Monday, August 18, 2014

Why I Create and A Few Blogs I Love

Last week I was featured by a fellow local furniture painter, Nicole from Rescued Furnishings. The girl has some serious talent and I was completely flattered that she picked me! 

I think my favorite thing she has done was the feature wall she painted in her master bedroom:

Isn't it amazing? The entire room is just beautiful. She and her husband also transformed an armoire into a wine bar, which you definitely should check out here

So now onto some questions about me...

Why do I write/create what I do?


Creating is something I have done as long as I can remember. Both my mother and grandfather were artists and my mom encouraged my artistic side early in my life, when she saw an aptitude. I was in gifted art programs since 1st grade, but when I got to college I became intimidated and unsure of myself when I realized how competitive the major was in my school. So I switched majors. While I missed creating art in different mediums, the practical side of me knew that artists rarely make any real money for the time invested, and I needed to finish my degree as quickly as possible (we were pleasantly surprised to start a family early). 
(above and below are paintings that I did in college)


Then I few years ago I started experimenting with painting furniture, after reading and studying some popular DIY blogs. When I tried to sell my painted pieces on Craigslist, I was thrilled to find they sold quickly! 

I had been suppressing my artistic side for years and now I had found a way to cultivate it, while supplementing my family income. Since then, I created this blog, so share with others my creativity, and to hopefully encourage and inspire to do the same. After all-- I truly believe everyone is an artist in some form. 


What am I working on?


Right now I am working on preparations for St Louis Vintage Market Days. I have about 5 dressers and various chairs I am in the middle of, and then I have random side projects for both my blog and home. Because my time is limited and many times unscheduled, I do a little bit here and there when the opportunity arises, even if it is just a couple minutes to put a quick coat of paint of something. 

How does my work differ from others of its genre?


For furniture painting, I try to set myself apart from others by achieving unique, authentic, and artistic finishes. My goal is to create heirloom pieces and with the type of quality that I would want in my own home. I never sell anything that I wouldn't want to keep and that wouldn't stand up to my three littles. 

How does your writing/ creating process work?


This is a tough one. I work best with a deadline, even if it is self-imposed. Then I do some research... it doesn't matter what I'm working on, I always read and study various sources to find the best route that I want to take. I find inspiration from other artists online, from nature, from period-appropriate pieces, and often from European architecture. 


Sometimes I have to live with a piece of furniture for several days, before the direction I want to go, speaks to me. But once I have a vision, I just get started. Like I mentioned earlier, sometimes it might be for just a few minutes, so that when I have time again to go back to it, it is all ready for me. 


This drives me family a little bit crazy because often, this means I leave my mess (tools and materials) of "in- progress" projects in several places in my garage and home. Occasionally, I run into 'surprises' while finishing a project. If something isn't going as planned, I have to walk away for a while to adjust my vision. Sometimes this is just a couple hours, sometimes several days. I've always been like this, even when I would paint or draw. Working through my frustration never worked for me. I always need some perspective. 


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Now, part of this blogger tour is to introduce you to 3 amazing blogs that I love and show you a bit of their work!
So, in no order of preference...

Dionne from The Turquoise Iris.

Here is a little bio I asked her to write and some pics of some of my favorite pieces of hers:


"My name is Dionne Woods. I am a wife and mother of 2 boys. I started this journey when my guys were still taking daily naps. My husband and I purchased and flipped our 1st homes for considerable profits. We ( I ) painted woodwork, wainscoting, cabinets and trim throughout both homes. Working with a small budget gave us a reason to be creative and resourceful. So, I painted anything and everything while gaining experience with paint textures and finishes."


"Once our boys were both in full time school, I began to explore the idea of painting furniture for our home and others. I found I really love searching thrift and antique stores for great home accessories and furniture. All it took was a good friend introducing me to Etsy and I was on my way to selling furniture all over the country."

"My style is eclectic. I love what I love and refuse to be defined by a certain aesthetic. One thing about me that is consistent, my use of color.  I am inspired by the colors in nature...the sea, the sky, flowers and trees."
"Painting furniture, designing and styling allows my creative side to always lead the way."



Dionne, is not only a brilliant furniture artist, but she has great design sense, as you can see. She understands the importance the styling and executes it flawlessly. I love her bold use of color and recently she has been putting together these style boards that help you know how to incorporate her pieces into your home, showing what accessories look good with it! Isn't she smart?!

Make sure to like her on Facebook!


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Next up is Leia with Eat It and Say Yum.

Leia has been my real life friend for years and I have eaten her food enough times to know her recipes are all keepers. She is a perfectionist when it comes to flavors and presentation, and best of all, she is one of the sweetest people you'll ever meet! Here is what she says about herself:

"Hi there!  I am a mom of 4 who loves to cook and bake.  I love to make people happy with great tasting food.  I come from a line of great cooks who enjoy entertaining and cooking for a crowd, and none of that has been lost on me.  I blog at Eat It & Say Yum, where I like to share my family's favorite foods."

"Some recipes there have been handed down through generations and some are my own creations."  

"Through blogging I have learned a lot about myself, and I have been able to work on my food photography, which has developed into a bit of a passion for me.  I also like to dabble in cake decorating.  I have done wedding cakes, smash cakes, and even 3-D birthday cakes!"


Isn't that cake incredible? She is uber talented with cakes and before she moved away, she did all my special occasion cakes. I love her. 

Like Eat It and Say Yum on Facebook!

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And lastly, but certainly not least, is 


I have admired Pam's work for a long time, but recently connected as friends as we almost became roommates at Haven Conference. She ended up not being able to go, but I've quickly learned to love her young, energetic spirit, her priority for family, and of course her spot-on sense of style for my personal favorite aesthetic: french farmhouse cottage.
Here is Pam's bio:

"Hey there everyone! I am Pam, and first and foremost I am a wife and mama of three - my big, my middle, and my little. Coming in a (VERY) close second is my love of rescuing and breathing new life long forgotten *treasures*."

"To say I am obsessed with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® & Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint would be a major understatement." 

 "I strongly believe there is always a diamond in the rough. I believe in reducing, reusing, and recycling creatively. But more than anything I believe..." 
"Every.Single.Thing.Holds.Possibility."


Pam continues to amaze me with the way she fearlessly uses color combinations that most people don't think of, but makes it absolutely beautiful. She recently got back from a month-long trip to Sweden where she has family, and I think her travels in Europe make her more in-tune to European color palettes and what works and what doesn't. She is for sure someone to keep on your radar...


Follow Pam and Thrifty Cottage Couture on Facebook!


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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Decor Steals Feature: Grain Sack Inspired Fabric

Legit grain sack fabric is expensive ya'll. But the look is classic, clean, and french country... all things I love. So when Decor Steals offered this grain sack inspired fabric for ONLY $12.50 a yard, I immediately bought some!

My first project using it was to upholster these barrel back cane chairs:

They sold quickly at VMD and I fell in love with their soft, nubby texture, the stripes (of course) and their ease to work with.

So, when they offered it again, I bought more and upholstered this french chair!

This has been my favorite furniture makeover to date. If you want to see the full reveal click 


And to see step-by-step instructions on this chair, I posted on:






I also recently used it to make some neutral pillows for my living room:

Well, today is your lucky day! They are offering it AGAIN for the same low price! You can buy in 3 yard increments and they have several different colors and stripe patterns besides the classic navy that I am drawn to!

I am not being compensated to write this post, but was extremely flattered that they wanted to my work (among others) for the sale. If you click the link below, you will be able to get $5 off (if it is your first purchase through them) and I will also get $5 off! If, for some reason, it doesn't work, comment with your email and I will send you a referral. 

Referral link HERE!

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Makeover Monday... I mean Wednesday: Weathered Gray Coffee Table

I was supposed to show you this on Monday, but.... it's summer. And things in our house don't aaaaalways go as planned in the summer. School starts in less than a week and I have mixed feelings about it. I DON'T want summer to end! But I need more time to work, so I guess it is a necessary change. 

Well, you are in for a treat because today? Today I have an actual 'before' picture!!! Can you even believe it? I found this coffee table for $12 at a thrift store by my home. 

And AFTER in my living room!


Let's look at that side-by-side, shall we? What a difference a little stain and paint can make, no? I say that all the time, but really! The wonder of it is not lost on me!

There wasn't really anything wrong with it other than the top planks were a little warped and needed to be refinished. So I did just that. I stripped and sanded them smooth, then I stained it using a combination of Dark Walnut by Minwax and a weathered gray stain called "Sunbleached" by Rustoleum. Instead of mixing the stains together, I applied in layers until I got the right look. I lightly sanded with 600 grit sandpaper (which doesn't remove the stain, but just makes the surface super smooth), then used a couple layers of Minwax Wipe-on Poly to seal the top. 

Then the legs I painted with Chalk Paint in the color French Linen. After some light distressing and clear wax, this one was ready to bring inside!

While, I'm not crazy about my rug (saving $$ for a new one), it doesn't look horrible, especially with this coffee table. I like keeping furniture in my home mostly neutral with pops of color in the decor... it is easier and cheaper to change out when I want to change things up. 


What I love most about this table is the SIZE! We had a standard size long and narrow coffee table in here before, but the room is pretty wide (#twss) and demanded a larger coffee table to keep things in balance. 

I can't get enough preserved boxwood! Just in this pic: a wreath, a topiary and 2 balls (BOXWOOD that is... ;)). 

Before I took pictures of this table, I finally put up a gallery wall, which I had been planning on putting up for months. I wanted to have a collection of vintage items, unique works of art and what-not, but I ended up deciding to shop my home. I'm satisfied with how it turned out but I know I will change out pieces here and there as I find things I love more and want to display. I won't be changing out that big family picture for a while though... I bought the huge size on a whim and really tried finding some good design inspiration to justify displaying a huge family picture... and I found nothing. But I can't help it. I just love it so... And ultimately I want my home filled with things I love, what I think is beautiful, even if I can't justify it from a designer's point of view.


So, $12 well-spent or what? 

Linking Up With:



Furniture Feature Fridays





The Best Blog Recipes


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Friday, August 1, 2014

Getting Ready for Vintage Market Days: September 2014

Well. This morning I woke up from a bad dream that it was the night before VMD and I wasn't ready and I hadn't priced all my pieces. Ya'll. I have SO MUCH to do still. I started feeling quite panicky at about 6am and couldn't go back to sleep. Anxiety is something that has gotten worse, the older I've gotten. Even though quickly approaching deadlines are often what motivates me to do my best, most creative work, I haaaate anxiety and that can't-rest-can't-relax feeling I get that only abades a bit when I start working.

STL VMD IS EXACTLY 7 WEEKS AWAY!

So this weekend we are buckling down and getting several in-the-middle-of-it projects finished (hopefully). I'm hesitant to go too crazy because we only have 1 more week of summer vacation before kids are back in school and I don't want them to spend their last week entertaining themselves while I paint and repair. I'm basically not going to be able to step into our garage (full of furniture) because I get all twitchy.

Last month, we had a Meet and Greet with Chanda, St Louis VMD owner, so we, as vendors, could see our booth spaces and the venue in general. So far, each VMD has had a new location, and this one has, by far, the best parking and layout situation. Parking has been an issue in the past, but it won't be at this one. I'm not crazy about the fact that it is an hour drive from me, but I know lots of other vendors that were driving that far or further for the previous ones, so I guess turnabout's fair game. 

Also, look how pretty this spot is! This is the Madison County Fair Grounds in Highland, IL. 

This is the first barn as you come in, and is where my booth is situated. 

Specifically, where that big pile of leaves sits... I'm the 3rd booth in on the right side. The beams overhead are awesome and I'm excited to plan my space! I've already planned out my color schemes for painting furniture, since I decided soon after this Meet and Greet that I'm not going to have all types of colors, finishes, and styles. Last VMD I really show-cased my versatility. This time, I'm show casing my actual style-- everything that will be for sale would be easily incorporated into my home and my clean farmhouse style. 


As you walk further into the venue (after looking all through my booth space of course ;)), there is this large paved area, where will house all the food trucks and such. Barns on either side will have more booths. 

Keep walking, looking back...

Follow that arrow!

There is a slight decline and a huuuuuuuuuuge barn where there will be... amazingly, more booth spaces!

Come on a walk with me, will ya? 

This will be packed full of awesome and amazing vendors full of all kinds of vintage and repurposed items!

If you turn your head right from that barn, you see this little grassy hill area that I'm not sure if there will be any vendors, but I'm kinda hoping not, because it looks like a great place to picnic and eat some of the amazing Pizza on the Hill. 

Chanda and her family had such a cute set-up for the vendors, and I showed up towards the tail end of things, so most of the cupcakes were gone. 

Hope if you are local or within driving distance, hope you plan on coming!

 Right now, for a limited time, you can get BUY ONE GET ONE FREE Early Buying tickets on the 
St Louis Vintage Market Days website! Basically for $10, two people can get in for all three days. Or if you want to skip the crazy awesomeness of Friday, you can just pay $5 for a ticket valid for Saturday and Sunday. 

Venue Address for STL VMD (September 19-21):
Madison County Fair Grounds
2025 Park Hill Dr
Highland, IL 62249

Here is a little about what to expect if you haven't been before...
Friday the crazy will begin at 1pm. If you are serious about buying, I would get there early! At the last two, we had a lines of over a hundred people an hour before opening. That is because all the vendors bring their 'cream of the crop' on Friday. The best of the best. Plus there is a live band, giveaways, door prizes, food trucks, and in general, lots and lots of fun picking through this upscale vintage style market.  Things slow down a bit in the evening but are still hopping until gates close at 8pm on Friday.

 That night or early Saturday morning ALL THE VENDORS are encouraged to RESTOCK! So just because you went on Friday, doesn't mean you won't see something new on Saturday morning. The gates will open at 9am on Saturday and there will be a rush till the afternoon, slowing down a little after 1 or 2. There will be something unique and fun happening on Saturday and Sunday afternoon that Shades of Blue will be involved in. I haven't been given an official thumbs up to announce it, but trust me, you will want to keep your eyes peeled for that upcoming announcement!

Saturday afternoon and early evening (everything closes for the night at 6pm) is really the best time to come if you want to chat and peruse without feeling crowded and rushed. 

VENDORS WILL BE RESTOCKING ON SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING AGAIN!

So that means, Sunday will still be a great day to come, but this time, deals will be made! I will take discounts on most everything! Sunday the gates open at 10am and close at 4pm. Also, no one will be closing up early, since we aren't allowed to start packing things up until AFTER 4, so don't worry about hanging around till closing! 

I would LOVE to see anyone who reads my blog or follows me on Facebook or any social media, so if you identify yourself in that manner, expect a hug from me! I'm a hugger and I feel any and all of my supporters out there deserve a hug from me! I couldn't do any of this without all of you, encouraging me! I know I've said it before, but you really have no idea how much a simple "like" makes a difference in what I create or post. I appreciate you! You deserve a hug! :)



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