Countdown to Christmas!

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Black Friday Extravaganza!

Ciarrai Studios Holiday CardHi all! I hope everyone had an excellent Thanksgiving! I had a wonderful holiday, surrounded by family and a ton of food (sooooo full!).

So now, as we head into the official Christmas season, I have been crafting up a storm! I still have three more Christmas gifts that I have to finish for my own personal crafting and I have been making a ton of stuff for Ciarrai Studios for my first ever Black Friday / Small Business Saturday / Cyber Monday Extravaganza.

(To tell the truth, I am extremely excited and terribly nervous about this weekend. On one hand, I really love a lot of what I made and I would love for all the great pendants and  scarves, etc. to all find good homes with people who will love them as much as I do. On the other hand, I am just starting out and don’t have a big following (yet) so I don’t know if I have done everything I should to get the word out about my store and the fabulous items in it. Right now, I am trying to avoid fanatically checking my store like a teenage girl waiting for a text from the cutest boy in school.  I am trying to keep a little perspective, relax, and work on the Christmas crafting as a distraction, but this plan is having mixed results if I am being honest.)

Anyway, I realized that I have been so busy making a ton of new pieces that I never actually posted about them here so I thought I would do that now instead of obsessing some more on Etsy.

Nativity Christmas Pendant:
Nativity Pendant

Silent Night Christmas Carol Music Pendant:
Silent Night Pendant 2

Heavenly Peace Christmas Carol Music Pendant:
Heavenly Peace Pendant

What Child Is This Christmas Carol Music Pendant:
What Child is this Pendant

River Pendant (Inspired by the Joni Mitchell Song):
River Pendant

Charles Dickens Christmas Carol Pendant
Charles Dickens Christmas Carol Pendant

Night Before Christmas Pendant
Night Before Christmas Pendant

Promises to Keep Pendant
Promises to Keep

Winter Wonderland Pendant:
Winter Wonderland Pendant

Christmas Snowflake Pendants:
Christmas Snowfall

Christmas Teapot Pendant:
Christmas Teapot Pendant

Christmas Snowflake Pendant:
Snowflake Christmas Teapot Pendant

Red Brocade Pendant:
Red Floral Pendant

And a ton of Gift Card Holders / Ornaments,  another version of the Prufrock Spoon, and these two beautiful charm pendants:

The Tea Lovers Charm Necklace featuring a vial of real tea leaves:
Tea Lovers Charm Necklace

and the French Lavender Charm Necklace with real dried lavender:
French Lavender Charm Necklace

As you can see, I have been very busy (and all of this while working on a term paper, studying for midterms and helping my mom cook Thanksgiving dinner). And now, I think I will take a well-deserved break and knit some more of my mom’s Christmas gift!

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Extravaganza!!

Hello Everyone! I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is here already! I hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday!  I have been hard at work getting Ciarrai Studios ready for its first ever holiday season. As we head into the Thanksgiving weekend, I hope that you will consider purchasing some of your holiday gifts at Ciarrai Studios .

There are so many reasons to give handmade gifts.

  • It supports independent artists (like me) and allows us to continue doing the work we love.
  • It’s good for the economy and supports small, local businesses instead of pouring money into huge corporations
  • It’s good for the environment and human rights with each item being made by hand by a craftsman / store owner instead of being massed produced in energy-guzzling factories or sweat shops.

But best of all, your gifts will be:

  •  Handmade individually with love
  •  As unique and special as the people unwrapping them
  • And easy to buy from  the comfort  of your own home without having to deal with crowded stores

And now there is even more reason to make this year a handmade holiday!  Ciarrai Studios will be having a big Black Friday / Small Business Saturday / Cyber Monday Extravaganza to help you start your holiday season off right. From Friday, November 23rd – Monday, November 26th

  • I am offering a 25% discount on everything in the store!  Enter the Coupon Code: BLACKFRIDAY12 during checkout to receive your discount.  
  • From now until the end of the year, I will also gift wrap your purchase for free! Just add a note to me during checkout and let me know if you would like me to gift wrap your items.
  • And anyone who spends $100 or more (before shipping) will receive a free hand knit Christmas Ornament / Gift Card Holder!

 So whether you are picking up a well deserved holiday treat for yourself or buying holiday gifts for family and friends, I hope to see you this weekend.  But most of all, I hope that you have a happy and blessed holiday season! 

Best wishes and Happy Thanksgiving to all!

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Just a little frantic

I don’t know how this happened but Thanksgiving is less than a week away. Despite the fact that I start ridiculously early and work steadily throughout the year, I am not done with my Christmas crafting or shopping and that is making me a little bit crazy. My 12-year-old niece called me up the other day to tell me we only had 40 days left until Christmas and when I told her that I wasn’t ready for the holidays yet, she commented “Really? Because usually you are gloating by now!” (which to be fair, I usually am).  I reminded her that my “being behind” is usually much closer to being done than other people’s but the truth is that I am more crunched for time this year than I like to be.

Part of it is that we lost a lot of time and resources to Hurricane Sandy and the winter snow storm that hit a week or so later. It also pushed a lot of school work and deadlines later than they were originally supposed to be. I had a big paper due for my Literature of the Bible class that I wasn’t able to work on because I had no electricity to run my computer, no lights to read the few bits of research I had printed out and the school library was closed for over a week. It was an interesting paper topic on the birth narratives of  barren mothers of the Bible (women like Sarah and Hannah who were barren but eventually conceived and gave birth) and the connection between them and God’s covenant with Abraham. But the time it took to write it and get it in slowed down the holiday prep quite a bit.

I also was slowed down by the amount of work I have been doing for Ciarrai Studios. I can only knit or bead one project at a time and if I am making stuff for the store, I am not making stuff for myself. I thought I had taken that into account with all my time management but I didn’t count on how much time I would spend doing the marketing and administrating aspects of the store. I keep trying to optimize my store and my item listings so people can find my work and I am not sure I have managed to find the best way of doing that yet. I am still such an etsy newbie and have a lot to learn and with the holidays coming up so quickly I don’t have a lot of time to learn it.

The good news is that I really love some of the new pieces I have been working on for the store.  I have the first batch of new pendant designs curing as we speak but I couldn’t resist taking a sneak peek photo.

 Pendant Sneak Preview

I am making another of the Aslan Pendants (from The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe) which sold out so quickly last time, as well as a poem inspired by the Robert Frost poem “Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening” (one of my favorites). There’s also some lovely Christmas Carol sheet music pendants, a nativity scene, a new teapot and some really pretty snowflake pendants. I’ve got two more days before I can assemble them all into necklaces and get them up on the store but I think they will come out great!

I’ve also got some other pieces in the works, including some new lace necklaces, gift card holders / ornaments for the holidays (great for teacher gifts, co-workers, secret santa, etc), Ciarrai Studios gift cards, some Garnet gemstone pieces, and necklaces that feature real dried lavender (such an incredible fragrance!)

In the meanwhile, I keep chipping away at school stuff (I have my midterm for Sign Language Monday evening) and sneak in work on my own Christmas list whenever possible. I finished a garnet necklace for my sister-in-law yesterday and I am working on my mom’s present (which once I finish, I will be done with my side of the family and then I will only have to work on the in-law gifts) I may be further behind that I wanted to be but at least there is still forward motion and progress – or at least, that is what I keep telling myself.

Garnet Necklace - Michele (11/12)

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Going “Gothic”

Last night, Rob and I went to a Halloween-themed wedding where the guests were requested to wear “elegant costumes.” Despite the fact that I tend to be a very natural kind of girl (I usually don’t wear make-up, I keep my hair its natural color and don’t put any kind of sprays or gels in it, etc.) I thought this occasion required a bit of drama so I decided to go as a vampire and “goth” it up for an evening. I went all out.

I dyed my hair black, thinking it would heighten the effect but it turns out that my look tends to go a little more princess chic than dark undead temptress. Fortunately, my sister was able to style my hair and do my make-up (SOOOO much make-up! I think if you added up every bit of make-up I have worn in the last 5 years, it is still less than I had on my face last night!) which really made the difference. If I had been left to my own devices, I would have ended up looking like someone who would be singing: “Someday my prince will come – and then I shall drink his blood!!” Needless to say that is not the look I was going for.

I finished off my outfit with the cutest little mini top hat (also very helpful in de-Disney-afying me) and one of my Mini Mina Lace vampire Bat Necklaces. I was also going to put a red strip in my hair and wear these long, red, fake nails (since mine are non-existent) but there just wasn’t enough time before the wedding.

We didn’t even have time to take pictures of our costumes before we left. My mom snapped a few on her iPhone and Rob got one that came out pretty decently at the wedding itself (the hall was beautiful but rather dimly lit). I tried to get some good shots of Rob in his Clark Kent outfit but the lighting just wasn’t working in our favor. Since his costume doesn’t involve a ton of styling and make-up like mine did, we are going to do a little mini photo shoot later on in the week but this cute old-fashioned phone booth we know about. Not only is it appropriate for his costume, but it is always better to take photos of Rob out in Sunlight. He blinks if you even think about turning on a flash and his fake Clark Kent glasses pick up every ounce of glare they can! So if you were interested in seeing my handsome hubby as a mild-mannered reporter, I am afraid you will have to wait but if you want a good giggle at the sight of me trying to be all gothic, here you go:
DSC_2276

Vampire Kerry 2

Vampire Kerry 8

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A Rediscovered Recipe

There was this Chicken and Rice dish that Rob and I used to really enjoy. It was a Campbell’s Supper Bake thing that came in a box. All you had to do was add some chicken breast, throw everything into one pan and bake it to have a quick, inexpensive, yummy meal that we loved. We ate it at least once a week, sometimes even more. And then disaster struck and the company stopped making it.

Now I am happy to say that we were able to recreate it and can now make it with ingredients that are still available. My mom tried it and loved it and asked for the recipe so I though I would share it here.

Enjoy!

Chicken Rice Bake

Serves approximately 3-4 people/

Ingredients:
1 1/2 lb boneless chicken breast
2 cups of uncooked instant rice
1 tablespoon of parsley flakes
4 tablespoons of butter
1/4 cup, finely shredded carrot
16 oz Chicken Broth
1 can of Campbells Cream of Chicken With Herbs Soup

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 Degrees.

Combine rice, parsley, and carrot in 13×9″ baking pan. Cut the butter into small chunks and distribute around the outside of the pan. Pour broth over the mixture.

Slice Chicken Breast so they are thick enough that the tops will stick out from the rice mixture but thin enough that they will cook evenly. Place them on top of the mixture in the center of the pan. Spoon the Chicken with Herbs soup over the top of the Chicken.

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately half an hour or until the chicken is cooked thoroughly.

(You may want to stir the rice about halfway through so the top layer doesn’t get too crispy.)

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Incredible Embroidered Portraits!

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Just my luck

As I mentioned before, I have to go to a Halloween themed wedding today and everyone was asked to come in elegant costumes. My costume is a vampire and I tried to go all gothic for the occasion. I was a bit worried about pulling it off. I mean, I am a knitter who is obsessed with Jane Austen. I don’t have a lot of goth cred but it was worth a try.

Anyway, I got a long overdue haircut a couple of days ago – my hair has been bothering me for a while and I decided to cut it short. It’s about chin length now and I was pretty happy with it. Last night, Rob and I dyed my hair (with the wash-out kind of dye) black. I thought having really dark hair would go with the whole gothic look and make my costume look a little more “bad-ass.” This morning, I got up and stuck a red headband in my hair to keep it out of my face until I was ready to start getting dressed for the wedding. I looked in the mirror and realized that, instead of a Gothic creature of darkness, I look like Snow White (and the Disney version, not the Once Upon a Time version). *shakes head*

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After the Storm

Hey folks! Just checking in to say that everyone here weathered Hurricane Sandy as well as could be expected. We’re all safe and our house came through undamaged. We lost electricity and internet access for a couple of days (which felt downright apocalyptic but was, compared to what could have happened and what has happened to others, really just an inconvenience). I spent the daylight hours knitting these cute little gift card holders / Christmas tree ornaments that I am planning on selling on my etsy store and the nights staring at the cat in dark rooms, waiting for Rob to get home from work. (He works for Cablevision so he’s been working late as they try to deal with storm clean up). We’re back up and running (Thank God for electricity and Internet Access!!!) but the aftermath of the storm keeps making itself felt in weird ways.

Its been a bit tricky to drive anywhere because:

A) there are still a lot of trees down in roads and some areas are flooded,

B) a lot of traffic lights are out and people are not being as courteous or careful as they could be while driving and

C) gas is in short supply on the Island.

Rob and I found a gas station that was both open with electricity and had gas to sell but we had to go really out of our way to find it. Yesterday, when the power on my block was restored and the gas station at the end of the street could open, there was a line of cars stretched down our neighborhood, mobbing the place for gas. It was insane!

My school has been closed all week and I am not sure when classes will start up again. This is a little weird because I was supposed to have a midterm in my sign language class last week and I have a paper that was due on Tuesday but with most of the Island not having power (and all my notes and stuff on my computer) and not having access to the library or any research materials for a week, I am hoping for an extension. (I know, in a situation like this, problems like this are really trivial but I still have to scramble and make sure that I am ready for whatever comes when school starts up again).

I am also scrambling to get ready for a family wedding that is scheduled for this Sunday. (Can you imagine trying to have a wedding in the middle of all this hurricane insanity! The poor bride!!) To make matters a little more complicated, the happy couple have chosen a Halloween theme for their wedding and everyone is supposed to come in “elegant costumes.” This posed a little bit of a problem for Rob and I since we have trouble finding costumes in our size that we can afford, especially when going for elegance. So we had to get creative.

I am going gothic as a Vampire. Anyone who knows me, knows this really not my style. Each of my sisters went through goth stages with dyed hair and dramatic make up and black clothing but I never did. I tend to be really natural – no make-up, my hair its natural, dirty blond color, etc. but hopefully I can pull off a more dramatic look.

The centerpiece of my outfit is my jewelry. Remember my Mina Harker Lace Vampire Bat necklace? Well, recently I made smaller versions of it in several different color schemes.

 
Mini Mina Harkers Gothic Lace Vampire Bat Necklaces
There’s a :

Red Bat with Black Crystal

Purple Bat with Black Crystal

and a Black Bat with Red Crystal 

I am going to wear the black bat with red crystal Mini Mina necklace with a red tuxedo style shirt and black slacks. I’ve got fake vampire fangs, a dramatic, oversized ring and the cutest little mini-top hat (made of a black sparkly material and decorated with black feathers, veiling and a red rose). I am cutting my hair fairly short (which I have been wanting to do for some time now) and I am going to dye it (with wash-out dye) a dark color with blood-red accents. The hat will get pinned in my hair, off to one side to give me a little playful drama. Add in red nails and some dark make-up and I am all set to go.

(I wanted to do a lot more accessorizing – particularly, I wanted to make or buy a black lace cuff or slave bracelet like this one and dramatic earrings (which have to be clip ons because my ears are not pierced anymore) but there wasn’t time to pull it all off, particularly with the Island still dealing with so much storm aftermath.  I know this is totally a first world kind of problem but from what I hear from the other ladies in the family, there are going to be a lot of really great costumes at this wedding – which is going to be held at a very fancy place – and I am just worried about being underdressed.)

Rob is going as Clark Kent. We found a blue t-shirt with the Superman logo on it and he is going to wear that under a suit that we bought him. We got costume glasses that are just perfect for a mild-mannered reporter and are going to get him a reporter’s notebook that we are going to attach the Daily Planet logo to. Whenever anyone asks him what he is dressed as, he is going to whip off the glasses and pull open his dress shirt to reveal the Superman shirt underneath, like he is Clark Kent bursting out of a phone booth to save the day as Superman. There is this street corner in Port Jefferson where there is a red, old-fashioned phone booth. We were planning on going there the day of the wedding and taking some photos of Rob in his costume but when last I heard, Port Jeff was hit hard by flooding after Sandy so I am not sure we will be able to do that just yet.

What I love about both of our costumes is that they are mostly real life clothes that can be worn after the wedding is over. My shirt can be worn after the wedding, especially with the holidays coming up. I am sure that I can find a use for a red dress shirt around Christmas and New Years Eve. I also really needed a new pair of dress shoes. My last pair disintegrated and I am not the kind of girl with a million pairs of shoes in the closet. I found a basic black ballet flat (as a tall woman with ankle problems, I don’t do heels) for $10 and it will serve me well for anytime I have to dress up in the coming months.

And Rob has been wanting to buy a suit for some time now. It’s really an essential item in any man’s wardrobe and he hasn’t had one in a while. So whenever anything like a wedding or a funeral come up, he is left scrambling or feeling underdressed. This was a good time to get the suit because he has been working out (weight lifting in a gym that he built from scratch in the backyard) and has lost a lot of weight. I don’t think he realized just how well he was doing until he went shopping for new clothing. So I think the experience was a bit encouraging for him. (It was also pretty entertaining for me when we got home and I made him model the new suit for my mom. My sister was a bit too enthusiastic about how good his backside was looking in the new pants and how the squats that he has been doing have really been paying off. The more she talked, and she really lacks any kind of mental filter so she tends to speak her mind at length, he got more and more weirded out. I eventually rescued him but it was funny to watch).

So that’s it for me. I hope all of you are doing well and that those of you on the East Coast are safe and came through the storm alright.

 

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Look What I Made: Breast Cancer Awareness Stitch Markers & Knitting Cards

I’ve been spending a lot of time making stitch markers lately. In addition to the Tea Time and Pumpkin Patch Stitch Marker sets that I posted about previously, I also made another set of the Wine Lover’s Stitch Marker Stitch Marker set. This set sold out rather fast the last time I offered it so I wanted to make sure I got another set up on the store.

Knit for a Cure: Breast Cancer Awareness Stitch Marker Set for Knitters

I also made a new set of stitch markers in honor of the fact that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s much later in the month than I would have prefered but I didn’t want the month to pass completely without acknowledging it.  These no-snag stitch markers, made of silver-plated awareness ribbons and pale pink crystal, are perfect markers for knitting chemo hats, prayer shawls and other charity knits.
Knit for a Cure Breast Cancer Awareness Stitch Markers

Knit for a Cure Breast Cancer Awareness Stitch Markers

Knit for a Cure Breast Cancer Awareness Stitch Markers

Warm & Cozy – Knitted Teacup Greeting Card – Available individually or in packs of 5

I am really excited about the addition of my first greeting card. I found this beautiful yarn and knit up a swatch. After taking a macro photo of the stitches, I used the photo to create a graphic of a knitted teacup.

What I love about this card is that the photo shows all the character and uniqueness of handknit stitches, which I think says something about the value of handmade crafts. I also love the combination of tea and knitting – both are so warm and cozy. This is especially appealing now that the weather is starting to get colder.  All in all, this is a great card for knitters and from knitters. The inside is blank with lots of room for a personal message or care instructions for a handknit gift.
Warm and Cozy - Knitting Greeting Cards

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