It's Time for Recess!

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Am I the only adult who loooongs for a recess break?!? I can tell it's time for my recess when, what is usually fun becomes tedious. I love to design and create and paint, but when that seems to feel more like a "have to" than a "want to", I know it's time to change the routine. And that only means one thing to me---thrift and dollar store shopping time. Oh Yeah!!!

I found these tall metal houses at the thrift store
for a dollar a piece.
These sparkly cone trees are from the dollar store.Put them all together and what do you have?A simple little Christmas village
and a happy, rested little me!

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A Painting Novel

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Cleaned, Sanded, Wiped Down, & Starting to Prime

Ahhh yes, another piece of furniture for my son's room. This was originally a tv stand, but it will be used for storing bins of toys. It's sturdy and made from oak.

Lately I've had several questions about spray painting furniture. I did a little tutorial a while back, but I thought I'd go more in depth here.

**If you're a painting pro,
you can skip all of this and scroll down
to the photo of the finished project**

The prep work is VERY important to a good paint job. If the piece already has a paint or stain finish you will need to give it a good cleaning. A solution with a degreaser works best, but you can use a good dish soap too. This will take off any build up of stuff like food, hand prints, everyday grime, etc. Be careful not to soak the wood! If the piece needs to have any repairs like gluing or filling in holes or cracks, this is the time to do it.
Next you need to sand the piece. I prefer using a medium grit. You don't need to sand the project until it's bare. You only need to make the existing surface a little rough so that the paint will adhere. Sanding the original finish makes the new paint able to bond to the old. You can use a liquid sander if there's a lot of detail to your pieces. When I use the liquid, I will often go over the piece again with a light sanding in the areas where it will get the most wear.Be sure to wipe everything down with a tack cloth or a dry, clean rag to get off ALL of the dust. If your project has areas that don't need to be painted (like the insides of drawers) you should mask off those areas with newspaper and painter's tape.
If I'm sure that the original finish was a latex or spray paint, I don't use a primer. However, if I've sanded off the finish, or if the finish was a factory finish, then it's important to prime your project. Primer helps the paint adhere well. It also helps avoid any strange reactions that can occur when different paint chemicals mix. Use a quality high adhesive primer, unless you want to distress your piece after it's painted---sanding it to make it look worn. If you prime then sand, you'll uncover the primer instead of the wood and it may not be the look you're after. But if you choose not to prime, then the paint may continue get distressed/chipped with use.

Use light colored primer for light paint colors
and dark primer for dark paint colors.

Now it's time to paint. Shake the can well. Hold the can about ten inches from your project and spray in a steady back and forth motion, slightly overlapping each stroke. I like to think of my hand as an automated arm, holding the spray the same distance across the piece. I also start spraying about an inch to the side of the piece and stop an inch after it. I DO NOT push on the spray continually. You get a much more even spray if you start and stop with each stroke, keeping the can in motion as you spray. Shake the can occasionally between spray strokes.
It's important to spray a LIGHT coat of paint! Don't try to saturate the piece with paint on the first coat because the paint will run. If this occurs, wait for the paint to dry and then lightly sand the run marks. Give the piece a light sanding between each coat to remove imperfections, then wipe off the dust. I give each piece at least two coats of paint, and usually several coats on the areas that will receive the most wear.

I like to use these name brand paints.
They cover well, are durable and they come in a satin finish.

HERE'S MY TIP: Do Not be tempted to use every ounce left in the can on your final coat. I have found that the very bottom of the paint can does not go on as smoothly. It may spritz out or look a little powdery. When dry, the finish can appear blotchy, shiny in some spots and dull in others. You can always finish off the can by using it as a first coat on another project. The last coat should be the smoothest. Sometimes I will use a new can for the final coat---which explains why I buy so many cans of paint. And if you're wondering, I usually use at least two cans on a project but, I've used as many as five cans depending on the original finish and the size of the project. Using several cans is costly, but spray paint is convenient, quick, and it cures faster and to a harder finish than brushing on paint.
Spray paint doesn't add a lot of thickness or moisture to the wood the way brush on paint does, so you don't have to worry about swelling joints or sticking drawers. It's also easy to touch up. If chips occur, just give it a quick, even stroke of spray paint to cover the damage.
I prefer a satin finish on all of my projects. I like the warmth of the sheen better than a flat finish and satin is a little more forgiving than a gloss finish. If you want extra protection for your project, you can spray on a polyurethane or use a wax made for painted surfaces. Both products can be found in the paint aisle.
Finished and waiting for the bedroom to be painted

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I painted another piece to go into my youngest son's room. Of course I found this chest of drawers at the thrift store. I was attracted to it because of those over-sized drawer knobs. But, looks aren't everything! I thought I'd give you a quick 101 on how to buy used furniture.

When I find a piece that looks good I make sure it passes a few other tests.

First, I place one hand on each side of the piece of furniture. I add a little pressure by leaning into it and then I give it a good WIGGLE. This little test tells me how sturdy the piece is. If it wiggles, it's an indication that the areas where the wood is joined together are loose and it will need gluing and possibly nailing---usually more work than I care to do.
Next, I try all of the parts that move. I open and close doors checking to see if they line up straight and if the hinges are in good shape. I slide out drawers, checking to see if they slide easily. I also check the construction of the drawer. A well built drawer has dove tail construction. The edges are cut in a tail shape and fit together like a puzzle.
Vertical dove tail construction is the next best. That's where the drawer side is cut vertically into the tail shape and it is slid into the drawer front.
This is also a good time to see if the piece is made from solid wood, veneer or particle wood covered to look like wood.
I also check the weight of the piece. I like furniture that is heavy, not wimpy and light weight. If the furniture passes these tests, I know that it's worth investing my money.
I LOVE buying used furniture because I can afford quality pieces and with a little work and paint they can be customized to fit my home and family.

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An After After

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Okay, I'm warning you now, in the last little while I have managed to purchase TWO cases of black spray paint, so I will likely be posting a weeks worth of "I spray painted this black" projects. I'm giving you the opportunity now to abandon reading my blog for a week. However, if you choose to stick around, I will try to make things a bit interesting.
Today we're going to start out small.
I love botanical prints. I felt pretty lucky when I found these two at the thrift store. Technically, you are looking at an "after" picture of them. Originally the frames were gold. I like them much better in black. But, the frames are thin and I really like nice wide frames.I found some frames for two dollars a piece. They must have come from a historical building because they all had old photos with the dates. I took the frames apart and painted the frames and the mat boards. When everything was dry, I placed the prints inside the newly painted frames. I like the look of the "after-after" much better.I thought you might enjoy a close up of one of the original photos. It's a picture of a grocery store in 1910 during Thanksgiving. Seeing this, made me very thankful that when I purchase my Thanksgiving turkey this year, it will be wrapped in a protective plastic, not hanging upside-down from a wooden beam.
Yes, one more convenience in life to be grateful for!

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Luxury Silk Flower Arrangements

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We love flowers. Our favorite thing to do on a Saturday morning is to go to our farmer market and get a bunch of fresh flowers to last us through the week. The only bad thing about it is, it always gets yucky by Thursday and Friday.

While nothing beats fresh flowers, we refuse to be snobby about it though. Not everybody has access to a flower mart or a farmers market, and who can afford to buy fresh flowers every week from a florist?

We often use silk flowers to substitute for those times. We put them away on special occasions that call for fresh flowers, but for everyday, silk flowers make the perfect substitute.

Here's the key though: IT CAN NOT LOOK CHEAP. Cheap silk flowers are like cheap suits. You better not wear them at all.

Here are some new luxury silk flower arrangements we just added to our site. We hope you'll enjoy them. If you would like to see more of these or get more pricing information, please visit the silk flower arrangements section of our site.

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