Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Irish American


My father used to roll his eyes and say, “Everybody’s Irish on St. Patrick’s day.” For the most part, being a Mick wasn’t something people bragged about.  It immediately makes you think of potatoes, famine, sad songs, and beer.

dad My father William (Billy) McCormack was the oldest of three boys from Brooklyn and about as tough as they came. My grandmother was frequently told to 'wake up Billy' in the middle of the night when he was a young teenager so he could help his father, a police officer, who would have found himself in the middle of a bar-fight and needing some extra muscle. When he was 16 he enlisted in the Navy under a false name (that his World War I veteran father gave him) to join the fight in World War II. For two years he stood on the back of a destroyer looking for enemy submarines, dropping bombs into the water with his bare hands. He was court-marshaled at 18 when it was discovered he wasn't who he said he was on his enlistment papers. In light of his courage he was granted honorable discharge after fulfilling the rest of his contract with the government under his own name. Later, he settled on tending bar as a career. It was as close to being on stage as he would ever come.

Billy, a classic Irishman, answered most questions with a story or a joke. He'd lay out the joke slowly, as if pouring a drink desperate not to spill a drop. Taking a long drag on his cigarette, he'd review his audience to ensure they were all paying attention. As he let out the smoke from his lungs, he'd reveal the punch line and survey the laughter. He died when I was a young girl and the grief nearly destroyed me--I really loved being Billy's daughter.

mom My Mom had a French father but her mother was a direct descendant of Ireland.  I did some family tracing a few years ago. I was able to find my family roots as far as 1600’s for my grandfather, the Frenchman, but my grandmother’s roots stop very short. 

My mother's great-grandmother Katherine Cane was seven years old when she found herself alone on the banks of the Isle of Orleans outside Quebec. Her family, along with the majority of passengers, had been wiped out from typhoid fever on the ship escaping the famine and disease of Ireland in 1847. The stories are varied, but she may have had a sister who also survived. They were separated and adopted by different families. My grandmother said the two sisters once saw each other in town while shopping but were pulled away immediately and never saw each other again. We can only verify the existence of Katherine. The ship burned shortly after arriving to Quebec. All was lost, including the ship's manifest. The only thing left are the stories.

Even though he was not that great of a husband and made questionable parenting decisions, my mother has always spoken very fondly of my father.  I doubt my mother knows about the many Sunday afternoons I spent spinning on bar stools while my father drank, feeding me maraschino cherries for lunch, and quarters for the jukebox.  My mother tells me that the first thing she noticed about my father were his big blue eyes.  My middle son, Max, reminds my mother of him and she always says it with nothing but admiration.

I made a big pot of corned beef and cabbage over the weekend. While it cooked in the slow cooker there were a lot of turned noses and whines, “What is that smell?” I know none of them like it but I decided I didn’t care and made it anyway.  Once it was ready and gave myself a hearty portion.  I mashed the potatoes into my cabbage and put butter and salt. I put a big dollop of yellow mustard on my plate to dip the corned beef. I took a bite and closed my eyes. For a moment I was five-years-old in my mother's kitchen. My parents weren’t divorced and we were a family.  We were the McCormacks.
(This was previously published in the East Hampton Star, 2010)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Fall 2014 Classes

Since I’m asked often when and where I’m teaching next, I thought I’d make a list for you. I know, it really IS so thoughtful of me. If you want me at your local library ask your adult education coordinator. They LOVE it when people do that! (actually, I'm not sure about that--but it can't hurt). Or, email me and I'll hit them up, too.

If you can’t make the class and would like to try it on your own, I sell the patterns and kits on my ETSY shop. Patterns are sold for immediate download on ETSY and my CRAFTSY pattern shop.

Current Schedule


Oct 29, 7:00pm – 8:30pm @ Northport Library  ETSY

All about ETSY. Do you want to open an account, learn how to list, get payment, make millions of dollars? Okay, I can't help with the millions of dollars but I can show you the rest. ;)

Dec 1, 7:00pm – 8:00pm @ Longwood Library Snowflake Ornament

Want to make one of these cool snowflake ornaments? You can use them for more than just the tree--they look great in the window and make nice teacher gifts (if you LIKE the teacher). ;)

Monday, June 30, 2014

Make a Fast and Pretty Hair Tie

My daughter Annabelle doesn't like jewelry. Yes--I know. It's been difficult for me to handle BUT it turns out she will allow me to make her pretty hair ties. She also confided in me one day that it makes her happy when people are impressed they're hand-made. (I should qualify--she likes jewelry on everyone but her. She wears earrings but only under protest). ;)

Anyway, I came up with some hair ties that she likes and I enjoy making them for her. They're easy to make and if she loses them I'm ok with it because I'll just make more (and I honestly just don't stress about that kind of thing anyway).

If you know how to crochet, you can do this in a snap. If you don't know how to crochet there are some youtube videos to show you how and this uses the most simple of the crochet technique of single crochet and double crochet. 

Here's what you need:

Supplies
  • Plain pony tail tie
  • 1 mm Cording 
  • (You can use lots of things like elastic cording, cord, thick string, or yarn. Experiment with what you like to work with and what you can easily string beads on).
  • Crochet hook (Size depends on the size of the cord)
  • Beads for embellish
  • I use lots of different things.. acrylic is best as it's not as expensive and if it breaks you don't have broken glass everywhere. I'm very often trolling the clearance racks at craft stores).

Step by Step

1.  String all your decorative beads on your cord/yarn/thread.

String Your Beads FIRST
 
2.  Tie your cord around the pony tail holder and secure it with a knot.

3.  Attach your thread to the crochet hook. Go under the pony tail tie, pull the cord from the other side through the tie, wrap the cord around the crochet hook (to do a double crochet) and pull thread through your loops.

Crochet Around Plain Tie

4.  Continue around the pony tail tie until you have it covered. (You can pull the stitches over a little to fit more in. Depends on how much you want to cover up the hair tie in the base).

Double Crochet To Cover Plain Tie.

5.  Do a single crochet into the first row of crochet you did. Chain one.


6.  Pull a bead towards your hook. Chain one.

Row 2: Add Beads

7.  Single crochet in next hole on the first row of crochet you did. Chain one.


8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 til all the beads are gone.

9. Single crochet around the entire base.

10. Remove hook and secure your thread with a knot. I normally like to drop a dab of bead glue on the knots to make sure they're secure. Just make sure you don't USE the hair tie til you're sure that glue is dry. ;)
Just Add Hair



Wednesday, April 30, 2014

In the Lovely Month of May

Me and my mom.
It will be May in ONE day and yet here I sit with a fleece jacket on in my office--freezing. This is the year of the elusive Spring day. I need the sun to warm my face--I'm sure that I'll stop complaining once that happens. I also solemnly swear to NOT COMPLAIN ONE TIME about being hot this summer. I swear it, I swear it, I swear it!

There. I'm done now.

Mother's day is COMING!!!  For Mother's everywhere (hey--that's me too!) I am offering discounts on jewelry! 20% off anything in stock. I can make things for you too (custom) but it does depend on what it is (some stuff takes time to make and I want to make sure there's time to get it to mom--you don't need THAT kind of guilt trip when your gift doesn't arrive on time, right? You know the sigh I'm talking about, "Oh... sigh.. it's alright... I don't need a gift...sigh")

So the coupon code is MOTHER20. Shop it up!!  -->Belle Jewelry Designs

Saturday, April 19, 2014

I'm Hiding Easter Eggs Full of Calorie Free COUPONS

So I have four main places you can follow me; Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. I'm hiding coupons in each of these locations and they are all different values. So far, only one has been published. I will publish the other two later this morning. All coupons will be published by 10am EST.

Follow me for your special egg of savings in my ETSY shop. These won't rot your teeth, add calories to your diet, or melt in your hands. I'm not saying you shouldn't have chocolate though--that's pure insanity. Life is short--eat chocolate and wear lots and lots of jewelry.

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Pinterest

Friday, April 18, 2014

Bracelet Photoshoot--Does This Make My Butt Look Big?

Authoring my first book was a tremendous amount of work. More than I anticipated (to be honest). Would I do it again? Um. YES, please! I learned a lot with this project.
 

Book designer Susan Van Horn and Photographer Steve Legato
One of the more glamorous parts of the project was the photoshoot. I had to go to Philadelphia to meet with my editor and book designer from Running Press at the photographer's, Steve Legato, studio. The trip there was NUTS (short story: three kids tagged along to visit my brother and sister in law for the day. Car broke down. Rented another car. Major snowstorm on the way there.)
 
Back to shoot. We met at the studio which was so classically a photographer studio you would see on TV.  Like--picture a loft with amazing wood floors that creaked as we walked, super high ceilings, exposed brick walls, massive windows, and photographer lights and diffusers all around. 
 
First order of business was to decide on what music we'd listen to--Steve is also a musician! So we talked about music, our kids and their interests in certain bands and instruments, it was pretty cool. Then we had to decide how the jewelry would be photographed.  Susan wanted a minimalist and clean approach--just the bracelet would be featured.  I wanted them to mostly be clasped and upright. Most of my work, because of the beads, makes them very soft and not easy to prop up without assistance. You can do it but a gentle breeze would knock them back over.  We did our best with this issue.
 
So much equipment to photograph that little bracelet!
A fun part of this was also to have pictures of the bracelets on us. We three kept changing shirts and layering sweaters (so it wasn't the same shot all the time) while wearing the bracelets. The photographer took close-up shots of our wrists while our hand was in a pocket, holding a phone, reading a book, holding keys, and... you get the idea, right? Trying to make wrist shots be unique and interesting was tricky. There's only so many ways you can hold your wrist. (By the way, I saw the official wrist shots recently. My kids and I were able to pick out my wrists immediately. I said nothing out loud but on the inside I was thinking, "gawd--they look old and bony."  It's official--I have a problem. I don't even like how my WRISTS look in photos.)
 
We had a great lunch together, worked some more, and then I took the train to meet up with my kids and then drive 4 - 5 hours home. It was a whirlwind 36 hours!



Monday, April 14, 2014

Upcoming Live Classes!

A listing of classes, locations, and topics. I keep this current so you can sign up too. I provide the patterns and ALL the materials you need. I even thread the needle ahead of time. Seriously, how cool is that??
Northport Library  October 29, 2014 7pm to 8:30pm

Would you like to learn about the site ETSY? How to make an account, how to get payment, how to take pictures, and make millions of dollars? Okay--the millions of dollars won't happen but I'll show you everything else. :)
Longwood Library   December 1, 2014  7pm -  9pm.
Really fun snowflake ornament  using Swarovski crystals that can be used for more than putting on a Christmas tree. I personally use them in my windows for a winter decoration and sometimes for teacher gifts. They're not difficult to make and whip up rather quickly.