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March 31, 2014

Make-It Monday: Easy Pumpkin Smoothie

Well, I know it's not exactly pumpkin season anymore. But I've reached the last stage on the repair diet I'm on and need some smoothies to mask its powdery supplement. So it's time for pumpkin just as much as it's time for strawberries for me!

I found this smoothie on Pinterest from here, but as usual made some changes.

Easy Pumpkin Smoothie

You'll need:
1 cup pumpkin (I use canned)
1 frozen banana
about 1 1/2 cups coconut milk (the cold kind that comes in a carton)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
a couple pinches of ginger
optional: vanilla to taste (the original recipe calls for vanilla protein powder; my supplement is vanilla flavored, so I use that)

1) Mix all ingredients in a blender until totally blended. That's it!

This recipe is double the original; I like to have a lot left over for my effort. :) 

The amount of milk is totally up to you depending on how smooth you want your smoothie. ;) In reality I probably use at least 2 1/2 cups. I like my smoothies runny. As you may be able to tell, the photos of the blender show it with much less milk, and the ones in the glass are after I've added much more. 

And as always, this treat is gluten-free (just check your brands!) and also dairy free! Enjoy!

P.S. Linking up with Mary again for Delicious Dish Tuesday!

March 29, 2014

Sweet Deal Saturday: Bib Necklace Bonus

This month's Sweet Deal Saturday is a double chance to get a bonus with the purchase of a particular statement bib:

Buy either of these necklaces by tomorrow (3-30) at 11:59 PM EST, and you'll also get a free pair of matching earrings made just for you!

Each of these necklaces is a bold statement bib ready to add some elegance to your spring and summer wardrobes or even complete a bridesmaid look! Both pieces were included in this week's Wear-It Wednesday post where I highlighted my top Katya Valera picks for bridesmaid necklaces.

The first option features two strands of tiny aventurine beads alternated with two strands of unique, dark red-purple, almost aubergine beads. Two bronze ornate connectors add some extra elegance to this dainty bib.

Available here!

The other option is a chunkier style featuring two rows of dark red beads alternated with two rows of black faceted beads. This piece could definitely be worn for a fancier occasion but is just dying to become a part of your everyday jewelry rotation!

Available here!

Just leave a note to me at checkout that you'd like the free earrings included, and I'll get them made and sent right out to you with the necklace! Want both necklaces with matching earrings? Go for it! Just make sure to get to this deal before anyone else does, because once it's gone, it's gone!

Happy weekend, and happy shopping! :)

P.S. If you entered my recent giveaway, don't forget to head over to this post to learn about your thank you gift from me! :)

March 28, 2014

Friday Favorites: Instagram Edition

For this week's Friday Favorites, I wanted to share the best of March, according to my Instagram. :) I am absolutely loving Instagram--it is definitely my favorite social media right now. Aaand I may have just hit 100 posts over there yesterday. :D

Being able to search by hashtag to find pictures like mine and people like me holds so much potential. Following celebrities for real (from Drew Barrymore herself to dear Sharleen and Renee from this year's The Bachelor) and seeing the pictures from their life that they choose to share with the world is just fascinating (and makes them feel so "normal" ;). Not to mention keeping up with new-found friends (particularly blogger friends) and getting to know them better while letting them get to know me too. All through pictures, which is just so powerful! I'm even able to do my first Cara Box because of Instagram!

Strange as it may sound, Instagram was honestly the main reason I wanted an iPhone for so long (which I just got for my birthday in January), and it has not disappointed. :)

So here are my March favorites from my Instagram. (Side note: spell check really wants Instagram to be Instamatic. Wow.) Please feel free to follow me here! ;)

Wearing purple and gold, my Katya Valera colors // Windows open at sunset // Daytime moon // Ice on the car window

Gluten-free Mini Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies (recipe here) // Jewel tone nails! // The prize for my awesome spring giveaway // Soo much jewelry that needs to find their homes!
Sunset window // Rainy day in the country // Coconut Banana "Oatmeal" (recipe here) // Clouds and happy rays on the long drive home from the chiropractor

Are you as thrilled with Instagram as I am? Who's your favorite celebrity to follow? Am I the only one following half of the ladies (okay, not quite) from this year's terrible failure of The Bachelor? ;)

March 27, 2014

The Balancing Act of Being a Chronically Ill Blogger

In the blogging world, it is pretty well expected for bloggers to be real, at least to an extent. Particularly on blogs in which the writer is honestly trying to gain a following of readers who want to know who they really are. Which is really the goal, I would think, for most of us who have a blog.

It’s easy, to some extent, to just crank out the same generic posts that we feel are expected of us: style posts, food, DIYs, etc. The usual. And all of those are totally fine. But just cranking out what we think is expected doesn’t leave quite as much room for your personality to shine through, when you know there is so much more you need to say. I mean it could, but it’s just not as likely or as endearing to readers.

So the solution to showing the real you is to write about what you really want to write about, what’s really going on in your life—in moderation of course—and simply be real. While it can certainly be a struggle to gauge what is sharing just enough and what is sharing too much for any blogger, that’s a gauge that I’m sure becomes stronger over time.

Bloggers who happen to have a chronic illness, however, meet with an even tougher balancing act.

I want to be real and share what I’m dealing with. No one wants to read a blog about someone whose life is perfect—and I doubt I’m the only one who mentally rolls their eyes a bit when they read an “About” page that totally implies the writer’s life is simply perfect with absolutely no troubles whatsoever. That kind of blog makes me click on the X right away and not come back. But I also realize that those of you who are healthy really probably don’t want to hear what all I would like to say. I really do want you all to want to stick around and not get scared off, but I don’t want to let my invisible illness just remain invisible to you all. I realize that in all these pictures you see of me, I look totally fine (right? ;) so I don’t want appearances to be totally deceiving.

So the struggle becomes: how much do I share and how much do I keep to myself? And the best answer I can think of is: however much I need to share to help you who read this blog. Whether you’re as healthy as can be or far sicker than I am.

I don’t want to complain, and I don’t mean to; I simply want to be honest about my little corner of the world, to let you really see who that girl Kacie is, and not hide what is the most consuming area of my life. To just not write about it would be to have a blog written by someone who doesn’t even really exist. And what’s the point of that?

Yet a further struggle that comes with sharing such things is the danger of alienating myself from those of you who are healthy—which is the majority of you all reading this. Sickness has a definite way of making us feel very less than human, on a daily basis. Yet I do still truly live and breathe just like a human. And I do love pretty clothes and nail polish and curling my hair and going out to eat and listening to music. So even though I’m sick and you may not be, we do still have quite a lot in common. ;)

So when I throw in tidbits about doctor appointments in the middle of a fashion post, just know that I’m just being honest about my life. And when I have a full-fledged post on anything having to do with my health problems, please know that I’m sharing those thoughts not to complain or gain pity, not to scare you off (please don’t go! ;), but to let those of you not familiar with my area of health problems become more educated about life with such things, and to let those of you who do suffer with my or similar health problems (or any at all really) know that I’m here. That there’s another girl across the blogosphere struggling every day just like you, just to live life as a sick person surrounded by healthy people, who knows that the light at the end of the tunnel is some days a nearing beacon and sometimes as dark as the midnight.

All of this to say, I want you all to see the real me, and when you have an invisible illness, it takes more than just pictures to deliver that. So I will do my best to attain and maintain the balance.

March 26, 2014

Bridesmaid Jewelry Part II: Necklaces

Are you planning your wedding? Or do you have a friend who is? This series is for all of you brides-to-be looking for the perfect bridesmaid jewelry. I've been there myself and ended up at Etsy for mine (it was, unfortunately, before I really started making jewelry myself).

In Part I I highlighted my top Katya Valera picks for earrings. It's here in case you missed it. This week: necklaces! My favorite!

Do you want your bridesmaids to wear dainty, understated yet elegant necklaces? Maybe all matching, maybe just complementing? There are a few options in my shop. Several of these can be duplicated on request. (You can browse all my dainty necklaces here.)

Tiny silver filigree pendant available here // Three blue beads available here

Sapphire pendant available here // Three clear glass beads available here

Bronze flower pendant available here // Silver filigree diamond pendant available here

Vintage bead pendant available here // Copper filigree diamond pendant available here

Or maybe you want bold bib necklaces to really help add to the style and color scheme of your wedding? I have options upon options in that department. Again, a few of these can be made in multiples upon request. (You can see all my bib necklaces here.)

Amber brown and bronze available here // Yellow and clear braided strands available here

Shades of blue dainty chainmaille available here // Purple and bronze layered available here

Clear and gold available here // Dainty bronze and purple available here

Dark red and black layered available here  // Clear layers with silver asymmetric flower available here

Hot pink and light pink chainmaille available here // Red and gunmetal chunky strands available here

White and multicolor twisted available here // Purple and bronze filigree available here

It’s also a popular choice for bridesmaids to wear necklaces in varying styles but complementing colors, including long necklaces. I have a few pieces that fit that category also.(You can browse all my long necklaces here.)

Clay rose beaded cluster available here // Green and black beads on silver chain available here // Green beaded drop pendant available here

Don’t see exactly what you had in mind, or wish you could have one of these made slightly different? That’s what custom orders are for! Please feel free to message me on Etsy to discuss your vision, and I'll do my best to make it happen!
Happy wedding planning!

March 25, 2014

Tuesday's Two Cents: Climbing the Mountain

I know it probably seems like I was just here, listing just a few of the many things that are constantly going wrong with me in the health department. Thanks to being rescheduled, I now am finally to go back to the doctor tomorrow to get my stitches out and my biopsy results. And also to discuss yet another new, potentially very concerning problem that I have a feeling I'll have to go to yet another doctor for. It really never ends.

I just really wish the mountain was smooth. Just let me sit at the bottom and breathe and that's it for a while. But then we'd never get anywhere, would we?

I have no idea who originally said this, and Google doesn't either. But they sure nailed it.

Keep climbing.

March 24, 2014

Make-It Monday: the Best of Pinterest Recipes

This Make-It Monday I've been inspired by my friend Mary from Eat, Drink, and Be Mary to share my own best recipe pins!

In my couple years' relationship with Pinterest, I have managed to actually make a few of my many, many findings. Some were awful, and some were awesome. And my changing diet needs over time have really been helped by Pinterest and its endless resources! So here are the top five recipes I've discovered, tested, and loved.

1) Cheesy Honey Mustard Chicken from Plain Chicken. I am all about chicken, and cheese, and bacon bits ... so this is amazing. It is perfection served with rice, green beans or salad, and sauteed mushrooms. I actually love it so much that I shared my making of it here a while back.


2) Breakfast Ham Cups from The Pub and Grub Forum. Okay, so call me crazy, but the best way to serve these, in my opinion, is for breakfast alongside cinnamon cake smothered in cream cheese icing. Oh. my. gosh. I'm talking about wake-up-craving-this-combo-it's-so-good. (I'm sorry the cinnamon cake isn't on Pinterest that I know of; I found it on Facebook a while back... Maybe I'll get to share it someday when I'm back on a normal people diet?)


3) Crockpot Lemon Chicken from The Queen Bee's Hive (which page will not come up, but the instructions are in the pin). I am all about crockpot meals ... and chicken of course. And this recipe is so easy. I like to serve it with rice, salad, and orange jello with mandarin oranges in it. ;)


4) Roasted Cauliflower Popcorn from Food.com. This recipe was a lifesaver when I began my special repair diet a few months ago. I know: it's cauliflower... But this is really so good. And make sure to let them get a little black on the edges--that's what makes them so good.


5) Caramel Cupcakes from Foodvee. I've only gotten to make these once so far (with gluten-free flour instead of course), but they were quite delicious. I mean, caramel cupcakes. How can that be bad anyway?


If you'd like to see the rest of the Pinterest recipes I've accomplished (being the organizational freak that I am, I have boards for those...) you can see them here and here. If they made it there, that also means they're worth keeping around. ;) Oh, and feel free to follow me while you're at it! :)

Have you found any recipes on Pinterest that were not only gluten-free but amazing?

March 23, 2014

Giveaway Winner + Surprise for Everyone Who Entered!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congratulations, Megan! I hope you love your necklace!

Thank you all so very much for making this, by far, my most successful giveaway ever! Every like and follow, every comment made me so happy--and definitely made for one happy week! I truly appreciate the time you took, especially the enthusiastic comments many of you left about my jewelry and your favorite pieces.

As my thank you for your awesomeness, I want to offer a special coupon code for all of you who entered the giveaway! (There are too many of you to spam email--you're welcome! ;) Just use coupon code ThankYou10 at checkout for 10% off anything in my shop, no limit! Here's your chance to claim that piece that was calling your name during the giveaway! The code is good through the end of March, and if you have any questions about using it, please feel free to comment here or message me on Etsy.

Oh, and if your favorite piece was the prize for the giveaway, not to worry: it's also for sale here! :D

Happy Spring!

March 22, 2014

The Redhead Who Loved "Diamonds": The Story of Katya Valera

When I was a crazy little redhead running around (sounds a lot like me now, actually...) I had a definite thing for “diii-monds”—which meant anything clear that sparkled even a little. From then on, I always was drawn to jewelry—go in a store, must stop and gawk at the displays.

And I’ve always been a very creative person.

So why I didn’t think of putting the two together until I’d been around for more than two decades, I have no idea!

I’d heard of Etsy for years but hadn’t explored it, so when I was shopping around for bridesmaid jewelry in late 2011, I discovered these clay rose pieces all over Etsy. I loved them. And I then thought, couldn’t I make these? Some hunting on YouTube told me I could, so I decided I would. 

Some of my many clay pieces, part of my Veranda Collection

Most jewelry makers finally decide after much planning and thought and preparation to finally open their shop. I made my decision, ordered a bunch of supplies, and had my first ten items up for sale within two weeks. It was such a whim at the time, and I had no idea how much of my life it would come to take up, how much I would love it, or how much I needed it.

I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia the beginning of 2011 and soon after could no longer continue working as a freelance editor because of my symptoms. I needed a job from home where I was in charge and could tailor my work to my medical needs, working when I could but taking breaks at the drop of a hat when I had to, whether for a day or a month. And this was the answer—discovered on the spur of the moment without even realizing it until much later.

In the two years since then, my shop name has changed and my branding has transformed. I’ve become even more passionate about what I do. And I’ve gotten a lot better at the skill of actually making the jewelry. ;) But the essence of my shop has really remained the same, though hundreds of pieces have come and gone: an eclectic collection of old-soul, vintage-bohemian jewelry. (Credit to my best friend for finally pinning my style down in words.) There is such a wide variety in my pieces, yet they all have the same Katya Valera touch.

My creations have been almost exclusively one of a kind up until recently, and though I now offer several remake pieces, they are still the minority, and I’ll never be able to get away from whipping up a piece that cannot be exactly remade—it’s just too much fun!

So while I continue to struggle with my health, I find comfort and joy in creating and reassurance that though sick and stuck at home I can still contribute something of worth to those outside my medical bubble by crafting and shipping these little pieces of happiness all over the world. And this is one of the things I am most thankful for.

And just in case you’re curious about my shop name, back in my healthier days of college, I took two years of Russian and loved it with a passion. My in-class nickname of Katya soon spilled over into the rest of my life and has stayed with me since. Valera means “healthy,” which I am of course not. Thus put together, Katya Valera—“Healthy Kacie”—is my defiant undertaking in the face of my health problems.

Thank you to all of you who have supported me by shopping at Katya Valera, hosting parties, wearing my jewelry, spreading the word, and showing that it is truly jewelry you love. And thank you also to those of you reading this and following my blog, which has stemmed from my jewelry. 

I can’t imagine not making and selling my jewelry and am reminded how much I am meant to do this every time I sit back down at my work table after any length of absence. I can’t believe a whim has turned into something so priceless and beautiful. But God works in mysterious ways and is certainly fond of surprises, so why not?

P.S. Linking up with Throwback Thursday

March 21, 2014

Friday Favorites: Sparkle City, Dream Fashion, and Forest Treasures

Linking up with Style Elixir and friends for Fab Favorites again!

Friday finally! I'm extra excited about today because I finally get to visit with my best friend for a while. We live only about 35 minutes apart yet between our schedules and my wonderful health, you'd think we lived a couple hours apart based on how infrequently we get to do this!

What I'm loving:

1) This nail polish, given to me by above best friend.

In. sane. Sparkle. Seriously. It's "Dorothy Who?" by China Glaze and it is, I repeat, insane. Love it.

2) In case you missed it, I met Polyvore this past weekend. Oh dear.

And I have since spent much happy time on there. (Follow me! ;) You should give it a try if you haven't--and it's even more fun if you sell jewelry online ... that's all I'll say for now. But trust me, you'll be seeing much more of it around here as time goes on.

3) This super unique, super lovely Etsy shop:

I found Emily and her shop, Moss of the Woods, in the happy little world of Etsy forums, and she is as talented as her botanical expertise is impressive.

Her passion for nature drives her creations, and she knows every single thing about every treasure her resin jewelry contains, all the way to their scientific names, which are often included in the pieces.

I think this piece is my current favorite, available here.

Unique pendants and earrings for nature lovers or anyone who loves an earthy or even boho flair to their jewelry would love a piece from her shop. (And p.s. her packaging is just so perfect.)

Do head over to her shop and take a look around--so many perfect gifts are to be found there!

Happy Weekend, and Happy Spring!

Oh, and speaking of spring, there's only a couple of days left to enter my welcoming-spring giveaway! You can get more info and enter it here.