Vintage Vibe Magazine Holder

By now you have figured out I REALLY have a thing for vintage furniture.

And today, I finished another vintage piece, this time a magazine holder. Today I waxed the green on green vintage magazine holder I’ve been slowly working on.

It’s been several years now since I began this piece but it for some reason it got put on the back burner. This piece sat in my studio for a couple of years half-way painted but never finished. No real reason… just a lack of time, energy or motivation I guess.

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The magazine holder, “after.”

I’m thinking of decorating the front with something special, probably using a stencil and gray or black paint but I’m not sure exactly what stencil yet.

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Not this exact stencil but something simple and similar in feeling to this. 

When I found myself missing the painting gig this winter, I began to make time to work on a few unfinished projects still in my studio. And once again green chalk paint has really become my thing.

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I forgot to take a “before” photo of the magazine rack but this one is similar.

When I bought this piece it was painted a shiny red and black and quite frankly, it was ugly! But I’ve painted enough ugly pieces over the year that I knew that with some paint and TLC it could be made pretty again. Although my paint stash is running low and my choice of chalk color paint is quite limited, I did have enough Michigan Pine green left to complete this project.

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Another magazine holder from a similar era found on Pinterest. 

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Light green and dark green paint make a subtle but pretty contrast.

It took multiple coats of green chalk paint to cover up that bright red glossy paint, but it worked. I really adore the dark green with light green accents and the contrast this had made. It is really a pretty combination in my opinion. I especially I LOVE the turned legs on this piece that reminds me of the spindles on the Jenny Lind bed I bought for my son’s when they were babies.

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Another view of the contrast between the greens.

This piece also sent also me on a hunt for similar magazine holders on Pinterest and I found a lot of them; both tall and squat, on legs and with no legs, painted, decopaged and decorated and more. I have saved over 100 versions of the painted magazine rack on my Pinterest board titled, Vintage Magazine Holders. Feel free to visit that!

In fact, I noticed today that I have four different boards, with the title Vintage in it!

Although this piece is technically a magazine holder, I imagine it could can be used to contain numerous other items like maybe holding towels, linens, platters, a laptop and more. What else do you think this magazine holder might hold?

I find there is gracefulness to these older pieces that makes them lovely to look at as well as still functional.

Viva la vintage!!

Small House Big Sky Homesteader, Donna

My DYI Chalk Painted Lampshade

I tried a little experiment today.

I had a seriously discolored lampshade on a DYI lamp that I put together a couple of decades ago from an old canning jar and stones. I was visiting a hardware shop in Shipshewana, Indiana and purchased a DYI lamp making kit.

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I photographed this image so that you could see the cord set-up coming out from under the shade. That’s my handmade paper on canvas artwork on the wall behind this vignette.

I found this large quart Ball jar and added the screw on lid, added some pretty black stones I had gathered and I had a small-scale lamp. I was a young bride and I was pretty proud of myself then.

I noticed this past week that the white replacement lampshade was mottled and discolored. I automatically set it aside to go to Lowe’s with the intent of purchasing a new shape. Then it occurred to me, why not try to paint it before I discarded it? I even had the same color chalk paint that I used on the dresser turned family room storage unit that it sits on.

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I have successfully used chalk paint on wood, metal, and a vintage leather top table so why not give it a try? It was incredibly easy to do. I watered the paint down very lightly, used a regular paint brush and painted it on taking care not to load too much paint on the glued edge.

I am really pleased as how the fabric took the paint. Not only does it cover the stains beautifully the finished shade has a lovely velvety look to it.

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A vintage Ball Perfect Mason jar holds Petoskey stones I gathered over the years.

This little trick save me the cost of a new lampshade and even more important it saved me over an hour’s drive to get to the closet home improvement store. It also saved a lampshade from going into the landfill. What a win-win!

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A repurposed and painted gentleman’s chest in maple wood and sea foam green chalk paint adds a bit of pop to the window wall in our family room as well as needed extra storage. This chest which is adjacent to a bathroom is filled with TP and paper towels!

This is one DYI experiment that worked!

Small House Homesteader, Donna

Finding the Courage to Paint my Island

I’ve have wanted to paint my kitchen island for a long time now. But I have had this irrational fear of a future buyer (most likely my age) not buying my home because my kitchen island is now chalk painted. I know this is crazy but honestly this is how I have felt. I know it’s only paint but the fear of a future buyer being turned off by the idea of a painted island has stopped me in my tracks every time.

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My maple island “before” its current transformation.

But every decorating magazine or book I pick up shows the kitchen island painted a lovely color,, a look I adore and I LOVE-LOVE-LOVE chalk painted furniture. This week I finally decided to forge ahead and paint it anyway. This kitchen island will stay here while any of my other painted furniture pieces will be sold or go with me to our new place, wherever and whenever that will be.

I do love my maple kitchen cupboards and am grateful to have such a lovely kitchen to cook in but if there is such a thing as too much wood in one room then this room is definitely the poster child for that. I knew I wanted a deep dark green and that I was going to start by painting and waxing the drawers. I would leave the sides maple to start. I often paint furniture in a two-tone kind of way leaving quite a bit of the natural wood showing and this is my way to test the waters, so to speak.

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The finished island with its original maple pulls put back on. It looks like I had better stain and polyurethane the back of the second chest!!

I purchased a quart of chalk paint by Annie Sloan in the new color called Amsterdam Green. Roadblock # 1: I did not like that shade of green color. It was just too Christmassy green for my room. So I reverted back to my old favorite stand-by Michigan Pine green, by CeCe Caldwell. I had just about enough left to accomplish my goal.

I quickly realised that Michigan Pine green is a much better choice of green for our home and especially for the deep shade of green found in my green, rust, gold and brown runner that lies in front of this island. My area rugs were chosen with dogs and our homesteads ample outdoor dirt in mind!

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This runner has a forest green color that just works with the Michigan pine chalk paint. 

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This is the Amsterdamn Green that was too christmassy looking for my tastes.

We put down a light-colored bleached wood look linoleum floor throughout our home when we moved here in 2000. When we moved here Small House had a country-practical dark brown carpet and the space look way to dark for my taste.

This linoleum is laid using three varying sizes of linoleum strips that make it look just like wood to most guest eyes. This runner was put down when my Labrador Retriever Spirit started aging and was having trouble managing the slippery floors. This runner also keeps my granddaughters from tripping and falling to.

My original plan was to take it slow and paint just the island front and then wax it with black wax. I know I can always paint the other sides later on if I really like this new look.

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My newly “tweeked” kitchen with the repurposed maple shelves, the black stove vent newly painted and kitchen island adorned in Michigan Pine chalk paint. 

Yes, I know that using dark wax directly over paint goes against the “rules” of chalk painting but I do this all the time.  I love how it look when completed to. Just call me a chalk painting rebel!

Yes, all the directions tell you to wax with clear wax first and then wax with dark wax but that is not how I do it. I like dark wax right over the paint. I expect to put the old maple wood pulls back on but I will see how that looks and decide if I will go safe or make a change to go a bit more spiffy with new pulls.

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I extended my storage space by adding an antique chest. This piece holds placematts, linen napkins, candles and tall vases that my homes lack of storage cannot house. 

What do you think? Do you like it painted green?

Small House Big Sky Homesteader, Donna

 

The Art of Aging Gracefully on the Homestead-Mother Earth News

We are in the current issue of Mother Earth News!

My latest contribution to the current issue of Mother Earth News has hit the news stand. This magazine for those of you who might not know it; is a guide to living wisely while being self-sufficient on the homestead or farm.

The article is titled Aging Gracefully on the Homestead. This is a piece about the challenges of senior homesteading; a topic we know a little something about.

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Although I pitched an ongoing column geared to senior homesteading they opted for a one time “how-to” article. Perhaps they know more about the age of their readership than I do! My contribution was four photographs (out of the eight published) and a part of the text.

Double click on this PDF and I believe that the article will open up. aging-gracefully-1

Homesteading is hard work, and Gene and I are not getting any younger. I doubt anyone will argue with that. There are definitely multiple challenges to continuing to do the physical work required by homesteading as one gets older.

We moved to the Small House Big Sky Homestead fifteen years ago. We started out getting as much done as we could and added additional outdoor projects like the chicken complex and the water containment system each summer. And worked on the house during the winter months. This was a good thing we got a lot done in those early years since even then we weren’t spring chickens. (We were 50 and 55 years old.)

Eventually we got the major items on our to-do list knocked down. Every year we try to accomplish a project or two more outside during the nice weather and a few more small indoor project in the house during the indoor winter months.

Now that we are 65 and 72, our age and our health is beginning to be a real consideration. Fortunately, I started thinking about this several years ago. I asked myself what will I do and how will we manage when it becomes more difficult to do the work we need to do?

This past season I hired hourly help in the garden and yard. We found a local young girl of fourteen who is strong and looking to make some money for school clothes. It’s not a perfect system as Olivia is only available on Sunday afternoons because she runs cross county and runs her daily miles every school night, but we have managed to make it work. And this past winter when Gene had his hernia operation we hired a local small business in the short-term to plow our driveway and another local boy to run the snow blower to clear our paths.The total cash out of pocket during Gene’s recovery was less than $100.00.

Some homesteaders find an apprentice or a farm worker and offer room and board in exchange for work. Others turn a spare bedroom or cabin into an Air B&B for extra cash income on the homestead.

Obviously, there is more than one way to make this work but this is what is woring for us.

The moral of this story is to plan ahead about how you might make your elder years’ on the homestead work for you and how you can turn your homestead into a property that will sustain you when you are older.

I hope to convince the editors at MEN that a monthly column written by me with interviews of senior homesteaders who ARE making it work will be both inspirtional and informative.

To help support this idea please send your letters/e-mails to:Rebecca Martin martin@ogdenpubs.com>

As always, thank you for following and if you are aging homesteaders and want to share tips with me about how you have made senior homesteading work for you, please contact me. I am always looking for new ideas on how you in the hometead trenches are making it work!

Small House Big Sky Homesteader, Donna

What We Love About Homesteading

One of the aspects we love about homesteading here is that this life takes us out of the consumerist life of the city to a life of production and creation. We may not have enough lifetimes to realize our fantasy of full fledge farming (with mini goats and horses) but in our own small way with our garden, our blacksmith forge, the art studio and the restoring of this home and the outbuildings, we feel that we are making, giving, repurposing, and creating more than just buying our way through life.

And when a thing is truly needed there becomes first a reason to repurpose, reuse and to shop auctions, thrift store, flea markets and more.  These items are meant to be used another generation (or two) and the end result is that our home looks like it has always been this way, even when it hasn’t.

I love sharing our life with my granddaughter who is growing up in the city. She has this opportunity to see nature close up and learn about how we care for it. She loves my chickens and egg collecting and it’s amazing to watch her learn, grow and question how things work.

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We also love living with the seasons. There is a natural rhythm to homesteading or farming that is so different from life in the city. For us it is natural to wake with the light and sleep with the dark. It is natural for mankind to be our most productive spring through autumn and then rest, plan, regenerate and restore during the winter months.

We love the ability to search, forage, and gather plants, fruits, berries and to turn them into a productive edible feast or a healing tincture or syrup. This brings joyfulness along with a deeply felt sense of beauty and accomplishment as well.

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We love having the ability to control the food we put into our bodies. We grow it ourselves or source it from trusted growers near us putting that money back into our own community.

We love the freedom this life gives us to go into the woods, marsh, fields and farmland once a day to hike, explore, walk our dog, bird watch, observe nature and be one with the natural world.

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Living here and homesteading lets me practice my ethical belief of acting on behalf of the common good.

There is way of recapturing the spirit of the past found by people like us who have made the decision to slow their lives down to farm or homestead. This is a revival of the pastoral life of long ago while adapting and evolving it to our personal need and tastes.

In no sense was this house, the life the life of our dreams. But over our lifetime this has instead slowly turned into something better, the house and the life of our realities.

These images are the Grand Finale to our saying goodbye to fall on a foggy, fabulous fall morning.

Small House Homesteader, Donna

Kitchen Shelves Showcase Pottery

It’s not that often that I get turned on by a new design idea. Mostly they are either out of my price range financially or are a design idea like gray walls, for instance, that would not cut it in our 6 months of gray sky Michigan. Or these new designs just don’t fit in my 60-year-old rambler.

But two maple wood floating shelves in my kitchen, now that’s an idea I can get into. And this gives me a way to utilize more wall space for showcasing my small pottery collection.

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Last year Gene and I found three large slabs of 2 1/4 inch thick maple wood sitting along the side of a nearby roadway put out with a free sign on them. Apparently someone redid their kitchen and put these gorgeous thick cutting board slabs out to find a new home. Of course we brought them home with us. I didn’t know then how I would use them but they were gorgeous maple wood and I knew at some point I would come up with an idea. I call these pick-ups “a roadside rescue.”

One board quickly became a chopping board on my kitchen island and the other two went into storage awaiting the perfect project.

Somewhere along the way I began to think about floating shelves. A talk with our handyman Frank, determined that he could rip these in half using his table saw and we could have the wood needed for two 23” long X 6” wide shelves to hang between our cupboards and our stove top .

So the search began for photographs of hanging shelves that fit our space and my design sensibilities.

It turned out that there are not sufficient wall studs to hang actual floating shelf on the desired wall. But Frank said I could have my shelves if I was willing to hang them using shelf brackets. Then the challenge began. I needed brackets that were 6 inches in length or shorter. I had at first thought I would find black wrought iron because of my black appliances but everything I found on ESTY Amazon.com were either too chunky or too large scale for my taste or space. For a while I thought about ordering hand-forged custom brackets made by a blacksmith (or waiting until Gene could make them in the forge) until I realized this whole project was getting way too pricy. I was looking at over $100.00 plus shipping.

Finally I found brackets I liked on the Joss & Main website that were fairly priced. Find that site here: www.jossandmain.com/ They are simple in design and yet strong enough to hold the heavy maple wood shelves plus whatever decor I decided to put on them.

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The brackets are painted a soft creamy white, look perfect with my subtle wallpaper as well as contrast nicely with the maple wood; I decide these brackets would be there on the wall and look attractive but not steal the show. And that would allow my collectibles to move to the foreground in interest.

These four cast iron brackets costs me just $34.89 and I received free shipping through a special holiday deal. The labor cost me $30.00 and the wood was free. Total cost: $64.89. Right up my alley of the “How to get creative on a tight budget plan.”

My board was cut in half and the length was cut to 22 inches. I used several coats of mineral oil on them to bring out the lovely maple wood grain. I also opted to leave the raw edge facing out ward to show the lovely grain and character of the rough cut wood.

I oiled the maple wood using mineral oil just like I do my cutting boards and island top.

The third cutting board ended up on my granite counter for my husband to use while he is chopping vegetables with me for our meals. I am calling these our “His & Her Cutting Boards” when Gene helps me to chop up vegetables for my AIP and his insulin resistance diets.

Now that is a match made in heaven!

Small House Big Sky Homestead, Donna

Front Loader Pedestal Makeover

As many of you know front loaders washing machines and dryers require quite a bit of bending downing to load and unload them and that is why they sell these very expensive platform pedestals for them. When I bought my units over 10 years ago these matching pedestals cost $300.00 each. I have no idea what they cost now.

A friend of mine had mold in her old front loading washing machine and got rid of it. She bought a new top loader washer and dryer. I was lucky enough to inherit her old pedestal. I saw this as an opportunity to not have to bend quite so far down to remove my clothes from the dryer. And she saw this as an opportunity to save this piece from the landfill. Another win-win!

After maneuvering the pedestal into place and I realized that it stuck out quite a bit further that both machines did before. The power coated metal pedestal didn’t look as smooth as I would have like so I set my thinking cap on for a way to camouflage it.

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Part of the wood base cut and screwed into place waiting to be painted. We also built and slid a top piece on to cover the metal base as well. 

When a not-so-pretty but highly functional pedestal base came our way for FREE we decided to take advantage of the windfall. Once it was in the my laundry room I then had to figure out a way to camouflage the unattractive metal. One day I was looking at our fireplace and realized the mantle cover up-piece was the exact answer I was seeking. All we had to do was build a kind of cabinet cover piece of wood, paint it and slip it over the offending pedestal and ta da, we now have a DYI pedestal cover!

Gene purchased the pine wood while in town one Monday and a friend helped us to cut it to size on his portable table saw one day when he came to Sunday dinner. I served Frank grilled salmon and chicken along with a fancy tossed salad…can you hear that refrain “I work for food!”

washer-and-dryer-from-angle-and-rugI primed the raw wood using Zinsser sealer and primer and then painted the frame pieces in a Benjamin More white semi-gloss trim paint to make it blend in nicely with the white washer and dryer. I had contemplated staining it in the maple wood tones to match my laundry room cabinets but I also realized that color matching pine with a maple finish was a time-consuming project I did not want to get involved in at that time.

I admit that the tight fitting appliancedwere a real pistol to get into the snug space between the existing two cabinets but with the help of our two friends and lot of jiggling we managed it. When I had my cupboards layout designed the kitchen designer asked me if I planned on having a pedestal installed and I said then, I did not. I wanted them of course but the added expense was pretty hard to justify.

I could however justify the expense of my commercial-size top-loading washing machine because prior to buying it I had been driving the 10 miles into town (and back) at least once a month to wash our bed quilt. Iwas alsomaking that drive  more often to wash seasonal items like my husband’s heavy hunting coats and outside work clothes. That drive, my time, plus the extra $10-$15.00 cash spent at the laundromat eeach month basically paid for the move up from the standard size machine to the commercial at home size washer.

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Anna our RIR photo bombs the photograph of the washer and dryer before we added the pedestal.

I love my front loading machines and have been very, very happy with them. I know from reading on-line articles that there was a class action suit on these machines due to mold that developed in the rubber seal located just inside the door. But I have been very careful from the beginning to carefully wipe out all of the moisture in the rubber seal after every wash and then to leave the door open to dry out thoroughly overnight. With this small extra effort, I’ve never had an issue of mold in my machine.

That small extra effort paid off big.

Small House Big Sky Homestead, Donna