One Year In Our New House!


I can’t believe its been exactly a year since we moved into this house!

It has been an amazing year!  We don’t regret moving for one second.  It is still a bit surreal that moving just 4 miles down the road can change your life so much.  It has brought us immeasurable peace and joy!

The first few weeks here  was a bit apprehensive.  The house was so unfamiliar and didn’t feel like it really belonged to us.  We were not yet “friends”.  There were squeaks and scratches and lots more other strangeness that I did not understand, or feel a connection to.  I’m kind of quirky…I want to know everything about the history of a house that I can.  Our last 2 houses were brand new, and we were the first to live in them…so we got to know each other together.  This particular house had 20 years with others before we arrived.

IMG_7900Thankfully, the people that we bought the house from, invited us over before we moved in to meet us.  I LOVED that!!!  They told us about their time in the house and what they knew about the other previous owner.  My children (ages 10 and 12 now!) are the first children to ever live in this house.  The first owners were 70 when they built the house, and the husband used the basement workshop to refurbish old canoes…fascinating…that would explain the excessive varnish on the floors in the workshop…which I have added several layers of paint too!  The second owners got married in the living room! And what a lovely couple they are!


This was Day 1 in our new house last October!  We wasted no time putting our own fingerprint on the house.  The first thing that went was all that popcorn!!!


I used boxes to try to figure out dimensions for new couches, etc.  Once I figured out what I wanted, it took FOREVER for them to come!

livingroomChristmas 2013 came….fast…and I was totally unprepared!  I feel like I just stuck this tree up in a corner and threw a few things up on the mantel.  That is about it.  An empty living room with a tree.  I’m going to have to say it was one of the worst Christmases ever.  Sad to say…but it was.  The house still did not feel like home.  To top it off my husband got the stomach flu Christmas Eve, and I started with it 9:00 am Christmas morning.  The morning was a blur and the next 2 days were spent on the only couch we had in the basement.

The New Year came and we began to really fall in love with our house and it became our home!  We had a few lovely snows too!

snow1 snow2




The walls are filling up with comfortable memories…the surroundings feel warm and inviting…and now we have a true HOME!

We are embracing our first full Fall Season and excited to share our home over the holidays with lots of friends and family!



I’ve also got some big plans for the basement studio in the new year too!!!

The Color Inspiration Notebook…a must have!

You know when you have a great idea in your head?

 I’m sure we are all familiar with all the great ideas that come and go in our brains daily….I sure do!

Well, my friend Debbie Dion Hayes of My Patch of Blue Sky, popped that great idea out of her brain and put it into press…in record time I must say!  I not quite sure I feel worthy of being one of her contributed artists….but I’ll go ahead and shout it from the mountain tops that I am!



I tell my customers at Total Bliss daily that the hardest thing about using Chalk Paint®, or any other paint you choose, is picking a color.  You are investing your time and money in a project and you want to be sure that the color and style is right for you and your project.

So….in walks the Color Inspiration Notebook.  It is super easy to carry with you and is packed FULL of visual inspiration… broken down in amazing color sections.  It is Pinterst in your purse!

So, how do you get one? Click on over to Debbie’s Website, My Patch Of Blue Sky, to find out where you can purchase one, or order one off her website for $19.95 and have her ship one to you!

Also, make sure you check out lots more stuff on Debbie’s website.  She has some really great tutorials for some amazing paint and stencil projects! I’ve learned TONS from her over the years and you can too!

Consider White or Light Walls….


The smartest thing I did when we moved into this house was to have all my Living Room, Dining Room and Kitchen painted Snowbound {SW 7004} by Sherwin Williams.  Doing this has made decorating so easy and really made our home feel simple and clean!

fanafterI tell people all day long when I work at Total Bliss that “the hardest thing about Chalk Paint® is picking a color!”  I do my very best to assist every customer to ensure that they are picking the best color for what ever item in their home they are painting.  For most, this precious can is a significant investment of time and money.  Who doesn’t want to feel good about how their project looks in your home when they are done??

It seems the biggest factor involved in so many decisions is their current wall color….not to mention the fact that many have a different color in every room of their house!  I’ve been there….I know!!

I do believe that outdated wall colors are crippling us in updating our homes and accessorizing them when deciding to paint furniture for these rooms.


Do you dream of painting your bed a fun bright color like this fabulous turquoise? It is so much more of a wow factor against these white walls! Not to mention all the other colors brought into the room are so much easier and appealing when they are not competing with a dark wall color.

If you really must have a color on a wall…consider painting just one wall like they did in this room.  Imagine if all the walls were painted red in this room….it would just be too much!


Traditional Kids by Cambridge Interior Designers & Decorators Susan Reddick Design, Inc.
Transitional Living Room by Cambridge Architects & Building Designers LDa Architecture & Interiors

Another great thing White Walls do is bring the outside in!

This is my favorite room in our house….our sunroom.  White walls, off white slipcovered furniture and a few pops of color.
Here is my coffee cup view every morning from this room!
My point is …. if you are really struggling with bringing it all together in your home, painting your walls a very light color, and even white can really make a HUGE difference and make things much easier!

CONSIDER IT….Just sayin’!

I’d love to know if any readers have gone to white walls! If so, is it working for you??

Making Brown – Color Recipe

brown1Most furniture is some form of brown before you paint it.  Chances are you are not going to paint all your furniture brown.  However, sometimes you really need a good brown as part of your color palette on a project.  I’ve made many browns with Chalk Paint® and have loved them all!

My most recent custom project needed some brown….so this time I mixed up Primer Red and Olive.  I started with 1 cup of Primer Red and 1 cup of Olive, mixed it, and then sampled it on the surface.  I then decided I needed a “bit more” Olive.  This is where you say “a bit more???”  Yep, I estimate I added about 1/4 cup more Olive to this recipe.

brown2I paired with rich Old Ochre on the legs and the chairs!




Another great color recipe for a deep espresso brown is to mix Barcelona Orange and Graphite in a 1:1 ratio!

I Painted a Ceiling Fan….

fancloseupOf course I did….right?!?!


After I finished my Kitchen Makeover, the ceiling fan was not really blending into my clean, white and gray theme.  I have pretty much blown my decorating budget on the bathroom remodel…so I’m trying hard not to spend anything on the house for awhile.


So, what is a girl to do when she suddenly has 12 hours at home with NO children needing anything from her?



I got a ladder, a few brushes, Graphite Chalk Paint®, Paris Grey Chalk Paint® and Pure White Chalk Paint®.  I wiped off the dirt and dust and started painting. Didn’t even mess with taking the fan down. I decided to do the Washed Zinc technique that I teach in my Chalk Paint® 101 Class.  Its a Graphite Base with Paris Grey washed over it.  I finished it off with some Clear Wax.

I dry brushed the paddles with some Paris Grey and Pure White and I did end up putting wax on them, not because they needed waxing, but because the wax softened the look a bit.

and then this happened….


The “browny” toned glass globe was soooo not working with my new look.  I really hated to spend any money on this project, so I thought perhaps I could work some more paint magic.  Nope, that was not happening….the picture does not do justice to the failure of this idea.  Yes, you can paint glass very successfully with Chalk Paint®, but, the look I was going for was not going to work on this.


I was super excited that for $14 at Lowes I was able to get a new Alabaster White glass globe!


Project Complete with minimal disruption to my life….and nobody destroying other parts of the house in the process!


How about this $349 fan from Ballard Designs? It also comes with white blades.  Ooh La La! I love it…but not for even 20% off $349…can’t splurge for quite awhile!  My fan makeover sure is not “perfect”, but it is “perfect” enough for me!


photo from Ballard Designs

Have I inspired you to paint something in your house that needs a makeover?

The Great American Road Trip!

roadtripDid you know we have an RV?

About 3 years ago I became obsessed with vintage trailers.  I fell so hard for the vintage Shasta with its wings.  I dreamed of Shasta’s, I watched them on eBay and Tin Can Tourists.  My husband of course wanted NOTHING to do with the crazy notion I had of acquiring one.  However, one day I did convince him to stop off at a RV sales center with the kids.  We had a blast looking at all the new campers.  I’ll also admit that we fell in love the newness of the modern RV, and all the amenities you could pack into such a small space.  It was pure craziness that we would be able to restore something.  We were ready to hit the road ASAP.

In walked our first RV last February….and this is how we spent last summer….in our Class C RV!

We did 13 trips, the grand finale being 2 weeks to Bar Harbor, Maine and back!


 It seems that we just so happen to go to the RV show again this year…and oops look what happened….

newrvSince we have plenty of room at the new house….we decided to upgrade!

 We’ve been incredibly blessed beyond measure to be able to have these experiences with the boys.  Even more blessed that we have made some great friends in our community that also have RV’s and BOYS!

Three Families with boys (7 total!) and RV’s….well that is a recipe for….

The Great American Road Trip

Greensboro, North Carolina to Grand Marias, MI (located in the Upper Peninsula of MI) and back…16 days!

If you want to follow it all you need to follow me on Instagram @ MJPaints  hashtag #americanroadtrip June 27th-July 13th.


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Painted Stairs and Doors


When you walk in the front door of our house there is a staircase  immediately in front of you.  Lots of oak huh? Never bothered me for a second.  During our first showing all I saw was beautiful wood that could be painted.  Of course I did!  That is how I think….I imagine everything with paint on it.  The stair case is beautiful!  The design is perfect! I loved that the spindles were wood.  In my last house they were black iron and I was getting a little tired of it. Black Iron is nice, but not “changeable”.

 I like changeable elements.

Good classic bones go a long, long way!


It turned out exactly how I imagined it would!

A black handrail and white everywhere else!


We also painted the front door (previously white) and all the doors off the hallway black!

The walls are Sherwin Williams Repose Gray.


I’m continuing the black doors into the kitchen.  Today I was able to get the first coat on these two doors.  I’m using oil based paint and I’m HATING using the oil paint!  The doors were previously painted in white oil, so I had no choice but to go over oil with oil.  But, I know for lasting durability it is the right choice.  The smell is killing me and I’m so impatient with the dry time! Not to mention I’m a messy girl when it comes to painting and I’m covered in it.  Pretty sure I’ll just throw the brush away when I’m done too!

kitchendoorHere are some great black door inspiration photos from Houzz….catch the black door fever!

Farmhouse Entry by Edina General Contractors REFINED LLC
 The next photo has me thinking I’d like to add some waincotting in my hallway!
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Before Paint….there was “The Cookie”.



There are two things that remind me of my childhood….watching my dad paint and do home projects, and my mom taking the time to let me bake in the kitchen.  She was incredibly patient with me, and I quickly developed a love for making cookies at a young age.

Did you know that before I really started painting furniture I was baking and selling cookies?

Yep, I dabbled in cookies for a few years.


This is “the cookie”.  My cookie.  The one that took years to perfect.  It is the perfect cookie.

I sold frozen dough scoops of this delectable cookie icon.  The Chocolate Chip Cookie.  I had quite a following built up…and I still get orders and requests.  I mostly turn them down…..

But, lately I have been haunted by this cookie.  And its other companion flavors….Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter and the Pretzel Crunch and Swedish Ginger.

Should they make a come back?  Maybe a limited release?

I’m hopeful to get my home studio up and running this summer for classes and a place to gather for fun projects….and maybe eating cookies while we paint???


Can you almost taste it? I CAN!

Speaking of paint…


This week I transformed a boring brown mirror with some French Linen Chalk Paint® and then added some Silver Foil from Artisan Enhancements.  Sealed with Clear Finish! Super Yum! The picture does not doit justice, my camera was acting up and the designer needed to grab it and go!

Have a great weekend!!

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Taking time to Enjoy “It”!


What is Your “It”?

and are you taking time to enjoy it?

This is my “it”….”it” happens at “409”….and yes of course I painted my mailbox!  I’m truly amazed that I’ve been able to slow down and enjoy being still a little more since we moved from a Court to a Road 6 months ago.  Of course I still  have my “so overwhelmed I’m gonna freak out moments”, but they are sandwiched in between some amazing “stop and smell the flowers” moments.  Honestly, I rarely did this until now.  I’m sure I really missed out on some great moments by being so out of balance for so long.


This is by far our favorite room in the house!  It feels like a tree house on top of the world.  I’m sitting in the chair on the right at this exact moment watching birds darting about, goats grazing and listing to the bray of donkeys off in the distance.  It gives me a reason just to sit.


This is my sweet boy #2….gazing at our sweet neighbor riding her horse at sunset.  We sat on the front porch together and talked about front porches.  He probably was thinking I’m just some super dorky mom, but he listened as I explained that a front porch was a very important cultural institution in American history. According to Wikipedia, porch sitting was once considered a status symbol.  Sadly electronics have brought us all inside.  I don’t think people sit on there porches the way they used to.  It definitely is not the social gathering place of long ago.


I’ve never had a front porch before in any home or rental I have ever lived in.  I have always wanted one!  I have not decorated or even placed any flowers on this one yet.  All we have is two comfortable chairs and a table in between.  Really, that is all I need.  A comfortable chair and a table to set my glass on!  I can even enjoy it with out wiping off the pollen!  Because my ‘It” is to just sit still and enjoy and not worry about the fact the table is dirty, and the area is not perfectly decorated.


Here is the little guy who sits with me most!

So, what about you?  Are you taking time to enjoy your “It”?

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