A Few Charms (Banner)

A Few Charms (Banner)

Monday, 9 April 2018

Dreaming of summer, charms that is

Pandora has come out with some great new designs for the summer, a departure from the usual nautical and beach themes. It's been a while since I've been this excited about new releases from Pandora.

I usually share stories about the charms I've earned but I've never shared the process of how I decide which charms to buy, and more importantly the ones I want to earn. I've been getting lots of requests on Instagram for photos of the Summer Collection so I thought I would collect them all in one place.

These items are not on the Pandora website because they will not be released until June. And these are not the best quality photos because they were taken with my phone from the most recent Pandora catalogues, and are not Pandora stock photos.


After the response to this Instagram post (above) I realized I am lucky that there are three concept stores in my city - and I'm always quick to grab the new catalogues. There are always two catalogues, a small one that contains just charms and bracelets and a large catalogue that includes the Essence line as well as rings, earrings, and necklaces. So read on to see what's coming soon.
 
First up there is a new style of leather bracelet. They are double bracelets with a loop and button closure. The end with the button is removable, similar to the closures on the hinged bracelets and the sliding bracelets. I particularly like the stitching details on these bracelets.



Like all leather bracelets you would have to limit the number of charms. I don't like it when all the charms rotate and dangle under my wrist so I usually have just one or two charms - or a dangle - on my leather bracelets.

I have leather bracelets to go with almost all my Moments bracelets except for this two-tone bracelet with the lighter colour carved ("flower") wood muranos. So the "Golden Tan" leather is definitely on my wishlist. 



I'm very curious to see the Spicy Orange. I love orange but this may not be the right colour to pair with my orange Love Blooms Here bracelet. I showed my husband these bracelets in the catalogue and said I liked the turquoise one. He said, "Don't you already have a turquoise one?" Silly husband. Wouldn't you say my triple smooth leather is more teal than turquoise?


There are also leather bracelets with the sliding closure, in both tan and black. I haven't purchased the sliding bracelets but they seem quite popular and certainly look less bulky than the double leathers.


Pandora started creating chokers a few years ago and came out with a new silver one in the Spring Collection, a honeycomb one in the Shine Collection, and now there will be leather ones in the Summer Collection. These appear to come with the feather dangle. The sliding closure necklaces and bracelets are all one-size-fits-all.



My favourite thing about the new collection is the spiritual theme. Included is the "Spiritual Feather" pendant, the "Amulet" (although I have no idea what they are actually supposed to be), and the "Spiritual Dreamcatcher." Just as I researched the Native American Hopi tribe to assign the meaning of the Hopi charm (now retired), I will use these "spiritual" aboriginal charms as incentive to learn more about the spiritual practices of our local First Nations. I think this summer we will do some exploring, see some historical sites, and go to a Pow-Wow. Then I can set some specific goals to "earn" some of these charms, or they will represent some of these activities we do as a family.




If you are not familiar with a dreamcatcher the meaning is very special. Dreamcatchers are meant to protect children when they sleep. One legend tells the story of a chief whose child becomes sick with a fever that causes him terrible nightmares. A medicine woman makes a dreamcatcher by copying the pattern of a spider web. Instead of catching flies, the dreamcatcher will catch bad dreams. When nightmares came for the child, they were caught in the strands of sinew. But good dreams were able to pass through the web and follow the feathers down to the child. In the morning, the sun would hit the dream catcher and burn away the bad dreams (from CBC Kids). I think this charm might be used to help me work on getting a good night's sleep.



Although many First Nations people make dreamcatchers now, they originated with the Ojibwa. According to the Ojibwa story, a mystical and maternal "Spider Woman" served as the spiritual protector for the tribe, especially for young children and babies. As the Ojibwe people continued to grow and spread out across the land, the Spider Woman found it difficult to continue to protect and watch over all the members of the tribe as they migrated farther and farther away. This is why she created the first dreamcatcher. Following her example, mothers and grandmothers would recreate the maternal keepsake as a means of mystically protecting their children and families from afar. I think this is just lovely and the charm could be given to a new mother to protect her infant, or someone whose children will leave home soon - like me!

There are earrings named "Spiritual Feathers" as well and I like the heart-shaped dangles in a turquoise enamel. There are a lot of different meanings associated with feathers, from angels wings to what it means when you find a feather. I am particularly interested in learning more about the spiritual aspects of feathers for smudging. Dancing to Eagle Spirit Society has more information about smudging. Their site also has more explanations about dreamcatchers if you are interested.


I've never worn a "cuff" earring so I'm excited to try these. I have a feeling my kids will tell me I'm not cool enough to wear them. They will come in both silver and Pandora Rose, and there will be one in the Shine collection as well. Best part is the low price point.




Pandora is trying a new ring concept, a chain ring; although I know Tiffany has rings in this style. I am curious to try them on. I'm wondering if they will be more comfortable than a solid band. Of course one of the rings has my fav turquoise colour.


And finally there are two new rings named "Vibrant Spirit," and I particularly like the turquoise colour even though the stone has the unusual label of "scuba blue crystal." It looks like it's a bit more of a statement ring than the turquoise birthstone ring, which has been on my wishlist forever.


 
Another new trend in rings is having something dangling from them. The dangles on this ring are meant to be "Spiritual Symbols" - an anchor, a feather and (although it's hard to tell in the photo) a shell. The smooth heart on the top could be easily engraved with an initial - or a date for a birthday, wedding, anniversary or childbirth.
 
 
Pandora has produced a number of different anchor designs over the years. They are popular among the Navy moms, but also suit nautical or beach themed bracelets. This one is engraved with "Anchor Yourself to Someone Special," which significantly limits its use. I like the idea of an anchor representing steadfastness in a relationship but it can also represent faith. Unfortunately the wording here makes love sound like it's a ball and chain, in my opinion.
 
 
Although this is not really an aboriginal thing I think this compass charm is supposed to be part of this spiritual theme. I love the "Compass Rose" with that same blue crystal. If you are not familiar with a "compass rose" it is the design you will see on a magnetic compass, a map, or a nautical chart depicting the compass points. Lots of meaning can be assigned to this charm. It is engraved with "follow your dreams" and can be used to represent charting your own path in life, whether you navigate by the stars, listen to your heart, or choose the path less travelled.
 
 
 
Continuing with the turquoise theme there is a silicone clip called Arcs of Love. It is a heart shape but I don't think that will  be too obvious when it sits on your bracelet sideways. This looks like it will be very similar to the Essence Wisdom bead (below) which is labeled "turquoise-colored crystal." I'll be stacking my Essence with this.
 
 
I like lots of bracelets in my stacks. Here you can see my turquoise Mii homemade bracelet and a two-tone bangle with the two gold charms I won from Pandora (you can read my stories about the Eiffel Tower Forever Paris charm). In this stack is also the snowflake bangle, my Essence, and my Lucerne Recovery bracelet. I'm thinking that the teal studded lights on the leather will work with some of the new charms from the Summer Collection.
 
To round off the theme there are new faceted hearts in colours we haven't seen before: orange and turquoise. And then there's something completely unexpected: tassels. I have seen surprising interest in these and some people see the relation to Chinese tassels. From a practical point of view, my worry is they will get dirty or, as a friend said, will get in her tea.
 

 
There are a few pieces that are coming out in the Summer Collection that do not appear to relate to the spiritual theme although aboriginals do use feather fans in smudging. These could also represent the rising or setting sun. Some people have used fans on Asian or Chinese New Year theme bracelets. But these charms are called "Fan of Love." I'm not sure if that's a play-on-words, 'cause I am a "fan" of love, but I'm not a "fan" of these. I get tired of the heart charms although these are quite simple with not too much cz. There will be pendants/dangles in silver and Pandora Rose, and heart-shaped charms in silver as well as an addition to Pandora's new Shine Collection.
 



 
The other pieces that are coming out in the Summer Collection are more novelty charms. First up is the skateboard dangle which looks like it has cubic zirconia around the edge of the board. The surface of the board itself seems to be textured. 
 

Everybody loves popcorn but the pink enamel will limit where this charm is used. And somehow pearls seem out of place in popcorn. Regardless, it will likely be a good gift item.


This "Drink to Go" will likely be popular as lots of ladies (and guys) like to represent their love of tea or coffee on their bracelets. And it's a little more subtle than the popcorn.


And finally, the ultimate in novelty, the "Burger and Fries." I can't see this fitting in on any of my bracelets but the biggest complaint I've heard is that some ladies don't like cheese on their burgers. Hard to please everybody!




Carrying on with the emoji trend, joining the kiss emoji for Valentine's Day, and the playful wink in the Spring release, we now have a "Stay Cool" charm and the "Symbol of Peace." Clearly directed at a younger market than this mom of teenagers whose most frequently received emoji is the eyes rolling.


 
We will see a new Canadian charm, this one titled "Love Canada." It has red enamel for the leaf but it may be quite a subtle colour. Underneath the enamel it looks like there are details to make it resemble the veining on a real leaf. The dangle heart is cute, with "Canada" engraved on it, but I think I prefer some of the other Canada charms I reviewed lately. I don't know if this will be widely available or another charm exclusive to Canada.
 

 
 
I think this last charm depicting a Ferris Wheel will be quite popular. Some folks are saying that they don't see this charm in catalogues from other countries, including the US. Where this will be released is still a mystery but we will have it in Canada, in June. Which charms will you be dreaming of?
 

Monday, 19 March 2018

Red mittens to warm your heart - and your hands

This red mitten charm represents something very special that I have discovered, and it's helping with my depression - helping me "beat the winter blues." I will start by sharing with you the story behind the accidental phenomenon of the red mitten that has raised millions of dollars for Canadian Olympic athletes. And I'll finish with a review of the red mitten charm. I'm excited to show you how I've styled it.

In preparation for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, on the west coast of Canada, the Vancouver Olympic Committee (VANOC) tasked the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) with designing the torchbearers' uniforms, requesting that they be white with sky blue and sea green accents, presumably because the City of Vancouver sits between the Pacific Ocean and the Canadian Rockies.

According to a story in the Toronto Star, Jeff Sherman, the president and CEO of Hudson's Bay, suggested "it needed something a little extra, something a little more distinctly Canadian, something that would give it a little pop of colour." HBC designers and VANOC came up with red mittens, with the Olympic rings stitched on the back and a white maple leaf sewn into the palm - perfect for cheering and waving. Sherman, a New Yorker, declared, "They're Canadian. They're so Canadian."


Of course anyone in Canada whose mother - or grandmother - can knit had handmade red mittens when they were a kid, with a string through the sleeves of their snowsuit - so they wouldn't lose their mittens. I'm sure that string would be outlawed in schoolyards nowadays. Ironically, someone did lose their red mitts - left at our house last weekend. So I thought I'd use them in a photo.



When the torchbearers' uniforms were unveiled the red mittens were an instant hit with the media, which I find amusing since they didn't really match the blue wavy lines and green accents!

the red mittens part of the torchbearers' uniforms

Although they were not allowed to sell the uniforms of the torchbearers, HBC and VANOC decided the mitts alone could be offered for sale - and sell they did! When those mittens hit the shelves in October 2009, the first distribution was 300,000 pairs of mitts. They lasted a week! When a stock of 3 million arrived in stores, 2 million sold before the Olympics even began that February. All net proceeds would go to benefit Canada's Olympic athletes.

Wayne Gretsky
Canadian Hockey Legend
Winter Olympics Nagano 1998
Director of Canada's Olympic hockey team 2002
The red mitten sales were boosted by the fact that Canadians would see the red mittens every night on the evening news, as a relay of 12,000 torchbearers carried the Olympic torch across the country, visiting over 1000 communities over a period of 106 days, all waving their red mittens with the white maple leaf. As the Olympic torch travelled its 45,000 km journey, the Olympic fever spread, and as it got closer and closer to the west coast the red mitten frenzy grew too.

Cheryl Pounder
Women's hockey gold medal
Winter Olympics Salt Lake City 2002
Red mittens became a media sensation. Retailers couldn't keep up with the demand. Everybody wanted the red mittens.

Members of Parliament showed their Olympic spirit.


The Prince of Wales modelled a pair.


Even Oprah got in on the action.


According to Time magazine, as the Today Show broadcast from the Vancouver Games telling Oprah how hard it was to find a pair of red mittens, Oprah waved back wearing her very own red mittens (with her personalized Ralph Lauren USA Olympic team jersey.) And as Oprah has been known to do, she proclaimed, "Not only do I have the mittens, but everyone in the studio audience is getting a pair!" And little elves carried in a batch of more than 300 pairs of the coveted red mittens.

HBC eventually sold 3.5 million pairs of these original red mittens from the 2010 Olympics, raising over $14 million for the Canadian Olympic Foundation. Thus began a new Canadian tradition of annual red winter mittens.

photo from Hudson's Bay Company on Instagram

With such enthusiastic response, the Canadian Olympic Committee and the Hudson's Bay Company decided to re-launch the red mittens for the Winter of 2011. And they have done so each year since.


In 2011 there were 1.63 million pairs of mittens sold contributing 14.9 million dollars to the Canadian Olympic Foundation. Funds raised would support programs like Own the Podium, the Canadian Olympic Committee's Athlete Excellence Fund, Olympic and Pan American Games preparation and Games missions.

 

For the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London the red mittens went a little retro. 
 

Karen Cockburn
three-time medalist, trampoline
London Olympics 2012

For the Winter of 2013 HBC changed things up, trying a red and white candy cane stripe and red maple leaf.
 
 

The Olympic Committee ramped things up for the next Winter Olympics in Sochi 2014. These mittens with white finger tips were called "Snow Tops." Get it? Like snow-topped mountains, winter, skiing...


They capitalized on the word "CAN" in Canada. As in, "Can we do it? Yes we CAN!"


And created a hashtag #MittenSpotting


Red mittens returned for the winter of 2015 with the theme of "Go Canada." A press release from the Canadian Olympic Committee in September of 2014 celebrated the fact that the "Red Mitten Initiative" - as it was now being called - had raised over $26 million by then.


And to increase engagement on social media there was another new hashtag #RedMittens and people were encouraged to show where they "Go" with their #RedMittens #GoMittensGo


Olympians Marie-Philip Poulin, Shannon Szabadoa, and Caroline Roulette are sporting the red mittens for the winter of 2016. These Women's Hockey stars had eight gold medals between them when they posed for this photo.


With the maple leaf on the back of these mittens they were not as great for waving, but when you put your hands together it spells Canada, so that's cool. We still have two pair of these red mittens in use in our home.

 
The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio saw a new wave of interest in red mittens. Despite the heat in Brazil, Canadian athletes were equipped with red mittens and did not disappoint. Social media was all abuzz about the Canadian athletes wearing their mittens during the closing ceremonies - at a Summer Olympics. At that time, for each pair of $12 mittens sold, 30 percent of the sale was donated to help Canadian athletes succeed.




 

I had a pair of these Rio red and white mittens, which my son "borrowed" to do snow shovelling, showing that white is not such a practical colour, especially for Mitchell. However, this picture conveniently shows that the mittens are fleece-lined and very cosy - and obviously popular in our house. To replace these my son just gifted me a pair of the 2018 red mittens for Christmas.


And just last month, the closing ceremony for the 2018 PeungChang Winter Olympics saw Canadian athletes once again waving their red mittens. All these little pops of white maple leaves look to me like lighters held aloft at a rock concert. With maple leaves on the front and the back, the white maples leaves are visible if you're waving to the crowd or carrying the flag like Canada's favourite couple, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, gold-medalists in ice dance.


We will have to wait until the ParaOlympics are finished to hear the most up-to-date numbers on how much money has been raised through the sale of red mittens. But a press release from 2017 indicated that the Red Mittens have now contributed over $30 million dollars to the Canadian Olympic Foundation. Having become the nation's most iconic symbol of Canadian Olympic pride $3.90 from the sale of each pair of red mittens goes to support Canadian athletes.


Which brings me to my red mittens and what the red mitten charm represents for me. In previous posts I've shared about how much I love Autumn and how I earned my wood muranos by going hiking in the Fall. But that always seemed to drop off after Christmas, and stop altogether once winter was really upon us. And each Spring I find myself out of shape again. The Spring of 2017 was the worst ever! So this year, as fall turned to winter, I was determined to keep up the walking and hiking, despite the cold and snow.

As I mentioned in posts about my "Wildflower Walks" and "Walking in a Winter Wonderland," it really helps to find a reason for exercising - something that "pulls" you - and something that isn't a "should." As in, "I should be exercising." Or "I should workout so I can lose weight." In the summer my "pull" was that I was excited to go check out the flowers in bloom. In the fall my "pull" was that I just love the colours. This winter I found a new "pull."

First of all, when I look outside and see that it's sunny I actually want to go for a walk in my neighbourhood. And I've discovered a brand new incentive. The funniest part is that it was a total surprise, completely unplanned, just like the red mitten phenomenon.


Earlier in February my husband and I went for our usual Saturday hike. As we rounded a corner, I said, "Oh look at all those chickadees!" Then, "Oh look, there's birdseed on that bench!" I picked some up and held out my mitten-ed hand and said, "Oh how adorable; they're landing on my red mitten! Mike! Take a picture - quick!" So that's the picture I see in my mind when I think about red mittens - that magical moment of hearing the chickadees chirping and then seeing them coming closer on the tree branches, then bravely dashing to my hand and away again - some more cautious than others. I was absolutely delighted!

Now I want to go for a hike on the weekends, because I want to feed the birds.


YouTube video Chickadees on the Sarsaparilla Trail


YouTube video Chickadees slo-mo (stop action)


So now we are exploring Ottawa's Greenbelt, dubbed the "emerald necklace," a ring of green space surrounding the city with wetlands, forests and fields. It is among the largest urban parks in the world spanning over 200-square-kilometres and containing 150 km of trails for walking, snow-shoeing or cross country skiing.



YouTube video Chickadees on the Jack Pine Trail. Watch to the end to see the more cautious fellow. If you have the sound on you can hear the soft thrumming of their wings.


My husband feeding the chickadees
Jack Pine Trail

According to my husband, who just knows these things, we saw blue jays, a downy woodpecker, morning doves, and black-capped chickadees, as well as deer tracks, on the Jack Pine trail. We recently read that someone had encountered deer as well as a snowshoe hare, so we'll definitely want to return to this trail.

My husband even managed to encourage our 16-year-old daughter to join us a few weeks ago and she took the photos below. My favourite part was her little squawk of surprise when the first chickadee landed on her hand. I was delighted to feed the birds myself but I was even more delighted to hear my daughter say, "They are so tiny! I love them so much!"

black-capped chickadee on the Beaver-Chipmunk Trail

black-capped chickadee on the Sarsparilla Trail
black-capped chickadee on the boardwalk of Sarsaparilla Trail
A new-comer: a red-breasted nuthatch

For me the red mitten charm, which will likely last longer than the latest pair of red mittens, will not only mean cheering for Olympians, representing my pride in being Canadian, but also this special activity of finding hiking trails where we can feed the birds. It warms my heart to know that some of the proceeds hep Olympic athletes. And it warms my heart to be in touch with nature. I've found a delightful reason to get outside during this long, dark and cold "Canadian Winter," as the red mitten charm is called. This has really been helping me beat the winter blues this year.

Chickadees on my old red mittens

And in case you're wondering, Yes, it is still Winter in Canada, and Yes, we are still wearing mittens. It snowed almost every day last week!
 
Fresh snow, less than a week ago: Tuesday, March 13, 2018
A few snowflakes landed on my mitten
 

My Thoughts on the Red Mitten Charm:

The red mitten charm, officially called "Canadian Winter," is an almost perfect replication of the original red mitten from the 2010 Winter Olympics Games in Vancouver Canada.


If you look closely you can see that the charm is indented and then filled with red enamel, with raised silver lines to depict the cuff of the mitten. The maple leaf is raised and filled with the white enamel.


While the bale on many Pandora charms is set with cubic zirconia recently, I like the simpler look of the little line of hearts. And the hearts surrounding the dangle are adorable. Unlike previous exclusive charms that are engraved on Pandora's "Unforgettable Moments" dangle with the Pandora logo on the back, these newer lines of exclusive charms are blank on the back, perfect for a custom engraving.


This red mitten charm is much more affordable than the charm that Pandora released at the time of the Vancouver Olympics. It now sells in Facebook groups for over $200. I did see these in stores when I first started purchasing Pandora in December of 2011, but I wasn't prepared to spend $99 on a charm which, at the time, I thought looked like a golf ball with a maple leaf on it. Many people reported that the white enamel was yellowing, another reason I've avoided this charm.
 

For now I am wearing the red mitten charm on my triple red smooth leather bracelet and it sits perfectly between the pine cone charm and the bright ornament charm, each with a ribbon on them. I might try and find a spot for the red mitten dangle on my Christmas bracelet with these next year.

If I'm really honest I think I'll just have to make a Canada bracelet. I've been contemplating a travel bracelet but Greece and Mexico are the only places I've been to outside of North America - although a girl can dream!

So in looking at other charms to represent Canada I've found quite a few. The charms in the first picture below are all available at the Pandora store in the Fairview mall (@pandorafairview) in Toronto. I was never really thrilled with the heart-shaped Canada flag dangle (first from the left) and I haven't really embraced the button-style charms, but I'd make an exception for that large maple leaf (second from the left). The button charm has either Toronto or Canada engraved on the back. The black murano with Canada on it is quite striking and I love that it has a red maple leaf. The maple leaf charm with the red cz is already in use on another bracelet of mine, but I did live in Toronto at one time so that last charm would work. My favourite thing to do in Toronto was to take the ferry to Toronto Island and look back across the water at the city skyline.


I worked for a summer in the Canadian Rockies and spent most of my days off in the town of Banff, Alberta. There is a store in Banff that has some exclusive charms - these are my favs. I don't know if I would be able to decide between the red maple leaf and the black moose. Find them on Instagram (@PandoraBanff)  if you want to see their other exclusive charms and engraved muranos for both Banff and Lake Louise.



This red murano engraved with "Canada" is sold at my favourite Pandora concept store in Ottawa, at the Rideau Centre mall (@pandorarideau). I think it would go very nicely with the black engraved murano.


These exclusive charms were all purchased for a friend in Spain, most from the Rideau Centre. If I'm going to do a Canada bracelet I might have to get a few of these other pieces.


A few of those charms are also from the store I always visit when I'm back "home" in Nova Scotia. The lovely ladies at the Pandora store in the Mic Mac Mall (@pandoramicmac) kindly gifted me one of the Pride Flag charms last summer. The following charms represent Halifax, the city where I grew up, and Nova Scotia, the Canadian province I'm from. And most people who grow up in the Atlantic Provinces love the "East Coast" lifestyle!

  

I'm doomed.


Related Posts:

Finding motivation and building habits - a story about how the Wildflower Walks turned into finding a new passion in photographing flowers and discovering a significant new affirmation - and the charm that represents it.

Can you see what's there? It's a wonderland - a story about how looking around you and seeing beauty can help in the recovery from food issues, as well as healing personally and spiritually; I've also included a short piece about my mother's battle with Alzheimer's - and the charm that represents it.

Breakfast - the most important meal of the day, for a different reason - a story about trying to make lifestyle changes and why we feel badly about ourselves when we inevitably fail; I share my story about making SMART goals and the importance of identifying barriers - and charm that reminds me of the importance of connecting with our kids.