Sunday, July 27, 2014

Raw Vegan Brownie Balls

This weekend was spent mostly in the studio. We're trying our best to get all open orders out this week so that we can get to work on new designs. You'll never hear us complain about working on orders. We love the work, we love our collectors, and there's a very specific peace that goes along with being busy. It's so extremely hot outside, but we've got the air conditioning cranked, music playing, good candles…and snacks! Snacks are key!  
Currently, we really need to go grocery shopping. We've haven't be able to get to the store, so the cupboards are pretty much bare. We didn't think we had the makings to whip up a sweet treat, but then we came across this recipe that looked and sounded deelish, and it just so happened that we had every ingredient in our pantry. These Brownie Balls are raw, vegan, and there's no added sugar…just dates to bring the sweet. 
So this afternoon we took a little bit of time out to make them…and by "little bit" I mean about 10 minutes total! And that includes the time it took to gather the ingredients. They are so easy...and SO GOOD! So much rich, deep chocolate flavor...and that bit of sea salt makes them! 

You will need:

1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup almonds
1 cup chopped dates (Medjool or regular)
1/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons good quality unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

This seriously couldn't be more easy! Add your walnuts and almonds to your food processor and process until it starts to resemble "dough".

Now, add your dates, cocoa powder, and salt…and process until well combined and resembling chocolate cookie dough.

And remember…these are raw! No baking! All you have to do at this point is roll your mixture into balls. I used some little truffle cups…but you could just put them on a plate. Then pop them in the fridge for about an hour…and Enjoy! In mid summer, why turn on the oven when you can make these balls of goodness in mere minutes!

These are so good, and we just had to take time out of our schedule to share this recipe today! We're just about to unwind for the evening with a couple of our fave shows…and I think it's also time for a second serving of dessert.

Thanks for popping in!
xo Jenny…and Aaron

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Favorites

Just the other day, me and Aaron were working in the kitchen and I pulled one of my classic moves. I quickly mixed up some pale pink paint and brushed some onto the molding around the kitchen doorway. I call it a "classic move" because for the past umpteen years Aaron has known me to add spur-of-the-moment color to our walls at home whenever the inspiration strikes me. In this case I was considering doing pink moldings for a few days. Our kitchen is mostly neutral with pops of color as far as artwork and collections on shelves, but lately I've been thinking about playing up the pink a bit more. And so far I think I'm liking it. A little later on Aaron took a break to help me paint some more of the molding around the room. I believe if we get some time over the weekend we'll try to finish the job. In the end it'll feel like an all new kitchen…and I'm pretty psyched about that. 
Experimenting and taking chances are good things. And as far as paint goes, it's a fairly risk free endeavor. If it doesn't look right you can always paint back over it. And the experimenting part is without cost if you've got some leftover paints around the house that you can mix together to make a small amount of the color you're looking for. Then, once you've decided on the precise color, you can go to the paint store and get a gallon to match it. 
So don't be scared. If the mood strikes…put some color on a wall. And then you can do what I do…ask for some help in finishing the job! ha! Just be sure to let your helper know that it's all for the good of your aesthetic future. ;)

 So…speaking of adding color to your future…check out this adorable centerpiece tutorial from Oh Joy!  It's not only super pretty…it's also a mini herb garden. So…you've got this amazing centerpiece on your table and if you need a little basil to top your pasta, you can just pluck a couple leaves! It's made using tea tins, contact paper, embroidery hoops, and foam core. Love it.

Totally want to try the new Color Theory Acrylics from Studio Calico. They've got so many great products and these new paints sound awesome. The colors look perfect. We've kinda got our formula down for our real deal paintings, but I love to experiment with new paint products in my art journal.

Can you even handle these?! And yes…there's a tutorial to go along with these fabulous pics. Check out Oh Happy Day to learn how to make your own Beach Cake Toppers with nothing more than card stock, a ruler, drink umbrella, flat toothpicks, bone folder, pencil, scissors, paint, and a glue gun.

I truly admire the beautiful work of Rachel Pruett aka Poppy and Fern. These are hand embroidered! I don't use this word often, but I'd refer to these little pieces as precious.  I must own one soon!

I love so much stuff over at Hello Holiday. And this tee is my current fave. It's from Portland designer Flunk Life, and was inspired by a classic animal rights tee that was made famous by activist Doris Day.  I love how the lettering looks just like it did on every iron-on tee from the 70s. Oh man…I've got so many animal loving friends who would get behind this message. It's hilarious. 

And lastly…I was so psyched to see this video review that did featuring our scrapbooking collection. I've been dying to share some more project tutorials using our papers and accents. It's just been so hard trying to find the time. I promise to get down to business soon as far as tutorials go. We've got so many great ideas.

Thanks so so much again for reading. And remember…when the mood strikes…add color!
xo Jenny…and Aaron says hi!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Thoughts on our first Instagram Sale

We had our first InstaSale this past Monday, and wow! So much fun. The whole thing happened so fast! Prior to the sale I took about two weeks to dig through boxes, and I spent a lot of time considering what items would go over well. And then in under an hour I had everything listed and about 99% was claimed…I couldn't believe how fast it went. 

It was a lot of fun but it also took some time. I tried my best to get good photos of everything in the days before the sale. And I did a lot of research for pricing…checking ebay and etsy for similar things, just so that my prices were realistic and fair. And yeah, I'm old school…I kept notes in an actual notebook. I don't think I've gotten the old habits out of me yet…one day I'll keep notes on my iPad. I was mostly trying to make sure everything had a price that made sense. And I'd rather round the prices down just to give the things a better chance at ending up in a happy new home.

The sale was Monday evening, so in the day time Aaron weighed everything and looked up the range of shipping rates for across the country and to the UK and Canada. I then wrote up little descriptions for each item, with sizes, age, brands etc…and emailed them to myself so that I could copy/paste all that on the fly once I got the sale started.

On Monday evening the anticipation for the sale felt like we were expecting important guests in our home. I had gotten lots of instagram comments from friends who were excited about the sale. Of course we had no idea what anyone expected, but we figured 30 items seemed like a fairly good amount of stuff for the first sale.

So here is how things worked.  We chose to hold it at 9:00 pm on a Monday night. We asked around and it seemed week nights are best for people, and also evening. Since we have lots of friends on both coasts we had to choose a time that wasn't too late for East coast or too early for West.

It's funny, I was actually pretty nervous. Aaron was doing something else right before 9 o'clock and I yelled into the other room "Aar, I think I'm gonna need an assistant for the sale, so if you could drop what you're doing…"
So, 9:00 hits and I begin posting the items on Instagram, and that's pretty much all I can handle, since I'm having to copy/paste the descriptions from another window, etc… Aaron was on the iPhone checking to see if everything was going ok…if there were any questions, etc…
The way it worked was that I would post the item, and then the item would go to whoever left the first comment with their paypal email address and zip code. 
As I listed each item Aaron would instantly say…sold, sold, sold…pretty much as soon as each item posted. It was exciting to say the least. Not to be corny…but I'm always thrilled when I find out that so many of us are ga ga for the same stuff.

And here are some of the items…soon to be in their new homes!

An adorable vintage unused place card with crepe paper skirt.

Vintage Melmac coffee/tea cups.

A pair of vintage plastic cameras.

Darling vintage curlers on the cutest backing card! The illustrations and fonts are amazing!

Some sweet egg cups.

Vintage Libbey concord glasses.

And here are a few items still available!

This doll size vintage high chair is so great. Perfect old pink paint, worn on the edges, adorable chipped decal. It's aged and imperfect but really charming. It's missing a wooden bead on one side. Measures 20" tall. $42.00 plus shipping (between 5.00 & 10.00 US) 

A vintage Handy Hannah rare pink electric hairdryer from the 1950s. It looks great but we never plugged it in to see if it works, but by all means, you could give it a shot! Totally a great display piece for bathroom, vanity, salon etc. $36.00 plus shipping (between 7.00 & 16.00 US)

This vintage safety pin bead basket, made popular in the 1950s. Rare double handle. Blue and clear beads. Measures 11" tall. Thanks to Martha Stewart's magazine these have been hard to find in recent years. $28.00 plus shipping. (between 5.00 & 9.00 US, 20.00 UK, 15.00 Canada)

And we have a few more bead baskets which are also in the Instashop. @shoplikeitsaholiday

We are leaving these items up for anyone who might still be interested.

Currently we are already gathering goodies for our next sale, and we will announce the next InstaSale date and time soon! It was a lot of fun and we'll definitely expand upon the idea as time goes on. Definitely try to check it out next time. I'll keep everyone up to speed on Instagram and Facebook.

Thanks for reading! xo, Jenny…and Aaron says hi!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday Favorites

This past week I've been going through a lot of my collections and setting aside the things I absolutely must keep. And whatever doesn't fall into that category I'm going to be putting up for sale on Instagram. It feels good to streamline…though the word streamline is a gross exaggeration. Even if I sold half of everything I own, I'd still have a whole lotta stuff. But the winnowing down of my collectible possessions has got me seriously considering what I desire in my overall home decor esthetic. I definitely want things to be less busy. And by 'less busy' I might just mean a tighter color palette…smoother transitions from room to room. I guess my goal is to be surrounded by the things I love, but for them to exist in a soothing environment. Being that we work from home we need to infuse as much relaxation into the place as possible. We're still in the early stages with a lot of the stuff but I'll definitely keep you posted once I've got some good home shots to show. 

Anyway, it was this idea of bringing more subtlety into the home that attracted me to the above vignette. I love the way the sepia tones of the print and portrait simultaneously stand out against, and melt into the pale rose colored wall. And the pink toned floral pottery gives it just enough of a feminine touch. And yes…a strand of twinkle lights. 

I love this piece by artist David Shrigley.
I feel like you can take this in so many ways, and from day to day the way you read it will probably change. 
Is it a serious emotional affirmation? Is it complete sarcasm? Is it a commentary on the rose colored glasses effect in corporate advertising?

I wear mostly black and white with pops of color in my accessories. I think an all black outfit with these gold Oxfords from ASOS would be fantastic.

If I were to name the single most memorable character from The Addams Family, I'd say it's the black & white film it was shot on. Sure, most shows were in black & white when it was originally on the air. But I just can't imagine The Addams Family in anything but black & white. That whole gothic, macabre vibe just wouldn't play well if it was bathed in vibrant color. When we think Addams Family, we think black & white.

And that's why it's so awesome to see these rare photos that were taken on set. First off…wow! I want to live there. And second, it sets my artist mind afire. On one level I can look at the two images and it's like one is the sketch and one is the finished painting. But then I can also see the genius eye of the set decorator…how they were able to select colors that would translate to specific gradations on the grey scale.

Seriously…how cool is this shirt from Tumbleweeds Handcraft ! The design is based on an anonymous poem written in 1950:
 "How do I know that my youth is all spent, 
well, my get up and go has got up and went. 
But in spite of it all, I am able to grin 
when I recall where my get up has been"
In the very near future (as long as it takes to order one and have it delivered) I'm wearing this shirt. 

These chairs are so great. They're in the studio of lifestyle photographer Kelly Brown. I'd say that over the years of collecting, me and Aaron probably bought enough chairs to seat an audience in a small playhouse.

This mineral is gorgeous. The color is absolutely dreamy. And the crusted up bits of cream and tan almost give the effect of metallic gold. I did my best to google image search it, but no luck. I think it may be Smithsonite. I love it. If it looks that good it just has to hold some great energy.

The way we treat each other is what makes the world go round. And that's why the spin of the world might get a little shaky at times…we're not treating each other right. It's essential to look around…see who is making your little world spin smoother…and let them know that you know.

Ok, as a final note to these Friday Favorites I just had to include this little video. I don't think there has ever been a better birthday party ever in the history of birthday parties. Making mini things for mini woodland creatures to eat is now an internet staple. And lets hope this trend never ever goes out of style.

Thanks so much again for reading! Happy Friday! Have a wonderful weekend!
xo, Jenny…and Aaron says hi!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Lieutenant Dan's first week and our first InstaSale

It is just a week that this little peanut has been in our life. But he had been in our hearts for a while before his arrival. With every pic and update we received regarding this guy we considered him a family member, prior to ever getting to kiss his little head. And now that he is here it's hard to believe that the funny little pup from those pics is actually sitting in my lap. Aaron and I just constantly look down at him, shaking our heads and saying "He is home". He already gets our routine. He has his spots…he's got his decisions about how he's going to navigate the day. We watch as he hops off the couch and leaves the room, then hear him get a drink in the kitchen, and then he trots back in and hops back up on the couch to curl up in his spot again.
 He and Carlos have been getting along great! They have beds next to each other on the floor and are always trading who's bed is who's. Anytime we are in the kitchen they are like book ends, sitting or standing, and keeping an eye on the food prep.

And the same way that Carlos and little Jack used to sit on the entry rug, so do Carlos and Dan. And Lieutenant Dan also sits with his one paw up, just like Jack used to. Above is what the two guys look like when they jump up off the rug because they hear something particularly interesting going on with the dinner preparations.We keep saying to them…"You guys are brothers!"

It has been raining all day, with lots of thunder. We were wondering if the thunder would bother the little guy. When I asked him if he was the type of pup that would need a thunder shirt…he looked at me with squinty eyes, fully alert ears, and said that the pink tuffet would do the job just fine. I can't even take it! 

Here he is asleep on my lap. I love that little smile.

This pic cracks me up! This is from earlier in the week. It's amazing how every day he gets more and more comfortable. We're just so incredibly thankful for him…it just feels so meant to be. We're thankful that our friend Bernie Berlin knew that Lt. Dan was meant for us. Again, if you do not follow A Place To Bark on Facebook… You Should! Bernie tries to keep us all up to speed with the daily goings on, and she shares so many stories that start out sad but are guaranteed to have a happy ending. Seeing dogs go from death row to adoption is amazing. I love knowing that each little pup will possibly be the heart and soul of the family they go home with. 
Bernie is tireless, dedicated, and incredible! 

In other news…we are so so excited about our new InstaShop! And by Insta shop I mean Instagram! I just adore the Instagram community, where I have met some awesome, talented, and kind friends in the past year or so that I have been on there. Aaron and I will be hosting sales of all sorts of fun things from our personal collection that we have amassed over the years. Lots of vintage, some kitchenware like the above Melamine, old and new, kitchsy and cute collectibles, craft supplies, ephemera, one of a kind art pieces, etc. We are shooting for this Thursday evening for our first sale! So if you'd like to follow along and possibly do some shopping or know someone who would…make sure to follow @shoplikeitsaholiday on Instagram.

It is going to be hard to part with some of these things that we've been collecting together for over 18 years, but we know they will go to great homes! These vintage beaded baskets are just so fun! The price of these got sorta out of control as soon as an article about them came out in Martha Stewart's Mag a few years back. On ebay I remember seeing prices shoot up in a matter of 2 weeks. 

Another of our favorite things are vintage greeting cards, mostly from the 40s and 50s. We've been collecting them for over 18 yrs! We have multiples of some, so we'll be offering cute groupings in the InstaSale! Great for Art Journaling, scrapbooking, card making, or scanning and printing for all sorts of crafts! 

I am a sucker for vintage birthday candles in original boxes! I have multiples of a few so they may end up in the sale as well! 

And I started digging through our vintage cupcake and cake decorations. I've got some goodies for sure.

I think we will be putting together little inspiration boxes or bags…a mix of things. Ephemera, ribbons, and cute bits and pieces to be used in all kinds of projects. 

I'm hoping for a bit of sunshine tomorrow so that I can finish photographing items for the sale. I'm really excited and hope that we can send some happy packages off to new homes.

Thanks so much for popping in! And for all the sweet words on our newest family member! 
Love from the NJ Shore!
xo Jenny…and Aaron says hi!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Vegan Date Bars

The past 3 days with Lieutenant Dan here at home with us have been a dream. He already feels like Family...with a capital F. It feels like he's always been with us. We can't believe how much the little guy has already adapted to our daily routine. Carlos is loving having him around, and we couldn't be more happy about that. Zero aggression at the food bowl, and there doesn't seem to be any territory issues. We actually feel like Carlos has a sense of just how small and delicate Dan is.
But jeez, with all this dog stuff the week has flown by! We are doing our best to work on orders without being distracted by that cute little guy staring longingly at us. We want to just eat him up all day! We could go on and on...but this post is actually about baking! We were in the mood for something sweet, crumbly, and wholesome tasting. Something sweet that's mostly nuts, oats, and fruit. We had just picked up some dates on our last shopping trip and wanted them to be the base of whatever dessert we'd decide to bake. So we found this recipe for Vegan Date Bars and just had to give them a try!
We really didn't veer too far off course from the original recipe. Just slight adjustments. In the end they turned out to be exactly what we were craving. Sweet but not too sweet, crumbly, crusty, filling...and easy!
Here is what you will need:
lightly greased or sprayed 9" x 13" baking pan
Date filling:
2 cups pitted chopped dates
1/2 cup coconut sugar (we used light brown sugar instead)
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup almonds finely ground
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup vegan butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups Quick cooking oats
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
First, we prepared our filling. We chopped our dates into fine pieces in the food processor.
Then, in a skillet we added the chopped dates, the water, and the 1/2 cup of light brown sugar (again, feel free to use coconut sugar instead) Next, we stirred and cooked it over medium high heat. Then we turned the heat down a bit and cooked it until it thickened. Once thickened we added the vanilla and almond extracts, and the finely ground almonds. We stirred it until it looked like the pic above. Next, you'll transfer it to a bowl to cool for a bit.

Now for the crust. We creamed the vegan butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. We used our Kitchen Aid, but you can always use a hand mixer.

Next we added the flour, baking soda, and salt...and mixed it some more.

Then we added the oats and mixed well. Don't expect it to turn out like will be crumbly.

But the crumbly texture is exactly what you're looking for. Next you'll sprinkle half of the crust into your prepared pan. Then press it down with your fingers.

The next layer is the filling. It's pretty thick and sticky, so your best bet is to drop spoonfuls of it all around. Then you can use a spoon to smooth it out in an even layer over the entire bottom crust. Press and spread carefully so that you don't pull up the bottom crust. 

Then cover the filling with the remaining crust mixture and press down. You'll pop this in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Then remove and let cool for about 5 minutes. Then cut into squares while still warm.

They really turned out great. We think there is a perfect ratio of sweet filling to nutty/oaty, just-ever-so-slightly salted crust. We have them stored in an air tight container in the fridge. We each ate one first at room temperature and then today had one straight from the fridge...and both of us liked the chilled version even better. The original recipe says they freeze well, and can thaw on the counter for an hour. Aaron's mom had one with coffee and said it was perfect. 
We highly recommend these! I was just about to try to formulate some terrible pun/joke about not having to go out to a Bar for a Date...that you could stay home and have the Date in the Bar or whatever...terrible idea...but too late now! Anyway...enjoy some Vegan Date Bars! They are no joke! derp.
xo, Jenny & Aaron
and Carlos and Lieutenant Dan