Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is.

I don’t broadcast my political beliefs on my blog and I try not to rant and rave about too many political issues on this site–It’s not the place for that.

However, I will use it to remind you to get your butt out and vote today. It’s your right and your duty.

I voted, did you?

 But don’t just vote today. Practice your beliefs every single day.

Vote with your dollar.

People forget that they have a choice every time they go to the store…pump gas…buy clothes or makeup… or order online. Even when they go out to dinner!

Whether it be trying to buy from local farms instead of large supermarkets, buying American-made products as opposed to items made overseas or supporting companies who are committed to the environment and their employees instead of those who are focused solely on the bottom line and the latest technology, your dollar is the biggest weapon you have for change.

I realize that sometimes it’s a tough choice and it can be a little more expensive (although many times, this is a myth), but if you want to change the system, every dollar–or vote–counts.

An example of this? My husband and I are very committed to knowing where our food comes from and eating local. 

We grow a lot of our own food and what we can’t grow, we get from local farms that we know and trust. Or order from companies that we have researched.

When we go out to dinner, we try to pick local restaurants that we know support local farms over chains and big food vendors.

We also try to buy products made in the US, whenever possible.

Again, this takes time and effort…and sometimes extra money, but it can be done.

I grow very tired of seeing people rant and rave about their personal beliefs and politics, who then go out and support the exact opposite with their dollar.

Do your research. Be educated. And use that knowledge.

So today and every day,  put your money where your mouth is.

Bling Blingin’

So, I am writing this post for two reasons. One is to give you all an awesome gift idea, not only for Christmas, but for anytime. And two, I’ve had a ton of people ask me who made the jewelry for my bridesmaids. I figured this would kill two birds with one stone.

My gorgeous sister...wearing that awesome necklace!

Ben and I were very adamant about having a custom wedding. We did our own food, cake, and even had custom wine bottles made (I promise, I will do a post about this soon). I also wanted a fun gift for my bridesmaids. I know jewelry isn’t the most unique gift in the world, but I knew that they would love wearing something that wasn’t mass-produced and having something they could wear more than once.

After many emails, we came up with this necklace. It was exactly what I wanted and it turned out to be a huge hit.

Custom Made Bridesmaid Jewelry

That being said, allow me to introduce my friend Kate:

Kate and I ran track together in high school. After graduation, Kate moved to New Mexico to chase her dreams. She now lives in Oklahoma with her husband. As the ranch keeps her pretty busy, making jewelry is a hobby…a hobby that she is really good at.  I asked Kate to answer a few questions about her creative process, take a look!

Noelle’s Notebook: How did you start making jewelry?

Kate:The way that I actually got into making jewelry was kind of funny- and I should say that I mostly owe it to my husband, Ben.  He and I, along with my mom, were on a trip back to NY to see family and one of my mom’s necklaces broke (not one from us, but another that she had bought elsewhere).  I have to give Ben credit and say that he is a jack of all trades, and she knew that at the time too; so she asked him if he could figure something out to fix it while she was there, seeing that it was the first day- it had broken in her luggage, and she really wanted to wear it while there.

Ben and I studied the piece and said if we went to an arts & crafts store we thought we could figure it out.  Sure enough, we gathered up what we thought were the correct pieces, re-strung her necklace and it’s been fixed ever since.  While we were there though, we saw all of the loose beads and we go the idea to grab a few strands and see what we could do with them.  We started out really simple and with cheaper beads and materials, but now have advanced to more technical and higher quality work.

One of Kate's earring sets

 NN: Where do you draw your inspiration/where do you get your ideas?

Kate: You know, it’s kind of funny because I’m not sure.  I love getting a huge order of beads and just playing.  I might envision something when I place an order, but then when I get it, it doesn’t look good, but something else does.  I pay attention to trends and do a lot of turquoise and western jewelry because we live in OK.  My main focus for this has been jewelry that is made for today’s western women and little cowgirls.  But since this is a glorified hobby for me, I changed that some because my biggest customers are my family and friends- and seeing how they span the U.S., I have changed my style from all western to a little bit of everything, but still with a cowgirl twist.

NN: What kinds of materials do you use?

Kate: As far as beads we use everything you could imagine from glass and plastic to genuine natural gemstones etc.   We use stones like lapis, quartz, and tiger’s eye, and then at other times, howlite and magnesite, turquoise, amethyst and everything in between.  Most of our hardware is silver but we have used some gold and tarnished gold for special orders.

NN: Will this ever turn into a full-time venture? Or is it just for fun?

Kate: Right now I call it a “glorified” hobby.  It has gotten much bigger than I ever imagined.  It started like I said, with just family and now some friends buy it too.  It will always be fun, but I would like for it to get bigger in the future.  As far as full-time, probably not.  Ben and I manage a 1,900 acre ranch, so that has most of my attention.  However, as a side business, I definitely would love to see a future in the jewelry making

NN: Any advice for fellow jewelry-makers?

Kate: My biggest piece of advice would be to have fun with it.  It is such a great thing to see people wearing your jewelry or have them tell you how much they love their pieces.  In having fun with doing it, don’t forget your roots.  Be playful with your creations but if have a common theme in what you make, that will help customers to develop a real grasp on what your  style, attitude, and personality  is all about.
NN: Where is the strangest place you’ve had to send jewelry?

Kate: I have shipped to a lady who lives in Australia, twice.  She is a repeat customer and has become a good friend.  Besides that, nowhere too weird.  Coast to coast though- NY to CA and lots in between.

NN: What is your favorite piece?

Kate: That’s definitely the toughest question you’ve asked.  I always make pieces and say “I think this is my most favorite, EVER!”  And then Ben reminds me how many times I have said that before.  I don’t have just one.  I love a lot of the pieces I make with pendants.

The funny thing is, I only own two pieces of my own jewelry.  We don’t go out and get dressed up enough for me to keep a lot of it, so I would rather see other people have some enjoyment with it.  I always joke and say “The cows and horses don’t care if I have jewelry on or how I look”, because they are majority of what we work with everyday.  If I had a job in town or an office job, that would definitely change though, two would not cut it!

If you’re interested in any of Kate’s pieces, email her at ktirwin12@yahoo.com I can tell you that she is great to work with, has VERY reasonable prices and is very quick to ship. Do it. Now!