Seattle Weekend with Mom

During our Mother-Daughter Weekend to Seattle, my mom and I ended up having a number of things we wanted to see and do. It didn’t start out that way. The original plan was to drive from Vancouver to Seattle on the Friday night, check in, do some shopping on the Saturday and then go see Itzhak Perlman on the Sunday afternoon before heading back home Sunday night. At least, that was the plan.

Sure enough, we left after a quick dinner on the Friday night. We arrived in Seattle and checked into the W Seattle Hotel at around 10pm (yipee for complimentary upgrades and corner suites overlooking the city !). We then headed out to Purple Wine Bar, which came as a recommendation from a good friend and her hubbie at CinCin in Vancouver. The place was bustling and noisy as was to be expected on a Friday night. We shared a couple nibbley plates of soft brie, fig jam and wonderful crusty bread.

After a sound and restful sleep in our luxury suite and a good breakfast, we ventured out to a glass blowing shop and studio. We then headed to Pike Place Market for a little shopping. This is the home of the famous thrown fish, where you tell the fish vendor what you want, he picks it out for you, then tosses it up to another guy who wraps and packs it for you. This is also where we found Chukar Cherries. But Pike Place Market is not simply the market building, it is all the stores on the surrounding streets as well, such as Penzey’s Spices, Beyond Threads, Thailand Junkie, Dragon's Toy Box and Maggie's Shoes. . . . . .

I had something in the back of my mind that told me there was an opera taking place that weekend and I was correct. Lawrence Brownlee was performing the lead role of Count Almaviva in The Barber of Seville. Now, I had seen him perform this role at the Gala Season Opening of the JFK Center for Performing Arts last September, so I wasn’t surprised to find that tickets were scarce to come by. Sad to say, we were not able to get tickets and had to settle for dining at Canlis.

Sunday morning we were back at the market, and afterwards we went to the beautiful Benaroya Hall to watch my mom’s lifetime idol perform the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto. It is an experience to sit quietly and watch brilliance being performed in front of you. The audience was on its feet before the final bow was off the strings.

After the performance, I managed to pull a gentleman in performance tuxedo aside and explained that we were visiting from Vancouver and asked if Mr. Perlman would be so kind as to sign my CD. He asked us to wait and then disappeared around the corner, then came back and asked us to come around to the side door. There we waiting a short while until he came back and told us that yes, Mr. Perlman would see us (it turns out my tuxedo’ed friend was actually the Artistic Director). I thought my mom was going to burst into tears! Turns out, we were the only guests he granted an audience to that day. He was warm and cordial and exactly as we expected him to be (his home videos on Youtube and Facebook are always so charming). My mother had a hard time getting her words out so I explained that she had actually seen him perform once before in Vancouver when she was a teenager, and that the Queen Elizabeth Theatre had suddenly gone on strike the day before and that the concert had been forced to move into a high school (and here Mr. Perlman and I said in unison) . . . “gymnasium with a basketball hoop”. Mr. Perlman completely remembered the experience and we all had a little laugh.

What an amazing experience, and the perfect ending to yet another Mother-Daughter weekend.

If Two By Sea. . . .

Nature truly is remarkable. Some of the simplest, most beautiful forms can be found in nature. Take for example, the shape of a seashell. Or a starfish. Or these beautiful sea side delights:

Star of the East creates beautiful and interesting jewelry using the natural shapes offered by the sea near their home in Marmaris, Turkey. This mother –daughter team (Esther and Estella respectively), work together sourcing, designing and creating each unique piece. Originally from the Netherlands, the duo is inspired by the beauty of the landscapes, the colours, the traditions, and even the smells of their adoptive country.

shown above: pink copper urchin pendant necklace by Star of the East

You are sure to garner many compliments when wearing these pieces . . . .from “Where did you find that?” to “Wow, isn’t that beautiful”.

shown left : bouquet of shell ring by Star of the East.

Perfect for the summer on tanned skin, yet lovely in the cooler weather with a dark suit, these pieces are daytime or nighttime appropriate in that they are unique enough to stand out, but do not scream for attention. The examples shown here are all in the same colour pallet, so even though they don't match exactly, you can wear them together. Although, I would probably shy away from the TOTAL seashell look of earrings, necklace, ring AND bracelet, and instead opt for just the earrings and a bracelet one day and then the neckalce and a ring another day. The Rule of Focus when it comes to jewelry: one near the face, one near the hand . . .keep your audience focused on your eyes and your hands without becoming too distracting or over accessorized else you risk the Ivana Trump Syndrome: "too much glitz, not enough focus".

Now go put on that little summer dress and those flirty heeled sandals . . .Happy Summer !

show below: enamel and pink urchin necklace by Star of the East

Wooden Wings by Jason Tennant

I’m not a fan of hanging antlers or stuffed large mouth bass on the walls of my home. It’s just not my thing. I’m also not a huge fan of Native American art, with the exception of British Columbia’s own late Bill Reid.

However, that being said there is an amazing grace and beauty to these wood carvings by Jason Tennant. While I reallize they are indeed complicated and well thought out with great attention to the details within the wood, it is this exact focus on the natural elements that lends to the elegance and almost simplistic grace of these pieces of art.

Jason Tennant received his BFA from Indian University of Pennsylvania and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a major in sculpture and a minor in drawing. He then went on to a full teaching gig in 3-D design at the University of Buffalo in addition to travelling through South America. He now holds a MFA from the State University of New York at Buffalo as well as a Art Teacher Certification.

Mr. Tennant has been featured in many art gallery and museums throughout the state of New York and his sculptures have made their way into several private collections. He currently is the creative force behind From Waters and Woods, a series od sculptures and paintings that represent plants and animals native to North American woodlands and waters.

Mr. Tennant also has a selection of art pieces available for purchase under his shop jasontennant on one of my favorite websites, Etsy.

Ruins of Detroit

Throughout history, every great empire has come to an end. Pioneered by Henry Ford, William Durrant, the Dodge Brothers, Packard & Sons and Walter Chrysler, Detroit was established as the world’s automotive capital and the engine (yes . .I know . .nice pun) of the American automotive empire.

shown left: 15th floor ballroom - Lee Plaza HotelDetroit now stands as the symbol of urban decay. The city’s population has diminished from about 1.8 million at its peak in the 1950’s to less than half that number in 2010. Between 2000 and 2010, the city’s population declined by 25%. Among current-day cities in America, the only city to see a greater decrease in its population is New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. As a result, over a third of the city’s land area is now abandoned; with an incredible 33,000 empty lots and vacant houses. The “Get-Up-and-Go” of Motown has “Got-Up-and-Gone”.

In their book “The Ruins of Detroit”, French photographers Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre capture the decaying beauty of the buildings' grand interiors with compassion and a respect for eras past. The series of photographs explores the dilapidated shells of early 20th century architectural gems - everything from hotels, theaters, churches, and homes. Each photograph holds its subject frozen in time. And I must say I was moved by the images. The sight of the Michigan Theatre being used as a parking lot (shown right) and the Vanity Ballroom with its still-hanging art deco chandeliers was enough to make me cringe a little. I mean, this is where Duke Ellington and Tommy Dorsey used to play. . .! (Ironically, the Michigan Theater is built on the site of the small garage where Henry Ford built his first automobile; the garage was transported brick by brick to The Henry Ford Museum in nearby Dearborn).

From the photographers’ website: “Ruins are the visible symbols and landmarks of our societies and their changes, small pieces of history in suspension.”
“The state of ruin is essentially a temporary situation that happens at some point, the volatile result of change of era and the fall of empires. This fragility, the time elapsed but even so running fast, lead us to watch them one very last time: being dismayed, or admire, making us wondering about the permanence of things.”

I think that the difference between North American cities and European cities when it comes to the passage of time and how cities develop and change is that in North America we are blessed with so much land and space. If we don’t like a building anymore, we just move on and build something else; leave everything we don’t want behind. Cities like London, Paris, Lisbon, Amsterdam, Prague, Venice . . . they don’t have this luxury. When a building is no longer being used, everything salvageable is removed and the building is repurposed. There is no moving on to another building site because, well, there are no more building sites. Land is not plentiful.

shown above: Atrium - Farwell Building
It is sad to see the gorgeous detail in massive Gothic churches crumbling, but even more upsetting is what this signifies for the people of the city of Detroit. A sense of failure, a painful feeling of loss and the downward spiral of decay and despair. Compounded with an unemployment rate of over 50%, I can understand why so many people would want to leave. And perhaps Detroit today signifies what is happening to America on a larger scale, and should be heeded as a warning of what can happen to an empire that over extends to the point where it can no longer support itself.

Two for Tea

Sometimes I think I should have been born British. I don’t drink coffee. Not at all. But tea and me are fast friends, inseparable really. Oh, I know it is a one way relationship. I take great pleasure from a cup of tea, and the tea is more than willing to give me comfort. It is a give-take relationship; the tea does all the giving and I do all the taking. tea cups and rose by HeyZee My dad makes the best tea. I’ve tried making the same tea at my house and it is never the same. I’m not sure why. Maybe it is the ratio of tea to hot water, maybe the water itself. Regardless, the tea at my parents’ house always tastes better than at mine. Mom seems to think it’s because the tea there is made with love. I know my dad is spoiling me by making it . . . all I need do is call and say I am on my way over and he replies with “Okay, tea minus 20 minutes”. I arrive and as I’m walking up the staircase I can hear the distinctive sound of the teaspoon against the side of the teacup. On summer mornings, my mom and I will take our cups of tea out into the garden. We comment over this rose bush and that patch of radishes before making our way over to the raspberries. There we will stand and pick fresh raspberries from the vine, still moist with morning dew, and pop them in our mouths between sips of Decaffeinated Earl Grey. The cat will wander by and pause for a scratch behind his ear before moving on to more important things like searching of the ultimate sunbeam. Coffee seems so fast paced, so “rev-it-up”, while tea gives a feeling of tranquility and “relax-and-unwind”. Truthfully, I could go for a cup right now. Care to join me?

I'll Take the Cake

Looking for a beautiful way to show of your baking? Have a gander at these gorgeous cake and treat stands by vesselsandwares, sure to make your guests drool.

The colors are reminiscent of pastel icing and the eyelet lace edging of frilly lace, as displayed in this set of three cake stands (shown left). Custom colors are available on special request.

Or, you could opt for a more traditional white or off-white cake stand and thread a colored ribbon through it to match your theme or occassion.

Black and orange for Halloween cupcakes, bright red to highlight a prized Christmas fruitcake. Pale blue or soft pink to celebrate a new baby. Or choose the colors for your wedding and display tempting treats at your bridal shower. Again, you are able to request different colors of ribbon other than the aqua, yellow and green as shown in this set of three eyelet cake plates (shown right).

Based in Atlanta, GA; creator Jeanette Zeis has worked with clay for over 15 years and has operated a pottery wheel full time since 2007.

Her online store offers a wide variety of pottery dishware for the home including bowls, plates, cups and planters. You can learn more about her work at Jeanette Zeis Ceramics.

In the meantime, help yourself to another serving of delicious cake plateware.

In my dream kitchen . . . .

How beautiful is this hand crafted bar and extention table by artavironi ?

I have a fair number of bottles of wine. At last count . . .73 bottles of red, 15 of white and six of bubbles. Mmmm . . .bubbles. . . .

So this bar set up would not be ideal for my current collection. Not to mention that I already have a center island between my kitchen, living room and dining area. But a gal can always dream, and when imagining my dream kitchen, an illuminated wine cabinet and bar area would be near the top of the list.

Now this walnut wine cellar which holds up to 260 bottles and has space for wine glasses would be more ideal. I especially like that it is build to work as a corner unit. And the dark wood color would work with my dark crown moldings and base boards. However, finding a corner large enough in my living or dining room would prove to be a challenge, as all the wall lengths are chopped up by either windows or doorways.

Ah, the confines of small apartment living . . . I think I need a glass of wine.

Fabric Finds - part 1

I have a passion for fabric; a crazy obsession really. I have piles and piles of fabric that I’ve bought and have no idea what I will use it for . . .or even if I will ever know what to use it for. Fabrics that I have fallen in love with and just felt a need to have.

In Seville, Spain, I bought six meters of scarf weight silk in a bold blue, yellow and orange pattern in order to copy the dress shown right (though poor girl, the designer neglected to match the pattern on her backside) That was in 2008. Now 2011, the other day I found the fabric . . still wrapped in tissue and then in paper and tied with string. Below that was a 3 meters of eggplant purple beaded lace I oohed and aahhed over in Tomar, Portugal - no idea how I will use it. Embroidered wedding white satin from San Francisco - no wedding in sight. The palest of pink crepe from Paris. The list goes on . . . through four huge Rubbermaid storage bins.

Tomorrow I go back to school to study fabrics and design. In particular design for costuming for stage, ballet and opera. That’s right, I’m going to Tutu School. I am immensely excited, especially since this will give me a viable excuse to buy more fabric.

I really enjoy using different fabrics together, whether it be the same colour be different textures, or the same texture but different colours within the palette. Imagine a full length dress flowing with three complimentary tones of pale blue.

There are several fabric designers that are brilliant at offering coordinating fabrics within a same line, such as Lila Tueller (shown here right and offered by spiceberrycottage)

Or, mix n’ match fabrics in complimentary tones from several different designers as done by fabriccloset (shown here left and several of which I have tagged as My Favourites on Etsy and am seriously enamored with). I may not know yet what I want to make with these fabric combinations, but they do call to me and inspire me to be creative.

It’s a good thing I have a separate room just for sewing and fabric storage.

Born with a Silver Spoon . . . .

Silver Spoons are not just for your mouth anymore . . . .

When visiting London in 2008, I had the pleasure of browsing through several vintage flea markets, especially in the prestigious Notting Hill neighborhood. It seemed everything old and British was for sale (well, not quite everything… the Queen was not being offered up for purchase). One of the things I really enjoyed sifting through were the stalls of old silver, which was generally for sale by weight instead of by piece, due to the current value of silver prices.

Always on the hunt for new and interesting jewelry, I found a stall where a young lady was turning antique silverware into wearable art. Forks became bracelets and tie clips, spoons became rings and pendants.

In the seventeenth century, English servants who married began the tradition of crafting wedding rings from stolen bits of silverware, since they couldn't afford a proper ring.

As recent as the late 1960’s and through the 70’s, spoon rings were very popular with the young and rebellious, who wore them as a symbol of breaking from family traditions and conformity. Nothing says “family revolt” more than chopping up the heirloom silverware. These “repurposed” jewelry pieces were mainly available at flea markets and craft sales, where sellers would offer them inexpensively at a couple dollars per piece. Because of the nature of the ring’s design, these were also easy to resize, as most rings were created in a spiral shape that wrapped around the finger instead of a closed and soldered band.

Still somewhat popular today, these rings are beautiful and reasonably easy to make. Two great websites with detailed instructions on how to make your own silver spoon ring as well as a list of materials and equipment you will need are at Essortment Hobbies and Ehow.

Grandma’s silverware . . .beware!

Not feeling crafty enough to make your own? The photos displayed here are some beautiful examples of the several different patterns for you to purchase by AnneMariesAccessorys and dankartistry

Oh, and the silver daffodil ring at the start of this blog looks gorgeous on my right hand.