Little Black Dress by LanaStepul

Here are some fresh takes on the LBD (little black dress),created by LanaStepul. And while each dress is unique, they each definitelyembody classic lines and tailoring.

In addition, each dress is custom made to your measurements, so you are ensured of the perfect fit.

These dresses suit a pretty wide range of age groups. I could see them as prom or highschool party dresses or as bridesmaid dresses for an Italian wedding (where black is a common colour choice).

I would wear one for a night out on the town with the girls, a special dinner with the beau.  Heck, I'd wear one to do housework (though maybe not the gardening).

Maybe with my hot pink heels. Or the red ones. Although the shoes shown above left and above right also get my votes. These are the style of dress that don't need a lot of flashy baubbles and jewelry, since they stand out on their own. Inthis case, the jewelry would detract from the dress. A good pair of earrings, a slim line bracelet (diamonds of course) and you're done.

Is it appropriate to wear black to a holiday office party? I think so. I mean, I would, depends on the party. What do you think?

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year . . .

. . .and it's just around the corner. Here is your "non-denominal festive season" image for today:

Design Dot

Just a little shout out to my new friends at Design Dot. Why? because they were so kind as to feature my little shop gingerbugZ on their blog. So, in the belief of good karma, I am returning the favour.

Design Dot is a group of etsy sellers who come together to discuss ideas, creativity and help promote each other. This is a wonderful source of support, especially on those days that my inspiration meter is on E for empty and I need a good kick in the rear.

It is also a great source for gift ideas and putting together a wish list for Santa. In our house, Santa likes detailed lists, especially those with pictures or web links. Less chance for misunderstanding the requested wish . . . .

To see the featured post, and to discover many other abundantly creative and talented designers and artists, be sure to have a little wander over to Design Dot.


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A Pocket Full of Memories

Today I put on a coat that I hadn’t worn in awhile. Since January.  Thursday, January 13th to be exact. How do I know this? The contents in the pockets.

Have you ever put on a coat or a jacket that you haven’t worn in quite awhile and discovered forgotten treasures in the pockets? Money maybe, a receipt from the dry cleaners, a candy from that restaurant you went to on your birthday.

The contents forgotten in a pocket often bring back sharp memories of how they got there. Take for example the items in my coat pocket.  A favorite hair clip that I had decided was gone forever. Did I remember that I had put it in my pocket back then? No. But today when I found it I remember clear as day that I wore it to the opera. Lucia di Lammermoor to be exact.
A lip balm. I’m always losing lip balms. And eventually, as is the case with today’s discovery . . . I find them again.

But the most poignant treasure was a little slip of paper with a name, a location time, and a number.  “So-and-so – Starbuck’s – 5:30 – 555-555-1234”. Written hastily in red and torn off a notepad.  And for a moment a hundred memories came rushing back. And it made me smile a little to myself.  The journey I have taken since that little piece of paper. The lessons I had to learn, what the heartache needed to teach me; the stronger person I am today.  Ah, if only I had known then what I know now.
I put the note back in the pocket. I may need to remind myself again one day.

. . the Pumpkins are coming, the Pumpkins are coming . . .!

look what has been growing in the fields around our house ! Just a couple weeks ago they were still green and hidden under the leaves. But then the sun came out for a few warm days and Presto ! . . .Pumpkins.


These certainly look like the ideal pumpkins for Halloween . . .bright orange, smooth surface, nice and round. But shape doesn't really matter when using pumpkin in recipes. I mean, does the pumpkin pie really concern itself with how it was shaped beforehand? Probably not. Still, the nice shape and lovely fall color do inspire me to be creative in the kitchen. Pumpkin Pie anyone?

Ensemble

Last night, Mr. Dashing and I decided to go out for dinner. In itself, not a big deal, but dinner out together usually means more than one stop. We like to restaurant hop, which allows us to try out a few different restaurants and atmospheres throughout the evening, Sort of like bar hopping, but much swankier.

We decide to take the train downtown, since we agreed there would most likely be bubbles and neither of us wanted to drive. Besides, parking in Vancouver costa a small fortune.

We started at Ensemble, which is the focus of this posting. Ensemble is the brain child of Top Chef Canada winner Dale Mackay. We sat at the bar and swapped stories with the bartender and sipped on muddled cocktails. With these we enjoyed a honey beet salad, as well as buffalo mozzarella with watermelon and balsamic reduction. Oh, and crab cakes. All three plates were very good and nicely executed, but it was the cheese / melon / balsamic that really stood out for us. The sweetness of the watermelon off set with the tang of the balsamic was a little bit of bliss. The buffalo mozzarella helped ensure each bite was something different; some smooth with just a hint of sweetness, others creaminess with the bite of the balsamic.

There is a mixture of lounge-y bar atmosphere alongside sit down dining; giving the room an overall warmth. Or maybe it’s just because it’s a small room on the corner of Thurlow and Haro. Or that Mr. Dashing was rather amorous and flirty. Either way, it was a great way to start off our evening, and we intend to return soon to try more of Chef Mackay’s dishes.

Afterwards, we went to Coast for oysters and bubbles (well, Mr. Dashing had the oysters, we both had the bubbles), then to Gyoza King for ….gyoza, ebi mayo and sake, to Cin Cin for dessert and more bubbles. Finally, a little stop in at Thierry for macarons before heading home.

So $300.00 lighter, the evening was a big success. Until I broke one of the heels on my favourite pair of boots on the way home. First world problems, I know.
 
Looking forward to our next night out.

Boots for a Fall Friday

It may be September, and the weather may still be warm . . but oh, how I crave these GORGEOUS boots from Rene Caovilla !
. .like pumpkin and spice and everything nice about fall !

September is for Sapphires !

I am a Diamond girl. That is to say, I was born in April, thus making my birthstone Diamond. Which really, I have no complaints about. However, if I were to choose a gemstone to pair with my diamonds, it would have to be the wonderfully hued Sapphire, the birthstone for September. This regal corundum mineral is generally thought of as the truest of blue in gemstones. Hence the phrase “Sapphire Blue”. But sapphires can be nearly any color except red (since those are called rubies, which are chemically and structurally the same). Sapphire is also the Zodiac stone for the constellation of Taurus the Bull. (which, being a Taurus, I can appreciate)

The Logan Sapphire from Sri Lanka (above left) is one of the largest faceted gem-quality blue sapphires in the world, weighing 422.99 carats. It is currently on display at the Natural Museum of Natural History.

The Hall Sapphire Necklace (right) was designed by Harry Winston, Inc., and features thirty six matched Ceylon sapphires from Sri Lanka, surrounded by four hundred and thirty five white diamonds. That's right . . . four hundred and thirty five. The Hall Sapphire Necklace is on display at the Smithsonian Institution's American Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.

Sapphires from Sri Lanka and India are well known, and excellent examples are also found in Tanzania and the Kola Peninsula of Russia. In addition, sapphires are found in many places throughout the world, including North Carolina, Montana, Brazil, and China. 

But I think the best place to find them should be in my jewelry box . . .

Sapphire is also the traditional gift for a 5th or 45th wedding anniversary. (my advice? instead of celebrating a 25th anniversary with paltry silver, opt to celebrate five times your 5th and receive five sapphires) If somehow you make it to your 65th wedding anniversary, then the traditional gift is the rare and pleasantly peculiar star sapphire (left).

Of the four classic gemstones (diamond, ruby, emerald and sapphire), these beauties are the most sophisticated, and yet the most understated. They don't scream "look at me, look how flashy I am." like emeralds or rubies tend to do. No, sapphires are content to sit back, hang out with their pals the diamonds and let people be drawn into them. They are not attention seekers, yet gain much admiration whenever they are worn. Like a high bred lady of society, they don't shout out their wealth, yet everybody in the room instinctively knows who they are and what they are worth.

And that is what I find makes them so intriguing.

Paraiba Green Sapphire

More Shoes 2

Like a pair of figure flattering corsets, these Rene Caovilla shoes were made to gently hug and caress your feet. Mmmmmm, shoe porn anyone?

Pom Pom Party

These gorgeous flower-like pom-poms look intricate and difficult to make, but they are actually fairly simple. However, they do require an ounce of patience (see step 6). With adult supervision, they would be a fantastic project of a little gal’s birthday party; a beautiful memento for the young princesses to take home and hang in their own palace. Have a bunch of boys? Switch to using bright primary colors along with black and have the tykes create their own far away galaxy of planets.

Made in smaller sizes and hung at a variety of heights, a group of these would make a great mobile for a child’s room or nursery. Make them in a bride’s wedding colors for her bridal shower or in soft pastel colors for a baby shower. Create themes based on the season; black and orange for Hallowe’en or red, white and green for Christmas.

Below are the instructions to get you started

Supplies:

• Tissue paper (20 inches x 30 inches). Choose one to three colors in similar shades of the same color to keep things from looking like an acid circus. Unless that’s the look you’re going for. Local dollar stores usually have a good selection.

• Scissors, either plain ol’ straight edged or a more decorative scalloped or waved edge.

• Monofilament fishing line

• Thin floral wire, white if you can find it.

Here's how:

1. Stack four to eight the sheets of paper on top of one another, depending on how full n’ puffy you want them to be.

2. Now, fold the sheets into 1.5-inch accordion folds, all the way across. Be sure to keep the folds even.

3. Prune the ends of the tissue into round or pointed shapes to give them a petal-like look.

4. Cut about a foot and a half length of floral wire.

5. Wrap the wire around the center of the folded tissue and secure it by twisting. Trim the excess wire.

6. Now the fun part! Pull apart each layer, separating it from the center one piece at a time (here’s where that patience comes in handy).

7. Measure the length you'd like to hang your pom pom from and cut a piece of monofilament accordingly.

8. Knot the monofilament to the floral wire and hang!

9. Try varying the size of the tissue paper and the cut edge to create an array of effects. Repeat until you've created a pom-pom fantasyland. The more, the merrier!

Not in a crafty mood or short on time? (hey, it happens) . . . PomLove, Fiesta Pom Pom and orangekisses all have a spectacular selection of ready to ship pom-poms in a variety of sizes, as well as a custom order option for your special occasion or color pallet.




August is for Peridot . . .

I think I’ve mentioned a couple times that I’m lucky to be a diamond girl. That is, I’m an April baby; making my birthstone diamonds. But this does not mean I can’t appreciate other gemstones just as much.

Peridot is the birthstone for August. It is one of the few gemstones that occur only in one colour . . . green. The intensity and tint of the green is dependent on how much iron is contained in the crystal structure. This is why some peridot gemstones are a pale apple green while others approach a darker olive brownish – green. The darker the colour, the more prized the peridot. I personally prefer a fresh, summer leaf colour for my peridot.
Peridot mainly comes from mines in Australia, Brazil, China, Egypt, Kenya, Mexico, Burma, Norway, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Tanzania. In North America, it is found in North Carolina, Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada and New Mexico. Peridots have also been discovered in meteorites. The largest cut peridot is a 310 carat specimen in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC.

Peridot is considered by Egyptians to be a symbol of the sun. Historians have speculated that the fabled emeralds worn by Cleopatra were in fact peridots. Sorry Liz Taylor.
Peridot is the 16th anniversary gemstone. It is believed by some to protect against nervousness and help alleviate spiritual fear. It is thought to aid in heeling hurt feelings and bruised egos, incur strength and physical vitality, deliver a positive emotional outlook and help with liver and adrenal gland function. It is often worn to bring the wearer success, peace, good luck and to help his or her dreams come true.

I just think it looks pretty.

Pocketbook Posies

dalilah collection (lined in peacock teal)
It’s happened to best of us. We get all dressed up . . .hair, make-up, beautiful dress and shoes. We’re ready all ready to go. Just grab our purse . . oh wait . . .this purse is way wrong for this dress.

I’ve seen it. It’s tragic. A gal all dolled up trying to push her purse behind her in a vain attempt not to draw attention to the mini duffle bag slung on her shoulder.

I love clutches. I have about 20 of them. At first it took some getting used to holding the things up between my ribcage and underarm, but practice makes perfect. I am happy to report I can now balance an underarm clutch and a champagne glass while still having one hand free to chat (yes, I tend to talk with my hands). I lead a rough life . . . .

melanie collection (lined in green)
So in the spirit of garden parties and wedding season, here is a wonderful selection of pocketbook posies by FIAZCO. Based out of Asheville, North Carolina, the designer creates limited addition handbags from high quality fabrics and fine silks. Each clutch is lined in 100% Dupioni silk with a seamless bottom to provide extra strength. Each purchase arrives beautifully gift boxed and you can request a personal note or label to be included.

natalie collection (lined in moss green)



From the designer’s website: “I've been designing and sewing since Barbie and Ken first started dating(my two best clients back in the day) I have a serious passion for fashion, and love creating.”

Like many home based businesses, FIAZCO specializes in customer service, and will work with brides and bridal parties to design custom clutches that with coordinate perfectly for the special day. And they make wonderfull bridesmaid keepsakes.

And so to the relief of hubbies and gents, very rarely will you have to say “Here honey, hold my purse”.


a Beautiful Idea . . .

It’s interesting how simple objects grouped together can create a wonderful atmosphere in a room. Take for example these offerings by Beautiful Details.

Beautiful Details is a husband and wife team based in Raleigh, NC. Andrew (husband) and Carol (wife), share a great love for the sea and the beaches that border it. The duo can often be found walking for hours along the shore, discovering seashells, shark’s teeth, sea glass, driftwood, and anything else interesting the sea wishes to leave behind for them. These are then taken to their home studio, where Carol puts her hubby to work on the technical and business side of the designs while she creates the inspirational and thematic aspect for the pieces.

“I'm a designer at heart,” says Carol. “By day, I'm a web designer. At night, I go to my home studio to create seashell and jewelry artwork. My favorite is creating the vintage sea life bottles. I love the look of the vintage aqua glass and the time-weathered clear glass (pearly look).”

“I come up with most of the inspiration for the items in our shop and Andrew is the consultant / assistant designer and the business side of our shop. He is great with color, power tools and the more technical side of design. He is the master of shipping all things difficult to ship! Doesn't matter the size, he can figure out how to get it there in one piece.”

Beautiful Details also has a blog, as well as a website. Their items are available to purchase online through Etsy.com.

So invocative of long walks on the beach in the early morning light. Reminds me of a certain someone and their recent trip to Turks & Caicos, no?

Come Sit for a Bit . . .

mmmm, to curl up with a good book (or even a wonderful cookbook with all sorts of inspiring ideas), a cup of tea and some soft music . . . . inviting, yes? Maybe some nice raspberry jam tarts or one or two lucious lemon bars to nibble on. A plump content cat lazing nearbye would not be unwelcome.

I could spend the better part of a Sunday morning in a setting like this. Actually, it doesn't even have to be a Sunday . . .or a morning. I think 3:45pm on a cloudy Tuesday afternoon sounds just about the perfect time for a cup of tea and a little snooze . . .?

Ah, it's nice to dream . ..

Shed Some Light . . .

candle holder with bubble rim
Dining by candle light is on my list of “favourites”. You know, the list of things that make you a little weak inside, or that cause you to smile a little to yourself and those around you to ponder “hmmm, wonder what she’s thinking about”. That list.

I strongly believe that candlelight is amazing for chasing away the stress and worries of the day. Who can be in a bad mood when there is soft candle light? I mean, you skin looks amazing, your eyes become two deep pools for him to drown in . . . and you just look plain fabulous.

I came across these handmade beauties by Wapa Studio. Wapa Studio is effort of ceramics artist Ady Shapira in Moshav Avichail, Israel. This quite little village is surrounded by citrus orchards near the Mediterranean Sea. Really, who could ask for a more inspiring, idyllic settling to be creative.

Shapira studied ceramic design at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem. Nearing the end of her studies in 2003, she opened her own studio where she specializes in designing and making objects that will provide light (such as the candle holders) from porcelain. Each item is hand-made using a hand thrown pottery wheel.

From the artist’s website “The moment I sat in front of a potter's wheel, I knew that ceramics is my way. I am very grateful that my passion became my livelihood and allows me to continue and create.”

Shine on Ady, shine on . . . .

Monday, Monday . .

Some Mondays feel like they intend to drag on and on . . . I find this especially true since Mondays are my first long day of the week; up at 6:20am, on the train at 7:20, day job from 8:00 until 5:00, school from  5:30 til 9:30, back on the train, home for 10:20pm. Somewhere in there I breathe.

So when a blah Monday is paired with blah weather and blah rain . . . then it’s extremely more . . . blah. Whomever first said “Monday Blues” wasn’t kidding.

Here is a photo to get you in brighter spirits and looking forward to the week ahead. Imagine if all those raindrops were little blue and white gemstones sprinkling down...

Happy Monday !

the colours of summer

Though you wouldn't know it by looking outside today . . it's summer. Here are a few bright and cheery frocks to brighten your day:

Shown left is a lemon yellow layered ruffle dress by hollystadler .

Below right is a fetching orange linen belted dress by LanaStepul .












And below is a pretty cherry babydoll dress by sohomode .









Lemons and oranges and cherries . . .oh my ! Sounds like a cold glass of fruit lemonade on a summer patio to me ! Now if only the warm weather would play nice . . .

Summer Sizzle

Nothing says summer’s here quite like the first barbeque of the season. Don’t get me wrong, we are lucky enough to grill pretty much year round, despite the wet weather and sometimes snow. Our grill has also served us well in times of power outage. Having a side burner to boil water for tea certainly comes in handy when the power goes out.

Our family cooks all kinds of stuff on the grill. Some of the family favourites include asparagus, bell peppers, potatoes, whole salmon, pineapple, bananas, peaches . . . you name it, we grill it!

One of the easiest (and fastest) things I like to grill are pesto prawn skewers. Each year, my mom and I make our own pesto using basil grown in the garden. We freeze it in ice cube trays to make ideal portion sizes. Defrost the frozen cubes in the sun, add a bit of olive oil to make it more spreadable, add in the peeled prawns and toss to coat and all the hard work is done.  Set the bowl in the refrigerator to let the prawns marinated and absorb all that basil goodness.
Successful skewers begin with soaking the wooden skewers in water for about an hour. This keeps them moist and prevents them from burning when on the grill (yeh, I know . . . there are metal skewers out there especially designed for grilling…one day I’ll pick some up). Then I thread the marinated prawns onto the skewers, usually six per skewer. In a package of 31 – 40 count prawns, I end up with six skewers. I line them up when I put them on; tail ends all facing the same direction. Then it’s onto the grill they go, at a 90 degree angle from the grill slats so that they don’t fall in as sacrifice to the Grill God (that’s what asparagus is for).

Prawns cook quite quickly on the grill, depending on your temperature. Essentially, the prawns need to turn from translucent to white and firm with pink veining. This usually takes about two or three minutes; flip the skewers, baste with pesto marinade, and two or three minutes more.
You can serve the prawns as they are on the skewers, and use a fork to pull them off. Often I’ll put these out as an appetizer while preparing the main meal. Or, I’ll take them off the skewers and add them to the top of a salad with other grilled seafood such as scallops, salmon and a white fish like halibut or cod.

They also work well on a bed of pasta (remember that side burner I mentioned? Perfect for boiling pasta) with the grilled bell peppers and asparagus.
Grilled prawns lend themselves well to a variety of dishes and are a great way to start your summer grilling season . . . (or throughout the year)

Shoes . . . again

Sigh . . . . note to self. When you see a pair of shoes that catch your attention while travelling and they are on sale (well, actually, they don't necessarily have to be on sale). . buy them. Just buy them. These lovelies were in a store window in Amsterdam last year in May. Pay special attention to the pair in the center with the satin and silk two tone rosettes. Yes, the one with the yellow SALE sticker . . . .

The other day I was looking for a pair of shoes to wear with a blush and copper toned dress. Do you think I could find something I liked? that wasn't the same price as a mortgage payment? No, of course not.

I'd like to run away to . . . . .

It's Monday. I say it again . . .It's Monday. After a late night and an early 5am morning in order to do homework assignments, I am starting to feel the effects of too much to do and too little sleep. I have just two more weeks of pattern drafting and couture hand sewing classes and then I am free for the summer. Then I need to begin filling orders for pants and dresses for the fall collection.

If I could pick up and run away . . .

I like the dreamy-ness of this photograph, the subtle grace and whistfulness.

To walk barefoot on the sand in a beautiful frothy dress by Vintage Precious without cares. Bliss.

In the meantime, I will have to be content with a second cup of tea and some sinful chocolate caramel biscuits to get me through the day (store bought, I'm afraid).

Travel Memories . . .part 1

Ever gone back and looked at your travel pictures and thought . . ."I wish I could just hop on the next plane" ?. In 2008, I spent five wonderful days in Paris. When I saw this picture from my trip photos, I was instantly filled with a desire to pack a bag and vite, vite on y va !

Sweet and Pretty . ..take 2

Today's edition of Sweet and Pretty is brought to you by veroque, and is a pair of wire flower and green Swarovski crystal earrings. Prefect with summer and those flirty little dresses!

Wire Flower Pendant and Green Turquoise Swarovski Crystal Earrings

Stay tuned for more interesting Swwet and Pretty finds to come . . . . .


It's a Cinch !


Call me crazy, but I like corsets. That symbolism of ultra feminine suppression to me is just . . . ultra feminine. 

I own several corsets, both steel boned (where the steel ribbings are inserted all the way around) and steel / plastic boned (where only the front ribbings and stays are steel and the rest are flexible plastic). And while I’m not a tight –lacer by any means, I do like hug of a properly fitting corset on my body, not to mention what it does for my already hourglass figure or how it makes me feel. . . like I want to bust out in cabaret tunes.

Corsets have also improved my posture. Working at a desk most of the day, there is a tendency to slouch over and not sit up straight. I find I am less tired and my shoulders are not as sore on days that I’ve worn a corset. My “work corset” is an under bust style, making it easy to breathe while still providing support to my back and core. And most importantly, people at work don’t see the top or tail of it peeking out of my suit jacket. Not that there’s anything wrong with showing off a great corset. Just maybe not in a meeting discussing Bailed Waste Productivity Forecasts.


Then again, maybe that would make the meeting more interesting.