Postcard from Hibernation #6

Happy December to you all!

I have found a new favorite project and wanted to share. I just made this adorable sign for my kids' bathroom. What do you think? (Nevermind that neither of my kids can read!)

My husband bought some barn/fence wood from a guy off Craig's List. I love that about him! (My husband, not Craig.) He just cut some of the boards and attached them to each other in the back with some metal strips, then added a hook for hanging.

I printed some letters off the computer, then just traced them (pushing very hard) onto the surface. The wood was soft enough that it made an indentation where I had traced, and I simply went back with my paintbrush and filled in the letters. After that, I sanded to rough up the letters a bit, and slapped on a coat of polyurethane.

If you or your husband don't feel like buying old wood off Craig's List, you can just as easily go to Lowe's and have them cut you a piece of new wood. That's what I did with this Grocery sign that I made for our kitchen! I brought it home and banged on it with a hammer and nails and whatever else I could find in the garage. (Added bonus: aggression release.)

Then I stained the wood (which brought out all the bangs and dents I had just added), and traced some letters onto the wood, sanded, and polyurethaned, same as I did with the bathroom sign above. See? Looks old, but it's straight from the hardware store.

Instant vintage...I love it!


Postcard from Hibernation #5

These days, it's a big deal for me to post more that one thing per...six months. You know I'm psyched if it's two in the same month! I must be responding to the sweet comments you've left on my last blog post. Seriously, thank you so much for taking the time to say nice things to me...I tried to email you back if your address was attached to your comment, but if it wasn't, please know that I am thankful for your words!

I went to a local charity tag sale last Saturday. That's less than two weeks ago, girls! I am on some kind of hot streak. I picked up this red chair with cute-but dated-fabric for $15. (Nina and Henry discovered that Mama had the camera out and insisted on helping.)

We have crazy warm weather in northern California (this Midwestern girl is not used to 60 degrees in November, I can tell you). So I headed outside, whipped out the paint stripper and went to work.

After stripping, I added some color with Minwax's Dark Walnut stain, followed by two coats of satin polyurethane. Then I dug in the fabric bin for this yellow plaid that I bought a few years ago on clearance. Thanks to my husband's muscle and the staple gun, the "reupholstery" was a cinch.
It's a perfect spot for my Thanksgiving turkey pillow, and I love walking by it and knowing that I rescued this baby from ugly, all for $15. Happy Thanksgiving!


Postcard from Hibernation #4

Happy November! I truly can't believe it's been over four months since I've sent you all a "postcard." I think about you, and blogging, frequently. I still sit on the couch after the kids have gone to bed and read about all the wonderful things you are doing. But I am still very much smack dab in a season of life that takes all my attention. Blogging continues to take a back seat to Nina (who is loving kindergarten!), Henry (who still attends "mama school," as he calls it!), supporting Brent, and building a life here in California. I admit that I often daydream of living in my forever house, close to my family and back in my Ohio hometown, but for the time being...I am here. So.

That doesn't mean I haven't been busy! Just that my teeny tiny California ranch house is bursting at the seams, filled with projects that I do in hopes of giving them a more permanent home someday. Here are a few examples!

I found this ship at a local resale shop for $5. Though Henry is enchanted with pirate ships right now, I didn't so much fancy having one in my living room.

I took off the metal sails, covered the red bottom with a dark walnut stain, and stitched up some simple blue ticking stripe panels for some new sails. Cute!

Next, I searched for this table for about six months, biding my time on Craig's List. I wanted an antique that I could refinish to match my current dining room furniture, which I inherited from my grandmother years ago. Here it is (before), covered in at least three layers of brown paint. Pretty.

After many...many...many hours of stripping paint, I finally got it down to bare wood.

A few coats of dark walnut stain, a few coats of polyurethane, and I finally have a sideboard that is worthy of the rest of my grandmother's furniture!

Of course, the California ranch doesn't have a dining room to put it in, but a girl can dream!

Lastly, here is a lesson for all your husbands. We were out one Saturday afternoon and passed by a garage sale. Just that morning, my husband had said to me "We are not buying any more furniture while we live here!"

Um. You can see where this is going.

We spotted this huge, sturdy bookshelf for $11.

Let's pause a moment to take in it's ugliness, combined with layers of blue goo.

I cleaned. He sanded. I painted. He added new beadboard backing. It was a joint effort!

But Nina now has a home for her growing collection of books. And I just love the beadboard and cream paint combination!

Just remember this story when your husband tells you to stop acquiring projects. :)

Well, that's about it from around here. I'm sorry it's been so long! Here's hoping you're all doing well...I miss you!


Postcard from Hibernation #3

Once upon a time (15 years ago, to be exact), I purchased this dresser for $20 at an estate sale. (I blogged about it here if you'd like to know more!) It was a horrible shade of green, and I spent the whole summer stripping and refinishing it.

My dresser gave me a lot of good years in it's refinished state. One day, however, I started wondering if, perhaps, it needed a little makeover. After all, how good would any of us look if we hadn't changed our style in 15 years? Don't answer that.

(And yes, that is a photo of me in overalls, circa 1996. See? We all need a little upgrade sometimes!)

About this same time, I stumbled across Miss Mustard Seed's blog. That girl is a genius! She does some amazing things to furniture, and I fell in love with this dresser:

So, when I had a few days of nothing on the calendar, I whipped out my paintbrushes and got to work.

My dresser looks like a whole new piece! I used leftover off-white paint in my garage, as well as some wall paint from my kitchen (Sherwin Williams Comfort Grey). Then I just sanded the edges and roughed it up a bit.
This girl's got at least 15 more years in her now!


Postcard From Hibernation #2

Hi everyone! I have done some research on behalf of us all, and I just had to share. First of all, let's revisit a photo of my humble little rental house in California, right after we moved in:

Ah, the green outdoor carpet. The abandoned flower beds. Lovely.

This spring, I've been trying to clean things up out there, on a very limited budget. I don't need Buckingham Palace here, folks. I'm just going for inhabited. So here's the look today, with some flowers, hanging baskets, and updated accessories:

And speaking of accessories, here's my new discovery: how to age a mirror (specifically the one now hanging in my outdoor entryway). I bought the frame below, complete with six individual mirrors, at a local thrift store for $12. And I love it when the original price is still on there. ($99.99 at Cost Plus World Market!) Please excuse the glass cleaner spray on the mirrors. I was impatient...you get the idea!

I took it apart (unscrewed the backing and took out the mirrors) and painted the frame with some off-white paint (Krylon Gloss Ivory), followed by rubbing on some stain (Minwax Dark Walnut) to age it. So then I had a situation where the frame looked all cute and vintage, but those mirrors were winking at me, all shiny and new. Can't have that!

So I looked up a tutorial of how to age a mirror (this one), and came up with this process. It works!

I started with some paint stripper (Ace Extra Strength Stripper) to scrape off all the paint on the back of the mirrors. Then I switched to paint thinner and scrubbed the backs with a steel wool pad. Then I washed them all off with some water. The last step was splattering liquid bleach on the mirror backs to get that spotted appearance, then blotting it off after a few minutes. (For more detailed instructions, follow my link on how to distress a mirror.)

Can you see how the individual mirrors look all beat up and old now, slightly foggy and age-spotted? Not bad for $12! I already had the rest of the materials on hand, but even if I hadn't, this project is much less expensive than all the other adorable-but-out-of-my-price-range antique mirrors I have seen out there!

Give it a try if you want the antique look without the price tag!


Postcard from Hibernation #1

Hi everyone!

I am greatly enjoying my hibernation, but thought I might send you a "postcard" now and then to say hello.

We've had a fun couple of months. In February we drove to southern California and paid a visit to Disneyland. So much fun!

Then, last month we were lucky enough to go on my husband's company ski trip to Tahoe. I love being within driving distance to all these cool places! (Don't know why the kids look so bummed out in this photo though. Too much snow?)

I promise it hasn't all been about fancy trips around here. I also discovered something new that's only 30 minutes from my house. The Alameda Point Antiques Faire! I could have spent hours wandering around this place, but probably would have gotten in lots of trouble. As it was, we fell in love with this antique farmhouse table. It took some budget rearranging (and a large delivery truck), but it came home with us!

I also made a lovely discovery on Etsy and purchased these two whimsical prints from The Black Apple. I love the colors and the vintage quality!

What else? Spring is here in northern California, so I was inspired to pull out the summer bedding last week.

I must admit that TJ Maxx helped me by selling those two blue ruffled pillows for $10 apiece on clearance!

I dug around and found my robin's eggs to add a little splash of color on my dresser.

And to finish it off, I painted our master bathroom Sherwin Williams' Comfort Grey. (And please note that when I say "master bathroom," it is in the loosest sense of the word. The only mastering that goes on in there is mastering our annoyance as we bump into each other trying to get ready at the same time!)

I have been having a wonderful time, and appreciate all your thoughtful comments and emails to me during my "hibernation." I hope you are all doing well too!


Do Bees Hibernate?

This was the question I typed into my Google window the other day. A strange one, to be sure. But one that has become important to me as I crafted this blog post in my head. (And, to answer your curiosity, some bees do hibernate over the winter, clustering together to generate heat. Don't ask me about the details; they are fuzzy at best!)

You see, like the bees, I am going into hibernation.

I thought about just calling it a mini-vacation. I also thought about stopping my blog altogether. Neither one seemed right. I have loved having this blog as a personal playground, a creative outlet in an otherwise suburban, husband- and kid-centered life. I don't want to cancel it, but I am also at a point where my "real" life is calling to me, louder and much more insistently than my blogging life.

It used to be that I was overflowing with ideas. Decorating, crafting, cooking, homemaking. I always had something new up my sleeve. But lately, since our move to California, I've been feeling a bit dry. My rental house is all set up, painted and decorated. At least for the immediate future, my work is done. We don't know how long we'll be here; my husband's job is stable and hopeful. His company is based here in northern California, and we've chosen to make the move here so that he can have every opportunity to learn and grow and strive. Until we know more about the next career steps, though, we don't want to buy another house...

...So, yes, it feels very uncertain and unknowable. I think we're looking at a couple of years here at least. Long enough that I know I have to put down roots. I can't just cruise through this period of life, closing my eyes, working on house projects and not leaving time for anything else, and hoping it will be over soon. I have to engage in it, live it, connect to it. And I also have these precious kids to think about. Nina is four and Henry is two, and I want to intentionally invest in these years with them, and not let them pass me by while I am pursuing other, more "important" things. (Please know I am not exercising judgement on anyone else's life with these statements. I just know my own personal pitfalls, and am trying to be honest about them.)

In essence, I feel like I am putting a part of my life in hibernation too. Turning inward, towards my family and my life here, fighting for survival through this winter-ish season in my life, hunkering down.

It's not that I will stop being creative, doing projects, loving the thrill of the thrift store hunt. I am sure I will poke (buzz?) my head in and out from time to time. If I work on a project, or discover some new craftiness, I will want to share it with you. But my buzzings will become much less frequent, for the foreseeable future anyway, and I felt you might want an explanation.

So, you see? Not just a simple bloggy break, but not a permanent departure, either. A hibernation. For an undetermined amount of time. (It's a good thing that some bees do hibernate, or else this analogy would have fallen apart a few paragraphs ago!)

Thanks for sticking with me all this time. I will miss you. Stay well.

Giveaway Winner!

Hey everyone! Thanks for participating in my giveaway! I randomly selected a comment number, and it was Comment #22, which is...

Tori from The Smith Scoop! Tori, email me at buzzingsofaqueenbee@hotmail.com to figure out how to collect your prize! :)

I hope you all had a great Presidents' Day weekend. I'll be back later this week with more!


President's Day Giveaway!

** Comments are now closed! I will be back tomorrow with the winner!

Hi girls! Do you have any big plans for Presidents' Day weekend? Feel like winning some serious cuteness for a little diva in your life?

Marili Jean is a fantastic mama-owned company based in Colorado. I first met up with the owner while at a harvest festival with my family. She started the company in 2009 when she couldn't find anything stylish and practical for her own three kiddos. There I was, wandering the festival booths, when I spotted Marili Jean. I think it was this hat that got me:

Seriously? I bought Nina a hat on the spot. She was just barely three years old at the time, and now that she's four and a half, the hat still fits her. I love it!
So many cute options! She's got hats, headbands and barrettes. The one I bought for Nina is called the "Mini Diva," and it comes with a detaching flower barrette in the color of your choice. But if I ever have another baby girl, I think this one below is precious!

For this weekend's giveaway, Marili Jean is offering a $20 merchandise credit for one of my readers! Yippee! All you have to do to enter is head over to her website. Take a look around and then come back and let me know which hot little number you'd pick. And, if you'd like a second chance at winning, go become a fan of Marili Jean on Facebook. Then come back and tell me that you've done so in my comments, and you'll get another contest entry!

If you fall in love with Marili Jean and just can't wait to start shopping, head on over to her website, add some sassy stuff to your cart and simply enter "buzz" when you're checking out. That'll get you 20% off on the spot. Score!

The contest will be open through Tuesday night at 8 p.m. (Pacific Time). Have fun!


Shadowboxing for Mamas

Hey everyone! Today I am posting at Your Baby Booty, all about making a shadowbox to hold some of those little baby and kid clothes that you just can't bear to part with. Come on over if you'd like to read more!



This post will end with me telling you about one of my most favorite musicians in the world, who I hope you will immediately listen to and fall in love with. But in order to do that, I need to give you a little back story.

Years ago (almost 12 years ago to be exact) I went to Scotland. My family roots are Scottish (among other things) and I met up with my dad and his wife to explore the country. Here's my dad and me in Edinburgh.

We could trace our family to two different clans, Grant and Menzies. My maiden name derives from the Menzies clan, so I was super-excited to walk the halls of Castle Menzies. (Sorry for the glare on the glass in the photo below, but you get the idea.)

I remember walking through Castle Menzies with a proprietary air, imagining my ancestors sleeping in the rooms and walking the halls. It wasn't until dinner that night that my dad broke the news: our ancestors weren't the ones to live in the castle. They were part of the clan, surely, but not at the top of the food chain, so to speak. Most likely they lived in a cottage somewhere on the clan lands. Here's a photo of my dad, explaining to me that, if the Castle Menzies was the big red napkin, then our family lived in the little white speck down the road.

Needless to say, this took me down a notch! However, it didn't diminish the distinct feeling of homecoming that I had when I went to Scotland. I've been there again since that first visit, and the feeling of home is the same each time. I don't know if it's a self-fulfilling prophecy or what, but there it is.

And now, on to the music. Have you ever heard of Dougie MacLean? That's pronounced Doo-gie Mac-Lean. He's Scottish. He's a folk singer-type. He's kind of like James Taylor but with even more of an acoustic, soothing thing going on. His music has the same effect on me as Vince Guaraldi and A Charlie Brown Christmas. It's calming and somehow makes me breathe a little slower when I listen to it.

Dougie MacLean wrote a song called "Caledonia" about Scotland, which is his home. (Caledonia is a somewhat more poetic name used for Scotland.) The lyrics are all about missing home. Going home. How home will take you, no matter what shape you're in or what you've done. Chances are that you treasure home, whether it's Scotland or somewhere else, as much as I do, or you wouldn't be here. I wonder if the song will speak to you the way it speaks to me?

Now, seriously, don't focus on the fact that Dougie MacLean looks a bit like an aging hippie here. Or that this video is cheesy. (It's the best version I could find on YouTube.) But if you end up falling in love with him like I did, may I recommend my favorite of his albums, called "Craigie Dhu." I hope it brings you a moment of peace this weekend!

Let me know what you think!


"Art" for the Poor

What I am about to share could be considered sacrilegious to some of you. But I'm going to risk it, for the sake of the rest of us.

What in the world am I talking about?


I constantly rip out pages from magazines to use for inspiration. The pages above and below both have unique wall pieces that are real art. Like, from people who are artists.

Unfortunately, our budget for pieces of real art from real artists is nonexistent. But what I did have was two of these oval frames. With nothing in them.

I really liked the look of some of those line art drawings in my inspiration photos. But, alas, I am not an artist, and, well, we've already discussed where my budget is in that department. So, I went to Michael's instead and bought a piece of nice artist paper and some charcoal pencils.

I found some free clip art online. (I just Googled things like "free" "images" "bee," "bike," etc. until I found something I liked.) The bike is for my husband, whose garage is not complete unless it holds at least five bikes at any one time. And the bee is for me. :)

I used graphite tracing paper (also from Michael's) to transfer the line art onto my fancy paper.

Then I went back with my charcoal pencil and traced over the lines.

I mixed my knockoff bike and bee art with my family wall in the kids' playroom.

Thank you free clip art!