Pillow Talk

The word of the day is “Pillows.”  I’d planned on yapping about pillows today and two or three of the blogs I follow also did!  So, it must be nap time all around!  Irony? I think Not!

Yesterday, as I sipped my coffee feeling absolutely UN-motivated to move (daily occurrence), I thought I’d try doing some sewing.  Please note:  my sewing skills are limited at best.  I took sewing in the 8th grade and truth of truth here, I STILL have my same sewing kit from that class.   3rd period as noted on the needles.  All the pieces, including the silly metalic-ish band that goes around the tape measure, are engraved using my Dad’s engraver with my name.  Thank goodness.  I mean what would I have done had someone stolen my 60 cent needles! Gasp!

2015/01/img_2828.jpg (look closely; there’s even a barrette in that pile that’s been in that bag all these years – found when digging for this photo.) Also, there’s an old “Alco Duckwall” price tag on the round elastic holder card. When I was growing up, the town was so small we had no Wal*Hell (thank God) and this card came from there. Price on the card is 40 cents. Alco price is 33 cents! SCORE!

This partly should fall within my OCD area because I’ve always taken ridiculously good care of my things.  It doesn’t matter what the thing is.  I still have my original Monopoly game from 4th grade, I have my original pencil box from 3rd grade.  I have my original pencil box from 10th grade… The list goes on and on.  My Mom says, “It’s just you, Jill.”  When I was raising my two boys, one of them was very distructive.  It was so difficult to endure for me.  I’d cringe everytime something broke.

I digress…

So! Yesterday, I played around with trying to cover a pillow. I created my own design. Oh my. It’s um… interesting. I have decided it could be called “rustic.” I used the fabric I got from one of my favourite sources (Decor Steals)


If you’re not familiar with them, proceed with caution. I may go broke on their website alone. (And no, I’m receiving nothing from them for this promo.)

So I measured and folded and pinned, and stuck myself multiple times and thought, “Do they make ‘entire hand’ thimbles? Cuz I need one!” and I sewed! I use my beloved Mom’s 1950’s or 1960’s model Pfaff 18 machine. I have to read the manual every time I use it due to the duration in between uses. You get the idea.

Today, I had an epiphany. I searched Pinterest for help on pillow making. I also remembered in the back of my mind, Annie Sloan’s tutorial on pillow making. It can be found here. Please people. Watch the pros. I’m not going to even attempt to tell you or teach you how. That would be foolhardy to say the least.

The Pinterest link I followed today for pillow number two was uber easy. Four straight lines. Yep. I can manage that. You can find this link here. I also used my wonderful material I purchased while at Annie Sloan’s shoppe in Oxford, England last June. Big moment in my life that was. Annie herself came into the shoppe that day to say hello to me even though I arrived moments before closing time. (I sat on the Motorway for 3 hours in a traffic accident jam prior to hitherto arrival and was soo worried I wouldn’t make it in time to see the shoppe. ) Anyway, I purchased several small things that I could carry on the plane home. One of which was “The World.” Yep. Small enough to fit on the plane, the world is. Ha! Oh okay – it’s a fabric pattern of hers. You’ll see it in the YouTube link I gave above.

(Annie Sloan and me at her shoppe in Oxford. I was a wee bit excited.)

Here’s Annie’s latest book with, to my surprise and glee, has a photo of a pillow with THIS VERY fabric on the cover!


So, how did my pillows turn out? Here’s the front and back photos of each.



SOOO glad my OCD does NOT fall into the line of “perfectionism.” Clearly. Ah well, I ❤ my pillows. I plan on making more and more. You should try and share what you make with me!



The Top Half (Part the Third – and Final)

All the best movies are broken up into three parts. (i.e., LOTR!) So thank you for hanging with me through this three part saga.

The Hutch is done and (mostly) loaded! I fear I’ve jinxed myself by unpacking those boxes… If we end up moving soon, this is why.

So, I spent the past two days finishing the doors and putting them on. Timely but simple process. Two coats of paint on two sides – mostly just waiting for each coat to dry. Then clear wax and distress with 100grit sandpaper. A little more clear wax over those distress spots for good measure (and a rich look) and TADA!


I spent quite a bit of time perusing Pinterest for ideas on visual happiness for the top. I’ve never put my beloved Grandmother’s “Franciscan” China behind the glass – I really wanted that pop of red apple colour and I didn’t want to hide them in the bottom part any more! So, along with my Great, Great Grandmothers WEDDING GLASSES (oh my gosh how OLD are those??!! – My GRANDMOTHER was born in 1908 so I imagine they are from the early 1800’s at least?) and her Sterling Silverware, and a few other of her pieces and one or two things of my own …. I hope you like it. I would like to put some dried lavender in there as well. I’ll post an update photo when I get it done.




Ahh… I’m pleased. And I’m not throwing away the boxes and wrappings… yet. Just in case 😉


Postscriptum: Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® "Old White" and "Provençe" and clear wax.

The Top Half (Part the Second)

My Sweet Chop went out of town for work on Sunday evening. So that gave me the time I needed to work on finishing up the China Hutch. Much detail to pay attention to. Two pots of paint constantly to hand because I kept spying missed spots. Those mirrors tell all! Just when you think you’ve gotten every crook and nanny 😉 ….

But to continue the “how-to” on this beauty, I had one of my interns (not the four-legged kind this time) – ok no intern just my Chop – help me out.

Firstly, here’s a little sneak peak at the reveal. The pre-reveal. Pre-reveal is the finished product sans China inside the hutch. That’s the final reveal and will take time to unpack all those boxes!


ooo…. ahhh…. woowwiee… so purty is my Grandmother’s coffee pot!

Ok so, we brought the hutch into the dining room and tipped it on its face. Remember, the lower mirror was out so we had to re-insert it.

(one of the few pieces I didn’t paint the back – it’s mine so I allowed it)

(the ginormous mirror – extracted from the back of the guest room closet – hanging out waiting in the hall)

I removed all the old staples from the back with needle-nose pliers then I held up the plywood backing while Chop hoisted the mirror and gently slid it into place. (no breathing was allowed during this process)

Then I handed him the itsy-bitsy nails and he hammered them in all around.

(Those nails were so tiny, I actually used aforementioned needle-nose pliers to hold them for the first few hammer blows – oh I’m so clever. Ha)


Once we felt there were sufficient nails in the backing to hold said mirror for the remainder of its life, we took a deep breath in and tipped it back up. Success! Then we hoiseted it into position at long last back on top of the lower chest part. My first reaction was, “WOW! I seriously don’t remember it being so tall!”



I was so happy when we plugged it in and the touch sensor for the lights still worked. 🙂 Now is when I started seeing all the little spots I missed. I really wanted a good brush for cutting into the small and tight spaces. My favourite Annie Sloan brush is my short brush with a beveled tip. But that brush wouldn’t get the fine line I needed for the back of the front of the bottom of the inside of the open area (got that?) So, I asked Sweet Chop to cut a handle off for me so I could work the brush without knocking into all the other edges of the cabinet. I showed him where I wanted it cut – he takes it to his surgery (garage) and TA DA! Seconds later I have a short handled brush (in the stores you pay MORE for the short handle – I don’t get that – less handle should be less cost, right?!)


These are my favourite cutting-in brushes. One is a Wooster brand and one is a Purdy brand. Both are great. They cost a bit more but they are worth the cost. (I really am going to do a segment on brushes one day!)

Moving along… Once I felt I had found all the sneaky unpainted spots, I put the door catch hardware back on and inserted the glass at the top. Ahh bliss! So close to finished! But the doors remain unpainted in the studio…

Stay tuned!!!



Selective OCD – Sorta

What is it about a person’s (mine) “need” for things to be a certain way?  To not be able to stop doing something until it’s done (or fall asleep mid-do because you refused to go to bed)?  I’ve had this problem forever.  I’ve tried to figure out the balance of it.  I can’t.  Examples:

I used to cross stitch a lot.  I would keep going all night until I finished “just this one little area” – often I’d end up bleary eyed and finally realise I HAD to put it down

painting – same deal – I MUST complete the project within the same day of starting (ha- not always possible). I work as though I must finish.

Sorting and arranging – that’s what led to this post. I was taking down the Christmas tree and thought I’d be proactive and replace all the burnt out bulbs for next year. Oh my. That led to finding an entire strand that had been blown which led to complete removal of said strand from said tree ( said tree is pre-lit – meaning the lights are nicely wrapped around the branches for you and you just leave them there.) Am I able to just toss said $3.50 strand? Nope. I sat there for hours carefully removing every bulb from it’s socket and putting fresh bulbs in. It looked something like this…

2015/01/img_9212.jpg (side note: the little round box was hand painted by yours truly in the late 80’s! I’m old!!! It’s got a sweet little sheep on it and I keep Christmas tree light bulbs in it.)

Here’s the thing about my particular brand of OCD. I’m anything but a perfectionist. I have always said, ” That’s good enough.” This is why I LOVE Annie Sloan Chalk Paint®!! It IS perfect with “flaws.”




and oh am I so VERY glad it is! I have lots of flaws and imperfections. Thankfully, I am forgiven for those flaws through Grace.

It’s an odd sort of OCD I have – the inability to quit but the strong desire to be finished. I’ve had to literally train myself to stop things when I’m taking hours to sort through buckets of nails or screws or something to organise the garage. I HAVE to say, “Jill. Please step away from the nuts and bolts!” And I’ll sadly hang my head a bit as I put the label maker down and walk away.

That’s when it’s time for a nice cup of tea!


The Top Half (Part the First)

Ah, the China hutch! Remember the bottom half?


Well, this week I (literally) dragged in the top half from the garage. By myself. The ability (and insanity) to do this type of thing comes from years of doing so. As a child, I moved my furniture in my bedroom constantly. I’d get on the floor and use my legs to push and use my head to figure out how. I still do it, but it takes a bit longer and I’m far more winded afterward. I digress…

I was so nervous bringing this into the studio because of its glass. Glass doors, mirrored back, and glass shelf. Of course once I got it into the studio and had started working on it I realised only then – all the glass can be removed (except the mirrored back)! Of course. Key word there – “after.” Oh well.

I wanted to do a small step-by-step for this piece for you. So this is Part One.


This was taken just after I got it into the studio. Note the red blanket on the bottom? There is a piece of glass wrapped inside that becomes the shelf of this piece. It is the entire length of the cabinet. It was wrapped in the blanket inside as you see it because the shelf didn’t come out. Or so I’ve always thought. I got it out with much ginger maneuvering and a couple of close calls.

In the process of taking off the doors, I realised the glass was held in with stays. All these years of moving this thing around and I never once took the glass out?! Imagine the stress I could have saved myself each time… “Sigh”


Tada! Glass out except for that top scalloped piece. I taped it with my Frog Tape.


I vacuumed off the top. I’m fairly sure this had never been done before. It was gross. Then I took off the doors and started to paint the inside in Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® “Provençe.” I use a ladle to scoop out paint from the can into an enamelware bowl. Two scoops of paint. Then I use my spray bottle to dilute the paint just a bit. Ten squirts per scoop. Stir it up and start painting. You don’t have to dilute the paint. It just depends on how you like to work with it. I knew I would be doing two coats and since the piece is Oak I wanted it to seep into the grain quickly. Diluting the paint helps with that and it seems to stretch out the paint a little as well.

Once I had my head stuck inside the hutch and looked up for the first time, I saw that the lovely scalloped piece had glass stays, too! Of course. So I removed that finely taped piece as well. I also removed the catches for the doors. Depending on the piece you’re working on, you have to determine how much or how little hardware you want to remove. This is a high quality piece so I decided to remove everything except the door pulls and hinges because I’m going to paint over them. Truthfully, I feel a little guilty about not removing those, too, and painting the wood beneath then going back over the pulls once they are back on or doing them separately whilst off. Details matter. If I were selling this piece that’s how I would do it. But it’s mine so…. I’ll allow it. 🙂


As you can see, the inside bottom was not painted. This is because the mirror that goes there is hiding in my closet after being abruptly dislodged by the movers in the recent move hereto. And thankfully, caught just in time by my Sweet Chop! The memory of that moving moment causes anxiety. Let’s move on (pardon the pun).

Once the interior had its first coat, I cleaned my brushes (I’ve decided to do a short video how to on this in the upcoming days. Stay tuned.) and scooped out three scoops of “Old White.” I want this piece to look a little more. “refined” so I again added the water to make the paint go on a bit more smoothly and really soak into the oak’s deep, dry grooves.

If you look closely, you can see where I taped after I painted the Provençe just at the front where the doors go. This is to create a definite line between door and interior. I wanted the finished look of separation between the two with the Old White on the exterior.

Two coats of each colour. As I’m painting, part of the beauty of ASCP is it’s “movement” and “telling you how it wants to be.” There are natural spots where the paint just doesn’t cover. That’s where it’s telling you it doesn’t want to be! Go with it! When you wax and distress later, you’ll see the beauty of it. Trust me.


Stay tuned for the big finish and the reveal of both halves becoming one unit again!


Postscriptum: I had a LOT of help in the studio this day…


Little Things Mean A Lot…

Sometimes I’m amazed at how doing one tiny little thing can totally change the way something looks or feels or both. I’ve always tried to make my bed a pretty place – even if it’s just simple. Simple is pretty.

I still haven’t made a headboard – but I will. So we don’t have one. Oh well. In a way, the bedroom seems a little more serene because of it. Simple. Today as I was making the bed I had a bit of an epiphany. Ok maybe I saw it on line somewhere or in a magazine. I can’t remember. But this is what I did. Let’s see if you can spot the difference.



Ok so there are a few differences. The lamp from a couple of days ago. My beloved jewellery box is on my dresser…. but did you spot the change on the bed?


All I did was put one of my pillows (a king size down feather pillow) into an old flour sack (actually this one is a salt sack!) given to me by my Sweet Chop’s Sweet Dad. It literally took me less than a minute – no sewing involved – and VIOLA! Cuteness and a bit of simple country elegance.

What do you think? I haven’t had opportunity to hunt for more of these lovely sacks – I have one more for the guest room. But I guarantee you they are on my “find list!” So lovely and…. simple!


She Sells Sea Shells…

I’m not quit sure how I feel about my most recent project. I think it’s going to be fun! But I’m just starting out at this.


So, any guesses what I’m creating here???

Here’s another glimpse at one shell a little further along in the process.


You’ll have to wait until I’m finished with the first one to find out. I can tell you there will be no two exactly alike! They came from nature. I hunted for each shell myself for hours on the beach at our condo in Mexico. Then I packed them all with TLC and brought them back to cold Colorado. They will be transformed and lovely!


Light Your World!

Yesterday, I had 2 hours of unadulturated alone time. By this I mean – no cell phone! I had to take it to the phone doctor and they asked if I could leave it with them for a couple hours. I must admit, I felt a little “naked and nervous” leaving the store without it. It’s become a sense of security for me to know if anything should happen, help is just a phone call away and I don’t have to find a payphone to make it!

I decided not to travel too far from the “phone doc” and went to one of my favourite local thrift stores. I can spend hours in a thrift store! I look at everything! Stuffed animals for $1 are great for my doggies, old books, and Tervis® cups are some of my prize items to look for. I buy tea cups, and all sorts of odds and ends for crafting – you would not believe the rubber stamp collections at thrift stores! – and of course – things to paint!

Yesterdays haul included the following: a book on Herbs, a book on rural living and two books on greenhouses for my sweet Chop, a brand new-in-the-original-bag couple of florist foam blocks for floral arranging, 2 DVDs (“A River Runs Through It” for SC, and “Beaches” for me), a little bit of bling for SC’s Mom, and….. a lovely lamp to paint! Total cost out the door? $30! I may have forgotten a couple things I purchased even… The best deal of the day was the lamp – marked down from $6 to $3. SCORE!

I almost forgot to snap the “before” picture – so this is a “just started painting” picture.

And because I am one who enjoys the project but have no patience to be done…. here’s the “almost done” picture. I painted the base and finial in Annie Sloan Chalk Paint “Country Grey” and the shade in “Duck Egg”. Yes, I painted the shade! Super simple…. just get a spray bottle of plain old water and lightly spray the shade prior to painting. Then dilute the paint 3 parts water to 1 part paint and gently paint it on. Easy peasy! When it starts to dry, take a paper towel or one of your handy dandy lint free rags used for waxing and just give the shade a little wipe down to eliminate any drip marks.

These pictures are with the lamp placed on my oh-so-messy nightstand and the shade is still drying! Also, I’m going to put a trim of some sort around the base and the top of the shade. Probably something “pearly.” I’ll take another photo when I’ve cleaned the nightstand (yes, Christen, I hear you…) and the pearly part is done 🙂



The Bottom Half…


As a young adult and single Mom raising two boys, I probably would never have had any “nice” furniture had it not been for my Mom. She would either pass down something of hers or buy me what she thought I needed but would never buy (read “could never afford”) for myself. This beautiful oak hutch is one of those pieces. She bought it for me to house my treasured set of Franciscan China that was inherited from my beloved Grandmother. I’ve lugged it lovingly all over creation since 1998.

We recently moved yet again and as I emptied the hutch, I decided I could – yes could, as in allowed to- paint it. It was so beautiful and regal as it was but I thought a facelift was in order. So after countless hours of pondering and much consideration about colours, I finally settled on Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Old White for the exterior and Provençe for the interior. I think I’m in love.


Yesterday, I finished the bottom half of the hutch. I so loved how it looked without the doors, I was very tempted to leave them off. However, my two overly curious kitties thought it was a great place for them so… doors are on for safekeeping of the chinaware.






So??? What do you think??

Next is the top half. Then to fill-er-up! Or not. What if we move again?!?! Any volunteers to help pack?


Ever make a book?

I started my bookbinding ages ago. I honestly don’t remember when it was I made the first book box using bookbinding materials and techniques but I know I love doing it! Ever seen a book box? I prefer the “drop spine” variety myself… But book boxes are for anotherday. Today, I want to talk about making an actual book.

I made two for Christmas gifts this year. One was a journal and one was a photo album. While I “can” prepare the text blocks (the bound sheets) that go inside, I just purchased them and made the covers.


This is one of the few projects where I will take the time to actually measure. I sometimes “eyeball” my spines and such but the book doesn’t turn out as nicely as when I measure.

Of course I neglected to take photos during the process so I thought I’d ask if there is interest in my posting a step-by-step on making a book. Let me know if you’d like to see this and I’ll do it!

Meanwhile, here are some teaser photos of the photo album and journal I mentioned.






❤ Jill