Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Weeeird New Jersey


Jersey is strange...or I guess the proper adjective would be "weird". Being that this is the birthplace of the fantastic magazine and books titled: "Weird New Jersey". Which then spawned a "Weird" book for nearly every state in the nation and they may have even published some European editions I believe, like "Weird London". But yeah....saying that Jersey is strange or weird is a gigantic understatement. In this case though, I'm calling Jersey weird based only on the wacky weather we've been seeing. We seem to have skipped that little season known as Spring. For weeks and weeks it's been cold, windy, rainy, gray...and then we wake up this Saturday morning to temperatures peaking above the mid 80's. It's like we go from March straight on into July! We slept with the AC on last night and probably will do so again tonight. Hopefully, this is just some weather anomaly and not the future of the seasons. Aaron says that Hemingway has a great chapter about "false Springs" in his book "A Moveable Feast"...but Spring is actually late to arrive this year. Maybe this is a "false Summer"....I sure hope so. I NEED Spring. The cool nights and sunny, breezy, comfortable, front porchy days. The weatherman says that this heat is gonna break by Wednesday...fingers crossed.
But, lets see...The 85 degree temps were not totally unwelcome. We wish it was a tiny bit cooler but at least the novelty of the drastic temperature leap got us out of the house for an hour or two on Saturday. My sister Missy, who is also my next door neighbor, gave us a call around noon and said, "Interlaken is having a townwide yardsale. I have an hour break at one o'clock. Put down your paint brushes and we'll hit as many yardsales as we can in one hour." Interlaken is the name of the gorgeous town directly next to ours. When I say "next to"...I mean it's within yelling distance. That's how our little area is down here at the shore. We've got a cluster of beautiful tiny towns all within walking distance. The town directly to our south is so small that it's technically called a "village" and it occupies only about four blocks in total. I promise to soon take photos of the neighborhood and give you guys a great little travel guide to my neck o' the woods. The streets and homes and trees and bodies of water in the vicinity of our little apartment are worthy of the most heartfelt, relaxing, and pleasant SIGH. We are so very thankful for the sheer beauty and calm of our surroundings.


So...Saturday we went out and hit the Interlaken townwide yardsale. Whoever planned it did a fab job. Each participating house was marked with a hot pink metallic helium balloon. So you could drive the streets and at a quick glance you could see how many houses had yardsales....the balloons were visible from at least 4 blocks away. This made it easy to see which blocks were worth going down... and since we only had an hour we had to be selective. Interlaken is a fairly wealthy town...not quite mansions...but very nice homes under grand old trees with sprawling lawns etc... And I know that 1:00 is late to hit yardsales but I do believe that we've had much better finds at yardsales in much less affluent neighborhoods. Maybe it's just our specific tastes...but upper income homes don't have good junk for sale. Though I did score a sweet shadow box which I plan to make into a project...and I also got a great old, peely paint, oval mirror with beveled glass. Missy got a box of classic car hubcaps, a brand new paraffin wax hand spa, some earrings, and other miscellany. No real treasures were to be had and with 15 minutes left before Missy had to return to work we took a quick drive over to the previously blogged about Ocean Grove Bake Shoppe for an assortment of amazing cupcakes!....red velvet, strawberry, and ....pistachio!!! One of my all time favorite cakes! Growing up, my mom baked a pistachio bundt cake, with pistachio pudding in it. It tasted so good that no frosting was required. Just a faint dusting of powdered sugar.
And speaking of cakes and cupcakes....the warm weather has brought back our nightly, calorie burning walks. Actually just got back from one now. I have to admit, we're all out of shape... including the dog....Carlos actually stopped at the halfway point and requested to be carried for a few blocks! Last summer he was leading us full speed ahead at six plus miles! Which is big time for a Chihuahua.




Alright, I have to jump to this... I simply can't rave enough about the package that my friend Holly sent..."Just Cuz". It just goes without saying that Holly is a girl after my own heart. I really just opened the box and as I revealed each treasure it seriously felt like I had packed the box myself. Not one single item was even a micro-millimeter off the mark. She just KNEW that I'd adore the pair of vintage children's tap shoes. I never talked to Holly about tap shoes. She just knew that I would treasure them and see them as the charming little instant keepsake that they are. And the rolls of vintage wallpaper are beyond generous. Me and Aar were instantly planning a new painting around one of the patterns. And when a paper mache rabbit like the one Holly included shows up...it's like he's finally arrived at HOME...this is where he belongs. And the tiny bouquet of vintage millenary flowers... I treasure those so much that I'm seriously shocked to see anyone gives those up. I hold onto 'em for dear life! I can't thank Holly enough...wow. The box arrived on a pretty stressful day and upon opening it, the day took a 360 degree turn. I couldn't dare frown for the duration of the day.





I was soooo excited to read all the great feedback on my last post about our new vintage menu board paintings on black. So thrilled that so many of you are on the same page. We just love mixing in black...the juxtaposition of black with pretty pastel frosted cakes. We have a couple new paintings in that series. We've reworked some of our old paintings and gave them a new venue. Petit fours are just so sweet and they are perfect against the black backdrop being that Paris patisserie menu boards were one of the primary inspirations for this series of paintings. And "cupcakes for all occasions" uses our classic, cherry topped cupcakes in a brand new way. We have a couple more black paintings in the works but at present we have them on pause because we've got so much work to do... so much catching up. We simply can't afford the luxury of doing all new paintings. When we finally do get caught up, that's our dream...new paintings like every other day!




And speaking of....we now have a chocolate brown version of our Keep Calm and Have a Cupcake print. Available as a ready to frame print and as an 8 x 10 and 5 x 7 wooden plaque...though the plaques aren't yet listed...if you're interested just shoot me an email and I can set up a custom listing. The chocolate brown looks just like a Hershey bar, or rich chocolate frosting.... a wonderful color to just stare at. We've got the pink one hanging in our home but we're thinking of switching to the chocolate...it's definitely a new fave.





I'm so looking forward to the break in this weather. I'm sitting here in my livingroom and I'm on the verge of breaking out in a full-on sweat! We've yet to install the AC in this room and Aaron doesn't really feel like doing it tonight and I don't blame him...since it's gonna be 30 degrees cooler within 24 hours! Weird New Jersey... oh, which reminds me...I've got a typical Jersey experience to relate. A few days ago I took the trip with Aaron to the post office. I regularly don't go because the car is usually so full of boxes that there's no room left for me. But on this occasion I managed to squeeze in there with all our packages because I wanted to get out for some air, grab a bite to eat, and take a ride to Borders Books to see if I could find one of those "Choose Your Own Adventure" books that I loved so much in my childhood. I got to reminiscing with a few friends on Facebook about how much I loved those books and I wondered why the heck they don't make them anymore. I LOVED those books... ie: "...If you want to go down the stairs into the dark and creepy basement then turn to page 84.... If you want to leave the haunted house and walk to the cemetery then turn to page 120..." it was so fun... once you chose your fate you'd read along and wonder what might've been if you chose otherwise. Anyway, somebody told me that they are making the Choose Your Own Adventure books again and that they're in the "independent reader" section of Borders. So we cruised over to our Borders...I waited in the car while Aaron went in to find the books. Well it turns out that the CYOA books at Borders are for VERY young readers and there are more pictures than words...and overall, Aar said the story lines seemed pretty lame...so no CYOA for me. : ( I WISH somebody would write CYOA books for adults....and they don't have to be Literature...I'd be fine with a Mystery or even Sci Fi maybe. I'm sure there's a market for it. I can't be the only one who's nostalgic for those. But this isn't the point of the story anyway. Here's the point... While Aar was in Borders, a car parks in front of me and a guy gets out. I get a look at him for a brief second and he looks just like Bruce Springsteen. Then a car drives past and totally blocks my view so I can't confirm it. So then Aar comes out, no books, but he's got a brownie and a scone. I tell him about my possible Bruce sighting and say that we can't leave til Bruce or the imaginary Bruce comes out. Aar pulls our car to a better vantage point so that we're parked directly across from Bruce's car. At this point, both of us are almost hoping that it's not Bruce because it would be hilarious to see that it's a guy that really doesn't look like him at all, or is like a bad stunt double version! So we're eating our sweets and then the man comes walking out of Borders. He's nearly hobbling...he's got the stiffest, slowest, limping strut...like a guy who played in the NFL for 20 years. And YES...IT IS BRUCE. Man...rock n' roll took it's toll on his legs...he really did walk so slow and so hobbled! Can't believe it's the same guy who pulled off the camera crashing knee slide at the Super Bowl! So Bruce gets to his car...he's right in front of us...he's dressed so so raggedly. Every article of clothing has multiple tears and holes and frays. So he hops in his car and as he pulls out he stares right at me and Aar and waves to us... a wave like he knows us... like a super casual, "hey what's up" style wave. We cracked up. Aaron happened to be on the cell phone with his mom right then and he gave her the play by play. After Bruce drove away Aaron said how it would've been cool to get out and ask Bruce to say hi to his mom on the cell phone. But we didn't want to go step on his toes. A wave was good enough. Aaron has this big hard bound book of Bruce's lyrics...he got it for his birthday one year...well he's thinking of keeping it in the car from now on so he can get it signed if we run into Bruce again. It's not a crazy notion. In our area Bruce sightings aren't rare at all. Aar has run into him in the record store twice. And his drummer, Max Weinberg, actually came into our handpainted furniture store. And the best part about the Max meeting was Max's outfit. He must've come straight from the gym because he had on very short shorts...and they we shorts that used to be red maybe ten years ago...but now they're faded and PINK. It was quite a sight...I said right to him when he walked in our door " Whoaaaaahhh Maaaaaax!" ...he was definitely taken aback. He asked us the price of a couple things...he said his wife sent him. We told him the prices...he thanked us... and then he left. I think I scared him off. So yeah, if you live in our little section of Jersey, you've got a good chance of running into Bruce Springsteen AND the E Street Band! or Bon Jovi...or Kevin Smith...or Queen Latifa....Aaron ran into her in Whole Foods.


Wow...I'm a bit verbose today! I'm almost done...I just want to say how much FUN Facebook has been! And I want to say hi and welcome to my blog all my new friends from Facebook and Twitter!! If you're not part of the Facebook fun yet...please, I beg you, SIGN UP. We work from home, as you well know, and the work we do often requires drying time. Paint, Mod Podge, varnish, etc... So Facebook is just such a great device to pass the idle time. And me and Aar really barely get out...we have an embarrassing social life...I mean: lack thereof! So Facebook partially makes up for it. And everybody on there seems like they're on there for the same reason...just simple, no strings attached socializing.
But you know what?...I think I'm oversimplifying.... it's so totally NOT just socializing.... it's networking...but it's like NETWORKING on performance enhancing drugs! It puts you directly in touch with all the people you want to be in touch with...in an instant. There just simply is not enough time in the day to click through the thousand blogs or websites I'd like to click through. And the same goes for leaving comments on my favorite blogs. I wish I could find the time to leave comments. I treasure every comment that you guys leave me here. Me and Aaron both read them all...either side by side or separately... and we beam from ear to ear. You really spoil us with well wishes and compliments. And more than that...it just rules to know that we're all on the same page about so much stuff! Blog comments make the blogosphere spin. But like I said...it's hard for me to keep up so that's where Facebook comes in. It's a definite "world shrinker".... You can link up with a thousand peeps like yourself...drop them a line about a sale your having in your store...pass on a recipe...blurb a little review of a new bath product you picked up and let everybody know where to find it on Etsy. I mean, a couple weeks ago I asked my Facebook contacts which art supply they prefer: Mod Podge or Gel Medium? There were about a million passionate responses! (and I think it was pretty much a tie!....we like Mod Podge...but we need to start using Gel Medium in new ways to really get a handle on it's capabilities.) And just yesterday me and Aar & Carlos went for one of our night time walks and a bat flew up right in front of us...sending us scurrying into the street. When I got back from the walk I mentioned the bat and my lifelong fear of bats on Facebook and immediately I'm getting all sorts of pro-bat comments from my friends. I think the bat debate is capable of rivaling the mod podge/gel medium one.
Also....I LOVE the TOP 5 lists that go around on Facebook. I think the one that impacted me most was the top 5 cereals. Me and Aaron barely ever stock up on cereal. We pretty much get Frosted Mini Wheats and an occasional box of Raisin Bran. Then the top 5 list goes around and I'm seeing all these names: Lucky Charms, Cookie Crisp, Cap n' Crunch! Next thing you know...we've got ten boxes of cereal on our kitchen counter!! And I'm sure a million other people went out and did the same. Talk of food on Facebook is ubiquitous and infectious. You know how in college you'll gain the famous "freshman fifteen" pounds. Well add to that the "Facebook fifteen"! Somebody posts a recipe...mentions a meal. Next thing you know, life's imitating art. You're at the grocery store with a list that you jotted down from somebody's Facebook raves about the perfect cookie recipe! Along with the "Facebook fifteen" I also coined The "Twitter twenty". But that's a whole other can o' worms. It's way too late at night and this post is already resembling Tolstoy...for me to bring up the topic of Twitter! Basically, it's the short, one or two sentence version of Facebook. Get on there too...Tweet away....become one of my Tweeps! But seriously, I can't keep you here any longer. You guys have lives to live and I've taken enough of your time already! That's why you need to get on Facebook and Twitter if you're not already....we can talk everyday, all day, easy as pie! Thanks so so much again for stopping by! There's a sweet breeze coming through my windows and I can feel the temperature dropping by the minute...I'm thrilled. Bring on the Spring! xoxo Jenny

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!!! ...NEW designs..old classics revisited..and a SALE!


I'm so happy to get this chance to blog! As of late I so rarely get my hands on enough time to actually put together words & pictures worthy of anyone's attention. But me and Aaron recently pulled a few all nighters, trying to catch up with back logged work, so I think I earned this chunk of time and I'm using it to catch up with you guys. I never ever see blogging as a chore...in fact, it's 180 degrees in the other direction. It's a GIFT. The act itself is a gift which, by way of reader response etc...then supplies delightful rewards exponentially. So in the name of the holiday weekend I'm presenting myself with the time it takes to tackle a tiny blog post. ( blame the alliteration on Aaron...he's been reading me some bits of his recent short stories and he uses alliteration as a crutch: a case of cupcakes can correct your dreariest downtrodden days.) I don't have much excitement to report because I've been living a 99% "indoor life"! ...which I plan on changing with the upcoming seasons...I know for certain that me and Aar are sufferers of the Emily Dickinson seasonal depression. So when Spring and Summer approach we brim with anticipatory joy. Come to think of it... maybe you were all better off that I blogged so very little over the winter...if I blogged more it may have read: all work and no play makes jenny a dull girl, all work and no play makes jenny a dull girl, all work and no play makes jenny a dull girl... You get the idea.




Happy Easter to all!!! And Passover! And for those not religiously inclined, Happy Springtime Sunday!!! Me and Aar will be spending the day at home working, which is fine with us. We seriously need to catch up on some old work and neither of our families do a big Easter. I guess you can say that we celebrate Easter mainly with our paint brushes. We LOVE Easter theme art! A couple weeks ago we reworked some of our existing paintings and made some fabulous matted prints and plaques. We actually took our paper mache bunny paintings from a few years ago and re-painted them... added new backgrounds, punched up the colors etc... And as much as I love doing all new paintings, I'm sometimes equally satisfied with re-working an older image. For instance, our Party Hats Cupcakes. This is one of our all time favorite paintings. We were even using it as our Everyday is a Holiday label on the backs of our plaques for a while. But some aspects of it were no longer working for us. We painted it many years ago and made some color choices we would not have made today. And overall, there were some technical aspects that could totally be improved upon. So we repainted it...almost every bit of it. Changed the polka dot colors, got rid of the purple party hat and made it yellow, changed the color of the plate from an almost Kelly green to a color closer to aqua, tamed down the pink glow around the cupcakes, punched up the white sprinkles. It was a rewarding little endeavor because we loved this painting but had some issues with it...it wasn't IDEAL. Now it's everything we want it to be and we instantly made it into an 8 x 10 matted print, an 8 x 10 wooden plaque, and a 5 x 7 mini plaque. And we did all this in the overnight hours...we steal a bit of time away from our real work in order to re-invigorate our creative souls. And it worked...we then filled up our shop with a whole bunch of new prints and plaques made from some of our own classic faves.





Ok, while I'm on the subject of Classic Faves. I really couldn't be more excited about these two new paintings!! They're titled: Vintage Bakery Board #1 and # 2. For years we've been painting big wooden bakery menu boards that look just like these and every time we offer them we get a whole bunch of orders and then we have to take them back out of the shop just so we don't bite off way more than we can chew. Too many times I've let orders build up to an unmanageable point. But it would be false and belittling to say that these new paintings are just my answer to a production problem. In truth, I've been dying to do pieces like this for years. I LOVE the blackboard look of these...the cute script...the individual cakes. Years and years ago we painted an actual chalkboard with a dozen different handpainted cake and cupcake images with the names handpainted in white script below each image. The instant I showed it online I was flooded with requests to paint custom versions. We simply could not do it. It was one of those projects we chipped away at for a while knowing that it would be a piece we'd always have on our wall. We knew we'd never be able to offer a handpainted version for sale because: a. it would take ALL of our time...and b. it would cost the customer too much casharoni. So now we finally did it! These are the first two and more will certainly follow. We made sure to do them in the proper dimensions so that we could offer them in a variety of sizes and formats. I think my fave is the large matted print...11 x 14 image and fits a 16 x 20 frame. It's a piece that can be the focal point of a room. We also kept in mind that these would be stunning not just in the home, but in actual bakeries as well. The 8 x 10 print is fab too...I think this size lends itself to being paired up...one is vertical, one is horizontal ... one features cut cakes, the other has uncut cakes. And on wooden boards they're just too darn sweet...like little chunky slates! I'm thrilled about these!
And I love to tie in BLACK in our decor. We have tons of black at home. It's such a grounding, classic, tie-everything-together color. Oh, and speaking of black...it's our newest color for our Keep Calm and Have a Cupcake prints. Excellent response so far on the black...we debuted it a couple days ago and the comments and sales flowed in right away. Also, we now do the Keep Calm in Apple Green. The first one we did was a custom order and we liked it so much that we put it in the store. Now we can't believe we didn't do one in Apple Green right from the get go. I have to say, it was a hard color to photograph and get the color to show up accurately. I don't think these photos do it great justice. It's hard to describe a color...but the Apple Green is that classic color that you find a lot these days...not quite lime, not Kelly, not seafoam, not moss...I guess sorta Lily Pulitzer...sorta Kate Spade.

I think this would be a good spot to announce our SALE!! Because we're so excited about the new Bakery Board paintings we're having a storewide sale on all our stuff for sale online... Etsy, Ebay,Lollishops :
Buy One Item and get the 2nd Item Half Price!!! (2nd item is of equal or lesser value.)
AND ... All Easter Items are 30% off

The Sale is From Now Through Friday !!!




We kept the Easter stuff in the shops because we wanted to have this sale and also because we know that many of you guys are just like us and collect Easter stuff all year round!
So this is how the Sale works... shop as you normally would and we will refund the difference through paypal. We'll do the refunds right away, as soon as we're notified of your purchase...but if you don't get your refund within 24 hours then just email us and we'll get right to it!




So, above I mentioned that me and Aar recently pulled a couple all nighters. Sometimes all nighters are necessary to meet a deadline but I recommend that you should never get in the habit of it. Makes you feel kinda crummy and it's hard to get back on a proper schedule with the rest of the sane world! All nighters are especially bad when the weather is fabulous and sunny because noontime comes rolling around...the sun is blasting in your windows...neighborhood dogs stirring up a ruckus...and you're ready for bed!! Not Good. But you know what...we've been having the yuckiest weather here in Jersey...so the all nighters haven't felt so bad. I feel like we're saying "oh yeah Mother Nature?...this is the April Day that you're offering us? 45 degrees, wind, rain, dark gray clouds?....well guess what? I'm gonna sleep through it...you can't get me!"
But seriously....sometimes all nighters NEED to happen if you want to have new paintings to offer! ; ) So the other night we stayed up ALL NIGHT and we pulled off our two new Vintage Bakery Board paintings...and also packed up a big stack of boxes to be shipped in the morning. It was 7:00 am, we had a stack of boxes to ship and the post office was not yet open so we decided to go for a drive to get a bite to eat. Even though it was raining horribly and the sky looked more like 7 pm than 7am...it still felt good to get outside after working all night. We have amazing resources in very close proximity to where we live but we never get the chance to take advantage. Just five or six minutes away is the Ocean Grove Bake Shoppe, which has the most amazing cupcakes. Great Red Velvet, excellent classic buttercream, and now I have to say...some of the best carrot cake cupcakes ever! Sad to say, but good, real cakes and cupcakes are so very hard to find. So many "bakeries" use weird chemicals. They make cakes that are somehow non-perishable...frosting that would survive a nuclear holocaust. I just don't understand how they get away with it!! I know they do it to cut cost and to prolong shelf life...but seriously...that fake stuff is inedible! I can't stand it. Well Ocean Grove Bake Shoppe has none of that fake stuff. They are on of the rare places who use classic old fashioned recipes...much like Billy's and Magnolia in NYC. So anyway, feeling all fuzzy and hazy from our all nighter, Aaron got out of the car and when in OGBS to get us a box of sweets. When he's in there he see's a cake on a stand, with one slice missing, pale pink cake, creamy white frosting....It was a strawberry cake. Nobody has strawberry cakes on hand! So Aar had to get a slice...it's his second fave next to carrot cake. It was wonderful! We devoured it right in the front seat with a couple plastic forks...that's why you're not seeing a photograph of it!! So after that...since: "life's short, dessert first"...we then got fantastic bagels from the best bagel place. By this time the post office was open for business and we were able to ship our stack. We came home...full bellies, deliriously tired, and slept through a full day of rain!

A couple more things I wanted to mention before signing off. I recently went to Ikea and picked up this awesome desk for our PC. We previously had our PC on a big work desk that should really be used only as a big work desk. The computer was wasting valuable workspace. So one Sunday my little brother Walt came and picked me up while Aaron stayed home and manned the fort. We drove up to Ikea and grabbed this PERFECT desk. The color pink is perfect. It was cheap. I put it together all by myself, no problem. It's super sturdy. And it's got wheels...which I use often. I roll this desk all over the place. In fact, we roll the desk and PC over to our couch and watch movies on it. Netflix has a feature where you can watch movies instantly online...it's great! Anyway, I highly recommend this desk. Not a bad word to say about it.




Since it's Easter I wanted to showcase some Springy things from around our home! Above, I've already chronicled just how busy we've been...so obviously there hasn't been time for major Spring time decor...but I just wanted to put the spotlight on a few faves that make me smile every year and hopefully will do the same for you!

Well, it's once again super duper late and I've still got stuff to do. I'm so happy to have had the chance to blog and catch up. Thanks so much for stopping by again. And definitely be on the lookout for more new artwork! xoxo, Jenny




Happy Easter!!

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