Monday, December 31, 2007

**December 31,2007**
brought to you by the
On December 31,2007 the Jewelry on Etsy Team will be having a clearance sale. Just go to Etsy and type JETT in the search to come up with plenty of Jewelry on Etsy Team members! You can start here, with Little Brown Bird!!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Last Minute New Year's Eve

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. We are all recovering now in some way, be it excessive blood glucose levels, high stress, or too much family "togetherness". But now the end of 2007 is here and hopefully your New Year's Eve plans are in place.

If you haven't got your New Year's Eve plans set in stone you can try checking out Metromix for any events happening near major metropolitan areas around the US. Metromix has the latest info on bars and night clubs that will be ringing in the new year. Or if your plans are to be a little more laid-back you can get the scoop on movies, theater, or restaurants.

But, if you're thinking a little more "international" this New Year's Eve, try a web site called PubClub. They have a list of some of the top party places around the world to be this New Year's Eve and where NOT to be. It not only tells you the secrets to making your evening special, but also gives you inside tips to making New Year's Eve hassel free. PubClub will tell you why New York's Times Square is not the ideal place to watch the ball drop (like lack of public bathrooms, immobilizing crowds, etc.) but Bourbon Street in New Orleans may be the better bet. If you happen to be in Prague, Sydney, or Las Vegas you are sure to have plenty of options this New Year's Eve. But have you ever considered Honolulu? Amsterdam? Or Whistler, BC?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Santa's Not Getting These Babies!

What goes better with Christmas than...coconut?!

Well, it hit, the seasonal urge to bake cookies. I spent hours trying to decide what kind of cookies to make. There are so many that I want to try!

I was feeling a little gun-shy after my first attempt at making homemade marshmallows last week. (The first batch immediately ended up in the garbage after I realized I was now wearing only nine acrylic nails that I had done just for the holidays!) But keeping the Christmas spirit, I decided to go ahead with making the cookies. This time, not wanting to play "French-tip" Russian roulette, I removed the rest of my "nails" before making the cookies.

I started out wanting to make my mother's famous mint snowballs but I had a special request for something with coconut. So I adapted a recipe (although not exactly my mother's secret recipe) and substituted the peppermint extract with coconut extract. The result, YUMMY!

The recipe follows but here a few tips.

When mixing the ingredients the dough seems a little dry and crumbly. Do not be tempted to add any liquid, it's perfect. It should look like this:

Even after chilling the dough, the mixture will seem to not want to stay together. But keep in mind, the dough is not meant to be rolled out or cut into perfect shapes. It does make it easier to use a measuring spoon to form the balls and make them a uniform size but you can make them look a little more "organic" by rolling the dough into a ball with your hands. Just be sure you don't pack the dough so tight or you'll end up with something like the consistency of a nice hard rock! These are meant to crumble and melt in your mouth when you bite into them.

After baking, they should be just slightly golden but not too brown. The picture above is before they went into the oven. And don't worry if the bottoms are a little jagged. The toasted coconut will hide this.

It's important to let the cookies cool on the baking sheet instead of transferring them to a cooling rack. They are still a little delicate when they are straight out of the oven and may break apart if they are handled too soon. Once they are cool you can begin to decorate them.

What I love about these cookies is that you can make so many different flavors from the same basic recipe. I decided on coconut because of a special request but you could make these with lime, rum, mint, or whatever. Keep in mind to taste test the dough if you are using a different flavored extract. The original recipe called for 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract which is a lot stronger flavor than the coconut. I ended up using 3 teaspoons of coconut extract, tasting after each teaspoon to get the flavor the way I wanted it. I wasn't sure about the coconut at first. I was afraid that they would come out tasting like a baked Pina Colada. But they had more of a yummy, nutty flavor and the die for!

I also used what was called "fancy flake" style coconut flakes. Different manufacturers may call it something else but its basically coconut flakes that have been coated in sugar. This style makes the flakes sort of carmelize when toasted and makes them crispy and kind of sparkly.

The texture of these are dry at first with a little crunch from the toasted coconut but, turn smooth and almost creamy in your mouth. These are the perfect cookies for having with hot cocoa or a giant glass of milk.

Coconut Shortbread Snowball Cookies
(Makes about 45 cookies)

3 cups all purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vegetable shortening
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
3 teaspoons coconut extract

Into a bowl, sift the flour and salt to blend well and remove any lumps. In a separate bowl, cream the butter until smooth. Sift the powdered sugar into the butter and add the vegetable shortening. Beat the mixture until smooth. Beat in the coconut extract. Gently stir in the sifted flour and salt. Wrap with plastic wrap and chill for 15 to 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Place the oven rack in the middle of the oven. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Gently pack the dough into a rounded 1 tablespoon size measuring spoon to form a ½ ball shape. Gently remove the dough by pressing evenly with the side of your finger at one end of the ball to push the dough out and place on the baking sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until very lightly golden brown. Let cool on the baking sheet before decorating.

To Decorate

1 cup fancy flake (lightly sugared) coconut flakes
1 1/3 cups powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
1 tablespoon milk
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
4 ounces milk chocolate, chopped

In a clean, ungreased skillet, lightly toast the coconut flakes, stirring often until lightly golden. Set aside to cool. In a bowl, stir together 1 cup of powdered sugar and milk to create a simple frosting. (Reserve the 1/3 cup powdered sugar for dusting.) Lightly sift some of the reserved powdered sugar over a new parchment lined baking sheet or tray. Take each cooled cookie and dip the bottom into the frosting coating the sides about 1/3 of the way up. Next, dip the bottom of the cookie into the toasted coconut and set on the baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the cookies. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate until silky smooth, keep on low heat. With a small spoon, take a bit of melted chocolate and top each cookie with a small amount. Do not cover the whole cookie. Repeat with the other cookies. Finally, lightly sift the rest of the powdered sugar over the top of all the cookies.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Wow! I hit the big time, Mom!

For the first time ever (that I know of) one of my pair of earrings made it to Etsy's front page! So cool, and I missed it. Darn it! Thanks to my pal and fellow Jewelry on Etsy Team member, BeadifulDesigns who sent me a screen shot, I got to see the front page layout. Thanks BeadifulDesigns!

My Green,Red and White Paisley Fabric Earrings!

Some other JET members were on the front page with me as well. Check out shops by dreamspiralart, lavalleygirly, and pinkicejewels.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Holiday Gift Guide-Men's Edition

Are you already freaking out about holiday shopping. I usually leave mine until the week before Christmas. But as this season seems to be flying by and I'm so much busier this year, I thought I would get a jump on my "freaking out" and my shopping.

Since I am a member of the Etsy community, I decided that I would start my holiday shopping on Etsy. Etsy is full of incredible handmade items by some really mind-blowing artists. I went looking for something very cool for someone on my list. Just scrolling through the newly listed items was dizzying. An abundance of jewelry (including Little Brown Bird) rolled past along with handsewn quilts, ornaments, hair ribbons and bows, prints...etc...ok, I could go on forever. But what I was looking for was something for a guy, something really cool, something different. A few search clicks later and bingo! I came up with some very talented artists and some really great gift ideas for the not so traditional guy. I have my favorites but I couldn't live with myself if I didn't share them with you!

Here they are (in no particular order because I love them all!):

Men's Gift Holiday Guide 2007

Silver Metallic Guitar Pendant from Art Made By Tammy

Gunmetal, Hematite, & Wood Necklace by Designs by Cher

Koi Wave Shirt by Poison Apple Shirts

Flaming Heart Italian Wool Scarf by Cipolla

Bombs Away Silkscreened Necktie by Toybreaker

Flow Belt Buckle by FOSTERWELD

3D Mini Skull Shot Glass in Sterling Silver No. 1 by Dmented

Big Jeep Sculpture by Art Exchange

There are many more incredible artists that you can find on Etsy. And it should be noted that Art Exchange also has a table-top version of the Big Jeep that will fit much more easily under the tree this Christmas. You can find out more about these artists and see some more of their products at Art Made By Tammy, Cipolla, FOSTERWELD, Poison Apple Shirts. Make sure to check out their profiles and shop announcements for important shipping information for the holidays!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Desktop Decor

'Tis the season and time to decorate for the holidays so why not decorate your computer?
Check out these great new holiday wallpapers from MSN for your computer. It's free to download and they are sure to get you in the holiday spirit!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cute as a Button!

Recently, while checking in on some of my favorite blogs I came across some cute little fabric thumbtacks from fellow blogger Handmade Joy . There was a link to a tutorial from a blog called How About Orange on how to make these little fabric button thumbtacks.

Feeling inspired by their results, I thought I might try my hand at it. My first couple of attempts were nothing to scream about-except for the frustration of getting the fabric tucked in just so. But after a short while of adjusting the fabric and jamming the plunger down, I think I finally got the technique right. The thumbtacks were cute and functional but, of course, I was looking to do something a little different. I decided, instead of thumbtacks, I would make a pair of earrings.

I used a slightly larger button and switched out the tack with an earring post. I love how they turned out! So cute and sooo very girly! These are so easy to do, and depending on the fabric you use, the finished look could go with almost any style.

I love these with a soft vintage look.

How Great!

Little Brown Bird has been featured on Handmade Joy under their holiday gift guide! I'm blushing. Take a look!


Monday, November 26, 2007

Cyber Monday!

It's hard to believe we're only a month away from Christmas. This year has flown by. And here we are again, Cyber Monday, the so called busiest shopping day on the net for the whole year. I haven't yet started my holiday shopping but I have noticed those around me surfing on line in a panic to get just the right gift. And with the recent rash of toy recalls due to lead paint, small breakable parts, and drug reactions (!!!!), buying gifts this holiday season is really difficult and a little scary. I am happy to see that a certain dangerous toy product, although it had still been in this past week's sale flyer, has now been taken off Target's internet shopping site.

So what kinds of gifts do we buy if we want to ensure we are getting safe toys for the kids in our lives? Clothes (not the most fun for kids to open on Christmas morning) are always an option. Others may be video games, gift cards, or an experience. What? What's an experience gift? It's a party, a day of learning rock climbing, a baking class, a make-over, a driving class. An experience gift is just that, a chance to enjoy doing something you've never tried before, something that will last a lifetime. Here's a list of some great gift alternatives to toys this Christmas. Some of these experiences may not be available in your area, but they are great ideas that you can do on your own too! Or maybe there's something not on the list that you think someone might enjoy, get creative this season!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

What's New??

Sorry it's been so long since my last post! The summer has been busy and it's flying by!

Jewelry Update:
The jewelry has been doing well. And I've been working on some new things for the fall, alot of new original silver pieces will be coming soon, I promise! Keep checking my Etsy shop at for new items.

Travel Update:
My next trip is coming up very soon. I'll be headed back to Mexico in a few weeks and I'm really excited. This time it's Mexico City, Taxco, and surrounding areas. I'm really looking forward to this one!

Now that the next trip is almost here, it's time to plan the next one! It could be South Africa, Thailand, Ireland...

So much world, so little time!

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Cheerio In My Spoon...

Aren't best friends the greatest?! They are there to lean on when you need them, laugh with you (or at you), be goofy with, worry about you, and brighten your day when you're down. My day was already pretty bright today, not for any particular reason, just a happy day. Then my best friend, who usually sees the world a little differently than me (and most others, I mean who are we kidding Pokeedot?) made it even brighter and had me rolling with laughter.

A little back story:
She just reminded me of one winter when, on the coldest day of the year in northern Illinois, I got a flat tire. I have been plagued with flat tires on this car since I got it and wouldn't you know, the temperature drops below -10 and here we go again. I told her how I had managed to pull into a gas station and a woman came over to help. The two of us tried to no avail to remove the lug nuts until we were both frozen through to the bone. She called her husband whom she had to wake up because he worked the late shift. Her husband came to the gas station, with their son and all their tools and worked for a good half hour frozen to the bone to change my tire. Then the whole family sent me off with a cherry wave and a "hope your day gets better from here on out!" I was eternally greatful yet, I was still furious that I had to fix yet another flat tire.

When I made it to my destination I relayed the story on the phone to my best friend. As I fumed about the flat she exclaimed, "How wonderful! I think I'm going to cry!" To which I replied in a curt, "WHAT??!!" She said it was so wonderful that these people went so out of their way to help someone in need on such a brutally cold day! Their thoughtfulness touched her and actually brought a tear to her eye. That's when I was reminded how much differently we all see the the world sometimes. The event that I thought was a horrible thing was beautiful in her eyes.

So, here's props to a wonderful friend who keeps it all in perspective for me and reminds me (happily)what an idiot I can be sometimes.

Monday, May 7, 2007

JET Street Team on

I have joined a new street team on Etsy. com called JET (Jewelry on Etsy Team) .
All you have to do is type in JETT (the extra T is for Terrific!) under tags in the search function and you will come up with tons of great jewelry designers like myself. What a great way to shop! See you there!

Also I have decided on a new and more permenant avatar on Etsy. It's a bird's nest pendant made of fine silver and gold and a a freshwater pearl "egg". I made this pendant almost a year ago and almost forgot that I had it. I think this picture is a much more fitting avatar image. Look for it on Etsy in the forums or in the chat rooms, to which I am addicted!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Going Postal

I've been working hard on my marketing materials in order to get my name out there a little more. So I've made up new business cards and put together a little post card to help in that respect. What do you think of the post card?

I've also been working on a new banner for my shop on since I never did like the old one.

And I've temporarily gone back to my little brown bird avatar until I can figure out a better one. It's ok though, he's really growing on me.

There are new listings on my site today, even though Etsy is still running a little slow. But shopping will not be stopped!

"I am woman, get out of my when shiny things are on sale!"

Sunday, April 22, 2007 Temporarily Down

Hey everyone! Good morning.
I just wanted to let you know that if you have been trying to reach my e-shop, Little Brown Bird on the site is down temporarily for maintenance. It should be up and running again hopefully by Noon today (she crosses fingers...). Etsy administration is working hard to get more servers due to the massive inflo of new sellers and buyers on the site. All of their hard work is much appreciated as it should make the site run much faster. Please be patient and please try again later.

Here are a few things soon to be listed in my shop...

Monday, April 16, 2007

So much to do...

My Etsy shop is getting a little more full. I still have a ton to list so please be patient. I have been editing descriptions and pictures of my jewelry, promoting the hell out of the site, trying to find time for a new "someone", figuring out the whole shipping issue for sales from, pay pal issues, etc... Phew!

I just found out about another place on line to promote my Etsy shop . It's Jewelry Galore .

Please visit and don't forget to vote for me and up my ranking! You can vote by clicking on the link in the top right corner of this page.

Look for my banner on the list:

I also have a new avatar on Etsy. I thought it would represent the fact that I sell jewelry a little better than my sweet little brown bird picture. What do you think?

Oops, someone's at the door. See ya later...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

YEA!!!!!!!!!!!!! Little Brown Bird!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Finally! My new Etsy shop is up and running! I posted my first few items on yesterday. You can find my shop at .

I have lots and lots of very pretty pieces to add to my shop over the next couple of weeks so be patient but keep coming back to see what's new. And of course, feel free to purchase anything you wish. I am offering FREE SHIPPING FOR A LIMITED TIME on most items right now.

And don't forget to add me to your favorites! Sign in and click on "Add seller to favorites" in the column at the right. I need all the hearts I can get!

Etsy is a great e-market so check it out. It's unbelievable how talented poeple are! And you won't believe what you'll find there!



Sunday, April 1, 2007

Good Morning

Just thought I would share the sunrise with you. This was my view outside my window at 6:00am this morning.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Funky Buddha and the Brown Bird

Some people have asked me why I call my blog, as well as my internet shop "The Little Brown Bird". It comes from a book about Buddhism and how we can use the basic principal of living in the moment. I have been looking for the actual quote that I read but I can't find it right now.

It basically says that it is the tiny details that we often miss because we are so hurried and have our minds on our troubles, our dreams, future plans, and things in our past. When we do focus on the moment, the "here and now", it is usually only when something extraordinary happens.

The quote talks about a boy who saw an eagle fly above him with its wings outstretched against the blue sky. The boy then spends the rest of the day talking about how beautiful the eagle was when it flew overhead. His teacher points out that while he was so focused on the eagle in the "past", he has missed all the little brown birds that are flying all around him in the "now".

It's so easy to miss the little brown birds when you are not focused on the present moment. I was reminded of this story when I was at Machu Picchu. We had just had an amazing time exploring the ruins all day and were in a rush to meet up with the rest of our group for the journey back to Cusco, Peru. Just then, out of the corner of my eye I noticed a little brown bird sitting quietly on the edge of one of the rock walls. Even though we were rushed to meet back with our group, I couldn't help but stop and watch his every movement. He reminded me to take one last look around me and realize where I was and how special it was for me to see this magical place. Then I snapped his picture and said goodbye. That picture is the one you see here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Peruvian Treasures

Those that know me know that I have a love for travel. My idea of a "vacation" is to get completely immersed in the experience and the culture of the area that I'm visiting. (I can lie on a beach when I'm dead, although the other beach dwellers would probably not like it very much!)

Recently, I was able to fulfill a life long dream. I traveled to Peru to see Machu Picchu. My best friend and I did a 4-day trek on the Inca Trail to the breathtaking ancient Inca ruins. I will never forget the second that I saw Machu Picchu with my own eyes, emerging from the early morning mist.

It was truly an emotional moment for me, especially having just walked for 4 days to get there. But I wouldn't have had it any other way. You couldn't possibly connect with the earth and other "forces" by taking the train.

A train ride would have missed all the mind-blowing scenery, the encounter with 1000 butterflies, the heart-shaped stone, waking up in the middle of the night to see that the clouds that had settled into the valley below our camp site were aglow with the bright blue light of the moon...
It was an experience of a lifetime and one of the hardest things that I've ever far. Having Peru on the brain for the past year, I really wanted to create a few pieces using Peruvian opal, a beautiful milky blue stone that welcomes back memories of those clouds in the moonlight. Enjoy!

Above is "Aurora" (#1136). This necklace features a large Peruvian opal pendant surrounded by a bouquet of amber Czech glass bead dangles.

This still unnamed bracelet is made with sky blue multi-faceted Czech glass, sterling silver, and silver plated accents surrounding another gorgeous Peruvian opal.

All of these jewelry pieces are available at Little Brown Bird on Etsy.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Good Things

I'm getting closer to having a proper web store for The Little Brown Bird. I know things have been kind of slow in coming but believe me, I've been working hard to get something going for a while now and all I can say is SOON, very soon! Good things come to those who wait and since I've kept you waiting for so long, trust me when I say there are some very good things on the way. Here are some more goodies to wet your appetite...

I love the weight and feel of this necklace (above). "Jayden" (#1138) is made of silky smooth green jasper, sterling silver, and tiger iron.

This is "Zella" (above), a funky bracelet made with art glass, sterling silver, and silver plated accents. The beautiful focal bead has every color under the sun!

Above is one of my favorites! "Coco" (#1024) is sterling silver and black cut crystal. A classic beauty.

Below is (2035). This bracelet is made with black sardonyx, hematite, sterling silver, and silver plated accents. The earrings (2036) are made to match but can go with anything.

All of these jewelry pieces are available at Little Brown Bird on Etsy.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

New Jewelry for Spring!

Everyone's been asking, "Hey Mary, do you have anything new?" Well, I can finally answer that question with a whole new line of bracelets and earrings. I'll have new necklaces coming soon as well so have patience while I figure out this blog thing.

Above is (#1120), a fun and colorful bracelet made with yellow, red, and green art glass, turquoise, sterling silver, and silver plated accents. Also shown are the matching earrings (#1121).

Below is (#2034). This bracelet is made with green and blue art glass, blue dyed shell, sterling silver and silver plated accents.

All of these jewelry pieces are available at Little Brown Bird on Etsy.

Monday, March 19, 2007

It's about time!

Welcome to my blog and my first post. I hope to have lots of cool stuff to share with you all as this blog gets going. I'll be showing some of my handmade jewelry as well as other nifty little things from time to time. Check back often to see what's new in the collection!