Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Are You A Happy Glamper?

Glamour + Camping = Glamping, camping in style! (source:rockabellebombshell)
My mister and I camped as newlyweds, often with a group of friends, and it was lots of fun back then. Hiking, campfires, and lots of laughs. etc.  But, after the kids started to arrive, I decided I didn't want to camp with a baby, and I was over sleeping on the ground (not to mention, hoisting myself out of bed at night to stumble around in the dark and pee in the woods). I guess I realized I was more of a hotel vacationer or a condo kinda girl. Can I get an amen?!

So, I thought my camping days were over…but, then…I discovered "glamping," a fabulous mix of glamor and camping. My friends over at Ruby Rose told me about this "camping in style."

There are different ways to go about Glamping. But, why you may ask, would I even consider this new found "roughing it" style? Well, my kids are growing up fast and I want to enjoy time with them, and I really do like the outdoors, but with a few more refinements. Plus, everything seems to go a little slower when you have to live by the rules of sun up and sun down.  

This is not -- repeat, not -- glamping.

As I've been looking at glamping, I've found a whole world online. Where to stay, and all manner of glamorous camping from wall-tents to trailers. Rallies to attend.  Books to read.

But what I really fell in love with was vintage trailers.  I want to buy a vintage trailer, preferably already restored--budget allowing--and go on the road.

I have such sweet memories from a trip our family took two years ago, driving from San Luis Obispo, California to Yellowstone in Montana, back down through the Grand Canyon, with a final sweep through Las Vegas.

You've got to have a cute ride!
It was so much fun, but boy did we spend a lot of money on hotels (even the cheap ones!) It occurred to me that the kids would be thrilled to sleep under the stars while mom and dad had a comfortable bed in a super-cute vintage trailer. We stay in inexpensive campgrounds, and everyone is happy.

This book, Glamping by MaryJane Butters has been my glamping bible, fun to read, and it covers everything a girl could want to know about pulling up stakes and getting out on the road.

Are you thinking about glamping? Do you share my vintage trailer crush?  Share your thoughts (and encouragement!) in the comments. 

And if you're curious, here are a few links to other glamping sites:

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

From Plumerias to Pastries

Central California's Spring and Summer.
Good croissants, plumerias, rugged ranchwear, and flip flops (I call "slippers"). Where's all this coming from? It's all me in one way or another. I am a California girl, born in Hawaii, raised on California's Central Coast, and never more than 10 minutes from the beach. I grew up going to surf contests and vacationing in Lake Tahoe. 

So, when my husband was transferred to Bergen County in New Jersey, nothing I'd been through prepared me for the day we landed in the Garden State. The name fits in the lush green summer months, but we landed there on Feb. 1st, and the landscape was heavy with a thick blanket of snow.

I felt like Lucy from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, having just emerged from a fire-warmed room into snowy Narnia. It was beautiful and colder than I'd ever experienced. My first purchase in my new home was a parka. I had never owned one or needed one.  

As all you Jersey girls out there know, your state is beautiful, and has tons of great qualities. But as it turns out, New Jersey and I would never be friends. We didn't get along. Sure, there were some happy times, but we argued about weather, we argued about prices, culture, leaf shoveling, traffic, and distance to my family. We just weren't on a first name basis, and I couldn't wait to move back to the West Coast. 

SoHo's a little different than California and Hawaii.

One of the absolute best parts of my time in New Jersey was the once-in-a-lifetime chance to attend one of the most fabulous cooking schools in the world. I enrolled as a part-time student at the French Culinary Institute (FCI) as it was called then.  I put on my brave girl boots and drove myself to Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood every Saturday morning for six months to learn the secrets of French pastry.

I took classes from some famous chefs, including Chocolateer Jacques Torres, and cake visionary Ron Ben -Israel. One highlight was taking a class from Kate Zuckerman who was the pastry chef at the James Beard award-winning Chanterelle, one of the most amazing fancy restaurants in New York.

I made cakes, pate a choux, tarts, and creme brulee, and I even learned how to make croissants from scratch, with enough butter to open a butter store! That's why they taste so good, and why I won't touch the Costco croissants. I'm a self-proclaimed croissant snob.

FCI and the whole New York City experience was definitely a highlight of my time spent in New Jersey. I gained pastry skills I never knew I wanted, not to mention the confidence I gained by spending time driving in and around Manhattan by myself.

North Shore of Kauai was home til I was 8.
But my mad city driving skills were figuratively and literally thousands of miles away where I started: the sleepy little island of Kauai. But more about that later...

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Sparkle in the Dirt

When my mister and I started on this business adventure,  I told him I wanted the company name to be a little bit of sparkle mixed with the down home organic style I grew up with.  I grew up romping around my family's ranch.  
Ice plant in spring bloom

My Grandfather built his ranch from recycled wood. He knew everyone in town and when he heard a building was being torn down, he would bring his crew to help take down the building in exchange he got to keep all the wood. In turn, he took this wood out to the ranch and rebuilt the building with it. In essence he built himself a little town.  He collected buildings like most guys collect cars.  Of course I thought this was completely normal. 
My style has always been eclectic. I like Shabby Chic, I like the dark rich wood of Hawaii. I lived there till I was eight. I like coastal cottage. I have never lived more than 10 minutes from the pacific ocean. Except for that little side trip to New Jersey, but thats a whole different story.   
I grew up spending time at the ranch but I was also a product of the 80's. With all of it's preppy topsiders and double collars, and who can forget Madonna.

We didn't have much money so my mom was the master at finding cool relevant clothes for me at the thrift store so I wouldn't be shunned by all my peers.  A horror for any teenage girl. 

This was not the beginning of my love for found treasure at rock bottom prices. I had been going to thrift stores, garage sales and flea markets with my mom since I was little.

All of those experiences have influenced my style and my desire to have a company that is both sparkly and organic. Diamonds and vintage fabric. Burlap and rhinestones. And in this we came up with the name Glitterfarm. Organic glamour. 

As we continue to develop our brand we will  continue to combine  the organic with some sparkle because I like to wear my rhinestones and diamonds with my cowboy boots.
That's just how I roll.

p.s. Because this year is all about growing, I will be learning to take better pictures and posting them here. Please have grace for me as I learn and grow into the blogger I know is locked inside of me.


Sunday, January 27, 2013

A peek behind the scenes at Glitterfarm

Big families mean big noise and big fun at get togethers. While I'm an only child, my mom is one of five, so with my aunts, my uncle, and a zillion cousins, it seems we've always got a reason to get together. Sometimes we even make up reasons.

Like this past weekend, for example. My husband ("Mr. Glitterfarm"), who does the marketing for our business, asked me if I could get some models for the new tee shirts we designed. We needed pictures, and we needed them fast! I sent an SOS to my family: HELP! Pretty please? I had my yeses within a few hours!

The day of the shoot, Mr. Glitterfarm loaded all the gear into the minivan, and the six of us piled in for the short drive out to my mom's house.

My mom lives in a little adobe my great grandmother built in 1950. It's nestled among the golden hills and scrub oak of Central California's Huasna Valley, and decorated with the treasures she's found in her years as a vintage collector (they used to call this "a junker"). This makes her yard perfect for lots of our photo shoots. (See also here and here.)

This time, our shoot would be on my grandfather's property, just up the hill. We picked two locations, both cowboy-era buildings that my grandfather had moved from town and reconstructed on his property in the 60s and 70s (more about this "building collection" in another post.)

Location one for our Glitterfarm Tee Shirt photo shoot: "The Barber Shop," complete with an old barber's chair inside!

Location 2: behind "The Opera House," a saloon-style building with a big dance floor inside and a huge barbecue outside.

As we tried to get the lighting right, my girls snuck into all the pictures they could. My boys, generally bored with photos, were running around with their bb guns shooting "away from people and houses," as instructed (fingers crossed...)

My littlest loved posing with the ladies.

Soon, a white truck rolled up the dirt road in a cloud of dust and pulled up to the shoot. Out hopped my models: my mom, aunt Sarah, aunt Kate, and my cousin's friend Ellie, all dressed in cute jeans, cute shoes, and lots of bling (we are Glitterfarm girls after all!). Sure, we got a lot of great pics, but I think I enjoyed the laughter and conversation more.

After the shoot, my mom hosted a barbecue on her back patio. We piled our mismatched, vintage plates with ribs and organic greens, plunked down in an assortment of brightly painted chairs, and chatted and laughed into the twilight.

On the drive home, my mister and I chuckled about how different "working on the weekend" is for Glitterfarm, compared to his previous corporate job. We also talked about how blessed we are to have a big family that's so supportive of my Glitterfarm dream.

(PS The last day to order those shirts is Jan. 31, so head on over to this link if you want one : )

My mom's yard adorned with "found objects." Always a fun backdrop for Glitterfarm. The house is built from the same adobe bricks you see here.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Running a home and a business without running

Source: styleblueprint.com
Running an online business and a home, while keeping four kids fed (and clean) is a lot! I know many of you are doing the same. 

This is the time of year when everyone talks about goals, and I'm no different. I know I'm not alone in needing -- but generally hating -- the planning session, so we try to make it fun.

Since Mr. Glitterfarm comes from the corporate world, he calls our meetings  "off sites," which looks like this:

  • Meet at a coffee shop (The dining room table is (a) boring, and (b) often sticky courtesy of my 4-year-old or my craft projects).
  • Lots of papers, a clipboard or two, and a laptop/iPad.
  • Coffee and muffins
We try to have these offsites four times a year to talk about our business, our family, and our marriage.

When we walk out, we have a penciled road map and know at least the direction we want to go. I find this so helpful and freeing. I really like a road map. It makes me feel more at peace knowing where we are going. And getting there from a coffee shop is a lot nicer than from my crazy home.

What are your strategies for moving forward on goals? Any tools you recommend to stay sane and stay focused? Let me know in the comments.

xoxo Jenny

P.S. Sally Loo's is the coffee shop of choice here in San Luis Obispo for our offsites. If you're ever in town, stop by for a treat. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

What makes your heart flutter?

Source: The SoHo
Something I learned this past year is that sometimes the "small" moments in life are the most meaningful.  I have decided I need to start — just start — blogging again. I launched my blog back in…I can't even remember when…but it really never got out of first gear.  So…I resolve to make 2013 more consistent in my blog, and more of a journey of discovery for me (and by extension, you).

2012 was filled with joy and sorrow, and while I love to share my passion for decorating, I also  feel it is so important to talk about what's in my heart.  So, this post is the first step on that  journey. I have lots of adventures planned for my family this year, and I invite you to come along. It will be fun and, like all matters of the heart, sometimes messy, but still so worth it.

While my hubby and I are working diligently to grow our Glitterfarm business, I'm also discovering the artist inside me, and taking steps to draw her out. This past year I have taken some online art classes, experimenting and learning mostly what my heart and soul have to say.

It's a work in progress, and now that Christmas is over, the artist and mother in me is in planning mode. I'm already thinking about Valentine's day and my craft show calendar. Nothing is in stone yet, but I have a few ideas.

Will you join me?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Decorating...with a red pen

Decorating is often more about what you leave out than what you include.

If you follow Glitterfarm on Facebook, you may have joined our recent chat about "decorating weaknesses"-- all those things that make us swoon when we run across them at flea markets, yard sales, antique shops, and even on the side of the road. I call them "weaknesses" because it sounds so much nicer than addictions, lol. This list for me (and for many of you!) is long, and we all laugh as our husbands scratch their heads wondering how many mason jars we need, when we don't actually do canning.

Hodge podge alert! I just had
too much stuff at the show this year. 
As funny as our hubbies are, they do have a point, and one I've (secretly) struggled with when I decorate. How do I display the right things, in the right layout, in the right room, when I have a truckload of collected things that I love? There's a fine line between a room looking pretty, textured, and pleasing, and it looking like a space at a flea market! To me, this is "editing" what I choose to display (and not display), so it presents the right picture.

Even with years of decorating experience, and now my Glitterfarm business, I still find editing a challenge. It's been on my mind lately, particularly last weekend as I set up my Glitterfarm booth at the Remnants of the Past Vintage show. After months of buying and prepping for this twice-yearly show, I'm still overwhelmed when the product is waiting for set up, piled in front of my empty booth.

Atelier de Campagne's booth.
One story, well told. Love it! 
It doesn't help that the other booths are nothing short of amazing! Each and every one is a unique experience when you walk across the threshold. Dreamy WhitesSerendipityAtelier de CampagneChalk Farm Home, and dozens of other names are synonymous with talent, class, and beauty, and their booths show it. These giants of retail display inspire me even more to keep my Glitterfarm booth pretty and inviting instead of cluttered and "hodgepodgey."

A dear friend helped me out this weekend, and reminded me of the basics: grouping like colors, limiting what I show, and having a few key "stories" to tell with product. She also pointed out that mixing those stories -- even with things that I love -- can be confusing to the eye and to shoppers.

The show was a huge success, my booth was better this year than last, and I learned a lot. Probably the most important lesson I learned this year is that with my long "weakness list," I have to edit what I buy as well as what I display. I love so many beautiful things, but as my inventory becomes too varied and too different, display becomes a real challenge, and the flea market chaos starts to creep back into my booth.
I did have pockets of order in my booth. The Glitterfarm
flowers look good with the yellows and creams.

So, as I learn, Glitterfarm is evolving. It will always be a mix of my crafty stuff -- handmade purses, aprons, flowers, and crates -- and the "found treasures" I acquire from suppliers all over California. But I'm editing this down. I'm still writing Glitterfarm's "Organic Glamour" story, piecing together "paragraphs" of product I love with the right mix of color, style, richness, funk, and beauty to delight my customers.

I'm getting out my red editing pen now!


More info: Here's a recent interview of me where I share how Glitterfarm and "Organic Glamour" came to be.

Do you edit your decor? Share your thoughts in the comments!