Tag Archives: working on my bucket list

being crafty: reclaimed drop earrings

Okay, I’m obviously a beginner at DIY things. I have things I’d like to make – in theory – jewelry, scarves, clothes, holiday decorations, and whatnot. To make my own jewelry is on my bucket list even. So might as well start somewhere.

My mom left me her jewelry, which meant her mom’s jewelry and her mom’s mom’s jewelry as well. I finally had the nerve to go through it last week. Before my mom passed, she and I went through it together to label important things: her mom’s nursing school ring, a ruby ring with a crack through it that my grandma apparently wore all the time and got knocked in the hand while playing field hockey. There is a lot of costume jewelry, lots of things that are broken or falling apart too.

But then I found a box of random beads. Or at least I thought they were random. Until I started pulling them out and finding their matches. All earrings. Just no hooks. So that’s where this project started.

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here’s the box they were all in, with their counterparts

I’ve never made jewelry before, but bought sterling and gold ball hooks thinking it’d be enough. Nope. Needed new posts because the old ones were corroded and didn’t look right with the new, shiny hooks. And got some tools while I was at it – curved pliers and a cutting tool instead of trying to use my fingers and nails like a cavewoman – to connect the hooks and posts. And somehow this happened:

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my favorites so far

Seriously, these suckers took a couple seconds flat to make once I figured out how to use the pliers. Just thread the ball pin through the bead, curve the other end to start making a loop, trim the extra to finish making the loop, and thread the hook. Beyond easy.

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absolute favorites – the amber colored ones were too beautiful not to make them into earrings

I am so unbelievably happy to give some new life to my grandma’s things and so excited be able to wear them now! At Michael’s, I possibly bought some sparkly things (Swarovski in dusty rose) and light pink glass pearls thinking I could add sparkly bits to my grandma’s beads. But instead, this happened:

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can’t wait to wear these

Oh, and a pair for my mother-in-law who’s a gold girl.

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i was too excited to give them too her and already blew my christmas gift. surprises and me do not mix

So that’s it for now! The time I spent at Michael’s picking out the right hooks and posts was the longest and most challenging part of this project, and even that was simple enough. The actual jewelry making portion took possibly 3 minutes per pair. So I’m definitely hooked with the whole lot of pretty things made in no time flat. Yay!

Tori

perspective – part deux

Ray and I are officially home from Paris and the trip was heaven. Seriously. Heaven. It only intensified my love affair with the city.

bonjour

i mean seriously, come on. bonjour, beautiful.

Everything I’ve ever seen in photos was a million times better in person. I couldn’t get enough of the Eiffel Tower, the beauty of the French language and entire freaking city, the value of fresh flowers and good food, and beautiful, interesting people. That means I lurked and took lots of photos of strangers. They tell a story better than I ever could.

artists

artists

walkers

handsome couples

lovers

lovers

and people that wanted to kill me

and people that wanted to kill me with musicians in the background

Anyway, per my last post, I hoped to find something in Paris – specifically up upon Montmartre – that I’d hoped to find my whole life. I never knew what that something was. Just that it was up there for me. Talk about pressure.

We found “my staircase” – it’s not mine, really. I think Brassaï made it most beautiful in a black and white photograph he took, but I tried to capture the same angle. So happy we found this puppy.

rue foyatier

rue foyatier

But here’s what I’m most happy about. Ecstatic really, but in a bittersweet way. The church up upon Montmartre is named Basilica of the Sacred Heart. It’s the very special thing at the top of the hill that I thought perhaps housed the thing I was always looking for. And then my mom passed and I thought that dream was a load of crap, but Ray thought we needed to go to Paris anyway.

i've loved this church for years without ever seeing it. it's so much better in person, as life always is

i’ve loved this church for years without ever seeing it. it’s so much better in person, as life always is better firsthand

When we entered the church, I wanted to light a candle for my mom. Had to. It was obligatory in an OCD kind of way, because it wouldn’t feel right if we didn’t. But I had to find the right spot to light the candle. That would mean that I had to find the right patron saint to honor. We started towards the left, and nothing felt right. My mom and I lit a candle at the very back of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, so perhaps that would be the same spot at the Basilica. Nope, didn’t feel right. So we circled back around in our counterclockwise loop from the entrance and distance was running out to find the right statue. Found the second to last statue and it still didn’t feel right. And then we walked up to the last statue. So really, the first statue in the Basilica that you’d see if you started towards the right. And it was saint Maguerite Marie. French for Margaret Mary. My mom’s name, and the patron saint she was named after.

We lit a candle for my mom at her patron saint’s statue, the first statue upon entering the Basilica of the Sacred Heart up upon Montmartre. Like my mom is right there, at the top of the hill in Paris. Boom, bonjour.

marguerite marie otherwise known as margaret mary

marguerite marie otherwise known as margaret mary

While that didn’t bring me perspective, it brought me peace. And that’s the thing I probably always needed to find these years I’ve been dreaming of Paris. It didn’t bring me closure, because I’m not okay that she’s not here anymore. But it did bring me a profound sense of peace knowing she’s there.

Paris can be my heaven. Maybe it’s hers. She would have loved it. She’d have loved the chocolate eclairs and croissants. She would have loved the picnics in the Tuileries garden. She would have conversed with Parisians beautifully with her perfect French accent like the locals. She would have loved power-walking up the hills and stairs in Montmartre to that final, profound resting place.

Bonsoir, Mom. Sleep tight.

Tori

perspective

About four years ago, I talked with a random pharmacy grad at the Midyear conference in California who I was interviewing with about my dream about going to Paris. How I’d wanted to go my whole life. How I had a photo of the Eiffel Tower on my wall with Audrey Hepburn’s quote, “Paris is always a good idea.” How I had heard the John Denver song, “A Country Girl in Paris,” growing up and felt it resonate so deeply within me.

Up upon Montmartre when she stops to rest awhile,
all the artists look at her and they long to paint her smile.
For even in her sorrow there’s something in her eyes…

I had Montmartre on the top of my bucket list before I knew what bucket lists were, because I was so confident it would lift my sadness somehow. I pushed myself so hard in school to the detriment of my happiness. And then worse in high school. And then worse in college. So I held this deep belief through all of those years that there was something waiting for me up upon Montmartre that would be so profoundly uplifting, none of it would matter anymore.

Back to the point. The girl at Midyear. She said she shared that dream but felt like a trip to Paris needed to be with someone you’re in love with. It’s too romantic not to. She was right, and I kind of hated her for being right. But Paris would be put on hold. Finishing school and finding a job were more important then to make all the hard work worth it. I was at Midyear to find a future for myself. Besides, there was nobody on the horizon.

And then a couple days later, it was time to go home from California to Massachusetts and I met Ray at the airport. And then I was seated next to him on the airplane. And that was the start of us. Indeed, Midyear made me find my future. All of a sudden, I not only had someone on the horizon, I had the love of my life and my husband.

i can't believe this was a year ago

i can’t believe this was a year ago! look how handsome he is. good god, that smile.

We were going to go to Paris for our honeymoon, but given the fact that our wedding was planned in a whirlwind, we wanted something relaxing. Ray had the perfect idea of going to somewhere with a nice beach for our honeymoon, and Paris for our first anniversary. That first anniversary will be here in three days.

We waited on actually booking the trip. We obviously knew what date and week it would be, but my mom’s health was declining. Quickly. Drastically. And yet she was still holding on. What would happen if she passed while we were gone? But she kept urging us so many times, like her final wishes for me and Ray were to be happy and to travel. “You have to go to Paris.”

I should be way more excited than this. I should be ecstatic and happy like she wanted. We’re going to Paris! And yet somehow, it doesn’t feel right. I’ve had that city on a pedestal for so many years, but I’ve never felt so sad in my life with my mom gone. I’ve mentioned canceling the trip to Ray too many times to count, but he and every other person I’ve talked to said we need the getaway. You need time offYou ought to get away from here. You can always go back. I know, but I just want to feel happy there. I just want my mom here, really.

Somewhere along the way, I forgot the thing I’d always held to feel to be true.

Up upon Montmartre when she stops to rest awhile,
all the artists look at her and they long to paint her smile.
For even in her sorrow there’s something in her eyes…

Perhaps Paris will lift all the sorrow from my mom’s passing. So that the light that has come from my first year of marriage to the most amazing man by my side. There is nobody I would rather share that happiness with by my side, and he is the only person that could hold me together through all the sadness that’s come through my mom’s sickness and passing. Through sickness and in health. In good times and in bad. Whatever the traditional vows are. I vow all of it still. Ray is impeccable and I’m lucky as hell to have him in my life, let alone to be married to him.

I’m going to the City of Light with the source of so much light and happiness in my life, that it’s got to outshine the sorrow of my mom’s passing. Or as dear friend encouraged, instead of mourning my mom’s death, we’ll go in honor of her. We’ll celebrate the fastest year of marriage filled with the highest highs – got married, went to Tahiti and Bora Bora, bought a house, made it our own, became puppy parents, brought my mom to the Grand Canyon, planted her a garden – and lowest low I can ever imagine. And if we made it through that, we can make it through hell, because we’ve already been there and survived it together.

this guy. this guy is the guy i get to kiss for the rest of my life. even when my hair does insane things.

this guy. this guy is the guy i get to kiss for the rest of my life. even when my hair does insane things.

Ray, here is to you, to us, the life we’re building, the adventure we’re making, and every happiness the world can provide. Thank you for your love and support during the worst days of my life. Thank you for the promises you made to me on our wedding day, for the promises you made to my mom, and for keeping them. I love you and hope we find whatever it is we’ve been looking for up upon Montmartre. Even if it’s a new perspective.

Mom, in one day we’re going to make you so proud. You’ll be with us in spirit.

Tori

here we go

I finally made a blog. A lot easier than a novel. Maybe people will read it. Maybe people will enjoy it. Maybe not. It’s too soon to tell, but my fingers are crossed.

I considered majoring in journalism, but I chose a career in healthcare like so many in my family had before me. I wrote poetry privately in college and shared it with two people total. A guy friend who also liked poetry and my mom. She said I was a good writer, so I didn’t believe her obviously. My husband knows I like to write and claims I’m good at it, so naturally I didn’t believe him either. He claims my cooking is good yet I often burn dinner, so he’s got a way of putting things in a positive and partial (and he’s just too nice to be true) light.

One day at work, my coworkers and I entertained ourselves by writing fake love letters (well, emails) to one another to spoof a seemingly creepy suitor-flirt’s interest in one lovely lady in our department. From that, they claimed I should write. I thought that was code for that email was funny but I’ve decided to cave to the encouragement.

Look, Mom! I’m writing! This post is going into the Neverland of the internet, and I hope to the high heavens (or nirvana or Elysium) that someone out there likes it. Someone beyond my mom or my husband. Or my coworkers. Because I’m starting to think they’re just being partial too. So here we go…

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one little buddy at a butterfly house on a good day with my mom

Tori