Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Couple of Book Reviews

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress: A Novel by Sijie Dai

Rating: 5 of 5 stars

**********Warning -- Spoiler Alert ********************

I read this book all in one night. It was written about two friends being "re-educated" in communist China in the early 1970's. (Interestingly, the author himself had been through re-education). While the two city boys are working in a remote mountain village, they get acquainted with the Little Seamstress, a beautiful girl who the one boy, Luo, falls in love with, and who both boys are captivated by.

Being educated boys, able to read and write, they feel a duty to help broaden the Little Seamstress' horizons by reading to her from a stash of forbidden Western novels they find. After tales from Balzac and the Count of Monte Cristo, the Little Seamstress slowly, and inevitably, begins to change, cuts her hair, changes her style, and decides she wishes to be a city girl. And she leaves her love and her friend to take her beauty and her new-found knowledge and intelligence with her.

To me it read as a parable, a cautionary tale, and I was so sad at the end. I actually thought that one sad outcome was going to happen, but was rapidly introduced to the new one. Neither would have been a happy ending. The book, although sad, was a terrific read, and it often had some rather funny moments. This is for anyone who has ever lost themselves to the world of books.

A Wolf at the Table: A Memoir by Augusten Burroughs

rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was deeply, deeply affected by this book. I've read and loved everything Augusten Burroughs has ever written, and have enjoyed his writing style -- the laugh-til-you-cry type of writing that keeps me reading all night long and into the early hours of the morning. Yes, it covers some deeply human subjects, but his humor was, to me, wonderful.

This book was a departure from the norm. I won't go into the plot. What I'll say is that it took great courage to write this book, greater courage to survive his life intact in order TO write it. I can't write much more about it. Like I said, it affected me deeply, and to write at length about it tends to make my hands shake.

Read the book.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Some jewelry ....

Some jewelry I made over the weekend, that will be on the web site soon -- but if you can't wait, email me for more details or to let me know what you want!

"Pink Garden Party" is a bracelet made with lots of handmade lampwork beads, Swarovski crystals, clusters of Czech glass flowers, silver butterfly beads, and a stunning sterling silver toggle clasp. $110

Coral and lapis lazuli earrings. The lapis is set in the sterling silver on both sides of the bead. $32

Vintage lucite moonglow beads in long, ornate brass caps. $15.

Three pieces of dyed quartz and two pewter charms, all on a leather cord. $25

You can see even more handmade beaded jewelry at

Monday, May 26, 2008

Product Review: Sherry Truitt Studios

Today I want to introduce you to a FABULOUS Etsy store, Sherry Truitt Studios. I was first drawn to her shop because I loved her spirit level jewelry, and decided to send her an email asking if she could make cuff links for me. Both of my stepsons have French cuff shirts and I thought it would make a cool "just because" package in the mail. She'd not done them before, but readily agreed to do it.

Here's what she made:

Utterly cool, are they not? And a perfect Father's Day present, so visit her store to snag some. They come in blue and in yellow.

I went back to her store the other night to look and fell in love with her necklace made with vintage LEGO(tm) parts. Not only is it just cool, but it has a fidget factor, something I like to incorporate in some of my own jewelry -- I like things that move. It came with extra parts, too!

I mentioned to her when I bought it that Zack would LOVE this, so she sent me a bunch of extra LEGO(tm) parts, including the coolest popcorn popper I've ever seen.

Zack was thrilled, and of course went for the wheel bit first.

I handed him the bag of parts that Sherry had sent, telling him he MUST give me back ALL the bits when he was done, as this was a Very Special Present and he had to take care of it.

He decided his pendant needed a little sprucing up.....

Yup. He used ALLLLL the parts the Sherry sent. Every last one, except the motorcycle, which is lying beside him. Both the little men. The popcorn popper. All of them. I was quite impressed!

Thanks, Sherry!

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Style. When I think of style, I think of what makes a person unique, what makes them special, what makes them THEM.

Some people express their style by their hair style (or color!), clothing, or mannerisms. My personal clothing style is pretty bland. I own a short-sleeved and long-sleeved t-shirt in pretty much every color available, plain and unadorned, and wear that with jeans. My personality, and my style, comes through when I wear all kinds of jewelry with those plain, boring t-shirts. The shirt may be ordinary, but the jewelry is anything but!

When customers visit my booth at a craft show and pick up an exciting, whimsical necklace, or an elegant, glittering bracelet, they often say, “I love it, but I don’t know what I’d wear it with.” I always have to chuckle and say, “See what I’m wearing?” Yep, it’s jeans and a t-shirt, and that necklace they just complimented me on five minutes ago. They didn’t even notice the clothing — they zeroed in on the jewelry. And that’s my style. I’m “The Jewelry Lady”. To heck with the latest fashions. It’s all about the jewelry I choose to wear each and every day.

Pick your own style. Make it your own. Have fun reading up on “the latest” but don’t stress over it. Your style should be like your signature, unique and YOURS.

Discover it, explore it, and celebrate it!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Book Review -- Catch-22

Catch-22 I'm not quite sure how I got to age 39 without having read Catch-22. I think I thought to myself, "Surely you've read that," and just went along thinking, "Yes, surely." On a whim, I picked it up at the library last week and realized, no, I most certainly had NOT read it, and I'm really glad I took the time to check.

In the first parts of the book, I found myself snickering and shaking my head, because I could identify with Yossarian. I spent four years in the military, and married a retired Air Force Chief, and there were a few Lieutenant Schiesskopfs and Colonel Cathcarts out there. The black humor, the satire -- I liked that.

But then it truly started getting dark for me. Here I'd be laughing over something and WHOOMP, an innocent character gets senselessly killed. Which really, is what the story was all about to me -- the idiots seem to make it out all right, but the good guys, they seem to get some truly bad breaks.

After reading the book, I did some research, learned what I was "supposed" to think about it, what each character was supposed to stand for, etc etc etc. Essentially, I got all that. But one thing I've enjoyed as an adult is not having to sit in a classroom and pick apart a perfectly wonderful book, and just let it stand on its own merit as superbly readable.

View all my reviews.

Can I Get a Do-Over?

You can read my article, "Can I Get a Do-Over" at Watch Me Create by clicking here. It's about what to do when you make something, and you love it, but it's not quiiiiite right.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Playing Catch Up

I'll be spending a lot of this weekend playing catch up. Rick took Zack to a baseball game tonight, and it was an hour out of town, so I had a block of time to get all my custom work done (minus two bracelets that I have to have natural light for -- some glass just has to have mid-day sun for me to be sure of what I'm doing!). Tomorrow I'll have some serious quality studio time, and hope to knock out a lot of stuff -- mainly, bracelets and earrings. I've gotten wiped out of those in a major way and with something going on every weekend next month, I've got some work to do!

I hope you have a great Memorial Day weekend! I'll leave you tonight with some eye candy, and hope you'll visit my web site,, for more pretty handcrafted jewelry!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Today I bought Zack a set of 55 dominoes. We've been alternating between actually playing the game (well, our own made-up version of the game) and stacking them to knock them down.

I escaped for a few minutes to update the web site when Zack decided he wanted to do everything all by himself. I heard him get frustrated as he kept knocking over the dominoes before he was ready. Sad boy.

So I called him into my office and pulled up trusty YouTube and found videos of those guys that stack a gazillion dominoes just for fun and then pray they don't knock down ten thousand of them before the competition, so I could show Zack that grownups goof up, too. And we found this, and I had to share.

This is 10,000 dominoes per second, done by a German team. I have no idea how many dominoes they have there, but I'm just glad I don't have to clean up THAT play room!

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Case of the Sillies

I took a brief break from posting grown-up jewelry to upload a few kid's things, and maybe I have a case of the sillies, but I decided to have fun with the descriptions. Before I got to the nitty-gritty of "this bracelet is made with blah blah blah", I wrote a little goofy story.

Like this one, which I will repeat here, in case the thing sells before whoever is reading this reads this.

Once upon a time, there was a Princess. She saw that the Queen had a purse, and oh she wanted that purse very badly. So the Queen took the Princess shopping.

The Princess was amazed at all the purses. She wanted a pink one. And a green one. And a blue one. And a yellow one. But the Queen said she could only have one. The Princess pouted.

But then the Queen (who really was a Very Cool Queen) pointed out the Perfect Purse.

It had all kinds of colors on it.

And the Princess took it home, and asked her Fairy Godmother to make her a matching bracelet to go with it.

And here it is.


Then I put up two more bracelets, Monkey Shines and Powder Puff Pink. I kinda like Powder Puff Pink, as it has a song that is "best sung while wearing a tutu and twirling around with arms outflung".

Tomorrow I'll be back to my regularly scheduled jewelry, but I have to admit, that was fun!

See more of the jewelry at and

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Breast Cancer Survivors

Today I went to Baltimore to be one of three vendors at a breast cancer survivor luncheon. For the past three years, I've been invited to participate, and it's such an uplifting event. About 150 women, all breast cancer survivors who did the Race for the Cure in Maryland, attend and have a yummy lunch and listen to a guest speaker. They get to do a little shopping and a lot of visiting and laughing and the energy level is incredible.

I usually donate some jewelry for door prizes, but this year they weren't doing door prizes. So last week I got the idea of making a combination bookmark/gift certificate for everyone. But that looked a little boring, so I added a zipper pull to each one.

There were a lot of beads involved:

And then after a couple of mishaps at Staples and the color copier, I got the bookmarks printed, scored, cut out, folded, hole-punched, yarn-adorned, zipper-pull-decorated -- and here's what 150 look like in a bowl --

One side has the gift certificate on it, with the web code, and the other has the "gift for you" message. I was pretty pleased with how they turned out, and think that next time I do something like this, it won't take quite as long because I'll know what I'm doing!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Zack's Preschool Graduation

Indulge me a bit while I write again about Zack, a Proud Mommy moment yet again. Yesterday was Zack's preschool graduation from Christ Church. I got a picture of my little nugget right before we left home... isn't he just the most?

I absolutely loved how they did the graduation ceremony. Instead of a formal cross-the-stage kind of thing, they staged a mini-class session in the fellowship hall for all the parents to see what their kids had been doing all year. Here they are saying the pledge of allegence, right after they sang a song to the flag.

They then did some of their daily routines, like the calendar, weather patterns, and favorite songs. Some of the songs were utterly hilarious and are still running through my head as I write -- in fact,today as Zack and I were walking to the library, we were singing and making up silly rhymes to the "Down By the Bay" ditty.

Then they did give out little diplomas. When Zack got called up, he was so excited -- he shouted, "I knew I'd get a green ribbon!", green being his current favorite color -- much to the enjoyment of the audience.

That shirt he's holding is a surprise shirt he got -- everyone got one. A bunch of friends of his had painted things on it, and the teachers wrote some things that certain friends had said that they liked about Zack. One was, "He has smart ideas and I like to play with him, Love Emery". Another was "We like to knock down blocks. We play together! Love Isaac". How cute is that? Every kid got one.

Because of the way the class was oriented, I got a lot of "back of the head" pictures, and a lot of blurry action shots, but I kept them all, because isn't that what kids are -- fast-on-their-feet, growing-like-a-shot, amazing creatures?

I got a huge folio of his artwork that was saved and not sent home with him and I can't tell you how amazed I was at it. Christ Church is top notch, the absolute best thing I've ever done for Zack. I have no idea how Kindergarten is ever going to compare. Being in the afternoon class, he only had eight other kids with him, and the ability to have that kind of attention is amazing. But it wasn't only the attention -- it was the creativity, the things they did! I'm going to take photos of all his art work and put it up in a Flickr album for people to look at as soon as I can, just so you can see. Totally amazing stuff, and hopefully inspiring to people for ideas of things to do with your own kids.

So there's my little guy, done with preschool, and ready to launch himself into the world of Big Boy School. He's so ready. I am so not. I'm terrified that this is the end of his innocence and I know he has to grow up one day, but since he's my only baby, it's hard for me. Every night I lie awake and just remember and remember and remember. He's just the most, you know?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Color and Insomnia

You can read my latest post called "Color and Insomnia" at the Watch Me Create blog by clicking here -- it's about what happens when you mix a tired mind and an inability to get out of a creativity rut.

You can also expect to see two more tutorials from me in two separate magazines this fall! I just finished off one of them, and the other one has been in the works for a while. I'll keep you posted!

Come and see the latest jewelry at -- click the "What's New" button to see new things every day!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Popcorn and Jewelry

After making some very cool, very retro Jiffy Pop Popcorn (on the stove, with the puffing-up-like-a-mushroom-top, much to Zack's delight), I got some major photography done.

I have a lot going on this week, with Zack's pre-school graduation, and preparations for a private event (I have 150 zipper pull/bookmark/gift certificates to make) so I'll leave you with some pretties that will be hitting the web site this week....

A bracelet of blue lace agate with a unique winged heart toggle.

A pendant slide -- this is too cute for words! A flamingo lampwork bead, and I made legs out of Swarovski crystals.

An interesting necklace made with nuggets of pale pink Peruvian opal, natural amethyst, and pearls.

For your little girl -- a cute kid's bracelet with a polymer clay monkey, aptly named "Monkey Shines".

And finally, an amazing lampwork bead charm bracelet, featuring the glass art of Gina DeStevens.

You can see more of my handmade jewelry at

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day!

Mother's Day is so much fun when you're a Mommy to a young child. Zack was so incredibly excited about today, and about giving me presents and cards.

First, he gave me a card he made with his teacher at PreSchool:

It's a Question-and-Answer session that goes like this:

Guess how much I love you? "To a far away aquarium and back!"
What makes Mommy happy? "ME!"
Mommy's favorite color? "Purple"
What my Mommy does while I'm at school: "She exercises"
Where Mommy takes me for fun: "To aquariums"

Cute, huh?

Then he brought me a gift-wrapped and very heavy box, which was this:

What a tug at the heartstrings. His little handprint, and then he decorated it himself with carefully chosen beads and buttons and butterflies. He described each one to me and why he picked it.

He then gave me a greeting card that was totally a card meant for a grown up man to give to his mom -- "To Mother" with a flowery poem inside. But Rick told me that Zack would NOT be dissuaded, that THAT was the card he MUST have, because it had a pink flower on the front and beads on the edge. Which makes that card all the more precious to me.

I hope you had a wonderful day!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Book Reviews

I've read a ton of books but have been putting all their reviews on GoodReads rather than here -- if you haven't seen the button over there on the right (you may have to look up or down a bit, but it's there ------------------->

then click here to read my latest review on "Atonement" by Ian McEwan, and find my others!

The Saturday Sparkle

I was featured today in The Saturday Sparkle on Capitola Girl's blog. I've started posting photos on Flickr (more on that in a minute) and joining various photo groups, one of which is called Saturday Sparkle. My Madison necklace was picked as the feature for this week, and I was interviewed, which was fun!

So what is Flickr?

Flickr is really cool. If you enjoy taking photos, or just enjoy looking at cool pictures, Flickr is an awesome site. There are tons of pictures, lots of groups that are themed, and if you create an account, you can do amazing things. To the right, you can see that I've created a cool motion picture thingee called a "badge" of "Bracelets Past" -- bracelets that have been sold.

If you're interested in visiting my Flickr album, you can click here and see my various photo sets. I add things to them pretty often!


Monday, May 05, 2008

It's here, it's here!

The book is here!

I got my advance copy of "Easy Beading Volume 4" -- I'm on page 122-125. I am so completely tickled. My very first magazine tutorial, and it was chosen to be part of BeadStyle's annual book.

And I got an extra jolt of surprise when I flipped it over to find the ISBN so I could look it up on, and realized -- one of the three photos on the back of the book is of my necklace! Holy crow, but it's things like that that just give you a little boost, you know?

There are some fantastic contributors to the book -- one of my favorites, Rupa Balachandar, whose work is on the cover, makes the most striking jewelry out there. I hope you'll visit your local book store and take a look (the book comes out May 27th) and get inspired to make some jewelry!

You can visit my web site at

Sunday, May 04, 2008

I'm really behind. Really, really behind. But the past few days, it's just been way more important to do extra stuff with Zack. Fridays there's no preschool, and we always have Adventure Days, but our Adventure Day went the entire day, even when Daddy got home, and on into the weekend, and I just never felt like stopping for more than five minutes to ship an order. And I don't regret that.

The best part of yesterday for me was sitting in the driveway at 6:30pm, with a nice cool breeze, blowing bubbles with Zack (we have some KILLER bubble wands we've gotten at craft shows -- BUY HANDMADE!), listening to the distant sounds of the ice cream truck, waiting for him to get to our street. That was a memory I'll revisit often.

Today, after our family bike ride, I was faced with my desk, and Zack is having a Daddy Day so I can catch up. Here's the to-do list.

1. List a couple things on Etsy (

2. Ship a ton of packages

3. Enter last months receipts into Quickbooks

4. Run outside and hug Rick and blow some bubbles with Zack.

5. Finally weigh all those larimar beads I sorted and price them

6. List some bead destash for sale

7. Tickle Zack (he loves tickling, don't ask me why)

8. Coffee, where's the coffee....

9. Write some more articles for Watch Me Create and Collective Creatives

10. Make jewelry after I get Zack to bed (with stories and tickles)

And that's the short list.

It's a good life, you know?

Friday, May 02, 2008

Chain Maille class in Easton, MD

If you want to come learn to make a chain maille bracelet with me in lovely Easton, MD, sign up now by clicking here.

I'll be teaching again at Evergreen Cove in June, and this time I'll show you how to make a Byzantine Rose bracelet out of sterling silver. Chain Maille is an ancient technique, originally used in medieval times to create armor, that has now been adapted to gorgeous metal jewelry. You don't need a soldering iron or torch, just a pair of pliers and a lot of jump rings. Oh, and patience helps.

This is an example of the bracelet we'll be making (minus the amazing turquoise clasp):

This particular bracelet is made with a very heavy gauge sterling, and the class will be using a lighter gauge, to make a more delicate bracelet, but the weave is the same. My thought process behind choosing this weave was it was a combination of two bracelets -- the Byzantine, and the Rose -- so by the end of the class, participants will actually know how to make THREE bracelets.

I hope you can join me!

(See more of my work at

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Some jewelry pretties

Some pretties that haven't quite made it to the web site yet:

"Imperial Peacock" -- a very lush lampwork glass bead and Swarovski crystal charm bracelet.

"Flowers and Raindrops" --large clear vintage lucite topped by double caps of vintage enameled metal -- these will probably go to first.

"Blue Brushed Gold" -- Oh, and you know I love larimar, and judging from how fast it gets snapped up at shows, my customers do, too! This is a bracelet made with large 19mm larimar beads and brushed vermeil. Classically simple. (And there are earrings to match, of course).

"Daphne" -- part of my bridal collection, but you could wear these to any special occasion. Opulent and lavish, there are lots of Swarovski crystals on these!

I hope to get these on soon, but if you just can't wait, please send me an email to grab them!