Feature – The Singing Beader

Based on her studio name, The Singing Beader, can you tell what Connie’s passions are?  Yep, you got that right.  Singing and making beaded jewelry.  I think it is a very fitting name :).

Connie loves the colors, textures and history of gemstones and they are her favorite to work with.  She also likes working with hematite, amazonite, jasper and crystals.  Connie has very cute musical instrument pieces in addition to her gemstone and crystal pieces.

Connie sings on a website called the “Singer’s Showcase,” where she receives many compliments from her listeners.  She also enjoys fun nights out doing karaoke.  When she is making jewelry she likes it quiet so she can concentrate and be focused.  But when she sings, she likes to rock!

You can find Connie at http://thesigningbeader.artfire.com.  She is currently having a Christmas in July sale, so be sure to stop by!  Here is just a sampling of the many beautiful pieces you can find in her studio!

Copper Oval Hoop Gizmo Slinky Coiled Earrings Leverbacks Handmade $15

Aqua Blue Sapphire Turquoise Black Crystal Bracelet Dressy One of A Kind $44

Hematite Dark Gray Gemstone Heart Adjustable Necklace Earring Gift Set $35

Large Rock Guitar Necklace Pink Sterling Silver Chain Any Age Female $24

I hope you have enjoyed getting to know Connie at the Singing Beader!  Stop by and say hello!

All photos are copyright Thesingingbeader and have been used with permission.




Perfect in Purple – A Collection

My bracelet is in this beautiful collection, that made it to the front page of Artfire.com.  I am so happy!

What do you think?


Breastfeeding – Mom Confessions

No one will ever tell you how hard breastfeeding is!  I have breastfed 3 kids and they each had their own challenges.  I have heard that if it hurts, you aren’t doing it correctly, the latch is wrong, etc, etc…I am here to tell you that information is so untrue!  I have experienced more pain from breastfeeding than during labor!  I have also experienced great joy from it as well.  I know it isn’t painful for everyone and those are the lucky ones.

When my first baby was born, I knew I wanted to breastfeed.  My main reasons for wanting to breastfeed were I knew it would save us money and it was better for her.  I did not read any books on it and the only thing I read about breastfeeding came from the book What to Expect When You Are Expecting.  Don’t get me wrong, I love that book!  I mean, how hard could it be?  It is the most natural thing in the world.  I was in for a shocker!  I wish someone would have prepared me for the challenges that lay ahead.  I did not expect to be a cow, providing milk for my baby ALL THE TIME!  I did not expect my nipples to hurt so bad.  I did not expect to fear when my baby would latch on (whose latch was correct by the way)!  I did not expect to cry from the pain.  I did not expect it to be worse than going through labor.  I persevered for 3 weeks through the pain and frustration and finally the pain started to ease up.  It took about 3 weeks for my nipples to get used to nursing.  But…I never enjoyed it even after the pain went away.  I feel like I missed that early bonding experience with my daughter because all I did was feed her and I did not enjoy it.  I kept doing it because it was better for her.  At 8 weeks, I returned to work and was still determined to provide her with the best milk I could.  I pumped during both of my breaks and through my lunch period.  I started to dry up and then I was frustrated that I couldn’t produce enough milk for her.  I took Fenugreek, Alfalfa and drank more than my fill of Mother’s Milk Tea.  Nothing worked.  I finally had to stop breastfeeding my daughter when she was 4 months old.  I was so much happier when I didn’t have to nurse her anymore.  I felt so free!  I feel guilty, but I think it was better for us.

23 months later came baby number 2, a boy!  I still did not read any books on breastfeeding, remembering how hard it was the first time.  My son did not eat as often as my daughter, so I was able to go longer periods between feeds.  I still experienced the excruciating pain for the first 3 weeks as I had previously.  He had a correct latch as well.  I was not as determined to stick with it this go around.  By the time he was 3 weeks, I was sleep deprived, bitchy, in pain and just wanting to sleep!  Understandable, I think 🙂  At the hospital, they had given us some formula samples and I asked my husband to give my son formula for the first time.  That was the beginning of the end of our breastfeeding relationship.  My husband fed him and I slept.  It felt so good!  My milk finally dried up at 3 1/2 months.  Since we were supplementing with formula and I was getting a break, I did not feel like we had any bonding issues.  I was happy.  I never truly enjoyed nursing him either.  I just did it for the immune boost.

Fast forward 5 years and we welcome another baby boy:).  I was determined to breastfeed this time and stick with it.  I read books during my pregnancy and decided I would go see a lactation consultant once the baby was born.  It helped that I wasn’t going back to work with this baby and I didn’t have to worry about my milk drying up.  I was prepared for the pain and expected to hate the first 3 weeks of breastfeeding.  Even though I expected the pain, I think it was the worst ever!  I did not think it could be any worse that what I had already experienced!  I saw the lactation consultant at the hospital and again, we had the correct latch.  By the time we left the hospital, I was sore, but not exactly in pain.  When my baby was a week old, the pain started.  My nipples were cracked and started bleeding, which I did not experience with my other two.  I would start sobbing before he even latched on, I was dreading it so much!  I went to see a lactation consultant at the hospital to see what I could do.  Although the latch was correct, I was not holding him in the most comfortable position.  The new position (holding baby up high, across your breasts) helped, but did not make the pain go completely away. We also had some other challenges that prevented my milk from coming in as fast as it should have, and my baby was losing too much weight.  I did not want to put him on formula so I endured the pain and pumped every time he finished nursing to ensure a good milk supply.  After about 2 weeks bi-weekly weight checks, his weight was where it should be and I was so happy I did not have to supplement!  It took about 2 1/2 weeks for nursing to become somewhat comfortable and not painful.  Here we are 7 months later and we are still nursing!  It did not become enjoyable for me until he was 4 months.  It seems like it takes that long for both of you to be comfortable (at least in my experience).  I can definitely see why so many women give up breastfeeding!  It is not always easy.  I am so grateful we made it through our challenges and now I look forward to our nursing sessions.  I can honestly say I will be sad when he no longer wants to nurse.  That is something I NEVER thought I would say!

None of this would have been possible without a supportive husband.  He encouraged me every step of the way and helped me so much.  Although he could not endure the pain and frustration, he did anything he could to help me.  He did a lot of research online, went to the lactation appointments, bought supplements, encouraged me…Without his support, I would have given up after 3 weeks with all of my children.  I think this is another reason so many women give up.  If you don’t have the support you need, you will not succeed.  I encourage every woman wanting to breastfeed, to read, research, get help and support.  You can do it and the rewards are immense!  🙂

I would love to hear about your own breastfeeding adventures!



Barley Basil Risotto with Corn

I finally had barley for the first time and I liked it!  It is bland on it’s own, but you can add just about anything to it.  The feel in my mouth is a cross between al dente pasta and oatmeal.  It is not mushy at all.

I did a search for barley recipes for some ideas.  Here is what I came up with…


1 cup pearl barley

3 cups water

1/2 large onion

1 15.25 ounce can of corn

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1/4 cup fresh bail leaves

salt to taste

pepper to taste

a splash of white wine

1 Tbsp olive oil

Simmer the barley in the water for 45 minutes or until the liquid is almost gone.  In a separate skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high heat.  Add the onion and cook for a few minutes.  Add the corn to the onions and cook for a few more minutes, until the corn and onion start to turn brown.  I like the charred flavor!  Add the onion/corn mixture to the barley when the water is almost gone.  Add a splash of white wine.  Cook for a few minutes to cook off the alcohol.  Add the parmesan cheese and chopped basil leaves.  Season with salt and pepper.  Combine, sprinkle with a little more parmesan cheese and serve immediately!

I now know that hulled barley is more nutritious than pearl barley.  You could substitute that if you want to.  I will look for hulled barley the time I am at the store and compare the texture.  I did not pre-soak the barley since I couldn’t wait to try it!  I am not a very patient person :).  If you pre-soak the barley, it cuts the cooking time to 15-20 minutes.

The corn is crisp, the barley firm, the basil fresh and bright, the parmesan cheese creamy and the wine tangy.  Perfect!

If you try this, let me know what you think!



Feature – Pretty Gonzo

Welcome to Pretty Gonzo, home of Handcrafted Jewelry and Fun Vintage Things!  Gonzo is the name of an orange and white stray cat, hence the name Pretty Gonzo :).  Gonzo is no longer a stray and would love for you to stop by “his” shop and say hello!

Mary, Gonzo’s mother, began making jewelry as a sort of therapy after she suffered nerve damage in her hand.  She was determined to turn that setback into something positive.  Inspired by a jewelry-artist-friend, she gave earring making a try.  She makes beautiful handcrafted jewelry and is located on the east coast.  Mary sends you good wishes and happiness whenever you wear one of her pieces!

You can visit Pretty Gonzo at http://prettygonzo.artfire.com and her blog at http://prettygonzo.blogspot.com.  Mary and Gonzo can’t wait to hear from you!

Here are a few of her pretty pieces to look at until you can browse her studio :).

Aqua Blue Glass Earrings with White Shell, Copper, Faux Stone, Earthy $16

Green Gold Foil Earrings with Amber Colored Teardrops $8

Serpentine Turquoise Bracelet, Brecciated Jasper Beads, Toggle Clasp $20

Pink Crystal Awareness Ribbon Earrings, Swarovski, Sterling Hooks $8.50


And here is the sweet handsome Gonzo :).

If you hurry, Mary is having a Christmas in July sale and everything is 10% off!  Use code SWEET-WEE-CAT to receive free shipping on orders over $40.00.

All photos are copyright PrettyGonzo and have been used with permission.



Tomatillo Salsa

This salsa is so bright and you can make it a little spicy or A LOT!  I didn’t make this recipe up, but found it in a cookbook.  My husband loves anything spicy and he loves this salsa! It can be made in a pinch using your food processor or blender.

Yummy!I don’t remove the seed from the pepper since that is where most of the spice is.  Feel free to de-seed them if you must!I love seeing the little red flecks from the chile de arbol.  Makes it festive!


1 28 ounce can of tomatillos

4 large cloves of garlic (I like to add a bit more!)

2 fresh jalapenos

2 dried chiles de arbol

1/2 cup fresh cilantro

1 tsp. salt

Drain the tomatillos, but reserve the juice.  Put the tomatillos, garlic, peppers, cilantro and salt into a food processor or blender.  Blend into a smooth puree.  I like to leave it like this, but you can add some of the tomatillo juice to thin it out if you like.  You can make it spicier by adding more peppers or leave some of them out.

The tomatillo and cilantro make this acidic and bright.  This is the easiest salsa I have ever made!



Feature – Joyfully Sewn Designs

Meet Sarah, the seamstress behind Joyfully Sewn Designs. She has amazing talent! She makes super cute modest clothes for little girls. She also makes adorable skirts for us older girls, too. 🙂

Sarah grew up in the Midwestern United States and continues to live there. She was home schooled and is very close to her family. Her Grandmother taught her to sew and instilled in her a passion for serving others through her skills. She began creating custom designs for her community over 10 years ago. Sarah creates every piece with love and care and believes in quality over quantity.

Sarah would love to help you design a custom piece! You can find her studio at http://joyfullysewndesigns.artfire.com and her blog at http://whatsoeveryedo.blogspot.com. Use code NEW CUSTOMER to receive 10% off your first order!

Little Girls Summer Jumper – Rainbow – Size 3 $21

Toddler Teal Polka Dot Jumper, Peasant Blouse & Ruffled Pants 12/18 Mo $37

Little Girls White Dress Beach Portrait Special Occasion Size 2/3 $24

Ladies Long Autumn Colors Patchwork Skirt $53

All photos are Copyright JoyfullySewnDesigns and have been used with permission.