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?


One of my all time favorite Christmas movies has got to be “It’s a Wonderful Life”.  It’s not even specifically a Christmas movie, is it?  What a great life lesson George Bailey learns.

We recently watched the movie and a brief documentary about the making of it as well.  Would you believe that it wasn’t initially the hit that it is today?   I was surprised by that.

wonderful life sign

At any rate, I was inspired to paint some Wonderful Life signs.  With an oak cut out and some milk paint, I came up with this…

wonderful life sign painted with miss mustard seed's milk paint by circa dee

The base coat is a wash of lucketts green allowing the oak grain to come through.  It looks more green in person.  The lettering is painted in typewriter and tricycle.  I used furniture wax and a hint of antiquing wax in the top coat.

wonderful life sign milk paint

 I am still working on decking the halls here.  We’re planning to trim the tree this evening…perhaps we’ll watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” again.  It never gets old!  What is your favorite holiday classic to watch this time of year?

This sign will be up for grabs at West End Garage this weekend.

where’d we leave off

Oh right about here.  The beach and the lobster.

Lobster Collage

We harvested this great big weathered board from the beach.  It is almost the same size as me!  Not so much width, but height-wise.

weathered DIY Lobster sign

Once sun bleached and dried out, I chalked on Lobster lettering and a shadow.  Then I filled in with red and white paint.  The red was a custom mix I had left over from the fall sunflower seed sign.  The white is Old White chalk paint by Annie Sloan.

weathered DIY Lobster sign

There were gray paint remnants from its former life which played perfectly into creating the distressed look I was going for.

vintage demijohn

Once the paint dried, I took a palm sander over the lettering to complete the aging process.  I finished up with some clear wax and a bit of ebony stain in some places all in the name of creating an authentically aged look.

The funny thing is that I am constantly trying reverse the aging process on my face yet I continue to force the aging process in my work.  Just an observation.  Hmm.

vintage coastal lantern and minnow bait bucket

Anywho, I wrapped up with a little coastal mantelscaping to coordinate with the new-old Lobster sign.  Everything pictured here is for sale at West End Garage.  A bit summery, isn’t it?  Oh well.  I think I’m ready for sunny, warm days.

weathered DIY Lobster sign and vintage coastal mantel

I also put together a vintage inspired Eggs sign for one’s kitchen.  This is miniscule compared to the mammoth Lobster.  Ryan likes to read “My our Fresh Eggs” but I hope you see otherwise.  “Try our Fresh Eggs”.

eggs sign painted on old cutting board

I used a little old cutting board for the canvas.  I love how the side of the board is trimmed in faded red paint.  After the paint dried, I also clear waxed and wiped on quite a bit of ebony stain particularly near the edges and also to highlight the old cuts in the board.

eggs sign painted on old cutting board

I’m having a moment with cutting boards.  I think I’d like to start a collection.  (Yes another collection.)  Primarily old bread boards in that sweet paddle shape.  Yeah, I need some of those in my life.

What projects are you working on these days?

where are they now

As you probably know by now, I love the thrill of the hunt! I love uncovering a long forgotten treasure and giving it a new home or purpose.  It is kind of like fostering puppies!  Sometimes these treasures are found in the bottom of a box at a flea market or in a closet at a granny estate sale or buried in a barn. The next great thing can truly be hiding anywhere just waiting to be discovered.  It is such an exciting thought actually.

Many of the treasures I find I don’t actually keep.  Or at least not for long.  I am trying to avoid hoarderism.   That must be a word and a disease that plagues hoarders.  So it got me wondering…where are they now?

What life have former Circa Dee treasures gone on to live?

Fortunately for me and you, I have some insight.  Check it out!

I had the opportunity to sell a few unique scales to Miss Mustard Seed which have landed in the glossy pages of her book and a few magazines!  Pretty cool.  You might remember these scales from early in my treasure posting days here and here.


I personally have a thing for vintage chenille blankets.  I snap them up at every opportunity and have a few in my own home.  I sell quite a few too.  They definitely have vintage beach house or cottage feel.  Here’s one all settled in it’s new home!

chenille bedspread

This vintage linen tablecloth was repurposed into a new valance for a kitchen.  Pretty clever and adorable reuse!

vintage table cloth turned valance

A friend commissioned me to make a custom painted sign to coordinate with their master bedroom.  Here’s a look at the rustic art that some old boards I saved turned into.

custom painted sign on reclaimed wood

This is one of my favorite “where are they now” stories…  I found an antique drop leaf table at a moving sale.  The wear and patina on the wood was just perfect as is.  Cabin owners agreed with me and transported it all the way from Pennsylvania to their Georgia cabin to give it a new lease on life.  I think they did a great job pairing it with the antique ice cream parlor chairs, don’t you?

drop leaf table - cabin

If you’ve purchased a Circa Dee treasure, I’d love to see what you’ve done with it and feature it next month!  Have you repurposed it or given it a new lease on life?

P.S.  I’m on instagram now posting live updates!  Find me – circadee

a blue christmas

This is in fact not a Christmas post at all.  Well maybe a little.


It is definitely a blue post though.


And a little green.


And red.


And maybe nude too.  What the heck.


The Cape May table and and a few signs moved into my new and improved space at West End Garage this week.


The tray detaches from the table.  Check it out!


I bet you didn’t see that one coming, did ya?


They lyrics from the “On the way to Cape May” sign are painted on the tray…

IMG_8790  And I love the extreme chippiness of these signs…IMG_8795


That’s what I’ve been up to this week.  How about you?

Don’t forget we’re open at our Brick & Mortar this weekend, Friday, Saturday & Sunday from 12-4.


1814 Valley Forge Road Worcester, PA

new at west end garage

Happy weekend! The first day of December, yay!

So Thursday was a sign painting kind of day. Here’s a glimpse.


I wasn’t supposed to be working yesterday and for the most part I didn’t. I had a great day off!  However, I did pop into West End Garage to add these finished pieces to my space.  I need to wrap up the others.

The largest vintage book page wreath you ever did see. It’s huge! And it smells like the library!  You know what I’m talking about.  I kind of love that old book smell.  Anyway, this wreath would be a really cool focal above a mantel.

book page wreath

I have been in luck with finding some great old shutters and doors lately. This door is part of a silo so I was told.   You can tell the bottom was cut off.  Maybe someone out there knows if it was for a silo?  I love the hardware. I really wanted something simple and Christmasy so I went with a vintage Santa outline.

vintage painted santa door

And then of course I needed a new Cape May sign. The coastal green shutter is a perfect contrast for the song lyrics.  These have been popular signs so I try to stock one in my space frequently!

Cape May sign

And I’ll have you know that Wilson contributed very little to these projects.


Have a great weekend!

P.S.  Don’t forget about the Inspired You book giveaway.  You have until midnight EST tonight to enter.

sign language

I’ve been so busy lately that I’ve slacked on taking pics and posting all of my projects.  It occurred to me that I’ve been painting a heck of a lot of signs and haven’t shared nearly any of them.

I’ve been using almost any kind of reclaimed wood as the canvas.  And a combination of acrylic, latex & chalk paints.

Without further adieu…

“Butterfly”  Cabinet Door

“Bed & Breakfast” Table top

“Maryland Crabs” Bead board door

“Nude Beach” Driftwood. Yeah, it is pointing into the shower.

“Farmers Market” This one is up for debate.  I think it is part of a headboard.  Thoughts? Sorry I didn’t get a good shot of this one.

“Soft Pretzels” Another table top.  Someone actually carved their initials into this one.

“No Diving” An old shelf

Several of these signs are up for sale at our new space in West End Garage in Cape May. We are all moved in. I posted a few pictures on facebook yesterday.  Check ’em out if you haven’t already!

little ditty

You looked so very pretty, when we met in Ocean City,
like someone, oh, so easy to adore.
I sang this little ditty, on our way to Ocean City,
heading south along New Jersey’s shore.

On the way to Cape May, I saw my dreams come true.
I was taken by your smile, as we drifted by Sea Isle.
My heart was really gone when we reached Avalon.
On the way to Cape May, Stone Harbor’s skies were blue.
We were naming the day when Wildwood came in view.
If you’re gonna be my spouse, we’d better head for that Court House
On the way to Cape May

Linking to:
Elizabeth & co., Coastal Charm

living the dream

During the hurricane lockdown I took to cleaning, organizing and DIYing.  It ended up being a fairly productive weekend for me since we were fortunate to keep our power throughout the entire storm.   

Before the hurricane I hit up my neighborhood hardware store.  Ace the friendly place.  I was jumping for joy when I found out that everything was 20% off.  Sheer luck to walk in that day!  I stocked up on some project supplies.  Sometimes I think I like the hardware store better than the craft store.  When does Michael’s ever offer a storewide sale like that? Seriously.

Rewind to like 3 months ago.  I found this frame in the garage headed for the trash.  Skuuuurt, stop the music!  Immediately an art project came to mind.  The frame moved to my endless pile of future projects.  I filed the idea away. 

And then the storm came.  Plus the aforementioned hardware store sale.  Equals art project finally underway.

The master bedroom was (still is) lacking in the art department.  There’s a lot of texture and warm earthtones in the space so I wanted to create something for the walls to complement the mood.  Because I am obsessed with all things burlap at the moment, that was the natural choice.  Pun intended.

In order t0 start with a clean canvas, I bought a roll of burlap that is used for balling and burlaping tree root balls.  Landscape burlap has a looser weave than potato and coffee sacks (that I love).  I found this element added some additional dimension to the project.

I cut the burlap to fit the frame leaving excess on all sides to staple to the back of the frame at the end.  Then I laid out my stencils.  You didn’t think I free-handed that, did you?  I got the letter stencils from Ace (yes 20% off).  They were in the mailbox section.  I thought about printing and cutting letters out of cardstock to make my own stencils but this just seemed easier.  The damask stencil is from Stampin’ Up.  It is called Kind Thoughts Brocade.

I filled in the stencils with acrylic paints…also 20% off. 

I completed the damasks/brocades (whatev) first.  I just eyeballed the spacing when moving the stencils.  I think it worked out ok fine but you could measure. 

Then came the DREAM – literally and figuratively.  I repeated all of the painting/stenciling steps as mentioned above.

Once it was dry I turned it over and repositioned the frame.  I stapled the excess burlap to the back of the frame.

And there you have it.

One more. I like the light in this one…

Last one. Promise.

Still have no clue where the frame came from originally. I think it was packaging of some sort.  But if I can find more I would definitely replicate this project.  It was fun, quick and rewarding.

I also *might* have started decorating for fall harvest.

Too soon?  Happy September!

Linking to:

DIY Club

The Letterd Cottage
Domestically Speaking
House of Hepworths
My Repurposed Life
Freckled Laundry
Thrifty Decor Chick