Archive for July, 2011

Yesterday I talked about how the other night I made one simple change in the kitchen and it cascaded into a mini-makeover that extended into the next day.

Here are some more of the changes I made (sorry I don’t have before pics – I always forget to do it and half the time I don’t realize I’m creating blog material until after the fact!):

I changed out our utensil caddy, which was previously a mission-style (if that exists in accessories?) metal container.  Not bad by any means, but no longer a fit for the theme I was aiming for, so in the donation pile it goes.

It then occurred to me that I had a tall, metallic container that I found at the thrift store a couple months ago for a dollar or two.  It was a pretty, galvanized-steel-looking container perfect for flowers…or a utensil caddy!  So I painted it, distressed it, added a fun, french label to it and voila!

I then addressed our overflowing, catch-all shelf at the kitchen window and minimized big time.  I placed one small, rustic birdhouse in the corner with a chippy paint spigot handle…

And on the other side, I took apart a tightly wrapped up bundle of lavender I picked up fresh from a street vendor in Santa Fe a while back and lo and behold, the colors and scent were still vibrant!

And I kept one live plant on the shelf (compared to the three we once had up there) and over the stubborn UPC bar code that was hard to remove, I placed a vintage stamp.  It serves to cover up the label and also adds a neat visual touch to the mug, I think!

And if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may recall when I found this soap dispenser at the thrift store for under a dollar.  I decoupaged the faux wood finish (see here), but decided to paint over it yet again and add another french label to it.  Talk about reusing!  :)

With an old metal colander I also picked up at the thrift store months ago (which I was planning on using to creatively merchandise some goods at a craft fair, which I still have yet to summons the courage and gumption for) I decided to use it for fruit/veggies on my island, if only I painted and distressed it as well as the sharp copper finish on the outside contrasted too much!

And finally I removed the faux pine garland from the tops of the cabinets and replaced with more previously-loved goods, including my giant milk can I found on my very first trip to an antique store!

See I told you it would still be a simplistic look and probably cost me about $25 total.  Sometimes change is good! :)

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I don’t know what’s come over me, but all of a sudden, I have this crazy urge to re-decorate our house.  People may find it odd that as an artist I don’t have a distinct design style or flair in our home.  We originally set out to make it very calm, very Zen-like, very nature-inspired – in other words, very simplistic.  And it certainly served our needs.

But the more I antique shop, the more I fall in love with a certain farmhouse-meets-shabby-chic-meets-french-cottage look.  I know, that sounds like a lot, but I promise it’s still a simplistic look I have in mind -  just with a little more antique flair.  And what I love most about decorating with antiques is that it’s the most eco-friendly way to decorate.  I love to look at each piece and wonder what the history is behind it.  Who did it belong to?  How did they use it?  Where did it once reside?

We made our weekly jaunt to an antique mall earlier in the week and found a couple neat, inexpensive things, one of them this beautiful, aged and fully functional scale that I knew I wanted to incorporate into the kitchen.

One thing led to another and next thing you know, I was transforming our kitchen with an entirely new look, utilizing my “new” old scale and pulling items from other rooms, repurposing buried items and doing a decorative recycling/reusing of goods already in my home.

Today, let me show you a dirty little secret – my spice and herb racks.  They are so caked with oil (as they sit next to my stovetop range) and then dirt naturally attracts/sticks to the oil.  It’s a hot mess and one I knew I needed to tackle.

Eww.  Gross.

I originally used my label maker (I know, I’m a dork) for labeling my herbs and spices.  So utilitarian yet soooo not stylish, but it accomplished the goal.  As you can see in the pic, the labels were starting to peel up.

And then I remembered that when I last made my recycled frame chalkboard that I had used a vinyl “chalkboard” product, kind of like contact paper (uber cheap as I wanted to just try out the option in addition to using chalk paint before committing to either method).  The vinyl was easy to use, but I decided I want to stick with chalk paint for future chalkboard projects, so it occurred to me that I could use the leftover vinyl chalkboard for labeling my containers.

I punched these out using my scalloped paper punch which I have on hand for making gift tags, but you could easily cut into any shape/size.  I then wrote on them with my white gel pen (you could use chalk, though will easily wipe off or with a chalk pen as well – which I’m thinking might be similar to a gel pen?).  Any mistakes were easily wiped off with rubbing alcohol and the actual vinyl sheets were reusable/replaceable so any changes that needed to be made were effortless.

Before and After.  Funny how a little thing can make a big difference, right?

Of course I did all this after scrubbing down each bottle to remove all the gunk and overall, I couldn’t be more pleased with how this project turned out.

And while I was at it, I decided to use mason jars to store my flour, sugar and salt (instead of the metal and plastic canisters that once held them and are now in the growing Goodwill donation pile).  So of course, I had to label these the same (these I wrote in chalk to give it a different look, though I’m sure after rubbing off a couple times, I’ll quickly switch to my gel pen!).  I like their simple look and they take up less space than my previous canisters.

Of course you can use chalk paint to paint your jars (either free-hand it for a rustic look or outline your space with painter’s or masking tape for a neater, straight-edged look).

Tomorrow I’ll show you the other things I switched out in the kitchen to bring my antique-inspired look together using items already in my home and a little creativity, so come back to check it out!

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If you’ve been following for the length of this summer, you’ve heard me lament about our mountain landscaping and with the daily rains of this year’s monsoon season, the MAJOR overgrowth of greenery, especially on our steps.  We tried making our own DIY all-natural pesticide using a salt-water recipe with no results, then a salt-vinegar recipe – also with no results.

However, on a recent trip to the hardware store, we decided to see if there were any eco-friendly options.  Some said eco-friendly, but then had all the caution/poison control warnings all over.  No bueno.

But then, we came across one that didn’t have all the warnings, was made with organic plant oils and is safe for pets and children.  We decided to give it a try and it worked!

Now this picture is a bit deceiving (and not so pretty) because it was applied about a week ago after a round of weed-wacking and it still has rained everyday meaning new growth, argh…but at the very least it worked!

I’m not necessarily endorsing them, but letting you know what finally worked for us and if you’re also looking for an eco-friendly pesticide, here’s an option to add to your arsenal!

*p.s. in case you’re wondering what it smells like, I think it smells like part clove oil, part bitter plant oil; not anything like your traditional pesticide

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I realized it’s been a little while since I created a cupcake for my cupcake series, and I found a great crown image that I wanted to incorporate in my art, so the Ruling Cupcake is what I came up with!

I’ve been wanting to make a heart with layered wings for some time, so I also created Winged Heart with french ephemera in the background:

And to continue with my Law of Attraction series, I also created “Life is a Mirror” Wings:

And remember last week when I mentioned I found some open frames at the antique shop?  Well I painted and distressed one of them and decided to frame my Intentions Girl piece, the only piece I’m not willing to part with, despite several requests to sell, as it’s such a personal piece.

I didn’t get get a chance to create any original ACEO’s, but I think I still got quite a bit done.

Thanks for taking a peek at what I’m up to!!

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Okay, so it’s not my tutorial…but I thought on Tuesdays, I’d mix up Etsy treasuries with tutorials that I’ve tried out (and maybe even create for you – I’d like to do more of that, it’s just time is not on my side, so most of the tutorials will be ones I’m directing you to and sharing my results).

So have you seen those french-inspired paper wreaths that scream shabby chic?  I LOVE them, oh yes I do.

Like this one for example:

From SimpleJoysPaperie on Etsy

Just. Stunning.

Here’s where the beauty of the internet comes in.  I simply googled “how to make paper wreath” and came upon a variety of blogs showcasing exactly how to do it.  I’m kinda wishing I went for a center piece like the above picture, but decided that for my first time, I’d follow a simple tutorial, like the one that that Michele graciously shares on her blog Primp (and she is fantastic at demonstrating each individual step with photos).  Overall, I’m pleased with the results of my open wreath…

…albeit shocked at the size of this monster.  It’s about 3 feet wide (I’m not kidding you!).  It doesn’t help that I used large music sheets from an out-of-circulation library book of nursery rhymes from around the world that I found at the used bookstore which when wrapped measured 16 inches long each! (the average size of most entire wreaths of this kind, so go with small pages if you want a normal sized wreath).

But it just so happens that we’ve had this 8 foot or so wide, empty space over our stairs that desperately needed some decoration, so I luckily had a space for a behemoth of a wreath!

Next time I’ll think I’ll make one with the tiny vintage french book I have and perhaps I’ll add a fun centerpiece to it now that I have the hang of it (it was ridiculously easy once I got the hang of shaping the cones; all in all, it took me about 90 minutes to make) .

Overall, this was an easy (and addictive) craft project and provided great results (and it helps that I had everything on hand, save for the foam wreath which I had to think outside of the box for…was a lil’ tricky but still worked and didn’t cost me a thing!).

If this is your kind of thing and you’ve got some paper you’re willing to part with, check out the above tutorial or google for one that catches your fancy.  Happy crafting! ;)

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Because I’m craving fall…

…the cooler weather, the changing leaves, the smell of wood stoves in the air, wearing long sleeve shirts, jeans and scarves, warm apple cider and everything infused with cinnamon and pumpkin…I’m posting these pictures today.  Enjoy :)

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The other day it did the usual darkening of the skies in the early afternoon.  In the summer, it’s not uncommon for us to have rolling storms everyday.  Its proverbial bark is typically bigger than its bite.  Lots of grumbling, scattered lightning, perhaps a shower, sometimes a quick flash of hail and it’s done.

But this time was different.  It was pinging off the windows so loud that I thought they might break.  It was driving sideways.  Trees looked to be bending over.  I tried to capture a picture of it while opening the door, but when I did, I got nailed and in a matter of about 2 seconds, I had a sizeable puddle of hail and water on our wood floors.  So here’s a not so great pic through the window.

Looks pretty innocent, right?  Hail’s not too big, but it was coming down harder than usual.

We like intense storms, so we enjoyed it while it lasted and didn’t think much of it after it passed.

The next morning, in my fling-open-every-door-and-cool-off-the-house routine I spoke of in my eco-Thursday post, I saw strange reddish flakes at the base of our deck doors and also all over the deck.  ” What the heck is that? I thought.

Then the lightbulb went off and I remembered the wicked hail storm that struck the day before.

Can you see what’s going on here?  Yes, the hail basically sandblasted the stain off our logs.


Those of you who have been following a while may recall when David painstakingly spent weeks last summer/fall stripping, sanding, and staining each log to a vibrant cedar color.  It looked fantastic.  And it needs to be done again.

Argh!  Home ownership can really bite sometimes!

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Earlier in the week I mentioned that David and I made a trip to our favorite antique mall.  Shopping there is easier now that I have a clear idea of what I’m looking for and don’t get too caught up in all the potential ideas which overwhelmed me at first.

I knew that I wanted to check out this one postcard vendor for vintage images.  However, I wasn’t so successful finding exactly what I was looking for, but did find some really beautiful vintage foreign postcards of incredible landmarks in Europe.

This one is probably my favorite; the Arc de Triomphe:

Here’s a collection of some of the others:

And check out this old beach scene!

Reading the backside of those that were truly used is delightful (when legible!)

And to see that some of these were postmarked over a 100 years ago takes my breath away…

I did find a few vintage photos that I liked…

I plan on incorporating these images into my artwork.

I also picked up some frames that I plan to distress/repurpose and use for artwork…

It was a great trip overall!


Addicted to Antique Store Shopping

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Last fall I created Truth Girl for my dear friend Valerie:

At the time I was still new to creating paintings so I didn’t understand the importance of making my lettering LARGE for reprints.  I have since learned but in case you can’t read, it says, “Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth” – Buddha

I created the piece for my friend because she was coming up on the anniversary of her son’s death.  He was only 26 years old when his life was taken, the circumstances surrounding his death are suspicious and foul play is a concern.  He suffered fatal trauma to the head and it’s unknown if it was caused from a fall or if he was hit in some way.  The details are muddy, the police not very forthcoming and my poor friend is a grieving mother with no answers.

She knows someone had to have seen something, someone knows more and is not speaking up.  The truth is out there and she is desperate to discover it.

Click on image to see video

She asked me to share this YouTube video showing a police news conference with Valerie and her children pleading with the public for information.  Please do her the honor of watching it here.

Throughout her grieving process, she often cited the Buddha quote in Truth Girl so it inspired me to make her the piece.  I offered to donate 50% of the proceeds of Truth Girl Merchandise to help her with finding out more info, whether that be advertising to the greater public or hiring a cold case investigator.  She graciously thanked me but needed more time.

Yesterday, almost a year later and coming up on the 3rd anniversary of Chase’s death, we met up and she is ready to move forward with a cold case investigator – a former police chief that has created a new business working unsolved files.  This will cost her quite a bit and she is a single mom of 3 with little money to afford this.  She asked for my help, so I am retroactively donating her the proceeds of previous Truth Girl purchases and continuing with future purchases.

So with that, we are relaunching Truth Girl items and hoping to generate funds and interest in the case again.  If you’d like to help her out with the purchase of a Truth Girl item, go to my shop (you can do a search for “Truth Girl” in my shop, or if you’re having trouble finding the option you want, just let me know!)  or if you’d like to donate to her directly, email me at jennifer [at] greenearthgoodies.com and I’ll connect you to her.

Thank you from the bottom of my ♥

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Alright, I admit, we don’t have it that bad here.  Being up in the mountains practically guarantees that it will be 15-20 degrees cooler than down in Denver, which can easily reach 100+ in the summer.  So the hottest it typically gets here is about 90.  And true it is a dry heat – not that awful humidity that we’re used to on the East Coast (where it’s not unusual to find it 98 degrees with 98% humidity.  Bleh.)  *and I realize that it’s REALLY hot, like record-breaking hot, in some places right now, so 90 sounds like nuttin’ but keep in mind that we are blissfully happy when it’s snowing and zero degrees out, so hot weather is something we are not fond of in general*

We purchased a vinyl shade to pull down in front of our bamboo roman shades on our 5+ foot picture window which has reduced the sun/heat coming in dramatically

But 90 is still hot, especially since our house sits on the side of the mountain facing Southwest.  Perfect for passive solar heating in the winter, brutal in the summer.  And since we face a mountain range, we had to have tons of windows to capture the view (which is once again, brutal in the summer).  Logs typically are excellent insulators; windows as we all know are not.

We don’t have air conditioning nor an evaporative cooler (which is popular in these parts) so we have to come up with clever ways to keep cool when it gets hots up in thes parts.

In the a.m. we fling open all doors and windows upstairs to capture all the cool air (I don’t keep the balcony/deck doors open overnight because of the bear that likes to climb up our log posts onto our deck; if you missed that fun story, click here to read about the bear visit last summer).  As such, it can get a little toasty in the evening, so morning is our chance to let in all the cool air.

Then around 10 a.m. the sun is really coming up over the ridge and shining down so we close it all down.  Those white, vinyl light-blocking shades (I know, materials not so eco) do a fantastic job of blocking the sun and heat.

Every window, every door.  Every shade goes down and we even hang sheets over our french doors to add another layer of insulation.  (It really does help).

We grill outside or use the crock pot often to keep the temp. inside the house as cool as possible.

You can see the difference it makes.  Hey, 7 degrees is 7 degrees!

We are lucky to have a sanctuary downstairs where our sunken-in space remains 10-20 degrees cooler than upstairs (great in the summer, but consequently really frigid come winter).  I work in my studio during the daytime which keeps me cool and on really hot days where it’s 80+ upstairs, we’ll take our dinner downstairs where we plop on our guest bed and watch TV in our cool, dark room.

Ahhh, 72 is MUCH better!!

And when we return upstairs, we crank up the fans which really help us stay cool.

So that’s what we do to fight the heat; what ideas do you have on eco-friendly ways to keep cool?  Please share!

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