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10 Tips to Keep the Romance Going

  • Feb 17 2015

Keep the Romance Going

Valentine's Day may have come and gone for this year, but that doesn't mean that the romance has to be over. Far from it. Especially if you are in a committed relationship, keeping the "spark" alive all year round is important and worth putting extra effort into. Below are 10 quick tips on how to keep the love coming after V-day and beyond:

1. Make time and schedule a date night.

Because I run a jewelry business in addition to working a "regular" full-time job, it can be really easy for me to come home from work, only to work on my business for the remainder of the day until it's time to go to sleep and start it all back up again the following day. In order to ensure I'm giving my husband adequate time and attention, we schedule at least 1 date night a week, that I can plan around and make sure I have time for. Likewise, I have friends with children who may not be able to do it every week, but they make sure there is at least 1 night a month they can plan on going out together without the little ones in tow.

2. Have long, thought-provoking conversations.

Put away the phones, turn off the TV, and shut the laptops. Face each other. Then... just talk. It doesn't have to be romantic, it could be about anything. Relationships are formed and maintained via communication. It sounds simple, but it's everything.

3. Compliment each other constantly.

Everyone likes to feel appreciated, especially by someone they liked so much they chose that person to be their partner. Compliment everything from physical appearance to chore-completion skills and beyond. Soon it will become second nature and you'll be nauseating to your friends (but you'll both feel so good about it, so it's worth it.)

4. Little surprises never get old.

Flowers and chocolates are awesome, but so is completing a household chore normally assigned to the other person. The more unexpected, the better.

5. Dream together.

Talk about where you want to travel, what kind of house you want to live in, and what you would like to learn together. Look at inspiring pictures of your goals and start mapping out the steps you could start taking now to make some of them possible.

6. Learn something together.

Take an art or a dance class together. Start learning a new language together. Or even something that might be "boring" such as accounting or the legalities of running a business can be more fun when you get to experience it as a couple.

7. Go somewhere new together.

Whether it's on the other side of the world, or simply a neighboring city, there's some serious relationship cementing that happens while experiencing new places together. (Plus, who doesn't love any excuse to travel!?!)

Notre Dame

8. Hold hands.

In the car, watching a movie, across the dinner table, while walking down the street, whenever possible...

9. Make yourself feel attractive.

Go beyond necessary hygiene grooming and dress yourself up and invest in making yourself feel more attractive. It will boost your self-esteem around your partner, and even make you feel more attracted to him or her as a result.

10. Have a lounge day.

The hubby and I call these delightful excursions "naked days" because we lock ourselves up in the house in nothing but robes for an entire day. We eat ridiculous junk food and binge on Game of Thrones all the while taking the time to enjoy each other in all of our unkempt glory.

Date Night Dress Up

  • Feb 11 2015

Looking for some outfit inspiration for what to wear on your Valentine's Day date night (or Treat Yourself night)? Here's a style board in red and black to get your wheels moving. Individual outfit details with go-to shopping links are below the image, just in case your closet or jewelry box is feeling a little lackluster.

Date Night Dress Up Style Board

Date Night Dressing by Megan's Beaded Designs

Beaded anklet
etsy.com

Buxom beauty product
sephora.com

Dangling Butterfly Earrings
$9 www.MegansBeadedDesigns.com

Flower hair accessory
$12 www.MegansBeadedDesigns.com

Single on Valentine’s Day? Treat yourself!

  • Feb 9 2015

Single on Valentine's Day

Every year I try to prepare for the onslaught of anti-valentine jokes to hit my Facebook feed and lips of my single friends. “I don’t care about being single on Valentine’s Day,” they say, “It’s a stupid holiday anyway.”

But of course, they’re saying these things because they totally do care, their bitterness spewing from their jealousy of all the happy couples around them.

I’m not here to judge.

Being single on the most romantic holiday of the year sucks.

However, always striving to be that annoying glass-half-full kind of person that I am, I feel like there’s no reason you can’t use the holiday as an excuse to do something extra special… FOR YOURSELF.

Buy yourself a new book, piece of clothing, or that necklace you’ve been eyeing on this site.

Head out on a long, romantic walk to collect your thoughts and contemplate your reality, take a luxurious bubble bath, get out the paints you’ve long since stored up in your attic and create a work of art (just for you), and cook yourself something extra special for dinner (or get takeout, and grant yourself a break for the oven for a night).

If you have single friends, may a night of it! Typically there are lots of clubs hosting “single mingles” on Valentine’s Day. Giving you the perfect opportunity to head out and meet some new peeps.

Or, you can just head over to Facebook and read all of the nasty anti-Valentine and I-hate-being single posts until you feel like the worst version of yourself. (Not the best idea.)

Personally, I’d never pass up a reason to pour on a little extra, much-needed self-love!

Pink Valentine Bracelet
Bracelet - $19

Take the time to plan out what you’ll do now, so you don’t find yourself sucked into the social media vortex of negativity that’s bound to happen.

You just might realize, Valentine’s Day isn’t so bad after all, and you can be your own fun date for the day.

Valentine Gift Guide for Him

  • Feb 2 2015

Hunting for a valentine gift for the hubby, boy-toy or man-friend? Here's a gift guide of Valentine's Day treats for only the manliest of men.

Valentine Gifrt Guide for Him

Valentine Gifrt Guide for Him by Megan's Beaded Designs

Acqua di Parma gift sets kit
$71 - liberty.co.uk

Diesel shoes
amazon.com

D S DURGA scented candle
net-a-porter.com

Allurez jewellery box
$130 - allurez.com

Blomus bar tool
2modern.com

Christmas home decor
$105 - sweetpeaandwillow.com

Mens Stormy Leather Bracelet
$227 www.MegansBeadedDesigns.com

Valentine's Day Gifts for Her Under $25

  • Jan 30 2015

Hunting for the right Valentine's Day gift for your sweetie, BFF, or yourself? here's a guide if you're looking for something fun and unique, but only have a small budget to spare. All of the items feature in the guide below are less than $25.

Valentine's Day Gift Guide {for her}

Valentine's Day Gift Guide (for her) Priced Under $25 by Megan's Beaded Designs

Pointed toe pumps
$27 - newlook.com

Uniqlo pink shawl
uniqlo.com

Tech accessory
amazon.com

ALDO sunglasses
aldoshoes.com

Coccinelle leather belt
$33 - yoox.com

Clarins lip care
$27 - johnlewis.com

NARS Cosmetics nail polish
$23 - liberty.co.uk

Pink home decor
amazon.com

H M flower shaped candle
$3.01 - hm.com

Doughnut Ring
www.MegansBeadedDesigns.com

Light Pink Bracelet
$19 www.MegansBeadedDesigns.com

Butterfly Earrings
$9 www.MegansBeadedDesigns.com

The Surprising History of Beadwork

  • Jan 26 2015

Native American Beadwork
(Image Source: Flickr Creative Commons)

Usually, when we think of beadwork, we often think of the kind found at pow-wow events and natural history museums. It's how I was first introduced to beadwork: from the Native style jewelry and decor my grandfather made when I was a young. Surprisingly though, Native Americans first made beads out of natural materials with tools made of rocks and wood. Their beads were generally large and it wasn't until Europeans came over that they were able to obtain small beads to create the more intricate designs.

It was their take on how to work with these small beads that led to our current association of bead work with Native American culture.

People have been doing bead work for the then 5000 years, according to archaeologists. Beads were used to make decorative clothes, for religious purposes, wall hanging, and jewelry.

Even if "just" worn as a fashion staple, I feel like beadwork still has a significant and personal meaning for each person who wears it.

For starters, most beadwork is still created entirely by hand. The beaded pieces you'll find here on Megan's Beaded Designs, for example, are all originally designed and woven together by yours truly, one tiny bead at a time.

There is also the fact that beadwoven pieces look so different than anything else you can find in the jewelry market. Generally commanding more real estate, they are often pieces that will attract more attention and serve as statement-makers.

Beaded Statement Jewelry

Light & Dark Blue Jewelry

  • Jan 21 2015

Color your ensemble with dark blue cobalt and the whisper of light gray with the newest color edition of The Rebecca Collection from Megan's Beaded Designs.

Light & Dark

Light & Dark by Megan's Beaded Designs

Chevronnecklace
www.MegansBeadedDesigns.com

Blue jewelry
mwww.MegansBeadedDesigns.com

Dark blue jewelry
www.MegansBeadedDesigns.com

Pendant necklace
www.MegansBeadedDesigns.com

Blue Earrings
www.MegansBeadedDesigns.com

Beaded Ring
www.MegansBeadedDesigns.com

Beaded headband
www.MegansBeadedDesigns.com

Shop the entire Rebecca Collection by clicking here.

Visiting Scotland Again Through the Books of Alexander McCall Smith

  • Jan 20 2015

The city of Edinburgh, Scotland, was one of my favorite places to stay during my European vacation this last summer. It's a rich, beautiful city with intelligent, witty and friendly people, glorious architecture, and a remarkable and layered history. Walking along the cobbled and mounting streets of Old Town, grabbing a cup of hot tea in an almost-hidden alley-placed parlor, and catching a movie in New Town were just a few of the joyous highlights I was lucky enough to experience. Since leaving--three days being far too short a time to absorb such an inspiring place--I have yearned to go back.

While I may not currently have the means or availability to spend a summer or longer in Edinburgh, I do get to travel back to the city through a much more accessible means: reading books by author Alexander McCall Smith.

While being transported to another world via a work of fiction is always an enjoyable stretch of the imagination, it can be just as delightful--if not even more so--to be delivered BACK to a place you have once been through the same means. The above books by Smith are light-hearted, intelligent, and thought-provoking literature, but they have been even more endearing for me to read because I can recognize the places, street names, and vocabulary used and inhabited by the fictional characters within. I cannot help but smile as a character walks down queen street, hopping on a bus at one of the same stops I has also done, while contemplating the deep philosophy and implications of local culture or moral fabrication.

I will be visiting Edinburgh again, most certainly. But in the meantime, I'm glad for this newly discovered library of books by Smith to hold me over.

Flourish & Thrive Academy Laying the Foundation

  • Jan 17 2015

If I had to name one thing that was important to me...

...just ONE thing...

I would respond to you with a single word:

INDEPENDENCE.

Independence is at the core of my ambitions, the goal illustrated by my dreams, and the results I am attempting to manifest through my daily actions.

My pursuit of independence is the spark that lights up my jewelry business.

Yes, I love making the beaded jewelry you'll find on this website, and designing original creations that will help wonderful people from all over the world feel more confident and express themselves and their originality. But that's all part of my internal drive for self-reliance and freedom.

I have witnessed and lived through a lack of independence and it is terrifying.

It's why my mother couldn't leave a spouse that sent her to the hospital with the blows of his fists, or, later, couldn't relieve herself from the bottle that took her life away when I was 16 years old.

It's why so many of the people I care about stay with family or partners who mistreat them, addictions that destroy them, jobs that demoralize them, habitats that bore them, and obligations that gradually wear them down into passive submission.

To be perfectly clear: I love my husband, love my day job, love my house, town, and friends and family. I'm not looking for an escape. I just want to breathe easier knowing I would never have to live my life feeling entrapped in something that isn't serving me or allowing me to serve others to the best of my ability.

To do this, I need to take my jewelry business to the next level.

Right now I am making and selling handmade pieces that I design, market, and sell individually. I love every part of this process, and even enjoy all of the different hats I have to don, but it isn't scalable in the way that is required to obtain the level of flexibility I'm looking for.

I need to take my business to the next level.

My goal for this year, if I can put the pieces together and create a map for it, is to design original pieces that are partly manufactured, and partly hand-beaded. As a new line, it would represent both of my skill-sets in one: digital design, and artisan beadwork. If this is something I can pull off, it would be a more sustainable and scalable way of moving my business forward, where I can then reach for my ultimate dreams.

My desire for this business is to use it as a catalyst to not only gain my own independence, but to supply a tool for women locally and nationally to achieve theirs. I'm not sure of the exact specs of how I would go about this–yet–but I want to partner with non-profit organizations assisting women trying to take charge of their lives and remove themselves from domestic violence or uncomfortable workplace situations. I will use this business as a means to provide employment for these women, teach the principals of entrepreneurship, and spread awareness of what is still too prevalent of a problem in 2015.

As part of my path towards accomplishing these goals and desires—to reach independence and turn it into something infectious to others—I am applying for a spot in Flourish and Thrive Academy's Laying the Foundation course.

I have taken other courses from Tracy and Robin and Flourish and Thrive Academy and can attest to the value and support they provide. I feel I am close—so close—to getting where I want to be. This course will help me refine my jewelry collections, figure out how to even get started with manufacturing and digital design, and provide me with valuable feedback and support along the way.

(You can learn more about this course and the scholarship contest here: www.flourishthriveacademy.com/2015/01/16/win-scholarship-ftas-laying-foundation-course-2015/)

This course would provide another step—a big step–towards achieving

INDEPENDENCE.

Miniature Coffee and Tea Cup Rings Loved by Liz

  • Jan 16 2015

Showing off her recent purchase from Megan's Beaded Designs, Liz of the fashion blog Luxe by Liz recently boasted, "I was finally able to get a mad hatter tea cup ring AND a latte ring. They are such unique pieces and sooo adorable. I had a blast styling them and can’t wait to wear these quirky little rings all the time :) I got so many compliments when I wore them for the first time over the weekend!"

Miniature coffee ring

She went on to say, "I love working with Artisans and buying from individuals so much better than massive chain retailers and am always so happy to find an artisan that can make such fabulous but also quality things. Megan is a fellow introvert with loads of personality that she expresses through her beaded designs. When she is not working her graphic design job or running her fabulous business, you can always find her sipping on hot tea or catching the latest horror flick. I still have several pieces on my wishlist for Megan's shop."

Miniature cup rings

Miniature Latte Ring

You can snag your own green mad hatter tea cup ring here, or your own miniature cafe latte ring here.