Have yourself a merry little Christmas…

He see’s you when you’re sleeping

I had a number of gift guides posts planned for December but the technology gods decided differently. Two weeks ago, I opened my laptop to find the red battery of death, necessitating a visit to the computer doctor followed by a diagnosis of failed mother board.  When my Pro was released earlier this week with a clean bill of health it felt like I had just received a present.

To be truthful, this past year has been a rough one and I haven’t been ‘in the spirit’ this holiday season. I know I am supposed to want to go out and buy, buy, buy but in truth the only thing I want for Christmas is for 2018 to be over and for everyone I love to be healthy and happy next year.  

I hope the same for each of you who already follow this blog or have stumbled upon it. The best gift you could ever give – or receive – is the gift of time spent with those you care most about. Here’s wishing you and yours a lovely [insert whatever it is you celebrate this time of year here] in the company of steadfast friends and loving family.  All the best for 2019!

*Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – The Pretenders

I’m putting all my eggs in one basket…

giftbasket
All the fixins’

Who doesn’t like to receive a beautifully wrapped gift?  I am a firm believer that the presentation is just as important as what it’s hiding inside and admit to having a bit of a paper and ribbon habit to support my wrapping efforts.

I also really like making unique gift baskets, a skill I first picked up years ago working at a shop on Gower Street near Paramount Studios run by a group of Scientologists who made gift baskets for the movie and tv shows filming in LA.

My favorite baskets to make aren’t really baskets at all but rather custom sculptural pieces made from felt which replicate things like a Fleischmann’s yeast bag (for a pombe’ researcher), an old fashioned baby bootie (full of goodies for a newborn), a replica of a home (for the new owners), and a look-alike book cover jacket (for a world-renowned author). These sculptures challenge my crafting and engineering abilities since each one has to look like the real thing while being structurally sound to hold all the goodies contained within.

My most recent basket was slightly little-less time-consuming since I used a Target collapsible storage bin as the foundation, but no less rewarding.  A new colleague and his spouse were visiting town to sign the lease on their abode and I wanted to welcome them to our community so I  included some local magazines, a ‘things to do’ guide, some light reading, waters, wine, fruits, and a selection of sweet and salty treats, plus a souvenir or two (in this case some great painted glasses from CatStudios).

finished2
The finished product

It takes some practice to master the art of a well-crafted basket but if you like to give uniquely thoughtful gifts give it a try! Your basket recipients will be very glad you did…

*I’m Putting All My Eggs In One Basket – Ella Fiztgerald & Louis Armstrong

Dark and grey…

Greys
Midi 3 Way

Each season I feature ways to re-create my favorite runway looks (my 2016 recreations can be found here, here and here).  Some of the hot trends for Fall 2017 include fringe, checked fabrics, velvets, midi length skirts and dresses, broad shoulders and the color grey – all featured above.  After countless hours spent viewing the shows from New York, Milan, London and Paris I keep coming back to the fashions created by Lela Rose, Victoria Beckham, Christian Siriano, Isabel Marant and Michael Kors.

Any of the ‘3 Midi’s’ pictured above (all from Michael Kors Fall 2017 collection) would be easy to sew and flattering to almost everyone.  Of course, some basic pattern alteration would be required (either by extending hemlines and/or altering the skirt side seam angles) but anyone with moderate sewing skills could easily make the changes before cutting out the pattern.  After you’ve finished the garment accessorize as you see fit and you’ll be ready to rock fall…

LEOPARD
Perfume |  Earrings   |  Skinny Belt   |   Gloves  |   Ankle Booties
VELVET
Perfume   |   Earrings   |   Bag  |   Pumps
Houndstooth
Perfume Earrings   |  Belt  |   Bag  |   Boots

Next up – more of my ‘Recreating the Runway’ series featuring my favorite floral and velvet looks.

*Dark and Grey – Kid Rock

My gal is red hot…

wearred
Feeling Red

It’s been fifteen years since the first National Wear Red Day, which sought to educate women about the number 1 lady killer – heart disease.  A decade and a half later heart disease still kills too many women, often because they fail to recognize the warning signs specific to females.  Help your heart stay healthy by exercising, following the food pyramid eating guidelines, quitting smoking, and having your cholesterol levels checked. You can also sport some red this Friday to let the world know just how much you value your heart – and the hearts of those you love!

Queen of Hearts T-shirt  |   Shy Siren Red Crystal Teardrop Earrings   |   Mila Suede Pumps  |    Two Piece Lace-up Ballet Flats   |     Olivia Miller Alura Chain  Wrapped  Heart Cross-body Bag   |   Guerlain  Rouge D’Eenfer Nail Polish   |   Silk Squirrel Orchid Scarf   |   City Chic Fit & Flare Red Lace Dress   |   Joyce Trimming Velvet Flower Pin   |   Yves Saint Laurent Tuxedo Red Lipstick

 

The sweetest gift….

presents.jpg
Angels Booty 

The world can be such a horrible place but each year when Christmas rolls around my faith in humanity gets restored once again.  People open their hearts and give – not only to family and friends but to perfect strangers as well.  I am a giver by nature and donate time throughout the year to help children learn to read. When Christmas rolls around I also like to help with the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program (see my 2015 Angel Tree post here).

If you are not familiar with the program, it provides people like me with opportunity to ‘adopt’ less fortunate individuals (mostly children and seniors) and provide them with gifts and necessities. I’ve been adopting angels for over 20 years and have also worked behind the scenes for the past 5, helping with gift intake, checking presents against wish lists, shopping for ‘forgotten angels’ (angels no one adopts), and working in the warehouse.

This year, it was my pleasure to work at our mall’s Angel Tree station.  There was a steady stream of people returning bags of gifts for their angels (we filled an entire dumpster!) and even more wanting to adopt.  People took a surprisingly long time to study each person’s requests before choosing the perfect angel and seemed happy for chance to help someone else in need. Rich, poor, young, old, black, white, healthy, infirm – the only common denominators seemed to be that everyone had a big heart and wanted to help!

After I finished my shift it felt like I had been given an unexpected and wonderful gift. I got to experience the true spirit of Christmas courtesy of a tree, some angels, and the overwhelming generosity of my fellow man (and woman)!

How about you?  Are you a giver?  I’d love to hear what sorts of giving opportunities you support or organizations you volunteer with…

 

Gave you what you wanted…

 

santagifts
8 for 20

Over the next few weeks you will be able to see some of the gifts I’ll be giving this season (with tips on how you can easily purchase or make something similar).  Let’s begin with some Secret Santa gifts that set me back less than $20 total.

A bit of backstory: each year I participate in a Secret Santa gift exchange at work.  There are only two rules; you can’t spend more than $20, and you have to purchase an ornament out of that amount (which is used to reveal each Santa).  After choosing your person you receive a listing of their favorite candy, snack, non-alcoholic beverage (it is work), hobby, color, and the like.   Everyone hangs their stockings at the start of December so gifts can be deposited as often as Santa sees fit.  You can open your gift(s) at any time or all at once. Trying to guess who your Santa might be is highly encouraged.  With any luck, all of the Santa’s identities will remain a mystery until the ornament reveal happens at our holiday lunch.

This year I challenged myself to see how many nice things I could give my ‘secret’ while keeping within my $20 budget.  This person likes chocolate, golds and greens, coffee, and owls…here’s what I purchased or made and will be secretly delivering over the next 7 days…

  1. Ghiradelli Sea Salt Cashews ($3.80 from Amazon)
  2. Holographic Glittered Bronze Owl Ornament ($4.99 form Walmart)
  3. Golden Mechanical Pencil Assortment ($3.00 from Target’s Dollar Spot Christmas Collection)
  4. ‘Warm Hands Warm Heart’ Knit Gloves ($1.00 from JoAnn Fabrics)
  5. Aloe Plant in 6″ Clay Pot and Saucer ($1.00 plant from Lowe’s. I had the pot and saucer, acrylic paint and ribbon on hand. I cleaned and then painted the pot and saucer with 3 coats of acrylic paint, then  glued ribbon around the top of the pot, leaving enough extra ribbon to tie into a pretty bow.)
  6.  Starbucks Card (given to me and being re-gifted; a $5 value that technically cost me zero.)
  7. Infinity Scarf (I used this silky beaded charmeuse fabric which I had left over from another project, to make the scarf.  Search Pinterest for “how to make an infinity scarf”.  Even a novice seamstress can make an infinity scarf in less than an hour. And since I already had the fabric and thread on hand the scarf cost nada to make.)
  8. Golden Writing Case with Notes ($3.00 from Target’s Dollar Spot Christmas Collection)

…A little ingenuity combined with some re-gifting, material re-sourcing, and sweat equity, and I now have 7 days of gifts, plus and ornament, for $17!  Now all I need to do is deposit each gift unnoticed, hope the person likes what they’ve received, and can’t figure out I’m their Santa until I give them the owl!

How about you?  Will you participate in a Secret Santa or other type of gift exchange this year?  What sorts of gifts do you plan on giving (or making)? I’d love to know…