photographing a hoosier

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to visit Miss Mustard Seed’s studio in PA.  It is an inspiring space, as I’m sure you can imagine, yet totally approachable and comfortable.  It is filled with Marian’s signature style and brand which seem to be just that.  Approachable and comfortable.

Miss Mustard Seed's Studio

Around every corner, another familiar milk paint color bats an eye at you.  Even when not staged, its beautiful.

Miss Mustard Seed's Studio

And this vintage, chippy counter!  Love that original color.

Miss Mustard Seed's Studio

The space was basically a blank canvas with fantastic light that Marian turned into a studio for painting, teaching and photography.  I was there for the latter, a photography boot camp class.

Miss Mustard Seed's Studio

Great pictures can elevate a brand.  This is an area I’ve been interested in developing further for some time now.  I knew I had hit a wall with my own technical knowledge of photography.  Well, questions were answered with a few aha moments!  I’m looking forward to upgrading my equipment starting with a new lens and lighting tools.  I’m not sure that I’ll ever be an all-star photographer but it is great to work at it and “get it” more from a technical standpoint.

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When I returned home, I was so excited to put a few of my new skills to work.  I just finished this Hoosier last week which I absolutely adore, especially in this space at my parent’s cottage.  However, it is for sale and will be moving to West End Garage very soon.  At any rate, this little vignette was the perfect candidate to photograph.

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The Hoosier is painted Mustard Seed Yellow and finished with hemp oil and some antiquing wax.  The oak countertop was revived with hemp oil and is a real stunner!  The farmhouse sign is hand painted with milk paint too – grainsack for the lettering and a custom mix for the shadowing.

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I can’t wait for my new lens to arrive so I can work on sharper images but for now I’m happy with how this wild bouquet of zinnias looks in the foreground.

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Do you have any photography tips to share?

summer travels

Our travels this summer have taken us to beautiful back country roads.  More often than not we’ve found ourselves without cell service which is welcomed.  The name of the game has been picking in uncharted territory.  The further from home, the better as far as I’m concerned.

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Typically there are more chickens than people.  Oh, there have been so many chickens. Caged, penned, free range.  You name it.  We need more chickens in our life. That’s for sure.

There have been creeks, peaks and rivers.  One gargling right by our back door at this cabin by the woods.  Glamping at its finest.

Barns and dilapidated out buildings too.

And one memorable barn-red, covered bridge.

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We’re getting ready for another adventure as we continue to check items off from our summer bucket list.  How is yours progressing?

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summer bucket list

It seems like we anticipate summer all year long living in Cape May.  All of the seasons are beautiful here in this quaint coastal town but summer takes the cake.  The town swells with visitors.  The locals are busy working their craft whether it be retail, hospitality or agriculture.  The energy in the southernmost point of New Jersey is amazing.  Yet there is still time for a sunset bike ride by the bay, an afternoon nap on the beach or an early morning walk in the garden.  The days are so long and full of possibility.

This year I don’t want to solely consume myself with work and miss out on what the season has to offer.  I may have been guilty of that last summer.  We put together a summer bucket list to keep ourselves motivated to enjoy all that life has to offer.  We may even spend a few days acting like tourists as we did prior to moving here on a full-time basis.

Here goes.

summer bucket list

With July rapidly approaching, I challenge you to make a summer bucket list too.  Keep track of your goals whether on a piece of paper, a chalkboard, email, whatever works for you.  Simply challenge yourself to fully enjoy the season without any regrets.

What’s on your summer bucket list?

While discussing bucket lists and goals, I should mention that I was interviewed in June’s issue of Cape May magazine. We talked lighting.  Of course, I was happy to discuss all of the upcycled lighting we’ve created and posted about over the years.

CM mag june

Earlier this year, I made a goals list and included “contribute to a regional magazine” amongst what I wished to accomplish in 2015.  And wouldn’t you know I did just that two months in a row!  I am convinced that there is really something to putting your goals in writing and therefore releasing them into the world.  It holds you responsible for accomplishing the tasks, even if only as simple as doing yoga on the beach just once this summer.

Cape May magazine

The spring edition of Cape May magazine is now available.  Aside from featuring everything we love about this town, the regional magazine also offers a regular decorating column called Interior Motives.  Earlier this season, I was asked to contribute to the current column’s theme of refreshing the bathroom.

Bathrooms?  I can talk bathrooms!

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I met with the editor and we discussed redecorating the bathroom for the upcoming season using new paint, fixtures and accessories.  Naturally I didn’t stray far from the themes of repurposing and styling with vintage.  The cottage bathroom that we completed last year in our home was mentioned in the article (as well as one we’re currently working on using that pretty brass fixture).

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Here’s how that cottage bathroom looks today with the addition of sconce lighting that we recently added over the sink.  For months I was on the hunt for just the right vanity light fixture.  Then, at the flea market, I came across a pair of gooseneck, task lamps.  Thinking outside of the box, it was clear to me that these lights could be the finishing touch that we needed in this bathroom.  Insert light bulb pun here.

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Ryan worked his magic dismantling and reconfiguring these task lights into sconces.  He took off the switches and exterior cord and hardwired them to work on the light switch.  We also sprayed them glossy heat-resistant white.

And voila, a custom vanity light for our bathroom.  I like how the lights have a gallery vibe to them as if they’re illuminating the heirloom mirror like a piece of fine art.  If you’re curious, you can see how we constructed the vanity out of a dresser here.

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The magazine article also references ways to use Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint in the bathroom. We talked about using tough coat as a protective top coat to preserve wood surfaces around water and humidity such as the mirror.

Check out the magazine next time you’re in Cape May.  You can always purchase online too.

playing dress up

Winter could also be dubbed elastic pant season.  At least for me.  Tell me I’m not alone in that admission.  Monday runs into Tuesday and Tuesday into Wednesday, all while sporting thick sweats or yoga pants (on a good day), usually paint covered and topped with some sort of crazy cat lady house coat.  The joys of working from home in a vacation community in the dead of winter warrant cat lady wardrobe status.  As soon as the season changes and I find my style senses again, please dismiss that image.  Until then, picture my XL men’s flannel and paint sweats topped with a Waldo-like beanie.

Now that you have that visual, let me tell you about what I’m working on.  I’ve got a number of pieces in the hopper in various European colors  including a secretary in Arabesque, a nightstand in Layla’s mint and a Marzipan/Schloss layered drum table, to name a few.  I can’t wait to get them finished up, photographed and posted.  The pretty pastels all hint at spring.

European colors

In the meantime, I did a little window shopping.  Clearly I’m dreaming of warmer days when I will remove some layers, wear proper wasted pants and bare a little skin again.  Eliza J dresses are modern but with a hint of vintage style which is exactly what I like.  I found a fantastic range of new dresses that correlate to the new European colors in Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint line.  I never stray far from paint and I thought this was a fun way to translate the new colors…

Eliza J

“Arabesque” is definitely a feminine, soft ballet pink just like the skirt on the right.  I’d say the skirt has a shimmer of “white wax” to it as well.

I wouldn’t mind wearing this “Schloss” faux fur now in lieu of my flannel.  Definitely no need to wait ’til spring for that greige number.  Both Schloss and the jacket are equal parts gray and brown and a bit of a chameleon depending on the surroundings.

“Marzipan” is incredibly creamy and flowy.  It is light and breezy just like this gown.  Not quite white, though I wouldn’t wear it to a wedding.

“Mora” is definitely my favorite and so is this lace dress.  That sheath really captures the spirit of the new paint color which is a light silvery gray with more than a hint of blue.  This one changes a bit with the lighting.

“Bergere” is kind of smokey blue.  Well maybe not smokey but definitely not sky blue either.  It is as if light blue has a gray finish to it similar to that flirty little dress.

“Layla’s Mint” is the final new color in the line.  I can’t quite put my finger on a description for that one nor could I find a dress to relate to it.  Stay tuned.

Please feel free to come to our next Milk Paint Demonstration on Saturday, February 27th at noon at Serendipity Shops.  Unfortunately I will not be wearing one of these elegant Eliza J dresses but you can check out the lookbook here.  Nor will I be wearing a house coat and elastic pants.  Thank goodness.

snow way

Finally Cape May county got hit with a snowstorm!  Usually we just get rain or a dusting when winter storms move through the region.  This storm was all ours though, dumping a manageable half-foot Monday night.  The snow quietly enveloped the region – from coast to farmland.  Very exciting.  The tide seemed to slow down just enough to allow the water to freeze under the frigid temperatures.  It is almost unbelievable to see the beach in this state, isn’t it?  Ryan was on feeding duty at the local alpaca farm.  I tagged along to visit the animals who seemed less than impressed with the snow.  Just look at their expressions!

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