wash, dry and fold.

Recently my bff, Vonda, and her husband downsized.  They moved out of their huge four bedroom home into a two-bedroom place.  As a result, they had to downsize their belongings as well.  I’d always admired this vintage dresser, so when Vonda offered it to me I jumped on it.

I have to say, that is a terrible ‘before’ photo.  I don’t always follow my own outside photo taking rules when doing a ‘before’ photo, and this one is particularly bad.  You can barely tell that the dresser was green.  Well, mostly green with some drips of white here and there.  I thought the floral decals were pretty sweet though.  Funny enough, it wasn’t until I sanded them down a little that I realized the decals were covering up key holes as well as extra holes where there were once drawer pulls with two screws instead of knobs.  Now that I know that, when I look at the ‘before’ photo I think ‘duh, of course they were.’  Just look back at that photo, see what I mean?

Anyway, when I brought this piece home the top of the dresser had split at a seam and a couple of the drawers had seen better days.  My handyman Ken made quick work of repairing those problems.  He removed the top, glued it back together and then re-attached it with dowel pins which makes the entire piece much sturdier.

He also re-glued both of the bottom drawers.

Once that was done, I sanded the piece well and then painted it with two coats of Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth, which is a warm, creamy white.  When the paint was dry, I sanded the edges to distress.  I wanted to allow some of that pale green to show through, as well as some of the light blue that was under the green.

There’s nothing like layers of color to lend a sense of age to a piece.  In this case, the layers … and the age … are genuine.

Next I added a coat of Dixie Belle’s flat clear coat.  Once that was dry, I added Prima Marketing’s Laundry transfer.

Once that was in place I felt like the bottom half of the dresser looked really plain, so I pulled out a leftover bit from the Seeds transfer and added that to the bottom drawer.

Over time this dresser had gotten a little beat up, been a bit neglected and thus had lost some of its original charm, but I think I brought it back (what do you say bff?).

It would be a great piece for a laundry room (if you are blessed enough to have a size-able laundry room that is pretty, mine is a dingy corner in my cellar-like basement).

But it could just as easily work in a bedroom.

Or really anywhere!

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

If you’re wondering where to buy the Dixie Belle Drop Cloth or flat clear coat, you can shop with them directly online or find a retailer near you.

And finally, if you happen to be local (Twin Cities, MN) and in need of an adorable cottage style dresser, check out my ‘available for local sale’ page for more details.

bryn mawr 2019.

My sister and I always kick off the neighborhood garage sale season with Bryn Mawr.  This sale is always held the first weekend in May and they seem to have incredibly good luck with the weather (which definitely can be dicey this time of year).

This past Saturday was glorious.  Ideal garage sale weather.  Sunny and in the 60’s.  And this year my niece was available to join us as well, so it was the perfect day.

I have to admit I don’t usually find much at Bryn Mawr.  It’s far too popular, and thus the competition for an amazing find is steep.  Check out some my past year’s finds here:  2015 and 2016.

Once again this year I didn’t find a lot, but I nabbed a few gems.

This rustic wooden crate with a handle was $4.   I didn’t love the muddy green color it was painted in, but I knew I could fix that.  And I already have.  I whipped out my Dixie Belle paint in Midnight Sky and quickly painted it.  It only took one coat to cover the green.  I added some stenciling, sanded lightly to distress and finished with black wax.

Ahhhh, so much better, right?  And so easy to do.  If it feels familiar, that’s because this is the same paint color and stencil that I used on my piano.

It was the handle that made me decide on black.  I definitely wanted to keep that ‘as is’ because it has the most deliciously aged patina.

I couldn’t fit the entire stencil on the front of the crate, so I used part of it on the sides.

I just love the delicate flowing font of this stencil.  So perfectly simple, yet it has a massive impact.

I also grabbed this antique child’s rocker.

It’s in great shape and the price was right.  The seller had lowered her price twice already because it just wasn’t moving.  It’s in great shape and will look amazing with some milk paint.

I couldn’t resist the vintage hardware apron from a lumber shop in Milwaukee.

These aprons were featured in the March issue of Country Living magazine.

So I snatched it up.  Not sure what I’ll do with it yet, potentially just clean it up and sell it.

I’m giving ‘find of the day’ status to an adorable collection of vintage handmade wooden pull toys.  One of the pieces is signed on the bottom and says it was made by Uncle Karl in 1943.

Believe it or not, I paid $1 for the set and it includes the horses and wagon shown above, an elephant whose head goes up and down as you pull him, and a truck with a trailer.  Those last two pieces have already headed over to my handyman/neighbor Ken’s workshop for some minor repairs.  Once that’s done I’m going to paint them.  I’m just not loving that dull red and green.  I have some fun ideas for turning these into gorgeous, unique decor pieces that would be perfect for a nursery.  You’ll have to stay tuned to see how they turn out.

In addition to a ‘find of the day’, it seems like I always have a garage sale regret too.  Maybe I need to add a ‘regret of the day’ category as well.

As I was lying in bed Saturday night trying to fall asleep, I couldn’t help but think that I was a fool for passing up another dress form.  It was marked $45, but when the seller offered to let it go for $40 I still passed on it.  Why didn’t I snatch that up?  What was I thinking?  I could have easily made another of these …

Have you had some garage sale regrets?  If so, be sure to share them in the comments so I don’t feel like I’m the only one who has walked away from a good deal!


into the woods.

I’ve been seeing a lot of articles recently about the mental health benefits of spending a little time communing with nature.  I don’t know about you, but I’m 100% on board with that idea.  I always feel more centered after a walk in the woods.

Mr. Q and I are lucky to have a beautiful wooded park just a few blocks away.  It is 200+ wooded acres and has a couple of miles of walking trails.  We try to get out there at least 4 or 5 days per week.  We made a special effort to stick with it this past winter and with the help of some good long underwear, an ankle length down coat and some great Sorel boots I made it through most of the winter (until I fell on the ice in February and we decided we should wait until the ice on the paths melted to return).

I have to say it is kind of magical to be out there when there is a full moon and some snow cover to reflect it.  Our park has some Great Horned Owls in residence and we would hear them calling to each other while we walked.  One evening we even saw one perched in a tree just over our heads.

I wish I could claim taking that photo, but no, I grabbed it from allaboutbirds.org.  Plus it was dark and we couldn’t really see him in much detail, but I’m sure he looked pretty much like that 😉

I will admit that it’s much easier to get out walking now that the days are getting longer, the snow is gone and I don’t have to wear four layers of clothing though!

At this point you might be wondering how I’m going to segue this into a post about painted furniture.

Well, the Fusion paint I used on today’s piece is in a color called Lichen and the Prima Marketing transfer is called Fern Woods.  So it definitely has a woodsy theme.

Here is the ‘before’ version of the table.

It’s just your basic 60’s end table.

It’s another piece that I picked up last summer at a garage sale on the cheap.  After I brought it out to work on it, I decided that the finish on it was really in pretty good shape and it might be fun to leave the tops alone and just paint the rest.

So I sanded the sides and legs lightly, cleaned them and then painted them with two coats of Lichen.

Then I pulled out the Fern Woods transfer.

You could use this transfer as one solid design, but instead I randomly cut out various leaves and applied them to the table wherever I thought they looked best.

I also swapped out the knob on the little drawer.  The original knob seemed a bit small to me.  I happened to have a wood knob that matched the table top perfectly.

I think the size works much better than that dinky original knob.

I couldn’t help nestling the table in my blooming Scilla to get some woodsy looking photos.  The Scilla is always the first thing up and blooming in my garden in the spring.  I have the white version shown above, and also the gorgeous deep blue version that you saw last week in my post about white washed clay pots.

Anyway, I think this is the perfect little side table for someone’s cabin.  It makes a great spot to stash your bird watching paraphernalia.

What do you think?

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

If you’re wondering where to buy the Fusion paint, check out their ‘where to buy’ page.

And finally, if you happen to be local (Twin Cities, MN) and in need of a woodsy themed side table, check out my ‘available for local sale’ page to see if this one is still available.

my big sister.

If you’ve been following my blog since the beginning then you already know that my sister moved to New Jersey shortly after getting married and having her first baby.  At the time our family lived in south Florida and I was only 18.  That was 37 years ago.

I have to say, my sister and I were very different growing up.  I was a total girly-girl.  I liked Barbie’s, makeup and dresses.  My sister was a total tom-boy.  She liked climbing trees, playing sports and … well … I don’t even know what else because we pretty much ignored each other most of the time.

I’m the blonde, she’s the brunette.

Even as adults we are pretty different.  My sister loves cooking & camping and she still wears absolutely no makeup.  I dislike cooking, much prefer a hotel and wouldn’t be caught dead in public without makeup.

You might be inclined to think that spending 30+ years living far apart combined with our rather different personalities might mean we don’t get along, or that we aren’t very close.

But despite those differences and the distance between us, we’ve always managed to get together at least one or two times a year (it definitely helped that our mom is a travel agent).

Then four years ago today my sister moved from New Jersey to Minnesota (her daughter moved here a month or two later as well).

I got to celebrate two things that year, my sister’s birthday and that we finally live within 10 miles of each other.

Now here it is four years later and I continue to be overwhelmed with gratitude at having my sister nearby.  Although it no longer seems unbelievable that we can get together and do things on a whim, like go shopping or out to eat, I don’t take her for granted for one second.

My sister is always incredibly supportive of everything I do.  She’s constantly up for pretty much anything I suggest.  She even sat through an hour long bra fitting at Soma with me recently (and FYI, that was amazing and if you haven’t had an official bra fitting in a while I totally recommend Soma for that).  I know that I can always call on her for anything at all and she will be there for me.

Lately we’ve been spending time planning our upcoming trip to Disney World.  It’s not until October, but we love to plan, plan, plan.  The planning is half the fun for us.  This time it’s just the two of us going and we’re going to focus on trying some new restaurants like O’Hana (which we already have reserved) and we’ll be taking another tour, the Marceline to Magic Kingdom tour, which includes some ‘behind the scenes’ looks at a couple of classic attractions.  We’ll also be celebrating the 50th anniversary of our first trip to a Disney park (yep, it was in 1969).

Why am I bringing all of this up today?  Well, not only is today the four year anniversary of my sister’s move to Minnesota, it’s also her birthday.  So I hope you will all join me in wishing her a happy birthday!  And if any of you are lucky enough to have a sister, take just a moment today to appreciate her.

the broken flower washstand.

The craziest thing happened last week when I went to pick up some furniture I was purchasing via Facebook Marketplace.

When Mr. Q and I arrived at the seller’s home I was mainly focused on taking a look at the pieces I was planning to buy.  The seller led us back to the bedroom and I looked over the set, which included a gorgeous spoon carved bed, washstand and dresser.  I checked the pieces over, handed the seller my cash, and then Mr. Q and I each grabbed an end of the headboard and headed back out to our van.

It wasn’t until we were almost out the door that I looked over, and what did I see?

Yep, that bench!  I swear my brain took a couple of seconds to register what I was looking at.  It was kind of surreal seeing a piece of my furniture in an expected place.  Then I thought, ‘no wonder this woman seems familiar!’  I’d sold her this bench last summer.

How crazy!  What are the chances?  Sometimes it really is just a small world.

I was happy to hear that she still loves the bench, she gets tons of compliments on it and all of her friends want to know where she got it.

The rest of the story is that after I got over my amazement at seeing one of my own pieces, Mr. Q and I finished hauling the headboard out to our van only to find that it wouldn’t fit.  It was just a couple of inches too big.  Argh.  So we hauled it back into the seller’s house and made arrangements to come back another day with a truck to get the headboard.  We were able to load up the washstand, dresser and foot board though.

All of this by way of saying that I never got an opportunity to take a ‘before’ photo of the complete set, but here is the first piece I worked on …

I love these washstand sized pieces, they are perfect to use as a bedside table, and the spoon carving on this one is totally charming.  See how each bunch of flowers has one stem that is broken?  That’s why I’m calling this the broken flower washstand.

I did my usual prep, a light sanding followed by a good cleaning.  As soon as I touched the sandpaper to this finish I could see that it was very old and dried out.  Sometimes when you start sanding an old finish like this it simply turns to dust at the lightest touch.

Although I immediately knew I wanted to use milk paint on this piece, I debated the color.  I really wanted to try a gorgeous custom mixed color that Jane Dawson recently shared on the Move Mountains with Miss Mustard Seed’s Milkpaint Facebook page.  Part of me felt like I should stick with a more neutral color that would help the piece sell faster though.

But I threw caution to the wind and used Jane’s recipe, 1/3 Boxwood to 2/3 Kitchen Scale.

As is often the case, the color looks entirely different on my piece than it did on Jane’s piece.  I think there are a few reasons for that.  For one thing, the beginning color of my piece was probably a bit different.  Second, I waxed my piece and Jane used a poly top coat on her piece.  Different topcoats can really change the color of milk paint.  And finally, as per the MMS website, there can be as much as a 15% variation in the color of milk paint from one batch to the next. If you are expecting to get exactly the same look every time with a particular color you might be surprised by this, so fair warning.

In the end, even though this wasn’t exactly the color I was going for, I think my piece turned out beautifully.  I got just the right amount of chipping.  Not too much, not too little.

I had mixed up 1/4 c of Boxwood, 1/2 c of Kitchen Scale and 3/4 c of water to make my paint. In case you’re wondering approximately how far 1.5 cups of mixed milk paint will go, I did two coats on this piece and had about 1/3 c of mixed paint left over.

I painted this bucket with some of the extra paint and then added a transfer from the Prima Marketing Everyday Farmhouse set.

There is a city near me that has a Trash to Treasure clean up each spring.  Residents put anything they want to get rid of at the curb and people can drive around and snatch things up.  This year it was slim pickings, but I did get both the bucket and the chair that it’s sitting on.

I love the sort of scalloped edge on the piece at the back of the washstand.

I always end up calling that piece a ‘back splash’ although I don’t know if that’s the right name for it.  I suppose since this was originally a washstand with a bowl and pitcher for washing on it, maybe back splash is the right name.

All three of the pieces in this set have the most fabulous metal casters.

I scrubbed the drawer pulls with soap and a toothbrush to clean them up a bit and then put them back on.

I didn’t polish them with metal cleaner because I wanted to retain that aged patina.

I lined drawers of the washstand with some really pretty wrapping paper that I picked up last year at a shop in St. Paul.

I forgot to mention that I finished this piece with Miss Mustard Seed’s clear furniture wax.  The thing about spoon carving is that it tends to create drips.  Paint or a more liquid topcoat like the MMS Tough Coat pools in the carved areas and then drips down after you’ve walked away.  Since I struggle with drips anyway, I decided wax was a better bet for me on this piece.

So.  There you have it.  The broken flower washstand painted in a color I think I’ll call Dawson Green.  Or should it be Dawson Blue?  What do you think?

Thank you to Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint for providing the paint and wax, and to Prima Marketing for providing the transfer for the bucket.

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

If you’re wondering where to buy Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint or wax, here is where you can ‘buy online.’

And finally, if you happen to be local (Twin Cities, MN) and in need of a unique bedside table, check out my ‘available for local sale’ page to see if this one is still available.

outdoor photo shoots.

With Spring officially here (and possibly even actually here, I do have a few things starting to come up in my gardens), I’m realizing that I’m really looking forward to returning to outdoor photo shoots this year.

Last year around this time I was feeling really insecure about my outdoor photos.  I had read something online that was critical of the idea of taking your furniture photos outside.  The writer suggested that you should always stage your furniture in spots that show how it could actually be used and that outdoor photos were ‘unprofessional.’

I immediately thought to myself ‘oh man, I’ve been doing it wrong all this time’, ‘I need to change what I’m doing to meet professional standards’ … which led to those inevitable feelings of ‘my work is inferior’ and ‘I don’t measure up.’

I started trying to think of ways I could set up better indoor photos year round.

I do have my photo cottage for summer photo shoots …

But it is in dire need of a fresh paint job, plus I can never quite get the lighting right in there.  Also, it’s small, so I have limited ability to shoot the piece from different angles other than straight on.

I also have the one blank wall in my house that I can stage for furniture photos …

It works great in the winter.  However, we have a lot of trees in our yard and in summer when they leaf out this spot is no longer filled with natural light.

I’d even thought about setting up a spot in my carriage house for summer ‘indoor’ photo shoots.

This spot seemed like it would be ideal because it has an authentic ship-lap style wall, and that concrete floor has a cool industrial vibe.  The lighting all comes from the side, but maybe I could work with that.  But in the end, the one thing that drove me crazy was the fact that the ship-lap is not level with the floor.  So my photos all end up looking crooked.  I can either make the furniture level or the ship-lap level, not both.

Finally I simply came to the conclusion that maybe outdoor photos were OK after all.  I mean seriously you guys, when am I going to learn to follow my own instincts and ignore the naysayers?

There really is something about outside photos that appeals to me.  Maybe it’s that unexpected juxtaposition of an outside setting with some inside furniture.

Or maybe it’s just that I enjoy working outside in any capacity when I have the chance.  Our summer season is so darn short here in Minnesota, so I like to enjoy it while I can.

I do realize that I’m lucky to have an awesome leafy, green background to take advantage of, not to mention a giant Limelight hydrangea to use as a backdrop.

In the end, outdoor photos work great for me.  So I thought I’d share a few q-tips with all of you on how to get the best outdoor photos.

Early morning or late evening light is best.  Photographers call the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset the ‘golden hour’, the light is softer than at other times of day and you can get a beautiful glow on your subject, whatever it might be.

You can shoot outside at mid-day if you’re in full shade, or if it’s an overcast day.

However, you should avoid direct sunlight which creates harsh shadows.

Dappled shade can be a problem too.

 If shooting in dappled shade try to make sure that your piece itself is mostly in shade.  Or ask your neighbor to come over and hold up a large golf umbrella just out of frame to throw some shade on your piece (nnK comes in really handy for this).

By the way, all of these tips work great for portrait photography too.  So the next time you want to get a good family photograph keep them in mind.

I’m looking forward to embracing ‘outdoor photo shoot season’ again this year.

How about you?

porous on purpose.

Gardening season isn’t quite here yet in Minnesota, but it’s just around the corner.  It’s definitely time to start prepping your supplies and getting ready to plant.

Today I have a sort of mixed bag of successes and failures to share with you.  It all started when I saw a YouTube video on how to whitewash terracotta pots using Miss Mustard Seed’s milk paint by Karla from Vintage Hip Decor.

I immediately thought it would be fun to take it one step further and add graphics to my pots using Fusion’s transfer gel.

So, let’s start at the beginning.  I pulled out a bunch of clay pots from my workshop.  Some were newer looking than others, and some still had dirt in them.  So my first step was to clean out the pots.

I purchased this awesome pot brush at a garage sale last summer.

It works great for removing crusty dirt from inside your pot.  Once that was done, I also scrubbed any dirt off the outside of my pots using plain hot water.  Keep in mind that clay pots can absorb soap or other cleaning products that you might use on them and that isn’t good if you’re going to actually put plants in them.

Next I followed Karla’s technique and I whitewashed all of the pots with Miss Mustard Seed’s milk paint in Farmhouse White.

I’m not going to give step by step instructions for this, but instead I’ll encourage you to take a look at Karla’s video (here).  It was super simple and I love the results.

Next I printed out some reverse image graphics to use on my pots.

I’ve done transfers using Fusion’s Transfer Gel before.  You can find more info on that plus a printable version of instructions in this post.

I’ve even had success putting them on clay pots before.  That “Grains” pot shown above is one I did a couple of years ago.  But for some reason, most of mine did not turn out this time.  If I scrubbed hard enough to remove the paper, it also removed the design itself.  Out of about 10 pots, only three worked out well enough for me to keep them.  FYI – on the rejects I was easily able to scrub off the entire mess using a plastic scrubby.

I was on the fence about calling the one shown above a ‘keeper’.  It’s on the border line, but I do love a distressed look.

This next one is my favorite …

I went a little heavier with the paint on that pot, and the transfer worked fairly well.  I don’t necessarily think it was the extra paint that caused the transfer to work better, but maybe?

Since I had such a fail with the gel transfers, I thought I’d give you another option for decorating clay pots and that’s to use the Prima Marketing French Pots transfers instead.

That lower pot on the left has a French Pot transfer on it.

They are gorgeous, and they go on much easier and more quickly than a gel transfer.  However, they are not as cost effective since you have to buy each one.  They come in sets of three and I’ve seen them for around $12 on amazon with free shipping, so around $4 per pot (just google ‘Prima Marketing French Pots transfers’ to find them online).  It’s not going to break the bank to purchase them, and it might save you a lot of frustration.

One last caution for you.  I consider all of these pots to be ‘decorative’.  In other words, I doubt they would hold up well outdoors or with a live plant inside.  Clay pots are porous on purpose.  Using a porous pot for your plants helps prevent over watering because excess water will leach through the pot.  However, that moisture coming from behind will compromise the paint and both styles of transfer.

If you do want to use the pots for real plants, I suggest keeping your plant in a plastic liner pot.

Take the liner pot and plant out of your clay pot to water it.  Let it drain, and then put it back in the clay pot.

The pots would look amazing just stacked on a bench or in a cupboard too.  You could also mingle them with some plain pots that have plants in them.

Do you have any tips about using painted clay pots to share?  If so, be sure to leave a comment.