Category Archives: findings

fashion wednesdays | DIY chain mail necklace

Who doesn’t like an armor?!

I’ve always imagined being covered in chain mail, moving like a strong warrior but shining in something that looks like a piece of jewelry all-over- how cool is that? The liquid property of moving metal is the stuff of alchemists and legends- and, with my fourth book of Game of Thrones¬†coming to a much-avoided, painful end, I had to get me some. Chain mail, that is.

Without further ado I present you yet another DIY necklace (is this the third posting on neck-adorning contraptions?? Hm… not sure if I should grow another head or be happy that I’ll be well-clad when age will make me into a wrinkled, double-chinned, saggy-throated hag).

WHAT YOU NEED: a clasp, some pliers (any pliers), beads and wire for the finishings (optional- I used some old pearls) and jump rings- any kind, any color, any size. Just make sure you have loads of them. Mine are silver.

WHAT ELSE YOU NEED: Patience. A glass of wine won’t hurt, either. Or grab the bottle.


– start with creating a chain by clasping the jump rings together; adjust the length to your neck size

– make sure you open the rings not by pulling the two sides apart, but like this:

How to correctly open a jump ring

– after you created the desired length, attach the clasp on one end

– measure the middle and start adding rings to alternating rings of the chain, two at a time, to each side of the middle; make sure the last attachments on each side only have one ring and that in between all the sets of two are even-numbered. Every other ring of the chain should have 2 rings dangling from it for a portion as wide as you’d like, in the front of the necklace- like a second row attached to the main line

– moving on to the added row, connect each 2 dangling rings from the alternate rings above and attach another one to them; it should look like you’re creating little triangles (and by that adding yet another row)

– repeat the two steps above

– keep doing that until the last 2 are connected through a single ring. This is almost like knitting, in that each row will be shorter than the one before so in the end you get a triangle (mine is a bit fancier, as at some point i decided to keep the row as long as the one before it)

– if you wish, connect a bead to each of the loose end rings by wrapping it with a wire (you’ll feel like pulling your hairs out by the time you’re done, but it’s worth it)

This is what I got. If you’re having troubles, drop me a line (or a photo) and I’ll do my best to entangle you ūüôā

Mail chain line and clasp

Chain mail- detail

Finished necklace

Goes with anything, this armor…

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fashion wednesdays | 3 perfumes that smell like sheets

My eyes are bad, my ears are bad, my fingertips are busted and my taste buds-¬†oversolicited. My nose, however, works with the unbearable precision of finding- in a restaurant, let’s say- the one women around me who’s having her period. It can remember things better than my brain, it can judge¬†pheromones¬†better than can compute compatibility, it can save me from food poisoning and it can guide me to all the real things in my life- real sterling silver, real leather, real EDP, real love.

I live by my smell. Over the years I gave in to its not-so-royal bearings, abandoning my tastes and displeasures to the mercy of my too-small-for-my-head, never-stuffy, third-world nuzzle (I don’t mean no disrespect to nature or my parents’ genes, but the monster that adorns my face does not deserve the human, delicate, normal title of “nose”. No, sir-ee. The thing that announces me who farted, what it is they ate a few hours ago and how much they’re sweating with shame because of it is not a nose. The animal that makes me wet my underwear at the simple whiff of a [I’ll keep this one to myself] is not a nose. The machine that, infallibly, makes me weep with nostalgia every time I smell old powder boxes is not a nose.

What I have is called, scientifically, a proboscis.¬†An organ that, once activated by a few random molecules of [..take a pick], takes over my face, my consciousness and my whole being and makes me into a slave of air and what the air can carry. (Speaking of which, if you ever find me wandering aimlessly, empty-eyed and looking like I haven’t washed or eaten in days, ¬†please take pity in me and direct me to my home as I’m probably under some new olfactory spell and out of my self… just sayin’). Good or bad is not a discussion here, as I remember being equally fascinated by fermenting menure, and water lilies (which, by the way, do have a smell). As soon as¬†esters or some other odor molecules start brewing,¬†my nose is there and the rest of me has to follow.

With this type of undiscriminating snout, all I can do is cross my fingers and hope most of the stuff coming my way is not unpleasant. And most isn’t -maybe because in America people shower and brush their teeth more, or maybe because the sewage system is usually in working conditions, or maybe because I’ve sniffed soooooo many things that I rarely get surprised anymore.

No surprise, then, that I am the biggest fragrance whore you’ve ever met- and, while I’ll still go for more, here are three of my latest- and most remarkable- lovers:

1. The sheet in a black and white nude photograph

White afternoon, a bit moist- like all fall afternoons in Paris-, a bit chilly but still¬†languorous, like the naked back of the summer lying on a day bed. The model is up, you can see her slender legs in the background, blurry, beautiful and shiny- she’s almost naked, soft, comfortable, wrapped in sheets and talking to the photographer. He has a funny hat and two sad eyes, she has a gap in her front teeth and curly, short hair. They like each other, even though she has many lovers and he- none but his black room. The wind is blowing soundlessly through the white curtains, the studio smells a bit like coffee, a bit like cold and the stage is still set. No fish nets, they ended up using a sheet and the straight light coming through the blinds… The street is roaming many stories below, you can hear the cafe bell going off with every customer and the day is sharp and lazy like a demoiselle with too many admirers.

What We Do in Paris is Secret from A Lab on Fire, 2012 (perfumer: Dominique Ropion)- a deep, discrete, addictive, thoroughly feminine, unique scent. This perfume is sophisticated.

what we do in paris is secret | a lab on fire

What they say it smells like: bergamot/ Turkish rose/ Tonka bean

What I smell: honey, lychee, clover, heliotrope and vanilla, sandalwood, amber, a bit of rose and some flower I can’t name (a sweeter bergamot… if it exists).

Sillage: on my skin, less than 2 hours- which is disappointing. However, the dry-down is strong and loyal to what the perfume smells like when you put it on- which is not something I’m used to.

Overall: extremely well constructed, unique and sophisticated formula… a tour de force.

2. The sheet the baker hangs on his door

The vacation you see in glossy magazine is, fortunately, not real. The polished, tan, perfectly poised women and men drinking cordials in their steril white pants, suspended in a motionless dusk air, do not exist- and neither does the clean, sharp sound you imagine ¬†their teeth to make when they’re hitting the edge of their glass.

What is real is the dust, the color changing under your eyes with every hour that passes, the constant humming of the local market, the cloying smells of the butchers and the spice merchants and the leather workers, the hunger, the jet lag. What is real is the knot in your stomach and the conscious feeling that now-and-here is a fortuitous, mortal, indescribable and unrepeatable moment so painfully precious that you are already nostalgic for the time in the future when you’ll be missing it. And so you breathe it in, you look around, you zoom in on details and worry you won’t remember how every cobble street seems to be birthing cats, how every woman here has eyes inside her eyes and how the baker, before leaving his shop for the afternoon prayer, put a sheet in the door so that the bees don’t make it, once again, to his freshly-made Turkish delight.

Traversee du Bosphore | L’Artisan Parfumeur, 2010 (perfumer: Bertrand Duchaufour)- a gourmand-but-fresh Oriental fragrance that is sweet without being cloying, clean without being watery and fruity without being legere. This perfume is collective/¬†alive.

traversee du bosphore | l’artisan parfumeur

What they say it smells like: iris/ leather/ turkish delight

What I smell: leather, champagne, iris, saffron, tulip, vanilla, musk, figs and a bit of hyacinth.

Sillage: very good, 6-8 hours with a soft, organic, powdery dry-down.

3. The sheet for making silent love by the sea side

I remember a time when I was very young, very pretty, very free and and very thin- so thin, that when I lied down my hip bones poked through my skin on each side of my Venus bump, looking like big, clumsy butterfly wings spread on my inside and immobilized by my flesh before ever taking flight.

One unnamed summer I went to the seaside with my boyfriend- back then, nothing but a big boy- and we took a room with a local. A white room, freshly painted, with a big old bed covered with big old white sheets embroidered by hand by small, long gone old women. A silent, clean, airy white room with a window covered in fat geraniums and not much else but ripe youth and silent love.

I remember going for a swim, then sitting on the old white sheets and not talking much, then going for a swim, then sitting in the sun, then being kissed THERE and not talking much, then being melted and ravenous and closing my eyes and becoming oh-so-aware of the insides of my head, the outsides of my body, and the bitter taste of the old bed by the Black Sea.

Alba | Profvmvm Roma, 2004- an organic, bodily, nutty, sexy and serene fragrance that doesn’t need much talking. This perfume is¬†raw.

alba | profvmvm roma

What they say it smells like: anise, musk, amber, vanilla, hazelnut.

What it really smells like: musk, ambergris, oakwood, hazelnuts, grass, aniseed, rock salt.

Sillage: very good, 4-6 hours with a pungent, present, woody dry- down.

Overall: a fantastic, albeit underrated creation of PR, singular and remarkable. For me, a definite stay.


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fashion wednesdays | brass jewelry and another DIY necklace

Call me what you may, but for me brass is Cleopatra¬†(yeah, yeah, I know, people back then were not making much of it, but what can I do when my brain is soooo conditioned by old Hollywood productions? All I see is seas of collars, mountains of bracelets and rivers of anklets made of- let’s say it together- brass!!).¬†For me, brass is not just some middle- earth, almost alchemic, copper-and-zinc concoction with unusual germicidal powers. Not the door knobs and nowadays- overly- done, overpriced Moroccan decor. Not the bells or the musical instruments. Nonono. For me, brass is jewelry- the kind of quiet, but BIG, jewelry. The kind that majestically sits without sparkling,¬†confident, commending attention but smiling discreetly, with content. The slightly¬†histrionic, crazy-in-the-head kind.

I feel it, I understand it, I love the color of it, I love the smell of it, I wear it often, I thrift it.  I built a pretty good collection over the years, and most if not all of the pieces I own are one-of-a-kinds (I at least, so far, was not able to find any replicas). With a few gifted exceptions, everything you see below- and more like it- comes from thrift stores and was not more than $10 for the bigger necklaces. 2012 is apparently the year for statement collars like this one, but since most of them will burn a hole right through your savings, thrifted vintage brass pieces might be a healthier alternative. Continue reading

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fashion wednesdays | DIY key necklace

I never throw a key away.¬†Maybe it’s my post-communist, symbolic approach to the littlest things in life- but for me, a key means a house, a house means a home and home means warm and fuzzy. Who would give warm and fuzzy away!?? (This all of the sudden started sounding like a Geiko commercial. Oh well).

So, I keep the keys I’ve used. I move them from box to box, adding to the pile with every new apartment, every new storage place, every new bike, locker, boyfriend (not the case anymore- but the old ones I still have. And if I don’t remember the guys, I do remember the feel of their dens- some behaved, some wild, some musty or oregano-y). The keys smell like metal and stick to each other, and I know every single one of them by name. Weird? Oh well. Continue reading

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lacy bib | the things i wear

“oh, the things you wear!”. Music to my ears. Smiles to my lips.¬†At least nobody says “oh, the things that wear you!”.

The things I wear (that’s right, I¬†wear them, they¬†don’t wear me) are usually as unique as I can find them. Brands don’t mean much to me, although I am partial to some because of their quality standards. I love hand made stuff, I adore things with a good story and I preach dressing according to one’s mood (that’s why I don’t trust sexy-all-the-time, serious-all-the-time, polished-all-the-time. Who the hell wants to be oh-so-friggin’-beige-all-the-time?!?! And, more importantly, WHY??!!).

Anyway- in short, I’m striving to find the clothes and accessories that will make me look exactly how I feel inside my head.

Today, a bib. The kind we used to wear in communist Romania, to upscale our cheap, uncomfortable, dreadful school uniforms. The kind our mothers would hand- make at home, then use to brag about how talented a wife/mother they are. (They would also starch them to death so key keep longer. The effect was that all second graders looked like Renaissance paintings, walking around very robot-like in our attempts to keep them clean and wrinkle- free).

The day I found a stack of crocheted collars in the basement of some dollar store in the SF Chinatown, my knees got warm, my stomach fuzzy and my eyes teary. And no matter how sucky and decrepit those poor, unfortunate early times were, nostalgia came back, wild and unforgiving, to bite me in the neck. Maybe it’s what adults do- get soft over childhood.

But maybe, just maybe, it’s that back then I didn’t know how tired and starving the country was.¬†I was a kid, I was happy with little and all I had to worry about was my grades. And the state of my bib.

hand made cotton lace collar, Chinatown SF, $4

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