[uhp-steyt fan-see] - adjective

1. not exorbitant or extravagent by city standards, however in a rural setting (like upstate new york) it is in fact, quite fancy.

2. a wonderful blog dedicated to art, design and other things that are indeed upstate fancy.

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Summer and Bird

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Sep
09
life stories
Colby Farm Sunflower Field

Last weekend traffic was pretty bad downtown, so we took the backroad home, and I am so glad we did! The sunflower field at Colby Farm was in full bloom. So we drove home, grabbed the dog and the camera, and headed back to watch the sun go down behind the flowers. I’ve been working on my outdoor photography, so I just had a blast capturing the light and watching things changed as the sun retreated behind the trees. If you are ever in the North Shore of Massachusetts in late august or early September, you have to check this out!colby-farm-sunflowers-4

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Aug
24
life stories
Upstate Fancy Is Back!

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You may have noticed that the blog has been pretty sporadic over the last year or so. It really started to fall apart when Pinterest became a household name. So many people (myself included) started adding tutorials, cool products and recipes to these Pinterest boards, and in truth I felt that my voice was pointless, and that without a huge following, no one would pin my posts to a board, and my blog would just fizzle out and die. Turns out that was more of a self fulfilling  prophecy than anything else. I also felt like I just didn’t have hours and hours to create cool DIY projects, or design freebies or other cool amazing awesomeness that everyone likes to pin to their “Home is where the Heart Is” or “Things to make or Do” boards. I felt lost in the sea of online bulletin boards and due to this feeling the blog just felt like a waste.

This blog has never been about recipes, because I don’t like to cook! In truth my husband does most of the cooking, and he really enjoys it! This blog doesn’t offer a range of cool DIY projects that you can do at home. Occasionally I might do a fun designed freebie or a quick and easy tutorial, but there are so many amazing bloggers that focus on that, so think of those posts as a little nifty gift.

Instead this blog is going back to its roots! Spotlighting well designed, amazingly crafted awesomeness. From small etsy shops, to household names. If it looks good and even makes me drool a little, you can find it right here! And of course I will still write the occasional life story, and updates about my brands too!

So if you have something just lovely, and would love to see it right here! Shoot me an email ( jen [at] upstatefancy.com )

Jun
25
life stories
Help support my crowd funding campaign…

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I’ve been working hard over the las few months to set up a crowd funding campaign with etsy’s new crowd funding platform, Fund on etsy. It’s been a lot of hard work ( I had to talk on camera AHHH!) but I am really excited about expanding the peppersprouts universe into T-shirts and bags. Now I just need you to help me turn this project into a reality!

Each design started as a pencil sketch, then I spiffied them up with ink before scanning them into the computer for some real nit-picky finalization of the design. I had so much fun during the process, I even made a process video you can watch over on etsy to see how a sketch becomes a final design. For this campaign I have also discounted everything, so not only do you get to help me turn my sketches into wearable art, you get to save a couple bucks off the retail price they will be once the campaign ends!

I would love if you could help spread the word on your social media too! If you don’t know what to say…. feel free to copy and paste “Help @peppersprouts kick start her new apparel line at etsy.me/1GyTn9E  #fundonetsy” I’m sure you can come up with something better, but It would mean the world to me if you could help spread the word! There are just 2.5 weeks left in my campaign.

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Jun
13
life stories
Knit fast! Die Warm!

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I love knitting! A few years ago my Mother-in_law taught me how to knit, and I just freaking love it! Which of course means, a lot of friends and family are probably tired of knitted gifts! But tough luck! Socks for everyone! I recently picked up a set of watercolors, to get back into some illustration, so for my fist little project I hand lettered this little knitting inspired piece. If you love knitting, or know someone who does.. You can download an 8×10 to print out and frame for your little knitting corner! (personal use only of course, I would fall on the floor and shrivel away if you tried to sell my illustration without my permission!)

Jun
03
life stories
Surviving House Hunting

Matt and I have been house hunting since Mid-March, which is one of the big reasons why the blog has been pretty neglected this year. When I mention we have been looking for a home, people exclaim that they love house shopping! It’s so easy for them to say when they have a home they love. Maybe they just didn’t remember what it was like to see a home that had un-identifiable stains on the carpets, or perhaps they forgot what their calendar looked like when every Sunday from here to eternity, was blocked off for open house visits? One thing is for sure, it didn’t feel as fun as people seemed to remember it being for them.

When we first started hunting, we had no idea what we were in for. We found an agent that we loved, and she advised us to visit some open houses to get a feel for the market and the area. The first Sunday we saw 5 houses in the span of about 2 hours. We didn’t see anything we liked, and were pretty exhausted on the drive home. But, I was pretty excited to see what would come on the market next week.

The rest of the week I found myself obsessively checking the real estate listings on MLS and Zillow. I soon found it was slowly taking up every moment of spare time I had. I am a planner, and this is one of life’s moments that you really can’t plan. I didn’t have any control over what would come on the market, or how much it will be listed for or even how well the owners have maintained the home. I was out of my element and found myself in a panic.

It just becomes discouraging when you have been looking at homes for weeks,  you see something that sounds great on paper and you finally step in the front door and are super underwhelmed. In some cases I even felt angry. Angry at myself for thinking this houses was going to be amazing. Angry at the home owner for the state of disrepair and the hefty price tag. And, just angry at the universe because I felt as though we were never going to find a home, and would have to sign on another year lease at our current apartment.

Matt and I now find ourselves laughing over some of the unfortunate moments, even though they were not so funny at the time. You’ll see what I mean…

The first of the “what-were-they-thinking” moments was at the “double your pleasure house”. We knew from the moment we walked in, it wasn’t for us, but we had to look around anyway. This house had two sinks in the small kitchen and a total of three separate decks off the back of the house. One of which had, at one time, surrounded an above ground pool. It even had the no-diving sign to prove it. It was odd to say the least. The second home we visited during the great hunt of 2014 was in a super cute part of town.  It was adorable, with a cute little eat -in kitchen, manageable yard, walk to town. I even loved the paint colors the owner choose. Let’s just say I was smitten. Then we walked up stairs and I realized it only had two bedrooms, while we were searching for a three bedroom home. It was my own fault for not reading the listing correctly, but at that moment my heart just sank.

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We have had some issues with doors in houses as well. Now, I know you can’t let one little thing ruin a home for you, but trust me when I say, these little snafus were just one of many issues a particular house had. These little snippets are just the most memorable to me. In a beautiful 3 bedroom home which contained only one bathroom, I could barely fit through the door to the bathroom without turning sideways. That was indeed humorous at the very moment it happened. Oh! It also had a birds nest in the attic! Bonus! We only encountered one home (out of 26) where we were asked to take our shoes off. This home was also one of the dirtiest. There were  balls or cat hair all around and everything was dusty. It also housed my favorite door, which had been hacked with a hand saw in order to fit better into the door frame. It made us wary of any other home improvements they had tried to accomplish.

house_hunting_doorsWhich brings us to my house hunting kryptonite. Built-ins. I love them! Well, I love them when they are well constructed. In one very oversized home with a gorgeous back yard, the built-in shelving in the living room looked great from a distance, but upon closer inspection I became very worried. One cabinet fell off its hinges when I peered inside. And then our agent read the listing and noticed the big screen projection TV was staying with the house. It had to! They built the built-ins around it. We would have to tear down most of the shelving in order to remove it from its cubby! In another home, we hadn’t really noticed until half way through the tour, that it did not have any closets. None. Instead the owners had purchased large wardrobes and wall mounted units from Ikea and were going to leave those in the home for the new buyer. While the apartment I had in my early 20’s was filled to the brim with Ikea. We didn’t feel that theses “built-ins” were really going to stand up to the test of time.

builtinsFor those of you who are house hunting and feel like it will never end, I promise you it will. Eventually you will find a home that is right for you. There will be compromises. There may be tears. You may even have a home inspection that fails and you decide to walk away from it (It happened to us!). But there is a house out there for you. In the meantime pour a glass of wine or crack open a beer and laugh your way through it!

 

 

 

Jan
21
life stories
Cheers!

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I know January is almost over  and I haven’t said a peep here. This month has been off to a rocky start. I think the winter blues have gotten to me, along with a very irritating noise in the apartment which has made it hard to even enjoy the little things in my daily routine. It’s amazing how sensitive I am to sound. Hopefully 2014 will bring something amazing as it blossoms into spring. Matt and I plan to start shopping around for a home of our own this year, which is exciting and terrifying as well. I have been getting into more lettering projects and have been really been enjoying it. I’m even taking an encaustic class to learn a new medium this year! I hope the year is going well for you and yours! Cheers to 2014!

Dec
18
life stories
What was your most memorable christmas gift?

Christmas is a time for family and togetherness. Of course it is also a time for gift giving and celebrating with the ones you love. Matt and i were talking about our favorite gifts from being kids. So I want to know what you most memorable gift was from your childhood! Download this printable PDF, print it out and share your christmas gift memory.  Leave a link in the comments or tag it #GiftMemory on twitter or instagram!

jen_most_memorable_giftHands down, mine was the year I got my “big kid” sleeping bag. I had one that I didn’t quite fit in anymore ( and I am pretty sure it had care bears on it). But this new awesome, black with red plaid sleeping bag  was amazing, and got so much use, some nights I would just sleep in it on top of my own bed.

I can’t wait to see yours!! Download your own printable sheet and share it with family and friends!

Dec
02
life stories
Searching for our Christmas Tree

I love Christmastime. There is just something magical about the air this last month of the year. Of course running two shops and getting to send my work to be gifted all around the world, keeps me pretty busy and in the studio most days (and nights) this time of year. Which is why Matt and I always make a big deal of going to pick out our christmas tree and spending the afternoon reminiscing over ornaments we have collected together.

This year we went to Crane Neck Tree Farm in West Newbury, MA. We ended up giving up on pulling our tree on the sled, after I documented it falling off twice and Matt begged me to stop photographing and start helping. We opted for a smaller tree than in years past, but we had such a fun time together, spending the afternoon out of doors and most of all, together. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and I wish you a very Happy Holiday season!

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Nov
05
life stories
My top 10 favorite holiday movies

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Hello November! A chill is finally in the air, my scarves are out and ready to wear and it may be time to switch from ice coffee to hot coffee (probably not though, I do love cold beverages). To be November 1st is the beginning of the Holiday season, which means it is totally acceptable to start watching Christmas movies! There is nothing quite like cuddling on the couch under a blanket with a mug of Hot chocolate (one hot beverage I wouldn’t have any other way) and enjoying a Holiday themed flick, classic or new. Here are my top 10 picks that I make sure to watch before New Year’s Eve.

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1. Meet Me in St. Louis
I fell in love with this movie when I was about 8. My cousin Amy was really into classic movie musicals and made us watch it one evening, instant favorite. While It does cover a few holidays, the Halloween scene is adorable, the Christmas moments are just magical. The perfect dress, the perfect Beau, dance cards, decorations, and of course, the perfect Christmas Song, Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Of course everything works out in the end, in a perfect storybook, broadway ending. Make some mulled cider, turn on the christmas tree lights and please for the love of christmas, don’t be afraid to sing along!

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2. Elf
I pretty much quote elf lines all year long, but it does become more apparent during the holidays. If you seen;t one to quote one liners, don;t worry, if your kids watch this one they will be sure to quote enough for the entire family. Good luck finding your dad buddy. This one goes great with Candy Canes, Candy Corn

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3. Love actually
Every story in this film is just enchanting. Okay maybe not Alan Rickman – but everyone else you just can’t help but crossing your fingers and holding your breath that everything works out. The musical numbers are super cute, and so is pretty much every second Colin Firth is on screen. A chilled bottle  of wine (or two) and a bunch of girlfriends is the best way to watch this one. If your a guy bonus points for suggesting to your girlfriend to watch this one!

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4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
The magic of Christmas combined with actually magic! What I would give to go to a feast at hogworts with the floating candles and the enchanted ceiling that makes it look like it is snowing. Maybe it is because I now love knitting gifts for family, but I would love to get a Weasley Jumper for Christmas. Figgy pudding or a yule log may be just the thing to make this film jump of the screen.

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5. Muppets Christmas Carol
It’s the Muppets in all their ridiculousness interpreting the Dickens classic. Perfect for the kids and with enough under the radar adult jokes that you won’t get bored either. Milk and cookies are a must with this one.

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6.White Christmas
I really don’t have to say much about this Christmas classic. Bing Crosby. Danny Kaye. Ver-Ellen. Rosemary Clooney. Technicolor. Over the top musical numbers. Snow. Pairs perfectly with a cup of Tea & Honey and maybe a throat lozenge nearby, your voice may be a bit worn out from all the singing along.

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7. The Shop Around the Corner
A classic romantic comedy (You’ve got mail was based on this black and white classic). Set in an adorable gift shop in Budapest in a time when love letters were penned carefully on sheets of crisp white paper. Make sure you have a handkerchief nearby for this one and perhaps a box of chocolates.

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8. Serendipity
Who meets their soul mate while buying gloves in a department store? John Cusack of course. A true romantic comedy filled with missed connections, some super sleuthing and the magic of the holiday season. Pair with a glass of wine and your BFF.

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9. Just Friends
Ryan Reynolds with the perfect mix of hilarity and sarcasm. You find yourself rooting for him, and yet thinking he really is just a jerk. Anna Farris is a hoot and you will be so happy to not actually have to spend the Holidays with her character. Pour yourself your a glass of your favorite christmas spirit and get ready to laugh.

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10. A Christmas Story
The first time I saw this movie, I thought it was stupid. I thought it was an old-timey movie (even though it was made in 1983) and It just looked super boring. I admit I was wrong. I can no longer look at a fragile stamp without saying “Fra-g-lay it must be Italian” and I wish there was a santa to visit that had a giant slide as well. This movie has grown on me over the years with good reason. Unlike some comedy movies, I think this one can be shared with the whole family.

Oct
03
life stories
Lasercutting, The Handmade Movement & Etsy

On tuesday Etsy released new guidelines, one of which now openly allows artists and designers to use Manufacturing partners to help create an item. Some outside help has always been allowed on the marketplace, like an illustrator having their art work professionally printed on paper at a print shop, or in my case, laser cutting.

With the new guidelines some third party help does not need to be disclosed in your shop, while other help has to be applied and reviewed by etsy, and then disclosed on the item page and the new about us pages. Digital prints and posters, music, books you’ve authored, and 3D printed items do not have to be reviewed if you use a third party for help, but lasercutting now does.

I have already applied for review with my amazing partner, who has helped me grow my business and been my biggest fan as well, Ponoko. Of course, some people don’t see lasercutting as belonging in the “handmade category”, and I think that is just a shame. So I wanted to show you some process photos of one of my new products and show how something is made from start to finish with the help of my amazing partner here in the states, who is just another small business that my small business gets to support! So here we go…

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All of my designs start out as just a simple pencil sketch (my design professors would be proud . I then take a photo (who needs scanners anymore) and flush out the idea in illustrator. With this fox brooch I used two colors of brown to envision what would be engraved and what would be natural wood. Once I am happy with the final illustration, I work the illustration into lines that the laser cutter can read, here the Blue lines mean it will be cut – and the black solid areas are places for engraving.

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I place the final line art along with other line art, kind of like a really cool jigsaw puzzle, and upload it to Ponoko, where I choose the materials I want to have it made from. Ponoko cuts my art work with their magical lasers and send me exactly what I set to them, except it’s tangible now! They cut exactly what I send them, so if I made a mistake, made a line too short – forgot to close a loop – or made a spelling error – I have to fix my mistakes and make it over again.

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The next step is kind of magical. I pop all of my little creations from the board (i try and arrange things as close together as possible so there is little wasted material. Then I peel the protective paper that helps keep the pieces free from burn marks during the laser cutting.

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Then I start the finishing process. For my coasters, the wood is sanded slightly and stained and finished, with this new fox brooch, I hand paint him and then paint on a protective seal. Glue on a little pin back and them get him all ready for his new home! I design all of my own packaging (which has become one of my favorite parts of my business).

I love being part of the handmade community! Even though I don’t painstakingly hand carve my work, and I don’t own my own laser cutter a lot of myself goes into everything I make, and I love being able to share my illustrations and creations with people all over the world. I look forward to sharing some new amazing goodies over the next few weeks!

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