Christmas In July

Right now, my AC is working full blast. I have a cold soda next to me. And everything I can possibly do to beat the heat, I am doing. The cat, with all his fur, looks like he might melt into the couch and I am thinking longingly of going to beach.  Summer is definitely here, and that means that I’ve got Christmas on my mind.

I know it is ridiculously early in the year for most people to even think about the holiday season but for people like me, who make and sell handmade goods, Christmas preparations are already in motion. My friends and family all roll their eyes whenever I mention this and complain about department stores that have their Christmas trees up before the first autumn leaf falls. “What’s the rush?” they ask? “Why can’t we just enjoy the moment we are in now without skipping ahead to the holidays?” There’s no denying that they have a point but what they don’t realize is that handmade gifts take more time than mass-produced items. As any elf in Santa’s workshop can tell you, this extra time and effort is part of what makes handmade gifts so special but it also means that you have to start early just to be ready in time.

For the most part, my efforts are all behind the scenes and will stay that way for a couple of months. I know that, unless you are like me and like to stockpile gifts all year round, you are more interested in stopping the ice cream man or putting on more sunscreen than in decking the halls and putting out cookies for Santa. But I am already working on preliminary designs for holiday themed items, brainstorming the various ways I am going to “decorate” my shop for the holidays, planning sales, promotions, and special events and gathering the materials I am going to need to get your gifts done and on Santa’s sleigh as quickly as possible once the holiday rush hits.

If I listen, I can just hear a hint of sleigh bells over the sound of my air conditioner and that’s just fine by me!

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Weekend Reading and Summer Clearance

The weekend’s here, which means more time for reading! (Yay!) This past week, I have been working my way through Orlando by Virginia Woolf with occasional breaks to read

Looking back, I might want to pick something a little lighter for my next read but it has been an interesting break from my usual reading and has given me some ideas for some new literary jewelry designs. If the fates are kind and my camera cooperates, I should have a sneak peek or two over the weekend but we will see what happens.

Anne of Green Gables Sunbursts and Marble HallsSpeaking of new designs, I will be doing a refresh of my shop with new items, new packaging, new photos, and more.  In order to make room for new inventory, I am discontinuing some designs. I will also be tweaking a couple of other pieces to make them even better. And so I am having a SUMMER CLEARANCE SALE to move the last remaining stock of these older designs. Pieces like my Anne of Green Gables Pearl Drop Necklace, this Secret Garden Pendant, and the Tea with Miss Havisham charm necklace have been discounted by UP TO 40%!

Supplies are limited so get them while you can! Click here to shop the sale

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Anniversary Giveaway

Ciarrai-Studios-Anniversary-Giveaway

It’s so hard to believe but my Etsy shop, Ciarrai Studios Literary Jewelry, is turning two years old in less than two weeks! It’s been another great year for Ciarrai Studios and I wanted to mark the occasion by giving back to the people who make my little shop possible and make all the hard work I put into it completely worth it.

So I am hosting a giveaway for all my customers and Ciarrai Studios friends to say thank you for all the support, encouragement, and great book and poetry chats! The prize is  $50 gift card to my shop so you can buy a lovely piece of handmade jewelry inspired by your favorite book or poem,  like one of my literary rings:

Rings for Spring WordPress Collage

Or perhaps this pretty poetry pendant:

e. e. cummings poetry pendant - i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)

Or one of my Novel Tea Necklaces.

Have tea with Mr. Tumnus and Lucy Pevensie, Peter Pan, or Alice and the Mad Hatter with Ciarrai Studios Personalized Charm Necklaces

To enter, visit: http://tinyurl.com/mjye4sz    Good Luck!

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Remembering Jane Austen

This past Friday was the anniversary of Jane Austen’s death. I was a bit distracted by celebrating an anniversary of my own – my 15th wedding anniversary – but I didn’t want the occasion to go completely unremarked.

What can I say about Jane that hasn’t been said before? There’s not much. Her enduring popularity has made it so that almost every detail of her life and every nuance of her writing has been examined and commented upon, again and again. But, when it comes down to it, I think the most enduring testimony to Jane’s work is how loved it still is and how it continues to inspire and draw people to it.

Marrying Mr. Darcy

Marrying Mr. Darcy Card Game – Available here: http://www.marryingmrdarcy.com/

As we speak, there is a huge Jane Austen festival going on in Louisville, KY. People in regency dress are celebrating Jane and her creations and this is just one event among many across the world. There are countless film and t.v. adaptations, huge monuments made of  Mr. Darcyintellectual debates crowning Jane as the “Queen of English Literature” and  highly entertaining card games inspired by her books.

Jane’s work is so beloved that modern day authors attempt to continue her stories or set their own works within the context of hers ( to varying degrees of success but still) and artists and companies, big and small, produce products made to appeal to her legions of fans.

Personally, I am partial to the Jane Austen jewelry that I make and sell in my Etsy shop, Ciarrai Studios.

Ciarrai Studios Jane Austen Jewelry Collage

And I cannot sufficiently tell you how ardently I admire and love my  Pride and Prejudice Book Purse from Novel Creations.

Jane Austen Purse by Novel Creations

But the truth universally acknowledged is that there are almost countless gorgeous Jane Austen inspired items to be found on Etsy alone, as you can see from the treasuries below.

I guess what I am saying – even if it has taken me quite a while to get here – is that it takes a singular person to inspire this much love and devotion and in recognition of this, I would like to raise my teacup in honor of Jane. Although we mark the anniversary of your death, Jane, you will forever live on in our hearts and on our bookshelves.

Jane Austen’ by CiarraiStudios -  A little something for Jane Austen fans of all ages.


Jane Austen Pillow of Hersel…

$17

Jane Austen book covers KNIT…

$40

Austen Novel Full Skirt

$45.99

Jane Austen – Pride and Prej…

$8

Jane Austen Banner Garland S…

$16.25

Jane Austen P&P teapot

$40

Jane Austen tea gift set

$16

Jane Austen Silhouette Cooki…

$7

Lizzie & Mr. Darcy – Embroid…

$6

You must allow me to tell yo…

$8.5

Jane Austen Persuasion Cuff …

$38

Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Benn…

$80

Jane Austen Pride & Prejudic…

$29.99

IN STOCK Pride and Prejudice…

$19

SALE – Jane Austen Costume P…

$5

Jane AUSTEN Doctor Who TARDI…

$17.95

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“I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.” ― Jane Austen’

“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” —- Mr. Darcy


Jane Austen Frock

$225

Rustic Cottage Pink & Green …

$19.5

Jane Austen Quote Tenderness…

$12

Pair of Vintage Regency Bone…

$20

Before I Knew I Had Begun: …

$12

Feather Quill Pen: Peacock &…

$15

Vintage Art Nouveau Style Si…

$20

CUSTOM Regency 1800 Jane Aus…

$65

Traditional Mahogany Writing…

$900

Jane Austen quote necklace, …

$14

3D Lace Trim Pink Rose Grena…

$4.9

Jane Austen Quotes Bookmarks…

$6

Jane Austen, Sense and Sensi…

$45

Pride and Prejudice Mr. Darc…

$10

Jane Austen Christmas Card, …

$4.5

Bundle of Vintage Pride and …

$2

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Book Review – Longbourn by Jo Baker

LongbournLongbourn by Jo Baker

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

To be honest, I rarely read any Jane Austen books that aren’t written by Jane Austen. I just find it so hard not to be disappointed when a modern author tries to adopt Jane’s characters and doesn’t get it right and to be fair, the original books are so amazing that it is hard to match them. Still, I had heard so many great things about Jo Baker’s Longbourn that I thought I would give it a chance. The premise of the story is that it is from the point of view of the background characters from Pride and Prejudice, the servants who tend to Elizabeth Bennet and the rest of the Bennet family at their home, Longbourn. I thought that if the Bennets were not the focus of the story, Longbourn had a chance to avoid most of the pitfalls that Jane Austen lit books typically fall into. I wish I could say that it lived up to the hype and that it convinced me that it is possible for others to play in Jane Austen’s world and do it well but even if you didn’t hold it to the standards of a Jane Austen novel, Longbourn has some serious flaws.

From the point of view of a Jane Austen fan, which I have to assume was the target audience for this book, there is a strange hostility towards the Bennet family – both in terms of how the other characters view them and in the way they were portrayed by the author – that was a bit uncomfortable to read. In this, Longbourn reminded me of March by Geraldine Brooks, an odious re-telling of Little Women from Mr. March’s point of view, that came across to me, a devoted Little Women fan, as not so much a retelling but a deliberate and bitter smear campaign against beloved literary characters by an author with an agenda. Longbourn wasn’t quite as bad but it did seem that the more popular a character is to Jane Austen’s readers and the more sympathetically that Jane Austen portrayed them, the more the author seemed to dislike them and depict them in the most unflattering manner possible. Elizabeth and Mr. Bennet take the brunt of this, while characters like Mrs. Bennet, Mr. Collins, Mary, and Lydia are treated much more positively and sympathetically. (Lady Catherine de Bourgh, however, is thoroughly insufferable, no matter which version of the story you read).

About halfway through, I decided to read the rest of the book as if the Bennet family weren’t Jane Austen’s Bennets. I thought that if I divorced the story from Pride and Prejudice, it might be more readable but the truth was that the writing was uneven and poorly thought out even when I wasn’t comparing it to Jane Austen’s. I am not saying that there weren’t good moments. The part of the book where Mr. Collins visits and the servants, concerned that he be impressed with them so he would keep them on when he became the master of Longbourn, was interesting. But these good parts were few and far between and get drowned out by the more implausible or ill-conceived plot points.

And the main character was so unlikable that it was hard to wade through her muttering and complaining to get to the better parts of the book. I understand that there was a divide in privilege and advantages between the servants and the family but Sarah’s sullenness and resentment got to be a bit much at times and her attitudes towards the other characters seemed to veer in dramatic mood swings that almost seemed to come and go without rhyme or reason.

I am not sure what other readers who have reviewed this book so glowingly are seeing that I am missing but it is a truth most fervently (if not universally) acknowledged that you really should leave Jane Austen and her creations alone if you cannot do them justice and Longbourn sadly did not.

View all my reviews

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Poets at Work

So I had a blast yesterday participating in Take Your Poet to Work Day and I hope you did too. Not only did I get to hang with Sylvia Plath, Langston Hughes, and T. S. Eliot at the office but I also really enjoyed seeing how everyone else was celebrating the day.

We had some GREAT photos shared over here on the Ciarrai Studios Facebook page and I am hoping that we may get a couple more before the giveaway ends on Friday night. But I think my favorite #PoettoWork posts were:

This lovely blog post about one poetry lover and her daughters explored the poetry of Langston Hughes and Emily Dickinson.

This discussion of all the fascinating possibilities and potential inherent in Take Your Poet for After Work Drinks.

And I was particularly tickled by this tweet (perhaps because I have such bad luck with plants myself so I can understand Yeats’ concern about the state of his office greenery).

 

As for me and my poets, here’s an idea of how we spent our day. Sylvia Plath helped covered the phones while Langston Hughes went with me to the bank. He wanted to take a ride in the little tube thingies at the drive up window but I didn’t think that was a good idea.  And T. S. Eliot? He spent the entire day in the break room, measuring out his life with coffee spoons. Poets at Work

 

All in all, it was a great day and I want to thank Tweetspeak for putting it together!

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Happy Take Your Poet to Work Day!!

It’s Take Your Poet to Work Day and my poets and I are almost ready to head out to the office!  I’ve spent the morning trying to make some sort of “Quoth the Raven” / sales quote pun but I don’t think I am going to get there.

Find out more about Take Your Poet to Work Day and get your own little paper poet here at Tweetspeak.com And don’t forget to stop by the Ciarrai Studios Facebook Page to share your #Poettowork pictures and enter my giveaway!

Take Your Poet to Work Day Giveaway

I can’t wait to see all the great #poettowork Twitter posts and to see what everyone’s poets have gotten into today. Now if you will excuse me, my poets don’t want to be late for work so I have to get going! But before I go, here’s a Take Your Poet to Work Day treasury of wonderful handmade Etsy items inspired by some of the Take Your Poet to Work Poets. Enjoy!

‘Take Your Poet to Work Day’ by CiarraiStudios


Printable Edgar Allan Poe – …

$4.25

John Keats Doll Miniature Po…

$47

Langston Hughes Postage Stam…

$12.99

Sylvia Plath ART PRINT Mad G…

$14

Complete Tales of Edgar Alla…

$58

pablo neruda tank top sz sm …

$17

Emily Dickinson brooch – por…

$28

Nevermore Raven Scarf – Edga…

$26

Book Scarf,Rumi Quote scarf,…

$30

T.S. Eliot “Do I dare d…

$5

Original watercolour landsca…

$160

Notorious Rumi Magnet, Desig…

$4.8

ON SALE Midnight Dreary Herb…

$10.76

Sylvia Plath patch – feminis…

$2.99

Emily Dickinson Print Poet w…

$6.99

SALE Altered Edgard Allan P…

$30

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Take Your Poet to Work Day Giveaway!

It’s that time of year again! Take Your Poet to Work Day is coming up on Wednesday, July 16th  and your favorite poets are hopping off your bookshelf and invading your office!

Last year, I was working from home on Take your Poet to Work Day, so I spent the day with Emily Dickinson. It seemed only appropriate since Emily spent most of her time at home and so did I! We made some jewelry and when it was time for a break, we had tea and spent some time on Twitter and Facebook, checking out everyone’s great #Poettowork tweets and photos!

Emily Dickinson  on Take Your  Poet to Work

It was so much fun reading about people’s Take Your Poet to Work antics that I decided to do my part in promoting Take Your Poet to Work Day by:

1. Extending my Summer Sale so you can save 25% on handmade poetry jewelry to wear on Take Your Poet to Work Day. The sale now ends on Wed., July 16th so don’t miss out! Visit my shop at www.ciarraistudios.etsy.com and use the coupon code JULY14 to receive your discount.

#2. And by hosting a giveaway!

Take Your Poet to Work Day Giveaway

 

Here’s how you win:

#1. Go to www.tweetspeakpoetry.com/2014/05/28/take-poet-work-day-coming-july-16/ and pick which poet you want to take to work with you.  Get your poet ready for their first day of work by printing out, coloring, and attaching them to a Popsicle stick.

#2. On Wednesday, July 16th, bring your poet to work and snap a picture (or two) of their adventures there.

#3. Share your photos on Twitter and Facebook with the tag #poettowork to connect with fellow poetry lovers who are participating in Take Your Poet to Work Day

#4. Like Ciarrai Studios on Facebook and share your #Poettowork photos on the giveaway post to enter.

#5. On Friday, I will pick my favorite #Poettowork photo and send them a $25 digital gift card to my Etsy shop, Ciarrai Studios Literary Jewelry. (No physical item will be sent).

The winner will be notified via Facebook and will need to send me a valid email address in order to receive their prize.
You can use this gift card to buy some of my handmade literary jewelry inspired by your favorite poems and poetry, including:

Poetry Jewelry

Top (Left to Right) W. B. Yeats Poetry Necklace, Emily Dickinson Love Poem Heart Necklace, Tea with Prufrock Necklace, Bottom: Shakespeare Sonnet Ring, i carry your heart e. e. cummings poetry pendant, John Keats Love Letter Necklace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good luck to all and I can’t wait to see all the great Take Your Poet to Work Day fun!

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Pride and Prejudice Earrings for Bookish Brides and Literary Weddings

My Pride and Prejudice earrings were featured in Buzzline’s 31 Beautiful Ideas for Book Inspired Weddings!

Pride and Prejudice Literary Pearl Drop Earrings

Pride and Prejudice Literary Pearl Drop Earrings

Coming in at #24 on the list, my Pride and Prejudice earrings are a beautiful piece of  literary jewelry for bookish brides who want to include a piece of their favorite Jane Austen books in their special day. They can be customized with a Swarovski pearl drop in the color of your choice- all the better to coordinate with your bouquet flowers or to match the colors of your bridesmaid dresses.

For more literary wedding jewelry, visit my Etsy shop, Ciarrai Studios, at www.etsy.com/shop/CiarraiStudios

And check out my Literary Weddings Pinterest Board for more ideas and inspiration on how to plan the perfect Book Lover’s Wedding!

 

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Treasury Tuesday – Fireflies and Fairies

‘Summer Fairies and Fireflies’ by NovelCreations

Summer is my favorite time of year right a dusk….perfect for seeing faires and fireflies !


Tea with Peter Pan Necklace …

$45

Upturned silver leaf ring

$36

Tiny Sleeping Woodland Mushr…

$58

FAIRY HOUSE- handmade and si…

$55.5

Fairy Garden Summer Camp (T…

$32.95

Tooth Fairy Wand, Princess W…

$6.99

silver fairy dust necklace

$14

Sparkling Earrings, Lime & A…

$23

Imagine an Adventure with a …

$24

Summer Fairy on Mushroom iPh…

$15.95

Coral Glow Locket Apple Summ…

$25

Titania’s fairy crown ti…

$119.95

Persephone Fairy Wood Nymph …

$27

Dinner By Fairy Light, Péri…

$11.5

GARDENER’S SCRUB SOAP Ha…

$6.5

Princess Fairy Wall Sticker …

$6.99

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