Rust-Oleum Mystery Box Challenge

Hello friends! I don’t know about you, but I am ready for spring. I’ve already started decorating our living room and kitchen for the season, so that’s what I want to give you a sneak peek at today.

I recently had the opportunity to be a part of the Rust-Oleum® Mystery Box Challenge happening over at the Creator’s Studio. If you love DIY projects, you need to check out this site. There’s a ton of information and inspiration, as well as fun projects and free giveaways going on all the time.

The Mystery Box Challenge involved Rust-Oleum sending me a box of goodies, which I had to use to create something unique. In my kit, I received a small, unfinished planter box, Varathane® Wood Stain in Golden Oak and Wood Grain Enhancer, and some other odds and ends I could choose to use to decorate the box.

Here’s what I crafted from my mystery kit:

Step 1

I used the wire brush in my kit to “open up the grain” on the wood planter box by brushing, in the direction of the grain, all sides of the box. More brushing will equal a more pronounced effect, less will be more subtle.

Step 2

I applied the Varathane Golden Oak stain to my box. I often use a paintbrush to apply stain. I also like to coat it on nice and thick, letting it soak in for about 2-3 minutes before wiping it off with a lint-free cloth. I find this gives the best uniform, rich color. Too often, folks make the mistake of applying stain sparingly and wiping it off too quickly, which can lead to an uneven finish.

Step 3

After the stain was dry to the touch (about an hour), I applied the grain enhancer. I used a rag to wipe it into the grain of the wood, working in the opposite direction of the grain. I wiped off the excess with a dry rag.

Step 4

Time to decorate and personalize! I taped off the corners of the box using painters tape.

Then I applied two coats of aged bronze paint. I like Modern Masters® Statuary Bronze metallic paint color.

After that, I used bronze upholstery nails I had left over from another project to decorate the edges.

Finally, I filled the center with floral foam and stuck in a few sprigs of faux greenery I got at Hobby Lobby.

Tip: Use an electric bread knife to trim foam for a quick, clean edge.

Done! I placed my new planter box on a side table in our living room.

What do you think of my project? I hope this inspires you to think spring!


Tale of a tired china cabinet (a furniture redo)

Hello friends! I hope you’re staying warm. We’ve been experiencing very cold temps here in Pennsylvania. Bring on spring! 

Today I wanted to share a sneak peek at my next furniture project. I found this china cabinet – or buffet and hutch, whatever you call it – on Craigslist for $40.

We had to drive a little over an hour to pick it up with our trailer, but it was worth it. It’s a solid piece with a traditional design that’s not too fussy … right up my style alley.

I have visions of this piece completely redone and sitting in my dining room. Here is the finish I am going to try and replicate:


The cabinet has some interesting neoclassical features, such as the lions head hardware. If I had to choose a style that I lean toward, it would be traditional. Traditional furniture takes inspiration from English and French styles of the 18th and 19th centuries such as Baroque, Rococo, Romantic and Neoclassical. In my home, I prefer furniture with less ornate details, but I do appreciate substantial pieces that showcase good craftsmanship and quality materials.

Matt thinks I should keep the lions head knobs. If I do, maybe I’ll spray paint them a darker bronze color. What do you think? Should I change out the hardware … keep it and spray paint it … or leave it alone?

The silverware drawer is felt-lined, which is kind of cool. It just needs a good cleaning.

Here are some of the products I’m using to refinish the piece.

Stay tuned for progress on this project coming soon!

Have you ever defined your own furniture style? The following article may help provide some clarity:

2018 Word of the Year

Hello friends! I hope you are excited for an adventurous 2018. I certainly am.

I always like to start each new year by designating a Word of the Year. It helps clarify my goals and intentions and provides a good foundation for my actions in the coming year.

Over the holidays, I like to take time to ruminate about what I want the next year to look like and what I’d like to accomplish.

I ask myself such questions as:

  1. What am I most proud of from 2017?
  2. What disappointments did I experience?
  3. What personal obstacle do I need to overcome or make significant progress on to reach next year’s goals?

After much introspection, this usually allows a theme or word to surface that will serve as a guide – a compass of sorts – over the next year.

In 2018, my word is:


As a creative, focus-challenged adrenaline junkie, I’ve always struggled with creating time to do careful preparation for events, projects, etc. I have often overlooked or procrastinated on the planning phase, opting instead for the thrill of reaction-based, last-minute scrambling. I can’t really explain why I do this. I think I must take pride in coming up with just-in-time solutions that work … that whole “I work best under pressure” claim.

But as I gain wisdom with age, I’m finding that careful preparation will almost always offer the most successful, professional and prosperous results in the end. And it certainly will reduce stress and anxiety.

So this year my word is designed to help me focus on the necessity of careful, proper planning in every area of my life.

Can I plan or anticipate every single thing that will happen this year? Of course not.

Do I need to allow room in my schedule for flexibility, fun and adaptation? Certainly!

This is simply me recognizing that being prepared whenever possible will help create the margin I need to have more flexibility and fun in my life.

Some of you “born organized” people have long understood the need for good preparation and planning. Bear with me on this … this has been a long journey for me. But I’m making good progress and am excited for what this discipline will make possible for me in my personal and professional life.

So now I’ll turn it over to you.

What is your 2018 Word of the Year?