Monday, March 2, 2015

Box of Pearls Review & Giveaway

I just love browsing Etsy, and by chance the other day I stumbled upon this beautiful little shop called Box of Pearls. Amanda Thompson, owner and operator, was kind enough to send me a little something to review. 

She's also giving a $25 gift certificate to Box of Pearls
to one of my lucky blog readers!

This delicate chevron stripe necklace was the first thing that caught my eye in Amanda's shop. 

The funniest thing happened to me while writing this blog post. My sister stopped by with a birthday present, this necklace! She found it using my Etsy favorites! I wore it all day Sunday and I couldn't love it more. It is the perfect color combination (silver chevron, gold chain), the perfect length (17 inches) to wear with everything, and simply stunning. I just can't believe the timing of this gift!

Box of Pearls has so many wonderful pieces. I believe these fun little personalized initial rings were what brought me there in the first place.

I love this dainty little bracelet. I sent Amanda a list of my favorites and asked her to surprise me and she sent this beauty. I wore it yesterday as well.

I have a very small wrist and it's very hard for me to find bracelets that work for me, which is probably why I have less than a handful. This bracelet fits just perfectly, and feels light as a feather! She didn't know it when she sent it, but the saying fits me perfectly. We've been talking to our 5 year old son a lot lately about the golden rule. The bracelet is a good reminder for me to follow by example.

The craftsmanship of Amanda's jewelry is impeccable. I will most definitely be visiting Box of Pearls again soon for gifts and staple pieces. I think the value is exceptional for such high quality, handmade, one-of-a-kind jewelry.

I asked Amanda to answer a few questions, here's what she had to say:

Q: Tell us a little about yourself
A: I’m proof that life can steer you in an unexpected direction.  With a degree in Exercise Physiology, I somehow ended up working as a restaurant and catering manager for almost ten years and a personal trainer for about four years. Then, after marrying and becoming pregnant, my husband and I decided that me staying home with our little girl was the best decision. So, as most busy bodies do, I found a way to keep productive by developing my jewelry-making hobby into a legit business.  It's a juggle, but I wouldn't want it any other way!  
 Q: When did you start making jewelry?
A: I started making jewelry in 2004 as a hobby, for my friends, my family, and myself. It soon developed into monthly showings at local art galleries around town.  My style was completely different from what it is today. Lots of color and beads :)

Q: Do you have a favorite or special piece of jewelry you wear often?
A:  I find that I have a bit of jewelry A.D.D.  I generally wear more simple, everyday pieces, but because I'm constantly looking to try new designs, I often want to change out my pieces.  I generally commit to jewelry for a week or two, then want something new, ha! My general style is layered delicate necklaces, stacked bracelets, with beads, chain, and shaped wire. I love dangly earrings with colorful stones and movement to them.

Q: What inspires you?
A: I’m inspired by people who make a profession out of the craft or service that they enjoy.  It takes a lot of patience, vision, and determination to work toward a profession that highlights who you are.  I love that art and business can collide to allow people to create and be a legitimate source of income. In college, I remember feeling like I had to pick an available profession from the list provided. It’s not always easy to find that “thing” to base your entire education on, and from which to build a life long career. It’s a bit premature, as a teen or early twenty something to be that focused and clear.
Q: Any advice for new Etsy sellers?
A: It took me a couple of years to understand that selling on Etsy takes real commitment. Customers have to be lead to your shop; they don't just come because you have a presence. You have to love your shop as if it’s your own home.  Be artistic with your photos, be clear and descriptive with your listing details, and be available to your customers.  Etsy is a platform for real creators. As a buyer you aren't dealing with a huge company, but most often, a single person/shop owner.  Remind your customers of that in how you respond to their questions, suggestions, order requests, and packaging.  They will appreciate knowing you are creating for them. 

Q: Where do you see yourself and your business in 5 years?
A:  I hope much like where I am today; being available for our daughter as she moves through life, while juggling a jewelry career that fits the into the mold of our lives.  I love the growth I'm experiencing, but because jewelry is a job I do from home, I will always have to manage my work vs. home time carefully.

So glad Amanda was able to find the time to share her story, and a $25 gift certificate with us!

Here's how you can enter to win:

1. Favorite Box of Pearls on Etsy

2. Follow Box of Pearls on Pinterest

3. Follow Amanda on Twitter

4. Follow Box of Pearls on Facebook

5. Share this giveaway on Twitter or Facebook

1 entry will be received for each task completed, please leave separate comments below for each entry.

A winner will be chosen Thursday, March 12, 2015 at noon PST using
Open to residents of US and Canada, 18 years of age and older.
Winner will be announced here and contacted through email and have 3 days to reply before another winner is chosen.

In the mean time, please enjoy this free shipping code from Box of Pearls:

Best of luck! Be sure to click on the tab at the top of the page for more giveaways
& sign up for email for future promotions.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Taste of Home Five Star Desserts Magazine Giveaway

I'm not sure how I ever got so lucky. Somewhere along the way I met this wonderful editor from Taste of Home Magazine. Remember when she sent me the "Best Loved Cookies & Candies" magazine or the "The Ultimate Halloween" magazines? These are not your typical read and recycle magazines, they are more like lightweight cookbooks or coffee table books. 

Well Taste of Home was kind enough to send me another magazine called "Five Star Desserts." Don't be intimidated by the name, these desserts are stunning, yet simple and fun to make. I've got some lemon sugar cookies in the oven right now from page 87. When I picked up some lemon extract this morning I had these and the Homemade Lemon Bars on page 94 in mind.

It's funny how baking days always take a turn towards my children's preferences. The first batch of lemon cookies just came out and my 5 year old asks, "Where's the stuff that goes on top?" So I rolled the last batch out and cut shapes and whipped up some green frosting. I also added more lemon, to make them super lemony since we all agreed it could use a little more.


I've also got my eye on the Chocolatey S'mores Bars on page 112,  just 5 ingredients, super easy! I think I'll make these next Wednesday night for kids club, so I can spread the love (and calories) around! I think I could pull off the Jam-Topped Mini Cheesecakes on page 54, too. You bake them in the bottom of muffin cups, and I already have all of these ingredients on hand! I love it when that happens.

There are 124 recipes total in Five Star Desserts, all nicely organized by index in the back of the magazine.

Well the cookies are ready now, I've got to go make a cup of tea. Be sure to leave me a comment below to enter to win a copy of Five Star Desserts.

*Bonus entries if you share this giveaway on Twitter or Facebook

Giveaway ends Wednesday, March 11, 2015 at noon PST.
Giveaway is open to US residents 18 years of age and older. Winner will be chosen via and announced here. I will notify the winner via email. Winner will have 3 days to respond before another winner is chosen.

Be sure to click on the tab at the top of the page for more giveaways
& sign up for email for future promotions.

Good luck & have a sweet weekend!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Where to buy Golden Tote Surprise Items February 2015

My absolute favorite thing about ordering a Golden Tote Mystery Tote was learning about the Golden Tote Trading Group on Facebook. From there I was invited to a few other "secret" groups where we could all air our dirty laundry, ie true feelings about Golden Tote.

I've scored some pretty amazing deals on clothes through these trading groups. I no longer feel the need to run and buy a Golden Tote full of surprises for the price of an arm and a leg. I just watch and wait for the items I want to come up on Facebook.

Another cool thing happened. People are sharing sites from around the web where you can buy GT surprise and out of stock items. The prices are sometimes higher, but at least you know what you are getting. No surprises here.

I may be a bit of an enabler. Oh well.

This is how I stumbled upon Ruche. I just scored this dress from a fellow GTTG member, but if you'd got to have it go to Ruche!

Here's another surprise I see flying around the GTTG

Turns out they also have a dress much anticipated in the March 2015 Golden Tote. Possibly not the cheapest, and you will also likely be able to buy it in the Golden Tote boutique, unlike the surprise items. But why wait when you can have it now!

One thing to keep in mind is that boutique items, when offered in the totes, often sell out, as this gingham dress did. I've heard great things about this one, and seen a lot of flattering pictures of it.

I also picked up this dress from GTTG, available in the GT boutique as the All Seasons dress, or on Ruche as All the Best Printed Dress

If you missed out on the Tis the Season dress on GT you can find it on Ruche as the For Good Measure Striped Dress

And here is the GT Dinner Date dress aka the Acadia Floral Dress decide. Spend $49/$149 (plus tax and shipping) for a Golden Tote for 2 chosen items and 1/4 surprises in hopes that you get your unicorn, or save your time, money & energy and buy them at Ruche

PS they have coupons, including 20% off for signing up. Tops & skirts are also 30% off now until 2/27 with coupon PERFECTPAIR30

Still have Golden Tote fever? You can also find GT brands on Zulily from time to time, such as Le Lis, Potters Pot, Flying Tomato, and Hourglass Lily. The generally do 3 day sales, so it's difficult to post comparisons, but I saw a Le Lis blouse I traded for on the GTTG going for $24.99 plus shipping. This months flying tomato cardigan just sold out, too. They can notify you when an item or brand returns. The prices are fantastic.

PS Ruche also has a jacket that is totally cute that I saw in a Stitch Fix review (Love the Kindercraze Blog!). Ruche calls it the Evette Woven jacket by Tulle.

Your turn! Where do you buy your Golden Tote surprises?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Lands End Review & Coupon February 2015

 Online shopping can be really hit or miss. I've ordered probably 2 dozen items from Amazon and kept 5 or 6. It's tedious, finding what I'm looking for and determining the fit, all the while wondering about the quality. 

I really wanted a new skirt to wear with a few tops I'd picked up from Golden Tote, Stitch Fix and Marshalls. And more dresses, because I need to dress up more.

Light bulb, Lands End has great staples! And if you go for the sale section, you can really get some good deals.

PLUS, they always have a coupon, and free shipping for orders over $50. I was able to pick up 5 items for around $100, and 4 out of 5 fit! That NEVER happens to me elsewhere.

If you decide to check it out be sure to use this link to get $25 off your purchase of $75 or more.

Here's what I picked up.

Women's Ponté Boatneck Flock Dress $40

I normally wear a 6 or an 8 in dresses, more on the 8 side since baby number 4. I ordered an 8 in the flocked dress and it fits perfectly. I always read the customer reviews before buying, to be sure items are true to size. I think it has a very flattering silhouette.

Women's Ponté Pencil Skirt $25 (Shown with Golden Tote Blouse)

I also ordered the pencil skirt in an 8. Both the dress and the skirt have a little stretch. Ponte is by far one of my favorite materials. I love the higher waist on this skirt, great for a pear shape.

Women's Knit Matte Jersey Skirt $20 (Shown with Golden Tote Blouse)

I ordered a small in the jersey skirt after reading the customer reviews. The waistband is a little tight but I think it'll stretch a little. This has a more casual feel than the pencil skirt. It also fit higher, on my natural waist. I think the shape is also flattering for my pear shape. I am having a hard time finding tops that work with it. Guess I'll have to order more tops! Tragic, really ;)

Lands End Women's Knit Matte Jersey Skirt $20 (Shown with Stitch Fix Sweater & Loft Blouse)

I think the skirt will work well with a variety of open cardigans, such as my Ezra Isaac from Stitch Fix. I would totally order this in navy too if they had it in my size. Darn it!

Women's Fit 2 Slim Leg Ponté Pants $35

I've tried on a lot of skinny pants without much luck. These Lands End pants are thicker and have a slightly more straight fit than leggings, making them more flattering on my thighs. It's really hard to get a good picture of pants, but I really like them and felt really comfortable in them. I ordered a small and they fit perfectly. I don't think I look anything like the model in them, and I'm okay with that. I'm not a stick figure!

Golden Tote Blouse & Loft Colored Bootleg Cords
In case you were wondering if I ever wear anything colorful, I threw this picture in. When I pulled these pants out of the closet I thought, "Oh yeah, this is what we wore before skinny jeans!" My daughter says they look like clown pants. I try not to argue with my photographer, since she works for free. Besides, these comments get more smiles out of me.

Lands End also has a great refer-a-friend program. Earn $20 for every friend you sign up!
Here's my referral link:

Happy Shopping!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Beat the Winter Blues: Stock up & Save on Staples

It feels like summer in southern California, so it seems kind of funny buying winter jackets and scarves. But you can't beat the prices. As long as you stick to classic styles and neutral fabrics, they won't go out of style. And I think I found some things that will work for cool spring nights as well. I think navy blue is a great color for the transition.

I just picked up this navy Larry Levine lightweight quilted jacket on Amazon for just $64. I wanted something that would keep me warm without weighing me down and this one is perfect. I like that the hood is removable. I was worried that the quilting might make me look bigger, but the quilting is small and the seams flattering.

Larry Levine Lightweight Quilted Jacket

I also picked up this cozy marled infinity scarf from the Loft final sale rack. $13, score! I love the complexity of the colors, and it will dress up my plain black tops. Unfortunately it's no longer available online.

I got this 100% cotton colorblock softened shirt from Loft, too. I'd been looking for a chambray or denim shirt for quite some time, but couldn't find one that worked with my jeans and fit properly. At $15 I couldn't resist!

Loft Colorblock Softened Shirt

I can't wait to wear this Julian Taylor Textured Knit Fit and Flare Dress. If you don't have Amazon Prime I highly recommend it. I use it for my business, but I also love the free 2 day shipping and free returns and exchanges on just about everything. Between that and their President's Day sale (20PRES15), I snagged this dress for just $30.

Julian Taylor Dress
I almost ordered the petite, but the 6 fit just right. If you are between sizes order down. It also comes in plus sizes. The dress has a kind of funky zipper up the back, which you can see by watching the 360 degree video on Amazon, another great reason to try Amazon.

This isn't a heavy ponte type material like I was anticipating, but it has structure and give. Just not quite as soft. It has a waffle texture. I love the modest neckline and length, I know I'll wear it because I don't have to work about these things.

And for the warmer days I bought this light rayon tunic by Grand & Greene at Marshalls for $17, as seen here with my favorite "accessory", and the reason for my new wardrobe :)

Grand & Greene Tunic

Sunday, February 15, 2015

While You Were Sleeping: Stitch Fix Review #2 February 2015

One of my favorite things about Stitch Fix is trying on clothes in the privacy of my own home. I tried this fix on while the baby took a nap nearby.

For those of you just joining me, Stitch Fix is an online clothing subscription box. You simply create a profile of your sizes and style preferences, make a few comments, and schedule a date to receive your first fix. They send you 5 surprise items, you keep what you love and mail the rest back. The cost is $20 per box, but if you decide to keep an item this goes toward it. Shipping is included in the price of the items. You can choose if you want all tops, pants, purses, etc.

My first fix was so great I kept everything, which qualified my order for 25% off the grand total. You can read about it here.

For my second fix I decided to be a little more adventurous. I scoured the web looking for cute clothes and pinned several to my pinterest board. I shared it with my stylist and I could tell she had thoughtfully considered it. You can view my board here.

Now for the reveal, and this time I took pictures of myself wearing the clothes. Be kind!

Renee C. Top & Mystree Cardigan
Renee C
Tucker Split Back Blouse $54
Size Just right
Price Just right
Style Like it
Fit/Cut Love it
Comments: Almost too short. Color slightly off. Odd to find polyester that wrinkles. I'm afraid to wash it. Can't figure out what to wear it with except ponte dress pants. Too shiny/dressy.

Back Renee C Blouse
Renee C material

Mystree Cardigan Close Up
Esperanza Open Stitch Cardigan $68
Size Just right
Price Too high
Style Just ok
Fit/Cut Like it
Comments: Wish it were more navy or gray. Wish it had pockets. Was see through, cold. Hard to stuff sleeves in and pair. Crochet made me feel old. Flare and shape was great. Too fragile to wear with kids.

Liverpool Jeans
Mira Skinny Jean $78
Size Just right
Price Too high
Style Just ok
Fit/Cut Hate it
Comments: Had a hole. Fit but overemphasized my thighs. Too thick to wear as leggings. I have to cover my butt. Color odd. 

Liverpool Jeans Close Up
Daniel Rainn
Bilson Pleat Detail Tunic $74
Size Just right
Price Too high
Style Just ok
Fit/Cut Like it
Comments: I can't wear pale colors, except gray. Pleats weren't flattering, ended at baby bump. Made me feel old. The material is good. Had the casual comfy feeling I want. Please try similar again.

Daniel Rainn Dress

Daniel Rainn
Aretha Abstract Print Dress $108
Size Too Big
Price Too high
Style Like it
Fit/Cut Just ok
Comments: I realize I more or less asked for this, but it didn't work on my pear shape. I didn't like the small patter or color. Too formal.

Daniel Rainn Dress Material
Other comments: I like navy, gray and black. I love tunics. I love open cardigans but they have to fit over clothes. I need mostly casual clothes, for layering. My clothes need to be practical, sturdy, was easy. I'm more likely to keep items under $50.

I only kept the Renee C blouse, but it was more a budget issue than anything else. I will definitely do Stitch Fix again soon. I really love my stylist (Thanks Traci!)

If you'd like to try Stitch Fix please use my referral link, it would be much appreciated!

Thanks for sleeping baby!

Monday, February 9, 2015

It's Giveaway Time! The Latest from Modern Typography on Etsy

I'm really starting to get into the swing of this work-at-home thing.
The new baby is a good sleeper, praise the Lord. We will see how we do when baseball goes full swing. 2 players this season = 5 days a week of baseball!

I am so thankful for my faithful repeat customers on Etsy, things have been going pretty well since I started back up. However, I think I may have lost a little momentum. What better way to kick things into high gear than to start a new giveaway?! It's been ages, and well, ya'll deserve it!

The winner will receive a package of goodies from Modern Typography including:

A $55 value!

I'm not a big fan of Rafflecopter so let's do this the old fashioned way.

Leave 1 comment below for each of the following steps you complete for a chance to win! 

1. Subscribe to my blog.
I recommend following by email.
Sign up by entering your email in the box to the right of this post.

2. Comment on any post from my blog.
I recommend my recent rave about Stitch Fix.

3. Visit my Etsy Shop.
Love it? Hate it? Tell me about it.

4. Favorite any item(s) from Modern Typography.
Leave the name of the item in your comment.

5. Follow me on Facebook.
Leave your facebook name below.

That's it folks, easy enough? Now get to work & don't be a stranger!

To increase your chances of realizing you've won please add to your email contacts. 

Disclaimer: Contest open to US/Canada residents 18 years of age and older. 1 winner will be chosen at random on February 16th at noon PST. Winner will have 3 days to respond to the post here, on Facebook, or through email before I move along to an alternate. Sweet talk does not increase your chances of winning but is welcome :)