Blogger is a Pain in My Bum

I've got a few photos of earrings made with a fun new bead I picked up yesterday, but some free blog host doesn't want to cooperate with me. I may try posting before work tomorrow. Just wanted you all to know I haven't forgotten you. And hey, it's already the middle of the week... time to make weekend plans!


Happiness is...

stopping at the bead shop after work and stocking up on new shapes and colors for holiday designs.

Sadness is being too tired to do anything with them tonight. But happiness wins - I picked up some awesome beads that I'm keeping under wraps until I fashion something wearable out of them. Stay tuned... and have a happy Halloween!


Free Shipping Forever!

I've been debating making changes in my esty shop for weeks now: to charge shipping, not to charge shipping; to keep prices the same, to change prices... Today I finally bit the bullet and did some editing that I hope will be my last etsy editing for a while - what a monotonous chore! Since I've had several people ask me about combined shipping fees, and because I think that combining fees is totally logical but a bit of a pain (okay, not even a pain, but it requires a minute of extra work), I've decided to do away with shipping fees altogether. How's that for combined shipping? In order to defray some of my shipping and wrapping costs (since I'm still individually gift wrapping each pair), I've changed my prices - from $12 to $14 for each pair of earrings, bracelet, and most necklaces. Seems reasonable to me. I'd love feedback, though. I'm hoping that I'll be able to add new designs to the shop soon, but right now I'm trying to get pieces together for the great shops that carry sulu-designs. Unitl then, you can check out some previously posted pieces that you may have missed, like these from a series that I made with wood beads:

these are here

find these here

these, here

yup, here

that's right - here

Have a wonderful weekend!


Blogosphere Bliss

Recently, I've been reveling in the joy that is blogland. I have been so excited by projects that other crafty bloggers are posting, so boosted by supportive comments by readers, and so buzzed by the energy that this forum creates. And while I never thought I'd be the type of person to make friends by means of the internet (that kind of thing always sounded like a set-up for a bad Maury Povich episode to me), I found myself accepting an invitation to meet up with Traci, a blogger whose weblog I read religiously. Once a New Yorker herself, she was back in town this week for a convention and suggested we meet up (after months of commenting on each other's blogs). I was so happy that she contacted me. I've been interested myself in extending such invitations to other bloggers, but (in a completely uncharacteristic way) I've been too shy to do so, or perhaps too scared. Traci is, in fact, not a homicidal maniac who uses the front of a blog to lure unsuspecting readers into her snare. She is super fun, outgoing, enthusiastic, insightful, creative, and generous. Look at the beautiful coasters that she brought me!

We had so much to talk about, and we share a lot in common (the whole love/hate thing with New York - and the "maybe I should move to Portland to escape" daydreams - are hot topics for both of us). It's still a bit crazy to me that my computer had to intervene to help me meet people with whom I share many interests, but I'm so glad that it did.
If you haven't done so recently, you should stop over to little messes to see what Traci is up to. Thanks for a really fun evening, Traci. I hope we can meet up again. And to the rest of you, my dear blog friends, have a wonderful weekend - maybe we'll be meeting soon, too!

JetSet Shipment

Unable to post yesterday because of annoying Blogger issues (anyone else having those?), I didn't show you these:

They're just a sample of the 25 pairs of earrings that I mailed off to the lovely Amy at JetSet Boutique in Richmond. And now, I'm jetting off to work...


The Capital Greatest

For days, I've been eagerly anticipating a package from Erin at House on Hill Road. She told me to watch my mailbox, and I was on it like a hawk. Or, at least, like a hawk with a job - the postman tried to deliver it while I was at work. Ugh! Those little pink "sorry we missed you" slips are such a tease! I was able to get to the post office, though, this evening after work, and I was totally blown away by Erin's thoughtful gift:

She sent the sweetest birthday present - a vintage Kentuck Derby glass from 1976, the year I was born! I can't believe how perfect it is for me - my loyal blog readers know how much I love vintage finds, and those of you who were with me back in August know how much I love mint juleps, the official drink of the Kentucky Derby. I've been smiling since I opened the box over an hour ago. Thanks, Erin!

And, just when I thought things couldn't get any better (I mean, it is only Wednesday), I find out that there is a second box waiting for me at the post office. This one, from my mom, is full of other spot-on goodies, like embroidery hoops for my version of Sally's fabulous wall pockets, more vintage hankies:

and a cool teak tray:

Sorry to post that last photo with its poor color - it's just that I've been so busy that I haven't yet had time to finish reading the manual for my new digital camera (thanks Mike and Judy)! Birthdays are the second greatest, coming in just behind family and friends who at times know you better than you know yourself. You guys are the real greatest. Thanks.


Name Game

Google the name "sulu" and you'll probably find tidbits on a Star Trek character, Hikaru Sulu, who is played by George Takei, an actor who was in the news a lot last year when he went public with his homosexuality. Or, you might find some information on the province of the Philippines after which the Star Trek character was named. Either way, unless you enter"sulu-design" in your search, you won't find me. I do get excited, though, when I come across random sightings of the word, so I was thrilled the other day when one of my students showed me this:

Sulu is the name of a bionic hamster in Dav Pilkey's book, Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy Part 1: The Night of the Nasty Nostril Nuggets. I love the Captain Underpants series, so you can imagine how excited I was to see that this furry little character and I share the same name. What was even cooler is that my students know nothing about my whole sulu-design persona - the kid who showed it to me was just so psyched about the character that he had to share it with someone. What I like best about this Sulu is:

his awesome appetite!
(We have more in common than just our names.)


Tummy Full

No craftiness for me today - I'm in recovery from Eating Fest 2006 (otherwise known as my birthday). After returning home from an earth-shatteringly good meal last night, Barry suprised me by making churros and chocolate for my birthday dessert. I'm not a fan of regular birthday cake, and I love this sweet combination at Bar Jamon on 17th Street. I couldn't have asked for a more thoughtful and delicious end to my birthday. And after work today, my friend Marilyn (who made me a yummy carrot cake last week - she, too, knows my sweet preferences well) took me out for a birthday dinner of Thai food in Astoria. The madness ends now... or at least, it ends after Peter and Jennifer stop over for an after-dinner drink this evening. See you all tomorrow (if I don't burst first).


You know it's your birthday when you have pastry crumbs stuck to your forehead.

At least that's what Barry said as he was brushing little morsels off my face after our 24 hour birthday eating fest. It all started last night at Public, a fabulous restaurant on Elizabeth Street in Manhattan.

Fig and ginger sour cocktails, pan seared foie gras, kangaroo (I'm always trying to expand the list of meats I've eaten), snapper with ginger, chocolate fudge cake with peanut brittle and Guiness ice cream, and pear with lemongrass crumble...

The frenzy continued this morning at one of my all-time favorite breakfast spots, Cafe Colonial, also on Elizabeth. We kept it simple - poached eggs and fruit salad, knowing there was a lot more in store for us later...

After a bit of walking (which we really only did for the sake of building our appetites back up), we went for a great lunch at Lovely Day, and yes, it's on Elizabeth, too. Yummy hobo noodles with chicken...

Later, we stopped by Balthazar's bakery for some coffee and pastries. Barry's little tart with nuts and custard was delicious, (as well as being the source of the aforementioned crumbs)...

And now, we're home, just to clean up before our last meal of the birthday weekend. Barry made reservations at Peasant (also on Elizabeth - hmm...) - oh, joy!

If I haven't fallen into a food coma after all of this, I'll catch up with you tomorrow. Have a great week.


Let the Games Begin

My birthday weekend began in earnest last night when Barry gave me my first gift - tickets to a Frank Black concert at Warsaw, the Polish National Home in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Before the show, we indulged in a little of what they do best at Warsaw - a plate of pierogies, bigos (hunter's stew), and kielbasa. And Frank, as always, sung (or screamed) his heart out. So, the birthday festivities are off to a great start. This morning, continuing with the indulgence theme, I stayed in my pajamas for hours and worked on jewelry.

I came up with a few necklaces:

this one is in my etsy shop,
since I got such positive feedback about its cousin
(scroll down in the link to see the happy relative)

and several pairs of earrings

including another fish pair that is also in my etsy shop

Speaking of the shop, I've also posted two pairs of mother of pearl earrings there - one is the pair that I pictured on my blog a couple days ago, and the other is similar, but with two drops instead of three. And remember, there are only two days left of birthday-induced free shipping!


Too Much of a Good Thing

Grrrr... That's the sound of me growling, which I often jokingly do when I'm frustrated or annoyed. (Remember, Ma, when I growled at the girl I was playing defense against in a junior high basketball game, and she dropped the ball?) Anyway, I was so excited to finish close to fifty pairs of earrings this week until I realized that I had run out of my sulu-design card backings. I make each one by stamping a tag with a sulu stamp, punching two small holes (for the ear hooks) with a safety pin, and two larger holes below (for the spring clasp) with a hole-puncher. Making a few is fine. Making fifty makes my hands numb. Grrrr...


Worth the Wait?

I left work at 3:27 and a half on the dot (yes, that's how insane the New York Board of Education is - our contract requires me to work from 8:30 a.m. to 3:27.5), made it a quick work out at the gym, and hot footed it home, all for the sake of getting to our apartment while it was still light out, so I could photograph a few of the earrings I made yesterday in natural light. It's pitch black out. It's not even 7:00 yet. Ugh. I hate the darkness that lingers in the morning and descends on us so early in the evenings as winter appraoches. But I wasn't going to be defeated, so I turned to our trusty desk lamp and came up with these:

first, the pair that I photographed so poorly last night

a second pair using the plum colored stone with which I am recently obsessed

the other obsession-causing stone (which is jade-like in person)

since I've had such a great response to these beads,
I pick some up every time I replenish my supplies

and these, made with simple mother-of-pearl drops

Yep, I've got to say it again. Remember, until Monday, there is no shipping charge on sulu-design pieces at my etsy shop. I plan to post a few of the new designs on etsy tonight, but if you see something you like that isn't posted, feel free to e-mail me (my address is up there in my super dull banner). And hold tight - tomorrow is mini-Saturday!


Promises, Promises

I promised myself I'd be in bed by 9:00 tonight. Mornings this week have been particularly tough. And here it is, close to 10:00, and I'm photographing new sulu-design earrings and blogging. I just finished up another two dozen pairs of earrings, which are part of an attempt to fulfill another self-imposed promise. Last year, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, things got very hectic for me with my sulu-design jewelry. A few of the stores that carry my pieces called for last minute deliveries, and I came close to completely running out of inventory. So this year, I'm trying to make a lot of pieces for the holiday season before I get swamped with my own holiday concerns. At least I'm keeping one promise. And one hour late isn't that bad.

Now if I could only keep that promise about only photographing in natural light...


Between Meals

This evening, while looking over my last few posts, I realized that a new visitor to the sulu-design blog might think this is a blog devoted to food. Why am I posting so many pictures of my meals recently? Perhaps I'm approaching hibernation mode - you know, storing up energy for warmth as winter approaches. Or maybe I'm cooking more frequently since Barry and I have been spending more time at home. Whatever the reason, I've been food-obsessed this past week, and if you read on, you'll be looking at even more treats in this post.
Walking home this evening, I saw figs for $1.50 a pint (!) at our local fruit stand. Seeing them, I was reminded of one of my favorite little treats, one that I must have forgotten when I blogged about Connie's awesome recipes that combined heat and fruit, like plums and peaches. How could I have forgotten the sweet taste of carmelized figs over vanilla ice cream?

I kept it simple tonight - just quartered up the figs and tossed them into a hot, non-stick pan. After a few minutes, when the pulpy insides softened up a bit and a few spots were nicely seared, I scooped them up and served them over vanilla yogurt (I recommend LaYogurt non-fat vanilla yogurt), although rich vanilla ice cream is even better.

I swear, I shall return to posting sulu-design pieces soon (remember, there's free shipping at my etsy shop this week), but until then, make sure you're enjoying some good treats at home, too. See you tomorrow!


Celebrate Good Times, Come On!

Usually, when the first of October rolls around, I start my own month-long celebration of my birthday - nothing big, just daily announcements that my birthday is on its way (Barry loves these) and a little extra window shopping in anticipation of presents. I love birthdays. And this year, my birthday is a biggie. But I've been so preoccupied over the past couple weeks with other events (camping, weddings) that I totally forgot to start the pre-birthday fun. So, to catch up with the celebrating that I should be well into, I've decided to offer free shipping on all the items in my etsy shop. You can take advantage of this offer until the 23rd of October (my birthday is on the 22nd, and I don't think I'll feel like editing the etsy postings that night). So, if you've been considering these:

(which is here)

(found here)

(right here)

(you guessed it, here)

or, for that matter, any other pieces in my etsy shop, now is the time to grab them up!

And in "I had a terrific Sunday" news... after a great brunch with Peter and Jennifer at Cafe Henri in Long Island City, I put the finishing touches on over twenty pairs of earrings, including these:

Barry and I had a delicious fish taco dinner, and will soon be heading out for one last weekend hurrah at a new wine bar in L.I.C. Have a great start to the work week, everyone, and don't forget to take advantage of free shipping at the sulu-design shop!

Taking It Easy

After several weekends of fun, fun, fun (read: little sleep), I am so glad to be keeping it low-key at and around home this weekend. The crisp but sunny fall weather that has fallen upon Queens is making it all the more enjoyable. I was a little too excited to have to wear a scarf yesterday. I'd been waiting for the day when I could wear this vintage hand-woven one that I pulled out of my mom's closet last winter:

Barry's century went well, and he already made a recovery ride early this morning. While he was out, I got to work on a project that I'd been waiting to accomplish since this summer: potting succulents in an old Dansk pot that Barry found in the garbage. We picked these little guys up in Portland at Pistels, a cool nursery on Noth Mississippi.

I'm off now to do a little house cleaning, stop at the gym for a run, and finish up a jewelry-making project that I started last night. I'll be back this evening with photos of my newest sulu-design earrings. Have a wonderful Sunday!


Amore/Odio (Love/Hate)

Today I experienced some of the best and the worst of the Italian character: the best being the ability to make fantastic meals out of the simplest ingredients, the worst being the inability to accomplish tasks in a timely fashion.
The worst first. Back in April, Barry's parents took us on an amazing trip to Sicily. Alitalia, an airline that has won awards for its in-flight meals, is not so skilled in the baggage delivery department (this I found out upon our return to the U.S., with a little help from Google). When we first arrived in Sicily, I found that Alitalia had temporarily lost my baggage, but they assured me that I could buy what I needed to get by until the bag was found. They promised that the airline would reimburse me half of the cost of my purchases. Needless to say, it's six months later and I'm still waiting for the reimbursement check. After calling their offices every day this week, holding for 30 mintues each time (no exaggeration), and never speaking to a human on the other end, I paid their headquarters - conveniently located in the Empire State building - a little visit today. I was essentially told that I shouldn't hold my breath. Ugh -the worst!
However, when I returned home, the best of Italy awaited. Becasue Barry is participating in the century ride (100 miles on a bicycle) tomorrow, I promised him a high-carb dinner tonight. I turned to a recipe in a book that my in-laws bought for me and Barry on one of the most fabulous days that the four of us spent in Sicily. The Heart of Sicily, by Anna Tasca Lanza, is a cookbook full of recipes from Regaleali, an estate in the center of the island. The four of us trekked to Regaleali one day for a spectacular meal in Anna's villa. There, we were treated to the company of Anna and her charming husband, and we were given tips on how to prepare each of the different courses of the meal, which was itself prepared right before our eyes, in the kitchen where Anna hosts cooking classes. The estate, the weather, the hosts, the meal - it was all perfection. The best!
And so, I offer you the tasty recipe that I prepared for Barry this evening:

Pasta con il Pomodoro Scoppiato (Pasta with Burst Cherry Tomatoes)
1 to 1.5 pints cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 to 2 teaspoons dried oregano
ground hot pepper
1 pound spaghetti
1/4 cup grated pecorino or parmesan (optional)

Cook the tomatoes in a large saute pan in the olive oil with the garlic until they begin to burst and release their juices. Do this over medium heat so as not to burn the garlic before the tomatoes begin to release their juices. Once the tomatoes burst, raise the heat to evaporate the juices and thicken the sauce. Add the oregano. Season to taste with salt and ground hot pepper.

Cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and pour into a serving bowl. Add half the sauce and toss well to mix. Put the remaining sauce on top. Serve immediately, and pass the grated cheese, if desired. This is enough for four as a first course.

Buon appetito, e buon fine settimana!