Saturday, December 20, 2014

2014 Holiday Ornament Exchange

Welcome to the 2014 Holiday Ornament Exchange reveal, hosted by the lovely Sally Russick of The Studio Sublime.

The idea behind this event is quite simple: Sally is tasking us with creating an artistic holiday ornament and sending it to our partner. This year I have been partnered with Susan Kenedy of Sue Beads, who makes awesome glass beads!

Look at the pure beauty she sent me:

2014 Holiday Ornament Exchange, red lentil with gold leaf by Susan Kenedy of Sue Beads

Red and gold - perfect for Christmas! It will take a place of honour in my special table tree (which is, in fact, a jewelry tree, made of iron), very soon (I am finishing decorating the big tree and the house).

In making her something I scrapped many plans. I wanted this and that, or this or that, and nothing 'clicked' with me. So I went back to wire and a beautifully green-bluish seed beads, plus some pearl lentils, added 3 coral beads and, voila!

2014 Holiday Ornament Exchange: Holy leaf, copper, wire work, pearls, coral, ooak :: All Pretty Things

A holy leaf :) One can wear it as a pendant or have the tree wear it as an ornament, whichever they choose. I hope Sue likes as much as I love her gold-leafed red lentil! We both went for lentils and leaves - minds thinking alike, isn't that funny!

A big thank you to Sue for her awesome ornament and an equally big thank you to our hostess, Sally. Please make sure you visit everyone in the group (it's a cozy get-together) and let them know how you like the ornaments we have created this year!

Wishing you all a wonderful Holiday Season: Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones!

1.  Sally Russick  and Tanya Goodwin
2.  Veralynne Malone  and Sally Russick 
3.  Melissa Trudinger  and Elisabeth Auld
4.  Erin Prais-Hintz  and Lesley Watt 
5.  Jenny Davies-Reazor and Patti Vanderbloemen 
6.  Kim Bender-Hora and Beth and Evie McCord
7.  Becky Pancake and Lynne Bowland 
8.  Therese Frank  and Karen Williams
9.  Melissa Meman  and Linda Hanes 
10. Sandi Volpe  and Linda Landig 
11. Alicia Marinache  and Susan Kennedy

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Art Charm Exchange and Charity Auction, 2014 edition - the reveal!

Welcome to a new event: the reveal for the Art Charm Exchange and Charity Auction, hosted by Jen Cameron of Glass Addictions.

As you might know from previous posts, once a year Jen is organizing a charm exchange. With a twist, everybody makes an extra charm, which Jen is auctioning, and the profit goes to Beads of Courage. Every year, to make the challenge more interesting, Jen chooses a theme and this year the theme was 'Soar'.

Of course I turned the word over and over: a feather, a bird, a wing... the word itself stamped... nothing felt good. Or interesting. Or right. So I put it aside and went on with my summer.

During our travels we stopped for a long while in Pennsylvania, where our campsite is by a small creek. A creek we swim at the end of the day, to relax the muscles in the cold water. And then, at the end of the day, when you try to relax not only muscles, but your brain too, when you simply absorb nature and you just 'are' for a few moments (before both the kid and the dog ask for attention, how do you dare to get away from them for 30 milliseconds?)... then I saw them and found my inspiration. Pennsylvania is a magic place for me: one with fireflies and stars (we are almost at the top of the Appalachians there). And now, after many years, the place is offering me something as special as the fireflies:

Art Charm Exchange (Bead of Courage): Soar! Dragonflies :: All Pretty Things

Dragonflies! I watched them for minutes in a row: their translucent, fairy-like wings, their hovering flight, precise, delicate, yet very strong, their humming. And it occurred to me: maybe they aren't exactly eagles, but keeping proportions they sure can soar!

Light bulb on. I only had to get back home to implement it. And that I did - after I managed to buy all the Vintaj metal from Buffalo's Hobby Lobby :) I used a technique I only used twice before: embossing the metal charms, then patina with Color Me + polishing, buffing, the whole 9 yards.

In the end, this is what I sent Jen:
Catching dragonflies!
I wonder where he
has gone today.
~ by Chiyo of Kaga

Art Charm Exchange (Bead of Courage): Soar! Dragonflies: vintaj, embossing, patina, metal work :: All Pretty Things

Purple dragonflies...

Dyed he is with the
Color of Autumnal days,
O red dragonfly.
~ by Bakusui

Art Charm Exchange (Bead of Courage): Soar! Dragonflies: vintaj, embossing, patina, metal work :: All Pretty Things
Red dragonflies...

The dragonfly!
Distant mountains reflected
in his eyes.
~ by Issa

Art Charm Exchange (Bead of Courage): Soar! Dragonflies: vintaj, embossing, patina, metal work :: All Pretty Things
Blue dragonflies...

Art Charm Exchange (Bead of Courage): Soar! Dragonflies: vintaj, embossing, patina, metal work, ooak art charm :: All Pretty Things

All sent with a dragonfly haiku (the most known - to the west - form of Japanese poetry). As delicate as the insect itself.

Wait... what's the big one, you ask? Oh... I decided instead of making an extra charm to make an extra something else. A bit bigger than a charm: a pendant. A dragonfly pendant :)

Art Charm Exchange (Bead of Courage): Soar! Dragonflies: wirework, copper, facetted agate, ooak pendant :: All Pretty Things

This is the story of my dragonflies. They came to visit me one calm afternoon on the bed of a creek close to Susquehanna. I invited them to Soar! for Jen's challenge and they quietly accepted the challenge. Then they revealed their beauty in unique forms - and hopefully they'll do a good job in raising good money for the kids who suffer.

I am not going to show you what I have received ~ you'll have to visit them and the entire group. Trust me, it's a visit for the soul, you won't regret taking the time!

Before you go visit - remember: there is an auction taking place right now, right on this ebay auction site. Every year there are some serious beauties there and just in time for Christmas too!

Thank you, Jen, for all the incredible work that's behind the group - and thank you all for sending such beautiful and special charms!

Our host: Jennifer Cameron
Alicia Marinache <- you are here
Andrea Glick <- One of the charms I received
Cassi Paslick <- One of the charms I received
Lennis Carrier <- One of the charms I received
Michelle McCarthy <- One of the charms I received
Moriah Betterly <- One of the charms I received
Nancy Smith <- One of the charms I received
Niky Sayers <- One of the charms I received
Susan Delaney <- One of the charms I received
Terri DelSignore <- One of the charms I received

Saturday, November 22, 2014

2014 Holiday Ornament Swap & Hop

Another fun and exciting blog hop is the Ornament Swap hosted by Sally Russick. I participated last year for the first time and it was lovely. Sally pairs up artists and we have to create an art ornament for each other.

Last year I was quite late with sending it out - and Canada Post was of no help either... I'm just glad it was made of metal, as it arrived in poor conditions to my partner, fellow Canadian Lori Finney.

You can read all about last year's adventures right here.

As for this year's adventures?

We'll have to wait aaaaaaall the way to December 20th to see what we all made. I hope you'll join me and the other ~20 artists in the group.

Until then, please stay safe and enjoy the Holidays. They are right around the corner :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Art Charm Exchange 2014 - and more news

Hello, hello! Yes, I am still alive and can't believe I haven't posted since... August... oh, dear, and even back then I was late with my post.

Life was full and busy, as you can imagine. Summer is our competition season and this past summer has been quite crazy, as we now have athletes competing in 2 different types of trapshooting (the North-American version, called ATA, and the Olympic-type)... which means double the training, the competition number, the effort. And yes, double the pride when they do well. They did this year incredible well: one of our juniors won the Canadian Championship (overall, not in juniors!) and a tons of other trophies. Other 2 juniors won Gold, Silver, and Bronze in both the Provincial Championships and National Championships (Olympic-style). There were many other accomplishments, not measured in titles or medals, but as precious for both the athletes, and their coach.

And of course, if the coach is busy, his office administrator (truly yours) is even busier. Add on top that said office admin really wanted to train too, and she added some extra competitions to the season... and she's still going full time to school (and loving every minute of it! or almost every one :) )... and that her mom visited for a month back in October... hopefully you'll forgive me :)

This is not about my summer (one day I might come back with details, it was a fun one), though, but about something else.

Art Charm Exchange and Charity Auction: Nov. 24th - 25th, 2014 :: All Pretty Things

Yes, it's the time for a new Art Charm Exchange & Charity Auction! Just days away! save the date :)

What's that? you'll ask. And I'll answer: a wonderful charity event, hosted by Jennifer Cameron of Glass Addictions, a swap, blog hop and charity auction to benefit the Beads of Courage. Jen took the herculean task to organize a number of component artists intro groups of 10. We each make 11 components: one for each member of our group, and an extra one to be auctioned, with the proceeds going to the Beads of Courage organization. I can rarely refrain from participating in a good charity event, and this one is absolutely adorable. Each year there is a theme.

In 2012, the theme was 'Laugh', and last year was 'Love'. You can see what we made in my previous posts:

Art Charm Exchange, 2012 - Laugh
Art Charm Exchange, 2013 - Love

This year, the theme is 'Soar' and you'll have to come back in just a few days to see how I managed it. In the meantime, I can show you what I made, a sneak peak, 'cause you've so patient and I know you won't tell Jen I spoiled all the fun:

Art Charm Exchange, 2014 - Beads Of Courage: SOAR! :: All Pretty Things

What? you thought I'll show them to you? :) No, can't do that to Jen, she's worked so hard!

But I'll invite you to come back on the 25th and you'll see all the charms, I promise! And remember, the Auction starts just the day before, on the 24th (so it will end on Cyber Monday). There will be lots of beautiful charms, trust me, I have 9 of them!

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Creative Continuum of Seven Artists: Reveal #7 ~ featuring Emma Todd

Hello, hello - and welcome to the sixth reveal of the CC7A, the group of 7 friends crazy enough to accept to get together an work with each other's choices each month.

First, an apology for being a full week late ~ life caught up with me big time in July. I will post a couple of updates soon (God willing and the creek don't rise :) ).

Back to the CC7A: this month is hosted by Emma ~ the third Canadian in the group, and a polymer artist. Emma sent one of her polymer pendants, along with some fun beads... and I, being so crazy this month, have no pictures of the original package. I really need to revamp my organization skills...

I will start with her fun items: she sent the 'flower' spikes (how do you call those?!) and the fractured pink glass and while I knew what I wanted to make with them from the very beginning (I added some glass pearls and beads from 2 of last year's Lisa Lodge's challenges):

Funky sparkly bookmarks (glass pearls, lucite, silver-tone bookmark, silver plated wire) by All Pretty Things

Bookmarks! Sparkling and funky and very pink (I have the recipients in mind, William's 2 'cousins' - our best friends' girls). William had fun with them too - he's catching imaginary fish with the sparkly fishing rods :)

I kept the pendant for a very long time, wondering what to do with it. It is very light (like any polymer clay pendant) and I find it challenging to work with very light items. I bought some extra items to combine - just to figure out my piece is grey and pink and doesn't match with the green / turquoise pieces. That will teach me not to take the piece I want to match *with* me when I shop!

Back to the drawing board... I was still waiting for some inspiration and finally I decided it's time to stop waiting and start working (funny how that works each and every time!). I picked up all the left overs from Lisa's last year 'Seasons' blog hop (all pinks and purples), which were conveniently strung on some dark antique copper wire, plus everything else that was left from another of her challenges: the 'Holiday Floral' blog hop (the lucite leaves and flowers). I added a few other items (glass seed beads, the silver-coloured backdrop, the wire) and this is what happened:

Purple universe: lucite leaves, flowers, and petals, silver-plated oval links, wire wrapping, ooak necklace :: All Pretty Things

The Lucite petals, leaves and flowers were combined with silver-plated oval links...

Purple Universe: Emma Todd pendant, glass, lucite, pearls Czech beads, wire wrapping :: All Pretty Things

The main part of the necklace is hard to take a picture of: there are beads of all sorts strung on ring-sized memory wire (the middle part); Emma's pendant received a metal background for balance, and the 'bail' is a piece of silver wire wrapped with the 'kitchen sink' copper wire.

Purple Universe: Emma Todd pendant, ooak necklace, glass, lucite, pearls Czech beads, wire wrapping :: All Pretty Things

And all together - a purple 'avalanche' :) While none of its parts made much sense, somehow together they all work... I hope Emma likes what her pendant became!

This is our last 'meeting' of the year ~ and I would like to thank again each of my artist friends for their participation (while I apologize for being late a couple of times!). It has been a fun time and I hope you all enjoyed as much as I did! I am a bit sad, as I was looking forward each month to seeing what everybody created. I'll have to think of a follow-up :)

Thank you, my visitor, for stopping by ~ I know time is precious and I appreciate each moment (and comment) you spend 'listening' to my stories. Now with fall almost here I'll get back into being more visible on the blog.

Please make sure you visit everybody in the group! I'll go there right now, since I'm quite late to the party :)

Emma Todd (July host)
Monique Urquhart (January host)
Christine Altmiller (February host)
Sally Russick (March host)
Therese Frank (April host)
Alicia Marinache (May host) <- you are here
Cynthia Macatha (June host)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Creative Continuum of Seven Artists: Reveal #6 ~ featuring Cynthia Macatha

Hello, hello - and welcome to the sixth reveal of the CC7A, the group of 7 friends crazy enough to accept to get together an work with each other's choices each month.

This month is hosted by Cynthia ~ a lovely lady I never met in person (I haven't met any of the other 6 in person, we are online friends), and who seems my soul sister from all the stories we've shared!

It is June and Cynthia chose the eternal bridal theme: something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. I mentioned before this: hubby and I have eloped! That is not something you do in my culture, we are Romanic at the base of everything cultural (including language) and we do those big, crazy weddings, with traditions and what not. Would we had go that route, I would have ended up neurotic, I am sure, so we decided on a very simple visit to the City Hall: I do, I do, sign here, congratulations! and off we went our way. We didn't even have our wedding band - on our walk from the City Hall to the park we passed a big jewelry store in the heart of the city, we looked at each other and we asked ourselves: should we get some?! We got them ~ and we still share a good laugh about the day. And good memories. And a strong marriage of 18 years and 30 days (today :) ).

That being said - we don't have the something... saying either, and I didn't wear blue or white that day (I went with red and pale yellow) so Cynthia's choice came as a surprise. It's an 18 years later reminder of a lovely start to a great journey.

I did not take pictures of the package, but from Cynthia's original post you might know it's about something old (reclaimed sari silk), something new (imperial jasper), something borrowed (several remaining leaf toggles from a ZnetShows hop) and something blue (apatite rounds). I added my own something vintage in here (the flower connectors, from a recent package from my mom) and here is what happened:

The Creative Continuum of Seven Artists: Reveal #6 ~ featuring Cynthia Macatha: sari silk, imperial jasper, leaf toggle, apatite rounds

I think I like where this is going... let's see if I can deliver!

One note about the pictures: we are traveling right now and I took the unfinished necklace with me... I have no props for the necklace, so I used the bird calendar we have in the trailer :) hence the curious colourful stares!
The Creative Continuum of Seven Artists: Reveal #6 ~ featuring Cynthia Macatha: sari silk, imperial jasper, leaf toggle, apatite rounds, wire working, ooak necklace, June Dream :: All Pretty Things

The sari silk, along with blue suede went around the neck, as usual.

The Creative Continuum of Seven Artists: Reveal #6 ~ featuring Cynthia Macatha: sari silk, imperial jasper, leaf toggle, apatite rounds, wire working, ooak necklace, June Dream :: All Pretty Things

The flower connectors with the apatite rounds make the necklace, and the leaf toggle ended up as a focal, along the imperial jasper. The wire on the jasper is a dark blue by, err... design :) nope, by lack of thinking ~ when I left I put all sorts of copper wire in my bag, but none of the silver. How I thought I will finish a silver necklace without silver, I cannot tell you!

The Creative Continuum of Seven Artists: Reveal #6 ~ featuring Cynthia Macatha: sari silk, imperial jasper, leaf toggle, apatite rounds, wire working, ooak necklace, June Dream :: All Pretty Things

I was thinking to add some of the sari silk and suede as tassel 'fringes' on the bottom of the leaf (between the jasper), but that will have to wait until I get back home and in the possession of some silver wire.

This is it: my 'June Dream' ~ a lovely piece with beautiful components that worked very well together. I wore it yesterday, to test it and I had the mom of one of our young athletes (we are in Ohio, training with the Junior team for upcoming competitions) commenting "You have very intriguing necklaces - a new one every day and I've never seen designs like this, with the fabric around the neck". It felt very good :) I told her I'm making them and she then said "That explains it!"

Thank you for visiting today and staying for a cup of memories :) and please visit the group ~ it promises to be an interesting get-together, apparently the ladies all have something intriguing to share!

Cynthia Macatha (June host)
Emma Todd
Monique Urquhart (January host)
Christine Altmiller (February host)
Sally Russick (March host)
Therese Frank (April host)
Alicia Marinache (May host) <- you are here

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Unhappy about life ~ fable

This has arrived in my email recently ~ a good reminder of what's truly, truly important in life.


A young man was complaining about being poor. One day, a wise man heard him and asked:

- So you seem unhappy with your life, because you have no money?!
- Yes, sighed the young man.
- Are you healthy?
- Oh, yes, I can be very proud of my health!

The wise man held his hand and said:

- I offer you 10,000 for this hand and 1 million for your eyes.
- God forbid! the man exclaimed
- Well, can you see now how much 'wealth' God gifted you with?! Stop complaining: you have everything you need to make a living. Be happy!


Monday, May 26, 2014

The Creative Continuum of 7 artists - May reveal: Seasons

If you're looking for the Bead Soup Blog Party #8 - please click here!

Welcome to a new CC7A - the lovely group of 7 artist friends who are creating on a given theme each month, with someone's choice of beads.

This month I am hosting the party, one that reflects upon and celebrates 'Seasons'. Weather-like seasons or personal seasons :)

We had to work with gemstone cabs and a strand of gemstone beads - mine was an Amazonite group and I have to tell you upfront, I don't recall who received what, so it'll be a surprise for all of us.

I kept the amazonite because of the colour - it is one of my favourite: a light blue, the colour of water, sky, and - for me - happiness. The season I chose is spring, the season I used to love the most (I still love it, but here, in Canada you never really know when it's spring, it always seems to jump from winter directly to summer :) ).

I won't lie, I almost not posted (again!) - I had one design in mind, and that design meant I had to get to the studio in Hamilton... as luck would have it, the entire week something happened on the day I wanted to go until there was no more time! Now what?!

I sat today looking at my cab and asking for help from any higher power there might be. You know how some beautiful things can be born out of necessity?! Well, that was me last night. At 11 pm (yes, you read it right) I picked the cab and the strand of beads and sat at my improvised 'working desk' in the living room. An hour later I was ready to take pictures (and most of the time had been used to make the actual necklace, not the pendant! I kind of dislike knotting now :) ) and here is what I am ready to present you:

The Waterfall:

CC7A May: The Waterfall ~ amazonite, ooak necklace, wire wrapped :: All Pretty Things

I've been seeing this type of wire wrapping for a long time, and wished to try it... no time like 'now' - I tried it and I love it! I have to figure a couple of things out, but for a first try I am pretty pleased with how it came out.

CC7A May: The Waterfall ~ amazonite, ooak necklace, wire wrapped :: All Pretty Things

I still need to add the clasp, it was way to late at midnight to hammer wire :) it'll have to wait until daylight.

CC7A May: The Waterfall ~ amazonite, ooak necklace, wire wrapped :: All Pretty Things

Originally I was worried about this design, I thought it'll cover too much of the stone. Now I like how the swirls add some character to the stone, without taking away its beauty. I believe this design is better than what I originally had in mind ~ but I'll still want to try my original design... I have to chose another cab and try.

Thank you for stopping by today - and please make sure you visit everyone else as well, can't wait to see what they have created!

Alicia Marinache (May host) <- you are here

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Creative Continuum of 7 Artists - May preview

If you're looking for the Bead Soup Blog Party #8 - please click here!

Welcome to a new CC7A - the lovely group of 7 artist friends who are creating on a given theme each month, with someone's choice of beads.

There are no hard rules - we 'met' late fall and sent each other a package of goodies, and as they all came around December, it felt like Christmas every day when a new package would arrive!

I missed April, I will post in a few days my 'Lucy in the sky with diamonds' creation, based on Therese's choice of beads (her own diacritic glass cab and an assortment of lovely beads). April has been a crazy, crazy month for me: the school has piled a lot, then Easter, then our first competition of the season... by the last day of April my body had enough and it told me in no questionable terms. Hence I spent the following week mostly resting and taking it very, very, *very* easy. I still am on a lower speed than my usual Formula One :) And that's why I am behind with a few tasks (but I did my taxes in time!).

Anyhow... I am hosting the CC7A in May! And since my laptop decided to take a break too, it has been completely wiped a couple of weeks ago (on purpose, by my skillful hubby). I thought I backed-up everything, but I cannot find the pictures I took of my packages. Truth be spoken ~ I cannot remember if I took them off the camera back in November... Oh, well... It's a pity, because I loved the combinations, and I also made the boxes myself, from Christmas cards. Hopefully one of my lovely friends took a picture for me :)

This is (partially) what went out: a cab of green moss agate (not pictured), pink quartz, picture jasper, and amazonite, along a strand of the same beads in 8 mm (I believe). All from Robert Hall Originals, a local shop and much more than a shop (lapidary studio and what not). I bought them at the Gemstone and Rock Show, back in September - we have 2 close by, one in April, one in September and I love both.

Please come back in a week - next Monday it is the 5th reveal of the CC7A adventure.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Focus on Life: playing catch-up Weeks 15 through 20

If you're looking for the Bead Soup Blog Party #8 - please click here!

Sally Russick of The Studio Sublime is hosting the 2nd year of 'Focusing on Life'; for 2014 Sally is providing a monthly theme, with a more fine-grained focus each week of the month.

I had a crazy April and so far May too - so my last submission has been week 14. Back then we were still in April, focusing on moments.

I did lots of focusing, really, as the following week I had 2 presentations, 1 project, 1 assignment, and 2 reports due :) That was on the school-side. Not counting the fact Easter was approaching and the house needed some cleaning and the kitchen needed baking and cooking and egg colouring and... Well, you know how it goes.

So back to focusing.

Week 15: A moment of focus

Week 15: A moment of focus ~ Focus on traditions and Light :: All Pretty Things

With the Easter fast approaching - that was my primary focus. The Light. I love Easter, it is by far my favourite religious Holy day. I had an interesting philosophical conversation with William: what is more important, Christmas or Easter? For us, as Orthodox Christians, the main focus is always on Easter. Yes, we need Christmas (Nativity) for all to follow, but Easter (Resurrection) is what defines us. So we focused simply on the Light that was brought to us. And what you see there is the Light brought from church the night of Easter. There are no candles lit before midnight, at midnight everybody gets outside the church, in the cool night. The priest is the last to come out of the church, and he brings The Light outside, the message of Christ's Resurrection in the symbolic lit candle. The closest person to him light their own candle from the main one (and one from another after that) until everybody holds a lit candle in their hand. The sermon is being held outdoors, and after a short procession around the church we can now all enter the church, bringing the special message "Christ is risen!" with the answer "Truly, He is risen!".

Week 16: A moment best captured in black and white

Week 16: A moment best captured in black and white ~ Lucky, our chocolate lab :: All Pretty Things

Our chocolate lab, Lucky. She's a true lady in this picture - I am happy she let me take it (she's not camera shy, but she doesn't like to pose, like our 2 German Shepherds before her!). Isn't she adorable?

Week 17: Evening moments

Week 17: Evening moments ~ a boy and his dog :: All Pretty Things

From the 'A boy and his dog' series: this is a true evening moment: William watching something on TV before bed, with his hand on the above-mentioned dog :)

That concludes the 'Moments' month, April.

For May Sally picked the 'In, At, and About' theme.

We start with Week 18: In your (their) hands

Week 18: In your (their) hands ~ William handling Egyptian artifacts at the ROM :: All Pretty Things

First in their hands: we went on a school trip at the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) with both Grade 5 classes. The focus of the trip was Ancient civilizations and the trip had 3 parts: about 2 hours of roaming freely through the museum, then 1 hour in a lab, working on Egyptian artifacts, and 1 hour with a guide, in the Egyptian exhibit. The picture is not very good, but it shows that their hands truly touched antique Egyptian artifacts. William has gloves on, holding a miniature statue of a god of some sort (you can't keep up with Egyptian gods!). They had artifacts from 2,000 to over 6,000 years old. And they got to touch them, to study them, to analyse and try to figure what they were for. I couldn't help but sigh at the idea of having such an opportunity so young!

Week 18: In your (their) hands ~ home made cheerful flower arrangement, smiley mug :: All Pretty Things

And this is in my hands :) Yesterday I had enough of this horrible weather (it's grey and cold) and I was thinking to order myself a cheerful flower arrangement. Then I stopped and thought - why?! Went to the market (the farmer's market is open!!), bought 2 bouquets: one with yellow mums, one with white mums. I looked for a red tulip or rose, but I couldn't find any. Came home, and with half of the flowers I made myself what you see. At a fraction of the cost and as cheerful (even more cheerful, since I saved tons of money :) ) as the wan I wanted to order originally. I promised myself to keep this activity (making myself cheerful arrangements) going as long as possible. And if you wonder, I made another similar arrangement with the rest of the flowers, but the effect is not the same - one needs the smiley mug for this to work perfectly :)

Week 19: Good things inside

Week 19: Good things inside ~ the dragon fruit :: All Pretty Things

We recently bought a dragon fruit. It was adorable on the outside: the bright pink with a very bold green. But when I cut it - I couldn't believe my eyes how beautiful it was!! And yummy too. Hence - good things inside :)

Update: The dragon fruit tastes good. It is a watery fruit, the feel of watermelon a little bit, but way, way, way more sweet than watermelon. Cold it's better than at room temperature (just like watermelon too).

Week 20: The view about the ground

Focus on life, Week 20: The view about the ground ~ salad and herbs :: All Pretty Things

Focus on life, Week 20: The view about the ground ~ veggie garden: tomatoes, peppers, herbs, flowers, rose, lavender, blueberries :: All Pretty Things

Last week, we got sick with some sort of a virus: both William and I spent Mother's Day and the next one in bed, watching movies. We filed it under 'fun' :) Right before, though, on Saturday, we had a splendid spring day and we managed to clean our veggie patch, add some new soil and plant it. If they didn't freeze last night, we will have tomatoes, onions, peppers, and salad. Plus the usual herbs. And blueberries / raspberries. Looking forward to late summer :)

Thank you for stopping by - and sorry for a longer post... hopefully I'll get back into the weekly rhythm now.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Bead Soup Blog Party # 8 - the day is here!

Welcome to yet another Bead Soup Blog Party! #8 to be exact :)

BSBP is one of the few blogosphere events I try to participate every they are hosted. Lori Anderson of Pretty Things is a lovely artist who takes on this herculean task of hosting the parties, now once a year. They are humongous parties, I forgot the number of participants this year, but it's somewhere close to 500. Trust me, that's a lot of work to organize! So a big Thank You! from the start to Lori.

My partner this time is Penny Neville of Copper Penny Designs, from Alberta - a fellow Canadian. Not only that, she sent me mostly Canadian art beads, and it was a true pleasure to work with her 'soup' ingredients.

I'll keep it short -this is my original soup, for more details on it please check a previous post, right here.

Soup ingredients from Penny Neville of Copper Penny Designs: focal by Marie-Noel Voyer-Cramp of Skye Jewels, polymer clay by Elaine Robataille, a little mushroom by Bubly and McGurk Beads, lampwork by Ericabeads, a lovely copper toggle and button, Czech glass leaves, faceted jade, pearls, lucite :: All Pretty Things

A lovely colour mix and a gorgeous bead mix all together. I have been stumped for a little bit, I am always stumped by lucite, and how to showcase them the right way. At first I wanted to incorporate everything in one piece. But the piece itself had a mind of its own and took a different approach :)

I started from metal: using copper washers, soldered them together, textured them, soldered them again (nothing like a good hammering to find out if your piece is holding itself together!), buffed, shined, and flame coloured the base.

Base for the Childhood memories garden: copper washers, metalsmith, colour with flame :: All Pretty Things

Hubby saw it and said "It's perfect like this"... hmm... but I still have stuff to add, now what?!

After a few days of keeping it on my desk and watching it carefully, I started to add more elements. Not too many, though, I didn't want to cover it anymore :) I am silly, I know.

I used the pearls for the flowers 'stamina' and 2 of the polymer clay beauties to connect the focal.

Childhood memories garden: ooak necklace detail ~ copper washers base, focal by Marie-Noel Voyer-Cramp of Skye Jewels, polymer clay by Elaine Robataille, pearls, lucite :: All Pretty Things

A new question presented itself: how to hang all this? As I am allergic to base metals, for me it's out of question to use copper or anything else other than silver or gold on the skin. That's why my neck-pieces are either thread-based, or fabric covered. As luck will have it, I found the perfect element: a piece of velvet from a costume I wore when I was very young!

Childhood memories garden: ooak necklace ~ copper washers base, focal by Marie-Noel Voyer-Cramp of Skye Jewels, polymer clay by Elaine Robataille, pearls, lucite, vintage velvet ribbon :: All Pretty Things

Perfect colour match, isn't it?! And a lovely childhood memory at the same time. Can you spell perfection?

I decided to name it 'Childhood memories garden' and I'm very happy with it :)

But that was only the focal! I still needed to use the clasp. Oh, my. Originally, I knotted the round and faceted beads on the Irish wax linen, thinking that will be my neck piece. But it didn't match the main piece anymore... and it was too short to use it as a necklace... so it became:

Wrap bracelet: copper toggle clasp, Irish wax linen, faceted jade, stone :: All Pretty Things

A wrap bracelet! My first one - and I do love wrap bracelets to pieces. So much so that since I decided it stays a bracelet I've wore it every single day. Love it!

The upside? If I find another toggle identical to this, I can transform it into a necklace - I'll show you when I'm done :)

This is my (short version of the) story and I'm definitely sticking to it :) More details can be seen in the slideshow below - enjoy!

First and foremost: thank you to Lori for organizing this wonderful event! I learn a lot, and I have tons of fun :)

Thank you to my lovely partner - I still have lots of ingredients to work with, and some ideas of earrings and bracelets to complete the 2 pieces done so far. Thank you, Penny, it has been a wonderful experience, and I'm looking forward to seeing what you created too :)

And last, but not least, thank you to all who visit and leave a note. I am honoured to have you stop by!

For a complete list of participants, please check Lori's post: Bead Soup Blog Party #8 - Participants list

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Soul's Peace

At a dinner, one of the diners, an atheist, asked the christian sitting next to him:
- How do you know your God forgave your sins or that He listens to your prayers, when you can't see anything of that sort? 
- How do you know your tea has sugar?, asked the christian
- What do you mean? I taste it!
- So you know there is sugar in your tea, even if you can't see it. Just the same, I feel God's love in my heart. My sinful soul feels delivered by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Divine Liturgy, Holy Confession, prayers, make my spirit soar and find peace in God. You can't see love with the eyes of your body, but with the eyes of your soul. 
"When we came to love, we came to God" (St. Isaac the Syrian).
Thoughts before Easter :: All Pretty Things

Liniştea sufletească
La un dineu, se găsea, printre musafiri, şi un ateu – om rău, lipsit de credinţă – care l-a întrebat la un moment dat pe creştinul de alături:
- De unde ştii tu că Dumnezeu te-a iertat pentru păcatele tale sau că îţi ascultă rugăciunile, când, de fapt, nu vezi nimic din toate acestea?
- Dar tu, îl întrebă la rândul său creştinul, de unde ştii dacă este zahăr în ceaiul pe care îl bei acum?
- Cum de unde? Simt gustul zahărului.
- Deci ştii că este zahăr în ceaiul tău, chiar dacă nu-l vezi. E, tot aşa simt şi eu dragostea lui Dumnezeu în inima mea. Sufletul meu îngreunat de păcate se simte izbăvit prin puterea Sfântului Duh. Sfânta Liturghie, Sfânta Spovedanie, rugăciunile îmi înalţă sufletul ce nu-şi găseşte liniştea decât la Dumnezeu. Dragostea nu o vezi cu ochii trupului, ci cu ochii sufletului.
“Când am ajuns la iubire, am ajuns la Dumnezeu” (Sfântul Isaac Sirul).

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Color of Dreams reveal

Rita of Toltec Jewels put together a lovely blog hop: Color of Dreams. She sent 50 (fifty!) of us an orphan, ooak bead by Patricia Handschuh: colourful bits of dreams, indeed! Look at them:

Mine is not in the picture, I came late to the party - and I believe Rita purchased more beads after taking this gorgeous picture.

Being far, far away from Rita (across the border), my bead came in about 10 days ago. That was my luck, I believe, I didn't have time to think too much, I had to create something. But... what? The beads are charming and tiny, about 1/2 "... How can I make it into a focal, without overpowering it?

Then I started to think about dreams - I have so many, and they are all colourful... just like my charm. Purple and violet, with yellow blossoms, and green sprigs of hope. I always dreamed in colour, consciously or not, vivid, bright dreams. When I was young(er) I once was afraid that once a dream come true, there is nothing else to follow it. I believe for a while I stopped trying to follow my dreams, out of this incoherent fear. Then I grew up and I realized that once a dream is completed, your life continues, and you make more dreams. We are dream factories, each of us, isn't that a nice idea?

So I started to complete dream after dream, in no particular order, as opportunities arrived - and something fabulous happened: the more dream I could 'check off' my list, the more dreams appeared :)

Along these lines of thoughts, while still searching for a perfect solution for my bead, an idea presented itself: how about a frame?! ah, now we can talk!

I must admit it has been a hard one. I now know why - I chose the wrong size for the frame's wire. But I left the house with just half of my bag, so I had to make it work as it was. The enameling went OK per se - it's not as stellar as I wanted it in this composition (I had a hard time getting the frame to stick to everything, skill-learning in progress :) ). Bottom line: it's a beautiful idea, the implementation is not perfect. Dream still in progress - and it already gave birth to a couple of other ideas (which I promptly drew on a piece of paper).

Here is my Exotic Dream:
Exotic dreams: ooak polymer clay, copper, enamel, metal work, ooak pendant :: All Pretty Things

Exotic dreams: ooak polymer clay, copper, enamel, metal work, ooak pendant :: All Pretty Things

Exotic dreams: ooak polymer clay, copper, enamel, metal work, ooak pendant :: All Pretty Things

Thank you for checking my colourful dreams - thank you, Rita, for the lovely opportunity, and to a wonderful artist, Patricia, for creating such gems! It was a pleasure working with it!

Please make sure you check the other artists' dreams - it will be a colourful Sunday!

Honorary Artist: Patricia Handschuh
Patricia's blog:            The Color of Dreams      
Patricias Etsy:             The Color of Dreams
Hostess: TJ                Jewel School Friends

Kay Thomerson           KayzKreationz
Audrey Belanger          Toki No Hourousha
Alicia Marinache          All the Pretty Things
Terry Carter                TappingFlamingo
Lori Schneider             Bead Addict
Jenny Kyrlach             Wonder and Whimsy
Asri Wahyuingsih         Asri's Beadwork
Dini Bruinsma              Angaza by Changes
Karla Morgan              Texas Pepper Jams
Debbie Rasmussen        A Little of This, A Little of That
Veralynne Malone          Designed by Vera
Kathy Stemke               Vintage Memories Jewelry Design
Mowse Doyle               Mowse Made This
Heather Richter             Desert Jewelry Designs
Lori Poppe                   Adventures in Creativity with LorilliJean
Jayne Capps                Mama's Got To Doodle
Andrea Glick                Zenith Jade Creations
Kathleen Breeding         99 Bottles of Beads on the Wall
Becky Pancake             Becky Pancake Bead Designs
Karin Martinez              Fairies Market
Miranda Ackerley          Mirandack
Penny Houghton           Smelly Nelly
Carolyn Lawson           Carolyn's Creations
Chris Eisenberg            Wanderware
Christie Murrow          Charis Designs Jewelry
Monique Urquhart        A Half-Baked Notion
Eve Shelby                  Raindrop Creations Jewelry by Evelyn
Cryss Thain                 Here Bead Dragons
Jasvanti Patel               Jewelry By Jasvanti
Nan Smith                   NanMade Handmade Jewelry
Sue Kennedy               SueBeads
Jean Yates                   Snap Out of It, Jean! There's Beading to be Done!
Debbie Rogers             Debbies Treasures
Marybeth Rich             A Few Words From Within the Pines
Shirley Moore              Beads and Bread
Shaia Williams             Shaiha's Ramblings
Kathy Lindemer           Bay Moon Design
Linda Anderson           From the Bead Board
Judy Turner               Silver Rains
Gloria Allen                Gloria Allen Designs
Regina Wood              Ginas-Design
Robin Reed                Artistry HCBD
Mary Goovars            MLH Jewelry Designs
Marlene Cupo             Amazing Designs
CJ Bauschka              4 His Glory Creations
Robin Showstack        The Crazy Bead Hoarder
Cynthia O'Toole          Sparkles and Sweets
Jael Thorp                 Jael's Art Jewels
Renetha Stanziano      Lamplight Crafts

Friday, April 4, 2014

Focus on Life: Week 14 ~ Moments :: Morning

Sally Russick of The Studio Sublime is hosting the 2nd year of 'Focusing on Life'; for 2014 Sally is providing a monthly theme, with a more fine-grained focus each week of the month.

We have entered April, with its theme 'Moments' ~ I love it! The first week of April our focus should be on 'Morning'.

Routine? Unfortunately so much so... The child goes to school Monday to Friday. I go to school Monday to Wednesday, plus the odd extra day (that doesn't mean I party the rest of the time, you know those 'what your mom / friends / family / you think you're doing' pictures? I have an acquaintance who said something along the lines 'so cool, you have so much free time!' err... not really... I am back to a max of 5 hours of sleep a night, but I am full of energy, so no complaints here). Husband goes to work Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. What does that mean? I get no break, no sleep-in, every single day of the year I am up and ready to run :) Again, no complains, really.

So what's my morning routine? Up, get everybody ready, check and reply to business emails, make tea, and dash through the door (or see others dashing through it). When I go to school I get my short ride on the GO bus, and most of the time I read the newspaper, others I chat with my Peruvian driver.

This week it was nice and warm most of the week. Blue skies and a brief feeling of spring being right across the corner. While not in my routine, I saw this as soon as I got off the bus:

Focus on Life: Moments ~ Morning :: All Pretty Things

Yes, a cute little nest in a cute little still leafless tree. But I have high hopes I'll see the leaves soon. Maybe the occupants of that little nest too, who knows?

On Sunday, another moment, still in the morning, and very much part of the Sunday routine. I go to a studio in Hamilton, where I do work on my jewelry design and making skills. I figured out it's better to have company, and if I go, I'll make something (or work on something, at least), for sure! Otherwise, at home, I'll be tempted to do so many other things that are waiting for my attention :)

This past Sunday I took William with me and since it was very early (long story), and very nice outside, we decided to have a walk through the park. The studio is very close to a beautiful park in Hamilton, Gage Park. Walking back toward the studio my eyes were attracted to a surreal image - it took me a short moment of intense watching to put it in the proper perspective.

Focus on Life: Moments ~ Morning; Incredible mural on a building across Gage Park, Hamilton, ON :: All Pretty Things

Anything strange?!

Maybe the complete picture will help you:

Focus on Life: Moments ~ Morning; Incredible mural on a building across Gage Park, Hamilton, ON :: All Pretty Things

That incredible old Victorian street is *painted* on the side of the building! It is truly amazing and in real life is makes you stop for a moment and watch it intently. Which we did, while chatting about who the artist might be.

These are my moments of the week - please make sure you visit everybody else. The theme is lovely and I'm sure we'll find out many adorable moments.

P.S. An update on the Lego competition: we had the 'cheer-me-up' ice-cream :) But the kids had fun, worked very well together, used incredible problem-solving skills and enjoyed the day. We all learned valuable lessons, and I have now a clear plan on how to approach the competition next year. Plus a few extra ideas!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Happy birthday to a special person :)

This is a blog entry which I am "borrowing" from my personal blog (made for family and written mainly in Romanian) and posted in 2008 (!) after the Great Lakes Grand, in Mason, Michigan. Mason is my second most preferred place to be (after #1: Elysburg, PA) and we love competing there.

It is mostly about trapshooting, but also about a special dimension that has added to our family and relationship.

While translating it I realized it could have been written as well any year: everything in there holds as much truth today as it was the past few years.

I'll add one more idea to this: Happy birthday, honey! To a lovely husband, great father, and amazing coach: may your day be full of sparkle and joy!

Happy birthday, Florin! ~ All Pretty Things
Happy birthday, Florin!


Any athlete with an ounce of self-respect (and entertaining some thoughts of winning) must have a coach.

Sometimes the coach is one of the parents - at least until the 'offspring', having displayed some talent, either surpasses his 'coach' or starts having an attitude. At that point a new coach should be found.

Sometimes, especially when the athlete starts later in his life, the coach is a friend with good intentions (but usually with zero coaching skills) - this friend will come with lots of advice that might or might not make any sense. When we add a husband-wife relationship into this unfortunate mix, the disaster is imminent, because the athlete will feel now he/she can answer back to the 'unofficial' coach. In cases like this one it's preferable to find a new coach. In the majority of the cases, in fact, what gets dropped is not the coach, but the actual sport.

And every now and then, it happens that the coach is, in fact, a skilled one and knows what to tell his/her student. Even in this case we have quite a few ramifications: the athlete has both talent and passion; the athlete has only talent, and no passion; the athlete has no natural talent, but lots of passion.

In our case God gave us an ideal situation: the skilled coach and the athlete with some natural talent and tons of passion.

I, being for the past 3 years (I can't believe there have only been 3 - it seems like forever) the student with open ears and no mouth (meaning: listening and not answering back), had only to listen to his advice: smile to all and do only what I tell you - and today we have a coach very happy with his student and a student very happy with her coach. And both very happy with the results.

In our case I have to be honest and say that he knows not only what has to be done, but also how to tell the student what has to be done. The ones that know me can tell right away it's pretty difficult to make me do something that's illogical (or only seems illogical or if I don't understand 'why' it has to be done). And somehow he managed to make me advance, to improve my technique one step at the time - up to today's performances.

It's next to impossible to explain what these trophies [note: the trophies where my first ones, won at the Great Lakes Grand in the spring of 2008] mean for me, for us.

It's not about the win, it's about the climb - the exposure, the recognition I (and we) won in a blink.

It's not about the trophies - it's about opportunities: to know you can do something that puts you on the top is an incredible feeling. In this specific case, the performance is even more special: it is equally distributed between Category (Lady) and Class. I wasn't only the top Lady in a couple of events; I was also the top shooter in my class in a couple of events. And hearing a nice gentleman asking his friend: 'who's this girl that beat me?!' is not only funny, it is purely amazing.

It's not about the results - it is about performance: and in my quest to climb to the top of the mountain there were always at least 2 people involved: the coach and the student. The ones that think they can achieve high performances without any help whatsoever, just by themselves, are either not very smart, or extremely arrogant. Without my beloved coach I wouldn't have started in this sport, I wouldn't have advanced as much as I did, I wouldn't have performed as well I did. The advice right before entering the line were precious to the last sound - especially his calming advice before Event #6, Doubles, when I found myself in a double 'peril' situation: sudden squad leader (nobody took position 1) while shooting with one of our own legends, Paul Shaw. [P.S. I won that event - I forgot if it was as Category or Class]

If today I can take my post and subconsciously prepare myself - the merit is his for knowing what to tell me and mine for listening and doing exactly what he told me to. If today I can look at the targets and know how to adjust my eye/gun hold - the merit is his for going through different scenarios with me and mine for asking questions and storing his answers. If today I can clear my mind for long enough to focus on the main task (one target at a time) - the merit is his for knowing how to get me to this phase and mine for getting there.

And if today I am proud of myself and my own performance I am equally proud of him, my coach.

And my pride is triple: he's not only the best coach I ever met, but he's my better half and an amazing father.