Wednesday, February 29, 2012

On food (TED)

By now you should know I was born and raised in Ol' Europe... Eastern Europe... Romania, to be very precise. In a small town where everyone knew everyone. Let me tell you - there are huge disadvantages to that... but there are a few advantages too. One: being a sub-urban community, we still had houses and gardens, with people growing their own food and raising their own meat. It was a world of old-trading: I give you that, you give me some fresh milk and so on... I didn't realize what a huge advantage that has been until recently.

Moving to Canada almost 15 years ago I was completely taken by surprise by the sheer number of people with allergies (a very good friend of mine has allergies to sesame, and many have children with allergies to pretty much every conceivable food). I just couldn't understand why - what could be the big difference between Europe (all of it) and North-America? Some said it's the pollution. I didn't buy that - if you've ever lived in Bucharest or Campina you'd understand what pollution is... the smog here won't really compare to the cement dust one breathes in every single moment of their live. The Western Europe is as industrialized as North-America, and the population density is much-much higher than anywhere in North-America. No, cannot be pollution.

Slowly, but surely - I started to learn: a bit here, a bit there, until I had the bigger picture.

This video will explain that picture much better than I can. Enough to say that since our son was born I dream of getting our farm where I could grow everything we eat, and raise a cow and our own chickens... it hasn't happened yet, but I haven't lost my hope!

Watch - and believe... then start making changes - we are talking our children's future here! We, as responsible adults and parents, must take steps to ensure we get our children back on healthy food. We have a voice and a will - we should use both wisely.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

40 right questions (Giveaway!)

Last week I stumbled upon a wonderful article on Marc and Angel's site - an article asking 40 breathtaking questions, you can read it here.

Since the questions are all amazing - I have decided to answer them and at the same time to do a little contest (my first!). Pick 2 questions: one that you have no trouble answering (the answer will simply pop into your mind) and the question that leaves you wondering and you need to search long and carefully inside yourself to find the answer.

Leave a comment with the 2 questions (you can leave the answers too, but it's not needed) and on Monday, March 12th I will randomly pick a winner. What would you win? Your choice of the blue and gold Shambhala bracelet (if you prefer other colour combination, let me know and I'll try to find the proper beads!) or an Angel drop (set on chain).

[Note: I have changed the bracelet to the turquoise one, since everyone seems to be in love with it :) It won't be the exact same beads, but it will be turquoise on black cord]

For more chances to win, see below and enter as many times as you can.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Delicate love

Delicate Love - earrings & necklace set (sterling silver, Swarovski crystal) :: All Pretty ThingsI wanted to make something special for Valentine's Day and discovered I have no hearts in the house - as in bead hearts... all have been used in one project or another :) Since there were only a couple of days since my last bead therapy - I decided to stay put and just be happy.

But fate intervened through a friend who needed a drive to the bead store! Can I leave a friend in distress? Of course not. Can I refrain from buying something? Absolutely. The question is - why should I?!

In my defence, I had no intention whatsoever to buy anything. Really. But fate - again - intervened: the lady from the store was sorting... Swarovski crystals! That's like shaking a red flag in front of the bull, seriously (hey, I know, I am Taurus after all :)) She had the most beautiful little hearts I've ever seen and I spent the next 20 minutes trying to match some bicones to them (our store doesn't display the name of the crystal colour... which makes it a complete adventure to match elements!) Luckily for me I knew exactly what I wanted to make - so I knew exactly how many I wanted too.

That's when fate stopped looking after me - once I got home I discovered I don't have enough chain to make my project... go online, order the sterling silver elements, add some extra in the process, oh, look, butterflies, get some butterflies... A couple of days of waiting and...

Delicate Love - earrings & necklace set (sterling silver, Swarovski crystal) :: All Pretty Things

Delicate Love was born: true to its name, a delicate set (necklace and earrings) of sterling silver and Swarovski. A glamorous glow reflects on your skin - this is an extremely versatile piece. It will be an elegant additions to the business suit; it will dress up your jeans and make you look fabulous for an afternoon tea party with your friends; and it will brilliantly shine on an evening dress. It is an amazing bridal set - its delicate glow will make you feel special and unique!

I'd love to hear your thoughts about this set.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

On balance

A husband was accusing his wife she's a 'saver', while she thought he's a 'spender'. They were arguing back and forth with no result. One day they decided to ask a wise man who's right.

The wise man looked at both of them, showed them his hand wide open and asked:

- If my hand would always be open, would it be useful to me?

- Well, not really, the two answered.

Closing his fist, the wise man asked them again:

- How about if I always keep it like this?

- Of course not, the two agreed.

- Well, them go home, my children, think about this and see which one of you two is right!

In everything we need a measure: the beauty is to figure out what the balance of everything is!

Have you found your balance?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

7000 Bracelets Blog Hop

The day is finally here! As you can remember, we were supposed to create bracelets - with blue in them.

After going through my stash of beads a number of times without getting the proper idea, one day it just came to me: a Shambhala bracelet. A symbol of peace, tranquillity and happiness - exactly what I am for when creating my pieces, and exactly what the families of the children will need!

To test my abilities (I have done one long time ago - it seems to be a skill similar to bike riding: once you learn it, you'll never forget it!) I used the only blue beads with large enough holes that I had in my household at the time - this is the first bracelet:

Shambhala bracelet (turquoise) for 7000 Bracelets Blog Hop :: All the Pretty Things

Love at first sight! Quickly went to the store and got another set of blue glass beads; they have to be blue, otherwise I have a number of suitable beads: purple, green.... no blues... you'd think the way I love blue I would hoard them. I figured out that as soon as I get something blue I make it immediately in a wearable piece :)

This is the 2nd Shambala bracelet:

Shambhala bracelet (glass) for 7000 Bracelets Blog Hop :: All the Pretty Things

I meant to do a few more - maybe next time (at least I'm optimistic!).

Instead, I have decided to add a couple of charms: Angels - I'll be using them this week for Martzishor (read more about our beautiful tradition here) and I made more, just in case.

Angel charms for 7000 Bracelets Blog Hop :: All the Pretty Things

This was my try at the 7000 Bracelet Blog Hop - I'd love to hear what you think about it!
Please check below the other participants - and make sure you visit them!

Elysian Studios and One Kiss Creations The Studio Sublime Crafty Hope
The Gossiping Goddess SilverRose Designs Firefly Visions
Pink Chapeau Vintage Jewelry Michelle Mach Pine Ridge Treasures
Backstory Beads Adventures in Creativity with Lorillijean Carefree Jewelry by Lisa
Sue Beads MiShel Designs Created Treasures
Taralinda Muses My Life Under The Bus Elizabeth Creates
SilverNikNats Erin Siegel Jewelry Carolyn’s Creations
My Life…one bead at a time Fresh Baked Designs Songbeads
Sunshine Bliss Lori Anderson Rainy Days Designs
Pat Barden Jewelry Tell Your Girlfriends Therese's Treasures
Windrock Studio Bead Lola Bead Spice Box Designs
Antiquity Travelers Vitamin C...A Daily Dose of Creativity Beads and Bread
Sharyl's Jewelry and Reflections Ahtee's Blog Thoughtful-Notions
Beads for Brains:365 Wild Sally Road All The Pretty Things
Skye's Creative Chaos My Addictions...Handcrafted Jewelry by Patti Lindy's Designs
Falling Into The Sky Curry Chaos Mama's Got to Doodle

Friday, February 24, 2012

The fortunes (in the cookies) (2)

Last week I found this little papers I've been saving God knows why or what for... the fortunes from the fortune cookies. This is the second part.

Peek-a-boo! All Pretty Things
Honour yourself and others will honour you too (unfortunately very few people are able to teach you this one!)

Hand that touch (sic!) this fortune shall have no more worry (I wish)

Speak softly and sweetly (OK, I got it the first time... and seriously, have you heard me talking? If go any softer I'll be quiet... or maybe this is the message? :))

How much deeper would the ocean be without sponges (huh?!)

Webster Falls, Dundas :: All Pretty Things
There are three ingredients in the good life: learning, earning, and yearning (hehe... )

To have peace is to increase fortune and longevity (errr... no... it is as simple as to tell your family you left to get groceries and instead lock yourself in the bathroom with a glass of wine and a book)

The calling that has sounded will not be the lasting call (if you say so...)

Autumn in the Dundas Valley :: All Pretty Things
Today your charm will have them singing like birds (maybe I should hop on twitter quickly?!)

An exciting opportunity lies ahead if you are not timid (I believe the opportunity lies regardless of my shyness... the ability of me grabbing it - well, that's another story)

My Zen sand frame :: All Pretty Things
Your greatest asset is not the quantity of your friends, rather the quality of your friends (yup... figured that one about 25 years ago)

42.7% of all statistics are made up on the spot (is this part of the 42.7?)

You should be able to undertake and complete anything (well, let's not get over ourselves - I can't see how I can undertake becoming an astronaut... never mind completing it!)

Did you ever get a fortune cookie with a funny / true / spooky message?!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Let's party! (Mardi Gras)

Since I started this blog I've been looking forward to Mardi Gras time - since I have a perfect piece for it, aptly named (what else?!) 'Mardi Gras' :)

Mardi Gras (polymer clay, sterling silver) :: All the Pretty Things
Back when I started to work with polymer clay I was trying various techniques and I had the foresight to use colour that will work together very very well - until I ended up with an assortment of very un-assorted beads. Not one to throw anything out (see Friday's post, I am unable to throw even fortune papers :)) I laid them in front of me and they happily yelled at me "Carnival! Let's party!"

Who am I to argue with the beads?! This is how it comes to you today: Mardi Gras, one of the happiest gayest and most musical piece I've ever made. It dances with you, it sings to you the samba, it is bright and shiny and the perfect accessory for that colourful fancy party :)

I love it to pieces and I had the most fun wearing it - my next goal is to create the Glass Mardi Gras (more practice required, granted).

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Happiness revealed

Louie Schwartzberg: Nature. Beauty. Gratitude.
Nature’s beauty can be easily missed -- but not through Louie Schwartzberg’s lens. His stunning time-lapse photography, accompanied by powerful words from Benedictine monk Brother David Steindl-Rast, serves as a meditation on being grateful for every day.

Louie Schwartzberg is an award-winning cinematographer, director and producer who captures breathtaking images that celebrate life -- revealing connections, universal rhythms, patterns and beauty

(from TED)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

New projects

Sometimes I wonder if it's curiosity or what else that pushes me to try new techniques, new ideas, new media every few months. Since I've started making jewelry I have tried polymer clay (love it, want to try PMC now :)), wire crochet (I always loved crochet, more than knitting), knotting, wire wrapping and many more.

Back in December I have finally approached one of my oldest and dearest dreams: working with glass. I got it somewhat sideways: through stained glass. I learned it's not impossible to work it - actually it was a lot easier than I originally thought. I love that I am now able to create various projects for myself, my family and friends (no, don't look for me selling stained glass anytime soon, not going to happen... or not too soon - never say never ;))

And 2 weeks ago, while in the local bead store I stroke a conversation with the nice lady, I was asking about PMC classes anywhere in the city - when she mentioned they are opening a lampwork studio right here! Oh, wow - something I've been asking them forever (the sister-store has one). I booked a lesson for Sunday - and here I am: I have tried lampworking!

Not only that - I loved it! I will get my first beads today (pictures on an update later in the week) - I am so excited I am going to get there at lunch time, most likely :) And I have 2 extra hours of studio left - and tons of things to practice on... can't wait! (can you tell I am excited?!)

I still have a few techniques I want to try by myself, and a few I need a course in - what I love is that our city is starting to grow into arts and crafts more and more.

So far my bucket list of techniques / media to try looks like this:
  • polymer clay - checked, love it
  • glass painitng - checked, really loved it - which brought me to... (the next step):
  • stained glass - checked, love it
  • lampwork - checked, love it
  • PMC - to do
  • serious wire work - to practice (I have a design I've played in my head for over a month now... it's time to practice it, right?)
  • silversmithing - to do
  • wood working - to do (this would be for fun only, I have respiratory problems and there is no way I will be able to live in a studio full of wood dust... although there is little I enjoy more than the smell and feel of wood! but I must try it, nonetheless)
  • watercolour - to do (as in to take a course, I used to paint when I was young, it wasn't something studied... I feel I need someone to talk to me, reading is not good enough in this case)
  • enameling - to do
Are there any techniques / media you can think of that I missed?
I really want to try them all. Am I crazy?!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Purple Universe (2)

It is February so it's only fit I will present you various amethyst pieces I've created - Amethyst is February birthstone, after all.

Purple Universe (sterling silver, Swarovski, amethyst) :: All Pretty Thungs
Taking its powers from the mystical colour (or his colours from the mystical power - who knows?!), amethyst is used as a protection stone. That wasn't on my mind when I designed this new Purple Universe (I might have a fascination with Purple Universes, remember the polymer clay version?).

On my mind was the beautiful, almost magical combination of sterling silver and purple, with some hints of aqua. It spoke of some old legends, those typical Celtic legends when the good is not perfect, and the evil can sometimes be converted to good. It spoke of transformations more profound than the one we usually  witness - as the feel of the cold precious metal and stone and crystal on your skin is subtly changing into warmth. It spoke of Yin and Yang, of extremes finally founding a balance.

Purple Universe (sterling silver, Swarovski, amethyst) :: All Pretty Thungs
It makes me think this is how the Universe looks like: silent and beautiful, with big stars and planets on an almost invisible silvery orbit around something unique: you!

With its 40 inches length, the necklace is a versatile piece and can be worn in double strand during the day or become a beautiful opera necklace for the evening. Likewise, it can complement any type of attire: a casual dress, a business suit, and an evening gown. Tip - if you have a fabulous back and a gown to show it (with no back) you can wear this piece draped along your back instead of your front.

A gorgeous piece made of Swarovski crystals and Amethyst beads lightly woven on a sterling silver swage chain, the Purple Universe is not only a piece of jewelry, it is a splendid poem whispered in your ear, adorning a stylish romantic women.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The fox and the fence

All Pretty Things: creating moments of beauty for your everyday life!

fox saw lots of chickens in a backyard. She walked around the fence, looking for a hole. After a long time she found a small one, but when she tried to go through, the hole was too small. After a few days without eating - she came back and now could get through the hole into the well sought-after garden.

Inside her newly found paradise, she started eating until she was full. But now she was too fat to go through the hole. To get out - she again went on a 'hunger strike'. When out of the garden she thought:

How stupid could I be, I exit the same I entered!


A gentle reminder of the fact that we enter this world without owning any physical things & treasures, and we leave the same.

Why would we focus our life on amassing physical treasures, when we can simply spend our time enjoying the amazing gift we've been given: our life, our family, our friends, our dreams.

May you enjoy your treasure!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Night Sky

Stormy sky, Hamilton, ON :: All the Pretty Things
I've been always fascinated by the sky - day or night, sunny or stormy, the sky is a magic world for me.

When growing up I learned a lot about stars and the universe from a good family friend (an astronomer) and I can find you quite a number of constellation at any time of the year (I had to re-learn some details when moving to Canada, since the sky here is just a tad different from the one back in Europe).

The site I'm sharing with you today is fascinating - watch what a good photographer can do!

Experience The Night Sky Like Never Before


Friday, February 17, 2012

The fortunes (in the cookies)

Autumn in Halton :: All Pretty Things
A hoarder that I am - I just found an impressive number of fortunes I amassed over the past few years.

Some speak the truth, some are silly, some... enjoy all :) [I will split it in 2, since I found yet another stash! I should open a fortune store]

Work with the public and let some of your hidden qualities shine (hmm... must look for those hidden qualities :))

Love is like wildflowers - it is often found in the most unlikely places (especially when you're searching for it in the flower shop!)

Autumn in Halton :: All Pretty Things
There is always a way - if you are committed (I'm afraid there is a way even when you're not committed... you might not like the results, though)

Consider gain and loss, but never be greedy and everything will be all right (hmm... obviously the Wall Street people never encountered this fortune!)

Fortune favours the brave (yes, it does)

Business is a lot like playing tennis: if you don't serve well, you lose (well, really depends whom you are serving against :))

Autumn in Halton :: All Pretty Things
You will do well to expand your business (this is funny - as it came right after my DH decided to expand the business in a new direction)

Good health will be yours for a long time (God bless!)

Excellent day for dusting: start with a few old dreams (yeah, I dust one every few months :))

You are very grateful for the small pleasures of life (yes, I am - and for the big ones alike!)

Don't forget, you are always on our minds (oops... whose minds would that be?!?! should I freak out?)

Sometimes travel to new places leads to great transformation (only sometimes? what's travelling good for if you don't come back a new you?)

Speak softly and sweetly (OK, I'll try)

A house without books is like a room without windows (you should see the windows on our house :))

Did you ever get a fortune cookie with a funny / true / spooky message?!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

3+1 steps to perfect wire wrapping

Lately I had a lot to think about and, amazingly enough, I've had quite some success in finishing pieces. I fully blame it on the challenges I've entered, nothing like a deadline to put your brain in over-drive and start finding ideas.

Fire - Valentine's Day (sterling silver, red coral) :: All the Pretty Things
On Sunday I succumbed to the organizing moment - I had to clean my work space and organize the craft drawers at the same time. It wasn't perfect, but at least now I know where to find what I'm looking for.

In the process I found beads I completely forgot about, including vintage ones (we talk over 40 years old here, my mom had them for ages... did wear them for ages... she decided it's time for them to have a new life - thanks, mom!). And in finding them - I had to do some (simple and basic) wire wrapping.

Here are my top 3 steps in achieving a pleasant result:

1. Use a length bigger than what you think would be enough. Sure, you will probably end up with small ends you need to cut off - but it's better to have were to cut off from!

Winter Wonderland - Valentine's Day Evening (sterling silver, quartz crystals) :: All the Pretty Things
2. If you don't have a good spacial orientation and visual memory - use a marker on your pliers. In order to achieve same size loops you either need good memory or good props. Whatever works for you :) I just believe it's easier to use props than to buy good memory!

3. Practice with same size / hardness craft wire until you're happy with the result. Only then use good wire. Yes, I know... and what would you do with the objects crafted out of less-expensive wire? Well, in the beginning you'll recycle them through your city recycling program, unless you're an amazing goddess (or god) of wire craft and your pieces turn perfectly first time when you try them (I am not... in order to get the 2 ends of a cord ending to match I had to practice with craft wire... a couple of times...). It's important, though, to have the same gauge of the wire and if possible, same hardness as your most precious one.

And the +1, you'll ask? Always file your cuts! It makes the difference between a perfectly finished and professional looking (and feeling) piece and the rest of the world.
For the gods and goddesses of wire out there - what are your top 3 tips on working with wire? Or on your preferred technique, it doesn't have to be wire :)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Erik Johansson: Impossible photography (TED)

Ooh... this is beautiful - I love how he described capturing an idea!

Simply amazing (besides his cute accent :)) and perfectly true: we are surrounded by ideas, by opportunities, by beauty - all we have to do is see them, open our minds and start truly seeing them.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I give you my heart

I wanted to talk about something else today... then I realized it's Valentine's Day.

Heart necklace: the ideal gift for a loved one! (sterling silver, Swarovski crystal) :: All Pretty Things
Although we don't really celebrate it (our spring / love custom is the one I talked about on Sunday, Martisor) I can't really ignore it, can I? Especially when I seem to have made a few pieces with hearts in it recently.

The story today is about 'I give you my heart' - a necklace designed by my son (and made by me). On one of the trips to Toronto he decided to fill his basket with Swarovski crystals - and we spend a painful hour trying to get the perfect ones. Why? He found these hearts and a matching star fish - in a beautiful fiery red (glowing oranges and yellows)... and he wanted matching bicones, in different sizes, plus a contrasting shade... If you've ever tried to buy Swarovski crystals off a wall you'll understand my pain!

Heart necklace: the ideal gift for a loved one! (sterling silver, Swarovski crystal) :: All Pretty Things
He envisioned this triple strand - with the 2 hearts and the star fish in the middle; when I asked him what do they symbolize he mentioned mommy and himself (the hearts) and his love of sea and all sea animals... so sweet!! While I was working - he kept chatting, explaining how he loves the ocean and his plans of becoming a marine biologist (this is an 8 yo with not one, but 2 plans on how to become what he wants). What you see is not his original design - as the star fish had an arm broken (we didn't check properly). Luckily for me he wasn't heartbroken over that, he just planned to get a new one on our next trip :)

On this Valentine's Day I offer you the beauty of a child's love - a sterling silver and Swarovski crystals necklace designed by an 8 yo :)

What is your charming story about Valentine's Day?

Monday, February 13, 2012


Mysticism (necklace): amethyst, Czech crystals, quartz, sterling silver :: All the Pretty Things
The recent encounter with the violet butterfly brought the amethyst beads to the top of my stash. And what does one do when she has amethyst in front of her? Create beauty, of course.

I've had this idea for a long time - now with the amethyst and quartz chips in front of me, along with some brilliant Czech crystals I have decided this is the day to make it.

Mysticism (necklace): amethyst, Czech crystals, quartz, sterling silver :: All the Pretty ThingsSo out came the sterling silver wire, chop-chop 11 'stakes' (1 the longest, plus 5 pairs gradually shorter), swirl-swirl a simple loop at the end of each, bead-bead-bead in some sort of a pattern, swirl-swirl a wired loop at the end if each stake, chop-chop another stake to hold all of them, bead-crystal-steak... repeat... add some sterling silver chain, a lobster clasp... and...

Mysticism (necklace): amethyst, Czech crystals, quartz, sterling silver :: All the Pretty ThingsVoila! Coming to you from an evening of fun - Mysticism. It will protect you - as amethyst it is a stone for protection. Called the 'Stone of God' by Moses himself (and brilliantly adorning the robes of the High Priests of the Jews), the amethyst is February birth month too! Loved by all cultures and used since antiquity - amethyst has been attributed a great number of powers. It is said to be calming and protecting, to bring luck and drive away evil, to stimulate the mind and enhance creativity. It has been used my Priests, Magicians and Wizards alike through times.

Mysticism necklace is best worn for a formal occasion. This one of a kind piece is unique as it is seductive: will make its owner glow and look absolutely striking.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Legend of Martzishor

Legenda Martisorului, Martzishor, Marteniza on March 1st :: All Pretty Things
In Romanian culture (and other South-Eastern cultures, like Bulgarian - they call it Martenitza) there is a very old Legend that symbolizes the arrival of Spring.

It is said that long time ago the Sun transformed into a young man and descended in a village to dance. A dragon kidnapped him and threw the Sun into a dungeon. The whole world saddened: birds wouldn't sing, rivers wouldn't flow, kids wouldn't laugh anymore. Nobody dared to fight the dragon, though.

Martisor, Martzishor, Marteniza on March 1st :: All Pretty Things
One day, a young villager decided to go and save the Sun. Many people walked with him for a while and gave him some of their own powers, to help him fight the dragon.

The young man's journey was long and it lasted for 3 seasons: summer, fall, and winter.
Finally he arrived at the dragon's castle and the two started to fight. They fought for days and nights until the dragon was finally defeated. Powerless and hurt, the young man barely managed to free the Sun, who flew into the sky and brighten the world. Spring came!

Legenda Martisorului, Martzishor, Marteniza on March 1st :: All Pretty Things
But the young man couldn't feel spring anymore. His warm blood tainted the snow and upon melting it from the ground bloomed beautiful white flowers, the snowdrops, the spring heralds.

Since then - young people braid together two threads: one red and one white, and they offer them to the girls they like. Red symbolizes love for beauty, reminding of the young man's blood, the white symbolizes health and purity, reminding of the snowdrops, the first flower of the Spring.

Martisor, Martzishor, Marteniza on March 1st :: All Pretty Things

This is one of the oldest customs in Romania. Some say it's over 8,000 years old... apparently 8,000 yo charms painted red & white have been found; I don't know for sure :)

All I know is that come March 1st all the girls and ladies in Romania will wear a charm (usually a flower or a small animal - all symbols of nature, often a 4 leafs clove, a chimney cleaner, a horseshoe - all symbols of luck) tied with a red & white thread. It is called 'Martzishor' after the name of the month of March (Martie in Romanian). It is a beautiful custom, one that I love and we keep in our household (with my son bringing these charms to school on March 1st to all his colleagues :))

Do you have a special custom or tradition you love? Please share it - I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

What am I reading these days?

jannoon028 /
I am writing today about other blogs - the ones that make me smile or think or go 'a-ha!' or are just plain beautiful. It's hard to choose the #1 in each category... very hard...

In the Colour my world category I have to pick Design Seeds - a blog that demonstrates properly how a picture is a thousand words... There is no better place to calm and relax than browsing through the beautiful pictures (and most of the time finding inspiration for a next project).

In the ILSHMRH category (I Laugh So Hard My Ribs Hurt) my # 1 is I've become my parents where we find questions to the most pressing parenting answers (to loosely quote the author). I laugh out loud whenever he posts a new article and I adore the fact his boy is only one year older than mine: all the advice is so expertly up-to-date!

In the Cogito ergo sum category the laurels go to To Gyre and Gambol - it is a pleasure to read Thom's articles, they are breathtaking and a gentle reminder to love this moment. I love his tree ritual, as well as the This Moment / Memory one - lovely ways to remember one's life. Yes, I needed a dictionary to translate the title :)

In the Technology bits and pieces category I have chosen EosGrafx where you can always find smart tips about pretty much everything related to social networking technology. Would you like to know how to do something on Facebook or Twitter or on your own blog? They'll probably have the answer - if they don't already, they'll find it for you.

In the Local jewelry community category I have the nice ladies from BeadFX in Toronto - between the 4 of them they will cover a huge territory: from news in the beading industry to new projects to trends to wonderful business tips. The store is also amazing (a bit far from me, but whenever I get the chance to be in the area... I am paying them a visit).

In the That's an interesting thought! category I recently found an aptly named blog: Escaping Mediocrity. It is not overly pushy in that sense of 'buy this $7.99 study and you'll have 10,000 followers by tomorrow' - instead it has just lots and lots of articles and guest-authors that talk in a no-nonsense language about how to build your business. Yes, most are common-sense - however my experience tells me that people somehow forget exactly the most common-sense :)

What are your favorite blogs these days? I'd love to hear from you and expand my horizon :)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Hops and Hopes

By now you know I stumbled upon the Bead Soup Blog Party and I finally gathered all my wits and elements to make something with my soup... no nothing done yet, no worries, I am the perfect procrastinator - it's going to happen on March 1st if I know myself :) hopefully not!

In the meantime, hopping from blog to blog (which is the intention of the whole party, after all) I managed to get myself into 2 more events, both charity related.

One is 7000 bracelets for Hope: a wonderful initiative to help raising awareness on rare diseases, no matter what they will be. The idea is quite simple - you sign-up by Saturday and make a bracelet in the next 2 weeks. Anything you please - using blue. How could I resist such a call? I who should change my name into Miss Blue :)

The other one is an Auction also being held towards the end of the month - for helping a family here, in Ontario, going through something no family should go through: their beautiful daughter is being treated for a form of cancer. You can find more details on their Facebook page: Project MEERAcles.

If you feel you could be a hummingbird for any of them (or both) - please do so.

May the Hope be with you!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Copper Diem: Three Pound Giveaway**

Oh my - can you imagine winning 3 pounds of beads and findings? This would be heaven for many people I know (agree, it will leave many more indiferent - or, worse, shaking their head :)) - me included!

You can find more details on the Copper Diem blog, link below. Good luck to all - I sure hope I'm going to win it (especially since I missed the ArtBeads Jar giveaway - 17 lbs!! - by ~500 items estimated...)

Copper Diem: Three Pound Giveaway**: **Got your attention, didn't I! You like this? AND this? (It couldn't fit in one photo!) I'm doing a giveaway of THREE pounds...

Accessorizing by your face shape

Last week we talked about how to pick the length of your necklace depending on the occasion.

In the 'How to...' category today we will talk about picking your accessories based on your face shape. You'd want your jewelry to accent your best features and complement your face, right?

Let's start with the face shapes - there are 8 different ones:

Face shape - Oval :: All Pretty Things
Oval face: the face is slightly longer than wider, the jawline is slightly rounded, the face is wider at the cheekbones. With equal distances from jawline to cheekbone to forehead, this is often referred as 'the perfect' face - which means anything goes with this type of face! Lucky you! You can wear any length of necklace, any type of earrings. Play with your other features: if you have a long neck you want to emphasize - wear a multi-strand collar; if you want to soften it - wear a collar necklace.

Face shape - Oblong :: All Pretty Things
Oblong face: the face is slightly longer than wider, the jawline is slightly rounded, the face has the same width at the jawbones, cheekbones, forehead. Choose jewelry that will reduce the length of the face, and add width - a full choker will do both, and princess necklaces with a bold wide focal will break the length and widen your face. In earring look for short and wide: studs or short bold dangles. Avoid accessories that will lengthen the face even more.

Face shape - Rectangular :: All Pretty Things
Rectangular face: the face is slightly longer than wider, the jawline is straight & square, the face has the same width at the jawbones, cheekbones, forehead. The same rules as in oblong will apply - just make sure you add rounder shapes, to soften the straightness of the jawline. A good necklace option is one that will keep the round shape, like necklaces built on memory wire. For the rectangular face - choose round / disc beads.

Face shape - Diamond :: All Pretty Things
Diamond face: the face is slightly longer than wider, the jawline is long and pointed, the face is wider at the cheekbones. Almost as perfect as the oval shaped face, with a diamond face you can wear almost anything. You can either accent the dramatic line of the cheekbone or soften the angular lines a little bit: for the former use bold modern styles, for the later choose the more classic softly shaped princess or collar necklaces. In earrings - accent the other features of the face: for a more narrower face use earrings that will give width in the upper area (like a modern going-upwards style); if you'd like to add width to a more pointier chin wear dangling earrings that are wider at the bottom (like a marquise cut, or chandelier). If you'd like to accent the straight lines of the face - wear crystals (or diamonds); while if you'd like to soften the angular lines - wear round shapes (hoops) and beads.

Face shape - Triangular :: All Pretty Things
Triangular face: the face is slightly longer than wider, the jawline broad, the face is wider at the jawline. With a triangular shape you want to lengthen the face and give it the feeling of being oval. In necklaces - add length by using longer (princess and matinee) ones, and by using lower focal beads that will draw attention away from the face. Use rounder shapes (and beads) to soften the angular lines. In earrings - complement the shape of the face by inverting the shape of the earrings, and wear longer earrings that are wider at the top than the bottom (think grape clusters).

Face shape - Heart (Inverted Triangular) :: All Pretty Things
Heart-shaped face: the face is slightly longer than wider, the jawline is long and pointed, the face is wider at forehead. For necklace choose a short length (choker, princess) with larger round beads (discs are ideal) - they will break the vertical line and add softness to the pointed chin. If you prefer longer lengths - try a multi-strand necklace with multiple strands around the neck and a longer one. In earrings - avoid anything that adds length and width at the cheekbone and use earrings that are wider at the bottom than the top like teardrops and triangles.

Face shape - Square :: All Pretty Things
Square face: the face is almost as wide as it is long, the jawline is straight & square, the face has the same width at the jawbones, cheekbones, forehead. With a square face you want to add length and soften the right angles. Wear long necklaces: princess, matinee, opera & rope. Like with the triangular face, a large focal will draw attention from the face and add length. The earrings should focus attention on length - wear long oval hoops, or long drops, but avoid too-long earrings, as they may highlight the width of the face. Wear soft round cuts in beads / gemstones.

Face shape - Round :: All Pretty Things
Round face: the face is almost as wide as it is long, the jawline is softly rounded, the face is wider at the cheekbones. Accessories for a round face needs to add the illusion of length and angular lines to counter-balance the softness of the shape. Like with the square face, your necklaces should be long and have a focal that will draw attention. The focal should be more angular than round (triangles, rectangles, diamond shapes). Long earrings are best for this shape - use more angular lines than with a square face: long narrow rectangles, and cut crystals.

Now we know how to pick our jewelry based on the occasion and our face shape. What should we talk about next in our 'How to...' articles? Please leave your suggestions!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The hidden world of... (TED)

Packaging :: All Pretty Things
Image: David Castillo Dominici
I recently stumbled upon this video - it describes a world so hidden for many of us... we don't even think about it: packaging.

Since online sales are raising each year and are here to stay with us... think about it: you receive the box at your door - but how did the items get inside the box?

Watch and learn about the 'magic' - I found it interesting, and as many TED conversations it is delivered in a fun easy way.

Mick Mountz: The hidden world of box-packing

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Hiking @ RBG

Pine in winter sky @ Royal Botanical Garden :: All Pretty Things
With this winter that looks like spring - this past weekend we have decided to spend it outdoors. It was sunny and warm, and we had to decide: hiking or swimming. Initially William said 'both' - but I knew it will be too much: hiking in this weather, with all the wind is tiresome even for a full-of-energy child.

William munching @ Royal Botanical Garden :: All Pretty Things
We stopped first at the Chocolate Exhibition (it's a good thing we ate before we left home) where we learned a lot about the cacao history: I never knew it was the Maya who grew the cacao trees... or that the Aztecs would use it like we use money / gold today, because they couldn't grow it... or that it was introduced in Europe by the Spanish - this last bit made sense, since they're the ones who conquered South America, after all, or many other bits and pieces. The whole learning process was made easier and fun with a scavenger hunt: you were supposed to answer 9 questions and collect a cacao bean for each answer! Hint - if you go, make sure you take one pouch for each person that loves chocolate :) We then watched a nice gentleman making cacao from the roasted beans, using a bike to grind the beans... we were able to sample the 'smoothie' at the end - quite interesting taste. We had to visit the Mediterranean Gardens and say hello to Spot and Tiger (2 of the Koy fish in the pond... William named them a while ago). I admired the glass projects too - I forgot the name of the company / artists, but both the stained glass and the fused glass projects were breathtaking. With a short stop at the quiz centers we were back outside and on our way to the Arboretum.

Lilac buds in winter @ Royal Botanical Garden :: All Pretty Things
The garden is home to hundreds of lilac bushes and trees and it is a miracle in May. What I never expected until last year (when we first went in the Arboretum Gardens during winter) is to find the hills a pleasure when the lilacs have no blooms and no leaves. However, it's an interesting sight: one can see the wood properly and discover subtle differences that won't be visible anymore once the leaves appear. To my surprise - the lilacs started to bud... I am not sure if it's a good sign, I sure hope my beautiful flowers will be in coming May...

Goose flying @ Royal Botanical Garden :: All Pretty Things
This time we started from the middle trail and decided to pursue the Cootes' Trail towards the Cootes Paradise Sanctuary. I knew we won't be able to get too far - however we managed to get to a few Lookout places and enjoy long moments of pure beauty...

Woodpecker @ Royal Botanical Garden :: All Pretty Things
Woodpecker @ Royal Botanical Garden :: All Pretty ThingsWe've encountered a small bird paradise: various types of woodpeckers and chickadees coming to eat the seeds everyone is leaving on the tree stumps. There is something almost magical in watching a bird: these were used to people, but not to the point they will approach humans, and I could stand there for hours watching them flying from trees to the seeds and back to trees. Not sure why they wouldn't simply stay on the stump until they had enough to eat: they just came, took a few seeds, fly away, eat them, come back.

Chickadee @ Royal Botanical Garden :: All Pretty Things
We walked to the end of trail (beginning of the marsh and the Dundas Channel) and in the lookout place we met a couple of chickadees. One was really noisy - chirping away continuously (I had the feeling she wanted us to go away) and refusing to eat from our hands (she had seeds on the wood rail next to us, I'll give her that). The other one would just measure us and decided we aren't a real threat... she came to eat, but didn't like our assortment of seeds (apparently they like the sun flower seeds with the shell, and we had just the core of the seed! lesson learned :)) so off she went on the rail as way. We sat on the bench and watched them - like the woodpeckers: come, take a seed, go away, eat it, come back...

Ducks in the sun @ Royal Botanical Garden :: All Pretty Things
The marsh was half-frozen, however near the shore there was a large area where the ice had melted - ducks and geese were happily playing there. If you look at the pictures - you'd never know it is winter! It looked like summer.

Of course the child had some important activities: he was some sort of clone (the Star Wars type) and ran from hill to hill to research and pre-scan for battle droids and other enemies. However, he stopped to admire the nature every now and then and made some plans for future adventures :)

Royal Botanical Garden :: All Pretty Things
Royal Botanical Garden :: All Pretty ThingsRoyal Botanical Garden :: All Pretty Things

What beauty moments have you discovered recently?