Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Fifty for Fifty

For a special friend's birthday, we were asked to bring a gift of 50 things. I chose pennies, and with the help of a few others, found every year from 1964-2004. Here's the result:

Saturday, October 18, 2014


Before and After

This little bureau has been a lovely accessory over several generations. It's held everything from mittens to light bulbs. At one point provided storage in a powder room but suffered water damage from dripping hands, as the hand towels were just above it. It also has some chipped veneer on the drawers. I decided it was time for a well-earned makeover.

I've been a chalk paint fan since I discovered it about three years ago. I'm loyal to the Annie Sloan brand, but I've been tempted to try some of the newer American-made products that have entered the market recently. I purchased a small jar of  Deco Art Americana Chalky Finish Paint in Vintage, which was the exact color of my duvet cover. I also purchased Serene, as I've had luck in the past with a two-tone effect.

I loved the end result I reached with the Deco Art product, but it was not the original effect I was going for. A few surprises happened along the way. First, the beauty of chalk paint is no priming or prep work. I got right to work, painting the Serene color on all the edges I wanted to distress and then applying a full coat of Vintage on all the surfaces.

What really happened: Sanding removed both coats, and I was unable to get the two-tone look I originally planned. That was a disappointment. On the other hand, the ancient varnish on the piece (which I expected the chalk paint to cover without priming or prepping) created a natural crackle -- better than any faux finish I've achieved with crackle medium. Luckily I had an open mind. I wanted a smooth finish, but I was fine with the crackle surprise.

The final touch was to silver-leaf the drawer fronts. I've played with silver leafing before on a mirror (note: don't try when you've got a ceiling fan running above!). Since this dresser will be in the same room, I thought it would be a nice complement. All you need is  Silver Leaf Sheet and and Metal Leaf Adhesive Size. Paint the size onto the surface and let dry. Apply the silver leaf sheet to the surface (it will only stick to the size), and you're done. The product I used had a paper backing, so the leaf was very easy to handle and press in place.

Here's the finished result:

Friday, October 17, 2014


Face Lift part two.

One of my favorite "rooms" in my little house is a sun porch. Just off the kitchen on the driveway side, it provides our daily in-and-out door as well as a much-needed retreat space for me. When I bought the house, the previous owners had already installed the screens on the windows and they were painted to match the trim. Later that fall, when it was time to install the storms, I was dismayed to find them peeling several colors of previous-owner-paint-schemes (turquoise teal and burgundy pink the most prominent). Glaring against the butter yellow and cream house, they were an eyesore to say the least.

It took me several years, but this fall I resolved to repaint the storms and treat myself to a better view for the long Wisconsin winter (sad to say storms will be installed from October through late May).

A few things made the job easier:

1. Create a workspace: My friend Mike came up with this brilliant solution -- two bar stools and two landscape timbers. It was the perfect height for me to paint without fatigue and I could set up two at a time. Trash bags over the stools and a drop cloth kept spills at bay; I am a messy painter.

2. Invest in the right tools. I found this unusual 1-Inch Square Paint Brush at Home Depot. It made painting the mullions (muntins?) a breeze. I also have been a long-time fan of Behr paint and the Ultra Satin Exterior did not disappoint.

3. Tape or Scrape? I tried the first two with tape. It was tedious to apply, but left a crisp edge. My only problem was that I was covering several coats done by previous "messy" painters -- the tape left some of the old overlaps showing. For the next two windows, I painted at will and when the paint was dry I scraped the glass. The total time spent was about the same, but the second method let me cover the old mistakes with new paint. If you are painting brand new windows, I would say tape them first. If you're going for a second or third update, I recommend scraping with a razor blade.

The final result:

Thursday, October 9, 2014


With a welcome chill in the air it's time to think about scarves. This #TBT post is about a no-knit scarf that remains one of my favorites.

Monday, October 6, 2014


I am pretty particular about my DIY projects. Is it clever? Would I use it? There is just too much clutter out there, and not enough originality. Last week I came across a really great project: this
 "accoutrement" from P.S. I Made This. Part jewelry, part accessory, all genius.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Face lift

Sometimes all you need is a quick fix to spruce things up a bit. I've always loved the mailbox that came with this house, but it was beginning to rust:
Here's the "after":
Not bad!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Serious Side of Joy

 It’s true that a joyful person is adored—anyone would rather be around an optimist than an Eeyore. Joy is like glitter. No matter how hard you try to keep it contained, it spreads and spreads, even to the most unlikely places. Joy’s been on my mind because it’s been missing from my life for a few years now. I know I’m in charge of my own happiness. But, how exactly do I do that, when I feel like my world has ended? How do I grab joy and rise out of the darkness, instead of sinking further in?

I’m not one to skip through public places like Will Ferrell in Elf. Even at my happiest, I’m a “dancing on the inside” kind of girl. But what I am trying to do each day as I navigate these  unknown waters is to take a moment of private time, find joy within myself, and then hold on dearly. It’s a spiritual feeling that takes a physical presence—if I think about it, I can actually feel it, like a tiny glowing coal deep in my gut. When I find it and greet it before I transition from private to public, it beams out and bounces back, all day long.

This is my second single-mother Christmas. My divorce after a 25-year relationship was swift, unexpected, and complete. My then-husband got up, walked out, and never looked back. During the first year, joy was the furthest thing from my mind. Slowly but surely the fog began to lift. I’m not sure I chose joy as much as I chose not sadness and not pity. By seeking the opposite of what I didn’t want, I found my way to living with joy.

The deck is stacked a bit given that it’s December. But no matter the form—a song lyric, a decoration, a card, a gift bag—universe-whispers of JOY are crossing my path on a near-daily basis. And the more I see it, the more I feel it, and the firmer my grasp becomes.

This month is the first month in ages I’ve had laugh-out-loud moments with my daughters. I can’t remember the triggers but I’ll never forget the feeling. Bonding over an agreed-upon ridiculous moment makes us realize “We get each other. We think alike. We’re happy together.”

I have delightful vistas from my country home: gem-filled night skies that take my breath away and rosy pink early winter mornings when the silhouette of a barn and some bare trees against the rising sun provides an instantaneous, simultaneous feeling of peace and awe. And instead of rushing by, dwelling on my misfortune, I stop, look, and feel, even if it’s just for a minute.

My daughter insists on playing the 24-hour Christmas radio station in the car, something I’ve always scoffed at. You know what? It brings joy. Whether it’s Bruce’s gravely rendition of Santa Claus is Coming to Town or a sentimentally sweet take on White Christmas, hearing these songs as I drive lightens my mood and removes the grind from the daily routine. I was prompted to revive some abandoned Christmas rituals: I baked cookies. I decked my halls. We trimmed a tree. I wrote and sent cards to the people I cared about the most. Joy is seeping in.

Choosing joy in a conscious way means it becomes your companion, your compass, and your center of gravity. Choosing joy is the best way to keep the hurt, anger, and pain from becoming overwhelming. Choosing joy is the way I want to live, every day.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sunrise from the Living Room

I've taken you on many tours of my property in all seasons, but this morning, I'd like to share the view from my living room. I love the early morning light nearly as much as I love the winter landscape out here in the country. So here's the view, from inside out:


A little closer

Morning Coffee View

Sunrise on the porch swing

Looking North

There's something about curly willows I love

The smokehouse

Northwestern view

From the kitchen window

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Ready for the weekend

I know it's been forever since I've posted. I've been busier than I can imagine! Part of that has been getting ready for a local sale this weekend. Here's a sneak peek of my newest jewerly:

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Summer Scenes

Do you remember just a few short months ago when I braved the single digit temps and took you on a winter walkabout? Well, now that we're approaching the triple digits, I thought I'd take some photos of the same scenes in their summer light.

Day Lillies glow

You know what they say about the early bird

Daisy Shadow

I always knew I had a guardian angel. I just never knew he looked like an Easter Island statue!

Perfect spot for sunset watching and wine sipping.

Winter winds took down the pump house door, revealing this view of my house

And on the other side of the door -- lots of farmer's math. Wonder what he was calculating?

When in doubt, head West.