March 26, 2008

Anthony Minghella (1954-2008)

I was saddened to hear that Anthony Minghella, the director of the films "The English Patient", "Truly, Madly, Deeply", and "The Talented Mr Ripley" (among others), died on March 18.

The English Patient will always hold a special place in my memory. It was one of my favourite movies for a while. I must have seen it five times the year it came out. In fact, it inspired a trip that I took to Turkey in 1997. I know, I know, the movie isn't set in Turkey. But, my entire trip was inspired by the following scene:

Almasy (Ralph Fiennes): " I claim this shoulder blade -- no, wait -- I want -- turn over -- I want this! [Tracing the hollow indentation of her throat] This place, I love this place, what's it called -- this is mine! I'm going to ask the king permission to call it the Almasy Bosphorus."

And that was that. I had a huge crush on Ralph Fiennes at the time, and that scene put the idea in my head that I had to get to the Bosphorus, which it turns out, is the strait that separates the European part of Istanbul from the Asian part. Basically, what happened was:

That year, Ralph Fiennes was appearing in a Chekov play in the West End, so I stopped over in London for a few days just to see the play. Inspiration is a funny thing. So, thank you Anthony Minghella, for inspiring a wonderful trip, and for many wonderful movies.

March 12, 2008

Featured Etsy Seller: Vintaj

Before waxing poetically about jewelry designers Vintaj, I'll first explain a little bit about Etsy. To put it simply, Etsy is an online marketplace where people sell handmade goods. You can find all manner of items on Etsy. The only criterion is that the seller has to have made it with their own wee hands. You’ll find jewelry, soaps, lotions, clothing, art, furniture, paper goods, toys, makeup, and, of course, a $500,000 handmade motorcycle.

You might be thinking ... oh, like Ebay! Take my advice and don't mention Ebay to an Etsian. Items aren't auctioned, but instead have a fixed price. It's more like an online arts and crafts fair than a garage sale. And, it's a far more pleasing aesthetic experience. If you haven't already, check it out for some wonderful, unique handmade items. And don't bother asking what Etsy means. When it comes to this topic, they're as secretive as the Bush administration.

From time to time, I'll be featuring an Etsy seller. It may be someone from whom I've made a purchase, or it may be a seller whose work I simply covet. I'm starting with one of my favourite Etsy sellers: the jewelry designers collectively known as Vintaj. I know a thing or two about this seller, as I own a thing or two or six of theirs.

Vintaj specializes in natural brass (bronzey brass, not brassy brass) jewelry with a vintage flair. I love the intricate swooping filigree patterns combined with beautifully coloured stones, pearls, and art glass. Many of the designs are inspired by nature and include motifs like butterflies and dragonflies. I own a few stunning necklaces and earrings that I can easily mix and match. Here’s an excerpt from their profile:

“We hand embellished each and every piece of natural brass to achieve it's rich unique bronze color and luster without the use of chemicals or plating. We have an exacting, 7 stage, environmentally friendly, hand process. This bronzey vintajey color that we achieve is what we have painstakingly built our findings company on.”

March 09, 2008

Spring is just around the corner ... can't you tell?

Okay nature, enough with the snow already!

Here in Montreal we got hit with two whopping snow storms this past week, bringing the total snowfall this winter season to 347 cm (135 inches). This is just shy of the record set in 1970-71 of 383 cm. Are we going for the record this year? Is that it?

In case you're curious, it took three people a total of 45 minutes to dig out the car (that's over 2 man hours)!