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June 30, 2014

The Songs That Make Me Smile

Does anybody else go through phases of current favorite songs? Where you get excited to hear certain ones on the radio or, in my case, Pandora? Even if the songs are old news?

I spend hours upon hours listening to Pandora. While I make jewelry, while I work on my blog, while I cook, while I get ready to go to the doctor (where else do I ever get ready to go to?). And it's so funny how I rotate through certain songs that make me happy to hear as soon as they come on. Whether they're new or not.

Lately I've been frequenting Miranda Lambert Radio and Nashville Cast Radio. It's weird cause I really don't think of myself as some huge country music fan, no more than I like pop, but that's what I've been listening to like crazy anymore. (This comes after a few months of almost exclusively Christina Aguilera Radio and Demi Lovato Radio.)

Sometimes I'm surprised by what songs stand out to me for whatever reason, but they do nevertheless. So here's some of my current ones:

Who knows what songs will replace them in the coming weeks--more always do. I can mark seasons by what songs I was listening to at the time. But for now, you can bet I'll be happy when Pandora stumbles upon these for me. :) So today, linking up with Grateful Heart Monday, simple as it is, I'm grateful for music. The irreplaceable background to my every day.

Ember Grey


Something else that makes me smile? 
I'm having a giveaway over at my friend Elizabeth's blog Army Ever After! Take a look! :D (Or enter here!)

P.S. Linking up with Lovely Thursdays

June 28, 2014

Short & Sweet: Dainty Necklace Sale!

Somehow we're to the end of June--no idea how. But that means it's time for another Short & Sweet sale at Katya Valera!

Today and tomorrow only, take 20% off the necklaces in my "Dainty Necklaces" section in my Etsy shop just by using coupon code Dainty20 at checkout!

Here's just a few of your options:

Tiny bronze bird necklace // $21 // available here

Clear three bead necklace on gold chain // $17 // available here

Tiny cobalt and silver flower layering necklace // $20 // available here

Set of silver heart layering necklaces // $25 // available here

Bronze floral and purple gem double strand necklace // $21 // available here

Tiny natural sapphire pendant necklace // $32 // available here

Tiny silver pendant layering necklace // $15 // available here

As always, this sale ends Sunday night at midnight EST, and some of the available pieces are one of a kind, so don't miss out!

Now, this deal is only applicable on items in my "Dainty Necklaces" section, so if you'd like to also buy an item that's not in that section, simply check out with it separately and I'll refund you the difference in shipping costs.

Oh! And you really want to be my 200th sale on Etsy, okay? ;) Happy shopping, and feel free to contact me here or here with any questions!

P.S. Linking up with Anything Goes Linky, No Rules Weekend Blog Party

June 27, 2014

My Friday Five: Jewelry, Insta, and Music ... of Course

It's finally Friday! Pretty sure I already felt like the past two days were Friday, so I'm glad it's here for real. And since it is, you know what that means...

1~ First of all, you may or may not be wondering about the exciting announcement that never came this week. Yeah, I hate it when that happens. I'm so sorry for the confusion--there was a miscommunication, so that'll be coming next week! But in the meantime, to make up for it a little, I can go ahead and pass along that the end of the month means this weekend is time for Short & Sweet--my special 2-day sale in my Etsy shop. Come back tomorrow for what the special will be and so you can beat everybody else to it!

2~ I've mentioned on here before how much I love Instagram. [You can follow me here! ;)] One of my favorite things about it is the fact that you can follow celebrities--like clearly themselves, unlike with Facebook where you're never really sure. Or maybe it's not really them on Instagram either and I really am just that gullible. But for the sake of my enjoyment we're gonna keep assuming the former, and I'm gonna keep being delighted with getting to look over the shoulder of some of my favorite celebrities. Five of my favorites are Drew Barrymore (not a big surprise after Wednesday's post I'm sure--which if you missed it, totally take a look; this post means so much to me), Danielle Bradbery, Clare Bowen (from Nashville), Sharleen Joynt (you know, from The Bachelorette ;), and Alex & Sierra.

3~ And speaking of Alex & Sierra, I couldn't wait for them to release something back when they won X Factor, and they have finally, finally come out with their first single. I don't know when their album will finally appear, but I'd say this song is pretty strong indication that it could be freaking awesome. As it should be. Here's their official lyric video (the video of them should be a-mazing.)

4~ Speaking of new releases, my dear friend Ruth Gado Coleman just released her first EP, Sweet Grace. I met Ruth back in 2010 at the GMA conference IMMERSE in Nashville, and we've formed a special friendship over the years since, as we mutually discovered the other's health problems. Ruth has dealt with far more health issues than you'd think anyone should have to go through, but the songs on her EP are the result of her valley journey. Be sure to check it out--my favorite is "The Blood Covers All."

5~ And while we're on the topic of music, did any of you watch Rising Star this past Sunday? I was so excited about it, of course because of the potential brilliance of the whole idea, but also because Brad Paisley and Josh Groban were gonna be on it. But I agree with the comments I saw from viewers all over Facebook: way too slow, too much talking, not enough singing, and ... Josh Groban is not ideal in this case. I don't know why they didn't make him a judge and someone else the host--the set up gives the implication that he's just a host and not really qualified to be a judge, or at least that was the feeling I got. It's already been claimed on Facebook that this coming episode will move faster and have more singing and less talking, and last week's slowness was to help us get the hang of it, but you have to wonder if they're really thinking, Oh crap, they hate it guys--we better fix this! :P Who knows. Hopefully this next episode will be much better ... and Josh Groban will have warmed up to the job a bit....

So, do you have a favorite celebrity Instagrammer to follow? Are you an Alex & Sierra fan? What did you think of Rising Star?  Don't forget to come back tomorrow for my big ol' two-day sale! :)

P.S. Linking up with Little Friday, Friday Favorites, That Friday Blog Hop, Friday Favorites, Friday's Fab Favorites, High Five for Friday, Thinking Out Loud

June 25, 2014

5 Things 50 First Dates Teaches About Chronic Illness

I remember back when I was about 5 watching Babes in Toyland starring Drew Barrymore. Has anybody else seen that crazy movie? Then, when I was older, I discovered Ever After, now one of my absolute favorite movies, yet another Drew Barrymore hit with me.

Then, a couple years ago, I was up in the middle of the night (the usual) looking for random movies on Youtube. I knew nothing about 50 First Dates, starring Adam Sandler and, again, Drew, and had never even heard of it and just started watching it. (Spoiler alert if you've never seen this movie--go watch it, then come back here.) Because I just started watching it, you know, without reading the back cover that gives the whole thing away, I had no clue what was going on when Lucy didn't remember Henry the second time she saw him. Which of course made the shock factor that much greater.

Pretty sure I cried when I watched it that night, and then I had Daniel watch it with me the next night. I've probably seen it five times since then. And I could cry and cry every time.

A few disclaimers: I'm sure Adam Sandler probably wasn't trying to do anything more than make a unique, funny movie with memorable characters, and I'm sure teaching something through it likely wasn't his goal. And the movie is indeed hilarious (best part is when Lucy beats Ula with the bat...) but it also needs to be edited--there are a few parts I wish weren't in it. I don't even know if Lucy's problem is possible in the real world; I wouldn't be surprised if it is. And there are, of course, some logic issues with things that happen.

But, all of that aside, the story itself is beautiful. In a way that may only be apparent to those with chronic illness. Lucy's problem is not your average chronic problem, but it is just as unavoidably life-affecting and potentially life-crippling as any other chronic illness.

So I want to attempt to finally put down in words what this funny movie teaches about chronic illness that makes it so meaningful to me.

1~ Chronic illness is not the sufferer's fault. || Lucy had nothing to do with causing that accident. She certainly didn't have some selfish plan to become a burden to her family and bring more attention to herself. Yet at some point or another, that's how it feels with a chronic illness. Surely, surely this must be my fault, somehow. If it's something bad, there must be a cause, and who else to cause this but myself? Unfounded guilt is the usual for someone with chronic illness. But, just like with Lucy, it's not the sufferer's fault.


2~ People with chronic illness need support from their family and friends, not made to feel guilty for things they can't control. || Not only did her family and friends never make Lucy feel guilty about something that wasn't her fault, they continued to love her and support her no matter how crazy things got. They, particularly her dad and brother, went to the ends of the earth to do what they thought was best for her, which was keeping her issue a secret from her at all costs. Now, I'm not saying that was the best move, as we see Henry soon realized and came up with a better solution for. But her dad and brother re-wrapped the gift, watched the same ball game and movie, repainted the garage every single day out of their love for Lucy. Regardless of how tired they got of doing all that--no matter how much her problem was an "inconvenience" to their lives--they never took it out on her. After all, see #1. People with chronic illness already deal with enough negativity and disappointment and guilt in their own mind--what they need from family and friends is unquestioning love and support.


3~ Just because you can't see it, that doesn't mean it's not there. || Lucy looked totally normal when Henry met her. She always looked totally normal, and you'd never dream there was anything wrong with her. But Henry believed it when he found out the truth. No one ever told Lucy, "You don't look sick." And no one ever claimed she was just putting on for attention. Not being able to see the problem does not make it any less real. And not being able to see it does not make its effect on the person's life and their suffering any less real.


4~ Chronic illness does not make the sufferer any less of a person. || After the accident, Lucy was still the same person she was before--a happy, talented young lady who loved art and music and building waffle houses. She was no less capable of love after than she was before. And she was no less relevant as a person than she was before. She simply had another facet added to who she was, but Lucy herself never went anywhere. In today's world, health is just a given. It's second nature. So it's easy to, even subconsciously, view someone who's sick as something less than whole. And it's just as easy to view yourself that way when you're the one who's sick. But illness does not take away from the person you are; it just adds to it.


5~ Love is bigger than any chronic illness. || In spite of all Lucy's problems, Henry could not be deterred--he wanted her with or without her issues. Love was greater. And this is the part that gets me the most every time I watch the movie. In this way, my Daniel is just like Henry. When we were dating, I told him to move on, that he deserved better, that this wasn't fair for him to live with, that he could have anyone--and someone who was actually healthy and could be the wife I couldn't be. But he said no. He'd rather be with me as I am than anyone who's healthy. Henry knew it wouldn't be easy--there would always be new hurdles to get through. Daniel knew that too. And they both said yes to all of it. Because their love was bigger than any issues, hurdles, fears, or shortcomings.

By all practical standards, Lucy was doomed to a life of starting over every morning when she woke up, couldn't hold a job, couldn't have a relationship with anyone, and certainly could never be married and have children. But when love came along, suddenly there was a way--she gained the courage to devise a way to teach art, she married the man of her dreams, despite her insistence that he deserved "better," they had a little girl together, and Henry got to continue his dreams too. It didn't make sense, it was crazy, it was impossible, yet it wasn't really, because of their love. And of course they lived happily ever after. :)

50 First Dates is just a sweet, funny movie at first glance. But it has so much more meaning behind all the laughs and remains very special to me and Daniel. Lucy and Henry were totally made up, but their trials, hurdles, and love story are not unlike that of real life. Needless to say, I found a new favorite movie that night on Youtube. :)

[I'll be back with that exciting announcement promised on Monday tomorrow... sorry for the delay!]

June 24, 2014

The Skirt That Was Secretly a Dress: 1 Maxi Skirt 2 Ways

I'm excited to finally get to share another fashion post with you guys--it feels like it's been forever. (Checking the records, it's been just over a month, which is a long time in blog world.) And just in case you're wondering about the outcome of yesterday's post, I took the supplement again last night as planned and the symptoms were much eased off today, so we're going with the deodorant as the culprit. And if you didn't read that post, you're super lost right now... ;)

So anyway! I always wondered why this skirt had such a wide waistline--I'm talking several inches. Then it hit me--it needs to be a dress toooo! :)

So sure enough, I decided to let it be both. It's so stretchy and comfy--I love it.

It was really windy... ;)

And I'm still attached to my midi rings. ;)

I am way too unsure of where I got all these pieces to list that, but I do know that the rings are from Claire's of course, and I made the above necklace and bracelet. ;)

And then the maxi became a midi...

Needless to say, I am thrilled with my discovery, made just in time for summer. Plus, when I had skin surgery on my leg, it was all wrapped up and I couldn't wear my beloved skinny jeans. So maxi dresses and such have become very popular with me as of late. Lucky for me they're "in" right now. ;)

Are you into maxi skirts? 
Do you have a maxi skirt you like to double as a dress? 

P.S. Linking up with Trend Spin Link Up, Monday Bloom, Manic Monday here and here, I Would So Rock This, Style Sessions, Random Wednesday

June 23, 2014

Digging for the Good Things

Keeping with my current tradition, it's time to link up with my amazing friend Emily's Grateful Heart Monday.

Grateful Heart Monday

But honestly ... some days it's harder to find what you're grateful for than it is on others....

As I write this, I feel like crap. I have all day. Now, feeling like crap is nothing new for me, but when it's a different kind than the many I normally experience, that's when it's extra ... disturbing. Especially when you can't quite figure out the cause and it's the kind of not-my-norm problem that clearly must have one. So unexplainable, as a lot of what I deal with is, but crawly, horrible achiness all through my body, inside and out, nausea, internal tenseness, and that indefinable feeling of vibrating on the inside. (All makes perfect sense, right?) Basically, it feels kinda like I've been given a steroid shot, or Sudafed, or, the only remotely possible option, exposed to latex, which I'm allergic to (all three give me similar reactions) and yet I'm lying there in bed this morning, in misery, wondering how on earth I crossed paths with latex in the past 24 hours.

But then there's the other possibility: I've got two supplements I recently started taking at night to "try" to help me sleep... one does nothing and the other is just straight up nasty and isn't pleasant to take because it has the teensiest bit of organic alcohol in it. And I have discovered that if I take a supplement with organic alcohol in it, I have to burn the alcohol off because my body is just that. freaking. sensitive. (Wonder why I'll never drink for real? :P) I just feel super weird if I don't burn it off. But in this case, I just need a few drops under my tongue, so I just put up with the uncomfortableness of it since I'm just going straight to bed.

So I wake up this morning feeling super weird, almost drugged, and all of the aforementioned symptoms. For no reason. Is it cause of the alcohol? Is it cause I only had about 6 1/2 hours of very poor sleep after taking it, so it hasn't worn off yet? (This body needs a good 9 or more hours.) Or did latex find me somehow?

By that point, I'm leaning toward the alcohol. But there's the unignorable familiarity of the feeling I have associated with a latex reaction. Now what did I use or eat or touch yesterday different from what I ever do? I used a new, organic, amazing, safe deodorant. That I've been dying to replace my chemical-filled deodorant with forever now. I finally used it last night for the first time and I love it. Surely they wouldn't put latex in that! But Google helped me out and informed me that people allergic to latex are often also allergic to shea butter and cocoa butter, as they supposedly contain a same protein. What's the first ingredient in my new, amazing deodorant? Shea butter. Unfortunately, I reapplied more today before this discovery.

So now we're leaning toward the deodorant and going to risk using the supplement one more time out of my desperation for semi-normal sleeping hours. And I am still lying here feeling horrible.

And all this comes after a several-hour episode a few days ago of lying in the floor writhing in pain from internal issues. Writhing, kinda want-to-die-from-the-pain kind of pain--no exaggeration.

Sometimes, some days, some weeks, I have to dig deeper to find what I'm grateful for on this journey...

When we began my journey with this new doctor and six months was the proposed treatment time, it seemed like it would take foreeeever. And in a way it did, but...

~ In a way it didn't. Because it's already long since over. So I am grateful we made it through those months and months of driving an hour and a half three times a week to the doctor for treatment, as lately we're down to one every week or two. I am not anywhere near where we all thought I'd be by now, but,

~ I did take tests that came back negative. Which is a positive thing in my mind. I'd rather my issues not be caused by some of the things they could have been.

~ And I also took tests that came back positive and gave us some clear directions to go in.

~ I did find out recently that I have a gene mutation that basically inhibits my body's ability to function, and I have a reportedly awesome supplement to help with that. (Still too soon to tell.)

~ The problem I referred to a while back that I was going to take a test for but couldn't because the insurance company doesn't like to cooperate with doctors' offices has eased off a good bit and hopefully will continue in that direction.

~ I completed my gut repair diet that took about 4 months longer than it should have and seemed like it would never end. And I can now eat eggs again.

~ And I have a chocolate chip cookie recipe that rules all and doesn't make my stomach hurt. Sometimes it's the little things that are just so big.


Now, if you're still with me after this uncharacteristically "real" post, I promise to be back tomorrow with a much happier topic. And exciting news on Wednesday that you don't want to miss. ;)

I hope you all have a might fine Monday. :)

June 20, 2014

West Virginia Day: Instagram Photo Tour

Happy West Virginia Day! For those of you not from here, today is West Virginia's 151st birthday (born right in the middle of the Civil War thanks to Abe Lincoln's help, because we didn't want to secede with Virginia--your history lesson for the day!).

However, although we were technically in the Union, West Virginia is so not a northern state. At least not if you're from southern West Virginia, which I am. [Imagine my surprise when I recently found a special southern bloggers network that doesn't include West Virginia! The included portions literally wrap around the sides of the state. I was pretty disappointed. :P They may beg to differ up there in Wheeling and Morgantown, but we're southern around here, y'all. Okay, rant over.]

In honor of gorgeous West Virginia's birthday, I wanted to do something different on this special day, in place of My Friday Five, and simply share just some of my state's beauty, according to my Instagram. So instead of five things, you're getting twenty-five pictures. ;) Enjoy!


Meanwhile, don't miss out on my flash auction on Instagram this weekend! 


Keep an eye out there for the rules, and the 15 pieces to bid on will be up Sunday at 4! I would love, love, love to see you there!

P.S. Linking up with Be.You.Tiful Link Party, Lovely Thursdays, Little Friday, Friday Favorites, That Friday Blog Hop, Friday Favorites, Fab Favorites, High Five for Friday, Anything Goes Linky