Wednesday, November 30, 2011


I am probably going to loose my mind. I am working with a group of wonderful volunteers for my son's school Auction  (Glenview PS)... and the work is brutal. I basically moved into school since last Friday! I go in with William and come out with him.

Between logging items, making auction sheets, making baskets and making Gingerbread houses with each class - there is not much of my sannity left. My family is ready to declare mutiny, I believe - it's a good thing the dogs are still getting fed, the boys can go through the cupboard now and then (although both DH and DS are critically attracted by the chocolate they found in there... ignoring the healthy snacks).

Lesson #1: if you ask (nicely) people will respond.
Lesson #2: if you make a personal connection people will respond better.
Lesson #3: there are still nice people in this world.

The story behind #3. On Friday or Monday we were franctically working in the office when a gentleman came in and asked who's in charge with the auction. He was sent to us and he told us he just walked by, saw the auction sign in front of the school and he asked us what kind of help we need. For a few moments we were speachless - how many times you get someone to walk into your office and ask what kind of help you need? When we recovered - we gave him one sign (his business has the front on the main street in the community) and we thanked him a lot. He came back the next day - with a wonderful Muppets themed busket; some kids will enjoy it this Christmas!

Even if he wouldn't have donated anything - the simple gesture of coming in and asking how he can assist us was wonderful. A precious moment I will cherish for a long time!

Disclaimer: He didn't ask for anyhting in return - all I know right now is that he works for Preston Insurance here in Aldershot, on Plains Rd (phone # 905.527.8450). My opinion is purely subjective and based on my feeling he's a gentleman with a heart. In a world increasingly busy and crazy, when people tend to care less for others we need more people like him. From the bottom of my heart - I thank him.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The wise man and the ring

A young man came to the wise man:

Princess bracelet - Sterling silver & glass beads, chainmaille :: All the Pretty Things- Oh, wise man... I feel so small, so insignificant, nobody values me and I feel I don't have the energy to do something well and good. Please help me - how can I become better? How can I change other people's minds about me?

Without even looking at him, the wise man said:
- Sorry, my child, I can't help you right now, I have a pressing personal problem to solve. Maybe afterwards. After a short pause he added: If you could help me, maybe I will solve my problem faster and then I could help you too.

- Errr.... sure, I'll gladly help, said the young man, feeling yet another person doesn't care about him.
- OK, the wise man said, then taking a small ring off his finger he gave it to the young man. Here, take this ring and go to the market. I need to sell it at once, but you must get at least one gold coin for it. If you can't get a gold coin, don't sell it. Go now!

The young man took the ring, got up on his horse and ran to the market. He started to show the ring to everyone, but nobody will want to buy it. Some would think the ring is pretty, but when they heard the price they'll laugh in the man's face. Some wouldn't even look at it. After he tried every single person in the market, the young man got back on his horse and returned to the wise man. He was tired - not so much from the trip, but from his failure.

Winter wonderland necklace - crystal & Sterling silver, wire wrapping :: All the Pretty Things- Sorry, wise man, nobody would want to buy it for that price. I could get 2-3 silver coins on it, but nothing more. I don't think it's that valuable, so I couldn't make anyone to pay such an over-price.

- You're absolutely right, my friend. First we need to find out the real value of the ring. So please go to the jeweler, show him the ring, and ask him what's the value. Don't sell it! Bring the ring back.

The young man galloped away. The jeweler examined the little ring for a long time then said:
- Tell the teacher if he sells it now I can offer him only 58 gold coins.
- What? 58 gold coins? the young man exclaimed
- Yes, said the jeweler. In other times you could get 70 gold coins on it, but if he's in a hurry I can offer only 58.

Elegance necklace: Freshwater pearls & Swarovski crystals:: All the Pretty ThingsThe young man thanked the jeweler and quickly returned to the wise man, relating him the story.

- Please sit down, said the wise man. You are like this ring, a unique and valuable jewel. And just like with the ring - it takes an expert to recognize your value. We all are like the ring: valuable and unique, riding the life markets and expecting non-expert people to recognize the value in us!

Remember this story when you feel let down: you know your real value, and nobody can take it from you, even if they won't recognize how precious you are. You work carefully every day to shine the jewel within you and to add more value to it! You are precious and unique - love yourself.

Lesson from the past

I vividly remember my high-school history teacher. She wasn't a great history teacher (mind you, the subjects we studied back then will make a Western-raised child think it was some sort of strange boring science fiction), however she taught us (at least me) one great lesson.

The journey of 1000 miles begins with one stepWe were in grade 12 - preparing for the University exams. Back then you had to take 3 exams - one for a different subject - in order to get into University. There were a fixed number of  'places' and they will average the grades on the 3 exams, and start from the highest average down the list. When they counted as many places as they had available - that was it: you made it or not.

So here we were: a bunch of grade 12 kids, all with dreams and hopes and all overly stressed out.

As such, we would care less about history and other mundane subjects: our focus was mathematics and physics (for engineering or accounting) or chemistry and biology (for medical school) - the main streams. Our teachers knew very well we won't focus on their subjects. One day the history teacher (a lady well in her 50s, maybe even 60s - she had been my parents' teacher too) came into class and discovering us in a frenzy (can't remember the exact reason) tried her best to calm us down. We were not be calmed down, though, and one of my colleagues exclaimed, thoroughly frustrated: I think I'll quit, I don't know enough to make it, what's the point?

Oh, to this day I recall her smile and her answer: My children, the very step you must take in order to succeed is to make an appearance! If you go and write the exam, you might pass it. If you don't go - you will fail for sure!

I didn't pay much attention at the moment - however a few months later I was finding myself after the very first exam, Geometry. That has always been my best subject in school, I loved Geometry (and still do); but the subjects on that exams were simply brutal (to give you an idea - my mom was a high-school Math teacher and a very good one, when I got home and showed her the subjects she couldn't solve all of them... she solved 3 out of 5, started some ideas on the 4th, and she just couldn't figure out how to start the 5th one!). So here I am - two more exams ahead of me... and I knew I wouldn't get good grades for the first... heck, I didn't even know if I will get 50% on the 1st one! Walking through the park, trying to clear my head - at first I decided there is no point in getting up next morning and going to the 2nd exam (Algebra). Then I remembered my history teacher and her idea - yeah, I might have done badly on that first day, but if I don't go tomorrow I will fail for sure!

Needless to say - I went to the next 2 exams. The Algebra was hard, but decent, and the Physics (my least favourite subject) had some grade 9-10 questions... it was so easy I couldn't believe my eyes!

That was the last time when I considered quiting anything. That was my very first lesson on how to approach life - always be present! Every now and then, when things get hard I am tempted to give up, then I remember her smile and if it's something important - I will keep doing it. I might not succeed all the time, but no one will accuse me for not trying!

Do you have an important lesson you learned in your life?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Another first :)

Next week, in the December issue of SNAP Mississauga I will have my very first printed paper ad!

For a sneak preview check Made By Hand's picture.

Oh, exciting times...

Colours (Yellow)

Sunny Day - Polymer Clay bowlYellow is such a complex colour - my favourite hue of yellow is the one fluffy baby chickens 'wear' on their first few days of life. I used to hold them few hours after they would come out of their eggs and there is such a comfort in that memory!

Yellow is a warm colour, without being dangerously so (like red) - it brings thoughts of happiness and joy. It is full of positive energy and being the colour we associate with sun and light, it brings clarity. Paint a colour in a sunny warm yellow and you'll get a clear and alert mind, with better concentration skills. During the dull cold winter days - surround yourself with yellow to get rid of those 'winter blues'.

Yellow is associated with wisdom, optimism, enthusiasm, creativity, joy and many other positive energies.

Sunset - Polymer Clay bowlOne of the most magnificent colour combinations I have ever seen is its complementary schema: yellow and purple. Imagine a field of purple and yellow crocuses or yellow daffodils with the purple bells. There are lots of examples in nature (especially in the spring) - I believe Mother Nature knows something!

Another splendid yellow hue would be gold - we've talked about it in the orange article.

What other combinations can we use?

Pot of Gold - Polymer Clay bowlTry the analogic schema for a spring or citrusy theme: yellow with green-yellow and orange-yellow. Combine it with gold for a hot and elegant summer day feeling. Add some red accents for a bright and happy schema. Try some nice browns and reds for a rich autumn theme. Used in pale accents can subdue a darker or richer colour and balance the combination.

Remember to wear some yellow this winter - you'll bring a smile not only on your face, but on everyone's face!

What is your favourite colour? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Friday, November 25, 2011


Polymer clay bowlI've been quite busy the past week and I'll get even busier coming week. No, nothing artsy (if you don't count my new beautiful sweater I have just started with high hopes that'll be done by Christmas - ambitious hopes!) - just working at my son's school where we prepare for the Holiday Auction set for Dec. 2nd. Things are going OK, but there is lots of work. Today I've been logging items - you'd think there are about 2 million of them, however... when you consider the time it takes to figure out in which of the side of the auction to put it (Live, Silent, Holiday Shop), if it needs receipt, where is the description sheet and so on... it's a miracle we managed to log all items in just under 6 hours.

When I talk to my mom and tell her about the volunteer system in here she's always amazed and quite a little jealous too! See - she's a former high-school teacher and she knows the educational system back in the country from inside out. As a teacher she can appreciate what a difference the help of parents could make. She's used there with just demands and the 'I sent my child to school, it's the school's / teacher's responsibility now' attitude. She dreams of what could have been done while she was teaching those kids if they had the support of the parent community. And not only the educational system - here in Canada we run a lot on the support of the community and volunteers. It's amazing how many things are done through the kindness of strangers and we should stop and think and be grateful we live in a normal society. Sure, many areas could use improvement - but let's be honest: we are a society of caring people.

And for that I am thankful!

Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


I have the strangest conversations with my 8yo (soon to be 9). They take place in the car, while we drive to and from some activity, or right before bed-time.

There are sometimes personal, sometimes touching and most of the time I am truly surprised at the maturity he shows.

#1 took place in the car this afternoon - we talked earlier about how Santa likes to check with parents about the gifts children ask for, to make sure they are appropriate - out of the blue, in the middle of a totally different idea came the question:

Wordle: Untitled- Mommy, does Santa ever die?
- ... err... why do you ask (that's how I get out of trouble most of the time, by stalling)
- You know, what if he suddenly dies before Christmas - who's going to deliver all the toys? He's been alive for a long time. Do you think he has a son and he transfers all the duties to his son?
- Maybe... that sounds like something a responsible Santa would do
- Do you think he will ever die?
- I am not sure, he might be a truly magical person...
- That would be so cool! Can you ask him?
- [almost chocked on the water I was drinking] Me? When? What?
- You know, when you talk to him... when he's checking about the gifts with parents... can you ask him?
- What? if he'll ever die?
- No, that would be really rude. If he has a son and if he hands his duties over to his son.
- Umm... sure... I will try to remember.

#2 took place at home, right before bed-time. We were talking about how he likes something (broccoli & Brussels sprouts) and his friends at school think that's weird, but he learned that it's OK to have different likes; and if one of your friends doesn't like what you like, it is OK, we are all individuals and we can ignore when someone is trying to make us feel bad for a personal like or dislike.

About half an hour later:

- Mommy, if a child comes from school with an A- and his/her parents instead of praising the child proceed to tell him how he should have gotten an A or A+... can they ignore?
- Huh?
- If the child...
- Yes, I got the child story - what is the question?
- You know how we talked about how you are an individual and you can ignore what other people think about you... should the child ignore the parents in this case? 'Cause they truly don't appreciate you trying very hard and instead of focusing on the positive they come hard on you with negatives.
- [darn...] Well... you shouldn't really ignore your parents. Instead you should try to make them understand your point of view
- Yeah, I didn't think it's a good idea to ignore them
- Sometimes parents can be a little too...
- Mean?!
- No, they might ask too much of their children
- They over-estimate the child!
- Not necessarily; just ask too much. In that case, you need to make them understand what you think. How you tried your best at the moment, how you improved - try to make them see the positives. It goes like this: if you care about the person that's making some negative comments - you should first try to explain your position, try to understand each other
- But what if they don't get it?
- Well... sometimes it's OK to just walk away and accept that sometimes there truly are multiple poits of view. And try to understand their position too. You don't have to agree - just to accept it. You'll have to learn to gauge when it's the appropriate time for each...
- OK, that sounds good.

He went back to his Lego... and left me wondering: was that the correct answer? I don't want to raise a little anarchist... nor a complier w/o thinking. It is a fine line - and my answer was also based on the absolute knowledge that tomorrow morning he'll gather his group of friends and pass the advice to them.

Oh, the miracles of parenthood! Any words of wisdom from out there?

Happy Thanksgiving (US)!

Today is Thanksgiving in US - and we are wishing our many many great friends down South a very memorable day! May it bring you happiness and may you be healthy and celebrating with your dear ones!

Happy Thanksgiving!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Christmas - just around the corner

Christmas ★* 。 • ˚ ˚ ˛ ˚ ˛ •
•。★ Countdown ★ 。* 。only 31 days
°  ° ˚˛˚˛ * __Π____*。*   ˚ to go ......!
˚ ˛ •˛•˚ */________/~\。˚ ˚ ˛
˚ ˛ •˛• ˚| 田   田 |門|

I had to use this pictogram, it's way too cute.

Ho!Ho!Ho! Christmas is here!Anybody here remembers the days when we used the big mainframes to print knitting or point needle patterns using just lines and Xs and Os? I vividly recall a pull-over I knitted when I was in grade 5 or 6 - it had the most beautiful butterfly and the patter has been printed like the image above, by a family friend, at the computer centre in one of the big plants of the city.

<side note> Back in those days (we are talking cold war here, and one of the Eastern Block countries, one of the closest to Russia too) the 3 plants in the city could be transformed in a blink: from making pants into making uniforms, from making bridge parts into making rocket parts (yes, they actually built them) and from making auto parts into making tanks. In high-school we had periods of couple of weeks every 2-3 months when we will go and work in those plants ('volunteer' work, of course) and my friends whose parents were working there (1/3 of the city was working there, of course) would get a ride on a tank (no, I am not kidding). </end of side note>

Side note aside - It is quite frightening: we have just one month and a bit over 4 weeks until Christmas - which also means... the year is over. Have you started to decorate? I haven't and the next 2 weeks are quite busy... which means I will have less than 3 weeks to focus on decorations. Plus making all the gifts I want to make. Plus baking (and that's not my strength to start with anyhow!). Plus...

I could be stressed out, I think. But there is no point in doing that. Time will pass no matter if I worry about it. So I will instead focusing on how to make the most out of the Holidays.

First of all - by smiling and keeping a low-stress profile around the house (harder to do with DH, he's the one that needs more calming than anyone in the household). Filling the house with carols: both traditional and North-American. Playing them on the piano as a family is always fun - and we do that more as the holiday approaches. Cleaning the house went low on my list - I do a decent job, but I don't go to the extremes I used to (like cleaning the grout in between the kitchen tiles - seriously?! they look nice when clean... but it keeps for less than a week :) neah, I have better things to do with my time). I will have to get the card making supplies out soon; and the decoration making supplies too.

So: deep breath... in... out... and off I go - tackling the to-do list of today.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Life is a collection of moments - some bad, some good, some excellent... and all precious.

For all out there needing a prayer and a thought today I send you my cute Angel

Thanksgiving AngelBelieve that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact. ~ William James

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment. ~ Buddha

It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get up. ~ Vince Lombardi

Today is the day the Lord has made, rejoice and be glad in it. ~ Psalm 118:24

Monday, November 21, 2011


Dolphins are one of my favourite animals - if not *the* favourite one. I never got the chance to swim with them, it's on my 'bucket' list, ranking higher than visiting historic Europe :)

Some things are hereditary - and dolphins love might be one in my family. My mom is crazy about them, I love them, my son is dreaming of the day when he'll become a marine biologist and make his own lab, with a huge aquarium for... dolphins.

For his nameday last Monday you might remember I made him a panel with, of course, a dolphin swimming nicely in blue water. Blue and dolphins - that's a calming vision!

This is the panel - I am still learning to do the 'seams' properly (if one knows a way of making stained glass without the soldering - please let me know!), but I love it no matter what :)

What is at the top of your own bucket list?

Bird Kingdom (Niagara Falls)

My son loves animals - he so far has no dislikes in the Animal Kingdom. Cockroaches? Bring them on! Tarantulas? No biggie, mommy, can we have a pet tarantula? Snakes? Oh, his #1 lately (since the spring, when he had a chance to hold a garden snake). Turtles? Always been in love with them. Dogs? It's a good thing there is a city limit on the # of dogs a household can have. Cats? They're soooo cute, mommy, can we get one?

You name it - and he'll be willing to have it as a pet.

We (the parents) are still debating if we need one more pet in this house. Grandma is trying to convince us we don't :) Until then - we visit all sort of museums, zoos, exhibitions - and every time we leave the place with the same thought in the child's mind: we need a new pet.

Sunday we discovered one more animal place in the neighbourhood: the Bird Kingdom, the largest free-flying indoor aviary in the world, located in Niagara Falls. I am not sure when they open, first time I saw the building was in the summer (and we go to Niagara quite often), so maybe it's a new one.

All I know is that I was charmed (forget about the child, he was mesmerized) - so much so that we went through the whole thing twice! I have never seen so many beautiful birds all in one place. And they were completely free to roam around... I felt I was in a colourful tweeting jungle! Oh... and the chirping and singing!

The birds living in their natural habitat is not the only exhibit. There are also a collection of saltwater fish, spiders, bats, snakes, skinks, and reptiles too, all of which make their home in the same tropical environment the birds flourish in.
If you need about 90 minutes (that's how long one tour takes :)) of peace and beauty: make a visit to Bird Kingdom in Niagara Falls. You won't regret the money spent. The children will have lots and lots of fun: they can pet Lola - a huge albino Python - and Fernando - an iguana. They can feed the colourful and noisy Rainbow Lorikeets. And nothing compares to the flutter of a bird's wings when they pass you... maybe the flutter of a butterfly wings - and for that you can just visit another of our beloved places (just minutes away): the Niagara Falls Butterfly Conservatory.

Enjoy your aviary visit!

Note: I am in no way affiliated to the Bird Kingdom, and I get no monetary rewards from this article. We have simply enjoyed an afternoon of fun and I wanted to share the experience :)

P.S. Tip: if you order your tickets online you save about $3 per ticket.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Like a mother - it's hard to order your kids in terms of favourite... however I do have one that's my absolute #1.

Sometimes ago I tried my hands at chainmaille. Chainmaille, for those of you who don't know, is a very old technique: it's how they made the knights armours centuries ago. It is the art of connecting metal rings into sheets of 'fabric'. In our times some innovative people revived the technique to be used in jewelry making. Connecting jump rings into various forms to create wearable art is relaxing and the end results can be stunning!

It is not necessarily easy - think hundreds of jump rings: open / close / repeat. But it's definitely fun. I'll get back to the actual technique in another post.

Princess bracelet - Sterling Silver, Glass beads, chainmaille :: All the Pretty ThingsToday I would like to present my 'Princess': a Romanov Chainmaille bracelet made of 400 silver sterling rings and beautiful green beads. I have been in love with Romanov-style jewelry for a long time. And I love the 19th century fashion (sometimes I believe I was born in the wrong era... not complaining - just dreaming :)).

Put the two together and here we are: with an elegant bracelet (it has complementary earrings) that will make you look like a Princess. It is an extremely versatile piece - and one that will start conversations. Pictures don't really do it justice: you have to feel the way the silver hugs your wrist to understand the beauty and elegance of this bracelet.

You can wear it for the after-work meet with your friends or you can wear it to complement your New Year's Eve dress. It is a magnificent addition for a special occasion: think pearls instead of the green beads and you have an amazing bridal set. Or coral beads for brightening up the little-black-dress. Or - think Swarovski crystals - and you got yourself the perfect addition for that night out at the opera / theatre / I-feel-wonderful-evening :)

Can you tell I simply LOVE this piece? How do you like it? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pirates' Treasure

A good few years back my mom sent me a handful of broken old jewelry. Non-precious - the costume jewelry so in fashion many years ago. They were beautiful pieces - either missing a pin, or a stone, or completely unpaired (one earring and a pendant).

Pirate's Treasure - gel candle, vintage jewelry :: All Pretty ThingsWhat do you do with such a bunch of items? Well - you know the saying: one's trash, someone else's treasure. Why not build... a treasure?

That's how the 'Pirate's Treasure' came to life - a gel candle with sand on the bottom and pieces of precious treasure on the bottom. It invites you to dream of adventures, of handsome Johnny Depp pirates, of sandy beaches. And... it's a great conversation starter - even for kids. The ones in our household are charmed of the Treasure candle - they ask to see it every time they visit: girls with a misty look into an imaginary future; boys with dreams of swords and eye-patches. It's wonderful to watch their expressions :)

What do you dream of when you imagine the treasure?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Angels (revisited)

I have finished my second stained glass project (a beautiful dolphin for my son's room - he loves sea life and his namesake was on Monday, so he got this dolphin frame as a gift) and the lady at the stained glass store / class asked me what do I want to do next.

An older angel - painted on glass
Made with love, in Santa's Shop for my son :)
Well - it's Christmas time so... an Angel seemed a good idea. It took me about half an hour to go through all the books with angels and other Christmas ideas. Of course I got derailed a few times - I almost changed my mind twice; I found this gorgeous landscape with Christmas trees in the snow... decided it'll be too much for just my 3rd project. Back to angels - a cute little one 'jumped' at me from a book. I told myself: it's small, I can do it in no time. It took another 10-15 minutes to pick the glass! Seriously, if someone has a good idea on how to pick the colours... you think it should be simple - but it's not, currently it's my biggest challenge. Try to decide on the colour of the cheruby face of the little cute angel :)

Anyhow, almost one full hour into my session (which runs for 3 hours a day) I had 3 pieces of new glass (I was supposed to use some extras from the dolphin on some areas) and the pattern. Off you go to cut, grind... repeat. The face went OK. The left side of the gold hair - perfect. The right side of the gold hair - had a sharp convex curve. Concave is fine, we can deal with concave. Convex (inside curve) - a completely different story. First cut - broke the tip of the hair. Into the trash it went. Second cut - completely broke the piece in 2... Down into garbage again. Asked Beth (the teacher) for help - she smiles, makes the cut and... oops - third piece down into the trash. By now I feel a little bit better (it wasn't only me!) and Beth is annoyed (how dare you broke on me... in front of my students?!). Forth try is a charm - with a lot of griding :) After this little hiccup - all pieces go just fine... until the last 2 pieces - imagine 2 small triangles, about 1/2" in height, and maybe 1/4" in width... you have to cut & grind those 2 pieces to get into very tight little spots... and foil them on top of that all!

Anyhow - my little angel is almost ready, it's waiting for me to put him/her/it (?!) wings and a base (it's going to be one of those tea-candle holder).

Until I can show you a picture of it - enjoy another angel's voice:

In the arms of an Angel

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

DIY - Christmas ornaments

My light box is still somewhere in traffic and I still have no way to take proper pictures of my new pieces... however... for all you crafty hearts (and hands) out there - I stumbled upon a very interesting article.

I haven't started to decorate the house yet - I don't even have the lights outside (sigh!), we just got the eaves troughs up today (the forecast for the rest of the week is close to 0... guess who's going to freeze up the ladder tomorrow?!) - but we will soon. With decorating always comes the craft time - we make decorations or ornaments every year - you have to see our Christmas tree. Interestingly enough my son knows exactly when he made each of the ornaments! So we'll keep making them, I'm not complaining :)

Yes, the article - I'm getting there... it has no less than 101 (one hundred and one) handmade ornaments... each one with instructions and pictures.

101 Handmade Ornament Tutorials

Out of those 101 you must find a few to like enough! I like #25, 'though I haven't decided yet which might be might my favourite project.

Which one is your favourite? Would you try some? Are you still making ornaments with your kids?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Butterfly kisses

Every time I look at the pictures of this little project I have the Bob Carlisle's song playing in my mind :)

A few years back I found this pair of ceramic objects: a box with lid, and a small cup. I have no clue what they could have been originally intended for - they were so delicate and beautiful I had to have them. I had no idea what I could use them for - one of those projects that you grow into, like many of my home decor ones :)

Butterfly KissesI kept them on the bookshelf in the bedroom - admiring the pair every day. Being winter, I would dream of spring and flowers and butterflies... hmm... butterflies... I adore butterflies... That was my 'aha!' moment - since I had no idea what the 2 ceramic pieces were, they could be everything (the beauty of lack of knowledge is that it frees your imagination!). So the miniature bird bath became just that: a miniature gel candle, clear like a bird bath... and with a delicate visitor: a bright happy butterfly! The small box became a surprise box - you open the lid... and find a new small candle inside, with just a bit of colour and a fresh scent.

That's how my Butterfly kisses were born - and it's one of my most beloved projects... well, I love mostly everything I ever made, but some pieces hold a special place in my heart - and this is one of them.

Enjoy it :)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Christmas decorations

... or what to do with extra ornaments

Usually around November 15th we start thinking about decorating the house (outside & inside).
It is a long process - and a fun one. The tree is the last to be decorated - in our tradition we should be decorating it on Christmas Eve, but after doing that for the first few years of our live in Canada, we decided against the idea. Christmas Eve is filled with so many activities - by adding the tree decorating we just managed to stress ourselves and make the day miserable.

Christmas decor for widowsFrom my mom I got the tradition of buying (or making) a few new decorations each year. Right now I could probably easily decorate 2 full trees and still have enough decorations :) What to do with all those glass spheres nicely coloured (mostly red)? A few years back I came with an idea - let's make a 'curtain' out of them. My DH wasn't very enthusiastic; he's the type that needs to see how things look like before he can decide if he likes them. Knowing that I rarely get discouraged :) So here I was, with one of the boxes of extra decorations and a couple of gold & silver gift ribbon packs - tie a length of ribbon to the ornament, up the chair, clip (I used those miniature clothesline pins from the craft or Dollar store), off the chair... repeat.

Christmas decor for widows
In no time at all I had this beautifully glowing curtain - and once we pull the curtains it gets this nice sheer diffuse effect, a miracle!

As I still had more - I started to fill the rest of the house: the chandelier received a sudden 'boost' in the form of ornaments; vases full of ornaments dropped everywhere; crystal bowls filled with candies and ornaments; and my favourite: the wire tree I found in an antique shop a few years back.

Christmas decor for chandelierChristmas decor for tableChristmas decor for tableChristmas decor for wall

How do you use your extra Christmas ornaments? I'd love to hear your thoughts

Friday, November 11, 2011

Remembrance Day

Yes, I am a bit obsessed with this day - why? would you ask.

WWII Soldier
My grandfather on the front lines in WWII
His job was to measure the cannons'
 Well - the answer is simple: my grandfather fought in WWII and while I didn't hear one peep from him about how it was I still have his decorations and I still remember the look on his face when he heard a military patriotic song not very long before he passed away (I already wrote about that moment here).

To add to that - as you already know - I grew up under a communist regime and I have a deep respect for freedom; a respect one that has never encounter any real restrictions will never quite understand.

With these 2 thoughts in mind I left this morning to watch my son's school assembly for Remembrance Day. I knew it will be an emotional time - the teacher in charge with the preparations is always finding a way to shutter your inner, he's absolutely amazing. He started the assembly with a song that I love: A pittance of Time by Terry Kelly and immediately after he announced we have a surprise visit, from a real veteran - then proceeded to introduce the grandfather of one of the children (or maybe one of the parents - I just couldn't focus on words once I saw the gentleman) which came in, all dressed up in uniform and lots of decorations.

It is very hard for me to explain or express the emotions that I encountered that moment - I was able to watch the rest of the program (the children of all grades read poems, some written by themselves; or sang songs)... however at the end we were able to approach the gentleman and free to talk to him as well. That's the moment I completely lost my fight with composure - I tried hard, but I simply could not shake the feeling that this could have been my grandfather, whom I haven't seen in over 25 years and I miss dearly. Add to that the notion that my grandfather would have been 100 this year and you have a wonderful mix. I don't know what he might have thought of the crazy woman crying, I don't even know if I was able to mutter the words 'Thank you!'. I hope he knows I do appreciate his sacrifice and all veterans' and soldiers' sacrifices each day when they are away fighting wars.

I hope that I will be able to instill in my own son the respect for freedom and for all fighters for freedom - without him having to go through harder times than current ones.

God bless our vets and troops - we will remember! Thank you!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thoughts on Remembrance Day Eve

Europe is soon going to wake-up and celebrate this very special day.

We will remember you
As we prepare for Remembrance Day - a few thoughts to remind us who we are and where we go:

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

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. ~ Albert Einstein

This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we know what to do with it. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

There is no security in your mansions or your fortresses, your family vaults or your banks or your double beds. Understand this fact, and you will be free. Accept it and you will be happy. ~ Christopher Isherwood

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

Our true home is in the present moment.
To live in the present moment is a miracle.
The miracle is not to walk on water.
The miracle is to walk on the green Earth
    in the present moment.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Our goal is to discover that we have always been where we ought to be. ~ Aldous Huxley

Happiness is not in another place, but in this place … not for another hour … but this hour. ~ Walt Whitman

While we remember those who made possible for us to live our lives let's respect their sacrifice by living a great life, full of light and happiness.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

(5 o'clock) Tea party

Tonight the radio plays all the songs I love - I feel loved :)

The piece today is a gel candle, in fact more than one. Many years ago I discovered an antique shop very close to home. One of the myriad of store had a collection of tea cups - those cute ones you saw when your grandma was preparing her afternoon tea with her friends. I simply had to have them - they were no sets, just lots and lots of cups with their matching little plate. Since I didn't know what they'll be good for, I had to stop at 5 or so - all delicate porcelain, with beautiful designs.

Tea party candle
They've patiently waited a long time until I found their purpose in my artsy crafty life: I will make them into beautifully scented and lovely shaded candles. In fact, once they were done I fell in love for the second time: the richness of the colour would fool anybody into thinking that's some real tea to be tasted with cookies this afternoon!

The original ones are long gone - one of them to a former school teacher of my son's who's collecting tea cups and was completely blown away by the gift. I had no idea she's a collector, nonetheless I was happy with the result :)

I keep getting cups whenever I find a beautiful one - one cannot ever have enough beautiful things around them!

What would be your tea flavour? Or maybe you're a coffee lover? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

P.S. They'll make wonderful gifts for a Victorian-themed party guests: imagine your wedding table decorated with these beautiful candles your guests get to take home at the end of the day!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Colours (Red)

Being the week of Remembrance Day, the colour to talk about this week is Red.

Red bowl
Red is one of the most energetic colours, and the warmest of the warm colours. It is associated with blood and fire, meaning Love and War at the same time. It is a colour of extreme energies: positive (love, positiveness, courage) and negative (war, rage, devil) as the same time.

Red is a highly visible colour: stop signs and fire tracks are red for that reason. In lighter hue it usually has the positive symbolism, while the more deep & dark hues (associated with blood) will bring to mind more of the negative symbols.

In design should be used with care, as it ca overwhelm the design with its power.

Ice & Fire jewelry set
I a monochromatic scheme red will be combined with lighter & darker hues, and various saturation. The monochromatic scheme is elegant and classic - and has a soothing effect (something you might want with reds :)).

If you prefer some contrast try the analogous scheme (combine red with red-orange and purple) - be careful of the combination, you need a good balance of the 3 colours, as it is quite difficult to match the purples with red. The complementary scheme is a very high-contrast one (red-green) and can be used successfully if one the complementary colour is in much less volume than the main red. If the 2 colours are 50-50 balanced you'll end up with a Christmas design (which is very good if that's what you meant to do!).

Another scheme to be tried is the triad (with yellow & blue). It's probably a good idea to use the triad with the more subdued shades of yellow & blue (yellow-orange & teal) for a better balance between the 3 very rich colours.

Lest we forget
Whatever scheme you choose - remember to wear The Poppy this week: its deep red will remind you of the sacrifices our grandparents did.

Their courage and will made it possible for us to live in freedom.

Lest we forget!

Monday, November 7, 2011

New adventures

Tomorrow’s life is too late. Live today. ~ Martial

Today I had planned another article - however... it'll have to wait a couple of days. Right now I feel like a kid in the candy store :)

Long time ago - after arriving on this side of 'the pond' - I made myself a promise: that I will always try to follow my dreams, however ridiculous they might seem. It took years to start trusting myself (for those who don't know me or haven't read some of my past article: I have been raised in an Eastern European country under a communist regime - something that will not boost your confidence unless your parents were 1st or 2nd level party members... and mine weren't members at all!) and to start keeping that promise, however about 6 years ago I began my journeys. I picture my life as a huge tree: I have the roots (those 7 first years, the foundation), the trunk (my early years) and then there are the branches - I can go on any of them, and I can branch from there too... I ca neven go back and choose another branch; don't have to live my life on a straight line (that would be really boring).

Stained glass bird
I started to learn new things - not as often as I wish, but often enough. Some I found I have talent and I developed a passion for (take trapshooting); other - talent or not - I scratched: they needed either too much of my time & energy, or some other adjustments I cannot make yet (take horseback riding: I tried it for about 2 years... for more I really need my own farm). On my list of to-learn are most of the arts & crafts: music (started playing piano 4 years ago), jewelry (with various techniques, I try to learn one new every few months), pottery (still on the to-do), painting (I need to get back to it, have been away for too many years), quilling (this one my mom came with the idea - I tried it, but I don't think it's for me), and many more.

I had to scratch wood-working off (I have developed a asthma a few years back, wood dust is all I need in my lungs) and I am still trying to figure out how to try my hands at black-smithing (any ideas are welcome).

And today, with the gift certificate Santa left for me 2 years ago (yeah, it takes some time to get to my list) I started a new adventure-branch: stained glass. So far - so good: I always loved glass and today I found I also enjoy working with it.

To a new adventure! Let's see where it can take me :)

Have you started to cross things from your own 'bucket list'? If not - what keeps you from starting right now?

P.S. The little bird (my mom called it 'The peace dove') is my very first try. Not perfect - but really cute :) Hopefully soon you'll see my next one!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

How to clean your silver jewelry (update)

Last weekend I was talking about How to clean your silver jewelry. In the meantime, having to clean a bracelet of mine (really really old), I found yet another way to clean it - and a wonderful one at that! I have tested it: it really works :)

The method is very simple and involves no brushing your jewelry or items with anything. It is based on a chemical reaction between the tarnish and baking soda, pretty much the same reaction that makes tooth paste work (after all, tooth paste is... baking soda :)).

ToDo list - How to clean your silver jewelry :: All the Pretty Things
First - take a container that's large enough to allow your piece to comfortable lay on its bottom. Line the container with tin foil (you need the real aluminum) and lay your silver piece on top, making sure the silver touches the aluminum.

In the meantime, boil some water with salt (exactly like you'd prepare pasta) - enough water to completely cover the piece in the container. Once the water is boiling remove it from heat and carefully pour the baking soda (about 1 cup of baking soda to about 4L of water); make sure it is completely dissolved. Be careful - the soda will frost, and might spill.

Pour the baking soda & saline solution over your jewelry piece and watch (literally) how the tarnish is getting removed.

This is by far the best way to clean your pieces. Why? Because it is a chemical reaction that leaves the silver untouched, by simply removing the tarnish. A short chemical explanation is: the tarnish is a chemical mix between silver and sulfur (called sulfide, in our case - silver sulfide). Other metals combine with sulfur, and aluminum is one of them. The attraction between aluminum and sulfur is greater than the one between silver and sulfur, thus the sulfur is leaving the silver, and no silver is being harmed in the process.

Chemistry was my favourite subject in school :) can you tell?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Made by hand art & craft show

Today I visited my sister-in-law - she participated in the 'Made by hand' art & craft show in Mississauga, ON at the International Centre.

Having my chatty and shopping-friendly child with me transformed the visit into a true adventure. Almost every booth was greeted with a 'oooh, can we get this?! pleeeaaaase! pretty please with a cherry on top?!'. It's lovely to see the boy's enthusiasm and sometimes I give in, the pleasure on his face is priceless.

Wordle: MadeByHandShowI have developed a system to survive these journeys of ours: first we make sure we have a budget (cash only, cards don't come out unless there is an absolutely unbelievable deal - so far never happened!), then we go around the whole area ones and make a mental (or written) list of what would we like to get... and only after that we go directly to the few booths we 'need' to buy stuff from. The system works on 2 levels: first it teaches him to plan his shopping list, and (maybe more important) gets him tired if the show is big enough so by the end he will cut that shopping list in two by himself just to see himself out of there. But hey, can't complain, at least he's there with me for hours and hours.

What's probably more lovely than seeing him having fun buying is the pure goodness of his heart: he buys some things for him, but he always (seriously, always) buys at least one item for everyone else in the family: he manages to find something for grandma, daddy, and mommy; and most of the time he'll add gifts for his current best friends. Plus he's getting better at fooling even me - he asked a lot for a little painted rock and he got it... just to get home and give it to me: 'I wanted it for you, mommy!'

We met some wonderful people and I would like to mention a couple:
  • Christine Marie Ford - she graciously spent tons of time with my son, showing him various leather-bound notebooks and making him a wonderful deal; her quilted work was quite amazing!
  • Michelene Sutherland - my son really really wanted to have one of her monsters and I was trying to reason with him that he has so many plushes he could start a store (great idea, if I think twice!). You could see he's disappointed, but he never made a show in public so he accepted it. Michelene watched us going away and he called after us - offering him one of the BeSpoke monsters. I didn't really heard what she said - the idea was that because of something she won't be able to sell it so could he have it and take good care of the monster? It simply warmed my heart - she was so kind and very diplomatic. Thank you, Michelene, Monster is sleeping with his new master :)
All in all the day was quite wonderful (although very very long). I even found a big bag of lavender - just what I was looking for :)

And if you're curious about my sister-in-law's crafts - you can check them here!

One more reason to be happy today: we are getting an extra hour of sleep! yee-haaa!

Friday, November 4, 2011


Switching back to the fast-approaching Christmas (51 days to go... but who's counting?!) today I will present you with a beautiful set of candles - gel candles.

I fell in love with the idea of making gel candles - I am not using them to light them up as much... but as decor. They are a perfect medium to use colour and the perfect medium to suspend or drop all sorts of decorations in.

I was searching for an idea to make a gift for a good friend of mine for Christmas when I found a set of angel Christmas tree decorations in a store. Those heavy (gyps molded) ones - which I don't put them in my tree; its branches droop under their weight very quickly. However, I simply loved the cheerful cheruby faces and they made me smile. Being so have they were perfect candidates for the gel inserts (I'll tell you the story of the ornaments candle another time :)).

That's how my Angels came to life: one of them is happily playing the harp, the other one (pictured here) the concertina.

If you focus hard enough you will hear their song: Hark the herald angels sing!

It is one of my favourite Christmas decorations and it must be my friends' too - they haven't lit them yet :) and it's been 4 or 5 years already.

Do you have a favourite Christmas decoration? I'd love to hear your thoughts - thank you for sharing.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Purple Universe

After yesterday's more serious subject we need something light and funny.

Enter my 'Purple Universe' - where even the beads are made by me :)

As you know by now I love colour. I can't stand dull and dark shades, I simply love the happiness and energy light colours bring. Purple for me is a difficult shade - most of its hues are too pink for my taste, some are too dark, it's really hard to strike the perfect combination. So I surprised myself when I decided to combine purple and white polymer clay one day - I was experimenting some new technique and lots of small purple-and-white swirls were sitting in front of me on the table. Minuscule swirls, I have to add. I couldn't use them for what I originally had in mind and I couldn't combine them anymore without loosing the nice balance of separation and blend between the colours.

Purple Universe necklace - polymer clay, floating necklace :: All the Pretty Things
That's how the Purple Universe came to life (my own version of the Big Bang) - floating happy purple-and-white small swirls. I love this necklace and I wore it endlessly for a while: it brings such a bright smile on my face even when I think of it! (in fact I am smiling right now :)).

It is a playful piece made with 6 strands of floating beads - most appropriate for adorning that beautiful beach dress you just got for your Christmas vacation in the Dominican Republic :) Being polymer clay the beads are very light (even if you decide you'd like bigger beads) and they give an ethereal vision by floating on the sterling silver wire. Another advantage: any other colour combinations can be made.

You can also order your bridal party sets (necklace & earrings or bracelet) in your own colours: imagine your jewelry set matching everything else - tempting, eh?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


With November comes Remembrance Day - this year it will be an extremely special day as it will be 11.11.11. Here in Canada we celebrate at 11:11. Neat, eh?

I am working on a Poppy flower, hopefully it'll be done before November 11th :) But the subject of my article is not the Poppy - yet another piece, a pair of fierce red earrings.

Red is a very bold colour and one can always make a statement with it. When I got the coral beads for another project (Ice & Fire), while working on the set, I remembered my grandfather. He fought in the WWII on the front line... he never told stories about war or his life after and I almost forgot he was a veteran (back in the country where we come from we didn't celebrate the veterans at all, they were 'the old guard' and best to be forgotten). One day I was listening to some old patriotic songs - I didn't even know they were that old - when he stopped in his tracks, went closer to the turntable and a look I will never forget dawned on his face. Asking what is he doing he told me in a reverent voice and with eyes glistening 'On this song we used to march on in Transnistria'. Something changed between us that day - I definitely gained a new deep respect for my grandfather and for all the veterans. He passed away not very long after and I never got a chance to ask him more about his life back on the front line.

Fire earrings - Sterling silver, coral, wire wrapped :: All the Pretty ThingsThe deep red of the corals reminds me of him (most likely I make the association through the poppy) and I worked the pair you see with a shade of regret, but with the same love I put in everything I make.

The earrings are set in sterling silver and the beads are individually wrapped - it is a classic piece that will bring energy to the one wearing them. A very versatile item - can add charm to a jeans attire or glamour to the LBD you're wearing for that Christmas Cocktail Party. They are a must have for this Holiday season!

Do you have an inspiring story for Remembrance Day? Please share - I would love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

New store!

Today I am bringing you great news - I have re-done my online store and we are having a grand opening!

For a limited time - all items in the store are on sale! And the shipping is free. What other best way to start your Christmas shopping?

Visit allprettythings's Studio
Receive free shipping on
All Items
Use Coupon Code:
during checkout.