Sunday, January 31, 2010

Valentine's Day

What a nice way to start the day today: I opened my e-mail to find notification of a new etsy sale! This time it is a pair of Green Millefiore Heart Earrings. I strongly suspect that they were purchased as a Valentine's Day gift for a lucky lady. It always tickles me to have my jewelry purchased as gifts. I love making it, and I need to sell it to keep being able to buy wonderful new beads, but there's something special about knowing it is going to be a present for someone, an expression of someone's caring and affection.

It's too bad that so many holidays -- and the whole idea of gift giving itself -- have been abused and exploited commercially to the extent that they have. Many people are cynical about holiday gifts. They think that Valentine's Day, for example, is just an excuse for florists and chocolatiers to make a bundle. Maybe there's some truth to it, but I remember the excitement that came from getting a tiny box of chocolates from my grandad on Valentine's Day (and a bit bigger box with a red ribbon for grandma and a modest bouquet). My husband has bought me candy for Valentine's many times as well, and we always go out to dinner that night at a favorite restaurant. It's romantic, it's old-fashioned, and it's sweet.

What are you doing for Valentine's Day? No need to be blue if you don't have a sweetheart, however, because the whole idea of showing your "heart" can be just as warm and affectionate if you buy a Valentine's treat for your cat, your nextdoor neighbor, your coworker, or yourself! Enjoy!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Fiction Corner

It's still winter and a good time for settling in with an engaging novel. I recently finished one by a favorite British writer of mine, Penelope Lively. This one's called Family Album, and it's about a contemporary family with six kids living in a London suburb in a big, sprawling, run-down but once elegant house. The mother is sort of a supermom type who loves kids, cooking, and everything to do with family. The father is remote and bookish and tends towards escape from family. The live-in au pair "girl" has been there for forty years. The "children" have all (but one) escaped to far-flung places but keep being drawn back to home and parents and their own childhood secrets, fears, and memories from time to time. Lively is an excellent writer of literary fiction and a Booker Prize winner. There are layers and depths to this novel and very astute perceptions about human interactions, even though the plot appears on the surface to be lighter and more contemporary than in some of her other works.

I'm almost finished with the latest by Elizabeth Berg, called Home Safe.  This is a family relationships book of a sort too. I usually try to alternate themes, settings, etc. but it just worked out this way this time, I guess. But this is very American, set in Chicago -- a mom who's a writer and who has just lost her husband a year ago, an adult daughter with whom she's close but sometimes too close -- and a "dream house" her husband secretly had built for her in California. Like other Berg novels, it's light, funny, quickly readable, and enjoyable.

Next on the docket will be the collection Day out of Days, short stories by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright (and still a real "hunk") and actor Sam Shepard. I've read most of his plays and seen him in a number of films, but I haven't read his stories before and am looking forward to it. I don't read short stories as often as I do novels (major exception: Alice Munro -- would never miss anything she wrote), but I do like them. My trouble is that sometimes I have to read in bits and snatches and it's easier to pace with a novel ("at the end of this chapter, I'll stop and feed the cats") than with a story that you want to read to the end in one sitting.

I would love to know what you are reading right now. Please comment and recommend your favorite authors and books!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Photo Shop

It's been a busy week, with no time for blog posts -- sorry, dear readers -- but now I'm back, this time with a piece about how we do the photos for the etsy site. On Thursday, friend Eleanore came over with her camera and we set up to take pics of my newest creations.

I use the central beading area on my studio counter for taking photos. I have two lamps that illuminate that section of the counter, both with what is called "natural sunlight" full-spectrum bulbs.

A lot of the etsy photography tips talk about doing shots outdoors in the sunlight. Here in east central Illinois in late January, we can hardly remember what sunlight looks like! But these lamps are pretty good, and I put up a white sketch pad to intensify the lighting more.

We were doing a mix of new earrings and necklaces this time, and the problems are different in each case. But Eleanore's camera has a macro with forced flash and a supermacro to choose from, and even the first level macro gets much closer than I could with my own camera. That's why I had to use the generous resources of the piknik software to crop and enlarge the photos on etsy that I had taken previously. Here's one of the originals.

And here's one of the cropped and enlarged pics. See the difference? Of course, etsy shoppers can still use the Zoom feature to see details on any of the photos, but it is nice to have a bigger picture, at least for the main or first photo, I think. So I have cropped and enlarged the first view for nearly all of the 200-plus earrings on the Beaded Jewelry by Susan site by now. I'm still working on it.

I'm also listing, little by little, the set of large photos of SS/GF earrings (special beads, on sterling silver and goldfilled earwires) that Eleanore took the last time she came for a photo session, for example:

To give some variety of angles and viewpoints for shoppers, we used a few props in the photo shoot. A brandy snifter, for example, as shown in the photo with the faceted gold-coated Swarovski crystal earrings, allows us to display the hang of the earrings and yet the glass lets a lot of light through.

Another prop is a small book of subtly colored and patterned papers (bought at a fabric store that carries scrapbooking supplies as well) that provides interesting backgrounds.

The background paper can be used standing up in its booklet, with the earrings hanging down from the edge of it. It can also lie flat and the earrings can then be placed on it in various positions. We try to display the two earrings fairly close to each other, to avoid having a lot of wasted space to detract from the beads, but still far enough apart to make each earring distinct and easy to imagine on one side of the wearer's head!

Here are a couple of examples of photos taken using the background papers. The faceted blue quartz, crystal, and pearl earrings hang over the top of a sheet of blue-green swirled background paper.

The brown jasper and topaz crystal earrings were placed flat again a white and yellow-brown background paper.

It's also interesting to use the edge of the scrapbooking paper tablet as a part of the photo, as shown in the shot of the faceted rainforest jasper earrings, leaning against the edge.

 As you can see, these props, the lighting, and Eleanore's great camera make for pretty nice photos! They show you just what the earrings are like, with lots of the great detail that occurs in naturally patterned stone and intricate designs in handmade beads of glass, silver,and so on. This way, you can also see the effect of the small trim -- spacers, rounds framing both ends, flattened rondels, etc. that aren't as apparent as the main bead in a pair of beaded earrings, but which play a big role in the overall fnished look and represent a lot of small but often crucial design decisions.
This shot of Eleanore taking aim shows some of the many storage boxes with compartments filled with beads that make up my studio collection. I'm thinking about doing a blog post sometime about the evolution of the collection itself and how I store (and find!) it all.

In addition to quite a few pairs of new earrings, we also photographed (I saw "we" because I experimented a bit with getting used to Eleanore's camera) a few new necklaces. It's trickier with necklaces. You want at least one shot that shows the whole piece and others that highlight the clasp, zoom in on individual bead detail, and so on. For multiple-strand necklaces, it's difficult to get everything in the picture without it looking too full of detail. But here are a couple of our experiments, including a "funky" shot using the snifter.

This multiple-strand pearl necklace has a lot of different color, size, and shape going for it, as well as a different design pattern for each of the three strands. It may take all five etsy photos to get across the complexity and beauty of a piece like this. I guess that's part of the challenge of photography jewelry for the etsy site!
With a piece like the ocean jasper rectangles, dangling from circle chain, with Czech smokey quartz glass dangles in between each one, it was tricky to know how to lay out the piece for photography and still get enough of the whole in the picture.

This last example of necklace photography, using the snifter, is a bit odd, perhaps, but it may catch the etsy shopper's attention.

As we finished photographing earrings, they needed to be put on one of the plastic rotating displays. The displays will make it easy to find earrings when etsy sales for them come through (soon, I hope!), and we'll use them for face-to-face customers at the April show in the University of Illinois Illini Union. Husband David helped out with placing them on the display tiers.

The picture of David shows some more of the storage
boxes for beads, as well as the window leading out onto our cat patio. The six felines tried to get involved with the photography project, but we discouraged their participation for obvious reasons :)

All in all, it was a fun and productive session. Thanks once more to Eleanore! Stop by her etsy site, too, dear readers, and see her wonderful fiber beads at Ebrown2503.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Fiction Corner: Recent Reads

Winter's a good time for curling up with a novel, and I've done some of that, in between making beaded jewelry and working on my etsy site. I've recently read a couple of good ones.

Thanksgiving Night by Richard Bausch. This one has been on my TBR (to be read) shelf for a while. I'd actually meant to read it in November when the time was appropriate. That said, it isn't really about the holiday, of course, even though this hallowed and very American occasion does take place at the end of the book and the notion of "thanksgiving" is certainly explored. In case you're not familiar with him, dear readers, Richard Bausch is an excellent prize-winning writer with many novels to his credit. And here's an interesting biographical tidbit: his twin brother, Robert Bausch, is also an excellent writer of novels. The two may well be the only identical-twin novelists in literary history. The outstanding strength of Thanksgiving Night is its in-depth development of characters who become real for the reader and Bausch's ability to make their personal challenges and questions resonate as universal challenges and questions -- about love, loss, faith, courage, and change.

Another favorite writer of mine from many years back is Anne Tyler. In contrast to Bausch's Virginia settings, Tyler's novels often take place in her native Baltimore. Many of them involve lovable but eccentric female characters coming to terms with complex family issues and identity crises. You may have seen the film The Accidental Tourist, which was adapted from one of her books. Noah's Compass seems to me to be a bit different than her others. The character is an older man, the pace of the story is slower, and the plot seems less important somehow than the character's state of mind. As always with Tyler, the prose is highly engaging and the book is a "fast read." I was a little disappointed in the ending, however, which didn't give me quite the sense of closure that I found in her earlier novels. Nonetheless, I certainly enjoyed the novel overall and was glad I'd read it. If you're read it, please let me know what you think about the ending.

I don't want to say too much about books I'm just starting and certainly nothing but titles of the ones I just got at the library this weekend, but I was pleased to get a new novel by the author of The Time-Traveler's Wife, Audry Niffenegger. David and I had both read Time-Traveler several years ago and were absolutely fascinated. It's in a category all by itself -- part science fiction/fantasy, part literary love story, part adventure. You have to read it to know what I mean here probably.

Anyway, I just began the first few chapters of Her Fearful Symmetry, and it looks to be a good choice too.
The story involves two twin sisters. One of them left England and moved to Lake Forest, Illinois. She has two twin daughters. The two British women were evidentally estranged for twenty-five years or so. When the London sister dies, she leaves a valuable London apartment to her two twenty-year-old American nieces on the condition that they live there for a year without selling it and never allow their parents to set foot in it. It promises to be an intriguing plot . . .

Other books on the docket to read soon include a new novel by William Trevor, excellent Irish writer; short stories by the amazing playwright and actor, Sam Shepard;, a novel of Victorian ladies in India; a novel set in the era of the cultural revolution in China; another Susan Hill Simon Seraillier mystery, and McCall Smith's next in the 44 Scotland Street series, The  Unbearable Lightness of Scones (wonderfully hilarious reference to Czech writer Milan's Kundera's serious novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being).

What are you reading now? Please comment. It's lonely doing the only talking ... ;)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Cozy Companions

     Just as the winter garden is its own special thing (see Winter Garden post), so the inside of a house changes a bit with the seasons as well. The house in winter always seems a little smaller somehow when the windows are all closed and locked down tight.

     Of course, the sunlight coming in those windows is lessened too (especially in Illinois), and the angle of the light is different too. Blankets and throws appear for keeping warm sitting on the sofa or the living room chairs, and the dinners tend more toward comfort food. The iced tea gives way to hot herb tea.

     It's a good time for snuggling up with a book, working on hobbies (like making beaded jewelry!), sleeping late, listening to CDs, and playing and cuddling with the coziest of winter companions -- cats!

     Cats note the seasonal differences too, of course, probably more than we nature-distanced humans do. Their winter coats grow long and luxurious, as Sylvan's thick Maine Coon parka demonstrates. They all sleep a lot more and seek out sleeping places up high rather than down on the floor (we have many cat beds, distributed upstairs and down).

     Their body position changes as well: rather than stretching out on their sides, they curl up into a tight ball of fur to conserve body heat (even though the thermostat is actually set at 73). They eat more too, I think, although it's hard to tell with a cat like the giant black and white Angus MacDuff, who always wants more and more food of any kind!


Our younger cats, like Panther, the little black lion with the brown ruff, and Toffee the shy cream-colored boy, like to go out on the screened-in cat patio, even when their observation shelf is covered with snow. But we have to close the window to keep the house from getting too cold and then stay around, as patient doormen, waiting for them to decide exactly when they want to come back in. 

     Toffee and all of the others love to bask in the sun, whenever it comes shining through the snow. They actually like to sunbathe at a window all year round, but it's especially welcome in the winter time. (As it is for humans!)     

Toffee looks particularly spiritual and meditative in his window sunlight pose, and that's another favorite activity of cats in winter: meditation. Cats are experts at relaxation in general, and their meditation skills are admirable as well. More than any of us, they know how to live "in the moment."

Miss Angel prefers it when "the boys" are all out on the patio and she feels free to roam, as the princess she knows herself to be. But most of the time, she guards her realm under the dining room chair where she is hidden from her nemesis, the beautiful imperial Yang.

Yang is a sensitve boy and doesn't like too much rough and tumble most of the time, but he does sometimes venture out onto the cat patio with the other boys. His winter spot is on my beading chair in the studio when the seat (cushioned, of course) is tucked in underneath the counter.

     All the cats seem to know that winter has arrived, but they haven't forgotten to watch for the occasional insect or bird that flies near the windows.

    I guess winter indoors isn't so bad when you have six cozy companions like these!

Write a comment, dear readers, and let me know about your cozy companions!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Embedded Rose Lampglass Earrings

Embedded Rose Lampglass Earrings. Aren't these utterly charming? The wonderful thing about handmade lampworking of beads is that tiny bits of glass can be embedded in the molten glass bead as it is being wound over the open flame.

In these charming earrings, the lampglass beads are crystal clear but seem to contain within them tiny roses with green leaves. My design includes Swarovski clear crystal rondels, sterling silver spacers, and sea green Czech glass rondels at the top of each rose bead. Earwires are sterling silver.

I don't know why, but these earrings seem sort of Victorian to me. They're dainty and very feminine somehow. Sure to garner compliments. What do you think, dear readers?

The Winter Garden

     Here in east central Illinois, we've still got a fair amount of snow and some long icicles, but that may be melting by next week. It's not really the time of year in which much is usually said about the garden, but I have a few thoughts on the subject. I don't really like winter, to be honest. Now that I'm older and not very sure-footed with my cane, I fear the ice especially, and I've always gotten the blues from the overcast skies we often have well into February.

     But this year, I'm trying to see the bright side (and sun on the snow really helps with that!) and to think a bit about the idea of the winter garden. For one thing, I am appreciating the fact that the bare trees show their intricate structure. And the brown of branches against a brilliant blue sky is a color combination that's hard to beat -- much as I love the rich green of spring, the flower colors of summer, and the foliage change in autumn. I've noticed that the mounds of snow make for interesting shapes in the garden  -- as they fill in containers, top the garden statuary, and smooth the lines of landscape timbers and paths. Shadows of shrub branches on the snow are delicate and beautiful as well.

     Of course, there are the evergreens, and we are so lucky to have them here in the Northern temperate zones. The way they hold patches of fresh snow on their branches is so graceful and amazing. And some shrubs and trees offer lasting berries with bright color. Some years, we've had a lot of color from our hollies (Blue Prince and Blue Princess), although there are very few berries this year. The pyracantha's orange berries seem to be fewer too this time (maybe because of too much rain detering insects when the pollination was supposed to be going on?). The oaks all over town retain their leaves, which have turned to a glossy dark brown; it makes for a nice mix with other trees' bare branches and the occasional evergreen.

     No chance to sit out in the garden for contemplation this time of year, however. Even if we brushed off the snow and sat around in parkas and mittens, there would be little bird song or the rustling of the squirrels as background music for musings and moods. Nonetheless, it is sort of soothing to sit inside in a cozy house with central heating (oh! the gratitude I feel for our standard of living in this country) and look out on the serene scene of the two-seater glider, waiting patiently in the snow.

     All in all, despite my dislike for the winter driving and my fear of falling on ice, I am glad for the changing seasons, for their reminder of time passing, the omnipresence of transitions, and pressure to adapt, and all the rest. I recently learned that the moon plays a big role in creating the seasonal cycle: thank you, Luna! If you, dear readers, live in a seasonal zone, my advice is to stay warm, avoid frostbite, drive slowly, and enjoy your winter as best you can. And don't forget to check out your winter garden!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Aquarium Lampglass Earrings

These earrings are amazing, if I do say so myself! And there's a cool story behind them. Go to the etsy site and read about it and then let me know, dear readers, if you like them! Aquarium Lampglass Earrings

David Recycling

In the post entitled "Ask Me," I requested suggestions from you, dear readers, about topics for posts that might interest you, and I mentioned that, given the cruel Illinois winter weather, I might not be out and about much for photos and figured you didn't want pics of "Susan cooking" or "David recycling." But, I bow to your requests, and here, indeed, is "David Recycling."

David and I were both young college students in the sixties, a period of intense, exciting, and exploratory activities, some of which, at this remove, are not clearly remembered :) But, as a result, we have been recycling for more than thirty years, so perhaps that qualifies me to say a few words on the subject. In the photo here, David is recycling junk mail into a container provided by our environmentally responsible municipality (Urbana, Illinois -- a beacon of liberalism and good sense in the midst of the conservative heartland). We pay an annual recycling fee, and they provide the containers and come once a week to empty them.

He also collects cans, bottles, and cardboard at the end of the kitchen counter so that he can move these items to the bins outside the door. Note also in the photo below the metal compost crock for kitchen cuttings -- potato peels, onion skins, broccoli ends, orange peels, and so on. 

There is a composter in the backyard that I didn't photograph because I didn't want to wade out into the frozen snow up to my ankles or more. The composter fills up with the contents of the crock (in a biodegradable, easy-to-dump bag from Gardener's Supply), along with some dried leaves, and out comes crumbly rich soil-like stuff to put on rhododenrons and the like. Black gold of its own sort.

I am a big proponent of environmental concerns: simply put, I like this planet and want it to stay around. I also dislike waste and mess of all types, although, as a once-avid gardener, I do enjoy getting my hands really dirty with honest soil.

Seriously though, there is much to be said for the idea of changing the world a day at a time in your own backyard. So we recycle most of what we can, without being fanatical and obnoxious about it. (As Ben Franklin suggested, we follow the concept of moderation in all things.)

It starts in the purchasing phase, in my opinion. When it makes sense to do so, we purchase some items in bulk and store them in recycled glass jars. This works best for rice and beans and lentils in the jars from Newman's Own pasta sauce (Tomato and Basil, of course) and the best peach slices.

But for items that come already packaged, it's a question of what you buy and how it's packaged that makes a difference. I prefer to use foods that aren't pre-processed as the ingredients for our meals whenever that's feasible. Why? (1) It's cheaper in the long run to make stuff yourself. (2) You have more control over additives that may be bad for your health. (3) You can make things taste better, fresher, and more likely seasoned the way you prefer than if somebody else (i.e., a factory) cooks and stores the food for you. (4) The packaging is usually less intrusive and may even be recyclable itself (although not necessarily easy to open!).We don't use canned food very often, with one major exception: cat food.

I buy organic when the price isn't too much higher, and I try to prepare healthy meals, but we are not fanatic about it, and cookies are always an exception, for example. We live pretty modestly overall, and so we probably aren't "mainstream" Americans [we don't drink beer or pop, have a television, color our hair, wear pantyhose (esp. David), etc.]. We use paper towels for messy clean-ups, but washable cloth towels for hand drying and light jobs. From time to time, we even throw away recyclable containers that are too difficult to clean adequately for recycling without a big hassle. We take the plastic bags from bread and produce to the recycling bin at the grocery store, but we use cloth totes for all of our shopping itself. (Plastic bags are an easy habit to change and not using them as much makes such a difference to birds and water wildlife!)

So, there you have it, dear readers, a few thoughts on a simple, routine everyday household activity -- recycling. Please comment and let me know if you recycle, what your thoughts are on the environment, and what other topics you'd like to see discussed in this blog. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Kitchen Tale

In response to a comment by a dear reader, I'm posting some thoughts about cooking. I haven't any photos of our small and ordinary kitchen at the moment, but perhaps that will come in time. Mainly, I want to praise the totally delightful film we recently watched on DVD called Julie and Julia. Meryl Streep really embodies the image of Julia Child, famous TV chef, that I have in my mind from growing up in the fifties. And the modern story of Julie, the woman who cooks (and blogs) her way through Julia's recipes in a year, is also great, and the two stories are artfully intertwined. The film makes you laugh -- and it makes you dream of food! Of course, as a former French teacher, the very thought of French food sends me over the top.

But, I have to admit that I do not have the time, energy, money, or inclination to prepare gourment food in my own home. I have been cooking since I was under ten years old (with help from my grandmother for a time), and I try to make most dishes primarily "from scratch" using fresh (and inexpensive) ingredients that are supposed to be good for you. I have a tendency to scan cookbooks in stores and online recipes and then make up sort of composite, eclectic versions according to my cupboard contents and my whims. I don't measure exactly or keep track very well -- even though David says my seasoning sense is great and that I can make a delicious meal out of almost anything! So I don't usually have "repeat" recipes to pass on. Like the beaded jewelry, I'm afraid that each dish is pretty much "one-of-a-kind."

Thanks, Dear Readers!

Thanks, dear readers, for the comments in reponse to the "Ask Me" post. Keep the suggestions coming!

As for recently read books, I just finished a couple of short novels last week while the cold white stuff was falling from the sky and the Internet was too overcrowded to post in the blog.

Both books were a bit on the heavy and grim side, but very well done, well worth reading, and each one haunting in its own right.

The first one was a short debut novel by a young guy who teaches high school in Brooklyn by the name of Ian MacKenzie: City of Strangers. He's a new author for me, of course, but one that I will look for in the future. The book has the feel of a crime thriller and, at the same time, a literary novel about universals of love, loss, guilt, and ambiguity.

The very contemporary story takes place in New York City, and the atmosphere, the look, and the feel of the city function as an important character in the book. The plot involves two half-brothers, long-estranged from each other and from their single, silent male parent. Now they are dealing with the death of the father, a man once infamous for being an "American Nazi." The older brother, who converted to Judaism and married to a Jewish woman, is a hedge fund guy, with tons of money and drive, but who is facing anguish as his insider dealings are coming to trial. The much younger brother is a freelance writer, down on his luck, broke, and suffering horribly from a recent divorce. He happens upon two drunken brutes beating up a young Middle Eastern guy on the street, and this encounter is only the beginning of increasing complexity and violence. The context is tense, dangerous, brimming with the ethnic pressures of post-911 NYC. The prose is fluid, compelling, and suspenseful. The ending is terrifying and haunting.

The second short one is a new novel by the extremely prolific and dependably engaging writer Joyce Carol Oates, called Fair Maiden. The protagonist is a sixteen-year-old girl from a lower-class family in New Jersey. Her father, the gambler, is gone; her mother spends time and money in Atlantic City as well, with men, drugs, and drink. Her sisters just want to avoid loaning the mother more money. But the girl is bright and pretty and wiley for her age. She's escaped to the shore to serve as a summertime nanny for a demanding middle-class family and their two kids. By chance, she meets an intriguing man who is quite elderly and very rich, one of the pillars of the "old money" community. He's cultured and charming and adores her. He paints her. He composes music. And he has a sad, frightening, and mysterious "mission" in mind for her. The writing is wonderful, as always with JYO, and catches you up in its dramatic and haunting arc -- feverish, sardonic, mythic, and yet so contemporary. The ending, as with the prior novel, is terrifying and haunting.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ask Me, Please!

I know that I have some followers on Susan's Blog (heartfelt thanks!), but so far not too many folks have left a comment. I also know that some of you, dear readers, may be interested in topics other than beaded jewelry. (It's so easy to believe that the whole world is passionately involved in whatever I am currently involved in! :)

There are many topics I could write a blog post about -- books, cats, flowers, AND opinions and thoughts about almost anything of interest -- but I'd like to write about what you'd like to hear about. So ... ASK ME, PLEASE!

Two caveats:

It's too cold here to go out and take photos of anything around town, and I don't think you want to see pics like "Susan cooking dinner" or "David recycling." So the posts in response to your questions may not involve photos.

Also, I prefer to avoid the minefield of directly political and religious issues that trigger a lot of emotion and reaction -- no stepping on toes or falling into databases.

That said, I am pretty open to discussing many issues, and I hope to be interesting, informative, and maybe even entertaining in the process. So don't hesitate or procrastinate: write a comment now with your question for me!

Etsy 2010

I can hardly believe it is 2010 or that it has been eight months since I opened my Beaded Jewelry by Susan shop on Etsy. Now that the holiday rush to use the Internet has slowed down a bit and opened up a few "traffic" lanes, I am starting to list some new items: elegant earrings using handmade and vintage beads on sterling silver and goldfilled earwires (the section called "SS/GF Earrings"). And I'm using the new bigger photos. What you do think, dear readers? Is this an improvement?

Here's the latest: Blue and Green Venetian Blown Glass Earrings.