Ears to You!

When Ruth Crane was undergoing treatment for breast cancer in 2008, she was determined to make the best of it, not just for herself, but for other women who found themselves in the same situation.

Dressed in a hospital gown and a bandanna, without jewelry or makeup, she realized how important little everyday adornments are to women, making them feel more attractive, positive, and “normal.”

Ruth wasted no time in launching Ears to You, a non-profit effort with a small, yet meaningful, mission:

to provide earrings to women with cancer.

It may sound insignificant, but Ruth knows firsthand how inspiring a little sparkle can be. She says that a simple pair of earrings has the power to:

  • brighten a woman’s day when she needs a little lift
  • create a distraction from the IV’s, worries, and fears
  • help a woman feel more “normal” and beautiful at a time when she’s adjusting to hair loss
  • give encouragement from someone who has been there

Ruth started the Ears to You program at Cleveland Clinic, where she was receiving chemotherapy. With the help of a friend in the jewelry business, she found an inexpensive source for earrings that were cute and fashionable as well as nickel- and lead-free.

The first day her earrings were passed out to patients was the last day of her own chemo treatment.

“What a sweet day that was!” Ruth recalls.

Ears to You is now flourishing at hospitals in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana, where earrings are passed out by nurses or social workers, and each hospital has developed a system that works for its patients. Some women will receive a new pair of earrings at each chemotherapy treatment; others may receive earrings during particularly difficult struggles or at final chemo appointments.

Since 2008, Ears to You has provided over 2,500 pairs of earrings to women undergoing chemotherapy, and Ruth hopes to expand her efforts across the country.

You can help by donating dollars or by contributing earrings to the cause. “Please send NEW earrings that are lead- and nickel-free, of any style, color, or size that you like,” Ruth asks. “They can be handmade or store-bought.”

Crafting earrings for a cause—how fun is that?

Gather up beads and baubles, or try something a little different:

Fashion some fishing-lure earrings, following the instructions in my Glamping book. Or, create positively cheerful pairs with erasers.


Cute colors and darling designs make erasers fun little “gems,” guaranteed to bring out a smile. Plus, eraser earrings are easy as pie to put together. Make one pair, and you’ll be hooked! The earrings below were made using those disposable parts of a particular type of mechanical pencil (PINK Pentel 0.9) that I use daily. I’ve never known what to do with them before now. I just can’t bring myself to throw these away even though I’ve worn the eraser down to where it doesn’t stick out the top any more.

You’ll Need:

  • Collectible erasers (Itasho is a great source for PVC-free erasers in fabulous food shapes)
  • French-hook earring wires
  • Headpins
  • Jewelry wire
  • Jewelry pliers

Here’s how you do it: 

Continue reading

  1. Terry Steinmetz says:

    What a fashion statement! Next on my list of “try to make” items!

  2. Jean says:

    What an awesome idea! Earrings do make oneself feel pretty! Love this!

  3. Winnie Nielsen says:

    It never ceases to amaze me how patients in the throes of breast cancer treatment find a way to bring love and joy to others. Out of such personal stress and sickness comes new and beautiful ways to not let cancer define who we are. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Mary Smith says:

    Love this story and the difference you have made for other BC survivors. I am the program coordinator for Casting for Recovery Indiana. Some flytyers sometimes make earrings for our retreat participants and have witnessed the huge smiles as they are given out to the ladies.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Runway to Better Way

Fashion sense?

If we’re talking the latest fads and runway sensations,

I’m pretty sure I don’t have it …

But a sense of style?

Up for debate, right? (Well, I think I have a sense of style.)

From leather to lace

(and a collection of the cutest aprons in between),

I love dodging the dress code

and indulging in a wardrobe that suits my whims,

whatever that may be (I just spent the last two days sewing clothes for myself).

When it comes to clothing criteria,

there is one that stands the test of time:

wanting what you wear to do no harm, meaning:

  • No sweatshop labor
  • No harsh chemical pollutants
  • No cruelty
  • No destructive manufacturing procedures

Of course, no one can put all these standards together all the time in all garments just yet, but I found a fabulous online marketplace that is aiming to come close.

Dubbed a hub of “do-gooder shopping,” Fashioning Change is dedicated to creating shopping experiences that offer fashionable eco-friendly and ethical alternatives to popular name brands.

You Might As Well Live

Easy Street Stripes
The problem with common go-to brands, says Fashioning Change founder Adriana Herrara, is that they often
lack transparency in their supply chains and have yet to adopt authentic practices that protect the Earth and human rights.
Fashioning Change makes it easy to find better options with “Wear This, Not That,” a web-based app that compares name-brand items with ethical alternatives that are similarly styled and priced, allowing shoppers to quickly weigh the pros and cons. The more you use the Fashioning Change marketplace, the more it tailors results to your individual style and shopping preferences. (Be prepared to answer questions about WHO you aspire to dress like. My choices ranged from Michelle Obama to Jennifer Aniston.)
On-The-Go Adventurist

On-The-Go Adventurist

And, if you make a purchase from a featured “Wear This, Not That” look, the company will donate one percent to organizations working on human rights issues within the fashion industry.

“We have a large number of amazing brands coming to Fashioning Change wanting to be part of our platform, and we are always seeking the next and best up-and-coming designers out there, but we have really high standards,” product coordinator Kestrel Jenkins told Ecouterre. “Our brands have to meet these five criteria: they must be stylish; must be quality; must protect your health, the Earth, and human rights. If a brand doesn’t meet just one of those criteria, they don’t make the cut.”

The bottom line?

You can have your style,

and start having your conscience, too.

(I got on their website and purchased a black dolman knit top. It was a fun shopping experience. Fix yourself a cup of tea and check it out. I pretended that I was shopping in the future and this is how ALL shopping is done. A fashion-conscious girl can dream, can’t she?)



  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    The recent fire and deaths in the factory in Bangladesh were a HUGE reminder that what we choose to wear and purchase has human consequences. It is nice to have some information here to help in rethinking what and how we make purchases for something so simple as a dress. Thanks Mary Jane!

  2. Ellen says:

    I love this post! I worked as a designer in the fashion industry for 30 years. When I started out, it was not about copying other’s work and I got to design great things. I still love designing, but cannot abide how the industry works. It is too much about rampant consumerism instead of making something that is well-made and an investment of someone’s hard-earned money. Cheap and disposable. This is why I either make my own or get it from thrift shops. When you manufacture cheap disposable “fast fashion” it is designing landfill.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Are you dealing with a full deck?

Yes, winter is still here …

hunkering down,

getting cozy,

settling in for the long season’s nap.

But …

Some of us still hanker for the harvest,

even in December …

and January.

More than ever in February.

I’m always grateful for little tokens that remind me of the earth’s bounty,

show me that sweet spring glimmer at the end of the tunnel.

Sometimes it’s a stray seed I find hiding in a corner of the kitchen floor.

How did it get there?

Often, it’s the brilliant color beckoning from a jar of summer-canned raspberries.

When I’m feeling really lonesome for soil and sunshine,

I get my fix listening to Stephanie Davis’ “Talkin’ Harvest Time Blues” …

So, you fix a cup of cocoa, sink into your favorite chair

Put your feet up and you thumb through the pictures and compare

Big Boys, Better Boys, Early Girls, Romas

The latest disease and drought-resistant hybrid.

But this year, I’ve stumbled upon something new, and I’m thinking about an after-Christmas gift to myself:

The Garden Deck is totally playable but with sophisticated know-how fun for plant lovers. Gin rummy anyone?

No ordinary deck of cards, this baby contains 52 beautifully illustrated cards (they look like seed packets) that contain key tips on how to care for a garden, when to sow and when to harvest, and facts like how many days until maturity, how many square feet are needed for a large variety of plants, and so on.

It doesn’t matter a lick that I’m a seasoned gardener.

This is about feeling all giddy and garden-y

in spite of the snow on the ground.

Double solitaire anyone? I’ll bet my (garden) cards trump yours?

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    What a find! I can think of several people who would love to have a deck of these cards. This would have been the perfect stocking stuffers for a few folks I know. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Terry Steinmetz says:

    I love that idea. It would be nice to hand hubby a card with all the information on it when I’m busy with something else & he needs it NOW! Thanks for this new idea.

  3. Laurie Scott says:

    I love that idea. Would be great information for any gardener. A good read on a cold winter’s day.

  4. drMolly says:

    a very clever idea!

  5. Elizabeth says:

    Right up my alley. Few years ago we bought the garden version of Monopoly; each card is loaded with manure tips;-) & other helpful garden variety suggestions. We pretty much wore it out the first year & now even my hubby can tell you the difference between an annual, biennial & perennial flower! True success! Gardening is never far from my mind, hands or heart.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Interfaith Prayer Vigil

I love my country.

If you missed last night’s televised interfaith prayer vigil in Newtown, Connecticut, do what it takes to find a copy. The service, held in the high school auditorium, was about an hour and a half long. It was a model of right and good for you and me, the whole world, to see.

Newtown’s selectwoman, first responders, Connecticut’s governor, our president, the leaders from all the different faiths in Newtown—Bahai, Methodist, Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, Islamic, Jewish, Congregational … who spoke, prayed, sang, hugged, cried … Under an unimaginable burden, Newtown is showing us how to come together.



  1. Terry Steinmetz says:

    Praise the Lord!

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed last night’s prayer vigil in Connecticut. I found it peaceful and reassuring. You might find some of it shown in UTube since the President spoke.

  3. Annika says:

    There is so much dividing our country anymore it seems. When we look on this tragedy and see everyone working together to heal this terrible wound, we cannot help but see a better future for America and her people. I watched and wept with everyone else. I am so proud of the people of Newtown and their unity. I am proud of their elected officials and our president for leading and serving the needs of the people at this time. We need to follow this example to go forward as a nation united.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Terry Steinmetz says:

    Those look just like the curtains that my mom had in our kitchen when I was growing up.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Elizabeth says:

    Looks like you have captured 3 seasons in one picture; nicely done.

  2. WOW! Absolutely Beautiful.

  3. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Wow! What amazing scenery!!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *