Friday, August 29, 2008

Who Couldn't Use $1000 or a Caribbean Cruise?

I know I could! Well, I prefer getting the $1000. We can't take off on a cruise right now, because we are awaiting the finalization of the adoption of our little guy, which probably will happen in early 2009. So the $1000 would come in VERY handy! We could even use it to pay for the adoption fees!

You're probably asking, "where do I enter?".......well, I'm not giving away this prize. I definitely can't afford to do that kind of thing...YET! Metropolitan Mama, in conjunction with Protect-a-Bed, is giving away this fabulous prize! You can read more about it at Metropolitan Mama's blog. Protect-a-Bed mattress covers would come in very handy in our home. We use those Huggies nighttime diapers, but occasionally, the little one will SOAK his sheet, blankets, and mattress pad in his crib. We'd love to get on board with Protect-a-Bed, and get one of their mattress covers.

You MUST hurry, because this giveaway expires on September 1st! Sorry, but I JUST heard about it today, otherwise I would've let you know sooner.

Have fun!


I Can't Get Enough of Children's Art!

There are some very talented artists out there, but right now, I am just loving artwork for children's rooms. I guess it's because I now have a 21 month old, whom we are hoping to adopt. I also have a niece, who is one year old today. I see things much differently now...not just looking at things for a teenager! Here are some of my favorites:

"Roasty Dragon" from Stick Nymph

"Happy Bear" from John W. Golden

"Blast Off" from Gumball Grenade

"Snack Time" from Fort Awesome Studios (cyberhadji)

"Amelia" from Little Beanz

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wordless Wednesday Featuring Becky M

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"Back to School" Three Free Ad Spots Giveaway!!

Well, my 14 year old had his first ever day of public school yesterday. We've always homeschooled him, but figured he's ready for public high school. He's so excited! I had to take pictures too, even though he thought it was silly. I promised that I wouldn't send the camera to school with dad as he dropped him off, so I didn't get that shot, but that's ok.

So, now we're celebrating! I don't have to be the teacher anymore! Well, there are those life lessons that get taught every day, but you know what I mean. Not that I didn't enjoy having my son with me nearly every day for the past four years. I did! I was a single, working mom for 10 years, so believe me, I cherish the last four years! But it's a huge relief for me.

To celebrate, we are giving away THREE free ad spots! One will be an Etsy Mini ad spot, one will be a 125x250 ad spot, and one will be a 125x125 ad spot. These ad spots will go for 31 days. You then have the choice to purchase more time. First name drawn will receive first choice. You don't have to have an Etsy shop to win the 125x250 or 125x125 ad spots, but I do ask that you have a website or blog where you make or promote handmade items. It doesn't have to be handmade only, but we would love to feature as many artists and crafters as we can, right? Please, no sites with vulgar, obscene, "mature", or otherwise offensive items.

You are MORE than welcome to give your ad spot to someone you love, if you win. It doesn't have to be for your very own blog, website, or Etsy shop.

To Enter: Please leave a comment, letting us know about someone you'd like to see featured on our blog. Please be sure to leave an email or have a Blogger account with a valid email address.

For an extra entry, you may blog about this giveaway. Please be sure to leave your extra credit comment, letting us know where you blogged about us, in a separate comment.

This giveaway is open worldwide. Deadline to enter is in two weeks: Tuesday, September 9th at Midnight PST.

Happy Back to School!

I LOVE Wooden Toys!!!

Maybe it's because I grew up going to Silver Dollar City, in Branson, Missouri, or maybe it's because I feel like I should've been born in the time of Laura Ingalls Wilder, or Anne of Green Gables, but I LOVE wooden toys! They are so imaginitive, and even almost alive to me. So that's why I'm hoping that we can win a natural finish racing car from Maple Landmark, via Seven Dogs and a Baby. These toys are not only NOT made in China, but they are made right here in the USA! In Vermont to be exact. You can read more about their company on the Seven Dogs blog, or on Maple Landmark's website.

If you love wooden toys, and you want to try and win the natural finish racing car, be sure to get over to Seven Dogs and a Baby before September 15th.

And don't forget to scroll down and enter to win a $25 gift certificate from Hullabaloo Boutique!

Have a great Tuesday!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday Feature No. 23 -- Featuring Hullabaloo Boutique

Happy Friday! YAY! WOO HOO! It's been a long week, because I haven't gotten much sleep. My hubby went hunting for 5 days, and I have a tendency to not fall asleep until the wee hours of the morning when he's gone. He's back now, so I'm sleeping better. It's SO good to have him back at home!

Are you ready for school to start? Or have your kids already started? Our 14 year old is entering into the public school system for the first time in his life! And he's going in as a high school freshman! We're nervous, and excited, and so is he! I think we were probably the only parents at freshman orientation, but he is a special needs student, and since we've not been a part of the public school system since the late 80's, we wanted to be there. He did really well. We're so proud of him. So now he starts on Monday. This should be a huge change for us all, but it will definitely be a good one.

Ok, I need to ask for your forgiveness. I had 166 comments on last week's Friday Feature...all entries for people who were hoping to win the earrings. The only problem is, that there are now only 117 comments. Why? Well, because I deleted all comments that had no email address or way for me to contact the person if they won. I don't think it's fair to all of those who actually followed the directions on how to enter, to have to be in a bigger "pot", so I ended up deleting 49 comments!

PLEASE, if you're going to enter our giveaways, PLEASE read the whole set of directions, and PLEASE leave an email or way for me to contact you. You don't even have to have a Blogger account, but I do need a way to get ahold of you. I hope that you will forgive me if I deleted your comment. I really wish I didn't have to, but it makes things easier, to be able to choose from those whom I know I can get ahold of.

So for those of you who followed the directions, we narrowed the competitive field, so that you would have a better chance of winning. We chose our winner through, and our winner is "moonmaiden", whose favorite earrings were the "Aurora" earrings. Congratulations!

This week, we are going to be featuring a shop that I would definitely be buying from if I had a little girl! Nicci, of Hullabaloo Boutique has agreed to being featured here on The Downtown Boutique, and she has a GREAT giveaway for our readers!!! Be sure to go to Nicci's Etsy shop and check out her gorgeous and fun line of children's clothing.

Let's get to know Nicci a little better.

TDB: Nicci, when did you first learn to sew, and why?
Nicci: About 7 years ago I bought a sewing machine with the intentions of making accessories for my home. I never read the manual to my machine because I was just too excited to get started. I whipped out a few pillows that eventually came apart. Instead of reading the manual to figure out what went wrong I just put my sewing machine away (this is very typical of me). Five years later while shopping for custom boutique clothing for my two year old daughter, I was inspired to create my own clothing for her. Nevermind the fact that I really didn't know how to sew or the fact that I lost the manual to my machine, I was determined and knew I could figure it out on my own. Instead of buying a pattern, I turned a dress of my daughter's inside out and figured out how to make it. After lots and lots of practice, studying, and research I started to get the hang of it. Soon enough I started designing my own patterns, upgraded to a serger and opened a business (kind of in that order). Every piece I make is better than the next. My confidence has grown and my designs have improved to a level I am proud of.

TDB: What is your favorite item to create?
Nicci: Obviously, clothing is my favorite item to create. I get such satisfaction out of combining fabrics and experimenting with designs. It is very rewarding but more importantly, a way to express myself creatively.

TDB: Your clothing is just gorgeous. What is your inspiration behind the pieces you create?
Nicci: I mainly find my inspiration by searching for fabric. It is an addiction. When I see a fabric I love, I usually know immediately what design I will create for it. Seeing my children in my designs and their friends in my designs always inspires me to create more and more. When friends, family and strangers ooh and ahh over my clothing, I am always stunned. That, alone, is a major source of inspiration!

TDB: How do you juggle married life, children, and a business?
Nicci: Ha! What a great choice of words!I am not very good at juggling.This is my biggest daily challenge. I am not one to easily follow a schedule.....I never have been, but I am finding it is a necessary evil. Often I have to be inspired to create and that doesn't happen at the same time everyday. When I do get inspired, I want to spend hours and hours creating, but it just isn't possible. Trying to decide daily what needs the most attention is basically how I function.

If my house is an utter disaster I have to spend the day cleaning. If my kids are restless, I choose to spend the day playing and goofing off so we can all have a little bit of fun. It recharges me. If I am feeling creative, I design and sew while my little ones destroy the house. I would love desperately to follow a schedule, have even designed one, but I am intimidated and overwhelmed when it comes down to it.
As for spending time with my husband, Monday nights are ours. We have a babysitter and we get out of the house. Unfortunately, we don't get to spend too much time during the week together because as soon as the kids go to bed, I go to my sewing room. Saturday evenings are our family nights. Whether playing games, sitting in the backyard with a fire roasting marshmallows or staying in watching a movie, my husband and I try to dedicate that time for our family.

TDB: Who is your favorite fabric designer?
Nicci: There are so many. I really like April Cornell, Jennifer Paganelli, Heather Bailey, Amy Schmidt, Robert Kauffman, Alexander Henry.....

TDB: If you could vacation anywhere in the world for one whole month, where would it be, and why?
Nicci: Uh, vacation? What's that? Hmmm, I think I would choose somewhere mountainous, surrounded by lakes, cool air, crisp leaves on the ground, the smell of a campfire, an adirondack chair and a warm blanket. Where ever that location may be, that's where I would want to spend a month. I feel absolutely refreshed watching a campfire and looking out over a serene lake on a cool autumn evening. That to me is heaven on earth, aka, mother nature.

TDB: Do you sell your clothing anywhere else, other than Etsy?
Nicci: Other than etsy, I am currently designing part of the fall line for a local boutique. Occasionally I sell on ebay but love etsy much, much more.
Thanks so much Nicci! I'm definitely with ya on the vacation thing! There's nothing like a campfire, a lake, and a cool evening to relax a body!

The GIVEAWAY: $25 Gift Certificate to be used in Nicci's Etsy shop, Hullabaloo Boutique.
Please visit Hullabaloo Boutique and let us know what you would spend the $25 on, if you won.
Please leave one comment per person.
To earn 1 extra entry, you can blog about this giveaway. If you choose to blog about it, please leave a separate comment.
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE leave an email address, if there is not one in your Blogger profile. If you don't have a Blogger profile, and would still like to enter, please be sure that you give me an EASY way to get ahold of you if you win.
Any comments that are left, that don't follow these directions will be deleted.
Deadline to enter: Thursday, August 28th at Midnight PST.
Have fun!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wordless Wednesday Featuring Signs By Diane

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

What Do You Think?

As you might have noticed, I've made some changes to the layout and overall appearance of The Downtown Boutique. I'd love to hear your feedback. Do you like it better than the old one? What would you like to see done differently? Let me know!

Have a great day!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday Features No. 22 -- Featuring Jennifer Rydin Designs

Good morning! I'm actually getting a Friday Feature posted on a Friday! Yay! I'm in the middle of doing all sorts of publicity graphics for my church's women's retreat coming up in October, so it has been a busy week for me. But I'm still getting this out on Friday, so we're good!

Today, we are featuring someone who I've had marked as a favorite on Etsy for a LONG time now! I love her jewelry!!! And she is actually giving away my favorite pair of earrings for her giveaway this segment!!! Today we are featuring Jennifer of Jennifer Rydin Designs.

Let's find out a little more about Jennifer, and her business.

TDB: When did you first start creating jewelry, and why?
Jennifer: I started creating jewelry full-time about 2 years ago. I found myself in awe of another jewelry designer who inspired me, so I decided to go for it and start creating jewelry of my own. I've been creating art for as long as I can remember... It actually feeds my soul. I love using my hands and my imagination to create something visually appealing that will help someone express their personality and individuality.

TDB: What is your inspiration for such gorgeous pieces of jewelry?
Jennifer: I love history, music and poetry - many of my designs are inspired by these muses in my life. I adore Jane Austen and Shakespeare... I'm inspired by art and all things vintage. Even my brand new designs may have a vintage feel - I tend to have a love for Victorian turn of the century style as well as 40's and 50's retro.

TDB: I see that some of your pieces are now being sold at the Globe Theater in London! How cool is that!!! How did that come about for you?
Jennifer: I was contacted by London based artist, Elizabeth Schuch. She creates incredible works of art depicting Shakespeare's greatest works. She wanted to collaborate with me and I was incredibly honored. It's been a blessing working with her. Her artwork is sold there and now they are giving my necklaces a go as well.

TDB: What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
Jennifer: That's a tough one. I've been given lots of great advice over the years. I will never forget a quote I heard from one of my favorite movies - I've never forgotten it and it stays with me...
"I think that we can't go around... measuring our goodness by what we don't do or by what we deny ourselves, what we resist, and who we exclude. I think... we've got to measure goodness by what we embrace, what we create... and who we include."
Quote from the movie "Chocolat"...

TDB: What is your favorite thing to create?
Jennifer: Of course I love creating my jewelry! I must admit, my favorite thing to create is memories with my family... especially spending time with my little boy who is 7 years old. Boys are amazing ~ I never thought I would know so much about Spiderman and Star Wars! :)

TDB: What do you do in your "spare time"?
Jennifer: I love listening to music ~ mostly jazz and I love listening to "A Prairie Home Companion" on NPR. I was raised in the Midwest, so it reminds me of my childhood home. :) I also love hanging out with my family ~ playing games together or going on nature hikes. We have to take advantage of all the beauty here in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado!

Thanks for sharing Jennifer. I know what you mean about creating memories with family. I have two boys now, and even though we still really want a girl, I'm really enjoying being a mom of boys! My husband is such a great role model and loves being "Dad"!

So here's the fun part: the giveaway! Jennifer is giving away a pair of her "Jenny" earrings.

"Ah, so divine, little lightweight flowers accented with silver and faceted chocolate brown glass beads. These cheerful flowers will be a great addition to all of your outfits. They measure 10mm long and the petal span is 15mm at the widest part. Genuine handmade sterling silver ear wires complete this delightful look."

How to enter:
*Please go look in on Jennifer's shop on, and come back here and comment on which piece of jewelry is your favorite.
*Please be sure to have a valid email address available to me, whether in your blogging profile, or in your comment. If you're "anonymous", and you don't leave an email, I will delete your comment before I choose the winner.
*Earn 1 extra entry by blogging about this giveaway on your blog. Please leave an additional comment if you blog about it. Be sure to leave the URL to your blog post.
*This giveaway is open worldwide.
*DEADLINE: Thursday, August 21st at Midnight PST.

Have a wonderful weekend!


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Want to be Seen on The Downtown Boutique?

Are you an entrepreneur artist or crafter? Would you like some exposure for your shop or website? We'd love to feature you! We are looking to fill up the calendar through the end of the year for our "Friday Features" segment. August is full, and we have 3 available slots in September. Please email us if you are interested.

All we ask, is that you would be willing to give something away (retail value of $15 or more please), and that you be willing to ship internationally. Your shop must have good, clear, well-taken photos. We also ask that your shop not have vulgar, profane, or otherwise obscene items, because we are a family friendly blog, and wouldn't want someone to stumble on something offensive while children are in the room.

We are also taking items for reviews. If you are interested in having your product reviewed, please contact me, and we will talk. Sometimes I use the item as a gift, and sometimes I will give it away, here on the blog.

If you are interested in making a donation towards an Gift Card Giveaway, you will get free exposure to your shop for one whole month. Minimum donation is $10. We would love to give an gift card away each month. A link to your shop or website will be included in the giveaway, and you will also be listed in a sponsor list in the right sidebar of the blog. Please email me, and we'll talk.

Lots to think about. Are you up for the challenge?

Have a great day!


You Can Win This Dress From Bridget and Co.

This dress from Bridget and Co is JUST darling! My little niece would look so cute in it! I can just imagine a white long sleeved turtleneck, and white tights, with red or black patent leather mary janes. I'm going to try to win this dress. You can find out more about the giveaway by clicking HERE.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wordless Wednesday -- Featuring Firelilly Jewelry

Saturday, August 9, 2008

A Winner and Some Little Bits of Information

Congratulations to Lori, who won the bench from Black Mountain Furniture Co.!!! Thank you all for entering. We've gotten TONS of hits from people who have never seen our blog before, so I'm pretty excited! Thanks to my faithful readers who are here all the time. You guys rock! Thanks to Reginia and Craig from BMFC, who were our featured artists/crafters last week, and who gave away such an amazing prize!!!

Ok, here are the little bits of information now. First of all, I wanted to mention that we have openings for you to advertise your "handmade" business. We have 125x125 and 125x250 banner spots available, as well as EtsyMini ad spots available. Please email me if you are interested.

Next, we are going to be doing a "Back to School" promotion. We would love to give some things away. If you are interested in donating something to be given away (could be something you made, or it could be a gift certificate for a restaurant or shop or online store), please let me know. I will do the giveaway and promotion on September 1st. I know many have already started back to school, and some will be going back soon, but to me, "Back to School" is a September thing.

If you are interested in having something reviewed by me, on the blog, let me know. I'd love to give it a whirl. Also, if you would like to be featured on our Friday Features segment, email me. We'll see what we can come up with for you!

Thanks for allowing me to take care of some business. Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Wordless Wednesday Featuring Off The Peg

Monday, August 4, 2008

Some Great Finds For Kids

I have been doing some birthday gift searching on Etsy, and have come across some really cute things that I'd love to share with you.

This Pink and Purple Springtime Raggy Baby Blanket from Kazzalblue, is just darling!!! It looks so soft and pretty and comfy. My niece, who is turning ONE at the end of this month would look so sweet in this li'l pumpkin tutu from TuTu Cute Baby:
Woodmouse has a shop chock full of fun wood playthings like this Four Seasons Tree Set:
And this very cool "Alligator Surfer" from Sugar and Cream would be perfect for our 21 month old's bedroom:

Don't forget to scroll down two posts to enter to win the 24" Handmade Wooden Bench from Black Mountain Furniture Company!!


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Want to Know Who Won the GC?

I have finally been able to get around to tallying up all the entries. We had 280 comments, which resulted in 422 entries!!!! WOW!!! I guess a lot of people like!!! I had a lot of fun reading the comments.

People wanted things like shoes, socks, and underwear; gum, school books, regular reading books, a new blender, a digital camera memory card, video games, craft books, cookbooks, groceries, makeup, games, clothing, video camera, jewelry, DVDs, CDs, Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, baby books, scrapbooking books, toys, self-help books, a new bed, a shower curtain, a Betty Boop clock, an ice cream maker, a camera, a Red Sox jersey, a gps, high thread count sheets, a scientific calculator, a new laptop (to replace a dearly departed laptop), a vacuum cleaner (we actually bought one from Amazon!!!), an eco frying pan, school supplies, a new tv, coffee pods for a new mom, a wireless guitar for Wii, comic book characters, a new wind chime, books for a Kindle, gardening equipment, books on dating, bird food, an iPod, a cell phone charger, Rosetta Stone (not the real one, of course!), a remote-controlled shark, pajamas, a coffee maker, ballet slippers, a doll, DIY books, a "green" water heater, a subscription to Xbox live, a George Foreman grill, toilet paper (they must not have a Costco nearby!!!), a new purse, Massage Therapy Exam Prep Flashcards, manga, a panini press, cat toys, fashion books, cookware, sunglasses, Playstation 3, Xbox 3, cake books, audio books, baby things, Batman legos, scented soaps, baking sheets, a battery pack, bike parts, a crank flashlight and emergency radio, and more.

I guess that just goes to show how MUCH there is to buy on Amazon! We have purchased a tent, camping cots, toys, books, movies, cell phone headsets, battery chargers, CDs, video games, a life vest for our little guy, cookware, a KitchenAid mixer, deep fryers, thermoses, blankets, Bibles, pedometers, and so much more from Amazon. We even have a subscription to get Prilosec and razors from Amazon! Crazy, huh?

Well, anyway, we have our winner: Sharon from Massachusetts. Congratulations Sharon! I hope you have fun shopping!

Be sure to keep visiting The Downtown Boutique. We have a giveaway every week! Plus we showcase some great products from small business artists and crafters all over the world.

Have a great day!


Saturday, August 2, 2008

Friday Features No. 21 -- Featuring Black Mountain Furniture Co.

It seems like one might come to expect the "Friday Feature" segment to appear on Saturdays now. I don't intend for things to keep going this way. We got back Wednesday from our 5 days of camping, and I have had a cold with a fever ever since! Needless to say, much has not gotten done in a timely manner. We just unloaded one of the coolers yesterday! I know, pretty bad. But I have been able to nap when the little guy naps, so that's been good for me. Yesterday I took a 3 hour nap! YIKES!

Ok, so I know many of you are waiting for the results from the $40 gift card giveaway. I need to ask you to please wait a little longer. I got 280 comments, and many of them have multiple entries, so I have to do a lot of tallying and checking. I will do my best to have the winner posted by no later than Monday. Thank you for your patience.
This week's Friday Feature is featuring one of my favorite places to look and dream and drool! Black Mountain Furniture Company is a place to find some gorgeous "rustic" style furniture...just my style. Reginia from BMFC emailed me and asked if I would be willing to feature her, and that she would be willing to give away a 24" bench!!! Of course I said "yes" right away! If only I could enter to win it!

We'll find out a little more about BMFC and Reginia, and then we'll get to the giveaway.

TDB: When did you start making furniture, and how did you learn?
Reginia: BMF is a family business run by Craig & Reginia Boling. Craig learned the woodcraft from his Dad and Grandfather while growing up. He can build anything I (Reginia) come up with. This was super when we got married as I was pretty picky about a certain dining room table I had my eye on but that needed a few changes. Instead of settling for something that wasn't exactly what I wanted, Craig surprised me and built me a table just like I was wanting. It has grown from there and we have been offering our custom made items to the public for over 11 years now.

TDB: What is your favorite thing to make, and why?
Reginia: We love it when a customer sends us something different to make. 85% of the items we do are custom, and it is always exciting when a new style/design is finished. Recently we made a buffet style unit which the customer is actually going to be using as a changing table for her daughter.

TDB: How far do you ship your furniture?
Reginia: We have shipped as far as Italy and Australia.

TDB: What do you do when you're not building furniture?
Reginia: We like to go Jeeping, spend time with the kids. Craig likes to do anything outdoors and I am happy with a good book or in my scraproom.

TDB: What is the best piece of advice you've ever received?
Reginia: Don't be afraid to take chances.

TDB: If you could learn any new skill, what would it be, and why?
Craig: - Pottery, he thinks it is awesome what people can make out of some mud and time. Reginia: - Painting, I always see beautiful art work and envy the artists their talent. (I am actually going to a local art class on Sunday evening so it remains to be seen if this "Can't draw a straight line" Gal can do anything with paints.)

Reginia (and Craig), thank you for sharing this small part of your lives with us. Makes me think of one of my favorite places in the world to visit: Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri!!

Ok, so let's start out with this cool offer that Reginia and Craig are giving to The Downtown Boutique readers:

Now for the giveaway. Black Mountain Furniture Company is giving away a 24" Custom Bench, valued at $56.00.

This bench measures 24"L X 12.5"W X 19"H and would be adorable in any room in the house!

Finished in the Winners color/finish options of choice.

Due to the cost of International shipping we are not able to open this offer to anyone outside the US/Canada at this time.

To enter to win your custom 24" bench, please visit Black Mountain Furniture Company, then come back here and comment on your favorite item. PLEASE be sure to leave a VALID email address. If there's no way to get ahold of you when I choose your name, I will pick another winner!!!

To earn one extra entry, you can blog about this giveaway on your blog. Be sure to leave a seperate comment if you blog about it...with the link to your blog.

Deadline to enter is Friday, August 8th at Midnight PST.

This giveaway is only open to residents of US and Canada, due to costs of International shipping.

Have a great weekend!


Update: Apparently there is something wrong with the BMFC website. I have contacted Reginia to see if they have any idea of what's going on. I will wait to hear from her, but you can still enter to win.


Update to Update: WOW! You guys have overwhelmed the server for the BMFC website! That's why the site link wasn't working. They have upgraded to a bigger server, so that should eliminate the problem. Now you can go and look away! Don't forget, if you mention The Downtown Boutique, you will receive 20% off on your order!!!!


I see that some of you still are not able to visit the website. I think that we are overwhelming their server, so I hope that you will be patient until you can see the site. They have some really beautiful things there, so it's definitely worth it!