Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday Favorites

I wanted to start off this edition of Friday Favorites with the fantastic photography prints of Cassia Beck, mainly because they're just plain gorgeous. But I'm also particularly drawn to the above pic because of it's subject matter. Me and Aaron have countless memories of places exactly like this. From sprawling antique centers located in old downtown brick buildings, to tiny roadside junkshops just brimming with treasures, these places played a big role in our growth as artists, and totally brought us closer together as a couple. So many of our formative years as a couple were spent out on the road hunting for vintage finds in shops just like this all throughout New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.
A lot of people take a trip down memory lane when they walk into a vintage shop…the collectibles on the shelves might remind you of childhood…of a time when these items were new to you. Or maybe you'll nostalgically recall visits to grandma's house. But for me and Aaron, when we go antiquing, flea marketing, junking…seeing all that stuff and smelling those dusty corridors of junk, conjures up memories of our early years as a couple…searching for vintage treasure all over the tri-state area.
So yeah, in the book of Jenny & Aaron, junk shops are romantic places. Ha! 

But to get back to the work of Cassia Beck…wow, I just love everything about her entire catalogue of dreamy images.

So perfect.

This cake just got me. I've got so much love for the classic old fashioned Birthday Cake. We paint cakes daily. We decorate our home with cake imagery and faux cakes. We collect vintage birthday cards and party decorations. We love the packaging from vintage cake decorating kits. We've got stacks and stacks of vintage baking books...vintage photos of kids blowing out their birthday candles…
So just what is it that so strongly drives us toward cake??
I could probably go on for pages and pages. I could probably formulate an entire dissertation on why I love cake. 

But instead of all that…how about we just feast our eyes on this pic. Can you even handle what that frosting looks like?! And for the love of pete…it's got edible gold stars! 
My gosh, I'd love a piece right now!

Jeremy Scott always has fabulous tricks up his sleeve…and these Filigree Sunglasses illustrate that fact perfectly. 
This is the type of accessory that dictates your social calendar. I feel like you'd never sit at home doing nothing if you owned these. You'd feel absolutely compelled to make up any excuse to go out into the world just so that you could show up wearing these!

I adore everything about this! It's so up my alley. It feels like it's torn right from the pages of one of my Art Journals. I really love odd pairings and strange juxtapositions. And this image is full of them…Victorian revival interior-meets lavender and pink leisure suits-meets a trio of cute kitty cats.
These three are probably off for a romantic getaway at the Madonna Inn.

Besides just loving the overall feel of this image…with it's grainy Twilight Zone effect…I think I've got a nearly unhealthy connection to the sentiment of it's message. If I had a dime for every time I silently chanted this to myself…I'd probably be a zillionaire.

I die for the look of California Donuts. I just love these pastel glazed cuties…and tiny white nonpareils make everything better.  You must check out their feed on Instagram (@californiadonuts)!

They also offer personalized! Ahh!

I saw these today on my friend Amina's Instagram feed (@studiomucci) 

There are a lot of reasons to love southern California…and I think donuts are way at the top of that list of reasons. When me and Aaron fly out there to teach sometime in the near future, I think we'll build a couple of extra days into the trip, just for the purposes of donut sampling. 

Ok, now that I'm utterly and dangerously hungry, I think I'll sign off. Hope you enjoyed these Friday Faves! And oh boy…it's Labor Day Weekend! Try to get out and have some end of summer fun!

xo, Jenny…and Aaron says hi!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Around here...

When we wrap up our artwork to be shipped off to happy homes, we like to dress it up with pink tissue paper & bakers twine, and we always include a hand written thank you note. But probably the one little extra that we get the most feedback about is our salt water taffy. It's the trademark Jersey Shore treat, and we like to include a piece or two in every package that we ship out. And we happened to have found the best taffy ever. We really get emails all the time about the taffy. Most people tell us that it's the best taffy they've ever had. Recently we ran out of our good stuff and had to find a replacement brand, which were good too, but not nearly as good as these.
We were so psyched to get our new shipment in the mail. If you just stand near this pile that you see above, the sweet aroma is amazing. And if you're already familiar with our strawberry and cotton candy flavored taffy, you'll see two additional flavors here…neapolitan, and the white ones are vanilla. 

Have I mentioned how much we love making die cuts? Here's a handful just about ready to get boxed up and shipped.

And it always feels great to put the final hand painted touches on our signs.

So, the other day when we went to Whole Foods we just had to take a trip over to the bakery counter. We grabbed these cupcakes you see above. They're made at a local vegan bakery called Papa Ganache. They were really good. Our fave was the one on the left with the sugar crystals on top. It's creme brûlée!

This little beauty arrived recently. We love vintage ice cream boxes. I really have a thing for the tiny ones like this. I love that ice cream used to come in boxes like this. And it wasn't all that long ago. I remember they used to have these little plastic bags at the grocery store check-out, for you to put your box of ice cream in. 

This is the kind of stuff that randomly happens over here. I think our scary lady portrait is ready for Halloween and Easter all at once…she knows that Everyday is a Holiday.

Little Old Man Carlos

Lieutenant Dan

Also, let us not forget…Today is National Dog Day! For real, we have no idea what we'd do without these little guys in our life. They make us laugh and smile all day long. And oh boy, they certainly make sure to take part in everything we do throughout the day. The pair of 'em follow us from room to room all day long!

Ok, that's a little bit of what's going on around here. Thanks again for reading!
xo, Jenny…& Aaron 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Come take a class with us! "Ancestral Abstracts" this October in Stamford CT

Yesterday we spent part of our day working on a couple canvases in anticipation of our Ancestral Abstracts class that we're teaching this October at Art Is You, in Stamford, Connecticut. We hope to be able to take time each weekend to work on new class examples and techniques in preparation for Stamford. Painting free and loose is such a great change of pace. And we love the idea of bringing the pieces together with a favorite vintage photo. 

So much of this class is based on working in layers and creating depth an texture with paint and other mediums. We love that we can work on opposite sides of the room, but in the end our pieces will bear so many similarities.  

These are the types of pieces that you can't fully appreciate through photographs. There is so much depth, and most of it is achieved with layers of transparent mediums. I love floating color directly into a thick swath of clear gel…when it dries it's like the paint is trapped inside a chunk of amber. 

We had a lot of fun teaching a condensed version of this class in Memphis, and for Stamford we plan on going much more in depth with the process.

I feel like beginning a piece is just as rewarding as finishing one. There's a little thrill that goes along with laying those first marks down on your canvas. 

If you've got even the slightest urge to join us, please do. Sign ups will be closing fairly soon, and class size is limited. It's so awesome that ours is a Friday night class…from 7-10pm. And the next day we'll have plenty of our artwork for sale at the vendor fair. 
We've included all the info below. In addition to us, there are so so many great teachers who's classes we know you'll love. We'd so love for you to join us!!

Friday October 10, 2014  7:00 pm - 10:00 pm

"Instant Ancestors" are one of our favorite collectibles. These are our prized vintage and antique photographs or cabinet cards of handsome gentlemen or striking ladies, who we have no relation to, but they are family all the same. Collected over the years from flea markets, antique and junk shops, hidden away in old shoe boxes...they put a face to our love for vintage treasures. And we love to create artwork using these time worn, tattered, and sepia toned portraits.
This class is all about pairing the old with the new. You'll create a mixed media abstract painting with layers and layers of color and texture, using a wide range of mediums and tools, and as a focal point you'll incorporate an enlarged print of a favorite antique or vintage photograph. Your resulting Ancestral Abstract will be a gorgeous and very personal piece of portrait art.Painting abstracts can be intimidating, but we'll help you free yourself to develop your own style and color palette, and to identify what your special "marks" are. We'll show you what mediums work best to create depth and texture. And that blank canvas that was once so intimidating will be your own personal playground by the end of this class.  
Students will need:
1 inch flat brush#8 round brush#14 round brush# 10 painting knife (Bob Ross brand is our favorite)PencilOptional:
(We will be providing a whole lot of supplies but if you have favorites of the following that you’d like to use feel free.)
Patterned rubber stampsArchival all surface ink padsGood Quality enlarged prints of vintage & Antique portraits/photos 
Sign up here.
xo, Jenny & Aaron

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Italian Bean Balls & Spaghetti Squash

We have been meaning to share this recipe with you guys for a while. We've made them a bunch of times and we kinda feel stingy for keeping the yumminess to ourselves for so long. Honestly, we love these bean balls! And we think the recipe is perfect just the way it is. Many times we'll come across a recipe, or a few similar recipes, and we'll use them as just a loose point of reference. But this one is right on the money. It's from one of our absolute favorite food blogs, Oh She Glows

Aaron's childhood favorite was good ol' classic Spaghetti & Meatballs. This dish is kinda like the responsible adult version. And when I say "responsible adult",  being vegetarian or vegan has nothing to do with it…I'm referring to the idea of sneakily replacing red meat and pasta with wall-to-wall vegetables…and you still get your protein, by way of kidney beans and walnuts. But the health benefits of this meal seriously take a back seat to how deeeelish it is. So many layers of great flavor!

Every time we had this dish we made it just like you see in the pic above…with spaghetti squash and spaghetti sauce…but the awesome Italian Bean Balls are the focus of this post. We are big fans of spaghetti squash, but you can certainly use pasta…or heck, you can even make an Italian Bean Ball Hero!
When we prepared ours, the first thing we did was roast our spaghetti squash. We blogged a quick how-to here. Once it was ready we kept it warm, covered in foil, on top of the oven.
And as far as sauce, just go with your favorite homemade or jarred variety.

Here is what you'll need for the bean balls:

3/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped and toasted
3/4 cup rolled oats, processed into a coarse flour
1 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
2-3 tablespoons finely chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (about 2 large)
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons ground flax + 3 tbsp water, mixed
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and toast your walnuts for 7-9 minutes, until fragrant and golden.

Meanwhile, add the oats into the food processor and process until finely chopped. You want the texture to be like a coarse flour.

Now add your oat flour, grated carrot, chopped parsley, basil, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, walnuts, into a large bowl. Stir to combine.
Add the drained and rinsed beans into the food processor and process until finely chopped. You want the mixture to be a coarse paste with some beans still intact, but don't completely puree the mixture. 

Stir the processed beans into the bowl with the vegetables and oat flour.

Now you can make your flax "egg". You can buy flax that is already ground, but we usually have seeds that we pulse in the food processor until ground. 

Just whisk together the ground flax and water in a small bowl. Let it sit for only 15-20 seconds, any longer, and it will get too thick. Then stir it into your bean mixture until fully combined. 
Next, stir the oil, oregano, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes (if using) into the bowl, adjusting amounts to taste if necessary.

Shape the mixture into 18-20 balls (the size of golf-balls), packing each ball tightly between your hands so it holds together well. Place each ball onto the prepared baking sheet an inch or two apart.
Bake for 20 minutes, then gently flip the balls and and bake for another 15-20 minutes until golden on both sides.

While ours baked in the oven we made one of our fave sauces. It's called "Spicy Slurpy Spaghetti Sauce", and it's from one of our favorite cookbooks, Isa Does It
All of the ingredients are right there in the pic. Crushed tomatoes, a chopped onion, minced garlic, brown sugar, a little salt, a handful of herbs & spices, including a generous dose of red pepper flakes. It is so delicious!

After baking, place balls on a cooling rack for 10 minutes to cool slightly.

Ready to serve…just sprinkle some ribbons of fresh basil on top, and you are set! We have made this exact meal many times. The bean balls really have so much depth of flavor…and the texture is perfect. They are delicious, and I think it would be hard to find tastebuds who would disagree. 
We hope you love them, and we'd love to hear about your experiences in making them…any things that you changed…or if you do in fact serve them as an Italian Bean Ball Sub. We'd love to see pics too!

Happy Eating!
xo, Jenny & Aaron

Friday, August 22, 2014

Friday Favorites

Today was a good day. The thunderstorms that the weatherman had promised us, ended up arriving sooner than originally scheduled. So we slept through all the doom and gloom, and when we woke it was clear skies and 75 degrees. Good deal. In the morning we got our orders packed up and shipped off, then we used the second half of our day for a trip to Whole Foods. We don't live high-flying jet-set lives anymore, so for us, a trip to Whole Foods is damn near electrifying! (I'm only slightly kidding) 
But honestly, we love Whole Foods. I guess you could say that outside of making art, cooking is the passion that Aaron and I share. It's the daily activity we do together that re-centers us.

So…at home we cook 100% vegan. Fortunately, we live in a time that makes it very easy to be vegan. In the past it was so difficult for vegans to find viable food options in any place other than the health food store. But now, conscious eaters can get nearly everything they need at their local run-of-the-mill supermarket. And I'm not talking solely about vegetarian or vegan foods…there are also tons of organic, non gmo options of everything in most grocery stores. I know that obesity and bad food are at epidemic levels, but on the flip side of that, I'm proud of the progress that's been made when it comes to the availability of GOOD foods. 

Ok, with that said, Whole Foods carries a huge load of the more specialized food items that we can't find at our nearby grocery store. They have so much good stuff for vegan cooking! There is Tempeh galore, all sorts of Seitan options, every variety of vegan cheese and vegan frozen pizzas, endless soy yogurt options…When we finally make our rare visit to Whole Foods, only then do we realize how many compromises we were making with the shopping we were doing at our usual grocery stores. 

Wow, I didn't plan on opening this blog post with a monologue about grocery shopping…I honestly just wanted to talk about how our day went! :) But there may be a tiny thread that can tie this together. Above, I had said that we now live in a time that makes it very easy to be vegan. And this makes me very happy. The marketplace is dictated by one single thing: money. Not compassion, not good consciences, not personal responsibility…nope…just money. So when I see all of these vegan/vegetarian food options in the store…or all of the stuff with labels boasting "Organic and GMO FREE"…I know that these items are there because there are lots of people buying them. There is a DEMAND for these good food products…and the food industry is meeting the demand. We are an ever changing society. The optimist inside me believes that we are constantly changing for the better. And it's not just with food of course. The art world has opened up wider. And decor, design, and fashion as well. When I'm on Pinterest and Instagram I'm always coming across brand new beautiful things that I've never seen before…new great artists are cropping up every day. There is a world of art & design that is ever changing…and each new step is more mind-blowing than the last. I count myself lucky to be a part of it…even if my part is only that of "conscious observer". We are living in a great time.

Ok, those are some pretty broad statements. Now let me change my focus to some individual things that have caught a little piece of my soul. First up is the art of Terri Brooks, seen above and directly below. As you know, I'm a huge fan of black & white. It's just so aesthetically pleasing to me. But in Terri Brooks' work there is so much more than mere color scheme going on. It's actually her lack of color that calls attention to the other aspects of artwork. Through the absence of color we are able to focus fully on the process…the layering, the texture, the techniques. I love her work. 

Be sure to click her name above to see more of her art.

 I've always liked tortoise shell for it's resemblance to leopard print. I think these Hadley sunglasses could totally work for me. Sometimes you just need a big bold statement piece smack dab on your face! You can find these in the Moorea Seal shop.

What is it with me and lamps?! Seriously, I feel like I share a lamp in every single Friday Favorites. I guess I especially like when lamps crossover from "necessary object", to "piece of art". I think this one achieves that crossover in spades! 

I love these mint shoes. First off, they're the type of shoe that surprises you when you see that it's a heel. And the color is just so perfectly potent. I'm seeing them with a mostly black outfit…or maybe there is a bit of floral print in the ensemble…and the leaves of the floral clusters are exactly this minty tone. Sounds like an outfit I should render in my Art Journal.

This image is fantastic! Again, be sure to click the link to see the rest of the series. I just love subtle color like this. There are so many photographers I admire who use color ever so sparingly…their pics look black & white at first glance…but then after a minute you absorb their use of color. Love it.

I adore this gold striped stoneware pitcher from the Oh Joy! for Target Fall collection. Again, it's the absence that will make the appearance of color that much more of a bold statement. Meaning…imagine how amazing this pitcher will look with a bouquet of bright pink roses stuffed in it! Oh my gosh…the shimmery gold will LIGHT UP! It looks like a trip to Target may be in order.

Ok, that's my current Friday Faves. I actually posted them prior to midnight…so it's still technically Friday. ha!
I hope you enjoyed. And me and Aaron both wish you a very happy weekend!
xo, Jenny…and Aaron

Monday, August 18, 2014

A peek into our Art Journals

A peek into our Art Journals…this is going to be a recurring series for us. Every single day we are working on art in one form or another. It's our job. But we still make art for pleasure, and this usually happens in the pages of our Art Journals. For us, the Art Journal is the one venue that is strictly personal, fun, and loose. We can have a vague idea and get started on it in an instant. We don't have to plan it out, or work hard on pre-sketches or tracings. We can just go go go. 
So, we thought this would be a great thing to share with you guys. Teaching art is one of our absolute favorite things to do. It feels so good to be able to impart to others even the slightest bit of knowledge from our nearly two decades of being professional artists. And Art Journaling is probably one of the fastest and simplest ways to get right down to a person's creative source. There aren't any rules or expectations. Your Art Journal is what you make it. 
It has now been almost two years since we have done our weekly Art Journaling tutorials here on the blog. It was really Hurricane Sandy that ended the series so abruptly. And then life got hectic, and then we got busy…we wrote our book…designed a scrapbooking line…and also kept our business going. But those tutorials WILL return. We aren't sure exactly when…but we are looking forward to doing full step-by-step pages and spreads with you guys again. For now we'd like to periodically share glimpses into our Art Journals just to show you all what we're up to, and to hopefully inspire some of you to do more Art Journaling of your own. 

Ok, now lets talk a little bit about our latest pages. "Take Me To The Sea", is a page I had worked on in my spare time this past week. You may have seen pics of it on Facebook or Instagram. I really wanted to do something summery before the season ended. That was my initial inspiration…Summer.

One of my favorite parts of the Art Journaling process is gathering my supplies. And I don't just mean paint and stuff like that. I love digging for the source material…old photos, ephemera, papers, and even phrases I had scribbled somewhere in a notebook. 
The girls in this spread are from a book of paper dolls from the late 1940s or early 50s. I set them against a new beach and ocean that I painted, and I gave them new bathing suits that I made from floral scrapbooking papers. I guess the most obvious aspects of their makeover are the tattoos and pastel colored hair. This was my way of updating them a bit. I took classic gals from the 1940s, and made them into classic gals of 2014. At beaches in our neck of the woods, gals with lavender hair and dozens of tattoos are de rigueur. 

I just used pencil to quickly sketch some basic tattoos all over the gals, and then gave them pops of color with a tiny brush and acrylic paint. I wasn't worried about the details really. I was just trying to give the overall impression of lots of tattoos.

And the banner was inspired by vintage beach postcards. I love those so much. I can stare at them for hours. The colors are so dreamy…which is what inspired our seashore bathroom here at home. I also love the old classic lettering style. I think I may have had the phrase "Take Me To The Sea" fixed in my mind before I had even started the page. And the designs on old postcards so often will include gorgeous florals. I love combining lush floral clusters with beach scenes. They go together so perfectly. The florals here were clusters that I cut out from scrapbooking paper and then I totally repainted them to have my colors and bold outlines.

Ok, now I'm actually going to hand the keyboard over to Aaron so he can personally explain his own pages. Take it away Aar...

In my Art Journal I often like to try to capture trivial little memories. One morning last week I was thinking about the yellow rotary phone that was in my parent's kitchen when I was kid. Yes, I'm a child of the 80s. I have all of these childhood stories that center around the memory of that phone. To name one…prank phone calls. If you were a kid in the 70s or 80s I'm guessing you made your fair share of prank phone calls. I was the youngest of three boys…so when I was very young I borrowed my older brother's friends. I just tagged along with them and did what they were doing…precocious by way of convenience. Anyway, those were magical times. Riding bikes, running around up on the wooded beach behind my house, going to the local swim club, all that stuff. 

So, prank phone calls were simply a fact of life. You and your friends could center an entire evening around silly phone calls. As you can read in the little note above, there was this mean photo of my dad right there in the center of the dial. My parents were funny like that. The photo was serious…my dad really didn't want us abusing the phone for silly purposes. But the photo was also tongue in cheek. We were supposed to fear it…but we also knew that the whole idea of it was funny. I of course don't possess the actual mean photo of my dad, so for the purposes of this Art Journal I just had Jenny snap a pic of me looking a bit mean. My dad had the same beard in that era…and we definitely resemble one another…so I figured I'd pose for the reenactment. And yes, the pic in the bottom right corner is Tanner Boyle from The Bad News Bears. I had that hair at that age, and in my memory every single kid in the world looked like that in my childhood. So Tanner simply represents youth of that generation. The station wagon on the opposite page of the spread is just a typical family car from then. My mom drove one that looked just like it, except her's was green. And I selected the yellow floral pattern behind the car because it looked like typical kitchen wallpaper from back then.

I laugh at the idea of telephone poles and cables…how they're serious and essential constructs of modern civilization…but us dopey kids were crowding up the lines with our dumb jokes. And the sketch I did of the blue victorian house on the left is my childhood home…which is still my parent's house today.

Both Jenny and I paste phone book pages into our Art Journals all the time, just to bolster the pages, and we also like how the small print adds texture to the page. We usually gesso over it and let just bits of it peek through. But in this case, the phone book page was totally fitting. I really like to combine photographs, patterned papers, sketching, and hand painting. And if I can use these elements to tell even a simple little story, then I'm happy with my spread.

Ok guys, hope you all liked taking a peek into our Art Journals. Like I said, we'll share glimpses as often as we can. And real deal tutorials are coming back…I promise.

xo, Jenny & Aaron

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