A Year of Pretty - February 28, 2014

Today's Pretty Post is this delicate pink canvas painting. I don't know who the artist is, which is a shame. The photo is from Pinterest, with the source being simply a defunct flickr account. Sad.

But the painting itself is lovely. It reminds me of ballerinas somehow. Or maybe pink champagne.

My home doesn't have a pink room, but if it did, I would want something like this hanging in it.

A Year of Pretty - February 27, 2014

These dresses.....like soft chiffon ice cream.
I want to live in these dresses.
These dresses......to run along the shore with toes in the sand.
The dreams that will come true in these dresses.

A Year of Pretty - February 26, 2014

Today is the last day of preparation for the Great Gatsby Inspired Fashion Show I'm participating in tomorrow night. Most of the work is done, but there are a couple things that still need attention before everything gets packed up at moved to the venue. Minor things like stitching in company labels and pressing, plus matching the shoes and accessories for each look. I will be dressing my model myself, so at least I will have control over the look and can give it a once over before it heads out on the runway.

Last week, I was able to get in a photo shoot with a few of the pieces that will be going down the runway. We spent most of the day at the shoot, and my model Jen Ryley was fantastic (and oh-so-patient). Jenny Ruth of JennyV Make Up and Hair styled the model for the shoot. I think she did a beautiful job. 

Photography was done by Wesley Allen Shaw in his own studio.

I was super lucky that the garments fit Jen perfectly. Which means no size adjustments to the garments for tomorrow night. So happy about this. It also means Jen, who is modelling for me in the show, will already be familiar with each of the looks.

It was a fun shoot, and I've included not only some serious shots of the garments, but some goofy ones as well when Jen was in between takes.

So Today's Pretty Post is about my own label de volk & gosche. First, a little history:

My maternal grandmother's (my Oma) maiden name is Volk. My paternal grandmother's maiden name was gosche. "Volk" means "people", "Gosche" means "cheeky, or left of center". So the two names together become "For People Cheeky or Left of Center". It also sounds sophisticated and European.....like Dolce and Gabbana. 

The fabrics I've used here are silks and yoryu satin, which are produced by Telio. I also bought some great trims online through Etsy. Check out PrettyLaceShop for their great selection of trims and lace details.

The looks all came together relatively easy. Okay, okay . . there were some frustrations when trying to get my ideas from paper to fabric; but in the end I am extremely please with the results and can't wait to see them on the runway.

Anyway, I hope you like them as well.

A Year of Pretty - February 25, 2014

One Great Gatsby inspired fashion show down, one to go......

As a designer, there are additional items needed for when a model walks down the runway in order to complete the look. These include shoes and accessories. This could mean a snazzy hand bag, a smart looking hat, or a glittering pair of earrings.

The trick is to not let the accessories take over the look, unless of course that is the look you are going for (think Chanel and the multitudes of long pearl necklaces). 

So I came across these gorgeous earrings as inspiration for jewellery for my garments. The earrings are big enough to be seen on the runway, but are refined and sophisticated so as not to out shine the clothing.

They are both modern and art deco, with their combination of square and oval shapes, as well as the smooth upper bezel and the prong-set lower tear drop bezel. 

The original source for these baubles has been lost. When I clicked on the photo, it took me to a new web page that stated "You are lost. Please go back." That's pretty much as clear as you can get. So unfortunately I can't direct you on where to pick up these beauties for your own collection.

However, rose gold seems to be making a big appearance in both costume and authentic jewellery. This is mainly (I think) due to the excitement over the new Royal marriage, in which HRH Prince William gave his beloved a ring made from Welsh pink gold, as is tradition. In any event, you should be able to find something similar at your local accessories store and more than likely for a whole lot less than the price of the these.

Enjoy; both the photo and your day.

A Year of Pretty - February 23, 2014

Today's Pretty Post is another example of mixing mediums when it comes to floral displays. Yesterday's post was with lemons, today's is with limes. This one is done in softer tones, so the overall look is more elegant. I could see this working very well for a dinner party, especially if there were two or three lined up down the center of the dining table with pillar candles of various heights scattered between them, or tea lights in little glass votives as shown here.

A Year of Pretty - February 22, 2014

Today's Pretty Post is this cheerful flower arrangement with a fun idea for hiding the stems.

To make this arrangement you will need a couple things. You will need a glass water pitcher as shown, and a smaller cylinder (or even a tall, skinny drinking glass) to place inside the pitcher. You will need about two lemons cut into thin, round slices. And you will need your flowers. And water. Flowers like water. Maybe some floral keeper.

Place your cylinder / drinking glass in the center of the glass pitcher. Arrange the lemon slices around the pitcher, sticking them to the inside wall of the pitcher. Make sure they are close and snug together so that you can't see the cylinder behind the slices. If you need to add a couple clear marbles or decorator's stones to hold the lemons in place, you could carefully place those in between the lemon slices and the cylinder.

Move your glass pitcher to where you want to display it. Add your floral keeper to the water if you are going you use any. Add the water to only the cylinder / drinking glass. Add your bouquet of flowers into the water.

And done. Sit back and enjoy your lovely display or present to a friend or loved one. Perfect to cheer someone up on a cold February day.

You could switch up the fruit and use limes, oranges. I like to use lemons, but then add in some cranberries for colour. Or you could skip the fruit all together and use other fun things like gum balls, M&M's, smarties (though that would take a lot whole bunch of smarties). I've used wrapped Werther's toffees or colourful hard candies. Just be sure if you are using food items that they stay dry from the water in the center container.

I also find it easier if I wrap a couple elastic bands around the flowers before I plunk them in the water. This ensures that the flowers all stay in one place as well as makes it easier to remove them if I need to re-cut the stems or change the water or the fruit.

This arrangement makes a big impact and is fairly easy to do in a short amount of time. While I like greenery, I find hiding the stems makes the arrangement more interesting.

Enjoy your fresh flowers and have a wonderful day.

A Year of Pretty - February 21, 2014

Tomorrow night is the first of two shows I am presenting with a Great Gatsby theme. Both shows will be for charity, and I am looking forward to both as a way to not only highlight my designs, but as an opportunity to learn what works and what doesn't work during a live show. When I presented my graduation collection, I wasn't able to be backstage, so I had no say in how the models were dressed. This time I will have that chance and as such, will be able to style the ladies as I wish.

I am lucky to have a fairly good collection of costume jewellery from which I can select pieces that will compliment each look. I also have a number of shoes in different sizes that will work for the looks for these shows. Every year in early September when wedding season is over, shoe stores start offering amazing deals on all their strappy, sparkly summer heels. Last year I picked up six pairs of the same shoe in gold and silver in a variety of sizes from 8.5 to 10 for 50% off the last ticketed price - $15.00 each pair. It may seem strange to spend money on shoes that don't even fit me (I'm a size 8.5), but it ensures that I have shoes that I know will work for the models; not only for this show, but for for other shows in the future. Choosing shoes with classic profiles and in neutral tones (silver, gold, beige and black) means that the shoes are pretty much going to go with any look.

I adore the look of these shoes here. I like the attention to detail, and how the art deco feel is continued on through the punch work of the pale pink instep. Having not one but two adjustable straps is also handy. Unfortunately these will not be my show, but they embody the feel of the 1920's art deco period, if higher heels had been in fashion at that time. Most heel heights were only between 1.5 and 2.5 inches during the 1920's, whereas today's average height for runway starts at 4.5 inches.

So enjoy these darling shoes and I will be back tomorrow with a review of the show. Fingers crossed.

A Year of Pretty - February 20, 2014

Check out this little beauty for Today's Pretty Post. Pink Champagne. Love me some pink champagne. 

A Year of Pretty - February 19, 2014

It's chilly outside. For Today's Pretty Post...these warm and inviting Moroccan wedding blankets.

So pretty with the little silver discs as decoration, and the different textures and fringes to finish the edges. I can certainly appreciate the time and effort it would take to make one of these; which is most likely why they are reserved for special occasions like weddings.

Called Handiras, Moroccan wedding blankets are hand woven in natural, undyed wool and cotton, which is why they would be so warm. They are the equivalent of our North American wedding dress. For months prior to her wedding, a bride-to-be and her family make the blanket together, while she is instructed on her new role as a wife.

The silver discs are thought to serve more than one purpose. They sparkle and flash in the light, so as to ward off evil spirits. The discs are quite costly for a family, so the more discs on a bride's blanket, the more prestige and wealth she is thought to bring to her husband.

The day of her wedding, the bride's family wraps her blanket around her as they sing songs praising her fertility, value and honour. She is then put on a mule or donkey, and with her family makes the trek to her new husband and new home. Often, she has an arranged marriage, and her new home could be the next village or over the next mountain range. So it helps to have a super warm and cozy blanket for the journey.

I have a cream coloured sofa, so one of these would fit right in at my place. Although I would probably have to put it away when my good friend A comes over for wine and cheese. Something tells me Tempranillo and these blankets would not make good company if they came in contact.

So even if you are not about to be a bride, I still invite you to grab one, a hot cup of tea, a good book and snuggle in and get warm!

A Year of Pretty - February 18, 2014

Yesterday I chatted a little about pearls. Today, it's lace.

I love lace. Good, high quality lace. Which is strange, because growing up I was a no-frills-what-so-ever kind of girl.

In the midst to designing this Great Gatsby Challenge, I've done a bunch of research into where to get good lace; especially lace trim. Wide lace trim. In delicate colours. The local fabric stores don't seem to carry a great selection, and what they do carry is often quite garish (lime green lace? Um, no)

So I've found a couple sources on etsy. More than a couple actually. Most offer lace trim between three to five inches wide, with a soft mesh background so that you can apply the lace and cut away what you don't need.

Perfect for a hemline or at the shoulders of a 1920's style dress. And the ones shown (right) match my colour pallet.

And remember: I love you like vintage loves lace.

A Year of Pretty - February 17, 2014

Mmmmmm, the beauty of pearls. I know this is not the first post of pearls I have done. And I know it will also not be the last. 

The reason I like pearls so much is that they can be both simple and complex ... at the same time. This round, unassuming orb which changes colour in different lights; which can be either warm or cool to the touch. More than any precious gemstone (while not actually a stone), pearls seem to have the most life in them without having to apply heat or faceting. They are simple sophistication all on their own.

A Year of Pretty - February 16, 2014

I've been holding on to this picture for a while now. I don't know it's original source but to say it came from Pinterest. Ah, Pinterest.

My hair is this long, and has the same wave to it; looks to be about the same texture too. But it's not this red. I mean, it's definitely got red (my mom was a red head, my dad was dark brown), but not this red. But I could very well do this look because like the gal in the photo, I too have pale skin. And I have green eyes.

What I don't have is bangs. Not sure about having bangs. Probably because mine would just go all curly in the wrong direction. I know this because I had bangs when I was little; and then again through high school. And every morning my bangs and I would have this struggle. And I would never win.

So yeh, no bangs for me.

The colour though? Yes, I could do this colour.

A Year of Pretty - February 15, 2014

Ahhhh, the day after Valentine's Day. The day when all chocolates and roses are at least half price and restaurants still have their special "Surf and Turf for 2".

Admit it. At least once you have waited until the day after to pick up that big box of treats for your sweetie. Or two days after, when the roses are still good, but now you can buy twice as many for the same obscene price and look like a super hero?

My parents actually have an agreement. No flowers of candy on Valentine's Day. Then three days later they spoil each other. Anyone who comes to the house (my Oma especially) thinks my dad went all out for my mom. Truth is, my mom prefers it this way. She doesn't really like my dad spending all kinds of money on her, specifically on flowers that are over priced and shipped in from South America. He still wants to spoil her, but he saves money...she still gets treats, she shares them with him; everyone is happy.

So even if you didn't get a box of chocolates on Valentine's Day (or double the amount the next day), here is my Valentine's Day gift to you...a day after and just as yummy.

A Year of Pretty - February 14, 2014

Today is Valentine's Day. Not that I believe in a special day to show the people you love that you care about them with overpriced flowers and dinner in a busy restaurant with another couple squished right beside you and food taking forever and a day to come to your table.

But as I said in yesterday's post, I do like to bake treats for people, regardless if it's a special occasion or not. Those that know me have been subject to my many baking days; days where I just feel I need to bake because I want ONE really good fresh brownie or cookie. I can't eat the whole batch or I'd have to be constantly at the gym (ugh!), so I bring my baking to work or to my parents. 

Though, these little pink French macarons are a Valentine's Day gift I could get into. I love French macarons, especially those done up in pretty boxes. I am headed to Paris in the fall and one of the things on my list is to visit Ladurée on the Champs Élysées. 

 So Happy Valentine's Day, and may your day be filled with sweet treats and lovely surprises; whether you are a believer in February 14th needing to be especially romantic or not.

A Year of Pretty - February 13, 2014

I'm not a huge fan of Valentine's Day. I never have been. I guess because I'm not a fan of hearts and cupids and red roses. And any day is the perfect day to be romantic and tell someone that you love them, you don't need a special day to do that.

That being said, I do like making cookies or cupcakes and decorating them for Valentine's Day. Who am I kidding; I like doing that for any occasion.

So I thought this centrepiece would be cute on a table if you were hosting a little afternoon tea on Valentine's Day. While not exclusively hearts and cupids, it does have that "love is in the air" feeling about it.

You could put whatever you like in the teacups; cinnamon hearts, chocolates covered with red foil, red heart marshmallows. I think it would be easy enough to make. An candelabra, some old teacups and some super glue. You could paint the candelabra whatever colour you like, but I think it looks nice with the vintage white and the white porcelain from the tea cups.

Either way, enjoy your Valentine's Day tomorrow, whether you are a fan of the day or not.

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.

A Year of Pretty - February 11, 2014

It's February, and still cold outside. We're still a few weeks off before the first flowers start popping up in the yard.

So, in order to tide you over until then, today's Pretty Post is this floral presentation of garnets and diamonds. There is enough sparkle in this cocktail ring to keep you warm well into spring. A whole 6.31 karat weight worth of sparkle.

Price tag? $2995.00. The ring is produced by Borsheims, but is currently not available.

I like the open fret work on the band and the different coloured garnets along the sides. The ring design consists of a number of different gemstone cuts; brilliant cut diamonds, baguette cuts on the sides, cylinder cuts for the petals in graduating sizes, and round cut garnets in the center. All set in 18K gold.

This? . . would make someone very happy for Valentine's Day. If one believed in Valentine's Day, that is.

A Year of Pretty - February 09, 2014

I'm not huge on Valentine's Day. Never have been. Sure, I'll make cupcakes for my mom to take to class with her to give out to her students. And I make something nice like a pair of earrings or such for her. 

And don't get me wrong, I'm a strong supporter of chocolate, regardless of the occasion. I've just never really cared for Valentine's Day.

Probably because I'm not big on hearts and cupids and love doves. Flowers, now . . that's another story. I absolutely love flowers. But not red roses. I find them too contrived, too over-done. Too The Bachelor.

But these little sweeties in today's Pretty Post say just enough love and romance for me. They are from Obee Designs. They would look cute in a young girl's hair, and not just for February 14th. Perfect for a flower girl at a wedding, or to a birthday party. 

They would also be great for bridesmaids or even the bride for a vintage themed wedding. Roses for Valentine's Day that last the whole year through.

A Year of Pretty - February 08, 2014

Today's Pretty Post is this very bohemian Great Gatsby inspired wedding dress. Simple silhouette with a frothy lace overlay. yards and yards of fine tulle netting held in place by a band of lace and some dusty rose flowers.

Sad to say, the original link leads me to a "page not found" and some obscure pictures of llamas and a doorway. Not very Gatsby-esque at all.

A Year of Pretty - February 07, 2014

Today's Pretty Post is this photo of a double strand graduated pearl necklace. No original source credit to be found. Just simple, beautiful pearls.

A Year of Pretty - February 06, 2014

Today's Pretty Post is from the March 19, 2012 cover of Ruche. Check out the entire article and many other beautiful photos by clicking on the picture above. The whole collection of images are Great Gatsby inspired, which is just what I'm after for the upcoming show.

A Year of Pretty - February 05, 2014

Today's Pretty Post is a backstage look at Chanel's Spring 2014 collection. Really, I don't have a whole lot else to say . . . . the photo says it all.

(the original source for this photo is kinda obscure . . and kinda not. The link on Pinterest was broken, but a little digging around brought me to a holding tank for images for the look book for Chanel's SS2014 collection. In Italian. Where the credit is given to FotografÍa: Cortesía de Chanel / Olivier Saillant. Which is more than the Pinterest post gave credit for)

A Year of Pretty - February 04, 2014

A few years ago I started with making jewellery. Nothing super complicated of fancy; mainly just beads on string. One of the designs I did a lot of were these three strand "freedom" necklaces. I designed them because my Oma was starting to have troubles with opening and closing traditional lobster-claw clasps. This "freedom" necklace let her just loop the strands around and not have to fuss with tiny closures.

Sometimes she would wear just one strand, sometimes all three. Or, she would take one strand from one set (pink) and mix it with two strands from another set (black and grey). She would make these intricate loops and twists and a lot of people would comment on how put together her jewellery always looked.

Today's Pretty Post reminds me of when I was first starting out to design, the technical stuff I had to work out. Which type of string to use. Would it be strong enough. Would tiger tail wire be better (it was). Would it be flexible enough (not really, but it beats having all the beads spill all over the floor when the silk/nylon thread broke).

I still have one or two of these necklace sets left. One is in freshwater pearls and pink rose quartz; very much like the one shown here. I also have a jet black and crystal one that I like to wear with a simple little black dress. My mom has a blue one with Murano glass beads, blue pearls and crystals; which she wears either with a men's dress shirt and jeans or with a dark blazer and slacks when teaching.

This photo also presents a different way to wear such a necklace, and is very much in keeping with the Great Gatsby Inspiration project I am working on. Perhaps I'll pull out my two necklace sets to accessorize my garments as the sashay down the runway.

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 brooches. 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.

A Year of Pretty - February 02, 2014

In keeping with the theme of yesterday's post on the purple gemstone of February, Today's Pretty Post is of this collection of purple-hue lilac photographs by Georgianna Lane. (okay, there are a couple white ones in the group, but the overall palette is purple).

The Seattle-based professional photographer makes several trips a year to romantic destinations such as Paris, Venice, England and Chile. In 2014, she has three planned trips to Paris alone. Oh, to be able to travel and take pictures of gardens and their surrounds. I know it's work and we only see the best of the best results, but it does sound idyllic.

The talented artist has been featured in National Geographic Traveller, Romantic Homes, the New Yorker, Britian magazine, Gardens Illustrated, Papyrus Recycled, American Greetings, Nikon Owner, Artful Blogging, Somerset Life and many other magazines, books, greeting cards, calendars and blogs (such as this one!)

Not able to make it to Paris any time soon? You can bring a little piece of Georgianna's Paris to your home through one of her two Etsy shops: Paris Plus (which focuses on photographs from, you guessed it; Paris) and Geogianna Lane, which offers garden and nature photographs.

It won't be long before the lilac trees in my parent's garden are in full bloom. They have several trees; five in total I think. One has both lavender and white blooms off the same tree, another both light and dark purple. They are so nice to cut and put in the bathroom in an ironstone pitcher or even a painted mason jar. The blossoms only last a short while, but the scent is so beautiful. Fortunately, there are photographs such as this one here to enjoy. Especially in the the first days of February when spring is still a little ways away.

A Year of Pretty - February 01, 2014

First day of February. The month of St. Valentine's Day and love. Of my Oma's birthday. Of my nephew's birthday. Of the birthstone amethyst; that brilliant purple gemstone with suggested healing powers and soothing properties so beloved by ancient Egyptians and modern enthusiasts alike.

This beautiful amethyst, diamond and pearl cuff-style bracelet is a great example of how regal an amethyst can be, seemingly without even trying. Unfortunately, there was no original source given with the photo, except to say I found the image on Pinterest. C'est domage, I would have liked to add something like this to my collection.

I like this piece because it could be worn with either denim and a tailored shirt or dressed up for an evening on the town. I don't even mind the heart-shaped stone (I am not a fan of heart-shaped anything. Except cookies and chocolates. The shapes on those are not essential to their overall function).

To learn more about this regal birthstone, its history and its long running appeal, you might want to head over to my posting from a little while ago titled "The Regal Amethyst".