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Archive for September, 2010

So, I’ve given you some recipes on DIY laundry detergent and DIY all-purpose cleaner, so here are two more.  They really are quite so simple that they need not their own posts.  We’re talking 4 total ingredients total.

Furniture Polish

1 part olive oil

1 part white vinegar

Essential oil of lemon (to preferred scent)

Okay, not rocket science, right?  But I swear this works.  Been using it on my wood furniture for years and gives a really nice shine, especially in this extremely parched climate.  A couple notes, shake VERY well before spraying to get a good mix of both ingredients (oil and vinegar), otherwise, too much vinegar – which will settle to the bottom) makes for a dry spray and wood.  Also, I spray the solution, rub in circles first then swipe a second time wiping side to side – this helps to distribute the oil yet wipe it up enough so that it doesn’t leave a funky residue.   The essential oil of lemon is also hydrating to wood and helps to offset the salad dressing smell.  I reused an old bottle of Method wood polish and have been using it ever since.

Window Cleaner

1 part vinegar

3 parts water

Essential oil (I like pine oil for this)

Once again, just mix the two but be careful not to add too much essential oil which could make it streak, obviously not what you want to do!  I really like using a micro-fiber cloth that is specifically used for window cleaning, but you could reuse newspapers or lint-free rags.

I rarely buy cleaning products because it’s so much cheaper and greener to do-it-yourself.  You can also make an easy scrub using baking soda and a wee bit of water to make a paste.  The amount of things you can make with simple household ingredients is amazing.  Here’s a link to a great post on my team’s blog (EcoEtsy) about all the things you can clean with baking soda, lemon juice and vinegar!

What are some of your favorite DIY cleaning recipes?

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…to get your butt going on something you’ve been procrastinating or “meaning to do.”

Like this summer…I had been putting off chopping down the Serengeti-esque weeds that had taken over our driveway.  Nothing like having guests coming over for a  4th of July BBQ to give me the kick in the pants I needed to accomplish this task.

And then there was staining our house.  Had all summer.  Sure, it was hot, the sun was blazing and during certain weeks, we’d get daily, albeit brief, thunderstorms which canceled any chance at completing it.  But nothing like impending snow up in the mountains in the next couple of weeks to get us into high gear on the project (one more side is being worked on today/tomorrow, so now we’ll have only 1 more side to go and thankfully we’ll have less of the multi-colored house/white trash look!).

And recently, after having it on my to-do list all summer, I finally got my photo website back up and running (more so David!) when I got that opportunity to photograph the dance team of my local high school.  I needed to be able to establish myself to those parents as a photographer with a portfolio.

So now comes the most recent example.  I’ve always wanted to hang my photos (and more recently my artwork) in local shops (you know, coffee shops, bookstores, etc.).  I’ve always loved going into those places and seeing local talent.  But for whatever reason, I never pulled it together – the photos/matting/framing and the fabulous “about the artist” bio.  Part of me was intimidated…and overwhelmed.  Seems that the ratio of ideas and plans I have and want to accomplish to time available in a day is about 30:1.  Uninspired and unmotivated I am not.  Lack of time to get it all accomplished is my struggle.

Then to my surprise, a vegan/organic cupcake shop in Eugene, OR wrote me to set up a wholesale account and purchased some of my large matted whimsical art prints to hang up in their shop.  Not just to feature for free, but an actual purchase and they are putting up my bio!  The “about the artist” I’ve always dreamed of doing.  Nothing like a deadline to get you going on something you’ve been meaning to do!

So although it isn’t local, this opportunity pushed me to do something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.  And it helps that I have a friend who lives in that very same town (and consequently gave a big thumbs up to that cupcake shop) who I’ve asked to spy my pieces in the next couple of weeks and snap a picture.  Now with bio and works in hand, I’m going to start approaching some local places.  It may not be a purchase but a free place to hang my stuff, and it’s still exposure.  And I’m also planing on doing some target marketing to cupcake shops in Denver with some of my “Cupcake Girl” merchandise (cards, magnets, bookmarks and journals coming soon!).  And sometimes that’s all it takes to get discovered.

Heart full of gratitude!

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Sunday, sunday…

In the scheme of our schedule, Sunday is actually our Thursday because David has Tue/Wed off, so we both work through the standard “weekend.”  Even so, Sunday just feels different.  Calmer, quieter, more relaxed.

Even though we have a pretty standard routine we follow during the rest of our work week, we always deviate on Sundays.  Big breakfasts are consumed, CBS Sunday morning and the previous night’s SNL is devoured and next thing you know, football has started.  Although I don’t “watch” the games (much to my hubby’s dismay), I enjoy having them on as background noise to whatever I’m working on; there’s just something about the soft roar of the crowd in the background that is very soothing for some reason.

And there’s something about Sundays that makes me crave domestic tasks – cooking, cleaning, laundry.  It’s as if I’m mentally preparing for the start of the work week, even though it’s the end of mine.  I guess it’s just hard-wired in my brain.

Zoe, aka "Bug" relaxing on this Sunday

The alternate title of this post is: “Dear Indian Summer, I dislike you greatly; your abrupt departure would be most appreciated” because it’s just too freakin’ hot right now.  Last week Denver hit 96 degrees, today another record breaker.  Thankfully it’s a good 10-20 degrees cooler up here, but still, way too hot for my liking.  Last year, we already had snow fall by this time.

But I don’t care, I’m still carrying on like it’s the autumnal weather of my dreams.  The fall-scented candles are lit, the Halloween candy is in full supply, and I’m making pot-pie today (even if that means eating it with the fan on full blast, I just don’t give a damn!).

Today I have some orders to process, a CD full of pictures to deliver to the family from my recent photo shoot and lots of shop maintenance.  But at least the house will be clean and I’ll be at peace.  Now if only I could tackle my studio (and that dining room table which has become paint central!)…monday, monday….

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Alright, I’m feeling a wee bit of burnout with trying to get so much done and packed into the past 2 weeks that I officially took an “early” day this Friday and proceeded to park my butt on the couch at 3pm…although I’m trying to help a last-minute customer out and get her item to the post office in the next half hour, if she’ll answer me back on whether her thoughts of aqua are the same as mine.  I guess if that’s my biggest frustration “at work” today, then I’m doing okay.

So here are some updates to my week:

  • we finished staining the front of our house, taking us 2 long days…we will never live in a log home again.  Period.  Now, 2 more sides to go and a redo on our back upper deck as the sun dissolved the staining we did on it last year…le sigh (here are some pics in the middle of the process)
  • David put in close to 20 hours trying to update my website to reflect the new changes from the past month and to get my photo site operational for the parents of the dance team whom I’m photographing in the next week (as they will likely want to see my portfolio); here is the beautifully updated site (I have a truly WONDERFUL husband!):  www.greenearthgoodies.com
  • I uploaded 30+ items to my whimsical art shop, including 10 brave girl items that I talked about in my previous post.  They have added me to their website as well in two spots as a partner – you can see it here or here (sidenote, 13 Brave Girl items have been sold = $32.50 being donated in the past couple of days to FORCE!  Yay!)
  • I’m also adding this sisterhood piece to my shop, with 50% of the purchase price on all Sisterhood Girls going to FORCE as well:
  • I’ve been asked by 3 more families about doing family photos – I’m very excited by this!
  • I have more biz news coming up, but details are being worked on…stay tuned!

My days are still quite long and my to-do list even longer, no different than when I was a road warrior and holding office in my rental cars, hotel rooms and airports.  But at least now my commute is about 20 steps up the stairs and I can do some of my evening work while watching The Apprentice, Hells Kitchen and Biggest Loser all the while in my PJ’s, doing something I truly enjoy.  So, life is still very good!

Have a great weekend everyone!

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Things I love about fall

  • waking up in the morning and putting on a sweater
  • the availability of apple cider
  • being able to make a broth or bake bread without having to time it because of how hot it will make the house
  • wearing slippers
  • drinking hot cocoa
  • making hearty soups and stews
  • seeing scant snow on the mountaintops in the distance
  • cold mornings followed by warm, sunny days, followed by cold evenings
  • the smell of wood stoves
  • the smell of leaves
  • the colors in the landscape (though it’s only yellow here, but still better than no changes!)
  • pumpkins and funny looking gourds
  • pulling out last year’s sweaters and scarves out of storage
  • Halloween decorations
  • Halloween candy (a blessing and a curse, if you know what I mean)

I know there’s more, but this is what comes to mind right now.  What did I miss?  What are some of your favorite things about this time of year?

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When I was in grad school, I was part of a very tight-knit program.  I was enrolled in higher education administration and they only took in about 30 students each year.  They did a great job at keeping us close together in that our program was full-time, we all took the same classes together at the same time, we went to events and conferences together, we did lots of group projects together and the 2nd year students were always very involved in mentoring the first year students.  Thus, we were very close and not only schooled together but also socialized together.  It was a fantastic, very memorable experience and living in New York City – new to many of us – added to that experience.

Liza was one of the 2nd year students and we became friends during her last (my first) year there.  It just so happens that a year later when I was graduating, she encouraged me to apply for her position as she was moving on to another one.  I did get the job and thankfully they allowed her to stay on board for a couple weeks to help me transition into my new job.  We were connected once again.

Well, you know how things go: life gets busy, people go separate directions and we unfortunately lost touch.  This past year she found me on Facebook and we were able to reacquaint after about 8 years.

Her story, since I last saw her, had changed quite a bit.  She married her longtime sweetheart and they had 3 beautiful children.  However, her firstborn was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare form of eye cancer, when she was only 2.  She did lose her eye but not only survived but has thrived.  Nonetheless, it was a very trying time for Liza and her family.  I also learned that her family had suffered greatly from ovarian and breast cancer – affecting her sister, grandmother, cousins and aunts.  Liza decided to get tested for the BRCA gene (which detects hereditary risk) and tested positive.  Having seen her family suffer through cancer, she made the very difficult decision to act proactively and plan for a double mastectomy and oopherectomy (removal of breasts AND ovaries).

I learned most of this humbling story through her incredible blog Marathon B4 Mastectomy where she writes with such eloquence and raw emotion about her experience, cancer anniversaries and upcoming appointments, friends lost and friends gained, grace, gratitude and vulnerability all wrapped in one beautifully executed blog.  Oh yeah, and she’s also training for a ½ marathon, which is much more than just a physical feat.

About a month ago, inspired by her story, I created this piece, Brave Girl:

I sent to her without her knowing about it/expecting it.  She said it brought her to sobbing tears.  I was so pleased that it touched her; I wanted her to know that it was important to acknowledge her fears and only then, continue with courage.  I also wanted her to know that I admired her bravery.

Last week I emailed her telling her that I wanted to sell prints, greeting cards, bookmarks, etc. but didn’t feel right taking a straight profit from a piece that was inspired by her deeply personal story.  I asked if she would be interested in collaborating whereby I would donate donate 50% of the proceeds of any Brave Girl items sold to an organization of her choice and she (who is soooo connected and has 1,000+ Facebook friends and countless contacts in work/family/cancer communities) would get the word out.  She quickly jumped at the opportunity and put me in touch with the VP of the Board of Directors of FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered).  This organization is a non-profit that offers support, education, advocacy, awareness, and research specific to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer and was of great help to Liza when making her decision about how to respond to her BRCA results.

Not only will I be donating to this organization from the people that Liza brings to my shop, but FORCE has partnered with us and is putting my Brave Girl artwork  in their online art gallery, they’re listing me as a supporting partner on their site’s shop, (which will direct people back to my site), and they’ll post about my Brave Girl items on their Facebook page.  This has the potential to reach thousands of people!  I feel SO honored that sales in my shop will benefit such a worthy organization.  And I’m also humbled at the power of connections: who knew that after all this time, Liza and I would be reconnected again through art, friendship and a deep mutual respect for one another.

So, if you know of anyone going through a difficult time in their life and who needs a bit of encouragement, or if you know someone who is affected by breast or ovarian cancer, won’t you consider gifting them a Brave Girl print, magnet or note card?  Once again, 50% of the proceeds is being donated (that is sales, so if the purchase price of an item is $20 – I’m donating $10 of that to FORCE, not 50% of the profits, but 50% of the purchase price) to an organization that helps promote awareness, support and research of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.

*Click here to shop for all Brave Girl items*

From the bottom of our hearts, Liza and I thank you for your support!

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So, as you know, I’m a photographer.  Self-taught and most comfortable with nature/fine art photography.  Taking pictures of people has never been my forte and I think a lot of my apprehension about delving into portraits is that it’s so personal to the subject matter being photographed.  When I photograph a leaf, I don’t have to worry about it being upset with how it’s portrayed.  In essence, there’s no one to work with and I can go at my own pace.

With portraits, you are at the mercy of your and your client’s timeline/schedule, the mood of the group involved and trying to get everyone together and cooperative.  Additionally I don’t have any studio equipment for indoor shots and if I were to pursue portraiture, I’m not sure I’d be interested in anything other than photos that are taken in natural surroundings.

Luckily for me, my neighbor was more than willing to let me try out on her family.  With the latest addition of her 4th child (whom I photographed shortly after birth), she wanted family photos.  Me, I wanted a safe place to try out my skills – a family that knew I was new to “portraiture” and was willing to let me use their photos in my portfolio in exchange for a free session.

We decided to split up the day due to schedules, nap times and lighting.  I arrived in the morning and spent nearly 2 hours with the 3 older children, walking through the woods and taking some great shots – candid and posed among the earthy backdrop.  Some of them can be seen in this collage:

Then in the evening, we gathered for another hour and a half and battled the still-too-high-in-the-horizon sun.  On the good side, we were able to capture the beautiful yellow hues of the changing leaves.  We had a bit of trouble with the toddler who was pretty much done with having her photos taken and I struggled with coming up with poses (luckily for me, my neighbor did some modeling work after high school and was able to help brainstorm some good ideas).  Despite my nerves, I am pleased with how the rest came out:

Next stop is team photos of the dance team she coaches at the local high school.  She’s even trying to promote my services for yearbook photos, but I’m so not ready for that yet.  Perhaps down the road; meanwhile, this was a good way to push beyond my comfort zone.  I’m really glad I did!

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So it’s been a busy week but I was able to get a lot accomplished on the shop(s) front.

Let me first introduce you to my two new shops:

Green Earth Images (listed as GreenEarthImages on Etsy) – as mentioned before I had a separate web site but decided to move it over to Etsy; it’s slow going to get things listed, but I’m selling prints, matted prints, magnet, ACEO’s, greeting cards and bookmarks (and anything is customizable for the most part, so if you see an image you’d like, I can make it into the items just listed – because to make a listing for each item x100+ photos would mean 800 or so listings and that’s just crazy!); here are some of the pics I’ve loaded up so far (trying to make it a mix of different scenes):

j.c.spock (listed as jcspock on Etsy) – I realized that I should make a separate shop for my artwork since it really is different from my goodies shop and though I do print on eco-friendly photo paper and card stock for greeting cards, ACEO’s (Art Card Editions and Originals – they’re the trading card equivalent in the art industry), magnets and bookmarks, the bigger prints are on professional (not eco-friendly) photo paper, regular mats for matted prints and regular canvas (though I’m pricing out eco-friendly canvas that I recently found).  Furthermore, I felt I needed to lend my name to my artwork and since my full name is hyphenated and so dang long, I shortened it (not to mention that my nickname in college and thereafter by my friends was j.c).  Similar to my photography shop, I can customize items, so if you like an image but want it in another format, I can usually do that no problem.  Here are some examples:

Woo!  It’s been crazy!

Then I’ve added a couple items to my Green Earth Goodies shop and Green Earth Supplies shop, like these:

As I’ve mentioned, I LOVE LOVE LOVE Fall and Halloween, so I’m happy crafting this stuff…more to come!

Thanks for checking out my shops!  Have a great weekend everyone!

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Am I in over my head?

Or just crazy?  As if I didn’t just write about falling back into old patterns the other day, I’m now trying to open 2 new shops – one for my photography, one for my mixed media art.

My photography used to be hosted on another site that cost a lot and I had no customers; without my own promotion, it was hard to get people to my site.  I decided to then take it down and open it up on Etsy, where shoppers could find me.  However, the work involved with not only uploading each picture and writing descriptions, etc. etc. was way overwhelming and I slowly remembered why I liked my old site (that took care of everything for me).  I kept putting it off until last week I got an offer from my neighbor, who is the coach for the local high school dance team, to take pics of her team in lieu of the national chain that usually comes and does it.  She has seen my work, I came to photograph her baby and family hours after the baby was born and she has hired me to take candid family photos and portraits in the natural setting that is our neighborhood/backyards.

I was thrilled but also nervous to do something official like school photos, but it was time to leap and I’ve always wanted to reach beyond my comfort zone of nature/landscape photography.  However, this also meant pulling together official forms (luckily my photo business, Green Earth Images, is already a registered business with the state and we had a website that was sitting off-line), but now I had to get it back up and running so students and parents could see my work.  Nothing like a deadline to get you moving!  Luckily, the photos have been pushed back to the first week in October, giving me a little breathing room which I really need (and hubby to0 as he’s working on bringing my site back on-line).

Then, I’ve been itching to sell my artwork, not only originals, but prints, greeting cards, magnets, bookmarks, keepsake boxes, journals, etc.  I shelved my artwork the past week to get going on my photography and had not made any new pieces.  Alas, yesterday, I spent the better part of the entire day cranking out two pieces.  Here’s a sneak peak on one (can you tell I’m really grooving with the Halloween theme lately?):

Meet Franken-Girl :)

I know the legwork of scanning/cropping/adjusting/sizing prints, then making one of each item, photographing it, writing it up and then listing it is a LOT of work – but it’s something I want to do so badly, so I’m just going to put in the hours and get it done.  Right now I have 10 “girls”, so once I get those up then I know that adding one piece at a time thereafter will be no sweat.  It’s just that groundwork that takes all the time and I need to get it done.

On top of that, my husband took the week off so we could stain the house.  Because we have logs that have already sunburned in this relentless sun up at this altitude, it’s not just staining, but stripping then sanding, then conditioning, then staining.  Not fun.  But another thing we just have to get done especially since the weather is nice and it will likely snow up here in a matter of weeks (not to mention the freak snowfall that we always get once in September!).

So with all this said, please bear with me as I may be quiet over the next week.

And then maybe I can go back to making bread ;)

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Taken in October, 2009

When my nose and toes start to get cold on a regular basis, I know fall is in the air.

I grew up in New England, so fall is a holiday unto its own.  Like a local holiday.  The whole dang season.  And it deserves to be celebrated.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE fall.  The cooler weather, the smell in the air – especially in the evenings – the warm, rustic colors (though I only get to experience a much milder color variation than when I lived in CT).  And then there’s the urge, almost instinctual craving, to make things like apple crisp, soups and stews and anything with pumpkin.  Sure, every season has its foods, but nothing so quite comforting as the fall.  The transition from hot to cold.

In case you haven’t been able to tell throughout the course of my blog, I really enjoy the cold weather and hate hot, particularly humid weather – a large part of why I left the East Coast.  And every year since we’ve been in the mountains, we’d had a freak snowfall in September.  Nothing sizable but enough to let you know that things are a’changing, and quickly!  That’s probably my only complaint – that fall doesn’t last a little bit longer before transitioning to winter.

Crested Butte, 2009

One of the best things about fall is Halloween.  I just love that dang holiday and I particularly love that my adult friends still love it too.  One of my best girlfriends is the Halloween Queen.  She doesn’t have any kids, but that doesn’t matter.  Come labor day, she gets all her decorations up and even has a timer on her wall counting down the days to the beloved day.  She dresses up each year at work, hosts a party (click here to see my post from last year about it, complete with pics!) and in the months before, plans out what new decor she’ll be ordering.  I was just at her place last week and we salivated over her favorite Halloween catalog, dreaming up ideas of all the props and large scale decorations she could use.

With all this in mind, I’ve been drumming up ideas on how to incorporate my favorite season and holiday into my crafts and shop.  Here are some sneak peaks:

My latest girl - Witchy girl

What do you love most about fall?  Please share and reminisce with me!

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