A Wedding Anniversary Letter

Dear Jeff (aka Mr. VB),

Today is a great day. We are finalizing the details on our new home -- it's all staked out and hopefully we'll break ground in the next couple of days! The beginning process has taken longer than we thought...but it will go so fast now.

You've been working alot lately and we haven't been able to spend alot of time together. I miss you.

I just finished packing a suitcase for our weekend getaway. We're heading down to Memphis for a few days and I CANNOT wait. I've got my usual checklist of things we must do. I want some good BBQ and wanna try chicken and waffles. We've got to see the ducks at the Peabody and I think the pastry shop there has French macaroons. It seems like forever since we've sat outside and listened to some great live music. And, I found an architectural shop close by. Wouldn't it be cool to find an old door there for the headboard you want to make for us?

And -- most importantly, today is our seven year wedding anniversary. Seven years. So much has happened in that time. We've laughed. We've danced and celebrated. We've argued and cried. We've experienced great loss. And, we've been blessed in many ways.

You are truly my best friend. There's nobody else I would rather spend time with. We were friends way before that fateful trip to the wineries, when, after five years, we confessed our love for each other.

Our wedding was beautiful. It's funny...but, when I think back, it's not the typical things that stick out in my mind. 

Do you remember calling me a couple hours before the ceremony to tell me you decided to wear your blue shirt? Instead of the white shirt we planned. I said, "If you wear that blue shirt, I won't marry you." You wore the white shirt. Later, you told me that there was only one reason you went to Hawaii...and it wasn't for a vacation.

You put the flowers in my hair and tied the sash on my dress. We drove down to the beach together.

It was hot. But perfect. No usual afternoon rain. There was a beautiful sunset.

Do you remember my lei? It was made of tuberose. The scent was incredible. I could wear that forever.

And you cried.

Everyone was so tired from the time difference. Instead of going back to the house we rented, we went to Sharky's. Just you, me, Dad, Annie and Bart. And we celebrated.

If you look closely at some of our pictures, there's a bruise on your face. From bending down to take pics of the gecko we named "Lil Jeffy."

The next day we went snorkeling. Remember the tide? It was strong and picked you up and dragged you across the volcanic rock. I remember thinking, "Well...there he goes. That was short." You got the first scratches on your wedding ring on those rocks.

So, here we are. Seven years later. So much ahead of us.

Marriage is hard. Thank you for all you do for us. Thank you for cooking dinner when I just sit in a chair, drink wine and ask when it will be done.

Thank you for not getting mad when I buy four vintage suitcases. For no reason. Or, when I use our silverware to open a can of paint.

Thank you for overlooking my complete inability to own a matching pair of socks. And, for some reason, now for you to not own a pair of matching socks.

Thank you for saying "I don't see any gray hair. You're crazy." every time I am yelling and showing you my gray hair.

We waited a long time to be together. It's not always perfect. But, I'm willing to give it a go for at least seven more years :-).


5 on Friday

This being mostly a food and DIY blog, I thought I would mix things up a bit for today's 5 on Friday. When it comes to beauty products, I don't have alot of "must haves." I'm not loyal to a certain brand or product. However, there's a handful of items that I truly do love. So, here's my:

1/Au Lait Body Milk from The Scottish Fine Soaps Company
I discovered this more than a decade ago at TJ Maxx. It's light weight, smooth and silky. And has THE BEST scent. Rose, violets, sandalwood. The scent lasts forever and feels so fresh. And, it comes in a cute milk glass jug (perfect to reuse as a vase for fresh flowers).

2/Sephora lip gloss collection
My mom gave me this collection last Christmas and I love it. I'm a lip gloss girl...I must have one within arms reach at all times. All of these colors gave the perfect light tint. I have one in my desk drawer, a couple in my purse, one in the car, one on my night stand...this collection makes sure I'm never wanting for a tinted lip coloring. Ever.

3/L'OCCITANE Shea Butter Foot Cream
Every Christmas, Santa puts a tube of this in my stocking. When I'm having a particularly hard day, I bring this to Mr. VB, who proceeds to give me an awesome foot rub. I don't take advantage of this service...a tube lasts me from Dec. 25-Dec. 25.

4/The hair tutorials from Kate at The Small Things Blog
I stumbled upon this blog thanks to Pinterest. I've been sporting her loose waves and barely there curls for the last several months. I always wondered how celebs got that look and Kate does a great job of showing it step by step.

5/Bumble and bumble thickening hairspray
I have very thin, fine hair. Hair products and sprays inevitably weigh it down. It's probably where I am most picky. I love this hairspray...it doesn't weigh my hair down. Gets me the hold I want. And, isn't sticky.


Vanilla Bean Blogiversary!

Five years ago today I started this blog. My vision was to create a place where Mr. VB and I could chronicle and share our cooking adventures. Over time, we discovered a love of DIY, decorating, painting and building furniture. And, we've shared it all here. Thanks for reading and being a part of it!

What's a blogiversary without a cake? It's just a blog.

Since we are in the middle of summer, I wanted to make something that incorporated one of the best summer fruits: blackberries. There's a small farm near our apartment that boasts fresh blackberries. I stopped in and got what I think are the largest berries I've seen in my life.

I kind of winged it on the recipe. You'll notice I didn't include any measurements below. It's a trifle -- layering cake, whipped cream, liquor and berries can hardly get messed up without proper measurements. Just use your best judgement. It will be awesome. Trust me.

Summer Blackberry Orange Trifle

Summer Blackberry Orange Trifle

Adapted from Nigella Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home (Hyperion, 2010)



  • Cut the cake into cubes and drop 4-5 pieces in a mason jar (or whatever glass serving dish you are using). Drizzle with orange liqueur.
  • Then squeeze the juice from the orange, drizzle this over the liqueur-soaked cake.
  • Arrange the blackberries over the top of the cake and add some whipped cream.
  • Repeat layers until your jar is filled. 
  • Try to show restraint long enough to take pics of your lovely creation.
  • Make additional jars of trifle for yourself company.


From a First-Timer: Three Tips for Using Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint

As promised, here are my lessons learned, or three tips, for getting started with using Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint. I'm not going into a ton of how-to detail below...MMS and others out there do a great job of giving milk paint tutorials. The tips below highlight the biggest "pains" (for lack of a better word) I had. I'm just the average furniture painter...with some projects under her belt. Looking to branch out. So, here we go...

1. Watch Miss Mustard Seed's video tutorial. Alot.

I watched the first tutorial three times. Okay...maybe four. But, that last time was solely just to hear that catchy little intro music she has. The videos are helpful and reassuring...mixing your own paint can be scary. And, the texture is unlike any other paint. It's best to be prepared... 

2. Use a mason jar to mix your paint.

At first, I tried the "mix in a plastic cup" method. There's a couple possible reasons why this wasn't working for me. I put in waaaay too much water. Like a 3 (water)-1 (milk paint powder) ratio. Due to the lack of a nice wooden stick like MMS uses, I used a knife to stir the paint. Then the end of my favorite wooden spoon (may it RIP). I'm also a very impatient person. After mixing for what seemed like 5 agonizing hours, I still had this:

So, I put the proper amounts (1:1 ratio of milk paint powder and warm water) in a mason jar and shook away. I added a tad bit more water (technically, the suggested ratio is 1 part powder to 1 1/2 parts water). MUCH better. While the texture of milk paint is alot different than other paints (it's grainy), it was smooth, mixed and much easier to paint on.

Super cute jar you won't see a trifle in later this week.

 3. Throw caution to the wind.

For the most part, once you put milk paint on, you don't know what's going to happen. While MMS does have a bonding agent that prevents the chippiness; for me, the purpose of buying this paint WAS the chippiness. The paint on your piece might chip and flake off easily. There might not by any chipping at all. Or, there might be a little. With a some effort. But, that's what makes it so fun.

The dresser below was stained and looked like it had a layer of poly on it. I didn't sand it. I barely cleaned the dust off it. In some areas (mostly the sides), the chippiness took alot of work with a putty knife (and even then, I barely had any). There were areas on the top and on the dresser drawers where the paint cracked and were easier to chip off with the putty knife. It wasn't an easy scrape...it took some work. But, I know that was just this piece. Other people have different results. Which is the cool part about this paint.

Also, once the milk paint was dry and adequately flaked off, I was freaking out a bit. I used the color Tricycle. It was a dull red. I was a little mad. Look at the drawers below. Dull!

I finished the piece with Annie Sloan's dark wax...simply because I had some on hand. MMS  has a whole line of finishing products that I look forward to using soon. I should have known from my experience with chalk paint, that once the wax is applied, the real transformation begins.

The colors popped. The chippiness stood out. And, the entire piece is sooo smooth.

I was in love.

{Please standby for an obscene amount of photos of the same dresser. It's mandatory}.

Miss Mustard Seed Tutorial

Miss Mustard Seed Tutorial

Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint Tricycle

Miss Mustard Seed Tutorial Tricycle

Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint in Tricycle

So, that's it! Here's the before and after. Technically, this piece is slated to be in our closet (Mr. VB thinks it's a shame). I'm starting to think so too.

If you haven't jumped onto the milk paint bandwagon yet, I hope these tips help you! I would love to hear your thoughts on your first time with milk paint!

City Farmhouse
The 36th Avenue


Sneak Peek at First Milk Paint Project

It's late and I finally finished my first piece of furniture using Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint. I'm so excited to share pics and lessons learned (because, there were alot...if I had Miss Mustard Seed's phone number, I would have given her a call!) -- but, my bed calls. I'll be putting my thoughts and better photos together this week, but here's a sneak peek:

Before  & The Process

(Erm...don't pay attention to the dust. What dust?)



Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint Tricycle


5 on Friday

One of my favorite blogs, Running from the Law, recently started posting 5 on Friday: five things that are on your mind, things you've been busy with, stuff you are loving -- right at this moment. This is the perfect series for me, since I've always got about 15 projects going at one time! So, here's my first 5 on Friday:


I've been wanting to try my hand at Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint for awhile. I finally picked up a bag of Tricycle (red) to use on our dresser (I'm trying to bring some color into our new house). But first, I practiced on a stool. After watching the tutorial video 3 4 times, I finally got enough courage to try it. It didn't turn out how I imagined (no wonderful chippiness that typically comes with milk paint). My measurements were a little off...so, I'll be back at it again this weekend.


Mr. VB has been working practically around the clock. Second shift (5:30 p.m.-4 a.m.), seven days a week. Which means I see him a total of about 6 hours a week. It totally sucks. Last week, he got an unexpected day off and we spent all of it lounging by the pool. It was wonderful. I'm hoping we get to do that again this weekend.


Last year, we started a little side business, Red Door Furniture Co. Jeff makes awesome tables out of old doors and I've discovered a love of painting and restyling home furnishings. We've sold our items at local festivals and fairs -- but, our ultimate goal would be to have our own space some day. This little retail space is available just a couple miles from us...isn't it cute? I love the old hardwood floors and exposed brick wall. It would be PERFECT for a our dream store front.


I've been addicted to Caprese Salads lately. With the heat on the rise in STL, I'm thinking tonight's dinner will feature this and a glass of wine.



I'm completely biased, but the sunsets in New Town during the last month have been spectacular. I love hopping on my bike, heading down to the lake and sitting on the little brick wall to watch the sun go down. It's so peaceful and quiet -- I'm absolutely in love with it!

Check out other 5 on Fridays at the good life blog. Have a great weekend!


Side Table Makeover

I knew that despite living in a cramped apartment for 3 months, there was going to be no way I could not paint. Something. Heck, the very last thing I packed in my Jeep was my stash of Annie Sloan paints & waxes. I even strategically arranged our storage area...the things I intend to paint are all accessible.

First (and easiest to reach) was a little side table I picked up at Goodwill a few years ago on the cheap. It was either $6 or $12. I painted it cottage white and distressed it. It spent several happy years in our living room.

I decided to go with Aubusson Blue and Antibes Green, because: 1)  I have like a gallon of Aubusson. And, 2) while I've always been a little scared of Antibes, I've been seeing it alot lately and it's growing on me.

I'll admit, my first attempt wasn't great. I didn't quite achieve the look I was going for. (What that look was, I still don't know).

My sister hated it. Mr. VB gave it the ol' stink eye every time he walked past it. Even Allie and Marley wouldn't look at it.

I knew I had to try again.

I stuck with the Aubusson on the outside, with a surprise of Antibes inside. A coat of dark wax gave it the old and antique look (and tones down the green).

I distressed it a bit so a little Antibes peeks thru in different spots. That's what I love about painting furniture and ASCP...it's pretty hard to mess up. And, if you do, just start over.

Next up is a dresser similar to Miss Mustard Seed's below. I have one almost identical. I haven't tried her milk paint yet, but can't wait. I love the chippy look it gives to furniture. Stay tuned!

Linking to: Anything Blue Friday at The Dedicated House.