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Archive for June, 2012

I love me some citrus, I love me some berry, but even better in the hot, summer months, is the combination of both!

I think that’s why I keep talking about this freezer jam recipe that I landed upon recently – it marries berries and lemon so beautifully with the lemon enhancing the flavors of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries.

So after making my last batch, I had a bunch of strawberries and blueberries leftover and was thrilled to find a lemon berry shortcake recipe on allrecipes.com

Strawberry Lemon Shortcake

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • SHORTCAKE:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter
  • 3 tablespoons 2% milk
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • 3/4 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • LEMON BUTTER:
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • WHIPPED CREAM:
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
 Directions
  1. In a small bowl, combine strawberries and sugar; cover and refrigerate until serving.
  2. In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Combine the milk, egg yolk and lemon peel; stir into crumb mixture until a soft dough forms (dough will be sticky).
  3. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead 10 times. Divide dough in half. Gently pat or roll each half into a 3/4-in.-thick circle. Place 2 in. apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees F for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to a wire rack; cool for 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine butter and lemon peel; set aside. In a small mixing bowl, beat cream until it begins to thicken. Add sugar; beat until stiff peaks form.
  5. To assemble, split shortcakes in half. Place cake bottoms on dessert plates; spread with lemon butter, then top each with a fourth of the strawberries and whipped cream. Cover with shortcake top and remaining berries and cream.

Oh Em Gee – this is soooo good!

We enjoyed this on the deck following a hearty grilled steak and loaded baked potatoes.  It was light yet so satisfying…

I would have taken more pictures, but I actually caught my foot on a piece of splintered wood that had unknowingly peeled up off our deck and well, after pulling that puppy out and then digging the stuck splinter, let’s just say I was not in a photographic mood!

With the same meal, we sucked down a mint limeade I made earlier in the day which was also awesome and so refreshing on a hot day and together we drank a half gallon of this drink reminiscent of an alcohol-free mojito.

Mint Limemade (makes 1 gallon)

  • 8 limes, juiced
  • 1 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 bunch fresh mint (I used 1/2 of the 1 oz. container in the store)
  • 1 gallon water

Mix together (but here’s a tip, although I did it for decoration in my glass, I don’t recommend keeping sliced limes in your gallon as it turns the taste bitter the next day; keeping the mint in there is no problem though).

Yup, me thinks I’ll be making both of these often this summer!

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Or at least that I’ve ever been to!

Two weekends ago, I had the extreme pleasure of going to the Old Glory Antique Fair.  I visited the store of the same name earlier in the year and fell. in. love.  But unfortunately my wallet couldn’t handle anything in there.  But still, I was head over heels.

I had often heard of that place and then later, I started seeing ads for their annual fair in all the magazines I was reading, design blogs I came across…it was seemingly everywhere I looked.  When I saw that the editors of two of my favorite publications (Flea Market Style and Where Women Create) were going to be at the event, I knew it was big and I wasn’t going to miss out if it was only an hour away.

It just so happened to be David’s birthday as well so we made a really fun day out of it and the fair did not disappoint.  It was a pretty big event, sprawled over Clement Park which borders Columbine High School and vendors were parked under big, mature trees which helped a bit for the hot day.

I was out of my mind with all the goodies.

I had to budget myself to $100 and it was really hard to stick to that but I still scooped up a bunch of goodies including chippy wood pieces, rusty hardward, an old clock among other things.

One great thing is that I saw a lot of other “Barnies” there or vendors that sell at The Barn, including my friend Amy’s gorgeous booth…

They are a great resource to talk to about potentially vending at this event next year (they only require that 80% of your booth be antiques or handmade – yay!).

Best antique event I’ve been to yet..can’t wait until next years!  If your curious about this fair, click here.  Do you have any great fairs by you?  Do share!

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I got very interested in refurbishing and refinishing furniture last year as I saw a creative way to “upcycle” what others might see as unsightly.  I also had been following a lot of design blogs and last summer I picked up a very old school yet cool library card catalog.  I started to refinish it (you may have seen bits and pieces of it in posts and a couple drawers hold cards in my booth) but right when I was in the middle of refinishing it, I was contacted by a company to license my artwork.  That, as many of you know, was a roller coaster experience and I basically had to put my life on hold and focus solely on mass producing art.

Feelings about that whole experience aside, I had to stop working on furniture and I never finished that card catalog (though I am determined to do so this summer!).  I stopped reading books on the topic, stopped following many of those blogs and put that hobby on the back burner.  The other issue I had was I had no place to showcase any furniture I worked on and while many people sell furniture on Etsy, it’s a pain to ship and not feasible with me living such a distance from a major metropolitan area.  But when I got the opportunity to rent my booth at The Barn, all those ideas and excitement about refinishing furniture came flooding back.  Not only that, but I needed furniture to merchandise my goods on (I was using tables from my home and wanted them back!).


One of the things that has been very hot lately is French Provincial style furniture, especially those that have been painted and distressed to give the 60′s/70′s look a new/old look.  So I had been scoping out craigslist and thrift stores for this kind of furniture and a couple weeks ago, I was thrilled to find a dresser and vanity/desk set at a great price!

Here’s how the dresser looked like before (minus drawer pulls)…

Halfway through the process with just gray and white paint, it looked quite pretty, like suitable-for-a-little-girls room-pretty.  I could have left it just like that but I wanted a more adult look; a more vintage/grungy/distressed look; something that had an old world style.  And distressing and adding wax gave it more of a bluish-gray look.

I painted it a mix of chalk paints and sanded the heck out of it to give it that grungy, worn look and distressed with dark and clear wax to give it an aged feel.  Then sanded it again to give it that buttery smooth feel.  Because I went through so many steps and was relatively inexperienced in the process and had to keep referring back to books and blogs, this whole piece (with chair, missing from photo above) took me about 12 hours to complete.  Sheesh!  But it was truly a fun experience and I’m so glad I did it.  I almost wanted to keep this, but alas, I needed it in my booth to merchandise my goods and bring back some of my home furniture.

Available at The Barn

What’s left now?  Her dresser sister!  Keeping busy ;)

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I know, I’ve been absent.  And while I could say that I’ve been super busy with orders or on vacation, that hasn’t been the case at all.  In fact, I’ve stepped away for a while because I was feeling like I needed to unplug and do some thinking, some evaluating and make some decisions.  And I’ve been melancholy and when I’m sad, I just don’t feel like blogging.

Truth is, I’ve really been struggling.  Things in the early part of the year were booming, opportunities were flowing, things were abundant.  Then it all came to a screeching halt.  My $2K in monthly sales dried up to $200 (that’s sales not even profit, so I was feeling like I’ll never make a living on this path).  As mentioned before, my art licensing fell through (still feels too raw to talk about it, but the whole experience has really messed with my head), I haven’t painted a piece in over 2 months and have little interest in creating art; I even stopped taking my art journaling workshops.  Then sales at my booth at The Barn are really slow and barely covering my expenses; a lot of work for no profit.

I was feeling so awful as it was, my self-esteem falling off a cliff and it seemed that every time I went on Facebook, I would read of other artist’s booming success, everyone’s beaming happiness and every blog I followed had great news of all these great opportunities landed.  To be honest, I was feeling awfully envious (and awful about feeling envy – I wanted to be happy for everyone else, but it’s hard when you are personally struggling).  So I decided to take a summer long sabbatical from Facebook and I stopped reading others blogs until I could mend my wounded ego and rebuild my self-confidence (and I must say, while I miss some aspects, it is quite refreshing to be away from it all).

So with all that’s been going on, I’d been wondering if my artwork has run its course…if I made the right decision to leave my job back in 2009 to pursue my own business (which while sounds like a lucky break, has been grueling work, LONG hours and very little financial reward).  And often you get by with the emotional rewards – the lovely emails, the connection to meaningful work that helps and inspires people, the connection to the people – those things really carry you when the financial incentives aren’t there.  But when those things dry up, it’s really tough on the psyche.

David suggested I take a break from art, perhaps until the Fall which is my favorite season and naturally an inspiring time of year for me.  I still have my supplies shop which keeps me busy with daily orders; I sell eco-friendly paper and brides will always be needing supplies for their DIY invites.  Not entirely gratifying work, but I’m grateful to have it and it helps to keep my mind off of what feels like all my “failures” and helps me to pay off purchases and business expenses.  I’ve been refinishing furniture and other odds and ends because transforming something from thrift store find to something new and exciting is thrilling.  And I’ve been trying to grasp onto anything exciting as I’ve been feeling so low.

Making art is so vulnerable; you put your work out there and when no one bites, it’s really difficult not to take it personal.  Artwork is personal.  And though my logical brain knows it’s a tough time with the economy, it’s the time of year when people travel and that my items are gift-y and high season is in the fall, my irrational/emotional brain was interpreting it as no one really likes my work anymore and that it’s time to hang up the brushes.

And so last week, when I was feeling really gloomy, I decided not to make my weekly visit to my booth nor go to the monthly meeting for vendors (not required but something I was planning on so I could meet the other vendors and get involved).  I thought, “what’s the point?” and started thinking about my exit plan (I have to sell more than $500 per month just to break even with rent/commission/fees/cost of goods/gas for the 120 mile weekly round trip).  And I’m shy of that.  I was feeling hopeless.

But I kept working on things for my booth…I visited antique fairs and thrift stores, painted/distressed more items and made more stickers (the top selling item in my booth as of late); I felt I needed to keep busy to not let my mind go crazy.  And today, we made the trek down with a car full of furniture and goods that I had been working on.

Within the first 30 minutes of creating chaos in my booth (it’s a tight space and we were swapping out a piece of furniture) two women came by and started studying my booth hard.  One had barely any hair and I suspected she might be dealing with cancer.  They poured over my goods, engaged me about my work with FORCE and the one woman confirmed my suspicions and began telling me her story.  She once was a COO of a corporation but then learned of her cancer, left work and began treatment.  She had been through chemo but is now doing exceedingly well.  The other woman, her best friend, who also worked a high level corporate position was now unemployed.  The best friend went to every doctor’s visit with her and was so impacted by the experience that she decided to turn her unemployed status into an opportunity to start nursing school in the fall to pursue the field of oncology.

Wow.  Talk about taking a step back and getting out of my own head.  They were so complimentary of my work, told me how much my pieces spoke to them, we arranged for a large bulk order including original artwork, and they commended me for leaving the corporate world to pursue my passion while still young and healthy.  We talked for over a half hour.  We ended with an embrace.  I told them how much it meant to me to talk with them as I’ve been struggling and wondering if I should keep working on my art.  They emphatically encouraged me to keep plugging along and reminded me that everything happens for a reason and it was a sign that I need to keep at it.

They left my booth and I breathed a heavy sigh (in a good way) and held my hand over my heart.  They kept saying how happy they were to discover my work; I’ve been telling myself all day how lucky I was to discover them.  Funny how angels appear in all different forms and so lovely that chance meetings can change everything.  But I know in my heart that there are no coincidences.

I need to stop questioning and just start believing in the path I’ve chosen.

I was waiting for a sign…and now I got it.  The universe never ceases to amaze me.   ♥

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Pups!  I guess if I was a mom, it would be my kids, but my furbabies are the next best thing.

Last month for my birthday David got me a new camera lens.  It wasn’t a special, unique lens but rather your everyday use wide angle lens.  My last one became unsteady when I clumsily tripped over my tripod 2 years ago and it came crashing down from a good height.  It never worked the same after that, but it was operable.  But when I took my trip to New Mexico last fall with my sister, I unfortunately took yet another trip (yes, I’m clumsy, but luckily this happened on the trip back home) and I lost the grip on my camera.  It fell to the ground smacking lens first just as I was able to catch the strap and pull it up.  The good news was the body of my camera was fine; the bad news was my lens (and my polarizing filter lens) was toast.

So I spent the last 7 months using my point and shoot, which works really great for a small camera but it’s just not the same as my DSLR (I have a telephoto lens which works for wildlife far away and a macro lens for super close-ups but neither work for everyday shots/range).  I was surprised to see that a lot of multi-purpose wide angle lenses were soooo expensive.  Like $500-$1000 expensive and certainly not something I would just go out and buy.  Heartbreak.

But luckily David found an awesome one for under $500 (Sigma 17-70mm, f/2.8-4 lens) that fit my Nikon, which he gifted to me for my birthday and I just love it!  So what did I do for a week non-stop?  Photograph the dogs of course!

Now Peanut is most often my best model…Zoe just moves too much and rarely will look at me when I have the camera in hand and Sierra acts annoyed when I try to photograph her.  But Peanut is so compliant…she acts as though she enjoys being in front of the camera.

She’s an easy subject alright.  It also helps that she’s in a perpetual sleepy state ;)

I was so camera happy that I started to photograph the neighbor’s dog!

I need help!

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We have a great outdoor fair in Colorado (one outside of Denver, one in Boulder) that occurs once a month from May – October.  It’s a shabby chic meet country farmhouse antiques and art show.

Perfection.  Totally my thing, ah!!!

I first learned of this event, the Paris Street Market, last year and attended one of the shows and fell in love.  I started thinking about how I could find a way to present at this show in the future (but the thought overwhelmed me and there were barely any artists there unlike this year).  I’m thinking that having to mass-produce for and merchandise a display at The Barn, a similar though indoor and permanent venue, is a great first step to eventually participating at a fair like this one day (hopefully next year!).

The monthly fair occurred this past weekend and we made our way down the hill to not only shop it, but to do a “reconnaissance” mission – that is, really pay attention to the way the booths are set up, see what is on trend, watch the crowds.  Problem was that is was WAY crowded…so much so that I skipped a lot of booths; it was just too crowded and I was always worried that me, my messenger bag and my camera would knock something over trying to squeeze around people.

Nonetheless, there was lots of eye candy…like chippy rusty patina laden gates, mantels and pieces of hardware:

And beautiful, distressed curves:

Quirky tin art among other art booths:

And quirky food vendors (I want this VW bus!):

I would’ve taken more photos, but it was so unbelievably crowded that people kept jumping in front of my camera…not so great for me, but plenty great for sellers who I’m sure were loving the crowds.  The best part of all was that I found several vendors that I sell with at The Barn so they were helpful and will continue to serve as a wealth of information and advice should I take on this fair next year.

Throughout the week, I had a bunch of things I had set aside to paint and after the fair, I was definitely inspired.  So I brought a ton of projects onto the sunny deck and started painting under the protection of our umbrella.  I love to paint things over as it’s such a cathartic thing for me, like a Zen practice.  I had a bunch of frames, home decor goods and odds/ends that I wanted to paint to give new life to old items or items that were otherwise the wrong color for what I wanted it for (to sell or decorate my booth with or decorate my home with).

I started dry brushing over a bunch of dark items to give them an aged and different look.

Here’s a close-up that allows you to see the dark underneath the whitewashing

I also used this process on a piece of wall decor I bought a while back (you can see on the far left what it looked like before):

Though the clouds looked beautiful against the blue sky, the distant thundering was a sign of what was to come…

And within 15 minutes of this photo it turned very dark, the wind started to whip and huge droplets of water began to fall as we dashed around trying to get everything inside in time.  I still had a very wet frame in progress that I had to toss inside and within a minute of getting everything inside a full on hail storm came through.  As ticked as I was having to stop my painting, I was that much more concerned about those poor vendors down the hill who were to receive that storm 30 minutes later.

Now, I might have to rethink an outdoor festival!

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Recently we purchased a boat load of fruit…and not just because I was craving fruit salad with the rising temperatures, but because I also need to make more freezer jam as the batch I made only 6 weeks ago is already gone (and we only gave one of the 6 pints away!) and using frozen fruit this time of year seems blasphemous.  But David also mentioned that he’d like some fruit with his yogurt, something he often does with granola.

So it got me thinking, “why don’t I just make some from scratch?”  I don’t know why I haven’t thought of that before; if you’ve followed me for a while you know that I’m always trying to think of new ways to make he very items we normally purchase packaged.  And granola is quite expensive in the store and there’s nothing quite like warm, homemade granola!

I embarked on a search by checking my favorite place, AllRecipes.com, and made a simple, no-fuss recipe that would pair well with fresh fruit and vanilla yogurt.  I combined a couple recipes, took reviewer comments into consideration and focused on the two main ingredients David was interested in (maple and walnuts).

Though it takes a bit of tending to once in the oven to prevent burning, it really couldn’t be simpler to make.

Homemade Maple Walnut Granola

  • 4 c. rolled (not quick) oatmeal
  • 2 c. chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 c. canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 c. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • dash of cinnamon
  • sprinkle of sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix oatmeal and nuts in one bowl; in another bowl, mix oil, syrup, vanilla and cinnamon.  Add wet ingredients to dry mix and combine thoroughly.  Spread onto 2 ungreased cookie sheets (I put mine on parchment paper on top of the cookie sheets per one reviewer, but found it unnecessary).  Lightly sprinkle sea salt on top of mixture and bake at 350 degrees for 10 min.  Then lower oven temperature to 250 and bake for 30 more minutes, stopping every 10 minutes to stir the mix.  It will smell AWESOME in your home…trust me.

Let cool completely before storing in mason jars (but not before enjoying!)

David wanted a large bowl of yogurt, fruit and granola.  Me?  Not being a huge yogurt or granola fan, I went for a smaller portion and made a pretty parfait out of it (and I must admit, I was smitten!)

David said he is also interested in a version with honey and almonds which is what I’ll make next in lieu of maple and walnuts; I’m betting it’ll be just as good.

Enjoy!

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