Monthly Archives: December 2016

Pure White, Pure Love

I was sitting on my living room couch one day, looking up and back between my computer and the TV console. After we painted the walls and trim, the country console didn’t match anymore, and I was shopping online for a new one.


Funny thing was, all the consoles I liked were pretty much the same as the one I had, only in white. What was I thinking? All the console needed was a coat or two of white paint: Annie Sloan Pure White, of course.

My husband kept careful watch because his sound system was involved. I wasn’t allowed to touch it.


I gave it two coats of white, buffed on coat of clear wax, and stuck to the the original hardware.

This is my dog, Charlie, not caring.


The final touch was fresh family photos in white frames. Even though the frames didn’t match , they looked more uniform in the same color. Any frame I had that wasn’t white to begin with, was white by the time I finished.


What a difference.

I didn’t love the wires and speakers but, as I said, I wasn’t allowed to touch them. A small price to pay for family harmony.

I think Charlie was on to something. He cared more about snuggling up with us when we watched a  movie than he did about the color of the furniture. I loved my white console but it wasn’t nearly the kind of love I felt for my family.

What I learned:

  • Reimagine your furniture before you shop for more.
  • Paint a collection of picture frames the same color to make to make a uniform arrangement.
  • Love is more important than furniture.

Highchair Highway and Memory Lane

I snagged a scratched and wobbly toy high chair for five dollars. Solid wood and all I needed to do was tighten the screws. I forgot to take a before picture but this is what a new one looks like.


Annie Sloan Antoinette is a very pretty pink and while I was looking for a sample at Suite Pieces, someone introduced me to a new color, Old Violet. I had to go home with a sample of that too.

I was assured by Google and knowledgeable shopkeepers that Annie Sloan paint and wax were nontoxic. Not that I expected the next owner to take a bite, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.


Soft cotton light weight gloves (usually for archivists and coin collectors) worked very well to buff the wax in those little hard-to-get areas. You can find them on Amazon for about eight dollars a dozen.

I loved the two-toned version. I used clear wax on most of it but remembering how messy the dolls of my childhood could be, I used a nontoxic rub-on varnish for the tray.


On my journey down memory lane, I shuffled through a box of vintage hankies I inherited from Grandma Sylvia and found two that were perfect for a reversible seat cushion.


I sewed them together. I am not a sewer, but I held my own. As I stitched, I was reminded of Grandma Charlotte, who made magic with needle and thread. I’m sure both of my grandmothers were looking down and smiling as I sewed.



I also have to give a little credit to my seventh grade Home Economics class, where, even though I wished I could take Shop with the boys, I learned some sewing basics. That was back in the day. Girls couldn’t take Shop until I was in the ninth grade. It was also the time when all sewing baskets contained a tomato pin cushion and a metal Band-Aid box for buttons. When I dug it out, mine still did.


So there I had it: the perfect gift for my friend’s granddaughter. I hope it will give her as many happy “grandma memories” as I had when I refurbished it.

high-chair-with-pillow-1 high-chair-with-pillow-2

What I learned:

  • Annie Sloan paint and wax are nontoxic
  • Using light cotton gloves is a great way to wax small or round areas.
  • I can still thread a needle.

Let’s Hear it For the Girls

I wanted to make a special gift for my brother and his awesome family. My nieces are talented softball players and my brother and sister-in-law spend countless hours at ball fields watching their girls play.

I looked for inspiration for softball themed make-overs and I found some interesting baseball ideas but they all looked very boyish. Not that I was going to paint something pink and frilly, but really, these girls needed a shout-out.

I owned four benches, which is about three too many. A bench would suit the purpose very well because I’ve watched my nieces play and witnessed the whole family drag themselves, satisfied and exhausted, back home. And when you feel that way, there’s really no place like home. Are catching on to the theme here?

I forgot to take a “before” picture of the bench but I managed to catch it after I sanded the top.


I stained the top, let it dry, and and then flipped it over to drill four holes in the cross bar at the bottom. I made sure they were spaced equally. I can be finicky about things like that. I’ll save the reason for holes for later. I’m sure the suspense is killing you.


I designed my plan for the top, which included resizing the exact dimensions of home plate. This is another example of how finicky I can be. Now for my brilliant double entendre (stolen from a photo of a doormat). I had mapped it out in Photoshop. Note the guidelines I included.

noplacelikehome1 noplacelikehome2 noplacelikehome3 noplacelikehome4

I transfered the image with graphite paper.


I decided on a paint pen to outline the smaller lettering. The pen was red but on the stained wood it came out kind of pinkish. That wasn’t bad. A little girly, but not too much. I taped around home plate, loving all those straight lines, and painted it Old Ochre. I even “dirtied” it  by dry-brushing a mixture of Old Ochre and Graphite.


After I was finished patting myself on the back, I painted the H, M and E with Graphite, trying to resist perfection as I swung my calligraphy brush along the curves of the lettering.


I applied two coats of Old Ochre to the base.


Then I had a sinking feeling, as if I was stealing second and the outfielder was on the ball.

I’d read on the internet that chalk paint would hold up in the great outdoors. You can’t always count on the internet, but you can always count on your coach. I messaged Amanda Peppard, the owner of Suite Pieces. She explained that untreated chalk paint was good-to-go outdoors BUT it wouldn’t protect whatever was underneath. The wood I’d painted was already ready for weather. A hip-thumping slide and safe on second! Thanks Coach!

Remember those four holes I drilled? Are you still dying of suspense? That’s where I screwed four softballs. (NOT baseballs.) I’d pre-drilled the softballs and used a nice long wood screw to attach them from the bottom.


Back in the dugout, my pinkish lettering wasn’t standing out as much as I wanted it to. I took out my paint pens for another pass.

The thing about paint pens is that you have to shake them once in awhile and, like banging the dirt off your cleats with a bat, the stuff flies everywhere. I tried removing a few but the stained wood had absorbed those little paint bombs. A swing and a miss. Pass the Gatorade.


I gave up and sealed the top with two coats of polyurethane, paint bombs and all.


I surprised my brother and his family with their bench after a double header. They were thrilled and amazed. Thrilled and amazed always gives me a good feeling, especially when it comes from my sports idols.

I pointed out my imperfect pink dots to my sister-in-law. She asked me the most amazing question. “Do you know what the enemy of “good’ is?” My 15-year-old niece chimed in before I could even begin to think of an answer. “Better!”

Go team!

What I learned:

  • Do not shake a paint pen anywhere near your project.
  • Untreated Chalk-painted surfaces will hold up outdoors but will not protect the surface underneath.
  • “The enemy of good is better” – Voltaire.

P.S. Did you know that before Judy Garland stamped “There’s no place like home.” on our hearts in The Wizard of Oz,  the chart-topping song in the 1800’s was “Home Sweet Home”, which includes the same phrase–over and over again?










A Harlequin Romance

I spotted him by the side of the road. He was worn and weary but what a physique! It was crazy, I know, but I took him in and let him stay in the basement. He kept to himself for a long time until one day, as I carried a basket of laundry to the washing machine, our eyes met…

Okay, enough of this gushy stuff. You know I’m talking about a table, right? Annie Sloan Coco. That’s his color, not his name. I don’t name my furniture and if I do, I guess I should keep it to myself.

For the sake of discretion, a photo of my forlorn and naked companion is not included. (In other words, I forgot to take a “before” picture.) I adorned Coco—I mean, the table—with two coats of his namesake, intending to shower him—I mean, it—with diamonds.

No, not real diamonds, diamond shapes, aka Harlequin. I laid the pattern out on my computer. Hate me for loving geometry? Don’t worry. You’ll have the last laugh.


I used one quarter inch painters tape so it would come out just like the picture. But it didn’t. I turned to my trusty T-square and marked out rectangles with a watercolor pencil.


I still didn’t get exactly what I wanted. My frustration was growing as big as the ball of discarded painters tape. I won’t go into details because the next time I do this I’ll position the diamonds with templates and trace them across the table top.

At last the Coco table had its diamonds. I marked the ones that wouldn’t be painted. Notice all the lines I had drawn with the watercolor pencil? Mostly mistakes.


Unmarked diamonds got one coat of a mixture of two parts Coco and one part Pure white. Because the tape was so thin, I had to be very careful painting the lighter color.


When I was finished I had a heck of a time washing the pencil off and sometimes had to paint over it.


By lightly sanding the top in the same direction, point to point, I muffled the imperfect lines and made the lighter diamonds look like my uneven paint job was by design.


I applied white wax to highlight those sexy legs.


If you’ve been fortunate enough to shop for real diamonds, you’ll know that the fewer the imperfections, the higher the price. My find and me, we cared more about pretty than perfect. True love!


Happy was the heroine.


The end.

What I learned:

  • Don’t overthink it.
  • Make a template of a repeating shape and map it out before you begin.
  • A harlequin diamond is about twice as high as it is wide, but you don’t have to use that exact ratio.
  • Use a light touch when marking with watercolor pencils.
  • Pretty is more important than perfect.

Flower Sifter

While cleaning out my kitchen cabinets I found an old sifter. I use flour from time to time but “sifter” is no longer part of my baking vocabulary. It was about to go in the donation bag when a word from my high school French popped into my head. Fleur. The sifter was saved.

It looked like this.


With my new “repurpose it” eyes, I saw it as a flower pot with built-in drainage. I painted the sifter with two coats of leftover Antoinette  from my high chair project. The color matched one of two lonely saucers I owned.

If your sifter is new, remove the label. You can soak it in sudsy water and scrub it off. Goo Gone works well on stubborn glue. I didn’t paint the inside of the sifter all the way down because I knew it wouldn’t show.


I cut a two circles of coco liner in the bottom. Coco liner is the stuff you see on hanging flower baskets. The circles don’t have to be exact.


Squish in the coco liner in the bottom. It absorbs the water, keeps the soil moist, and prevents overflow when watering. Fill with soil and a plant — preferably a flowering plant to keep the pun intact. If you’re thumb is as brown as mine, you can create an artificial flower arrangement instead.

I’m sure you’re dying to know how I decorated the pink sifter. I love to play with words. The French word, “fleur” is close to the English word, “flour.” And what is my sifter for? Flowers, which in French is “fleur”  Flour. Fleur. Flower. Get it? I crack myself up.

A single flower is “la fleur” and a bunch of them is “les fleurs.” You can download the lettering I used here.les-fleurs-cropped

I  used the tried and true method of rubbing pencil on the back, flipping it over and using the point of the pencil to transfer the lettering. The rectangle outline helped me position the the transfer. I knew I would cover the transfer with a dark paint pen so using a pencil transfer was not a problem.


No need to wax or varnish. Voila!


This is an artificial flower arrangement but I’m inspired to replace it with soil and a real growing plant.

What I Learned:

  • Look at odd items with an eye to repurpose.
  • Play with words. It’s fun.