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Category Archives: Gift

I’m turning 29 for the second time.

I’m turning 29 for the second time.

Yep, it’s almost my second 29th birthday.  I can hardly bring myself to type it.  On June 1, I will enter a new life decade and I would be lying if I said I was not freaking out a bit.

To make it more palatable, I am thinking about things that would make great gifts for, ahem, someone, ahem, who might be about to re-celebrate their 29th birthday. Or things that I want to purchase for myself once my birthday has come and passed with no gifts because my family doesn’t do gifts.

In line with my previous wish list, these are lovely things that are not exactly practical, making it unlikely I will purchase them for myself because I have to buy the un-fun things like a new toilet seat and energy-efficient windows. They are fanciful and lovely, like the previous wish list as well.

Without further ado, some things I currently covet:

This chandelier. Yes, it was on the previous list, but I want it so bad. I have made progress on my dining room and I’m dying to update the light fixture.

Chandelier

A marble mortar and pestle. This isn’t even that frivolous – I would use it a lot, but I definitely want a marble one because it’s pretty. Maybe not this exact one, but you get the idea. I would crush garlic and whole spices so hard.

french-kitchen-mortar-and-pestle

A lovely cake server. Can you believe I don’t own one already? Neither can I. How did that happen? I make SO many cakes and have to serve them with a knife like some heathen. A scratch-cake-baking heathen. Oh, the horror!

Cake Server

These pretty salad plates. Can’t you just imagine eating a jicama-avocado-grapefruit salad off of these while sitting in my solarium? Your mouth is watering now isn’t it? Mine is.

Animal salad plates world market

One (or eight) sheepskins.  I know I would get so much use of out of it, but every time I go to Ikea I am already spending $300 on things that I need* so I always put the sheepskin back at the last minute. I have some ghost chairs and dining chairs that are just begging for a nice sheepskin. (*Need is a subjective term. Duh.)

Sheep Skin

Some snail place card holders. Or some other equally charming woodland creature in a gold finish place card holders. For labeling cheeses and the like at dinner parties. Nate Berkus for the win. For like the hundredth thousandth time.

Snail Placecard holdersNow, I am can feel my father rolling his eyes, saying that we don’t do gifts and who needs more “crap,” but oh well. It’s my second 29th birthday and I’ll desire lovely and slightly impractical things if I want to. (It kills me to end a sentence with a preposition, but that’s what you get when you quote Leslie Gore.)

Love,

Rachel

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Hanukkah and Christmas Wish List – Lovely and Impractical Gift Guide

Hanukkah and Christmas Wish List – Lovely and Impractical Gift Guide

My family doesn’t do gifts, which is actually kind of nice. My fiance and I exchange gifts, but I think he already got me something. However, I have been putting all my extra funds into things like paint, caulk, and floor wax (updating coming soon). And while that is exciting in one way, I am drooling over all the gorgeous gifts that I cannot afford to buy myself since I am spending my money on the practical work that needs to get done at the new house.  Practicality can sometimes seem so cruel.

But I thought it would be fun to put together a Wish List of pretty things that I would like if my family did gifts or if I wasn’t spending all my extra dough at Home Depot.  Almost none of these things are truly practical – I often think a good gift is something someone wants put won’t buy for themselves because it’s just not practical.

Without further ado, my Wish List:

These adorable measuring cups from Anthropologie

Anthro Measuring Bowls

This adorable and cheery scarf (not the impractical, really, never mind my drawer full of scarves)

Gap Scarf

This iced coffee cup – you keep it in the freezer and it chills down the hot coffee or tea for you so that it doesn’t get all watery. I LOVE this idea.

Iced Coffee Cup

This INCREDIBLE french press. Be still my beating heart.

French Press.

This (or any, really) awesome live edge cutting board. Can you say “cheese party?”

Live Edge Cutting Board

This chandelier (for the dining room). It’s actually practical because I need to replace the dining room light fixture, but it’s got crystal, so by definition it’s a bit impractical and definitely luxurious. It will look amazing against the navy dining room walls.

Chandelier

Gold Flatware. ‘Nuff said.

Gold Flatware

 

I want to hang this picture above my bed. I love it. And it’s HUGE. And actually pretty reasonably priced for such a large piece of art.

The Stare Down

 

And finally, this pair of agate book ends. Because only lovely stone chunks are good enough to hold up my books. And because I definitely don’t have three other pairs of book ends. Nope. Definitely don’t. (Please don’t look on my mantle.)

Agate Bookends

OK. Dreaming over. Back to Home Depot.

Love,

Rachel

PS. I also want something from Home Depot for the holidays. The Nest thermostat. It’s practical and comes from a hardware store. Has no crystals or gold on it.

 

Steel Magnolias Clutch

Steel Magnolias Clutch

I made this clutch two summers ago, before I started blogging. Thus, I don’t have any pictures of the process. But I love how this thing turned out. It was a birthday present for my old roommate.

It’s all hand-sewn, as are most of my sewing projects, because I didn’t have a sewing machine that summer. Also, for small, intricate projects like this, I prefer hand-sewing because I feel more in control. I may or may not be a little scared of sewing machines.

Pretty purple liner.

I bought the fabric from the remnant section of a great fabric store in Vienna, on Mariahilfestrasse. I recently discovered I will be going back to Vienna this summer. I cannot wait to go antiquing in Vienna. I mean, Vienna practically invented the antique.  But I digress.

The two types of flowers I think make this bag really special. I used the yo-yo flower for this picture frame. The other flower was from my own pattern. Maybe someday I will get my act together enough to teach you how I made the flowers. And how I made the whole clutch.  It wasn’t hard, but is was time-consuming because I had to sew each flower petal separately.

Hope you enjoy!

Love,

Rachel

Paper Wall “Art” (Another DIY Hoilday Gift Idea)

Paper Wall “Art” (Another DIY Hoilday Gift Idea)

Since I moved into a three bedroom apartment after coming from a tiny Manhattan apartment, which was awesome, I had some BIG wall spaces to cover and little money. Also, because I had moved across the country, my huge paintings were all at home. I almost always prefer to hang actual art that has intrinsic meaning to what I sometimes snobbily call “art-for-a-purpose.” “Art-for-a-purpose” is a piece of “art” designed to fill a space or just to match a decor. I guess, as a painter, it was a matter of self-preservation.

Above the bed "art" is important.

However, since I have been decorating my place, I have not only come to tolerate “art-for-a-purpose” but am kinda sometimes maybe a little enjoying it when my “art” perfectly matches my decor because I planned it that way. Especially in my bedroom and living room where I had some major blank walls to fill.

Threes are always best.

This project is easy to do, and inexpensive. It would make a great gift for someone with a new home, or a college student without wall decor.

Read the rest of this entry

Quick Fabric Picture Frame (DIY Holiday Gift Idea)

Quick Fabric Picture Frame (DIY Holiday Gift Idea)

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Last night, I finished most of my first semester of my MPA program! Unfortunately, Princeton does this dumb thing where finals for fall semester are not until after winter break, so I have three weeks of hot chocolate, latkes, crafting and holiday parties to forget econ, stats and defense policy.

Fabric picture frame. I realize now I should have wiped down the glass before photographing, but am now too lazy to retake the photos.

Regardless, it feels good to have hit this milestone that means I only have 1.5 years of schooling left. And what this really means is that I have three weeks to really focus on CRAFTS, DECORATING and DIY. So I wanted to share a small project that I did, that anyone should be able to do, which would make a lovely stocking stuffer, or Menorah accompaniment or small trinket of appreciation for a friend: a fun little picture frame.

For some perspective, the frame on the desk, next to adorable lamp.

My mom found the picture frame at a thrift store for a dollar. I wasn’t digging the original color or the fact that it had the word “friends” across the bottom in raised lettering. Just didn’t go with my decor, though my roommate had the almost identical frame (but hers said “sisters”). Because of the raised lettering, I couldn’t just paint the frame, because the letters would still show. (I don’t have a before pic, sorry!). That’s when I got the idea of using fabric.

Now here is what makes this frame so meaningful to me: It’s a picture of my brother’s wedding in India. And the fabric covering the frame is remnant silk left over from the sari that my sister-in-law had made for me for the wedding. Since my brother lives in India, I don’t get to see him much, and this personalize picture and frame remind me of how awesome he is, and how lucky he is to have found Archana.

My Sister-in-Law and I, decked out in full saris and ALL awesome jewelry.

So I carefully cut the fabric a little bit bigger than the frame, and cut out the center hole a little bit smaller than the hole. That way, I could fold the seams nicely so that they would tuck under when I glued the fabric to the frame. I used mirror glue because that was what I had at the time, but fabric glue or elmer’s glue or hot glue gun would all work fine.

Then I felt like the frame needed a little something more, so I made those little yo-yo flowers to adorn the corner. I am loving the way it all turned out.

Yo Yo Flowers.

There are a bunch of tutorials for how to make those flowers online. They are SUPER easy to make, and add a little fun to almost anything: lamps, picture frames, tank-tops, dresses, headbands, pillows, etc… Here is a good tutorial I found to share with you guys: http://heatherbailey.typepad.com/photos/how_to_make_a_yoyo/index.html.

So in total, this project cost me $0 (if you don’t count the ticket to India, which I don’t because my dad paid for that. Thanks, Dad! 😉 )  Now get to the thrift store to buy old cheap frames and then go to the fabric store to buy remnants. Make some gifts for your friends. Or gifts for yourself. I won’t tell. And since classes are now over, what else are you gonna do with your time? Seriously?

Love,

Rachel