When I got married, I bought a hand made wedding dress. Expensive, but worth every penny!

Etsy.com - hand made wedding dress


When I got engaged on Christmas Eve 2011, I had a vision of a dress in mind before he even dropped to his knee. I wanted something unique, flattering, and special, of course. I knew I wouldn’t find what I was looking for on a rack at David’s Bridal. I started scouring the internet, although I knew my chances were better online, I was extremely apprehensive about buying my wedding dress online.

Buying a wedding dress without so much as seeing it in person, let alone trying it on, would be a huge risk to take. But I still wasn’t finding anything up to my standards. Finally an idea popped into my head – my best friend was married two years prior and had these wonderful bridesmaids dresses handmade from a woman on etsy.com, a craft type online marketplace. I didn’t think she made actual wedding dresses, but the bridesmaid’s dresses were so beautifully done, I thought I’d at least check her out.

To my utter surprise, I saw she did make bridal gowns…unfortunately none caught my eye. On the very last page, in the third row, second column, I saw a picture of a young woman in a dress in a small icon. I clicked on it to enlarge it and there it was – my dress. I contacted the dress maker right away to see if she would even be able to do it, she would have well over a year to complete the job.

Then came the moment of truth…the price. For a custom, handmade bridal gown, I knew we would be talking thousands. Even when I browsed on David’s Bridal, most reasonable dresses started at $1000.00. When the seamstress wrote me back explaining it would be $750.00 plus shipping, I about lost it! And yet it gets better. Her and I e-mailed back and forth and back and forth. She needed measurements, I wanted to change a few things, she needed payment, I questioned the materials used…and that’s when the bright idea hit me – if she is using strictly recycled material anyway, what if I sent her the recycled material? What if I sent her my mother’s dress along with my fiance’s mother’s dress and had her turn it into a dress for me? I dared to ask her the question.

She replied stating that she would absolutely love for me to send her the material because then she doesn’t need to worry about finding it. So I sent it out to her. Once there were no more words to be spoken, I had to wait. I was able to pick what time I wanted on her schedule, but because I tricked myself into thinking I would actually loose weight, I chose the last available time. Eventually she sent me pictures of my completed dress to see if I wanted anything changed. I did not, I fell in love with it and couldn’t wait to get it!

My fiance was with me when I got home from work to find a notice on our front door asking me to pick up a package at the post office. I brought the box home, carefully cut it open, and delicately removed the dress from the box. My fiance helped me hoist it up and over my head. It fit perfectly. The dress was tight, lace, doily material up top, and loose, miscellaneous strips of fabric filling out the skirt below. I twirled around a few times, then asked my fiance to un-zip me. That’s when I realized there wasn’t a zipper! I never thought to ask, I had just assumed there would be one.

I also noticed there was a little bit of excess room in the chest area that needed fixed. I ended up taking it to a local seamstress and paying under $10 to fix the front. Compare that to finding a dress at David’s Bridal that every other bride this season would be wearing and spending over a thousand dollars and you can’t. There is no comparing. In two weeks, I was wearing a custom bridal gown made up of my mother’s and my fiance’s mother’s wedding dresses to get married…and all for $750.

A beautiful gift for my mom’s 50th birthday…a gemstone heart pendant. Just lovely!

Happy Birthday Mom!

The XPY Sterling Silver, Gold, and Gemstone Heart Pendant with Diamond Accent

This past July, my mother celebrated her 50th birthday. Not only was this an incredible milestone in her life, this had been a particularly difficult year for her, as my father passed away in April. I wanted to get her something special to celebrate her life, and to commemorate this very special milestone. The trouble was deciding on what to get her. I wanted to give her something extra-special, something that she could love and cherish. Finally, after much searching, I settled on this beautiful heart-shaped pendant on Amazon.
This gorgeous piece of jewelry is definitely something that my mom will cherish for years to come. The two-toned heart with sterling silver and 14k gold makes for a lovely contrast, and is extremely well made. At the center of the heart, a small diamond accent hangs above her birthstone, a deeply rich, sparkling ruby. Of course, now all of my aunts are completely jealous; I may end up having to order more pendants in their birthstones for Christmas so that they don’t feel left out!
In my case, I particularly loved the gold half-heart in this particular pendant. I felt that it could symbolize the half of my father’s heart that she will always carry with her – and my mom felt that it was a lovely reminder that though they are apart for now, my father is always with her, in that center part of her heart. He is represented by both the diamond and the gold; while she is represented by both the birthstone and the full-heart in sterling silver.

It’s versatile!

The great thing about this piece of jewelry is that it is versatile. While I chose this gift as both a birthday present and memorial, this would make an excellent mother’s necklace for a mother and child, or an anniversary present from a husband to his wife. This piece is lovely enough to wear with formal dresses, but won’t feel overstated if you choose to wear it with a more casual outfits as well.

Ordering jewelry online

When ordering jewelry online, it can be difficult to tell if a piece will be what you expect. I have to say, I was not disappointed. You really can’t beat the quality of this piece for the price. The gemstone in the center was brilliant, with the ruby having an excellent richness and shine. The size of this pendant is perfect – not too big and clunky, and not too small. It came in a very nice looking small box; all I had to do was add some attractive tissue paper to keep the necklace centered nicely.

A great gift for the woman in your life

If you’re looking for an excellent piece of jewelry to get your mother, wife, girlfriend, or any other woman in your life, I can’t recommend this piece highly enough. It can be difficult to find high-quality jewelry for a decent price when shopping online; there is no concern here. This piece is well-made, and will be something that that special person will cherish for years to come. My mother receives complements on hers whenever she wears it, and I know that everyone asks her where she got it and who gave it to her. It makes me feel proud to know that I have given her a gift that truly gives her joy and puts a smile on her face every time she sees it in the mirror or pulls it out of her jewelry box. In fact, I’ve been hinting to my husband that I wouldn’t mind receiving one of these in September when we celebrate our anniversary!

8 Fun Things To Do with the Kids Before Summer Ends

August has arrived already, and with it brings thoughts of the school year to come. There are still some warm days left before school starts, though. In these last few weeks, I try to squeeze in as much fun as possible with the kiddos. I try to make sure that at least SOME of these fun activities are accomplished before summer comes to a close.  I’ve done all these with the family at least a few times.  All are great for some quality family bonding.

#1 – Go Camping

Summer’s long days and warm weather makes it the perfect season for camping. If you haven’t been yet, grab your tent and some sleeping bags and head out into the woods. Even a grassy backyard will do for a pseudo-camping trip. What’s important is that you leave the technology behind – turn off the cell phone, leave behind the video game systems and spend time reconnecting with each other out in nature. Don’t forget to bring along the makings for everyone’s favorite campfire treat – S’Mores.

#2 – Explore the Beach

Summer is beach season, and if you haven’t made it yet, now is the time. Even if you have made it, one more trip to the beach can’t hurt. Whether you’re near the ocean or heading down to the lake, those long, hot, summer days spent building sand castles, collecting shells and sea glass, and playing in the water are memories that your kids will never forget.

#3 – Have a Picnic

camping photo: camping Firefighter20overlooking20lake201.jpg

image source: photobucket.com/images/camping

There’s just something extra-special about eating outdoors. Whether you’re heading to the park and using one of their grills, or bringing along some simple finger-foods, having a picnic is an excellent summer activity. Bring along a Frisbee or other outdoor activities and enjoy your afternoon or evening outside. If you can, try to stay out long enough to catch some lightning bugs (fireflies).

#4 – Hit the Bike Trail

The summer months are the perfect time to hit the bike trails with your kids. Whether you’re biking through a local park or hitting wilder trails, spending a day biking with your kids is an excellent activity to do with the kids before school starts. This is an excellent opportunity to bring along that picnic from the previous activity and truly make a day of it.

#5 – Head to the Water Park

In a month or two, the water parks will be closing down for the season. These last couple of weeks will be your last chance to spend and afternoon at the water park. The kids will have a blast spending an afternoon on the water slides and lazy river, and let’s face it – you will too.

#6 – Grab Some Ice Cream

ice cream photo: Ice Cream tumblr_lii6kgCn8d1qa9rqso1_500.jpg

image source: photobucket.com/images/ice%20cream

Sure, you can buy ice cream any time at the grocery store, but there’s just something special about visiting one of the many ice cream shops that are only open during the summer months. If you haven’t visited one of these yet (or even if you have), now is the the time to make that ice cream run. Many of these shops will be closing their doors for the season in the next few weeks.

#7 – Grab a Paddle

You don’t have to have white water nearby to have a good time on the lake, river, or ocean. If getting into the raft or kayak isn’t something you’ve done yet this summer, now is the time to grab your paddle and head out onto the water. There is just something exhilarating about being out on the water, even if its more of a lazy float than a white water rampage.

#8 – Hit a Summer Festival

Summer is festival season. Whether you’re there for the food, people, or music, visiting one of these summer fests is an experience no one should miss out on. Even if you have to drive a ways to find one, hitting up a summer festival should be on your list of things to do before summer is over.

Maintaining Your Love Life While Running a Blog

It took me years to learn to maintain that elusive “work-life balance”.  What many bloggers are wondering, however is how to manage their time effectively so they can continue to have a healthy love life with their partner. After finishing a full day at work, and then coming home to manage household tasks, many bloggers then open their laptops to spend another several hours completing more work.

business gal

Unfortunately, this often occurs during the only time that these women get to spend with their partners, making it difficult to maintain a healthy relationship. Even if they do manage to find an hour or two for catching up and spending time together, exhaustion often rules out any chance of having sex. It’s important to keep in mind however, that once sex becomes secondary, the relationship is often the next thing to go. So what’s the best way to keep the love alive?

As a full time blogger, I follow these four rules to a “T.”  It’s done wonders for my marriage.  I learned my lesson years ago after spending too much time online, and too little time with my husband.  Things got rough, and didn’t get better until I followed these basic guidelines, religiously.

#1 – Set Some Limits

One of the most important steps you can take is to set limits on your work hours. With the technology available today, working from our laptops, tablets, and cell phones at home is easier than ever. Unfortunately, this can have a seriously detrimental effect on our relationships. It is important to set limits on the number of hours you’re working per day. Set a specific time (in our house, it’s 8pm) for closing down the laptop and shutting of the phone and tablet. Not only will this give you uninterrupted time to focus on your partner, it can protect you from the effects of burnout as well.

#2 – Make Lovemaking a Priority

Secondly, it is important that you make your relationship and sex a priority. When your day is full and you’re exhausted from working, it can be easy to let the love life slide. However, this may not only be detrimental to your relationship with your partner, but to your work as well. Recent studies have shown that having regular, enjoyable sex can enhance your productivity and performance at work. So you can have great sex, improve your relationship, and even write better blog posts. Talk about having your cake and eating it, too!

If you really want to spice things up, write a poem for your significant other.  It’s not as difficult as you may think :)

#3 – Manage Your Time Wisely

When you’re working it may be tempting to take that break and gossip with a coworker, but you may want to skip it in order to get more done. If you work from home, use a browser extension such as StayFocusd in order to help you stay off social media sites so that you can get more done. Increasing your productivity during the time you’re at work will leave you feeling less pressured and rushed. This can help make it easier to unplug and switch gears once you get home.
That doesn’t mean that you should gorge on those sites after work, however. While social media is excellent for keeping track of family and friends all over the world, it shouldn’t become a substitute for real human interaction. In general, spend no more than an hour or so each night on your social networks, and then turn them off to reconnect with your partner.

#4 – Exercise

When your schedule is already jam-packed with other things to do, the prospect of finding time for exercise each day can seem monumental. In spite of the difficulties, it is important to make sure that you include this as a part of your daily routine, however. It has been proven that not only can exercising each day make you more alert, it may also help to make you smarter. When you’re smarter and more alert you can get more done at work, again limiting your need to put in time after hours.

How to write a love poem to your spouse or significant other

Mark Twain - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Twain#mediaviewer/File:Mark_Twain,_Brady-Handy_photo_portrait,_Feb_7,_1871,_cropped.jpg

Mark Twain: courtesy of Wikipedia

 “All of us contain Music & Truth, but most of us can’t get it out.”

Mark Twain

There are times when a Hallmark card doesn’t feel like enough

On anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, or any occasion where we want to show your significant other that you truly value them, a poem that you’ve written yourself speaks volumes. Too often, we’re worried that we can’t write anything good enough to really show our love. Too often we’re worried about writing something great—all we should be concerned about, though, is writing something true. All the poem needs to do, is show how we feel. If it does that honestly and unabashedly, it is a good poem.

The act of writing goes a long way

A poem takes time and effort—it requires us to open up and become vulnerable—to share what is really going on in our heads and hearts. All of that will be appreciated by your loved one. Your poem is a little piece of yourself that you can give to your partner.

There are many ways to find inspiration for a love poem

Start by thinking about your partner. Her laugh, her voice; the color of her eyes. What are the qualities you think of first, if someone asks you why you love her? Make a list. Every word on that list could turn into the inspiration for a poem. What little things does she do or say that no one else notices, but you cherish every time, like the little action or word is a precious gift?

Next, think about how your partner makes you feel. What do you feel when you glance over at him, and noticed he’s been quietly staring at your profile? How do you feel the very first time you think about him in the day? When you say “I love you,” what do you truly mean? Can you unpack those words into something more, express the depth of feeling behind the phrase? There’s a whole poem waiting to be written, there.

There are all sorts of elaborate poetic forms and meters and rhyme-schemes. But you don’t need to concern yourself with any of that, if you don’t really want to. Your poem doesn’t need to conform to any structure. It doesn’t even need to rhyme. Writing good rhyming poetry is difficult—if you’re just starting out, it might be helpful to write your first poems without rhymes. After you’ve got the poem finished—after you’ve honestly said everything you want to say, you can go back and think about rewriting to include rhymes, if you decide the poem needs them. But at first, don’t let the extra concern of making all the lines rhyme properly get in the way of expressing exactly what you want to say.

The only thing a poem needs to do, is honestly share what you feel

If it does that, it is a great poem. Your loved one will value it because it’s something you made just for them—you put a lot of thought and hard work into it, for no other reason than to tell them you love them. That is a profound thing. Don’t let any doubts about how good of a writer you are get in the way of sharing your poem with the person you love—you never know how much they’ll cherish the gift until you have the courage to give it.

If you’re still not feeling it…

If you’re still having trouble finding some inspiration, there’s a nifty little website called www.lovelifepoems.net. There are a lot of great examples to get you started.


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