Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Ultimate Irish Dance Mother's Day Gift?

** REPOSTED, with permission  from Bless Their Hearts Mom Blog **

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this product, free of charge,from Kelly Moore, for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about it

Since it Wordless Wednesday, it only makes sense to talk about this gift!

Ok, so you read the headline and thought Vacation, right?

Well, ya  that would be, if one had the funds and time to cover all of Mom's duties and work, right?

So if it's not vacation, what is it?

How about a gift she would never buy for herself, that is so well made it will last forever, and that she will USE all the time, and yet IS affordable?

You'd but that for her, right?

So meet the ultimate gift, aka 'did you hear MY scream of joy when I opened the box?',

kelly moore monroe bag

Yup- it is a 2-n-1 Camera, travel, baby, study, how did you live without it Messenger and Tote bag! 
But not just ANY tote bag!

Kelly Moore bags are designed to hold EVERYTHING you could possibly need as a busy mom on the go, AND provide protection for the expensive DSLR you bought, but hate to schlep around because protecting it, means carrying 2 bags. NOT any more!  Made of premium quality materials, Kelly Moore bags are sturdy and made to LAST. They literally will be the last bag you need. Though you may find yourself wanting different bags, in different colors, for different occasions....because, well, you know they really are a FASHION accessory too!

close up of cambrio fabric

The new Monroe bag is part of the new Kelly Moore Classic Collection, which includes eight styles hewn from Cambrio, a new material produced exclusively for the company, that is water resistant, abrasion resistant and vegan friendly.“It is not only luxe, but beautiful,” touts company founder and designer, Kelly Moore, “While still strong and functional, these bags offer the best of both worlds-quality luxury and an inexpensive price". The material looks and feels like leather, but isn't. Seriously, just LOOK at the picture above. Would you have guessed it wasn't leather? And I have to admit, I might miss that 'leather' smell, but the Cambrio has almost an essential oil smell, that is really nice and reminds you of being at a spa! (Just remember to smell it in private ok? People might think you're a bit odd, if you're constantly smelling your bag and sighing in public...just saying...). The KM logo adds a nice luxe touch too, don't you think?

kelly moore classic bag colelction collage

The 8 models in the new Classic line are the Monroe (as shown above), the Augusta, the Oxford, the Riverdale, the the Luna, the Austin, the Woodstock and the Ruston. This new line of Kelly Moore bags range from $139 - $249, which is about half the price of the traditional leather Kelly Moore bags! All of the Classic styles include the Kelly Moore signature removable camera holder basket (with its ample camera body and lens capacity and adjustable dividers), and plenty of pockets, guaranteed to fit an active lifestyle.

But I know you want to see INSIDE the bag, right?

kelly moore monroe bag contents

The Monroe bag comes complete with a removable messenger bag/clutch and padded shoulder strap, that attaches to the messenger bag for its use without the tote. It also has it's own cloth storage bag (I know, when are you gonna put this bag away? LOL), that can double as a rain cover. Though, hint hint, that fashionable rain cover I'm giving away (check out the sidebar), fits this bag very well too, and slides perfectly inside when not in use! The Monroe is made for everything a Mom or student can dish out! The bag can hold up to a 13” Macbook Pro, while its included internal pockets fit all your  notebooks, iPads, study essentials, cell phone and other essentials! One bag does it ALL!

Just look at how many POCKETS there are in the tote bag itself!  There is plenty of room on each side of the camera basket, to hold not only your laptop, but also notebooks, magazines, or file folders. On each side of the bag you have to different pocket sections as well! The large inside zipper pocket is very roomy, as you can see above, as I can fit my hold hand down in it and across. Below it, you have 2 material pockets, that are perfect for holding your cell phone and sunglasses. On the other side, you have a large clear envelope pocket, perfect for holding anything you need kept safe. These side pockets alone can hold a LOT of what you carry in your bag normally!

Now let's go back and look at the camera holder!  The camera holder basket is not only padded, it has 3 removable (padded) dividers, that allow you to change the configuration at any time! They have Velcro on THREE sides, so you know they will fit snugly around your camera and keep it in place! I love being able to keep the lens in place on my camera, so that I can pull it out and use it at a moments notice. Most camera bags don't let you do that! As you can see, it was easy for me to move the one divider closer to my camera, to keep it better in place, along with the extra lens. Because there is enough room, it is easy for me to use one of the sections for the padded camera strap I have, thus making it easy to keep the strap out of the way and contained too! That has been a huge problem in the current bag I had been using. And because the basket itself is removable, it is quick to take it out and keep it at home, when you don't need to bring your camera, but want to use the bag! But once you start using this bag, you probably will find like I did, that not only is the Monroe bag NOT uber heavy, but without the camera moving all around, there is room to store the rest of your items quite easily, making it great for everyday use too! 

Now let's talk about the attached messenger bag:

Monroe tote and bag unattached

I know you were wondering just HOW it attached, and consequently, how easy does the messenger bag come OFF, right? As you can see the bag is attached to the tote by not 2, but 6 solid magnetic snap closures. As you can see, you have 3 on each side. You really have to grab pretty hard to get the messenger bag off, without properly unattaching the snaps. Trust me, if a 9 yr old at full speed can run smack into the bag and NOT knock the messenger bag off, while still moving forward, you know you bag will be safe from accidental removal! 

monroe messenger bag collage 1

Both the tote and messenger bag look good by themselves too! The strap is easily placed on the messenger bag by using the flat snaps Which are SO much appreciated- Kelly understands if you have nails, or are in a hurry with multiple kids, that these type of snaps are quick and easy to use! 

monroe strap close up

The strap itself is adjustable, with a sturdy metal hook, so you can fit it snugly around your waist. As you can see, the strap has a small padded section, that is just right for carrying the large bag on your shoulder. It sits just where you want it to. And once again, check out the GRAIN on the Cambrio. It really mimics saddle leather, SO well! No one will know your bag is not leather, unless you tell them!

But let's look inside of the messenger bag too:

monroe messenger bag collage 1

As you can see you have not 1, but 2 clear pocket sections. The top clear pocket section has a mesh section, perfect for loose coins, tokens, or memory cards.  The second section sits below it and holds credit cards, your drivers license and cash. In front of it is another small section as well. You could easily also place your keys in the middle section, allowing you to grab the messenger bag and go!

monroe messenger bag in tote

My making this bag a perfect 2-n-1 tote, Kelly has designed a bag that is PERFECT for the busy mom/student/worker on the go! Which means just about everybody, right? It is especially perfect for taking with you on vacation, as your use the combined bag all day, taking your camera everywhere with you, and then snapping off the messenger bag for taking with you to dinner. Plus if you need to, you can carry the messenger bag inside of tote, allowing it to take up less space, if needed. once you realize just HOW much you can carry in this bag, you will realize it is the perfect all the time bag! 
monroe color choices
Plus it comes in 3 lovely colors as you can see above. Meaning there is the perfect color to fit your lifestyle! I chose the Hickory color, as I knew I could use it year round, and the lighter color would go better with most outfits.

For me, this is the PERFECT bag to take with me to Miss Grace's Irish Dance performances and competitions, now that she has her Zuca bag and is old enough to tote all of HER actual dance stuff. With this bag, I can have my camera, and all the extra lenses (YAY), all of my regular purse stuff, all of our travel plans or souvenir programs, in the large envelope pocket, to keep them safe, AND still have plenty of room for purchases. And really, I  am going to use it whenever we head off anywhere, as with it, I can always have my camera handy (how many times have you gone on a 2 hour trip and had to use your cell phone for a spur of the moment picture, because you didn't want to lug the heavy camera brag???). In fact, Miss Grace looked at my camera bag and asked if she could have it for her dance bag to hold some of her stuff, as she figured I was done using it (mighta had something to do with me holding the Monroe bag and hugging it..a lot.... LOL). We do like to recycle in our house! 

Did I mention I am in love with this bag? LOL I am!!!!

Kelly, who just happens to be from Louisiana (ahem!), has outdone herself with her line of bags! I can't believe they even come with a 1 year warranty! How many luxe fashion bags have that?

kelly more gift card

I promise if you get your Mom, your favorite student, new Mom-to-be, or yourself, one of these new Kelly Moore bags, you will see just how great these bags are too, Just think, it is the one gift that can GROW with the recipient! You can give it to a graduating student. They use it for college, then use it for work, then traveling, and then when the kids come. These bags literally will become your family classic! You can even get a Kelly Moore gift card, to let them pick out the bag that best fits THEIR personality (though I am really partial to the universality of the Monroe bag!). And don't be surprised if you give one as a gift, that you get bag envy pretty quickly and have to buy yourself one too!  

Be sure to sign up for the Kelly More newsletter and to follow her blog too- you get special sale notifications, special sales, GIVEAWAYS and some really great photography tips and inspiration!


About Kelly Moore:

Ruston, LA-based photographer, designer and mother of three,Kelly Moore, is the creator of a line of well-designed bags for moms, women photographers, travelers and students. She is married to the incomparable Kelly Moore (yes, they both have the same name).

Being a photographer for 15 years, Kelly always wanted to take my camera with her, wherever she left the house, so that meant taking her everyday handbag, her camera bag (which was bulky, black and unattractive), and once the kids came, a huge diaper bag. It was too much! Was it too much to ask for ONE bag that could do ALL these things?  After searching and finding nothing, a spark was born! In December 2009, after years of dreaming, sketching and planning, she launched a website, and started taking pre-orders for the first Kelly Moore Bag. By January 2010 they were shipping from their garage, and in 2013 they renovated a 100 yr old building into their first store and office in downtown Ruston. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Jigs n Reels, Are You Confused?

So if you know nothing about Irish Dancing, when the teacher starts telling you your child will learn a reel and then a jig,, you'll be like "Ok", but secretly have no clue what the difference is! For unless you are a trained musician, you may not understand the rhythm difference between the two, and first hearing, much less the dance steps for each.

And it gets worse actually, as you see the jig is not just the jig, it is the single jig, the light jig or the slip jig, for Beginners. And that doesn't include the double and treble jigs they learn later with Beginner II/Novice level.

And there is also hornpipe, aka hard shoe, which has it's own unique steps.

Confused yet??

Courtesy of Pixabay
If you're child is just taking instruction at a performing only school, it will be easier than you think to decipher the dances, as you will learn the more popular music used and be able to better differentiate between them. If however your child is competing in feisianna, it may get really confusing, as your child will learn different steps to the same dance!

dont panic sign
Courtesy of Pixabay

So let's start at the beginning.

I found that it helps to break down the dances in the order that they are generally learned, and starting with the rhythm, to learn how the beat should go, and then attach steps to them. Each dance starts with the right foot, then is repeated with the left foot, doing the steps in the opposite form. 

irish dancing ghillies 2

And it always starts on 8, as you will learn from your child, who will tell you that you are counting wrong- it is not 1-2-3 to start but 5-6-7-8. LOL. This is because the dancers start with turned out feet, and move into a ready position (known as up, see above). So we'll start with listing to a sample, and then talking about each. 



Reels are danced in 4/4 timing, meaning that there are four beats to every bar of music. There are 2 bars, for a total of eight beatts, with four beats to every bar. So it is counted  1-2-3-4   1-2-3-4. Young dancers learn this dance first, as its rhythm is the easiest to learn, as it is the pattern we hear in most popular music and nursery rhymes, including 'Pop Goes the Weasel'. Each reel also consists of two or more parts, each consisting of 2 different step sequences. Beginners typically dance at a speed of 117 beats per minute, which is a faster speed, at feisanna (I know that makes no sense to the beginner dance mom, but in Irish dancing slower=more controlled movements, and is much harder). 

Now that you know the count, it seems easier to decipher what a reel is, right?

Let's try another- the jig.


The second dance that is typically learned is a jig, which is in 6/8 timing with 6 beats to each bar. The main emphasis is on the first and fourth beats each beat is counted in groups of three as 123-456  123-456.  Most jigs are in 2 parts; an A part and a B part,  performed with two different steps, each once on the right foot, and one on the left foot. BUT it is not quite that simple either, as there is no 'basic jig'. Rather there are jig variations.So let's start with the first that is traditionally learned:

 The light jig is the second-fastest of all the jigs, typically performed at a speed around 116 beats per minute at feiseanna. Your dancer might be winded after a quick jg, as their feet are in constant motion, and rarely leave the ground for long, due to the fast rhythm. Included steps will be the "hop, hop back" and the "hop, hop back, hop back 2-3-4".


The single jig is the least common of the jigs, They were once used for the boys at feisanna, primarily to offset the slip jig, which was seen as more of a girls dance. Its movements tend to showcase more power and control by the dancer, hence having the boys perform it. But not all schools include them in their competition learning anymore.It is also in a 6/8 rhythm, and tends to follow the pattern of a quarter note followed by an eighth note, hence the difference you can hear. It is typically performed at a speed around 120 beats per minute at feiseanna, making it the fastest jig. My daughter learned this one last, but picked it up very quickly and actually likes it as well as the slip jig.


The slip jig is the only jig danced in 9/8 time. They can be really confusing to count, hence why it is taught after the reel and light jig. It's accents are on the 5 of the 9 beats, so it is counted ‘and 1-2-3-4-5  1-2-3-4-5’. you may find yourself tapping your foot 3 times per bar. It is a very graceful dance, and has more toe work, and is the slowest of the jigs, danced  at 112 beats per minute speed at feiseanna. It is also ONLY danced in ghillies (soft shoe).


Once your child has gotten these dances down, then they will get to move up into the next level- hornpipe, aka hard shoes. This is the dance that the public will think of when you say Irish Dancing, thanks to Michael Flately's Lord of the Dance. The hornpipe beat is a dotted 4/4 rhythm, with accents  on the first and third beat, so it is counted  ‘ONE,and,a,two,and,a,THREE,and,a,four', but shown as  1-2-3-4   1-2-3-4. It is typically performed at a speed around 138 beats per minute at feiseanna. Hornpipe will introduce your child to new steps and ways of moving, as the hard shoes are heavy, and the point is to emphasis the fiberglass heels and taps, as the hit the floor. 

irish dancing ghillies 1


That was a lot to take in, wasn't it?

Our best advice is to make a copy of the steps your child is dancing and say them as she is dancing at home, and soon you will know the beats and rhythms almost as well as she does! This is helpful in the beginning, when you need to see if she's practicing correctly! But once you get this down, you may be quite surprised at how easy it is to explain to others!

Monday, October 12, 2015

DO You Wig or Not? AKA, NO That's NOT My Real Hair!

Now we're going to revisit the HAIR.

If there is one thing in Irish Dancing that can make grown women groan and beg, it is the issue of wigs. And the parents aren't even wearing them!

Now if you have a boy, you can just grin and do your happy dance, as you get to avoid this WHOLE heated issue! Yes, we envy and hate you, as much as we love you!

There are multiple looks for Irish Dancing- natural hair or wigs.

irish dance curls

For casual performances, most Irish Dance teachers are happy with casual hair. So harken back to your youth and remember how to do rag curls (aka Shirley Temple curls, or Youtube for a tutorial, or have on hand one of the fancy curling irons! The curls are what an audience expects, and they do look much better than flat hair when the girls are dancing about. But for formal performances and competitions, they'll want your child to have a wig.

Let's look at the wigs:

bun wig 1


Usually for beginner dancers, these are the absolute EASIEST to put on, to wear, and to take care of. Yes, you can hear my joyous tone, can't you? Any parent that goes from a full wig to a bun will agree!

bun wig 2

As you can see, you can still add a band, flowers or crown, they just clip in under the rim of the bun wig. You basically just pull the har into a pony tail, then into a bun, and cover with the bug wig. Quick tie off, 2 bobby ins and you are done. Easy peasy!

As kids get older, and move up in competition, then you may move into a lighter full wig. Although lately many teens are opting for using a bun wig, or up do, to get away from the weight and aggravation of full wigs. 

Full Wig:

Full wigs have 2 choices- a tighter curl and more natural look

full small wig

Usually the tighter curl is the best, for younger kids, as they tend to run around in between dances and the wigs take a beating, as once you have these wig on, you don't want to take it off until you are done! With the tighter curl, they can loosen and then look like a more natural curl wig. Their wigs tend to be shorter, like above, just touching the shoulders.

Putting these wigs on is not for the feint of heart! You divide the hair up, make multiple buns, wrapping one around a bump for height, as well as pulling bangs for a front bump up. Then the wig goes on with about 25 bobby pins (18 of which you will find when you take the wig off , and 7 will forever be unaccounted for), in order to keep the wig from moving.

trailhead dancing 1

Once your child hits the pre-teen to teen age, then a longer, fuller wig will look better.

As you can see, the longer wig comes past the shoulders and has bigger curls, more in keeping with a teen body size. Seriously, these wigs weight about 5 pounds. Having them on your head for most of the day equates into headaches and whinning, so be forewarned.

full versus natural

Here above you can see a tighter full curl wig on the left and a natural curl wig on the right. At first you don't really see the difference. But once you look and feel, you can see how the tighter curls produce more bounce, but are heavier, and require more maintenance to keep them that way.

And while these wigs are SO much easier than having to curl your daughter's hair, upkeep can, and will be an issue, so be forewarned

wig conditioner and hair spray

This is my favorite conditioner (and my fav hairspray for keeping strays in place and that bang bump 80's high) . It's available at national hair care stores, and really helps to remove the sweatty stink from your wig, and helps you to recondition the curls. Initially you might be able to just use a finger and the conditioner to reset the curls, but later you may need to move onto to roll curlers. And no, you can NOT wash and recurl your wig, and get the same look. Some people have had success with the natural look wigs, but with the tight curls, you just won't get the same look, OR hold. 

our wig kit

And don't forget a Wig kit /carryall to safely carry your wig and supplies! With as much as you'll be spending on your wig, you don't want anything to happen to it! As you can see, we use an old ice cream container for a couple different reasons- it has a carry handle and is made of plastic, so no smooshing. And it has enough room that I can put the comb, flower, bump, and bobby pin box in it as well. So can easily have it all together. The bobby pin box is a soap bar box and has enough room for pins, rubber bands, and her earrings. See all in one place!

And lastly, don't forget the bling:

crowns 1

You have to add the bling. No irish dancer wants to dance without it!

Younger kids will have a flower, or band, like the pictures at the top of the post. But once your kid gets to Novice, the need for bling will be established! Course, they may want to pick one out early...LOL ( you can also see just HOW long the full wigs can be, behind her!)

Crowns tend to match, or compliment, solo dresses and require different ways to be hooked into the hair. The easiest have combs, or hooks for bobby pins.

sparkle band

A new alternative is crystal bands, that tie and are lighter and easier to wear! All the bling without the weight!

And yes, you'll need some sort of crown holder too!

So there you have it.

What side of the wig fence are you and your dancer on?

Sunday, September 13, 2015

What's in a Dancer's Bag? And WHY Do You Need One?

 Courtesy of

So now your kid is in Irish dance class.

You made it past the free preview classes, and you've spent $$$ for ghillies, that you are still trying to figure out how those other dance moms can tie in less than 30 seconds (it seems).

floral large dance bag

And then you look at their dance bags, that their shoes came out of, and you start wondering why your kid has their shoes in a pouch bag, and the other kids seem to have cargo bags, in comparison!

I understand your pain- I was there!

We were the same- we started out with a small bag, and then worked our way up to our current bag

lassig mini duffle pink star

The Lassig Mini Duffle is just that-perfect for younger kids and beginner dancers! Your daughter will love the green and pink colors, and the star will remind her she is always a star in your eyes (they have other designs, including the star in blue and olive, as well as a cool shark/ocean theme bag)

lassig mini duffles

As you see the bag folds up flat, and has a handy id label holder on the outside, covered by a protective cover. So no confusion as to whose bag is whose, when you're at a performance- your child's name can be easily seen! When you pop up the bag, you'll see that you have an outside shoe pocket. My daughter uses this section to keep her ghillies in, as she keeps her hard shoes in the larger interior space. Once she changes out of her street shoes, she can put them in the shoe pocket and never get any interior bag contents dirty or wet, from dripping shoes (it never fails to rain on the way to dance class right?).

lassig mini duffle interior

The interior bag of the bag is pretty, despite how it looks.  I used the satellite remote as a guide for you, as most people are familiar with that size, so you can see how the bag is actually sized in real life proportions.  There is an interior zip pocket to put things like cell phones, keys or wallets (for older kids), and the interior can hold, an outfit (for changing into after class), her hard shoes, and all the extras that go with Irish dancing practice. For performances, there is room for her wig and hair products easily!

It also has an external zipper pocket for essentials and a side mesh pocket for anything that needs to go there. We've found that it fits breakfast bars really well. As we have an 80 minute drive (yes, I'm one of those moms, sigh- that will be a later post), my daughter can put a breakfast bar for on the way down and then another for post class protein nourishment. The ONLY thing the bag is missing for us is a water bottle holder. But as she has a newer larger water bottle, with a no spill lid, she can put in in the central section, with no worries. You could also use the shoe pocket for it and snacks, especially if you don't have hardshoes to deal with. The duffle is made of really high-quality polyester, with sturdy handles and an adjustable shoulder strap. It has stood up to plenty of abuse already, and it has been super easy to clean with just a anti-bacterial wipe. It has been well worth the cost!

Now having said that, I thought you newbies, might want to know just WHAT is actually all that 'extras', right?

dance bag contents

I know, looks crazy right?

Let me break it down for you:

- Hard shoes and poodle socks, in protective bag

hardshoes in bag

I know you may scoff at this put, but these shoes are NOT cheap! By putting them in a waterproof, dry bag, we can assure nothing spills on them, melts on them, or scratches them in any way. So basically the shoes stay in great shape, until she outgrows them (which is about every 6 months, in case you were wondering about the 7-9 age range, LOL). I snagged this lunch bag at last year's back to school clearance, and it has worked beautifully!

Continuing we also have

-Notebook with pen, to write down new steps and figures as they are learned. Just like in school, writing helps most kids to learn the steps in sequence!

- Small hairbrush and pony tail holder. See Murphy's Law, that ponytail holder , you put your daughter's hair up with that morning, will break in the middle of class, violating most dance teacher's edicts, of hair pulled back. At least with an extra scrunchie, you can put the hair back up quickly.

- Shoe shine pad- I LOVE this shine and clean duo! The kid can use it easily, and it's perfect for last minute use right before a performance, or competition. Just swipe and shoes are shiny and look great. You can see the difference in the photo below- I buffed the right shoe, before taking the picture. Left hasn't been. 

ghillies and extra laces

- Ghillies in a mesh bag, with extra shoes laces. The mesh bag allows them to air dry after a long hour of dance class. Trust me, they will be sweaty! This also helps to keep them contained. As for the extra laces, that is Murphy's Law 101. if you don't have them, your kid will inexplicably break a lace in the middle of practice and have to practice sans shoe, and you will never hear the end of it (yes, I've been there, got that T-shirt, nothing worse than 7 year old drama queen meltdown). Which is why it's recommended to buy an extra set when you get your kid's shoes, so you don't have to worry about not having them. I also have a shoe freshener spray, that I just realized went under the ghillies when I took the picture. Also great for keeping your dance bag from smelling like a gym locker!

dance bag med kit contents

- and lastly, the first aid bag.  Once your kid has been Irish Dancing for awhile, you will understand the need for bandaids, boo-boo cream, electrolytes, powder, stomach upset items, allergy meds, chapstick, moleskin and most importantly sports tape. Pulls and sprains are common and frequent, and I can tell you from my daughter's first use of the kinseiology (aka sports) tape, that it is a miracle worker! The only thing I don't have in the bag is her velcro ankle wrap. I didn't realize it had fallen off the table. While she hasn't had to use it yet, having it is Murphy's Law- if you have it, you won't need it!  And while the bag may seem big, it's actually pretty flat and small, as I usually keep about 2 feet only of the tape rolled up in it. Plus, kids in the Irish dancing world are very generous, and when you have a kid that wants to be a doctor when she grows up, take a guess at how often I have to refresh the bag! LOL

- and also not pictures was her water bottle.

So there you go. Now you know why we have bigger bags! 

And while you may not need as much space in the beginning (ie, no hardshoes yet), you can see the basics of what you should have for class. When you start performing and competing, there will be more items, hence needing the space, to keep from having to have multiple bags. We'll discuss those in more detail in a later post!

Stay tuned for more 'finding your way' posts!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

ireland's Inis -Energy of the Sea is the ONE IRish Gift You Really Want to Get!

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this product, free of charge,from Inis Perfrume,for review purposes on this blog and Bless Their Hearts Mom. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about it. This post is reprinted from the original posting on Bless Their Hearts Mom.

March is all about all things Irish!

When you're an Irish dance Mom, sometimes the 'Irish' gifts meet a dead end, and you have no room left on your wrist, or your house walls, right?

Well here's an Irish product that you would LOVE to receive, and is my new perfume, and soon to be yours too:

Did you know there was a line of Irish perfume, made in Ireland (in County Wicklow in fact)?

Now it only stands to reason,when you think about ti, but how many of us do?
So when I read about it on a beauty site, I couldn't wait to try it!

Inis Energy of the Sea is a sparkling, clean, unisex scent that captures the coolness, clarity and purity of the ocean. Inis is the Irish word for 'island', and the fragrance was inspired by Roundstone Beach, on the wild western coast of Ireland. A truly unique, discovery fragrance, people say the scent of Inis makes them feel close to the sea - no matter where they are.

Roundstone beach

I have to agree- it truly takes you back to the beach and Summer. Miss Grace agrees- she smelled it without me telling her what it was, and the first thing she said was "ooo the beach". Go figure!  Even the top of the bottle is made to resemble a shell, and the frosted bottle to remind you of sea glass!

Inis Energy of the Sea has top notes of lemon,bergamot, and neroli to bring the freshness of sunshine on your face, while heart notes of lily of the valley and geranium (one of my favorite flowers!), are delicate and fresh like a soft summer breeze on your body. Accompanying base notes of sandalwood oakmoss, nutmeg, musk and clove, give an earthy warmth, like sand between your toes.

I usually wear or Bulgari Mon Jasmine Noir or  Dolce and Gabbana Light Blue, during Spring and Summer, so this Inis Energy of the Sea scent was very similar, in the clean scent area, and instantly appealing to me.. Appealing to the kid too, as she keeps asking "Can I have it?" That of course is a resounding NO, as I have found my new Spring/Summer perfume!  

The scent is very subtle, as it is an eau de toilette.I would recommend getting one of the additional Inis Energy of the Sea products like the lotion, bath gel or mineral soap, to help build up the product on you. For me it seems to last really well for about 6-7 hours, before becoming faint. I need to get the roll on, so i can reapply when I'm out all day, but otherwise I am very pleased with how it mingles with my natural scent. As you know, perfume can smell one way in the store, but very differently on YOU after an hour or two. Which is why it is recommended that you spray some ON your wrist and wait an hour to determine if it is really for you. With this Inis perfume, I had people stopping and asking me what I was wearing, it was so appealing! Friends asked what my new perfume was, and said it was defnitely "me". Woo hoo- success! 

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The ocean is a place of wonder and magic, its energy and beauty is the inspiration for Inis the Energy of the Sea. Fragrances of Ireland never tests their products on animals and has been the core funder of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group , which is dedicated to the protection, conservation and better understanding of whales and dolphins in Irish waters and across the world. Their work helps ensure that the seas of the world will be a source of delight and joy for generations to come. So you know when you buy one of the fragrances from their line, you are giving back!

For over thirty years, Fragrances of Ireland has been creating perfumes and toiletries inspired by the magic, beauty, and nature of Ireland. Independent and passionate, they operate from a converted farmhouse in County Wicklow. Their mission is simple: to inspire, uplift and make people happy. They have 11 different lines of fragrances, for men and women (and unisex). So you can find a perfume/cologne or gift set perfect for anyone on your gift list, especially  if they are Irish! Teacher Appreciation, Mother's Day and Father's Day are sooner than you think! 

You can order via their website or Amazon, and their products are available at stores around the country. Check out their store locator for your closest location (NOLA peeps, ours is Aidan Gill for Men). Check out their Facebook page ( for special offers (like FREE shipping codes). 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Ghillies 101, aka WHAT Are they?

Yeah, you've signed your daughter up for Irish Dance lessons!

You've paid the tuition, the uniform/t-shirt fee, any miscellaneous fees, and then get told not to forget that your daughter will need a pair of ghillies within 6 weeks (or so) for practice (and performances).

Now if you never danced Irish (or Scottish), you may be stumped as to what ghillies are.

Ghillies are soft leather shoes that form to a dancer's foot, and that are used for basic Irish dancing by girls and women (boys and men use reel shoes).

They utilize long laces which criss-cross over the top of the foot (just like you would tie your favorite sneakers).

They then cross behind the heel and back, wrapping under the arch of the foot, and tying on top of the foot.

They can have full leather soles, be split-soled, with a leather, or suede, sole under the heel and under the ball of the foot, or they can be full suede. Ghillies are required to be black for most Irish competitions, and most teachers prefer them for most dancers. Once dancers are at a higher level, they may get ghillies that have been dyed to match their elaborate dance costume.

Confused? Don't worry it get's worse.

The wonders of soft Irish ghillies is that NO TWO are sized the same. That's what happens when you get supple leather! Additionally, like tennis shoes, every brand has their own unique fit and lacing. Some teachers have preferences and would prefer only those brands are bought. Add in European sizing, and it's enough to make a beginner's mom's head spin.

Breathe, we are here to help!

There are primarily four ways to purchase ghillies- brand new off the internet, brand new through a dance shop, used off the internet (ebay and dance forums), or used from fellow dancers. For beginners, most teachers prefer you get a new pair, so they can fit your child better and have more wear to them.

So we're going to discuss that method in this post, and have a second post about buying used ghillies.

First. let's start with the basics.

Some dance companies practice in poodle socks, other's have no preference. Which ever the case, it is best to have a practice sock that is the same weight/thickness of your poodle socks, so that the ghillies will not suddenly seem too big on your dancer, when it is time for performance, when they are in the poodle socks. This also helps to stretch the ghillies out. So you need to get the practice/poodle socks on your child, and then have them stand on a large piece of paper. trace around their foot, being sure to keep your pencil as CLOSE as possible, to the foot. Trace BOTH feet. Your child might have one foot's toes longer than the other! Now you have a sizing model to work with.

Secondly, look at the foot you traced.

Does your child have wide feet? Do their feet look like upside down triangles? Or are they consistant, more in line like a rectangle. This is something to really consider, as different brands fit differently- some are wider and accomendate wide feet better, others are longer and better for thin feet.

As you can see, the Rutherford's are wider than the Antonio Pacelli Hullachan's.

Thirdly, now you will go to the manufacturer's website and find their measurement sheet.

Again, different companies will have different measurements! Look at how HUGE the middle shoes are, yet they are in between sizing of the other two!

You will need to take your tracing and measure the LENGTH in centimeters (European sizing!) to get the best fit. If you seem in between sizes, consider if your child is in the middle of a growth spurt. If they are, you might be able to get away with the larger size. if not, so with the smaller. Ghillies are soft leather, remember? They are meant to STRETCH 1-2 sizes! They can be moistened and but back on your dancer's foot and they will dry/mold to your dancer's foot size!.

Fourth- now the issue of the sole. SIGH, nope not done yet!

You will notice the sole can affect the pricing. Generally sueded and split soles are more expensive. Most teachers prefer that beginner dancers start with regular leather soles, so help with balance, prevent extra slipping, and for comfort.

Lastly, the comfort issue.

Most leather soled ghillies will have some sort of interior padding on the bottom, to help your dancer when they come down from their up steps. If you watch Irish dancing for even 5 minutes, you will realize how padding can make a world of difference to your dancer's feet! Some companies have different levels of padding, so that is something to consider as well.

Whew. now that you've sorted ALL those choices out, you're ready to order!

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Word of advice- order and EXTRA set of laces NOW with your ghillies. 2 reasons:

1. You never know when you will need them, and ghillie laces are LONG- generally you can't find them just anywhere, they are a mail order item for most of us.
2. You're already paying for shipping for the shoes, so the added laces, won't add much to the shipping cost!

Your ghillies have arrived!

Yeah, inhale that leather smell, because trust me, they are never gonna smell that good again! Irish dancing is a lot of work, and your dancer's feet wlll sweat. Yup, enough said on that! Your ghillies are usually NOT laced. You will need to lace them like you would a sneaker, leaving the tails loose and NOT going through the side and back loops, until the ghillies are on your dancer's foot.

You will no doubt go to put them on your dancer and stop and go 'huh?'. You see ghillies have no left or right to them! Seriously. They are formed the SAME. As your dancer wears them, they will form left and right. In the beginning you may need to make a L and R on the inside, but after about 3 lessons, you will be able to see the subtle inward bend on the insides, and know which is which.

Different companies also may have different suggestions for lacing your ghillies. Sometimes this is based on where their side heel loops are, so there is a valid reason. Or it could be to offer the best support, based on their arch design. And you dance instructor may have a preference as well. For younger dancer's especially, most teachers prefer to have the laces wrapped around the arch once or twice, to help the arch develop.

Follow any video that is supplies, or check out this basic how to video from

Yeah! Now the ghillies are on and laced.

Stand back and give yourself a hand, and then a kleenex, because you're probably gonna shed a tear or two. Then grab the camera and take a picture of your dancer in their first ghillies. you will both be proud! You for having gotten them laced, and your daughter for looking like a 'real' Irish dancer!

Now make your dancer keep them on for at least 20 minutes, so she can get used to them, and they can start forming to her foot. This will also help you to figure out any lacing that needs to be redone.

And now two words of  advice about Ghillies:

1. Concrete is BAD for the leather bottoms, so try to keep your dancer from walking on anything but carper or wood while wearing in their new shoes (and at other times too!). A handy tip that we pass on is to get a pair of Crocs (or other brand) that are a SIZE larger than your child would normally wear. This way they can slide into them, while wearing their ghillies, and be able to walk anywhere, and not have to worry about damaging their ghillies, and yet be able to drop them and get on stage in a hurry!

2. You need to have a good leather conditioner/cleaner on hand to keep these ghillies lasting as long as possible! We've seen one pair last through FOUR girls already. They are for the most part, really quality made, and if you take care of them, they will LAST. The Leather Nova Conditioner & Cleaner is one that we've found that REALLY pulls the grime and scuffs out, and makes the ghillies look almost new. It also brings back suppleness and keeps them in great shape:

You can read a full review on the product over on our sister blog, Bless Their Hearts Mom!

So there are our thoughts and tips!

Feel free to ask any questions, we'll try to answer them if we can!