Saturday, February 18, 2017

We're still here

Me and Aaron are always trying to figure out the best ways to spend our time...well not our time really, but our energy. It feels like you're only allotted a certain amount of creative energy each day, and the trick is figuring out when and how that energy works best for you. Example...if we want to do a new painting and we want to organize the studio as well, Aaron will insist that we do the painting first because we'll be able to put our purest, cleanest, brightest energy into it. And then way later, after a long and challenging creative day we can organize the studio without the pressure of the new painting looming over us. Because when you're an artist, your next painting is the most important painting in your life. So every other task on that given day should come second. It seems simple, and you'd think after 20 years of being a working artist you'd have it all figured out...but nope. You're constantly re-writing and reinforcing your "rules".
Which leads me to this...this blog post that I'm writing after a million months of not blogging. This blog is something I really want to do...something that both me and Aaron really want to do. But we get lost in the countless other daily tasks and the blog gets tossed on the remainder pile. And I really wish that it didn't. Because it should be a priority. It's one more extension of our creative selves that we feel is pretty vital. 
So we're really trying to get a handle on the good things lately. Like taking time to go into the city, or go to an eatery we've been dying to go to, or just to walk up to the beach after we ship out that day's stack of packages. The beach is like a couple blocks away, and regardless of the current cold temps, it's the perfect place to hit the reset button and focus on a huge expanse of sky and sea and sand, rather than the screen of a handheld device.

We're not on the ocean, we're on the bayshore. So on calm days there's barely a ripple on the surface of the water and it's as close to silent as a beach can be.

Giant hunks of stuff like this are always washing up on the shore, and you wonder when and how this massive block of wood and metal broke off of whatever it was attached to. (note: when I was typing the previous sentence I said "hey Aar, if I'm talking about stuff washing up on the beach, what word can I use in place of "stuff"? And the bookworm instantly answered "detritus". To which I answered "well, I guess I'm sticking with "stuff."' haha!) we're constantly referencing whatever show we're currently obsessed with. Our fave show right now is Taboo on FX. Sooooo good! It's got Tom Hardy being his usual odd self...stalking around with fierce purpose, brooding, and half the time he's grunting instead of talking. Anyway, the show takes place in the early 1800s when the East India Trading Company pretty much ruled the world. So when we saw this giant slab we of course were like "hey, this thing could've broke off some East India Trading barge like 200 years ago."
Yeah, we're dorks...I never said we weren't. 

We always walk down to this giant storm drainage pipe because...well because it's there. No other reason really. haha! 
ps. giant platform boots aren't meant for rock climbing.

I love the contrast of the bright orange rusted rocks against the wintery blue monochrome beachscape.
Also, it's kinda hard to see in these pics, but directly across the bay is NYC. At night you can see it more the left is Staten Island, in the middle is Manahattan, and on the right you can clearly see the colorful blinking lights of Coney Island.
Our drive to NY takes a little under an hour.

When the tide is high these rocks are almost completely submerged.

I know our beach isn't the most exciting place in the world, but I don't know what we'd do without it. There have been so many heavy times, stressful times, and also perfectly pleasant times, when just a little walk up on the beach was exactly what we needed that day. 
Anyway, to get back to what I was saying about creative energy at the beginning of this post...I'm really gonna try to make this blog one of our priorities. Also we're gonna share lots more food and recipes. We actually just started a second Instagram account that will be dedicated to cooking, eating, health & exercise, etc... This will also give us an excuse to get out more and visit all the vegan food spots we've stalking.
Hopefully we'll have so much more personal interaction with you guys in the coming months. That was sort've our only New Year's resolution...just to get out there more, be more present, and don't let weeks slip by unnoticed. We're going to try to put the good things at the top of the list each day. 

xo Jenny & Aaron 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Our July so far! (including a July 4th recap)

July is usually a pretty great month for us. We're not exactly fans of hot weather, but we were lucky enough to have some mild days at the beginning of the month. We got out and did some summery stuff, celebrated the 4th with my family, and got a lot of work done. Aaron loves setting up the saw on the sunny deck and cutting out as many plaques as possible in anticipation of the sweltering days ahead. And it isn't so bad that the latter part of the month is crazy hot, since we have all of the detail work to finish in the studio. And as far as our orders go it feels a little different this year. We usually are working on lots and lots of whatever the most popular piece of the moment is. But this year there doesn't seem to be an overall favorite. Our worktable constantly looks like the pic above. And even though there are some advantages to repetition, like never having to change color palettes, we're very happy to have the variety we've been having lately.

Another great thing about July is that on 4th of July weekend we adopted our dearly missed Jack, and a few years later, also on the weekend of the 4th, we brought home Lieutenant Dan! It's our two year anniversary with this little guy! And we're constantly reminded of that fact by our Facebook Memories. Apparently we posted a pic of Dan every single day for two weeks straight in July 2014. 

This is how Lt. Dan spends the majority of his day. I mean, he does like to go out on the deck and lay directly in the hot sun a couple times a day. And he looks amazing when he does it! Aaron says he looks like a "village dog". Like he's lying in the heat on some rural dirt road town in Central America.
 But after a few minutes in the heat he wants to come back inside and go back to being a crank-the-AC-and-swaddle-me-in-blankets kind of guy. 

You know, I had already loaded this pic onto the blog and then realized that I'm posting this on National Ice Cream Day. But it's sorta National Ice Cream Day every day over here. This is the latest addition to my vintage ice cream carton collection. I looked up Moore's Ice Cream, and they still exist in Marlette, Michigan, just like it says on the box. And the place looks like it hasn't changed in many years. I love that!
 As you can see in the background of this pic, my shelf is overflowing. I've got cartons displayed all around the kitchen, but I'm on the hunt for another perfect display shelf or case that I can quickly fill to capacity.

I feel like I can rave about our Fave Craves mugs without feeling self conscious. Mainly because they're pretty much the one thing in our shop that we don't make from scratch. I'm just super happy with how great our paintings reproduced, and the quality of the mugs overall. We use ours every day and every time they come out of the dishwasher they looks absolutely brand new. Again, I'm not saying any of this in an "advertise-y" way. I just really love these things! 
If you follow me on Instagram, @jennyeveryday, or on Facebook, you might have seen that we're doing Friday Specials every Friday for the rest of the summer. The mugs were our first Friday Special item, and I'm thrilled to say that we had to quickly order more to restock the shop! 

We've got a growing list of things that we simply MUST PAINT. Salt Water Taffy and Hard Candy have both been on the list forever. Initially we actually had a couple of other ideas for exactly how we wanted to paint them. But then all of the sudden we thought of these candy jar designs, and that was it! 
The real trick was finding time to paint them. Well that's our main challenge every single time we do a new painting, but with these we happened to be extra busy at the time, and they're also the types of paintings that require a lot of focus...all those individual candies, all piled up in a realistic looking way, and then making them appear like they're behind glass. 
If it sounds like I'm complaining, I'm totally not. Figuring out the little details is pretty much what every artist lives to do. It really isn't the achievement of a finished painting, or the positive public response of a painting that the artist is working toward. It's more about having an idea, and then throwing down your own personal artistic gauntlet, and then winning the little creative battles with yourself along the way. 
Well, needless to say...candy paintings have been a long time in the making. Besides salt water taffy being our signature little extra goodie in the packages we ship out...vintage salt water taffy boxes, and holiday hard candy tins are some of our favorite collectibles. And if you saw our previous post, you might have read about how much I die for anything having to do with old time candy making! 

Jeez! I'm telling you, I really tried to blog about 4th of July last week, or more like a week and a half ago at this point. I figured Tuesday the 5th I could post, or Wednesday at the latest. But boy oh boy, there was a whole lotta work waiting for us after the three day weekend. And for once we actually kept those three days completely work-free. Well, we did some work around the house, but that's different.
As far as holidays go, 4th of July is always super laid back. There's no pressure to find the right gifts, the food is fairly easy, and I don't know...I guess it's a day that really works for my family. My family can get pretty loud, and being that there are big explosions in the sky all night, it's the one time that we don't seem like the loudest bunch in the neighborhood. ha!
We actually had our 4th of July on the 3rd. The Fam was gathering at my brother Richard's house, and since he had to be at work super early on the 5th, it was way better for everyone if we moved the party up a day.

Here's Aaron with our niece who happens to hold the world record for quantity of cupcake frosting ingested in a 15 minute period. Well, even if she doesn't hold the actual record, I bet she's close.

But she's also pretty good with sharing. I think right here she was actually trying to share with uncle Aaron's beard.

Any of you guys play Cornhole? Here's my dad most likely showing off for the camera. You know...throwing the bean bag with a bit more gusto than necessary. And jeez Louise, do you see the miniature person peeking out from behind his leg?! She manages to be involved in everything going on all at once. It's kinda impressive.

That's my sis' Missy, and future sis' in-law Val.

Seriously, by the time I really starting taking pics of everyone it was very late, and very dark in the backyard. So pretty much every shot is of our bright faces against a completely black background. 
And oh boy...I just remembered that there were some motion capture attempts that were a disaster and completely hilarious. And you'd see them here if hadn't already deleted them. It was three family members, each holding a sparkler, each one squiggling their sparkler in the dark to make the shape of either U, S, or A. Not a single shot came even close to working out. But that was probably way more fun than if it had worked perfectly!

Ok, I guess that's a brief summary of our July so far. But before I go, two more things...First, I'm posting this on Sunday, which means tonight is episode 2 of "The Night Of" on HBO. Episode 1 was so so good! It's one of those story lines where the web gets more and more tangled each second. So get caught up if you're not watching already.

Second's another show. This one is one Netflix, so that means you can binge the entire season in one sitting if you feel like it! We LOVE this show. It is like one giant tribute to the very best films from the 1980s. It feels like ET, Goonies, and Stand By Me all in one, and with the amazing music and dark overtones of John Carpenter movies.
We rate this one: A+

Ok, now I'll sign off. Thanks so much again for reading! We hope to be back very soon, and we hope your summer has been awesome so far.

Love from the Jersey Shore! xoxo
Jenny...& Aaron

Monday, June 27, 2016

Our day in Pt. Pleasant Beach

This weekend we truly needed to get some air. We had been on all week hoping to see an upcoming day that wouldn't be too hot. I'm the worst in the totally amps up my anxiety. So as soon as we saw a high of 77 for this Saturday we knew we had to strike while the iron was hot...that was a poor choice of words.
This is the first week of summer, and after this it will only get hotter and hotter. So we decided to spend the day down in Point Pleasant (NJ). It's one of our favorite shore towns. Full of antique shops and gift shops, an amazing boardwalk and beach, and even an aquarium! So we hopped on the train, which was standing room only, and nearly every passenger was wearing a bathing suit. The train station in Pt. Pleasant is only a few blocks from the beach, so it's super convenient to just hop on the train and totally avoid the insane shore traffic. 
 Above, this is us waiting for the train. Before I go on I want to point out my awkward bangs. They are in a transition period right now. I decided to grow them out and possibly go with side bangs. So right now I'm in the middle of the terrible noncommittal phase. Also, I've been dying my hair pink for about 9 years now, and before that it had been platinum for almost 9 years. So it has been FOREVER since my natural color has seen the light of day. I'm happy to be trying something new, and hopefully in a few months I'll like it. That's honestly a whole blog post on it's own. Anyways, yep, awkward bangs. And I'm also gonna point out the glare in Aaron's makes him look like he has one amazingly awesome David Bowie-esque aqua eyeball. 

Ok, now lets totally stop looking at that pic.

The train ride is so so nice. We pass through all of the shore towns, and really, any one of them would make for a fun day trip. 
I took these pics from the train. I love the blue tint the windows add. 

Somebody is fancy. 

Seriously perfect shore weather! 

The shopping district is also only a few blocks from the train station. So when you get off the train you can either make a left or a right, and I had to laugh because 99% of the passengers went left toward the beach. And Jenny & Aaron, who wear black on the first Saturday of summer, were the 1% who made a right and went downtown. Which makes sense, we are totally the "boots to the beach" type. ha!
 Our first stop was Point Pavilion Antique Centerone of our favorite antique shops. It is in an old Woolworth building. 

This old dollhouse made my heart skip a beat. It was perfect! I wanted it badly, but we were going to be walking around all day and then getting on the train. So I just took a pic, told the dollhouse that I loved it, and moved on. Such maturity. Much strength.

This lil gal made me smile! Love the colors! 

I'm a sucker for these vintage carafes. I loved this pink cutie from the 1950's!

You knew there would be a vintage plastic doll pic, right? Of course you did.  
And ummm...the 2 Irwin Dolls in back...

How could you not think of the Grady Twins?

The instant I saw this set and the colorful booth it was in, I thought of my friend Lizzy, aka The Connoisseur of Cute

And coincidentally, this sign made me think of Lizzy's husband Sam, who brews beer and loves to grill. I think that blank box is just calling out for a pic of Sam.

This little guy has the same coloring as my vintage paper mache bunnies.

Seeing these things brought back memories from when I was little. My Grandma had them...they're lawn stakes that hold cans. But I used them for sword fighting. 

Ok, this booth. I had to take a pic. Me and Aaron were actually browsing on opposites sides of the store, but as soon as we met up we both said to each other "did you see that one booth??"
And I believe I figured out the method to this madness. I bet their whole profit model is based on the "you break it, you bought it" approach. ha! Likely inspired by an episode of Nathan For You that was totally ridiculous. Well every episode is totally ridiculous, but in the best possible way.
All joking aside, I'm sure this booth belongs to a sweetheart who simply can't pass up a good find, and hopes to offer as much stuff as possible.

You can visit Point Pavilion Antique Centre at:
608 Arnold Ave
Pt. Pleasant Beach, NJ 08742

After that first antique shop we then hit some other shops along the same strip. This one was called House & Closet. I'd say the overall vibe focused on lots of handmade artisan stuff like jewelry, clothes, and small decor accessories. And also some ethically sourced, fair trade items from Ethiopia, India, Southeast Asia, etc...

They had a big variety of Old Soul Artisan Candles, from Trenton, NJ. So many amazing scents, this one was our favorite, and they're all natural, made with essential oils, and they donate 10% of their profits to environmental causes.

I always love when a shop has such a distinct identity, and at the same time their selection is super diverse. 

All sorts of cool lighting and small furniture...and mirrors. And as I said, they also had clothes, but I didn't get a pic. There was a gal trying on dresses over there and I didn't want creep her out with the camera. ha!

If you'd like to visit House & Closet, they're located at:
725 Arnold Ave.
Pt. Pleasant Beach, NJ 08742

Next we went to Stella e Luna, which has been a Point Pleasant staple for a while. They've got lots and lots of shore themed stuff, and also great artwork, clothes, gifts...  

I loved this bathing beauty.

And these candles from Surf's Up Candle, also based in Jersey, were great. We bought the Stella e Luna signature scent, aptly titled Point Pleasant Beach. 

I have a feeling that Stella e Luna does well with these Gurgle Pot pitchers. I have been coming for years and they have always had them stocked to the gills (I know, to the gills, I'm horrible).
But seriously, I have seen them there for years, back when I used to regularly get my favorite bath bombs at Stella.

And they had these self watering herb kits. I can't really explain how they work, I'm not the right gal for the job. But you can read about them here if you want. Hey, they're an "Oprah's Pick", they gotta work!
One thing that's really great about Stella is the staff. There are always a handful of girls working and they're always willing to giftwrap anything.

If you'd like to check out Stella e Luna, you can visit them at:
500 Bay ave.
Pt. Pleasant Beach, NJ 08742

And about fives steps away from Stella e Luna is this super creative shop called A Clever Spark. I say 'creative' because so many of the items are created in house...the paintings, the furniture, the little unique home accessories...
And there's even a space where they teach classes. You can come here for an art journaling class! The link above is for their blog, which is awesome. There are step by step projects, peeks into the making process, all sorts of good stuff.

They do the classes at that big table in the background. 

All over the shop you'll find the work of the owner, Michal, and jewelry by her daughter Ivy, and pieces by the gal we talked to, Joan. 

I loved these succulent shells and wanted one badly, but we had the whole day ahead of us and I don't think it would've traveled well.

How cool is this little succulent garden? We talked to Joan all about it, but for the life of me I can't remember what that rusty metal grid thingie was salvaged from.

And they made their little back alley into an amazing garden space. 

Seriously, this could've just been left as the back alley where the air conditioning unit is, and maybe stacks of cardboard recycling...but they enclosed it with old wood pallets, windows and rusty chicken wire, and made it into this little green oasis. And it's too bright to see, but the ground is covered in crushed seashells!

Go see the great stuff at A Clever Spark at:
502 Bay Ave
Pt. Pleasant Beach, NJ 08742

Another shop we have been coming to for many years is Everybody's General Store. Over the years I got some great Christmas and Halloween collectibles here.

The building is so amazing! Look at those doors, those windows, that whole entryway. 

She's got all sorts of cute items. When I say 'she' I mean the owner Catherine...super nice. Many, many, many years ago, before we were internet artists, we used to drive around to shops with a box full of our artwork. We'd never bring the whole box in the shop, usually just one small piece, or maybe even just a photo. And you'd be surprised how many times you'd get the cold shoulder. But Catherine immediately was like, "go out to your car and get the rest of your stuff, I'd love to see it." 

It goes without saying that I swoon for Ferris Wheel artwork.

They're such simple little candies, but I love how chocolate nonpareils look. I'd get a bag every single time I came here. They have so much great classic old general store style candy

And everyone needs a macaron crown. 

If you'd like to visit Everybody's General Store, you can find them at:
515 Bay Ave.
Pt. Pleasant Beach, NJ 08742

We then visited this fantastic shop called Ormolu. Now when I say that this shop is extremely "well edited" I'm not kidding. The owner is an interior designer and from the looks of the shop, she's pretty darn amazing. 

It's mostly antiques, and you feel like every item, from light fixtures, to dressers, was selected with a sharp eye focused on the overall theme of the shop. And being that it's at the shore the theme leans toward nautical. But not super nautical...not like "sea captain's house" nautical...more like the "sea captain's sophisticated sister's house." 

I love seascapes so so much. And when they're beat up like this one...perfection.

Ormolu mixes in some new stuff as well.

I Looooove these ceramic succulents.

And even grasshoppers put on the brakes for mini Linzer Tarts and Black & White Cookies. I'm not sure what the faux insect sculptures are made of...they were sorta wicker-y. You can see a praying mantis in the background as well. 

The name Ormolu is perfect for this shop. Ormolu is a type of gilding, and I feel like the entire shop has a golden, aged, glow. 

If you'd like to visit Ormolu, go see them at:
511 Bay Ave
Pt. Pleasant, NJ 08742

Right down Bay avenue from Ormolu and Everybody's you'l find a sandwich board sign pointing to the back of a little municipal parking lot. And way at the back, that's where you'll find The Stone Cottage.

Going way back, we always decorated with a heavy dose of what is sometime's referred to as Cottage Style. Lots of peeling paint, rusted tin ceiling-y stuff, rustic/garden-y stuff, crates, etc...
That's what The Stone Cottage specializes in. Also, much like us, they go for a neutral color palette...white, grey, black, cream. Well, we do color in some parts of our house, mostly in the accessories and art. But when it comes to the bones of the decor we are surprisingly neutral. 

The second we saw these old coffee cans we both said to each other "Preacher." 

And by that we mean the new show on AMC called Preacher. If you're not familiar with it, an old rusty coffee can plays an important part in the show. It sounds like I'm being vague, but to be honest, we haven't yet found out the significance of the coffee can. The two dudes just need to capture something and put it in it. I don't believe I revealed any spoilers with that tiny bit of info. And yeah, this is my second blog mention of the show Preacher in one week. And it's not like I'm sponsored by AMC, nor are we like super-duper mega fans of the show. We just like it, and also...we don't get out much. So our references are limited to late night television watching, and whatever funny things our chihuahuas do.

I loved these fruit crates. The color wouldn't work for us, but I'd live vicariously through someone else who decorated with them.
I loved the whole vibe here. Lots of plants and furniture outside and in. The kind of stuff we'd haul home from Brimfield, but right here at the Jersey Shore.

Go see The Stone Cottage at:
529 Bay Ave
Pt. Pleasant Beach, NJ 08742
(rear store)

The Point Pleasant Antique Emporium is in this old awesome building. It's a big place and it used to be even bigger.

The third floor used to be absolutely brimming with stuff, but they have since converted it into condos. But still, the first floor is sprawling, and then there is a mezzanine above it.

I really did try to find out the history of the building, since it's so big and so important looking, but I couldn't find anything going back too far.

The main room looks like an old courthouse, like the one in To Kill a Mockingbird. 

Here's a shot looking down from the balcony. I guess Atticus Finch would be standing somewhere near those bookcases. Anyway, I did find out from someone who works there that before it was an antique shop it used to be a hardware store.

The thing with big antique shops is that it's very easy to miss the little things. You might just scan an area and completely miss some amazing little thing in a glass case. So you have to take it slow.

This guy was nearly three feet long. I instantly thought of my friend Jennifer Hayslip.
He would look amazing hanging in her studio!

You can visit the Point Pleasant Antique Emporium at:
622 Trenton Ave
Pt. Pleasant Beach, NJ 08742

All of the shops we visited above are within two blocks of each other, so there is not a whole lot of walking to do. And there are plenty of spots to get coffee and food. 
After we were done shopping we planned on walking to the boardwalk, but first we stopped and got some food at a little organic cafe called Tara Lu's. Pretty much everything there is locally sourced and there is a chalkboard on the wall listing where in New Jersey each ingredient came from. They also had some smoothies that sounded amazing.

Ok, so by this point in the day the sun was at that height in the sky where maximum hotness is achieved. So we walked down to the boardwalk, because we couldn't leave town without seeing the ocean, and we also hoped that the ocean breeze would cool us off a bit. 
This amazing house was on the walk there. Arnold Avenue, where all the shops are, runs straight to the ocean, so navigating Pt. Pleasant is super easy. A lot of the houses are set up like this one. Year round residence up front, summer rental in back.
I don't even need the front house. I'd be totally happy with that rear cottage as our year round area upstairs, studio downstairs. Three blocks to the downtown, three blocks to the ocean. I'll take it.

Ok, if we were up on the boardwalk for a longer period of time I totally would have taken more pictures for you guys. But holy cow it was hot...and super crowded! We were pretty much on a mission to get a giant lemonade and go. Which is exactly what we did. Also, it was already a long day and we wanted to get back home to the pups.

But before heading back we grabbed some air conditioning in an arcade and in the candy shop next door. I swoon for boardwalk candy shops. I could stare at bins full of salt water taffy all day.

On our little shopping trip I added another paper mache James' Candy Bank to my collection. 

So many of my fave collectibles are paper mache. What's that about?
This bank was in really good shape. The clown face is usually pretty worn if someone actually used it as a bank. But if the face is intact the bank most likely sat on a shelf as decor, just like it will in my house.
By the way, vintage Jersey Shore stuff, old boardwalk stuff, old time candy making stuff...these are the things that literally bring tears to my eyes. To explain all the reasons why would take forever. But if you're like me about this kind of stuff, you should watch the video below. It's a short little history of James' Candy, and also Fralinger's. These are the two names that are synonymous with Jersey Shore Salt Water Taffy.

Ok, that's it for the Pt. Pleasant odyssey! Hope you liked what you saw, and I hope you get a chance to visit the Jersey Shore. We've been here forever and it's still magical to us.

Thanks for reading! Be back soon!
xo, Jenny & Aaron