Tuesday, June 21, 2022

The Story of Fine Heart

Architecture college encouraged me to continually invent things and build them with my own hands so that I could learn good design principles while learning to create well made tangible objects. We built furniture, lamps, stained glass pieces, embossed art, carved wood and on and on and on. I realized that creating boils down to having these two skills: a competence to determine the best materials to use and an expertise to construct so it lasts. And the object being beautiful is just the icing on the cake.

Ruby Gemstone & Pearl Bracelet
Ruby Gemstone & Pearl Bracelet

The ironic and blessed thing is that when I needed a lot of self care and therapy from too much stress designing and building homes as an architectural designer in the Virginia countryside, instead of pedicures and face masks (although I love those too), I turned to making jewelry as a way to relax. 

Designing the jewelry pieces satisfied the perpetual need to design something  functional yet beautiful and wire wrapping exquisite gemstones, pearls, crystals was the outlet which I found the most relaxing. Little did I know that this attempt at relaxation would turn into our online “empire” (what other word would you use? There’s an Etsy shop, a Facebook Page, Instagram, Pinterest, oh yeah an old Twitter handle, a neglected blog, a website, and now a You Tube Channel.)

Going Public

In 2005, with husband and pup in tow as the faithful roadies, we started selling the lovingly handmade jewelry at the local craft fairs, art markets and our all time favorite - the Virginia Wine Festivals. Soon after, gift boutiques and spas commissioned Fine Heart Jewelry. And to my delight and surprise, brides came in droves. They requested custom jewelry for themselves and their bridesmaids for the wedding, and also asked for precious thank you gifts for their moms, flower girls and lovely wedding planners.

Chandelier Earrings with Swarovski Crystals
Swarovski Crystal Chandelier Earrings
I realized that my new found love affair with making all things sparkly also met a need (or deep want) for many women who loved exquisite and thoughtfully designed arty yet everyday jewelry that reflected their own specially created and brilliant selves.

John Keats wrote "a thing of beauty is a joy forever..." and so we encourage you to spread beauty all around you. A genuine compliment, a grateful heart, a beautiful smile or a thoughtful handmade gift to someone who may need just that exact encouragement at that precise moment.

Why Fine Heart?

We will take care of you so well that we guarantee our work!

Satisfied Gifter

Artist Notes

Yes, we still love designing custom pieces for you. If you find a jewelry design in our shop and want to make it truly yours, we can change stones, crystal colors, metals, lengths of jewelry, clasps, earring closures fairly seamlessly (a true advantage to purchasing handmade).

Imagine gifting someone something that will make an impression and last a lifetime? We can recommend jewelry gifts for you if you are unsure. Just message us.

Going Online

In 2010, we made a conscious effort to sell mostly online (yes, my roadies quit) -- so that we can be extra focused on our lovely loyal online clientele. On occasion, we still do in person jewelry shows at private home jewelry parties, and sometimes by invite only art events.

Like you, we know being beautiful in a sundress and sipping wine while shopping at a festival is super fun, but being in pajamas and sipping wine while shopping is so much more therapeutic!

Freshwater Pearls & Swarovski Crystals
Freshwater Pearls & Swarovski Crystals

An Invitation

Love to save some while online shipping? Do you like being invited to exclusive sneak peeks? You want to be included in surprise giveaways? Simply sign up here www.tinyurl.com/fineheartfriends

Friday, November 20, 2020

Recipe: Portugese Sweet Bread

Despite being named the baking queen in the family either due to frequency or result of baked goods, I have had far too many failures in baking bread to even say that I can make bread. I made one loaf about 4 years ago which we ate. It wasn't amazing and I was never able to duplicate that mediocre success again. In fact, even though I tried several times, I kept failing again and again.

For some unknown reason this year, I resumed the attempt at making bread. Actually, the reason is known. Most likely due to the desperation of the continuous non stop below freezing temperatures outside has brought to my psyche - otherwise known as extreme and severe cabin fever.

So, I found a great recipe online for Portuguese Sweet Bread. It's a bread with fine crumb and a little hint of sweetness. The best way to describe it is to compare it to the "Hawaiian Bread" being sold at grocery stores but it is more dense and therefore you can eat only 1 roll and be happy versus 3 of the Hawaiian Rolls.

I adjusted the recipe and also created a very detailed step by step instructions since the recipe above relies on a bread maker which I do not have. If you have a bread maker, use the ingredients list and set your bread maker to "sweet bread" the original recipe states.

Portuguese Sweet Bread

1 cup milk (warm to 100 degrees)
2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast (or 1 packet of .25 oz dry active yeast)
1 tsp sugar
1/4 c white sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk (warm); reserve extra egg white for brushing on top
1/4 cup butter (4 tbsp melted and cooled)
1 tsp salt
3 cups bread flour

regular stainless steel bowl
prep stainless steel bowl with 1 tsp olive oil
prep baking sheet: use parchment paper sprayed with olive oil or silpat with nothing
floured surface or silpat (see note below about kneading)


Warm Ingredients
Microwave 4 tbsp butter for 20 seconds (let sit and cool)
In pyrex measuring cup, microwave 1 c milk for 1 minute
If you own a candy thermometer, you can check if the temperature is between 100 and 110 not over.

Proof Yeast
Pour milk into stainless steel bowl.
Add 2 1/4 tsp yeast.
Add 1 tsp sugar.
Proof yeast for 10 minutes (yeast will be bubbly and foam; if it does not, start over).

After 10 minutes, add to yeast and milk mixture:
1/4 c sugar, 1.5 eggs, 1/4 c butter (melted but cooled)
Mix until incorporated and eggs yolks are broken down
Add 2 cups for flour and 1 tsp salt.
Mix until flour is incorporate.
Keep adding flour until dough pulls away from sides of bowl but still sticky at bottom.

Take out of bowl and knead on floured surface until dough is elastic.
Elastic dough will be shiny, not too sticky, not too dry.
To test dough, poke it with one finger and an indentation should be seen in the dough.

Put kneaded dough in bowl with a 1 tsp olive oil and roll dough in oil to coat dough and bowl.

Cover with plastic wrap and warm towel. Place in warm place to let dough rise for 1.5 hours.

After First Rise
After 1.5 hours, take dough out and place onto floured surface and punch down dough.

I punch mine several times until it is completely flat.

Form dough back into a ball and knead 5 times at the most.

Kneading Tips
Use silpat if possible. I use plastic wrap on a granite counter top and it sticks to the counter top. I add very little flour to the counter top.

Try not to add flour onto the dough but add flour to your hands to make it not so sticky.

When kneading, use your palms (not fingers) to push dough onto counter.

Remember to knead one direction and do 1/4 turn of dough and knead again.

To Form Loaf
Form dough into loaf. Create a large ball, fold all sides towards bottom of ball.
Set onto prepared baking sheet.
Cover with plastic wrap and warm towel.
Let dough rest until doubled (about 30 - 45 minutes)

Turn on Oven to Preheat

After Second Rise
Remove covers. Slash dough at center to allow steam to escape.
Brush with egg white.
Bake at 375 for 35 minutes.

To Form Rolls
Form 1 large ball with dough then roll into a log.
Cut log into two and form two logs about 2.5 inches wide.
Cut each log into 10 pieces.
Form into balls by rolling and folding dough into itself into the shape desired.
Place into prepped baking pan.
Cover with plastic wrap and warm towel.
Let dough rest until doubled (about 30 - 45 minutes)

Turn on Oven to Preheat

After Second Rise
Remove covers. Slash dough at center to allow steam to escape.
Brush with egg white.
Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Notre Dame Cathedral's Fire and the Glory of God

Our Jesus Christ is under attack yet He says He has overcome the world. I went to the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris when I was in my early 20s. One of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world - most renown cathedral without a doubt. It is famous for its rose window - the giant stained glass that greets you as you see the cathedral from the square it sits. As an architect, we studied how Notre Dame perfected the Gothic cathedral building style and set the standard for all future cathedrals to be built in the world.

The devastating fire yesterday was a great loss to this world. They say then can rebuild again but what is lost is the history of the building itself. That cathedral was a result of a community effort of master artisans and crafters who put all their differences aside to create something greater than themselves. It took almost 200 years to build the cathedral. It took only a few hours for the main spire to fall. How devastating; how incredibly sad; how confusing; how hopeless and helpless everyone felt.

Yet, with God there is always a yet.

Yet, we don’t know how this will eventually point back to God’s glory. Was it only to help us realize that what we discussed on Sunday was truth? That in reality, nothing lasts forever? No matter how famous or amazing? That all fame and glory of this world is temporary. That even 850 years is just temporary compared to eternity? Or, is it more? Will God show himself to a world that has moved so far away from Him that most do not know who He really is? 

One thing I do know, with a deep belief in a God who is always in control of all things, we know there is a reason for everything. I know there is a reason a cathedral that has stood for almost a century would come down so suddenly with the whole world watching. Because while the cathedral was burning and although intended for evil by the prince of darkness of this world, the whole world was focused on the light of this world. It IS Easter week, folks.

What a devastating blow for our Christian belief, it seems. Yet, with God, there is always a yet.

As the whole world watched the most famous cathedral burn down during Easter week, yet the whole world talked about church on Easter week. As the whole world saw a devastating blow to a monument, yet a debate of what church really means ensues. No doubt God’s name has been proclaimed more times in television and social media more than ever this year. His name proclaimed: in the fire, His glory is revealed.

No doubt, at the very same time that the world watched the spire come down, many wondered about this God that the Christians believe in. This Jesus who they say was crucified for us. This heavenly Father who would inspire so many people for over 200 years to build a cathedral just to worship Him. They would now wonder more than ever before, who is this God they speak of? 

So for almost 12 hours yesterday and undoubtedly as the non stop news coverage continues today, God will be on everyone’s lips - on social media, on the internet, on television. 

Now, we are focused on Him; some of us will be focused on His glory more than ever before. For others, they may find Him for the first time. And so, now they have hope.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

How Not to Twitter

In my last post from (ahem) 2014, I said I would underachieve on this blog by posting lighter fare and hopefully, this would lead to blogging more consistently. So, I tried to underachieve and there was much silence on this blog.

So today, I try again. I will try to make this blog a tad lighter, possibly shorter (ha), and yet still be somewhat informative about online marketing and share tips that I learned from having a little handmade jewelry shop on Etsy.

Today's blog tips are direct lessons learned from my Twitter fails.

Three Fails on Twitter
A lesson on how not to Twitter.

Fail #1
Because I used an automated Twitter app (etsy-fu) to tweet my jewelry images for me, I checked my Twitter account off my to do list and never looked at it again.

Although the Etsy-Fu App is amazing and I DO highly recommend it, my extremely neglected Twitter account went from normal inconsistent you can never count on it weird to EVERY eight hours of automatic pictures and naggy posts weird.

Basically, a long long time ago, I signed up for Twitter. Then, I never really used it, then I felt guilty, then I would tweet for a few days, even weeks in a row, then I would get tired of it again, and I would leave it alone again until I felt guilty...yada, yada. It's called the Twitter Circle of Hell Merry Go Round. Never pretty.

Much later, I found this automated Twitter app and thought, "aha, my problems, at least the twitter ones, are solved!" But there was a catch. Inevitably for me, signing up for an automated tweeting app, was not a good move.

This is because, and this may come as big surprise to many of you, Twitter is for PEOPLE not "bots" (that's short for robots, actual people, readers, you).

Fail #2
Because my Twitter account was automatically engaging my twitterverse, I actually gained more followers. Good? YES! (See, I told you it wasn't the app's fault!)

My Bad Move
However, I never engaged a single re-tweet and never acknowledged a single mention. I probably made more "un-followers" than followers by NOT engaging the actual people at all.

The automated app which was tweeting for me every eight hours made it look like I was active on Twitter, but then nothing, nada, chirping of crickets not birds, only silence from actual ME.

I can just imagine the retweeters and mentioners saying, "well, thanks for nothing @fineheartjewels"

And, they have every right to say so. This is because Twitter is a SOCIAL media app. This means being social, connected, engaged.

Fail #3
Because there has always got to be a #3, here it is. Neglect is one thing. Silence pretty bad. Not checking links on my profile? The worst fail.

When I signed up for Twitter like 100 years ago, it was brand new. Brand new as in new baby smell new; yes, even fresh towels from the laundry smell new. This was BEFORE the Arab Spring, or the Kardasians, or even before Ellen (@TheEllenShow) was on Twitter. It was before anyone had advice on how to actually use Twitter because quite frankly no one knew how to use Twitter. We were all still poking it with a stick.

But, I digress. Oh right, links. When I signed up with Twitter, I linked this blog, yes, this very neglected blog, to my Twitter account: not my handmade jewelry shop on Etsy which I update every hour, not even my www.yvetteperri.com from my empire online which I updated once a week. I linked a un-updated blog, a dead blog, a blog I had not posted on in a long long time to my now naggy updating every eight hours Twitter account.

So, when my automated Twitter app was tweeting for me and people were seeing consistent tweets and wanted to see what I was up to? They would click on my link. Then, they would see a very quiet blog, neglected, an irrelevant post from eons ago, not even a single cricket was to be found. A very sad fail.

But as always, I can't end this post there. There is always HOPE! Because in life's fails, there are always lessons to be learned.

The Simple Moral of the Story or Lesson of the Day
Twitter was most likely invented for people. Tweets are actually words from actual people. People like to talk and be engaged with whom they are speaking with at the time. If you are going to "tweet" (talk), then by simple logic, there has to be a discourse, a discussion, an engagement. So, do it.

Robots are not people. Leave the robots for cleaning floors and other future household cleaning chores they will one day do for us (mostly me). The lesson? Tweet like a human.

Thanks to Donna Moritz @sociallysorted. I googled and read her article on how to manage my twitterverse better. I like the way she writes: straight to the point, clear instructions with pictures, and easy to read. This is her article for 7 Ways to Attract and Engage Followers on Twitter
(Not affiliated with Donna Moritz but now a fan and a follower).

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Back in the (Blogging) Saddle Again

Long time no see. It’s been 14 months. “Where Do I Begin” comes to mind. YES, that sappy song from the 70's. First let me say, I am definitely back in the blogging saddle again. 

Last year, I was busy building things so this blog was the first thing that had to be sacrificed in order for me to actually get some sleep. The year before that, my own SEO (search engine optimization) advice worked so well, that my online jewelry sales went through the roof. So again, this blog became the red headed step child that was left by the wayside. (No offense to red heads or step children).

But like my Jack Russell Terrier who finds a way to gently nudge me for attention when he suddenly realizes that I am attached to my desk or computer and it may be hours before he sees another treat unless he takes things into his own paws, this blog kept tugging at me as well.

So I consider what I want to do this year (and the list is very long) for my little online empire: add more wedding jewelry sets, add a whole new line of jewelry designs, create a true e-commerce site independent of Etsy, advertise with the really really big (and scary) boys... and somehow, blogging made it back on the list. I realized that blogging was one of the things I did enjoy doing for my little online empire.

And as I write this post about being absent from blogging, a funny little thing happened. A "Moral of the Story" came to mind. Oh yes, dear reader, even in telling the sad little story about being absent from this blog, there is a Lesson to be Learned.

This blog post is specifically dedicated to MY people: also known as “the overachiever”. Yes, you. You know who you are. Don’t bother looking around the room, you know I am talking to you (or you wouldn't be reading a blog about making your online business better. Instead, you'd be on You Tube googling what Beyonce and Jay-Z did on stage at the Grammys).

I digress. As an overachiever, I have made this fun blog to be another one of my achievements which needed “over-I-zing”. Yes, I made that word up. What I mean is, I meant for this blog to be some loosey goosey thing which was supposed to update clients on new jewelry designs, give friends something fun to read since I don’t do well with keeping in touch, and then along the way happen to share some fun things I learned in opening an online shop. You know, something I can write a quick quip, have a few laughs and move on with my actual life.

Instead, the blog became “THE MARKETING ADVICE” column I dreaded, the Nightmare on Elm Street I abhored, and the Creature from the Blue Lagoon I did not want to meet.

Instead of fun, I felt the need to have to point out something online-shop-life altering. 
Instead of loosey goosey, I had to share something relevant. 
And, instead of interesting light updates, I had to lecture on subjects which I had to do lots of research, reading and verifying. 

Surprise. Surprise. 
Suddenly, I was no longer having fun. 
I had nothing relevant to add to the kazillion online debates. 
And, I had no time and/or was too exhausted from all the verifying. 

So, I did what most overachievers do who just get overwhelmed and tired. I STOPPED. Altogether.

Aside: Which by the way, I did know was the number one advice about starting a blog. When you start, don’t STOP.

So, what’s the Lesson Learned? If you are in overachiever, and you have placed a lot of rules and demands on yourself because you think it’s supposed to be that way. PAUSE.

Yes, just for a minute. And rethink your steps. That’s all. Just PAUSE.

Give yourself permission to pause, think, skip, even fail (just a little). Once in awhile, it is better to P A U S E than to completely STOP.

After you PAUSE, give yourself permission to redirect, rewrite the rules, re-evaluate and breathe. Maybe, even have some fun.

So today, I give myself permission.

Permission to post anything I want since it’s my blog. Permission to post fun things like recipes (since I am a huge foodie and cook), useful tips for marketing and SEO, or even once in a while, nonsensical things like pet tricks or people tricks too. And of course, post pictures of the reason I even have a little empire online  - the jewelry collection.

1. Sometimes, a slight PAUSE is better than a complete STOP.
2. Sometimes, a small SKIP is better than a complete MISS.
3. Taking a BREATH is good, but getting a good SMILE out is always OH so much better.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Taking the time to pause and be ...

grateful for ...

having work and being too busy to even breathe at times

having an amazing family whom i love and just adore spending time with

having a good husband who is forever patient with me

having a pup who always always always brings a smile to my face no matter what

having a beautiful home which i have finally come to accept and love just the way it is

having so many good and awesome quality friends:
                                                       old, new, near, far, all so dear and close to my heart

and, my Almighty God's numerous and wondrous blessings:
                                          prayed for, unprayed for, and all of life's surprises in between.

... what are you thankful for this year ?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Sometimes, It Is More Than Just Business

A lesson in humanity. Paying forward and getting a reward back doesn’t have to be instant to be well worth it. The Etsy Forums have always been a source of knowledge, laughter, entertainment, and lately, much controversy, drama, and some heartache. Today, it brings me something truly unexpected: perspective.

Here’s a short story.
An Etsy artist is grieving over her twin sister who had died tragically. A shop owner reaches out to her and sends her a gorgeous handmade necklace as a token of her sister’s memory. They become good “virtual” friends though the Etsy Forums.

Fast forward. The shop owner’s husband falls gravely ill. The woman who lost her sister in the story above now becomes the comforter of the shop owner who first comforted her.

Now, how did I get wind of this via the Etsy Forums? 

Today, the shop owner whose husband is ill thanks her artist friend very publicly on the Etsy Forums. I happen to be a huge fan of this woman she thanked, Trudy. ArtbyTrudy has a virtual fan club and we all chime in and yell our praises for Trudy.

Trudy. She is a source of many laughs, late night chats, and camaraderie. She is a precious woman who does not know the power of her presence, online and off. I am sure. I say that because although I have never met Trudy in person, she is a wonderful motivator, a great source of wisdom, and a very amazing woman to know. Although we both find that owning a small business online is like navigating through a magic maze which changes every time we think we have found the exit door, she manages to have sense of humor through it all. Trudy's fun and positive outlook is infectious. She always manages to bring a smile to my usually frustrated face.

Back to the story.
As Trudy would, she comes in on the Forum thread and finds post after post of accolades and praises sent her way. Trudy immediately switches the focus from herself to her friend, ACelticgirl2, and puts it all out there. Trudy simply states, please visit ACelticgirl2’s shop profile since she needs our help. Trudy is not a subtle gal. She speaks unassumingly and she is always frank and to the point. Because of Trudy’s track record of never steering me (or any of us) wrong, we all click on ACelticgirl2 Profile page.

... which simply it states:
“This is all you need to know about me right now. One day at a time. http://www.gofundme.com/is270"

I followed the link as many others did. We support ACelticgirl2 in our own way. Some donate, some send notes, some simply say a quiet prayer. Just because we know Trudy asked. And just because we know that a few years back, ACelticgirl2 did something selfless without ever expecting anything back.

Why am I sharing this today?
It's been months since my last post and much much longer since my last business advice. But you know, sometimes, something bigger comes our way and we just need to say something, acknowledge its presence and share: yes, sometimes, it is not always about business.

I am hoping that this post will be read as it was intended to be: a small tribute to two women who make me glad to be part of an amazing community of artists, small business owners, collectors, hobbyists, experts, and people who do care.

In the midst of crazy world events, busy-ness, insane deadlines, and lost confidences, I find that indeed, there is a real community inside Etsy. And, Etsy Corp in New York with all its faults, triumphs, failures, and imperfections, has absolutely nothing to do with it.

Editor's Note: Photograph is the property of ArtbyTrudy.

If you enjoyed this post, please pass on to your virtual planet on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, blogging or e-mail.