Monday, April 30, 2012

New adventures + Giveaway

I like to think about myself that I'm the adventurous type (sometimes bordering insanity). I always, always love to try new things - I've always liked to take new classes, to start new projects... And I've always been in love with metal and wire - for as long as I remember. My mom is the crafty type and we've always created something or another.

When I decided to pick my jewelry making back where I left it from, I've had some clear images of pieces I would make. Wire was always involved. Somehow - I would not make anything with wire (except for my crochet wire pieces, which are the ones I love the most). I would try a new technique of this or that... I would buy books and magazines on how to work with wire (cold-forming, not metal smith - or not yet!)... I would dream my pieces, sketched them... and still - no wire making for me.

'Why?' would you ask - and it is a great question. The answer is - I am not 100% sure. If I look deep inside - I believe it was fear, two-folded: fear of not being able to produce the images my brain was projecting; and fear of not liking this branch of jewelry making as much as I thought I would. Paralysing fear. In the past 2-3 months I told myself almost daily: I would try this tomorrow... and tomorrow would come and pass and I was still making other pieces.

Until the past weekend. I have been asked by a friend to provide the jewelry for a mini fashion show at a community fund-raising. My jewelry is nice, but I didn't have that many pieces that would go with an evening gown or dress. So, obviously, I had to make more. I only managed to get the pictures of the dresses (16!) last Friday which meant (the fundraising was this past Saturday, on April 28th) I had only one weekend to come up with the rest of the pieces. Oops! (Now you know where I disappeared for the last week :))

Out of necessity I had to conquer my fear - because I knew the pieces I had in mind for so long would be perfect: delicate and glamorous, perfect for day and gorgeous for an evening attire. I will show you everything during the next few weeks.

Today, I will start with some of the wire work:

Wire work: sterling silver, swarovski: Flower Power, William's Fire, A son's heart :: All Pretty Things

The 'Flower Power' set is my very first try with a jig - I had to create something with flowers to match one of the dresses - and I first made the flower... I thought I want to fill it using crochet - and after making the frame I realized it is much more elegant just like that, so I left it as is: sterling silver wire frame, with a Swarovski crystal in the middle. Making a smaller version for the earrings I decided to change the style slightly, while keeping the same 'Fire Opal' Swarovski bicone.

Together - they are an extremely elegant set, and a versatile one too: can be easily wore during the day, with business attire (and even with jeans and a nice, crisp shirt), with a cocktail dress, even with an evening gown. The crystal's fire is warm and inviting, the sterling silver is stylish and elegant - together they make a great team!

The necklace in the middle has been designed by my son - it's the one necklace that was supposed to have 3 strands, with a star fish on the 3rd, but the star fish broke (now that I have another one, I'll make his 3rd strand soon). Using the same Fire Opal Swarovski crystals - the necklace can be easily paired with the earrings of the 'Flower Power' :)

The last piece you see, the heart - has been entirely designed and handcrafted by my son! He asked if he can use one of my scrap wires and I said yes - after a few minutes he came with what you see (minus the wrapping at the bottom, and the Swarovski) - completed with hammering! I am so proud of my budding artist :)

Now - for the giveaway. Based on his heart design I made another set - pendant (set on chain) and earrings:

Lovely heart set (Swarovski crystals, sterling silver) :: All Pretty Things

I'm giving away the whole set! And if pink is not your favourite, you can choose the colour of your Swarovski drops, I will try my best to find it. This makes for a great Mother's Day gift too.

To enter - use the Rafflecopter widget below: you have a few chances to enter:
  • Leave a comment in the blog (mandatory) - and make sure you enter it in the Rafflecopter widget
  • Like my facebook page (for 5 extra chances) - and make sure you enter it in the Rafflecopter widget
  • Share this giveaway of your Facebook page (for extra 10 chances) - and make sure you enter it in the Rafflecopter widget
  • Share this blogpost on your own blog (for extra 5 chances) - and make sure you enter it in the Rafflecopter widget
  • Follow this blog (for extra 4 chances) - and make sure you enter it in the Rafflecopter widget
  • Share this giveaway on Twitter (for extra 3 chances) - and make sure you enter it in the Rafflecopter widget
That's 28 chances in total!
The giveaway will be on for 2 weeks, a lucky winner will be chosen on Mother's Day, May 13 :)

Good luck!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The 2 wings

Good deeds and Belied: the two wings of your soul :: All Pretty Things
Close to a river, over there was no bridge, there was an old man who used his boat to ferry people from one side of the river to the other. One day, a young man was in his boat, and like most young people - this one was quite curious too. He saw the old man had something written onto the paddles and he looked closer to see what exactly, then asked the man:

- Why did you write on one paddle 'Belief' and on the other 'Good deeds'?

- Because these 2 (belief and good deeds) are what lead me through my life, answered the old man.

The young man smartly called back:

- I don't think anyone would need both - one should be enough, and you can choose your path: either make good deeds, or believe.

The old man said nothing, but soon he started to row using one paddle only. The boat wouldn't pass through anymore, of course, but started to turn in circles... while the young man was puzzled... until he understood what the old man was trying to demonstrate.

Good deeds and Belief are the 2 wings of your soul - who can fly with only one?!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Bead Swap (Tina's version)

Tina received my package and, not being the procrastinator I am, she proceeded immediately to create something with the beads within.

Bead swap - what I sent to Tina :: All Pretty Things

As you can see from my comments on her post - I LOVE what she created so far. What I like the most about these swaps is how 2 people can have completely different ideas on how to combine and use the exact same beads. When I chose the package for Tina I had some things in mind - and she created totally different items... more beautiful than the ones I had in mind :) Love at first sight :)

You can read all about it and see those 2 beauties right here:

Tina's Bead Swap creations

Thanks for visiting with me today - and please come back next week, I have a few surprises: on Monday I will let you know where I disappeared last week + a giveaway!, on Thursday we will continue with our gemstone 'dictionary', and on Saturday - the reveal of the One Crayon Colour Challenge!

Busy week, eh?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Messy Workshop Blog Hop

With the craziness of my life in the past 2 weeks this seems like a very appropriate blog hop to participate in.

The rules are - there are no rules, it's just a display of messy workshops... well, in my case - it's the corner of the living room, and half of my desk (aka dinner table, we eat in the kitchen most of the time, though) - where I parked my beads and my creativity.

Some days it's all nice and easy on the eye... but those aren't the days when I work on anything! Some days it looks like this:
My messy 'studio' :: All Pretty Things

There is a beauty in progress on the mat (2 beauties, to be exact)... there is wire (all gauges, from 30 to 18 :)), there is my mouse (the laptop is to the left of the picture), there are beads everywhere (I had just dumped one shoe-box onto the desk, I had to make 15 sets and gathered all my resources :)), there are tools... there is my stained glass church, but most importantly... there are flowers!

A messy desk looks beautiful with flowers :: All Pretty Things

I always, always have flowers on my desk. It's something I started about a year or two ago: flowers to bring a smile, flowers to keep creativity, flowers to bring peace... simply flowers.

And to make me feel better I sometimes use the 'chandelier' as a jewelry support:

Jewelry chandelier :: All Pretty Things

Would I want a less messy desk? Sure! Am I ever going to have one? Probably not :) but one can only hope.

And now that you've seen my mess (and you feel a bit better about yours, hopefully) - please visit the other participants. We share one thing in common: the belief that a clean desk kills creativity!


Brenda Sue Lansdowne Robin Delargy Kim at Cianci Blue
Jennifer Jazwick-Smith Mary Shannon Hicks Tracy Swartz
Jacqueline Marchant Lynnea Perry Bennett Terry Matusyk
Laurel Steven Dr. Brassy Steamington Pamela Takeshige
Kris Lanae Binsfeld Outre Art Linzi Alford
Deb Davis Tamara Jones Harry Wood
Gerry Nickerson Elizabeth Owens-Dwy Georgene Lockwood
Charisa Sloper Jennifer Justman Beanzie
Mary Deis Cheri Reed Sondra Kolner
Sonya Ingersoll-Stille Lori Anderson Sandra McGriff
Shelly Joyce Joan Williams Kashmira Patel
Deb Beechy Ginger Bishop Kelli Jacobson
Natalie McKenna Andrew Thornton Mary Govaars
Kate Mulligan Lisa Lodge Tami Luchini
Monique Lula Lee Koopman Jayne Capps
Susan Lloyd Cynthia Wainscott Stephanie Amanti
Alicia Marinache Sam Hamp Lennis Carrier

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Google Doodle: Gideon Sundback

Google definitely has some funny and cute doodles - but today's one is just perfect.

If you haven't seen it yet - take a second :)

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Ideas worth sharing :: All Pretty Things
Not (yet) a word in the dictionary, Beadaholique is one of the many online communities for jewelry artisans. Like others - they offer lots of helpful articles and tutorials, tips and trends, and many more (including the store, of course).

On top of everything - they have an amazing video series  - with clear-crystal instructions.

In case you've never visited them - I am sharing it:

Beadaholique YouTube channel


Friday, April 20, 2012

Then and now

I stumbled over some pictures with my son - taken 3 years apart. The first ones - he was 4 years old, we were camping (and trapshooting) in Mason, MI (an amazing place to be, if you are a trapshooter, I know nothing else about the place :)). In the second set - he's, of course, 7 years old - at another competition, in Marengo, OH (another great place to be - and this one I know outside the camping site too... really nice shopping place - this summer I'll have to check the bead stores :)).

Child with puppies
William with puppies (4 yo)

Child with puppies
William with puppies (4 yo)
Child with puppies
William - with puppies (7 yo)

Child with puppies
William - with puppies (7 yo)

Did you find anything interesting in these pictures? Yes - it is the exact same breeder with the exact same cage... of course the puppies are different :) The funniest part? The gentleman remembered us - he even had some pictures of our son in Michigan, playing with his dogs (William spent an impressive amount of time at his place, just playing with the dogs).

Hopefully we'll meet him again this summer, and we'll continue the series of pictures.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Gemstones: Labradorite

Labradorite :: All Pretty Things

In our Gemstones series - today about Labradorite (as per Heidi's request from My Bead Therapy).

Labradorite takes it names from one of the most beautiful province of Canada: Labrador, where it has been discovered some 240+ years ago. Compared to other stones, it's a quite 'young' one (as discoveries go), and it shows its youth in its beauty.

It has a specific appearance - with its shine and reflection, making it a gorgeous stone to work with or to wear. It comes in many colours, most typical in pale green, blue, or grey-white with iridescent gold and blue flashes.

Because of its colour flashes it is said that Labradorite is an excellent aid in stimulating imagination and strengthening intuitions. It is a stone that will bring the wearer wisdom, new ideas, and calms the minds.

Stay tuned for our next gemstone! What would you want it to be?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Feeling ancient

Every time we visit some 'old' places here I have a double 'issue': #1 this is not really old (and I hurt every time thinking of the beauty that gets destroyed every day back where I come from... by humans or by time and the humans' ignorance) and #2 I feel like I am coming from another space and time.

Our trip to Nashville
We visited Nashville a few years back, and in the middle of the city they have a beautiful house (I was hoping for Tara, really), Belle Meade. During the tour I kept thinking - this really look like my aunt's house (a house destroyed by the communists 1 month before they lost power... one month!) and then the nice (and very young) guide was talking about the ancient stove and bathtub and... at one point she asked if we knew what 'this was used for in those times' and I told her my grandpa used it every day (it was the leather 'belt' he used to sharpen his shaving blade) and the stove, and the claw tub and pretty much every thing... She looked at us half amazed (probably thinking we don't look that old :)).

I know... I know...
A year or two later - on a field trip with my son's class - we were visiting a historical house here, in Hamilton, all decorated and ready for Christmas. A Victorian Christmas. Toys - made of wood only (yes, I had toys made only of wood), the tree decorated with beautiful glass spheres, painted by hand (we still have some), and (horror! totally unsafe!) real candles... well - guess what? up until just a few years ago my mom's tree was decorated with real candles, the one you set on fire. It was a true art to set them on the tree so when you lit them you won't lit the whole tree :) An old radio - like the one we had in my grandparent's house (working just fine), and some lace gloves, like the ones my mom (and I too, for a brief period) wore at our high-school & university dances.

This is how the Pioneers did their laundry... and my grandma...
Yesterday - the same story. As part of the social studies - grades 3 took a field trip to Westfield Village, a Pioneer Village. The 'family house' had a smoke house (check), an outhouse (check), a water well (check) - they used house-made soap (check) to do their laundry, spin their own wool (check), and the carpenter shop holds things I don't know how to say in English, but I know very well how to use (my grandfather was a carpenter and I spent many sunny days with him in the shop, learning a lot). My son is always amazed when we come back from these trips and I tell him I had the chance to use some of the tools he learned about of being 'ancient' and he's torn between thinking I am that old or I come from a sort of barbarian place (an outhouse? really? yeah, really...)

Now, don't get me wrong - I grew up in an apartment building with every modern facility available (for those times, at least). But in the same city / town - we had houses with outhouses (I am still terrified by them), and great-grandmothers spinning their own wool (with a hand-spinner, not a wheel), and grandfathers using the old soap and brush and blade for shaving. This blend of old and new taught me a lot - and it's something to remember and cherish forever.

Although I still feel sort of ancient on these trips :)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Eye Candy

A couple of weeks ago, on one of our Toronto trip, we stopped at the bead store (I'm really lucky that my son still likes to come with me - otherwise I'll be in trouble :)) and I found a treasure. I had a very hard time choosing colours, I think they had 30 different ones and I had to choose (if I ever win the lottery, you probably know what I'm going to do with the money, don't you?)

Here is what I have decided upon:

Eye Candy - Jade :: All Pretty Things

You have already seen one of the resulting items, in Judy's Flap Your Wings Tribute - the turquoise strand is now gone; I need to get back to the store for one or 2 more strands, that necklace really needs a bracelet, matching earrings will be made out of the smaller beads.

Originally I intended to make more flowers like the forget-me-nots... now - I am not so sure anymore. What would you use this candy for?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

On worry

Happy Easter! from all of us at All Pretty Things
One day, the husband receives the news he has to urgently get to another city. Without many preparations he took his family and started the long journey. His wife, not having enough time to get ready, was extremely worried and asked many questions:

- Do you know what route to take?
- If we need to eat, where should we stop?
- If we encounter any car troubles, how would we manage them?

and so on.

Her husband smiled and looked in the mirror. In the back seats, their 2 children were happily and calmly watching the road and enjoying the journey. Curious about how calm they are, she asked them:

- Aren't you worried about this trip?

- Why would we? Daddy's driving!

There are moments in life where it's better to let The Powers (whatever your belief is) guide us: we will be lead to the road where we are called, there is no need for us to worry!

Happy Easter! Christ Has Risen!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Flap your Wings - Judy Glende design challenge

This is a memorial for Ms. Judy Glende (JudithBDesigns and Flap Your Wings) - I didn't know her and I have just recently learned her name when she got her wings... I was impressed by the reaction of the community (that's how you know when someone really is an angel on Earth) and when Tania suggested this design challenge I signed up.

From Tania's blog:

Some participants are auctioning, selling (whether privately or through online stores) their creations and will donate their proceeds to the charity of their personal choosing. Please take the time to enjoy the hop with us, and consider purchasing/bidding/donating to the charities we all hold dear to our hearts.

In Judy's Obituary, the following charities were suggested for donations:
  • Mustang Alley Horse Rescue, 1020 Walters Road, Greenville, TN 37743
  •  Massachusetts General Hospital, Department of Dermatology Melanoma Research Fund, 55 Fruit Street, Bartlett Hall Room 622, Boston, MA 02114
** Also, if any of the participants would like to mail the donation directly to the Glende family, please contact Tania.

The participants:

1. Tania Spivey
2. Lori Anderson
3. Kashmira Patel
4. Gail Accinelli
5. Rebecca Anderson
6. Rebekah Payne
7. Amanda Doyle Tibbetts (*)
8. Kim Ballor
9. Rochelle Brisson
10. Sandra McGriff
11. Lana Kinney
12. Kym Hunter
13. Terri Wlaschin
14. Ginger Bishop
15. Shannon Chomanczuk
16. Kelli Jacobson
17. Patricia Gasparino
18. Deana Hager
19. Erin Siegel
20. Deborah Wenske Brooks
21. Lynne Bowland
22. Alicia Marinache <-- You are here
23. Pam Ferrari
24. Shirley Jones Moore
25. Joanne Tinley
26. Shanti Johnson
27. Lorelei Eurto
28. Antiquity Travelers
29. Shelly Joyce
30. Marlene Cupo
31. Dee Torcherer Elgie

(*) Amanda regretfully couldn't participant in the reveal but will be making a donation

I thought a lot about what to do - at one point I had a perfect image of my tribute... but I couldn't find the components in time. I will, however, get them in a couple of weeks and make what I originally wanted to. So I decide on a delicate romantic piece, one I've wanted to make for long and just postponed it over and over.

Here it is: Blue Romance (jade and sterling silver, necklace):

Blue romance (jade, sterling silver) necklace :: All Pretty Things

Blue romance (jade, sterling silver) necklace :: All Pretty Things

I will add it to the store... this is our Easter weekend and I am 'stealing' some time right now ... hopefully on Monday... Please visit all the artists participating!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday Fun: Instagram Timeline a la Facebook (infographic)

Today's theme is 'Friday Fun' - and the latest news in the social media communities :)

I borrowed the following infographic from Danny Brown's blog (an amazing one, if you haven't visited his website before, now it's a very good time! Disclaimer: I am in no way associated or receiving anything from DB, I just like his ideas and his blog a lot :))

by visually. Browse more data visualizations.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Gemstones: Freshwater pearl

In our Gemstones theme - today about freshwater pearls (Terry's choice - from Tapping Flamingo)

Freshwater pearls (with Swarovski crystals) necklace :: All Pretty Things
Pearls are not gems (rocks, minerals), they are organic material - born from live organisms (mussels). Natural pearls are created when a parasite or foreign matter enters the mussel and irritates it; as a protective mechanism, the mussel covers the irritant with layers and layers of nacre - producing the pearl.

Cultured pearls use the same mechanism, but the starting 'irritation' is man-made. A tissue or a bead is inserted in the mussels - which react naturally, and starts covering the irritant with layers and layers of nacre. In the freshwater mussels - a small piece of tissue is inserted: thus the process of covering it is lengthier than for the saltwater mussels, where a bead is inserted. A freshwater pearl will have a more baroque appearance (less perfect, not a round bead), but more layers of nacre, making it more durable. A bead-inserted pearl (saltwater) is more perfect in appearance, but has less layers of nacre - which can wear more easily (and leave you with a a non-shiny round bead).

There are pros and cons for each - make sure you know where your pearls come from before you buy!

Freshwater pearls (with Swarovski crystals) necklace & bracelet set :: All Pretty Things
Besides not being as round as saltwater pearls, freshwater pearls don't have the same sharp lustre. On the other hand, they come in a variety of natural colours - making them more appealing to the audience. They are also more durable, the many more layers of nacre making them resistant to chipping, breaking, and discoloration.

As meaning goes, people have been fascinated with pearls for eons. Chinese mention pearls before 2600 BC! There are many legends on how they formed. One speaks about a drop of rain falling from heavens and became the heart of the oyster. Another calls them 'the teardrops of the moon'.

The Bible mentions pearls as well (who didn't hear about 'the pearly gates'?!), while St. Augustin considers it the symbol of Jesus.

Pearls have become a symbol of purity and faith, honesty and dignity. They can have a different symbol, depending on their colour. White pearls symbolize purity, innocence and faith, thus being the main gem used in bridal jewelry. Gold or black pearls symbolize prosperity and success. Pink pearls are a symbol of heart, and the body and mind health.

Whatever your belief - there is one fact: pearls are one of the most beautiful gems! Elegant and simple, they make for amazing jewelry and adornments.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Neat giveaway @ Lori's [US only]

If you've ever wanted to try metal stamping (and you live in US) - now is your chance. Lori Anderson is giving away a lowercase set of Ballroom Boogie and a hammer!

Click on the image below to get to the giveaway:

Win a Set of Impress Art Letter Stamps!!
Good luck!

Beauty in synchronicity

Applied matemathics in real life: a show of light and beauty :: All Pretty Things
Mathematician Steven Strogatz shows how flocks of creatures (like birds, fireflies and fish) manage to synchronize and act as a unit -- when no one's giving orders. The powerful tendency extends into the realm of objects, too.

A beautiful show of light and life... and some really intriguing moments!


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The 4 categories of people

There are three classes of people. Those who see; those who see when they are shown; those who do not see.
Last year,  after a painful conversation at work, with a now-former co-worker (I won't get into details, enough to say that with his brainless comment he almost left me speechless - I recovered soon, though :)); I was contemplating how many categories of people there are.

I heard a saying:

There are three classes of people. Those who see; those who see when they are shown; those who do not see.

Back in Europe I used to listen patiently and quietly to one of the most wise people I've know, my uncle Victor (really my mom's uncle). He lived in a beautiful place, at the bottom of the Carpathian Mountains; he had a wonderful house (he could keep it because he transformed it in a bed-and-breakfast) with a sunny veranda full of light: we would play cards and backgammon in the afternoon, after he taught me how to graft a rose or an apple tree (he had an amazing garden, and a green-house, all made by him). Every summer we will spend some time at his house, when he had vacancy and those are probably some of the best memories of my childhood.

My uncle had a somewhat similar expression:

There are 4 categories of people:
  • Those who know, and they know that they know: those are the wise ones, Listen to them!
  • Those who know, but they don't know that they know: those are asleep, Wake them up!
  • Those who don't know, and they know that they don't know: those are the ignorants, Teach them!
  • Those who don't know, and they don't know that they don't know: those are the stupid ones, Pass them by!
This is probably the best life lesson I ever learned from him. It is so important to be able to distinguish who's who... and the real art is in passing the ones in the last category :)

Blessed are those who see - either by themselves (Listen to them!) or when they are shown.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Bead Swap

Lori Anderson put together another quick bead soup - with no reveal or blog-hop, just a fun "let's swap beads" event. I was paired with a wonderful Canadian, from Tofino, BC - Tina Holden from Beadcomber Originals.

After a quick chat she figured me out pretty well and last week I got my gift! Oh, boy! Love at first sight, second sight... any time I look at them - I love them even more. Judge for yourself!

My bead soup swap from Tina Holden @ Beadcomber Originals :: All Pretty Things
This is the view that greeted me when I opened the package!

I could barely stop enough to take some pictures :) I had to first peek through all the bags, though!

She sent me not one, but 2 focals, both made by her - one can be used as a clasp (that was my very first thought when I saw it!)

Polymer clay focal (Tina's signature, a star fish!) by Tina Holden @ Beadcomber Originals :: All Pretty Things
Polymer clay Starfish (made by Tina)
Resin / Copper Pendant / Clasp focal (with Tina's signature, a star fish!) by Tina Holden @ Beadcomber Originals :: All Pretty Things
Resin / Copper Pendant / Clasp focal (with Tina's signature, a star fish!)
also made by Tina
Tina added a variety of assorted beads - some pearls in the most amazing shade I've ever seen, and such a beautiful baroque shape; and polymer clay beads (made by her) to match the focal.

Freshwater pearls, baroque :: All Pretty ThingsPolymer clay beads by Tina Holden @ Beadcomber Originals :: All Pretty Things 

She also put in complementary beads: beautiful Amazonite nuggets, ceramic beads (judging by the smile on the note, she read my blog a couple of weeks ago :)), and a sand dollar made by her, with matching mother of pearl beads.

Ceramic beads in my soup from Tina Holden @ Beadcomber Originals :: All Pretty ThingsAmazonite nuggets in my soup from Tina Holden @ Beadcomber Originals :: All Pretty Things 

And like all these wouldn't be enough - she graciously added bronze and copper findings - so I wouldn't event need to get to the store for extra supplies (she knows I work mostly in sterling silver, and never used copper or bronze before! what better time than 'right now'? :))

This is the picture of the whole content:

My soup from Tina Holden @ Beadcomber Originals :: All Pretty Things

Thank you, Tina - it is a wonderful mix and I love it (did I say that before?). I can't wait to start working with it, right now I am in the planning phase :)

I hope Tina will have as much fun with the soup I sent her.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday

Our German Shepherd sniffing the Easter Bunny (2009) :: All Pretty Things
It is not the week we celebrate (we are Orthodox, like the Greek Orthodox - and we celebrate like them: Christmas with the Western churches, on December 25th, and Easter with the Eastern churches - sometimes on the same Sunday, sometimes a week after, sometimes a whole month after - like next year!) - but it is a moment to reflect none the less.

To all who celebrate this holy day today - may you enjoy it (it sure is a splendid one right here) and may you spend a wonderful time with family and friends.

God bless you all!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Gemstones: Jasper

Last week we have talked about Turquoise - this week is time for Jasper (at Therese's request).

Jasper egg (from my mom) :: All Pretty ThingsJasper is a semi-precious stone, a quartz really - with its myriad of tiny crystals layered inside sometimes Jasper will resemble a landscape picture. Jasper can come in pretty much any colours or colour combinations you can think of (as a result of various minerals mixed inside), but you will usually find it in red, brown, yellow, and green. Sometimes it might even contain small fossils - and most of the times you will find amazing patterns in this gemstones: from landscape-like layers to lines and leopard skin.

Jasper is considered a strong protection stone (especially the red jasper) and it is believed to bring luck and security, and to ease emotional stress. It is a calming, balancing stone and protects the wearer from the negative emotions and feelings.

It is a highly ornamental stone and, besides jewelry, it is also used to carve bowls and other decorative objects. It has been know from antiquity - Egyptians wore it for protection, and it is mentioned in the Bible as the first foundation stone of the New Jerusalem, as a gift from God.

Do you have a gemstone you'd like to learn more about? Leave a comment and I will write about it!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The 3 As of Awesome (TED talk)

The 3 As of Awesome (TED talks)
A sober, but truly awesome video. A normal person, with a normal story - with an awesome outcome!

A great reminder to be in awe of the normal tiny moments: the now. Enjoy!

A couple of weeks left to the #1 :)
Neil Pasricha's 1000awesomethings Blog

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

On music

On music :: All Pretty Things
I have a very eclectic taste in music: I can stomach pretty much every thing and I love songs / bands that at first seem incompatible (like Jon Bon Jovi and Rascal Flats). For many years I thought something must be wrong with me: how can one adore equally Beethoven and a great gypsy song?!

A few years back I was talking with a co-worker (who was also a DJ) and he asked me what kind of music I like. I said "you'll think I'm crazy - I love Bon Jovi and country music, and pretty much everything in between". "Oh, so you like guitar and meaningful lyrics"

I remember being struck by his words - that is exactly it: I grew up listening to folk music: a guitar, nice lyrics and a group of happy people around the campfire (we used to go mountain hiking a lot, a guitar and a campfire were part of my young years). I like the warm sound of the 'cold' guitar, I like humming songs that are easy to hum, I like the nice, quiet nostalgic feel of those songs. And Bon Jovi? Well - quite the same thing: ignore the crazy rock parts and his ballads are amazing, plus the guitar, oh, the guitar... Same reason I fell in love with Keith Urban's music when he first started in North-America. I had the chance to see him opening for Brooks and Dunn, and I distinctively remember how mesmerized I was. Hubby didn't find him too impressive - I told him: 'watch this guy, he'll get far!' It was 2001 :) Everyone agrees now he's the best guitarist of Country Music, and one of the best voices of Nashville.

Music is an integral part of my life - I don't think there is a moment without music I live in! I found music helping me every moment: lift me up when I feel down, join me in my memory line journeys, and even coordinate my body. Since I started playing piano I become better in many things, including... driving! How, you'll ask? Well - my brain is wired to tackle multiple tasks at the same time (you know the phone conversation - help homework - wash dishes - cook at the same time we do every day), however, it was quite impossible to do different physical movements at the same time; as in: handle the wheel with the right hand, signal with the left, and keep the feet on the gas pedal to keep a constant speed... for me - if I had to turn my head to check the blind spot, and signal at the same time, I would usually take my feet of the gas, couldn't coordinate all :)

Enter the piano classes... where I had to patiently learn how to play something with the right hand, keep a total different rhythm and melody through the left hand, and use the pedal in unexpected ways... all at the same time! Guess what? de-coupling my body parts has been a great exercise through music! It's more fun that way, for sure :)

While this clip has little to do with music, I think it'll make you smile. If it did - I will be happy, my mission for today will be accomplished.


Monday, April 2, 2012

And the winner is...

Scott Plumlee DVD giveaway
Well... today I am :) Lori Anderson from Pretty Things had a wonderful giveaway a few days ago - with not one, but 3 (three) DVDs of Scott David Plumlee, an artist I simply love: his wire work and chainmaille ideas are perfect and gorgeous, and his instructions the most easiest I've ever read.

Now I own one of his DVDs too - can't wait for it to arrive to watch it!!

Yippee! lovely way to start a week, isn't it?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Wise words

Wise words :: All Pretty things
A wise man was once asked: "why did God give man two ears and only one mouth?"

The wise man answered:

- So man will hear better than he will talk...