portion using a brush.  But back when I started on this piece it was only in the 30’s outside, so I had to paint inside the house which meant I couldn’t spray it.  If only I had known that it was going to warm up to the 70’s within a week or so.  I may as well have waited just a bit longer to work on this one.

By the way, I’ve totally cheated on these photos by taking them before putting the glass back in those doors.  I always get so much glare from glass doors.  But I will be putting the glass back in before listing it for sale.

Once two coats of Sea Glass were dry, I added a small section from one of the newest with prima transfers called Paris Valley to the little drawer.

The Paris Valley transfer is a collage style mix of various graphics …

Once again, this is one that you could use as is, but I’ll definitely be cutting it up to use various bits and pieces on lots of different projects.  I circled the little bit that I used on that drawer above.

Then I coated it all with Dixie Belle’s flat clear coat.  I chose to use the clear coat rather than my usual wax for more durability on both the writing surface of the drop down desk and the shelves.

Next I pulled out another of the new Spring 2020 with prima transfers.  This one is called Flower Collector, and I’m fairly sure it’s going to end up being one of my favorites.

It’s another gold transfer, and for this piece I chose to put it over the Drop Cloth for a more subtle look.  These gold transfers also look amazing over dark colors (like this piece).

I’ll point out that I switched up the layout of this transfer, using the bottom section of it on the drop down desk and the rest on the drawers.

That was a much better fit for my piece.  Always keep in mind that you don’t have to use a transfer ‘as is’ out of the package.

Once the transfer was applied, I added a coat of clear wax to the exterior (all of the Drop Cloth parts).

I was planning to put clear glass knobs on the drawers, but then I discovered these knobs in my stash.  I had just the right amount, and they were the perfect color.  I’m pretty sure I bought these at Hobby Lobby, but it was at least a year ago or more.

One last little detail to share, I did put the brass key hole escutcheon back on the upper door.  But first I used Dixie Belle’s patina paint in Copper with their blue spray to give it a verdigris sort of finish which worked beautifully with the Sea Glass color.

It feels so good to have this piece finished at last!

I absolutely love how it turned out.  I’m tempted to keep it for my front porch.  If it doesn’t sell right away, I might just have to do that.

So, now I’m curious.  How many of you wish I had left those original colonial elements in place?  And how many of you prefer my slightly modernized version?

As always, thanks to Dixie Belle Paint Co for providing the paint and to with prima for providing the transfers for this project.

If you’re looking for Dixie Belle products you can find them here.

If you’re looking for with prima products you can find local retailers here, or online sources here.

And if you are local and in need of a flower collector’s secretary desk, check out my ‘available for local sale‘ page.  Although our ‘Stay at Home’ order has now been extended another two weeks, I am willing to set up a physically distanced appointment if anyone local is interested in this or any other pieces I have for sale.

vintage seed.

It’s official, today I can reveal the brand new with prima transfers coming out for Spring 2020.

The transfer I’m using for today’s project is called Vintage Seed and it’s perfect for spring.  It’s basically a collage of vintage canning labels.  It has some gorgeous colors in it, and a mix of floral and fruit images.

Also, here’s a great new feature on the with prima packaging …

Specific sizing information!  This will make it so much easier to determine whether or not a transfer will fit nicely on your piece.  I don’t know about you guys, but I’m rather particular about that.

You could use this full transfer on a piece of furniture, maybe on the door fronts of a hoosier style cupboard or something like that.  But I decided to cut mine up and thus get a lot more use out of it.

My first project was dressing up some of the glass canisters that I use for storing my craft supplies.

It was super simple to cut the labels out and apply them to the glass.

Aren’t the colors on these gorgeous?

I also recently dressed up a mirror that I removed from a dresser.  I have a stash of these mirrors out in the carriage house from dressers that I have painted over the years.

I started out by painting the frame in Sweet Pickins milk paint’s In a Pickle, which turned out perfectly chippy.

Then I added a section from the Spring Flowers transfer to the mirror.

You have to be very careful when applying a transfer to glass, whether it’s mirror glass or clear glass canisters.  It will be drawn to the glass like a magnet, and once it connects, it is stuck in that spot.  So be sure you have it aligned exactly where you want it before you allow it to come in contact with the glass.

Now, I haven’t had a lot of experience with washing these items yet.  However, I would recommend cleaning the mirror by spraying glass cleaner on a paper towel (not directly onto the transfer), and then wipe the mirror gently.  For the canisters, I would not submerge them in soapy water.  Instead, clean the insides and lids with soapy water on a cloth and then gently wipe the transfer.

The transfers can be removed from glass completely using a razor blade, if you should ever grow tired of them and want to switch them out for something else.

Be sure to check back next week to see the other projects I’ve been using the new transfers on including an actual piece of furniture that I’ll be sharing on Monday!

As always, thanks to with prima for providing the transfers I used on these projects.

If you are wondering where to buy with prima products you can search for online stores here and  retail stores here.


a tape dispenser.

I continued to work on several fun projects over the weekend using the new, not yet released, with prima transfers.  So unfortunately, I can’t share any of those with you today.  The official reveal date for the new transfers is this Friday and the new molds can’t be revealed until June 1.

So I had to dig deep to find a project to whip up that didn’t involve any of the new items so that I would have something to share with you guys today.  I’m going to admit up front that as a result, today’s post is not terribly exciting.  But it was a satisfying little project.

I purchased this old (dare I call it vintage?) tape dispenser while out thrifting last year.

I have the tackiest burgundy plastic tape dispenser on my desk at the day job, so I thought it would be nice to have something a little bit more my style.

And I knew I could dress this one up a bit.

So I sanded it lightly, washed it with soapy water, and then painted it with two coats of Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth.  Once totally dry, I sanded lightly to distress.  Next I added a small section from one of the Classic Vintage Labels transfers from with prima.

But I couldn’t just stop there, I also added a few more transfers from Tim Holtz and 7gypsies.

Once the rub-on’s were applied, I added a coat of clear wax over the entire surface to protect it.

My original plan was to put the plain Scotch tape back in, but then a little light bulb went off in my head.  Why not load it with some fun washi tape instead?

Sure enough, the washi tape fit perfectly on the little plastic wheel that holds the tape.  What luck!

By the way, if you aren’t familiar with washi tape, it’s sort of a flimsier version of masking tape that’s not quite as sticky.  The Tim Holtz brand washi tapes are acid free, making them safe to use in scrapbooks because they won’t damage your photos over the years.  And he has some gorgeous designs …Now I’m no longer sure I want to take this tape dispenser in to my office at the day job after all.  Maybe I’ll just keep it at home as a handy dispenser for washi tape.

Maybe now it’s just way too cool to hold plain ol’ clear tape.

What do you think?

when it rains, it pours.

I really don’t want this post to come across as a ‘poor me’ sort of post, but seriously you guys.  When it rains, it pours.

I’ve now had to have two emergency root canals in the last two months, the second one was this week and it required two visits (or about 3.5 hours of time in the chair) to complete it.  Apparently not only is the domino effect a thing when it comes to decorating, but it can also be a thing when it comes to root canals.


As I result, I have nothing to share today.

But rather than leave you hanging, here are some canals that are much more enjoyable than root canals.

Of course, when I think ‘canal’ I immediately think of Venice.

I’d much rather be enjoying the canals of Venice than a trip to the endodontist, wouldn’t you?

The canals in Copenhagen are really lovely too.

Naturally you can take a guided tour of them by boat.

Prague has some of the most picturesque canals I’ve ever seen.

And you can tour them as well on these charming little boats.

When my family lived in south Florida back in the 70’s, we lived on a canal.  Granted, a much less grand one than this one in Ft. Lauderdale …

But it had ocean access and we were able to keep a boat right at our own dock.  We often spent Saturday’s or Sunday’s cruising around the canals.

All in all, any one of these canals is much preferable to a root canal, wouldn’t you agree?

OK, not to worry, I do have some fun projects coming up.  I’ve been working with the newest with prima transfers that are being released next Friday.  Here’s a little sneak peek at one of them …

OK, I know, you can barely see it back there, but it’s called Vintage Seed and it’s right up my alley.

You’ll just have to check back next Friday to see the full reveal!

a buffet of buffets.

Oh no, you guys.  Although I’ve been trying to minimize the time I spend watching COVID-19 related bad news these days, I made a huge tactical error the other night and started watching some YouTube videos about its impact on the cruise industry.

In case you hadn’t heard (and maybe many of you don’t actually care), on April 9 the CDC extended its ban on cruise ships sailing in U.S. waters to 100 days.  In addition, the cruise lines are going to have to make some fairly significant changes to the way they operate before they can resume business.  At least in U.S. waters.  I don’t know if the E.U. or other areas will follow suit.  Nonetheless, it seems like the chances of Mr. Q and I actually going on our European Capitals cruise in September are looking slimmer and slimmer.  If you’re an avid cruiser and want to learn more about this, check out this guy on YouTube.

One of the many expected changes for cruise ships is an elimination of buffet style food and drink on board.  So no more self-serve ice cream, no more taco bars, and no more midnight buffets.

So, as a sort of fond farewell to the buffet, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite buffets starting with one I actually called ‘the midnight buffet.’

I painted this one back in October 2016.  It’s painted in Fusion’s Midnight Blue.  It only required one coat of paint (thanks to the dark color over a dark existing stain), plus Fusion doesn’t require a topcoat.  So this was a definite plus when working on such a large piece.

I had so much fun staging the midnight buffet outdoors using some funky whisk brooms in cages and taking advantage of the falling leaves.

I painted another buffet in dark blue, this time using Dixie Belle Paint Co’s Bunker Hill Blue.

This blue is a little bit brighter than Fusion’s Midnight Blue, but I toned it down by adding a black glaze over it (if you want to see this color without a black glaze, check out this piece).

Another option for achieving a similar color using Dixie Belle paint is to make a 50/50 mix of their Bunker Hill Blue and In the Navy.

This time around I stripped and refinished the wood top with Fusion’s furniture wax in Espresso (a dark brown wax).

Just for fun I added a bright pop of color to the interior using Fusion’s Coral.

Not all of my buffets have been dark blue.  When I first starting painting with Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint I went through a definite Kitchen Scale phase starting with painting my own buffet (at the time, I have since sold it) in this color.

I loved it so much that I painted two more buffets in Kitchen Scale.

This next piece was so pretty, but it was quite large and since I painted it in the winter I wasn’t able to do my photos outside.

Plus this was back when I first started blogging and my photo skills were in need of practice.  So, I don’t feel like my pictures did this one justice.

But the chippy finish of milk paint was perfect on this piece.  Just check out those chippy legs!

If you’re wondering why those three pieces all seem to be a slightly different color, there are a few factors at play.  First of all, as per Miss Mustard Seeds blog, there can be as much as a 15% variation in the color from one bag of milk paint to the next.  In addition, milk paint tends to be a little less opaque than some paints so the color you are covering up can make a difference in your final color.  Finally, the white balance in my photos isn’t perfect in any of those photos.

Not all of my buffets have been left as buffets either.  I turned this one into a wine bar with the help of my handyman, Ken.

I had finished it just prior to one of my Carriage House sales, so I was in a hurry to get photos taken before the sale.  The hemp oil topcoat was freshly applied when I took these, and that’s not really a good look for photos.

Another fun piece was this buffet re-styled as a TV stand.

Ken cut holes in the back behind each of those center shelves so that one could run the electrical cords for a DVD player or other components out the back.

I’ve done a few more buffets in varying shades of grey.

A few years back I decided to try the General Finishes Milk Paint.  I think this product did more to confuse people about milk paint than any other product out there.  That’s because it’s not really milk paint.  Here is what they say about that on their website:  We named our product Milk Paint with the intention of putting a clear, bright, contemporary spin on an old fashioned furniture paint tradition. With that said, GF’s Milk Paint is not a true Milk Paint as it does not contain any milk powder.

Instead, General Finishes is a mineral based acrylic paint.  I found it very similar to Fusion paint.  Much like Fusion, it does not require a topcoat, although you can add one if you want to.  If you like using Fusion, you’ll like General Finishes Milk Paint and vice versa.

Anyway, this next buffet is painted in their Queenstown Gray.

On this next piece I used a fun technique.

  I started out by painting it with Fusion’s Ash.  Then I used the Imperial Damask stencil and the Galaxy Decor Wax from with prima to add a subtle design.

This one has a fun pop of color on the inside too, this time using Dixie Belle’s Peony.

This last grey piece is really more of a dresser, but I think it would work beautifully as a buffet so I decided to include it in this post.

That one was painted in Homestead House milk paint in a color called Bedford.

Although I usually call them credenzas, I always enjoy doing the mid-mod version of a buffet using a bit more color.

There’s my absolute favorite green, Fusion’s Park Bench.

And this next one was a fun combination of turquoise and warm white.

I did some color blocking on this next mid-mod piece in grey, yellow and white.

And although this next piece is meant to be a dresser, I think it would work really well as a buffet too.

In fact, I staged it that way for the photos.

That pretty shade of green is a Sherwin Williams color called Aloe from their Vintage Moxie collection.

I hope you enjoyed this ‘buffet of buffets’ with me.  On the plus side, it was calorie-free!

Let me know what you favorite buffet was.  And if you’re also fond of cruises, are you also going to miss the buffet?

a carriage house flashback.

As it’s starting to feel like spring might be just around the corner … well, maybe not this week, but soon … I have been thinking about yard sales.  Are we going to be able to have any this year?  How long before people feel like they can be out and about, mingling with other shoppers again?  I suffer through garage sale withdrawal every winter, but usually about now I’m planning which spring neighborhood sales I’m going to make it to this year.

I guess we just have to accept the uncertainty for now, not knowing when we’ll be able to get our yard sale fix.

In the meantime, I thought we could all take a walk down memory lane and visit some of my previous Carriage House sales.

If you’re a little bit new to my blog, you may not be familiar with my former sales.  Up until 2016 my friend/co-worker/picker/garage sale mentor Sue and I used to hold occasional sales out of my carriage house.

I started keeping records in 2002, but we started the sales even earlier than that.  Originally it was nothing more than a slightly upscale garage sale.  But over time it grew bigger and better.

Usually we did a spring sale and a fall sale, but some years we just had one sale.

One thing I did find with this style of sale is that the furniture didn’t sell terribly well.  Furniture doesn’t tend to be an impulse buy, something you can purchase on a whim and know you’ll find a spot for.

We had much better luck selling the smaller items.

Genuine vintage items were always a hit …

including vintage linens.

Plus, the linens were always fun to display …

We even sold the occasional vintage handbag or dress.

Our final sale was chock full of amazing stuff.

We often had a table of baked goods at the sale.

In case you’re wondering, no, I was never the baker.  We had various bakers over the years.

At the fall sale we always had a section of vintage Christmas items.  They were rather hit or miss.  People aren’t usually thinking ahead to Christmas quite yet in late September.

One of the biggest problems with the sale was that we had really outgrown the carriage house.  As a result, a lot of our merchandise had to be displayed out in the driveway.  That tended to be a problem when it rained.

The weather was always unpredictable.  Sometimes it was ridiculously hot and humid for our June sale, and then freezing cold for our fall sale.  One year the severe weather sirens sounded just after we opened our doors.  You might think that no one would show up in that kind of weather, but on the contrary, it was one of our best years in terms of gross sales.  We just tried our best to stay dry under some tents and hoped nothing would get ruined.

As much fun as it was hosting the Carriage House Sale, it was also quite a lot of work.  The space where the sale was held is also my workshop.  In order to hold the sale I would have to completely empty out my workshop, set up the sale, hold the sale, dismantle the sale, then re-set up my workshop.  In the end, I just felt it wasn’t the most efficient way to handle things.  So I shopped around to find a place to sell my items on consignment and that’s when I ended up at Reclaiming Beautiful.

So the Carriage House sale became a thing of the past.  I’m still grateful for all of the people who came to our sales though!

You never know, some day I may bring the sales back again.  But probably not while I’m still working full time at the day job.

How about you?  Are you a garage sale fan, wondering when we’re going to be able to get out there and hit the sales without having to wear masks or worry about staying 6′ away from each other?

P.S.  Many thanks to those of you who left comments on my ‘social distancing glasses‘ post last week.  I took the advice that many of you gave and went back to my eye doctor.  Turns out the glasses were two degrees weaker than they were supposed to be.  That sure explains why the whole world felt out of focus to me … well, that plus this whole pandemic thing.  While I can’t do much about the pandemic, except stay home and try not to breath on people, I can get the glasses fixed.  So they have gone back to the lab to be re-made and hopefully they’ll work better when I get them back 🙂

getting ready for gardening season.

This past weekend was your typical spring weather in Minnesota.  On Saturday it was 60 degrees and sunny.  Mr. Q and I took a long walk, started clearing the winter debris out of the gardens, and then sat on the deck and enjoyed the feel of sunshine on our faces.

On Sunday, those same chairs looked like this.

And my Scilla siberica looked like this …

This always happens here in April.  We get teased with a glimpse of spring, and then shot back down with the realization that this is Minnesota and we can’t actually count on good gardening weather until May.

Well, we can still dream of gardening weather.  And that brings me to my quick and easy project for today.

I started with one of the aprons from with prima.

I couldn’t find a single online photo of this product that didn’t have the logo blocking the front pocket.  In some of the photos it even looked like the logo was actually part of the apron.  It isn’t.  This is a 100% cotton apron that is essentially a ‘blank canvas’ that you can paint, dye, or otherwise embellish to suit your tastes.

It has that front pocket that I mentioned, plus a sweet ruffle along the bottom hemline.

Since it’s made out of 100% cotton, I recommend washing it before you get started.  I did wash and dry mine first.

Since I tend to like simple, uncluttered designs, I decided to add a quick and easy stencil to my apron to dress it up.  I used Dixie Belle Paint Co paint in Gravel Road (which is a warm, dark grey) and a couple of stencils from Maison de Stencils.

I placed different sections of each stencil wherever they fit best on my apron.

You can set the paint with heat by either throwing your apron in the dryer on high heat, or pressing the apron on the reverse side with a high heat iron.

It’s probably far more likely that I’ll use this apron to protect my clothes while painting, but it would work great for keeping the dirt off while re-potting plants.  And I also suppose one could wear it while cooking … but we all know I don’t do much of that.

How about you?  Are you much of an apron wearer?

As always, thanks to Dixie Belle Paint Co, with prima and Maison de Stencils for providing the products used for this makeover.