The Best Things In Life Are…Six Dollars?

We’ll start this post with a yahoo! and congratulations to Amber for winning our necklace giveaway from Etsy shop budpnq (say “budbud”) and artist Katie Fenske Bridges. Congratulations to Amber and thank you to all who entered. Amber, I’ll shoot you a note about receiving your beautiful new necklace.

Now, to today’s post:

We’re thrifty people and loooove a good bargain. Since I dig interior design and house tinkering so much, I long ago learned how to shop garage sales and thrift stores for items for my home. I even once spray painted simple wooden dowels a silvery textured paint so they would look like metal curtain rods underneath some sheer dotted panels. Friend, I know some serious skillz. I am also blessed with patience. If I want something, I will save and stalk it and save some more.

Lately, three things have entered our home from thrift stores that each cost about $6. I like the price! And I like what we found.

This is the iconic Umbra OH! Chair. They hit the scene back in 1999 and are still made today. Designed by Karim Rashid. Price: $6

An aqua Umbra chair with flowered pillow

This ubiquitous wooden chair is probably from Target, but plenty of other places make their own version, such as Crate and Barrel. I replaced the folding chair that was at my desk for this one. It’s more comfortable and I like the zing! of color. Price: $6

A Target dining chair in green

We’re kind of cheating on this next one. The table was indeed $6, but it was a hot mess of chalkboard paint and multicolored legs. The great news? This baby is solid wood and made incredibly well. I don’t know where it’s from, but it’s definitely high quali-tee. I pleaded exhaustion for painting after our recent family room makeover, so Jonathan picked up the roller. We used Valspar’s National Historic Preservation colors in Jekyll Club Veranda Ivory. The seagrass baskets underneath are a nod to Jekyll Island. Price: $6 plus a quart of Valspar. 

A wooden coffee table painted with Valspar Jekyll Club Veranda in Ivory

You truly never know what you’ll find when you go out thrifting. Just make sure to bring your six dollars, and good luck! What’s your best thrift store/garage sale find? Tell us in the comments!


The Great Outdoors, Indoors

These great snaps came in from our dear friend, Gina, who is the fabulous writer and blogger over at The Daily B.

Gina and her husband Kris commissioned Jonathan to create a painting that showed their love of the outdoors using Fisher Price people. Jonathan matched their hair color and made sure the Rockies were in the painting. And of course Kris’ beloved mountain bike made an appearance (in toy form).

It’s always fun to see where art ends up. I think that could be a book…traveling around the country and snapping pictures of where Jonathan’s art lands. Okay, okay, this is just a road trip excuse. I am picturing camping and gelato and…well, all of a sudden, I am feeling the need to travel. (For more of Gina and her awesome sense of style, you can read her post about her daughter’s bedroom art makeover.)

A picture of a painting by Denver artist Jonathan Fenske

Photo courtesy of The Daily B. 

We’re picking a winner of our contest tomorrow! Have you entered? All you have to do is leave a comment on our blog post about Etsy shop budpnq and you’ll be in the running for this beauty. Good luck, ya’ll!

Fat and Appy Blog giveaway

We Went West

In a few days, we’ll mark seven years as Colorado residents. We’ve added two more girls to our family here, wrote novels and children’s books, bought our second home, and made amazing friends. We’ve climbed mountains and trod family-friendly loop paths. We’ve amassed some killer outdoor gear. We’ve feasted on the stunning views of the Rocky Mountains’ Front Range every day. We’re blessed to live here.

In honor of this family anniversary, I thought I would show a few of Jonathan’s many Western-inspired paintings and illustrations. Enjoy!

P.S. Don’t forget to enter our awesome contest that ends this Friday to win a gorg necklace from Etsy shop budpnq. Enter the Fat and Appy contest now!

A Fisher Price cowboy painted by Jonathan Fenske

An American Icon, acrylic on board, private collection

kowboy krunch final

Kowboy Krunch, illustration

when coach was first class

When Coach Was First Class, acrylic on board, collection of the Booth Western Museum

A painting of Yosemite bears by Jonathan Fenske

Yosemite Bears, acrylic on board, private collection

A painting of cowboy themes by Jonathan Fenske

Yeehaw Colorado, Giclee canvas print, available for sale from, $119. 

A Fisher Price painting of an American Indian by Jonathan Fenske

Surveying What Was Lost, acrylic on board, private collection

Art We Love: Katie Fenske Bridges/budpnq + Necklace Giveaway

This week, we are returning to our series “Art We Love” with a wonderful artist, Katie Fenske Bridges, and a giveaway. So exciting! Katie is Jonathan’s sister and so very talented. She’s a beaded jewelry artist with the Etsy shop budpnq (say, “budbud”), painter, mom, wife and a really beautiful soul. Katie made a completely gorgeous necklace just for our blog to giveaway away to a lucky reader. Want to enter? Just leave a comment below on the blog. If you also share this post on Facebook or Twitter, you’ll receive two entries. Just let us know in the comments you did so. We’ll draw a name on Friday, Aug. 30, 2013 and announce the winner. Easy!

Now, let’s dive in and learn more about Katie and budpnq.

Fat and Appy Blog giveaway

Jennifer and Jonathan: Your beadwork is luscious, fun…just plain playful. How did you get started making jewelry? 

Katie: Every time we visited my grandparents in Florida, Grandpa had a craft project for me to work on. The summer before my 8th grade year, I stayed with them for a couple of weeks and on the days he took me with him to work, I spent my time stringing up necklaces with an assortment of glass beads he’d given me. I turned to jewelry-making a few years ago, because for someone with a constant need to involve her hands in making, beading necklaces is not only a fun return to my twelve year-old self, but rewarding. They come into existence fairly quickly and can be put to immediate use. My mom got me hooked on using vintage glass beads when she supplied me with a trove of necklaces in various states of disrepair from a church tag sale. I dismantled the necklaces and cleaned every bead. When I saw how much Mom enjoyed the necklaces I was making, it drove me to make more and eventually, I found a style that represented me accurately. Most of those tag sale beads have long since been put to use and I now have a couple of suppliers I regularly purchase from so I am able to create with a bit more consistency and frequency, two factors that keep the creativity flowing.

Katie Fenske Bridges from Etsy jewelry shop Budpnq

Katie Fenske Bridges from Etsy

You seem to be tapping into your Scandinavian heritage. Tell us a little about that inspiration.  

Our paternal grandmother’s family was Swedish/Norwegian. My memories of Grandma, though time-faded, are ones of nurturing. For my brothers and me, her Swedish pancake breakfasts were a highlight of many a Florida vacation. I actively seek out Scandinavian illustrators, crafters and bloggers for inspiration because their work is not only great fun, but also comforting. I hope the work I do reflects both elements in some way.
Etsy shop Budpnq
How long does it take you to stage product shots for Etsy? Your pictures are very good.

Thank you. The picture-taking is almost as fun as actually making each necklace. My “lördagsgodis” series has me listing a different necklace every week so when it comes to taking pictures of those necklaces, I just wait for the sun to come into my workspace and arrange them as whim dictates. It doesn’t take long because I’m usually trying to sneak in the shots before our toddler, “Turtle,” wanders in. Often, elements of her presence can be found in those pictures. She’s always leaving her toys in my office; therefore, they get used as props. I smile when I look at my shop and see the evidence of being her mom. When it comes to collections of necklaces, I like the pictures to be more cohesive so I need to do a little planning. Our oldest niece, Taylor, faithfully agrees to model for me and we’ll spend an afternoon either at my place or on her mom’s beautiful property in the country. I will do Tay’s hair and makeup according to a loose mental sketch and then off we go chasing the light.
My favorite piece of equipment is the Canon 50mm 1:1.4 lens a good friend surprised me with. I use it all the time because it allows me to give my photos the softness I like.
Etsy Shop Bud Bud

Tell us what a typical day in the life is like for an artist, Etsy seller, wife and mom. 

Katie Fenske Bridges from Etsy shop Budpnq

Katie Fenske Bridges from Etsy Shop Budpnq

My routine changes often based on my husband’s work schedule and our toddler’s needs, so I don’t get too set in my ways but right now, I start my day with a bright greeting from our daughter and a cup of coffee. Chris will have already given her breakfast so if she is entertaining herself, I get on the computer to check my Etsy shop and other social media outlets. I do some tumbling or pinning while I finish my coffee. It’s not long before Turtle is needing my time so we will play or craft together, run errands or, as a treat, we meet Nana & Poppa for lunch. In addition to having the Etsy shop, I also do the occasional portrait photography session or small painting job so Chris and I have carved out a set time for me to work on any freelance jobs I’ve taken. (If it weren’t for his eagerness to help me succeed with all my creative endeavors, I’d never get anything accomplished.) The three of us eat dinner together and Turtle and I watch Curious George before the bedtime routine begins. After singing “Sea of Love”, “talking to God” with her, and kissing her goodnight, I repeat my morning routine minus the guilt of not giving all my time to Turtle. And minus the coffee. Most necklaces are created late at night. Every Saturday, Turtle goes to her Lola and Lolo’s for most of the day so I’m able to finish anything I wasn’t able to during the week, but usually I just create more work for myself by starting something new. Chris and I try to get in coffee dates when we can. On days he’s off, we share late night snack dates at the dining table. Right now, it’s all about the little things.
You have thousands of Pinterest followers. What’s your most popular pin?The most popular of my own work is this one which features my first four lördagsgodis necklaces grouped together. I ended up making a necklace for the commenter, Kati Driscoll, that is four random necklace strands tied together into one necklace. I thoroughly enjoyed that project and have been wanting to do another, but something always overtakes it on the priority list. After a quick check, it seems my most popular pin of someone else’s work is this playhouse from Ralfefarfars Paradis, a Norwegian home living blog.

Tell us what artists or designers are inspiring you right now.
Elisabeth Dunker of Fine Little Day
Sabine Timm, known as virginhoney on Flickr
It was so wonderful to chat with Katie and learn more about her inspiration and art. She graciously agreed to make a necklace (inspired from Jonathan’s toy paintings) that we could give away on the blog. In the course of making the necklace, Katie was drawn to launch a new collection of beaded jewelry called “Leksak” which is Swedish for “toy.” The entire collection will be available in Katie’s budpnq shop on Etsy.To enter our contest, simply make a comment on the blog, below. Share this post on Facebook or Twitter and your entry will count for two entries! Just tell us you shared it in the comments. We’ll randomly draw a name on Friday, Aug. 30, 2013 and then announce the winner of Katie’s Leksak necklace. International fans, you’re in luck! Katie will happily ship to you. Good luck! Also, Katie is so cool, she’s offering 10% off in her store for our readers. Just use code FATANDAPPY.

A Family Portrait

Today, I updated Jonathan’s website with a new image showing his children’s books (those published, soon-to-be-published and not-yet-found-a-home-but-we’re-hoping). I love this collage because it kind of lays out Jonathan’s style which is playful and steeped in vintage comics and general cartoon wackiness.

Illustrations of Jonathan Fenske's children's books

Here’s a key for those playing along at home:

Clockwise, starting at top left.

Love Is in the Air (Penguin USA, 2012)

Bright and Dim (unpublished)

Woodward and McTwee (forthcoming, Penguin USA 2014)

Guppy Up! (Penguin USA 2013)

Chicken Legs (unpublished)

A Pig, A Fox and A Box (under consideration)

Guppy Up!

Center: left, “Buck” from Grubby and Buck (unpublished); right, A Pig, A Fox and A Box

Flannery O’Connor Mural

I was flipping through some older photos from early in Jonathan’s career and I found a painting of a mural he did in a high school in Spartanburg, S.C. Jonathan first launched his painting career after we married by painting murals in houses. It was a great way for us to get steady income and a wonderful way (looking back it) for Jonathan to conceive of larger-scale works. He also learned to work quickly since he had a lot of ground to cover. (As a side note, during this time Jonathan was diving into murals, I was across town in the newsroom at the Anderson Independent-Mail newspaper, learning how to write creatively and on deadline. First jobs are the best, although no one ever says that while they are doing them.)

Jonathan was commissioned by the English teacher of the high school to conceive and paint the mural. As a rabid Flannery O’Connor lover, this mural was definitely, hands-down, my favorite one he ever did.

It’s a scene from the Flannery O’Connor short story, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” The mural is a representation of this passage:

“The road was about ten feet above and they could see only the tops of the trees on the other side of it. Behind the ditch they were sitting in there were more woods, tall and dark and deep. In a few minutes they saw a car some distance away on top of a hill, coming slowly as if the occupants were watching them. The grandmother stood up and waved both arms dramatically to attract their attention. The car continued to come on slowly, disappeared around a bend and appeared again, moving even slower, on top of the hill they had gone over. It was a big black battered hearselike automobile. There were three men in it.”
—From: “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor (1953)

A picture of a mural by Jonathan Fenske of a Flannery OConnor short story A Good Man Is Hard to Find

I hope the mural is still in that high school, although I wouldn’t be surprised if it were painted over by now—those things happen. Jonathan doesn’t do murals anymore*, but this picture takes me back to a sweet, sweet time.

*Actually, he did a bird mural for our older girls’ room in 2011, right before the baby got here. But professionally, it’s not something he does anymore.

Pssst! Did you get our first Fat and Appy email? It contained a code to save 15% on your next order. Get on the Fat and Appy mailing list today! 

Fat and Appy Modern Art for Kids on

When I was in Racine, WI last week, I had the pleasure of talking to Daliah Singer of  5280 Magazine about Fat and Appy, our line of modern art canvas prints for kids. You can read her sweet article about our art in the story.  She really “got”  what we are up to with our small business. I am so happy we chatted!

Here’s a sneak peek:

“As a mom to three daughters (ages seven, four, and 18 months), novelist Jennifer Manske Fenske knows something about decorating kids’ rooms. But as the wife of an artist—and a creative woman herself—Fenske had trouble finding works to hang on the wall that felt appropriate and unique for her girls. “I believe that children really do deserve pretty art,” she says. “I think that they are incredibly intelligent and that they respond to art that speaks to them.””