Saturday, December 26, 2009

Winter Wonderpup!

My poor puppy! Welcome to winter in Illinois, Maizy!
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Friday, December 25, 2009


It's Christmas! Hope your holiday is filled with joy and candy canes. And if your family is anything like mine on Christmas, those candy canes had better be garnishing a bottomless peppermint martooni!

Maizy's first Christmas

Maizy and I, and her new little stuffed reindeer, wish a very merry Christmas to you and yours. Try not to kill each other.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Things I Love: Vintage Elegance

I have started to list some vintage items in my shop. Things that I have special memories from my childhood, many items dating from the 1940's, 50's, 60's, and 70's that I'm sure will find new life in a new home.

This item, already sold, is a gorgeous Seth Thomas chime clock.
I have just listed a set of two beautiful vintage crystal hurricane lamps. They date back to the 1940's and have been in my family since that time. They put out a soft light that adds the most interesting ambience to the room with their etched shades and prism crystals dangling below.

I sure hope they find a loving home!
I have many vintage items that will start appearing in my shop, Little Brown Bird, including jewelry, housewares, home decor, and fashion items. Keep checking back or subscribe to my shop feed to get updates as they occur. (Shop feed button is in the right column of my shop home page)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Things I Love: Wearable By Design

Have a look at Wearable By Design, stunning silver handmade jewelry by Jennifer Smith-Righter of Redwood City, California. Jenn's designs have long been a favorite of mine. She has the most beautiful organic creations juxtaposed with the beauty of mechanical objects. Some of her designs are mind-blowingly intricate.

Jenn was also kind enough to contribute to my holiday cookie recipe collection on my food blog, All Up in My Kitchen. Please check out her favorite cookie recipe for Cream Wafers.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Walk in the Park: "The Fen"

This morning, Maizy and I took a walk across the street to the nature preserve. Small by most standards, The Fen sprawls on for acres and is surprisingly vast when you start to trek through it. A place where natural mineral springs bubble up from under the earth at random points among the soft rolling hills and valleys. Where the sky is wide open and the prairie grass stands six feet tall.

And it's all in my back yard! A short walk past town homes, condo buildings and the water filtration plant lies this beautiful, peaceful, untouched native prairie. Yes, I said prairie. This is Illinois after all.
(please click on the pictures below for a closer look)

Maizy and I walked along a short paved path surrounded by trees, winding through the park up to the entrance to the nature preserve. Although we couldn't go down into the valley of the preserve because dogs are not allowed there ( I will leave that for another day by myself), we were able to walk the path around the perimeter, meeting several other dogs and their owners along the way. The view is magnificent!

It was perfect weather with nothing but big blue sky, a good breeze, and temps in high fifties. Normally, I would consider that a chilly morning, but the sun shining on our faces and the brisk walk was more than enough to warm us. Maizy, only a mere eight inches tall or so, had to stay close behind my feet at times so as not to get lost in the tall grass. But she had a blast furiously chasing down every fallen leaf that blew past.

This area is part of a network of nature preserves that Illinois has designated as natural, native prairie land. The program hopes to save these areas in their perfect and natural prairie state, just as it would have been hundreds of years ago. The soft, rolling hills sway with six foot high grass, cat tails, and bubbling streams.

I'm fortunate to live so close to this prize while still considering myself a city girl. I just hope the weather stays nice a bit longer so we can enjoy more hikes like today. And I just really wanted to share it with all of you!


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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Handcrafted Jewelry Show!

It's that time of year, when craft shows are in full force and people start gearing up for the holidays. The latest addition to my show schedule is the Handcrafted Jewelry Show.

This show should be a great one for jewelry addicts in the Chicago area. Twenty five jewelry artisans, including yours truly, will be displaying their finest for the holiday season. It is ALL handmade jewelry, so unfortunately I won't be able to display my other accessories such as scarves and handbags. But if you see anything in my shop, Little Brown Bird, please contact me at my shop on Etsy and I will bring it along to the show just for you! Or shop on line if you can't make it to the show. Delivery is free on most items and I do ship internationally!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Jewelry Giveaway!

I am giving away a pair of earrings on another blog site. Jewelry by Solange is hosting a fantastic giveaway with some great prizes from a variety of designers. You can see the details of the giveaway here and join in the fun!

A New Dog in Town!

My employer just got a new puppy. A black lab named Maggie. She's 10 weeks old, a typical puppy size, yet dwarfs my lil' Maizy who is all of 4 pounds now and around 18 weeks. In this picture, Maggie has just come to work and met all of us, then went right over and helped herself to Maizy's food bowl. Don't worry, Maizy gave her a good snarl and held her own. Look at Maggie's paws! They are bigger than Maizy's face!

My lil' fur nugget has doubled in size. She was about 6" long and two pounds when I got her. Now, at 4 pounds, she is 12" long from nose to tail. She's the perfect size right now and I keep joking that I'm going to feed her nothing but cigarettes and coffee to stunt her growth. She's now big enough to climb the stairs by herself, but still tiny enough to tuck under my arm while I go on a quick errand or two.

Maizy has lost most of her puppy coat and her adult coat is just now starting to fill in. It will take several months, I'm told, to fill in completely. She needs some hair so she can start looking like a proper pomeranian. People keep thinking she's a long haired Chihuahua! The nerve! She's just the cutest little fur nugget, with or without all her hair!

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fall Finds From Little Brown Bird

WTF happened to summer??!!! It's already officially fall and the leaves all over my yard are proof of that. I really don't mind the fall, it's one of the most beautiful seasons of the year. I just don't really care for the cold that starts to come with it.

To make myself feel better about the changing weather, I began to knit and crochet.

I made some scarves, perfect to fend off those cold mornings. A short, mini-scarf, tied at the neck and finished off with two large pom poms is my favorite.

And why should cold weather mean dull and drab? I made these scarves using bright colors that look great with a fall or winter coat. They are long and luscious, and fun with varied sizes of pom poms at the ends.
I will be adding more of these scarves and other knitted items into my shop as the season goes on. I will take special orders until November 1st, just contact me at my shop on Etsy.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Meet Maizy!

After losing my precious Zuzu unexpectedly last May, this house has been way too quite. The emptiness left without Zuzu was almost unbearable. Actually, I still have my moments. But those moments are fewer now that Maizy is here.

Maizy is a pure breed pomeranian. She was adopted at 11 weeks old, just a 2 pound lil' fur nugget, and cute as can be!

Unfortunately, Maizy was diagnosed, just 4 days after adopting her, with a deadly canine virus, Parvo. She began vomiting a lot, had a fever, a dazed depressed look on her face, and had terrible diarrhea. I rushed Maizy to a 24 hour animal care facility where she was diagnosed and spent 5 days with round the clock care. She received numerous plasma transfusions, IV liquids, and hand feedings through a syringe. The vet bill grew at an alarming rate to almost $2000! Many prayers were said and I received countless well wishes from friends, family and from across the internet.

It was determined that Maizy's illness had been contracted before she was adopted. Parvo is a very serious virus that can claim the life of a dog in less than 24 hours without treatment. It takes about 7 to 14 days after contracting the virus for symptoms to appear. As I researched it, I discovered that a non-vaccinated dog can pick up this virus as easily as a child getting a cold. The virus can live for months on grass, clothing, anywhere, and can be tracked into your own home on your shoes without you ever being near an infected dog. Since Maizy was just a puppy, her vaccinations had not yet been completed. She had unknowingly been exposed to the virus prior to coming to live with me and only showed symptoms a few short days later. Were it not for the prompt treatment that she received, especially at her young age and low weight, she would not have survived.

Maizy is now better, her body organs having been supported while she built up the necessary anti-bodies to fight the virus. She is fifteen weeks old now and weighs a plump 3 pounds! She's active and playing just like a normal puppy and hopefully she will not develop future health problems stemming from the stress on her organs.

I wish to thank everyone at Animal Emergency of McHenry County, Dr. Dan at Animal Medical Center of Algonquin, friends and family for their support, and all my internet friends for their prayers. And Maizy sends her sweet wet puppy kisses!

If your dog has not been vaccinated for Parvo or other just as dangerous canine illnesses, please do so today! There may not be time to second guess yourself. Remember that some vaccinations, such as your puppy's first vaccinations, are not completely effective until all rounds of vaccines are completed. Protect your puppy by not allowing them in areas that are frequented by other dogs until their vaccinations are complete. If your puppy is in training, ask the facility how often the room is sanitized with bleach, as this is the only thing that can kill some viruses like Parvo. (I spent 4 days bleaching my entire house, yard, car, clothes, dishes, EVERYTHING!!!)

Maizy has passed her follow-up exams with flying colors and is not contagious. She can sit and lay down on command but is having trouble staying and coming when called. We're working on that. She comes to work with me every day and is doing quite well now.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

New "Vintage" from Little Brown Bird on Etsy

Some of my favorite new pieces are vintage inspired. I made these recently, using brass filigree incorporated with images set in resin.

I love how these turned out! Either on a standard 18" chain, or extra long to dangle freely, these are frilly and feminine.

You can find these pieces soon in my shop on Etsy. Come visit Little Brown Bird.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fresh Designs from Little Brown Bird by Mary Ryan

Can you believe that summer is half over already? It goes way too fast. So much fun to be had outdoors, and I have been squeezing in a little creative time as well. I have been working hard this summer on lots of new designs that will soon be popping up in my shop.

If you haven't been by recently, you've already missed a few new things that have found new homes. Here's a taste of the most recent goodies.

Sage vintage inspired glass and gold earrings

Sage vintage inspired glass and gold necklace

Coffee and cream polka dot floral headband

Pink and coral brocade floral brooch/hair clip
with hand embroidered and beaded floral center

Vintage inspired one of a kind chenille zippered clutch

Rich plum sheer scarf with singed edging, includes two matching
frayed edge clips (one plum, one fawn)
to be worn however you choose

Fawn sheer scarf with singed edging, includes two matching
frayed edge clips (one plum, one fawn)
to be worn however you choose

Please stop by soon and see what else is new! Little Brown Bird on Etsy, still offering free shipping worldwide on most items. See individual listings for details.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me

Today is my birthday, I won't tell you how old I am. The fact that I won't say should tell you something. Suffice it to say, I've been pondering where my life is going. I think we all get to feel a little bit like there are things we wish we did, or knew, when we were younger. Maybe we could have gotten a better head start on life. Maybe our lives would be completely different (good or bad) if we just made one different critical decision. Anyway, this traffic sign in my home town always seemed odd to me. But today, on my birthday, I think it's pretty clear. Gotta do something about that.
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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Things I love: Food and Wine Pairings for Dummies!

I love this little widget that I just found! Check it out below. This little widget will take all the guess work out of matching the perfect wine to any food. Natalie MacLean's Food and Wine Matcher. It will have a permanent home in the side bar of my food blog, All Up in My Kitchen.

Natalie MacLean's Drinks Matcher

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A New Clutch Handbag! by Little Brown Bird

Black and Gold Striped Clutch Handbag
Originally uploaded by littlebrownbird

The newest addition to my handmade handbag collection is this black and gold striped clutch. It has a classic, yet contemporary look and a yummy soft top cuff with a convenient wrist loop. Inside is a large inner pocket sewn into the beautiful black satin jacquard lining. Snap closure. 15"w x 7"h (38.1cm x 17.78cm)

This bag will be listed soon on Etsy in my shop,

Thursday, June 4, 2009

When Good Shrubs Go Bad!

This is my landscaper...


I came home to find a man with a power hedge trimmer playing out horror movie's greatest hits on my landscaping.

What once was a happy lil' shrub, minding its own business,
soaking up the sun, looking all pretty along my front walk... now the BLACK HOLE you see exposing the ugly gas meter on the side of the house!
The branches are just hanging off the one they left.
They went completely POSTAL on every other shrub all along the front of the house. I'm afraid to look out back.

And I can't even stop them before they do it because they are hired by our association's management company.
Oh, ya, my monthly dues are paying for this attack!

And this was their idea of CLEANING UP AFTER THE CARNAGE!!!

Be sure and hug your foliage tonight before you go to bed, for you never know if it's the last time you'll see it!
Don't they know they are contributing to global warming?


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Sunday, May 24, 2009

I'm Blushing

Yay! Another satisfied customer! I have to say, when I create something that I think is pretty darn good (ahem...) I love to show it off to my friends, family, coworkers. I think they have all seen everything from my Etsy shop before it went on line. And I get feed back from them, if changes should be made, or if they like it the way it is, whatever. I can usually tell by the tone of voice if they really think it's great or if they are just "being nice". But still, what do I expect my mother or coworkers to say. (I can usually count on my sister to be brutally honest!) But I have to say, it is freakin' awesome when I hear great feedback from someone outside the circle of friends.

I just received this picture from wonderful buyer on Etsy who purchased my Twilight Headband. It looks so awesome on her that I asked if I could use her picture. I'm so happy she likes it! YAY!!!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend in Crystal Lake at Mayfair Furniture and Carpet

Please check out the Mayfair web site for all upcoming sales
and to find links to all of your favorite manufacturers.
Mayfair is the areas best resource for one-stop shopping for
all your home furnishing and flooring needs.
Mayfair Furniture and Carpet...Beautiful homes begin here!!!

Tutorial: Jewelry Display Board

The summer is here and it's festival season. It's time to pack up and take my show on the road. Setting up for an outdoor show presents a unique problem that I usually don't have to deal with when doing a home party... WIND! I needed a way to display my earrings, pendants, and hair accessories. Those are the things that I usually have a large quantity of and don't always need a formal display like a bust or mannequin.

I wanted something that could hold a lot of items, look nice enough to use for a home party, able to be pre-loaded for quick set up, secure enough for an outdoor fair without being blown to bits, and able to be reconfigured for anything I might want to display in whatever way I wished to display them.

I made two display boards, each using a 2' x 2' piece of plywood covered in a natural colored fleece remnant from the fabric store (stapled on the back). I put a couple of ring hooks on the back for easy hanging when needed, or I can put them on easels.

I also added "hinges" on the back by using heavy duty self-adhesive velcro strips. Laying the boards face down on the floor side by side, I took the soft half of the velcro strip, cut it in half and added each half to the back top third of each board, near the inside edge. The other half of the velcro strip (the spiky half) was left in one long strip and pressed firmly into place over the soft halves of the strip. I did the same on the bottom third of the boards. This created a hinge to hold the boards together so they would stand on their own, but made it easy enough to separate the boards for transport or to be displayed in a different manner.

I took elastic in the same natural color as the fabric on the boards and cut it to length. Since I had a 2' x 2' board and the strip needed to wrap all the way around, I cut it 44"-46". (Tip: you can make your boards any size, just cut your elastic shorter than the circumference of the board to make sure the fit is snug when stretched.) I then sewed the ends of the elastic together, creating a giant "rubber band". I slipped the bands over the board and positioned them where I wanted. Now I could load my earring cards and hang necklaces! The bands keep everything in place and can be added or removed depending on my needs.

It worked great for a home show where I had each board on a separate table set on easels. At the fair, the boards were velcro-"hinged" together. And at home, I have my boards hanging on the wall in my workroom making it easy to store my unsold pieces and new ones as I make them.


Mary Ryan is an Artist, Jewelry Designer, and Interior Design Consultant. Please visit her on line shops at , , and