Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Year of Pretty - February 12, 2014

It's cold outside; cold enough to snow.

Yesterday there were a couple of flakes that drifted their way down, but not enough to stick around.

So, in honour of the threatening snow and my Oma's upcoming birthday . . .

Today's Pretty Post is a beautiful amethyst and diamond brooch in a snowflake motif. I have a thing of brooch snowflakes; I just like their shape I suppose.

The designer is Margherita Burgener, but the link to the photo from Pinterest was broken. I couldn't find this piece on the website for the Italy based jewelry designer.

Whether amethyst is your birthstone or not, enjoy this lovely bit of warmth and sparkle on a cold February's day. And please have a gander at a previous post about amethysts, their history and the folklore behind them.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Make Your Own Occasions

Today is Monday. I’m going to wear a dress.

In itself, this is not an earth shattering concept. But let me explain a bit about how it comes about.

The other night, I was having a deeply philosophical conversation (okay, a “three glasses of wine in” conversation) with my dear friend A. I was remarking on the number of Pinterest posts of dresses, shoes, jewelry etc. that posters had commented “Beautiful. Wish I had somewhere to wear this”, or “I’d never have an occasion to wear this.”

Two years ago my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer; both breasts. At the same time, she was on the very top of the kidney transplant waiting list (one is not supposed to know they are at the top, but the nurses who care for my mom? . . . . well, she’s a favourite of theirs). Transplants are not given to people with cancer because the anti-rejection drugs taken after the transplant will speed up the production of cancerous cells if cancerous cells are indeed in the person’s body. So this new diagnosis after already waiting eight years for a kidney was an extremely harsh blow. My mom would have to be taken off the transplant list, fight the cancer, win against cancer and then go back onto the transplant list.

My mother; a fortitude of strength, made an instantaneous decision. Double mastectomy.  She said “I’m in my 60’s. I’m not having any more kids. My husband loves me . . . what do I need them for? I just need to get on with it, with living.”

Out came the breasts. She started chemotherapy. Her hair started to come out. We shaved her head. We cried. We bought beautiful scarves and dressed them up with broaches. My mother can rock a turban like nobody’s business.

And we started using the good china. For breakfast.  For meatloaf on a Tuesday night. For any occasion we felt like it. Because we had come face to face with the reality that life can quickly change directions on you and that there could come a day when we would no longer have occasions to celebrate.

So we MADE the occasions. And this is life. It’s not entirely about the occasions that are presented to you. Often it is about the occasions you create for yourself.

Today, my mom is a Silver Fox. She has a beautiful head of silver hair. We have 14 more months of testing to make sure she is cancer-cell-free. Then she goes back to the top of the wait list. In the meantime, we enjoy life.

Today, on a Monday, I’m going to wear a dress. I’m going to do my hair and make-up and then get on the skytrain and go to work. I will undoubtedly be the most elegantly dressed person riding public transit. But it doesn’t matter. It’s not important that people wonder why I’m dressed up. Let them wonder. Let them think I have some special occasion that I’m off to. 

The truth is I’m off to the most important occasion in life: life itself.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Year of Pretty - January 30, 2014

It's a cold day in January.

So today's Pretty Post is this gorgeous gown by Svetla nad Sazavou born designer Blanka Matragi. An award winning designer, she hand dyes all her fabrics, so each garment is unique.

The colours on this dress are just fantastic. Rusts and coppers and steel blues and greys. The floral detailing provides a unique contrast to the silky flow of the gown. The fur trim really helps set the tone of this dress: old world Russian elegance.

The model's hair and make-up also compliment this gown. I could just imagine her name is Tatiana or Katarina or something equally as fabulously Russian Empire.

This dress would look great on a Hollywood red carpet . . .if ever there were exceedingly cold weather in Hollywood. So dramatic . . so mysterious . . ."Who is that regal-looking woman in her silks and furs?" Now that I think of it, this would have been perfect on Keira Knightley for the premier of Anna Karenina

Enjoy your day and stay warm out there.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Year of Pretty - January 29, 2014

Yesterday I prattled on about the speed at which January flew by. Today's Pretty Post also is about the passage of time with this image of a vintage alarm clock and its reflection on a glass surface.

There are a couple different thoughts that this image provokes. The reflection of time. How reflection takes time. Does time reflect itself? Do we spend enough (or too much) time in self reflection?

The original image is from a listing on Etsy by Bree's Treasures by Bree Madden of San Diego, CA. She is a self taught photographer who enjoys nature and spending time on the beach.

Most of her images are muted and pastel colours of the outdoors, the beach and the nature she finds there. Seashells, water birds, pale pink blossoms and teal ocean waves dominate her collection. The images look great together as a collage, and she offers several different print sets ready to be displayed in your home.

So before time runs out (yes, I know . . . bad pun), have a wander over to her Etsy page and browse through her art work. The prints would make for some nice additions to a guest room, guest bathroom or a child's nursery.

Enjoy your Tuesday.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Year of Pretty - January 28, 2014

I can't believe how fast the first month of the year has gone by. A couple more days and January 2014 will be over and done.

Today's Pretty Post is this simple wreath design found on Pinterest. by clicking on the included link, the result was just another window with the image, so I'm sorry to say I'm at a dead end as to the original source.

The wreath includes snowdrops and Symphoricarpos, also known as "white berry" or "snow berry".

I remember bushes of these berries used to grow begin our grade school. I can clearly remember being about six or seven years old with David Dodd and Scott Smith (the two cutest boys in my class by far) and crushing the berries under our shoes because they made a neat popping sound. I also punched David in the kidney that day (didn't know that's where kidneys were at the time) because he called me a Frizzy Head. It was a great first date.

This would be a nice image to print onto gift tags for a house warming, or if you happen to know someone named January (hey, it happens . . think of January Jones aka Emma Frost in X-Men: First Class . . . and yes, I am a geek for knowing that and yes, I see the irony of Ms January playing a role with the last name Frost).

Anyhow, enjoy the image. February will be here soon enough.

Monday, January 27, 2014

A Year of Pretty - January 27, 2014

Happy Monday ! Today's Pretty Post is this gorgeous overhead shot of some amazingly stunning ballet costumes as the dancers wait backstage.

I found the photo on Pinterest. There was no credit given to the photographer. I have no idea where the photo originated from. I know, I disappointing.

You can almost feel the anxiety of waiting in the dancers . . .wait . . . wait . . . okay, GO now!

I like how each dress is a little different from the next. Knowing how many hours of handwork are involved in making a performance dance tutu, I can only surmise that these dresses would run about $5,000.00 to $8,000.00 each and take weeks to complete. Costumes are intended to last for many years; The Royal Ballet will use costumes for 25 to 30 years!

The one area of the costume that sees the most wear and damage is at the waist line, but actually doesn't come from the dancer herself. Instead, it's a result of those sweaty man-hands of her male partner when he continually lifts her or holds her as she spins. This very often causes the fabric to discolour and deteriorate.

One of my dream jobs (yes, I have a few) would be to work on dresses such as these and then see them in action under the lights, full of movement and grace as they move across the stage.

For a great video on the life of a performance tutu, be sure to watch this video from the New York City Ballet, narrated by Mark Happel, Director of Costumes. Or this one from The Royal Ballet on the making of the Lilac Fairy's costume for Sleeping Beauty.

Enjoy your day and best wishes for the week ahead.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Year of Pretty - January 26, 2014

Today's Pretty Post is this sample of really detailed ribbon and bead / button embroidery from pintangle. Pintangle is a website with amazing examples and tutorials for Surface Embroidery.

As a gal who loves texture and design details, this is right up my alley. If only I had more time.

I used to embroider all the time. And by all the time I mean every evening, or on long car rides, or on the bus. I think I was probably the only teenage girl working with needle and thread. More than once I caught the eye of an elder woman and we shared a small smile. Embroidery takes time, it takes commitment and it takes patience. And she was letting me know she knew this.

So I can just imagine the time and effort that went into making this sample shown above. Then imagine this as part of a larger quilt. Months, years even of selecting just the right button and stitching it on in place.

To this day, there are several large embroidery projects around my parents' house. Some are pillows, some are wall hangings. But each is treasured because they were made by hand over many, many hours.

Traditionally, women would get together and work on their projects, exchange the recent gossip (who's cow had gotten out of the pasture and trampled the prize winning begonias, who was seen walking together after church last Sunday). And they would learn skills and techniques from each other. This doesn't seem (nice pun) to happen anymore; at least not here in Vancouver, BC. Which is why websites like pintangle are so essential for sharing these ideas and methods.

In our fast paced world of mass production, give me a piece of material, some thread and some beads or buttons; a comfy corner with good lighting and a cup of hot tea. And then leave me for hours at a time and I will be perfectly happy.