Polkadot Apple Review and Giveaway

By 1:51 PM , , , , , ,
This posting is the fourth in a series of posts about my favorite etsy stores.

One of my favorite products I have received from etsy came from Polka dot Apple!
 

Polka dot Apple is one of my favorite etsy stores for home decor because they make really, really neat home made pillows. They also make other cool vintage inspired, home sown creations such as bags, wallets, baby goods, home decor, and accessories.

Here is a picture of the pillow I got from them:
(I mean seriously..how perfect?!)
In case you can't read it..."and they lived happily ever after. the king and the queen. the end"

The front of the pillow is a burlap material and the back is fabric. I'm pretty much obsessed.

They also sell other cool products like this polka dot flannel baby blanket that I'm totally crushing:


Now on to a little 411 about this etsy store:
Susan Boilon and Terri Wright, the store creaters and owners, started off by putting their awesome home made goods in a few craft fairs. After having several customers ask them how they could buy their products after the fair was over, they decided to open up an Etsy store. They are both full-time elementary teachers (that just so happen to share a love for fabric) so their store allows them to enjoy their fun creative side.
(There are no papers to grade!)

Susan says, "We love fabric and sewing and sharing our products with wonderful friends all over the world."


Their career as teachers is actually what spawned their company name as the name came from their mutual love of Polka dots and teacher apples! 
They handcraft functional art for everyday comforts all with a retro mod feel. Their items include goods for the home such as napkins, pot holders,botanical placemats, and dot table runners. They share my love for birds and use them birds often in their pillows, coin purses, purses, and book bags. They also have upcycled frames with quilted bird and fruit art. For the ladies they offer burlap purses, cowboy purses, and vintage inspired wool clutches and bags. They also have matching wallets, totes, tea holders, lavender sachets, and apple and pear pincushions. Kids items include: aprons, chalk mats, splat mats, barnyard balls, and owl and monster book bags. For the modern mom they have sets of baby food holders, diaper clutches, bags, bibs, burp clothes, and changers. For the teacher (as experts on things teachers like) they offer retro inspired oilcloth book covers, notebook covers, and button paper clips. Seasonal items include patchwork pumpkins, bird Christmas ornaments, and fabric trees.

Susan descibed their store to me as a place where... "we use fun fabrics to add a bit of color to your days. Polka dot Apple is where fabric meets imagination! Our goods are soft, contemporary and eco friendly."

Great News:
Polka dot Apple is offering 10% off to all my readers!
Just use mention my blog to receive your discount

Be sure to check out Polka dot Apple for yourself via their Facebook and Etsy pages. Remember wedding season is coming up soon and I think the below Mr. & Mrs. pillows would make a super cute wedding gift if I do say so myself! 

Polka dot Apple is offering a giveway for a pillow of your choice from their etsy store!
Enter to win via rafflecopter below:


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Green Ribbon Gems Giveaway Winner

By 10:31 AM , , ,
A HUGE congrats goes out to Jan Messali, the winner of the Green Ribbon Gems $25 giveaway! Thanks to everyone who entered and don't forget to enter to win the other two awesome etsy store giveaways currently going on for Embellished Living and Katie's Creative Bakery!

Jan, make sure to comment and let us know what you decided to get with your win!



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Embellished Living Review and Giveaway

By 2:48 PM , , , , , ,
This posting is the third in a series of posts about my favorite etsy stores.

Another incredibly awesome etsy store is Embellished Living!


Embellished Living is one of my favorite etsy stores for home decor because they offer beautiful, home made wreaths and home decor. 

Embellished Living was created in February 2011 by a couple friends and stay at home moms with a common love for all things crafty. Once they had finished filling their own homes with their beautiful decor they decided others might enjoy their items as well. Thus with great excitement and a bit of apprehension Embellished Living was born. Their goal in opening their store was to make a little bit of spending money doing something that they loved. They started off their business slowly with a Facebook page and by attending a few local craft shows but things quickly expanded. As their confidence grew and their items started selling, they decided to open an etsy Shop, which was established on July 18, 2011. In September, they had one of our most popular items “pinned” on Pinterest.

Chandra, one of the three store owners told me, "Because of that 'pin', a number of popular bloggers began featuring us on their respective blogs, propelling our business to a level of success we never dreamed possible. We recently had another version of that item "pinned" and saw another huge surge in orders."

Due to the gained exposure from Pinterest and blogs, Chandra, Jacy, & Stacie (the owners) have now been published on PocketGreens.com as expert contributors; been highlighted in etsy find emails; and are financially contributing members of their families! You go girls! What a great story and inspiration of entrepreneurship!

Not only are they now achieving great success financially, but they are offering there awesome products to the rest of us who aren't so crafty so we, also, can have this awesome look in our own homes! I  got the monogrammed wreath, in a "T" of course, from Embellished Living and LOVE it! It makes me happy every time I pull into our drive and see it on our front door...(hey, it's the little things in life, right?) 



Here are the some of the pictures of my beautiful "T" wreath:





(what do you think? Awesome?!)

Embellished Living also sells some other really cool wreaths like these:



They offer these felt rosette wreaths in a number of stock colors including: grey, cream, milk and dark chocolate, brick red, and the rainbow of primary colors and varying seasonal colors.

They also offer custom ribbon colors and rosette colors on their monogram wreaths.

Great News:
Embellished Living is offering 10% off to all my readers!
Just use code: MARRIED10
(hurry the code is only good April 1st-15th, 2012)






Now for the super exciting news!

Embellished Living is offering a giveaway on my blog for a $25 gift certificate to their Etsy shop!

Be sure to enter to win below via Rafflecopter beginning March 29th and check out their Facebook page, twitter, and Etsy page while you are at it. Remember Easter and Mother's Day are right around the corner!

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Vacation Rental Scams/Reality

By 8:00 PM , , , , , , ,

The husband and I decided a couple weeks ago that we were ready to book a condo at the beach for a much needed relaxing getaway...we decided we wanted a condo rather than a hotel so we could save some money by cooking some of our meals at the condo rather than eating out an entire week.

After posting on Facebook that we were looking for a condo, we had several friends recommend VRBO as the place to search for a condo. After several nights spent on the internet looking for a condo we would be interested in, we decided upon what we thought was the perfect condo...a condo right on the beach with a gorgeous view of the pool and ocean. However, after contacting the owner, he insisted we send a very large check in the mail to him to secure the condo...(we were skeptical having already been scammed via craigslist on a rental home a few months ago...but that's another story) when we requested a contract prior to sending him a check in the mail he got very offended and told us if we were so worried we should probably look somewhere else!

This is when we started our research...apparently there are no guarantees that the so called "owners" of the homes available for rent on vrbo actually even own the home they have listed. VRBO does offer "fraud" insurance for $40. After calling them to find out more about the offered insurance we found out that if we were to get to the condo and the deal was not legit the insurance would allow us to get the money we sent the owner back for the condo. HOWEVER....they would NOT refund us the gas money we had to spend to get to the beach/back home or the hotel we would have to get for the night if we didn't want to drive 8 hrs back the same day....for us it wasn't worth the stress. 


Luckily we were able to rent a condo from a family friend instead that we know we can trust.


I really wish we lived 50 years ago when you could still trust people....I seriously hate that we have to even be concerned about things like this...it's sad but reality.

Have any of you ever used VRBO or any other on-line condo rental service? What has been your experience? I would love to some others experience for future vacation plans...

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Katie's Creative Baking Etsy Review

By 8:38 PM , , , , , ,
This posting is the second in a series of posts about my favorite Etsy stores.

Another one of my absolute favorite Etsy stores is Katie's Creative Baking!


Katie's Creative Baking makes absolutely AMAZING cookies. I'm talking good. Not only are they super delicious but they are absolutely adorably insane! I'm not kidding...this girl really is like the cake boss of cookie making. My husband called her cookies fantastic.

Katie Duran, the master baker and store owner, makes gorgeous cookies...perfect to send to a friend for a birthday gift, Easter gift, or to pass out as favors at weddings or baby showers (they come individual wrapped with a pretty bow).

Are you dreaming of a bulldog cookie (OK maybe that would only be me and all my fellow UGA alumni/students/fans....as long as you are not dreaming of a Gator cookie we won't have a problem!) Anyway this girl can do it! She takes custom orders which would be great for an extra special gift. Katie even told me that custom orders often result in some of her best work.


Ok, Ok. Enough chit chat...Time to show you how awesome these cookies are (if only I could pass you a sample so you could taste how delicious they are also):
 




(wouldn't this be a cool shower favor?!)

Great News:
Katie's Creative Baking is offering a 10% discount exclusively for my readers!
Just use this code: filingjointly 
(Hurry! Offer good until April 14)

And now for a little about Katie: Katie graduated from RIT with a BFA in interior design in 2003. However, after a few years in the design industry, she realized her real passion was in baking. With her friend's and family's support she decided to go back to school for Pastry Arts at The French Culinary Institute in New York City in 2008. After finishing the intense 6 month program she was lucky enough to find a job as a baker/decorator at Flour Patch Bakery in Montclair, NJ (which has since closed). This is where she first learned how to decorate cookies. After the bakery closed she jumped around to a lot of different bakeries and but never could find the right fit. This is when she decided to start researching opening her own small food business.

She says, "The plan was to make simple yet delicious American classics: pies, drop cookies, brownies, and layer cakes. I began getting requests from family and friends for the decorated cookies that I used to bring home from work. I worked out my own recipe and started making the decorated cookies occasionally. Soon enough all I was making was decorated butter cookies."


 Local event planners were her first outlet for the cookies. Then she started up her Etsy shop for the 2011 holiday season and just recently got her first wholesale accounts. Her next goal is to get enough regular business between event planners and wholesale accounts to have a permanent kitchen, rather than renting out a commercial kitchen by the hour.

Katie told me, "My art background is a HUGE asset when it comes to creating my decorated cookies. I love creating great color combinations and unique designs. I get inspiration from EVERYWHERE and I really like working with customers to create unique and custom creations."

Katie, being as innovative as she is, is currently working on new flavors for her cookies but currently has vanilla, chocolate and gingerbread butter cookies. Prices can range from $0.25 - $5.00 a cookie, it all depends on the size and the design.

Katie currently resides in North Jersey and delivers locally and also ships to anywhere in the United States.
My delivery arrived all the way to Georgia so fast!

Katie says, "Baking is the perfect combination of art and science, two of my greatest loves. Creating a recipe is like conducting a delicious experiment. I methodically test (and taste) my recipes to come up with a perfect formula of flavors and texture. I take pride in developing my recipes and hope you love the taste as much as I do."

Here is another picture of some of the cute Easter cookies I got from Katie:

I have to admit. I was a bit skeptical that the cookies wouldn't taste good. Let's be honest...usually when something looks great the taste is seriously lacking. Case in point is all the fondant used on cakes. Yuck. However these cookies totally blew me away. I couldn't put them down. They are soo good! If that doesn't make you want to go out and buy a dozen or so right now then you're officially crazy.

Here are some more pics of some of my other favorites (and yes these are all cookies):

She says an added bonus is that as a baker artist of these awesome cookies she gets to, "influence people’s lives in small and special ways while doing something I love. How great is that?"

For more pictures and updates on what's going on in the life of a baker visit her facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/Katiescreativebaking

 Make sure you check out her Etsy store to make your purchase:

Now for some more super exciting news!

Giveaway:
Katie's Creative Baking is offering a giveaway on my blog for a $40 gift certificate to her shop with shipping included!

Be sure to enter to win below and check out her  Facebook page and etsy page while you are at it. Remember Easter and Mother's Day are right around the corner! AND it is shower season! Lots of weddings and babies...

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Pinching People on St. Patrick's Day?

By 12:56 PM , , , ,
Since St. Patrick's Day is tomorrow it got me wondering...

1) why do we wear green on St. Patrick's Day?
2) who developed the idea that it is OK to pinch people on this holiday?


So I did a little research...and I found some answers:

As you may know, St. Patrick was a dude who was born in Wales in 385 A.D. He spent over 30 years of his life converting people to Christianity. (And I thought St. Patrick's Day was a day for drinking green beer???) In order to explain the Trinity, St. Patrick used a three leaf clover to show how three separate parts could be of one entity. He used the clover in his sermons to show how the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit could all exist as separate elements of the same entity. Brilliant! (Wish I would have read his idea before using the egg example numerous times in sharing my faith! This option is a lot less messy than breaking an egg.) Because of this way of sharing the faith his followers started wearing the shamrock. However, wearing green on the holiday is actually an American-made tradition.

Now for question #2... Pinching people who are not wearing green is an American tradition dating back to the 1700s. People used to think that if you wore green it made you invisible to the Leprechauns. This was a good thing because, legend says, leprechauns are obnoxious little fellows and love to pinch anyone they see. So the pinching tradition today is to warn and remind you about the Leprechauns.

Thanks to this knowledge I will forever more think of the trinity when I think of St. Patrick's Day!

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Green Ribbon Gems Etsy Store Review & Giveaway

By 4:23 PM , , , , ,
This posting is the first in a series of posts about my favorite Etsy stores.

One of my fav Etsy stores is Green Ribbon Gems!


Green Ribbon Gems offers beautiful, handcrafted jewelry made with Swarovski crystal, semi precious gemstones, pearls, glass, copper, antique brass and solid sterling silver.

Genevieve Meehan, the jewelry designer and store owner, makes gorgeous handcrafted earrings, necklaces, pendants, bracelets, and...get excited all you brides-to-be...bridal jewelry!

That's right! Any piece available on her website she can make doubles of for your bridal party! Don't see your colors on her website? She even takes custom orders exclusively for bridal parties! How beautiful would the simple wire wrapped crystal earrings and pendant necklace be on your bridal party? Not to mention this would make the perfect bridesmaids gift since it is something they really could wear again and again. One of the products I thought would look great on a bridal party were these earrings:

(wouldn't they create a cool vintage look for a wedding?!)

Great News:
Green Ribbon Gems offers a 10% discount for brides on orders of 3 or more items!


Genevieve, an Oregon native who now resides in Delaware with her husband and two children, has been making jewelry for almost 5 years now! Her background is actually in civil engineering (the same as my hubby which makes me like/respect her even more). Jewerly making used to just be a hobby of hers. Then, after having her daughter almost 3 years ago, she decided to try selling her jewelry due to the flexibility jewelry making offers. Her business was a success and she is now able to stay home with her 2 kids and work on her business in her spare time. I think it is so cool that Genevieve not only gets to be a stay-at-home mom and spend time with her children, but also gets to do something she loves (and make money doing so)!

Genevieve says, "it's so rewarding to sell things I've made by hand and know there are people out there enjoying wearing something I've made for them."

I ordered the following necklace from Green Ribbon Gems:


It's so gorgeous! The first day I wore it to work I must have gotten at least 5 comments on how unique and beautiful it is! I totally agree. I also really liked how the necklace came packaged in a jewerly box made from 90% recycable materials!  

Another cool fact: Lengths for bracelets and necklaces can be changed if you'd like a different length. She can also change the earwires on any pair of earrings if you'd prefer a different style.

She says, "I enjoy experimenting with the vivid colors and bright sparkle of Swarovski crystal, as well as the organic variety and irregularity of gemstones. I use high quality solid sterling silver for all of my metal components because I think jewelry should last. Jewelry design is a constant evolution, and I enjoy the creation process from the first spark of inspiration to the completed piece."

For updates on sales and new items check out her facebook page:
http://www.facebook.com/GreenRibbonGems

She also has a website that shows all her products and has more information on her store. Make sure you check it out:
http://www.greenribbongems.com •
Now for the super exciting news!

Green Ribbon Gems is offering a giveaway on my blog for a $25 gift certificate to her store!

Be sure to enter to win below and check out her website, Facebook page, and Etsy page while you are at it. Remember Easter and Mother's Day are right around the corner!



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My Current Obsessions

By 4:06 PM , , , , , ,
Here are my four current obsessions in no particular order:

1) Etsy

WOW! For those of you who have not yet discovered Etsy be prepared to be amazed! This website is the place to buy and sell everything homemade (along with some super cool vintage items that would be impossible to find anywhere else). The various shops on this e-commerce website offer everything from nearly every item you would need for a wedding (including some awesome wedding dresses); to unique, beautiful jewelry; to wonderful housewares; to homemade gorgeous clothing! Whatever it is you should be able to find it on Etsy! 

Good news! I am going to be featuring several of my favorite Etsy stores over the next couple of weeks. Even better news! I will be hosting a giveaway for each store I feature. AND, if that does not get you excited enough, each of these stores have been kind enough to agree to offer a special coupon code exclusively for my readers. So even if you do not win the giveaway you still get something! Get excited! Check back soon for the first feature and giveaway!



2) Cucumber, Avocado, Black Bean, & Corn salad

This is a specialty of mine...not really. It's pretty much the easiest thing you will ever make! And its super cheap. And both the hubby and I are obsessed with it. We have it at least twice a week. 

All you need:
Can of black beans (drained and rinsed)
Can of corn (drained and rinsed) 
Cucumber (put up into small pieces)
Avocado (slice into thin pieces)
Italian salad dressing 

(ok so it doesn't look as good as it tastes)

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Pour the salad dressing over the mixture. That's it! Told you it's super easy! And delicious! And healthy. Tip: It's better the second day because the salad dressing has more time to soak in.
 
3) The Vow

The movie featuring Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams. If you haven't seen it- YOU MUST! It's fabulous! Very similar to the Notebook but I liked it even better (which is saying something because the Notebook was my favorite movie)! It is seriously amazing. Even my manly husband liked it. GO SEE IT! 


4) The Following Quote
"Marriage vows are like promising to have sleepovers every night with your best friend." --Lynsie Petig
 And there you have it...my current obsessions! 

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Our Wedding Night Nightmare

By 5:31 PM , , ,
For those of you who have not already heard what happened to us on our wedding night I can assure you that this story will bring you a laugh.

Around 11pm on what was a particularly hot summer night in July we begin to get ready to leave our wedding reception in my mom’s borrowed Camaro convertible. Our wedding party had decorated the convertible with lots of balloons and signs all tied at various heights to the car along with the traditional cans tied to the rear. After saying our goodbyes, and watching the fireworks that were shot off in our honor from the end of the street, we were anxious to make the 45 minute drive to Atlanta to our hotel room. After all it was our wedding night. Before we could begin our drive, however, we stopped to cut down all the balloons, attached cans, and take off the signs. I watched while my new husband did so...quite quickly I might add! He jumped back in the car. We were ready to go! That’s when we began to have car troubles.
Stuck at the end of the street, we watched for almost an hour as all our guests drove by us smiling and waving…This part I really do not understand. No one stopped to help us?!? I mean what in the world did they think we were doing parked at the end of the street? Did they not realize it was our wedding night and we had much better places to be? I tried to call my family...bridesmaids... anyone who could come save us. Unfortunately they were all busy cleaning up and did not have their phones with them. FINALLY we got the car started and began on our way. That’s when Josh realized he had left his backpack (which had our passports for our flight out of town) in his brother’s truck. He called his brother but they were already half way back home which was a good 30 minutes from our wedding location. So we had no choice but to turn around and wait for them to return. Josh refused to return to the wedding location so we hide out in the parking lot. For me it was a bride's nightmare. As you can image we were exhausted from all the stress and excitement of the wedding...along with talking to about 400 people. Finally, after what seemed like forever, his brother arrived with the backpack. We were FINALLY on our way to the hotel. Little did we know our nightmare was just beginning!
our "getaway" car

Approximately 45 minutes later, exhausted and STARVING, we arrived at our hotel. My sweet husband had planned ahead and had checked-in early to the hotel earlier that afternoon. When he checked in they told him they did not have the room ready yet but that he could leave our bags with the front desk and they would ensure that our stuff got to our room. They told him that all we would have to do would be to stop by the front desk and pick up our room key upon arrival. We could not WAIT to eat something. I hadn’t eaten anything all day other than a couple pieces of fruit around 10:30AM and a bite so tiny it is just enough to tease you of wedding cake that was pushed in my mouth for the pictures. Luckily our caterer had packed us a “to-go” bag. We could not wait to dig-in.
As we walked into the lobby (mind you...I am STILL in my wedding dress which, by this time, I have been in for 15 hours and it is becoming more and more uncomfortable by the second) we were surprised to find our bags sitting in the lobby. The two men behind the hotel desk counter went on to tell us that our room had been given away since we had not arrived prior to midnight. (I think it was about 1:30pm by this time). Given AWAY! That's right. A very tired, hungry bride standing in a hotel lobby in her wedding dress being told that her hotel room had been given away does not make for a very pretty picture. Let me just tell 'ya.
Eventually they found us a room (which was NOT the suite we were supposed to have had). We walked into the room and instantly were aware of the powerful smell of smoke (we had asked for a no smoking room). “Who cares…I am SO tired. Let’s just tough it out,” I told Josh. We both plopped down on the couch. That’s when we became aware of the noise. Apparently we had been put on the fraternity hall. No lie.  Some frat was having some kind of event and had decided to bring their party back to our hall. The noise was crazy. Music blaring, kids screaming, not exactly how you would picture your wedding night. We opened the door (still in our tux and wedding dress) to discover a person passed out in the hallway in front of the door and beer bottles everywhere. We still had not received our bags that had to be brought up to the room (which was why I was still in my wedding dress) so we decided to call management. They told us to come back down to the lobby and they would try to figure something out.
Over an hour later we were finally given a room. It was NOT the room we had requested but at least it was a room. After waiting another 30 minutes for the guy to bring our luggage we could finally eat. It was now 3:30AM. We opened up our food only to realize that the caterer had poured all the food in one bag. I’m talking everything. Ever tried mashed potatoes that are sitting in a bag of pickle juice with some cheese? Let me just tell you. It is gross! Not worth eating even if you are starving.
We gave up. We had no food. We were not in a nice room like we had reserved. We were exhausted. There you have it...our wedding night nightmare!
The good news is that after the first 48 hrs were behind us we had a wonderful rest of our honeymoon in St. Lucia. It was a total turnaround. Of course it wouldn't be hard to beat our first night in Atlanta. Plus I can guarantee you we will NEVER forget our wedding night!

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Birthday Chronicle Giveaway Winners

By 4:59 PM

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congrats to Jennifer Donohue and Sue Bunting the winners of the birthday chronicle giveaway!

Thanks to all who entered!
Be on the lookout for another giveaway soon!



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Winnner of the Coach Checkbook Cover Announced

By 9:12 AM , ,

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And there you have it! The winner of the Coach checkbook cover! Congrats to Kristen Rodrigue and thanks to everyone who entered!

Don't forget to enter the birthday chronicle giveaway that ends tonight at midnight!
Be sure to check back soon for a new giveaway and while you are at it read my newest post on Leap Day Proposals.

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