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Posts Tagged ‘holiday gifts’

Photo courtesy of Rocky Nook.

I received my first Friendship Bracelet many years ago from a college friend. It was a chevron design of navy blue and green thread and I wore it every day. Even though I don’t have the bracelet anymore, I remember it fondly.

Recently, with the rise in the maker’s movement, the craft of making Friendship Bracelets has become a focus and London-based crafter Maria Makarova (AKA Masha Knots) is on it! After more than ten years of making the colorful bracelets herself and offering YouTube tutorials, she has written a book – The Beginner’s Guide to Friendship Bracelets: Essential Lessons for Creating Designs to Wear and Give (Rocky Nook).

The popularity of Friendship Bracelets has ebbed and flowed over the years, but as an endearing sign of friendship they never really go away. New generations of teenagers, young adults, and now even older folks can’t resist the charm of a handmade symbol of connection.

In her book, Makarova explains in detail how to make simple and more complex bracelet designs. She covers tools of the trade, basic loops, embellishments, fixing common mistakes, and she even offers “tricks and tips.” The instructions are user friendly with lots of diagrams and step-by-step photos. In Chapter 12 Makarova provides photos of her original designs.

Makarova’s original designs.

I’m thinking Valentine’s Day (or Galentine’s Day, the celebration of female friendships, on February 13th). Get the book for the crafter in your life or for yourself and start a new hobby. What better a gift for the people you love than a handmade bracelet? And when it comes to making gifts, it’s never too early to think about the holidays, as well as birthdays and graduations coming up this year.

(ODFL would like to thank Rocky Nook for providing a review copy of this book.)

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There is undeniably an old-fashioned air around brooches, but there are ways of wearing them to look more up-to-date. Wearing with knitwear rather than formal day dress can jazz up a plain jumper, or go big and bold a la Lady Gaga in Schiaparelli at the US inauguration, for a modern take on this most regal of accessories.

Alicia Healey – Former employee of Queen Elizabeth, regular contributor to The Spectator and author of Wardrobe Wisdom From a Royal Lady’s Maid (National Trust).

This quote is from The Art of the Brooch published in The Spectator magazine, July 25, 2022.

A collection of vintage crown brooches from Collectible Costume Jewelry (Collector Books). Wear one of these on a headband or pin it to a fabric handbag.

It does seem that brooches have slipped into obscurity. But not with some of us. I’m a big fan and I like to place my brooches in unexpected places. For example I wear a bee brooch on the cuff of my denim jacket. I have a big black and white butterfly brooch that sits atop a black beret. Any brooch placed on the shoulder of a sweater adds more interest that if worn elsewhere. Also, a collection of small brooches worn together on a lapel will catch the eye. Brooches offer a lot of style and can perk up any outfit. I think the key for a more modern look is to not to take them too seriously and just have fun. Think outside the brooch box.

Collection of whimsical insect brooches pictured in Collectible Costume Jewelry (Collector Books).

Brooches make excellent holiday gifts and interesting vintage brooches can be found at thrift stores for a reasonable price. There’s still time to hit your local thrift store and find a unique gift for some lucky person in your life, or you!

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I spotted this book on the New Books shelf at the library. I took a look, put it back, and picked it up again. The cover drew me in as well as the title, Bloomsbury Girls. It’s period (1950), it takes place in London (in fact in the literary, historical neighborhood of Bloomsbury), and a light read was just what I needed.

I can’t resist anything period or based in London so I checked it out and cracked it open the next day over my morning coffee. From the first page I was hooked. Bloomsbury Girls is well-written, the characters are multifaceted, and the story is evenly paced and interesting. There’s a bit of intrigue along with history and plenty of detail about post WWII London, including what people are wearing.

Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner (St. Martins Press) tells the story of a bookshop in Bloomsbury and its staff – three women and five men. It’s 1950 so there’s a lot of sexism going on but the women are punching back and climbing up that bookshop ladder, in their sensible shoes, one rung at a time. Here’s the dust jacket blurb:

Bloomsbury Books is a quiet, dusty, tradition-bound London bookstore that had persisted and resisted change for a hundred years, run by men and guided by the general manager’s unbreakable fifty-one rules. But in 1950, it’s a new world, and at Bloomsbury Books, the girls in the shop have plans.

Ms. Jenner is the author of the bestselling novel The Jane Austen Society, which I haven’t read but apparently a few of the characters from that novel show up in Bloomsbury. Also sprinkled into the story are appearances by actual historical figures – authors Daphne du Maurier and Samuel Becket, and American socialite Peggy Guggenheim.

Although I was disappointed that towards the end a few threads of the story were rushed, I still found Bloomsbury Girls a charming and rare “can’t put it down” read. It’s an excellent holiday gift for the reader (and anglophile) on your list.

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Laila Gohar looking stylish in the kitchen. Photo: Nacho Alegre.

When I work, I like to wear menswear shirts with a long bistro-style apron that ties around my body.

Laila Gohar – Egyptian born chef, artist, and designer.

Ms. Gohar has a masters degree in Media Studies from Parson’s School of Design in New York. While in school she worked at a French bistro where she learned to “curate” events. Now she prepares food for special pop-up events – clients include Tiffany & Co and Comme des Garsons. Her website says that she “uses food as an artistic medium and a tool for communication.” How interesting!

I’m a big fan of aprons. For one thing I like to keep my clothes free of kitchen spits and splatters. But I also like an added touch of style while cooking.

I have a few aprons and each one means something to me. One I’ve had since I was around 12-years-old. It was a gift from my stepmother – a souvenir she picked up in Europe. I kept it but didn’t wear it until recently. Another was a gift from my mother a few years ago. It’s made of fine cotton and she bought it from a local shop that specializes in French imports of linens, dishware, and soap among other goodies. (Sadly that shop recently closed.)

Helping Hands Apron from Gohar World.

How cool that Ms. Gohar has created a unique look for herself that is both stylish and practical. (I notice she’s sporting a brooch on her apron pictured above.) She and her sister, Nadia, also an artist, have applied their whimsy to a line of tableware and linens. One of their apron designs is called Helping Hands Apron and features a pair of lace hands dangling from the tie.

Do you have a cook on your holiday gift list? How about giving them a new apron?

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Be safe, be respectful, wear your mask, lead with love.

Dolly Parton, American singer/songwriter, pop icon.

Sound advice for these challenging times.

Who doesn’t love Dolly Parton? I admire Ms. Parton’s upbeat attitude and confidence and I thought she was hilarious in her first movie, Nine to Five. I had no idea that she has written over 3000 songs and she was the fourth child of twelve. Twenty-five years ago she started a non-profit called Imagination Library, which provides books to disadvantaged kids.

Although her style isn’t my cup of tea, she pulls off whatever she sports – be it jeans and a western style shirt or a white beaded jumpsuit.

Do you have a Dolly fan on your holiday gift list? She’s just come out with a memoir – Songteller: My Life in Lyrics (Chronicle Books). Check out your local independent bookshop.

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