Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New Year, New Things For ME :)

I'm constantly amazed by the gorgeous items I come across on Etsy. Every item is handmade by people doing the craft they love, putting their heart and soul into each piece for each individual customer.  I've started doing a great deal of my personal and gift-giving shopping on Etsy.  Department store shopping as taken a permanent backseat for me knowing that the item I've purchased on Etsy was made by a real person, not a machine.  Everything from organic, natural, handmade make-up to cute one-of-a-kind knick knacks have ended up in my mailbox.

Here are some of my favorites, that I'd love to see in my mailbox in the upcoming year...until then I'll just have to continue drooling at the pictures.

Oh and one more thing:

Dear family and friends - please file this away as my birthday wishlist. Thank you :)

Sterling Silver and 14k Yellow Gold Stacking Rings - set of 3 Recycled Metal

Lap Desk- Custom Order

Virginia State Necklace - Sterling Silver Necklace - Pendant with Heart Silhouette -

MORGANITE Ring in 14k White Gold Ring, Brushed Finish Palladium White Gold, Cushion Ring

Auvenier Burlap Curved Hobo Bag with Leather in Natural Colour

Mineral Eyeshadow - Bayberry - Pure & Natural Mineral Eye Color Pigment

TYLER Light Ivory/ diamond white feather flower puff shoe clips for weddings, special occasions, boudoir

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Christmas Story

Christmas has barely passed and New Years is just around the corner - I love this time of the year.  Festive, happy, cozy, glimmering, shimmering and filled with love.  I hope everyone had a lovely Holiday, spent time with family and friends, ate way too much delicious food and found all their gifts on sale!  Our weekend was simple and quiet and a bit reminiscent of  "A Christmas Story." Why you ask? I went up for a long needed bath on Christmas Eve with my husband promising to defrost the Tenderloin for Christmas dinner.  Fast forward to the next morning and our 7 pound tenderloin is still snuggled in our deep freezer for a long winter's nap.  Come dinner time our tenderloin has barely defrosted and Christmas Dinner was a phone call to our local chinese food joint for pickup! My comfort in all of this? There were at least 7 other families there doing the same thing.

Far Rah Rah Rah Rah Rah Rah Rah Rah :)

I'm looking forward to 2012 with new goals and a renewed vigor to do it (it = everything) right this year!   

Hope everyone enjoys the rest of this joyous season and has a very happy new year :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Snag a Christmas Deal at HEARTSY today!

Okay Okay, I've got to admit, I may have been a little hesitant with signing DesignsbyALY up with Heartsy.  I wasn't really sure what to expect, but once I bought a voucher for a shop I had been eyeing for quiet a while with a savings of over 50%, I was hooked. I've really come around to the idea of loving the entire idea of Heartsy and the awesome opportunity it gives to its members to try new shops out at a H.U.G.E discount.  Especially during this Christmas Season, when wallets are a little tighter than in past years, I like the idea of people still being able to afford quality, handcrafted, even custom, items at a bargain price.

DesignsbyALY is being featured on Heartsy (Heartsy.me) starting today Tuesday Nov 29 for VIP members and Wed Nov 30 for regular Heartsy members.  VIP Heartsy Members get a $20 for $50 credit towards anything in the store, including custom items.  Regular Members get $20 for $40 credit towards the same.  That's at least 50% off!  But Hurry and get your deal, as I only have a very few limited vouchers.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Shopping!

A sample on newly listed items from my shop:

Christmas Earrings, Glowing White Moonstone Green Peridot Red Garnet 14K Gold Fill Holiday Gemstones Christmas Jewelry Stocking Stuffer
Glowing White Moonstone, Red Garnet, Green Peridot - Christmas Jewelry on Etsy

Christmas Ornament Earrings, Bali Sterling Silver Round "ornament" mixed metals Christmas Earrings Jingle Bells
Brushed Bali Sterling Silver on Mixed Metals, "Ornament" Earrings, Christmas Jewelry on Etsy

Swiss Blue Topaz Earrings, AAA Sky Blue Swiss Topaz Oxidized Sterling Silver December Birthday December Birthstone
Swiss Blue Topaz Earrings, December Birthday December Birthstone Jewelry on Etsy

Swiss Blue Topaz Necklace, AAA Sky Blue Swiss Topaz Oxidized Sterling Silver December Birthday December Birthstone
Swiss Blue Topaz Necklace, December Birthday December Birthstone Jewelry on Etsy

Moss Aquamarine Earrings, AAA Mossy Blue Aquamarine 14K Gold Fill March Birthday March Birthstone
AAA Moss Aquamarine Necklace, March Birthstone March Birthday Jewelry on Etsy

Friday, November 25, 2011


Ladies and Gentlemen, introducing the largest sale DesignsbyALY has ever had... 30% off... just to kick of the holiday season with a BANG!  Discounts already taken, no coupon code needed. Just add to cart and check out.  Only until Monday November 28, 2011.  So hurry!  Also, YES, I'm still accepting custom orders!! December 12th cut-off for custom orders with Guaranteed Christmas Delivery!

Tons of goodies still available...and anything custom is welcome!

Black Friday Cyber Monday London Blue Topaz Necklace, AAA London Blue Topaz Oxidized Sterling Silver December Birthday December Birthstone
AAA London Blue Topaz Necklace

Black Friday Cyber Monday Engraved Birthstone Necklace, AAA Gemstones 14K Gold Filled Coin Disk Custom Stamped Christmas Jewelry, Bridesmai
AAA Birthstone Gemstone Custom Handstamped Necklace  (LOVE!!)

Black Friday Cyber Monday Emerald Earrings, Organic Natural Emeralds 14kt gold fill Genuine Gemstone May Birthday May Birthstone Christmas
Genuine Emerald Earrings

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

November Birthstone Jewelry - CITRINE!

Citrine is a gorgeous, glowing, golden honey yellow gemstone.  I carry the highest quality Citrine in my shop (AAA and AAAA quality), so what you see below is a spectacular representation of this warm and sunny gemstone.  Want something custom for yourself or that special person? I will work with you to get your jewelry just right!  Contact me on Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/shop/DesignsbyALY

AAAA Citrine Earrings, Yellow Citrine Oxidized Sterling Silver November Birthday November Birthstone

AAA Citrine Earrings, 14K Gold Fill November Birthday November Birthstone Golden Honey Autumn Fall Fashion Trend

AAAA Citrine Earrings, AAA Green Apatite Oxidized Sterling Silver November Birthday November Birthstone

AAA Citrine Necklace, Sterling Silver Bee 3-in-1 November Birthday November Birthstone necklace - A Drop of Honey LAST ONE

Guess who is going to be featured on Heartsy? This girl!!!!

I'm going to be on featured on Heartsy.me on Nov 30!  What is Heartsy? It's Groupon for Etsy.  My deal will be $20 for $40 worth of jewelry, plus free shipping.  Just in time for the holidays! It's just going to be for 3 days, so get there early :):  http://heartsy.me/shops/7053-designsbyaly

A few pieces from my Christmas Collection:

Christmas Earrings, Green Peridot White Sapphire and Red Garnet 14K Gold Fill Holiday Gemstones, Christmas Jewelry, Xmas Jewelry
$25 - Green Peridot, White Sapphire and Red Garnet

Christmas Tree Earrings, Sterling Silver Christmas Jewelry Emerald Green Czech Glass Christmas Earrings, December
$18 - Stacked Green Bell Flower Christmas Trees

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Running a big sale in my shop. Need something custom? Get it now at 20% off before the crazy rush of Christmas:


20% OFF FALL SALE Earthy Green Czech Crystal Earrings and chain on Antique Bronze, Jade Empire

20% OFF FALL SALE Aaa Citrine Necklace, Sterling Silver Bee 3-in-1 November Birthstone necklace - A Drop of Honey

20% OFF FALL SALE Aaa Mystic Gray Quartz Earrings, Smoky Quartz Gemstone Handcrafted Oxidized Sterling Silver earrings, Stormy Skies

20% OFF FALL SALE Aaa Mystic Gray Quartz Necklace, Smoky Quartz Gemstone on Oxidized Sterling Silver, Stormy Skies

20% OFF FALL SALE Peridot Necklace August Birthstone 14kt gold fill Aaa - Aaaa Quality, Grass Stain

20% OFF FALL SALE Peridot Earrings August Birthstone and 14kt Gold Fill Marquis Aaa - Aaaa Quality, Grass Stain

20% OFF FALL SALE Aaa Rock Crystal Quartz Earrings, April Birthstone Oxidized Sterling Silver - Ice Queen

20% OFF FALL SALE Aaa Green Mystic Quartz Earrings, White Topaz and Oxidized Sterling Silver - Pixie Dust

Friday, September 30, 2011

Flirting With Fall

It's officially Fall - the leaves have started to turn hues of golden, amber, russet and copper.  The air is a little cooler, a little crisper.  I have apple picking and pumpkin lattes on my mind.  I love this season!  I've updated my shop to bring a little of fall to any wardrobe.  As always, want something customized? Yea, I do that :)

Shopping Early for Christmas?  Use code XMAS20 for 20% off your entire order and free shipping now through 12/31/11.  See my entire shop here:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/DesignsbyALY?ref=si_shop

ONLY ONE Hessonite Garnet Necklace, Fall Necklace of Red, Orange, Yellow and Amber Gemstones on 14kt gold fill - Autumn Leaves
Hessonite and 14kt Gold Fill Necklace - Only One!

Pumpkin Orange Earrings, Mixed Metals by designsbyaly - Modern Autumn
Pumpkin Earrings

Yellow Tourmaline Earrings October Birthstone and Oxidized Sterling Silver, Drop of Sunshine
Yellow Tourmaline and Oxidized Sterling Silver Earrings

Pumpkin Necklace on Antique Bronze by designsbyaly October, Autumn, Fall, Halloween - The Great Pumpkin
Pumpkin Necklace

Earrings AAA Rock Crystal, Tundra Sapphire and Sterling Silver, Fall Festival
Rock Crystal Quartz and Sapphire Earrings

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Jalapeño Cheddar Bread

I've been doing so well with my Paleo food overhaul (ha!) that I decided today was a good a day as any to make some delicious, homemade, spicy, cheesy Jalapeño Cheddar Bread.  Actually, I've been really good about avoiding carbs, so I needed a good splurge.  I've been eyeballing this recipe for a while now.  As I've admitted before, I'm a carb-a-holic and Panera Bread has a delicious bagel with jalapeños and cheddar that I get every time we go there.  When I saw this recipe, I knew right then I'd have to give it a try and see if it measured up.  I left the jalapeño seeds in and added chunks of cheddar and I've got to say it rivaled those bagels in bread form. The outside had a nice golden crust, and the inside was soft with flecks of green and pale yellow scattered throughout.  It had just a hint of spice and delicious cheese pockets from the cubes - my favorite part! I got two loaves out of this recipe but not to worry, in spirit of keeping to my food overhaul loaf number 2 is safely snuggled in foil and tucked inside a ziplock baggy in the freezer so he doesn't end up in my stomach. By accident of course.

I used my Kitchen Aid to make this bread and so my directions are in this form, but of course you can do it all by hand or use your bread machine.  I don't use bread machines, so just make sure to follow the directions of your particular machine :).

Jalapeño Cheddar Bread
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1/2 cups cubed extra sharp cheddar cheese (about 1/4 inch squares)
1/2 cup minced (or roughly chopped, if preferred) jalapeño peppers
1/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/3 cups hot water (not over 105 degrees or yeast will die)
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast (or 4.5 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons vegetable oil

  1. In a large mixing bowl combine flour, 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, jalapeño peppers, white sugar (minus 1 tablespoon) and salt
  2. In a separate bowl (I used the bowl of my Kitchen Aid), combine hot water, yeast and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.  Let sit for 10 minutes until foamy.
  3. Add oil to yeast mixture.  
  4. Using paddle attachment of Kitchen Aid, add flour mixture to yeast mixture and knead of low speed until combined.  Increase speed to medium for a few minutes. Alternately, use your hands.
  5. Add remaining 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese and cheese chunks.  Mix gently into dough by hand.  
  6. Grease bowl and turn dough over so dough is greased as well. Cover and let rise in warm place for about 1 hour.
  7. Punch dough down and divide into two greased loaf pans.  Let rise in a warm place for another hour.
  8. Preheat oven to 325 and bake for about 30 minutes or until bread is cooked through.  
  9. Let cool for 5-10 minutes then turn out onto cooling rack.  Let cool completely before slicing. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Food Overhaul

Last week I made homemade caramels - some sprinkled with coarse sea salt and some plain.  They were the tastiest morsels of buttery, creamy goodness ever.  To test my candy making skills further, I made homemade gourmet vanilla marshmallows the very next day.  Then I decided I couldn't have s'mores made with gourmet marshmallows on ho-hum graham crackers from the grocery store, so I whipped up a batch of those too.   I ate to my heart (and tummy's) content.  THEN I got on the scale. We won't say how much weight I've gained since last time this year.  It's so easy to hide behind thick sweaters and coats during the winter, but when the weather warms up and the clothes start to come off, well, let's just say it's not a pretty sight if you've been eating comfort food for 4 straight months.  In anticipation of our beach vacay coming up next month, CD and I have decided to do a MAJOR food overhaul.  I won't say diet, because I don't do diets well.  Really.  If I'm told not to eat something, then that is all I crave until eventually I give in, feel guilty and give up.  I'm calling it a food overhaul, but it's also known as the Paleo Diet which is especially really big right now with hardcore Crossfit fans.  Essentially it's a "diet" meant to mimic the way that our ancient ancestors used to eat - no sugar, no carb, no dairy, high protein, and lots of veggies and fruits.  And supposedly it helps the body to avoid debiltating diseases like cancer, Alzheimers, Parkinson's, and Diabetes - I don't know how much truth there is to that, but it doesn't hurt to eat better anyways.  We're following the Paleo guidelines pretty closely - we're definitely doing lots of lean protein, veggies and fruits, but we're not cutting out the dairy. When it comes to sugar and carbs, we're trying to stay away from those as much as possible too, but I refuse to go hardcore on this because sugar and carbs are my weakness.  I'm a carb-a-holic and a chocaholic -  if I don't outright ban them, it's easier for me to limit them. It's hard to replace the bread with salad, and it's even harder to walk by the pantry without reaching in for one of the delicious caramels taunting me from inside their jar...BUT...I've been doing well. Somehow I lost 3 pounds this week.  I'm not sure how that happened - we're not counting fat or calories and I've still got a bruised rib, so I haven't been able to work out quiet yet.  I'll give it another month and see if I notice any more changes in weight or an increase in energy - which I'll really need since school will be out and I'll have three crazy ones at home ALL day.  If you're interested in the Paleo diet, below are a few websites to check out. CD ordered cookbooks as well, but I don't think you need them since there is quiet a few recipes on line.  The only thing you need is more cash - fresh fruits, veggies and meat is expensivo!


Monday, May 2, 2011

{In This Moment}

Baa Baa Black Sheep, Have you any Wool?
I wonder if they ended up with three bags full once they got down shearing this lot. Cuties. Taken in Mount Vernon (George Washington's Home).

Sunday, April 17, 2011

{In This Moment}

Every Monday I will post where I wish I was at this moment. A snapshot in time. It may be from any period of my life (oh goodness!).  Today, I wish I was here, chasing after a bird on a gorgeous spring day with my two-year old. What could be better than letting yourself go completely without a care in the world?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Williamsburg, VA

DQ is obsessed with the Colonial Times - she loves Petticoats and Bonnets, Old English, ProperTea Parties, Felicity and Elizabeth, Fifes and Drums, The Revolutionary War, John Smith and Pocahontas and all things George Washington.  It's not surprising that this time period in history is mine and CD's favorite as well.  When it comes to love of American History we're three peas in a pod.  

We surprised the kids this weekend with a last-minute mini vacay to Williamsburg, VA.  It was tiring and there was too much to see in the two days we had, but we had a blast. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Rain Rain Go Away

April Showers bring May flowers, so I'll make the best of it with some of my favorite rainy season finds on Etsy:

I **heart** this umbrella stand..

Walnut Hollow Stump

Stadium Stomper Collegiate Rain Boots
Splish, Splash, Stomp Spring Word Blocks

puddle stomping in black & white, 8x10 original photo

je taime tee you pick size and colors

And last but not least, because they remind me of my childhood in the 80s:
Easter Sale Vintage Smurf Rain Boots

Friday, April 1, 2011

My newest reading adventure

It came, it finally came!! Thank you dear mailman. I am so excited!  If you don't see me or hear from me for the next few weeks, I'm buried  in my book. 

If you haven't read these series (The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel), you're totally missing out!!

That is all :)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

What's Under Your Stairs?

I often dream of having lots of storage. In our cozy home with three kids under the age of 8, often our house is cluttered from one side to the other with toys and clothes and other odds and ends.  Add to that my mess of entertaining platters, bowls and serving utensils, crafting projects, jewelry making supplies, and sprinkle in a bit of CD's books galore and camping/fishing/hiking gear and I find myself wishing we had more space.  Between us, our garage is our storage space. Not very pretty and not very practical.  Since moving is out of the question, I've been dreaming of ways to make better use of the space we already have.  I've found a few beautiful ideas for under our stairwells.  Now, if only I could find someone to do it for free...

I want this in our basement. We have a bench, so we're already sorta kinda half way there, right?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sewing Sunday - Curtains and Smelly Sachets

I spent the majority of Sunday in front of my sewing machine.  I started off the morning making my curtains for the laundry room (yea baby!!) and finished up the afternoon making lavender sachets for our drawers.  I did take some tutorial pics on how I made my curtains and I'll upload those as soon as I can hang up my curtains.  First, I need to get the deep pleat tape I ordered online since I like to hang my curtains on rings, not on the rod directly.   I have to tell you, the curtains came out really nice - much better than I was hoping for.  I loved being able to choose the fabric I wanted  and I loved being able to add a liner to keep out the cold/heat without paying an arm and a leg for something "custom."  Keep checking back to see how I did. I should have the pics uploaded in about a week :).  I may even throw in another surprise there...

I love the smell of Lavender almost as much I love the smell of Roses - mmmmmm mmmmm - so, I really enjoyed making my latest project: Lavender Drawer Sachets.

organic dried lavender...yummy

I only made 7?
I hate the smell of clothes that sit in drawers. They get that drawer-y smell. All of my workout clothes smell that way.  Drawer-y.  They come out of the laundry smelling Tide and Downy fresh, then they sit in the drawers and suck up that drawer smell. Yuck.  A few weeks (or was it months...) ago I ordered Organic Dried Lavender from a fellow Etsian just to combat this problem. You'll be proud to know that yesterday I finally got my butt in gear and started on making those magic little pillows of smelly goodness.  Started being the key word.  I think I made 7 sachets.  I'm sure we have over 40 drawers in our house that need a sachet(!!!!!).  If anyone is looking for me, you'll find me hunched over my sewing machine and dried lavender...for the next month.
cute little paisley lavender sachets

I used scrap fabric lying around my house and stuffed each sachet with about 1/4 - 1/2 cup of dried organic lavender.  I wanted to make sure I didn't have an overpowering knock-you-off-your-feet lavender smell permeating through the drawers, just a subtle smell of lavender in the clothing.  The entire room smelled soooo good while I was making these.  Did I mention I *love* the way lavender smells?  As soon as I was done, I put a sachet in the drawer that holds my t-shirts and other workout clothing.  You see I have Pilates on Wednesday morning and I'm bound and determined to smell lavender, not drawer, fresh....