It’s been a long, cold, lonely winter/Boothy News

Well, not lonely. Rarely am I lonely with two four-year-olds running around my house (even in the bathroom. And oh, how I long to be lonely in the bathroom).  But it sure has been lonely of JUNK. I hate to keep complaining about this but man, am I looking forward to yard sale season. I finally found two dressers a couple of weeks ago that I got painted and are now in the booth, but that’s the first big stuff I’ve brought to the booth in probably two months. Yikes. They’re OKAY but one of them had veneer issues and both of them took FOUR coats of primer (I rarely prime, but these had nasty finishes on them that sanding did nothing to remove) before I could paint them. So. At least they are something LARGE that I can put in my LARGE booth that seemed like such a GREAT idea in the summer.

I went up today to straighten and replenish and hang up the beginnings of my customized print wall. I’m going to see if there’s any kind of market for personalized prints — for new babies, weddings, etc. I had to make a bunch of new prints to faux-personalize for samples. I feel like I made a million but only ended up with eight or so. My creativity does not flourish in the cold, dark days of winter. But I figure that’s enough to get an idea about whether anyone is even interested in this venture. It’s a lot of wall space to give up, if not.

It looks so paltry but represents so much of my sad little life! Ugh. I think I’m getting less creative the older I get.

Here are some other shots from the booth today.

There was an ad for a junker warehouse sale on Monday that was supposed to start at 10. I stopped by right at 10 with the kids and the gate was still locked with no activity anywhere around. I went back at around 11:30, and it was open, but totally overwhelming — just piles and boxes of stuff, and whole areas that were off limit because they belonged to someone else but there were no real barriers to that section so I kept accidentally wandering into them. I didn’t have the energy so I stayed about five minutes, then headed home. At around 2, Shara texted me from the sale — she had, of course, found a ton of great stuff. I threw the kids in the car and ran down there (after promising her via text I wouldn’t buy anything she wanted!) and poked around with her for a bit. The only thing I bought was some wood, a lot of it this great, weathered, white, chippy planks that I can make a ton of signs out of. He only charged me $2 a piece, and I can get about three signs out of each plank, so it was a score. I know the whole “Farmer’s Market” sign is a bit cliche at this point but I still love them and it really seemed to work with the chippy paint.

You can see the two dressers I bought off of Craigslist in these pictures. I paid too much for the one with the mirror and as a result have it priced too high. I will have to come down eventually but I kind of wanted to keep something in the booth long enough to make it look full! The one in the picture below is massive — very well made and very heavy but it’s the one with some veneer issues, especially on the trim at the bottom.

These number signs came out of an urge to use up the mass of scrap wood I have in my garage. My intention was to make them look more like vintage industrial numbers, but last week I did a few with the “party of” painted on them and they all sold — so I hauled two more up there this week. This will be a good project for me to work on for the Junk Ranch.

I love this little barn I found. It opens up. Wouldn’t it be so cute to decorate for Christmas?

Another sign made out of the wood I bought earlier this week. If I thought it would do any good, I would totally hang this in my kids’ room.

I am WAY behind on answering e-mails, blog comments, and IG comments, so forgive me, please, if I haven’t gotten back to you. Things have been a little hectic around here these days.

Hope Spring is reaching your neck of the woods about now!

Tiny Little Junk Jaunt OR What $100 will Buy You in an Arkansas Flea Market.

I think I’ve probably mentioned before on the blog the weekend deal my husband and I have had since the twins were babies — I get Saturdays and he gets Sundays. Meaning, I sleep late on Saturdays and/or head out to do some junk searching for the booth and he sleeps late on Sundays and does whatever catches his fancy for the rest of the day. This setup is getting to be increasingly problematic as the kids get older and notice that we don’t always do things as a family on the weekends. I’ve always felt a bit selfish about it, but have forged through the selfish feeling because 1. I need some time away from the kids, especially when I’m staying home with them all day and 2. I’ve got to stock the booth somehow, and during the summer months, Saturday mornings are mandatory for booth shopping. But the days of compartmentalizing like this are probably close to ending…I figure once they get a little bit older, I can start taking them with me on Saturday mornings. They like yard sales (for a bit, anyway) but right now it’s hard to get them to move as fast as I do and, of course, they want to buy everything. I would love to instill a love of yard saling in them as early as possible!

During the winter months, I spend a lot of Saturdays at home, getting chores done, but yesterday I was just SO bored and really needed a change of scenery. There was nothing to do in town — no sales, no auctions — and it was a beautiful, warmish day, so I decided to set off down the Pig Trail – a gorgeous stretch of road that would take me from Fayetteville to Ozark, where my parents lived for a time over 20 years ago (I was born there, actually, but we moved away shortly after that, only to move back when I graduated from high school — my Dad was a Center Director for Job Corps and he got transferred quite a bit). This was a trip I would make many, many weekends while I was in college, and I have been meaning to drive it again just for the nostalgia of it, but never have time. I knew that Ozark had a few flea markets and figured I would mosey on to Clarksville and Russellville after that to hit their thrift stores. I really didn’t have a plan, though, as the main goal was just to shake up the normal routine. I ended up finding some fun things but, unfortunately, they are all for me to keep, not to sell — not so great at a time when the booth sales are lagging a bit AND I don’t have much to re-stock it with. I ended up spending about $100, which I haven’t done in FOREVER. Quite a splurge for me these days.

The drive is so gorgeous. The road cuts right though the Boston Mountains and in Spring, Summer, and Fall, it’s breathtakingly beautiful — it’s as though the trees are forming a canopy above your head. I almost stopped and took some pictures along the way because even in the winter time, with no greenery, there are some beautiful views. It’s a windy, hilly, roller-coaster ride that’s so fun to drive. Ozark is a tiny town — population hovers around 3,600 — that has the potential to be an adorable little city;  their downtown area is on the river and their little city square features buildings with cute facades…but I was disappointed to see how run-down the downtown area has become over the last 20 years. I mean, 20 years is a long time, but it’s clear that things have not exactly been on an upswing in the intervening years. Nonetheless, they have quite a few adorable antique stores worth popping into. The first one I went to was 2nd Street Antiques (202 W. College, Ozark), which was a pretty traditional little flea market. There were a few nice furniture pieces inside but I was a little surprised at how expensive the prices seemed for such a small town. There is a section in middle of the store that stocks project materials like casters, doorknobs, and hinges — all for reasonable prices — and that’s where I spent the bulk of my time. I bought six casters with wooden wheels for $12.

He also had plastic and ceramic casters — loved all of them. Also got this very cool Superman chalk ware figurine that stands about 18 inches high.

He’s got a pretty big chip on the backside so he was marked down to $10. I couldn’t pass him up because the husband is such a comic book geek and he just happens to be raising two comic book geeks as well. Superman was a big hit with the family. I think his face is beautiful.

The last thing I bought there was an Illinois souvenir plate. I paid $4 for this, and I swore I would never pay that much for a souvenir plate because if you look hard enough you can find them for a buck or less, but I want to do a little wall with plates from places Justin and I have lived (or that are otherwise meaningful for us) and  haven’t been able to find an IL plate yet. I got impatient, because that’s how I am.

From there, I hit Old House Antiques (306 N. 3rd St., Ozark), an antique store in the city’s oldest house. I loved this store, and thought their items were exceptionally well-priced. I got this awesome old globe: it’s made out of paper, and is pretty damaged, but you just can’t beat that faded pastel look.

This gorgeous thing was only $12.

Loved that store. But the store that I loved THE MOST (and I was pointed here by the nice folks at The Old House Antiques) was Patina Antiques (107 S. 1st St., Ozark). You guys. I have never seen a store so artfully arranged. It was amazing. Every single display was a thing of beauty. I didn’t have my camera with me, unfortunately, and the only picture I got was with my camera phone and does not do it justice.

Really, that doesn’t give you an idea of how charming this shop was. Every little room was packed floor to ceiling with the BEST old stuff, all displayed gorgeously. I didn’t buy anything here — although I thought her prices were quite reasonable — but I will be back the first chance I get. It’s just a beautiful shop.

I hit Clarksville next — I couldn’t find any thrift stores in Ozark, but I don’t know if that’s because there aren’t any or if my rudimentary research I was doing on the fly with my iPad just wasn’t turning up anything — but I knew Clarksville had a Salvation Army. It turned out to be the WORST Salvation Army I’ve ever stepped foot in — very slim pickings. By this time it was around 2 pm (I got a pretty late start) and I didn’t really have the energy to push on to Russellville, a 30-minute drive away (though I know Russellville has a few pretty good thrift stores), so I just looked up “antiques” in Google and went to the first couple that popped up. The first one was Westside Flea Market (2200 w. Main, Clarksville), which was a small, traditional, multi-vendor flea market. Prices were so-so — varying from vendor to vendor, as they will do in this sort of flea market. I did find some Shiny Brites in wonderful colors, packaged in a sort of tube — has anyone else ever seen them packaged like this?

Mmmmmm….candy colors.

Also got a couple of boxes of smaller, turquoise (aqua?) bulbs.

I spent a total of $10 here (I also got a frame to re-purpose for $1.50).

On my way out to Westside, I passed an unassuming building with “Antiques” written on the side of it — I decided to swing on by there and check it out. I was deeeelighted that I took a chance on Antiques Plus (1622 W. Main St., Clarksville). This traditional antique store is huuuuuuuuuuuuuuge — the front is big enough but then you get to the back of it and there’s a door that says “more in back” and you walk into a room that’s twice the size of the front. The front is full of well-organized and beautifully displayed pieces — a delight for the eyes — but the back, while still neat and organized, is a little more digger-y. I loved both sections, believe me. I could have shopped for hours, but I knew I should be getting back to Fayetteville, so swung through pretty quickly. I could not bring myself to leave behind this yard-long college picture.

This is from Asbury College in Wilmore, KY, in 1926. I find it fascinating that the women students are segregated from the male — the women are on the left, in the foreground, and the men on the right. What I assume to be faculty are standing in the back. And I’m assuming this fine fellow, looking so uncomfortable about having to sit on the ground, is the college president.

According to Wikipedia, this was (and is) a Christian college — non-denominational but has had many Methodist pastors as president. It is odd that that many women were attending in 1926? This was $35: a pittance for a yard-long photo like this but an ENORMOUS amount of money for me to spend on myself. Y’all, I just don’t spend this kind of money because it’s more fun to find the big bargains and, oh, yeah, I don’t have a lot of moola to be messing around like this. But I just can’t get the group panoramics out of my blood, and it’s getting increasingly difficult to find them at prices like this. I guess I was just in a mood to spend money yesterday.

All day, I was finding small metal bank globes, which I covet (as any globe-lover does) but which were all priced to high for me (upwards of $20). At Antiques Plus I found this one for $10 and I could resist no longer.

It was the yellow color theme that got me, I think, and also, the fact that it’s the smallest one I’ve ever found. If you are anywhere near Clarksville and are an antique/vintage fan, you are not going to want to miss this fantastic store.

I also bought a ziploc baggie of old wooden blocks with pictures on them for $4 at Antiques Plus, but they were undergoing a rigorous cleaning process (i.e., soaking in the kitchen sink in Dawn dishwashing liquid) and I didn’t get pictures of them.

So there you have it — what $100 will buy you in a couple of small Arkansas towns. Now, mind you, had I been buying to re-sell, I would never have spent that much, but I figured out pretty early on it was going to be a “me” trip instead of a booth trip. I need to do a little more research to see if I can find a few more thrift stores in the area, and I might go back up that way during yard sale season, when I can hit both yard sales and flea markets. But I think I did okay — everything I bought would have been much more in Chicago, for sure. But is the fantasy of going to a small town and finding a bunch of bargains for super-cheap a thing of the past? Did the Internet (and American Pickers) ruin everything for us bargain hunters? I was so surprised to see those globe banks prices so steeply in this tiny little town in Arkansas — likewise, anything industrial, like wire baskets, were priced as high as they would be in a more urban town. I mean, honestly, one of those flea markets I visited in Ozark was priced more highly than the one I sell at, which puzzles me.

Anyway: it was a beautiful day and I saw some fun stuff. I need some company for the next trip, though, so I’m taking volunteers!

 

I’ve been framed.

If you asked me what I buy more of than anything else while yard saling or thrifting, the answer would easily be picture frames. They’re so doggone USEFUL. If you have a booth, and you’re not buying them, you should start immediately!  They’re almost always inexpensive — I just bought two box fulls at a thrift for $21.00 — a total of around 20 frames of all shapes and sizes. You often have to look past the hideous, 1980s print or the faded cross-stitch inside of the frame (or the dated oak finish to the frame itself )  and imagine the frame gussied up with paint.

I spray paint all of my frames that I use for the prints I sell in the booth, and the color I use most often is, hands down, Rustoleum’s Heirloom White. I have tried all of the other brand’s cream colors, and none of them compare with this one — the perfect cream, the perfect consistency.

My prints are one of my biggest sellers at my Daisies and Olives booth, and they’re really fun and easy to do. I don’t create the art that I use — I am not at all talented enough to do that. There are incredibly gifted artists that sell their work online — my favorite sources are Creative Market and Etsy. You can search for “digital downloads” and just start clicking through. The art is affordable and you can download it immediately after you pay. If you’re re-selling, you have to pay special attention to the terms of use — some of the artists require you to purchase a commercial license to re-sell the images (it’s usually pretty affordable to do this), though a lot of them do not require that as long as your print run is small (under 100) or as long as you’re not selling digital downloads of the art yourself. These people put a lot of time and effort into their designs and sell it so affordably — I try to be very careful about following the rules and making sure I’m not violating any of the terms of use.

Choosing fonts are one of my favorite parts of the process — I have always been a font fan and currently have nearly a thousand on my computer. There are a bazillion wonderful free fonts out there (dafont.com, fontsquirrel.com, ,etc.), but, like the art, often they require a fee in order to use them for commercial purposes. Be sure to check the terms of use on each one.  One of my favorite combinations is Janda Stylish Script  and Always Here – for $7 total I got a commercial license to use those fonts. Totally affordable and worth every penny. If you click on the name of the font, it will take you to a page that explains the font artist’s commercial policies.

I use Illustrator to design the prints (though you could use any program you’re comfortable with) and have them printed at Office Depot. When we first moved to Fayetteville, I did print tests at Kinko’s, Office Max, and Office Depot — Kinko’s was TERRIBLE and Office Max was a tiny bit superior to Office Depot. They’ve since consolidated with Office Depot, and the printing there is perfectly fine. I use an 80lb or 100lb white matte cardstock. (Years ago, we had a really expensive, professional-grade printer; the cost of re-filling the ink cartridges was astronomical and even though it was way more convenient for me to print at home, it wasn’t cost effective. I get these printed at Office Depot for under $2 each.)

If you’re going to be framing your own prints, a point driver is an invaluable tool. This is the one I have. Once you have your print and a sturdy backing in the frame, you use this tool to drive framer’s points into the frame to hold the print securely into the frame, giving it a professional look — if the print isn’t securely placed in the frame, it will buckle or bubble. To finish, I use Kraft paper I found at Home Depot for super cheap, a sharp xacto knife, and a hot glue gun to cover the back neatly. It makes it look a bit more professional.

This year for Christmas, I asked family members for their favorite quotes so that I could design a print for them — the results were really cool and I loved that they were customized for each family member. My mother-in-law’s choice:

I made her promise to tell everyone that the quote was her choice when she tells them that her daughter-in-law made this for her! (Artist is Jorgen McLeman)

For my Sister-in-law:

(Artist is marushabelle)

For Justin’s cousin, a young, hip, adorable twenty-something:

(Artist is morethangraphics)

For another of Justin’s cousin, who is expecting a baby soon (yay!):

(These were separated in two frames meant to hang next to each other.)

(Art by Miss Tiina and decorartist)

And, finally, for my other sister-in-law, who shares my love of the song Three Little Birds:

(Art by TanglesTreasures)

(This is supposed to represent Michelle and her own four little birds.)

The prints went over really well (I’m lucky to have family that truly appreciates handmade gifts) and I loved being able to customize them for each person.

Office Depot can only print up to size 12X18 without going to the large format printer which 1. won’t print on cardstock and 2. is WAY more expensive than having them use the regular printer. However, if I find frames larger than that size at a reasonable price, I still buy them, because you can use fabric or decorative paper to re-cover a mat (if the old print includes one) or simply mount your print on top of the paper or fabric if a mat didn’t come with the frame.

For the really big frames, you can do fun things like use Staple’s inexpensive engineer prints to do black and white quotes:

(Pardon the cheesy Instagram filter)

OR frame inexpensive wrapping paper (Cavallini Paper Co. is my favorite company for this — I think I’ve said this before, but if you ever find any half-price Cavallini calendars, buy those suckers up, because every page is suitable for framing):

(Another cheesy Instagram filter. SORRY!)

And if none of that tickles your fancy, you can also frame pages and illustrations from vintage and antique books. I only do this if the book is in bad shape and about to fall apart. Framing children’s book illustrations are a perfect way to decorate a nursery.

Vintage greeting cards: why keep them stashed away in a drawer? There are so many adorable vintage cards that NEED to be framed and displayed. Also great decor for a nursery or children’s room.

Or think outside the box and frame vintage doll clothes or children’s clothes.

And don’t pass up the larger frames even if they don’t have glass — chalkboards are easy to make and are usually quick sellers.

Thus ends my public service announcement: FRAMES. BUY THEM FOR THEIR MANY USES.

Unless, of course, you live in Northwest Arkansas, in which case DO NOT BUY THEM. Leave them for me.:-)

 

 

A note from a long-lost friend.

(I’m the long-lost friend, in case that’s not obvious.)

So it’s been a while! I am so lucky that you guys continue to check this blog, given the distance between posts. I don’t understand why it has become so difficult to update — in Chicago, I had a full-time job, twins, a social circle, and STILL managed to keep my two blogs updated. Staying home with the kids has given me more time than I have ever had before but their presence makes it so difficult to use that time efficiently. It’s difficult to explain and very frustrating.

How is your New Year progressing so far? I ask you this as I eat a spoonful of icing that was leftover from the French Toast Cupcakes the kids and I made two nights ago. (Delicious recipe, by the way — I highly recommend.) Clearly, my New Year’s Resolutions have yet to kick in. But they are there, lurking in the shadows, waiting to descend upon me on Monday. Justin and I both are turning over the proverbial new leaf then. You guys. I have been eating like a child. Like, if you have a four-year-old carte blanche to eat whatever they wanted, they would choose the diet I have been frequenting lately. I had a pimiento cheese sandwich, BBQ chips, and two Little Debbie Jelly Rolls for breakfast this morning. IT’S GROSS. I haven’t weighed myself in two months but things are tight on me that should never, never be tight: underwear, sweat pants, pajamas. I am at the age where I have to start thinking about diet in terms of health rather than in terms of appearance. It suddenly occurred to me the other day that I could have a heart attack and no one would say, “At her age? But she’s so young!” That was a terrifying realization. So I am going to try to start eating decently and — GULP — exercising next week. Justin even offered to do some of my fitness DVDs with me, an offer which I am mulling over, because despite the fact that we have known each other for over 20 years, do I really want him to see me sweating and bouncing and gasping around the living room? (Insert your off-color joke here, because I can’t, as my Mom reads this blog.)  I live in a great neighborhood for walking, with lots of hills to challenge me, so if it’s not too terribly cold, I hope to try and get out for a walk on a daily basis.

Is there anything more boring than fitness/health/diet talk? Here, have a picture.

This is, officially, my only Christmas decoration other than the tree. I am not like you Christmas warriors, with your amazing Christmas displays and your house-wide decorating. You all make me feel inferior and lackluster. I never got in the habit of decorating for Christmas because, for most of my adult life, I traveled on Christmas, going home to Arkansas from Chicago for about a week. It was beyond depressing to come back home to an apartment with Christmas decorations in it, so I never put up a tree or anything. For some reason, now that I have a house and don’t travel for Christmas, I’m still not that motivated to decorate. Maybe because you guys do enough decorating for me? All I have to do is look at your blogs and/or Instagram feeds and I get my fix. I bought this truck at the Daisies and Olives Open House from a fellow vendor whose husband owned it originally when he was a child. I could not resist the color, or the trailer in the back. I love it. Hope you guys all had a wonderful holiday season.

I went to both booths yesterday and spend around 5 hours all together trying to get things in order. I cleared out all of the Christmas merchandise — I had marked what was left a little lower, but not quite 50%, because I can stash that away for the Junk Ranch in September — Christmas stuff sold pretty well for me at the last September sale. (It is so hard to even comprehend selling things for the next Christmas season — time does, indeed, fly.) I instagrammed this project but hadn’t written about it for the blog:

I used some pottery pieces to make the vintage book page trees that I found on Pinterest. All but one sold, and I have some great ideas for some little petite trees in delicate tea cups for next year. I’m always finding random sugar pots/tea cups/ vases that I love but have no idea what to do with, so this could be a fun way to re-purpose those.

I made a series of signs using the most cheerful color I could find in my paint cabinet.

They’re happy sentiments: This is My Happy Place, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Good Times. Trying to liven up the place with some bright colors and optimistic phrases! I did some nerdy, geeky Valentine’s Day prints for the Fayetteville booth — also going to take Ms. Chanelle’s suggestion and go a little more frat-boy, snarky with some prints I’m cooking up for that booth. Shara and I continue to brainstorm on how we can make that booth more visible in its tiny, little, narrow passageway. Sales continue to be slow for us there, but we are not admitting defeat! We will continue to fight until we find the right combination of factors to make us successful! WE ARE JUNK WARRIORS. We’re not losing money, and it’s kind of a fun challenge to try and break the code.

Since taking over the huge booth at Daisies and Olives, I’ve been doing quite a bit of painting furniture lately. That was one of the reasons I wanted a bigger booth — to be able to fit furniture in it. Of course, as soon as I took on the bigger space, furniture became harder and harder to find — but I’ve managed to find two or three pieces a month to make the larger space worthwhile. I’ve been experimenting with different paints and methods of painting for a couple of months now. For starters, I bought a paint sprayer.

I bought a Critter, probably the lowest-tech sprayer you could possibly find. It has its pros and cons: pros include its price,  the fact that you can mix up your paint in a jar and attach it to the sprayer (more on why that’s a pro below), it’s easy to attach and clean up, and easy to use. Cons are that it stopped working after the first use (something that’s not uncommon, according to some reviews on Amazon) and I had to mess around with it for a while to get it to start working. Basically, every time I use it, I have to take the back of the trigger off, take out the spring, and then put it all back together — this took a while for me to figure out and I have no idea why it needs to be done, but it gets it working again, so I’ll do it. My air compressor also isn’t quite powerful enough to make it as efficient as it could be, but that’s more my fault than the sprayer’s. I’m looking out for a used air compressor now. The sprayer has been invaluable for any project with caning, like these chairs, here shown before painting…

and after:

The sprayer was invaluable not only for the caning, but for that detail on the arms and legs that would have been annoying to paint with a brush. Here’s the final product.

And the sprayer is also incredibly useful for those items that have a ton of detail on them.

Both of these items took no time at all to paint, and the finish is so smooth and professional looking. So I’m going to say thumb’s up on the paint sprayer. I’ve heard a lot of people say that the clean up seems to much of a pain to mess with, but with the Critter, all you do is fill up a jar with mineral spirits, spray it for about three or four minutes, then do the same with water. Not too bad at all.

I’ve also been experimenting  with different kinds of paint. Everyone wants the chalk paint look to their furniture. If you paint something with a regular satin or eggshell finish, it’s not going to sell as fast as something with the matte, distressed look of chalk paint. I truly am a fan of the Annie Sloan line, but I have a few issues with it, chiefly its steep price. It’s just not practical to use when you’re re-selling, because it cuts into your profits significantly. I also don’t agree with reviewers who tout its coverage — even though I’ve read many times that it only requires one coat, I’ve never found that to be true, and always have to do at least two coats and frequently three. I also think their colors are really limited. So as much as I would love to use AS Chalk Paint — because it’s so easy to pop open a quart and start painting — I’ve been experimenting with mixing up my own chalk paint. I’ve tried mixing the paint with plaster of Paris and non-sanded Grout — you can find recipes for those here -- and I liked both of them. I probably prefer the Plaster of Paris, because I think if you’re mixing that into your paint, it HAS to be the best coverage as far as avoiding chips and nicks, but I read in more than one place that sanding paint with those things added to it can be highly toxic, and I started getting a little freaked out about it. After reading this incredibly comprehensive post on the various DIY chalk paints (make sure you read the comments, as well, lots of great advice), I ordered some Calcium Carbonate from Amazon (around $10 for a giant bag that has lasted me a really long time) and tried her recipe. It works just fine. It is not as good as Annie Sloan, none of the DIY versions were, but they all give that kind of chalky, matte feel to the furniture and are easy to distress. Taking the recommendation from the gal at that last blog I linked, I’ve been using Johnson’s Paste Wax to finish — it keeps the matte look while offering some protection. There are so many great posts on DIY chalk paints out there — lots of  research has already been done for us, which is handy.

While I was experimenting, I tried a few projects with Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint. I LOVE the idea of milk paint — that you can’t predict how it’s going to adhere to the furniture, giving it a realistic, vintage, peely look. And, indeed, it did crackle winningly on the first thing I used it on.

But that was the last time I was pleased with anything having to do with this milk paint. My issues are many: first of all, the cost. Just as expensive as AS Chalk paint, maybe even more so. You have to mix your own with the powdered milk paint additive, and I couldn’t manage to get the mixture right using the instructions on the bag. If I mixed according to the instructions, the paint came out way too thin and watery. These bedside tables looked gray using the white milk paint with the given instructions — I had to put about four coats on them.

The instructions also say — and Miss Mustard Seed’s videos show — that you can mix this stuff up in a cup, using a simple stirrer. I did not find this to be the case — I couldn’t get the powder to dissolve all the way. When you hit a clump of undissolved powder while you’re painting, you get disastrous results — that green I was using would go on the WORST shade of mustard if the paint wasn’t mixed properly, resulting in having to do yet another coat to hide the color. I had to buy a mixer to try and get the powder dissolved properly. I resent paying that much money and having to mix my own paint! Especially when I am apparently so bad at it. I have seen projects on blogs using this paint that look beautiful. I don’t know if it was user error or not, but I did not like this paint at all, and I wanted to like it so badly.

Whew. Okay, if you’ve read this far, it’s because you’re interested in painting furniture, so here are just a few more things I’ve learned over the past four months: if you’re painting to sell, use neutral colors. I am even more boring than that — I use cream for all of my pieces. Otherwise, the piece sits in my booth for a really long time, waiting for the person who is looking for that exact shade of paint. I use Behr’s Innocence, which I’ve found to be not too white and not too cream — a perfect, in-between shade. I buy it by the gallon, which I used to not do, because before I could use it all, it would get dried up because the lid gets so messy after you pour the paint once or twice — so I started buying these tops:

I think it was around $4, and I re-use it every time I buy a new can. Makes pouring a cinch and keeps the paint air-tight. I started using Floetrol when I got the paint sprayer, but I use it for everything now — it just helps the finish look more smooth and eliminates brush marks. My current recipe is to take a quart jar, mix four tablespoons of Calcium Carbonate with two tablespoons of warm water, mix well, add the paint almost to the top, leaving about an inch of space, add the Floetrol, put the jar top on, and shake shake shake shake shake. I can use the jar for painting with a brush or screw it on to the Critter if I’m spraying. Simple with minimal clean-up!

And that, my friends, is what I’ve learned about painting furniture. Nothing would make me happier than if you leave your tips in the comments!

 

 

Monday, Monday.

Blech. That’s all I have to say. I woke up this morning in a funk and can’t seem to get anything worthwhile done so I am going to procrastinate by writing a short note to you guys! Yay! Housework be damned! Laundry be damned! Quality time with toddlers be…damn. I am a terrible mother.

I am just feeling so unmotivated lately! Part of it is that I am in the midst of the biggest junking block I’ve ever had (it’s like writer’s block, only instead of not being able to come up with ideas to write about, I can’t find junk to buy). I haven’t had a real find for quite a while now, and my booth is showing it. When I went in to stock on Friday, the booth was as empty as it has ever been in the two years I’ve been at Daisies and Olives — it was downright echo-y in there. The biggest issue is that furniture is virtually impossible to find around here. I so miss the Chicago days, when little bedside tables, dressers, and buffets were a dime a dozen at yard sales and thrift stores. You should see our Craiglist ads around there — they ask exorbitant prices for furniture, and I guess they’re getting what they’re asking because it’s so hard to find. I have been refreshing CL like a maniac lately, trying to find a bargain, and if you watch it like a hawk and jump on a deal when you see it, you can occasionally still find something worthwhile. I am just having such a problem paying over $50 for anything I’m going to resell, which is ridiculous, because if I can pay $100 and sell it for $300 that’s a dadgum good profit. Parting with $100, though! It’s so hard! There’s a curio that just went on today for $145. I THINK I could paint it and resell for over $300 but it just makes me so nervous to risk it.

This weekend, I did manage to find two things that I think were pretty good deals. The first is this dresser:

Super nice size, not too big, not too small. I paid under $50 for this, so I got a steal. I won’t have to do a thing with it, just transport it to the booth. She had about 15 responses right on the tail of mine so contacting her quickly was the key to getting this.

The second thing I got this weekend was a table, bench, and two chairs set — in hard rock maple. Really beautiful finish and solid as a rock as far as condition is concerned. The table has a watermark on it, so it would at least have to be refinished if I were to keep the wood finish…plus, wood just doesn’t sell. All that’s selling right now is painted furniture. I’ve never felt bad about painting something before but I think I’m going to feel pretty bad about this. It’s just so early American, though, without painting it.

You can’t see the set very well because I’m too lazy to drag it out to take a better picture. The table has two hinged leaves on it and when they’re up, it’s huge. I think I’ll price these pieces separately — I’ve been scouring the archives of Vintage Show Off, a blog about flea market booths, and she suggested doing that. Of course, first I have to paint it. Thank the heavens I got that paint sprayer. I’ve got a post in my head about painting furniture — I’ve been using so many different kinds of paint lately — I just need to sit down and write it.

The other exciting thing I got this weekend that I didn’t take a picture of was five old windows for fifty cents each. Fifty cents! Have you ever?! They’re not selling that well lately but for that price I can price them way low and surely will sell them then. OR, I might work on some Christmas wreaths to display on them, similar to these that I’ve been seeing on Pinterest. Ugh, I’ve got so much Christmas work to do and I want to get all of that in the booth by the end of the first week in November! Thinking about that makes me want to curl up and take a nap.

In house decorating news: I finally ordered some curtains for the twins’ room. I have been looking for fabric for a year now, pinning samples, visiting fabric stores, hemming and hawing around, but I finally decided to just order some ready-made. The biggest problem was getting the right yellow since the beds are a yellow-goldy color; these aren’t perfect, but they’re GOOD ENOUGH. Lord have mercy, enough brain energy has been given to this momentous-but-not-really decision.

That little design on them is supposed to be white, but instead is some weird, bluish-grey color. It makes them look a little dingy to me, but I’m trying to let them grow on me since I’m so sick of thinking about curtains. So with the purchase of the curtains, their little room is done! Which does not mean that I will not continue tweaking it. Of course I will, because there’s so much cute vintage kids’ stuff out there. When I was pregnant, I bought SO MUCH vintage baby stuff for their nursery that I’m still finding it tucked away in cabinets and boxes. I would have had to install floor to ceiling shelves on every one of their nursery walls to display everything I collected. It’s just irresistible to me.

Here’s a look at their room.

About a year and a half ago or so, I pinned this link to a girls’ room. I knew I was using it as inspiration but it wasn’t until I looked it up to give credit to Ginny Phillips on Instagram that I realized HOW MUCH inspiration I was garnering. The walls are the same color, the beds are the same color…and I didn’t do any of that on purpose! I think it’s just an example of how much influence an image can have over you when you love it. The beds were actually supposed to be white, but I didn’t have enough white spray paint the day I wanted to paint them and I was too lazy to load the kids up to buy some more. And the walls in their nursery were this same blue — I feel like painting the walls blue gives me permission to be a little more girly and still have the bedroom reflect that both a girl and a boy sleep here. Buuuuuuut…it’s pretty girly, all the same. Jack doesn’t seem to mind too much.

This is the little benediction we recite every night before bedtime. Hoping it eventually sinks in to my reprobate children’s brains.

I got this in a Chicago thrift store before the kids were born for about two dollars. I had nowhere to hang it so it lived in a closet until I was decorating their nursery, then it seemed like a natural fit.

The bird print is an anomaly in my decorating scheme: it was purchased new, not used (gasp!) and was SIXTY DOLLARS (double gasp!!). I couldn’t believe I was paying that but I just loved the way it looked and its sentiment.

I ADORE their quilts. I have been on the lookout for something a bit more boyish for Jack’s bed but in the meantime, he gets my all-time favorite quilt EVER. The colors are so perfect on this one and it’s in SUCH great shape. I got it in Bentonville, a town about forty minutes away from me, on a Saturday when I was having no yard sale luck at all so decided to strike out for parts unknown. It was about 2 pm, and this little yard sale had this quilt and two others (that I’ve since sold) sitting on a table. I figured they were charging WAY too much if they were still available but I asked anyway and was quoted $8 apiece. OMG I wish someone had been videotaping me. I can’t imagine what my face looked like. I have no idea how on earth those quilts were still there but I’m awfully glad they were.

Emme’s quilt came from the yard sale of an older lady who had it market $60. I looked at it long enough to see the price, then moved on. She said “I thought I was going to be able to get a lot of money for that but I guess not. You can have it for $20.” For me, $20 is a lot to spend at a yard sale, but not for a quilt, I guess…and it was predominantly pink, which I was looking for for Emme’s bed. So I bought it. The End. What a thrilling story. Take a moment to calm yourselves before going on to the next picture.

This mirror is one of my most favorite finds EVER — $2! What a steal!

This hutch is where all of my vintage doodads for their room ends up. It’s pretty crowded right now and I keep trying to edit it but I love everything on it! That carousel was hand made by my Grandpa and those apes up there, holding Jack and Emme’s names, are from my dear friend Shara. My Mom hand-embroidered the little doll on that same shelf and the bunny is from my brother and SIL.

I just can’t stop buying vintage baby knick knacks.

I love these guys so very much. $4 at a the flea market where I had my first booth.

I bought this print from my friend Paula (Emma’s Back Porch at Daisies and Olives) and framed it in a $1 garage sale frame. I love it SO MUCH. It looks so much like Jack and Emme. It makes me smile every time I look at it.

The book ledges were actually Ikea frame ledges that I got for a buck a piece at a yard sale — they work perfectly for the books. The Solar System print came from In Retrospect, a flea market here in Fayetteville, and was $20, which was a lot for me, but I wanted something vaguely educational to fill up that wall above the books and this fit the bill.

I got that polka-dot lampshade at a thrift store for $5 to go in their nursery; the blue didn’t quite match then, and it still doesn’t match, but I just love polka dots so much that I don’t care. The lamp base was a $2 yard sale find. The little bust on the chair came from In Retrospect too. Can’t remember where I got that blue chair from. I swear, I used to be able to tell you where and for how much I got every single item in my house; now I’m lucky if I can remember where I got something last weekend.

Whew. That was a lot of pictures. Sorry to dump that all on you, but I’m pretty proud of this room. At the beginning, I briefly flirted with the idea of making it a calm, soothing space, sparsely decorated with neutrals, but then I thought, screw it. It should reflect their personality. So it’s bright and loud and (usually) cheerful. I also love that I found most things cheaply with which to decorate it, as you can probably tell by my insistence on listing how much I paid for each item.:-)Also, in the interest of full disclosure, it’s clean for approximately 5 minutes, three days a week.

All right, I’m off to have lunch and try to shake my funk. Hope you’re week is off to a cheerful, happy start!