Monday, February 28, 2005

Clairs or Tiffany's? Look To Save Your Pennies

Some of us love indulging in the luxury life of a platinum ring retailed at Tiffany’s. Then again, there was that one time that those little 5 dollar earrings came with a flash of admirable compliments from Clair’s. If you’re in a quick fix and want something luxurious for that new Cocktail party that your boss is throwing on Saturday, the best way to go, in my personal opinion would be Clair’s, or some store that retails jewelry for a reasonable, great looking, but not-so-spendy cost. There’s several looks to go from, and you don’t necessarily have to dump that 1 year worth of savings just for that one necklace that you have wanted oh-so bad. There’s chandelier earrings, toppled on top of the simple jeweled clean-cut diamond look that costs less than $10 bucks at various inexpensive, but none the less awesome stores. Whether you are going for nice and simple to dazzling and head turning, there is where it is easy to fake instead of spending your whole pay check on that pair of $500 dollar earrings at Tiffany’s. You can pull off that celebrity style, high priced look with only the cost of a slice of pizza at the mall. Is all you have to do is act and play your part, and you’ll be the star of the show! Whether it’s for school, a date, a pageant or just to feel great, do yourself a favor and save yourself some money. If you go bargain shopping for the same look of that eye popping price tag in the little shops at your local mall, you’ll probably come close to, if not better than what the high retailers cost. If you have the money to spend on that oh-so high priced jewelry, go for it! Or if there’s something that your conscience is just nagging at you to get, then do it! But make sure to be wise and look around and keep your eye open for very similar products for a fraction of the cost, you might strike lucky!

Simple Shrimp and Barbeques..

Eliza Ferree

Did you know the word Scampi is actually Italian for Shrimp? That is right, so the next time you order Shrimp Scampi just think you are actually saying, "Shrimp, Shrimp." It is kind of funny. Just a little trivia for you.

Here is a simple recipe for you:

1 pound of shrimp
lots of butter in a skillet
seasoning of your choice

Boil you butter in the pan, throw in shrimp. Do not forget to stir it; otherwise it will stick to the pan. (trust me, it has happened to me several times already) Sprinkle in your choice of seasoning, and wait for it to turn pink. (I love garlic on everything, so that is what I am adding) This normally takes about 5-10 minutes, depends on the size of your shrimp and if they are thawed or not. Serve over a bowl of rice and presto.

I am still learning as I go, but I plan on practicing a lot of new dishes in the next couple of months. Do you have any favorites? I think I want to try them on a stick and in barbeque sauce as well. There is nothing better than sitting back and smelling a barbeque and when you add seafood to the mix than that is perfect.

Speaking of barbeques, make sure you know how to light one. I am not kidding, last year this happened to me. It was just a simple grill, the type you throw the tiny black squares inside (yes I know what they are called, charcoal) and light. That is it, nothing to turn on, nothing to worry about exploding on you. I had thrown the charcoal bits in the grill, poured LOTS of gasoline on top of them and tossed in a match, two matches, no wait oh I probably threw in half the box of matches but it would not light. I ended up going over to a neighbor's house to ask how to light it. I had not put the charcoal pieces in a pyramid; I will never make that mistake again. The next time I will succeed at lighting it and not have to ask a neighbor for help.

I can almost taste those barbequed shrimps on a stick; maybe I will even add a bit of pineapples on with them.

Choosing a television for your child....

There are so many different types of televisions out there these days, and they are not just televisions. You have regular old boxed type televisions, flat televisions, and televisions with VCR combo, television with DVD combo or even television with DVD/VCR combo.

Shopping is no longer an easy task the person that is not technical savvy, but there are a few things to consider that can help a person like me.

See recently my son asked if he could have a television set in his room, most people would jump at no way but I thought about it. Did I want my son, (no he is not a teen) to have a television set in his room? Is he responsible enough? If I did get one how much would it cost? Would I be too upset if he broke it? Did I want it to have a VCR or a DVD combo to come with it?

Many questions to decide on, yes I believe now he could be old enough. Granted I had a television in his room when he was a toddler and he somehow managed to break it. No, of course I did not get mad; it was my fault for having it in there. To this day I still have that television VCR combo; however the VCR part of it no longer works, the television part is just fine.

Here are some good choices for a child:

19" inch television with VCR combo, these come in all different types like Sponge bob, Barbie, Mickey Mouse, etc, (all types of characters) these are about $100. There are other versions with DVD combos but those are much higher and easier to break. If you are not looking for a combo they have regular 13" televisions that range $50 on up, some even come with a remote. (Perfect for the kitchen counter) There are even smaller versions that are boom box combos; these are boom boxes with a tiny television screen on the front that ranges from $30 on up. (Very cute)

I have shopped around endlessly online and offline and I have come to the conclusion with my son's help that we will get a television radio combo. That is right, yet another different type of television. This one does not cost as much as all the rest we looked at and I figured if it broke I would not be too mad. Not to mention this one didn't have a lot of programming to figure out, as I said I am not techno savvy and that includes electronics in all forms.

You ask exactly what it is, it is a 5" television/radio combo, it's the type you can take anywhere as it has an ac adapter (which I am slowly learning more and more about) or it will take 10 C batteries. Yes, that's a lot of batteries but to me it's worth it in the long run. At $30 I do not think I can really beat that and I have given him an incentive, he must earn half and then I will pay the other half. He is learning the value of a dollar and I know he would not purposely ruin it since he is paying his hard earned money for it.

Warm Up Your House!

Hey are you like me right now? I think this time of year affects everyone the same. Winter just seems to be dragging on and on, and since we are mostly stuck inside of the house, we get sick of looking at the four walls (and possibly each other!).

Well, here is an inexpensive way to change all that! Candles and flowers! There are so many places for candles and flowers in and around your home. Candles and flowers can bring instant warmth (not to mention lovely smells to your house!) Flowers can bring instant color to any room. There are endless possibilities on displaying both.

Here are a few ideas for candles -
Candles can be used in the front hallway to welcome guests or in any room for that matter. For some reason, people tend to gravitate to them. Thrift store glass wear, mason jars, small wood bowls on top of a small mirror are all good holders for candles. Floating candles can be floated in any sort of bowl. You can get a pretty clear glass bowl at a thrift store (even a desert bowl) and put a drop of food coloring in the water and float a candle on the water and viola, you have an instant center piece.

If you have several small jars or glasses the same, line them in front of the window, or on top of the mantle of your fire place. I know someone that has a grouping of different sizes and shapes of glass jars with candles in each in their fire place. Group several candles that are different sizes, but the same color on an old wooden plate or on a cake stand to create an interesting focal point. In the fall, hollow out small pumpkins and other gourds and arrange them as a center piece each gourd having a tea light candle in it. I have candles in my bathroom. When it's mommy time (a rarity at best) and time for a soak in the tub, I fill the bathroom with candles. And of course, what is Christmas without candles? A large, fat red candle on the dining room table with small evergreen boughs is a perfect way to celebrate the season.

Of course always use caution when using candles. NEVER leave candles unattended and do enjoy them!

Ideas for flower display:
Think of offbeat and rather quirky ideas for flower display. Like in the bathroom, I have them in an antique toothbrush holder. a blossom in each slot. Or in the kitchen, display your bouquet of flowers in a pretty tea pot or tea cup. Small vases or small glasses (or for me, I collect cobalt blue glass and have many shapes and sizes) and put a bloom in each one of them and line them up as a center piece on your table, or in a windowsill. Or use clay pots with little plants in them for the same idea. (a miniature indoor herb garden perhaps?) Even the heads of flowers can be displayed. No stem? Not to worry. Get out a pretty saucer and put in a bit of water. Even a bouquet of dried flowers can bring enough color into a room to make it look special.

There are so many affordable ways to bring color and warmth into a room or house by using candles and flowers. And maybe, just maybe that will give you the lift you need to survive the rest of the winter.

Fashion Apparel Articles Coming Soon

Check back in the near future for fashion related articles at this site.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

An ode to chocolate

Chocolate is one of the most delectable foods in existence. Quite simply, its flavor is mild yet intense, creamy and sensational, luscious and pleasurable. I love chocolate.
Recent studies have given validation to my passion for chocolate. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants shown to improve the health of the human heart and even prevent cancer. Antioxidants help reduce the negative effects that aging have on the body. For several years, scientists have cited green tea as having high values of some powerful antioxidants called polyphenols. But, dark chocolate has up to four times more of these beneficial substances than tea.
Need a lift? Other researchers have focused on the "feel good" effects of chocolate and believe the delicacy raises levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is one of the brain chemicals responsible for helping us to relax. It also contains natural painkillers and other substances that contribute to feelings of happiness and overall well-being.
So, what's not to like about chocolate? A statement that chocolate is responsible for increased tooth decay and cavities have been disproved. In addition, claims that it causes acne have not held up to scientific study.
Consumption of too much chocolate can lead to weight gain, however. So consume chocolate in moderation, but enjoy those little bites and know it is really good for you!

Designing a Fun and Functional Kid's Room

So, your baby has outgrown the nursery decor or you toddler is ready for a big girl's decorating scheme. How do you pick elements for your child's room that are fun, but also functional?

Think Storage

Kids have lots of stuff. Lots and lots and lots of stuff. So, one of the most important things when creating a design for children's rooms is to plan for lots of storage. Bookshelves, chests of drawers and armoires are all good. Closets with storage to maximize the space are excellent. But, what can you do when space is at a premium?

Beds will built in cupboards or drawers are a place way for kids to stash some of their gear. Or, make sure your bed-frame sits high enough so you can stash some generously sized storage boxes underneath. Still need more space? Think vertically and put shelves up high to store decorate and collectible objects that do not need to be readily accessed.

Color and Theme

When picking colors and themes for kids' rooms, it is a delicate balance. You want them to have an environment they love, but for it to be something they won't outgrow in a week. Since paint is fairly easy and inexpensive to change, you can either let your kids pick a bold favorite for the walls or pick a classic to adorn with other bright elements.

Try to select a theme that can grow with your child. Classic themes for girls include floral designs, princesses, butterflies, fairies and beach-inspired designs. Boys may enjoy nautical themes, vehicles, dinosaurs, animals, bugs and designs inspired by adventures. The theme should reflect your child's interests, but allow for additions and growth as he matures.

Use less expensive consumable or easily replaceable items to add trendy elements to the design. For example, an undersea room can easily support a Sponge Bob theme by using throw pillows, posters and a few other inexpensive elements with the character motif. Then, when Sponge Bob is outgrown your child is left with the more classic undersea decor. Your daughter loves everything Cinderella? Get her a castle shaped bookshelf and a frilly satin coverlet, but keep the glass slipper and carriage motif for the toss pillows, the nightlight and some collectible figurines. This also works well when two girls with different interests are sharing a room; choose a couple complimentary solid colors and let them accessorize in small ways on their own beds and dressers.

Keep large furniture items in classic designs, and instead customize things like fabric, wall art and other accessories. Choose a classic lamp base and place a themed shade on it for an easy way to carry the design of your choice into the lighting.

Party planning: how many beverages do you need?

When you are planning a party, it can be tricky to determine how many drinks you should assume each person will consume. Here are some industry standard calculations and some tips for planning so no one will go home thirsty.

Liquor
Most caterers and other experts suggest planning for an average of 3 alcoholic drinks per person for cocktail parties. For longer functions such as wedding receptions with meals and dancing, estimate 4 to 5 alcoholic drinks per person. First, consider the type of event you are planning and anything you know about the attendees and adjust the drink average accordingly. Also, consider the drinks you plan to offer. If you are having a single type of beverage for example wine, beer or margaritas you can probably stick to the average. However, if you are having a mixed bar, you will need additional liquor, since you can not count that equal numbers of people may want rum, gin, vodka or scotch.


Soft drinks
It is important to provide non-alcoholic beverages at your party, whether or not alcohol is being served. Some people simply do not drink alcohol; others will choose not to because they are driving, they are ill, or simply thirsty. In addition to water, you should plan on each person drinking at least half of a liter of soda or sparkling water at an event. For long outdoor events, events with no liquor, or during hot weather, increase this estimate to 1 liter per person.
If children are invited to your party, plan on offering juice boxes for the younger contingent. They help prevent spills and will keep the littlest ones happy. Plan on 2-3 juice boxes per tot.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Power Tool Related Articles Coming Soon

Check back soon, and often. In the near future, articles related to power tools will be posted here, including tips and tricks for using power tools, home improvment articles, and more.

Friday, February 25, 2005

The Vegetarian Dinner Party

The Vegetarian Dinner Party
by Kat Yares

Why is it that meat eaters cannot understand that some people choose to fix a vegetarian meal? Do they really think that if they don't have meat at every meal, something bad is going to happen to them?

The other night we had friends over. I cooked lasagna, vegetarian lasagna. I made the ricotta from scratch, using fresh goats milk. I made the noodles from scratch, using the best flours. The Italian Parmesan sauce had simmered on the stove for several hours, blending the flavors perfectly. And the veggies, simple chopped onion, peppers and eggplant.

So my friend's husbands says, "Hey, something smells good."

I say, "It's lasagna."

He says, "That sounds delicious."

So, at the table, my husband opens a bottle of wine and pours while I bring my masterpiece from the kitchen. He takes one look at it, "I thought you said lasagna?"

"It is lasagna." I reply.

"But where's the spaghetti sauce." he asks.

"It's vegetarian, Bill, try it. I promise you'll like it." My husband says quietly.

His nose curled and a sour expression settled on his face. Meanwhile, his wife had already served herself and taken her first bite.

"This is fabulous." she said, sincerity in her voice.

"Thanks." I said, still looking at Bill who was still looking at the pan, his plate still empty.

Finally, his wife reached over and put a small piece on his plate. "Take a bite," she said. He did.

"Where's the meat?" he asked.

"There is no meat." my husband responded.

By now, I was ready to roll on the floor laughing. I wasn't angry, for some reason, I found Bill's reluctance to even give the meal a chance extremely funny.

Finally, unable to control myself, I looked at Bill, very seriously and asked, "Would you rather have a ham sandwich?"

To which he replied, "I think I would."

We all started laughing and I went to fix Bill the best ham sandwich I could come up with. He ate it with relish, like it was his last meal.

As the rest of us sat around the table, eating, sipping wine, laughing and talking, I noticed Bill was not drinking his wine. And I know why too, everyone knows you don't serve burgundy wine with pork.

Popcorn shrimp, you'll eat more than a handful...

Popcorn shrimp is very addicting!

That is right, I was rummaging around earlier looking for something quick and easy to make and decided on a bag of frozen popcorn shrimp. You know the type that come in a box and you throw in the stove at 450 for 10 minutes. These were the popcorn shrimp that are tiny and breaded. I only did half the bag as my glass dish I was using would only hold that much, but within minutes of them being done they were gone; I did what anyone else would do. I cooked up the rest of the bag.

Popcorn shrimp is one of those things that you do not have to make with anything else, they are good just by themselves. Of course if you want to mix something with them (making this into a quick and simple meal) I am sure you could quickly fix up some noodles or rice as a side or maybe you would just throw them in. You do not need anything fancy just an 8 oz bag of noodles, boiled, drained and toss in the butter, parmesan cheese and any other spices you may want. Eat up.

Frozen popcorn shrimp in a box is not a favorite for many but when they are this quick who can argue. They are the type of thing to make if you are about to run out of the house or want to heat something up for lunch or a midnight snack, however if you are planning on eating them late I would only make a few. But if you are anything like me the box will be gone by morning.

Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend

They say diamonds are a girl's best friend. Is that entirely true? Will any diamond do? The answer is probably not. Just like women, diamonds come in all different shapes and sizes. So before heading out to make your next diamond purchase, consider some of the options that are available.

There are seven basic diamond shapes to choose from including round, marquise, princess, emerald, pear, oval and heart. Each shapes has its own traits and characteristics that may in fact make it your girl's best friend.

Round:
This is probably the most popular shape for diamonds. It has a classic look and feel that has been used in jewelry for years.

Marquise:
This diamond is very traditional. Its shape is often times compared to the shape of a baseball diamond. Legend has it that this diamond was actually named after the Marquise of Pompadour.

Princess:
This diamond is a square shaped diamond with sharp corners. It is very popular lately, running second only to the round shape diamond.

Emerald:
This diamond has an old world elegance that has lost appeal in recent years. The shape is more that of a rectangle than a square. Since its outside edges sit rather flat, this diamond shape works well with side stones including baguettes and half moons.

Pear:
This diamond is shaped like a tear drop. Its shape makes it most suited for necklace pendants, but it is also used for engagement rings and other types of jewelry.

Oval:
The oval shape of this stone makes it less popular for solitaires and more popular for multiple stone rings. For example, you may have seen the oval diamond make its appearance in the ever popular three stone rings, celebrating your "past, present and future."

Heart:
This shape is a little harder to find than the other six. Many women like the heart shape because it symbolizes love and romance. This shape is especially popular around holidays like Valentine's Day.

So while diamonds may be a girl's best friend, they come in just as many shapes and sizes as women do. Before you make a big diamond purchase, try to find some of the shapes and styles of diamonds that appeal to whoever the diamond is being purchased for.

Outdoor grilling

When you think of summer entertaining, you inevitably picture a barbecue grill covered with succulent meat and vegetables. Not only does outdoor grilling get everyone out on the patio, it prevents the oven and stovetop from heating up the house. Whether you like to grill gourmet delicacies or just throw some burgers on the BBQ, these grilling facts and tips can help you enjoy delicious outdoor dining.

Grilling vs. barbecuing: Technically, grilling and barbecuing are not the same thing. Grilling refers to anything cooked on a grill; barbecuing has traditionally been the slow cooking of food on a grill over dry heat. For barbecuing, the heat is usually indirect and the meat must be basted quite regularly to preserve moisture.

Grilling vegetables: Many vegetables are delicious prepared on the grill. Bundle chopped vegetables in foil with a little butter and some herbs for a terrific side dish. Skewer large vegetable chunks and brush them with olive oil for vegetarian shish kebab; some vegetables that are particularly well suited for this are zucchini and summer squash, cherry tomatoes, eggplant chunks and green and red peppers. Even baked potatoes and corn on the cob can be prepared on the grill.

Grilling fish, meat and poultry: Many people feel that outdoor grilling was made for steaks and burgers. Cook beef at a high heat, searing the outside while retaining the tender juices. Use medium to medium-high heat for cooking chicken. Always marinate skinless chicken and baste it with butter or olive oil to prevent it from drying out on the grill. Fish cooks quickly at a medium temperature on the grill; it is done when the center is opaque and flaky. You may need a special smaller grate for the grill top so that tender fish does not fall through the grill onto the heat source.


Other tips:

- Before you heat your grill, spray the grate with cooking spray to help prevent sticking

- Use a meat thermometer for all meat products to ensure they are grilled safely.

What is a torte?

Traditionally, tortes are rich cakes made without flour, or with only a tiny amount of flour. Their density usually comes from ground nuts or bread crumbs and eggs. They also use sugar and flavorings and often are layered with creamy or fruity fillings. In modern times, the term torte has come to be used loosely to indicate any type of rich dense cake, regardless of the flour content.

The torte many people are most familiar with is the linzer torte, originally developed in Linz, Austria. The pastry of this torte is made of ground almonds, lemon zest, sugar and spices and it is liberally spread with raspberry preserves. By some definitions, this classic is actually a tart instead of a torte since it is more pie or pastry-like than cake-like.

The flourless chocolate cakes so commonly served for dessert in upscale restaurants today meet the classic definition for tortes. Made primarily of chocolate and eggs, flourless chocolate cakes sometimes contain ground almonds or hazelnuts along with sugar to create decadent confections.

However you define it, the world of tortes offers an array of delicious desserts, so try them all and decide for yourself.

Advertising Sells - The Art of the Ad Poster

I went to an antique market yesterday and noticed a lot of soda signs, tin and poster-board ones that were worth a pretty penny (on average from $100 - $150.). I was wondering about advertising posters, were they used a lot before television. Radio was the main venue of entertainment during most of the early 20th century - good for advertising, but not terribly visual. So how did they manage to show off their product?

The answer was the advertising poster. They advertised many things through the poster. They were not only used for alcoholic drinks and travel, they were used for pretty much everything. And not only in Europe, but in North America as well.

As much as it is important today, back in the first half of the 20th century it was just as popular to have a celebrity endorse your product by someone famous. "Lou Gehrig Ironman Batteries", "Babe Ruth Red Rock Cola"

Even a few brands we can identify today with had posters, brands such as "John Deere", "Kellogs' Rice Krispies" and "Indian Motorcycles".

Ad posters sold almost everything from perfume to trips ("See America by Train") to sports to food to circus to of course movies. Almost anything you ever wanted was advertised on a poster.

Is this type of poster a lost art? Yes, I believe it is, hence why most of these posters are big bucks to purchase. Yes, we still are in a visual age, but now it more the age of instant gratification more so than back then. We have all our senses assaulted by the mass media and we don't even have to leave our house for it to happen.

The majority of ad posters is mostly in the French as well as some Italian posters and were produced in the art deco and the art noveau style (which would date them late 20's early 30's). That seems to be the heyday of the ad poster. These types of posters are readily available to a person with money in their pocket. Asian and South American posters seem to be somewhat rarer and harder to find. None the less, you are pretty much able to find any poster on any subject you are interested in on the net. There are many poster dealers that will be more than happy to help you. So, keep in mind this is not a cheap investment but if you can afford to purchase one or more ad poster, it can only appreciate in value as long as you take care of it. My advice is to have it professionally framed either by the company that you are buying it from (some poster dealers have in house framing available) or take it to a framing store. Either way, you can enjoy your investmentt for a long time to come.

How I sorted out all the mess… well almost

Over the years, we all tend to gather all sorts of odd things that clutter rooms in our houses and make them look like the mess they inevitably end up being.

I discovered a rather simple way of solving this problem – at least in the living room. You may agree with what I did or disagree or just pick up an idea or two from the whole experience. Whatever you do, my hope is that all you fellow clutter-prone good people out there will gain something from this.

At first glance the simple thing to do would be to bite the bullet and throw out everything and redecorate from scratch. Even if you can afford to do it, I wonder how human all those folks who do this are.

Virtually everything I have in my house has some sort of sentimental value to me and there are some particularly “ugly things” (as my wife likes to call them) that I am very attached to and fond of. How else would the said item be still comfortably perched somewhere in my living room (of all places) and not with the trash? Either it reminds me of something or somebody, or some previously special person gave them to me. Or I picked it up at that time when… well, you get the drift.

So no matter how horrible my place looks, how do I just wake up one morning and get rid of everything?

So this is what I did. I made a firm decision not be overly ambitious and to do one room at a time, starting with the living room. That way I was sure of retaining the consolation of having plenty of space left to keep sentimental stuff that I was forced to remove from the living room.

I hope writing this article will give me the inspiration I desperately need to proceed with my redecoration exercise.

First I had to decide what new look I wanted. I seriously considered both contemporary and rustic. Then I picked out the items in the current mess that I could still keep without compromising the new look I wanted. Here with a little creativity you will be amazed at just how much you can keep - at least I was.

In my case I decided to go rustic, which was no sweat since I’d collected so much authentic African stuff. Still I believe that any look you choose should be fairly easy to achieve when you have decided on exactly what you want. Picking out items at the furniture store is really no big deal.

I love those rough hewn wood beams and the whole rustic touch that creates a feeling of simplicity, warmth and sincerity. And that is exactly what I got.

I’m starting to slowly get used to doing without most of my old stuff (the old couch’s absence has been a little more difficult to get over, although it is still in the house somewhere - I won't tell you where).

By the way, anybody out there with a clutter cure that works? I kind of need it.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Useful baking term definitions

While everyone knows what it means to mix or stir, often recipes for baked goods use other cooking terms that may not be so clear.
Baking stone: A baking stone is a heavy, flat stone or unglazed ceramic tile on which some goods are baked. The stone creates baking conditions similar to that of a brick oven and is often used to bake breads, rolls and pizzas.
Beating: When a recipe calls for ingredients to be beaten, they should be whipped or stirred well until they are smooth and blended. Often a whisk or electric mixer is used for this purpose.
Confectioner's sugar: This sugar is also known as powdered sugar. It is a fine powder, created by crushing granulated sugar and blending it with a very small amount of cornstarch to prevent sticking.
Creaming: The creaming process is used to combine fat, such as butter or shortening, with sugar until it is smooth and creamy. Creaming can be done with a spoon by hand or with an electric mixer.
Cut in: Cutting in is a method of combining cold fat (butter, margarine or shortening) with sugar without mixing the two together. A tool known as a pastry blender or a fork may be used to create the crumbly end product.
Dusting: Dusting is the same as sprinkling lightly. Usually dusting refers to placing powdered sugar on top of a dessert.
Kneading: Dough is kneaded by working it with the hands by pressing it firmly, folding it and repeating the process.
Proofing: Proofing is the process of allowing yeast dough to rise after it has been placed into the pan.
Whipping: Whipping is done to add air to a food. While whipping can be done by hand with a whisk, it is more effective to whip with an electric mixer or beater. Generally, the whipping process increases the volume of the food being whipped.

The Perfect Gift

I love my girlfriend Cassi more then I have ever thought possible. That is why I wanted to get her a birthday gift that went beyond the normal. I wanted to get her something that would let her know how special I really think she is.
There were a few problems though. The first was my rather limited income. The second was I had never bought jewelry for a girlfriend before. Let us analyze the second problem first. Within the world of jewelry there seems to be an almost infinite possibility of choices. At first glance this can be more then just a little overwhelming. Precious metals, precious stones, semi precious stones, birthstones, pearls, and diamonds make up the base list of possible combinations. It would be a nice walk in the park, if that was the only thing one needed to decide. As any man who has entered this endeavor knows the road ahead holds many more obstacles. Necklaces, bracelets, earrings, anklets, things I don’t even know where you put them. All are shiny, all are expensive, but to be honest all are not attractive.
Let’s get down to decision making. First off yellow gold belongs on Mr. T and old aristocratic women only, not my young attractive girlfriend. Emeralds only look good in yellow gold. Great, I am half way there. Only one million more metal, jewel, item combinations left to analyze. There are two items I will not buy, rings and tiaras. I will not buy a ring because that is way to easily confused for entry to the next level. While I would one day like to take that step with Cassi, her birthday was not the day I have in mind. I say no to tiaras because, even the statue of liberty looks a bit stuck up wearing one. As the list goes, no yellow gold, no emeralds, no rings, and no tiaras. According to my logic that leaves one thing, sapphire pendant on a white gold chain.
As far as I am concerned if you are going to buy jewelry you should buy the best quality you can afford. That means no lab created gems. The whole reason stones are precious is because of their rarity and miracle of creation in nature. An asthmatic guy in a white lab coat with a beaker and a pressure machine does not equal romantic gift. If I wanted to give something of that nature I would make a necklace with plastic beads and glitter myself.
Picking out what item you want to get your significant other, but if you are like me, broke, that is not enough. Sure I would like to be able to walk into a fancy privately owned store, where the jewelry is a craft and the pieces are original, but at this time in my life that is not a realistic option. The remaining option was embracing the McDonald’s of jewelry in the form of the mall. I tried first at Bailey Banks and Biddle. For a store located between the first floor restrooms and Cinnabon the people who work there are a bit high on the snobbery end of things. At first no one would talk to me, then once they did, that belittled my questions and gave me a hard time in general. I left the store knowing I would not ever return to purchase from them again. I finally purchased the pendant and chain I was looking for from another store within that mall. Though it was a bit costly, I think it was all worth it. Cassi loved the gift, and just as I imagined looked beautiful in the pendant. Now all I have to do is start saving up for the next time.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Who lives in your room?

The cliché ‘one mans trash is another man’s treasure’ is as true in interior design as it is anywhere else.

Your rooms do not have to be seamlessly themed. The furniture, the paintings, posters or fabrics in the drapes do not have to match. They can be of different periods, materials and color and still co –exist quite companionably. A piece of 50’s retro extravagance will be alright in the company of a shaker settle. It’s a matter of discernment, individual taste, confidence and style.

Do not be misled that chic belongs to the wealthy or is something defined by glossy magazines intent on marketing whatever is the current look.

Your rooms are yours to live in. Any ‘look’ you give them will feel imposed if it doesn’t resonate with you.

I sit typing this in my study. The charitable would call it ‘shabby chic.’ The less well disposed might be tempted to call it ‘a mess’. I call it mine and like it.

The things I choose to put around me are there because they meet two criteria and neither of them has to anything to do with monetary value or current decorating fashion. Those two criteria are simple.
Is it beautiful?
Does it function how I wish it to? Is it necessary and useful?

The first is a question of perception. Another cliché defines it well: ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’. Therefore my collection of 1950’s plaster women’s wall heads is delightful. Yes, I know they’re idealized but they speak to me of that age so clearly. They were never expensive and always regarded as ‘low brow’. That they are now quite collectible is a plus. I like them. They make me smile which fulfills the second of my criteria. Smiling is absolutely necessary.

Using my yardstick, my very old desk circa 1900, with its battered edges is equally lovely. As is the 1940’s rubber bladed fan, my high tech new comfortable chair, the old tin trunk covered with cushions rescued from a thrift shop( chosen because they were tapestry and someone had poured all that effort into them), the floor to ceiling book shelf filling one wall with all my favorites, old and new, a rug on the day bed my mother hand spun the wool for and knitted up, an old sea captain’s chair and the carpet coming from the end of a roll ordered by a local church. It’s deep olive green with a repeating gold fleur-de-lis: a classic. Then there’s the huge wicker basket brim full to tumbling over of gorgeous fabric samples: flamboyant, subdued, sumptuous and simple.

My room. It could be nobody else’s. Victoriana sits side by side with Art Noveau and Deco. Kitsch and fine art hang in close proximity on the wall.

In this room I am not a visitor. I am me.

Be bold. Have fun. Find out what you really enjoy and go for it.

Broccoli: the super-vegetable

Looking for a food to improve your overall nutrition? Try broccoli! This deep green vegetable, a Brassica family member, is filled with fiber and healthy nutrients. Rich in calcium, vitamin C and vitamin A, broccoli offers antioxidants that help slow the damage done to our bodies by the aging process. Broccoli also contains folic acid, protein and potassium. In addition to this vital minerals and nutrients, broccoli has substances that can aid the body in preventing and fighting cancer.

Still not convinced? Broccoli consumption has been shown to assist with irregular insulin levels and to keep blood sugar at healthy levels. Broccoli's high fiber content not only promotes digestive system health, it is great for dieters because it is filling and low calorie. At a mere 24 calories for a cup of it chopped raw, broccoli can be a hungry dieter's delight. Cooked, it compresses so one cup of the steamed version of this power-packed food contains 44 calories, still a deal for the weight-conscious. Scientific studies have shown broccoli's benefits to include cutting the risks of cancer, specifically colon cancer, stroke and heart disease. It may also prevent cataracts.

So, what are the best ways to eat broccoli? It can be eaten raw alone, in a salad or with dip. Broccoli can be cooked in a variety of delicious ways, although it is always advisable to steam or sauté it. Boiling broccoli removes a large number of the nutrients, so other cooking methods are preferred. Serve steamed broccoli with butter and salt or douse it in cheese sauce for a stand-alone side dish. Combine broccoli with other vegetables in soups or use it for a lovely primavera combination over pasta. Mix it into a delectable Asian stir-fry or use it in Indian curries; recipes using broccoli in delicious ways can be found around the globe.

Chocolate: a brief history

Humans have enjoyed the luscious flavor and creamy texture of chocolate for thousands of years. Early Mayans and Aztecs cultivated the prized Cacao Trees and used its cocoa beans to make tasty beverages.

Early Spanish explorers returned to Europe from South America, taking the cocoa beans with them. They tempered the Aztec style drink by adding sugar and vanilla to it and soon the modified beverage was popular throughout Europe.

As the usage of cocoa became more common, English Quaker bakers began to use the powdered form in baking, creating the first chocolate cakes in the mid 1600s. From there, the development of chocolate confections such as are enjoyed today was not far away. The mid 1800s brought the first chocolate bar, similar to those enjoyed by consumers around the world today, into production in England. Later in the century, a Swiss manufacturer developed a new formula that combined the cocoa powder, cocoa butter and sugar with dried milk to create milk chocolate.

Today, chocolate is enjoyed around the world, but the United States and Canada are currently the largest consumers of the treat.

The History of the Gemstone

Gemstones have been around almost since the beginning of time. The desire to have and wear beautiful things is not a new one. The Bible has over a thousand mentions of gemstones. King Solomon supposedly wore garnets into battle. Yet some stones are relatively new to the scene of fine jewelry, tanzanite, well loved for its brilliant blue purplish color was not discovered until the late 1960's in Tanzania, Africa.

Some stones were thought to have special powers, such as jade, which is thought to bring good luck to the wearer and was used in China as currency for many years. Garnet is thought to bring calmness to the wearer. Moonstone is thought to bestow spiritual understanding. Emeralds bring intelligence. Peridot was thought to drive away evil spirits. Amethyst enhances strength and peace. Opals were thought to help eyesight during the middle ages. The Bible says "Wisdom is more precious than rubies". Opals are mentioned by Shakespeare in his play. "The Twelfth Night". So, gemstones are well documented in the history books.

Stones such as Lapis Lazuli were ground up by the Ancient Egyptians and used for medicine and cosmetics. Turquoise was also used by the Ancient Egyptians as adornment for burials and in Mexico; the stone was thought to be only for the gods. Aqua marine was found in ancient Egyptian tombs and were used as tributes to the deceased. The Ancient Chinese thought that jade would preserve the body after death and buried their emperors with the green stone. It seems that most every gemstone that was around during ancient times was attributed to a god

Thousands of years ago, jewelry was made out of shell or ivory or gold or copper or bronze with these beautiful stones embedded in them adorned many people over thousands of years. Gemstone being adopted as birthstones in the North America is a relative new thing however, but not elsewhere. The aqua marine as an example, was adopted by the American Association of Jewelers as the birthstone for March in 1912.. But, it seems that ancient civilizations also had 'birthstones'. The Romans, for instance, used emeralds for the month of June

The significance of jewelry with gemstones have changed through out the years. So no matter how you chose to wear your gemstone, (even beads can be made out of them - although they are an expensive way to wear them) in a ring, earrings or necklace to name a few. They can be worn and enjoyed for years to come and passed down to future generations.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Eames chair: still a classic?

When Charles and Ray Eames designed and built the Eames lounge chair, their goal was to create a simple and practical lounger. The leather chair and matching ottoman used their trademark molded plywood and bases of cast aluminum supported the rest of the streamlined elements. Think you haven’t seen an Eames chair? Even if you have not seen an original, you would surely recognize the stylized design in the numerous knockoffs that dot furniture stores around the world. The chair has clearly inspired generations of furniture designers and the original is still sold today.

Also considered classics are Eames upright chairs. Their distinctive molding for seating comfort revolutionized the forms of dining, office and occasional chairs. Recreated today in fiberglass, molded plastic, various metals, wood and other materials, the chairs are ubiquitous in any haven of modern design.

The postwar designs of the husband-and-wife team, Charles and Ray Eames, modernized furniture with their accessible creations. Unlike many items designers deemed modern, the Eames paid special attention to comfort. They also focused on keeping their designs affordable. Inspired by science and technology, the Eames’ designs capture natural beauty and elegance in a way nearly unequaled. And, their efforts were always fueled by a desire to benefit the people around them.

A Decadent, Romantic Dinner For Two

A Decadent, Romantic Dinner For Two
By Kat Yares

When my husband and I are feeling the full combination of a little bit flush, very romantic and highly decadent we always start the evening with dinner.

Living as far away from a big city as we do, our choices are always limited by the selection at the local super center. It is indeed a limited selection, but it never fails to make us feel like we're special.

So, what does this decadent dinner consist of? First, we start with shrimp. Big, large shrimp, not the tiny popcorn size that you've barely noticed you've eaten. Next, we add scallops to the mix. The big meaty ones that you have to cut with a fork.

Then we add the cheeses. A little Brie, a round of Gouda (preferably smoked), a little Baby Swiss and of course, the required sharp Cheddar.

Our next stop is for bread and crackers. Not for any regular bread, but for what we call tiny bread. Comes in those one inch square packages and is perfect for the cheese. Same with crackers, they have to be the special, expensive ones also.

Now that we have our shopping done, it's time to head home. We put a bottle of wine on ice, and start the shrimp boil. When we're ready, he'll start the shrimp and scallops all in one pot. They are truly delicious that way. Me, I'll slice cheese.

We put all of this on a beautiful silver platter, grab two china salad plates and an empty bowl (for the shrimp shells). We take all this to the sofa and lay it out between us. The wine and the goblets are already there waiting for us.

Then we put on a romantic movie. We watch as we eat and feed each other. We giggle, laugh and cry at the movie while we enjoy a wonderful meal together with no interruptions.

While this may sound very silly and very simple, I can tell you that this meal is much better than anything we could be served in a restaurant, no matter what the price.

Our Love Affair With TVs

By Kathy Schaeffer.

So many memories of the current baby boomer generation revolve around the television set and the shows of any given decade of the 20th century. Now that we are getting further into the 21st century, things are different in what is allowed to be shown, but memorable family times can still be found around the television set just like in the past.

Gone are days of Lucy and Ricky Ricardo or Ward and June Cleaver when it was improper to show married people sleeping in the same bed. Gone are the days of many innocent things that are no longer considered innocent. Today every word and action has to be carefully monitored and sometimes we wonder if there are "censors" at work at all. But this is not a bad thing because the good and the bad sides of television, just as with the internet, both exist. Viewers (and surfers in the case of the internet) need to choose which side to visit.

During the Vietnam Era, as one example, news was often slow in getting back to the public. With today's cable and even more sophisticated capabilities, suddenly things from wars to state funerals to horrid natural disasters are no longer only reported hours or days later, they are brought live right into millions of living rooms around the world. This, too, is not a bad thing because television viewers are more news savvy than ever before and keeping up to date on current events is important to them.

No one is sure if there will ever be another "friend" to children such as the late Captain Kangaroo or Mister Rogers, but that doesn't mean that parents and children can't spend time together with the shows that are available in today's much different but still often family-oriented world. And thanks to the wonderful world of syndication, our children and their children are still able to meet the likes of Lucy and Ricky or Ward and June.

Memories of the television shows of past eras often bring smiles many years later. Some examples are things we never took time to realize back then in "the good old days" while huddling around the television set. For instance, at one time the major Saturday night activity for young families was to gather everyone around to watch Gilligan's Island. Did anyone at the time question why the Howells had packed trucks full of money, or Ginger had all those glittering dresses with her for what they all assumed was going to be "a three hour tour?"

Sunday nights for many years were devoted to Walt Disney and his "Wonderful World of Disney." There were days when school children rushed home to catch part of Dark Shadows and then later in time, The Brady Bunch, and usually choosing that over doing homework immediately. It just seemed like a normal part of a school day. These are all components of a nation's collective memory scrapbook, and all worthy of bringing smiles decades later.

Any article about television memories would be negligent in not mentioning the commercials of bygone eras as well as the regular shows. Ask anyone for an old TV jingle they remember and they will always sing it with a smile. It opened up a whole new way to advertise and apparently it was very effective considering we *do* still remember those jingles.

Another sweet memory from the past for many folks is the way that very often, memories of food are conjured up in the same thoughts as memories of television. This might be a huge bowl of popcorn or chips, or piping hot bowls of chili while watching Sunday afternoon football. The aroma of turkey cooking while watching a Thanksgiving Day parade, or munching on Christmas cookies and drinking eggnog while crying through It's A Wonderful Life for the umpteenth time, are all memories that marry food and television. Of course, the creators of the TV dinner consummated this love affair long ago, when in the mid 1950s, suddenly a whole meal could be cooked in one container and eaten, as the name suggests, while watching television.

Everything is much more complicated now with new technologies emerging almost constantly; and this includes television. For the first few decades of popularity, they looked basically the same and were the same size and color. In the initial decade of the television, that big box standing in your living room was a status symbol. Today it is probably safe to say that there are not many homes without a television, if not more than one set. There are many different sizes, shapes, and colors from which to choose, but still the lure of "watching TV" is the same as it has always been.

Memories of family times around the television may not have the same content in the future as they had in the past or present, but they will exist. The children of today will have memories of seeing terrible things happen in front of their eyes as if they had been there, but they will also have sweet memories of the shows they are growing up with and learning from. As the old adage says, "Everything changes, everything stays the same

It's a Frame Up

Nothing brightens up a wall more than a poster, but to frame or not to frame that is the question. Just how do you keep your poster looking in mint condition? (It's not just sticking them to the wall with masking tape anymore).

Sometimes when buying a poster, it comes to you 'boarded and bagged' which is exactly what says. When you purchase a poster sometimes there is an 'acid free' cardboard backing and an acid free plastic sleeve over the poster. If you cannot afford to purchase a frame right away, the best thing is to display it as is (but after a time, the plastic sheeting will not be as clear as the actual poster.)

Framing and lamination are other popular alternatives. Lamination is where your poster is put in a sleeve of acid free plastic and heat sealed. But of course, if you are buying a vintage poster for resale purposes, lamination pretty much destroys the value of the poster. So perhaps you should look at framing. Frames come in all shapes and is your best bet for keeping your poster in mint condition. Frames for posters need to be bought from a craft store or an actual framing place and is a rather pricey alternative to the other ways of display (traditional methods of framing can run up to $100.00) But can you do it yourself? Yes, but if it is vintage and worth money, you may want to spend some extra and get it professionally framed.

Here are some hints for displaying that poster, now that you have it framed. Do not hang it anywhere that is hit by direct sunlight because as with anything, direct sunlight will fade it. Hang your poster at or around eye level so you don't have to stretch to see it or if it's too low, it just looks odd. Don't plaster your wall with posters either, its better to have one as a focal point then five (which just makes your wall look confusing and can be too much of a sensory overload). The frame colour should be pulled from the dominant colour in the poster. But if you have several small posters, they can be grouped together as long as they are following the same theme.(cut up white paper into the same size as your posters and arrange them on your wall, until you are happy with the layout setting). Its alos best to hang a large, horizontal poster over say a couch or a hutch.

Just be sure to mount the poster and frame securely to the wall, because if it does slip off the wall, it could injure a child (depending on the size and the frame) of course. But no matter what your choice of framing and the place you chose to hang it, you should be able to enjoy your poster for years to come.

Seafood Tonight? Easy as 1-2-3!

Often new cooks back away from serving seafood because it is an unknown to them. I offer a step by step recipe for a fabulous seafood main dish. You can now assure yourself that you, too, can serve a great seafood meal with very little effort. Just follow the steps one by one and amaze yourself, your family, or your guests. Your home cooked meal will have a main dish called Scrumptious Scallop Casserole.
The things you will need to have on hand are: 24 ounces of frozen scallops, 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine, 1/4 cup of onion that has been chopped finely, a can of cream of mushroom soup, a half cup of milk, 1/2 teaspoon of curry powder, pepper, 1 cup of shredded Cheddar or American cheese, 16-ounch can of canned french-style green beans *or* another favorite green vegetable, 2 additional tablespoons of butter, and bread crumbs (from a regular loaf of bread you will be tearing up yourself.)
There, that was easy, making sure that you have the ingredients, but the rest will be as easy as 1-2-3 as well.
Step 1:Simmer your frozen scallops in boiling water for 4 minutes and then drain them. There is no need for a large amount of water, just enough to gently simmer them.
Step 2: Melt your first 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine and cook your chopped onion in it until the onion is soft and tender, but don't allow it to get brown. A high heat is not good for this.
Step 3: When your onion is soft, add your can of soup, the milk, the curry powder, the pepper, and one half cup of the cheese, but keep the rest of the cheese for later use. Stir this mixture until the cheese is melted.
Step 4: Cut through the scallops that you have cooked. Just one slice will be fine unless they are very large to start. This is a matter of preference, cut them to the size you want them to be. Combine the scallops with your french green beans or other green vegetable of choice. If it is a frozen vegetable, make sure it is cooked prior to this step.
Step 5: Put this mixture into your baking dish. A 10 inch by 6 inch dish works well.
Step 6: Pour the mixture you made with the soup over the scallops and vegetable in the baking dish.
Step 7: Put the rest of the cheese you saved over top of the soup mixture.
Step 8: Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and combine it with a cup of soft bread crumbs that you tear up. A piece or two of bread will be all that is needed. When the bread crumbs are combined with the melted butter, put it over the top of your casserole.
Step 9: Bake your masterpiece in a 400 degree oven (that you have pre-heated) for 20 minutes to half an hour until your cheese is nice and melted and the rest of the mixture is warmed throughout.
That is all that is needed, nine steps to a home cooked seafood dinner. Serve this with a side dish or salad, and a dessert of your choice and cooking will never have seemed easier.

A quick way to increase the whole grain fiber content of all your baked goods

Concerned about your family's health, but still want to make delicious baked goods? Increased consumption of fiber aids with digestive system health, has been shown to prevent cancer, lower cholesterol and aid in deeding. There are several simple ways to enhance the contents of cookies, brownies and quick breads.

Oats.
Grind whole oats in a blender or food processor until they are powdery. The substance will be coarser than processed flour, but there should be no large chunks. Alternately, purchase oat bran or whole oat flour. In many baking recipes, you can substitute the ground oats for one quarter to one third of the white flour without adverse effects to the recipe. The oat flavor is mild and adds only a mildly nutty taste to most items. This substitution works particularly well in chocolate chip cookies, banana bread, pumpkin bread and brownies. It is, however, not well suited for delicate butter cookies or many cakes.

Whole wheat flour.
Some of the flour in many recipes can be replaced with whole wheat flour. While several types of whole wheat flour are readily available, pastry flour is recommended for baking. In many recipes, it is possible to replace up to 50% of the white flour with whole wheat pastry flour. In more delicate recipes like pie crusts, consider replacing only one third with the whole wheat variety. Use whole wheat flour in crisps and crumble toppings and brownies. Whole wheat flour has a stronger flavor than white, so it is best used in recipes with robust flavors that it will not overwhelm.

Other high fiber, health-enhancing ingredients. To easily up the health benefits of many baked goods, simply add a tablespoon of wheat germ or ground flax seed. Flax seed has a nutty flavor and is rich in nutrients; it is a great source of alpha-loneliness acid, one of the powerful omega-3 fatty acids shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. Wheat germ, which is the center of the wheat kernel is rich in protein, vitamins and minerals as well as a great source of fiber. Add wheat germ when baking bread and rolls for extra punch.

Cheese fondue for dining fun

Think about cheese fondue and you may picture men in leisure suits and women in polyester mini-skirts dipping bread chunks between disco moves. But fondue is a timeless French classic that is experiencing a resurgence in modern cuisine.

Fondue pots are specially designed to allow you to cook at a table, over low heat provided by Sterno or another portable fuel. Diners use long forks to dip food into the steaming pot.

Cheese fondue is a delicious and creamy melted cheese sauce into which bite sized chunks of other goods are dunked. Try dipping bread chunks, raw vegetables and crisp apples into a cheese fondue.

This classic cheese fondue recipe makes a great appetizer.

CHEESE FONDUE
Ingredients
1 lb. grated Gruyere cheese
1 lb. grated Emmenthal cheese
1 large clove of garlic
2 c. white wine
1 TBSP corn starch
¼ c. kirsch liqueur
½ tsp white pepper
¼ tsp ground nutmeg

Slice a chunk off of the garlic clove and rub it inside the fondue pot to impart a subtle flavor. In a bowl blend the corn starch and white whine until they are smoothly blended. Place it in the fondue pot and add the grated cheese. Over low to medium heat, cook it, stirring constantly until the mixture is smoothly melted. Add the remaining ingredients and continue to cook, stirring constantly for five more minutes.

Monday, February 21, 2005

The Perfect Engagement Ring

Every guy wants to give their girlfriend an engagement ring they will love and want to showcase. With so many different ring styles some males discover that choosing the perfect ring is challenging. To achieve that element of surprise some guys prefer not to have their ladies involved in the selection process, nor give them any indication that they are contemplating proposing. The excitement level of the proposal tends to be intensified when the lady does not expect it. Despite a guy’s good intention, the ring is an outward symbol of a committed relationship, and women do want an engagement ring that they will love. Every woman has in mind the type of ring they would like. There are subtle ways that a guy can get this information from his lady without spoiling the surprise. It is suggested that the couple casually browse jewelry stores together. The guy could pretend as if he is comparing prices for a watch he wants to purchase for himself. Most women head straight to the ring section when inside a jewelry store. Once she starts looking at rings, the guy should join her. Pay attention to the style of rings she is drawn to. If she does not give any feedback, nonchalantly ask which rings she likes. If she is a woman who loves jewelry she will probably use this opportunity to pinpoint, and try on several different rings. Keep a mental picture of the rings she chooses. The plan may backfire. Some women are not jewelry lovers. In this situation the guy may have to consult her family and friends to get an idea of what she prefers. These individuals should be able to give suggestions. However, there are other factors that the guy should consider. What metal does she prefer? Be aware of whether she wears gold jewelry or silver. This is a determining factor in the type of band purchased. Is she simple or bold? If the woman's style is classic and laid-back, she may be uncomfortable wearing a ring that is huge with many diamonds. A solitaire may better suit her style. The ring size has to also be considered when choosing an engagement band. Surprise proposals can make it difficult for a guy to get his girlfriend's ring size. If family and friends are unable to provide this information, he may need to purchase the ring large, and have it sized down later. Observe the size of her hands. If her hands are of average size, purchase the standard size 7. If her hands are larger, purchase a larger size ring. When this basic information is gathered, the guy can then begin the process of selecting the perfect ring.

Maintenance tips for your sterling silver jewelry

If you have bought some Sterling silver jewelry, then you might be aware about the cautions that are needed to maintain its value and the usage of your jewelry. Jewelry is mainly intended for decoration, and if the jewel has lost its primary function, then there remains no charm in wearing it. Here are some points that you should take care for your silver jewelry care.

Sterling silver gets oxidized with time like all other precious metals. But it is said that if you maintain your silver jewelry, it gets improved with age and develops a lush patina. So its is advisable for you to take care of your jewelry:

  • It is advisable to clean your silver jewelry with a mild soap and water solution; and in the process, allowing the water to bead up afterwards patting dry with a soft cloth. And if the dirt is more stubborn, then it is better to choose jewelry cleaner designed for silver use. It is better to ask your jeweler to recommend an appropriate brand.
  • You are perhaps not aware that silver is the best conductor of heat and electricity. So it is better to keep the jewelry in a cool, dry place wrapped in a soft piece of felt or cloth. Do not store many jewelry pieces together, for, they can cause scratches by rubbing with each other.
  • If your jeweler has not told you or provided you with a polishing cloth or a fine piece of felt, then you should ask for one. Remember not to rub your silver with just anything, as it can brush off the luster from your jewelry. Tissue paper looks very soft but it has fibers and so can cause scratches on your jewelry.
  • Avoid exposing your silver to chemicals or chlorinated water. It will tarnish the luster of the jewelry and will render it un-wearable. It is not very good practice to wear silver jewelry while working in house for domestic chores.

Sterling silver jewelry is possession to be cherished, so make it one for you. These simple precautions can increase the life of your jewelry a lot, and you can enjoy its glare. People don’t like to part from their jewelry, which may be a gift from their loved ones. And to make that happen, some care has to be taken, as it is with every precious item in our life. So be careful while you use your silver jewelry! Keep it tarnish free and you will enjoy its long life and value for your cherished moments!

Buying a portable DVD player

A portable DVD can make a good choice of a bought item, if you think to spend your money for something really worthwhile. It is more striking when you come to realize the benefits that are accrued from a portable DVD player. It can make beautiful gift for your spouse as a wedding anniversary gift, or can be surprise birthday gift for your children. DVD player has its potential in making the customer believe that he has rightly spent the money and is getting maximum benefit through it. With these portable DVD players, you can watch movies anywhere and anytime. You can opt to watch educational or business related conferences that could make you more updated and learned. You can do whatever you can think about a display-er, which can best provide you the output in video format. Below are some features that you can should look for while buying a portable DVD player:


Dimensions

If you choose to have large rechargeable attached to your portable DVD, then the size estimation can be imagined by comparing it with a brick. There may be considerable variation in the weight and some may vary with several pounds. So it is always advisable that you check properly before you buy.

Disc Formats Supported

With the advancement of electronics technology, DVD players play standard formats coupled with CD-R, CD-RW or DVD-R as well. You can check for these if you like to have the features in your DVD player. Remember that adding these features to your portable DVD player can increase the weight of your device.

Outputs

It goes without saying that the quality of both sound and video outputs are best provided by these DVD players and can be like S-Video for video and Optical Out for audio. However, it should be noted that with the increase of quality, the price also increases. But take your time, for, you are not going to spend money buying a DVD player every other day. Consider and calculate before you make the final decision.



Screen

The screens have the same criteria of making it more costly; as for bigger screen, which of course are better, the price goes up. You will have to consider for it, but you will to buy a good one, for, screen is the only part that you will be looking at all the time. It is the only part that you are concerned with!

A good knowledge of the market and the features, that you should look while buying a portable DVD player, will arm you with enough discrimination while you go to select a good portable DVD player. The market is full of cheap and time-pass DVD players, which will be more attractive, but they fail badly at the stake of price. For they are unable to deliver when you require them the most. Imagine, you have taken your wife to a landscape picnic and have promised her a good movie with your new portable DVD player: and when you set all the things and got ready for the enjoyment, the system just failed for the battery gave way! What will you feel and how angry will you be? Rather search for the best DVD player and get one that can give you the joy for which these DVD players are famous!

TV Sets

The advent of television was the greatest of 20th century and it very recently its charm has been taken over the growing popularity of computers! No wonder, that the computer also involves a monitor and you can opt to connect the computer to TV channels by inserting the TV-Tuner card in your CPU. However, the TV set still has its uniqueness and TV manufacturing companies have provided many models.

There are very big size television sets that give an impression of home-theatre and you can really enjoy watching TV. There are many new technology features that are added to these TV sets to make the sound quality more and more clear. The woofer system added to the output speakers of the TV set make it a real theatre like sound, and one point you think that if you are sitting in theatre or in home! The advent and advancement in digital technology has provided a very good system to get better resolution and more clarity of the TV screen. The screens are provided with anti-glare systems that prevent your eyes to be affected by the rays that are coming out of the screen.

There are many new features added to the TV sets. You can connect the microphone and sing with Karaoke system. You can also attach VCR and DVD players to these TV sets and watch your favorite movies and other programs. You can also connect projectors that make these TV sets more suitable for educational and teaching programs.

As said earlier, TV sets come in variety of sizes. They are designed for the usage of multitude of people, for, some of them like very less screen area and the space required by the TV set. And the companies have even gone to make a TV set, which can be kept in the pocket of your pants. It is obvious that the screen area and the quality is less, but due to the new age technology, that can be enhanced to facilitate more the cause of these tiny TV sets.

Some bigger TV sets are preferred by the younger generation, as the sound system and the screen area are big and superior. They really like to get a hand over the new technology that actually rendered the TV sets with afresh design and appearance and again made them popular in electronics market. But it is obvious and understandable that majority of people like to buy a medium size TV sets that can give them satisfaction with its feature, and at the same time, can be accommodated in the budget. The price of TV sets tends to increase much with the features that are added to make them more attractive and useful. But people like to buy the TV set that can be called as "cheap and best". However, this term seems irrelevant but the technology and advancement in science can bring the results that seem impossible at one stage! It has done a lot and will continue to do more!

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Stepping Stones

When my fiancée showed me the wedding band he wanted, the first thing I blurted out was, “get real.” The ring was nice – a little too nice. I had observed the style of wedding bands worn by males our age and most modeled a nice, simple gold band. The males who did have diamond bands were older and had been married for years. The band he wanted was very nice, and expensive. It had more diamonds than my engagement ring, and carried a higher price tag. I felt that a simple band would be more suitable for the first years of our marriage. In the future I would buy him a nicer ring as a replacement. I suggested that we keep browsing. For the first time I was able to understand how a mother must feel when her child sulks because he or she wants a toy that she is unable to buy. The mother is not trying to be mean; she simply does not have the money to make the purchase. A young child is unable to understand the logic behind not making a purchase - but an adult should. To make a long story short we eventually went back to the jewelry store, where he tried on the ring, and fell in love with it. Between the salesman pressuring me, and my fiancée begging, I buckled and whipped out my credit card to pay for the ring. I became the mother who spoils her child and I had the credit card statement to remind me. Many couples use jewelry as an outward symbol of their relationships – I am no exception. However, I always felt that there are stepping stones that lead to nice jewelry. Couples rarely indulge each other with lavish, expensive gifts early in a courtship. This would be foolish considering the relationship may not last. Jewelry gifts are popular when celebrating milestones in a relationship. The first jewelry gift I received was a diamond heart necklace (one year anniversary). This was followed by an engagement ring and wedding band. After three years of marriage I got a diamond tennis bracelet. The gift I wanted for my third anniversary was a diamond solitaire for my right hand. It was pricey, but I had nothing to loose by asking. Ironically I was informed that it was too early in the marriage for such an expensive gift, but in time I would receive it. Looking back I wish I had resisted the pressure to purchase the diamond wedding band. If I could do it over I would had purchased the simple band, then surprised my husband with a nicer ring in the future. I forewarned him that if he ever misplaced his wedding ring I would replace it with a simple, plain gold band – and it would be five years before he received another diamond ring from me.

Living the Country Life in Style

Whether you love the traditional country look, the rustic country look or the eclectic country look, how can you achieve it?

Antiques these days tend to be a lot of money at markets, but antique flea markets can sometimes enable you to scoop up a bargain. Sometimes family members or friends will contribute to this cause. (I have a church pew that is over 100 years old that my friend bought me for my birthday). Garage sales sometimes are great as well! (she bought the pew at a garage sale) This may not for everyone, but where I live, about once every few months they have large garbage pick up. If you look around and (I find its best to ask permission if I am going to pick up during the daylight hours) and make sure its in good repair, you can occasionally pick up a good piece of furniture. Also, thrift stores are great for this as well. And don't forget the for sale adds in your local paper. My sister-in-law got a wonderful hutch that way for not a lot of money. Or maybe you know someone who is an artist or a woodworker and can commission some work from them... Whichever route you choose. It's worth your while to look around.

My taste is very much country leaning towards eclectic. Wicker is also nice for this look. Most pieces of furniture that you purchase can be spruced up with a coat of paint. If you buy dishes or bric a brac, you are best to wash it with soap and water. Wicker and other furniture can be vacuumed off first, then washed down with soap and water, and set to dry and then painted. Spray painting is the most fast and effective way of painting furniture. Start by spraying a small segment, then moving on segment by segment until the whole piece is covered to your liking.

I have been fortunate enough to get a lot of items by going these routes. I have a few antique tables and quilts that were given to me by family members, a dresser with drawers on a big garbage night (which I cleaned and repainted and use in my daughter's bedroom). Countless plates and other goodies at thrift and garage sales. (I was fortunate to get an antique set of toy blocks for 75 cents at a garage sale. I have also managed to get a few pieces at antique stores and flea markets of things that I have collected over the years (such as cobalt blue glass and antique books and glass flower frogs).

Also, studying magazines on country decorating can be helpful with layouts and ideas and keep you informed on flea market sales or antique stores that maybe happening in your area. Library books on decorating can also be a source of information.

No matter what type of country you like, do some research, shop around and see what appeals to you and just jump in and go country!

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Diamond School

So, you’re thinking about getting engaged or just buying your loved one a nice diamond as a gift. Well before you head out to the jewelry store and whip out your credit card, you should take some time to learn the basics on diamonds. Believe it or not, there is a lot that goes into diamond shopping. This article will arm you with the knowledge you need to make an educated decision on which diamond you will purchase and why.

The 4 C’s of Diamonds


There are four basic areas that you should be familiar with when choosing and purchasing a diamond. They are clarity, color, cut and carat. These four diamond characteristics lead you to the biggest C of them all, the cost. For this reason, some argue that there are Five C’s of diamond shopping instead of four.

And now your education begins.

Clarity
The imperfections in a diamond are referred to as inclusions. When the jeweler talks about the clarity of a diamond he or she is talking about how severe the inclusions in the stone are. The more severe the inclusions, the lower the clarity is and the less the diamond is worth. The clarity of the diamond is measured on a scale from Flawless (FL) to Imperfect (I1, I2, I3).

Carats

Just like people are weighed in pounds, diamonds are weighed in carats. The weight of the diamond or how many carats the diamond is directly impacts the cost of the diamond more than any of the other 3 C’s.

Cut
While many think the cut of a diamond refers to the shape of the diamond, this is not true. The cut of the diamond actually refers to the proportions of the diamond. While everything about a diamond is made by nature, the cut of a diamond is the only attribute that is made by a man or a woman.

The cut of a diamond is measured in 3 categories: well cut, deep cut and shallow cut. A well-cut diamond allows light to reflect from one side of the diamond to the other and then eventually through the top of the stone. A diamond that is cut too deeply will allow light to escape through the opposite side of the diamond, while a shallow cut diamond allows the light to escape before it reflects to the opposite side.

Color
The term color is really used loosely when talking about diamonds because the best color for a diamond to have is really no color at all. Again, diamonds allow light to be reflected from one side of the diamond to the other and then eventually out of the top of the stone. When the light escapes from the top of the stone, it is dispersed in a rainbow effect.

So, when you are out looking at potential diamonds for a gift or engagement ring, be sure to find out where the diamond falls in each of the 4 categories that diamonds are graded by. Where the diamond falls in each of the 4 categories directly relates to the price that you should pay for the diamond. As an educated diamond shopper, you will be less likely to overpay and more likely to pick a stone that is as valuable as the person you are buying the diamond for in the first place.

How to get a cheap original Picasso or Dali or Warhol or...

A poster of cute kittens might be nice but it’s not generally considered a valuable collectible. Yes, it may be of sentimental value to its owner but that’s about all.

Vintage original posters on the other hand can be highly sought after items.
Often mistakenly regarded as ersatz art, ‘the art you’re having when you can’t afford the real thing’, the poster has carved a niche for itself amongst esteemed art collections world wide.

Seen as valuable records of bygone days, vintage original posters were often designed or painted by acclaimed artists. Some of these artists were working simply to pay the bills. The poster was the only commission they could get at the time. Others were specifically commissioned as the publicity their work would ultimately generate lent weight and kudos to the event or object advertised.

Among those famous artists whose original posters fetch top end prices are: Chagall, Lautrec, Dali, Mucha, Matisse, Picasso, Cocteau, Warhol and Lichtenstein.
A quick look on this site shows a current collection of 162 original posters dating from the early 1900’s forwards. They cover the spectrum: advertising gas, cigarettes, varying beverages, health foods, shows, films etc. Costs per poster vary between low $80-90’s and heads upward. While many of the artists may not be in the same internationally celebrated league as the company listed above, their posters have outstripped their initial sale price. All of them are considered as collectibles and potential art investments.

Whatever your budget or taste preference, the original poster is a good way to either begin an art collection, or to add an exciting new dimension to an existing one.
Keep checking the site as ‘new’ originals are listed when they arrive in stock.

As for me, I’m lamenting my wanton disregard of a huge poster from my youth. I had an original Beatles one advertising the film ‘Yellow Submarine’. It dominated one wall of my bedroom at home and then the living room of my first student apartment.
Where it went to, I don’t know. But now I wish it would come back.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Can Wearing a Lot of Jewelry Be Too Much?

It’s fair to assume that most people love jewelry and would love to have a nice elegant collection to accessorize their many looks. Jewelry, especially diamonds, has a way of drawing attention to the wearer’s hands. Regardless of whether the diamonds are real or faux, the right amount of jewelry offers a stylish, classy appearance. Some have acquired a nice jewelry collection and showcase this on every occasion.

You may personally know of someone who likes to wear every single piece of jewelry they own on a daily basis. It does not matter if they are going to work, to the grocery store, or spending an evening out, they insist on wearing at least ten different pieces of jewelry. These women can be caught bearing two rings on every finger, or have twenty bracelets dangling from each wrist. Body rings are also common. Those who wear a large amount of diamonds may pay a hefty price for their jewelry. For some the goal is to appear as if they are financially well. However, these individuals are mistaken in their thinking. Instead of being seen as wealthy, they look as if they are flashy or flamboyant. Whenever I witness a person with this sort of style, I question why someone has not advised them to tone it down. Everything in life should be done in moderation, and sometimes a good thing can be too much. Granted, there is nothing wrong with wearing multiple pieces of jewelry at one time. This look can provide a nice urban style – when worn correctly. However, wearing too much jewelry can divert attention from your appearance. Jewelry is meant to be a positive addition to your outfit, not a distraction. We all put great effort in determining an outfit to wear on special occasions. Do not make the mistake of ruining your outfit because you over accessorized.

This problem is also common in the corporate world. Wearing too much jewelry may result in not receiving a job opportunity. According to a poll of supervisors who conducted interviews, many felt that excessive jewelry is tacky and considered unprofessional. This also hindered some women from being promoted within a company. The best advice I can give for those interviewing for a job is to keep it simple. Do not miss out on a good opportunity. Once hired you should then observed the attire of other workers, or ask which type of jewelry is considered appropriate. It almost seems like those who choose to be excessive are showy, or not used to having anything. Perhaps they just do not have a sense of style. Regardless of the excuse, too much jewelry is a fashion “don’t.” There is a professional, classy way to wear jewelry. I propose that jewelry be limited to three pieces, excluding your watch. This can consist of wearing one ring on each finger, a bracelet, watch, necklace, and a pair of earrings. For those interviewing, or attending a formal event, they may consider removing multiple earrings in one ear. It is wise to also leave the nose, eyebrow, lip, and tongue rings in the jewelry box. Remember, jewelry is only an asset when worn in good taste.

The Message Is Clear

When I was a little girl, my family had friends that we went to go visit quite often. Fortunately for me they had kids for me to play with. Their girls and I used to sneak into their older brother's room and hang out and bug him. On his wall was a black and white poster of a grubby helmeted soldier with the caption that read "War is Hell" Although, I was quite young at the time and didn't realize it, the tail end of the Vietnam was happening during that time. Strangely enough, that poster has stuck in my brain all this time.

Posters can send powerful messages, especially during times of war. They can warn, cajole, encourage, and stir up patriotism. But of course, not only war posters can send a powerful message. Protest posters sent out loud and clear messages over the years as well. Activism, such as the integration at Little Rock's Central High School in 1957. Information posters, such as the ones detailing the upcoming meetings that would take place for the ladies who were involved in obtaining 'votes for women' prior to 1920. And of course, posters can call for action. such as strike posters of the "Industrial Workers of the World" (also known as the Wobblies) in 1905. Posters are good and used not only for those things, but also to remember important events of history that have shaped our world. Events, such as Tianmen Square will live in our hearts and minds because of posters.

Antique posters are widely available from art dealers and the net, or if you are lucky enough to have them saved from family members or other sources. Just where did I put my David Cassidy poster?

The Basics of Birthstone Jewels

When you are looking to buy a special birthday present for your girlfriend, wife, or daughter, you probably immediately think of purchasing jewelry. Most women love jewelry and will be thrilled with any type of necklace or bracelet you choose. If you want to make your gift extra special, you may want to think about giving the birthday girl a piece of jewelry with her birthstone embedded in it. Birthstones are stones specific to basically every month of the year. Your gift will not only be appreciated because it is a lovely piece of jewelry, but further because the extra thought was put into selecting a piece with a special stone.

The birthstone for the month of January is the garnet. The garnet is a beautiful gem that generally comes in a deep red color. In addition to being the designated stone for birthdays in the month of January, the garnet is also the stone specific to the second and sixth wedding anniversary. The actual word garnet is derived from the Greek word “granatum” which refers to the deep red color of pomegranate seeds. Garnet stones are believed to have the power to protect its wearers from poisons and help to heal infections.

February’s birthstone is the gorgeous amethyst. The amethyst stone is very popular and found on much jewelry today due to its rich purple color. The amethyst is not only the February birthstone, but also the gem of the fourth, and seventeenth wedding anniversaries. The stone is said to have gotten its name from a myth involving Bacchus, the Greek God of wine, wherein he turns a woman to quartz then covers her with wine, turning her a purple color. The amethyst stone is thought to have the powers to protect brave wearers, and control negative thoughts.

For the month of March, the specific birthstone is the aquamarine. The color of aquamarine stones range from a light blue to a deep teal, and it is often given on the sixteenth and nineteenth wedding anniversaries in addition. The aquamarine stone is believed to have many powers, including those of happiness, foresight and bravery.

The birthstone for April is every girl’s best friend, a diamond. Diamonds come in many shapes and cuts, and are the beloved stone often given upon a wedding engagement. Diamonds, because of their crystal clear hue, are symbols of purity of peace. Even if the birthday girl’s birthday is not in the month of April, diamonds are always a welcome gift.

May’s beautiful birthstone is the emerald. The emerald comes in a deep green color, and is the traditional stone given on the fifty-fifth wedding anniversary. The most beautiful emerald stones in the world are those found in Columbia, but India, South Africa, and Russia also have quality stones of this sort. Emeralds are believed to improve the clairvoyance of its wearers, and also are believed to increase happiness and overall contentment.

The birthstone for the month of June is the pearl. Pearls are a classic and sophisticated gem, and are given on a couple’s very first wedding anniversary. Pearls are found in both freshwater and saltwater, and can come in shades of white, pink, gray, and black. Pearls symbolize grace and purity, and are always a timeless gift to give.

July’s birthstone is the ruby. The ruby is a stone of a bright red color and is very similar in looks to the garnet stone. Rubies are symbols of life, death, sex, and passion. If you wear a ruby, your strength and physical energy will increase.

August’s unique birthstone is the peridot. The peridot is a rarely recognized gemstone, and is a yellow green in color. The word peridot comes from the French word “peritot” which means unclear. The effects of wearing a peridot stone are said to be an overall reduction in negativity. Stress and anxiety are supposed to greatly diminish with the aid of a peridot gem.

The birthstone for the month of September is the sapphire. Sapphires can come in a variety of colors, but more often than not are a rich blue. Sapphires are usually mined in Thailand and Australia, but do have other producers around the globe. Sapphire’s name comes from a Persian word, “safir” which basically means the beloved one of Saturn.

For the month of October, the traditional birthstone is the opal. Opals are interesting because most of the stones are around 50 million years old. Opal comes in two basic types, common opal and precious opal. The most expensive and precious type of opal is a black opal, which comes specifically from a region in South Wales.

November’s birthstone is the citrine. Citrine gemstones can range in color from a yellow to a reddish brown. Finally, the birthstone for the month of December is the blue Topaz.
There are many legends surrounding the perceived powers of the blue topaz stone. It is believed to heal physical and mental disorders, improve eyesight, and increase strength.

Each month’s birthstone is special and gorgeous in its own right. When purchasing jewelry as a birthday gift, buying a piece with a birthstone is always a great way to show your special someone how much you care.

My Jewelry Love Story

The women in my family are jewelry buffs and have passed on their passion for jewelry to me.

Since I was a young girl, my mother has been collecting jewelry to give to me as a wedding present when I get married. The first one I remember is a beautifully carved 24-karat gold wide arm bracelet, which my parents bought in the San Francisco China Town. It must have sat in the bank for fifteen years, waiting for when I would get married.

When I was in my early twenties, my family and a few relatives went on a trip to India where we toured a few provinces. My mom had decided that she wanted to buy five jewelry sets for me in preparation for my wedding, and that India would be the best place to purchase these. So, as we toured the architecture and sights of India, in every major city we visited, we also went to jewelry stores to search for these sets. She wanted to buy me one ruby set, one sapphire, one emerald, one diamond, and one gold. A set consists of a fancy necklace and earrings, with perhaps a ring.

So we bought the sets, except for the diamond one, which was too expensive – instead we bought another clear coloured precious stone, unique to India. And instead of a sapphire set, we ended up getting a pearl set.

Again, all these jewelry sets sat in the bank for another ten years. During that time, I thought what if I married someone that was not Indian, and then all those fancy jewelry sets would go to waste. Because, its really only at Indian weddings and functions that they could be worn, with Indian suits or saris, and my life might have less involvement in Indian society. As fate would have it, a few years later, I met my Indian husband, and got to wear my jewelry sets to Indian weddings.

However, I quickly realized that they are not practical, and more of a hassle - rushing to the bank to pick them up before packing and traveling to weddings. Packing saris or lenghas and suits, shoes, accessories, make-up and jewelry – I hate it. I’m a bit of an introvert these days and dislike all the hullabaloo. Although once I’m at the wedding reception, I usually have a great time partying – too bad there is so much work getting prepared for it. Sometimes there is a wedding once a year, sometimes two or three a year, and who knows, as time passes, there could be none some years. It does seem to be a waste that they get worn so rarely, and even when they do, I dislike all the bother involved. Despite their beauty and impression, they are impractical. However, I do have simpler ruby, emerald, and sapphire earrings that get a lot of wear. I would also love diamond earrings and pendant, but they are not in the cards for me right now. Plus to be honest, I am very casual these days, and only dress up a little once in a while – so the diamonds wouldn’t really fit my lifestyle.

I also really love semi-precious stones such as amethyst and opal, among others. There are also many eye-catching stones that are perhaps not even semi-precious. I recently bought a very unique and attractive stone pendant on a silver chain as a gift, and the salesperson didn’t even know if it had a name – I don’t know why; maybe it was manufactured from a mix of items – but boy is it a looker. Stones are beautiful, and some people believe they have healing properties as well. Those are two great reasons to love them.

Although I would love getting jewelry from my husband, I really dislike sexist jewelry commercials such as the ones before Christmas and Valentines Day. Some outright say things like buy her a diamond and she’ll love your forever (paraphrased) – basically bribe her to love you. And then they call women “gold diggers”. Society is producing gold diggers in the same way they produce women as sexual or beauty objects, and the same way they produce men as financial objects. Men are probably also involved in producing those commercials that portray them as financial objects, and women as something to be bought. Even with women working and earning money today, society is still producing these sexist gender roles based on values undermining the humanity of both men and women.

Value of jewelry

Since aeons, jewelry is the most important part of the make-up for an Indian bride or a married woman. Jewelry is an integral part of their prized possession apart from all the sentiments and emotions and reminiscences that are associated with the marriage ceremony. They die, as the saying goes, for this jewelry and cherish it equally to their life.
In ancient times, and even some in few houses still, like to keep the jewelry of mother kept preserved for their daughter or daughter-in-law, to make a mark of their dynasty. During the era, when kings used to rule the land, they often gave the jewelry and rosaries as the royal mark of appreciation to the artists and scholars. And if we go to that era more, we can record that royal animals were decorated with rich embroidery work and jewelry.

There are jewels for the entire body and there are many variations of these jewels in different states of India, as India is known for its multi-language, multi-religious, and multi-tradition outlook. From toe to ankles, from neck to head, there are number of jewels that women wear. They have toe and foot-fingers’ rings and anklets for the lower part of the body and a variety of necklaces and rosaries for the neck. Then they have nose-pins, rings, earrings and a lot more. They wear bangles and "Chuda", in the arms! There are many jewels that are famous in a particular area, and will be found unknown in the other part of the country. There is a particular jewel famous in Punjab, which is called "Saggi Full"! Its shape is like that of a flower and is fastened in the hair, extending upto the forehead. But now the tradition of wearing this particular jewel has declined and it can only be seen during the traditional dance performances by the girls, which is named as "Gidda"! No wonder that the metal of these jewels is not the all-time-favorite gold. But to keep the tradition alive, some other metal is used and worn on special occasions and some of them wear during marriages, if they can afford the price of this jewel!

The jewel worn in the nose—known as nose-pin or nose-stud—is also a very interesting and wonderful jewel to watch. For wearing this women pierce their nostrils and put the stud or pin into it. In Southern India, women put this jewel in both the nostrils but in Northern India, it is put in only one. It lends a rare beauty to the woman and is cherished by the married women. However, the younger girls also wear it. The shape of this pin is different in many ways, for, it may be a ring, pin or a stud. The woman of old days used to wear very big rings of big diameter. But then the trend changed into wearing shorter rings and then finally to the pins and studs. And smiths added a rare beauty to these studs by putting diamonds and precious tones in these studs. And in sheer passion or tradition, some of them get their nostrils pierced from two or three places and put these nose-pins in all of them. One might wonder that how they manage to breathe with so much of obstruction, but somehow they do!

The same tradition changes were noticed in the earrings. In old times, women used to wear large diameter rings. The fashion changed to smaller ones and then finally to pins and studs. The same fashion of putting more than one earring in one ear is also prevalent in many parts. One thing that these earrings add to their usability is that some men also like to wear them. Kings used to wear these earrings regularly and was an integral part of their robe. And in villages, it was said to be the mark of authority and had a great impact. Now it is famous in some boys who dare to put them on.

The most important and famous jewel that an Indian woman wears and possesses, is the "Manglasutra". It is worn in all the parts of India and is the mark of their marriage and has a very spiritual and emotional meaning for every married woman. This is the jewel that the husband fastens around her neck at the time of wedding. It marks the vow taken by the husband to protect the woman from all adversities and to be with her through joy and sorrow.

In ancient India, women regarded their husband as their God, and the service and happiness of their husbands was their main purpose and duty. So this "Manglasutra" was very special for them. They had the belief that no calamity can befall them untill they are wearing that jewel. In India, the Goddess aspect of the God is very famous and is cherished among the women, for they pray to deity for the protection of their husbands and their long life. And in those prayers, they used to add the reference of this jewel, so as to protect the value of that jewel. No wonder their prayers were heard and their husbands were protected from many calamities that otherwise could have befallen them. Married women perform many vows and vigils to propitiate the Goddess, who gives boon to them in accordance to their prayers. And in depicting the picture of that Goddess, the artists and sculptors put many types of jewels around the neck. So it was a tradition that married woman are incomplete without this precious jewel—Manglasutra!

Jewelry is very famous in the entire world but it is most famous in India, and women rule the world of jewelry buyers. They are teased to be always caressing their jewelry and are taunted for the time taken: to put the jewelry and getting them prepared for any formal or informal event! But unmindful of these comments, the charm of jewelry refuses to die and continues to become more prevalent even among the younger and unmarried women.