I am honored to be featured once again in Romantic Homes Magazine, with an eight page layout in the November 2011 issue. This magazine is chock-full of beautiful homes and attainable looks & decorating ideas….it is wonderful to be in such good company~
This feature was developed and photographed many months ago, after the Editor asked me for something “doable” for Holiday gifts; as is my habit, I promised to also throw in lots of fresh and lots of true French. Gone are the days when most of us feel like we can afford to (or even want to) go out and spend freely on Christmas and Holiday gifts. Even among the chic crowd of Rancho Santa Fe & Newport, market shoppers have been asking me for ideas for gifts they can make themselves this year. I settled on a theme revolving around my beloved French linens and farmers market fare. The Editors are very plugged in and titled the layout Give Freely. Not to imply spend freely to do so. All photography is by the very talented Jacqueline deMontravel, Editor of Romantic Homes and other wonderful publications as well as author of many lovely books including one coming out at Christmas this year see HERE. I love the lead photo, which is a textural stack from my linen closet on top of my favorite chippy gilt side chair; top to bottom: vintage 19thC grain sack from Cluny with repair in white stitching; washed Joann’s burlap, vintage French linen, vintage French hemp, vintage French linen & hemp, unwashed dark Big Y burlap, unwashed Joann’s burlap, vintage French cotton and linen towel~
One of the first ideas I had for this spread was to reproduce the vintage Grain Sack look, which of course we see all over in good and less-good reproductions. But who wants to spend $35-89 on a pillow cover for a holiday gift? Can’t we get this ourselves?? YES. The key is to find a good quality burlap (hemp) which is dark enough and thick enough to replicate the grain sack look. I scoured and sampled and washed away, until I found what I wanted at a local fabric store called Big Y Yardage. See http://www.bigyyardage.com/. My links are not working so here they are direct. Big Y ships anywhere, and the burlap is $2.10 per yard. You can get a LOT out of a yard.
I will do a second post this week on washed burlap, with more images for you, but this is by far the best thing I found. I use Joann’s Stores burlap for the farmers markets, but I like this stuff BETTER, and when washed looks like the old stuff.
I spent a lot of time wrestling with images to put on the burlap…on the computer, into reverse image….there are many images available on etsy but I think you have to throw them into reverse image, and I was not able to do that with some basic images that I created in word, so I figured this was not “doable.” I love the cross-stitch look and tried that too. Not doable for me. But I did discover Freezer Paper, and that worked just fine, as was very doable, so I went with that. Love the chair slipcover in the shoot, which I drew free-hand with a Sharpie, directly onto the Freezer Paper, then cut out with an Xacto knife~
The little votives are cute too…made with unwashed Joann’s burlap; you can spell out happy birthday, congratulations or whatever, all the way down your table, for pennies….
But hey, even easier is to drop off some yardage to your local monogrammer and have some stuff sewn up. The door hanger was actually a “mistake” pillow. They put the holly leaf in the wrong spot, but I added some ribbon and made it into a door hanger rather than a pillow.
The pillows were whipped up by me in a minute, so easy. I filled them with French lavender; another pillow was monogrammed with a dear blogger friend’s name and is now in her salon. Note I used more white thread and paint in this spread; lighter than the black stencils you see. The white is fresh and a nice change from the heavy black grain sack. In reproductions, I find the French favor the white stencil, plus you never see a French monogram in black, it’s always white~
I made up a series of gifts that you can prepare in summer when fruits are at their peak and at the best prices. Home-made syrups or jarred cherries or summer preserves are most welcome in winter….apricot and cherry and truly seasonal fruits are my preference for gifts, especially when, like the cherries, they are infused with winter spices like cinnamon and clove. A nice topper such as red ribbon and more washed burlap from your pillow scraps makes it a special gift~
Year after year, I make more of these vodkas for gifts. If you follow my blog, you see them at Christmas in crystal decanters. Want to thank someone? Give them a small bottle of raspberry-infused vodka. Or use pomegranate or lemon or orange. Do this in summer when you have more berries than you know what to do with. Top with fresh greens or other fun stuff~
For a twist on the “bottle of red” hostess gift, make a simple gift bag of washed burlap and infuse the red wine with mulling spices and citrus. The red wine I buy for this is from our friends in Burgundy, the Drouhin Family. Find their wines at all price levels at BevMo and other stores. Fantastic!
I showed a few simple candles, wrapped in burlap and tartan, and others rolled in coarse salt and glitter after a brush of Mod-Podge. The vintage basket will be on my door this fall so you will see it again soon. Use what you have, surely you can find some great baskets or fabrics….?
Other ideas were presented, not all made it. I was happy to have my glitter bird on the table of contents page. More on this shortly~
One thing leads to another, as they say, and I have yet MORE exciting news to share with you.
Thank you to Jacqueline deMontravel, Editor of Romantic Homes, I am thrilled to be a part of this issue and to share my ideas with their readers.
OF NOTE: as we continue the theme of giving freely, many of the items from the shoot are now in the hands of two blogger friends who will soon give them away, including lavender-filled Merry Christmas and Noel pillows, which anyone would love! I will post those giveaways here soon….