New items in the shop — I’m feeling the gold love

31 Jul

I just added some new treats to the shop after finding myself on a bit of a gold kick. Also, each includes something I found on a single purchase I recently made at a flea market. Each piece is lightweight and whimsical (and $14 or less), and I had to share.

The flea market find was, I think, a key chain. It was gold and featured a short, thick chain (there was nothing to use for attaching keys, though) and three small charms, each cuter than the first.

The first charm I used was the tiny heart lock, which I paired with an enamel flower I found at an estate sale (click any pic for more):

The second charm on the find was a simple gold locket in wonderful condition. I attached it to a new gold-toned chain and left it as is because, well, I adore lockets and don’t think they need a lot of frills to be fabulous. In the listing, I also included another vintage gold-toned locket I had, with some three-dimensional flowers. You get either one you like — or both.

The final charm on the flea market find was my favorite: a tiny little teapot. Instead of putting that on a necklace, I made a little charm bracelet for it. It looked lonely by itself, so I also included a new, wire-wrapped genuine pearl. What an adorable pair:

I hope you enjoy my vintage and upcycled gold treats.

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My favorite things

31 Jul

In which I share some beautiful things.

I adore the colors in this Caught Red Handed Too bracelet (click on any of the pics for more):

The pattern and style of this ring by Les Things is beautifully simple:

I’m not sure what I love more, the sentiment or the typewriter in this Sweet Harvey print:

I’m currently accepting ideas how I can use this fab ribbon by The Lonely Heart in my wedding decor:

Which is your fav?

Getting to know me

30 Jul

The beau and I spent a long weekend in southwest Ohio, or what I like to call “home.”

I was born about an hour south of Chicago, and my family moved to a Cinci suburb when I was in fifth grade. While I was off in college in the other corner of the state, they up and moved back to Illinois. When I graduated, I worked in Illinois for three years before heading to Indiana, where I currently live.

Despite all the moves, all the states, the jobs, the people … southwest Ohio is my home. When I visit, I get a feeling that can only be described as giddy. The views, the streets, the simple geography is in my veins.

For the first time in our 2 1/2-year relationship, I got to bring Jeff “home.” I got to show him where I went to high school. He got to meet my bestie’s family. We were the attached-at-the-hip type, so when her parents told me I’m welcome at their lake house any time, even if their daughter is not there, I know they’re not lying.

The bestie and the beau right after they jumped off the pontoon. I stayed put.

He also got to meet The Second Family, the crew I started babysitting for when I was 12 who have become so much more than that. (Does everyone have a Second Family? In my experience, most do, so I hope this relationship makes sense beyond “Those people I used to babysit for.”)

On the trip, I watched my fiance and my best friend jump off a pontoon boat and swim back to shore (see above — I really adore that pic). I watched him chat with the fellow whose children took up pretty much every Saturday night during junior high and high school. I drove him past the house I grew up in and pointed to a giant tree towering over the house. My brother gave that tree to my mom as a mother’s day gift when it was nothing more than a twig in a Styrofoam cup.

I got a little paparazzi with my old house. That’s the tree my brother gave to my mom for Mother’s Day. It truly was laughably small back when Dad planted it.

He got to understand why this is the place I would so, so, so love to “end up” someday, and on the drive home, I told him, “I feel like you know me better now.”

In which I play the role of ‘domestic goddess’

25 Jul

I don’t cook.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy it. I’ve just never seen the point of doing it just for me when I can have a perfectly good bowl of Kix for dinner.

Now, I live with a boy. I get home from work before him, and he gets in about an hour and a half later, all sweaty from his work out.

It is a perfect scenario for me to … like … cook dinner.

I have a few really easy go-to meals — chicken and potatoes in the oven, tacos, pizza (not the frozen kind either, but, like, homemade [coughwithapremadecrustcough]) — but last week, I saw fit to think outside the smallest box of recipes ever.

I googled “easy healthy recipes for two” and found myself a site that suggested not one, not two, but three recipes I thought sounded yummy. I promptly marched my ass to the grocery store and bought things that required a Google image search, like “scallion” (oh, a teeny tiny onion) and “chives” (oh, green onion) and “chipotle chile in adobo sauce” (huh?).

My meals turned out pretty good, but the best part was the beau’s reaction to them. He said, more than once, how great it was to come home to dinner already being made.

At first, I thought he was mocking me, as I’m as domestic as a wild turkey.

“No, I’m serious,” he said, grinning like a sexy fool. “When you call me and say, ‘When will you be home?Dinner’s ready,’ I get all, ‘Oh boy, dinner’s ready! Better hurry up!”

“Are you serious?”

“Yeah,” he said, and, without a hit of sarcasm, “It makes me feel like a grown up.”

((cue heart melt))

Here are those three recipes in order of yumminess: chicken breasts with mushroom cream sauce (also on the menu for tonight), barbecue portobello quesadillas for two (yes, I looove mushrooms) and spicy cioppino (read: Italian seafood stew. I used crab in leiu of tilapia, and it was a little bland).

Revisiting Shop Talk: Meet Julie Ann Art

24 Jul

I haven’t done anything with my Shop Talk feature in a while, but I think it’s time to revisit.

To remind you, Shop Talk is where I do a quickie Q&A with a shop I heart. In most cases, these are shops I’ve frequented and can tell you from experience: They rock and are uber deserving of your support and patronage.

One such shop is Julie Ann Art, card-designer extraordinaire. Julie Ann’s cards are simple and quirky with exactly the right sense of humor. Consider this beaut I gave the beau for Valentine’s day:

He guffawed and asked, “How do you find these things? It’s from Etsy, isn’t it?”

Without further ado, I bring you Ms. Julie Ann, of Orange County, Julie Ann Art the shop and Julie Ann Art the blog.

How did you get started as an artist? I developed an interest in art at a very young age. I think my grandma passed the trait on to me. I remember her teaching me fancy coloring techniques — well, as fancy as coloring can be, I guess. My interest in art followed me all the way into my college years, where I graduated with a degree in photojournalism. I now work in the photography field full-time while also dabbling in ink illustration for my greeting card line on Etsy.

How did you take that creativity and transfer it into cards? What made cards a product that interested you? I started selling on Etsy in 2008, and my shop has greatly evolved since then. My beginning product was original canvas paintings, and I was quick to learn that original paintings are not, shall we say, the most popular product on Etsy. I started thinking about other ways to expand my creativity in a more rewarding way and painted a few original cards. As demand started to increase, it got harder and harder to keep up with painting each order, so I eventually turned to a pen and paper to establish a more efficient system.

Another Julie Ann Art card I’ve had the pleasure of giving

 There are so many paper products on Etsy. What is one or two things you do that makes Julie Ann Art standout? With Etsy growing at a rapid pace, it is getting harder and harder to stand out in the crowd. Over the years I have worked on developing a distinct style and look for my cards. I think that it’s very important to have your work distinguishable from others, and if someone can pick one of my cards out of the crowd, I know that I did my job right. Apart from that, and just trying to have creative and original ideas, I think a lot of what has helped me stand out is the help of the community I’m involved in. Being a blogger has introduced me to so many people that I have the pleasure of now calling my friends. They have my back and help to support me, as I help to support them. If I didn’t have them, I really believe I wouldn’t be where I am today.

What is your best-selling card? Why do you think it’s so popular? It’s hard to say because it varies by season, depending on which holiday is coming up. I have a “naughty” card for Valentine’s day or anniversaries (Snap, Crackle, Pop says: Ahem, see above) and I’d have to guess that it is probably my most popular card of all time. Why is it popular? It’s definitely original, creative, and something you’d never find at Hallmark.

What is your favorite card in your shop? Why? I don’t really have a favorite! Is that weird? To me, they are all little pieces of my self expression. I have enjoyed making all of them and even more so recently, as I’ve really started to understand who I am as an artist. I continue to try to improve, and also challenge myself, and not take the “easy” route and make something just because I know it’s trendy and will definitely sell. More heart goes into my card designs than ever before because I am so passionate about being original and true to myself.

This one, too. I didn’t buy this with anyone in mind and used it for a, “Oh crap, I forgot a birthday. Aaaaand this is perfect.”

What is one movie you can watch over and over and over (and over) again? I am a huge Harry Potter nerd so I will watch those movies (and read the books) for the rest of my life. Other than that, if “A League Of Their Own,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” or “Vanilla Sky” are on TV, I’m sure to put them on, even though I’ve seen them all about 100 times over.

What is one song that you immediately turn off when it comes on the radio? Man, this is tough because I feel like every song becomes this song at some point because everything gets so over-played! I tend to stick to my iPod or Pandora so I can pick whatever I want to listen to and skip commercials. ;]

If you got to have lunch with a literary character, who would you like to dine with? Ron Weasley. I love him. (Snap, Crackle, Pop says: Swoon. Me too. My favorite Potter character, hands down. Though Neville Longbottom is up there, too.)

Mucho thanks to Julie Ann for playing along with Shop Talk. Want to find her in the social media’verse? Check her out on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.

Poll time: Let’s talk wedding colors

22 Jul

I know this poll is hardly inclusive of all possible wedding colors. But based on bridesmaid jewelry orders I’ve filled, they cover the big ones. (Except for blue. I keep editing it to include blue, and WordPress is just not havin’ it.)

Help a sister out: Take six seconds and answer my poll. If you want to be an uber doll, you can share this link on Twitter, too. Be sure to tag me @JacAndElsie so I can properly tell you how fabulous you are in thanks.

I found a wedding dreeeeeeess

20 Jul

Yesterday was the third time I went shopping for my wedding dress. And I bought one, baby.

The experience was … interesting.

The first time I tried on dresses was on my birthday. My best friend was visiting, and she scheduled the appointment. I was not yet engaged, though Jeff and I had looked at rings and I had picked out my favorites. But the bestie lives out-of-state, and who knew when we’d hang out again? This needed to happen.

We went to David’s Bridal and had a wonderful time. The woman who helped us was amazing. She knew what I wanted better than I did, and the dresses she suggested ended up being better than the ones I picked out. Granted, the extent of my pickyness extended to “not strapless,” so there wasn’t a lot I had in mind.

I don’t care how perfectly altered a dress is to your body — you will still end up doing this every 25 minutes.

The second time I went, I was with my mom at a bridal boutique. The woman who shimmied me into and out of each dress complained no fewer than four times, “Well, you don’t want strapless, so what I can bring you is kind of limited.” Yes, I understand, 90 percent of what you have is strapless. That’s part of the reason I don’t want one. I’m not holding this against you.

I found two dresses I really dug that time around, and I was able to narrow down my tastes a bit: I like lace and silk, I like slinky, I like awesome backs. Big poofy Princess Cup Cake dresses are fun too, and they make me feel pretty. But I’ve always been one for comfort above all, so while Princess Cup Cake was fun for dress-up, it’s definitely not a style I wanted. The day I get hitched, I’d like to be able to pee on my own if possible.

Absolutely lovely. But so not me. Bet you didn’t know she’s hiding an entire wedding cake under there.

Yesterday, I tried on dresses with my friend Emma. (Who has since pointed out, “Your relationship cannot survive without me. You and Jeff met at my birthday party. I was at your house the first time he called you to ask you out. And I was with you when you bought your dress. You need me.”)

The experience was … not awesome.

We ended up back at David’s Bridal, but the awesome woman from my first trip was not working that day, so someone else helped us.

  1. She did not like it that I had a friend with me to help zip me up when necessary and hang up each dress as I moved onto the next. This was exactly how the first David’s trip went, so why was it bad this time?
  2. She brought out the dresses I had marked as favorites from my first try, including something awful I’d never seen before. She insisted I had chosen it. Because it would have been impossible for someone to invert the numbers or write down a 6 instead of a 0. She did not offer to help find the actual dress I had liked.
  3. When she brought out dresses she thought I’d like, it was as if she was picking at random with zero clue as to what I was looking for.
  4. She farted. I’m not kidding. At one point, she excused herself to go to the front of the store, at which point Emma turned to me and sniffed just as I was thinking, “What is that smell?” “She farted!” Emma hissed. “No,” I said. “It had to be someone else.” We looked around. There was no one else. Our bridal assistant fart-and-dashed.

So this is the beaut who gets the commission from my dress. It’s too bad … but not so bad that I didn’t buy it. ‘Cause my dress rocks.

But, to reiterate: She farted.

Farted.

I will forever be able to tell this story.

Of the bridal store employee who farted.

Pfft.