Garbage Picking and Purple Painted Lady Festival progress!

When you tell people that your a garbage picker it is not always well received. Even my own husband took some convincing. My husband loves me dearly, but getting him to pull over so I can look through someone else’s trash took some work. He finally came over to the dark side when I brought home a table with a broken leg. I took said table mended the leg with glue and screws. Then I refinished and transformed it into a beautiful piece and sold it on Craigslist. Maybe it was the cash that actually changed his mind.  Now, when I ask him to stop he will. That does not mean you will find him along side me scrounging, but he will pull over and help me get my finds into the car.  Progress!


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This is a recent find. I saw it sticking out of a pile of trash on the side of the road. With a little bit of TLC and new chalkboard paint, this blackboard is like new!
These shelves were also in that same pile of trash. I cleaned them up and now they hold my refinishing materials.
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This piece of pottery was another pick. I saw it on the curb and asked the owner (just to make sure) if they were getting rid of it. They were and I took it home! 

Here is an update on my inventory progress for the Purple Painted Lady Festival on September 21st and 22nd!

Welcome to” Impulsively Creative” manufacturing! It has been a constant parade of stripping, sanding, staining and painting. I love every minute of this creative process! 

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Remember this old dresser that my cousin transported from Boston for me?
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Here it is recreated!
After some serious sanding, the beautiful wood top was stained to show off its beautiful grain and tone.
The old plain round wood knobs just wouldn’t do for this piece.  So, I found these fantastic ones at Hobby Lobby. And I was able to get them at 50% off the regular price too!
Boston Dresser Before and After
And here is the side by side before and after.

This week, I am going on a road trip to North Carolina to pick up some unique home décor items along the way for my booth at the Purple Painted Lady Festival on September 21st and 22nd!

Next time: Pictures from my trip and another transformation!




Things That Inspire Creativity!


Sometimes I look around and I am in awe of the beauty I see!  Everywhere I look, there is inspiration to feed my creative soul! It can be a color, pattern, words, music, architecture. Sometimes it comes in the way something has aged. The rust, the cracks, the patina.  I was recently in Saratoga Springs, NY and took some photographs of things I found to be not only interesting and beautiful, but very inspirational too!  I would like to share some of them with you.

I saw these statues at the Racing Hall of Fame in Saratoga, NY. It made me pull the car over. I was so taken by the symmetry and color. Can you imagine the work it took to line these up so perfectly! 



The statues are on both sides of the walkway. 

Some of the homes I saw were so beautiful…

 I love the way the flowers along the pathway lead you in.
In this one, I love the arched windows and doors. It is even more interesting to me that not all the windows and doors have arches. And yet it works!
I like the way the stone is weaved through the brick on this one. It gives it more dimension then just a brick façade would.
Then of course there is nature! This pond is a simple sight, but it evokes such a feeling of peace and tranquility. 
“The Road Not Taken” 
There is even a place devoted to inspiring creativity!  “Yaddo”, in Saratoga, NY, was established by Spencer Trask and his wife Katrina who was an author. They bequeathed their fortune and estate to the establishment of a residency program for artists. It became a place for rest and refreshment for authors, painters sculptors, musicians and any other men or women selected for their creative gifts. The litany of artists that have stayed there is amazing! Truman Capote, Sylvia Plath and Leonard Bernstein to name a few.  Click on the link if you want to learn more about this spectacular place:  Yaddo


The  gardens at “Yaddo” are free to the public year round.



The use of symmetry again.


There are many statues throughout the grounds. These are two of four statues that represent the seasons.

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I love the juxtaposition of the different materials and textures. Marble, granite, iron, smooth, and detailed.


yaddo sundial
This inscription is on the top of the sundial.


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I love that you can see the statues through the openings in the stone railing. I am not sure if this was done intentionally, but if you stand back, you can see all four statues representing the seasons.

Obviously, I will never have statues and fountains on four hundred acres of land. But, I have the inspiration they have given me! The architectural detail, textures, materials and natural colors that I can use in my creative design. So look around, take in your surroundings and see what inspires you!

Below I included examples of the same types of inspirations that I have used in my home.


In this bookcase, I used vases in the same shape and color on the upper and lower shelf.  By doing this it creates balance and symmetry.
Here I used contrast. Even though both are metal the age and weathered look of the lantern next to the smooth shiny candlestick creates interest and draws your eye in.
The ceramic vase and wood framed mirror are contrasting materials. In order to get a more cohesive look, I added Pussy Willows as a natural element to tie them together.



Next time: Garbage picking! AND… The Purple Painted Lady Festival progress! Its just around the corner. September 21st and 22nd!

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How to strip and stain furniture

Over the past few weeks, people have asked me how I strip and stain furniture. My cousin Linda was one of them, so I took pictures with explanations and sent it to her. Because others have asked the same question, I decided to share it with you and include all my trials and tribulations along the way.

free oak dresser 1
Whether your working with a painted piece of furniture or stained, the process is pretty much the same.
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I start with this brand of stripper.  It is less toxic and has no harsh fumes.
Apply the stripper liberally and let sit for 30-40 minutes. I usually walk away so I am not tempted to scrape before it is ready. The longer you wait, the easier it is.
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Here is where I will impart some good wisdom from past mistakes. Use a putty knife that is not dulled at the end and gently remove the paint. Make sure to keep it on a horizontal plane so you don’t put gauges in the wood (been there done that).


The same applies for stained furniture when you are removing years of old stain and varnish.


These type of brushes are great for intricate areas.
The foot on this dresser is a perfect example when you should use one of the wire brushes to get into the detailed woodwork.
I usually only put stripper on two times. I found it can dry out the wood. If there is still residue on the piece I will take very fine steel wool (any brand) with some mineral spirits and go over it to remove remaining paint or vanish. This will usually take most of it off and make it ready for sanding.
After it is dry you can start sanding. I start with a medium sandpaper and finish with fine for a nice, smooth finish.


Pre-stain is your best friend. Before I started using it, I would apply stain and sometimes it would be blotchy. I had no idea why. In cases like that, I would have to start all over. I eventually educated myself and found that wood can absorb stain unevenly. The pre-stain conditions the wood so it distributes uniformly over the entire piece. One word of advice, use this outside or in a well ventilated area. It has a very strong chemical smell.


I use Minwax stains. It has always worked well for me. It comes in many different shades. One of my favorites is dark walnut. Sometimes I mix stains, but as a beginner, I used to stick to one to start. You can apply it with a foam brush or lint free cloth. When you apply stain, use even strokes following the grain. Leave it on as long as directed, then wipe off any excess stain. If you want to put on another coat, check the label to see how long it needs to dry before applying a second coat.

applying stain video


I like to use a water based matte finish polyurethane as a protective final coat. It is easy to clean up and for me, easier to apply. I will be honest, I have had trouble in the past with this final step. I have had to sand a piece again because I did not like the way the polyurethane dried.  I have learned that applying with a foam brush works best for me. Make sure the brush is cleaned in between applications. Do not go over areas where you already applied the polyurethane. If it looks like you missed an area, get it on the next application. And finally lightly sand using a very fine sandpaper in between coats. 

Look for more transformation pictures in the coming weeks as I prepare for “The Purple Painted Lady Festival”!

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Updates and snags!

I finished all the Bushel Basket Flower Pockets for the fence that our neighbors put up. As promised, here are the before and after pictures of them hanging on the fence.

After! Now I love looking out my kitchen window and seeing my lanterns, flowers and rock wall!

The $5 table I posted about last week hit a couple snags. I don’t mind a little distress and a couple of dings here and there. They can give a piece more character (kind of a look at me, I have been through a lot, and am still here attitude)! But, in this case the issues took away from the beauty. If you look at the picture below, you will see a crack running down the middle of the table and some deep holes. I was hoping the stain would make them less noticeable, but it didn’t do the job.  I had to fill the crack and holes with wood putty and then I painted the top with a wash mixture of Annie Sloan Graphite Chalk Paint and water. The rest of the table remained the natural wood.


This is how it looked after I painted it. As you can see there is no trace of the crack or holes!

The other issue was the legs or actually the feet. Some of the wood on two of the feet had broken off at some point and all four were not the same shape. You can see in the picture below that while the table was stable, the feet were noticeably different.

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There are two pointy feet and two round. In most cases, I really try to stay away from adjusting table legs. It can be difficult to level off and the table will be wonky! But in this case there was no choice.
Against my better judgement an inch and three quarters was removed from each leg (I had help because I haven’t yet gotten around to mastering a chop saw).
After the legs were cut, I reattached them realizing that I lost needed height for the table. I had recently removed four antique wheels from a dresser and decided to put them on the legs to get the height back. They were easy to attach. Just drill a hole and gently hammer them in.
After the feet were fixed and the top painted I felt it still needed something more. So, I decided to add a diagonal stripe to the top using Annie Sloan Black Wax. I taped off the table with painters tape, starting in the middle, and continued the pattern working out from the center to get an even design.
I applied the black wax using a brush and then wiped off any excess with a clean and dry cloth.
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I removed the tape carefully not to disturb the paint underneath and Voila! It looked even better than I thought it would. One thing to note, it will take about two weeks for the wax to cure before I can put on the final touch of a matte clear topcoat sealer from Artisan Enhancements.
I added handles to add more character. I chose an antique pewter handle to pick up on the grey in the table top.


This was one for the books! I really had to fight hard to save this table.  In the end, it was well worth the effort!

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A New Project and Amazing Support!

I thought I would share one of the pieces that I am working on to be sold in my booth at The Purple Painted Lady Festival in September.  I found this table at a moving sale sitting over to the side of the lawn where it was barely noticeable.  This sad little table was being ignored.  I went over and gave it a looksee.  It had definitely been “well used”. But, it was unique and it had a good shape. And for $5, I took it home!

The finish was already off, so I did not have to strip the wood.  The veneer on the sides was chipped so I had to remove it.
I took the veneer off using a putty knife and hammer being very careful so I would not gouge the wood underneath. 
Next, I sanded the top using an orbital sander with medium-grit sandpaper.
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I switched to a fine-grit sandpaper to get a smooth finish. I then wiped it down with a damp cloth to remove all the dust before staining. 
I like to mix stains for depth. I used Dark Walnut and Gunstock Minmax. I mixed them together in a separate container and tested it on a piece of scrap wood until I got the color I wanted.
It’s really coming along nicely.  I will be unveiling the finished product soon!

On another note, I knew when I started my Blog, I would have the support of my family and friends. What took me by surprise was the excitement they felt for me and their willingness to help. They became my eyes and ears on the street looking for furniture pieces and home décor items I could use! I have received texts and emails telling me about upcoming garage sales, links to Craigslist etc. Just the other day one of my friends sent me pictures of furniture that had been left on the side of the road after a garage sale. I ended up going to the house and coming back with two beautiful bedframes and a mirror.

These were all free! 

Another time I was visiting my cousin Nancy in Boston and she took me to a Habitat Rehouse store. It was an amazing place! There were so many great pieces at great prices too. Unfortunately, my car had luggage in it, so space was limited.  Of course I fell in love with a dresser and had to purchase it.  All the way back to my cousins house, I crossed my fingers that it would fit in my car.  We tried every which way, but no go! My cousin and her husband Wally volunteered to drive the dresser to Saratoga where we would all be gathering for a wedding two weeks later.  True to their word, they drove the dresser and dropped it off in my Aunt’s garage for me to pick up before heading back to Rochester. I told them I should name the dresser after them (Nally or Wance) for going so far above and beyond the call to help!

I took the drawers with me the first time so I could at least start working on them.
It fit!

All of the support I have received from everyone, for simply sharing something that I love, is very humbling. I appreciate it so much! Thank you all!!

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Don’t be afraid to ask?

In my life, I have not always been one to ask. I would wait for someone else to raise a question or miss an opportunity by not asking. Not anymore! Maybe its confidence, or age, who knows. But now, I will ask questions if I am unclear of something and especially if I am interested in an item! Which brings me to my current post about my latest project…a unique wine caddie. Almost all the items used to make this wine caddie were free! I got the wine crate from a local liquor store. I had just made a purchase and asked if they had any wine crates laying around that they would sell. The owner came back with two and said I could have them at no cost. The raw wood for the bottom of the crate came from our local Lowes store. I was shopping in the outdoor area and saw some wood slats leaning against a shelf. The wood look used rough and a bit dirty.  I asked the young woman behind the register if she knew if the wood was for sale. She did not know and the person to ask was at lunch. I left her my number and asked her to call when she found out. She called the next day and said it was scrap and I was welcome to it! I went back and got it. So now I had all the things I would need to make my wine caddy.

The idea for my wine caddie came from an old soda crate that I have been using to keep wine bottles in.


I love what I have been using, but the idea of having a carrier with French wine markings seemed perfect to me.


This is one of the crates that I got from the store.


I sanded it to get a nice smooth finish.


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One side of the crate needed to be filled in and smoothed out.  Both sides will be painted with Annie Sloan Chateau Grey chalk paint and I will use a white wash with the same paint for the front and back.


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This is the wood I got from Lowes. Like I said, very rough!


The same wood after sanding and staining it with MinWax Classic Gray stain. I want to use this in the bottom of crate to give it more interest.


I used water based poly on the boards before putting them in the crate.


The wood pieces fit perfectly three across.


After painting with Annie Sloan paint, I used light wax to finish.


After putting on wax, I let it sit for a few minutes and then wiped off the excess. I also put rubber feet on the bottom to keep it from moving and protect furniture.


Once everything was painted and waxed, I added handles on both sides.


I made dividers and  white washed them before inserting them into the box.



I love the way the wood looks on the bottom.


 Wine Storage
Serving station 






So don’t be afraid to ask.  The worst they can say is no!



Bushel Basket Lids or Flower Baskets?




In my previous blog entry, I showed you how to embrace a six foot privacy fence by hanging lanterns down the entire length.  I love the way the fence looks now, but it needs some color. I have seen pictures of beautiful hanging baskets on fences and wanted to do something similar. But the cost of the solar lanterns left me with a small budget to purchase flower baskets. I started looking around the garage to see if there was something I could possibly use. I came across bushel basket lids my husband and I purchased last year for a dollar each and we had about twenty.  I had planned to use them for holiday wreaths, but had not gotten around to making them.   After seeing the lids again, an idea came to mind to make flower holders out of them. Looking at the lid, I thought that if I could make a pocket, I could possibly put flowers in it.

My idea was to cut one in half and attach it to a whole to create a pocket! (Are you confused?)


Here is my husband cutting one in half
Two halves

When I went to put them together I hit a snag! The pocket it created was not wide enough to hold flowers.


I remembered seeing  a DIY show about shaping wood by putting it in water and bending it around a mold to change the shape. So…

I let it soak overnight
I wrapped it around a bucket, but it didn’t give it enough bow, so I added a small plastic pot. 
After it dried, the new shape made a perfect pocket for flowers!
I then whitewashed the separate pieces using a “very loved” can of Annie Sloan Country Grey chalk paint and water!




Painted front, back and sides to give it a more finished look!
After they dried, I attached the pieces using wire on the sides and bottom.
After I add wire, I touch it up with paint.
When I put them together, I had to make sure the wire loop was on top, so you can attach the s-hook to hang it.
I put cocoa plant liners in each bushel basket pocket…
I filled them with potting soil…
Added flowers…
And…here you have it! I really like the rustic look and once the flowers start trailing, it will be beautiful!


fence 2 flowers

Once I finish all the bushel basket pockets, I will post more pictures!

Next up: I will be working on some pieces of furniture to sell at The Purple Painted Lady Festival in September!