Corners of the O'Connors' Home

The rich colors, the meeting of old and new, and the architectural details of Barry's parents' home always impress me when we visit.

A lovely place to spend the last days of our vacation, no? We'll be heading back to New York tomorrow, making a stop at one of our favorite antique malls on the way. Wish me luck!

In unrelated news, I've made a few changes to the sulu-design etsy shop today. In an effort to sell some of the remaining pieces in the shop before I post new designs for the new year, I've reduced the prices of most earrings, bracelets, and necklaces (with the exception of one) to $10. A few pairs of earrings are going for $8. Enjoy.


A Cleveland Christmas

My longest blogging break to date (over a week - ACK!) was due to an awesome Christmas vacation spent with my family in Cleveland. Without a computer in their home to distract us, we spent loads of time just hanging out, which is exactly what I love about the holidays at my parents' place. Dinner at the gorgeous home of my sister and brother-in-law was one of the best parts of the visit.

We found a little time for shopping, too. If you happen to make a trip to Cleveland, you can't skip the Tremont neighborhood, where you'll find a couple cute little boutiques and great restaurants. First stop there: Gingko, where Melanie has carried sulu-design earrings and necklaces since she first opened her shop:

Just down the street is Banyan Tree, with great housewares, clothing, and accessories:

Close to Tremont, along Lorain Avenue, there are a ton of great antique and junk shops. You can't miss Suite Lorain with it's amazing collection of vintage goods that you never knew you needed:

And over on the east side of town, there's Boom Modern, for those of you who love mid-century pieces:

We're in Richmond now, visiting with Barry's family (who have a home computer - no more marathon blogging breaks for me). I dropped off several new sulu-design earrings to Amy at JetSet yesterday - in case you're in the Richmond area and need an earring fix. I hope you're all enjoying the holidays as much as I am!


Mom's Mirro Cooky and Pastry Press

Abandoning the low-fat cookie recipe that I made earlier this week, I busted out a nifty little vintage kitchen gadget tonight to make fatty-fat cookies for the holiday party that I'm throwing for my third graders tomorrow.

The Mirro Cooky and Pastry Press (yes, I know how to spell "cookie," but apparently the manufacturers of this little gadget were into intentional misspellings) is just adorable.

And while the cookies that the Mirro produced are not as cute as the little machine itself (notice the lack of "after" baking shots), the jolly mood that the process of using it resulted in was worth the effort. I'm truly excited for our class party tomorrow (we're making felt stockings during the party, too), and can't wait to share the cookies with my little ones. Thanks for passing down the Mirro, Mom!


Rash + Day Two = Happy Homemaker

The rash is getting worse, not better, so I had to stay home from work today, too. Being forced to stay within a minute's reach of an oatmeal bath, I found myself pleasantly tied to our apartment. I cleaned out closets, reorganized drawers, filled bags to donate... and had a grand time doing so. I was thrilled to see so many cleared surfaces around the apartment that I just had to document some of them:

the bookshelf next to my side of the bed,
which is usually piled with bead receipts;

the bed itself (it's made!);

the desktop,
which is frequently cluttered with bills and mail;

and this poor little chair,
which usually can't breathe with all of our
running and biking clothes hanging from it.

The homemaking didn't stop with cleaning. I finally got around to displaying the button wreath that I was inspired to make after reading two gorgeous posts on little birds handmade (Stephanie of little birds handmade was inspired herself by the wreath posted on the Pixiegenne blog):

And I hung two paint-by-number pieces that I picked up years ago and had forgotten about (finding stuff like that is the bonus of serious cleaning):

Last but not least, I spent a little time in the kitchen whipping up an appetizer for my knitting groups's holiday party. I was going to make the beautiful looking tartlettes that Connie posted about a few days ago, but the tapas that we tried yesterday inspired me to make almond-stuffed dates wrapped in bacon instead. Yum!

For those of you who asked, there is no real recipe. Just slice dried, pitted dates in half (a ten ounce container was more than enough to make three dozen appetizers and have several dates to snack on in the process). Stuff each half with an almond. Wrap a half of a slice of bacon around the stuffed date. Secure with a toothpick. Roll in brown sugar. Stand the toothpicks up in the slots of a broiler pan and bake at 450 degrees in the oven (not the broiler) for approximately 15 minutes, checking to make sure the bacon doesn't burn. Serve hot.

While I'm really dying for this rash to clear up, I have to admit that I'm loving its side-effects!


Being a Dermatological Nightmare Has Its Advantages

That's what my doctor called me several years ago when I showed up at her office with my fifth or sixth unexplained rash that completely covered my arms and legs. She was so perplexed by the rash itself, had never seen such a bizarre pattern, in fact, that she called two other doctors in her practice to come take a look at me. I felt like a bit of a side show freak. A few years and a couple doctors later, I still get these crazy reactions every once in a while, the cause of which... I haven't a clue. One of these beauties descended upon me this wekend, which meant I had to see the doctor today, which also meant no work! Gotta look on the bright side. A few things that resulted from the day off:

lunch at a tapas restaurant I've been meaning to try out
where Barry and I shared amazing treats like:

bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with almonds

embroidery hoop mobiles in the kitchen
(from Real Simple)

a mega embroidery hoop covered in Christmas lights

and finally my first batch of Christmas cookies -
low-fat cranberry and orange oatmeal cookies
(to be followed by full-fat cookies later this week, I hope)

Wish me an itch free night!


Small Packages

I'm usually drawn to big, bold beads at the supply shop, so many of my earring designs end up on the long and large side. But recently, friends and co-workers have requested some smaller pieces. While working on earrings last night, I went for less bold and more dainty.

I thought I was through making earrings until after Christmas. Ha! I can't stop. More to come...


If This Were a Third Grade Writing Lesson...

I'd use this post to illustrate what I mean by an unfocused essay. But honestly, I'm having kind of an unfocused day - based my students' behavior today you'd think we were already on Christmas vacation. So please bear with me, I've got several random tidbits to share, and they may be a bit scattered.

As I promised a few days ago, I wanted to provide you with links to my favorite designers at the Bust Craftacular and the other little craft fairs that sprouted up in bars and cafes in Brooklyn last Saturday. Imogene had a great booth with several pieces of jewelry that I fell in love with. Marcie McGoldrick makes dainty little pendants and earrings with delicate imprints that were also speaking to me, but alas, her website is not yet up and running. Perch! by Amy Adams had beautiful ceramic pieces for the home, like the basket bowls that I covet. WREN handmade was showing some adorable softies, designed by Laura Normandin. And Jane Buck's printed notecards were sweet.

In other news... over the past couple weeks, Barry took several vacation days that he had to make use of before they expired, so I've been arriving home to some amazing meals. Last Friday, it was flounder with tomatoes and olives over asparagus spears, and tonight I was greeted with tilapia wrapped in prosciutto and sage. Damn.

As if the meals themselves weren't great enough, he picked up some great old-style Porter to have with dinner and a bottle of ginger beer for later. (Coincidentally, Erin also posted about beer today. Our post titles the other day were eerily similar, too. Hmmm...)

Speaking of Barry, (I was a second ago, at least) it always kills me how he can pick up the same camera that I use and take pictures that blow me away. Like the one he took of the sun setting over the Queensboro Bridge this evening:

And the one that he snapped of our Christmas tree, which puts my earlier-posted shots to shame:

I sat in front of the tree tonight and finished knitting the scarf that I've been working on for months. I'm ready to tackle something more interesting now - perhaps lace.

Our car sold last night. Finally. Kind of. Sniff, sniff.

Last but not least, some shopping news: Loveday 31 in Astoria now has 20 new pairs of sulu-design earrings for sale. For those of you looking to do some shopping in Brooklyn this weekend, the Gift on Grand should have some great sales and holiday events going on tomorrow, in Williamsburg. And of course, there's always the recently-updated sulu-design etsy shop for your jewelry needs (got to get in the shameless plugs where I can).

Happy birthday, Jennifer, and a wonderful weekend to you all!


Making a List, Checking It Twice

Purchase and Make Presents for Family and Friends: Check
Wrap Gifts: Check
Decorate Christmas Tree: Check
Send Christmas Cards: Check

I found this vintage card from 1966 in my stack of stationary when I sat down to write out Christmas cards this year. It's from a set (which itself is one of many sets) by Walter Erhard. I recently saw a set for sale in a little shop in Williamsburg; it appears that they're being reprinted. I love so many of his cut-out-like designs.

I've still got time for the unchecked activities on my list: baking Christmas cookies and strolling around downtown with Barry while sipping hot cocoa and snacking on a baguette from Balthazar. Not bad.

By the way, to all of our family and friends who know me as the anal retentive partner in our relationship: while I was posting to my blog this evening, Barry was in the living room, finishing wrapping up his gifts to me... using an Exacto knife, a metal ruler, and his cutting board.


Can't Talk Now

I quickly added a few more sulu-design earrings to my etsy shop this evening before running off to the knitting group. The following pieces are now available:

and here.

A cinnabar pair and a blue carved bead pair are up, too. I hope that you're keeping up with all that the season demands... I mean, all that the season holds in store. I'm off now to check a few more "to do's" off my list.


Oh, Christmas Tree

We finally made the trek to our local grocery store parking lot (romantic, eh?) to pick out our Christmas tree last night. For the first time in five years, we exercised some reason when deciding on the tree's size. A one bedroom apartment that's already crammed full of furniture and odds 'n' ends cannot comfortably accomodate the girnormous trees that we've fallen for in the past. And I think we made the right decision. The scale of this tree is perfect for our place.

We spent the evening decorating it with our favorite vintage ornaments,

wrapping presents to go under the tree,

hanging the stockings I made last year,

and reveling in the lights.

All of that left me with little time to work on and photograph jewelry,
so tomorrow I'll post my most recent creations.
I hope you're enjoying the festivity, too.