17 December 2010

Reorganized Studio - 1st Installment

shelf detail
Originally uploaded by

Early 80's - measuring gold plating on mini PC boards (5 years after my intro to Electronics, soldering for NASA).

Read more here in an earlier post.

Here's a peek at a small portion of my studio! Typical to any mixed media artist, my collections include vintage books, maps, fabric trim, stamps, ink, paint, glue, wire, postcards, beads, buttons AND MORE!

08 December 2010

Newest Designs

I've been enjoying the creative process and, really, ALL aspects of my jewelry business these days. Networking, selling, craft fairs, listing, design, promotion, custom work and coming up with new and creative ways to market my newest ideas. Here is a small sampling of my newest designs. I also L.O.V.E custom orders and am currently working on 6 new orders for the HOLIDAY SEASON! Check back to see the finished projects...

07 December 2010

Holly Jolly Christmas

Flickr is one of my very favorite websites for several reaons. TALENT. I am constantly amazed at the talent pool and learn something about photography, every time I visit. INSPIRATION. Just try to walk away without taking a fresh perspective with you when you leave! VISUALLY RICH. The time I spend there is always uplifting. Sunsets, bridges, snow, misty mornings, nature's bounty. EASE OF USE. Searching groups and tags is always easy. A few recent searches: Antique Christmas, vintage santa, tinted postcards, home decor, interior design and that is what inspired me to create this mosaic today for your browsing pleasure!

I even found an idea for a beautifully, simple frosted candle holder here.

Just brush a wash of egg whites over the outside of a (vintage) jar and sprinkle with sugar! Tie a festive bow and voila, instant atmosphere! They used peppermint striped baker's twine.. i may use a swatch from my (vintage) mini-tinsel garland.

Holly Jolly Christmas
Originally uploaded by

03 December 2010

Baby It's Cold Outside

Last week I compiled my first two "treasury" lists on Etsy. Treasury is their ever-changing, member-curated shopping gallery and a FEAST FOR THE EYES! This was my first one and there will be more to follow.

Now here's what makes it special: that by giving, you can receive, as well... which is a perfectly lovely idea! If you own a shop and decide to take the time to come up with a uniquely beautiful collection, and a catchy title helps, you not only bring exposure (and sometimes SALES) to 16 different shops but you are also introducing your shop to 16 new colleagues. Brilliant.

Visit the link below to see ALL the pretty things!

03 November 2010

Blog Blasting Away!!

Although I'm a few minutes early, the time feels right ~ so here I sit ~ globe in hand, ready to upload and to share my personal message with the world.

As a child of the 60's I turned 9 right about the time that the Beatles came to America... a life changing experience for any young girl. Theirs were the first songs I listened to on my transistor radio (borrowed from older brother). My first boyfriend CRUSH was Paul. When I went into the hospital, (another first) for a tonsilectomy, the cute boy next door gave me a Beatles Magazine for a going away gift. I melted! To this day I still get so happy whenever I hear those early hits like "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" and "Twist and Shout!"

Sounds frivolous, right?

Yet I will never forget the impact that the song, Imagine, had on me since I first heard those unforgettable lyrics. They still bring tears to my eyes, as they did again, TONIGHT, because the message in the song John Lennon wrote is simple, clear and earth-shakingly important to me.. and to the world.

I will also never forget my reaction, upon learning that my then, new husband, told me these were the most important lyrics he's ever heard! Then and there, I knew we were a match made in heaven!

Thank you Beatles. Thank you John. Thank you Mimi!


"Imagine there's no Heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky

Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too

Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one."

18 October 2010

boston sept '10
Originally uploaded by cookievf
" A friend is one to whom one may pour out all the contents of one's heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that the gentlest of hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away."
- Arabian Proverb

17 October 2010

Heaven Has A Special Angel Today

Alsace Region (Mulhouse, Neuchatel, Strasbourg, Bonne) and Paris, FRANCE. Bone, TUNISIA. New York City, NY. These are the places that my husband's grandmother, Margot, lived before a long, arduos journey with her family to America where they finally settled in Connecticut.

She was 99.

Her involuntary (and frightening) exodus began when Nazi Germany invaded her hometown in France and she had to make her SOLO escape on foot... ☆ PREGNANT ☆ and caring for her very young daughter, my mother in law! In her words, "I had to leave our home, everything, with a baby in my arms, a baby in my belly and a RUCKSACK on my back for milk and diapers!" This AMAZING WOMAN had to travel alone before she could be reunited, with the help of the Red Cross, meeting up with her husband in the south of france! Soon afterwards, they continued their terrifying journey to make the crossing to Algeria, quite possibly on one of the last ships leaving the country for an African destination.

In Bonne, Algeria near the border of Tunisia, they moved in with cousins and though his grandfather took on horribly demeaning jobs to make ends meet (grave digger & more), they barely had barely enough to eat. Another troubling story I have been told was when Margot's mother Alice (a Le Cordon Blue graduate who was employed as a chef by the author, Edna Ferber in NYC) sent them a shipment of basic food and necessessities. When the authorities destroyed the packages upon inspection, the family was forced to separate the dried beans and peas from the powdered soap by hand! A story that has been told and retold over 6 decades to her descendants!

It feels good to write about it here; to be able to release some of the pain and who knows how many untold stories, out into the world... to set it free as she has been sent home to her Creator <3>
Less than 20 years after they arrived, her husband died of heart disease/high blood pressure at the age 58. Happily, my husband was 12 years old and can still treasure MANY wonderful memories of his loving grandfather. Margot was often known to repeat "he was the TRUE LOVE of my life!"

While writing tonight, I asked my husband to recall some of his childhood memories and he just said "I was very close to my grandfather who loved to take me places and I often spent the night with them. Family gatherings revolved around food & cooking! This was central to the 4 women: my mother, my aunt, my grandmother and my great-grandmother who were always in the kitchen... for hours, preparing fine French dishes. Of course, this was followed by hours spent around the dining room table EATING!" He said, "I remember that my grandmother loved showing me off when out to dinner for my birthday because the waiters were impressed by my menu selections." He was under the age of 10!

I have to close these stories of family memories, food and love, by saying that as I was typing, my husband was IN THE KITCHEN cooking an incredibly delicious shrimp scampi for dinner! It's in the genes ~ lucky me!

Many joys and a long, rich life followed. Tonight we are saying a prayer for this family's deep loss. Kiss someone you love tonight ~ we are all only here for a short while XO

13 October 2010

A Family's Pride for "Our" WWII Veteran

A little background history on naval aviation in the US:

By the end of WWI, Naval Aviation had firmly established itself as a premier fighting force for our country. At this time, approximately 100 pilots were being trained each month. As the nation entered into WWII, Naval Aviation and Pensacola was again called upon to produce the much needed flight crews to support the war effort. Naval Aviator production grew to over 1000 pilots a month and the Navy's aircraft inventory swelled to over 130,000 aircraft and during 1944, NAS Pensacola trained an all time high of 12,010 pilots that year. It is said that the War in the Pacific was largely won by the heroic actions of Naval Aviators aboard the carriers that wages war both at sea and during the island campaigns supporting the Marines and Army ground forces.

His story:

After college, my father joined the Navy and waited to be called. Upon graduation from Springfield College, with a degree in Phys.Ed., he returned to his hometown in New Jersey and taught the same while coaching Basketball. I recently learned that during this same time, in addition to teaching and coaching, he also travelled the short distance to Philadelphia and was a dance instructor (in his spare time) for Arthur Murray Dance Studio.

When dad was called up, he was selected for Naval Air Primary Flight Training Command, studying long and hard over the next 9 months, to become a pilot. He studied at some of the top universities on the east coast and was eternally grateful for what he called, "a million dollar education!"

Following several months deliberation, it was determined that dad's graduating class would not be needed for active duty, as our military successes increased and there was no longer a need to replace our downed pilots. My father would become a (fighter plane) Flight Instructor. Having gotten his wings, my parents could now go forward with their plans to be married. What a relief my mother must've experienced to learn her new husband would remain stateside and they could live off-base together!

... and they lived happily ever after, married for almost 60 years - xo

18 September 2010

Updated Display

Please refer to June 12 post, as a reference. Or, better yet, scroll down past Twitter, to just beneath my photo (tags) and click on "display."

Table one. Found a nice, tall "T Bar" for $5.00 at a store closing, that will hold 24" chains.

Rotating display rack was a Thrift Shop find for $3. Handmade earring cards finally allow me to eliminate those DREADED dangling price tags!! YUCK!

Table two at the very posh

Linda Rich Salon, 32 Church St, New Milford, CT

28 August 2010

April in Boston

The first of four trips this year, April 2010 clearly rates as one of the TOP FIVE ALL TIME (out of 50) trips to this fine city in the last 15 years!

Following any day game, no matter what the weather, it's a tradition to walk from fenway park to dinner in the north end by way of our favorite martini bar! That afternoon we decided to take a new route through kenmore square, down comm ave through the neighborhoods of back bay and beacon hill across the top of the commons and on through faneuil hall to hanover street.

We had to slow our pace to take in all the history and fine architecture, courtyards in bloom and vintage facades that surrounded us on this rainy day under a leaden, overcast sky!

Umbrellas or not, the air was crisp and fresh, the walk and the company invigorating and the lighting perfect for my photo shoot. Truly memorable!

Ice Cold and Dee-lish!

And don't forget to look down!

11 August 2010

Creating a Brand...

New Etsy Header

... and hopefully a following!

I'm so lucky to have a very dear friend like Michelle, who is a brand consultant & marketing and social media strategist ~ giving me advice these days! Check out her website here.

In addition to stressing the importance of daily "tweets" (check it), she has always stressed the importance of "continuity" as I began to market my handmade jewelry business (she even had a hand in sparking the flame by gifting me with some of her amazing beads & gemstones last fall!)
This aspect has had me completely STUMPED for 6 months and I feel as though I've finally had a breakthrough.
The problem. What to name my business:

- email: cookievf
- flickr: cookievf
- twitter: cookievf
- ebay: vickstress (not selling there)
- etsy: vickstress for continuity.. 4 YRS AGO, when i was just a b-u-y-e-r!
- blog: beautyofthegarden
Ever the goal:
  • Create a clear message
  • Convey accurate representation
  • Convey the need for your product/service - or make it beautiful and impossible to resist =D
  • Convey QUALITY
  • Make it easy to remember, so potential customers can find you!

The solution:

As I am still in the very early stages, I've decided NOT to give the business a name, therefore avoiding having to create a new etsy shop & set up a special FB page, etc... I have decided to simply use my given name. Sounds easy, but "WHEW!" what a relief now that the decision process is finally over.

For continuity sake, I added my name to my flickr account and created a business card ands etsy header with a similar theme. It's a beginning! Now I am making earring cards to better display my jewelry and working on blog ideas....... gotta run!

New Business Card

06 August 2010

Hipstamatic.. my 1st choice for "grunge"

Hipstamatic is an iphone app that came on the scene with great fanfare, in late 2009 that's described as "digital photography turned analog."

There are a CRAZY number of combinations to choose from with interchangeable lens, flash and film which, i have to say, is so UP MY ALLEY as I've had a life-long love affair with anything old, vintage, retro, faded, rusty, broken & chipped!

It didn't take very long to see just how popular this app has quickly become with flickr groups, websites and contests popping up everywhere!

The Big Hipstamatic Show monthly contest
Official Hipstamatic website
Official Hipstamatic TWITTER
Hipstamatic FLICKR (60,254 items)
365 Days Hipstamatic FLICKR (1,207 items)
Hipstamatic NYC FLICKR (793 items)

Well, you get the idea!

Being keenly aware of the grunge-y, gritty effects available with Hipstamatic, I just HAD to take a few pics when I noticed we were standing in a "warehouse" surrounded by beer kegs and brewing equipment. Actually, the brewmaster took the first one =D

Monthly Trip to Captain Lawrence Brewery, Pleasantville, NY
Originally uploaded by