Saturday, March 01, 2008

Happy March First!

It is gorgeous here today!

We've got bright blue skies and the azalea bushes in the garden are just about ready to burst into bloom.

I feel like I need to keep looking out the window. It could happen any time!

Thanks to all of you who chimed in on the discussion about Blogging etiquette (or perhaps I should say netiquette) yesterday.

It was really fun to hear from so many of you.
It's a "run and play" kind of I won't keep you.
Have a good one!
And if it is sunny and warm where you are today, remember to wear a hat!

If it is grey and cold where you are today, remember to wear a hat!
In fact...just go ahead and wear a hat regardless of the weather.
'Cuz, you know, the world is a better place to be in whenever you wear a hat!

Friday, February 29, 2008

Minding our manners as bloggers.

Have you ever wondered as you read a blog or wrote your own blog if you were doing it right?

By that I mean do you wonder if there are some rules of etiquette out there that your should be aware of, but aren't?

From time to time my friend and fellow blogger Lovella and I have discussed how we feel about certain things we have read. We have occasionally been a little hurt, or surprised, or extremely pleased with what we saw posted on other blogs. From time to time we ask each other if what we were thinking of doing on our blog would be appropriate, or how we could best handle a tricky subject.

We would run ideas and reactions by each other, trying to decide if we were over reacting, or reacting in a reasonable way to various things that happened in the course of blogging. Little by little we came up with an informal "code" or set of preferences that we thought were reasonable.

This morning I finally decided to jot down a list of suggestions or "Blogger Etiquette". After I had written my suggestions, I ran them by my Generation X blogger daughter Laura for her input; and then I gave Lovella a call and asked for her insights as well.

I figured two middle aged ladies, one in Canada, from a small town semi-rural area, one in America, from a major city, and a twenty something nurse would make for a good starting point for an informal survey of Blogger Manners.

So here is our "Ten Suggestions for Bloggers"

Feel free to comment after you read them. We all would love to hear what you think!

1. Give Credit.

If you read a blog about something, and it makes you think, and then you write your own post on the topic, credit the blog that got you thinking with a link back.

Write something along the lines of "Susie was writing about horrible hair cuts the other day (link to that specific post) and it made me think about the horrible hair cut I got just before my senior prom. Or "Lovella made a chocolate cake the other day, I want to talk about how I made her cake but changed it up a bit."
If you saw several blogs about a topic, for example favorite Christmas ornaments, say something like "A lot of bloggers have been posting about Christmas ornaments. I thought I'd share about mine as well."

Also don't try to copy exactly another blogger's layout. Be inspired by other bloggers, then add your own spin. Give credit if another blogger gave you the idea.

2. Respect privacy

If you know where the blogger lives, yet they have never mentioned where that is, do not say the name of the town in your comments. Ditto any other personal information that you many have, for example, don't ask how their child's divorce is going or job loss etc, etc....
If the blogger has not mentioned it on their blog, then they probably would prefer you not to mention in the comments or on your own blog either.

Do not attempt to find out where the blogger lives, their address or phone number. If you do wish to contact them or send them something, use a "DO NOT POST" message to them in their comments. If they want you to have the information, fine; if they don't, respect that and do not seek to learn specifics.

Don't post pictures of people without their permission. Try not to post children's faces that are caught in crowd shots.

3. Use DO NOT POST options as needed.

This goes for asking permission to use a picture, add the blog to your list of links, or make personal comments that should remain private. If you have never used this option, first make sure the comments are MODERATED, then put DO NOT POST at the top of your comment.

4. Do not use your blog to say anything that you would not want to be spoken about in a public space.

Think carefully about what you say about a friend or family member, your job, place of worship and so forth. When in doubt, ask permission before you post that "funny" story about your friend or child.

Be aware that even if you delete a post after it has been published, it can be found online again. Trust me...I know. If you regret what you've written, delete it anyway. Few people know how to find a deleted post.

5. If you are going on vacation or taking a break, just say you are taking a break and will be back soon.

Readers wonder if bloggers are OK if they suddenly stop posting. Naturally there are concerns about letting people know you are gone away. Saying "taking a break" is not the same as announcing that no one will be home for awhile. (I/we would welcome thoughts about how to handle this.)
It is OK to begin posting again, and let your regular readers know by commenting on their blogs by saying something like "I'm back in blogdom and enjoyed your post today."

6. Ask for and give helpful feedback.

If you change your font, and you wonder if it is easy to read, ask. If pictures go missing on a post, let the blogger know that you were sad that some of the pictures were missing (say which ones if you can...usually the person who posted sees the pictures still on their computer.)

If you stop by and read a post, leave a comment! It can be quite simple, like a calling card: "Enjoyed this!" is fine. It is like saying "hi" when you see your neighbor instead of just peeking secretly in their window from time to time!

7. Give a heads up warning when needed.

This suggestion was from Nurse Laura, who frequently posts medical stuff that may make some people queasy. I tend to warn folks before they scroll down that there will be a snake photo, or a story that involves body fluids. Ewww...hate to read about diaper contents while I am sipping my morning coffee! Laura also puts a warning on her posts if she is going to rant.

If you link to something with music or lots of pop ups, you might do a heads up warning on that as well, or if you are planning on starting to have music on your posts.

8. Don't expect comments back from a comment.

Some people are good having a dialog in their comment section. It is nice, but shouldn't be expected. Consider a comment to be akin to a thank you note; and don't expect a thank you note for a thank you note!

Just because you "tagged" a blogger does not obligate the blogger to participate. Nothing are free to ask, we are free to decline.

9. Links are at the blogger's discretion.

It is nice to ask permission, or at least inform a blogger that you have linked to them. Do not judge a blogger by their links; they are not responsible for each opinion expressed in their links blogs. (I/we would appreciate input on how to drop a link. We had a big discussion about this and it was much too long to include here!)

10. Be aware that saying a post was long is like saying "you talk too much."

I confess, this is a pet peeve of mine. If you like a loooonnggg post, say you appreciate the in depth discussion. If you don't feel up to plowing through 42 pages, just skim or pass by. What is long and uninteresting to one person is way too brief to someone else.

And finally, the GOLDEN RULE:

Remember each blogger should write for their own personal enjoyment. If people read what you write, that is great, but in the end, be true to yourself, write what you want to write about, while allowing yourself to grow.

Laura, Lovella and I all welcome your feedback on this post. L & L said I should just write it and they would live with how I posted it. (Brave...very brave.)

Let the discussions begin!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Millinery: Life behind the veil

BEEP....BEEP...BEEP: An urgent message is about to be broadcast to your viewing area.

A reader of the diamond shapes post commented yesterday that she had just discovered that her emerald shaped diamond fell out of it's setting while she was out shopping, and was lost before she noticed it. PLEASE say a prayer that somehow the stone will be found and returned to her.

And please...have your own rings checked yearly for damaged prongs. May I suggest that each year around your anniversary you have your rings checked and cleaned by a professional jeweler so your rings look great while you celebrate your special day? If you have a four prong setting you may need to have your setting checked twice a year.

It only takes a few minutes to have your diamond looked at, but searching for a lost diamond can last a lifetime.

BEEP....BEEP...BEEP......We now return you to our regularly scheduled blog.

So...did I or didn't I?

Answer: yes and no. I did wear a veil to the meeting yesterday, but not a full face veil.

As hat maven Ruby pointed out in her book:
Do chose an eye veil if you would like to look younger. It's less matronly.

Can't go around looking matronly, now can we?
(Hey Ruby, what was that you were saying before about veils hiding wrinkles and giving an older woman new glamour? Now I am all confused.)

A short eye veil. I really like this veil's unusual design pattern.
One of the lovely things about veils is that they create beautiful shadow patterns upon the face.

The same happens when you wear an with open weaved wide brimmed hats. The shadow is just a subtle touch, yet a touch that I just love seeing on others.

In the video "Something about a hat: Life under the Brim" milliner Nicole La Blanc points out that if you wear glasses, you still DO wear your glasses when you wear your hat.
Ditto with hats with veils.
I do think a veil is much younger looking without glasses, but then again it depends on whether you think of your glasses as hip or fuddy.
If you think your glasses are fuddy, and you don't do contacts, then get a new hip pair of glasses ASAP.
How did people react? A lady who had never spoken to me before came up to me to say how much she liked the hat and especially the veil. After the meeting another woman said she would like to come over to see my hat collections some time. I said how about this afternoon, and she said "Great!"

She went home, fed her husband, then came over with a lovely hat that belonged to her mother that she wanted me to see. It was very cool that she wanted me to see her hat that held special memories and afterwards we spent an hour together chatting about hats and learning a bit more about each other.

Now my fellow milliners are probably looking at the hat in the pictures above and saying "What the heck is that?"
That's because actually this is a tailored straw hat from the 1950's, that I've refashioned with a cockade (the little medallion with the gold button in the front) AND I have also added a navy blue whimsy on top.

The whimsy is probably also from the late 1950-early 1960's, and consists of the veiling and the navy velvet bow. The whimsy belonged to my husband's grandmother; she gave it to me years and years ago.

A whimsy is usually just veiling that is gathered into a cap shape, and may or may not be further embellished with ribbons or rhinestones, dots or flowers. They were hugely popular with Catholic church women, as they were required to wear head coverings long after the rest of the population had switched over to the bigger hairstyles of the 1960. The whimsy could be slipped on and off without disturbing the teased up hairdos.

Since the little eye veil didn't "stampede the horses and scare the women and children" as the old saying goes, I might consider upping the ante to a half veil next time.
I'll probably wear this hat and veil with a black suit. That way I can gradually build up to wearing a full face veil. Sort of ease into it naturally. Ruby said " A tall woman with a large face can take a more generous veil. Coarse veiling, adorned with velvet dots or Rhinestones, is an excellent touch for late day wear."

I'm going to take that to mean that when I work the afternoon shift at ref desk at the library, I can do so with a generous veil studded with rhinestones.

I see no problem with this. Our students are studded with rhinestones all over their body. Don't ask how I know, but I discovered if it can be pierced, it can have a rhinestone. A rhinestone studded veil seems quite tame by comparison.

Of course not all veils are lacy. I think this hat is a great hat for adding a little mystery too. As Ruby put it:

"Your veil is a matter of illusion. Your loveliness must peep through it, not completely concealed, but touched with mystery."

The little rhinestone ball is just the right touch for tall/large faced me, don't you think?

(view from the top of the hat for the milliners out there. Interesting mix of straw and satin eh?)
Now hopefully I have broken the ice for a lot of you concerning veils and their place in your wardrobe.
The fashion magazines are showing more and more veils all the time. Happily, more and more milliners are taking up veiling again. Yesterday I discovered a new blog by a milliner named Denishe in Massachusetts. She is a whiz with veils and modelled her favorite hat on her new blog
I just loved the hats she has created.
If you have a second, take a peek at some of her hats
If you click through the hats, you will see she has a great fresh take on veils, and will definitely inspire you to consider trying a
veil for yourself.

PS: A special thanks goes out to Mad Hatter Wannabe Cristina for discovering Ruby's missive, and posting one of Ruby's patterns on her blog. Yeah for Team Millinery Spain!

Millinery: A few Quotable quotes

"A hat is properly worn in church, at luncheons, teas, on trains, ships and airplanes. A hat should always be worn when going into the city or a place of business. A rule of etiquette is that hats are worn and left on at all functions before six o'clock. I cherish this rule. It reflects gentility and good taste, and shows respect for your hostess."

Ruby Carnahan, in How to Make Hats. 1958.

Notice Ruby's first priority in her thinking of places to go?
Notice her lively lifestyle: luncheons, teas, trains, ships, planes, business?
And people say they are too busy to wear a hat!

More from Ruby:

Whatever you do, don't underestimate the importance of a hat. Without a hat, a street costume is incomplete. Without a hat, you miss your full share of beauty.

Isn't that an interesting thought? How many women want to look less beautiful? Do they say in their minds: I could look nicer, or more beautiful, but eh, why should I add to the beauty around me? Let people have less pleasure, I'll just go about my day in grubs.

Ruby had this to say about veils:

Your veil can be full face until 5 PM, but with late day clothes it should never come past the nose. Naturally, an elaborate hat and veil look most elegant on a simple dress- and vice versa.

Wow. Bring on the plain clothes and slap on a full face veil at 8 AM as you head out the door to take on the day! Now there's a world I want to visit.

Ruby knew what was coming for all of us though:

There's nothing like veiling to conceal tiny wrinkles and take years off your age. If you are mature, a veil might mean new glamour for you.

Well, it is just a little after nine AM, and I will be late to a meeting if I don't stop here. Thankfully I guess I can skip applying make up this morning; as a mature woman I think I will heed Ruby's counsel and tuck my tuckered face under a frothy veil, and wear simple slacks and sweater.

(Don't you wish you could be a mouse in the corner to watch all the other women's reaction when I show up in this get up? Oh yeah, this should be great!)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Hearts anyone?

I'm still getting over finishing my Smooth Chocolate Blues heart shaped hat. After having it on the coffee table in the living room for the last few weeks, constantly needing a few more beads, I now feel oddly adrift without having a project in process nearby. (See yesterday's post for more pictures of Smooth Chocolate Blues.)

I have to confess that I am a sucker for heart shapes. I love the shape; a geometric display of curves and straights, points and inverts.
It really is the perfect shape to say "love and romance"; for isn't love an adventure through time where a person enjoys easy "straight line" periods, times when things are changing gradually like a curve, and then there are the other times of dramatic changes, some going up and some going down before hitting a pivotal point and changing directions again.

Heart shapes are the symbol of love, yet lots of couples get married with ministerial comments about the wedding rings being the symbol of love, as they are round, and like love, have no beginning or end. The minister usually comments that so should be the love between married couples.

I try not to snicker when I hear this. I wish instead that the minister would point out the shape of wedding rings of couples who have been married for awhile. If you have been married awhile, go ahead and pull off your ring. Most likely you will find that it isn't "exactly" a circle anymore.

Depending on the thickness of your ring, probably you will find that the circle has been reshaped slightly to fit more comfortably upon your finger. You might even remember how odd your ring felt when you first wore it, just as any new ring usually feels odd until the wearer's hand gradually shapes it to become a comfortable fit.

If the truth be known, a square is actually a better shape for a ring as a square shape is a closer replication of one's finger shape. Some jewelers are now even offering square shaped "comfort" wedding bands.
Maybe that four sided ring would be a good analogy for marriage: The richer/poorer side, the better/worse side, the sickness/health side and finally the till death do you part.

I just doubt anyone wants to hear a minister say that love is like a square though. Even I'd probably start to giggle if I ever heard one try.

While I have a love for heart shape things, (I always save any heart shaped pebble that I encounter on a beach) I actually tend to shy away from the shape. It always seems just a little too iconic, and a bit too obvious. Iconic because it suggests Valentine's Day, and romantic thoughts. It's the shape a girly-girl would wear, or a woman who is a bit of ditz, naive, and gullible.

You know, the kind of girl who writes in pink ink and dots the letter "i" with a heart shape.

Just looking at such writing brings a wry smile to my lips. "Silly, silly girl" I think to myself. "What a fluff. Clueless really. All your dreams are pinned on a man being smitten by your charms."

I confess I am a bit jealous of those girls though. The Marilyn Monroes, the Betty Boops, the Gidgets in life who can barely count to six, yet everyone just adores those kinds of women. I don't know if they are dumb, or smart like a fox; I do know that I haven't a clue how they do it.

Some personalities seem to be put in place in the womb; I swear those kinds of girls slide into the world looking up at the doctor and giggling. They must get a chuck under their chin and a pinch on the cheek instead of the customary new baby spank on their backside.

Harry Winston, the famous New York diamond expert spent years observing the personalities of women as they selected the diamond to be used in their engagement rings. He found that within minutes of meeting a woman, he could predict which shape diamond they would prefer if given a choice.

ROUND: The home and family oriented woman invariably chose a round or brilliant shaped diamond. It is of course the most popular shape, and most often selected.

MARQUISE: The competitive/business minded woman chooses the points at both ends marquise shape. The more elongated the diamond, the more competitive the woman is likely to be. They also are likely to be dramatic women. I think it is interesting to note that back in the late 1960's and 1970's this was a very popular cut...right in the middle of the Women's Liberation movement.

EMERALD: The straight shooting, calls it like they see it, transparent, nothing to hide, black and white thinking and only wants the best woman chose the emerald. This was also the choice of the wealthiest women; emerald cut diamonds must be nearly flawless, and therefore are most costly per carat. (Frankly, girls with emerald shaped diamonds scare me...)

PEAR: The community minded woman. They may even put community or church service before their family's needs. I wonder if the "tear drop" shape reflects their need to make everything better in the world.

OVAL: The creative/artistic/innovative women. Rarely chosen, most jewelry stores may only carry one or two oval diamonds, if any. I have an oval diamond; the shape was my own choice. I have only met a handful of women with oval diamond rings in my lifetime.

(An aside: One of the women with an oval diamond engagement ring was my daughter.

Laura's engagement ring...shown with her permission.
She requested an oval diamond, and got three. A full carat center, and you can figure out the rest.
Three months before the wedding she gave it back.
Ouch, ouch, ouch.
Dang that was a gorgeous ring.
Now back to the regular blog....)
Then there is the HEART.
The romantic/sentimental/fantasy loving woman selects the heart shaped diamond. It is probably the least flattering of all the diamond cuts in terms of showing the diamond's fire, and yet is also the most distinctive.
If you ever saw the last Gidget movie, you will know that Moondoggie (Jeff) gave Gidget (Francine) a heart shaped diamond engagement ring. Perfect for her, don't you think?

For years I thought the heart shape diamond was just too silly for words. Then one day at a law firm I met an older woman who was a paralegal with a (gasp) heart shaped solitaire on a plain narrow band. She was tall, strong looking, no nonsense, plain, but bordering on bohemian, and she married for the first time at age 50.

I asked her about her ring. She said the choice surprised her; they had gone to look for a ring together, and the heart shape just stood out to her. It was the shape, rather than the symbol that drew her. No "hearts and flowers, ruffles and lace" type woman, the ring looked quite striking on her finger.

As to some of the other cuts:

PRINCESS: Harry Winston offered his observations before some of the modern cuts were developed and marketed. The highly popular Princess Cut, square yet brilliant cut has been cited as the choice for the Trendy Woman in this article. The Radiant cut, essentially the Princess with more facets is noted as being the choice of the Diva.
Hmmm....I've noticed how popular both these cuts are with the current crop of brides. It would be fun to find out how many "Bridezillas" have Radiant shaped diamonds!

Of course many women are "surprised" by their engagement rings, or have simple bands without diamond. And of course they love their rings just the way they are.

But...just for a minute...imagine walking into an elegant jewelry story, sent on a mission to buy yourself a diamond ring, with money being no object. Close your eyes and imagine all the shapes.
Which one would you choose?

Does it match your personality as suggested by Mr. Winston?

If you are past forty, would you chose differently today than you would have at a twenty-something?


Do you have any friends who wear diamond shapes that you've always admired, yet would have never chosen for yourself?

Today, just for fun, I'm going to imagine wearing the different shaped diamonds, just to see what it would feel like, and perhaps learn a bit more about myself. I still love my oval, but lately I have been admiring square shapes, and heart shapes as well. I still dislike marquise (competitive I am definitively NOT) and pears trouble me: I never can figure out which way they should go.

As to heart shaped hats; I think they look quite odd on me. The point of the heart makes my jawline seem massively square by contrast.
Someday I'd love to see my hat on a girl with a face in the shape of a heart.
If it would look the way that I think it would, I would probably want to see it on her forever.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Millinery: Smooth Chocolate Blues

What would smooth chocolate be like if it were to be sung as a blues song?

How would it feel to hear it?
How would it look if you were to see it?

Wouldn't Chocolate Blues be the background music for a romantic flirtation begun under a warm starry sky?

Wouldn't the blues notes run like glistening beads down around your heart?

Wouldn't the lover's lush caresses against the skin leave track marks to the mind; invisible marks that lead to where a heart had contracted, knowing it was falling in love?

The feeling of falling in love would shimmer, and slowly spill down colors known as the deepest indigo, and the richest purple, and darkest of chocolate, all the colors of satisfaction.

Bubbles and sparks of joy would shimmer inside, and overhead the chocolate sky would shake with starry syncopation.
Well, that's one way of looking at it.
Or I could just say that at last I finished the chocolate brown velvet hat I've been working on.

In these shots it is being held on my head with an elastic jenny, a simple elastic cord attached to both sides of the heart inside, and is slipped under my hair.

If I didn't want my hair to be pulled back like it is in these shots, I would just use a hat pin in the back and slip the pin through a small knot of my hair that would be bobby pined under the hat.

I was really aiming at making the hat a simple ruched design, so it would work well with this brown suit. usual...I got going and the few accent beads I planned on using managed to just mesmerized me.
I kept adding more and more and more...sewing about 20 minutes at a time over the last few weeks.

Why is it that when ever I try to take my picture, you-know-who shows up!

Worth 600

What do these terms have to do with me?

1. Zumba
2. Cobra
3. Hatha

And the answer is yes.

I am. All three.
All by myself.
(well,...Mr. B. joined in on number 3 the second time, and was amazed to find he was able to walk normally afterwards for the first time in months. SHOCK. Totally didn't expect that.)



More posting later...

(A Hint on number 2.)