Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wordless Wednesday! God's Majesty On Display in Idaho.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Artisan Feature: Seese The Day

Seese The Day is an boutique named for owner and artist Jo Seese who aptly lives by the phrase Carpe Diem. A grandmother who teaches middle school, Jo likes to joke that crafting keeps her sane after a day spent dealing with teenagers. Jo was inspired to make her most popular creation, knit beaded bracelets, by a friend and fellow crafter. Her first creation inspired some of her other colleagues to get crafty and soon she was getting together regularly and teaching other new skills. Her fellow crafters insisted on the creation of Seese The Day and Jo was off and running. Jo now spends her free time between grading papers and combining her love for both knitting and jewelry to make unique woven beaded bracelets, scarves, hair accessories, and more. Most of her work is one-of-a-kind and she happily accepts custom orders. Jo loves the personal experience of selling her items to customers on Etsy, friends, and family. Jo often receives requests from her students once even sold one of her projects to a stranger on a train.

In her shop you can also find a great selection of knit scarves perfect for the changing season, customizable stack-able stretch rings, and flower headbands for babies and girls. I am a big fan of her zebra striped headband with a red 5 inch flower currently for sale in the Seese The Day Etsy shop.

For this review Seese The Day sent me a custom made Knit Beaded Bracelet in "Summer Sparkle." Woven together with golden thread are clear, white, brown, and gold seed beads attached with a lobster-style golden clasp and a drop chain. I love that the size is adjustable, although the bracelet is perfectly sized on its own and the knitted design is quite flexible. The drop chain actually allows this to be worn as an anklet as well, which I think would be really cute on the beach next summer! There is a seemingly random pattern to the bead work which I think adds charm and I love owning one-of-a-kind pieces like this one. The bead work is actually quite delicate which  makes the bracelet nice and light. I would recommend these bracelets for someone who prefers their jewelery to be flexible while still giving the look of a chunky bangle.

Jo looks forward to retiring in 2012 and hopes to supplement her income by making many new happy Seese the Day customers. She is inspired to create new items by fellow Etsy artists and is working on new skills such as embroidery, so be on the lookout for new pieces in her shop. The future of this store is certainly a bright one.

Visit Seese The Day on:



Enter to win this Silver Sparkle Cube Bracelet, a $29 value, by Seese The Day,
in the North Carolina Artisans Event

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Aritsan Feature: The Gretchen Collection

The Gretchen Collection is an shop operated by Gretchen Krueger. A stay-at-home mom of 2, Gretchen got her start making artwork for herself and friends and since participating in a local craft fair, her art career has taken off. Gretchen creates decorative pieces on canvas using the art of decoupage to add a touch of whimsy to familiar woodland creatures, abstract objects, and depictions of nature. Most of her pieces are ideal for nurseries and children's rooms; among the artwork you will find custom letter wall hangings and hair bow holders. She offers a few pieces that would complement any space in the home as well. Her pieces are simplistic and modern. She also offers designs in college logo patterns. Current finds include her own alma mater of Appalachian State, NCSU, UNC, and ECU, perfect for decorating the dorm room. These would make a great gift for a student headed to college this fall. She would be happy to create custom designs in other schools as well!

Gretchen also offers some jewelry and accessories. She has adjustable chrysanthemum flower filigree cocktail rings. I am a big fan of these rings! I hardly ever order jewelry online but since these will fit any size finger I would purchase one knowing I wouldn't have to return it! I like the option of being able to choose different fingers to wear it on. She also uses the same flowers to decorate bobby pins for a cute hair accessories. 

For this review, Gretchen sent me her most popular item, an 8 x 8 Boutique Owl Multimedia Art Block, similar to the one she is giving away. I was very impressed with how seamless the owl is put together. The collage work looks very professional and smooth and I like the addition of ribbon to add a 3 dimensional touch. I am compiling a few girl items with hopes of having a baby girl one day and I think this piece would bring an adorable and modern decorative touch to a pink nursery. Gretchen accepts custom orders and loves creating pieces to match specific nursery or bedroom themes. You can currently order an entire custom set through her Etsy boutique (an example set is show below). She loves the feedback she gets from customers and has received many positive accolades. You may also find her pieces in Raleigh-area boutiques.

Visit The Gretchen Collection:



Enter to win this Boutique Owl Multimedia Art Block, a $15 value, by The Gretchen Collection 
in the North Carolina Artisans Event 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Goat's Milk Infant Formula Recipe

Some of my friends and family are aware of my son's dairy allergy and I wanted to make this information available to my readers or anyone looking for more information on meeting the dietary needs of an Infant with MSPI (Milk Soy Protein Intolerance) and/or food allergies.

We first noticed the following signs to indicate that my little kiwi might have a food allergy or intolerance around 3 months:
  • Irritability/Colic
  • Excema around face, chest, and hands
  • Rashes around mouth and anus
  • Unexplained sleep disturbances
  • Other common signs
We had another friend with an MSPI baby and she suggested cutting out dairy, the number one food allergen, from my diet to eliminate it from the breast milk Logan was receiving. There is also an elimination diet that moms can try that eliminates all allergens and slowly adds them back. I would have tried it if the problems continued. After removing dairy from my diet we saw a dramatic change, enough to indicate that dairy was the main problem and I didn't need to continue eliminating more allergens. For those who are curious, I did eat dairy my entire pregnancy. I am also encouraged to have found information indicating that Logan may grow out of this intolerance in time.

When I began weaning from breastmilk altogether we needed to decide what to supplement Logan's diet with. We did experiment with formulas available to confirm that he would not be able to tolerate Dairy based formulas. We tried all the special made formulas for babies with dairy allergies and Logan absolutely refused to eat them, even mixed with breastmilk. I have long trusted Dr. Sears and Sears and my resourceful The Baby Book and found information about using Goat's milk on their website.

With the support of our pediatrician and after doing much research about the amount of calories needed, how to balance the proteins, fats, and carbs correctly, and additional additives for baby's health, we decided on this recipe that we began using around 8 months. The basis for this recipe come from

Goat's Milk Infant Formula Recipe: (1 day of formula)

40 oz Infant Mixing Water
8 scoops (32 oz worth) of Powdered Goat's Milk
1 quart Fresh Pastuerized Goat's milk
8 oz Infant Mixing Water (we add extra water to dilute the amount of protein)

2 TBS Organic Brown Rice Syrup (carbs)
1 day serving of Infant Multivitamin (adds essential Iron and Folic Acid as well as other vitamins)
1 tsp of Organic Coconut Oil (fats)
1 tsp Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (fats)
1 dropper Baby DHA (fats)
11/2 Scoops Baby probiotics (for aiding in digestion and to mimic live cultures found in breastmilk)
(If constipation is noticed you can also add some molasses, we just offer apple juice on occasion)

**Please consult your child's pediatrician before adapting your child's diet, this is for informational purposes only**

Logan has responded vary well to this diet, he is well within normal growth ranges for his age, sleeps much better, has clear skin, regular bowels, 6 teeth, and is always smiling! I am glad information like this was available and hope others find this useful.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Artisan Feature: Macrame & More by MelanieR

Macrame and More by MelanieR at is a shop named for its owner and artist Melanie, a native North Carolinian. Along with the custom penciled portrait art work of her husband Claudiu who hails from Romania, visitors to this Etsy shop will find the Knotted Art-N-Wear working of one very crafty elementary school art teacher and mom of two. This shop is fun, funky, quirky, and retro all the way. Among the 100 plus items for sale you will find macrame and beaded bracelets, earrings, hair clips, necklaces and more. Many feature glass pendants or bead work and different colored or natural hemp, floss, or cords woven together to create a natural and earthy accessory. You can even find the occasional macrame wall hanging.

Melanie and Claudiu have an active family, playing sports such as soccer. Team spirit is an inspiration for some of Melanie's creations. Looking to wear your school colors? Melanie takes custom orders for school or team color fan bracelets in this fun zigzag woven design. At only $5.00, these are a great deal for back to school care packages! Melanie also crochets so you never know what crocheted creations you might find in her store as well. One of her featured crochet designs in the store right now are crocheted hoop earrings with lightweight colorful circles on a sterling silver earring. If you are looking for a unique gift idea a penciled portrait by Claudiu is a unique treasure. Contact the shop for more information and pricing on portraits.

Another great find at Macrame and More by MelanieR is her Egyptian coil spiraled jewelry in either  sterling silver or copper wire. Melanie sent me a set of these creations in a bracelet and ring to review. I love the lightweight feel of the bracelet and how the coils mold to the shape of my wrist. The texture is fun to feel and this bracelet looks different than any other jewelry I own. I like pairing this set with silver and gold pieces I currently own to make a trendy three metal mix that I've seen in magazines lately. I once was Cleopatra for Halloween and these pieces would have gone great with that costume, they would also pair well with a Greece or Roman theme. You can also find these pieces on colored metals in the shop as well; like the purple and green bracelets that would make excellent accessories for a Halloween witch. They are great for everyday as well and Melanie also has a variety of rings to match, many with an added jewel, she also make other great beaded wire jewelry such as this bracelet:

Visit Macrame & More by MelanieR at:

Enter to win this pair of copper spiral wire earring with turquoise beads, a $15 value, by Macrame & More by MelanieR, 
in the North Carolina Artisans Event

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Artisan Feature: Affordable Wonders

Affordable Wonders is an online retail shop and an Etsy shop featuring the creations of Cristina. Cristina opened her shop about two years ago when she was running out of places to store her creations and people to give them to. Affordable Wonders has become quite a success since then, enabling Cristina to help provide for her family and stay home with her kids. After being medically retired from the US Army, Cristina feels she has regained her sense of purpose again. I want to say thank you to Cristina for her service to this great country of ours! 

Cristina's favorite things to work with are merino wool, beads, and crystals, and she makes a variety of products with them. Her most popular item is an adorable Mickey and Minnie Mouse-inspired Diaper Cover and Hat set. She sells the crochet pattern for the set as well. Her shop consists mostly of knit items such as hammocks and outfits great for photo props, blankets, and clothing. Cristina sells the patterns for many of her items as well, so check those out if you are a knitter or crocheter yourself like I am. Knitters, you can also find stitch makers in her shop.

In addition to the Etsy boutique, the Affordable Wonders website offers tutorials, artist profiles, Cristina's blog, additional products, and more. Visitors to the website can also find tutorials from her customers, and you can sign up to keep current with the latest from Affordable Wonders.

A darling creation from Affordable Wonders

Other than her knit items, Cristina mostly creates beautiful Beaded Hair Ornaments in the shape of flowers and butterflies. I was sent this white beaded hair ornament to review. You can see from the photo its relative size compared to a dollar bill. Affordable Wonders
does take custom orders but expect a few weeks wait as the beads are imported. Cristina has some great suggestions for the many ways this accessory can be used. Many customers request a corsage wrist band be attached so it can worn with ribbon for prom. They are high quality and can be used for weddings or other formal occasions. 

I enjoyed tucking mine into an updo for church or a date with my husband. I like that it is attached to a longer bobby pin which helps it grip my fine hair. The bead work is exquisite and up close I could not spot any flaws. The flower is beaded with wires and can be bent for slightly different looks. Cristina offers other colors and sizes in her shop as well. My one critique is the I'm not a fan of the green stem. This was probably a choice to make it look like a real flower but I think it distracts from Cristina's amazing bead work. I think if asked Cristina would be happy to use a different color to wrap the stem.

Visit Affordable Wonders at:


Etsy Shop



Enter to win this beaded hair accessory, a $20 value, by Affordable Wonders, 
in the North Carolina Artisans Event

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Artisan Feature: Comfy Home Creations

Comfy Home Creations is a girl's and baby clothing boutique on Erika, a full time mom, full time medical assistant, and part time clothing designer, begin sewing in 2009 when her husband bought her a sewing machine for her birthday. Sewing came naturally and she so enjoyed making clothes for her own girls and friends that she decided to open her own Etsy boutique. Her favorite fabrics to work with are cotton and corduroy, so just like her shop name suggests, the outfits she makes are very comfy indeed.

 Remember that one of the great things about shopping clothing boutiques on Etsy is you are supporting local artisans and you get great products made right here in the US instead of in some factory in another country. This is particularly important to Erika and her customers.

Erika sent me a girl's outfit to review. I got to experience what it was like to work with her as custom order shopper and she is great with communication, she helped me pick a size out of a range of her basic stock and suggested this great fun fabric you see above. She gave me a choice between clothing brands that she would use as a base for the outfit which I appreciated. Any mother know that not all brands fit alike or fit the size they say they do. The outfit she made me was an adorable initial onesie with matching skirt. The print she used is a charming owl print, which you can find used in other items in her shop as well. She used a coordinating fabric for the hem which is wide so you you have some fabric inside the skirt before you see the backside of the owl print.The lightweight corduroy fabric has a fun texture, sure to delight the infant wearing it. You can find this same corduroy fabric in other Comfy Home Creations outfits when you visit Erika's shop. The stitch work and quality of workmanship in the outfit is wonderful. I was very impressed. She even added a cute little Comfy Home Creations tag with wash care instructions!

Perfect stitching around the A.
I picked this outfit because it has always been my heart's desire to have a little girl and as we are thinking about adding to our family I have started to collect a few hopeful items for the future. Yes, our choice for a girl's name begins with an A if you are wondering. If I had spotted this same outfit in a fancy baby boutique I probably would have paid twice what Erika charges in her shop. I have noticed that she has already taken another custom order for this outfit this week. Erika's pieces are super affordable for the quality you are getting and I will definitely return to her shop as customer if and when my baby girl arrives. Until then, this outfit is too adorable to just sit in my closet and will go on loan to my business partner who just happens to have a baby girl with an A name.

While Erika works mostly on girl's outfits you can custom order (and occasionally find) boy outfits from her store as well. Check out this this adorable necktie onesie! Logan has one just like it and they are great for a non-fussy church outfit, and sure to receive lots of compliments. Some of my other favorites currently for sale in her shop are Halloween dress outfits and Mickey and Minnie polka dot inspired outfits (great for that next trip to Disneyland/world!) Erika often receives customer appreciation photos and she finds this part of her business especially rewarding, so it's safe to say Erika is excited about the future of Comfy Home Creations.

Visit Comfy Home Creations at:

Enter to win a custom Hoot Owl Girl's Outfit (Initial of choice and size, up to a 5), a $29 value, by Comfy Home Creations, in the North Carolina Artisans Event

Friday, September 16, 2011

Artisan Feature: Gifting Girls

As a Celtic-inspired store, Gifting Girls features the creations of first generation Irish-American  Shannon. Shannon was influenced early on by the creativity of her mother whom she watched sew and draw. Inspired by childhood summers in Ireland and England, Shannon shares a piece of her heritage with each piece she crafts; many of her pieces include coins she brought back from those summers. Visitors to Gifting Girls will find will find a great selection of cuff-links, jewelry such as necklaces, bracelets, and rings, and pieces for the home including drinking glasses and door-hangers. This a great place to find gifts for groomsmen, father's day, graduation, and St. Patrick's day celebrations. Gifting Girls ships its products worldwide.

Shannon got her start creating her cuff links when she transformed a pair of coins into a Father's Day gift for her own dad. Among Gifting Girl's cuff links you will find Celtic crosses and knot work, nautical and pirate inspired pieces, and authentic coin cuff links using coins no longer in circulation. Since many European countries now use the Euro, these coins are becoming a novelty. Best sellers include 3 Pence cuff links that have the Irish Hare and 6 Pence cuff links with the Irish Hound. One of my favorite items is a pair of heart shaped Celtic knotwork cuff links. Shannon even includes Celtic knotwork history in the item's listing description. Gifting Girls also has special holiday items, so be sure to check back often for new things. Looking for something specific, like a specific country or year? Shannon would happily takes custom orders. Shannon's day job is in Customer Service so you can count on her to be a good communicator!

Shannon sent me an Irish One Pound Coin Necklace from Gifting Girls to review. The authentic coin is polished and attached at 3 points to a 22 inch chain and adorned with a clover charm and a green beaded charm. The clasp is a star with swirls and a slip-through clasp. I think this necklace is very fun and unique, and while I don't have any Irish in me I would still find occasion to wear this, maybe layered with some additional chains for a fun look. My sister-in-law who loves all things Celtic and often participated in Scottish dancing would love to borrow this necklace for attending a festival. I am also sure to wear it on St. Patrick's Day! This is a great necklace for anyone, but specifically for someone wishing to express their Irish heritage.

 Visit Gifting Girls at:


Enter to win this pair of Celtic Knot Cuff Links, a $24.99 value, from Gifting Girls,
in the North Carolina Artisans Event 
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