Pause and Revitalize #20: Content with Thunderstorms

It’s pouring rain right now, thanks to a Severe Thunderstorm called 93L. We’ll see if she turns into Tropical Storm Julia. When thunderstorms pass through, we don’t blink an eye because it’s still hurricane season in Florida. We blink when a hurricane churns directly toward us.

That’s my good news for today: we’re dealing with a thunderstorm but not a hurricane. Not only that, I accomplished a lot of work today and feel . . . content. I wish you the same.

Saint Francis de Sales, Bishop of Geneva and patron saint of writers and journalists (1567 – 1622)
Pause and Revitalize

“Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself.” St. Francis de Sales

Richard Wagner, German composer and conductor (1813 – 1883)

Encouraging Words

“Imagination creates reality.” Richard Wagner

Maya Angelou, American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist (1928 – 2014)

Encouraging Words

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” Maya Angelou
Ann Marie

A sampling of previous Pause and Revitalize posts:

motivational quote
Pause & Revitalize #2
Voltaire quote
Pause and Revitalize #9

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Managing Small Business Workflow with Trello

While our blog usually revolves around furniture, this week I’d like to focus on something a little out of the ordinary. You see, I’ve been desperately searching for a way to catalog and organize our inventory.

Thanks to estate sales, private sellers, and Craigslist, not only are our home and garage overflowing with pieces, but so are our two modest storage units. A further complication: many of the pieces require a bit of work, so they get moved around in a desperate attempt to free up more space. It’s a giant game of Tetris.

Since we’ve been acquiring furniture for a while now, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to remember the location of individual pieces and what work, if any, is needed. Finding a solution had me at wit’s end.

Luckily, I discovered Trello, a free App that assists us in managing our workflow. Trello is extraordinarily helpful and easy to use.

Our family business has emerged from its start-up phase. We’ve entered a growth dimension that is simultaneously exciting and frustrating. It felt like too many things were going on — we couldn’t keep track. Our inventory expanded but wasn’t properly recorded. Pieces were shifted around and forgotten about, future projects were buried, and tasks fell through the cracks.

I attempted to implement various organizational systems but nothing worked for the 3 of us. Our independent To-Do lists became impossible, mostly due to only one of us (A-hem) maintaining one. Projects were largely ad hoc, with little oversight or attention to deadlines. This may have worked in the past, but if we’re serious about taking Iris Abbey to the next step, organization had to be established.

We decided to start with an audit of our inventory. Trello made short work of the task. So far, so good.

I created boards unique to our organizational needs. Individual boards can be color coded. I’ve used Trello for less than 2 weeks and developed these categories:

Trello BoardsWithin the boards, I developed lists. Take a closer look at some of them:

Blog IdeasTrello Lists


Michael, our son, posts some of our items on Craigslist. I access the photos and write blurbs. This should help us coordinate our efforts.


I coordinate our Etsy Shop. Now I have a list of what needs a photo or Etsy blurb.

Priority Work Projects

This category is critical to us! David, Michael, and I had too many communication lapses on the status of items. Now we update our Priority Work Projects weekly and follow it. Look, icons are available! I gave it a red background to connote urgency.Trello Priority Projects

Projects to Work On

Ready for Avonlea

Seasonal Items

I keep adding to our shop’s holiday lists, but here’s how they looked earlier this week:Trello Board

Stored Furniture

Our inventory list! Now we know where (almost) everything is as we maintain these lists. Another feature: you can drag and drop photos for quick identification. Trello Board

Upcoming Estate Sales

I’ll have to see how useful this proves to be. If there’s something especially interesting coming up, I can tag it here.


I’m thrilled that Trello works for us at this stage in our business. It’s a work in progress, but I love being organized. Has anyone else tried it? How do you manage your workflow?

Ann Marie and David



Over the Moon Link Party

Rooted In Thyme creative-inspirations

Pause & Revitalize #19: For the Frazzled

I’ve returned from a day of errands and feel frazzled. Let’s all take a minute to pause & revitalize.

How about words to inspire? These are especially for something new that you’re pursuing.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe quote

“Everything is hard before it is easy.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Carl Sandburg, American poet, writer, and editor, 1978 – 1967
Pause and Revitalize

“I don’t know where I’m going but I’m on my way.” Carl Sandburg

Marge Piercy, American poet, novelist, and social activist, (1936)
Marge Piercy quote

“A strong woman is a woman determined to do something others are determined not to be done.” Marge Piercy

I’m beginning to feel more relaxed. How about you?

Ann Marie

A sampling of previous Pause and Revitalize Posts:

I'm restless. Things are calling me away.
Pause & Revitalize #1
Deep Breaths
Pause and Revitalize #5
pause and revitalize
Pause & Revitalize #6
Maya Angelou
Pause & Revitalize #12

DIY Vintage Chic

Over the Moon Link Party


Selig Mid-Century Modern Sofa Needs Reupholstering

From time to time we buy mid-century modern sofas, usually at estate sales. They’re not the easiest to transport or store, but a good sofa can become the focal point for a space. Take a look at this fantastic pale yellow one:
MCM Yellow Sofa

Its clean, simple lines capture one’s attention. The brass-capped wooden legs contrast vividly with the cream coloring. The sleek minimalist design and soft hue keep it light and airy. There’s nothing to suggest an overbearing object. It’s no wonder this piece didn’t last long in our booth.

On the other hand, this curved orange one sold quickly for a very different reason. Brash and bold, its color demands attention. Imagine it as the focal point in a living room.
MCM Orange Sofa

Ideally, the sofas we buy are well cared for and possess no serious issues. If we have room in the booth, we can haul the sofa directly from the sale to Avonlea Antiques and Design Gallery. This happened only once.

Sometimes a piece needs spot cleaning before it goes into the booth. We can handle that.

Our new sofa exceeded our abilities. I fell in love with this blue-and-white Selig Mid-Century Modern sofa when I gazed upon it in the dim light of an estate sale’s living room. I was drawn to its fabric, lines,  and size. It’s so spacious in both width and length.

Granted, it had issues but David didn’t have a chance to examine it closely because a flock of women crowded around it and tested it out. That was encouraging, right? He usually flips furniture and examines the bottom. I pushed for us to leave a bid with the estate company. We did. And we waited.
Mid-Century Modern Sofa by Selig

At home I began my research. The Selig Manufacturing Company, based in Massachusetts, imported much of their furniture from Scandinavia and Italy in the 1950s through 1970s. They focused on high-end contemporary pieces. Here are some examples currently at 1st Dibs (which tends to list prices higher than our regional market):

Mid Century Modern Sofa by Selig
Mid Century Modern Sofa by Selig – $3,400
Danish Modern Upholstered Sofa by Selig
Danish Modern Upholstered Sofa by Selig – $5,800

This next photo shows the rare and timeless Z Lounge Chair designed by Poul Jensen of Denmark for Selig:

Z Lounge Chair and Ottoman by Poul Jensen for Selig
Z Lounge Chair and Ottoman by Poul Jensen for Selig – $3,900

There were inherent risks in buying this Selig sofa.

  • It was manufactured in the late 1950s or 1960s, possibly in Scandinavia or Italy, making it an authentic Mid-Century Modern piece
  • The heavy frame is made of hardwood and held together by glue, not staples
  • It has clean lines and looks fabulous
  • It can provide space for an adult to nap (important to me)
  • The original rubber latex foam, plush and expensive when new, has dried and hardened in a few spots, mostly along the top of the back cushions and along the edges of the seat cushions. These are areas where body oils probably brushed against the fabric.
  • The fabric shows patches of discoloration, probably from the sun.
  • This is a perfect candidate for reupholstering but our skills are too modest for what’s required.

A closer look:
Selig Blue White Sofa

The owner took excellent care of this sofa. Original tags are still attached:
Selig Blue White Sofa Tags

Two packages of original fabric pieces stayed with it all these years:
Selig blue white extra fabric

We won the bid.

Structurally, this Selig Mid-Century Modern sofa is far stronger than anything made today. We visited our upholsterer for advice. After cooing over its fabulousness, she advised us to do nothing. Just keep it as a blank slate and let the new owner make the choices.

Our intent is to offer this sofa as an investment piece, with the knowledge that it needs work. It’s now in our booth and . . . we wait.

Any thoughts? Has anyone ever undertaken this kind of upholstery project?

Take a last look:
MCM Selig blue white sofa

Ann Marie and David

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Over the Moon Link Party

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Pause and Revitalize #18

We’re facing rainstorms all week — tomorrow is expected to be the worst. With that in mind,  I’m tossing inspiration to you for whatever storms you’re facing.

Alan Rickman, English actor and director. 1946 – 2016

“If only life could be a little more tender and art a little more robust.”
Alan Rickman quote

Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist, lecturer, and poet. 1803 – 1882

“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson quote

David Lloyd George, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. 1863 – 1945

“There is no greater mistake than to try to leap an abyss in two jumps.”

David Lloyd George quote

You can view more of quotes at my Pinterest page. Have a fabulous day.

Ann Marie

Pause and Revitalize #17

Ready for inspiration? Even if you’re not open to encouragement today, keep yourself open to your strength.

Joseph Campbell, American mythologist, writer and lecture. 1904-1987

Joseph Campbell quote
“If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s.” Joseph Campbell

Denzel Washington, American actor and filmmaker. 1954 –
Denzel Washington quote

“I say luck is when an opportunity comes along and you’re prepared for it.” Denzel Washington

Lucille Ball, American actress, comedian, model, film-studio executive, and producer. 1911 – 1989
Lucille Ball quote

“One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn’t pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself.” Lucille Ball



A flashback:
Pause and Revitalize #8
inspirational quoteinspirational quoteinspirational quote

Ann Marie

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Little Piggy Goes to Market

Take a peek at my newest painting project, a hand painted French Provincial chest in Little Piggy:

hand painted french provincial chest

I cannot take credit for the inspiration. That goes to Mary Vitullo of Orphans With Makeup. Mary not only creates beautifully painted pieces of furniture, but her styling is brilliant. Here’s the Little Boho, a French Provincial chest by Mary:

French Provincial Chest

See what I mean? Mary displays fancy doilies in the window and a hanging basket featuring plush animals and a gorgeous pompom cloth with delicate tatting. You may catch a glimpse of my empty painted basket in the photos below.

Last year I bought a French Provincial chest and put it into storage. I delayed doing anything with it because it faced competition from mostly Mid-Century Modern furniture in our booth. But such an adorable painted piece brings radiance anywhere it lands.

Mary used Little Piggy from Fusion Mineral Paint’s Tones for Tots. After trying to buy locally, I turned to my blogging buddy, Melanie Alexander of Lost and Found. She sells this paint line and I’ve been meaning to give it a try. Melanie and I started blogging around the same time, so I’ve always felt a special connection to her. She’s also excellent at shipping quickly.

French Provincial is such a feminine style that I felt I had to go with the Little Piggy color. Unlike Mary’s piece, however, I didn’t distress. Fellow painters take note, Little Piggy is a tad pinker once you get 3 coats on but it’s still a light blush.

Tones for Tots Fusion Mineral Paint

I pulled out my piece and started cleaning.French Provincial Chest

Hello, Starbuck!

French Provincial chest

Fusion Mineral Paint is thinner than Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and it glides on.

hand painted French Provincial chest

Tomorrow we’ll take this lovely girl into our booth at Avonlea Antiques and Design Gallery amid the mid-century items and create a vignette. Although we’ll staged it for a nursery, this chest is perfect for a girl of any age.

French Provincial Chest

handpaianted french provincial chest

Using Tones for Tots was a breeze and I can’t wait to try Little Speckled Frog to match this froggie.

Thanks for visiting. You can also find us on Facebook and Pinterest.

Ann Marie and David

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Pause and Revitalize #16

How are you doing today? We’ve made it to the middle of the week.

Keep breathing. Inhale. Exhale. No matter what you are dealing with, you have the strength to get through it. Here are words of encouragement:

Seneca the Younger, Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, dramatist. (4 BCE – 65 AD)
Seneca the Younger quote

Langston Hughes, American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist (1902 – 1967)
Langston Hughes quote

e.e. cummings, American poet, painter, essayist, author, and playwright (1884-1962)
e.e. cummings quote

Thanks for stopping by, You can find more inspirational quotes at Iris Abbey Pinterest Quotes.

Ann Marie

A look back at Pause and Revitalize #14:
Langston Hughes quotePaulo Coelho quoteThomas Merton quote

Why I Won’t Paint Furniture with Latex Paint

David and I try hard to preserve the wood of Mid-Century Modern furniture. I’ve seen him work miracles on damaged surfaces. But what happens when a piece has too much damage or would require too much time to salvage? It might be anathema in some circles, but sometimes a bit of paint does the trick. We base that decision on 2 criteria:

  • Does the piece have a distinguished pedigree, like Heywood-Wakefield or MCM Broyhill?
  • Is it worth the time and effort to bring it back to original glory?

If the answer is No to both questions, we consider painting. Here’s today’s contestant:
Mid-Century Modern ChestIt’s a good, sturdy chest. Faux burl wood on the upper drawer is the most interesting element about this chest. The slanted drawers a close second. You can see wood fill that we’d already begun using.

We’d previously painted another set using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. Although I love Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and use it as my go-to paint, the process took forever. We slapped on 4 or 5 coats, using 320 grit sandpaper in between. All of that didn’t matter once David wiped polyurethane on the paint and sanded with a wet/dry 400 grit to keep the poly smooth.That’s what gave the pieces a super shine — and they sold quickly.
Mid-Century Modern Dixie chest and nightstand

I explained to my Ace Hardware man, Mike, that I wanted an easier method. He recommended Valspar primer and high gloss paint, along with smooth-surface rollers. Rollers! It’s been a while since I’ve used latex paint and rollers.

OK. Let’s go Old School on this. For the record, I never paint furniture with latex.
paint supplies

I wanted my color to look like Cream of Mushroom soup, so I opted for Beach Dune. Mike tinted the primer lighter shade.
Valspar Beach Dune
Here’s an example of why we elected to wood-fill and paint this piece: separating veneer. David handled the repairs.
MCM chest damage

Some things, like scrubbing with Simple Green, doesn’t change.
MCM Burl Chest no drawers

I taped the top drawer so I could apply paint to the wood accent strips and not the faux burl.
MCM Burl Chest taped drawer

By the end of the day we had two coats of primer covering the piece. I had some difficulty easing back into latex paint: did it always have such a thick hide? It felt so elastic, and not in a good way.
MCM burl chest primed

I was dissatisfied with the final finish. Our goal was straight forward, to achieve a lacquer finish. This didn’t come close, no mater what my ACE guy had assured me.

It looked bumpy, like I used a roller — which I did. I’m hoping you know what I mean because I didn’t take a photo.

David repainted it using a brush and it looked better. Yet another reason why latex paint is a pain: you can’t sand a spot and paint over it. You must repaint the entire surface.

I vow never to use latex on furniture again. With so many better choices out there — I’m looking at you Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and Fusion Mineral Paint — why would I ever need to battle with latex?

David made it handsome enough to put into our booth. It’s a fun piece, especially with the African textile draped over it.

Mid-Century Modern Chest latex paint

MCM Chest latex paint

But this project reminded me of the issues with latex paint. I’m still searching for the perfect enamel or lacquer technique. Any suggestions?

I think I’ll try Amy Howard’s Lacquer next.

Thanks for stopping by.

Ann Marie and David

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DIY: Creating Aged Patina

Let’s start with the After photo of 3 females carved from wood, showing their aged patina:
3 Female Figures Carved Wood

I’ll give a quick run through of how I achieved this look. The piece started out looking much different. It suffered from wear and tear, with scrapes and scratches exposing the bare wood beneath an all too dark exterior. As you can see, I’d already begun to apply wood fill on some of the dings and scrapes. Not all of them though. I wanted to keep its aged look.
3 Female Figures Wood Carving

As you can see, two pieces of wood come together to form this sculpture.
3 Female Figures Wood Carving

My original plan was to repaint it with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (ASCP) in Graphite, remaining consistent with the original color. My son, however, suggested I consider lightening it up with paint and aging it with wax. Sure, why not? I pulled out my can of Old White and set to it. I have the first coat on here.
3 Female Figures Wood Carving

And the second coat:
3 Female Figures Wood Carving

After the paint dried, I covered the whole piece with Clear Wax. Next, I dipped my chip brush into Dark Wax and highlighted the lines by brushing the wax into them and using a soft cloth to rub off the excess.

As for the rest of the piece, I wanted to achieve a lighter contrast using the Dark Wax. I dipped the tip of my brush — lightly — into the Dark Wax and judiciously dabbed, brushed, and rubbed with the cloth. I worked in sections. Any area looking too dark, I applied Clear Wax to lighten it up. It was important not to slather on the Dark Wax and simply rub off. My process took more time.
3 Female Figures Carved Wood

ASCP leaves brush marks that are perfect for Dark Wax to settle into and create an aged patina look.
3 Female Figures Carved Wood

Lastly, I want to mention how powerful I find this piece. It’s 30-inches tall and can stand alone or hang on the wall with a sturdy hook. In that regard I’m reminded of sacred figures in church. The gospels, for instance, mention 3 women at the foot of the cross.

I’m also reminded of family. This piece could easily represent daughters — my neighbor has 3 and this week became a grandmother for the third time. All girls.

Or, the carving provides a symbol of generational love, presenting the unity of a grandmother, mother, and daughter.

Above all, I believe it shows the strength of women through the ages. Standing together, laughing, learning, and lifting up.

3 Female Figures Carved Wood

I think the ladies look great. I’m glad I went with the lighter paint color because the Dark Wax shows a lot more detail now. This sculpture is now in our booth at Avonlea Antiques and Design Gallery.

Thanks for stopping by. You can also find us on Facebook and Pinterest.

Ann Marie and David

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Embracing Change

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