Fun Friday: Froggy Fun

Aren't these lampwork frog pendants cute? Each little frog is handmade by artist Guy Melamed using his lampwork torch; they can take as long as 45 minutes to create in a process described as " almost like painting but with a glass paintbrush in a 2000 degree flame". After the frog is made, it and its glass bead are annealed together (annealing is a method of making glass or steel tougher and more durable by a process of heating and cooling, like what is done to tempered glass) so the llittle guys stay cute for a long time. (The store's site actually has a page dedicated to the process, and it's pretty interesting.) They're pendants are then wound onto a sterling silver head pin with a sterling daisy spacer at the bottom and top of each bead. The silver ring up top will allow you to wear your little frog-friend on any number of necklaces.

They run about $30 each, and some are available on eBay for less. I really like the detail on the frogs, but some are just darned cute. Once again, it's artwork you can wear, isn't it? These little glass amphibians are cute, charming, and clever pieces of jewelry, and I think they'd be a blast to wear. They'll make a fun gift for anyone, but I do think your nature-loving friends might really like them, or perhaps someone off for a rainforest vacation. Regardless, they're cute and fun, good for everyday wear if you like!

The Blanche and Guy shop offers some truly beautiful glasswork in addition to the cute frogs. There are truly delicious and happy-noise-inspiring loose glass beads made by Guy as well as jewelry, like the bracelets (check out this extra-yummy one, I really like the colours) made up of Guy's marvellous glass creations. It's really beautiful, and if you're an artist, you are sure to appreciate Guy's work; if you're a jewelry-maker, you're going to be ogling the beads page and comparing your needs to your checking account for some time! They have a nifty gallery, too - please, no drooling on keyboards, darlings.

I also wanted to point out what I think is one of the best, most fun "About Us" pages I've seen. Perseverance, hope, overcoming, romance, love, hope, healing, victory, it's all there. I love it, it's so sweet - plus, Guy is a horse lover like myself, so that raises him even higher in my estimation. Be sure to check it out, I think you'll like reading about Guy and lovely Blanche as much as I did.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Just an FYI, I don't think I'll be posting next week due to Independence Day, but if you miss me desperately, feel free to check out my Flickr stream. Have a great week, a great Independence Day, and I'll definitely see y'all again on July 9th. :)

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'Tis my faith that every flower/Enjoys the air it breathes!
I have two very pretty treats for you tonight, and it's two because I (again) just couldn't decide between the comeliness. Additionally, tomorrow is going to be a rather strange day, and I'm not sure when or if I'll be able to post. We'll cross our fingers - if nothing else, the Hollywood Gold Cup is Saturday, and I can post then while floating on a cloud of horse-inspired happiness.

First up is this one-of-a-kind flower pin. The petals have been made of hand-blocked, recycled paper and then coated so they're very durable. Artist Tamar then took a really pretty vintage coral-coloured rose piece and centered it on the blossom, resulting in a really pleasing combination of colour, textures, and prints. The 2" pin is $15, and will look smashing on your tops, handbags, totes, jackets, or even in your hair or attached to the hem of a favourite skirt. Actually, you could probably even string the pin part on a chain and wear it as a dainty, winsome pendant. $15 is a deal!

Tamar has many more flower pins, all lovely and whimsical; I'm sure there's one among the boquet you'll like.

Our other goodie tonight is this gigantic tote, also from Tamar's shop. Just look at the scrumptious, mouthwatering, vibrant colours! Pink, orange, yellow, turquoise, green on reinforced cotton - so perfect for summer. The interior has a sweet striped lining in heavy cotton, so this bag will be quite durable and entirely able to stand up to all of your needs all summer long and beyond.

Not only is the bag pretty, it's practical (ahhhh, the beauty of capitalism). There is a big split pocket on each side of the exterior, not to mention a long, deep pocket on each end-side of the tote, good for phones, water, pens (I can't be the only one eternally digging at the bottom of her bag for a pen, can I?), chopsticks for your hair... The interior has three more pockets, so unlike most totes, you'll definitely be able to keep all the small things in their own place without having to call out the dogs to search for a ponytail holder or lip balm.

This bag really is huge - 21" x 15.5", with 19" straps. It's looks to be about four or five inches wide, but I'm not sure on that one. I really like the soft, curved edges of this $50 bag; it looks more feminine and sweet than your typical tote bag. As Tamar notes, this tote is big enough to be a diaper bag or to carry everyone's goodies to the beach with you. I think it's a pretty good buy, all things considered.

Both items are available from Tamar's shop, Nest Pretty Things and VeryFairy, where you'll also find home decor, greeting cards, and of course more flower pins and great summer bags and accessories pouches. She has a very feminine, graceful sense of style that I really like. The wreaths she makes are quite charming and fanciful, too. Everything in her store is...well, romantic. I don't know any other way to say it, but it's definitely a good thing.

By the way, if you're curious, the title line is courtesy of William Wordsworth. :)

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Pretty In Pink...and Green!
Sometimes, I just don't know what I'm thinking. Let's face it, there is no shortage of pink in my wardrobe - certainly not in amounts coming close to Elle Woods proportions, but it's there. Hey, it happens to be a flattering colour on me!

Oddly, though, I haven't a single necklace with pink in it other than a vintage necklace featuring three strands of pink and fuschia pearl beads. While it's gorgeous, it isn't exactly practical for everyday (it's far more suited to a nice dinner out, an orchestra concert, a wedding, that sort of thing, because it is major glam). This means that depending on the pink in my outfit, I'm usually stuck with silver. I've just never found the 'right' pink necklace for regular, everyday-type wear.

I must say, though, I really like this pretty strawberries and mint necklace from Meristem. It incorporates pink with a seafoam green and black beads, leading to a sort of confectionery, "I think I might taste it just to see if it's good" colour blend that's very pretty and ladylike without being treacly or contrived. The funky square pendant is a great centerpiece for the necklace, too, naturally drawing the eye up to your face.

Artist Katherine (who also does custom orders) was inspired to create this $38 string of jewels by thoughts of yummy homemade strawberry ice cream with mint on top. Her friend created the glass mod-style pendant, which was combined with the pink cat's eyes, black czech glass, and green crack quartz beads. A lovely window-like glass bead sits on either side of the necklace, and it's all strung on nylon-coated wire for durability and so the beads can move freely instead of getting all scrunched up together on a collarbone (been there, done that...). A sterling silver toggle ensures that your springy necklace wont' go anywhere. That this necklace includes 3 colours in soft tones is definitely a good thing - you'll be able to wear it with more outfits than just pink or green ones. I can see this necklace making a nice gift for someone, too!

Meristem Creations looks to be a pretty new shop, but she's got 16 very fully satisfied customers who've left reviews. Her work is really lovely and unique, which left me struggling a bit to figure out what to feature (I also like the Almost Raining earrings chic Picnic With Katie necklace and fabulous, I-want-it-now Island Hopping necklace); one can easily see that Katherine is definitely inspired by nature.

Enjoy your browsing!


Bows Can Be Beautiful

Long relegated to humorous and not-so-humorous stories of horrendous bridesmaid's dresses (my girls had NO bows, thank you, and both looked gorgeous in their dresses), bows have taken some really hard hits as far as fashion for a long, long time. Other than the happy, floppy bows seen on some fine Derby day millinery, usually bows are the, well, butt of many jokes. This is a far cry from fashion's golden years of the 40s and 50s, when bows, while not ubiquitous, where plentiful and pretty though admittedly not dwarfing anyone's rear end or shoulders in a stiff imitation of a sequined butterfly's dying spasms.

It behooves us to recall that bows, used and placed properly, can add real personality and sweetness to a lady's outfit, putrid bridesmaid's dresses aside. Take this denim skirt from Cecilia Jane. Check out that fabulous bow! Isn't it lovely? With its high waist, this skirt really reminds me of the styles of the 30s, 40s, and 50s. You'll need a simple top to go with it, but that shouldn't be too hard to find in your closet.

A high-waisted skirt like this one is not only chic and pretty, it's quite figure flattering. Take another look - hourglass figure, anyone? Our grandmothers and great-grandmothers were on to something! Pair this cotton-Spandex skirt with a cute top and pretty pumps or espadrilles and you're good to go nearly anywhere you want - and the possibilities for mixing are just about endless. What about red mules or flats and a white top like the one shown for Independence Day? (Don't forget that skin-protecting hat if you'll be out in the sun all day.) Or a lace-trimmed top in gold with espadrilles or strappy sandals for a night out?

This $60 skirt is just beautiful and timeless. It might require a little courage to wear at first, but I can almost guarantee that once you see what great things it does for your figure and your mood you'll love it. The length is modest yet still comfortable without being creepy (you know of what I speak). Designed and handmade by Simonair, who hails from St. Thomas Virgin Islands, this is a gorgeous and fun skirt that could very well become a go-to piece in your wardrobe. It comes in sizes small to large, and while there's nothing about larger or smaller sizes, I'm sure an email to Simonair won't hurt. Her shop has other skirts available, as well as some really cute bags, tops, and tees.

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Rich Like Butterscotch

When we went on our wedding anniversary trip to Kentucky, we stopped in at a charming antique pharmacy turned ice cream and fudge shoppe, The Kentucky Fudge Company. While there purchasing some souvenir fudge, we couldn't resist ordering what turned out to be a delicous banana split, made of ice cream from my hometown no less!

Excitingly for me, the shop offered real butterscotch topping. Butterscotch topping is one of my faves when it comes to ice cream, and it was delicious. So rich and tasty...mmmm....

*shakes out of reverie*

Suffice to say I really like butterscotch. Not as a caramel, really, or a candy, but the warm, gooey stuff spilling gloriously down the sides of some tasty ice cream. Yum.

So when I saw this butterscotch candy necklace made of vintage butterscotch-coloured candy beads I couldn't resist. The bronze chain is a vintage repro, and the golden clasp is the Chinese symbol for happiness. From Over the Top, the heavy vintage beads are separated by Swarovski crystal beads in two shades of topaz, amethyst, and orange. While she's not sure what the heavy beads are made from, I agree that it could be Bakelite or lucite beads, both fab vintage treats.

I really like the warm, smooth richness of these beads. It just looks so luxurious, doesn't it?

This is a one of a kind necklace, handmade by the artist, ships in a gift box ready for gift-giving to someone else or just nicely wrapped as a treat for yourself. It's only $30, and the warm colour of the beads should go with much of your summer and fall wardrobe, and they tend to mix nicely with jewel tones as well.

Have a great night!


Fun Friday: Just Horsin' Around
All right. Y'all know I just love horses. It's one of those supposed little-girl things many of us just never outgrow, and there's nothing wrong with that. Somehow, though, the equine sports have fallen out of favour in our day and age (and we're worse off for it, if you ask me), and it can be difficult to find a fun and fashionable way to show that love for the horse.

But not anymore, dear ones! No, thanks to Blackbird Fashion, we can now share our love of the equine with the whole world by wearing one of these fun denim skirts with a bright, cheerful red horse applique. Hurrah!

This knee-length skirt is an A-line, a nearly universally flattering cut, and zips up the back. Since it's in denim, it'll look at home with a tee (oh, imagine the Independence Day possibilities!) or a silk cami, or a sweater in the cool months. Pair it with wedges, boots, mules, or just go barefoot (in appropriate places only, please). I just love this skirt! Even better, it comes in sizes from extra small (27" waist, 34" hip) to 2x (42" waist, 50" hips), so it's almost guaranteed it'll be available in your size. It makes me so happy when indie designers remember the need for larger sizes these days.

The horsey applique - the reason for all this excitement - is red felt, and he looks to be a fine-headed animal, if you ask me. The skirt is $45 and made with love by the hands of Californian Clarity Miller. She offers pirate- and flower-appliqued skirts, as well as hand-appliqued hoodies and tees (check out this adorable whale tee for only $22 - darling or what?).

Clarity's site is wonderful, and her products are adorable and fun - just what we need on a Friday, right? She's got great products and an obvious sense of humor, and I think you'll really enjoy her things - I've yet to ogle at her home decor section, but can't wait. I think you'll really like her store very much.

We're going house-hunting again tomorrow, as in "second walk-throughs of two houses we've seen before and liked". We just learned that one has had major flooding, so I'm thinking it might be out of the running, but we both really liked the second home quite a bit (hint: kitchen to kill for). (No, not literally!)

I hope you all have wonderful weather and a fabulous weekend!

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It's A Bonanza!
Well, I am just so excited about some of the lovely goodies from Wildewear, I'm going to show you several! A big complaint I hear often is that it's just so difficult to find pretty, attractive clothing that's modest as well. So when I find someone providing said hard-to-find items, I like to - well, go a little crazy.

I really like the Summer Swing dress. The colours are perfect and mixed so prettily, the wrap style is universally flattering, and the black exposed seams add style and a really nice finishing touch. This particular dress is a small to medium (4-6), but as long as Wildewear's fabric stash for this one lasts, other sizes are available as well. It's cotton poly stretch, so it'll be comfy for summer wear, and I'd say it's probably suitable for most offices and is definitely cute and ladylike enough for church, and just about anything else you'd like to do this summer. It's $57 and hits just above the knee (maybe a little lower than that, based on the pictures).

Here tonight you see the Very Veronica dress/skirt. Now, I'm not really a *huge* fan of strapless items, because as we all know, they're a real, real pain to keep up in place where they belong. And if you can't keep the top where it belongs, very bad things can result. Still, this dress is too pretty not to feature, and since it's made of stretch cotton lycra, it can be worn as a skirt, too, after you fold or scrunch down the top. Versatility is a fine thing.

Of course, to help with the potential falling-down/creeping-down issues, you can always wear a chocolate cami beneath, or a sweater over the top of this dress. Unfortunately, it's hot out, and who wants to wear a sweater? There's fashion tape, of course, and if you're really concerned, perhaps sew on some chocolate straps or straps in the pretty green used to vine about the skirt (methinks chocolate would be best, though). The pretty, whimsical flower looks to be dancing on the skirt and is perfect for summer. Match this up with some beautiful turquoise or green jewelry and you're good to go! There are 3 of these in the Wildewear shop at $55 each; they all appear to be small to medium, but it can't hurt to email and ask about a different size if you think it's necessary.

There's also this lovely and prettily colourful Peaceful Penny dress, sizes 4-6 for $57. While this exact fabric layout isn't available anymore, it'll be close, and Wildewear will send you pictures of the new layout in a jiffy should you email and ask. The cotton poly stretch is a mix of black, white, and a green that pairs really nicely with the red-and-pink flower print. It hits just above the knee and has the slightest of cap sleeves with a nice V-neck.

How about this sweet Zen Mate Top? In pink and chocolate - still a pretty popular colour combo - it's a square neckline tank that's pretty enough for just about anything but still comfy and chic in a stretch poly lycra.
The waist detail is particularly attractive and very flattering. It's $40 and comes in size small to medium.

Everything from Wildewear is handmade. There are many other cute tops, skirts, and dresses at the shop, and everything has such a lovely, flowing look - be sure to check it out!

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Lovely Leaves

I'm feeling quite affectionately toward the fantabulous print on this Kayla bag from Zakiyaa. Whimsical white and brown dotty leaves dance across a mouthwatering shade of teal, and the bag is lined with a chocolate brown cotton with snappy white topstitching. (Snappy. Such a fun word, isn't it?) The bag shuts securely with a snap so all of your things are kept inside, safe and sound.

This handmade, $45 bag is not only so pretty it almost makes you want to take a test nibble, it's a really good-sized bag: 15" wide, 10" tall, with a really wide bottom so it sits nicely (take a look at the picture of the bag actually being carried for a better idea of its "real life size"). There's a pocket inside for small things like lip balms and cellphones. It's well-constructed, too, having been doubled with a sturdy canvas - not only will this bag last, it will hold its shape too.

This bag is pretty and feminine with a really modern shape, so you won't feel like you're schlepping even if it is holding not just your wallet, keys, and regular purse accoutrements, but when it's packed with a book, water bottle, sunblock, kid's toys, or whatever gets tossed inside. The artist says she would only make a bag she herself would be proud to carry around, and that's obvious because this one is so cute and chic. I really, really like Zakiyya's eye for style; the rest of her bags are equally lovely and modern, but they all have that aura of classic style about them as well.

Zakiyya, who hails from Pennsylvania, does custom work as well - but she is so good there is a waiting list! Still, I read several glowing reviews of her work in her profile and feedback, so if you have some pretty fabric you're not sure what to do with or a vintage piece you can't wear but hang onto for sentimental value, why not give her a try?

As I noted, all of her work is fun and looks to be beautifully done. Enjoy your browsing and have a great night.

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It's The Eye of The Tiger...

Just an FYI, rumor has it (actually, I heard it from Cat of Artsy) that Etsy is having some major functionality issues. Until they seem to be straightened out I'll try to focus on non-Etsy artists and treats for you. Oh, darn. ;)

Tonight I scoped out this exotic No Weak Link bracelet from Dallas creator and artist Julie Garland. The bracelet alternates between hammered sterling silver links and delectable, caramel-like tiger eye nuggets. The clasp is a prettily variegated sterling toggle, and the $42 handmade bracelet is 7.5 inches long.

I've always liked tiger's eye for its unique look and the variety of colours it comes in (also, I'm a big fan of tigers, so what, exactly, does this stone lack?). It's actually a form of quartz, and has a really silky look due to the way the light reflects off the fibrous bands that make up the stone. It's also a stone to which cameras do little justice, but in person it's a stunning, rich gem; the bands of chocolate, gold, copper, and blacks that make it up are a joy to behold. For the most part, the glasslike gem is mined in South Africa, China and Western Australia

Some suggest that it's good for your physical and spiritual health to wear tiger's eyes, probably stemming from the fact that it's quartz. Ancient Egyptians trusted the tiger eye to bring them good fortune and protect them, and may have looked at it as a representative of the sun (which they worshipped as their god). It showed up in the West in the late 19th century, and has been a classic ever since.

Yes, it's reminiscent of wood. I can't help it! Actually, I'm starting to think it's a problem....

Now, in addition to this bracelet, Julie sells earrings (check out theses and these cuties), necklaces, and of course other bracelets (I just really, really like this $38, many-coloured jasper bracelet, and not a wood-look stone on the whole thing, so there). It was quite difficult to choose just one thing!

Julie uses nearly all natural stones and has a really great eye for style and how to put things together. She used to work for a chain of top-notch jewelry stores, though, so it shouldn't be a surprise - talk about a pro, right? Her experience shows; everything is very elegant and stylish but not without personality and some pieces are definitely fun. Most pieces can actually be customized to your liking, and Julie is happy to send along larger pictures if you want a better view of the jewels. She sends your new jewelry in an organza gift bag to keep the gemstones safe and sound (and well-prepared for gift giving too).

Be sure to check out her sale goodies - there is some fabulous stuff there, and it's never too early to start Christmas shopping, you know.

It's been storming madly here tonight, so be careful wherever you are! I'm still waiting for Remington to venture back out here where the thunder might catch him. ;)


It's Okay, Be A Yo-Yo

We spent the majority of our weekend house-shopping, which is both fun and exhausting. I must say, someone like Holly from decor8 would be beyond horrified (as I was) at the decorating - well, lack thereof - in many of these homes. I haven't seen this much dark wood paneling and bad laminate cabinets since Napoleon Dynamite. (Of course, wood paneling tends to mean plaster damage, not just a lack of style sense.)

Furthermore, if you want to know where all of the ugly silk flowers in the world are going...I think this region is the universe's black hole for lilac, pink, and purple silk flowers. To say the least. Wow. I could start a business doing my own "Designed To Sell" - or at least, "Please Move This Horrible Stuff Out of Your House Because I Can't See The Floor and No One in the WORLD Will Buy This House As Long As The Sink Is Still Harvest Gold And You Have Stained Shag Carpeting In the Dining Room".

(We have seen one sweet Cape Cod bungalow - I adore bungalows, especially Craftsman and prairie style - with the most fabulous, swank 50s bathroom you've ever seen. Picture doesn't begin to do justice to its cuteness. It's almost entirely original, in pale aqua tile with black tile accents. It is DARLING. But obviously, I love retro.)

At any rate, I desperately need to Listerine my eyeballs and brain after some of that, er, excitement, and thought these darling yo-yo brooches from Boqinana are a good way to start, don't you? Handmade with darling print cotton, felt, and topped off with a vintage button, each $5 pin (yup, just $5 for this handmade goodness) is a fabric confection suitable for your jackets, sweaters, handbag, maybe even that laptop case or a cloth headband. I can even see them decking out the hem of a swishy skirt...oh, the cute! At this price, you can buy a handful for yourself or friends, and it's a great way to freshen up your summer wardrobe. The chic colours are bright, cheery, and will really pop.

These little yo-yos have taken the indie craft world by storm, showing up as they are as pins, hair accessories, and even making up entire handbags. That means Madison Avenue will pick up on them in a month or so, but why not be ahead of the game?

Featured here are some of my favourites - the somewhat patriotically coloured No. 14, plum-and-teal No. 13, featuring Japanese windmill cotton, and No. 17, which has a fabulous button and is the sunniest green - if there is such a thing - I've seen in a long time. They all have a brooch pin sewn securely to the back and are 2.7" across - just the right splash of style and colour for anything hanging about in your wardrobe.

Boqinana has quite a fun selection of accessories, from handbags to cushion covers and scarves, as well as some fun and funky felt brooches and cloth-covered button hair ties. Her sense of whimsy is terrific, and I think you'll have as much fun looking at her great things as I did!

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Fun Friday: Waiting For Guffman? Or Just Like Pennies?

Fans of Christopher Guest's cheeky and very funny Waiting For Guffman probably remember the "Penny For Your Thoughts" vignette starring director Guest and actress Parker Posey. Especially the fact that neither actor had a penny at the end of the song, a part in the town's sesquicentennial celebration play "Red, White and Blaine". Very funny stuff. Unsurprisingly (especially since Hubby popped it into the DVD player last weekend), "Guffman" is exactly what I thought of when I saw this Penny For Your Thoughts Ring from Nina Gibson Designs.

"Penny For Your Thoughts" is stamped onto a sterling silver band, and the curved copper penny ("A bright/Copper penny...") has been soldered onto the band. You can have either the Lincoln Memorial or Honest Abe himself as the face for your ring (these are shown with the Memorial face-up); Nina has coated the inside of the penny itself with a clear laquer so your skin doesn't react to the copper. Green fingers are only for Halloween...and perhaps not even then.

You can even get a specific year, as long as it's prior to 1982, when the government started using zinc-coated copper for the pennies - they don't stand the heat as well as real copper pennies. Each $32 ring is handmade, and definitely a fun conversation piece!

Nina's shop offers some really lovely and fun handmade jewelry, as well as whimsical little treats like nickel garden markers.

Have a great weekend!

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Two Tees For You

Aren't these pretty tees? Both are from Raleigh, North Carolina's Ahpeele and just $25 each. They come in sizes from small to extra large and are made of comfy, high-quality cotton.

The yellow blowing tree branch in Miami tee features cap sleeves and inside-out seams and unfinished edges - definitely a relaxed, casual look perfect for summer. The red and pink leaves and branches are a nice compliment to the yellow, aren't they? This is one of those things that makes me a little bummed about not being able to wear yellow without looking as if I'm suffering from jaundice or malaria.

With the same design on front but in a differently styled and coloured tee is the blowing tree branch sailing on the ocean tee (this one also comes in XXL). The scoop neck looks a little more comfy and leaves room for a longer necklace if you like (just don't forget the sunblock!), and the turquoise colour of the tee is almost universally flattering. With the finished seams and collar finish, this is a little more structured but no less casual.

Ahpeele offers a quantity discount on shipping and orders (the store homepage says, "I can give you a really good deal" if you order 3 or more items), and sell longsleeved, shortsleeved, and sleeveless tops, all with beautiful artwork printed on them - koi, dragons, cherry blossoms, and Asian-inspired designs that are really exquisite. Shirts are offered for both ladies and gents, so enjoy your shopping. :)


Circular Reasoning

Well, y'all know how much I like simple, elegant things, and these Pure and Simple earrings from Starry Designs fit the bill wonderfully, don't they? A freshwater coin pearl (probably one of my favourite kinds of pearl - the feel of them is so interesting) shines below a handformed, hand-hammered sterling silver hoop. These lovely earrings hang from your eyes via a french hook.

At $16.90, these are a real deal - and because they're so uncomplicated and effortlessly stylish, they're ideal if you're looking to just own a few pieces of jewelry that can do anything, although of course they're great if you get a kick out of collecting jewelry, right? They can go from office to dinner or party with ease; they're pretty but not ostentatious and so suitable for everything from church to weddings.

Also, freshwater pearls are the official birthstone for June. What more reason do you need?

Of course, as you probably know, pearls have been around as jewelry for ages, and some legends hinted that perhaps pearls were the tears of the gods. Chinese myths held that pearls fell from the sky when dragons fought; some think pearls posess the powers to protect, especially children, and that the gems can endow wisdom upon their wearer. Pearls were beloved by ">Queen Elizabeth I - as well as her rival Mary, Queen of Scots. They're the only gem created by a living creature, and while the process certainly began by accident when a piece of sand or stone got caught inside a mollusk's shell, nowadays there are plenty of cultured pearls on the market as well. Pearls are grown and harvested worldwide (including from Scotland, Ireland, France, Austria, and the Mississippi River) and can vary greatly in colour - from the classic creamy white to copper tones and black.

While beautiful, they're also a bit more fragile than other gems. They dissolve in vinegar and are very, very sensitive to extreme heat, dryness, and humidity, and in fact should be worn regularly to help them maintain their lustre.

Adored by Cleopatra, Isabella Queen of Spain, Marie Antoinette, and of course Liz Taylor, pearls are a classic and perfect jewelry. It's really no wonder that they're so popular - they are flattering to everyone, go with everything, and instantly speak of culture and refinement. Thousands of years after the first woman placed a string of them around her neck and Queen Elizabeth studded her fantastic gowns with them, they still fascinate.

These earrings, as well as some other really lovely pearl jewelry, available from Starry Designs. Be sure to check out her cute peas in a pod pendants, too.


The Stuff of Legend

Isn't this gorgeous stretchy desert jasper bracelet stunning? Talk about the best of both worlds (okay, for me definitely, but I hope for some of you as well) - natural stone that looks like wood. I think I'm in Heaven. Goodness, God makes some of the coolest stuff, doesn't He? Literally something for everybody.

Jasper is a stone appreciated by mankind since nearly the beginning of time. We find mentions of it in Hebrew, Assyrian, Persian, Roman, Greek, and Latin literature. Used for interior decoration, bowls, spear and arrow heads, and of course jewelry, jasper has some interesting folklore surrounding it: in the fourth century, it was thought to bring rain. Poppy jasper is supposed to bring joy into one's life while opalite is thought to encourage sleep. Other legends suggested that the stone would drive away evil spirits and protect the wearer against snake and spider bites!

The name "jasper" means "spotted stone" and comes in many beautiful varieties and colours (always opaque, though), and is found all over the globe. You can find jasper in purple, red, brown, pink, green (particularly prized), yellow, blue, and even something interesting called "picture jasper", petrified or silicated mud that's been dropped or fallen into the gas pockets formed by molten lava; the superheating interesting and often landscape-like designs into the stone. It's an impure form of quartz, but I love the rich tones and colours of jasper.

This bracelet is made of polished desert jasper, which is such a beautiful summer stone and perfect for wearing as the weather warms up. It fits up to an 8" wrist - and it's only $5.75! There are several similar bracelets on sale in the Mia Bella shop, including a yummy-coloured Rhodonite bracelet for the same ridiculously good price. The bracelets are so classically stylish, and all of her designs are really beautiful (her earrings are especially nice) and well-done. The work looks to be top-notch, and I think any of her things would make great gifts...or treats.

Let's just say this: The temptations are many. And great.

In addition to beautiful bracelets, earrings, and necklaces, all made of gorgeous natural stones, Mia Bella Collection also offers pendants and focal beads, beading supplies, and all sorts of stones for you to use in your own projects...great, more temptation. Still, no matter if you are buying jewelry for yourself or as a gift or beads to make your own creations with, I think you'll enjoy looking at all of the beautiful things in Beth's shop, if only for the sheer variety of beauty.


Not So Buttoned-Up Hair Treats

Both of today's goodies are from Coo-Koo-Ri-Koo, and because of the adorableness of hair accessories, rings, and handbags, it was really difficult to choose! The first feature is the good day sunshine barrette, featuring both new and vintage buttons on a nickel barrette in a variety of cheerful (but coordinating, of course) yellows.

I'm also fond of the ocean city girl bobby pins - the green and teal flowery buttons are fixed onto nickel-plated bobbies and perfect for forcing rebellious hairs or bangs into obedience with a little style subtly hiding your cold determination to look good even if the air is humid and flyaways rampant.

There are far too many in my circle of friends and crafty acquaintances who really, really, really like buttons, and it is difficult to resist the perfectly molded cuteness in such a parade of colours, isn't it? Coo-Koo-Ri-Koo (and how fun is that name?) has a lot of these pretty hair duds as well as some really darling clutches, bags, totes, and of course button rings for your enjoyment. The barrette is just $7, and the pair of bobby pins is only $6; not only are these a fun treat for yourself, but they make great gifts too, I think. The bobbies would probably look cute pinned over a buttonhole, too (imagine that!) or tucked into a french twist for extra flair.

I hope everyone had a great weekend!


Fun Friday: Keeping Your Books Close

Isn't this interesting? Called a "booklace" by North Carolinan artist Phyllis. It's a wearable miniature hardbound book, one-of-a-kind, with a handwritten message inside. This particular book has pretty green jewels and a gold piece set onto pretty green and white papers. There's a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote inside in the same cheerful shades of green as the book's covers. I'd never seen anything like this and thought it was perfect for a Fun Friday.

The book pendant is accordion folded and slides into a brass frame; the entire thing measures 1-1/8x1-1/2 and is a quarter-inch deep, all hanging off a cord of mercerized cotton, all for $20. It's a really interesting little treat, one of many available from Quill Chick. Phyllis was actually calligrapher to the Governor's Office of North Carolina (and here I didn't even know there was such a fabulous gig out there!) and took up bookbinding as a natural extension of her affection for paper. She will do custom orders as well, and as an artist is happy to work with you and offer different creative ideas if you feel stumped, so she might be a good one to keep in mind for gift-giving, don't you think?

Have a great weekend!

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Eternally Pretty Poppy

It was difficult to contain my squeal of delight when I spotted this adorable and oh-so-summery poppy ring from Bellaceti. Isn't it wonderful? I love the bright colours and simplicity of this sweet ring, and would probably spend half my day secretly smiling at it were it on my finger.

The poppy is California's state flower and a favourite of many because of its cheerful, delightful appearance. Red ones, in particular, often elicit memory of Canadian soldier John McCrae's poem "In Flander's Fields", inspired by the death of a fellow warrior during World War I; poppies have often been associated with sleep and death (remember the sleep-inducing poppy field in Wizard of Oz?). They've been around forever, having been cultivated as far back as 5,000 BC in Mesopotamia (with the ancient Sumerians), and will grow just about anywhere - lucky us, right? They're also quite prevalent in Greek litearture, with Hypnos (god of sleep), Nyx (goddess of the night), and Thanatos (the god of death) portrayed as either bearing or wreathed in the blooms.

This ever-blooming poppy is made of a pressed glass orange flower and rests atop green seed beads strung on nylon monofilament in circles, also reminiscent of poppies. It's...poppy perfection! The ring is just $12 and has a slightly stretchy fit and will thus fit sizes 5-7, although a larger or smaller size can be purchased via a quick email to Bellaceti. There's oodles of really pretty and really fun jewelry there, so be sure to check it out. And don't forget to check out racehorse retirement home Old Friends on CBS tonight (I posted about the segment last night).


Pretty Fun Summer Bags
Before I get to the cute of the night, I simply have to tell you that a charity of which I'm a big fan, Old Friends (a Thoroughbred rescue), will be featured on CBS Evening News tomorrow (Thursday) evening. I know, I know, it's Katie Couric's show, but she isn't doing the feature, Richard Schlesinger is. It should be fun to watch; Schlesinger spent "several hours" with the farm's 23 adopted retired racehorses, including Sunshine Forever, Swan's Way, Special Ring, and Special Deelites, who played Seabiscuit in the Seabiscuit movie.

Hubby and I visited Old Friends on our trip to Lexington in April, and I got tons of fantabulous shots (none of which I've uploaded yet, but that is beside the point and they're worth the wait, believe you me - I'm really happy with them). The volunteers - it's a completely volunteer-run and funded organization - are wonderful people and the horses are pretty happy for animals who were rescued from near-certain death. I am extremely cautious about the charities I support and give props to, but this is one that's completely safe.

(And they will probably never complain should they receive a box full of peppermints in the mail, either.)

Now for the cute, and as you can see, it's extra-fun and thus perfect for summer (because we all know we lack the energy for 'extra fun' in winter, right?). Once again I couldn't settle on just one bag, so I chose my two favourites for you. The first is the red floral birdie purse. A flower-bedecked bird perches on a red polka-dot grosgrain ribbon against a field of orange-and-white vintage upholstery fabric Janice found at a thrift shop (now, how's that for upcycling?). The bag is lined with the same fabric our pretty little bird is made of. The purse is on sale for $32 and is quite roomy at 11.5" x 10.5" x 3" - and you know what? It's one of a kind! Just like you... *wink wink*

The other purse is this fabulous mod sparrow shoulder bag (yes, another avian friend). It's another good-sized purse, the right size to hold all of your daily needs and maybe even some reading, and displays a white vinyl sparrow appliqued onto turquoise corduroy (it looks to be a summer-friendly light pinwale cord if you're concerned about that sort of thing). There's a really fun mod polkadot print that goes all the way around the purse, forming the base, the sides, and the handle of the bag. It's lined with pale pink polkadotted fabric with a handy pocket inside that matches that fun mod print. There are just two of these left at $42 each - there's none of the fabric left to work with so this is very limited edition.

Both bags are from the wonderful (and wonderfully named) Copacetique, which shuttered its doors earlier this year but just had to come back, and lucky us! In addition to cute bags, they sell jewelry, vintage duds, and even home accessories with which to decorate your nest. Just the name "Copacetique" alone should get you to visit, especially because it's a name I thought would be fun for my own shop until I realized it was already snapped up. But it's all right - this shop has earned it!

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More Hana Tsumami

I'm so excited about tonight's little goodie because it truly is a very beautiful piece of wearable art. Really, that's one of the things I most enjoy about this blog, because "wearable art" is the best way to define a lot of the things I feature here, particularly when it comes to the jewelry and accessories like this one.

You're gazing at a lovely hana tsumami hair comb featuring three lovely cherry blossoms made of habutae woven silk. Habutae is smooth, soft, and shiny, and is traditionally used as kimono lining in Japan as well as for hair treats like this and kanzashi. Tsumami is the art of pinching silk in order to create a thee-dimensional object; maru-tsumami is round-pinching and ken-tsumami is sword-pinching. In this comb, the artist has made the blossoms with maru-tsumami and the petals with ken-tsumami.

According to Atelier Kanawa,

Since the middle of Edo period(1603-1867), this handcraft technique has been traditionally utilized by maidservants in the imperial court as their hobby. Eventually, this beautiful technique was recognized by the Japanese society, then it began to be used to produce KANZASHI hairpins, sticks, combs and so on. . .

Today, not only MAIKO wear them, but they are worn by Japanese women for new year celebration, celebration for children called "shichi go san", a coming-of-age ceremony, wedding, and those people who perform traditional Japanese dance.

TSUMAMI KANZASHI are made to show the beauty of four seasons. For example, MAIKO wear plum flower in February, cherry blossom in April, and chrysanthemum in October.

Apparently - this is something I didn't know - there are only 15 acknowledged tsumami kanzashi artists worldwide, and it's a piece of Japanese heritage that could easily be lost - wouldn't that be a shame? There are few who can or will take on the continuance of this unique and singularly beautiful art form, so Atelier Kanawa is planning to take a class from one of these amazing artisans this year! Obviously, that means your purchase of her artwork will go toward her being able to do this, not only so Atelier Kanawa can take the class but also pass this art form on to future generations.

In addition to the blossoms themselves, this $35 comb also has detachable hanging petals. The detachable petals fasten onto the comb via a circular spring ring (like the ones you'll find on many necklaces and bracelets) so you can place the petals wherever you like or just wear the comb by itself. There are two teeny, tiny bells in the petals that create a really sweet, lovely, quiet sound as you move about, something I'm pretty sure is a traditional touch as well. This is a perfect touch for your next celebration or as a gift to a bride-to-be, or maybe to someone who is going through a lot right now and would be really blessed and encouraged by such a beautiful gift.

Everything from Atelier Kanawa is shipped secured in bubble wrap in a box, and free gift-wrap is available. You'll also find fused glass and Japanese paper pendants as well as hairpins, combs, and handbags made from kimono fabric at her store. All of the things you'll find at Atelier Kanawa are beautiful and stylish, and items you'll probably treasure forever or be thrilled to give as a gift (for instance, check out this amazing bamboo basket purse crowned with vintage kimono fabric - wow!). Definitely one to watch!

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Two-For-One Monday!
Wow. I had such fun browsing through Cherry Pie Vintage I couldn't just pick one treat for you, so there are two (and it was difficult to narrow it down to that, let me assure you). A skirt and a dress, and with the tops I've featured you should have no problem topping off the skirt by hitting a few of those stores, right?

First up is that delicious orange Tequila Sunrise Skirt. I am really a big fan of orange this year - as are many - but being a blonde, wearing it near my fair skin is a big no-no unless I want people to ask if I'm feeling all right before offering me some Pepto. Fortunately, there seems to be no shortage of citrus-coloured skirts out there, and this is my favourite. For a mere $27 (I know!), you can be wearing this cheerful, bright skirt featuring orange, pink, and red paisley framed by what she describes as a 'tomato red' band at the waist and hem. Each red strip is bedecked with a 'sunrise' applique with golden yellow topstitching. Pretty, isn't it? The colours you can add on top are pretty wide - red or orange of course, but white, pink, yellow, black (if you're really stumped), and maybe a warm khaki-coloured top (maybe, you'd have to see it in person).

This skirt fits a waist up to 31 inches, and again, is only $27. Not bad for a handmade skirt, right?

The other fabulous goodie I have for you today is this darling poppy halter dress. I love the summery combination of blues, reds, and greens on a white field, and the white piping accents at the waist are a perfect finishing touch. The neck has an adjustable button closure and invisible zip up the back, and the bodice is lined in white cotton. It's a darling dress and I just imagine one would feel quite happy while wearing it. The measurements are 36-39 bust, 32-34 ribcage and 30-32 waist. It's easily topped with a sweater or wrap for modesty in church (some do frown on bare shoulders) or when it's cool, but obviously looks terrific on its own. This $50 cutie has a wonderful retro feel to it, but is of a design that will always be fresh and modern.

Cherry Pie Vintage has several dresses and skirts, as well as super-cute (and very chic) retro-style aprons to wear at your next dinner party. She has a lot of cute things I think you'll like looking at, and they're a great, inexpensive way to add a few really cute items for the summer to your closet.

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Fun Friday: Mixing It Up

Once again I've found a treat that really is just the definition of 'fun', and it's pretty to boot. I love it when I manage to find stuff like this...Can't you just see yourself cheerfully wearing this limited edition half 'n half skirt to the office this summer, or a picnic or barbeque? Honestly, I think wearing it to the office would be most fun due to the reactions of one's coworkers; I can see the confused faces now (and hear the "Wow, that is such a cute skirt! Oh my goodness!" remarks after people realize what you're up to). A Vera 'calico plaid' print is separated from a jumbo gingham by a cute ric-rack trim in a summery shade of olive. Really, I just can't look at this cute treat from Made With Love By Hannah without hearing "SUMMER!" joyfully jump-roping through my brain, can you?

The $52 skirt is completely handmade, and yes, it's made with love. Best of all, it's available in sizes from extra small to 3X-large - in other words, for waists from 25 to 39 inches.

Hannah, if you'll recall, is the creator of the famous and squeal-worthy apple-picking skirt from...last spring? Last summer? I don't recall, but it's still darned cute itself. It almost dares you to look at it and not like it, it's so cute.

Anyhow, this darling half 'n half skirt is so much fun and really adorable and creative, and also dares you not to like its charm and whimsical sweetness. In addition to this, Hannah has oodles of fabulous, chic clothing - and she's on a real European folklorish kick this year and it is fun beyond words. Her new stuff is a lot of fun to look at, but that's never a surprise...she really needs to start a 'wish list' function for shoppers. Have a great time spinning around her shop, and don't forget to check out the great goodies from her grandmother, too - like this fabulous wedding/wedding shower gift idea.

Enjoy your weekend!