Category: Spotlight

Garnet – the January birthstone

On this last day of January I thought I’d share a little information about this month’s birthstone. Garnet as a gemstone has been popular in Jewellery for over 5000 years. Most of us recognize it as a deep red stone however, it does come in many other colours such as greens, orange, pink and yellow. However garnet has some other interesting uses outside of jewellery and you can read about them here:

Have a great day! 🙂

Gemstone spotlight: Rose Quartz

Pantone came out with not one but two colours of the year this year: “Rose Quartz”, a soft, rosy pale pink; and, “Serenity”, a wispy pale blue.  They’re a lovely combination, but of course, my favourite part is that one of those colours is named after a gemstone!

What is rose quartz?

Rose quartz is one of the most common varieties of quartz, a semiprecious stone found throughout the world. It usually occurs in massive formations, rather than in its hexagonal crystal form. Its colour ranges from pale, almost white pink to medium-dark pink.  It gets its colour from pink borosilicate mineral fibres.  Sometimes these fibres align with the crystal structure to produce an asterism, or six-pointed star, if the gem is oriented and cut into a cabochon.

Rose quartz can fade over time in UV light, so it’s best to store it away from a sunny window.

Rose quartz is the gem associated with the fifth wedding anniversary.

Metaphysical properties

Rose quartz is known as the Heart Stone, and is associated with the Heart Chakra.  It promotes loving energy, both with others and within oneself.

Have a look at our Etsy shop for our own unique take on this rosy gem!

Rose Quartz Bracelet

Want to win a prize?

I don’t know about you guys, but this month has been CRAZY so far! There’s so many things to do, and all I want is to go hang out on a patio making shiny things with some friends.

I would probably drop all the beads and stones, and then spend the rest of the night trying to find a way under the patio. I fully fear losing tiny pieces of silver between wooden cracks.

Anyway, between all the stuff that gets the kids fed and the bills paid, we also hit a show last weekend! We were at the Bell Sensplex having a groovy time (before I took off to attend a wedding, leaving Robyn on her lonesome)

I’ve also decided to start wearing tiaras to shows! And maybe everywhere in everyday life.

We lucked out with 2 tables, which is good, cause it turns out we have a lot of pieces to show off!

And yet again we did a draw for a fabulous gift bag! Mango body butter, mango candle, mango sugar syrup (All the MANGO DRINKS!) and of course, something special from us!

Smells like Summer!

The shell bracelet is STUNNING and perfect for summer! It works so well with beachwear and patio nights.

Sweet, simple, and super fabulous!

We will be doing more draws! Keep checking in so you don’t miss your chance to win! Or, better yet, sign up for our new newsletter and get special secret discounts!

Can’t make it to a show? Host one of your own! We do Home Jewellery Parties! Perfect for a night in, or to start your night out!

Mini Road Trip For Some New Supplies!

At the end of March Jacobs Trading in Beausejour MB held a Rock and Mineral Show for 3 days, of course I HAD to go!

My handsome fiancé came with me for the short road trip from Winnipeg. He picked me up from my office right at the end of my muggle work day and even brought snacks and drinks for us. Does he know how to road trip or what? 🙂 The drive was just about an hour long and we got there just a few short hours after opening on the first day.

I have arrived!
I have arrived!

I took the time to walk up and down each aisle, table after table of every stone you can think of! It was a rock girl’s heaven. We saw stunning samples from extremely small opals to amethysts almost as tall as me (not that I am very tall at 5’4″).

Amethyst is a favourite so these just blew my mind!
Amethyst is a favourite so these just blew my mind!

Forgive my dirty boots in the above image, it was a sloppy muddy day out. As you can see, I was wallet in hand, ready to shop! Citrine, Opal, Amethysts, Ammonites, Megalodon teeth and many many other things covered the tables all around us. It was very hard to decide what to choose but I was on a budget. We came to the far end of the room where I spotted my goal – what will be my future – equipment!


One day, these will be mine and I will have a full workshop in my basement where I can tumble, polish and drill all my own stones so that I can create even more stunning and unique pieces for our customers. I often find “the perfect stone” but it is drilled the wrong way for what I’d like to do with it, having my own equipment will take care of that! Alas, equipment wasn’t in my budget this time around so I walked away and went about finding supplies.

I was looking for something special for a custom order as well as some different materials I hadn’t worked with before to inspire me. I have to tell you I was very happy with my finds and quite impressed with the pricing! I found what I wanted, paid and we left for the drive back home. If you want to know what I bought, you will have to read my future posts because for now, it is top secret!

A huge shout out and thank you to Jacobs Trading for organizing such a great event!

Tips and Tricks – Natural Silver Polish

I had my first art sale in over a year last month and when I took all my jewellery out to prep it I noticed the silver had tarnished. This is, of course, to be expected but I still had a brief panic about what to do. I do not like using harsh chemicals, all products in my home are natural so I decided to google natural silver polish options and found numerous articles about using baking soda.

My fiancé ran out to grab a soft toothbrush for me while I got everything ready. I laid out all the pieces that needed polishing on some microfiber cloths, set aside another cloth for drying afterwards. I prepared my baking soda paste (baking soda and warm water) and got started!

Ready to get started!

I was skeptical at first that it would do a good job, but with just a little light scrubbing…

Scrub scrub scrub!

Turns out I was very happy with the results! It didn’t scratch or damage the silver in any way, which was a concern since baking soda is abrasive. I polished up all my silver pieces in no time and got everything rinsed, dried and packed up for the next day! I’m always so excited when I find natural cleanser and options for household products so I thought I’d share this one with all of you!

tips and tricks
Polished on the left, still waiting to be done on the right!


Interview Series Part 5 – The Gaming Maven!

I have had the pleasure of knowing Tracy Thillmann for quite a number of years now. She’s my sister-in-law! Tracy is an Ottawa native who has worked in construction, food service and as a massage therapist! Her skills are varied. Her most recent endeavour, launched on January 1st 2016 is The Gaming Maven .

I was curious to find out what sparked her interest in this new project so, thanks to the wonders of technology we “sat down together” and I asked her some questions! I hope you enjoy our interview and if you are into board games I recommend you give The Gaming Maven a follow or a like on social media!



What inspired you to start The Gaming Maven?

I rediscovered board games just a few years ago, and developed an instantaneous passion for playing them, and teaching them. I saw how much the board gaming community, and the hobby itself has grown in the past few years, and since I was retiring from a career I loved, I thought I would like the challenge of creating The Gaming Maven, my alter ego, as a business. Playing, reviewing, and testing games for a living? Oh yes.

How did you first get involved in Ottawa’s board game scene?

My husband and I were on a daytrip to Montreal, QC. We had no idea what to do on a Sunday night in Montreal, so we did some searching, and came across the website of Rudolph’s, a game lounge. That was the start of it all. We quickly discovered the sheer volume of games that had been produced since Settlers of Catan first came out.

When we got back to Ottawa, we discovered there was already a couple of gaming cafes/lounges. We volunteered at Games For All, a recently opened gaming spot in Ottawa. From there I was honoured to be asked to be involved in helping with the formation of a local game events company and online store, Cardboard Kingdom. Once that was up, and running I decided I wanted to focus on blogging, and working with gamers, game designers, and game companies in that capacity.

What do you like most about the board games scene? What do you find most challenging?

The thing I like most is the variety of people in the community. Every event I have attended, from pub nights to conventions, there are always people who will invite a newcomer to a game they are starting up. I find the community is very inclusive to new people.

The most challenging aspect is getting people new to modern gaming to try the games. Most people know the games from their childhood, and newer games are, in general, very different from the games of old. Often newbies are intimidated by the sheer number of options, and uniqueness of the games. My goal with The Gaming Maven, like my motto says, is “Reading the rules, so you don’t have to.” I offer the option to help you learn games without being overwhelmed by the newness of it all.

What are your top 5 favourite games?

This is always the hardest question to answer. Our board game collection sits at about 450 games and expansions, and that is just the tip of the tip of the iceberg of games out there, so narrowing it down to five is a tricky task, but I am up for the challenge.

#5 – Carcassonne (in its many forms, and expansions) by Klaus-Jürge Wrede

#4 – Trajan by Stefan Feld

#3 – Village, and its two expansions, by Inka and Markus Brand

#2 – Viticulture, and Tuscany expansion by Jamey Stegmaier & Alan Stone

#1 – Castles of Mad King Ludwig by Ted Alspach

What has been your best source of knowledge for this new project?

BoardGameGeek is the best source of knowledge for all things game related for me. I also watch a lot of videos on YouTube, The Dice Tower channel is my favourite, as well as Radho’s channel, Radho Runs Through.

Describe your style in one sentence.

Quirky game blogger, with a large dollop of humour.

What inspires you in your day-to-day?

My large wall of art, featuring my own, and fellow geeky artists’ work.

(My work space. All sorts of inspiration)

What is your favourite part of the Gaming Maven, and what are you most looking forward to?

Being able to play games as my job. Who could ask for more? I am looking forward to what the game industry will be bringing to our tables this year. 2015 was amazing, with the sheer number of new games published, and 2016 looks to beat it. I am looking forward to getting out to more game conventions, and see what will be up and coming.

What projects or goals are you currently working on? Where do you see The Gaming Maven in 5 years’ time?

My biggest project is to include video blogging along with my written blog. The videos will be a combination of unboxing/component lists, walk-throughs, and reviews. In five years my goal is to be a ‘household’ name amongst the gaming communities across North America. Basically be able to attend conventions, and have the odd person or two recognize me. One goal of mine is to have a permanent location, a lounge/café for people to come, and play games. I also have another idea up my sleeve, but I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag just yet. It is going to be great though, so I would recommend people check things out in about a year from now, to see.

What is one thing you’d like your fans to know about you?

That I am very approachable. I love to learn what brought people to the hobby, and I am willing to try pretty much any game once, and am always willing to sit down with you to play a game.

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

Seeing the light in people’s eyes when that have that ‘aha’ moment when they either play a new game or play a modern board game for the first time. In addition to playing board games, I am passionate about teaching board games, and am sometimes even happier when I can teach a game than when I play one.

Where can new followers find you online?



Twitter: @thegaming_maven (

Instagram: thegamingmaven (

Facebook: The Gaming Maven (


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