where has the time gone

Wednesday already?  Mid-April?

Oh my, the usual Clover Market hangover has lingered an extra day or so this time around.  Being the first market of the season, I seemed to forget how much work goes into the prior days of preparation, early morning day-of setup, evening break down and clean up for such a popup.  Not including the actual 7 hours of selling and schmoozing!  I think many shoppers probably don’t have a sense of what goes into an event as epic as Clover Market.  I try to price my items fairly so it can be frustrating when someone asks for a big break on a price in the first hour of the market after I’ve already put in about 5 hours of work.  I certainly understand the sport of haggling and it can be fun but I prefer to wait until later in the day to make a deal.

Clover Market Spring 2014

At any rate, we had a great turn out in Chestnut Hill on Sunday and absolutely stunning 80 degree weather which, by the way, where did that go?  I was happy to see so many familiar faces in both fellow vendors and regular shoppers.  Everyone was ecstatic to be out and about after the long winter.  Would you believe I didn’t take a single picture?  I really have no excuse.  #livinginthemoment  There are plenty of photos posted on the Clover Market facebook page along with new previews.

The market will be back at its freshman location in Ardmore in two weeks.  Circa Dee will not be at that event.  I have a spa date!  But we’ll be back at the May 18th Ardmore market fresh from a trip to Brimfield so who knows what goodies we’ll have.

West End Garage April-3443

So what’s next?  Well this weekend is Easter, duh, so we’re working on stocking some new plants and other spring holiday & gardening pleasantries at The West End Garage in Cape May.  Stop by Friday through Monday if you find yourself at the shore.  The adorable Ribbit succulent gardens will be back in stock.  Perfect for a beach house!

ribbit succulent garden

Can I digress a bit?  I haven’t mentioned Houndstooth in a while – Ryan’s West End Garage venture.  We’ve been adding new inventory there weekly.  The latest additions are yummy beach themed dog cookies.  Perfect for your pooches’ Easter basket.  Do people do pet Easter baskets?

Houndstooth - Cape May dog cookies

The cookies look and smell so good that I want to taste one.  They are made from human grade ingredients so why not?  Ok I won’t but Wilson goes nuts for them!

Wilson

Finally, I’d like to add that on Saturday afternoon at 1 pm I will be popping into Serendipity Shops of Doylestown to talk milk paint.  Stop by for a free demonstration while you’re out running your errands.  Bring project questions, before pics, etc.  If you can’t make this one, next month’s demo is tentatively scheduled for May 17th – time TBD.  You can always check milk paint demo deets here.

Serendipity Shops of Doylestown

So that’s what’s in store for this weekend and beyond.  Do you have an Easter egg hunt planned?

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the valencia cocktail

Get excited because I have a fantastic cocktail recipe to share with you today.  Fortunately, I was able to book America’s next top model and canine for this very profesh photo shoot…

The Valencia - cocktail recipe

We have been juicing frequently here.  And when the mood strikes us we make cocktails using the fresh juice as a mixer.  The Drunken Botanist has had quite the influence on me.  I am in love with this book and all of the garden-to-cocktail concoctions it describes.  I have been considering which edible plants I want to grow this year based on the recipes and knowledge in this book.

Our new favorite cocktail is refreshing and fruity and sparkly.  Yum!  Plus it warms you up during these remaining winter days.  It’s called The Valencia.

The Valencia - cocktail recipe

Have you ever heard of it?  It’s an old time-y cocktail that has been around for ages.  Apparently there are different versions out there.  We use Apricot brandy and bitters combined with freshly squeezed orange juice and champagne.

The Valencia - cocktail recipe

1 1/2 ounces apricot liqueur

3/4 ounce orange juice

4 dashes Citrus Medica bitters

 Shake all of the ingredients over ice and strain into a cocktail glass.  Top with champagne and garnish.

The Valencia - cocktail recipe

We now carry an assortment of bitters at The West End Garage including Citrus Medica.  For those of you who are not familiar with bitters, they are essentially herbs with a bitter flavor processed into a liquid.  Bitters are traditionally used in both cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks like tea.  Less traditionally, bitters can be used to add flavor to salad dressings, soups and more.  They have therapeutic qualities and can help with digestion.

The Valencia - cocktail recipe and NJ state cutting board

The New Jersey cutting board pictured was a wedding shower gift that we just love.  When we’re not using it, we display it on the wall. You may have caught that in an earlier kitchen post.

Flea Market Style Eat-In Kitchen - Vintage Serve letters, Blueprint Wallpaper, Galvanized Pendant Light

It inspired us to stock the Made in the USA bamboo New Jersey cutting boards at West End Garage too.  On each one, Cape May is highlighted with a heart, star or home.

The Valencia - cocktail recipe

Thanks everyone for your enthusiasm around our shop news at The West End Garage!  Now, who is shaking up The Valencia tonight?

Or today?  No judgement here!

shop news: west end garage

As the tides change and we settle into life in Cape May, the timing has also allowed me to get back to my roots.

How’s that for puns?

Circa Dee at West End Garage in Cape May, NJ

Once in a while an opportunity comes along that is just so right.  This particular opportunity will allow me to pursue my passion in horticulture coupled with my flair for vintage.  I couldn’t be more ecstatic to share the news that Circa Dee continues to grow under The West End Garage’s roof – an antique tin one at that!

Circa Dee at West End Garage in Cape May, NJ

You can now find us in our new location up front where we’re proudly featuring a garden to table collection. Amongst our very favorite vintage furniture and quirky finds you’ll find succulent gardens, herbal wreaths & topiaries, bitters & other fixings for fantastic cocktails, cookbooks, botanical stationary, garden tools, vases, pots & cloches with much more to come!

Circa Dee at West End Garage in Cape May, NJ

We hope to inspire you to get back to the simple pleasures in life as we currently are…  Growing your own summer cutting garden and arranging fresh flowers.  Harvesting your own vegetables and cooking them for dinner.  Planting your own terrarium and watching it grow.  We’ll offer seasonal merchandise to help make that happen.

Circa Dee at West End Garage in Cape May, NJ

In addition, we’ve been working hard to bring in a selection of sustainable, high quality American Made goods that complement our new garden to table direction.  It has been very empowering to work with so many small, family owned businesses and artists who are experts in their craft.  I am looking forward to sharing these products with you here on the blog and, of course, for sale in the shop.

Circa Dee at West End Garage

I’ve been a fan of The West End Garage since the day the doors opened nearly 5 years ago.  It is Cape May’s most unique shopping destination boasting an eclectic mix of vendors that we’re proud to be a part of.  You never know what you’ll find hidden in that wonderful, old building.  It’s worth the trip!

Circa Dee at West End Garage in Cape May, NJ

The best news of all is that we’re already open for business in our new location.  We’ve been busy bees.  Stop in one weekend this spring or any day this summer!

The West End Garage

484 West Perry St. Cape May, NJ

Here’s to a new chapter in our story…

a dose of spring

This little lady has brought a breath of fresh air on an otherwise gloomy day.  Most of our friends to the north and even the south are buried in a foot of snow or more so I just had to share this unlikely February sight.

blooming geranium in February

I think unanimously everyone is looking forward to spring.  Actually, I am sure of that.  In the meantime, I’ll bring spring to your computer.

blooming geranium in February

Did you know that you can successfully overwinter geraniums?  And if conditions are optimum, your geranium might just put out a rare winter bloom.

Here’s how…

  • Before the first frost (usually in October ’round these parts), bring potted geraniums indoors.  You can transplant geraniums from your garden beds into pots if you’re up for it.
  • Dead head any spent blooms and wilting leaves.
  • Keep geraniums in a cool (50-60 degrees), sunny area over the winter.  This potted geranium lives in my office which is typically about 60 degrees believe it or not.  Optimum geranium-overwintering conditions!
  • Don’t over water it!  That is the most common mistake made with all potted plants really.  Generally speaking, water when the soil is dry to the touch.

over wintering a geranium

And of course my favorite vintage McCoy planter is home to this geranium.  A cute planter is a must.  I have a collection of yellow McCoy planters.

blooming geranium in February

Ahh,  we’re in the home stretch now friends.   Soon we’ll all be looking at gardens lined with hot pink geraniums.  Soon.

blooming geranium in February

Don’t worry, I’ll remind you in October how you were feeling on this particularly stormy winter day so you remember to dig up your geraniums and nurse them  through the cold months so they’ll bloom indoors for you next winter.  Or you can just pin this as a reminder…

overwintering geraniums

it’s soup weather

I finally did it.

Yep, I finally made my own healthy and light butternut squash soup.  After hearing about my mom’s and mother-in-law’s versions.  I decided to try my own spin and so Apple Butternut Squash Soup was born over here on a chilly October day.

apple butternut squash soup recipe

It was simple, friends.  There was barely anything left in the refrigerator except for a large butternut squash taunting me.  Plus 3 golden apples – I can’t remember the variety.  And 3 lonely, nearly forgotten about radishes.  I know.  Radishes.  What do you do with these other than throw them in a salad?  I found out that they taste pretty darn good in a warm creamy soup.  Radishes seemed to give a little bit of bite where you might otherwise use an onion.  An onion we didn’t have.

apple butternut squash soup

So that’s where I started.  I chopped and peeled the squash, apples and radishes.  Then boiled the chunks in a large sauce pan.  Once soft I pureed them all in a blender.

Once the fruit and vegetables were a nice creamy consistency, I tossed them back in the empty sauce pan along with 16 ounces of vegetable stock and let simmer.

I seasoned with salt and pepper.  A teaspoon of cinnamon, half teaspoon of ginger, quarter teaspoon of cloves and quarter teaspoon of thyme.

About 20 minutes later, we had this healthy soup for lunch!

apple butternut squash soup recipe

Alongside the soup, I came up with a fantastic new smoothie that was a little bit more like dessert!  It consisted of a banana, spoonful of peanut butter, spoonful of raw honey, 2 spoonfuls of vanilla Greek yogurt, kale and about half a cup of coffee.

java green smoothie and apple butternut squash soup

Yum!  It was a mid-day energy boost.  And surprisingly, the flavor complemented the Apple Butternut Squash Soup so well.  We’ll call this one the Java Green Smoothie.

beet stuffed peppers

I’m back with another food post, friends.

I’m talking about beetroots today.  They are said to be a natural anti-inflammatory vegetable which is what we are after in our house.  But what can be done differently with beets?  Well, this is one of my new faves that I like to think I made up because I’ve never heard of a Beet Stuffed Pepper before. About a week ago I posted a prep picture of this entree on instagram and got a lot of inquisitive likes.

Beet Stuffed Pepper

So I’m sharing the deets but hold onto your seats because there’s really only one thing you need to know about making this deliciously, filling vegetarian dish.

Are you ready for it?

The secret to Beet Stuffed Peppers is to follow your favorite traditional stuffed pepper recipe and then subtract the ground beef and add ground beets.

That’s it. Earth shattering, I know.  It kind of rhymes too: Subtract the ground beef and add ground beets.

Here’s exactly what I did to make this simple yet tasty dinner.

  • Take 3 average size beets, wash and peel the epidermis.  Grind the beets in the food processor.  Next, mix seasoned bread crumbs into the ground beets.  I used about a 50/50 ratio of bread crumbs to beets.  The bread crumbs absorb the moisture that the beets cook off.
  • Wash and core 2 green peppers.  A tip I learned from a friend when baking stuffed peppers is to briefly cook the peppers in boiling water to soften them.  This way they are more pliable and do not tear when you stuff them.
  • Next, you guessed it, stuff the peppers with the beet mix.  I sprinkled fresh shredded parmesan cheese to the top along with more bread crumbs.  Also, a dollop of raw honey (my favorite sweetener) on top complements the beet flavor very well.  The honey will cook into the stuffed pepper.
  • Bake at 325 for about 50 minutes and enjoy!

Beet Stuffed Pepper

These stuffed peppers are so filling that I couldn’t even finish mine!  Let me know if you give it a try.  And again, try this with your own stuffed pepper recipe and just substitute the beef for beets.

P.S.  Doesn’t the color remind you of red velvet cake?