Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Enjoying life as of late... A little more than usual! Went to the beach in California a few weekends ago! It was COLD! But the kids had a blast... up until they got caught by one of the waves! A few tears later we were back to having fun! The only problem I find with road trips is that we end up eating a ton of fast food along the way if I don't have enough foresight to pack some better food, which was the case this time so now we're back to eating a much better diet. I made Stuffed tomato salad and boy was it yum! Back into our regular routine we try to visit the local ducks as often as possible, Lucy and Henry above.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Feature Friday! Introducing Stephanie Kuhn and her Etsy Shop The Cinnamon Bear!

That's right! I knew you were all thinking it... When will Feature Fridays commence again?! Well I'm reinstating them now and I can't wait to introduce you to Stephanie Kuhn from The Cinnamon Bears on Etsy. I stumbled across her fantastic little shop while looking for possible softies for a friends baby shower coming up in the next few months and absolutely fell in L O V E with her sweet dolls (and their budget friendly price tags!).

So Stephanie tell us a little about yourself and your shop! What do you do besides create your sweet softies?

Hi! Well, I am 24 years old, a full time nanny, and I'm blessed to be married to the neatest guy in the universe, Travis. I love to enjoy the little things in life like traditions, making memories, dreaming about the future, and spending time with loved ones. Travis and I are very involved in our church family and we love serving with the high-school students. We also love to make breakfast together, go for walks at the park, and drink bubble tea!

Oh that's so cute! Bubble Tea! No wonder you make such charming things! 
I just have to ask what do you find to be your biggest inspiration?

Any and all crafting inspiration has always come from my incredible grandmothers. I was really close with both of them growing up, and had the chance to watch them create so many beautiful things with their hands. I also feel very inspired when I think about our future children. I live for the day when I will get to make toys and clothes for our own little babies!

Grandmother's are just the best aren't they? Mine taught me so much as well! 
So what does handmade mean to you? Why would you suggest buying handmade to someone who never has?

When I hear the word handmade, I think about cultures, memories, stories, and skills, all passed down through generations, blending together through the mind and eyes of one soul, coming out through their fingertips in their art. I believe wholeheartedly in supporting handmade because in doing so, you make a way for more creativity to enter the world.

Wow that's such a beautiful thought! Do you have any personal motto? Any words / phrases you live by?

I believe with all my heart in the truth of Philippians 3:7-10. My life has purpose because of the life and death of Jesus. Nothing is more wonderful than that! :)

Oh that's so great! I'm Christian as well and I believe the same. 
A lot of the readership here are shop owners or very crafty themselves and I know they'd love some advice from you. If you could go back in time and give yourself some words of advice when you first opened on Etsy what would they be?

It took me a long time to work up the courage to make a shop... I was afraid nobody would like what I had worked hard to make! If I could go back in time I would tell myself not to be afraid, and to just do what I love and not what I think others will love.

That's so true! Thanks for that! Want to give a shoutout to another handmade artist you admire?

I adore the work of Savannah Carroll in her shop SleepyKing. Her creations are so unique and beautiful, I want to buy one of everything! :)

Isn't she great! 
Besides your lovely studio where can we find you Stephanie?

Blog: thecinnamonbears.blogspot.com/
Etsy shop: www.etsy.com/shop/thecinnamonbears
Pinterest: pinterest.com/stephaniekuhn/
Instagram: stephaniekuhn

Thank you so much for talking with us Stephanie! I'm a huge fan of your work and wish you the biggest of success inside and outside of Etsy! 

Update! Update! Update! 

So I ordered a custom honeybear doll for my little A's 4th birthday coming up next week from TheCinnamonBears and was bowled over by the quality and I'm sorry for lack of a better word utter Cuteness of this doll! I think I may be more in love with it than she ever will be! 

Our doll is to the right! Isn't she a cutie?! I loved working with Stephanie to create this doll and would recommend her shop to anyone looking for a sweet unique handmade gift.  Don't mind the jar of homemade dish soap to the right I stole this pic off her blog listed above as it is almost 11 at night here and not the time to get out the camera! I'll be posting some pics of the birthday bash in the next few weeks here. Hope you all have a great evening!

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Weekend in the Country!

So as I may have mentioned before, I currently live in the Phoenix valley, but at heart I'm still a small town girl so those weekends we can get out to the country are M U C H  anticipated and loved! A few weekends ago we had such an opportunity to visit some friends down in the small town of Thatcher. The picture above is a snapshot of the G O R G E O U S Superstition Mountains we pass through on the way there. The first time I saw them I kid you not I almost cried they were so gorgeous. While my friend and I were able to dump the kids on our husbands and go out for some much deserved girl time, she took me to the S W E E T E S T little Antique shop called the Antique Rose.

It had the cutest tea cups! I just had to snag one of these little lovelies for myself!

And what Antique Shop would be complete without its assortment of vintage trunks?! Loved the blue!

 And oh my gosh the gorgeous vintage jewelry there was! I could have spent hours drooling over all her pieces! They were just incredible!

 We just had a blast in there! If you're ever in Thatcher definitely stop in! So cute! Yes that's my friend and I enjoying our Mamma's afternoon out! I'm the one on the right rocking my new bangs! Anyone have any suggestions for other shops in the Phoenix area to visit? Still relatively new here and I just love to explore!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

So I Needed to get Organized!

Sorry for the lack of posts here recently! I was so in need of organization that I decided to take a week off  and get crackin'! Wish I had taken some "before" pics... suffice it to say it was pretty bad! That squeaky clean desk you see before you now was covered in boxes, mail, beads, glue spots, random puzzle pieces, receipts, ribbon, buttons and even my daughter A's broken princess crown I promised I'd fixed two months ago!
 So here's what I did! As a lot of artists/designers are, I need to be able to "see" all my beads, settings, and findings in order to come up with designs. With most desks this means that a constant pile of components are cluttering the desk making for little actual workspace. So I bought a beautiful desk from IKEA and purchased a vintage printer press drawer to slide under the glass. This way I can see through the glass to a sample of the majority of my beads. I can simply pull out the drawer whenever I need to get at anything. More little wooden cubbies slid under to top, hold paper, lace, ribbon and bezels.

Whenever I thought about what my ideal working space would include I knew I needed shelves so, again, I could see a lot of my supplies. Since we live in a very small apartment and my desk, as you can see by the top picture, is located very central to our living area without any extra room, it was next to impossible to set up a great set of shelves like I had envisioned so instead I rummaged through our very cluttered closet (next organizational project) and found a very shallow black shelf, also from IKEA and glued with E6000 some canning jars under the shelf. The key was to allow the glue to dry for about a day before hanging the shelf. Now I can easily unscrew the canning jars and get to all of my goodies! On top of the shelf, small plastic screwtop containers hold findings, small random recycled glass jars hold other beads, as well as scissors, glue and pliers.
Now there's a strict policy in my home! No one, other than me, puts anything on that desk! No piles of mail, toys, or other paraphernalia! And so far, to my astonishment, it's stayed clean! 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Own Love Story

Last week as I picked our Valentines winner I promised that I would share with you how I met my own sweetheart. It's a long but juicy story so take a load off and enjoy my mini chick flick (lit?).
Let me take you back to the year 2005. I had been on and off dating this guy for about a year while in college. I was hopelessly in love. He had a set of abs like an Adonis, blond hair, blue eyes and really great bone structure (remember artist here). Plus he was well read, very confident (L A T E R  A R R O G A N T), and seemed to be going places. Well New Years rolled around and ring was placed on Left hand and a wedding date was set for the beginning of April. I was on cloud nine to say the least and very blind to a lot of signs that our happily ever after was all in my very cloudy head. For starters A L L of my closest friends hated my fiance (B I G sign), he wasn't very affectionate at all, and when I was really really badly sick the only time he popped in to check on me was after a volleyball game accompanied by a very cute and overly flirtatious team mate.

As the months progressed and the date to our up and coming nuptials grew closer, I would have all these sleepless nights where I would be crying my eyes out and I couldn't for the life of me figure out why. When I would call my soon to be husband he would very sleepily reply that it was all in my head and everything was perfectly fine. Weren't brides supposed to be neurotically happy all the time aside, of course, from the stress of planning a wedding?  To make matters worse since all my dearest friends couldn't stand him I barely saw or talked to them at all and when I did it was very brief and somewhat akward. So I was very alone much of the time.
Since it's Valentines I'll add this. Valentines Day came around and he did absolutely nothing. This was very minor in the grand scheme of things but it'll be relevant later. As the night ended and I ever so gently asked him if he had forgotten (Red heart shaped balloons and young men carrying roses had dotted the town  all day) he replied that he hadn't forgotten he just wasn't about to support some greeting card company derived holiday.
Well not to get into too much detail (and make this post much too long to read) but obviously we didn't end up getting hitched. About a week before the wedding everything blew up. Ridiculously so. Let's just say that any affections he had displayed for me were fake, in that he had been cheating on me the whole time.
I was hurt and crushed and angry and above all I HATED men! I went back home to New York to cry out my summer break while working two waitressing jobs to pay back my parents for all the deposits that had been made and a dress that had never been worn. But I did keep the ring... then when tried to sell it to help pay off the debt found out it was fake. Yep glad I threw that fish back in the pond. That summer was one of the greatest of my life, heartbreaking, hard and full of days where I was on my feet from 10 AM until 10 PM, it was also a time of great reflection. My mom had bought a skull (long narrow rowing boat with two great long oars) over the internet and as we lived on beautiful Lake Champlain I would begin each morning rowing on the mirror like surface of the lake about five miles round trip to the bridge and back. I cant describe to you how glorious those mornings were. (Plus I started to develop a six pack of my own!)

As the summer came to a close, as well as the tourist season in the Adirondacks and my job, I began to contemplate where I should work next. As you can imagine Jobs aren't really plentiful in the off season. Contemplation grew to prayer and I prayed every night that I would be able to find some job where I could make enough cash to help pay for the next semester at college. One night as I closed my prayer and was about to fall asleep I literally heard someone say "You need to go to Jackson WY." Never had anything like this happened to me so I chalked it up to being overly tired and quickly fell asleep. The next morning I woke up at 5 AM (anyone who knows me knows I'm not a morning person so this is all the more impressive) and couldn't get Jackson out of my head. I had been there once for a day with an ex boyfriend to see all the touristy stuff so I didnt have too much experience with the town other than the large stuffed moose in front of a tourist shop and the antler arches we took pictures under at the square in the middle of town.  I very impatiently waited about two hours and then called a  friend who lived in Idaho I knew worked there during the summers. Realize he was still 2 hrs behind me so it was still 5 AM for him. Groggily he told me that there were plenty of jobs open during the off season still and that he could probably get me his old job. Well within a week I had a job, an apartment, and a plane ticket. Friends and Family thought I was crazy for going across the country to a place I had only visited with no real friends or connections to help me out. But ignoring all that I went anyway.

About three weeks after I had gotten there I met this tall, dark, handsome Latino who was quick to laugh, completely kind hearted, and the goofiest man I have ever met. After three dates I knew he was the reason I was sent to Jackson and impatiently I waited until around New Years of 2006 (yes almost 1 year to the day from my first proposal) when he asked me to marry him. We planned our wedding (Yes) for April 7 2007 and on that day I happily wed the love of my life. Almost five years, his bachelors degree and two kids later here we are as happy as we've ever been and I can't help but feel incredibly blessed to have such an amazing man beside me who constantly supports me in all the things I do and puts up with my own special version of crazy. I love him so much and I hope a day never goes by that I don't tell him he means the world to me.

P.S. And by the way our first Valentines together he took me to a gazebo at night where he had the whole place lit up with candles a picnic dinner and Sinatra playing on a boom box! I definitely picked the right fish!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

And the Winner is.......

Using Random.org to generate the winner..... And the winner is D O R E N E! Have no fear if you weren't the winner I still have a few pairs of these L O V E L I E S available in my etsy shop. Thank you all so much for entering! It was so inspiring to read all of your stories of how you met your special someone's!
Next W E E K on V A L E N T I N E S  D A Y I'm excited to share with you all how I met my wonderful husband Marquez. It's quite the story!

On to other B U S I N E S S ! This past Saturday I was able to go to the Tucson Bead Show for the
F I R S T time. Mind you this was my first time going to anything like this and I went with a small budget and just the thought that I would be able to get a feel for what these types of things were like. Had no idea how
E N O R M  O U S  this show was! I got there and just N E V E R wanted to leave! Unfortunately I had my two little ones under 4 and my husband in tow so that obviously wasn't a possibility! There were S O many vendors! I probably only saw about 1% of what was there. Overall it was a F A N T A S T I C experience though. I was able to meet a lot of really wonderful vendors with some truly unique vintage pieces! Here's a
F E W of my finds...

 Above: Venetian wire embedded glass from the 1920's I was told these are particularly rare and they are just so beautiful! I bought these along with some yellow, white and dark blue ones from Japan 1940's. I'm just loving them though they need a bit of cleaning! Any of my wise readers have any ideas for that?

 These are so beautiful! I have plans to make them into egg pendants that will be just beautiful for Easter and Mothers Day!

So Fab glass cabs from the 1920's and 40's. I was told that the smaller ones were generally used for mens cuff-links. I think they're just so charming! Not quite sure how I'll use them yet as the sizes and shapes are really unique and its difficult to find bezels that would work with them. Any ideas?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

G I V E A W A Y ! G I V E A W AY ! G I V E A W A Y ! G I V E A W A Y ! G I V E A W A Y !

For the first time ever here on Victorian Swag I am hosting a G I V E A W A Y! I'm so excited because today (Wednesday) marks 3 weeks until V A L E N T I N E S Day! So to the
G O O D S T U F F!  Win a pair of these lovelies (above) by simply following this blog,
V I C T O R I A N S W  A G,  (click F O L L O W in top left corner of page) and then S H A R E in a comment below how you met your S W E E T H E A R T  and why you L O V E them! What can I say I am a complete R O M A N T I C at H E A R T! One week from Valentines (the 7th for those of you who are mathematically challenged like myself) I will pick a name at random and will announce it here! Can't wait to hear all your winning stories! G O O D L U C K!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Welcome 2012!

So I realize I am a little late in welcoming the new year this year (Kids caught a virus and so did my computer!) But better late than never right?! With the New Year of course it's always a reminder of the year that waits ahead and the one that has already passed.
A lot has changed in the past year for me and for my family. My husband graduated school, we moved from the arctic tundra that is Rexburg, Idaho to warm and sunny Chandler, AZ. My husband started his career in the construction industry and I started Victorian Swag.
We can't help but feel incredibly blessed for all that we've been given this year and look forward to and make plans for the one ahead. This year our family started a new tradition. A half hour before midnight we share with oneanother the goals we made the previous year and our ups and downs then we write new ones and after the stroke of midnight (and all the kissing) we share our goals for that year ahead while drinking sparkling cider.
And so Here are my goals for the year 2012:
1. Run a half marathon
2. Have my jewelry in at least three boutiques
3. Have my youngest potty trained (fingers crossed)