September 30, 2011

Grimm With a Chance of Giveaway

A few weeks ago my big sis texted me to ask if I wanted to create a piece for another group show at Cella Gallery, the art gallery just down the street from where she and her husband live in North Hollywood. I hemmed and hawed a little...I've just got so much on my plate at the mo' (including finding random opportunities to slip British slang into my everyday dialogue)...but when she told me what the show was, I knew I wanted in: artwork inspired by, and actually created on the surface of copies of Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales.

Each artist chose a specific tale to use as their theme and went to work in his or her own style. I chose "The Goose Girl"...

...admittedly less out of devotion to the brief tale woven by Grimm 1 and Grimm 2 than to the much more expansive tale with Grimm roots as told by Shannon Hale, YA author extraordinaire ( I hope that's not cheating).
 The show opens October 8th so I need to get my finished tome mailed off tomorrow, but I wanted to share first. If any of you happen to be in the LA area, oh blogland beauties, I'm sure the show would be well worth attending, as any event at the Cella always is.

Aaand speaking of Grimm Brothers and their curiously grotesque charm, Halloween is fast approaching. Can you believe tomorrow is October 1st? It's almost time to start pulling the box of All Hallow's Eve decorations out of the garage. But first, I think we will have a little giveaway- a handmade Halloween decoration for you:

One lucky reader is going to win this hand-stenciled burlap flag bunting made by me (out of recycled materials, by the way- that burlap used to be sandbags).

Here's how to enter:

1. Follow me on twitter (@amberjunek) and send out this tweet to your tweeps:

Giveaway! Cute Halloween banner on @amberjunek's blog-!

2. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, come back here and leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite thing is about fall. Be sure to include the link to your twitter account so I can see your tweet. 

That's it!
I will keep the comments open until Sunday evening at about 9pm (MST). Then I'll go through your comments, choose my favorite, and announce the winner here on Monday morning.

See you soon!


September 26, 2011


I love to count my blessings. I am a woman of faith and often, when I feel like this...

"She was so tired her legs felt burnt out from under her, but she believed she could get through this if she did one thing at a time and thought of the remaining things left to be done as sequential, not cumulative."

-Charles Frazier, Cold Mountain so many of us often do, listing the many many beautiful blessings in my life is what gives me strength to get through. It reminds me that my Father in Heaven knows me and knows what I need, and it is the knowing between us that forms the shape of my days and the path of my life. Lately, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the people He has put in my life. My family, of course, but particularly on my mind have been my friends...two new friends...women I have known as acquaintances for some time but who I can now, because of time spent together in the last several weeks, truly call friends. And they are just who I needed. And the place we go together is just what we all needed.

We've been meeting with all our children on Thursday afternoons at this magical wilderness place...

...a gully thick with brambles for secret forts and paths to explore...

...a giant, overgrown weeping willow tree (truly Bridge to Terabithea worthy) for climbing...

...scented by the earth and painted in the colors of fall.

The children run and climb and learn about the world and each other through play while we moms sit in the dry grass and talk and look on, our hearts bound together in the wonder of mamma-hood and our spirits kindred in the knowing who we are. 

I count my blessings. And I count those Thursday afternoons among them. 


Now, for the purposes of literary mood and fluidity, I'd like to end this post here. But I did promise you, oh blogland, that I'd be starting a sale in my shop today. So here once again is the coupon code, good for 30%--ah, heck, let's say 40% off-- any item in my Etsy shop now through Saturday October 1st: 

Shop away!

xo (again)

September 23, 2011

Junk! (and I mean that in the best possible way)

So a few weeks ago Sandi called me up and said she was going to have a booth at this junk show type thing at our local fairgrounds and would I like to help man (woman) the booth and maybe sell a few of my own handmade -vintage-pretties. I said sure! What's a junk show?

Oh, honey, I learned what a junk show is.

Hello, junk. You re-purposed, up-cycled, found beauties, you.

I guess I've always known and loved you...

...I'm a thrift-store scrounger, yard-sale hopper, dumpster-diver through and through...

...I just didn't know junk is what the kids are calling you these days, old friend.
And I didn't know you had your own parties. I would have been there much sooner if I'd known.

Here's a shot of the booth Sandi and I shared (please ignore my awkward stiffness- this was toward the end of the day and I was wearing down, but I swear, I had so much fun.)

Most of the colorful, beautiful, fabric goodness in this shot belongs to the fabulous Mrs. H, but see that chalkboard? and those hand-stenciled burlap pillows? the stick horses and that beautiful (if I do say so myself) vintage map mounted in the old window? Those are me. 

Oh, blogland. I would so do this again. I have never done a show at all before and this one was right up my alley. In the moments that I had for my own thoughts that day (which were few and far between as the turnout was very nice) I kept going over all the vintage wonder-lovelies I'd passed on in the last year or so because, although I could completely envision what I would do to make them beautiful and new again, I just kept asking myself, but then what? Where will I put them? I don't have the space. But now I know. I would save them from the landfill, save them from being forgotten, save them up for next year's junk show, and have  
unspeakable amounts of fun along the way with all that


p.s. Thanks to Marianne Wiest, the official event photographer, for all these gorgeous shots. 

September 22, 2011

Sale Time part 2

It's time for a sale again! Starting Monday September 26th through Friday September 30th 
enter the coupon code:

at checkout and get 30% off anything in my Etsy shop.


Keep checking back here on the blog all next week for the low-down on my very first giveaway.


September 20, 2011


Whew! I am still catching my breath from this last weekend, which saw me and my bestie doing our first ever vintage market/ junk show together- the first of any kind of exhibiting of my crafty goods I have ever done at all. I will have photos and a full report (I learned so much) soon, but first, I wanted to share with you, oh bloglanders, a really beautiful day my kiddos and I spent together last week; our one last summer hurrah.

I am never particularly enthusiastic about summer's arrival. Fall is my season of choice by far. But there is something magically enticing about that in-between time of year...when the days call for a steaming cup of tea and a sweater in the mornings, but strawberries and bare feet by afternoon.

We had let the smoke from the forest fires keep us indoors for several days, and I just couldn't take it anymore. We needed to get out and I kept thinking of this little spot by Lolo Creek, where the water is slow and clear and the trees on the banks are thick, blocking out the sounds and sights of the rest of the world.
There was a little smoke in the air, but we pretended it was a campfire smell and forged ahead.

The signs of autumn filled the forest: fat grey squirrels noisily warning us away from their winter stores, dried wildflower seed pods still  on their stems, and leaves, half-turned, half- green landing in the water and floating away. But the day was also much warmer than we had expected it to be, and the water was not to be resisted. When rolling up pant legs and hiking up skirts proved to be insufficient, the kids simply took off the bottom half of their clothes and splashed in the water and squished in the mud in their shirts and undies to their hearts' content. And my heart's content.

I never cease to be amazed by my children's natural inclination to explore the world around them and learn from what they observe. The lessons I plan for these outings are almost always set aside and replaced by their own discoveries. And nature never fails to provide. On this day, it was caterpillars that captured our curiosity. We saw several kinds, but mostly, the creek banks were swarming with these little guys:

Which we discovered, to our amazement, can swim! Really, this is not a photo of a caterpillar drowning. We watched this little guy willfully work his way down the muddy bank and into the water, then propel himself out into the current with side-to-side motions, turning his body into a letter C in first one direction, then the other, again and again. The discovery has since sent us on a caterpillar information hunt and we're planning our own caterpillar house, so we can watch the metamorphosis at home. 

The mornings this week have turned beyond cup-of-tea and sweater cold, and I find that I am increasingly glad that we took that day last week to bid summer farewell. Even though I never regret the coming of fall, the memories of summertime call out to me...


September 14, 2011

Words, or the lack thereof...

Lately, I feel I have had so many different thoughts whirling through my mind that I can hardly choose words to describe them. I take to my blog, this blog, wanting to write something that has meaning, something that reaches someone else, something that is beautiful and true. But when I close my eyes and breathe, listening to what's in my heart and mind, I find I have only images...only raw ideas driven by my deepest desire: to never live a halfway, just fine life. Just fine is not enough. And, yes, some of the images have words because my heart beats in syntax, but the words are blood-warm and spare.

I can
I will

Then there are the now images--the memory making, hold-them-close pictures of life in our family each day.

earth. our little bit.
black and cold and clean.

prepare. not long until the cold.
goodness. sustain.

bounty. blushing. sweet.

Maybe, though, the spare words are the right ones. Like that game that is played by one person shouting out a word and everyone else responding, thoughtlessly, with the first thing that comes into their mind. Or like William Carlos Williams with This is Just to Say (one of my favorite pieces of poetry of all time). The words are hardly there, only slightly composed, but somehow tangible and true.

I hope the words in your mind now are true and beautiful for you.


September 12, 2011

Window Upcycle

I have a thing for old windows. I've used them as picture frames, as art, as room dividers... Windows, to me, seem to let in light even when there is no light to be had. Just the physical presence of a something so fragile as a sheet of glass, encased in something so strong as a frame of solid wood is, to me, an influence of beauty and peace in a home.

Here is an old single pane lovely which I have hand painted. It will be available at my shared booth with Miss S this coming weekend at the Prairie Sisters shindig here in Missoula:

  Hope to see you there.


September 11, 2011

Come on Autumn...

Finding comfort today in the coming of both images and words.


Autumn—overlooked my Knitting—
Dyes—said He—have I—
Could disparage a Flamingo—
Show Me them—said I—

Cochineal—I chose—for deeming
It resemble Thee—
And the little Border—Dusker—
For resembling Me— 

-emily dickinson


September 9, 2011

A Chalkboard

    It struck me a couple of days ago: We need a chalkboard.

    The kids and I have been learning about bread; the history of bread, its significance as a universal food, different types of bread from cultures around the world...

(look at these beautiful loaves we made!)

...when it occurred to me that we'd come across the word 'culture' quite a bit in our recent reading. And I suddenly had an old-school urge to write it on the board and define it for the class.

   But we had no board. So we set out to do something about that. A visit to my favorite source for perfectly good, usable junk, Home Resource, left us in possession of a wonderfully wide, shallow kitchen drawer,

 a quart of creamy butter-yellow paint, aaaand...a few other things that we didn't exactly need,  but let's just say they needed us to give them new life. Anyhow, a little elbow grease and a can of Krylon chalkboard paint later...


   I'm so excited. Didn't it turn out cute? And it's already been put to good use...

...with our inspirational vocabulary word o' the week.

  *happy sigh* I love a good project well done. And I have been swimming in projects around here lately. If you are anywhere near the Missoula, MT area, you can come by the fairgrounds next Saturday, September 17th and see some of the fruits of my labor at the Prairie Sisters Party, where my bestie and I will be sharing a booth. There will be a couple more kitchen-drawer chalkboards, a whole herd of my signature stick horses, and a slew of vintage finds for your home. Including these lovelies...

   And for those of you who can't make it to Montana for a junk/craft show weekend of prettiness, never fear. Starting next week, most of the aforementioned items will also be available in my Etsy shop. 

  Now I'm off to gather the kids in the kitchen and further explore bread and culture by making tortillas. Have a lovely fall day, blogland.



September 6, 2011

Back to School

     The phrase 'back-to-school', for our family, means something a little different. It comes at the end of summer, same as for the most other families, as the mornings cool and the air begins to smell of earth and change...

...but it has little to do with shopping at the mall. Or lists of supplies. Or bus routes or lunch menus or new backpacks and shoes. For us,  'back-to-school' time is simply a gentle, gradual shift in the rhythm of our home...

...until our activities become more planned and purposeful, perhaps our time spent more in pondering and asking questions and reading and talking about what we've read than it has been for two or three months.

    This year, a part of that gradual change has been a physical change in our small living space, bringing things like art supplies, maps, science books, and math games out into our main living room area, so that those things are in sight and in mind when little hands reach for something to do.

    To help us organize it all, and in the grand Missoula free-on-the-curb tradition of home furnishings, we found this awesome shelf/ commercial kitchen unit thing, in need of just a little clean up and a corner to call its own.

    We washed it down with the garden hose (note to parents: work = fun when garden hose is involved)...

...gave the shelves a coat of paint we had on hand, and voila:

     Like so many other pieces of our home, it may not be magazine-worthy, but it fills our need and cost us nothing. And there's something deeply satisfying in that.

       So, how about all you homeschooling families out there? What does 'back-to-school' mean for you? Whatever it means, enjoy the moments it brings you and, if you're like me, the discovery of yourself you find in your children everyday.