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Monkey & Squirrel - Charlotte NC Photographer

Monkey & Squirrel - Charlotte NC Photographer: January 2010

Monkey & Squirrel - Charlotte NC Photographer

I'm Jenn, a stay at home/work at home mama to Penny, wife to Evan, and daughter, sister, and friend to a lot more. I absolutely love capturing beautiful every day moments from behind my lens, and I'm doing my best to do just that!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

jumping through hoops...

so, i've got a recent obsession with embroidery. who hasn't right? something about the precision and texture has got me hooked! the amazing amount of tradition behind it all can be somewhat intimidating, but i'm ready for the challenge! i've purchased a book to learn the basics and can't wait to get into practicing my stitches. until then i'd like to share some of my etsy favorites... enjoy!

this little bunny by Cake Eaters, in his retro 70's coloring, is just too cute for words!

the mother and daughter team over at Hare and Drum make wall decor with gorgeous designs and meticulous stitches!

i love this simple design from Samskiart. would be a perfect valentine's day gift for that long distance love.

this sweet little illustrated dream by Cowboy Bunny would be the perfect piece to design an entire children's room around.

what can i say about Neawear, i've coveted all of her wall wear for quite some time now. it is impossible for me to choose just one! i would blow my nest egg here... if i had one.

Mary's Granddaughter has some of the most original designs i've seen to date. i love the little bits of loose thread and the 3D elements she adds to her pieces.

being vegan, i'm not into trophy animal heads hanging on my wall. however, i would take this vegan friendly one from Penny Royalty any day!

ahhh... an embroidery of someone doing embroidery! Planetmithi just blew my mind with this one. love it!

ok, now it's time for me to get to work. all this browsing of others embroidered treasures has lit a fire under my bum!

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Monday, January 25, 2010

the cost of crafting...

i was just reading some very interesting articles this morning and wanted to take a minute to share them with my fellow artists/crafters/etsians and friends...

i for one know that every time i list a new item on etsy, the part that takes me the most time is figuring out the cost at which to sell it. you have to take into account what you pay for materials, the time it takes to make it, somehow put a value on your creativity, then also the things that most buyers don't think about like, cost of promoting and advertising, and cost of living because for me this isn't a hobby, it's my full time job, and also what my wholesale cost would be. because my etsy prices are retail i have to leave a little wiggle room to discount for wholesale while still making a profit. on top of all that, you can't help but compare your items to what similar items are going for on etsy. with so many folks using it as a site to just sell the things they make in their spare time, and therefore not looking to make a living wage, it really drives down the price of what a buyer may think handmade goods are really worth.

all of this started with an etsy facebook link. megan auman makes these incredibly cute, impeccably made, eco friendly cozy cuffs. she was lucky enough to get a shout out from etsy on their facebook page, which started quite the conversation about costs. take a second to check it out here!

this then led megan to try and explain her pricing and what exactly goes into the cozy cuff. read her blog article here! she was so good about keeping a cool head in her explanation. i know that if i read all the things that people posted on that facebook link about overcharging and other nonsense, i might not be so kind. kudos to you megan!

she then wrote another article here! this goes into the topic a bit more, stating that many etsy buyers, for the most part, are driven solely by price and then poses the question, what is the artist who is looking to make a living here to do?

i'm not sure what the answer to this is. i believe that if you have a well made product that you're passionate about, you won't feel the need to compete with the undersellers. that will come across in your product and the buyers who understand that will be loyal. that is my hope at least, i think megans too. as you can see on her etsy page, she's found many buyers who do understand the value of her work. the items in my shop are not at a very high price point and even i have had buyers asking me to give them a deal. it's tempting to do so just to make a sale, but those are not the buyers that i'm interested in marketing to. i want someone who understands the value of handmade and is willing to support it, not take advantage of it.

i'm sure many other sellers have their own thoughts and opinions on the matter and i would love to here more about it. feel free to leave comments or links to other articles on the subject...

here's one book i know i'll be looking into...


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Thursday, January 21, 2010


today is just one of those days...

it's all rainy and chilly out, and i can't get myself motivated for the life of me. i have had no car for two days in a row now. my poor little jeep cherokee is having some sort of steering issues that have yet to be solved, and this leaves me stuck inside. i've already watched 2 movies and caught up on the real world, (this is what confinement does to me) but at least i did get it together long enough to make one new ruffled floral wall decor for my shop. i guess the day is not a total wash. barkley doesn't seem to motivated to do anything either. he was neutered two days ago and is still taking some pain meds. at least he has a good excuse for his laziness. so i'm fully writing today off! barkley and i will continue to be useless. tomorrow is another day!

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Saturday, January 16, 2010

new year, new look!

ever since we moved into our new humble abode, i've been struggling with the perfect spot to photograph new items for my etsy shop. i had no idea how much i lucked out with perfect lighting in our apartment until we moved out. i've tried all sorts of different spots in out new home with no luck. we have a number of insanely large trees on our property which block most of the natural light from coming into our house. great for keeping it nice and cool in the summer, not nice for taking photos though. so finally, with all the new items piling up, i realized that i wasn't going to FIND that perfect spot, i was going to have to MAKE it! enter chalkboard paint! i have to admit that i've wanted to paint a whole wall with chalkboard paint for years now. i thought this would be a great reason to give it a go. i chose the one wall in my studio that gets the most light, (it also is the wall that gets the most light in out entire house luckily) and i dove in head first! it took a few coats to get it fully covered, and it seemed very dark at first. however, now each time i draw on it it holds onto some of the chalk and seems a bit more of a dark grey rather then black. that was my original hope. i also need to use more pops of colors now to make it a bit more interesting. it's trial and error, but at least it's fun!

i'm not totally sure that this is 100% the most perfect back drop for my items, and i'm also not positive that i ever will find a spot that makes me as happy as that little spot in our apartment. but this is loads of fun and gives me the chance to get pretty darn creative with things. i love that i can update it for holidays (notice the current valentines day theme going on) and draw fun little critters for a bit of whimsy. i can also use it to sketch out ideas or leave really large notes for myself when i'm not using it as a backdrop. if i had it my way every room in our house would have a chalkboard wall. for now i think this will hold me over...


Friday, January 15, 2010

haiti relief fundraiser...

by now i'm sure knows about the devastating earthquake that happened in haiti earlier this week. many people are wondering what they can do to help the thousands of suffering people there. well here's one way, jen, over at indie fixx, is auctioning off some beautiful handmade goodies and giving 100% of the proceeds to the red cross international response fund. this will go towards getting the people of haiti food, water, shelter and medical supplies. the red cross has already pledged to give 1 million dollars, help them give some more!

it's such an easy way to help a great cause. just hop on over to indie fixx, check out the amazing items up for auction, place a bid, and there ya go! shopping never felt so good!


Wednesday, January 13, 2010


this is a call to all who are reading! the rescue that i've spent the last 2 years working with, North Mecklenburg Animal Rescue, has an opportunity to win $10,000! this is huge and definitely within reach! it's super easy for you to help, just read of our biggest success stories to date, Gunny, has been entered in a most valuable pet competition. if he wins, he gets to give $10,000 to the charity of his choice. seeing how NMAR took a huge chance when they saved him from euthanasia, he would love more then anything to win this money for them.

if you don't know Gunny's story, here's a little sum up for ya. Gunny was picked up by animal control and he was covered in puncture wounds. when i say covered, i mean that there were so many they couldn't even be counted. some were old and starting to heal, while others were fresh and newly received. his leg was broken, probably a number of times, and so swollen he couldn't even step on it. one of our volunteers, the ever amazing amy, found out that he wasn't going to be put to sleep until his scheduled euthanasia day which was a week away! now understand that we never want to see dogs put to sleep, but gunny was in serious pain and they were giving him NOTHING to help with that. so amy got him out that day thinking that at least she could take him to the vet and get him euthanized that day. he seemed to be beyond any help that we could give. well something amazing happened that day.... gunny smiled! through all the pain and terrible things he had been put through, he smiled his goofy gunny smile, wagged his tale, rolled over for belly rubs and charmed us all! gunny was taken to the vet that day where it was decided that he was probably a bait dog in a pitbull ring. ya know, the dog that won't fight so they tie him up and let the other dogs get there practice on him. that was our
sweet little gunny. well now that he had somehow gotten out we were all determined to give him a better life. the community came out with unbelievable support and raised enough money for us to get him the 2 intense surgeries he needed. one to heal a bad throat injury and the other to amputate his leg. amy fostered him through all of this and, as we all knew would happen, fell in love with him. he is now as good as new, well minus a leg but he doesn't seem to even care about that. he's gone on to help educate people about the misconceptions about his breed and help raise awareness about dog fighting. in fact he was even in USA TODAY... today. so when amy entered him in the most valuable pet competition, we knew he had a fighting chance to go all the way.

tomorrow is the last day to vote for our little gunny. it's an intensely close race between one other dog and himself. if you could please pass this on to anyone you know gunny, myself, and our rescue would forever appreciate it! just go HERE and vote for gunny. you will have to enter an email address, but i can tell you from experience it takes two seconds and you will not get any junk mail. how can you deny this little face...

thanks so much!

if you just haven't seen enough of gunny, here are some other places he can be found...


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

shenanigans and tomfoolery...

last weekend i met up with a couple of good friends for coffee and what would also prove to be a fabulously inspiring chat. maria, of "a forgotten art", and steph, of "darling clementine", are each working on opening their own etsy shops as we speak. they are both incredibly talented, equally lovely ladies, and i can't wait to purchase pieces from each. we started off talking shop, quite literally actually. ie, how to keep from getting completely overwhelmed by all the other insanely amazing items on the site, how to work out shipping, best spots in charlotte for buying fabric, time management, and working on finding your niche and branding your shop... that was the first hour. well it's bound to happen when creative minds get together, talk turns to what inspires us, and currently we are three very inspired ladies. we continued to chat it up about blogs we follow, great photo sharing sites, how many great "style a day" bloggers there are, projects we're working on, want to work on, and one day will eventually get around to working on. minutes flew by and what was meant to be an hour or so meeting, ended up being over two hours, and we weren't even fulfilled! business talk had to come to an end so that dinner and game night could begin!

we went back to steph and adams house where we decided to let our significant others join in the fun. we were also joined by the always fabulous katia for a dinner of pasta, salad, and yum yummy bread. we certainly had to carbo load for the fun filled activities ahead! the wine started flowing the ladies started getting silly and we hadn't even busted out a single game yet. enter uno attack! a new favorite amongst this crew. it's a simple concept, press a button, wait to see how many cards you get... what could be fun about that? honestly, i can't even answer that question, but i have to say that this game can provide us hours of entertainment! there was definitely some cussing, (i'm southern now so i have to say cuss instead of curse) and maybe even a bit of name calling involved, but it was good family fun all around.

adam & steph...

katia gets the small plate...

adam & steph have Monkey & Squirrel decor!

the sauce... vegan soyrizo goodness!

the men... yikes!

just so as to make a full night of it, we adding another game to the roster. we were now joined by matt and kate who in addition to themselves, brought dessert, mmmm! we decided to bust out pictionary man for game two of the evening. take the regular pictionary concepts, but now draw it on a 3 dimensional man. it took us a few rounds to really get into a groove with this one. we tried girls vs boys for the first round. the boys may say that they destroyed us simply because they were better at the game, but i say that we just hadn't warmed up yet. even though maria can draw a mean crab, it just wasn't enough to win. the next round was terribly suspenseful. we mixed up the teams and it was a death race to the finish. we were neck and neck the whole game but alas, my team was beaten by one point in the end. bummer!

the picman!

matt & twiggy...

we see you maria... :)

with days like this and friends like these who could ask for more? simple pleasures like good conversations, ridiculous game nights, yummy food and great friends are definitely not to be taken for granted. stay tuned for pictionary man, the rematch! because while i do appreciate these simple pleasures, i do not appreciate losing!


see more photos from the evening here!

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

the studio in action...

i am in love with my studio! there i said it. i know that having one whole room that i can dedicate to my crafty ventures is a luxury not everyone can experience. and while it's come a long way since we moved into our little home, it does still have a way to go before it's finished. we'll start with the fact that there is still nothing on the windows, and the closet is stuffed full of items in no particular order just aching to bust out. it's a work in progress and a fun one at that. i have dreams of it being fully organized with art on the walls from some of my favorite etsy sellers, shelves everywhere so that anything i could ever need is right at my fingertips, and a great spot for taking photos of new items to add to my own shop. i gal can dream. i don't know if this will ever all happen in this one room, but the simple fact that it is a possibility is comfort enough for me. the one thing that i have zero complaints about in this room of wonder, is my brand spankin' new drafting table from ikea. it's quite spacious and even has a built in light table. i use it almost everyday and have not regretted its purchase for even a second...

painting table...

drawing table...

hair goodies making table...

and possibly what it gets used for most often, a place for juan to lounge in the sun...

with that said, i should probably get back into that room and get to working! these are busy and exciting days here... happy creating!

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Sunday, January 3, 2010


first of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR! the end of 2009 was pretty crazy here at casa de monkey & squirrel and the blog updates had to be pushed to the side. with the etsy holiday season in full swing there wasn't much time for things that didn't consist of painting, packing, shipping and shopping! i also took a little time off to have a much needed visit with my family in ny. that has ended now though, and things are getting back to normal. i'm working on lots of items to add to my shop for the new year. all new cast iron goodies as well as a new line of hair accessories and brooches. busy days ahead!

i thought i would use today to catch y'all up on our ever continuing house renovation project. the kitchen has been taken down to the walls, well technically it's been taken down to the 2x4's behind the walls. we're bare bones here! no stove, no sink, no cabinets and the fridge is in the living room! it makes a great statement piece. so without delay, here is our kitchen...

this is a "before" pic just to refresh your memory.

habitat for humanity came and disassembled everything for us one day...

...then came back the next and took it all away. (pardon these pics. they are from evans phone because i accidentally took both cameras with me to ny... woops!)

we're doing some interesting living these days. making for dinner only what can be cooked in a microwave or toaster oven, then washing dishes in our bathroom sink. we've decided to only unpack the essentials for now which consists of two dishes, two bowls, two cups, the cutting board and the can opener. luckily evan and i are both very laid back about all of this craziness. we know that one day we'll look back and reminisce about the early days in our first house when we spent all of our money making over the kitchen and ate ramen for a year to make up for it. ahhh, to good ol' days!

things should start moving along now though. we've got all or our new cabinets in boxes in our guest room and evan is out picking up the new flooring as we speak. i will be sure to keep the pictures coming as the magic continues to happen. 2010 is looking good so far and with the new year comes a new kitchen... let the renovations continue!

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