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.

summer travels-7219

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.

summer travels-7247

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

summer travels-7239

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!

snow at Sunset Beach Cape May-5834

 

shuffling furniture

The first furniture makeover of the year is here!

trophy mmsmp chest + jewel toned wingback

I love how this little vignette came together.  Alone the gray chest of drawers is neutral.  It is painted with 2 coats of MMSMP trophy with bonding agent.  It is a warm gray lightened and sealed with white wax.  It is also a little lighter because the base of this chest was ivory when it started.

trophy mmsmp chest + garnet lamp

This is a newer chest of drawers that was sporting a factory finish.  It wasn’t bad, just uninspiring and of course I wanted to add milk paint.

trophy mmsmp chest + jewel tones

I lightly distressed the edges of the drawers to reveal the ivory underneath.

trophy mmsmp chest

It is just so fun with the addition of the garnet chair, lamp and other jewel tones proving the gray really is the go-to neutral right now.

trophy mmsmp chest + marsala wingback chair

Funny story about that wingback chair…we have an ongoing joke in my family about the furniture shuffle that occurs.  We actually have dubbed it the Marston Shuffle.  It’s not quite a hand-me-down or even a prized family heirloom but more of a shuffle of furniture from home to home.  This chair has been shuffled 3 or 4 times now.

We started noticing this trend when we were buying our first and second homes respectively.  One family would be moving or upgrading furniture and no longer need a chair/table/dresser, etc. while another was trying to outfit a particular space where chair/table/dresser, etc. would work.  And the Marston Shuffle was born!

A piece can come back to the original owner if need-be, although I am pretty sure that hasn’t ever occurred.  Not yet anyway.  Bottom line, if it is sturdy and well-made, then there’s always someone there to scoop up a cast-off piece of furniture when one sibling is no longer interested.  I suppose that is actually the definition of a hand-me-down though, isn’t it?  Well, we prefer to shuffle furniture.

We all have some hoarding tendencies around here I guess.  That lamp by the way was originally mine.  Now it’s my mom’s.  Exhibit B.

trophy mmsmp chest + jewel tones

As for the fete of the chair, it is likely to end up with a light slip cover and maybe even some painted legs but I do love how the vintage, velvet garnet photographed here.

Do I dare say that it is close to Marsala, the color of the year?

trophy mmsmp chest + garnet wingback

At any rate, the trophy chest of drawers is now for sale at The West End Garage which is open Friday-Sunday in January.  The chair though, that will never leave the shuffle!

trophy mmsmp chest + jewel tones-5580

Do you shuffle furniture around your family?

thankful

I am thankful for a job I absolutely love.  Buying, merchandising, potting, painting, decorating and all-around creating are tasks that I simply love to do.  Shopping Brimfield…for work?  Yes, please.  It’s been said, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”  Truly, I am grateful.

Circa Dee at West End Garage- Garden Holiday, cotton, boxwood & vintage radio flyer scooter

I’m thankful for my husband who has been by my side creating this brand.  He’s done the heavy lifting, constructing and much of the behind the scenes work to make my many visions reality.  Just this week he spent hours meticulously arranging minute dollhouse furniture, positioning the tiniest of dishes and details.  Something I’m not sure I would’ve had the patience to complete.

Circa Dee Victorian Cape May dollhouse holiday wndow display

Circa Dee Victorian Cape May dollhouse holiday wndow display

I am thankful to call this community home.  Cape May is a quaint seaside town lined with historic homes and filled with some of the most creative folks around.  This week has been a massive behind the scenes tour as we’ve watched an entire town prepare for the big event.  The Holidays In Cape May.  Fresh paint, new lights, stacked firewood, grand displays, pressed linens.  Pulling out all of the stops to create fantastic memories.  No wonder Cape May was named one of America’s best towns for the holidays by Travel + Leisure.  I’m grateful to contribute to such a special culture.

Christmas in Cape May-5147

Christmas in Cape May-5153

I’m certainly thankful for your support.  This year we’ve taken our business to a new level.  We’ve expanded and branched out to areas I dreamt about for longer than I realized.  We added an entire line of garden products including live plants and American made gifts.  You’ve been so encouraging.  Following our journey both personally and professionally.  Leaving comments across social media.  Introducing yourself in person.  Pinning, liking, purchasing.  Thank you.  It hasn’t gone unnoticed and means the world to me.

Circa Dee at West End Garage- circa 1940s plant stand

Happy Thanksgiving.  What are you thankful for?

pushin’ along

We raised an impressive $500 through the Petal Pushers fundraiser last week for our Bike MS: City to Shore team!  Just a gaggle of ladies happily arranging flowers while making a difference…

petal pushers floral design MS fundraiser 2014-4278

I am so grateful for this community, family and friends for all of their support!  We couldn’t have done it without our fearless leader and professional floral designer, Renee Tucci, the mastermind behind Petal Pushers.

We have about 6 weeks to go until the actual Bike MS: City to Shore ride and most of our riders have met or exceeded their minimum fundraising goal.  You can check out our team’s progress here.

petal pushers floral design MS fundraiser 2014-4291

Multiple Sclerosis is a real part of our everyday life and business journey.  Those things are closely intertwined therefore I choose to share personal updates such as these here.  I hope to educate or empower someone by letting you in on our lifestyle.

petal pushers floral design MS fundraiser 2014-4289

Ryan’s MS diagnosis has shown us that life truly is a gift.  MS has taught us to live for today and not put things off for ‘someday’.  We’ve become more adventurous and courageous.  Within reason, of course.

petal pushers floral design MS fundraiser 2014-4282

It has been a year since we moved to Cape May and slowed down our pace of life while eliminating some stress and ‘stuff’ along the way.  A year!  Already.  And two years since Ryan’s diagnosis.

petal pushers floral design MS fundraiser 2014-4288

I’m not sure that I ever made it explicit but Ryan has officially come on board with Circa Dee.  He is doing very well in this new lifestyle that we chose.  It seems to agree with him.  And me too.  Although change can be terrifying at first, it is certainly good and not to be feared.

petal pushers floral design MS fundraiser 2014-4281

what a long, strange trip it’s been

Ok, it wasn’t long at all.  Ryan and I were gone for about 36 hours over the weekend.

vintage treasure haul

But it was strange.

where are her pants?

We decided to hit the back roads of Pennsylvania and New Jersey to quench our junking thirst.  We quite literally took the roads less traveled.  Passing rolling hills of farm land boasting the most perfectly dilapidated old barns.  Followed by the swampy marsh land dotted with the most perfectly dilapidated old boats.

barn door and concrete planters

We scored all sorts of vintage treasures hitting junk shops, flea markets and yard sales.

retro yellow porch chair

The junking trifecta if you will.

vintage aqua pots and pink trowels

vintage art

We even stayed at what seemed to be a trucker motel…

treasure hunting

I’m not sure I’m ready to talk about that experience yet.

vintage drexel nightstand

We had dinner in a swanky drape lined lair where men apparently wear fancy hats.

dinner

Ahh, yes, the things dreams are made of…

The wide open road, an empty truck and no real agenda.  I’m so glad we chose this strange career.

Perhaps it chose us.

how to: dresser to vanity

Thanks for all of the nice feedback on our new bathroom. I just love how it turned out!  I am going to share how we constructed the vanity with you today. There are many tutorials out there outlining how to do this but our approach was a little bit different since we went with an over counter trough vessel sink.

DIY Vintage Cottage Style Bathroom

Many of you who know us, know how things work around here. Typically I conjure up an idea (sometimes crazy) that utilizes salvaged or vintage materials, develop the aesthetic and then get my husband, Ryan, on board to help execute it. Ok, to mostly execute it. I will fully admit that I don’t have the patience to DIY some of the things I come up with on my own. Hello, blue print wallpaper! I like to think of myself as the Art Director and Ryan as the Engineer around here. Do you have self-appointed titles at home? The bathroom reno followed the same suit until it came time to complete the vanity. We called in assistance from my father who is a Plumber. So without further adieu, our Circa Dee/ Marston Mechanical collaboration!

How to Turn a Dresser into a Vanity...and not lose any drawers by Circa Dee

First things first, we started with prepping the dresser.  I mentioned that I had been holding onto this for a while because I knew it was just the right size for this bathroom.  I thought I’d paint it with a fresh coat of white.  My plan was to use MMS milk paint in Ironstone but as we considered the dresser further it actually had just the right chippy look that I was going for, only in latex.  We scrubbed the dresser and pulled off a few of the chipping pieces to find blue/green paint underneath.  Perfect.

Three coats of polycrylic sealed the distressed paint and created a durable top coat so this could be used in a bathroom.  I chose polycrylic because it won’t yellow the white paint like polyurethane will.  Plus it is water based which makes for an easier clean up.  Bonus.

Polycrylic Topcoat - How to turn a dresser into a vanity

Then it was time to bring in the big guns and work around the plumbing. After positioning the dresser in place, we cut out a hole in the back of the dresser to make way for the drainage pipe using a hole saw drill bit.

Plumbing - How to turn a dresser into a vanity

Next we positioned the sink in the center of the dresser and determined where the sink and faucet holes would need to be.  They were cut using the hole saw drill bit too.

  Trough Vessel Sink - How to turn a dresser into a vanity

Next the faucet was installed.

How to Turn a Dresser Into a Vanity...and not loose any drawers

Everything was secured in place with caulk.  The sink was caulked to the dresser. The dresser was caulked to the wall.

Over Counter Trough Vessel Sink

We chose this over counter trough vessel sink for several reasons…

  1. As I mentioned, the over counter trough vessel sink helped to preserve as much drawer space as possible.  We would have lost half of the drawer storage to accommodate for the drop in.
  2. The dresser is small so if we dropped a large sink in it we’d need to cut a large hole in it which may have ruined the integrity of the dresser and made it weak.
  3. We could have chosen a bowl vessel sink but that just didn’t fit our aesthetic. Too modern so we went with a rectangular trough style.
  4. Bonus.  The combination of the over counter sink and the dresser created a nice comfort height vanity.

Over Counter Trough Vessel Sink

After the plumbing was reattached, it was time to figure out what would become of the drawers.

DIY Cottage Style Bathroom

I was fully prepared to lose the top drawer to make space for the drain pipe which means it would just become a facade of a drawer.  Buuuut they were able to salvage about 20% of the drawer  because there was not a drop sink taking up the space.  The short drawer is perfect for storing soap, toothpaste and other small bathroom toiletries.

How to Turn a Dresser Into a Vanity...and not loose any drawers

The deeper bottom 2 drawers only lost about 2-3 inches off the back to accommodate for the pipes. The new drawer backs were cut to width from 1×4 pine boards and attached with a brad nailer.  Then excessive few inches on the back and sides of the drawers were cut off with a circular saw.

I seemed to have missed a picture of the middle drawer.  A 2 inch U shaped notch had to be cut out of the top of the back of that drawer with a jigsaw to accommodate for the bottom of the drainage trap shown below.

Custom Drawers - How to Turn a Dresser Into a Vanity

 It was so minimal though that it is not even noticeable when the drawer is open.

How to Turn a Dresser Into a Vanity...and not loose any drawers

We finished the vanity off with a set of clear green flower knobs on the top drawer and clear glass knobs on the remaining drawers.

How to Turn a Dresser into a Vanity...and not lose any drawers by Circa Dee

This might just be my favorite room in the house right now…

DIY Vintage Cottage Style Bathroom

our pet project

Hey friends!  Thanks for all of the love, support and kind words regarding our move to Cape May and our quest to live on less.  Yesterday, we hit a milestone – six months of marriage!

© Love Shack Photo

Those six months definitely flew by and, as described, so much has changed!  We’re getting to the point where we’re settled into our new lifestyle and home.  Along with the aforementioned changes, exciting new opportunities have developed.  Opportunities that we may not have had the chance to pursue otherwise.

The silver lining, my friends, is that Ryan is now managing his very own pet boutique…with Wilson’s expertise of course!

houndstooth

I realize many readers here frequent The West End Garage in Cape May and may have even found Circa Dee through the shop.  So next time you pop in the fun and fabulous marketplace be sure to visit Houndstooth and pick something up for your best friend!  In the meantime, Houndstooth is on facebook with regular updates.

houndstooth banner

Houndstooth specializes in eco-friendly products Made in the USA!

Zisc

Plus lots of fun collars in extra small for cats through extra large for big dogs.

marlin collar mustache collar

Ryan has also put together a few Houndstooth Exclusive items that will be featured on the facebook page.  If you love Cape May as much as we do, I think you will love these for your best friend!  Stay tuned.

Recently I was told there wasn’t enough Wilson here on the blog anymore.  Being that he is the Houndstooth muse, it is pretty much all Wilson all the time over there!

 

living on less

We’ve made some major changes in our lives over the past few months.  For starters, we got hitched in May.  You already knew that unless you’re just tuning in for the first time.  And if you are, welcome!

wedding

What happened next surprised us though.  A good surprise in retrospect but the type of surprise we weren’t totally prepared for.  It knocked the wind out of us at first actually.  We picked up suddenly and moved to Cape May, NJ.  Permanently. We quickly consolidated two houses into one small beach bungalow.  You could call it the great downsize of 2013.  We sold tons of furniture, donated pounds of clothes and narrowed down our favorite housewares.

milk paint table makeover & ship captain lamp

We made the decision to move in June after being faced with some tough issues primarily related to Ryan’s MS which he was diagnosed with last year.  I’ll save all of the gritty details for my future best-selling memoir.  Ultimately we decided what is most important to us is living a simple healthy life together in a place we love.  We made the quick decision to eliminate unnecessary noise and chaos and to leave the grind behind.  Why wait the previously planned 15-20 years to move to our beloved Cape May?  We packed up truckload after truckload and settled into our beach bungalow turned forever home in August.  Now we live somewhere between the woods of Cape May and the sandy shore of the Delaware Bay.  It is quiet, restful and simple.

beach

We’ve taken on a motto of living on less which is a bit of a change from my previous fill-every-closet-in-the-house lifestyle.  Who am I kidding?  Once a hoarder, always a hoarder but I have been making smarter decisions about what I actually need and what collected anecdotes make me happy.  We only have two closets in the entire house and one dresser each so excess clothing was the first to go.  It is kind of refreshing to have such limitations in a way.

vintage ship captain collection

But living on less doesn’t mean bare rooms and no fun. Trust me.  There will be lots of room makeovers now that we’re settled into our new permanent address.  Well, four room makeovers if I have my way.  Several are already in progress.  We have just four rooms in our 1000 square foot home and two bathrooms plus loads of outdoor space.  Doesn’t it sound freeing to only have to maintain four rooms?  All two and a half of us really do not need more space than that.

kitchen

Don’t get me wrong, we are not living in total seclusion here.  I still love the action that the city has to offer.  We make frequent trips “up north” but are thrilled to come home to our peaceful, collected abode by the sea.

bedroom

And being that I built a business based on beautiful things, the hunting and gathering will continue.  Joyfully!  I’ll continue to sell vintage and repurposed wares at The West End Garage in Cape May.  Let’s call that our flagship store, shall we?  Plus on our frequent trips to Philly, we’ll pop up at our favorite Clover Market.  And of course, I’ll continue to be a driving force with milk paint at Serendipity Shops in Doylestown plus it is available for sale online.  In fact, I have another demo coming up on November 17th at 1pm.

That’s our big news!  Coming to you from Cape May, NJ.  When the world gives you lemons, take them to the beach…