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…

riding for a cause

Wow, what an incredible weekend we had!  This is my favorite season for so many reasons including the warm sunny days free of humidity followed by cool crisp nights and the subtle fall coloring that is settling in.

But this year we added a new reason to the list.  On Saturday, we rode our first Bike MS: City to Shore Ride.  It was a wonderful experience.  A tradition that we’re hoping to continue year after year.

Just one year ago, Ryan and I went to Ocean City, NJ on this particular day to see what the ride was all about.  MS was completely new to us.  Ryan’s diagnosis was all of about 2 weeks old and we were still wrapping our heads around what Multiple Sclerosis is and would mean for us.  Immediately we thought that we needed to get behind this cause and rally a team to ride with us.

Bike MS team

We came up with a solid team of 10.  We had 8 riders on Team Recanize.  Six of us did the initial 25 mile ride.  And 2 of our team members went the distance with the 150 mile round trip from Cherry Hill, NJ to Ocean City and back!  They made us look good!

Plus, we had 2 team volunteers who rallied at the finish line.  This event wouldn’t be possible with out all of the volunteers along the route.

Bike MS team volunteers

I think we did pretty darn good for a rookie, start-up team.  Between the 10 of us we raised over $6000 toward the overall fund of over $5 million.  $6000!  I’m so proud of all of my friends and family who rode with us and also those who made generous donations making our team possible.

On a personal note, I have to admit that a 25 mile bike ride is not something that I would’ve thought I’d accomplish just a few years ago.  I’m not terribly athletic and have always had to work hard toward this sort of thing.  I’m more comfortable as a beach cruiser.  But this was an important goal for me.  Crossing that finish line felt like such an accomplishment on so many levels.  #recanize

Bike MS finishline

Ryan, on the other hand, could have done laps around me and will most likely go more than 25 miles next year.  It’s been a crazy year and I’m so proud of him too.  Here he is channeling his inner BMX rider…or something.

Bike MS

We’ll be back in 2014! Bigger, better and definitely branded.  Stay tuned, friends!

If you are in the PA/NJ/DE area, we’d love to have you on Team Recanize.  You can join us here.  Registration for the event is only $20 until October 4th and then it increases.

my PSA

Well, it’s that season again. That time of year when everyone is getting their groove back after carefree, unplanned summer days. The time of year when structures are put back into place.  Calendars are filling up.  As well as the reinstatement of an early bedtime. (I could use one.) Plus, new shoes, new backpacks and…don’t forget about new wares for your home, too!

Sunday kicks off the first fall Clover Market of the season. Always a treat, both to shop and work. Surely there will be treasures as far as the eye can see in Ardmore. But it is one day only so be sure to join us! Details below.

Clover Market

Sunday is a busy, busy day around here.

Our wonderful friends are graciously hosting a fundraiser at their bar in Ambler to benefit our MS bike ride team.  Our ride is in just a few weeks (I’m nervous!) so please consider supporting our cause!  Bar 31 will definitely show everyone a good time.  Details below.

My husband’s diagnosis came a year ago next week.  Life has changed drastically including a much healthier diet, more exercising and even a new living arrangement for us.  (More about that soon.)  And although I’ve happily shed a few pounds in a our new lifestyle, it hasn’t been all fun times thanks to this unpredictable disease.

MS can take away someone’s ability to walk and to see clearly both physically and mentally.  It’s hard to believe but Ryan has been affected in all of these ways at one point or another in the past year.  It would be fabulous if we didn’t have to worry about these symptoms creeping up on us again.  No one would have to worry about them if there was a cure for MS.  So that’s why we fund raise!

bar 31

And if you’re still looking for things to do this weekend and happen to find yourself in Doylestown, you’re in vintage luck.  Circa Dee is currently running a sale on many items at Serendipity to make room for new fall inventory!  Look for mark downs now through the weekend.  We’ll be re-stocked next week including a new shipment of milk paint!

Serendipity Shops of Doylestown - open daily stocking Miss Mustard Seed's milk paint
33 S. Main St. Doylestown, PA

That concludes my public service announcements for today.  Thank you for listening and, of course, for your continued love and support!

guest blog: home grown garden

Hi guys!  It’s tough to get back into a routine after all of the crazy planning, DIYing, traveling, and general wedding festivities.  And I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I’m doing a lot of staring at my dress and trying to figure out how and when I can wear it again.  I posted a picture of it earlier this week on facebook if you want to check it out.  There will certainly be more sharing here once I wrap my head around everything!  I’m already working on a post about our trip to Brimfield so check in early next week for lots of vintage eye candy.

Until then I have another special guest today from Healthline.com who is stopping by to discuss the health benefits of gardening – a favorite topic of mine behind all things vintage of course.  As I posted recently, we’ve taken on a much healthier eating routine since Ryan’s MS diagnosis.  No surprise here but eating healthy has made us feel great!  Since that post, we’ve also joined a CSA and planted our own veggie garden.  We’re about to purchase a juicer as well!  (I’m still doing research so if you have any juicer feedback, can you leave it in the comments please?)

Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon, writing for Healthline.com ensures she keeps up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.

Today Valerie is sharing tips on planting your own healthy garden…

You may have the best proof of your actions in the care and maintenance of your diet and physical fitness.  You eat the right foods and you have a dedicated exercise regimen.  You and your mirror agree: you are the picture of health.  Even though there are splurges for birthdays and the holiday season, you know you will soon be back on track; your history proves it.  Surely, there is nothing more that would improve that picture.  You even know there will come a time when both diet and exercise must make adjustments for the inevitable decline of your body.  Aging comes to all of us.  If you feel this way, congratulations!  You are on the summit and there is no reason why you cannot stay there.

However, if you think there is nothing left to do, raise your hand anyway.  Teachers appreciate enthusiasm.  There is something so simple and beneficial, you are going to slap your forehead: that famous commercial vegetable juice can be made fresh instead of drinking processed juice: plant and grow a vegetable and fruit garden.

Harvest Your Own Health Garden

For as much as you have learned about diet and fitness, is there any doubt that consuming fresh fruits and vegetables will yield greater benefit than their processed, packaged and purchased counterparts from the grocery store?  Even if fresh, how long have those broccoli spears been lying in their tray in the grocery store with daily doses of water spray?  Face it; the only way you are going to assure freshness is if you have harvested yourself and have prepared the meal within minutes of transition from dirt to plate.

garden harvest

But we are far ahead of ourselves.  First, it may be necessary to clear an area in the yard currently dedicated to something else.  If it is a weed patch, there is no argument.  If it happens to be your prized Japanese garden, pick another location in the yard.  The right location will need full sunlight exposure all day long; under a shade tree will not suffice.  Your garden size is dictated by family size, types of vegetables chosen and available space you are willing to devote to the garden.  You may need to modify your current irrigation system to accommodate the more demanding needs of a vegetable garden.  Once determined, clear the ground of existing vegetation and till it thoroughly.  You want loose soil up to a foot deep.  If you do not own a tiller, you may have a friend who does, or most home and garden centers have them for rent.

Purchase an inexpensive soil test kit that will measure existing soil conditions of pH (alkaline or acidic condition), nitrogen, phosphorus and potash, essential elements to assure a bountiful harvest.  Treat the soil according to test results and lay down a layer of steer manure and till all of this fully into the soil.

gardening

The garden layout is going to be dictated by your plant choices; it is best to put a bird’s eye plan on paper.  You planting schedule is going to be dictated by the map of your planting zone.  Back at the home and garden center in March or April, you have a choice of a plethora of seeds, or seedlings ready to plant in the garden.  Follow planting instructions.  Cultivate and weed frequently so that all soil nutrients go where they’re needed.  Harvest according to instructions.

Sustainable Gardening

There is another benefit beyond the advantage of eating your own fresh vegetables:  this is going to require physical labor; always a healthful benefit.

farm to table

…sort of.

I love that phrase – farm to table.  It sounds like such a basic concept.  It is one that we’ve embraced recently in our house.  Well, I guess it has been more like farm to store to table.  But once the harvest season starts it will definitely be more farm to table.  Anyway…

First let me say thank you to so many of you who have consistently followed up with us on Ryan’s MS diagnosis last fall.  He is doing just wonderful.  In fact, much better than before.  And me too.  We have embraced new routines and ditched a few old ones.  Mostly we’ve been really cognizant of what we’re eating and how our meals are made and, most importantly, how those foods impact Ryan.

I’ve never been much of a chef and I’m no food blogger.  There are plenty of fantastic blogs out there for recipes and such but as I’ve been sharing some of my new recipes with friends, they encouraged me to post about it.  Perhaps you’ll have an interest too.

We haven’t become vegetarians or anything official but we’ve embraced a highly vegetable based diet and legume based for that matter.  The turning point was receiving my first ever food processor at my bridal shower.  We ate veggies before but usually in a raw or steamed state as a side. Nothing fancy.  The food processor has hands down changed my life.  And I actually like cooking and experimenting in the kitchen now.  I had no idea how versatile chick peas are!  Yes, I’m getting excited about chick peas.  That’s the new me.

Let me just share some of my latest concoctions.  Ryan laughs at me every time I take pictures of our meals.  I take pictures of our sofa, mantelscape and everything else.  So why stop at dinner?

Chick pea “meat”loaf with carrot soup – my soups need some work

chick pea loaf & carrot soup

Sweet potato stuffed pepper with a garlic cream sauce – hands down, my favorite so far although probably the least photogenic.  Can you believe I never ate a radish before now?

sweet potato stuffed pepper

Mediterranean loaf (with basil, pepper, tomato & mozzarella) – Ryan thinks we need to come up with a new word for “loaf”.  I agree.  Any suggestions?

Mediterranean loaf

Smoked salmon salad – an oldie but goodie.  I think we may be headed down the path of pescetarian but again, no official commitments here

smoked salmon salad

Mango vanilla smoothie – we still go for the ol’ classic strawberry smoothie on the reg too. Apparently I don’t have pictures of either.

I seriously shock myself with my new found kitchen prowess.  Ryan is feeling very healthy and active which is the goal when you have MS.  You want to keep a high energy level and remain active so the disease doesn’t creep up on you.  Certain foods, like kiwi, can increase your energy level.  He’s even lost weight.  Men, they lose it so easily!  Hmmph.

And we LOVE doing yoga.  It is so relaxing & strengthening.  I find it helps me a lot with stress.  I never thought I’d become an organic, yogi but I think that’s the path I’m on.  Ryan continues to do all of the things he loves like fishing & bike riding.

It’s funny how life has a way of throwing you curve balls.  You can either let it get you down or embrace it and make the best of it.  I’m pretty happy with how we’re tackling Multiple Sclerosis head on over here

So what healthy recipes should I try next?

some bunnies

Hey everyone! I hope you and your family have a great weekend celebrating Easter & Passover.

I’d love to share some timely photos with you from Mandy Keep Photography‘s photo shoot at our Brick & Mortar a few weeks ago.  Mandy specializes in family photography.  Check out these cutie pies in their spring best…

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Yes, that is the real Easter bunny who joined us!

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Mandy did a phenomenal job and raised $820 for Multiple Sclerosis research!  We’re so fortunate to have hosted the event with her.  The funds have been donated in honor of our MS Bike ride team – Team RecanizeWe’re still recruiting riders if you want to join us on our City to Shore Bike Ride in September…

Mandy Keep Photography hosts charity photo shoots regularly.  Her next one event is on April 13th.  She’ll take your professional headshot and donate the proceeds to YWCA.  This is the perfect opportunity for small business orders and professionals.  Details below…

Empowering Women Charity Photo Project

Happy Easter!

happy valentine’s day

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of helping to style a Valentine’s Day photoshoot.  The shoot was geared for babies and families and general heartwarming love.  Who can argue that?

The photographer behind this project is Mandy Keep – the same photographer who we worked with for our engagement shoot.  Here are my valentines…

DSC_2744

The entire shoot was for charity.  Families could have mini-sessions done for a nominal price which was then donated 100% to Greenpeace.

mandy keep photography: VALENTINES LOVE PROJECT 2013 &emdash;

Some Circa Dee treasures made their way into the set.  One of my favorite furniture transformations was the houndstooth chest (which I’ve never actually let go of).  It lent a cheerful, spring-like background to the photos.

mandy keep photography: VALENTINES LOVE PROJECT 2013 &emdash;

Mandy did an excellent job capturing the LOVE for these families.

mandy keep photography: VALENTINES LOVE PROJECT 2013 &emdash;

But this particular little model grabbed my heart!

mandy keep photography: VALENTINES LOVE PROJECT 2013 &emdash;

Maybe I’m biased though.  I’ve known him since he was born…

mandy keep photography: VALENTINES LOVE PROJECT 2013 &emdash;

I am excited to work with Mandy on another family shoot for charity this spring.  Easter is just around the corner…Come get your children’s pictures taken at Circa Dee Brick & Mortar on Saturday, March 9th.  All proceeds will be donated to MS, a cause near and dear to our hearts.

Circa dee Photo Shoot

Happy Valentine’s Day!

All photos in this post are by Mandy Keep Photography

mason jar soap dispensers for MS

I’m writing today with content that is different than my usual vintage treasure or DIY project.  I want to tell you a little bit more about us and a cause that we want to get behind.  In fact, it really is a DIY project after all.  A DIY fundraiser…

In September Ryan was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  It has only been a few weeks since we received confirmation that he has this autoimmune disease that is attacking his central nervous system however he has been suffering from symptoms for several months if not years.

Although this is not the diagnosis we wished to receive, we are happy to be able to develop a treatment plan that works to keep Ryan’s symptoms in remission.  We’re remaining positive and adjusting our lifestyle as needed.  That includes walking, cycling, ballet & yoga.  Yes, ballet and yoga.  You should seem him in yoga pants!  Kidding but he has mastered first and second position in ballet.

If you have been reading this blog for awhile, you know that Ryan is an instrumental part of Circa Dee.  While vintage, styling & repurposing are my passions, Ryan has been a driving force in the projects that I come up with.  He has lent his carpentry skills and knowledge in many projects.  Ok probably all of them.

And that’s not going to change.

You may be familiar with our popular mason jar soap dispensers.  They have been a great seller since we introduced them earlier this year.  It all began after Ryan made just one for our home.  Next thing you know we sold them like hot cakes.

I continue to source the vintage canning jars.  I particularly love the very old ones with imperfections in the glass like air bubbles.  We tested several style pumps this summer and settled on an industrial style one that is compatible with hand lotion, hand soap and dish soap.

Ryan has consistently made every soap dispenser lid even while experiencing numbness in his hand.  Throughout the summer we did not know the cause of the tingling sensation.  Now we have a diagnosis for it although there is no cure, only the hope that the symptoms stay in remission with the right treatment.  Ryan has found that making the soap dispensers is therapeutic for him because it helps to strengthen his motor skills.

Moving forward we’d like to make a $1 donation to MS research for every mason jar soap dispenser we sell. 

Mason Jar Soap Dispensers for MS.  We’ve set up a DIY fundraiser with our local chapter of the MS Society where the donations will be deposited monthly in Ryan’s name.  We’ve already made a deposit for September’s sales!

Currently the soap dispensers are available at our Brick & Mortar shop, Etsy, West End Garage, Phantastic Phinds and any popups you can find Circa Dee at around the Philly area like Clover Market.

Research for this disease is near and dear to us for the obvious reason of finding a cure but also because Ryan is a Scientist by trade.  Yup, he’s not all blue eyes and brawn around here.  He’s a smarty pants too.  Ryan has a PhD in Immunology & Microbiology.  In his post-doc, he conducted stem cell research which is also a current therapy for MS.

We’ll certainly be looking for other ways to get involved in finding a cure for MS and raising funds to do so.  You can expect to see us on the MS City to Shore bike ride next fall and maybe at a Zumbathon (in yoga pants), who knows!  Let me know if you’d like to join our team for the bike ride.

Thanks for listening!

Linking to Funky Junk Interiors