a brilliant recap

Guys, I’ve been knee deep in wedding stuff over here.  We are getting down to the final stretch!  Lots of projects and details are on the horizon…woohoo!  But I can’t share them until after the wedding so I’d like to give you a little garden inspiration today.

Sunflowers always make me happy.


As you may recall from last week, the Philadelphia Flower Show was in full bloom.  I have rarely missed the annual event since I was in high school.  I really love plants, floral design, gardening and landscapes.  Fun fact, my first job ever was in a flower shop!  Which led me to pursue a technical program in horticulture in high school and then a Bachelors degree in Ornamental Horticulture in college. While I am not quite doing anything professional with the Horticulture degree, the education has certainly been a backbone for me in my career.

I love to visit the educational exhibits at the flower show.  My Alma mater, DelVal, featured a spin on Sherlock Homes: The Mystery of Dr. Black’s Garden which allowed you to walk through the exhibit and identify invasive species.  Their interactive exhibit won best achievement in plant education.


The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society hosts the show and typically displays sustainable ways to garden in small spaces.  Sticking with the English theme of “Brilliant”, PHS put together a vertical garden displaying the Union Jack flag.  I was delightfully distracted by the wall of lush green plants and didn’t even notice the flag until I took a step back.


There are so many details like that throughout the show.  So much thought goes into these displays.  For example, this quaint potting shed seems to have it all including a wood burning stove!


And the stacked wood outside of the shed is so satisfying.  Sigh.  I think I’ll work on making my potting shed this quaint and inviting.  Every year I say that right about now.


There were also quite a few repurposed ideas popping up in the garden displays.  One of my favorite displays was from event floral designer, Petals Lane.  They never disappoint and this year their display included lots of vintage furniture and treasures in a mad tea party setting.


I simply can not get past the use of vintage trunks…as planters.  Amazing!  You know how I feel about trunks, right?  The repetitiveness of the trunk planters made a huge impact.  However, before you go and plant a trunk this season realize that this would definitely not hold up to the elements outside.  This is a great idea for an event though.


How did they do this?  Wheelbarrows stacked 7 or 8 deep in another display.


And for a simple repurpose idea…I like how these barrel trash cans double as planters.  Great for a small area.


Notching a fallen log as pictured below makes a great business card holder.  I am filing this idea away for future ways to display marketing collateral.


And while we’re on the subject of trees, I found this life size sketch to be so striking.


And this abstract display depicting rain in London was just massive!  I love how the designers used tropical flowers and props to represent the rain.  I can’t even imagine how difficult it is to suspend all of those umbrellas.


And finally…these bright Gerbera daisies were just calling my name in their happy metallic pots.


Did you go to the flower show?  What was your favorite exhibit?

sunny la & milk paint

I was fortunate to spend last weekend in warm and sunny Los Angeles.  The trip came at the perfect time.  I wasn’t sure how much longer I could stand the cold, grey east coast days.  Don’t get me wrong, I love having 4 seasons and being a Philly area native but, man, the end of winter drags on, doesn’t it?

Of course this big ol’ rosette succulent was growing in LA, not here.


I left my camera behind but I did end up capturing a bit of vintage eye candy with my phone.  I shared a few on instagram throughout the weekend.  In case you missed it, here goes…

The west coast has so many swoon-worthy low slung midcentury sofas.  Love them all and don’t you know I was lucky enough to come home to my very own moved right into the living room!  (You may remember my rant about my sofa and other furniture last week.  Reveal to come soon.)


Last week on Apartment Therapy, I read a feature about a new vintage store called Shopclass LA.  It looked divine online so of course I had to go, don’t you know.  This is a must visit next time you are in town.  They nailed the Danish modern style at a really great price point even for LA.  So many fun treasures to be found…


I am pretty sure Colleen at Freshvintage should own this neon sign.  I wonder what it costs to ship.


They had maps, tons of maps but I particularly liked this crazy chair display.


But the real reason I was in town was not to go vintage shopping.  You all know I do enough of that.  It was to celebrate a friend’s baby shower which was held at Spin at the Standard Hotel.

baby shower

If you want to figure out a way to get guys to go to a co-ed baby shower, include a ping-pong tournament.  Everyone had a blast!



I found a few benches to swoon over at Spin.  This roughed up parsons style one had me feeling all warm and rustic inside.  Who knew sanding a bench and then not following through with the paint and primer would look so cool?


And there were 2 of these vintage locker benches.  So simply old school.

But there is certainly no place like home…faux rust and all…


So that was my trip in a vintage nutshell.  Do you have any spring break plans?

Now that I’m back home, I have all of the dates and details ironed out for our first ever milk paint workshop series! 

Drumroll please…I have added a new workshop tab at the top of the page to address everything.  Let me know if you have any questions, comments or would like to join us as we paint our way through spring!  The first workshop is on Thursday, April 11th.

a year in review

Omigosh what a year it has been!

Hello everyone.  By now you may have noticed that I took a mini blogging break since Christmas.  Or maybe you haven’t noticed.  That’s fine too.  I didn’t imagine you sitting on the edge of your seat hitting refresh at circadee.com waiting for project updates or anything.  Although if you were, I really appreciate it (Mom).

Hopefully you took some time to recharge with friends and family as well.  I kind of loved the break actually.  I didn’t do a thing before 9 am and ate lots of sweets.  Yup, but I can’t go on like that forever can I?  And I miss my paint brush.  Like a lot.

So later this week I will get back into the swing of things but in the meantime I’d like to review 2012 here.  I’ve been reflecting on it quite a bit offline this week.

2012 was crazy both personally and business-wise.  I met so many goals and aspirations that I’ve always had.


Our top project was the pallet wood backsplash and our top referer was Apartment Therapy who posted the project in January.  Yup, they beat out Pinterest as top referer which is surprising.  Maybe I need to work on my pinning tactics from a social media standpoint.  Maybe.

Pallet Wood Backsplash

Other top read posts continue to include the now famous mumkin which was actually published the end of 2011.


And my tips on waxing furniture.  I need to write and updated version of this in 2013 for all of you DIYers.

Brass Hardware

Plus my tips on pinning and pictures took the entry level blog world by storm.  I also need to write a much overdue follow up to this in 2013.  You can see how my goals list is evolving for 2013.

Blogging Basics: Pictures & Pinning

And one of my favorite projects was our penny tile countertop that we did for my niece.  Still love this little project and she plays with her kitchen all of the time!  Success.

Penny Tile

Biz Developments

On the business side, I couldn’t be happier.  In 2012 we set out to take Circa Dee from a hobby business to a full time business and we did just that with a lot of blood, sweat and tears.

In June we opened up our little Brick & Mortar shop in the absolutely perfect standalone 2 story building at Center Point Pond.


In July we opened up a second location at the West End Garage in Cape May, NJ.  And in December we doubled our space there which is starting to feel like home!

West End Garage

Circa Dee also became a stockist for Miss Mustard Seed’s milk paint in our area.


And last but certainly not least we were chosen as the next home show designer for the Philadelphia Home Show which will take place the first week of February 2013.  Yup, just over a month away.  Can’t wait to see the room come together and I’m so honored to take on this project!

Philadelphia Home Show Designer


2012 was also a big year for us personally.  Ryan and I got engaged in April.  After the summer we began planning our wedding which will take place in Spring 2013.

Dana & Ryan - Circa Dee

Our only setback in 2012 was Ryan’s diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis.  However, we’re working on lifestyle changes to combat the disease and keep us both in good health.  And we’re looking for more ways to get involved in finding a cure for MS.

Overall 2012 has been one for the books!  We’ve learned so much.  I am so thankful and can’t wait to see what the next year has in store for us and Circa Dee.  Thanks for coming along for the ride with us!

How about you?  How was 2012?  What are you looking forward to in 2013?

Happy New Year Friends!

freud and antiques at the arden theatre

Good morning!  For the last couple of years, I have been on a committee for “The Scene” at Arden Theatre in the old city section of Philadelphia.  “The Scene” is an event where professionals get together for an hour of networking, mingling, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres before select performances at a reduced ticket price.  The party continues with the cast at a local hotspot.

It is really a great time and I’ve decided to share this little extra curricular of mine today because I thought you may have an interest in the current production.

Plus, I’m giving away a FREE pair of tickets!

First let me tell you about the show and why you’ll want to see it…

On the day England enters World War II, Sigmund Freud invites a young C.S. Lewis to his London flat. Here, the father of modern psychology challenges a little known professor on the brink of literary fame. Freud’s Last Session imagines a collision of these two brilliant minds over love, God, and life.

The entire set is filled with artifacts and antiques to replicate Freud’s actual study which is now The Freud Museum in London.  You can read more about how the set evolved on the Arden’s blog.  Here’s a picture of the actual set as it looks today.


There are over 200 “artifacts” on the stage of Freud’s Last Session at the Arden. Of those, 18 are from the Penn Museum. The largest bulk of the remaining artifacts were donated by members of the Arden’s Sylvan Society.  However, that still didn’t complete the set so the props team had to do a little antiquing and DIYing of their own.

Is it just me or did you too always wonder how theater sets evolved?  I’ve learned that it can be quite similar to staging the rooms in your own home.  These professionals are creative and on a budget so they start by shopping their own stock.  Chris Haig, the Prop Master at Arden Theatre, shared a few of the behind the scenes secrets on how the set of Freud’s Last Session evolved.   

Two items specifically mentioned in the script and picked up by the characters needed to be built from scratch as finding them online or elsewhere proved impossible or too costly according to Chris. They are the Eros statue and the mummy bandages with markings from the Book of the Dead.

The replica Eros statue was modeled out of clay and painted to look like terra cotta.  The leg and hands were broke off just as Freud’s statue had been.

To create the mummy bandage, Chris’s team cut a muslin strip into a 4” width, aged them with a wash of brown paint and distressed them with darker brown tones along the frayed edges. It was also necessary to give them “embalming fluid stains” with watered down yellow paint as this is directly referred to in the script. Chris then copied the hieroglyphs and figures seen on the original using a fine point archival ink pen. After drying, the bandage was wrapped around a stained wooden dowel and placed in the center of a vintage mason jar. Did somebody say mason jar?

As for the antique furniture, there is a unique corner chair next to Freud’s desk that the team was absolutely dedicated to getting just right.  Chris scoured the internet, every prop rental house in the area and reached out to fellow prop masters nationwide with no luck. He came across a close match while antiquing in Lancaster however the chair exceeded the budget.  They wouldn’t settle for just any chair.  Finally, Chris found the correct chair right in Philadelphia from a local dealer’s personal collection!

It took 2-3 months to put the set for Freud’s Last Session together.  It sounds like Chris has an awesome job…antiquing, DIYing, staging!  I can’t wait to personally view the set and performance next Friday.

 I hope you’ll join us for “The Scene” where we’ll view Freud’s Last Session on Friday evening, November 16th. 

  • Leave a comment letting me know that you’d like to win a free pair of tickets to “The Scene” and the performance of Freud’s Last Session ($60 value). 
  • There will be an extra entry for you if you post a link to this giveaway on facebook or twitter. 
  • You have until Sunday, November 11th at midnight EST to enter. 
  • The winner will be announced on Monday, November 12th and your pair of tickets will be held at the Arden’s box office for Friday’s performance.

Good luck!  Who will you take if you win?

P.S. Sorry that this giveaway only pertains to my local friends.  I will make it up to you.  Promise.

(All images borrowed from Arden Theatre.)

all American

Hello!  Hello!  For all of my American readers, did you vote yet today?  Don’t forget, mmm kay?  It is your right!  Here at casa di Circa Dee we always vote Beagle.

How could we not?  Everyone knows Wilson is the boss around here.

I found that great beagle political poster at cafepress.  They have a few other breeds as well but you’ll probably just want to obey the beagle.

No, this isn’t a sponsored post by beagles around the nation.  Or cafepress.  I am getting to the project here…

The posters come in different sizes but none are your standard frame size.  Ours was 11×16.  As you probably know, having a custom frame made costs oodles of dollars.  So Ryan made one for us.

Out of…ready for it…chestnut wood!

Why am I so excited about a chestnut frame?  Oh because the horticultural nerd in me is about to come out.  Have you ever heard of the American chestnut blight?

Back in the day, a.k.a. like 100 years ago, nearly all chestnut trees in North America were wiped out.  They’re practically extinct now because of a fungus that was introduced to the trees.  If you’re so inclined, you can read more about the chestnut blight here.

So if you come across anything truly made of chestnut you can A.) pretty much guarantee that it is an antique and B.) buy it because it is a little piece of American history.  We had the opportunity to buy a few chestnut hardwood floor boards recently.  Honestly, they sat in the garage for a few months.  Until Ryan put together this custom frame for our beagle propaganda.  I ordered a piece of glass and we added some hardware and foam core board to the back.

Of course I love the wear and tear the hardwoods show from a previous life of being walked all over.

Our new to us frame coordinates nicely with an antique chestnut chest we just got to use as a media console.  I will share that in a future post as this room is not quite finished yet.

As for custom frames, I love them!  The look and feel of reclaimed hardwoods, painted floorboards and molding being given a new life as a frame is just so cool.

We have a few open frames on our mantel right now.

We just completed a set of 3 layered frames for our friend’s wedding photos.  They came out really cool too.  Also, another photo I will have to share at a future date.

And you may remember our original floorboard frame.  Still my fave.

However, we are moving away from creating our own reclaimed wood frames due to time constraints.  But we’ve found a great US-based company who does just that!  We’ve started stocking them in our shop.  Part of growing a business, I’ve quickly learned, is figuring out what to outsource and what to keep in-house.

They make unique gifts!  And we can still have custom colors and sizes made.  In fact, they have a stellar selection of colors!  I’m so happy to have found this artisan.  I’m pretty sure Ryan is too since frame making sort of fell under him.

In honor of election day, I kept this post all American for you – voting, American history and outsourcing in America. Now go vote!

old savannah

A few weeks ago (actually more like over a month ago) we went on a road trip to Savannah and I promised some antiquing highlights.  I went to a ton of stores as the area is swarming with all types of antique, vintage & decor  shops.  I snapped a few pics as I oohed and ahhed my way through the region.  So here are my top 5 based on the shops I visited…

Where:  As the name implies, 37th at Abercorn in Savannah

Style: Designer House Co-op

What to expect:  A huge Southern house transformed into a cooperative of antiques and designer vintage.  You will flow from room to room discovering a different style in each (and not knowing how to get out).  This house is seriously huge.  There is also original art and jewelry and and vintage clothes and a garden area and I could go on.  You can easily decorate your entire home from this store.

What to love about it:  37th & Abercorn has partnered with the Humane Society of Greater Savannah devoting an entire room to the cause.  Treasures sold in the room where donated to the Society.

Where:  The Paris Market is in downtown Savannah at 36 W. Broughton St.

Style:  Ok so this store is not really an antique store at all but more of a retail store with a lot of cool reproduction pieces mixed in with original collections.  Think Anthropologie or Terrain with a Parisian spin.

What to expect:  Two floors of treasures styled just perfectly.  Exposed beams and stone walls create the perfect backdrop for changing displays.  Of course I loved the French coastal thing they had going on when I was there.

What to love about it: You feel like you’re in Paris yet you haven’t left the East Coast.

Where:  Take a day trip over to Tybee Island and don’t miss Seaside Sisters on the way in at 1207 Highway 80 East.

Style: Part gift shop, part antique co-op

What to expect:  Vintage coastal decor probably right out of old Tybee Island cottages or Florida before Disney.  Lots of bright colors, wicker, bark cloth and other linens.  Do I dare say shabby chic?  You’ll want to buy a beach house just so you have a place to put all of your new, brightly colored treasures.

What to love about it: My favorite author, Mary Kay Andrews, sells her found treasures (and books) here.  In fact, you’re looking at her space above.  She does book signings and other events at the shop.  The owner was so sweet to offer to have Mary Kay sign my book for me.  Side note, I can’t wait for her new book Spring Fever to come out next month!

Where:  Pinch of the Past is located at 2603 Whitaker Street in Savannah and they’ve got 2nd & 3rd locations in Greensboro, GA & Madison, GA

Style:  Architectural salvage & restoration

What to expect:  I love a good salvage yard but that is only the beginning.  The building is a huge old factory with a few levels.  It is neatly organized with everything from plumbing fixtures to lumber to hardware.  Expect to restore your home from this shop.

What to love about it:  Surprise!  There is a mezzanine level filled with unexpected vintage housewares organized in an antique co-op store way.

Where:  As the name implies Habersham Antiques is located at 2502 Habersham St. in Savannah.

Style:  Traditional antique mall with endless rows of booths

What to expect:  Find a great mix of vintage and antiques covering the genres.  Each of the 70 vendors seems to have their own specialty so there is something for everyone.

What to love about it:  It is not often in antique malls that you find neatly staged booths where vendors have an eye for display.  I was also very pleased with the prices here.

Writing this post has made me want to revisit the area and explore the nearly 40 antique and vintage shops.  I know I only scratched the surface in the 3 days we were in the region.  On our way back home we visited the famed Black Dog Salvage in Roanoke, VA.  Check out that post if you missed it!

What is your favorite region for treasure hunting?

designs adrift

You’ve got to see this!

So I was perusing my new copy of Coastal Living over the weekend and came across a gem of an article.

 On page 34, the magazine featured a carpenter/sculptor who works exclusively with driftwood.  Michael Fleming of Designs Adrift is quite the artist.  I am stunned and just had to share.  Check out his sculpted horse!

Yep, makes my lil’ old driftwood tree seem so amateur.  Well,  I suppose that I am an amateur driftwood sculptor, aren’t I?  Can I even use the word sculptor to describe myself?

Anywho, here are some more images of what this guy can do with driftwood.  A lamp?  Yes, driftwood!  Truly amazing…

And furniture too. I would love to have this club chair in our beach house guest room…or anywhere for that matter.  Swoon!

His process is quite involved from hauling a large backpack along the coast of Maine we he harvests the pieces to allowing the driftwood to cure for months. He certainly captures all the beauty driftwood offers by transforming them into practical and gorgeous home decor.

Just had to share friends!  I heart driftwood.  That’s all.

P.S. Don’t forget about the Sleek & Unique coaster giveaway going on now. Go check it out.

vintage around town

My local vintage lovers are surely looking for a follow-up on how Saturday’s popup shops were. If you missed it, I outlined an itinerary last week of where to be. As promised, I’m back with some highlights!

I started the day out at the Nannygoat estate sale. These ladies did not disappoint with 9 rooms full of vintage and antique goodness staged to my delight! There was something for everyone for sure including a fair amount of mantiques. Highlight reel…

I finally made it into the newest vintage shop on Main Street in Manayunk. I met the darling owners of MeadowSweet. Their displays are immaculately curated. I could move right into that little shop. But instead, I took something warm and cozy home. An army green wool blanket. Yes, please.

While wandering Main Street, I snapped some icy pics of the sculptures for your viewing pleasure. So fun!

I have to admit that I started out strong on the picture-taking front but as the day progressed, the pictures did not. I visited the artsy ladies at Cupid Gets Crafty and talked so much that I didn’t take a single picture. After picking out a few small gifts (mostly for me!) I visited the Outpost event at 3P4 and found a new favorite.

Peg and Awl. First of all, the aesthetic of their popup was so satisfying-ly simple yet stately. I love how everything is handmade by them from unique antique materials. See the brown canvas and leather bag? I’m the proud new owner of it. The leather is from a WWII revolver strap. The soldier even carved his name into it. A little piece of history on my tote.

After Outpost, I left town with a detour to Philadelphia Salvage. And lastly the mid-century popup Nomad.  The large open space had a gallery feel to it with many cozy vignettes that flowed one into another.

I still haven’t made it into RevivalSmith and a few other brick and mortars on Main. Another day. Another shopping excursion. In the meantime, I’m loving my new acquisitions.

reclaiming philly

Hello there!  I am excited to tell you about my shopping trip on Saturday.  It wasn’t my normal crack of dawn estate sale or flea market kind of Saturday.  They’re not too prevalent in January so I took to junking in doors.  I went to not one, but two salvages.  That’s my kind of day!

Let’s review the pics!  I started my day at the fairly new Philadelphia Salvage in Mt. Airy.  I was chomping at the bit to get in the door and was literally waiting on their stoop for them to open up shop.  Nerd alert.

I was delighted by the rows and rows of salvaged old windows. 

They had everything from reclaimed wood

to tile

to claw feet.

An airborne vintage bicycle. Why not?

Corbels…love. I want to hug them. That’s not creepy at all.

Wouldn’t this fab green mantel make a fun headboard with an upholstered center?

And these wheels – how about a pot rack?

Love the roman numerals on this stone stating the year the once standing building was built. How about making it a coffee table now?Lay it down and put a piece of glass on it.

I can keep going. The pew seems more suitable for a restaurant because of its size. Maybe a breakfast bar or divider.

I could have rummaged through Philadelphia Salvage all day for more treasures and conceptualized repurposed projects but I had to move on. I left the charming block in Mt. Airy with materials for my next project. Stay tuned on that front.

Lucky for me though I ended up in a similar salvage on the other side of the city, in Port Richmond, just a few hours later. I was in heaven. Two architectural salvage shops in one day? I didn’t even plan this! My friends and I visited Restore of Philadelphia (not to be confused with Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore) to reclaim more of the city for another upcycled project that will be shared soon. Of course, I was easily distracted by the rows of neatly organized old doors. Imagine all of the headboards in their future.

This shop offers two whole floors of shopping.  Why buy new when you can buy character?

It is like organized chaos in these salvages.  What a perfect day for a junker!

If you are not from Philly, do you have any awesome architectural salvage shops like these in your city?