Thursday, March 29, 2012

Gemstones: Turquoise

Aztec Dream necklace (sterling silver, turquoise, Czech glass, copper) :: All Pretty Things
It only makes sense to start talking about gemstones by picking the one I love the most (for still unknown reasons!) - turquoise.

There are 3 different types of gemstones:

  • precious: diamond, ruby, sapphire, emerald
  • semi-precious: pretty much everything else that's a rock
  • organic: pearls, coral, and amber
Inside the 'middle pack' we will find 'my' stone - turquoise.

The Lord of the Rings (turquoise, sterling silver) :: All Pretty Things
With its green-blue colour, turquoise is right in between the 2 spectrum of colours: warm and cold.
Thus - it is a balance stone - it helps us to understand ourselves better and bring our emotions under control. The Native Americans hold it as a sacred stone, one that absorbs negativity and transforms it in positive energy. Their belief is turquoise will help you become one with the Nature and Universe.

For healing properties - apparently it is useful for people with respiratory problems (throat, lungs, asthma)... and that might be very well why I am so drawn to it!

Turquoise cabouchon :: All Pretty things
Some of the turquoise meanings include: protection, meditation energy, wisdom, balance, honest communication, strength, friendship and love. Turquoise is considered to be generally healing and bringing the wearer positive thinking and sensitivity. Turquoise gemstone connects us with all life. Also enhances friendship, love, communication and loyalty.

It is the birthstone of people born in December (or under Sagittarius sign) and the 11th Anniversary stone.

What is your favourite stone? Please leave a comment and I will use it for the future articles :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

David Gallo shows underwater astonishments (TED)

By now you know I am fascinated by nature - I truly believe we have more to learn from watching natural world around us, and we seldom do it properly.

So when I come across a miracle moment like this, I feel compelled to share it: jaw-dropping footage of amazing sea creatures and their underwater world.

Mr. Gallo says: "Today we’ve only explored about 3 percent of what’s out there in the ocean. Already we’ve found the world’s highest mountains, the world’s deepest valleys, underwater lakes, underwater waterfalls … . There’s still 97 percent, and either that 97 percent is empty or just full of surprises.”

Today we explore a very small part of the surprises: Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Google Doodle :: Mies van der Rohe architecture
If you're not an architect or have some serious interest in architecture I suspect you didn't know what google's image today was for... I, for one, was wondering if my son's social studies latest project is somewhat related (they're building a city with geometrical shapes - in the process learning a lot about shapes and communities!).

Then I remembered, as soon as I read his name - you see, I had a wonderful friend, architect and when he was talking I thought I am not listening... but I did, at least some :) One thing is for sure: next time I'm in Toronto I am going to pay more attention to the TD Centre, a building Mies vand der Rohe designed... many eons ago... with a flare for how the future will look like.

Next time you take a walk - pay attention to the buildings around you and try to learn something about them: who designed them? when? who built them? what's their history? If you live in North America - do the same exercise on your first opportunity of an overseas trip - I guarantee you the exercise is humbling (to say the least :))

Monday, March 26, 2012

Jasper's Gems: Tangerine Tango Reveal

Tangerine tango challenge: Gipsy set (mother of pearl, sterling silver - necklace, bracelet, earrings) :: All Pretty Things
Bonnie had a wonderful idea: to challenge us to making a jewelry piece in the Pantone colour of 2012: Tangerine. You can see all the cheerful design in her Tangerine galery.


Jasper's Gems: Tangerine Tango Reveal: A few weeks back, I sent out a challenge to jewelry designers to create a piece featuring the Pantone colour of the year, Tangerine Tango. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pretty Things: INCREDIBLE Chain Maille Tutorial Giveaway -- Scott David Plumlee DVDs

Lori aka Goddess of the Bead Community decided to be her usual great lady and is having the most amazing giveaway possible:

Pretty Things: INCREDIBLE Chain Maille Tutorial Giveaway -- Scott David Plumlee DVDs

Erin's Spring challenge

Since these challenges are a great way to make me to stay on track (I am sure you know how life interrupts your most peaceful jewelry making moment) I entered another one: Erin's Spring challenge (from Erin's Jewelry Creations, you can read all about it on her Facebook page, right here).

The challenge had 3 simple rules:

  1. you can make up to 3 pieces( bracelets or a necklace)
  2. your piece(s) must have the colors Pink, Green and Purple in them(that's the challenge part) .. add other colors if you have them.
  3. reveal date is March 25th (today :)). 
Those 3 colours are no challenge for me - I love them separate and the mix spells Spring for me!
I decided to make the challenge about a new piece I've been thinking to make for a few months now: a cuff bracelet. I don't know why I didn't try it... mostly for fear of failing, probably... but now I said to myself: "excuses begone... you *are* making one... doesn't matter what the end result is!"
I am known for being a bit tyrannic so I couldn't dare not to listen to myself :)
Lessons learned:
  • measure the frame wire a bit more carefully (mine it became too short for some unknown strange universal reasons)
  • use a bigger gauge (I used 20 ga, but the frame is too flexible while working with it, so one end is a tad less wide than the starting point - no biggie for the first try)
  • figure out how to make it non-stripy... I don't like the 'stripes' at all - the end result is not bad, but in a more chaotic display will be more pleasant (for me, at least).
Without too much ado - here you have it: Spring Cuff:

Pink, Purple and green challenge: Spring cuff (sterling silver, amethyst, rose quartz, Czech glass beads) :: All Pretty Things

One thing is for sure: it wears adorably! Yes, of course I had to wear it - all day yesterday :)

Saturday, March 24, 2012


I received a package this week - from my mom... in it, like my son put it, 'a treasure!'

She packed it well - smaller packages inside - lots of small ornamental boxes... you open the lid and a new treasure comes to live! Lots of vintage jewelry - pieces and bits, broken strands, miss-matched earrings; but also adorable colours and beads, lovely old earrings (really old).

We kept opening box after box in awe (my son and I) - he kept asking 'is this how things are done in Romania?' and I kept telling him everything he sees is over 30 years old (there are pieces over 50 years old), some were mommy's, some were grandma's, some were great-grandma's and some might be even older. She sent one of my own wood construction set - and he reverentially touched it... I asked him to build something and he asked "aren't you afraid it will break?" He took it like a museum piece :) Then he cautiously started to play with it and the look on his face was quite precious.

In between everything - another small treasure: a fraction of the button collections we have there... You should have seen me! I used to play with those buttons; every now and then I'd take them out of their boxes (3 or 4 big cookie metal boxes) and sort them, play with them, choose my favourites... it was a rare and pleasant journey in time - I could see myself sited in front of the big mirror, playing with the buttons. I spilled them on the table and admired them:

Vintage buttons (some are over 70 years old!) :: All Pretty Things

There are buttons in all shapes and colours:

Vintage buttons: Military Uniform :: All Pretty Things

Some old military uniform buttons (one might be Russian, mom will know better, I'll ask)

Vintage buttons: Mother of Pearl, Wood, Plastic :: All Pretty Things

Mother of pearl buttons and odd-shaped wooden buttons: in all colours, materials, and forms

Vintage buttons: Big and small, simple and complex, colourful or neutral:: All Pretty Things

Big buttons and small buttons, colourful buttons and neutral buttons, simple textured buttons and beautifully textured buttons.

Vintage buttons: odd shirt buttons :: All Pretty Things

Buttons without their pairs, enameled or with a small beautiful bead.

Vintage buttons: Scout bandana rings :: All Pretty Things

These are rings for our 'Scouts' bandannas... the well-known 'Pionieri'...

Vintage buttons: Fruit pit, handmade :: All Pretty Things

Buttons made by my mom (many eons ago) from fruit pits: she drilled them herself :) [yeah, you can see where I inherit my artsy gene from]

Vintage buttons: Fabric, handmade :: All Pretty Things

And buttons made by my grandmother - they are at least 43 years old. My grandmother was a seamstress (a very good one - yeah, you see when I inherited the sewing, knitting, crocheting gene from) and sometimes she made the buttons to match the suits. I LOVE the black & white one, I have a dress exactly like that! I will have to come up with an idea to use it in a piece... can you imagine? wearing that dress (which I adore anyhow, it's just beautiful) with a piece of jewelry made with my own grandmother button? To grasp the enormity of this idea - I didn't know my grandmother, she passed before I was born... it will be such a wonderful moment...

This is the treasure my mom sent us - a personal and full of memories treasure!

Thanks, Mom!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Anniversary gemstones

Last 2 weeks we have talked about Birthday stones and their meanings (January to June and July to December).

Since I've always had troubles finding the information in one spot (usually I gathered the data on each gemstone separately) a list of all the anniversary gemstones:

1st YearGold Jewelry 11th YearTurquoise
2nd YearGarnet 12th YearJade
3rd YearPearls 13th YearCitrine
4th YearBlue Topaz 14th YearOpal
5th YearSapphire 15th YearRuby
6th YearAmethyst 16th YearPeridot
7th YearOnyx 17th YearWatches
8th YearTourmaline 18th YearCat's-Eye
9th YearLapis Lazuli 19th YearAquamarine
10th YearDiamond Jewelry 20th YearEmerald

21st YearIolite40th YearRuby
22nd YearSpinel45th YearSapphire
23rd YearImperial Topaz50th YearGolden Jubilee
24th YearTanzanite55th YearAlexandrite
25th YearSilver Jubilee60th YearDiamond Jubilee
30th YearPearl Jubilee70th YearSapphire Jubilee
35th YearEmerald80th YearRuby Jubilee

There you have it - now if an anniversary is approaching you know what is traditionally appropriate to buy (or make) your sweetheart :)

Now... if someone could give me hints on what to make for a man, that'll be awesome :)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What makes us happy? [Nancy Etcoff, TED]

This is a blog about beauty - not necessarily shallow or surface beauty, but beauty nonetheless. I have always been drawn to pretty things (hence the name of my blog and studio), I just feel better when my table and my room is full of lovely things (even when they are scattered in what people call 'chaos').

I always knew that beauty makes you happier - or that the lack of beauty will make you unhappy, to be precise. And now... I discovered a lady who's trying to scientifically prove just that!

To quote from her TED profile: "Nancy Etcoff is part of a new vanguard of cognitive researchers asking: What makes us happy? Why do we like beautiful things? And how on earth did we evolve that way? Her recent research into the question of happiness exposes results that not only are surprising but reinforce things we should've known all along: like the fact that having flowers in the house really does make us happier."


P.S. Her remark is precious (not only for marriages, for any relationships in general):

"The formula for a happy marriage is five positive remarks, or interactions, for every one negative."

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Yard, bugs and what not

Spring seems to have sprung around here: in 15 years of Canada I do not recall any year with this kind of winter, and this kind of Spring! Are you kidding me? 24 degrees? In March?! March was the barely-over-zero-and-when-you-hit-5-plus-consider-yourself-lucky month.

So what do you think this girl does when she comes from work and it's 21 (Celsius) outside and all sunny and bright? First she asks her son to get out somewhere - but the boy is exhausted after the first day of school and doesn't want to go hiking, biking, or playing in the park. But he wants to go out - so he suggests 'backyard!'. Backyard it is - I first gathered a couple of books, but when I got out there... I ended up cleaning the shed (just don't let my hubby know the state of the grass, please, I threw everything we need to get rid of right in the middle of the yard :)). Right when I was done - I found some bulbs that started to sprout, so we decided to plant them... moved in the front yard... planted a couple... and we discovered we need to uncover the yard, it's burried under sticks (from all the windy storms of the winter) and debris.

No problem - got myself the rake, I start raking... and here is where it gets funny.

The conversation with my son went like this:

Squirell - watching us :)
* Mom, I want to help
* Great - what do you want to do?
* I can rake
* Sure - go get the second rake from the backyard

A few good minutes passed by until he triumphantly comes back with the rake and... a broom.

* I want to dust the driveway...

He properly engulfed me in a cloud of dust in one stroke

* Err... honey... can't do that
* OK, what else can I do? I want to help
* Get the rake and start raking on the other side of the tree (we have a nice maple tree right in the middle of the front yard)
* OK... ooohhh... a ladybug!!!

Rake gets promptly dropped, the kid is on his fours, admiring the ladybug... a few moments later he brings it to me and chats away about it... a few more minutes later he decides to put the ladybug on the tulip leaves.
In the meantime I am raking away, and I am at the end of the driveway.

* Oh, since you are that far - I will go back to dusting the driveway
* You can try...
* Ooohhhh - ants!

The kid drops the broom, and he gets down (laying on the driveway) to study the ants now.
Chat-chat-chat... questions-questions-questions...

* I wish I could feed them.
* ?
* I wish I could take a piece of cheese and see if they brake it smaller and eat it.
* Go get a piece of cheese and try it
* Seriously?
[You'd think I don't ever let him do anything... when quite the opposite is true!]

20 minutes later - the child is still on the driveway, feeding and studying the ants... and the sun is now going down...

But he honestly wants to help me clean - we argue about not having time to do it tonight and he's almost crying... I hope we keep this nice weather for a few more days!

Oh - the bulbs are still in the yard, waiting for another day - not the flower alley is visible, at least, we can plant them anytime :)

Monday, March 19, 2012

New beads

Oh, boy - am I excited or what?

On Saturday I was going through stores - my weekly shopping trip (which I hate 100% BTW) - and I stopped at Value Village. I get there every now and then and go through their kitchen area - mostly to find beautiful packaging ideas (in forms of vases and fine porcelain objects). Today I browsed the wall too, where they keep the arts & crafts supplies, I was looking for some decor items for my Christmas vases (the ones that I keep filled with colourful Christmas tree glass decorations) - they are empty now and depress me :)

Lo on behold what do I find?! A bag full of ceramic beads. At first I thought there might be one or two... but no... it is a bag (the size of a sandwich bag) filled with mostly ceramic beads and a few glass beads too. Of course I snitched it!

At home, after cleaning them well - I spilled them on a towel to dry out... and my surprise became even bigger (if that's possible): inside the bag were not one, but two full sets of ceramic beads: one a light green, one a beautiful turquoise. Round beads, disk beads, square beads, round beads (smaller), and ring beads... a kid in the candy store I am now.

Ceramic beads :: All Pretty Things

I have a couple of projects already started, so I will let them simmer for a bit - but I fully intend to do something extraordinary beautiful with them, I so wished for ceramic beads for a while... and here they 'found' me :)

But this week I am busy with the small challenge Erin (from Erin's Jewelry Creations) concocted last week (you can read all about it on her Facebook page, right here) and until I am done with this new technique I've tried, I am not starting anything else... no matter how tempting that might be!

How do you like my new 'babies'? :)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The proper key

On relationships :: All Pretty Things
This is a precious story / fable: may you always have the wisdom

A women came to ask for advice from a wise monk.

- Father, I always have words with my husband, can't make him understand how to do the right thing.

- What do you do when this happens?

- Well, I quarrel with him, of course.

- And the next time when you had issues - what did you do?

- Same thing: I quarrel and we reproach.

Next the monk took a bundle of keys, gave one to the woman and asked her to unlock the door in front of them. The woman took the key, tried it, and when it didn't unlock the door, she asked the monk for another key.

- Maybe you didn't know how to use it, try again!

But no matter how much the woman tried, the door will not unlock.

- Father, give me the whole bundle of keys and I will find the right one, she said.

The monk replied with a warm smile:

- See, my daughter, if you cannot open this door with a non-matching key, how do you expect to open your husband's soul door without the proper key? Find the right key, and you'll be able to open the door!

A gracious and simple answer, one we so often ignore! We just need to find *the* key, that's all.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Go raibh míle maith agat!

St. Patrick, celtic legends and traditions: the 4-leaf clover :: All Pretty Things
For a long time now I've had a fascination with Celts and their rich history and legends. I have good friends - Scottish and Irish - and I asked them how come their music and stories are more on the sad side, at least more than in other cultures. One of them remarked that a sad story or song "will move the spirit" and I had to agree with him, it seems the best works of art have been born out of sad moments.

Their music and their voices are very special, the tones of their fiddles are unique and easily recognizable and who can keep still when one of their dancing songs is played? Oh, and the dancing... dear Lord... I'd be hard pressed to find something more beautiful than a Celtic dance.

I like their stories a lot: not only because they are full of spirituality and magic, but also because they seem to be the only people who understand that life cannot be painted black or white. A Celtic story won't finish 'well' (or perfectly well); a good fairy is not perfectly good, she can be nasty if you anger her; a badly behaved leprechaun won't be totally bad, he might help someone in need. Everything seems to have the possibility to be or become good - which is (in my opinion) better than the well-known 'happily ever after' ending. They are not afraid to dwell into what happened after all the other stories will end happily. And the morale of the story seems to always be "yes, there is fate, however - it's in your powers to change your fate, all you need is the will".

And then... there are their wishes and curses. I never know where one ends and the other starts - I've read wishes you wouldn't wish to your worst enemies :) Again this mating of the good and bad, the black and white.

I've laughed for minutes, and spilled many tears in the process, when I first heard this wish / curse:

May the fleas of a thousand camels infest the armpit of your enemies and may their arms be too short to scratch.

At the other pole you have this beautiful wish:

May the saddest day of your future be no worse
Than the happiest day of your past.

Enjoy St. Patrick's Day!

P.S. The translation of the title: May you have a thousand good things!

Friday, March 16, 2012

On happiness

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a great site Marc and Angel Hack Life. It is one filled with inspirational quotes, but in a very tasteful way (I am weary of tasteless and aggressive marketing of anything).

Yesterday, I believe, they ran a splendid photo-journey: 25 Photo Illustrated Reminders to Help You Find Happiness. These are simple steps we can all take, one at a time, to make ourselves happy. I am a firm believer in the idea that happiness is inside oneself, all we have to do is reach and grab. Yes, context matters and bad things happen - however, happiness is about how you react to what happen to you. There are many ways to respond to the context and very few people will choose to be positive and try to make the best out of it. Although it's in our power!

May you find the power to be happy!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Birthstones (July - December)

Last week we talked about Birthstones - January to June. Today we will continue with the second half of the year.

Birthstones: July - Ruby (love, friendship, health) :: All Pretty Thungs
July is associated with Ruby - with a meaning of... well, it's red, what do you think? yes, love and friendship. It is considered one of the most powerful gems bringing the bearer peace and confidence, health, as well as courage. Ruby is thought to protect its bearer from misfortune, and to bring him/her good luck and power (especially when it is worn on the left side - could it be a link to the heart?). It is a symbol of royalty.

Birthstones: August - Peridot (peaurity, beauty, joy, happiness) :: All Pretty Things
August is associated with Peridots - with a meaning of purity and beauty. It is considered the stone of friendship and brings joy and happiness. Pirates used peridot as an amulet against evil. Peridot is said to bring you luck and success, ease your sleep and have a calming effect on emotions.

Birthstones: September - Sapphire (truth, faithfulness, clarity) :: All Pretty Things
September is associated with Sapphire - with a meaning of truth, sincerity and faithfulness. One of the four gemstones, sapphire can come in a variety of colours, except red, but it's mostly known in the deep blue shade (who will ever forget Princes Di's ring - now on the finger of the Duchess of Cambridge). Sapphire has been always considered a sacred gem (the legend has it that Moses brought the 10 commandments written on a Sapphire tablet). It is considered the stone of clear thinking and clarity.

Birthstones: October - Opal (hope, happiness, confidence)
October is associated with Opal - with a meaning of hope and happiness. Opal clarify by amplifying and mirroring feelings. It is believed to bring inner confidence to the bearer.

Birthstones: November - Topaz (courage, wisdom, mental clarity) :: All Pretty Things
November is associated with Topaz - with a meaning of courage and wisdom. Topaz is believed to bring mental clarity, focus, perception, and confidence. Combined with tiger eye, topaz will bring wealth and money.

Birthstones: December - Turquoise (success, wisdom, friendship, spirit) :: All Pretty Things
December is associated with Turquoise - with a meaning of success and prosperity. One of the oldest stones known to man, turquoise and associated with the blue sky and the green earth, turquoise is a symbol of wisdom and mankind's source (spirit / sky).  Turquoise has healing properties and brings you courage, friendship and luck. This stone is a very personal and meaningful stone to one who wears it, and it takes on the characteristics of the owner.

The fascination I have with turquoise - you'd think I am born in December :) And to think that I never evern owned my own birthstone (Emerald)... it doesn't seem a gem too common!

These are the gemstones and semi-precious stones associated to one's birth. If you want to make a very personal gift to someone - use their birthstone: in jewelry for women, in cuffs and links for a man.

What is your relationship with your birthstone?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Flowers (TED)

A beautiful short video on flowers - in ways you might not have thought about them before!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

And the winner is...

Congratulations to Tapping Flamingo! She won a Shambhala bracelet or an Angel drop.

Thank you all for participating - please visit us often for more fun

Monday, March 12, 2012

Adventures in teal and turquoise

I recently cleaned my bead stash and, not surprisingly, the majority of my beads are teal and turquoise. You'd think I would make myself something of it... but...

Adventures with agate (sterling silver, crochet wire, gemstones, agate, turquoise, rose quartz) :: All Pretty Things unique one of a kind wearable art
Last week, though, I had enough - I had a couple of calmer days: the office moved and nobody knew where anything is anymore... so I could work in the quiet of my home office and look at a strand of turquoise, rose quartz and some brown stone chips for longer than usual. The strand is one my mom sent - and it was perfectly usable: chips of stones stringed together... neah... chips stringed together? boring... I took it out for the 7000 Bracelet Hop of Hope and it was starring back at me from the table day after day. On March 1st, for the Martzishor, I got a beautiful slice of... we'll call it agate, since I don't know what it really is, in an amazing shade of... teal. Which I kept on the table for a very short period of time - now I knew how the strand will help me :)

Adventures with agate (sterling silver, crochet wire, gemstones, agate, turquoise, rose quartz) :: All Pretty Things unique one of a kind jewelryAs you know, I love crocheting - and apparently I am quite nuts for wire crocheting (half of my own necklaces are wire crochet!). This time I braided 3 strands together, no simplicity for me today :) How to get the agate slice on the braids? Hmm... it's useful I had a full week of going through so many amazing Bead Soup results... I decided to get over my initial panic of anything wired and...

Voila - it doesn't have a name yet (other than 'Adventures in teal and turquoise', of course) but it's beautiful, if I can say so myself!

And because I was in such a creative mood, after a cry of help in the facebook group, I got another quick beautiful project: following a tutorial by Keri Lee Sereika in the February 2012 issue of Crafts 'n Things magazine on pages 67-69 I made... drum rolls here and a very dramatic pause:

Turquoise ring (sterling silver, turquoise) :: All Pretty Things unique one of a kind wearable art   Turquoise ring (sterling silver, turquoise) :: All Pretty Things unique one of a kind jewelry

My very first ring! I have been wearing it for a full week now and I know I will have to make another one (since I messed one of the sides)... but I don't care - it is my first-born! And it has a turquoise stone :)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

On results

A man had a swamp on his land. Because of it - his crops will never grow. He tried and tried to dry it off, taking the water out in a bucket, but with no results.

His neighbour, seeing his useless work, advised him:

- If you want to dry off the water, you need to cut off its springs (sources).

The man listened to his advice, cut off the springs and he grew up the most wonderful crops!

This is how you need to solve your problems (the swamps of your life): not by patching the result, but by cutting off their sources!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Bead Soup Party revisited

Can you believe it: I still have a few participants to go through... But I had a crazy week, I could barely breathe (and my DH, God bless him, started to get impatient with me for so long on the computer :)).

While I hop-hop-hop this weekend - maybe you'd like to join me. This is how:

  • You can read how all started and the soup I received here - being my very first soup (yeah, I tend to do things big scale, can't start with a 10-participants soup, I need a 200 one, in it's 5th generation!) it didn't occur to me to either take a picture of the soup I sent, or to pack mine decently. But I learned something :)
  • You can read about the results and my struggles with the soup here - my challenge was the variety of media used: from gunmetal to sterling silver, from jade to polymer clay, I had a few beads of everything and I was quite stumped! Loved every piece - but still - stumped. I put everything in a bowl and had it on my desk for a while: that seems to work, since in the end I used everything except 2 beads, 2 bead caps, and the heart toggle!
  • You can hop to see what other participants had made - I have never seen so much beauty amassed in one place! It is like a One-of-a-kind-show in blogs! There are no 2 styles alike, no 2 pieces alike - and they are all (and I mean all) gorgeous! I fully expected to encounter pieces I wouldn't wear and some I wouldn't like, they wouldn't be my style: after all, it's hard to like everything, as hard as it is to please everybody. Boy, have a I been given a surprise and the chance of a lifetime! Yes, some styles are eons away from mine, but I really, really, really loved and liked each and every one (the few blogs I haven't posted yet - it's because I could not for some strange reason!). I found this amazing!

5th Bead Soup Party (jade, polymer clay, sterling silver, silk cord, Czech beads and many more) :: All the Pretty Things

This was my journey - and I will repeat it in a jiffy, given the opportunity. Thank you again to Lori, our amazing hostess - and hopefully you'll join me through my future adventures.

Until then: keep safe, keep beauty in your life, and keep healthy! Oh - and try to keep lucky too: have you entered the Giveaway? A Shambala bracelet will go to a lucky person, check it out!

Friday, March 9, 2012

How people found me...

A few days ago I was looking for what are the search keywords people will use to get to my blog (blogger and google analytics will both reveal such useful pieces of information)

angel drop (sterling silver, glass or pearls) :: All the Pretty Things
I was surprised to see the #1 keyword was 'angels' - as the only angels posts I have are the one with the angel candles (I love those candles and my friends still have them as a keepsake, they have never burned them :)), the angel stained glass, and  the more recent Shambala bracelet / Angel drop for the 7000 bracelet blog hop and the giveaway (have you entered the giveaway?!)

Purple Butterfly (sterling silver, amethyst, stones, quartz, Czech glass) :: All the Pretty ThingsNext in line was 'royal diamond necklace side view' - which stumped me a bit... I have no royal and diamonds on my blog... or I do not recall... but it's interesting :)

'Pictures of butterflies' and 'Pearl necklace with silver crochet wire and copper beads' (that was a mouthful!) were neck-in-neck next. I get it: I talk about butterflies a lot, I pictured them too (at least one post I can recall, here) and same about pearls, silver, crochet wire (no copper beads yet, maybe in the future).

My son did NOT swallow a frog!
A few others followed... then... came this: 'my son swallowed a frog' - err... I am truly sorry for your son! but seriously, google? how do you manage to get my stories about my son and its frog and animals into swallowing them?! I tried hard not to laugh (since someone had a real issue out there) but I could only imagine a frantic mother trying to see how to solve the issue and coming up with an arts & crafts website...

There you have it: the Friday Fun with a Frog (we'll call it 3F!)

Do you have a blog? Did you get strange query phrases? What's the strangest you've encountered?

Thursday, March 8, 2012


In our 'how to...' series - today about birthstones.

The moment of birth is being held in all cultures as an important one (it only makes sense :)) - since ancient times mankind has associated various symbols with the birthday: zodiacs, colours, numbers, even a precious stone. Each month has its own symbols and meanings - and it is believed that you'll benefit the most from the powers of your birthstone if you wear it during your month of birth.

January is associated with Garnet - symbolizing prosperity and health. It is thought  that garnet will bring success in business, as well as friendship, and protection on trips. Garnet is a mineral, mostly know for its deep red (although it can be found in many other hues: yellow, violet, orange).

February is associated with Amethyst - with a meaning of wisdom and security. Amethyst, with its beautiful purple shade, is believed to protect against negative energies, bring pleasant dreams, and help in meditation.

March is associated with Aquamarine - with a meaning of loyalty and happiness. Due probably to its beautiful shades it is thought to protect the sailors and the travelers by water.

April is associated with no other gem than Diamond - its meaning being eternal love (hence its wide usage as an engagement stone in recent times). The name comes from the Greek 'adamas' and means 'undistructable' (since diamonds cannot be cut by any other stone), which suggest the eternity of true love. Diamond is one of the only 4 precious gems: diamond, emerald, ruby, and sapphire. All others are semi-precious stones.

May is associated with Emeralds - with a meaning of patience and understanding. Long being held as a symbol of hope, emerald is considered a stone of prophecy, bringing the wearer reason and wisdom.

June is associated with Pearl / Moonstone - with a meaning of purity and happiness. The pearl is the only organic gemstone (coming from a living organism: the oyster) and there are many legends associated with it. In one of them - a drop of rain fell from Heaven becoming the hearth of an oyster, and giving birth to the first pearl. Symbolizing purity and innocence it is widely used in bridal accessories or embroidery.

Come read us next week - for the remaining 6 months and their birthstones.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Blue is a River (TED)

With St. Patrick's Day right around the corner - it seems appropriate to share a beautiful song in a beautiful interpretation. I love Natalie MacMaster to pieces - she's such a wonderful artist (plus she's Canadian :)) And I love Celtic traditions - something draws my soul to their stories and legends and traditions.

So here you have it: a Celtic song in a Celtic interpretation! Enjoy!

P.S. Remember to check the Giveaway right here! Enter as many time as you can :)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


9 years ago today a beautiful baby boy was born. Our son came to us very punctual (he was born on his due date) and very happy. He changed our lives in way we were aware, but couldn't yet imagine. Parenthood has been a blessing - we have the fun of our times (even when he now calls us 'mean' when he doesn't get what he wants :))

He's still a very happy little boy, as you can see from the pictures:

1st year

Years 2-9

Happy birthday, love!

May you
Always be blessed
With walls for the wind, 
A roof for the rain, 
A warm cup of tea by the fire,
Laughter to cheer you,
Those you love near you and
All that your heart might desire.

[An Old Gaelic blessing]

Monday, March 5, 2012

Spring Has Sprung

Spring has Sprung (Swarovski glass pearls, sterling silver, crochet wire) :: All Pretty ThingsA gorgeous day today (albeit cold!): sunny with that glass-blue sky. Today is my 'baba'... how am I going to explain this tradition?! I know - Wikipedia to the rescue: The Legend of Baba Dochia. As you can see (at the very end of the article) - there is a custom associated with this legend: women will pick a day between March 1st and 9th to be 'their baba' and watch how the day turns: if it's nice, they'll be nice when getting older, if not... well, you get the idea :) Back in Romania beginning of March will be spring already, so you'll have a 'chance' at being nice when growing older... here - well, if you count just the temperature, you're toast :) So I go by the actual weather, ignoring the temperature: judging by how gorgeous this days is, I'll be a very nice old lady... lol.

Spring has Sprung (Swarovski glass pearls, sterling silver, crochet wire) :: All Pretty Things
With that in mind - today I am going to talk about a beautiful necklace I made long time ago: it is one of the first wire crochet necklaces I put together, using glass pearls in a gorgeous mint green and white. When you add the sterling silver brightness to the match you end up with a very happy necklace. I love wearing it - it is light and comfortable and it reminds me of spring. I love wearing it in winter, makes the winter blues go away.

When I designed it, I wasn't sure how everything will come together - I knew the minty pearls will be cheerful and joyful, but when I finished it I had a huge smile on my face: it is an incredible happy piece.

Besides being happy, it is extremely versatile: the pearls make it look wonderful with jeans or with a beach dress, with a business attire or with an evening dress - and it is a perfect additions to a bride's dress!

Here it is: the Spring Has Sprung necklace. Hope you like it too :)

P.S. Remember to check the Giveaway right here! Enter as many time as you can :)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

On love

Delicate Love (Swarovski crystals, Sterling silver) :: All Pretty Things
One day a child came to his mother with a piece of paper on which he had written:
  • Cleaning my room: $10
  • Doing grocery shopping: $5
  • Playing with my brother: $15
  • Good grades in school: $10
  • Total: $40

His mom smiled, took the paper and wrote:

  • Carrying you for 9 months: $0
  • Teaching you everything I knew: $0
  • Feeding you daily: $0
  • Giving you your life: $0
  • Total: $0
Love should be given without expecting anything in return!

P.S. Remember to check the Giveaway right here! Enter as many time as you can :)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Bead Soup Party

The day is finally here!

Remember where we have started from? For a long description - read the original Soup Ingredients post here. For a very short introduction: we were paired with another designer, and we sent each other a 'bead soup' out of which we had to create something, using at least the focal and the clasp. My soup came all the way from California, from Dita Basu and it is pictured below:
Bead Soup Party - the Ingredients :: All Pretty Things

I knew from the start what to do with the Jade focal... I also knew I had no jade in the house - so I made a trip to the store... just to come back home and find a vintage strand of jade, from my mom. It is somewhere in the vicinity of 40 years old and it matches the doughnut to perfection! I also found some amazing Czech glass 6/0 seed beads that imitate stone.

Out of my mom's strand there were some stones left, so I made a slightly asymmetric bracelet.
This is what came out of this adventure:

Jade set: necklace & bracelet (jade doughnut, vintage jade nuggets, gold wire, silver clasp) :: All Pretty Things

The only thing I'm not happy with is the half toggle I used (it's sterling silver... I will replace it with a gold plated / filled as soon as I find one :)).

The polymer clay focal was a pretty easy one - matching the pastel colours was fun albeit a lengthy process... many a bags I have picked until I was happy with the result. I also knew what I wanted to do with it... at least half-way... Sterling silver wire crocheted with the beads, a few cute beads on the drop and here we are.

As luck or fate would have it - when I found the vintage jade strand I also discovered a couple of vintage bracelets made of raisin... amazingly enough in the exact same shades as the focal flowers and the Czech beads. When this happens all you have to do is to return the favour and make something out of them. And that's what I did: 2 bracelets using the double-whole pieces from my bracelets (which I wore many, many years ago until their string broke) and some co-ordinating Czech beads to bring the set together.

Pastel set: necklace & bracelet (polymer clay focal, vintage raisin beads, Czech glass, sterling silver wire and findings, wire crochet) :: All Pretty Things

I am not 100% happy with the necklace (I keep thinking triple strand braided together for more 'volume'); even asked my son about it - he was adamant it doesn't need the multiple braided strands, to quote him exactly "The simplicity of the design makes it nice" - there you have it, the wisdom of an almost 9 yo!

You really have to see them together to appreciate how beautifully they match - 3 different ingredients (the focal, the Czech beads, and the bracelet 'squares'), from completely different materials and from different times. I just love the whole set!

So far I used both focals - but none of the clasps yet... hmm... both were too beautiful to be hidden at the back of the necklace; none would match the jade necklace (and I wasn't sure if using just half is acceptable)... What to do, what to do?

While making my Valentine's Day set (you can read about it right here) it just hit me - the Krobo beads! After searching a bit - I found everything I needed: the beautiful sterling silver toggle clasp, a silk cord, some silver wire, a couple of fiery Swarovski crystals, chain, and some head pins.

Balance (Krobo beads, swarovski crystal, sterling silver, silk cord) :: All Pretty Things

Just don't ask how many times I wrapped that silk cord before I was happy with the result :) I just love this necklace - it is so simple and yet so powerful!

In the meantime I have used the wood beads too (a simple and quick project):

Colourful earrings (sterling silver, wood beads) :: All Pretty Things

The cutest pair of earrings I've ever owned! A new trip to the store is needed soon - I intend to find matching beads to make a bracelet or a necklace (or both if I know myself).

I thought I was done - I still had those beautiful turquoise beads I couldn't for the life in me figure out what to do with them (they have very large holes and are very light). At the same time I was still trying to figure out what to make for the 7000 bracelet hop - and somehow my muse woke up and guided my brain to a Shambhala bracelet. I have always loved them - now I did a bit of research to see what is their meaning / history. Finding out they are a symbol of peace, tranquility and happiness I knew I hit the double jack-pot: an idea for the turquoise beads and (hopefully) a piece to brighten someones else's day too. I am truly sorry to let it go - I am very pleased with how it ended up:

Shambhala bracelet (turquoise beads, cord) :: All Pretty Things

Believe it or not, I still have a few elements of my original soup!
Thank you, Dita, for being so generous.
Thank you, Lori, for allowing me to be part of this party - it has been the best jewelry-related adventure so far. I had tons of fun with my ingredients, and I am quite pleased with the results.

Bead Soup Party - the Results (Jade, Sterling Silver, Polymer Clay, Czech beads, Shambhala, Wood beads, Krobo beads, Swarovski, Silk cord) :: All Pretty Things

Thank you, my loyal reader, for getting to this point - I know, it has been a very long post... thank you for being patient :)

Please visit the other wonderful participants (I know it'll be a very, very long weekend for me!)