Thursday, May 21, 2015

so much to do, so little time

In exactly three weeks the move to the new/old home will be completed.  The work at Sleepy Hollow is done!  I am waiting to post pictures when I really move in so you can see exactly how the rooms turned out.

I am very happy that my present house sold in one day. Now I am in the process of packing up everything and trying to get as much stuff over to the other house so I don't have to pay for the movers to do it.  It is an enormous job, I can't believe home much ridiculous stuff I have acquired in the last 9 years.  So, I decided to have a Garage Sale on May 31st.  Hopefully this will not be a crazy amount of work, I have friends helping me.  So, I am selling my house, moving into another, packing one kid for camp and another for Israel and all this in the next three week.  This is crazy!

I did complete one project for the new house. It was surprisingly easy.  This mid century student desk has been in my brother Josh's room as long as I can remember.  It served well as a school desk for him and a place to pay bills for my dad.  The blond wood finish was not looking great, so I decided to give it a makeover.  I repaired the chips, deglossed the finished and them applied two coats of semi gloss in a bright green color, which is the accent color in the den.
The desk will not be tucked into the corner of this room making it a perfect place to put a laptop, check emails and write my blog.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

6 weeks and we are almost done!

The work has been going on for about 6 weeks and we are heading towards the finish line.

The Living room/Dining room is painted.

There is a new patio door, as well as a new wider level step heading out to the patio.
The pink bathroom is getting less pink.  The bathtub will soon magically turn white, I hope.
The orange accent wall in the kitchen

The mailbox, before and after.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

more progress

 It has been five weeks and the bathrooms are starting to take shape. 

In the formerly pink hall bathroom the white subway tile is a big change.  I can't wait to see it with the dark grout.
 In the master bathroom, the shower has been transformed with Cararra  marble tiles.  I want to give this very tiny bathroom a luxury hotel feel.
 The girls got to choose their own lighting for their bedrooms.  Tamara went for an iron orb chandelier, which has an industrial vibe.

Abby needs more light to brighten up the formerly dark room with only one window.  I found this multi-candle bronze antique chandelier at an antique store.

The basement is being transformed into a semi-finished space that will have a studio area, office area, chill area and laundry space.

Plus, the unfinished section for storage has been partitioned off with a wall and proper door.

There is a lot more lighting now, I'm going to leave the ceiling unfinished but I have decided to spring for carpeting to make the space warmer.  More pictures to follow.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

kitchen is coming along

Well the renovations are really coming along. Last week, I am starting to see some of the "sexy" stuff happening in the house.  The Silestone quartz countertops were installed.  This was a big ticket item for me but I really love the look and they are great quality.  I finally won't have to worry about where to put a hot pot right out of the oven.  The tile back splash looks so cool! I think it's a little retro looking and pays homage to the mid century look in the house.  My sink is smaller then I am used to, but that is all that will fit.  The new gas cooktop is plenty big and looks great with the original "hup cap" wall exhaust fan.

Monday, March 30, 2015

permits and paint colors

Well this past week has not been the most exciting one.  There is a lot of work getting done, I'm not complaining.  But it is not the kind of things that make a great impact on pictures.  

The plumbing and electrical systems have all been updated and inspected and though that is not exciting, it is important.  Also the overhang on the outside roof line has all been redone which again looks great and is important.  The glass in the downstairs windows has been repaired and get the picture.

I have been obsessing over wall colors which sucks because I don't have my proper lighting, my window covering or any furniture for frame of reference and I still have to make decisions of what colors to paint the walls. I have found out that whites and grays are the hardest colors to choose because they look total different in different lighting.  Also I had hoped to save the wood paneling in the den but it is not staining evenly and there are still some shadows of the pictures my dad hung there in the same place for 54 years.

My biggest decision this week is that I have decided to carpet the basement.  I'm doing office type low pile commercial stuff.  I think I'll go with Edwards Carpet here in St. Louis, locally owned and highly recommended.  I will wait to install it until the work is done.

I'm still considering the fireplace.  Now I've decided to move it to the living room.  It would be a modern ethanol burning model.  I've blocked it out in painters tape to get an idea of the size to order.  But I'll wait till the place has furniture in it to make a final decision.  I'm not sure where it should go.  My contractor promised to come back and hang it for me,

This week the kitchen counter tops go in the the bathrooms are being worked on. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

full speed ahead

former pink hall bath
former grey master bath
It has been a week and Bob the Builder's crew has been working hard demo-ing everything.

 The pink and grey bathrooms are no more.  You can see straight through the wall.


The kitchen back splash was removed and the whole wall had to be replastered!  No more floor and counter tops either. But they measured for the new quartz counter top today.  You can see that I am saving the original St. Charles metal kitchen cabinets.  

Hope the dust settles soon.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

moving out

The past couple has been some of the most stressful week I have had in a long time.  I'll save you all the details and say this.  All is well that ends well, I am have gotten through the worst of it ( I hope) and its gonna be fine.

My mom survived the big move.  She is safely in her new apartment and even she has to admit its pretty nice.  We have most everything under control.  We still need to have all the pictures hung, but that should be done soon and then it will feel just like home.

After mom's things were moved out Charlie Peppers and his men from Adams Auctions got a chance to get a lot more things out of the house.  The auction is held in Bellevue Illinois on March 25th.  I can't wait to to see what happens!

Then the furniture and boxes that my brother and sister in law wanted were picked up by their movers.  Each day everything went pretty smooth.

There are only a few things left in the house now.  Charlie is coming back for the washer and refrigerator once I have the water lines capped this week.  There are also a few pieces of furniture and rugs that I am keeping for myself,  But its all pretty empty and weird.

Stay tuned.........

Friday, February 20, 2015

books, boxes and booze

I've been packing up my mom's house all week and its a lot of work.  I find myself throwing out at least one contractor garbage bag full of trash every day.  There are about 30 boxes full of stuff that I still have to go through with my brother, which I put in the basement.  Then there are the 30 donate/sell boxes, things that are not trash but that my mom doesn't want to move or my brother and I don't want to keep. Of course my mom has about 20 boxes so far of things she is moving to her new apartment. Its a lot of boxes.

There are a lot of books.  Books are really heavy.  I would love to donate them to a charity book fair, but they don't provide a pick up service and I am not lugging 8 boxes of books in and out of my car.

I've found a lot of cool things in mom's house.  First of all my dad kept a lot of records.  I now know exactly what the household expenses were in 1979, 1980. 1981.... you get the picture.  And this was all before computers.  I also have every card and letter I ever wrote to my parents as well as all the report cards. I think these things are only cool to me and my brother, but we should have a good laugh this summer when we go through them.

And then there are the bottles.  My parent's liquor cabinet contained all sorts of strange libations which were so old that that bottles where still sealed with those tax stamps they used to use in Missouri.  Mom still had three unopened bottles of scotch and whiskey which we gave away.  The rest of the booze was undrinkable.

Well, I'm off to Council Shop to drop off eight bags of clothes for donation.  Then to the dry cleaner to give them two shopping bags full of wire hangers. Finally to the grocery store's change machine to convert my mom's giant bag of change into paper money. I'm thinking its about $200 worth and she will be donating it to charity!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

so many decisions, so little time

This week was a stressful one.  I spent three and a half hours at Home Depot ordering tile, vanities, countertops, sinks and faucets. I had sourced everything in person and through the website.  My contractor Bob gave me all my measurements. I had my samples and my computer printouts of everything I wanted to order and with the help of Jason, the awesome design consultant at the Home Depot everything got ordered.  Still, it took three and a half hours. 

What did I learn?  Home Depot has awesome stuff, but most of the awesome stuff is not in the store. You have to look on the website.  The stuff in the store  is builders grade and good for a fast remodel.  I want something a little more custom, but not too crazy expensive.  Bob suggested I check out bathroom vanities that included sinks and tops and I was able to find a couple that fit perfectly in my two remodeled bathrooms.  I got lucky with the tile and was able to find floor tile for the kitchen in store.  I went for Carrera marble in one bathroom and white subway tile in the other.  I ordered all metal Kohler faucets for all the sinks and showers.

Then I was off to Appliance Discounter in Ballwin.  OK, here is my shameless endorsement, Joe was awesome and gave me a great price on new appliances for my kitchen redo. I got my Bosch Dishwasher, a Samsung pantry door refrigerator, an LG wall oven and an Electrolux gas cooktop.  Yes they all match. And the cooktop and oven were from open boxes so I got a super great price.  I have to tell you that I researched brands, reviews and prices before I bought and I did good!

So I'm pretty much done shopping.  There are a couple of light fixtures to get, and they are the "jewelry" of the home so I better not go overboard.   I also have to decide on the type of fireplace I want for the Den.  I'm thinking ethanol.....any comments?

Saturday, February 7, 2015

exciting news

There are a lot of changes going on around here.  Some make me scared, some nervous, and some excited.  But I think that for the most part change is good for me.  It makes we more active and more creative and even if it the change is something I didn't necessarily want or plan for, it can be a good thing.

Case in point, my mom, who is 88, fell and broke her arm.  Its a bad break and she was in a cast for 8 weeks and is slow to heal.  It was, of course, her right arm.  So she could use it to do anything.  I think that the fall made her see how difficult living alone had become.  So after a few weeks she made a decision to move into an independent living apartment in a senior residence.  My brother and I had been urging her to move out of her single family home for many years now.  But I am glad that the decision to move finally came from her.  And once she had made it she was excited about it.

Then she and my brother came to me with an idea.  Why don't I move into my mom's home when she moves.  I can renovate it to my liking, sell the home I have now and be able to live without the burden of a big mortgage.  I presently live about a mile away from my mother, in a slightly larger house, decorated to my liking.  I have lived here with my two daughters since my divorce 9 years ago.  I love my house and so do my kids.  But they are getting older and one is about to leave for college, I have to think about what was going to be better for me financially in the long run. Now that I have decided to move back into the home where I grew up, I am super excited!  This is a fantastic opportunity for me to design and create a space that is totally my own. The skies the limit, well maybe not, I do have a budget.

I invite you to join me in this journey as I pack up my mom, renovate the home, sell my present home and then move in and decorate, all while running a business and parenting my girls. 

My Mother and daughters at her home, taken before the Homecoming Dance 2014

Friday, February 6, 2015

Wish you were There

I missed seeing so many of my customers at the NY NOW show last week.  I know the weather in New York was horrible.  It seems it always is during the show.  But I had hoped that many more of my gift shops would have made it out to the city to stop by. 
Still I got some great new accounts, including the Skirball Museum in Los Angeles and The Tenement Museum in New York City.  I am proud to have my work available in both those places.

If you did not come to the show than you missed seeing my new Tab Necklaces!  They are silver ( of course) and feature popular sayings in English on one side and in Hebrew on the other!

The first day of the show my small chapel locket was stolen
Perhaps I should consider that a compliment?

Friday, January 9, 2015

my upstairs office

This the story of how I turned a useless space into an important, functional part of my home.

 This is basically how it looked before.  But It was usually filled with junk and things I just wanted out of the family room.  Oh, and the sink dripped 

I had the bottom cabinet, sink and mirror and sink removed and a shelf added.  I painted the whole alcove turquoise, found this awesome metal tanker desk on Craigs List for $30.  Found a chair at a second hand office supply store for $35 and had it recovered in orange vinyl at an auto shop.  Added a few bright accessories and the results is a super cool office!

My Home 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Hamsa with Heart

I have been asked many times to create a Hamsa necklace.

The Hamsa is a symbol used in both Judaism and Islam.  Many people love to wear Hamsa as a religious symbol as well as a symbol of happiness and good luck.  Because there are so many versions, I wanted to come up with something unique and beautiful.  the result is a double layered design with has a beautiful texture,  There is a cut out heart shape on the front and a double chain 18" sterling silver necklace passes through the pendent.

As usual the design is made by hand in my studio out of fine silver.  The necklace is $72 at my etsy store.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Dog tags

 Introducing these new handmade fine silver dog tag necklaces.  I create each dog tag pendent by hand in my studio, one at a time. 

They hang from an 18" long sterling silver 1.5 mm ball chain.

          The pendant is available in three different motifs.  All the dog tags have an English word or phrase on one side and the Hebrew translation on the other.

"I believe"
"I am my beloved and my beloved is mine"

The dog tag necklace is available at my
Etsy store.  For wholesale inquiry please contact me.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Niche Award Winner 2014

I am proud to have won the Niche Award in the Judaica category for my fine silver "Freedom Mezuzah".

I made the mezuzah for the 2013 Museum of Imajewnation's show which was held in St. Louis.  Please see the previous post for more information.

The Niche Awards were held in Philadelphia in January 2014, during the Buyer's Market of American Crafts.  Unfortunately I was not able to attend the ceremony, but I was sent a beautiful glass trophy.

This award really means a lot to me.  It gives me credibility as a judaica artist.  I has exposed my work to a greater community.  Hopefully it will lead to bigger and better things.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

what's happening

Well, I haven't posted in a while.  That's because I have been super busy in the studio working and preparing for some wonderful shows.

In December (11-15), I am in San Diego for the Union of Reform Judaism Biennial.  This convention is incredible.  The spirit of the people attending is so exciting and uplifting.  Oh, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be speaking.  I am selling my Judaica and Jewelry (retail) at the Biennial's exhibition hall.  But if your temple have a gift shop I will have information on purchasing wholesale.  I have packed up my boxes with all my displays to be shipped out.  I now I am making lots of original pieces to sell at the show, and yes, the leather bracelets will be available!

I also just got my Booth assignment for NY Now in February.  I will be in the Handmade section at the Javits Center in booth #9451.  This wholesale only show is the best in the country.  So if you are a store or gallery, please come by and see my line.  I have so many exciting things.

This is a men's version of my studded star.  It comes on a 20" heavier ball chain.  People have been asking for men's Mogan David's so I am hoping that everyone likes this.  

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Leather Bracelets

I sell to a lot of small gift shops in temples and they are always asking me to make something more affordable.  Ok, cheaper-but with the same style and quality all my pieces. So last month I was tinkering around in the studio, trying to come up with another great Bat Mitzvah gift.  I remembered that my daughters always come home from camp with an arm load of friendship bracelets, that they made or traded.  The bracelets stay on until they inevitably fall apart, and off.  They are really cool and a bit bohemian.  I really like them, so I see do many high end jewelry designer, so why not make a Jewish version.
I found a great American made company that makes leather cording in great colors.  I designed a bunch of silver charms, a chai, star, heart, hamsa and a shalom charm.  After a lot of experimentation I decided on a double strap design with a silver button closure. 

I'm still experimenting on the colors I should offer.  I've showed them to a couple shops and they have really liked them.  So Im making more and will have them on had for the URJ show in San Diego in December.

They are about $32-$34 retail. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Niche Award Finalist 2014

I checked my email this morning and I was delighted to find that my Freedom Mezuzah was chosen as a Niche Award Finalist in the Judaica catagory.

I created the piece especially for an exhibit at the Museum of ImaJewnation last year in St. Louis, called Freedom Imagined, Freedom Lived.  Here is my Artist Statement about the piece.

Freedom Mezuzah
Rachel Kranzberg Miller
Fine Silver

We were slaves in Egypt, imprisoned and forced to build the temples and mausoleums for Egyptian Gods and Pharaohs.  The pyramid shape and hieroglyphics texture represents this. The doorway, recounts the connection between the lamb’s blood on the lintel and door posts of the Israelite homes in Egypt on the night of the exodus, protecting the Jews from the 10th plague-- the killing of the firstborn in Egypt.  The Ten Commandments are represented at the top of the piece, the ultimate prize for the Children of Israel.  Inside the Hebrew script texture provides a safe and loving home for the scroll.  For me, the Jewish home is the most important element in my life and my art.

This mezuzah, unlike most traditional Mezuzot, opens and unlocks, from the front, thereby allowing one to free the scroll from its home and examine or study the text inside.  

The Niche Awards are given out by Niche Magazine, as an award for excellent in fine crafts for American and Canadian Artists.  

The Mezuzah was purchased by the Karma Fine Crafts in Newton, Mass. and is available for purchase as well as many other creations from Rachel Kranzberg Miller

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

In the Etsy Shoppe

I am so sorry that I haven't posted in a while.  I have been super busy.  First, there was the Buyers Market.  It was so great to meet so many of you retailers and make new friends and contacts along the way.  Then, it was Passover, and I was so busy cleaning and then cooking.  The sedars were great!  Now I am finally settling down and getting down to business, filling orders, and preparing for my next big wholesale show this August in New York City.
I will be part of New Yorks Newest, which is the new vendor part of the New York Gift Show.  My booth will be at Pier 94, not the Javis Center.  But if you are a Retailer looking for new talent it is the place to be.  I plan on bringing a lot of secular jewelry to the show.  I am working on some great one of a kind pieces.
Meanwhile, my Etsy shop is full of the Bronze Mezuzahs casts from my silver originals
and much more affordable! Check them out, they make great housewarming and wedding gifts.