Fabulous curb-find: dining table and chairs

One of our luckiest recent curb finds was a dining table and four chairs, which was sitting out in the parking lot of the apartment complex a few weeks before we moved out. What was odd about it, was that it was set up with the chairs all around it – as if it was waiting for a family of four to come along and sit down to an outdoor dinner! We drove past it a few times – the chair cushions were completely awful – but finally I couldn’t resist. Due to some odd twists, we didn’t really have a dining set for our new place, and I loved the light colors and “open” feel of the framing on the set. I thought it had sort of a garden/patio/bistro feel, perfect for what I envisioned in our open-concept kitchen/dining room.

We used a few wooden “place-holder” chairs for a few weeks immediately following the move, then I got to work recovering the seats on the found set. I’ve completed two so far, using 2″ foam, a linen under-lining, and some checked upholstery fabric in pretty garden colors.

Here’s one of the chairs “before” – seriously needing an upholstery intervention:



Turns out, those brown covers are not original to the chairs – they were covers put on by a previous owner to cover the awfulness of the actual original cushions:



Just gross, any way you look at it. Here are a few pictures from the re-do. This was a very simple project, basically just wrapping each piece of new foam like a Christmas present. My only goals were to get the pattern straight, keep the corners nice/not bunchy, and keep things looking tidy on the underside too.






And here is one of the chairs completely finished.



I think they are pretty cute in their new garden-y colors! And, for now, the set looks great in our kitchen/living room, keeping things light and airy without adding too much bulk to the room.



I might… someday… try building a new harvest-style top for the table. But first things first: there are still two more chairs to cover.

More soon!





Simple photo holder

Okay so, I made this thing… out of a thing… the first picture shows a gear or pulley or something, the thing that fell out of my car the day that it finally konked out on me about a month ago, marking the end of its reign as “my car.”



The car – a 2002 Subaru Outback Legacy – was, in fact, a gift from my Dad back in 2007… I had begun taking pretty regular care of him as his liver disease had more and more effect on him, and every time I took him to the doctor or any other errand, we’d drive his car. Eventually he simply gave the car to me, partly as thanks and partly because that’s what he had done with most of his previous cars: given them to me when he was done with them.

So anyway when the car finally gave up, I kept this piece that fell off, and turned it into a keepsake that holds a couple pictures of Dad, including one of him with my daughter when she was about seven years old. It was easy enough to make – I literally just wiped off some of the grease, filled the hole in the middle with hot glue, and poked a photo wire down into the center of it as the glue was setting up. The stuff lodged in between the teeth of the gear is melted timing belt.

A quick and easy keepsake!

I’m sharing this project over at the Upcycled Link Party at Funky Junk Interiors, as well as at Marty’s Inspire Me Tuesday party at her sweet blog, A Stroll Thru Life.


More soon,


Alive and kicking!

Holy buckets, has it really been more than a YEAR since I posted here? Sadly, yes indeed. And a year of major ups and downs, let me tell you. First, the biggie: I am now divorced. While I am keeping the details private, it is just too big of a life event – and its effects too far-reaching – not to acknowledge that it has occurred. There have been many consequences, but the worst part, for me, is the effect it has had on my daughter, who is just starting her final year of college, and my relationship with her. In no way do I intend for this passing mention to make light of all that has happened, but I find that I simply cannot – and have decided that I should not – write about it. I am simply looking forward as best I can.

Second, I’ve moved… twice… and now reside in a cute little rental house in the historic district of a neighboring suburb. “A dollhouse,” the landlord calls it. Although it is very plain on the outside, it really is quite sweet on the inside, and I am making it even sweeter through judicious use of my many favorite objects and furniture pieces. It is like the whole-house version of my “mom-cave” from the other house.

Third, there is a new man in my life, with whom I share the house. His name is Greg – he is sweet, smart, handsome and kind, with two grown kids and (currently) seven grandkids. In addition to enjoying guy stuff like NASCAR and fishing, he also likes thrift store shopping and curb picking. I’ll be showing you a few of his most excellent finds in future posts, but for now suffice to say we’ve had a bit of fun collecting items and planning some make-over projects. He doesn’t even seem to mind my dishes!

More soon… so much thrifty goodness to share!


My dish collection is growing

I reached critical mass in the china cabinet recently… I was adding some new acquisitions to the middle shelf and realized that I could feel the shelf straining under the weight of those pretty stacks. I stepped back to look and sure enough, the shelf was starting to bow in the middle.

Cue the “BWOOOOP BWOOOP BWOOOP” submarine alarm noise, time to do some re-organizing!

I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with my built-in hutch. I’m absolutely grateful for the storage space it brings to my dining room, but in no way does it look “cottagey.” I would have to paint it, and I haven’t yet talked my hubby into making that change.

Here is the best I’ve got for a “before” picture – taken in 2012. It shows that in the previous arrangement my dishes were all in four stacks, on the first and second shelves on the right-hand side. (There are also a lot fewer of them in this picture – sagging in the middle wasn’t an issue!)



Because the  middle shelf was now starting to sag, I moved all the pink-themed glass from the lower left to the  middle-right, and moved the dishes from the middle-right to the lower left. Now I’ve got a nice row along the sturdiest shelf – across the bottom – of five stacks. I even see some room for growth in a couple of them in the new arrangement:






I tried to take a shot of the pink shelf, now on the middle-right – in person, the pink items all grouped together are really lovely. It was hard to get a shot showing the true color.



I’m sort of thinking now about ways other than painting to make the hutch look a little less mid-century and a little more cottagey. I’m thinking of maybe lining it with something that could later be removed. Contact paper maybe? Muslin? Your ideas would be much appreciated!

More soon,


Fabulous Ebay finds

I am usually a very careful Ebay shopper. I say “usually” because occasionally, I do get caught up in a bidding war or end up hitting the wrong button and committing myself to buy something  before I’ve had a chance to thoroughly investigate.

But usually, I’m super-cautious and surprisingly patient – and end up getting some great deals.  Lately, I’ve been lucky enough to find and win some lovely bargains in the world of dishes. Here are some recent acquisitions:

First up, a second look at my bee-YOO-tiful Limoges plate which now looks stunning – STUNNING, I tell you! – on the wall of my mom-cave, right under the colorized photo of my mother as a child (whose cheesy grin looks a lot like my own!).



Four purported dinner plates in Homer Laughlin Nautilus Countess… I say “purported” because the dinner plates in Georgian Countess (of which I have seven) are just a bit larger than Nautilus. (Nautilus and Georgian have slightly different borders around the edge of the pieces.) These are larger than a salad plate, but smaller than dinner plates in most other patterns. But no less lovely. Which is good, because this is that “push the wrong button/not thoroughly investigated” thing I mentioned earlier. LOL

I also have to note that it was SUCH fun to receive the box of Nautilus from this particular seller. Everything was not only lovingly and carefully packed, it was a delight to open such a pretty box! See what I mean:




Next up, four salad plates, brand-new-in-the-box, of Rosemead by Mikasa. Positively lustrous, and came with the original beautiful box!




Finally, not one – but TWO pieces of Dresden Schumann Empress, which by the backstamps appear to be from around 1900-1920. These babies can be sooo expensive – I was really lucky to find a deal. I purchased a dinner plate and a bread plate. I might get one more of each, someday. For now it appears I’ve missed the boat, because the seller who had these for such a good price has now sold the remaining thirteen that he had! They are absolutely gorgeous.




I hope you are having similar luck wherever it is you are scoring your latest thrifty finds!

More soon,





A new blog!

This weekend I officially debuted a blog that’s been in the making for more than ten years. You might have seen posts here on Painted Piglet referencing a few of the kids’ clay projects that I have acquired over time in the thrift stores. These pieces had been displayed on a website (not a blog) for a really long time, but it was tiresome and time consuming to update the site manually in HTML each time a piece was added to the collection.

So recently, I took the site down for some “re-tooling” and this weekend launched it as a blog at the same URL where it’s been hiding all those years:


Blog Launch: YourClayProject.com

Your Clay Project is a blog devoted to showcasing found, collected, and treasured kids’ clay projects! I will be featuring the pieces in my own collection, as well as encouraging reader submissions and of course, comments!

So – please-oh-pretty-please take a moment to visit the blog, subscribe to the feed for new-post updates, and “Like” the Facebook page!

And, by all means – if you have a kids’ clay project in your possession, please send me an email with photos and a bit of the backstory to the YourClayProject website at: submissions@yourclayproject.com.

I’m sharing my new-blog announcement at Jill’s A Round Tuit Party at Creating My Way to Success!

It’s time for the greens of Ireland

Although March definitely came in like a lion around here, it doesn’t make me any less ready for some pops of GREEN. So I set about switching up the low, oval coffee table with a rather broad interpretation of “St. Patrick’s Day” – not a lot of shamrocks going on, but hopefully a bit of Irish green to get me through to Spring.


I kept the silverplate bowl full of pinecones, but added a green-checked bow with green butterfly brooch –

I’ve also set out my little faux-Limoges plate – I don’t care if it’s a knock-off, it’s beautiful!

Little fluted-edge glass vases and a tiny pewter-look frame contribute to the theme…


And some little birds –




Finally, my bargain-book of castles to provide a peek into beautiful, ancient Irish history!

Hope you are seeing some GREEN wherever you are!

I’m sharing my little bit of puttering… er, decorating… at Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage, at Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home, Seasonal Sunday at The Tablescaper, and at A Return to Loveliness at A Delightsome Life . Be sure to click through to each of these lovely blogs for oodles of inspiration!

More soon,




More beautiful thrifty finds

Our continuing winter weather has kept me indoors a bit more than I would like – it’s not so much the snow as it is the bitter cold – but I did finally venture out to see what was new at the Goodwill. Not much in the dish department, but textiles were another story.

I did pick up this sweet little Haviland Limoges saucer – lately I’ve been enamored with Limoges!



I found four butter-yellow placemats – a color I’ve been looking for!



I also nabbed a set of 5 reversible placemats in softest blue and yellow. They weren’t marked as far as a brand, but I suspected they were a match for my Pfaltzgraff Summer Breeze bowls and platter – confirmed when I got home.





Also in the textiles area was this large square waffle-weave cloth with pretty ribbon work. I wasn’t sure what it was – maybe a tablecloth? – until I took it off the hanger and completely unfolded it. It’s a lined fabric shower curtain!



Finally, I bought this stunning Wilendur tablecloth – the yellow rose design is repeated in four panels around the cloth, which measures about 40 x 40 inches.



A recent visit to my favorite antique mall also yielded this pretty set of 8 Fire King berry bowls. I have a serving platter and four dessert plates in this pattern as well, so these are a nice addition.



Thought I would leave you with a picture of what March 2 looks like in Iowa this year. It started snowing (again) in the late afternoon on March 1, so this is what we woke up to on Sunday morning. The temperature was minus-five!



More soon,



Pretty, functional storage boxes

Have you seen these beautiful storage boxes? I love, love, LOVE them! The designs are by artist Susan Winget, and the construction is very sturdy although they are only made of heavy cardboard.




I just love the various sizes, the romantic nature-inspired designs, the hidden magnetic clasp on the flap, and the pretty grosgrain bow adorning the front.



I currently have… hmm, six of them I think. They hide things that I need and use but that are very unsightly in a cottagey mom-cave.






They even come with a pretty gift tag attached – see it hiding in the ribbon on my shabby mail tin? It’s the modern-day version of vintage ephemera. It makes me wish that every product had an attractive, artistic tag – I would no doubt collect them!



Here are my most recent acquisitions, 50 percent off at Joann Fabrics! Large size was $7.50…




…and this very small one was $3.75.



As much as I appreciate and use plastic storage tubs, I don’t like to have them in plain sight – even in rooms that aren’t my cottage haven. But these pretty and useful boxes are more than worthy to remain in full view – hiding the things I need but in a truly lovely way.

Do you have a favorite type of storage container that fits your style? How about a favorite nature artist? I am also a fan of Marjolein Bastin and Susan Branch.

More soon,





PS – I’m linking my beautiful boxes to Patti & Paula’s “What’s It Wednesday” Party on their blog, Ivy and Elephants, and to Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage!

Luscious Limoges

I’m a little late to the party, but I was so pleased with my recent Ebay purchase that I wanted to share it for Vintage Thingie Thursday over at Suzanne’s blog, ColoradoLady!


I’ve made several good buys on Ebay recently, but this week my favorite is this lovely porcelain plate. It is real Limoges, about 8-1/4 inches across, and based on the marks was apparently made sometime around 1900-1920.


The design appears to be a transfer of lavender florals, with hand-painted gold accents.





It is interesting to note that the plate has a very detailed embossed border around its scalloped edges, but the gold has been daubed around and over that edge instead of it being precisely painted.



My pretty plate is not in the best condition (a couple of chips and cracks, which I expected) but boy was it a bargain – just $5.50, which included the shipping! Just the type of thing that if I found it in a booth at the antique mall and it was marked $5.50, I’d snap it up just because it’s soooo pretty – and Limoges!

I’ve been reading up a bit on Limoges and learned that the name Limoges refers to the region in France where dozens of manufacturers produced beautiful fine white porcelain beginning in the late 1700’s, when the substance of kaolin was first discovered in the soil of the region.  Prior to 1842, companies produced mainly white blanks – which were then shipped around the world for hobbyists and professionals alike to decorate them with elaborate hand-painted designs. Then in 1842, an American named David Haviland opened a factory in the Limoges region to produce dinnerware for the U.S. market – which caused quite a stir among the French decorative painters who were hired to paint the pieces, because they did NOT want to paint the designs that Haviland knew Americans would love. Haviland further fine-tuned and pioneered in-house firing and decorating techniques that ensured beauty and uniformity in his pieces, and soon Haviland China became the must-have dinnerware for American brides.

Of course, there were many companies producing Limoges pieces besides Haviland. My piece is from the factory of Elite, which was established around 1890 by the American importer Bawo & Dotter of New York. Fine Limoges porcelain continued to be made and exported until around 1930, when international economies and tastes began to shift.


More soon!