Regarding the window boxes...
Someone left a comment on the last post asking about the finish on the window boxes, so I thought I'd tell you how I did it. It was incredibly easy, just multiple steps.
First, it started like all good projects do - with a trip to Lowe's (or Home Depot). They sold me this wonderful product for crackle finishes. I don't know the name of it, but they can tell you. I bought the small (quart, I think) size and it was just enough for the two window boxes. I then followed the instructions that came with the glaze.
1. I primed the wood (because it was raw) but if you are painting something that's already been painted you can skip that step.
2. Then I painted my blue/green color on in SATIN finish. (Remember - this first color that you paint is going to be the underneath color that shows through the cracks.) It took less than a quart of this color for both boxes.
3. Then I painted the glaze stuff on. It is kind of milky looking, but dries clear. Follow the instructions carefully when it comes to drying time. (I believe that you are supposed to let it dry for an hour, but NO LONGER than 4 hours before going on to the next step.)
4. The final coat was the trickiest. It was a cream colored FLAT finish paint. (The important part here is that your first color needs to be SATIN finish and the top coat is FLAT.) The smaller the strokes you make with the paintbrush, the smaller and closer together your crackle effect will be. I chose to do long, broad strokes in order to get larger crackling. I also made sure that the paint brush was well loaded with paint. The hardest part was where one stroke ended and the next began because it won't crackle if you overwork the wet paint. I got a few places that looked a little smudged and messy because there wasn't a good transition between strokes - in some places the paint was too thin (resulting in too much blue showing without looking crackled - you can see this in the close up picture, on the far right side of the picture) and in others, I overworked it (resulting in too much cream and not enough crackling). All in all, though, it wasn't too bad because the end result is supposed to look less than neat. I also only used barely a quart of this paint for both boxes.
5. I would recommend letting it dry well (like for days) in the proper temperature. I finished the painting just before the weather turned cold and damp, and I noticed some bubbling in the top coat of paint. Thankfully, by the next day it had flattened out and I can't even tell where it was. Another idea would be to finish it off with a clear coat of some sort, but I like the flat finish on the top coat because it gives it that aged/distressed look instead of a glossy, "finished" appearance.
All in all, I highly recommend that anyone try this treatment. It was very fun and pretty easy! I would just caution you to make sure that you have enough time to do steps 3 and 4 on the same day. You can always prime and paint the first coat a day/days before. But once you start the glaze, you have to follow it through to the end. You can also play around with your color choices - think dark top coat with a lighter color showing through (I almost made my top coat the dark brown mud room color). The possibilities are endless. Have fun!