Thursday, November 29, 2007

Glitter is the cosmetic surgery of the craft industry

You know, I have no photos from Thanksgiving. My camera sat on the table all alone while Me and Aaron ate ate ate. Maybe it's better that there aren't any photos, because the diet police would deem them evidence. Left overs are long gone, Christmas will be here in a minute, and I'd like to FIT in something! The grazing season is over...the apple crisp turnover a la mode that I baked tonight and ate five minutes ago was the end. I'm done.
But other than the overeating, Thanksgiving was a lot of fun. After eating at my parent's, me, Aaron and my brother Walt went over to Aar's parent's to visit with them plus Aar's brother, sister in-law Ann, baby Adam, and Aar's Mom-mom. We tried to squeeze in some more dessert over there and then we drove Mom-mom back home to south Jersey. We love doing this as a capper to the holiday. We keep Mom-mom up way past her bedtime and Walt goes through all of her complimentary casino gifts and looks for treasures. This year he came home with a battery-less flashlight. You shake it to give it power, and Mom-mom hates shakin' the thing, so she gave it to Walt. He loves anything that has a gimmick or novelty attached to it. Over the years, Walt has become an unofficial member of Aaron's family. Just like me he spends dual family holidays!
We've been getting all Christmasy over here and here's a little sampling of  some stuff we've been up to! We went to a huge church flea market over the summer and came across a handful of excellent vintage photos depicting snowed-in houses. Even though it was August and we were coated in sweat and dust, we had the necessary foresight to buy the photos and put them in a tin labeled "holiday artwork". We LOVE photos like these. Just the honest simplicity of running outside in the snow to take a pretty picture of your house. Maybe you've never kept a well groomed lawn, maybe you've got chippy paint on your shutters, but dust it all with some fresh white powder and it's picture perfect! Snow is the great equalizer! And for those of you who get busy with'll agree: so is glitter! Glitter is the cosmetic surgery of the craft industry!
For us, these two collages are like little tributes to snow. We chose patterned papers that allude to snow and then tied in some holiday sheet music and bits of vintage gift wrap patterns. Those little bottle brush trees are prints of tiny paintings that we did. Don't the little shiny balls look almost 3 dimensional? We listed them on Etsy and eBay along with some of our other holiday stuff including these stars from last year that we've brought back because we like them so much! The stars are more bright, pristine white whereas the two collages are way more sepia and aged. We kinda walk the line between both of those esthetics.
I finally DID these! I got this little trio of unfinished block houses from Little Pink Studio and I've had them on the drawing board at least a half dozen times with all sorts of wide ranging ideas. This past weekend I vowed to get them done once and for all and after poring over my papers and photos I came upon these three utterly cheerful vintage photo booth portraits. The coloring was perfect...I had to use them. They are a great fit. For a while I thought I was gonna do these as straight forward little pastel colored cottages. They woulda been great that way as well, but I'm glad I thought less realistic and more figurative. I plan on getting more of these little sweeties. The house shape is just such a perfect starting point. Think of them with snowy roofs!
Anyway, just wanted to pop in and show you that I'm actually still capable of making new stuff! We've got more holiday stuff on the way, which I'll post as soon as it's completed. Anythingelse?...Highschool hockey season has begun! I'm painting a cowbell black and orange with the number 89 on one side and a photo of Walt's head on the other. I hope to have lots of familysurrounding me at games because if I'm near strangers they're are gonna want to smash me with my annoying cowbell!
xoxo Jenny

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Big Thanks!!!

I was in the midst of pie baking, cupcake frosting, and sugar sifting but felt compelled to sit down to the blog so I could wish all of you gals and guys a Happy Thanksgiving! (I'm making my keyboard sticky as I type this.)
   I'm just so thankful to all of you who stop by to read, look, comment, well wish, inspire, etc... This blog 'aint no flippant thing for me. When I started it I guess you could almost say it was my distress call, my S.O.S. And all of you have answered the call and I'm truly grateful. And super duper thanks to all of you who sent hopes, prayers, and all around good energy for my brother Jason. He's thankful for you guys as well!
  As me and Aar were peeling potatoes last night we had on the Food Network. Man, I'm a foody! With the TV writer's strike in full swing , I think we'll exclusively watch Food Network right through the new year. Aaron is almost in tears without Letterman and Conan so we'll have to make do with Bobby Flay and Mario Batali. 
  I'll post over the weekend...hopefully with some new holiday artwork to display. We've got all the blueprints but turning those into finished products is the real challenge!
  I hope everyone has to pop the top button today! Heck, I hope you have to change into a pair of sweatpants! Thanks so much again for paging through the artful book of life with me! Happy Thanksgiving!!!
 xoxo, Jenny  
Aaron sends lots of love too!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

It was Silver Bella or BUST!

Alright, getting to Omaha wasn't easy. The story of our treacherous journey seemed to precede us, for everyone we met on Friday said "heard about your trip." Yeah, it was a pretty bad one. First off, it wasn't going to be all that easy squeezy to start with. We were taking off from NY Laguardia at 6am. This meant leaving our house for the airport at 3 something am. We are night owls, still had work to finish, so this meant we were not going to bed Wednesday night. Which was fine, we'd sleep on the plane and nap Thursday afternoon on our soft Omaha Hilton beds. We are used to pulling all nighters. So we flew out of Laguardia without incident. Aar had some trouble with the metal detectors because of the hardware implanted in his leg (he's bionic in case you didn't know), but we anticipated that and Aaron doesn't mind being pat down, he's a huggy type ; ). Anyway, we were flying to Detroit for an Omaha connection. I won't go into how crazy it was for me to be on a plane in the first place...we've never flew...and let's just say I'm nuts. Ok, we land in Detroit and the airport is HUGE. It was like a two mile walk to our connection flight...through this magical musical lightshow tunnel that was once featured in the movie Punchdrunk Love.  After the long walk we get to our gate and there is still some time, the gate is still closed and all passengers are in chairs. We walk a few steps away to wait and Aaron walks away for two minutes. The gate opens, the passengers go through, me and Missy walk over and stand by the gate to wait for Aaron. The woman at the gate says "c'mon lets go. I can't wait." We say "Oh just one second, our third person will be here within seconds." She says "oh no, I don't hold planes for anyone. " and closes the door and says "you'll have to be on standby for a later flight." She does all this and never looks us in the eye. In fact she leaves, I guess to prove the finality of the situation. Aar, shows up seconds later like we said he would and me and Missy tell him the news. And "standby" means "tomorrow" because all the flights are overbooked already. So in essence...we are DONE. All that work, contracts signed, kits and artwork shipped to Omaha....all for nothing, because we'll be sitting in an airport in Detroit while Silver Bella commences.
  So what did we do? CRY! for a while. Aaron had to walk away for a bit so he didn't end up detained. I called my dad, Aaron called his mom, and both instantly said: Get in a car and drive. Yup, that's what we did...rented a car and drove...Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, all of Iowa (so flat, so plain, I mean good for them but when you're driving for eleven hours and you haven't slept since Tuesday, some sights would be nice!) We drove like 90mph straight to Nebraska. Stopped twice for gas and one of those stops was also for Arbies at The Largest Truck Stop in the World, so said the sign on I-80...there are showers there...I mean I guess there would be, but it was surreal and spooky when me and Missy thought we were headed for the ladies room and ended up in a steamy hallway of towel wearing men.
   The trip was daunting to say the least. It was followed by like an hour and a half at the Omaha airport to retrieve our luggage which made the flight without us. We got to the Hilton very late Thursday night, claimed our Fed Ex'd class kits, spent a couple hours sliding the printed directions into each and then slept til Friday morning and the official start to Silver Bella.
  Of course that's just the brief account and I apologize for telling you even that much. I guess I needed to tell it so that it could help illustrate how awesome our time was at Silver Bella...meaning, the hardships of the journey VANISHED as soon as the weekend began!
  You could've almost called it Silver Blogger. All the names and faces were familiar. We all knew something about each other. I found myself saying things like " I know took your kids to Disneyland in July and you had on a pink ruffley top!" All of us had these snippets of detail on each other because we all read one another's blogs. Like FBI dossiers on the usual suspects.
 And I was blown away by the gracious gifts...
  Lonnie, our online pal, and now real life friend from the opposite side of the country came armed with three pounds of selected Tillamook cheddar cheeses from her own town of Tillamook Oregon. Aaron is a huge cheese fan, especially sharp cheddar, and when we first saw Lonnie's address we immediately recognized Tillamook because they put a slice of Tillamook cheddar on top of your warm apple pie at Johnny Rockets (you must try it!). Anyway, Lonnie promised that if we ever met in person she'd bring cheese! Well here it is along with a super sweet cupcake crown for me and some deeeelish chocolate turkeys...their feathers are almonds! My spell check is underlining all of my Tillamooks...and seeing them all highlighted I must now apologize for using up my Tillamook yearly usage quota all in one paragraph!

 Jennifer Hayslip aka Best Dressed Bella, made this adorable 'lil snowbunny and we just had to hang her on our table top tree at vendor night. That's Jennifer in the cowgirl hat and pink galore!  Go check out her blog to see some Atlanta, GA eye candy. In person she's as sweet as she looks...ask anyone who attended SB!
This tiny little ballerina in a box is from  Heather Rowley of Speckled Egg fame. She had an amazing tablescape at vendor night and when I go to SB next year my main objective is to see all there is to see from all the vendors! I barely got around at all but I caught brief glimpses of Heather's table and it was fabulous! I hope she'll be selling any left over goodies over at Speckled Egg, and speaking of, be on the lookout December 1st for an online boutique event she'll be hosting called Art from the Nest, featuring a slew of other ultra talented artists. We were lucky enough to have Heather in one of our classes...she's a sweetheart!
 Jessi Nagy really must not sleep. She is a GIFT GIVER to the extreme! This journal is handmade, custom for us, notice J and A. And I saw other things she made for other people...she really must not sleep! Such a sweet girl, and speaking of "girl" does she retain her girlish looks while getting zero sleep?I'd swear that her and her nearly adult daughter are sisters...and that's not an offhand cliche compliment...I mean it. She looked 24! She was just so incredibly generous to all the other Bellas and Bella instructors, and loads of fun to have in class.
Oh yeah, in the above story about our travels I said how we got to the Hilton late at night and tracked down our Fed Ex boxes. Well it was Aaron that searched the Hotel for them and finally tracked them to The Washington Room which was locked. Turns out, it was locked from the inside, and locked inside were all the other Bella instructors making jewelry 'til almost midnight. Aaron was road weary and not exactly prepared to meet everyone but he was welcomed graciously...Teresa brought him up to speed,showed him where our boxes were, gave him our itinerary and presented him with this fab gift. Being there was a gift...nothing else was necessary. It's totally amazing, I love it. I'm pretty sure you can get it on Amazon. It was a warm welcome when we needed it most.
  Tammy Gilley put some of her magic in a vial. This is really precious...a fun idea expertly executed! She had some on sale at vendor night and I totally bet she sold out, and I hope I'm not being too presumptuous in thinking that she'd make more for the holidays.  Go to her blog and see if you can score some of her magic!
Love these gloves from Corrine Ayers! Thank you! Be warm and bejeweled!
I love Charlotte Lyons. Her little 'clean up your workspace project' was the impetus for the Bits and Pieces swap. This is one of her adorable snowmen she gave me on vendor night. It's from Seasons of Cannon Falls and she had them for sale at her table. She also gifted all of us instructors with this really cool collage of vintage American Geisha girls. It was so exciting to meet people whose reputations and artistic accomplishments speak volumes. Charlotte has done so much great work, and I spied some finished products from the classes she taught, wow, those were the classes to get!
And speaking of...Pam Garrison, you all know and love her. She had amazing kits! She was directly to our right on vendor night and she nearly sold out before the doors even opened. I love her work so much. These hand sculpted glittery birds are from her...We traded her for one of our new Charlotte ornaments...speaking of...
we had some at vendor night and they were soon all we have them for sale on Etsy!
Ok, this is lengthy isn't it? Pretend it's two posts. Me and Aaron met so many great people in our classes. I think when someone is partaking in the artistic process you can get a good sense of their real self. I mean, don't quote me on that...because if you were to meet me and Aar at 3am in the midst of working against a ludicrous deadline, you'd say we were raving lunatics.No, I mean like the group crafting environment. Everyone is open to suggestions. Everyone is giving suggestions. Lots of laughing. Mistakes are shrugged off, messes are made, supplies are lent. It's a good time to make friends. In the back of one of our classes we had a BAD TABLE (BAD in a fun gradeschool sense)! And I have to admit that it was my sister who was partly responsible for all the acting up and naughty behavior! She was having a blast back there with Hope and Artsymama, and her new BFF's  Kim Hesson and Michelle Devine. They were busting at the seams and turning red with laughter...and later carried over the fun into Jennifer Paganelli's class...the same crew all over again! Well, Kim and Michelle are responsible for these magical party hats as well as the bejeweled heart ornament. After class they wentback to their room and made these hats for us! It was such a sweet gesture. On our last day in Omaha the front desk of the hotel called our room and said that there would be gift bags waiting for us there. The note from Michelle and Kim said that the hats were to prove that they had the ability to actually FINISH a project (being that class was all play and no work!) So so nice of them!
Oh, and Aaron made this cone in  Jennifer Paganelli's class. Everybody loved her classes. She loves to pump you up when you dazzle. She's constantly holding up people's works in progress saying "hey guys...check this out! Is this somethin or what!?"
Here's some classroom pics. That's Lorraine with the Thomas Pink box (she bought a pair of sox just to get the it's her crafting kit...we are totally kindred spirits...myfriend Tricia once conned a box from Thomas Pink for me...she went into the one in mid town NYC and said "I bought my friend a shirt before and I didn't get a box...can I have one please?) Lorraine was a dazzler in class. She somehow made our kit look like her! She took both of our classesand when she held up her finished products they looked like she designed them from was really remarkable! She even cut up our directions to use the words Let Them Eat Cake...very cool! We chatted with her and her man for a while. He rules....he was right there in the crafty fray along with dozens of ladies. Lorraine is down in DC and lives in a pink paradise. We were talking about organizing a cupcake tour of NYC, maybe in the Spring. New York is really the cupcake capitol and so wonderful in the Springtime. Plus we've got Jennifer Paganelli close by in Connecticut, Danielle Muller of Vintage Dragonfly right on Long Island, and Hope, Melfie, and Amy Powers are East coasters as well. Let's all think it over, get crafty, come up with something multi layered and fun!
Grabbed this repro mercury glass votive holder Sunday afternoon at a shop in downtown Omaha. It was the only one and it was two bucks! I can't believe it survived a weekend onslaught of Bellas. I can only say it was meant to be mine! Am I being greedy by saying that I wish there were two of 'em?
Ok, you need a break. Forgive me for talking so at length about Silver Bella. If you were there, you already know most of what I've said. And if you weren't there you are probably sick and tired of hearing about it already. Please try to go next won't be disappointed. And plus, Country Living Magazine was there doing a story and after the article comes out next year I think Silver Bella will be the hottest ticket in town! So get in on it before it blows up!
Thanks to all you fabulous gift givers, class takers, and blog readers! You make my world go 'round. And same goes for Aaron. He's not on blogs like I am. For him it was especially great to meet everyone in person at SB. He said that one weekend made up for a year of being a shut-in. I have a feeling he'll be reading over my shoulder much more! 
Love you!!
xoxo Jenny
Just wanted to show you guys a glimpse of our kits all opened up. If you ever watch JimCramer's Mad Money he always talks about cracking open an ipod to see what's inside and then to buy stock in those components...(betcha never thought I'd be able to tie in Jim Cramer on this was a stretch but I pulled it off!)  Anyway, these are over at Etsy. A few gals have picked some up this week and I really am serious when I say to email me for any hints while you're making your project...and I'd love to see some finished products!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What a dream!!!!!!!!!

Ok, for real. Silver Bella was by far THE most rewarding career experience we've ever had! Over the years we've done so much stuff and so many times we've walked away feeling that we put in way more than we got out. I mean, don't get me wrong, the lead up to Silver Bella was comprised of a lot of blood sweat and tears (aka, airline travel), but once we got face to face with everyone in Omaha all our troubles instantly faded away. You know, I have so much to show and tell and I'll have to stretch it over a few posts because we came home to an obliterated, not a break in. It was us who were the obliterators! We've got stacks and stacks of supplies, packing materials, half done art, glitter, sequins etc... littering every inch of this place. So I'll have to flip back and forth between blogging and organizing. I guess this entry will be a brief overview. 
  Where to start? Ok, I'll start with Teresa McFabulous. You know her blog, you know her universe, and it's all so wonderful...well, in the flesh she lives up to every bit of it. First off, wow, she's adorable, lookswise and demeanor. Before this weekend I had only spoken to her via email. She has the sweetest little voice and the most inviting presence...a born hostess. Everything was so well organized and appointed. If you were thirsty...there were drinks! If you needed Mod's two buckets. You need glitter...we got glitter! Also, her husband was great. We got a late start because of some horrific travel incidents and Mr. McFabulous was there to help us catch up...getting us down to the opening luncheon with just enough time to be formally introduced as well as holding back the crowd at vendor night 'til we got set up. Ok, I can gush about Teresa and fam for a while but like I said...this is an overview.
Next, the classes. The best part. Full of familiar names and faces as well as the brand new. I met a lot of  blog lurkers who actually got to de-lurk in person. The teaching part was great! I'd say it was less like teaching and more like swapping ideas. So many ladies came stocked with their own arsenal of goodies to add to our projects. I wish I got pictures of each amazing piece of artwork but our camera never left my purse. For many, our design was just a starting point for their own dazzling finished products. All sorts of applique and trims came flying out of craft bags! And some, did the kit almost exact to our instructions, like Cari Kraft who so eloquently said "I can put my own stink on anything, any day, Let me for once, do something the way somebody else does it." (And yes, Cari is bathing in wit. ) All in all, I think the "students" came away with least a good time, lots of chatting, barrels of laughs, and some woman to woman bonding for sure. I'm so astonished that most of these girly girls are MOMS! And moms of grown kids. Aar was in a sea of lookers, haha!
  Ok, now to let insecurity rear it's ugly head... There were so so many pics taken with me in the frame and I'm not exactly a huge fan of the camera when it's aimed in my direction. I knew I'd get home to the computer and cringe cringe cringe once I saw the Flickr uploads. I'm calling myself the "beast from the east". How many acorns am I storing in those cheeks?! Aar, says that my thicker than usual appearance is due to a clothing choice and that the collar of my sweater is doing me a grave injustice. I see what he means but still, let the post Silver Bella diet begin. Well let it begin tomorrow, because after I post this we're piling in the car for our virgin voyage to the brand new Sonic...Jersey's first Sonic. They've been teasing us with commercials for years and now we finally have one in driving distance...that is, an hour away! ha!  
   Ok, Maybe this will be less than an overview. Lets call this post a blurb. My stomach is growling for Sonic. I've been asked about the availability of our kits and just today I've put them up for sale on  Etsy.  I plan on taking some more pics of them with the supplies all splayed out on the table. With the Let Them Eat Cake kit there are a few more patterned papers inside the kit that you do not see in the photo of our finished product. We included these so you could have a bit more freedom with your design. The instructions are very detailed since Aaron once moonlighted as a copywriter. And if you get yourself a kit feel free to email us with any questions  as you work on your piece. Aar loves to give out helpful hints.
  Also, this is a big also. I would LOVE if any of you gals that took our class at SB to send pics of your own finished pieces and send 'em to me to post up here and on Flickr! Also, same goes if you get a kit now and do it.
  My mind is still spinning from meeting all these WONDERFUL gals. Cari Kraft, Maija (pronounced Maya), Kari Ramstrom...geeez how lovable, Hope...same goes, Melfie...same goes for her too, Kimla, Amy Inspire co., Pam Garrison, Charlotte Lyons, Lonnie, Jessi Nagy, Jennifer Hayslip, Natalie Hansen, Heather Bullard,Dede, The Updegraff/ Popin girls, just too many to name, but all now have a story and a voice and a laugh attached to them.
  Ok, now for the photos you see here. The abundance of yellow is clashing with my blog. First off, the hotel had a yellow color scheme and even when that wasn't the case my sis just so happened to be clad in a yellow dress!
  I must go eat but will post more in the coming days. You have to go check out Artsymama and Amy Inspire co. for more Silver Bella stuff. Those two are blogging machines.  Ohhh and the Silver Bella flickr group!!!
Back soon with lots more!!
xoxo Jenny
Aaron sends lots of love too!
ps..back tonight to turn all these names into link..LOL!!...sonic is calling me!