A Year of Pretty - December 29, 2014

Today's Pretty Post is this FANTASTIC pair of shoes. Well, one shoe really. But I'm sure it has a mate somewhere close by.

I may have posted this photo before. Doesn't matter, because I yearn for these shoes  . . . both the left and the right one. Together. As a pair. In my closet.

I'm sure that a good part of the appeal of this photo (which has no original source when I follow the link, just some ghost hosting site called fashionjot.com) is the lighting. The lighting is so important in this shot. Almost as important as the shoe. But not quite.

There is so much detail in this shoe. All those difficult swirls and scrolls to cut out, all the tiny little holes that border the edges. Of course, I would imagine that the shoe(s) were cut using a laser machine.

I really like the slim gold leather-strap-almost-cording that is threaded through the holes like a corset. As long as these cords look, I would imagine they wrap around the ankle a couple times before being tied in a leather bow at the back. Sexy.

Also check out that stiletto heel! Four and a half...five inches maybe. That is some serious damage for the poor man who gets his foot (or something else) caught on the wrong end of those. Never mind height adjustment. I'd go from 5'6" to 5'10 in those babies.

I wish I knew who the shoes were designed or made by. Please let me know if you can read the print inside, or if you just happen to know. Not that I would run out and buy them; they are probably at least two if not three of my pay checks. It's just nice to know these things.

Since metallics are in such style right now, these would be fantastic shoes for New Year's Eve. That is, until about 1am when you are leaving the restaurant or party and teetering down the street after too much champagne (Wait, what's too much champagne? There is never too much champagne!) and trying to hail a cab. Or maybe these would help you get a cab driver to stop.

I'd stop for these shoes. But only if there were two of them.

January 29, 2015 - update - and the shoe maker is . . .Christian Louboutin. Also available in Jet Black and Sterling Silver.

A Year of Pretty - December 28, 2014

We are almost at the end of another year. Which means I am almost at the end of my A Year of Pretty for 2014. I think after 2014 is through, I am going to go back to posting under some of the headings I have used in the past - "Delicate and Pretty", "A Little Bit of Lovely", "Shoes and More Shoes".

While it has been fun to bring a daily dose of something pretty, it has also been a bit of a time grabber. Not so much in the actual posting each day, but in the researching and finding background information, chasing broken links down a dark rabbit hole to try and credit original sources; and of course.....hours spent scrolling through Pinterest and other such sites.

(For those that want to admire a whole bunch of Pretty at one time, I invite you to a collection called "oh. .  pretty!" that I have curated, both for your enjoyment and my inspiration).

There has not been any snow so far this December in Vancouver. Well, up on the mountains, yes. But not in the city itself. So for today's Pretty Post I thought I would bring the snow to you by way of this STUNNINGLY GORGEOUS suit ensemble from the Chanel Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2014 / 2015 collection. I have watched (a number of times) the videos on how these pieces are hand crafted and painstakingly put together. Utterly amazing.

It would take me years...YEARS ! to complete a garment such as this. So I can understand the astronomical price tag that this jacket and pants would go for. If I had to hazard a guess, I would put this at being no less than $35,000.00. Yes, thirty five thousand dollars.

Okay, so back to the garment itself. The detailing is smart. The play between the expanse of white in the jacket and the cording effect of the beading is beautiful. The beading not only acts as a decorative detail, but serves to contour the lines of the body. Essentially, it is a tuxedo jacket with a mandarin collar that morphs into a long tunic. I'm noticing now that in one of the pictures (above), it is worn with leggings, in another (right) the model's leg is visible. In a show, these two looks would be presented one after the other. Which means the jacket combo was made twice?

No, but wait! It's a tuxedo jacket with biker shorts! Now that I have watched the video of the fashion show again, the model is clearly wearing a tuxedo-jacket-cum-tunic over a pair of long biker shorts. Only Chanel could make biker shorts this glamourous. Here is a screen shot from the youtube video (left).

But my train has left the tracks. Back to this Winter Wonderland look. The beading reminds me of Christmas tinsel and holly berries, with all the twiggy bits poking up out of the snow.

So while beaded biker shorts may not be your kind of thing (and honestly, for me I would do without them and wear plain leggings, either in the same warm winter white or in red to match the red "berries" with a cable knit pattern and red patent leather stilettos), this tunic would definitely be a show stopper at any company Christmas party or New Year's Eve gathering. But heaven forbid Carl the Clumsy from Accounting doesn't bump into you with his glass of red wine, or your Uncle Leon drop his plate of Swedish meatballs on your lap as he leans over to kiss you hello.

If you are interested in watching the whole production, the youtube video is here:

A Year of Pretty - December 14, 2014

Today's Pretty Post is actually a super cute post....THESE PUPPIES ! ! ! !

Today being Sunday, it's a big baking day, but I wanted to share this adorable photo of Santa's little helpers. No original source given, just a random tumblr account where I couldn't locate the photo after five minutes of scrolling. Oh well, enjoy!

A Year of Pretty - December 08, 2014

 .. . .perfect for the creative person. This would also be a great way to use left over yarn. What's also nice is that with a bit of adult super vision when attaching the yarn to the wreath, this is a fun project for kids to create. Imagine their concentration while winding the yarn into smaller balls....

I've given instructions for both a permanent and a temporary wreath. In the permanent version, the balls of yarn are glued together; both to the wreath form and to each other. In the temporary version, the balls of yarn are attached with thin wire. This is in case you may want to use the yarn again for another project and don't want it to be covered in hardened glue.

You can also use a foam wreath for your base and wrap it in yarn. I found that to be a bit time consuming, so I opted for a rustic twig / vine wreath I had on hand. Essentially, when we pruned back the grape vines in the garden, I twisted then into wreaths and let them dry that way. But you can pick one up pretty cheap at your local craft store.

Directions for Yarn Wreath:

yarn in four or five complimentary shades
styrofoam balls in various sizes
large eyed needle
desired size wreath form; twig or grapevine
hot glue gun and glue sticks, or 20 gauge wire
wire cutters and eye protection
hanging ornament for center
clear fishing line

What to Do:

1. Wind various yarns around the different sizes of styrofoam balls, leaving a 12 inch tail. If you are using a smaller wreath, make smaller balls, larger for a larger wreath. Essentially, the size should be in proportion to the overall size of the wreath.

2. Thread the tail end of yarn onto the large eyed needle. Pull the needle through the ball of yarn repeatedly until the tail is secure.

3. Arrange balls of yarn on wreath form in the desired sequence in order to cover the front of the wreath as shown in the photo.

4. Apply hot glue to the back of each yarn ball and press in place along the wreath. Hold until ball feels secure. Repeat with all yarn balls; glue yarn balls together at sides where they touch.


4. Attach each ball of yarn to the wreath with the 20 gauge wire by threading the wire through each ball and then twisting the ends of the wire onto the twig wreath until secure. Wearing eye protection, clip ends of wire with wire cutters. Twist and tuck exposed twisted pieces into the wreath for safety. Thread wire through yarn balls at sides where they touch and repeat twisting to secure, clipping ends as needed.

5. Attach hanging ornament to inside top of wreath with clear fishing line. Trim ends of fishing line with scissors.

Your wreath is now ready to hang or give away as a gift. I have found that round cake trays with domed lids from the grocery store's baking department are great way to store wreaths when not in use and are convenient for gift-giving. Just stick a pretty bow on the top of the dome and you're done.

Happy Christmas Crafting!

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year - Christmas Baking Begins

It's here ! It's here! it's the most wonderful time of the year !

The Christmas season is my favourite time of year for a number of reasons. The cold snap in the air. Mittens and hats and scarves. Spending time with the family. The excitement in a young child's eyes; and the certain sparkle in the eyes of the young at heart.

But by far, this is my favourite time of year for baking. Each year around mid November, I pull out all my baking books and magazines and start marking what I want to make. I also begin a list of ingredients I'll need. I try to keep my selection of recipes down to an even dozen. However, each year it is a struggle between the tried and true cookies that our family loves and the new recipes that I want to try. There is also a discussion and decision meeting with the family. So quite often that selection process ends up at about 16 different varieties.

You may think that 16 different kinds of holiday treats is a bit overboard, but in a family of bakers, this is actually quite easily accomplished. My parents are lucky to have a large kitchen. Having two mixers going at the same time is also a time saver. (I bring mine over to my parents' house and we set them up side-by-side).

Most of the recipes call for a chilled dough, so the batters are often made in advance and then wrapped and labeled for a later time. We find that if we make all the dough over one week, and then do the baking the following week, it doesn't seem like such an ordeal.

When it comes to rolling out the dough and cutting the shapes, we have three stations going; two on the long kitchen table and one on the counter. So really, there are three people working on three different cookies at one time. We just make sure we are all working on recipes that call for the same oven temperature.

The dining room table gets converted into the cooling and storage area. Once a particular batch of cookies has cooled overnight, they get packed into a large tins and labeled. Hard cookies will stay in the dining room, soft cookies will head to the freezer downstairs.

But more important than the actual baking are the memories we share as we are making the dough and cutting the shapes. There are some pretty amazing conversations that occur when there are three people all rolling, cutting and baking at the same time with Bing Crosby playing in the background.

Okay, so what do we need with 16 types of cookies, with between 50 to 60 cookies per recipe? Well, in truth, we give most of it away as gifts. My Oma (grandmother) lives in a wonderful home where a good majority of the residents are of Western European decent (predominantly Dutch, but also German, Danish, and Belgians). They all enjoy home baking, especially those traditional treats they remember from their homelands. So we pack up a couple large tins with an assortment of 4 or so dozen cookies in each for her to offer to her guests that come for coffee. Oma is also diabetic, so we know she won't be eating them herself; and she doesn't have time to bake. My Oma is, and has always been a social butterfly. Her personal appointment calendar rivals that of most teenagers.

Mom likes to give baskets of home made jams, jellies, salsa and a variety of baked goods to her close friends. This will take up another 15 to 20 dozen cookies. Then she also brings a large platter of them to the Christmas Concert for her students. There goes another 12 dozen. I take a few of tins packed with 3 or 4 dozen each to my work, so there is another 10 to 12 dozen. What are we at now ....52 dozen?? That's 624 cookies. Which, if you've been following my math, leaves 176 cookies or 14.67 dozen. These get divided into individual treat bags with a dozen per bag and tied with pretty ribbon to hand out as needed (the postman, the pharmacist who takes my mom's prescriptions over the phone, the delivery driver who comes every other week with her dialysis equipment supplies). Some will go home with my brother and his girlfriend, others home with my nephew.

So really we are left with about 6 dozen assorted cookies for actual drop-by guests and "personal consumption." And when we feel we can't stand to look at another cookie, we pack up the remainder and stick them in the freezer until summer. Lebkuchen and Speculaas in the middle of July? Why not.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting some baking and cookie photos. I hope you will be inspired by these and want to bake something tasty for someone you love.

Happy Baking!

A Year of Pretty - December 04, 2014

Today's Pretty Post is in keeping with yesterday's theme of warm yummy drinks on a cold winter day.

I found the photo on Pinterest with no reference to the original author, but with a little digging was able to trace it back to dose.com, where there is a whole segment on lattes and cappuccinos with different fancy-schmancy designs on them.

Not one for wanting a kitty cat or a ferret, or of all things Psy / Gangnam Style....I like the Eiffel Tower. It makes me think of my recent trip to Paris, and of all the little French cafes where people sit with their afternoon coffee and watch the city buzz by.

And then I remember all the smoking (Paris cafes do not have the same non-smoking rules we do here in Vancouver. You can light up whenever, wherever when it comes to outdoor eating).

On second thought, I think I'll just stick to my tea on the comfort of my sofa and watch the rain run down the glass.

A Year of Pretty - December 03, 2014

Today would be a great day to just cuddle up, stay inside, read a book and drink hot cocoa.

Full article can be found on BHG.com - 8 Rules for Smart Splurges

A Year of Pretty - December 02, 2014

Have you written your letter to Santa?

Each year, millions of children write to Santa with their deepest wishes and desires. In Canada, there is a special address operated by the Canada Post just to receive (and respond) to these letters. In Vancouver, there is a huge post box set up near Canada Place where children and their parents can drop off their letters.

In our family, letters to Santa are still required, and must be submitted no later than December 01. Of course, we don't mail them to the North Pole. Instead, we pass them along to "Santa's Helpers", who conveniently live at my parents' house.

Santa's Helpers are very busy people. So, these helpers greatly appreciate any additional information such as store location and/or website address that would help save them time and/or money. I know, I know...it's not about the gifts. But it is about making other people happy.

And honestly, it also takes a lot of stress out of trying to figure out what gift would make another person happy; especially when you have family members who are a little hard to pick out gifts for. My dad is a classic example. I could bake him his favourite cookies or sew him a beautiful shirt, but without the list I wouldn't know that what he REALLY wishes for is a set of four tire racks to hang his winter tires in the garage during the summer (and if anyone has any ideas on where to HIDE four tire racks in the meantime, please let me know).

So in honor of anyone beginning to stress about what to give those hard to shop for people on your list, today's Pretty Post is this cute illustration of posting letters. I'm not sure who the original artist is. I tried to decipher and search the name of the artist's mark in the bottom right corner, but with no luck.

Stay happy and healthy, and fingers crossed that Santa or his Helpers are working on making your Christmas wishes come true.