playing dress up

Winter could also be dubbed elastic pant season.  At least for me.  Tell me I’m not alone in that admission.  Monday runs into Tuesday and Tuesday into Wednesday, all while sporting thick sweats or yoga pants (on a good day), usually paint covered and topped with some sort of crazy cat lady house coat.  The joys of working from home in a vacation community in the dead of winter warrant cat lady wardrobe status.  As soon as the season changes and I find my style senses again, please dismiss that image.  Until then, picture my XL men’s flannel and paint sweats topped with a Waldo-like beanie.

Now that you have that visual, let me tell you about what I’m working on.  I’ve got a number of pieces in the hopper in various European colors  including a secretary in Arabesque, a nightstand in Layla’s mint and a Marzipan/Schloss layered drum table, to name a few.  I can’t wait to get them finished up, photographed and posted.  The pretty pastels all hint at spring.

European colors

In the meantime, I did a little window shopping.  Clearly I’m dreaming of warmer days when I will remove some layers, wear proper wasted pants and bare a little skin again.  Eliza J dresses are modern but with a hint of vintage style which is exactly what I like.  I found a fantastic range of new dresses that correlate to the new European colors in Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint line.  I never stray far from paint and I thought this was a fun way to translate the new colors…

Eliza J

“Arabesque” is definitely a feminine, soft ballet pink just like the skirt on the right.  I’d say the skirt has a shimmer of “white wax” to it as well.

I wouldn’t mind wearing this “Schloss” faux fur now in lieu of my flannel.  Definitely no need to wait ’til spring for that greige number.  Both Schloss and the jacket are equal parts gray and brown and a bit of a chameleon depending on the surroundings.

“Marzipan” is incredibly creamy and flowy.  It is light and breezy just like this gown.  Not quite white, though I wouldn’t wear it to a wedding.

“Mora” is definitely my favorite and so is this lace dress.  That sheath really captures the spirit of the new paint color which is a light silvery gray with more than a hint of blue.  This one changes a bit with the lighting.

“Bergere” is kind of smokey blue.  Well maybe not smokey but definitely not sky blue either.  It is as if light blue has a gray finish to it similar to that flirty little dress.

“Layla’s Mint” is the final new color in the line.  I can’t quite put my finger on a description for that one nor could I find a dress to relate to it.  Stay tuned.

Please feel free to come to our next Milk Paint Demonstration on Saturday, February 27th at noon at Serendipity Shops.  Unfortunately I will not be wearing one of these elegant Eliza J dresses but you can check out the lookbook here.  Nor will I be wearing a house coat and elastic pants.  Thank goodness.

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

 

from snow to sun

Ryan and I recently went away to beautiful Vermont.  I really, really love New England and our increasing trips north.  That part of the country boasts so many beautiful old homes brimming with character and antiques.  No wonder I feel right at home there.

Vermont snow

We stayed in a circa 1900 home that encompassed the style of the region so well.  It was at the end of a snow-covered mountain road within walking distance to town.  Every detail was perfect from the stacks of old books to the antique church pew and area rug.  I had serious rug envy!  I’m also coveting French doors.Vermont cottage

While Ryan skied in the below freezing temperatures, I explored back roads, dug through little shops and read. I had very limited access to the online world.  Sorry friends but it was great to disconnect for this vacation.

However, it is always nice to get back home to our own routine.  So long for now, Vermont!

Let’s talk New Jersey for a minute.  Cape May specifically.  A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was milk painting a cedar closet a rich navy – Artissimo.  Well, here it is!

Artissimo closet-5764

This started off as a generic old thrift store cedar closet.  They’re a dime a dozen.  I particularly liked the size of this one as I had a space for it in the cottage we’re working on.

closet before

The closet required very little prep work as the wood was mostly raw.  I used two coats of Artissimo without bonding agent.  I love the richness and depth in this color.  I probably could have gotten away with just one coat since this wood soaked up the paint so nicely.  I anticipated some chipping milk paint where there was a bit of varnish left but only one area across the front chipped.  I couldn’t have planned the placement better myself. The entire piece was finished with furniture wax.

Artissimo closet-5768

I took this opportunity to hand paint the “on the way to Cape May” lyrics across the flat closet front which is always a hit in these parts.  We finished off the front with a new glass knob.

Artissimo closet-5774

I left the inside unpainted and I swear it is not that orange in real life!  We get beautiful natural light in this room which is mostly a blessing but in this case, a curse.  This closet will function perfectly for guests to use.  I can’t wait to pull the rest of the room together.  The room will have a bit of a mid-century vibe.  You’ll die when I post pictures of the beautiful vintage dresser…

Artissimo closet-5772

 

 

a dose of spring

This little lady has brought a breath of fresh air on an otherwise gloomy day.  Most of our friends to the north and even the south are buried in a foot of snow or more so I just had to share this unlikely February sight.

blooming geranium in February

I think unanimously everyone is looking forward to spring.  Actually, I am sure of that.  In the meantime, I’ll bring spring to your computer.

blooming geranium in February

Did you know that you can successfully overwinter geraniums?  And if conditions are optimum, your geranium might just put out a rare winter bloom.

Here’s how…

  • Before the first frost (usually in October ’round these parts), bring potted geraniums indoors.  You can transplant geraniums from your garden beds into pots if you’re up for it.
  • Dead head any spent blooms and wilting leaves.
  • Keep geraniums in a cool (50-60 degrees), sunny area over the winter.  This potted geranium lives in my office which is typically about 60 degrees believe it or not.  Optimum geranium-overwintering conditions!
  • Don’t over water it!  That is the most common mistake made with all potted plants really.  Generally speaking, water when the soil is dry to the touch.

over wintering a geranium

And of course my favorite vintage McCoy planter is home to this geranium.  A cute planter is a must.  I have a collection of yellow McCoy planters.

blooming geranium in February

Ahh,  we’re in the home stretch now friends.   Soon we’ll all be looking at gardens lined with hot pink geraniums.  Soon.

blooming geranium in February

Don’t worry, I’ll remind you in October how you were feeling on this particularly stormy winter day so you remember to dig up your geraniums and nurse them  through the cold months so they’ll bloom indoors for you next winter.  Or you can just pin this as a reminder…

overwintering geraniums

the frozen sea

We felt a bout of cabin fever setting in over the weekend so we headed out on a mini road trip around the area to take in the polar vortex sights.  A dusting of snow was coating the already frozen Delaware Bay when we approached.

Frozen

It was unbelievable to see in person and may be hard to tell in these photos that the water is not cresting but is merely frozen in that position that we are so used to seeing.  We couldn’t hear the presumable sound of the surf crashing.

Frozen (1 of 7)

In fact, it was eerily quiet. And gray but in the most beautiful way.

Frozen Cape May

With the temperatures reaching above freezing yesterday and the sun peeking out, we actually ventured onto the beach.  The water was crashing in this location but right next to huge snow mounds.  What a crazy sight.  There is nothing like playing in the sand and snow at the same time.  Can you tell where the snow ends and the water begins?

Snowmound Beach

frigid weather soup

On a frigid cold day, like today ’round here, there’s nothing like hot spicy soup.

Tortilla soup, that is!

Spicy Tortilla Soup

I adapted part of this recipe from Happy Herbivore (which I am a big fan of) but gave it my own spin.

It all started with a jar of salsa and a 15 oz can of pinto beans.  Not the most glamorous ingredients in the world of eating fresh plant-based foods but the pantry choices were slim and we were in the midst of a snowstorm.  So my friends, the two main ingredients came from a can and a jar.  And I think it’s quite genius in a pinch.

Puree 1 cup of salsa, 1 cup of the beans with 1 cup of broth.  Fortunately I made my favorite French Onion Soup the night before so I simply drained a cup of the flavorful broth from there.

Spicy Tortilla Soup

Once blended into a creamy broth (you know how I love creamy soups, right?) I transferred into a stock pot.  Adding a fresh diced mango, another half cup of salsa and a teaspoon of cumin.

mangoes

I let the soup simmer on low while juicing mangoes.

sliced mangoes

The perfect drink companion to spicy tortilla soup.

freshly squeezed mango juice

The soup was served with feta cheese and Late July brand tortilla chips, which I also love.  Yep, I go heavy on the feta.

Spicy Tortilla Soup

There you have it, spicy tortilla soup in a bind.  Super tasty and ready in under 30 minutes!

Let me add that in the future I am going to make this as a follow-up to Taco Tuesday.  Usually there are diced tomatoes, peppers and more left over that I am going to try as a fresh substitute for the jarred salsa.

Spicy Tortilla Soup