finding inspiration

November really brings a battle between Christmas enthusiasts and those standing-up for Thanksgiving from a decorating/shopping standpoint, doesn’t it?  I mean who doesn’t love Thanksgiving?  No one wants to skip the feast.  However, some are overlooking the cornucopia for the twinkling Christmas lights immediately after Halloween.  I’ve always been a fan of keeping autumn harvest decor fresh, until the day after Thanksgiving when it is game-on for Christmas decorating.

As I’ve ventured further into the retail world I can understand why Christmas comes immediately following Halloween.  It is a very glitzy, very short selling season.  A lot of effort goes into merchandising for the holidays yet the season is definitely shorter than autumn harvest.  Perhaps that is why we’re seeing it grow just a little more every year, annoying as it may be to poor Thanksgiving.  With that said, I may even be behind the eight ball in getting all of my holiday inventory on the sales floor.  Yes, I surely am.

For me, November is all about balance.  Autumn harvest at home with Christmas on the brain and in the store.  While looking for inspiration for the season, I found some of my favorite holiday themed signs that I’ve painted over the past four years.  Here are the highlights…

Santa on a barn door is definitely a favorite which I’ve replicated again and again.

rustic santa barn door

Holly Jolly Christmas is indeed available now at The West End Garage.

holly joll christmas sign

Believe is always a crowd pleaser.

handpainted believe sign on reclaimed wood

The deer is a favorite from last year and it ended up in the home of a family member.  I may just have to make another one for 2015!

oh deer

Probably not my favorite work but any reference to classic Bedford Falls is a winner!

wonderful life sign

I love the juxtaposition of the message and the rustic canvas here.

rustic joy to the world

Moose Lodge is another one that I’ve done a few times.  Not necessarily reserved for Christmas either.

moose lodge

How’d this one sneak in here?

Painted Signs on Reclaimed Wood - maryland crabs

And the original “On the Way to Cape May” sign!  This one started it all.

Cape May Sign

Well, we’re most certainly off of the Christmas track now and perhaps back on harvest.  The sunflower seed packet resides at my parents.  I didn’t have the heart to sell it.  It’s possibly my all time favorite.

vintage sunflower seed pack reproduction sign

I’ve got a thing for fonts and vintage inspired signs which led me to start a pinterest board dedicated to other handmade holiday inspired signage.  Check it out here.

Where do you stand on the whole Thanksgiving/Christmas decorating debate?

bar cart essentials

Fall is in full swing and, let’s be honest, that means the holidays are on the horizon.  Holiday entertaining and parties will be here before we know it.  Now is the time to get those bar carts stocked and ready to go!  Hollywood Regency Brass Faux Bamboo Bar Cart

The folks over at Chairish challenged me to select my favorite bar cart and subsequently style it.  They came to the right place because I am a big fan of vintage bar carts!  I have bought and sold a few over the years.  Chairish makes buying and selling vintage furniture, art, jewelry and accessories online very easy.  From their selection, I chose a Hollywood Regency number.  I love the simple bamboo lines and those brass casters…swoon!

10 Bar Cart Essentials-

The double tiered cart will come in handy because we’ve got a lot of necessities to fit in order to craft the perfect libation.  Here are my Top 10 Bar Cart Essentials

Tools

  • First, you need the tools of the trade!  A muddler, jigger and shaker are any mixologist’s best friends.  The mason shaker adds a rustic appeal that I love.
  • Bitters are a bar cart necessity these days.  Hair of the Dog is a crowd pleaser!

Recipe Books

  • We like to muddle fresh fruit and herbs for our refreshments, taking tips from The Drunken Botanist.
  • Another book always close at hand is Shake which does a wonderful job of illustrating the drink recipes it outlines.

Glassware

  • What bar would be complete without crystal?  These vintage, crystal wine glasses from Chairish are very similar to a set of family heirloom glasses we have at our home bar.  They are our go-to glasses. Crystal  elevates every cocktail.  We don’t just reserve it for special occasions.

Accessories

  • I always have fabric cocktail napkins on hand.  These ticking striped ones are adorable and perfect everyday napkins.
  • The striped straws are just plain fun and whimsical, as well as functional.  Form and function?  Win/Win!
  • The beautiful artisan-made peach basket is used to corral tools when not in use.  It can also double as an ice bucket in a pinch because it is ceramic.

The Valencia - cocktail recipe

In case you’re wondering, The Valencia cocktail is still one of my favorites using citrus medica bitters and fresh squeezed orange juice.  The recipe can be found in Shake.

All of the bar ware above can be found at Circa Dee and the vintage bar cart and crystal glasses can be found at Chairish.com.

 

shopping brimfield

It’s that time of year again!  Brimfield is my very own Disney World.  It is truly the best place on earth!  Entering Brimfield-0600

For one week in May, July and September, antiques dealers from all over the world gather in Brimfield, Massachusetts for one of the largest shows in the country. The show consists of over a dozen fields of individual flea markets lined along Route 20. It is hard to believe until you experience it for yourself.  If you are going for your first time this week, here are a few of my tips for having a great experience…

tips for shopping Brimfield

  1. Bring cash.  This may seem obvious but it is worth the reminder!  Cash is king.  There are a few dealers that accept credit cards but it is not the mainstream at Brimfield.  Having cash also helps to stick to a budget in my opinion.Brimfield Barn
  2. Make a shopping list.  At any given time, I have a mental list of key items that I am on the hunt for.  It is good to put that list in writing, along with dimensions.  Set a limit on what you’re willing to spend on each piece.  Brimfield can be overwhelming with options.  You can easily lose track of what you’re there for in the first place and what you’d normally pay.  I refer to it as Brimfield Brain.  Don’t get too swept up!Brimfield Antique Market
  3. Dress the part.  This includes layers and closed toe shoes.  You can easily shop for 8 hours straight and not even realize it.  At least I can!  Make sure you are comfortable and well prepared.  Maybe you need an umbrella or scarf.  Don’t forget sunscreen, perhaps a hat and water.  Depending on the weather, the fields can be dusty or muddy.  Now is not the time to be a fashion plate.  Brimfield Antique Market
  4. Bring a truck.  If you don’t have one, rent one.  Even if you’re not planning on getting anything big.  You never know what treasure you will find and if it doesn’t fit in your sedan, you may never get over it.  Rent a U-haul van but don’t wait until you arrive to do so.  It’s nearly impossible to find an available one in Brimfield.  Bring it with you.  It’s worth it.  Also, be sure to arrive by 9 am to get a parking spot. Brimfield Parking-0580
  5. Buy now.  If you take too long to think about it, the next buyer will come along and scoop it up.  Don’t wait. You already know this.  Brimfield antique market
  6. Rarely pay asking price.  Dealers expect to give you a lower price at Brimfield.  There’s been several times where I didn’t feel the need to haggle and the dealer stills lowers the price about 10% without me even asking.  For example, something says $22, they’re pretty much expecting you to offer $20.  Haggling is part of the culture here.  Definitely “bundle” meaning offer less when buying in volume. vintage faucet fixtures
  7. Bring a cart, dolly and tools. Plus reusable shopping bags for smalls.  You’ll also want to have a tape measure handy.  A wrench can’t hurt as you may find you’ll have more room if you remove table legs.  We find it is much easier to walk around with our carts and load them up as we go.  Bungee cords always help.  When we have a full cart, we make our way back to load our truck and then we pick up where we left off.   Don’t fret if you don’t have these things because you can always find a “Porter for Hire”.  Brimfield Porter for Hire
  8. Take a snack break.  As mentioned, Brimfield is like Disney World complete with root beer floats, a beer garden and funnel cake.  Treat yo’ self!  You’ve earned it.Brimfield Antique Market
  9. Find a favorite field.  Many flea markets and the best dealers in the country are confined to just a few miles.  I’ve found that each field tends to have its own vibe.  Some are heavy on the industrial pieces.  Others have tons of shabby pieces.  Some are filled with mid-century and clean lines.  There are a few fields that I gravitate towards.  I try to visit each and every field but then return to the ones that I find fit my personal aesthetic.  I am more likely to buy at those.Brimfield Antique Market
  10. Find inspiration.  In just a few square miles, there is so much to see and do.  There are TV crews.  There are buyers for huge international companies.  There are small businesses taking off.  It is a true inspiration.  You can see some of the best merchandising right there in a dusty field.  This is where trends are born.  With a keen eye, you can spot what is going to be big next season by monitoring what is selling and not selling.  For example, a few years ago glass buoys were selling like crazy.  Everyone was carrying one around.  The following year, that trend was mass-produced by the big box stores and could be found everywhere.  Last spring, I noticed that the buoys were barely selling.  The same thing happened a few years ago with galvanized olive buckets.  Certainly some consumers still appreciate the “real thing” but the reproduction changed the demand.  This flea market subculture has a huge impact on mainstream America.  Possibly more so than some retailers even realize.  Don’t skip any fields because you never know what upcoming trend you’ll spot.  And forget what the old timers say, antiques are not dying!Brimfield Antique Market
  11. Make friends!  This is a great opportunity to get to know people in the industry.  Exchange contact info with your favorite dealers.  Meet up with bloggers, magazine editors, designers, etc.  You simply never know who you’ll meet.  Once we met a couple with the same wedding anniversary as us, just 50 years apart!  Someone else gave us their dinner reservation at one of the sought after restaurants nearby.  Brimfield Antique Market
  12. That reminds me, Make reservations.  Restaurants fill up fast when the fields close at 5 pm.  Call ahead of time.  And if you’re planning to stay over, book your hotel a few months out.  Don’t be afraid to drive 30 minutes or so from your hotel to the event.  Brimfield Antique Market 2013 (17 of 27)

That concludes my tips for shopping Brimfield.  We won’t be making it this week so I’ll be living vicariously through instagram!  What tips do you have for a successful Brimfield experience?

tips for shopping Brimfield

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may at the west end garage

May is here! May is here!

This might be one of my favorite months in Cape May, although it is really hard to be that decisive.  May brings the return of the hydrangeas, bumble bees, hot sunny days followed by cool sandy sunsets.  It also brings back full-time, in-season schedules for all of my favorite stores and restaurants.  This beach town is back for yet another season!

At The West End Garage, we put together a Mother’s Day window display with my favorite bentwood rocker and a vintage pram that is in pristine condition among other vintage mother and baby accessories.

WEG-6707

The pram is priced way undervalue so if you’ve been on the hunt for one, now is a great time to scoop it up!  It makes the perfect prop for a children’s boutique or baby photographer.

We have plenty of Mother’s Day gift ideas in stock so bring your mama to the beach this weekend.

Be sure to visit The West End Garage on Saturday for a milk paint demo.  I’ll be there to answer questions!

MP demo may

hello, chestnut hill

Clover Market spring season kicks off on Sunday in Chestnut Hill. We’ll be there!

Clover spring

I’m in the midst of packing, pricing and staging some never seen before vintage treasures.  And let me tell you, they’re fabulous!  You can expect a whole lot of whimsy this spring…nothing too serious.  Except for the Pope who is serious, indeed.  Must have.  And how about those milk glass tea party cups & saucers?

Circa Dee at Clover Market spring 15

Check in on facebook and instagram later this week to see what else we’re bringing to Clover Market in Chestnut Hill.

Speaking of Chestnut Hill…

Have you heard about Serendipity Shops of Chestnut Hill yet?  It is right around the corner and we have Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint in stock!  Stay tuned for pictures and details as we get settled into our new space.  In the meantime, check it out for yourself on Sunday.

 

 

 

spring happenings

Spring is just around the corner!  My favorite time of year.  Everyone comes out of hibernation.  Daffodils begin to emerge.  The days continue to get longer.  We start freshening up our porches and outdoor spaces while confirming summer vacation plans.  Oh the prospect of the season ahead.  It is so exciting, isn’t it?

Circa Dee at West End Garage spring 2015-6024

We’ve made a few plans of our own.  Circa Dee is heading to Clover Market this spring.  We’re keeping it small and sharing space with In With The Old at 2 of the 4 spring markets.  We’ve been stashing vintage finds for Clover Market all winter long.  It is going to be fantastic and I can’t wait to see YOU.

Circa Dee at West End Garage spring 2015-6021

Expect to find Circa Dee and In With The Old at the season opener in Chestnut Hill on Sunday, April 12th.  And the season closer on Sunday, June 7th in Bryn Mawr – note the new location.  You can check out all of the market details here.

Circa Dee at West End Garage spring 2015-6027

The next milk paint demonstration is scheduled for this Sunday, March 23rd at 1 pm at Serendipity Shops of Doylestown.  All are welcome.  No registration required.  Just plain fun.

Circa Dee at West End Garage spring 2015-6028

Down at The West End Garage in Cape May, we’re stocked for spring.  Be sure to stop by and visit us while you’re at the beach!  The West End Garage is open Friday-Sunday in March & Friday-Monday in April.  Hope to see you soon.

Circa Dee at West End Garage spring 2015-6031

windows of 2014

In just a few short hours we will be celebrating the arrival of 2015. It sounds completely surreal: 2015!  We certainly live in the future.  The age of hashtags, selfies and admittedly more social media acronyms than I can keep up with.  True confession, I thought #MCM stood for mid-century modern.  Who knew man crush Monday was a thing?

I am happy to celebrate the past everyday surrounded by pretty and practical vintage things.  I thought that it would be fun to close out 2014 with some of my favorite displays from our window at The West End Garage.

We took up residence in this space in March and started off with an Easter themed window.

easter spring window display

Spring came with a walk in the garden.

spring summer window display

Summer arrived along with our busy season and the omission of a few fun windows.  I have resolved to take more photos with an actual camera in 2015 to capture all of our displays!

patriotic window display

Fast forward to fall…my favorite season and perhaps my favorite window of the year.

fall window display

fall window display

We closed out the year with the magical Victorian dollhouse. A mini version of Christmas in Cape May when historical homes are decked out from eaves to gingerbread trim.

Christmas winter window display, victorian dollhouse

Fun fact:  The West End Garage is a very old building that was originally a Ford Model T dealer.  I believe this front space was the showroom hence the beautiful tin walls and ceilings that are still in tact.  Then it became an auto shop called, none other than, The West End Garage.  We’re so lucky to be part of such a unique space.  If you haven’t been in before, you have to put it on your list for 2015.

Circa Dee at West End Garage in Cape May, NJ (26 of 28)

If you’re lucky enough to celebrate the New Year in Cape May, be sure to stop by.  Everything is on sale today and tomorrow.  Thanks for a great year and Happy 2015!

 

 

 

 

one day sale

Serendipity Shops of Doylestown is paying it forward to all of our local patrons with a huge One Day Sale!  Today, December 26th.

33 S. Main St. Doylestown, PA
33 S. Main St. Doylestown, PA

Small businesses wouldn’t succeed without the support of the local community.  Enjoy discounts throughout the store including a rare opportunity to purchase Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint at a discounted rate.  Sale does not apply to online purchases.  Stock up for your 2015 projects today!

mp_natural

Thanks for a great year!  Happy holidays to you and your family.

 

winter wonderland

Winter Wonderland at Congress Hall Cape May

Did you know that we are popping up at Winter Wonderland at Congress Hall in Cape May?

Circa Dee at Winter Wonderland

It is a truly magical place to visit throughout the holiday season.  Complete with an old-fashioned carousel perfect for kids from ages 1 to 92. All of the details and hours can be found here.  Don’t miss the tree lighting Friday night on the grand lawn just across from the beach.

Winter Wonderland at Congress Hall  Carousel

Just around the corner, past Santa’s Workshop and the Congress Hall Express train is the shopping village, poolside.  I told you, magical!

Winter Wonderland Vendor Village

That’s where you’ll find Circa Dee and Houndstooth featuring our favorite gifts for everyone on your list…plus many other fantastic shops along with a treat bar where you can pick up the hotel’s legendary hot chocolate.  Yum!

Circa Dee at Winter Wonderland

Circa Dee at Winter Wonderland

Circa Dee at Winter Wonderland

 Happy Holidays!