We’ve Got the “Spark”

You’ve heard me talk about my awesome library—Anythink—before. I kind of won’t shut up about it. Anyhoo, we are totally thrilled to be featured in the “Faces of Anythink” section of their June Spark newsletter.

Photo of Jennifer and Jonathan Fenske

Here’s a taste:

“As entrepreneurs that manage much of their business online, John and Jennifer have flexibility in terms of choosing where to live. But for the Fenskes, making the move to Thornton, Colo., was a nobrainer. After living in Atlanta, they made this community their home in 2006. “We fell in love with the landscape, outdoor opportunities and that general Colorado ‘vibe,’ which is laid back and driven, all at the same time,” says Jennifer.”

Read the entire story in the Spark newsletter.

Thanks, Anythink! This made our day. We love you, too.

Family Room Makeover: It’s On Like Donkey Kong

Bad things happen when husbands travel.

Things like reading one too many posts on Young House Love. Adding images to my Ideabooks on Houzz. Trolling Craigslist for mid-modern furniture.

So, while Jonathan traveled for work for eight days, I diligently tended the homefront, the Fat and Appy front and the three girls under age seven front (including two ballet classes, three gymnastics classes, one drama camp performance, untold grilled cheese sandwiches, three playdates plus a bottle of wine shared with my neighbor, Felicia. But who’s counting?)

And while the little angels slept, I plotted big-time about what to do with our child-friendly family room that makes me want to surrender my Dwell subscription. We have good furniture (minus the bookshelves); we have great art. The room is light-filled. It’s just never, ever come together. So this week, I Googled, trolled, schemed and dreamed.

You can probably see where this is going: It’s time for a Family Room Makeover!

This morning, I purchased a mid-mod dresser on Craigslist that will anchor the new family room back wall. It’s gorgeous, wonderful, amazing. We’ll (and by that I mean, Jonathan) build shelves. He’s even going to make me a corner desk since I don’t have a proper desk but kind of drift all over the house with my iPad. A wall color change is also in need. Our seedling green was pretty in 2007 but I am over it, yo.

Here’s what we’re working with:

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Tons of toy overkill…would love your suggestions about what to do with that. We’ll need to replace the floor lamp bowl at the back right that was broken twelve hours after an all-family IKEA trip. Also, we’ll probably rearrange art because we like to do that. The rocker at right will stay—my parents redid it as a gift and I love it. The antique hutch at far left was my grandmother’s and I adore it, staying. Have to figure out what to do with the television. We’re not big tv watchers, but we like to have a set for Netflix DVD’s. I can’t imagine spending money on a flat-screenie-thingie. But that honkin’ tube-style set is kind of ridiculous.

The bookshelves are already on Craigslist. You can read how I tried to warn potential buyers what they are in for with these pretty, lying shelves. They’ve been ridden hard and put up wet. We tried to love you, O Bookshelf, but you would have none of it. Farewell, farewell.

So, it’s on! We’ll share the journey with you as we go. And this will probably be the last time Jonathan travels for quite some time, don’t you think?

Hello! We’re Jennifer and Jonathan and we’re tickled you stopped by. Sign up for our Fat and Appy emails at left or follow us in the normal places. Welcome! 

How to Be Happy

My twenties went something like this: graduate college; try to write a novel in a cabin for a year, fail; go to graduate school in N.Y.; return to S.C. and fall crazy, crazy in love. Get married. Move a few times. Start real jobs, making real money.

A man hikes to Mills River, RMNP

Jonathan hiking Father’s Day in Rocky Mountain National Park.

My thirties were a beautiful mix of career building, novel writing, national parks camping and then parenthood, something that I thought was waaaay too mundane for Jonathan and I. Turns out, it’s awesome. And so we had two girls, and as I was inching into dried-up-egg territory, having just turned 40, we gorgeously, blessedly welcomed a third daughter. She eased into the world in a simple tub of water at Mountain Midwifery Center. She was almost ten pounds, and floated up in the water like a chunky, swollen little monkey, one eye cracked to meet me, and the world.

A woman walks through Bishop Castle CO

Me and my sweetie baby in Bishop Castle last week. This place is breathtakingly insane. Trust me, just Google it. Terrifying and amazing.

I think of the years I have been an adult, and by far the best is my 40’s. I am just a year or so in, but a lot of things are coming together. I think, mostly, because I know how to be happy even when life isn’t perfect.

Simply, I have learned how to be grateful.

A pot of succulents in Colorado

I have a thing for succulents now. I picked up these three for $6 at Wal-Mart. I already had the pots and dragonfly dish.

Grateful for what I have, and even for what I do not have, because it teaches me patience, peace and contentedness. For an amazing book on the subject, check out Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. The subtitle of the book is “A dare to live fully right where you are.” I met Ann a few years ago when I was newly pregnant with that fat, gorgeous baby mentioned above and roiling with ante-partum depression, working a job that provided for us but was not my true calling, and desperate to see my husband’s talents finally recognized. Yep, it was the right book for me and I took it and ran with it. To say that her dare to live fully even when life is grinding on your back resonated with me would be an understatement. I panted for the message she brought on paper.

A picture of a blooming chive

This is a gorgeous chive flower that my friend Rebecca gave me. LOVE.

And so, in my 40’s, I am thankful for so much. My gratitude for this imperfect life is messy and frequently uneven. I have been known to have temper tantrums with God. But happiness? It’s the joy in the smallest of the small.

Art Movers: Home Edition

Jonathan thinks the best way to enjoy your art is to move it around.

From time to time, Jonathan will play art swap and move a painting or print from one room to another, from family room to kids’ rooms or from a bedroom wall to the living room.

Most of the time, I love this where-will-it-turn-up-next game. But every so often, I think, “Nooo! You can’t move that. I’m too in love with it where it is.”

But every time, I end up appreciating the new location. And then I think, “We should have done this before!”

This week, Jonathan moved “Painting” by Bruce Clark. I was totally reluctant. I love “Painting” (I blogged about it here) and thought it reigned over our living room in eye-popping 1980’s glory. Here’s what it looked like at nighttime:

A Bruce Clark painting

But Jonathan had a new plan, and so I consented. He moved “A Need to Nurture” into the space. At first, I wasn’t sure.

A Need to Nurture Modern Art Print by Jonathan Fenske of Fat and Appy

But now after a few days, I really love it. I’m even eyeing other pieces, thinking of the places they could go—someday.

What about you? Do you move art around? Share your tips! We’d love to hear from you. 

Fat and Appy at the Farmers’ Market

We did something new-to-us Saturday: we set up shop at the Bradburn farmers’ market in Westminster, CO.

Having a Fat and Appy table was a new experience, as was talking to other moms and dads about our modern art canvases. You see, I’m so used to looking at the canvases, thinking about the canvases, and working to share the canvases with the world, that it was a little strange to have to explain that, well, we sell modern art canvases. Most people thought they were looking at an original painting.

That’s a tribute to our trusted vendor who uses a Giclee method to print our canvases. The quality of the canvases is stunning. They look like original paintings.

Jennifer Fenske talks to a customer at the farmers' market.

Jennifer chats with another mom.

So, I found myself stumbling over the words a few times. I’ll have to get smoother and less flustered.

While we were at the market, we made new friends with Daniel and Kristen from the Early Bird Restaurant in Bradburn. I enjoyed their wonderful coffee and a delicious piece of banana bread. I love discovering new indie restaurants, and I know we’ll come back and eat breakfast at their restaurant in downtown Bradburn.

A vase of flowers

The Early Bird Restaurant’s table was beautiful.

Big Idea was also at the market and they set up the best kids’ creative activities. Our girls painted with foam and water for over an hour. They also decorated empty cardboard boxes.

The kids take turns drawing their versions of the guppy from Jonathan's book Guppy Up!

I loved the bustling nature of the market, the neighbors all stopping to chat and catch up, and of course, I loved the food.

Fresh organic strawberries.

Carrots at the farmers' market in Colorado.

Don’t these carrots just make you swoon?

Cupcake from the farmers' market.

Yummy baked goods were for sale.

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Jars of homemade jam from the farmers' market.

Homemade jam!

Jonathan read Guppy Up! to the kids at the market. This always cracks me up…kids really can say some hysterical things.

Jonathan Fenske reads the children's book, Guppy Up!

After he read, Jonathan drew his guppy character for the children and then they made their own versions.

Jonathan Fenske draws the guppy from his children's book Guppy Up!

Going from “online” to real-time was definitely a first for our new business. Maybe we’ll try art fairs or other festivals. I’m not sure yet. I like the convenience of selling online…the store is open while I’m asleep! But there’s something to be said for talking with parents and hearing their feedback and what they want for their children’s decor. I would like to find a way to balance both. Either way, banana bread must be involved.

Welcome! We’re Jennifer and Jonathan, and we make art, books, canvas prints and other fun things. Check out Fat and Appy to learn more. We are so glad you stopped by!

How To Sort Baby Clothes Without Crying

Herewith is one of my most secret confessions: I so dislike sorting clothing from season to season for my children that I simply try to avoid doing it for as long as possible. This means the 7-year-old is bound to have a 5T tee shirt in the bottom of her drawer. I just cram the clothes in until the drawers finally threaten to go on strike.

I don’t want to remove too short shorts and the stained skirts because that would mean a trip to the basement corner where we store the girls’ clothes in plastic tubs. And that basement corner, friends, is the Place of Memories.

If I open a tub and  gently fold in a stack of dresses and tees, that means I have to pull out a larger size for the same child. The too-small clothes, now being saved for another girl, remind me that the first child won’t pass this way again.

This clothes sorting crushes me. I get emotional, folding polka-dotted Hanna Anderssons and faded Circo skirts. I think to myself, like every parent who ever lived, “Where did the time go?”

Suburban backyard Mother's Day

I know parenting by this point: its exhaustion, its ecstatic rewards. But putting away the soft, velvet dress your four-year-old wore at the Christmas Eve service where your family, along with your brother and his family, took up an entire pew? The night that was perfect and ended with the traditional singing of “Silent Night” and your four-year-old trembled as she held her first, “real fire” candle? How do you ever fold and store such a dress?

It’s hard, this sorting.

Stack of baby clothes folded

So it was with some trepidation that I gathered our baby clothes, sizes 12 months and under, this week. We are done (unless God has other plans!) with having sweet babes. So, with a steely determination, I set up to sort and stack and fold the baby clothes. They would be off to another home, a young woman who is having her first baby and isn’t starting out with much.

As I filled the box with tiny, precious threads, the memories poured over me, sweet and gentle; lovely and humbling. I have been blessed to have held these babies, small and tiny. And as I worked, the emotions threatened to derail the offering I was trying to assemble. I blinked back tears and thought of new life.

A new girl is to be born, perhaps her mother labors strong to bring her as I write this. And she, too, will outgrow these pretty clothes one day. 

And that’s how I boxed up, cleaned up, and then restocked my youngest girl’s wardrobe with her newest season of hand-me-down dresses, shorts and tees: by thinking past my babies to the baby that is to come. May she have a wonderful life, full of  wonder, joy and love.

A wardrobe stocked with baby clothes

Art Gallery Makeover on The Daily B (With Pigs!)

Our wonderful friend and blogger Gina posted an affordable art gallery wall on  The Daily B, her DIY and parenting blog. You might recognize a certain pair of matrimonial pigs.

Thanks, Gina, for featuring Marry Me Pig. We hope all of the attention doesn’t go to their little piggy heads.

Here’s an image from Gina’s blog. Read more here.

Picture of B's room from The Daily B with art gallery wall featuring Fat and Appy modern art prints for children.

Courtesy of The Daily B