MISSION: BE SPONTANEOUS

Glitter: Shake your tambourine

Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, it’s time to play a new song. And the tune that has us grooving is called tambourine jewelry.

Whimsical and sculptural, these wearable art pieces by up-and-coming designer Patricia Madeja combine innovation, originality and technical precision. The result is a look that is clean, kinetic and a sure-fire conversation starter.

Medeja's Black Pearl Tambourine Ring (above) is a handcrafted tiny sculpture. Ten pearls are caged between highly polished bands of metal (available in silver or 14K gold) and spin freely on individual pins. Concerned about authenticity? No worries. Each piece is signed by the designer, ensuring that you are buying an original work of art.

You can partner this endearing ring with its sister piece, the Silver Tambourine Cuff. Like the ring, this handmade creation is a study in meticulous execution: the spinning pearls are perfectly aligned within a sterling silver cage. The black pearls show an iridescent array of color with overtones of dark blue, gray, green and gold. No two are alike, which only adds to the unique appeal.

The musical motif pays homage to one of the most ubiquitous and beloved percussion instruments of all time. So get groovy with these modern designs and remember to shake what your mama gave ya!

Treat yourself: Patricia Madeja Black Pearl Tambourine Ring, $400 (14K gold frame), $170 (sterling silver frame), Patricia Madeja Silver Tambourine Cuff, $330. Guild.com, (877) 223-4600

—Judy Ann Olsen
 

Fabulous finds under $50

This inventive Triple Black Pearl Lariat Necklace is pure elegance. The sliding design allows it to be worn at different lengths for different looks, which means it's sure to be a fitting accent many of your outfits.

Treat Yourself: Triple Black Freshwater Pearl Lariat Necklace, $39, PearlsOnly.com, (713) 589-9636

 

Did you know?

When getting dressed, the last thing you should put on are your pearls. The reason? Pearls are also very soft (2 ½ to 4 on the Moh’s scale of hardness) and can be damaged by almost anything: perfume, hairspray, even your body’s natural oils. So, when getting ready to go out, save the pearls for last—even after that dab of eau de toilette.

 

Did you know?

Ever wondered how cultured black pearls gets their inimitable hues? It's from dye or irradiation. They're not to be confused with the ultra-luxe Tahitian black pearls, which get their mysterious natural tones from the Pinctada Margaritifera, the black lipped oyster of the South Pacific.

Judy Ann Olsen is a noted jewelry expert specializing in diamonds and couture. A graduate of the Gemological Institute of America, Judy Ann is an accomplished metalsmith whose work has been recognized by the Platinum Guild International. She offers jewelry consultation for private clients.
Website: JudyAnnOlsen.com
Contact
: JudyAnnOlsen[at]msn.com

 

MISSION: BE IMPULSIVE

Goods: Update you umbrella

With the fall and winter rains onyour doorstep, it’s time to don a pair of Wellingtons and lift those essential umbrellas to the skies. This year, there are lots of new ways fight the seasonal gloom with a quirky accessory that will match your individual style and inject those rainy days with a touch of new-fangled fun…

Must-haves of the fashionistas

Hailing from the city of eccentric designs and hardcore street fashion, Satoko Kobayashi, owner of pare*umbrella, is a crusader for the return of "the beautiful umbrella". With a choice selection of playful Tokyo imports sold online and in boutique shops, Kobayashi is convincing the world to give dull black totes the flick. Take the plunge and unleash your inner umbrella. Choose from 34 designs. Here are four of our faves:

Style-savvy gals looking for the sweet life are sure to bond with the cheeky pastel polka-dots of Ice Cream Parlor, while the cute cherries, ivory facade and charming frills of Cherry Bon Bon will make any mademoiselle shout "Ooh la la!"

In Mushroom Paradise, bohemian child meets nature lover with funky white mushrooms shimmering on a bright orange backdrop and finished with an au naturale chunky wooden handle.  

City Girl is for all you office gals and downtown shop-a-holics. Multicolored thin stripes, a synthetic leather handle, pretty lace trim and a snappy matching case mean this piece can switch from stylish businesswear to elegant accessory in a New York minute.    

Treat yourself: pare*umbrellas, prices range from $54 to $65, PareUmbrella.com

Beat the rainy day blues

Forget the depressing gray days of the season with a witty umbrella from the Museum of Modern Art collection. Developed by the legendary and unconventional designer Tibor Kalman, founder of the world renowned design firm, M&Co, these black nylon treasures hide a secret: they feature a beautiful summer sky-scape on the inside, replacing your gray skies for blue.

Opt for the old-fashioned charm of the tall, wooden handled Sky Umbrella or, if you prefer the more functional design of an automatic open-close mechanism, the Sky Umbrella Collapsible folds down to purse-sized perfection.

Treat yourself: Sky Umbrella (standard), $48, UncommonGoods.com, (888) 365-0056; Sky Umbrella Collapsible, $32, ArtBeatGifts.com, (877) 646-2215

Pop-and-go purse pieces

Like the convenience of a purse-sized umbrella? Then you'll love the űber-convenience of Lulu Guinness  automatic umbrellas. Not only are this British designer's 'brollies purse-sized and feminine, they offer something extra for girls on the go: they automatically fold upand downat the touch of button! No more having to find a place to put down your latte, groceries or kids just to close your rain gear!

Choose from four playful designs including white hearts, black hearts, girls with beach balls and yellow roses.

Treat yourself: Lulu Guinness umbrellas start at $16, Ashford.com, (888) 274-3673

Triple protection

From the completely eco-friendly guys at Clean Air Gardening in Texas, the Gustbuster is a high-quality umbrella for that promises to provide protection from not one, but three of nature's elements: rain, wind and the sun's cancer-causing UVA and UVB rays, which every health-savvy woman knows are still present on the cloudiest of days.

How does the Gustbuster work its multi-pronged magic? A combination of shape and substance. This umbrellas boasts a re-enforced frame and unique teardrop shaped vents, which guard against the fiercest of winds and prevent the ultimately embarrassing inside-out umbrella effect during super-windy downpours. And its silver-gray exterior reflects an impressive 96 percent of the sun's harmful UVA and UVB rays. That it also happens to be a stylish addition that will match virtually any raincoat is merely an added bonus.

Treat yourself: Gustbuster, $39.95, CleanAirGardening.com, (214) 363-5170

Hands down for hands-free

Unless you’re directly related to an octopus, you’ve likely discovered that two hands are hardly ever enough. Whether carrying more than one take-away coffee, handling groceries and lively kids or just dealing with an out-of-commission arm (wet or icy sidewalks often result in unpleasant emergency room visits), it’s never easy to manage an umbrella on top of it all.

Not to worry, though. Dr. Leonards, which specializes in health and support products, has just the prescription to offerthe Hands-free Umbrella. Exactly as the name sounds, this handy little number is attached to a special curved arm that wraps over your shoulder and under your arm. Just slip it on and you'll have both hands free to do whatever you want while also getting the rain protection you need.

Treat yourself: Hands-free Umbrella, $7.99 or two for $14.99, DrLeonards.com, (800) 785-0880

Partners in rain and shine

Your best friend will be all wags and smiles when you step out together sporting the blue plaid matching Pet and People Umbrella pair. This set combines a classic automatic pop-up umbrella for you and an ergonomic inverted umbrella with a leash that attaches to your companion’s collar. It’s perfect for devoted pet parents keen to keep those daily walks on schedule, rain or shine.

If you’ve already acquired your own prized umbrella, you can pick up a solitary pet ‘brolly from PetGadgets, an online shop showcasing high tech products for furry friends. Dry-Bones covers your pet with a clear rain shieldno need to shake  dry back at home.            

Treat yourself: Pet and People Umbrella, $26.98, CoolStuffCheap.com, (888) 463-3332; Dry-Bones, $19.99 (on sale for $9.99 as of November 1), PetGadgets.com, (800) 642-2112

—Kiera Tara O'Brien
 

Favorite online coupons

WorldMarket.com
Code: ANIV6
Gets you: $40 off order of $150 or more
Expires: November 8, 2006

Kohls.com
Code:
NEW5644
Gets you:
10% off entire online order
Expires:
November 11, 2006

Target.com
Code: TCRCPTAB
Gets you: 10% off entire online order
Expires: November 30, 2006

This month, one lucky Four Weeks subscriber will win a
Sky Umbrella Collapsible from
ArtBeatGifts.com
!

See a full list of this month's giveaways here.

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