Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Inspire Your Heart With Art Day

I started to write a post for today and then I stumbled upon 'what Holiday is today' and lo and behold...
January 31st is Inspire Your Heart With Art Day!

Apparently what we need to do today is to pick a piece of art - and after careful examination ask ourselves: How does it make me feel? What does it tell me? What emotions does it evoke?

I'll make it easy for you and I will pick the piece:

The Adoration of the Magi :: picture taken at the National Art Gallery, during our 2011 visit
The Adoration of the Magi
Sandro Botticelli

It is a tempera and oil painted on panel, c. 1478/1482 by the Renaissance painter, Botticelli. Currently it is hosted by the National Art Gallery, in Washington DC.

I watched it with veneration: both for the event pictured and for the actual work of art. To be in the same room with a creation born over 500 years ago is humbling. I love the pastel colouring - compared to a few of his contemporaries Botticelli has this eerie feeling, it makes you think of faeries, somehow. In the context of this picture it seems an impiety to think of faeries!

What do you feel watching this beauty of 500+ years?

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Butterfly

Going to our local bead store for something else (as it usually happens) - I discovered these splendind butterflies, made of stone (dyed, of course, these are not natural colour), in amazing green, yellow and a very violet one. As it happens, I already had some amethyst for another project so all I had to do is to pick up some matching Czech beads (the 6.0 ones, I am not a seed-beader fan :))

While working on it I kept smiling - the butterfly is really cute and has such a vivid colour. I wished the store would have a bright blue one, but no luck this time (I'll keep looking).

I am presenting you today 'The Butterfly' - a happy necklace to brighten your day and your attire. Will transform you for the after-office evening on the town and it will make your friends ask 'Where did you get this dancing butterfly?'

Next to the focal piece what I love most about it is the 'tail' - a fluid and sparkly 3-strand sterling silver chain, lightly adorned with bits of colour from the body of the necklace itself (the light lavender Czech beads and the bright violet foiled-glass beads). The whole necklace is mounted on a sterling silver chain and finished with a sterling silver clasp - its length can vary from 18.5 in to 24.5 in, not including the butterfly and chain drop, which measures 3.5 in. This variation in length makes it a very versatile piece - from being snuggly hugging your neck to a more fancy 'belly-button' length.

Like all my pieces - it is handcrafted with love and utmost care and attention to detail, and it is designed to adorn the woman who wants to look her best from early morning all through the evening.

Might that woman be you?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Tea Leaf

A couple of years ago a visit to a couple in our neighbourhood made a long lasting impression on me.

Blue MonarchImagine an office whose walls are full of butterflies - in beautiful frames and displaying incredible colours, between them the well-known Blue Morpho.
Imagine a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf full of Asimov's books... and next to it another bookshelf displaying sea shells in all forms and sizes, from small minuscule ones to the palm-sized shells, the ones you can hear the ocean through!
Imagine the sun room, something I have wished for so long (another point on my 'bucket list') and that reminds me of my Uncle's sun room back at the feet of Carpathian Mountains - you could see the Mountains and almost touch them...

But I digress (yes, I miss my mountains a lot!)...

At the end of dinner, as it is customary, with the desert we were offered coffee. Or, in my case, tea (I don't really drink coffee). To choose my own - I have been offered 4 amazing pyramids, wrapped in a fine paper... I randomly chose one (I am not a connoisseur - I simply like the natural green herbal tea, never cared too much for the black caffeinated variation) and I got my pyramid.

Tea Forte pyramid
Maybe I don't know much about teas - however I pride myself with knowing to appreciate beauty... and beauty I received that evening! Inside the paper pyramid I found an art piece: made from the finest silk ever imaginable, of the most white I have ever seen, the inside pyramid contained a few real leaves and seeds! It doesn't even matter how the tea tastes, the beauty of the moment is in being able to submerse the silk in the hot water and watch the colours change. I wish my sense of smell would have been better that day (being winter, my allergies & asthma were already in full charge, not much remained of my sense of smell) - but I could actually feel and see the smell (yes, it is possible to use other senses to stimulate another!).

To add more charm to the moment - inside the paper wrap there was a piece of paper, in the form of a leaf, with a 'fortune' - or like our host exclaimed 'now we will be reading the tea leaves'

My destiny unravelled itself on the precious paper leaf:

'Do what you can, with what you have, where you are'

There you have it: even my tea leaf agrees that I don't need more and I can do something right now. I wish it would have told me what - but that's probably too much to ask a leaf :)

My tea leaf spoke!

I still recall my perfect moment on the evening of over 2 years ago - I am grateful I was allowed to live it and I was given the wisdom to savour it.

What will be your moment today? If you find it - please let me know, I'm always happy to hear beautiful stories!

P.S. I think I switched the inspirational story [which was presented Saturday instead of Sunday] with the fun-sharing one, I hope you'll forgive my mistake for one week :)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Starfish Story

While walking along a beach, an elderly gentleman saw someone in the distance leaning down, picking something up and throwing it into the ocean.

I am doing my best - All Pretty ThingsAs he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, picking up starfish one by one and tossing each one gently back into the water.

He came closer still and called out, "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"

The young man paused, looked up, and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean."

The old man smiled, and said, "I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?"

To this, the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."

Upon hearing this, the elderly observer commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"

The young man listened politely. Then he bent down, picked up another starfish, threw it into the back into the ocean past the breaking waves and said, "It made a difference for that one."

This story has been circulated around the web in many versions, usually with no mention of author. It is said to be paraphrased from "The Star Thrower" by Loren Eiseley, 1907 - 1977.

I picked it up from this website - it goes along last week's inspirational moment...

I hear it very often: what difference can I make? Maybe none - maybe you'll be just a drop in the ocean. However all you can do is try your best - if at the end of the day you know you have done your best, you made a difference: in your life, and in a few other people lives too!

Go on, try it. When you pass a piece of garbage on the ground, don't ask yourself 'why should I pick it up?'. Ask instead: 'Why shouldn't I pick it up?' then pick it and throw it in the garbage can.

Photo credit: africa / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Friday, January 27, 2012

Light thoughts on a Friday

My mother is fascinated by the Japanese culture - hands down: an exceptional one, however quite hard to understand for one not raised in that spirit; I believe there is something in each type of culture that is quite inaccessible to other cultures. Me, on the other hand - I respectfully admire the Japanese culture, but I feel comfortable and completely at home in the Celtic one (Irish / Scottish). I can't quite explain why: it's part because they are so warm and friendly (at least compared to the chilly Saxons), part because their amazing musicality, part because every Irish or Scottish I met knows how to live their life and how to have fun, and part because I love their magical and mystic stories (fairies, magical creatures, witches, wizards... lovely).

A story I read some time ago sounds like this:
The rich American couldn't understand why the Irish angler was lying lazily beside his boat on the beach, smoking a pipe. "Why aren't you out fishing?" asked the American. "Because I have caught enough fish for the day," said the fisherman. "Why don't you catch some more?" "What would I do with them?" "You could sell them and make more money," was the American's reply. "With that you could have a motor fixed to your boat and go into deeper waters and catch more fish. Then you would make enough to buy nets. These would bring you more fish and more money. Soon you would have enough money to own two boats . . . maybe even a fleet of boats. Then you would be a rich man like me." "What would I do then?" asked the fisherman. "Then you could really enjoy life." said the American. "And what do you suppose I might be doing right now?" said the Irishman, smiling and puffing away on his pipe.

Beyond the humour of the story - if you stop from the daily rush for long enough you realize the wisdom is in figuring out exactly when to stop and start enjoying. Even better - how to balance the daily workload with the same daily fun and joy.

I'll send you this wish for a beautiful Friday (and every day!)
May you always have what you need and need what you already have!

Happy Friday! I am going swimming and piano playing with my son - what's your relaxation moment?

Image: winnond / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Colours (Purple)

Mysticism - sterling silver, crystal, amethist, wire wrapped :: All Pretty thingsContinuing our journey in the wonderful world of colours - we will take today the last secondary colour and the most intriguing one: purple. Born from the combination of (warm, energetic) red and (cool, stable) blue - purple is the symbol of royalty, power, wisdom, magic, creativity.

Since antiquity royals wore purple, magicians and wizards wore purple, people that wanted to project wisdom and creativity wore purple. Why this fascination with purple? Most likely because it is the 50-50 combination of the warmest and coolest colours, making it the 'perfect' colour (we, humans, have a fixation with perfect and perfection). For this reason purple is used to balance: one's life, health, mind.

Purple Universe - polymerc lay :: All Pretty things
It is believed that purples stimulates creativity and imagination, as well as bringing piece of mind. Studies have found that over 75% of pre-school children are attracted to purple more than any other colour (now you know why Barney is purple!).

It is not easily found in nature - thus many believe it's unnatural... hence the mysticism.

Spring with Butterfly - sterling silver, amethist, crystal, stone :: All Pretty things
The one semi-precious stone you think of when you say 'purple' is amethyst. Borrowing some of the colour's meanings, amethyst is used as a protection stone (funny enough even against witchcraft :)) and as a healer, symbolizing spiritual wisdom and sincerity.

In fashion - it is not an easy colour to work with. Purple is not for all skin types - and it is hard to accessorize and combine. It will go nicely in a mono-chromatic scheme, using lighter or darker tones of the same hue. You'll get an elegant classic look this way.

Amethyst & Crystals :: All Pretty things
In a complementary scheme - used with yellow - make sure you keep one of the colour the dominant ones, otherwise they'll fight for attention and the result will be a busy and aggressive view. However, in the right proportion - it'll be very pleasant and as I mentioned before the combination purple-yellow is one I love the most, it always reminds me of spring - I see a field full of purple crocuses and hyacinths, with bright yellow daffodils. A purple dress with yellow strikes or yellow accessories - that's something!

A triad scheme will involve purple (as the dominant), orange, and green or its more neutral and balance version of purple, yellow-gold, and green-yellow. A playful combination and one that can be easily be pulled off if you keep the field I was talking above in mind. Make sure only one hue is dominant and work on the hues of the yellow and green until you get a pleasant combination (hmm... talking about these combinations just gave me an idea!)

Nautilus - polymer clay :: All Pretty things
An interesting scheme will be the complementary triad: purple, yellow and the colour half-way through either way: orange or teal (blue-green). It is an elegant combination - work with various intensity of the dominant and the neutral combination of all three.

An interesting exercise for anyone would be to pick up a colour they don't feel very comfortable with (and very few people I know are comfortable with purple) and try to create a combination (an outfit, a room decor, anything). While doing that you'll find new sides of yourself, I guarantee you!

I must admit I don't own any piece of purple clothing, however lots of my jewelry pieces are using amethyst :) It's lucky I have white top tanks...

What is your relationship with purple? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The weird and wonderful world of bioluminescence (TED)

In the series of 'our wonderful world' I present you today a beautiful video - about the language of light in the deep ocean.  Enjoy it!

Note for my mom (who complained she cannot understand the speakers - they go way too fast for her): at the bottom of the video, next to the play / pause button there is a field labeled '[n] languages - off'. Click on the list and for most of the videos you'll find 'Romanian' - when choosing it, you'll get the subtitles to go with the speaker's voice.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

On simplicity

Very little is needed to make a happy life. It is all within yourself, in your way of thinking. ~ Marcus Aurelius

I keep having this philosophical conversations with my son - and all the time I am proud of him, of the maturity he proves being able of... but sometimes I am plain scared. How am I going to be able to keep up with him? What if he'll surpass my ability to explain life to him - before he turns 40, that's it :)

Joking aside - since he was born I learned much more than I could imagine! Take science - growing up I loved math & chemistry, but I despised physics (the blame is fully on the teacher), at least until I had one of my mom's colleagues tutoring a group of us before the by-annual exams (yes... we took exams to get from grade 8 to 9th, from 10th to 11, and in grade 12 to get our high-school diplomas... well tested we are, you can say). That's when physics started to make sense. However, it never went to the depths that one needs to answer this simple question: 'mommy, what is plasma?' I really wanted to answer a type of TV, but I knew it's not going to end there. So I learned what plasma is (about 3 years ago).

And same goes for lots and lots of things 'mommy... what is...? how is ... made? who does ... and why? who invented... ?' I'm grateful for the invention of our amazing public library and for the Internet too! Google has been my best friends since the child started talking.

And what does that have to do with your quote? will you say. Actually - a lot. In the beginning I thought happiness is somewhat equal to wealthiness or prestige. Maybe not equal, but a measure of - the wealthier you are, the happy you become. Wrong!

Happiness comes from perspective: you can be happy as long as you want what you have and have what you want; when you stop comparing your car to the neighbours' new car and are glad yours passes the stupid emission tests (with less than 1% of the max! a 12 yo car!); when you don't need to buy the books / DVDs / video games, but you walk nicely to the library and borrow them - for free!

I am not a proponent of frugality, I actually believe there are things in life you need to spend on for good quality (most of the services and the long-time products). I'd rather invest $200 pair of quality comfortable leather shoes which will be with me for years than waste $30 for a plastic pair that will get in the garbage in less than 2 weeks. It's a matter of making the math, in the end :)

What I am for is simplicity and elegance: find the most simple moment and look for the elegance that it can teach you. Take this beautiful petal of orchid: have you ever leaned closely enough and touched it? It is soft and smooth, it has beautiful colouring and a subtle perfume. It matches perfectly the other 5 petals and together they form the most elegant flower that have been born on earth. Wasn't that simple?

There you are - a perfect moment. You don't need 86,400 perfect moments in a day - you need a few, just enough to lift up your spirits and to make you want to search for more.

Here is something to try today: find a perfect moment and bask in it. Remember how you feel. Remember the energy. Tomorrow - add one more moment.

Share with us your moments - and how you found them. I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Blue Heart

The Blue Heart - Swarovski crystals, Sterling Silver, Wire wrapped :: All Pretty Things
Kenda from Balance My Life is putting together a health and fitness event in Oakville - to benefit The Heart and Stroke Foundation.

With Valentine fast approaching and the event benefitting... the heart - what a better symbol to use than, you guessed it, a heart!

The necklace is delicate and glamorous, elegant and bringing just the right amount of sparkle for the day. Designed to adorn the woman who has confidence in her own style and taste, The Blue Heart has been created for beauty and, like all our one of a kind pieces, it has been handcrafted with love right here, in Canada.

The Blue Heart - Swarovski crystals, Sterling Silver, Wire wrapped :: All Pretty Things
Featuring a double strand with a heart toggle, the unique necklace is delicately floating on sterling silver wire: Swarovski crystals in a light blue shade, along the darker indicolite crystals - with a few red magma crystals for balance. Giving it the name - the blue Swarovski Heart is wire wrapped on the longer strand - a gentle reminder to take good care of your own!

I invite you to view 'The Blue Heart' at the event this coming Thursday, January 26th in Oakville (click here for more details).

The Blue Heart - Swarovski crystals, Sterling Silver, Wire wrapped :: All Pretty Things

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The guilty one

Bread loaf :: All Pretty ThingsLong time ago there was a baker known for his bread. One day he thought the butter packages he just bought from a villager were too light and weighted them. Sure enough, they were 7 oz lighter than the 2 pounds they should have been.

Understandably upset he quickly went to the judge and told his story. As soon as the villager was brought in, the judge asked him:

- Is it true that you are cheating people and sell them less butter than they pay for?

- If it is true, your honour, I am not guilty.

- You're a liar, cried the baker - I just bought this butter from you and it's lighter by 7 oz a piece.

- Your honour, the butter is indeed mine. However, I am poor: I bought a scale but cannot afford to buy the weights for it. So on one arm I set my butter and on the other arm I set one of the baker's breads, which he claims weigh 2 pounds exactly... if that's not true, how is that my fault?

The judge weighted the baker's bread and sure enough - it was lighter by 7 oz.

Have you ever met 'the baker'? It's easy to figure out who they are: the ones demanding everything, but cutting corners when they have to deliver anything.

If you've ever been tempted to act like the baker - remember: there is a villager somewhere and they'll figure it out: what goes around eventually comes around.

Image: Grant Cochrane / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Saturday, January 21, 2012

I will be a hummingbird

I am quite sure the vide below doesn't need any words - if you saw it before, it's worth watching it again; if this is the first time when you watch it - it is a wonderful moment. I hope it will inspire you to be a hummingbird!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Raising a son

Blue & pink decor!I've always believed I am OK as a mother. In the beginning, because we didn't want to know what our little wonder will be, we compromised: the nursery room was painted (by yours truly) half blue, half pink, with a wonderful Winnie The Pooh border in between :) [when he turned 3 we changed the border, but left the colours!] And the clothes? We got whites and a few greens (people said yellow and green are gender neutral colours, however I didn't like the yellow ones at all).

Reading Bambi - hist 1st love in booksGod blessed us with our beautiful son (on his due date) and for the first months I didn't have time to worry too much about what to do with a boy, after all - at that age they have the exact same needs. The first few years were good too - we got books, plush toys, and lots of cars, and building materials - and growing up I had them too (I wasn't a very girly-girly person... I played with dolls, yes, but I always preferred to build a Lego house instead; or drive a cart; and other non-girly activities.... in fact - I have been the only girl in many of my elementary and high-school clubs); so I could perfectly relate to (and help) my son. He also loves science - periodically we end up 'disecting' a The green volcano (we had a red one before)fish or making a volcano or whatever strikes his fancy at the moment; that's OK with me - growing up I have been encouraged to experiment and since we didn't have the opportunities and tools readily available here, I am enjoying the science days as much as (if not more than) he does.

Beading with momI managed to go through the 'train era' un-scarred (I love trains!), I even learned to parallel park my car using his toys (my DH's genial idea). I have been worried for a while that my artsy time won't be shared, but guess what - he absolutely loves designing projects and buying supplies too: we spent many afternoons at the table, with all the beads spilled between us and laughing; or making polymer clay projects together.

So far - so good: he even likes to cook (not to clean the kitchen after that, though) - yesterday he brought from the library a book about Medieval Times. In the book they also give you a recipe of meatballs like they made them 1,000 years ago. Who made 'spicy medieval meatballs?' that afternoon - the Chef, of course.

There is one thing I cannot get over yet; he won't either and from what I've seen so far, it might be here to stay with us forever: Star Wars. I was never a fan: maybe because when Lucas' 2nd film (The Empire strikes back) came to our city, in the mid 80s, the 'good guys' where The Republic and even as a young child I was fed up with the idea of a Republic. I never stomached any of the movies - and now... what do I get? A hard-core fan - check the email signature he created all by himself:

Star wars expert
62031 777 Guelph Line,
Burlington Ontario L7N 3R0
Toll free: (877) 555  5348
Mon-Fri 4:30-7:30 Sat 2:30- 6:00
$5.50 Each Hour

After he sent me the email with his signature he informed me he'll build a website next, all full of tips and information about Star Wars. I am honestly proud of his ability to think so clearly, I just wish he would have picked something else.

Lego airplane - his own designI understand his fascination with the series / movies / games - but I cannot help worry: what if this is the point where our harmonized ways start to part? So far, in my attempt to remain the 'cool mom' I managed to learn (from the expert, of course) the appropriate timeline and how the clones turned 'bad' - that alone took about half an hour of story-telling.

On the other side - I prefer Star Wars to other (very strange) movies / characters they create today.

Oh, well,  I am looking forward to the time when he'll become a Star Trek fun :)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

How to get rid of the winter blues (2)

Winter view from All Pretty Things studioWith a winter like this - if we can even call it that anymore - we need to get rid of all sorts of blues, not only 'wintery' ones!

A few weeks back I suggested you use colour, in its most approachable form: flowers.

This week - we can add something else: music.

It's an extremely easy way to improve one's mood. Ideally one would know how to play an instrument or simply how to sing - and practice (pick some happy songs :)). But if you're not fortunate enough to have listen to your mom asking to practice your violin or piano when you were young... a CD will suffice. If that's missing too (as we are in the Internet era) - switch the radio or TV on a music channel. Try to get away from radio stations that play news every half an hour: it can be depressing to listen to what's out there.

As for the genre - it's your choice, really: as long as you enjoy and feel happy, anything will be OK; I would stay away from those strange moody pieces, though - remember, you are trying to improve your mood here!

If you have the luxury of time - try that hot chocolate with a book in front of the fire. Even 10 minutes of relaxation will make a difference! If the weather allows it - bundle up, put the headphones on and take a short walk through the neighbourhood.

Hope you're having a great winter!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

On lifestyle and balance (TED)

In a very humorous way :)

I do recall hearing about his 2nd 'experiment' (the spiritual one) and I have to be honest - the talk made me curious, I'd like to read his previous books; he seems funny in a decent way and going through a year of extreme anything is no small feast.

What I like the most in this talk is the hint to balance - something I've been trying to instill in my son for a long time (you have to hear him saying 'Everything in moderation!')... pretty much nothing on this planet will harm you if you keep a measure. And I feel our world has lost the measure and the balance... for some strange reasons I can't phantom right now.

A light and funny talk - enjoy!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

On happiness

Candles - All Pretty Things

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared. ~ The Buddha

One of the first realizations I made when we crossed the ocean is somewhat related to the quote above.

I do recall very vividly the first few days of our Canadian life. Here I was, a young girl, just married a year before (and still working on figuring out this complex idea of relationship), thousands of kms away from everything familiar. You have to take in account a few details to understand (or imagine) the immensity of the moment: I grew up in a small city where everyone knew everyone, I have never been outside the country prior to our flight to Toronto, and I have never took English classes (I learned Russian in school, which I promptly forgot as soon as high-school ended; French and German). And here I was - landed after a day of traveling, in the middle of a very hot summer... when the airport doors opened to the real world outside and I breathed in all 37 degrees C (99 F... it was 9pm) with what seemed like 200% humidity I had a moment of sheer panic: what am I going to do? Not we, I wasn't very used to the 'we' yet... what am I going to do? I have no job, no friends (except for the couple waiting for us, former university colleagues, I knew nobody here), no language... OMG!

I couldn't simply turn back and go... where? So I breathed in and told myself, like a true Scarlett O'Hara: I'll think about this tomorrow.

The next days we took long walks through the city and I still remember one thing: I couldn't stop smiling! I even started to say 'hi!' to complete strangers! You know what? People smiled back - and they answered 'hi!' back.

That's my memory of our arrival in this country: pure happiness.

During a conversation with new acquaintances (friends of our friends) I was surprised to hear from them that people in Toronto are grumpy. Huh? My Toronto had only friendly and smiley people. The Torontonians don't like our accent. Huh? I could barely talk (I wrote and read splendidly... pronunciation was - like a friend put it: you sound like a French who speaks English with German accent!) but everywhere I turned people will repeat once or twice if I didn't understand, and they'll do it slowly, without being bothered.

I sat down that evening and asked myself - what is the difference between my Toronto and their Toronto? Obviously not the city and its inhabitants... they were the same. And it downed on me: it was us! We (my DH and I) were not only open, we were simply happy and sharing our happiness. And we were getting happiness in return.

That's a lesson I never forgot. That's when I realized there is only one way to live your life: being happy and grateful. And happiness is not only shared - it is also a personal choice: comes from within and you have full control over it!

Today - make the choice: be happy! Smile to a stranger and say 'hi'.

Monday, January 16, 2012


As a former corporate software developer I can truly appreciate this quite exact view on the life-cycle of software!



Pastel necklace: sterling silver chain, glass beads wrapped - All the Pretty ThingsThe last days have been really gorgeous - but quite freezing... so they inspired me to present you a relatively new set, glossy and happy, pretty much like the days :)

Pastel necklace: sterling silver chain, glass beads wrapped - All the Pretty ThingsThe story behind the Pastel set is quite simple: I wanted a bright and colourful necklace and a long one too... during the winter months is hard to wear collar necklaces with a turtleneck... I had this beautiful sterling silver geometrical chain waiting for me to pick it up and enrich it somehow. When I discovered the 3 strands of glass in my boxes, glass beads infused with beautiful pastel shades I knew this is the necklace for me: every other link is used as a frame for the wrapped glass beads.

The long chain (4 ft long) is double wrapped to produce a rich feeling: when I wear it it feels like summer is close by; the perfect wear for a winter day!

What is your favorite accessory for a winter day?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Life's Echo

Peony - One of the many pretty things in life A young family on vacation stopped at a cottage beside a large valley. The young brother, being upset and angry with his older brother, went behind the cottage and cried 'I hate you!'. Immediately, a strong voice answered back 'I hate you... hate you... hate you...!'

Scared, he went to his father, told him the story and worried that someone out there hates him. His father went with the boy outside and asked him:

- Was it here you heard someone saying he hates you?
- Yes!
- Now tell him you love him.
- I love you! cried the child, and the valley answered immediately: 'I love you... love you... love you!'

- Well, my son, remember that's how life is: if you say / do bad things, you'll receive bad things. But if you are good and do only good to others, you'll find love everywhere.

When a stranger knocks on the door, charity opens the door of hospitality; happiness welcomes him; and humanity is his host. The hungry man is fed by goodness; faith leads the hopeless man; and love leads the troubled man.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Nicolas Steno

If you haven't googled anything on Wednesday you might ask 'Who's that?!' Even if you googled something on Wednesday - you might ask the same question :)

I must admit I didn't know who he was - but thanks to the Google's intriguing Doodle I had to find out - and I learned he's basically the father of geology. The article below is interesting and gives you a glimpse on how a curious mind can change the whole world! Fits nicely into my nature-oriented week, as well as with my belief that inquiring minds are the ones that get the most out of life.

Don't let others tell you that "you can't do that [because nobody did it before]".

Be curious and be bold!

How Nicolas Steno changed the way we see the world, literally

Friday, January 13, 2012

Amazing nature

I have always been amazed by what you find in nature. We, humans, consider ourselves quite something... but we still have very few clues on what's happening around us. That seems especially true about aquatic life: we know less about seas and oceans than we know about space - I would say curious, wouldn't you?

As a person with some breathing issues I have a very healthy respect (read 'fear' :)) for water. I thought myself how to swim so I never learned to swim properly: I have to have my head above the water to feel comfortable... which is no way to swim, honestly! Yes, on my bucket list there is a point about taking swimming lessons, maybe someone will be able to teach me how to synchronize my breathing with my moves :)

Anyhow - the only way I am totally OK in water is by wearing a life jacket. I still remember the thrill of our vacation 10 years ago, in Mexico, in the Yucatan Peninsula. Besides a visit to the Chichen Itza (right before they closed the pyramid) we booked a day in the nature. In hindsight - we were 100% irresponsible. We didn't realize (and never asked either, because we didn't realize!) it would be a van, the driver (a Mexican that spoke no English), the guide, the two of us and 2 other ladies. If that wouldn't be enough - there was nothing like going to places well known or traveled... nooo... private beaches, private closed parts of the jungle, and so on. By private I don't mean 'expensive villas inhabited by millionairs'. I mean 'there is no soul on this land whatsoever!' Since we already booked it and the guide seemed a nice guy, we went ahead with the day. It is (to this day) one of the best days of my life, and for sure the best adventure ever.

Besides jumping from 10 m into a cenote (wearing a life jacket) and having a true Mexican lunch (in the driver's backyard) - we experienced a swim in a splendid lagoon. The swim had 2 parts: one part where the river will drop into the ocean, where we swam with myriads of fish in all the colours ever imaginable... and non-imaginable. I have never seen such an amazing variety... and I have never seen such brilliant colours. After he let us enjoy - we proceeded to the 2nd part, out in the ocean. He wanted to show us some giant turtles - we saw them. But that's not what impressed me the most. What I will never forget was this amazing moment when we practically swam next to a huge stingray. There is nothing more exciting than almost touching this marvelous creature, seeing it undulating its beautiful 'wings' through the water. Despite my complete fear of water I understood the attraction some people feel for the water life. For the first time in my life I understood why a Jacques Cousteau would spend his life out on the seas and oceans of the planet, trying to understand this  magnificent world and its creatures.

I will leave you with a splendid video from National Geographic: a small fish mimicking a Mimic Octopus that mimics yet another fish. And you say we understand our own planet?!

Fish Mimics Mimic Octopus That Mimics Fish - National Geographic

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thank you!

Does anybody see anything new on my blog today?

I hope you saw it already - it's a beautiful change and EOSGrafx is the author! They have helped me create my brand - that beautiful pictogram with the initial in the middle...

I simply LOVE it: since they send it to me yesterday I've been watching it and doing little else around here but change everything that's related to my brand (logos, headers, icons - you name it). DH is quite annoyed at the moment... whenever he enters the room I'm editing some image :)

But I am happy with my brand! Thank you Delia & Bogdan at EOSGrafx for my amazing brand

How do you like it? I'd love to hear your thgouhts...

All Pretty Things - Logo & new Brand

Colours (Green)

Today is time for a very pretty colour: green. Apparently lately I've been in a 'nature' blogging mood - so it's only fitting to talk about green... which is representing, you guessed it, nature!

Mother of pearl set (in a glass) - Unique One-of-a-kind Jewelry by All Pretty ThingsOne of the most abundant colour in nature - green is a symbol of life, growth, freshness. When you say green you think of the grass growing, maybe of that cute little jumping frog you found in the backyard, of the leaves of all flowers. The first breath of life in the spring comes through the leaves - and that's our first sign of nature coming back to us: green in an amazing number of shades.

As the combination of a cold (blue) and warm (yellow) colours - green is a very balanced hue. It is a very restful one too - and a safe one, on the opposite side of red.

Princess bracelet detail: Glass beads and Sterling Silver Chainmaille - Unique One-of-a-kind Jewelry by All Pretty ThingsUsing grass / leaf green in your design you will send a message of hope, growth, natural, freshness. Darker hues are associated with ambition, power, even jealousy (not sure if it's because dark green is associated with money, at least in North-American culture; or money became green because the hue symbolizes power... the egg / chicken question). The yellow-green shades show sickness and discord, be careful with the colour. On the other hand, the dark-olive colour has been a symbol of peace since Noah's times - maybe instead of that yellow-green scarf you wanted to give to your MIL you could get a dark-olive one, or, even better, a teal / aqua scarf, as teal (a combination of green and blue) is said to have healing powers.

As for design combinations - green is a perfect colour to decorate (being restful and peaceful), not too cold, not too warm, not over-stimulating... just perfect. Accent it with its complement, red or try to re-create a garden: imagine a forest green couch with lots of colourful pillows - that's an image sure to bring a smile when you see it!

Seasons necklace: Sterling Silver, Cloisonne charms - Unique One-of-a-kind Jewelry by All Pretty ThingsOther colours to combine with? Use the complementary schema - with red accents for a powerful result. Use the triad schema (with orange and violet) for a playful result, using bright, pastel hues. The analogous schema (with teal, and yellow-green) is very hard to pull right, mainly because the complex combination of cold and warm colours. When in doubt - try to find ideas in nature: green is everywhere and you can easily recreate your favourite spot from a garden in a room decor, even in a fashion look.

What is your relationship with green? Have you ever found it impossible to match?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

How to get what you want (TED)

Interesting and very true conversation. How many times have I just left everything and told myself 'I will be fine'?! Mrs. Robins is perfectly right - what's hardest to do in life is to get out of your own comfort zone. We are creatures of habit and comfort... why should we do things differently?

Now... I'll force myself off the computer and into the beautiful outdoors!


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A walk in the nature

Squirrels - Royal Botanical GardensThere are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. ~ Albert Einstein

There are a few events that changed the way I looked at life. I have been always an optimist, always seeing the glass half-full, most of the time a happy person. But I haven't always looked at everything as a miracle... a few events in my life started to change me and here I am today: capable to get out in the sun, even when it's cold, and go on a nice hike... paying attention to each bud you encounter (the magnolia trees started to get buds during the warm spell of the last few weeks), to each little bird chirping to each sun ray coming your way.

Woodpecker - Royal Botanical GardensMany years ago I would never hike through the forest in the middle of the winter. What could be there in the middle of the winter?

The miracles of life! Hiking today through Royal Botanical Gardens - we stopped every few steps to listen. There were woodpeckers we could just hear first, then following the sound we would find them in the tree.

There were the squirrels, hiding somewhere in the tree, you could hear their breaking the peanut shells fast-fast-fast... stop fast-fast-fast... stop.

There were chickadees (or maybe finches, I never really know - a short course in aviary is needed) chirping in the bushes... if you'd be still for just a few moments they would come to feed from your palm.
Child with ice - Royal Botanical Gardens
There was a frozen lake that had to be discovered: the ice was thin and full of holes at the edge of the water, but proved quite solid just a few steps away; rest assured, no one stepped on the ice, although not for lack of trying!

There was the quiet red-tailed hawk up in the tree, and all 4 of us in the garden at the moment would try to snap the perfect picture of him while he was gazing unworldly to us. It is an interesting feeling to be watched by such a wonderful creature: they must know they rule their own world...

There was the small path through the woods - unmarked, but definitely a path we've never seen in the spring... after checking there are no 'do not walk through' signs we boldly went where no one has been before.

Magnolia buds - Royal Botanical GardensThere were the small fuzzy buds on the magnolia trees, in the splendid sun making you think lightly of spring and warmth.

There was the red berry on the Wholly Winterberry - with no green leaves, but a very bright spot of colour.

All small miracles, all just sitting there waiting for us to stop and discovered them. And we did! Maybe not as many as we could have, but for a former corporate software developer, always rushing from point A to point B, and an energetic 8yo boy who has more energy than the Energizer Bunny - it was a large bunch of miracles in the sun.

I hope you're finding the time to discover one miracle today!

Wholly Winterberry - Royal Botanical Gardens Red-tailed Hawk - Royal Botanical Gardens

Monday, January 9, 2012

The old church

Coming from Europe I gained a new respect for history and old everything when I crossed the Ocean. Didn't happened right away, I think it was during our 2nd summer, when we were travelling in our small car through Southern Ontario. We would see a sign for a 'historic place' (somewhere close to Elora) and we will stop to see this place... imagining nothing sort of our beloved palaces or monasteries... just to find a plaque. To add insult to injury - the plaque was commemorating I forgot what important event from... 70 years ago!

For us, who learned in grade 7 and 8 about our ancestors, the Romans and Dacs... who grew up visiting ruins over 2,000 years old and churches that were built 1,000 year ago and they are still standing - history is something that happened really loooooong time ago.

Old Church - Stained Glass by All Pretty ThingsOne of my most precious memory from Romania are the 2 journeys at the monasteries. One - when I was 10 years old, the other - 15 years later, with my DH. If you ever get a chance - try to visit the monasteries in Romania or Greece. The Russian ones would have been as marvelous, but most of them were destroyed... I am not sure how ours remained - nonetheless, they are hundreds and hundreds of years old. Each region of the country will sport different styles - and you'll also recognize different architectural styles depending on the era they were built in. The region most rich in monasteries and churches is Moldova (not the country, the region that's part of Romania... at the border with Moldova Republic, which has been part of the country too... but that's another story), however the churches I love the most are in Transylvania and Maramures (West and North areas of the country). They look very much like the churches I see here - mostly the Anglican ones - and I don't know enough history to understand why, maybe because that part of the country has been under the Austrian-Hungarian Empire for many years.

When I had to choose my next project at the stained glass place - I wanted it to be related to Christmas, but usable for other occasions too. Leafing through the tens of books with designs I came upon this standing church - exactly like one I recall from back Europe. I knew I had to try it - although it had myriads of small and smaller pieces.

The result is what you see above - the old village church, with the bell calling the people to the Sunday service, and the light beautifully filtered through the blue jeweled round window.

A reminder of the old continent, of its rich history - in the new life we are building here.

Sunday, January 8, 2012


Nativity Quilt - by my mother in law
Nativity Quilt - by my mother in law
A man and his wife were traveling one day. They were tired and the night was coming so they tried to stop at an inn. The innkeeper, a heartless man, told them he has no vacancy. The wife declared herself unhappy and tried to argue, but her husband stopped her:

- My dear, don't worry, God knows better!
- My dear husband, what could be better: look, night is coming and we have no shelter!

But she listened to him (as they were in those times :)) and they continued their journey. Not so long after they met a villager, a poor man, but he happily shared his home with them.

In the morning, before they left, the villager gave them amazing news: the inn has been attacked by robbers over the night and the travelers at the inn lost all their possessions.

- See, dear wife, we must trust in God and his plans. Did he know better or what?

(received in a newsletter and translated)

This I found to be the most trying part in life: being patient and accepting the not-so-good parts without bitterness. It's easy to trust the powers when all is well... the art is in trusting when you live trying times.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Design seeds

One of the most complicated task of any designer is colour matching. I've seen designers work OK with patterns, and being a disaster in the colour area.

For me colour is alive - and if you match them inappropriately they will start fighting: between themselves and then with your eyes, brain, and feelings. I am sensitive to colour (not as sensitive as other people I know) - surround me with dramatic sad hues and you'll have a very depressed me in a jiffy.

That's why  I love pastels (the happiest colours I know) and I simply adore flowers... although I like blue (as you might know from this previous post), blue is not a very natural colour so I always find myself in the spring looking at my garden: it is full of pink, purple and some yellow.

Not too long ago I stumbled upon an amazing site - Design seeds. It contains pictures from real life - and attaches the matching 'paint chips' that come with each design. It is a very natural combination and it's a great help to any person: a starting designer trying for a specific look, a wedding planner looking for matching a specific feeling, a mom trying to redecorate a bedroom.

Frosted Summer by Design Seeds

I hope you'll enjoy their beautiful pictures and combinations as much as I do!

Friday, January 6, 2012

A special post

I love you, mommy :: All Pretty Things
Image: Rob Wiltshire
I just stumbled upon this post - it is a beautiful piece for mothers everywhere, and especially for the ones with sons. Happy to report I am doing each and every point :)

25 rules for mothers with sons

A memory (1)

Today is The Baptism of Jesus, the 12th day of Christmas - in the Romanian Orthodox calendar, at least. It is supposed to be very cold, however we already had our cold spell a few days back...

This picture seems to be very appropriate for the day

Happy son during winter storm

The picture has been taken a couple of years back, during one of the snow storms we had: overnight we managed to get over 3 feet of snow and we were properly snowed in. Even with the school right across the street (literally) - when you get a snow day you do just that: get our in the backyard and build a snowman. Then, with a gleam in your eye and an 'evil' smile you start... a snowball fight (which is what my son is preparing to do).

Maybe we'll get the chance of making a new snowman this year too! Winter has just started, after all :)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

How to get rid of the winter blues

I grew up considering talks about weather as the uber-polite conversation (as in very British) and very impersonal too :) However, since moving to Canada conversations about weather occupy at least half of my life: wherever I turn someone (including myself) will complain about the weather.

The last few days have been quite strange - it is either decently cold, but cloudy and humid, or horribly cold and windy. Today started on the good side (decently cold and sunny), just to change mid-day with a really cold wind that will freeze your soul if you're not careful. Mind you, my son insisted it is warm enough to get out in shorts and after 5 minutes of 'negotiations' I was tempted to let him do just that. The practical me prevailed - if he's getting sick guess who takes care of him?

Cold or not, gray or not - it is a fact: winter is here for a good few months. With the holidays cheer safely tucked behind us, the January bills starting to trickle in and the days still too short to consider yourself any happier - the next few weeks are usually hard to manage.

So what can one do about the winter blues that are quickly coming over us? My solution has always been colour. In any form - but the one I enjoy the best: in the form of flowers.

The most inexpensive solution is to buy some bulbs in the fall and plant them in pots weeks prior to Christmas. The best idea would be to plant some every week starting about 8 weeks before Christmas and going through into February. This solution, as obvious and inexpensive as is - has never worked for me. Someway or another I forget to plant them in time to enjoy any colour before March :)

The next solution is to buy ready-potted, almost in-bloom bulbs - and that's what I usually end up. This solution works pretty good: you know exactly what colour of flowers you'll get, you know they'll be blooming for a few days, if you manage to get pots with bulbs at various states - you can even stagger your garden through a week or so.

This year I managed to get an Amaryllis that bloomed precisely on New Year's Day! On New Year's Eve I also found some small pots with tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and crocuses - and I got one of each. They started to bloom yesterday! Oh, and another first this year: an orchid I got for my birthday this year - started to bloom again. I have never had orchids blooming for the 2nd time - needless to say I am happy and looking forward to seeing those beautiful pink flowers!

Of course, there is the most expensive solution: buy cut flowers or beautiful arrangements from the flower shop. I don't know about you, but my need for spring and colour is greater than the price of cut flowers :)

These are the flowers in my house today: they fill my life with colour and a perfect spring perfume!

Garden in the middle of the house - How to get rid of the winter blues, All Pretty ThingsThe Red Amaryllis - How to get rid of the winter blues, All Pretty ThingsPurple tulips - How to get rid of the winter blues, All Pretty Things
Blue Hyacinths - How to get rid of the winter blues, All Pretty ThingsDaffodils - How to get rid of the winter blues, All Pretty ThingsBlue crocuses - How to get rid of the winter blues, All Pretty Things

You're feeling blue on a chilly winter day? Fill your house with blooming flowers, make yourself a sweet hot chocolate (chocolate is good at dispensing some happiness), make a nice fire in the fireplace and listen to some calm music - you're bound to feel better!

If you have other ideas on how to get your spirit up - please share your wisdom...