Lava Love Indeed

Mmmmm, turquoise and black. A classic (yet still decidedly retro) combination that has probably been popular with humans since the dawn of time. Sleek, chic, and purely beautiful, the two colours go so wonderfully together...there is a reason some classics are...well, classics.

Such is the case with this lovely lava love necklace from Wisconsin's Cari's Designs. Flat, round coinlike turquoise beads frame a large square of real lava. Talk about a conversation piece...how often does one get to wear something like this, a piece of jewelry whose focal point is a chunk of something that used to be ridiculously hot? The lava piece could be worn dead center or off to either side, whatever you like most, but no matter how you wear it, you are sure to enjoy doing so. Handmade with love and featuring sterling silver clasp, an extendable chain, and pretty silver seed beads between the natural stones, this $39 necklace adjusts from 16" to 18". One thing about turquoise is that (well, for me at least) it seems to match so many different things. I suppose this has a lot to do with one's wardrobe, of course, so that might just be my own experience, too...

You'll find a lot of natural stone pieces at Cari's Designs, featured in earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and other goodies. From brightly cheerful to sedately elegant, there's a lot to choose from and browse through!

No Two of a Feather Here!

This is almost, almost a Fun Friday thing, but not quite - plus it's the only one available, so I figured I'd better post it now before it disappears. Handmade by Alice of Futuregirl (from whom I purchased the fun octopus stuffie pattern to use in the creation of Stevie Y, who will possibly soon be showing you around our new house), this $40 cotton crocheted handbag features a pretty little acrylic felt bird (with bead eyes) sitting in his cage, peeking out at you and passers-by. At 8" x 9" x 6.5" tall and 3" wide, this purse is big enough for your necessities but not so cumbersome it'll be smacking into people at the store or office (we all know that handbag, yes, we do). Alice has lined the bag with reinforced cotton, and the top of the lining is actually lightly boned so the bag will hold its shape in just about any circumstance or packing level. There are two pockets inside the purse - one big enough for your phone, compact, lipstick, or all three and a smaller one for little things you need to keep track of. An open-ring snap in the center of the bag secures all of your goodies inside.

It's summery, it's cute, it's got just the right amount of personality, and it's indie handmade wonderfulness. What more could you ask for?

Again, it's the only one available, so if you like it or are thinking, "Hey, my sister would love this for her birthday...", snap it up!

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Hey, look, we're homeowners!
Okay, we aren't in the picture (that'll have to wait until a set of parents shows up to hold the camera), but here's our house! We're so excited and so blessed...

Our New House!

I just love bungalows. This isn't a Craftsman, my very favourite kind, but that's okay. ;) It's cute anyhow and we're really excited. :) We were mostly just looking at older homes - from the 1930s to the mid-50s - because of the charm and personality they have. This is a 1951 Cape Cod, so it's a "young" a doll of a home (especially the coved doorways in the foyer, kitchen, and living room). Cute and friendly-looking, don't you think? I can't wait to put in a pretty little fruit tree out front. Also, we're so happy to have a front porch; to us, it's a must-have.

Now, a little is landscaping necessary, as it was a bachelor living here, after all, and they tend to not be big on flowers. A flag I've had for a few years will be hanging on the porch, and of course the door needs to be painted red. (Of course!) Although I am increasingly being tempted by the idea of a lime door.

I'm not sure what we'll do with the garage door at this point...I was joking that we should paint it red with a big Red Wings logo on it, but of course I'd never actually do that. This site has some nice-looking doors, and actually, Sears' selection isn't horrible either. Kind of surprising.

Some window boxes - just the front windows, not the two side windows into the living room (such a cool feature, tons of natural light) - would be really cute as well. I have to thank Candace for reminding me of this possibility.

Thankfully, the interior? All brand new. As in brand-spanking new, because the former owner planned on being here forever when he bought the house about roughly ten years ago - until he got engaged and the new couple decided to move in to in a different home, hence they're selling their present homes. New roof, new kitchen, new A/C (oh, thankfully...)...what a blessing!

Oh - see that gorgeous oak tree in the backyard? Ours! Hurrah!

Get a load of the bathroom:

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Original tile from 1951. I'm pretty sure it's the most fabulous bathroom ever. That picture is what got me to even look at the house in the first place, since there were no exterior shots. It's just darling, don't you think?

I'll definitely be asking for colour suggestions regarding towels and such. Right now our bathroom is a cool-toned sage-y green, but sadly, the towels (a wedding shower gift) lost their dye amazingly fast, leaving them all very splotchy and quite bad-looking. We'll need at least a handful of pretty ones just to look at (we can still use the splotchy ones). I'm not sure I'll be able to find towels that match that shade of aqua-turquoise, and black seems a bit too masculine for me...though i suppose I could add an embroidered aqua-turquoise band of cloth to the towels. Still...too masculine. This is going to take some thought. I've condsidered carefully painting the black tiles a very deep chocolate, but...we shall see. I'm loathe to mess with something so classic. Feel free to share your thoughts!

Okay, here's the kitchen - finally, enough room to really work. Every good cook should have more than 2 square feet of counterspace with which to work.

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Not necessarily our style, but quite lovely and workable as-is just the same. It won't stay that way for terribly long, though, because we'll be hauling out the laquer paint and glass tiles to recreate something like this, which I saw at decor8:


Definitely not for the colour-impaired, but I think it's fabulous and even Hubby didn't shirk away in fear. Kitchens ought to be cheery with just a hint of playfulness to them...We won't be smashing anything apart, just painting and adding tile, lighting, new countertop (the one shown is lava stone). Someday; the kitchen isn't "perfect" to my tastes, but I can paint the walls a different colour and live with it for a while.

Do pardon my poor cropping here, but I am glad I was a little lazy and forgot to cancel my subscription to ELLE Decor as soon as I'd planned (it's been lamentably unlivable and the March issue was my last straw) - because this is the perfect living room! We even have similar furniture in nearly these exact colours.

I can paint the walls (painting, to me, is great fun) and then make the curtains. It should be lovely. The colours are cheerful but peaceful. Perhaps in the winter I can switch the curtains out to some with pretty jewel tones to coordinate with the furniture - a bright coral or red might be nice to perk things up during the dreary months.

First things that need to be done? We have to put an electrical outlet in the bathroom, since the new lighting fixture has covered it up. We'd like to do the upper level first - put up the drywall, paint, and turn it into a master suite. There is wood paneling up there (aaaaagh!) but that won't be too hard to tear down and replace. It's a very large upper story for a bungalow - very large. We also suspect, having seen the pre-photos thanks to the previous owner, that there's hard wood under the (new) carpet and might very well refinish that as well if it's necessary, which it probably is, but don't you think it'll be worth it? That way, too, the main-floor bedrooms will leave us one room for a studio and one room for guests.

Hubby would also like to refinish the wood floors on the main floor; it's covered with a nice, simple carpet right now, but wood is just so beautiful, warm, natural, and doesn't hang onto dust and kitty dander. It's probably a little more economical to clean as well. Again, though, we have plenty of time.

Of course, I've already got a gigantic stack of paint chips. I can't stand white walls, especially after years of apartment life and 5 years working at a major ad agency that seemed to think battleship-grey walls inspired creativity and productivity. It'll be great to have colour again! It should really help me settle down and focus on work...I feel anchorless and a little heartache-y without colour surrounding me. It will be fabulous, fabulous to have colour on my walls at last.

It's such a wonderful thing that the house needs no major work - just our own personal touches. Praise God! He has really blessed us; this gem sat on the market with no visits, even, until we came along. The seller is wonderful, too. God is good. Can't wait 'till we move in...a new, bigger kingdom for Remmy, too. ;)

(Do you know, one of the first people I showed the house to...negative comment was the first thing I got? *sigh*)

So, that is our big news. Time now to start packing some things, though we'll probably hire movers for the big stuff. We may have the keys as soon as this week (we closed Tuesday), which would be fantastic - we can do a lot of the work before even moving in, since we have the lease on our apartment until September 1 (but trust me, we'll be in the house as soon as it's feasible). My dear parents are planning to come out in a few weeks to help with whatever we need help with - Mom is another organizer like me, and my dad is an incredible handyman.

(The only issue is a housewarming. I think the love and laughter of family and friends and joking about minor food mishaps - "Um, who put pepperoni onto this spinach salad?" - make a house a home more than any decorating ever can, but we live a minimum of 5 hours away from fam and friends. Hm.)

It's all very exciting and definitely one of those "suddenly" things. It's getting more exciting now that we've closed, and I may well explode the day we get the keys!


Fun Friday: Burnin' Ring of Fire. On Your Hand.

Well, this is a very festive ring, isn't it? The MIAcrazy Ring is from MIA Design and sold at Junk In Our Trunk is sure to get some really, really amazed looks from folks and possibly even start up some conversations. It will definitely take some boldness to wear, but I think once you put it on and get going you'll be glad you did - it's the defintion of good, clean fun, at least provided you don't stab yourself or someone else with the ring. Made of plastic and glass, there's only one left and it's on sale for $22.50. Sure to add a real spark to your evening, I think it's worth picking up and adding to your collection.

Have a great weekend, everyone! I have some rather exciting news, but will post it tomorrow while I'm watching the Whitney (I'll bet a couple of you can guess what it is...!). ;D

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Perfect Summery Frock

Oh, the perils of using a cellphone camera to take pictures of items meant for eBay - but I'm hoping you'll be able to see past iffy image quality and realize the full summery potential of this beautiful vintage dress, especially since it's in a hard-to-find larger size.

As you can see from the still-attached tag, this is NOS, or "new old stock". In other words, this darling has been languishing in some dark corner or basement, never worn, never loved, never seeing the light of day or flattering some lovely lady with the beautiful cut, sweet colours, pretty print, and snappy neckline piping. No hand ever slid into the pocket to deposit a lipstick, house key, receipt from an ice-cream cone, not even a to-be-prized ticket stub during a much-anticipated date. No one ever wondered what colour shoes to pair this dress with - green? Chocolate? White, or perhaps flesh-tone? (Black would never do.) Never were its skirts spread out on a picnic blanket or church pew, ferris-wheel seat or Grandma's davenport sofa.

What a shame...Although of course all that means nothing has ever been spilled on it, either!

Made of lightweight cotton-rayon and still retaining her original belt, this dress is so pretty and, I assure you, well-cut. The seller (this is an eBay find) says this dress is in perfect condition and the fabric is quite soft. Best of all? It's another plus-size vintage piece - 46-40-50. Priced at just $9.99 right now - the auction ends next Wednesday, August first - this lovely, lovely frock is definitely a major steal. Snap it up now, you're sure to be glad you did!

Really. Buy this dress. Buy it...

Update... Okay, the same seller has many other lovely dresses, including this slipper satin cocktail dress, also starting at $9.99, with measurements of 42-32-44. I can practically see Grace Kelly in a dress like this - in fact, I believe I have. This is a classic cut, ladies. Hie the to eBay if you're hunting for a dress or two, darlings!

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Singularly Wonderful

Well, this has never happened before. Just as I was wrapping up my post about the item, it sold! Fortunately, there is a very similar pair in the shop, so I just have to swap out pictures and verbage. Funny...but a good sign.

Ohhh, how happy I am when something like this just falls into my lap (metaphorically speaking). These exquisite ivory flowerbud earrings are stunners, aren't they? It's the kind of thing anyone would be thrilled to receive as a gift - and honestly, I think giving it would be wonderfully exciting too, because nearly anyone you give them to will love them.

The beautifully, intricately carved ivory pikake flower buds are antique pieces culled from an old jewelry set and given new, contemporary life by Star Willow Studio. The artist has gently cleaned the ivory pieces before adding the rest of the ingredients to the earrings - a vintage cap of brass filigree handwrapped onto brass leverback hooks with a pretty, champagne-coloured glass pearl in between. I must say I wish these had been around for my 30s/40s vintage wedding, because these would be beautiful on a bride - but I guarantee they'll be just as lovely going on a dinner date, as an extra-feminine touch for wearing to the office, or any day you want or need that special final touch to make your day or keep you smiling. Honestly, what's the point of having something so beautiful if one only wears it for "special occasions"? Isn't every day a gift? I say wear them to the grocery store - they're bound to delight someone else, too, right?

These beauties, a mere $24, are available in a different earwire or even a shinier finish (the hooks have been antiqued) if you like. Shipping from Star Willow Studio is free - yes, free! - and Star Willow ships everywhere. Custom orders are welcome, but if you take a look at her shop - something I highly recommend you do - I don't think you'll find such work necessary. This is one exceptional artist, working as she does with vintage beads and other pieces to create some gorgeous, one-of-a-kind things certain to elicit "Ooooos", "Aaaaahs", and subtle hints to family and friends. Enjoy your browsing!


Sky Blue Flowers

Isn't this pendant choker beautiful? Upon first sight, I thought it had to be some beautifully blue stone I'd never heard of before, but as it turns out it's a polymer clay pendant. Amazing colour, don't you think? I'm not sure if the flowers are painted on or actually made of the clay, but considering the versatility of polymer clay, we shouldn't be surprised to find it's the latter. From Ruth Tarragano's One Of A Kind shop on Etsy, this $26 pendant is strung from a leather string via a small ring of turquoise-coloured beads. The effect is very pretty and the palm-like leaves and blossoms on the pendant are delicately lovely. This is elegant enough to top off a dressy outfit but not so much that it will look out of place with a tee or casual cotton sundress.

Ruth is an Israeli artist who has traveled a great deal of Asia and spent quite some time studying various art forms after being brought up in an artistic family - it's so wonderful to hear of families who encourage such gifts, isn't it?

This as well as similar beautiful pieces of jewelry, traditional egg shakers (honestly, you have to take a look at them), home decor items and other trinkets are available from Ruth's shop.

A Jewelry Box on Your Finger

I am so sorry about my absence on Friday - a conglomeration of surprises (and un-surprises, like our picking up the most recent and final Harry Potter book at midnight) just kept me from posting. Tonight's posting will be lamentably (?) short as well, as I'm battling an ear problem with dizziness-inducing antibiotics (my doctor said, "Wow, your eardrums are really beat up", and my theory is it is never good to hear one's doctor say "wow" when they're examining you). My sincere apologies, and I do hope y'all had a terrific weekend. Anyone else finish the final Harry Potter (didn't take me long)? Thoughts welcome - but no spoilers!

Rachel of Hue Consulting tipped me off to today's artist last month, and I'm finally getting around to featuring Hilary Hachey. She's a little pricier than some of the work I've featured but it's so lovely I figure we might as well start our week off with something unique and beautiful.

In her email to me, Rachel mentioned loving a particular line of Hilary's work that incorporated colourful stones. I'm not sure if these rings are part of that line, but they're singular, aren't they? (Item R800 in the "Rings" section of Hilary's online catalog.) The rings themselves are sterling silver, as are the small "boxes" holding your gems - you can choose from coral, turquoise, lapis, onyx, lapidalite jasper, malachite, and red tiger eye. Lovely, aren't they? And definitely different from the usual. The stones appear to be suspended in the box with a bar of sterling silver. Handcrafted by Hilary herself, each sculptural ring is $90. They really do look like little jewel boxes, don't they? The rings are charmingly fun (if you're strange in the head like me) and sophisticated at the same time.

Hilary works from her Baltimore studio. In business since 2000, she's already garnered an impressive amount of recognition and awards from art shows (I find myself wondering if she has been to the Ann Arbor Art Fairs, which we unfortunately missed this weekend). Her online catalog features a wonderful array of bracelets, earrings, necklaces, pins - even some really terrific cufflinks! Her mix of modern and natural is interesting and refreshing, so it's no surprise to me at least that she's such a popular lady. ;)


Ephemeral Architecture

A-line skirts are undeniably one of the finest fashion inventions of all time. Flattering to every figure, they can be fun, sophisticated, ladylike, and are always swirly and pretty. While their hemlines have regrettably gone up in recent years (to the point we really can't call them 'skirts' anymore, though I'm not sure what they are), the traditional A-line hem typically hits just below the knee: long enough to be modest, but never frumpy or dowdy. They are perfect with sandals in summer, boots in winter, and are very easy to wear.

Not surprisingly, it was the great Christian Dior (I love, love, love the New Look) who introduced the A-line in 1956, just a year before his death. Sometimes they have darts, sometimes they don't. They can be embellished with ribbons, rickrack, buttons, even ruffles - or just left alone to their clean lines so you can embellish elsewhere.

Right now, you can get an A-line of your own (or a few) from Swank Creations. The handsewn $55 Flair skirt has an invisible zipper and yes, it still hits just below the knee on most wearers (22 inches from waist to hem). It's offered for waists from 25.5" - 32.5" and you can buy it in a plethora of fabrics - colourful 70s mod flowers, cowgirls, polka dots, little frogs on lilypads, tropics-dwelling parrots, Asian prints, pretty, stylized woodlands and bird prints, even a rickrack print. There are many to choose from, so definitely check out the selection for yourself. For an additional $5, you can add a wide grosgrain ribbon in your choice of colorus to the hem of your skirt for a more finished look.

Artist Rachael also offers a variety of handbags in her shop, all very chic and cute. This woman definitely has an eye for fabric!

And surely, we all owe Mr. Dior much thanks for this simple but wonderful fashion innovation.


Hip To Be Mod

Isn't this mod hair scarf from Bubblegum Designs cute and sunny? In bright shades of turquoise, aqua, and yellow with subtle lime and lilac tones, it's an adorable, chic choice for a day at the beach, zoo, fair, or wherever you need to be. Use it to bedeck a ponytail or pull those sometimes-annoying wispy front locks that can stick to your face (or in that sunblock) on a breezy or muggy day. If your mane is good to go without it, why not use it as a belt or loosely tied neck scarf (during winter's dreary months, I'll bet this would look darling tucked into a V-neck sweater, don't you think?).

This scarf is 42" long, so I'm sure you can think of myraid other uses for its cheerful face. Best of all, it's a mere $6! Another well-priced reward for yourself or gift for a friend, or maybe to tuck into your "emergency gift stash" (no way am I the only one who has one of those). 'Tis never too early to start shopping for Christmas, and this would be a great stocking stuffer - actually, if someone has a birthday coming up, why not use this to make a pretty bow atop the gift? No need to use un-reusable ribbon, right?

This scarf as well as other goodies available from Bubblegum Designs.

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Atomic Summer

Actually, considering current headlines, that's probably not something some of us want to hear, but you should know I mean "atomic" as in swanky retro cool, right? Because that is exactly what this citrus-bright bag from One Crafty Family is, don't you think?

Handmade by Angie, this bag is quite large - 15" wide, 8" tall, and with a 3"-wide bottom. A button-fastening pocket in front of the bag is great to tuck your shopping list, cell phone, business cards, or whatever else you need to grab on a regular basis. The fabulously fun, endlessly cheerful canvas fabric on the outside is durable and of course a perfect summer fabric, and there's a cute mossy green cotton lining inside.

The $34.95 bag ships via US mail, but other options are of course available if you just can't wait for this bag so you can take it on vacation or to a fair this weekend. One Crafty Family - who has a cute logo, by the way - offers lovely jewelry (several of the rings are really beautiful) and other feminine, chic accessories. Everything looks to be very high-quality and lovingly made, and I think you'll be happy with your purchase.

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Did lockets ever hold romance and mystery for you? I remember as a girl that a locket, capable of holding a picture of a loved one or perhaps a love letter, just seemed like one of the most wonderful things in the world. Certainly movies and television shows had something to do with my being enamoured of lockets, but I always seemed to see them on others and it was hard to resist (especially for a little girl!) asking what was inside them.

Ever since then, I have had a special affection for small things that hold other small things - because usually, small things worth keeping are primarily riches of the heart and not just treasures of monetary value.

This beautiful and fascinating box pendant made of carved bone is certainly unique among those things that can conceal wonderous treasures and elicit wild imaginations of romance, travel, and dreams. I don't thing I've seen anything like it before! Artist Kathy couldn't resist them herself, and bought quite a few to make gifts for her crafty friends, and has several listed for sale in her shop as well.

The box is 2 inches tall and an inch and a half wide, and it's large enough to hold things in. Kathy has strung this on a thin, chocolate-coloured cord, put a pretty golden bead above the box, and placed tassels on the end, which really adds to the exotic look of this piece.

Best of all, this lovely piece is just $10. That makes it great as a small treat for yourself or better yet, gift-giving to a friend - perhaps with a meaningful treasure inside or a verse or Scripture that will encourage or inspire them.

Kathy's shop, Dornick Designs, is full of interesting and beautiful jewelry. She is another artist who uses natural pieces - in her case, a lot of them! - and unique items like coins and pendants from other countries. From whimsical to pretty to exotically gorgeous, Kathy's shop has it all, and just perusing her collection of currently available work is a real pleasure.

Have a great night!

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Fun Friday: Cute For Your Coin

Happy Friday! I hope you have a wonderful weekend planned. The new Harry Potter movie is out, of course (with the final book in the series due next week already - and we thought it wouldn't get here fast enough...), and Pixar's Ratatouille is garnering rave reviews (we've yet to see either film but definitely plan on it). There are several festivals and fairs going on here in Pittsburgh and around the country, and farmer's markets are in full swing too. It's the height of summer, so be sure to enjoy it!

As for your hyper-cute Friday indie, I saw these great handmade coin purses the other night while looking for something else and have been excited about featuring them. They're all from Christine of Studio X-Tine, who isn't just wonderfully creative but generous as well - she'll donate half the price of our two animal-bearing coin purses to Etsy For Animal's Charity of the month (this month, it's the British Columbia's Nelson Branch BCSPCA).

First we have the sweetly funky and retro Bird Watching In Space coin purse. The bird image is from a vintage repro cotton print, protected by clear vinyl and surrounded by red vinyl. The little bird with the jet-age space helmet is just so cute, isn't it? The back of the coin purse is all red vinyl with a black zipper, and the purse is 4.5" in diameter - this is also one of the Etsy for Animals charity pieces. Of the $14.50 price tag, half goes to an animal charity.

The other charity piece is obviously the little happy black cat coin purse, and this is one black cat who won't mean bad luck! Another piece made of vinyl, he features cute little pink ears and nose with button eyes and machine-embroidered whiskers. Obviously, he holds your parking and laundry coinage safely and securely in his little kitty mouth. $15.00, and again, a full 50% goes to an animal-supporting charity. Happy kitty is a little more than 4" x 4".

Finally, the $14.50 atomic atom coin purse is another little round coin purse, featuring a vintage reproduction cotton barkcloth again protected with glossy clear vinyl and set off by black vinyl front and back. The inside has been tautly lined black taffeta, too.

All of Studio X-Tina's good ship USPS first class, and I should note than in addition to several other for-charity items, she sells handbags, tees, skirts, and other items that all have a clean yet fun flair to them - so well done it's almost sneaky but clearly retro. It's a very fun shop.

Have a great weekend!

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Hot Summery Red

Red is one of my favourite colours, and this particular colour tends to elicit strong responses in everyone. It's a powerful colour one just can't ignore (hence red "STOP" signs, red stoplights, red male cardinals, fabulous red lipstick...).

Initially, the wearing of red was limited strictly to the nobility because the cost of creating such a bright hue was tedious and expensive (much like purple and other pure colours). When a king, queen, cardinal, or judge wore red, it symbolized not just their power in general, but indeed, their power over life and eath. Eventually, of course, it became easier to make red apparel, so much so that military uniforms were often red. Interestingly, during the Middle Ages, it was thought that red bedclothes protected one against "red illnesses" like rashes, fevers, and even miscarriages!

It's interesting that while red is the colour of love, romance, and redemption, it's also considered a colour of death, murder, war, fire, and competition. It can definitely be seen as aggressive - in fact, a poll of drivers a couple years ago found that drivers saw those in red cars as being aggressive drivers purely based on the colour of the vehicle, regardless of the kind of vehicle (I've had not just one but 2 red cars...) Personally, I feel more confident and cheerful when wearing red, and I believe it was Psychology Today that found wearing shades of red and green together markedly improved people's moods (so if you're having a bad day, pair up!).

Many cultures see red as having protective powers - maybe because of the inherent "caution!" it seems to transmit to people and even animals. Wear a red ruby and you become invincible; in battle, cover your weapons and even yourself in blood, red paint or clay. (Yeah, that bit about the blood is a little over the top, and I'm not certain I want to know from whence the blood came, thanks.)

No matter what, though, red is nearly always in fashion. I tend to think it's because it is such a lively, vibrant, cheerful colour. The eye is just naturally attracted to it (some think red is the first colour we are able to recognize - familiarity definitely didn't breed contempt in this case!). Red also happens to be the colour of my favourite sports team (the only sport I truly follow other than horse racing), the Red Wings. So it's no surprise that I really like this Dita top from Papaya - it's red! And it's cute!

The neckline is square, so that is another point in this adorable top's favour. The short cap sleeves have a slight puff to them for added femininity - as well as visually broaden your shoulders just a touch, not a bad thing. The cut is very flattering - it can go formal or casual. For the cherry on this sartorial sundae, you even get the red and white polka-dotted belt with the top!

This $32 top isn't crazily flashy but it's clearly not sloppy, either: wear it to the office (maybe with a red or black belt if you don't want to frighten the dot-impaired), to church, to dinner, to a party or the pizza parlor...anywhere. Truly. Under a jacket, over a skirt or pants, with pearls or chunky turquoise beads, I don't think you can go wrong. This top is a size medium (36-31-37), but as Melissa handsews and designs everything herself, if you email her you might be able to get it in a different size (there is another Dita top in black available).

I see Melissa's work on Flickr pretty frequently, and it's always really cute and pretty clothing. She has several other tops in her shop and frequently updates the store, so checking on a regular basis is a great idea if you want something unique and fresh for your closet.

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Decidedly Pretty

As you know, there are some nights when I just can't restrain myself, and thus force upon you more than one item.

Shameful? You know it.

Yet still, you visit....

Tonight is such a night, as I'm featuring lovely things from Deciduous Soul. I just couldn't help it!

First up is a charming little piece of wearable art in the form of the Little House on the French Countryside pendant necklace. A magical scene collaged and glazed onto a Scrabble tile, this one features a red-doored home (all who love red doors, say "Aye!") peacefully enjoying the shade of a pink polka-dotted and flowery tree. The aqua and green countryside is a cheerful background that highlights the other colours, and no, I won't tell if you secretly imagine yourself enjoying a lemonade in front of said little house during really rotten days. The pendant is strung from a sheer cream ribbon via a handmade silver clasp. For $15.99, you get a lovingly created piece of handmade art you can wear all you want!

The other irresistibly cute item is this handmade Madeline summer hat, perfect for prettily protecting your beautiful skin from the evil rays of the sun (no, really) while keeping the sun out of your eyes so you can enjoy the beach, ball game, barbeque, or Buick show (hey, I was on a roll with the B's) in style. The cotton print is what really caught my eye, but check out the sunny, adorable rickrack trim and smattering of colourful buttons on the brim! How cute is that?

Designer Ellene came up with her design for this darling hat after 2 hours of squinting through her daughter's softball games. She made sure the crown wasn't Honest Abe tall, as she tells it, and made sure the rim has a lot of winsome floppiness - which also means your face & much of your hair will be safe. The hat is only $24.50, and in such a timeless style and print, it's sure to provide you with many seasons of fashion, fun, and protection.

Finally, look at this elegant but approachable cotton wrap skirt in a creamy tan and white print. Isn't it beautiful? Great for church, work, or just casual running around, it's sure to serve you well for years to come. It's knee-length and adjustable for waists from 27.5 - 33 inches and hips from 36-44 inches, all for $48. This skirt is summer's casual elegance at its best, don't you think?

In addition to wonderful pieces like these, Deciduous Soul offers handbags, jewelry, and mixed media art. I clearly liked many of her things, not all of which I could feature here, so be sure to pop on over!

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A Victorian Beauty

As much as I like rings, it's often difficult to find one that isn't dowdy or hyper-flashy. It's also a little trying at times, particularly with indie-made rings, to find ones that aren't gargantuan and just too big for my already small hands. I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels this way! Big rings can be fun sometimes, but for everyday wear, they're not practical and not quite as entertaining to wear.

Fortunately, I stumbled across this lovely porcelain ring from Round Rabbit that is not only chic and pretty, but normally sized as well!

The rectangular shape is fresh and interesting, and could be masculine were it not for the delicate, pretty Victorian scrolling on the face of the ring. The porcelain piece has been glazed with a wispy green, and is mounted on a silver-toned adjustable ring that has been engraved.

This is just a really lovely piece of jewelry for a pittance - $12. There's plenty more like it at Round Rabbit's shop; thus far, this is the only rectangular ring I could find, but there are also many pendants, circular rings, beautiful summery bracelets and earrings, all fashioned from porcelain. It's wonderful that someone has taken such a fine medium and made such beautiful jewelry with it!


Pretty In Green

Whew! Today ended up being a bit more hectic than even I expected, but take a quick break with me to check out this lovely moss agate pendant on a beaded necklace from BeadCharmed By Misty. For a mere $23, you get a really lovely moss agate pendant nestled into a sterling silver frame, all gracing a beautifully beaded necklace that features lively moss agate beads and hat look like glass peridot-coloured stones that complement the pendant quite nicely.

Y'all know I can't resist a beautiful green piece of jewelry, right?

I hope everyone had a great Independence Day and a wonderful weekend; we were able to visit with family and take a really nice trip back via old US Route 22 - a very pleasant and enjoyable change from the usual boring, flat slab of the interstate we usually take. I got quite a bit of photography done (we're talking four 1GB+ cards over a 5-day period), but it was honestly just wonderful to drive down one of America's main streets. US 22, which also happens to be US 40 in some spots. is also known as the William Penn Highway and the National Road, and it's a wide, two-lane swath of highway that goes through some charming small, all-American towns, lush forested glens and hills, and of course our rich American farmland. We even met some really interesting people on our way back. Can't do that on I-75, can you?

We've been planning a trip west from Chicago to LA via Route 66, and thought it would be fun to take more US and state routes, and we were not disappointed one bit; if you are as tired of the obnoxiously boring interstate as I was, the state routes are worth a shot! They may take a little longer, but theyr'e certainly worth it, if only for the fact that it's a calmer, less stressful, very enjoyable drive. You'll arrive wherever you're going unharried and with a richer mind's eye view of America. :)