Category Archives: fotoz

Oleg Dou. Happy Hallo.

For Halloween, creepy should be creepy. This is. And gorgeous. Enjoy.

(Oleg Dou, Russian artist, http://www.olegdou.com)

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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.

HOW TO DO IT

– 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 🙂

Mail chain line and clasp

Chain mail- detail

Finished necklace

Goes with anything, this armor…

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to give or not to give | a few thoughts on charity

Charity happened to me before I happened to charity. I come from a country used to rely on foreign aid, and then curse the donors for not sending better stuff. I remember looking at those big boxes of clothes and books somebody had willingly parted with, and painfully wonder who they were. As a kid, I was convinced that the kind strangers sending me colorful toys and (only lightly worn) Nike shoes are some soft, miraculous giants above all my imagination and power to comprehend. I could swear that their world is magical, wealthy, happy and rich in colors, smells and tastes (as opposed to the cold, grim, grey, decrepit reality outside my own windows).

Their gesture of giving us things, from afar and anonymously, had such a heavy impact on me that I would sniff the clothes I got over and over again, lost in a thin haze of comfort. I remember looking for traces of pheromones and memories- memories that, when designed by my own little 8 year-old mind, made me weep. I remember feeling a strange combination of sorrow (for myself- for needing their rags, for never getting to know what the other world was being like) and admiration (for what, I took as  selflessness- because I was convinced that somewhere in the world, someone is running around barefoot so I can have their shoes).

Things are still very important to me, although, since I did not grow up putting tags on people based on what they own, I don’t identify with things and I’m easy to give them away. I still prefer to receive gifts that belonged to someone, rather than new items. And, as soon as I get to a place where I feel I have enough, I share. I’ve been doing that since I was 8 and I rallied my entire second grade class to collect toys and sweets for the kids in our local orphanage (remember the stories and documentaries about the abused orphans of post-communist Romania? Those ones.). I believe in sharing. And I believe in charity at its decent, manageable, zero-overhead best.

Nowadays I’m tackling one charity project at a time, some by myself and some through others, and I’ve learned a lot about how different and how far apart people’s perceptions are of charity.

Here are my thoughts:

1. The result is the most important part of charity. If at the end someone’s life is easier thanks to you, that’s all that matters.

2. What you feel like and your image are not (as) important. What people think of you for doing charity work, whether they question your intentions or not, whether you get their praise or not is not important, and shouldn’t be why you’re doing it- if you ever forget that, slap yourself and go back to #1.

3. Needs and wants are relative. Do not judge someone else’s level of comfort, happiness or need based on what you would like for yourself. Sometimes a hungry woman does not need an art class to make her feel better, but food- so do not impose your charity on someone just because you have a pathetic, annoying, patronizing itch to save someone.

4. Remind yourself to give. If you need a prompter to be good, make sure you put it in your phone calendar, or your Google calendar, or your wall calendar- whatever works. We are all not born Mother Theresa, and there’s no big shame in getting caught up with life and forgetting about the less fortunate- just make sure you take all precautions and find ways to remind yourself-or force yourself- to give. It does wonders, really.

5. It doesn’t matter why people give. You shouldn’t care whether they’re some big shots trying to launder money, or doing it for tax purposes, bragging rights, or to see their own names on a plaque. You should also try and not think too much about why some of your friends and relatives were not so supportive. In both cases, remember #1.  And stop taking it so bloody personally.  And- more importantly- keep asking.

LATEST PROJECT: Cambodia orphanage renovation, May 2012
Click on the image for more info

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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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foodie Mondays | my top 10 spots in New York City

If I come to your restaurant (and I probably already have), FEED ME. I am very likely to take whatever table you sit me at (including the back ones close to the bathrooms or the kitchen), take the waiter’s recommendations, take your recommendations, take the bartender’s or sommelier’s recommendations. Not complain much. Eat everything. Leave a big tip. If I like you and your food, I’ll even bring more people. I’m a good patron.

I’ve spent as little as $9 for a dinner for 2 and as much as $270 for a lunch, pre-tax. I tried all the offal joints, all the underground unlicensed places, all the street vendors, all the neighborhood spots and all the shishi, dress- coded, Michelin- starred establishments I could get in. I went out 3 to 7 times a week and, in over 4 years, I got to taste a huge chunk of New York City. Continue reading

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