Today on Etsy - December 28, 2012

Today's find is a sweet little pair of aqua blue chalcedony and silver earrings by cleobelle. Wire wrap detail anchored the stones to the silver flowers, clear crystals in the center of each stone.

Perfect for bridesmaids, or for that "something blue". Dress them up, dress them down...enjoy!

Today on Etsy - December 27, 2012

Found these unique and lovely coffee cups / tea mugs on Etsy today; offered up by BarkingSandsVintage.

Originally by Piero Fornasetti Milano and made in the 1960's, they would add a nice little bit of charm and whimsy to your kitchen, not to mention a smile to your guests' faces as you serve them.

I like tea mugs with lids. I find that I often let my tea sit too long and go cold once I become engrossed in a project. Then I remember, have to microwave the tea (not my favourite); or dump it and pour a new cup. I tragic, so much hardship.

Hmmm, I think I'll make myself a cup of tea right now. Care to join me?

All That Glitters

New Year's Eve is fast approaching. Found this FANTASTIC dress on Pinterest by Atelier Versace. Personally, I think the model has had her waist nipped a little by our friends at Photoshop (I mean, come on...unless she has been tight lacing for 10 years....that is one tiny waist).

Either way, it's a stunning dress. Kind of a champagne gold colour. Great for them fancy New Year's Eve balls all the gals are going to. Imagine all the hours it must of taken to cut each petal detail, finish the edges, add beading detail and apply to the garment.

And check out the height on that leg slit....yowza!

The hair is something else altogether.

Today on Etsy - December 21, 2012

So today on Etsy this adorable chic dress was featured on the home page. Beautifully designed by Vanda Fashion out of Isreal (two sisters, infact).

AND they are having a SALE !

This one coming home to me.

Beautiful Baubles 8

a beautiful speckled agate  necklace with little seed pearl spacer beads, unique double shepherd's hook clasp and extension chain.


Pomanders. The smell of spices and citrus.

During the Middle Ages, people didn’t bathe much. But they still wanted to smell nice otherwise it became increasingly difficult when trying to pick up a date for Friday nights.
The word Pomander comes from the French pomme d’ambre or apple of ambergris (nothing says “wow, you smell good like a bit of dull grey or blackish solid, waxy, flammable substance produced in the digestive system of sperm whales). Originally made from gold, silver or ivory, the small filigree balls were filled with fragrant spices and ambergris; which was used as a fixative. The pomanders were then worn either on a long chain around the neck or at the waist.

A modern version of a pomander is made by studding citrus fruit with whole cloves and a mixture of ground spices containing orrisroot instead of the ambergris. Orrisroot will dry out the fleshy inside of the fruit so that it doesn’t rot. What you’re essentially left with is a light, hollow ball.
Now, keep in mind that I do bathe. Quite regularly. So I don’t need to wear one of these around my neck or waist. Instead, I use them for decoration or gifts. When studding the citrus, I leave about a 3/8 inch space all the way around. When the fruit has dried, I then wrap a long ribbon around in the space and then tie it in a double knot with a bow at the top. The long tails I then tie together to form a loop to hang the whole thing in the Christmas tree or from a chandelier in the dining room (the warmth of the lights really bring out the smell of the spices).  You can also cover the whole surface and then display them in a pile in a pretty bowl as a centerpiece with candles.

Pomanders also make a great hostess gift. When placed in closets, the help scare away the moths.

I choose small, round oranges with thin skins, or nicely shaped lemons. Once studded with the cloves and allowed to cure, the scent will usually last for several years. When the spicy scent starts to wane, I dip them is warm water and then roll them in fresh ground spices with a drop or two od cinnamon or clove oil. I then leave the pomander in the spice s for a couple days to dry.
Want to make your own? Here’s how:

6 to 8 assorted thin skinned oranges, lemons and limes (some people say apples, but I haven’t tried these)
½ lb (8 oz or 1 cup)              whole large-headed cloves

¼ cup                                    ground cinnamon
¼ cup                                    ground cloves

¼ cup                                    powdered orrisroot (the pharmacy / health food store should have this)
2 Tbsp                                   ground nutmeg

2 Tbsp                                   ground all spice
I find having a slim nut pick or a large needle handy for piercing the skin very handy. Holding the fruit firmly, insert cloves at ¼ inch intervals; either in rows or at random over the surface. The fruit will shrink as it dries, closing up the spaces between the cloves. Repeat with all fruit.

Combine all the ground and powdered ingredients and mix thoroughly. I place my mixture in a large Christmas cookie tin. Begin to roll the fruit in the spice mixture until completely covered. Leave fruit in mixture, and spoon additional mixture over fruit, covering as much as possible. Leave in open container for 2 days (more or less).

Turn fruit in container and recover with spice mixture. Repeat this process, turning fruit every couple of days until fruit is hard, light and completely dried out. This should take about 2 weeks.
Once the fruit has dried out, remove from spices and shake off the excess. Tie on the ribbon if you plan to hang these, or place in a decorate bowl for on the table.

After the holidays, you can either store them in the remaining spice for next year, hang them in the closet (just be sure they don’t touch your clothes or the coats) or leave them out on display.
PS: If you’ve made these and have suggestions or questions, please drop me a note and I’d be happy to help. And don’t’ forget the voting buttons below to let me know what you think.

Happy Holidays

Beautiful Ballerinas

When I think of the word ballerina, a few images come to mind. Beauty. Poise. Grace. It is no wonder so many parents enroll their little girls (or boys for that matter) in ballet classes. For the child, it’s a chance to play dress-up and dance around the room to music. For the adult, it’s the opportunity to live vicariously through those moments. Go on, admit it.

My mom was a dancer until her late teens. There are several pictures of her en pointe, tulle tutu sticking stiffly out around her. I too was enrolled in ballet; mom took me to buy the shoes and she patiently worked with gauzy chiffon to sew me my first dance skirt. I remember wearing these to grandpa’s house because I was insistent in showing him my steps. He was so proud, but maybe some of that pride was remembering another little dancer – my mom – when she was young.

I ended my ballet early on though; I told my mom the change room was stuffy and stunk and I didn’t want to go back. So we focused on ice skating and swimming. But every once in a while I think about trying an adult ballet class to improve elements common in dancers of the genre: Poise and Grace.
Even the word Ballet contains a certain degree of beauty in the height and rhythm of the letters: up for b, down for a, then two stilts in the middle like dancer’s legs for the l’s, down again for e and finally up for the t. Up, down, up-up, down, up. Sort of like skipping along.

Now say it with me….”Ballet…I’m going to the ballet.” You drew out the second syllable and gave it a slight French air at the end, didn’t you? 
This week I found some lovely ballerina fabric in two colours: yellow and purple. It also comes in pink, but it wasn’t in stock (not surprised). And so I’m working on designing a dress that showcases both the fabric and those three hallmark elements: Beauty. Poise. Grace; while still being functional enough for every day wear.

Because if I were still a little girl, I’d want to feel like a ballerina as often as possible.

Another Beautiful Idea - September 25, 2012

Loving the colours and grouping of this series of photographs. The way they are formatted around the corners remind me of drink coasters.
Making your own drink coasters is not difficult to do. First, decide on your images. They should be ones that work well as square shapes, since the coaster itself will be square. Then, gather the following:
  • good quality paper. This doesn't have to be photo paper, but it should be colour fast and sturdier than regular every day printing paper. Opt for a matte finish though instead of a glossy one (unless you want super glossy coasters). 
  • paper trimmer. You can use scissors, but I find a paper trimmer works easier and gives a straighter line (mine is laser guided).
  • Modge Podge for outdoors. This is specifically made for moisture, which drink coasters tend to attract.
  • foam brushes for spreading on the Modge Podge.
  • spray adhesive. This is optional, but if you spray the tiles first and press the photos on before applying the Modge Podge, they stay in place better.
  • spray sealant. Again, this is optional. Modge Podge for outdoors has a built in sealant, but it doesn’t hurt to give them an extra coat. I use a matte finish, and it helps cut down the sheen that Modge Podge sometimes leaves behind when it dries.
  • square tiles from a home improvement store. Home Depot, Rona and Lowe’s are have a good section of square tiles. The best ones I’ve used are a non-glazed, porous stone tile. I find they absorb more of the Modge Podge and sealant.
  • fuzzy feet. Okay, they’re not really called fuzzy feet. They’re those little fuzzy felt sticky things you peel and stick on the inside of your cupboard doors so that they close softly, or on the bottom of a jewelry box so that it doesn’t scratch the top of the dresser. They also come in clear acrylic.
There are several photo editing tools available. I use Picasa by Google to crop my photos and muck around with border options. Once you have your photos set up, print them out. Be sure the ink has dried thoroughly.
Trim down any white edges and bits so that all you’re left with are your photo squares. Lay out your tiles and lightly spray with the adhesive. Carefully place your photos onto the tiles and press down, ensuring there are no bubbles. Following the label instructions, coat the surface of the photos with the Modge Podge. You may need to do more than one coat.
After the tiles have dried, spray a thin coat of the sealant to the backs of the tiles and allow to dry. Add the fuzzy feet to the bottoms of the tiles and turn over. Lightly spray the tops of the coasters and allow to dry again.
Once dry, smile and admire your handywork. Then pour yourself a glass of wine and test run the coasters. To ensure quality, you may need more than one glass of wine.

Adding Sparkle to your Tresses

I have long dark hair, much to my partner "Mr. Dashing" (just call me "Rather" he says with a charming grin)’s delight. He takes great pleasure in running it through his hands and wrapping it around his fingers. And truth be told, I take delight in this too.

For the most part, I am content with my dark, rich, waves and locks. However, there are often days when there is not enough time (or not enough energy) to spend on my hair each morning. Having a background in hospitality / food services originally, more times than not my hair is tied back and off my face. I just think better that way. At which point I promptly forget about it for the rest of the day.

But that can be boring. As a creative person, boring is not optimal. So here are a few ideas on how to bring some sparkle to your summer tresses, whether they be long or short.

Little Bit of Lovely - version 2.2

look what's blooming in the garden!

I hadn't been out to for a walk-around for a couple days. But this morning a leisurely Sunday saunter with a cup of tea seemed like a nice idea. what a nice surprise to see a favourite rose bush putting on a beautiful display.

This rose bush produces tight, buds that open fully. The flowers usually last quite awhile but the petals fade from the true pink to the soft blush shown in the picture. I like them when they are fully open, and I'll pick three or four to arrange in a shallow bowl for the table on the veranda, maybe with a little ivy or some variegated hosta leaves for greenery.

When the rose is completely open, it has a delicate fragrance. In the evenings, framed by a few low candles or tea lights.....just lovely.

Unfortunately, after several moves around the garden, the identification tag has gone missing. So I can't tell you the name of the rose bush. It may be a peace rose of some sort, but I can't be 100% certain. However, not knowing the name doesn't make it any less lovely. "What is in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet". Ah yes Juliet, you were onto something there.

Hope you are enjoying your Sunday as well.

Today on Etsy - September 15, 2012

Have you ever received a simple card for no particular reason? It's not your birthday, it's not Valentine's Day or Mother's Day or any of the other "days" that Hallmark feels we need to give a card for in order to celebrate. It's just a simple, ordinary day. You're going about your own business. And then someone hands you an envelope. And inside you find one of these sweet little cards, perfect for "just because" or "thank-you for being you"; brought to you by factorygirlashli.
Sometimes, there doesn't need to be a reason.
Sometimes, less is indeed more.

Today on Etsy - September 14, 2012

What a great idea ! Perfect for when you want to carry your laptop in a backpack or bigger bag, or if you want the protection but not the hassle of a huge laptop bag.
I think there are two ways to go about making one of these. The first (and I think what's been done here by multidimentionality) is to actually knit the pouch to fit the laptop. This allows you to choose colour and pattern.
The second (and what I ended up doing for mine) was to take an old sweater and sew one together. I found (bought) a nice medium grey one at the local thrift store, washed it and cut off the sleeves. Then I opened up the sides and shoulders and took off the neck. Essentially, this left me with two big squares. On the wrong side of on of the squares, I placed the laptop in the center, folded the bottom part up and over the laptop so that the sides met and the laptop was just covered. Then I measured how wide I wanted the pouch to be. Still working on the wrong side on the square,  I attached a hot pink satin lining. Next, I pinned the sides in place and machine stitched the sides to make the perfect sized laptop pouch. Turned the pouch right side out. The top part of the square I folded under a bit and then down to make the flap. Attached a button to the outside of the pouch and pushed it through the flap so that it closed.
It doesn't look exactly like the one in the picture, but I still get lots of compliments on it and it was a great way to use an old sweater.

Today on Etsy - September 12, 2012

okay, maybe this came from Etsy...maybe it didn't. I can't remember. I can't find it on Etsy under my "Favourites"...I've searched through all 45 pages.
But I like the rustic-ness (is that a word?) of the linen fabric in contrast with the delicate elegance of the buttons and lace-like embroidery.

And the neutral colour would go with a number of different springs to mind. Or navy blue. Or sage green and cream.

So enjoy, be inspired...see you tomorrow !
* * Update - March 13, 2013...... I found it ! the pillows pictures are offered by Urvi Agrawal of The Home Centric. And I am happy to report I have bought a few pillows from this online Etsy store now (both for my place and for friends as gifts), and they are all beautiful. I have linked the included photo back to the item available, but hurry before it's gone...or I decide it needs to come live at my place.
And so again, enjoy!

Today on Etsy - September 08, 2012

Today's Etsy find is the fine leather craftsmanship of EightSeasons and their beautiful floral leather bags.

Each bag is made by hand and takes 2-3 weeks to complete.

There is also one offered in red, if you are looking for something or dramatic and in a cheerful fall colour.

Gorgeousness !

Today on Etsy - September 05, 2012

Today’s Etsy find is the SUPER adorable Dr. Seuss inspired knitted hat from sweetpeatoad. Great for photos, for dress up, for Halloween.

All together now… awwwww !

All a Twitter

Today I'm having a look through some images I've saved. I'm in the process of cleaning up my computer to get ready to transfer everything over to a NEW computer.

Here is a really cute idea I found it on Pinterest. No recognition was given to the original post, twenty links later.

I like this idea for several reasons. The bag in itself is a great gift. But use the bag as a way to give another gift inside and you know that scores big bonus points with me. The bag can be used as a book bag, to carry a pair of slippers (am I the only one who still does that? Has a pair of slippers in the car for when visiting? Then again, I also have a pair of flip flops in the car for impromptu pedicures).

I'm inspired to make some of these bags to put baked goods in; of course wrapping the baking first in cellophane so that it won't stain the cloth bag. This idea would also work well in a Christmas theme to give away treats at the office, to the neighbor, the postman, the piano teacher..... oh, think of all the possibilities.

I will see if I get around to making some this weekend. If I do, I'll be sure to post photos of the process so that you can make your own.

Today on Etsy - September 02, 2012

Today's find is this set of adorable magnet buttons by misschief. Made from beautiful patterned washi chiyogami papers from Japan. They have me dreaming of spring!

Several different styles and patterns are available. What a great little hostess gift.

Today on Etsy - September 01, 2012

So it's the start to a new school year. Well, it will be on Tuesday the 04th, anyhow. To celebrate, I am starting a new feature called "Today on Etsy". Essentially, it will be a short post with something lovely that I have found on Etsy. Some of these items will be coming to live with me, some of them I will just crave and covet from afar.

Some days I will add text and talk about the item and the story behind it. Some days I will just keep quiet and let you enjoy. I welcome your comments. Thumbs Up? or Thumbs Down? AND....if you purchase the item, leave a comment below about the item once you receive it.

And of course, some items will be more popular; which means an item might be sold before you are able to get to it. While this will not be my fault, I do feel your pain.

To start, here is a sweet little hat from happydayvintage.

More Shoes - take 4

Le sigh . . .these are enough to cause major swoonage . . .

. . . .a la Christian Louboutin.

In the Garden . . . . and off to Victoria, BC

I have a new camera I thought I'd share a couple quick shots with you before I head out this weekend. Note the sprinkler was on overnight...hence the water droplets.

I'm taking my parents to Victoria, BC for a couple days. We'll meet up with my brother and his girlfriend for some family time. You see, my brother has been in the HMS Algonquin for the past three months, and he has a few days shore leave.

I'm taking my camera with me (but of course!). Victoria has a fair number of gardens, as well as heritage homes. We are staying at a B&B in an old mansion, so there will be lots of shots of the house and the grounds as well.

I'm really looking forward to this quick getaway. It's been some time since I've had a chance to travel. Okay, okay . . .so Victoria isn't really a big trip for me. It's a 90 minute car ferry across the water. But still, sometimes it's good to just get out of town.

And it will be the first time my mom has been away since we went to Seattle in Feb 2011. Dad doesn't travel much; I'm surprised Mom got him to agree to go. He's happiest in the yard with his garden and flowers. And looking at these beauties here, who would blame him?

There are only a couple weeks left before I head back to school and a full schedule again. Three classes this term: Collection Illustration, Couture and Draping. Pretty excited, since couture sewing and fabric draping are two areas I will need to focus on for my collection. It's all starting to come together . . .

Anyhow, enjoy the photos. Happy Weekend !

Basil Soda

Oh happy day when I stumble upon a new designer. Well, new to me at least. I swooned for days when first exposed to Elie Saab. I fell in love with Reem Acra within minutes. Now I am head over heels in love with Basil Soda. How did I NOT KNOW about this designer?

I think celebrities should really try to mention where a designer is from when those red carpet hosts ask the all important question, "who are you wearing?" For example, "Vancouver designer Catherine Regehr" or "Basil Soda from Lebanon". Case in point? Katy Perry in Basil Soda as seen here at the 2009 Grammy Awards. I don't know, it may be just me, but I like to know where a designer is from. Point of reference I guess. It also makes their names / brands easier to search, and to find out if the designer has their brand readily available in North America. But I guess they have a lot on their minds. As a designer though; if I'm lending out a pricey gown to be viewed by millions world wide.....I would hope the celebrity would remember to give me a decent "shout out".

AND… it’s interesting that my favourite designers Saab, Acra and Soda along with Zuhair Murad, are all Lebanese designers. I don’t know if it’s something in the water in Lebanon, but I do know that I could lust after these creations for some time to come.

Garage Sale Finds

Why oh why do we not have garage sales like this in Canada, more specifically in Vancouver, BC ? This is from an outdoor market sale in Amsterdam called Albert Cuyp Market on....Albert Cuypstraat (street).

The largest open air market in the city is open year-round Mondays through Saturdays . . .has been for over 100 years. (I bet some of these beauties are still hanging around from then).

If airlines didn't charge so much for checked luggage, then I definitely would have taken home one of these lovelies. Cut an oval in the top, drop in a sink and some plumbing...turn the drawer fronts into cupboard doors and ta da! instant guest bathroom elegance.
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Blue Hues

Just a quick post with this beautiful collection I discovered with gradiant blue waves of the ocean ....perfect for summer.
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Design Inspiration - part 3

 . . . . a good book, a cool drink . ..what a fantastic way to spend the afternoon under these trees.

Can't find who took the photo originally, so I can't give credit where it's due. I know, not very nice of me. If you know, please leave a note so that I can edit the post with the credit.

Design Inspiration - part 2

I won't lie . . .every time I see this picture in my "virtual closet", I lose control of the function in the lower half of my jaw. Extreme gorgeousness.There were no details with the original photo, so I can't even credit the designer. But whomever they are . . .so inspired !

Layers upon layers of fabric without creating bulk. And seemlingly light weight and a flutter. Stunning colour, like a summer rose in bloom. Simply stunning. Simply amazing.

This dress would not need much in the way of accessories . . but of course would need the perfect pair of shoes. Might I suggest these by Parisxox . . . .

le sigh . . off to Fashion Design class I go . . .

Little Bit of Lovely - version 2.1

I have a virtual jewelry box. It's a collection of photos of pieces that I absolutely adore. . .and would purchase . . .if I won the lottery. But that's still on my "to do" list, so until then they remain in a folder on my computer and I take them out once and awhile and look and admire them, just as with a real jewelry box, discovering treasures I had forgotten about.

I like this hinged cuff bracelet because it is simple in its design yet quite glamorous at the same time. And yet I could wear it to the office with a blazer and blouse, or out to dinner with a little black dress. Or a little red dress. Or a little blue dress. You get the idea.

Trouble is that I forget who it's by.
I know.
I'm sorry.

The Purple Princess Dress

Just received picture back from a photo shoot of some of my new dress designs. Adorable gorgeousness.

The dress shown is an iridescent deep purple colour with a crinkle to the fabric. So pretty. The sash is the same material, and is separate from the dress, so it can be tied either in front or behind, centered or to the side. I personally like it tied off to one side in a sort of kimono folded-bow. I’ve teamed it up with a white-on-white delicate floral print for the bodice and sleeves. The dress has an attached underskirt or petticoat; white cotton with layers of purple tulle to give the dress body and flounce. Perfect for any princess who likes to twirl.

This would make a great dress for a birthday party or for a flower girl. Sizes 6 months to 5T are available. I also have this fabric in a rich chocolate brown, which would have an ecru coloured petticoat and tulle. Although I try and make all my garments machine friendly, this is one that would need to either be hand washed and hung to dry or sent to the dry cleaner. I know, I’m sorry.

The little dark angel of a model is Adalee Sophia, whom I booked through Boutique Beauties. I am in love with her cheeks. I think she did a fabulous job, and the camera definitely loves her.

I have a whole bunch of fabrics I am just itching to get to, and with only four more weeks of school (have I mentioned I have THREE design projects due this week????), I will be devoting whole days to designing and sewing. Stay tuned for more styles to show up soon.

Dress available in sizes 6m to 5T here. Other colours and style available.

Sweet and Pretty . . . take 3

Today’s helping of Sweet and Pretty is actually a collection or treasury of items discovered by Bella of Allami. While the grouping is definitely inspired by Russian matryoshka dolls (you know, the nesting ones you played with as a child), the items would be perfect for a nursery or little girl’s room. All well priced, these are sure to bring whimsy and delight to any princess, no matter the age.

One of the items that really got my attention was this painted horse box by GoodWoodDogs. Other than being pink and girly and a great place to store special trinkets, the hand crafted, hand painted pine and basswood treasure is made by a father - daughter team. The father is a retired chemist-turned-artist.  Dad does the carving, daughter does the painting. Which I think is just great, and adds a bit of back story to the item.

In a time where more and more children’s toys are mass produced, it’s so nice to see hand-made items with care and attention to detail . . .and no batteries required.

Delicate and Pretty . . . take 3

Today’s “Delicate and Pretty” installment features the definitely delicate workings of Licia Beads. Based out of Seattle, Washington, the creator has an eye for working with beautiful colour and materials that seem to bring her creations to life. Each is hand-made, and each a little different.

From the designer:“I began my beading passion (obsession) in 1990 and have been collecting and selling jewelry since then. I sold items while in school and at college to obtain a little extra spending money (which was used to keep me well caffeinated).

When I look at these, I envision a lush backyard garden party with butterflies and hummingbirds flitting around. These would look great dressed up for the evening or down for the office during the day, and are sure to garner compliments either way.

An afternoon wedding perhaps? A Sunday brunch with the family? I would also recommend just enjoying these on your own with a good book and a cool drink in the shade of that aforementioned lush backyard garden.

* * * UPDATE * * *

Licia has just offered a 10% discount for purchases made from June 01 until June 30, 2012. The coupon code is PRETTYINJUNE, it will be vaild during the whole month, but be sure to shop early for the best selection. All you need to do is input the code at checkout on her store page to receive the discount. It's so simple. Simple is good. Happy Shopping !