May 8, 2015

What I Offer

As my tag line suggests I offer vintage finds and handcrafted designs. My greatest passion for this business is fixing up vintage furniture, but I also pick up a few vintage decor items from time to time. Some pieces include old typewriters, metal card files, crates, industrial drawers, frames that can be turned into chalkboards, etc.

 To help support the business while I am waiting for the furniture to sell I have designed a few handcrafted items that I sell as well. I have a line of hot/cold packs that are made with lentils which makes the hot packs softer and they don’t start to smell like the rice packs do. My large hot pack is made with a linen blend material and includes handles made from canvas. These hot packs are great for muscle and body aches and the cold packs are great for sprains and headaches.  My Boo Boo Buddies are small hot/cold packs that have a removable washable cover with a hand stamped animal buddy. These Boo Boo Buddies are great for helping children calm down when they get a boo boo. The packs can placed in the microwave or the freezer.  The lentils used to fill the pack are small so if it were to tear open it could cause a problem so they are not recommended for use with children under the age of 3

I also have an apron that I designed with vendors in mind. This apron is a half apron and includes plenty of pockets. The depth of the pockets have been designed to hold a phone, keys, pen, order pad, cash, credit card reader, business cards, etc. The apron is made from canvas and comes with a colorful sash. Although the apron was designed specifically for vendors I have found that it also makes a really good dog training apron. When I was training my puppy I would put the apron on and keep her leash, treats, toys, chew sticks, and sonic bark silencer in it. She eventually learned that if I had the apron on it meant it was time to go to school and I had everything I needed right there with me.

I also started making bread boards that are inspired by the old vintage bread boards. I have quite a few in my own kitchen and love using them to chop veggies and fruits. The smaller size makes them so much easier to clean and maintain than the larger cutting boards and they are cute enough they can be displayed in the kitchen and used at a table setting. The bread boards I have currently are made from solid Red Oak and come in three sizes; 9 inch, 11.5 inch, 16 inch.

I have also teamed up with Benjamin Soap Company and from time to time we offer gift baskets. 
Currently we are offering the following gift baskets:

Spa : includes a lavender scented hot/cold pack, a Lavender Shea Lotion Bar, and Lavender Bath Salts

Kitchen: includes a 9 inch bread board, Citrus Foaming Hand Soap, and a hand stamped tea towel.

Kids: includes a Boo Boo Buddy, an all natural Insect Repellent Lotion Bar, and a bar of Lavender Eucalyptus soap.

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Apr 15, 2015

The Mystery Behind the Name

I know there are some new readers to my blog and I know I haven’t shared much about myself or my business so I decided that I would share a little bit about who I am and how this business came to be. I am Jennifer Longenecker and I am the owner of Ardent Hands Designs. I have been married for nearly 18 years and have 5 wonderful children who are growing like weeds every day. My oldest two are very proud of the fact that they tower over their mother, but even still they are super gentle and respectable young men. My family and I are Christians and we love the Lord very much. He is central to our lives. Without God I would not be the person I am today.  This is not a story I share easily, in fact many of my close personal friends do not know my story. It’s just not something I like to share but it is part of my testimony and it is part of how this business came to be.

As with many stories this story goes back to my child hood. To keep from divulging too many details I’ll just say that I endured a lot of verbal, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse from the time I was very little until I was a senior in High School. This abuse came from many avenues.  As a result I have times when I deal with intense feelings of inadequacy and just feel messed up. For a while the only way I could “cope” with the feelings of disgust, betrayal, and unworthiness was to cut. I found a Christian counselor who helped tremendously, but I also knew that I needed something to keep my hands busy during the day.  I was already into scrapbooking so I focused on finding design teams that I could be part of, but found it wasn’t enough so I taught myself to crochet. Crocheting kept my hands busy, but my mind was still left to wander and allow feelings of the past to creep in. My kids kept finding monarch caterpillars so I decided to build a butterfly house and fell in love with woodworking. 

I found little projects to do here and there and then one day I was checking out an antique store and found a sad old vanity sitting outside with a $10 price tag on it. I knew instantly that poor little vanity was worth more and just needed a little love so I bought it, brought it home, fixed it up, painted it and found it a new home.  God used that vanity to remind me of how he can take the broken pieces of our lives, mend them, and make us whole again. No matter how broken we may feel we are never too broken for God. After working on that vanity I knew I wanted to continue to work on old broken pieces of furniture and that’s when Ardent Hands Designs was born. I chose the name because it means busy hands and it comes from Proverbs 31 where it talks about a wife of noble character. Specifically it comes from Proverbs 31:13 “she works with eager hands.” 

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Mar 25, 2015

Before and After >> Old Kitchen Cabinet

Wow! It has been forever since I have posted a before and after. The cold wet weather has kinda kept me out of my barn and focusing on sewing projects, but the sun is out more and I can finally turn the water back on to my barn and get back into the swing of things.

Let's just jump into it shall we?

I bought this old kitchen cabinet from John at John's Antique's in Dalhart Texas.

I'm guessing that it was made in the 50's, but I really don't know. The first thing I did with this piece was vacuum it out and wash it down really well. It appeared to have been used in a garage workshop for a while so it was pretty nasty and I didn't want any grease to cause my paint to resist. The inside was the dirtiest but I just washed it up with some good ol' soap and water.

I chose to paint the piece with Miss Mustard Seed's Kitchen Scale Milk Paint. It just seemed fitting. I used a 150 grit sanding block to sand everything down and then sealed it with Miss Mustard Seed's Furniture Wax. I love how this piece has lots of color variation.

I made the top from 4 pieces of 1x6 select pine. I attached the pieces with pocket hole screws and sanded it down really well with 100, 150, and 220 grit paper. I loved the natural look so I sealed the top with two coats of Miss Mustard Seed's Hemp Oil. (Yes, I love her products!)

I had three styles of knobs in my stash that I tried on this piece thinking I wouldn't really like any of them, but these turquoise and navy knobs were perfect. It took me nearly three years to find the perfect piece for these knobs.

I knew I wanted to paint the inside of the drawers and cabinets, but up until I picked out the knobs I wasn't sure what color to use. After having the knobs in place I knew I wanted to paint them Navy so I used General Finishes Coastal Blue Milk Paint. (General Finishes milk paint is not a true milk paint it is an acrylic paint.) I managed to pick up a whole bunch of paint for $2 a can a little over a year ago.

My favorite part about this piece is that the small bottom drawer is a metal drawer and I love the wire basket and shelf. It's just a really unique and fun piece.

Shared with:
Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint
Finding Silver Pennies
Home Stories A to Z
Upcycled Treasures
Miss Mustard Seed
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Mar 4, 2015

Bad Blogging

Wow, looks like I've been a bad blogger during the month of February. The month is pretty much just a blur. I sat down to write a post about why I started Ardent Hands and what the name means and that's when I noticed I hadn't blogged in a month!

For the first of the month we had  lot of gorgeous sunny days and I was able to get out in my barn to work on furniture. Then the cold and rainy weather set in so I switched gears and started working on adding new sash colors to my line of vendor aprons as well as some boo boo packs (ice packs) for children.

Before the cold weather set in we were able to make a weekend trip down to South Padre. The weather was gorgeous and it was a wonderful and much needed break.

This is our dog Zoey. She's a mix of I don't know and who knows what, but she's a super smart dog and just the best dog ever.

She was a little unsure of the water.

But once she got her feet wet and saw the kids having fun she began to play along.

I think she enjoyed it.

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Feb 4, 2015

Running a Booth at an Antique Mall: Month 1

Ok, I have to admit that as soon as I signed the lease at Lone Star Gifts I started to panic wondering if I made the right decision. I was scared to death that I had killed my business by doing so, but things have worked out. My sales for the month totaled more than my cost on the booth but once the 10% came out it dropped me down to being about $8 shy of breaking even. However I still maintain a few items in my Etsy store and sold a vendor apron as well as an accent table through Etsy which put me well over the "breaking even" point. Historically speaking January is a really slow month for me, but this January was better.

I missed my post for week 3 so I'll give you a recap of what I have done as far as upkeep of the booth for the last two weeks. The last half of January was pretty busy with a stock show and with illnesses so I pretty much kept to straightening up the booth on Tuesday's and Friday's. Last Friday when I went in I noticed that two of my display baskets had sold so I had to do a little rearranging. That also meant that some of my wall space was bare so I needed to add something to the space. Today I added some wall decor and some pink hot packs.

With Valentine's day approaching it's natural to wonder if I should be making items specific for the season. I did that once for Christmas and none of it sold so I opted to just add a few pink items instead of having something that is specific to the season.

More posts in this series:
The Beginning
Week 1
Week 2

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Feb 2, 2015

What defines good bones?

When shopping for furniture a lot of people will tell you to look for pieces with "good bones". So what exactly defines good bones?

That's kind of hard to define, but for me I am looking at the parts of a piece of furniture that make up the main supports. They have to be solid wood and can't be warped. As you get to know me you will discover that I believe anything made with OSB or MDF is fit only for the burn pile. I hate the stuff. In the dresser above the "bones" of the dresser are the front and back legs and the decorative pieces on the front between the drawers. I can replace the sides, back, and drawer guides if needed. Some are not willing to put in that kind of work and that's fine. I enjoy doing that kind of work which is probably why I spent more than I needed to on this piece.

The sides and back have to be replaced.

And the top is split and warped. I will probably have to make a new top, but I can use the old top to make breadboards.

Here are the bones of the front of the dresser. I took the dresser completely apart and re-routed the tongue and groove joints to fit the new back and sides. *This is not something you want to try doing if you are not familiar with a router.*

I'll be sharing more as this piece progresses ....
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Jan 29, 2015

Benjamin Soap Company

I recently received an order for one of my vendor aprons from Jae with Benjamin Soap Company.

She had just been accepted as a vendor at the Wolf Ranch Farmers Market and needed the apron by that weekend. I was able to get the apron to her with time to spare and she sent me a wonderful thank you gift.

This soap smells amazing and feels great on the hands. I typically buy my hand soap from Bath & Body Works, but I may be making a switch after using this stuff  especially once she releases her foaming hand soap.

Jae started making soap last fall with the idea of making a pure additive free soap for her daughter.

She also sent some lip balm which has come in quite handy. I typically use Burt's Bees Grapefruit Beeswax Lip Balm, but this stuff works just as well if not better and I'd much rather support a local gal.

She also offers lotion bars, candles, and wax melts.

Here's Jae sporting her new apron the first day of the farmer's market.

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