Monday, May 31, 2010

My profusion of Peonies........and a Thank You

There is no possible way to thank you for your support during the last two weeks. I am beyond grateful to be able to tell you that my dad is slowly making his way back to us. My last post was published a few hours before we got the hospital call that every family fears and I believe your support and prayers helped in part to bring him back to us. Something worked that night and I am eternally grateful to the many of you who offered prayers and support by comments, emails, and phone calls. Actually, I am beyond grateful and maybe there is a way to thank you in a way that feels right to me.

Today is the 31st, the last day of May. I almost missed the May Giveaway and I am going to go about this one in a slightly different way. It is my way of thanking you for your incredible kindness towards my father, me, and my family. If you left a comment or an email by yesterday concerning my father over the past few weeks, your name is already entered in this Thank You Giveaway. I will post this special gift and select the recipient by the end of the week.

Comfort comes in many ways. Though I had no time to comment the past few weeks, I did enjoy your blog posts that I would read late at night on my laptop, on my veranda, in the dark when I couldn't sleep. The blogging world has become a comfortable one for me and I am not sure bloggers always know how good they are at what they do. I just want you to know that you are a unique and talented group of women...........

..................and totally amazing. XO

All photos by Sande Chase ~ A Gift Wrapped Life

Monday, May 24, 2010

An extra prayer for my Dad please

It is a with a sad and breaking heart that I tell you my father is fighting for his life after his surgery last week. I doubt I will be posting this week as we are at the hospital all hours. As I told you with my peony post he was tickled pink with your good wishes, thoughts and prayers. It gave him the biggest smile and for that I am grateful to all of you who shared such in your comments.   Now I want to ask you to pray for him, me and my family. Maybe with the force of all your prayers we can now send comfort and peace his way. You are always my most wonderful supporters, even in the sad times and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. XO

Friday, May 21, 2010

A Magnificent Surprise

Today I got the most lovely surprise.......

To say I am a peony lover would be an understatement. I went around and counted all the peony buds today and can expect a few hundred blooms in varying colours over the next few weeks. A few years ago I planted a second round of peony plants which I thought were a deep pink. Well, they are and were to begin with........ until they opened this morning and presented me with this most magnificent surprise. This first one that opened literally took my breath away. Isn't she a beauty? And look closely to the middle right, a bold little ant trying to get in my photo for evolutionary credit (he is also at the bottom of the top photo). Have a wonderful weekend and thank you for all your kind support for my father. Even though he still isn't sure what this blogging thing is that his daughter is doing, he was tickled pink that so many of you sent your good wishes, thoughts, and prayers. XO

Photos by Sande Chase ~ A Gift Wrapped Life

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mary Frances handbags....... and my favorite shoes.

While in the beginning stages of an overdue closet purge, I came across a few of my older Mary Frances handbags that are definitely not on the purge list. Then I thought I would go take a look at her new ones, anything to delay being purge-decisive and something definitely more fun. You might want to go pick a couple of your favorites as well and add them to your wish list. I have gifted Mary Frances purses (what we call handbags and clutches here in Canada) a few times and can tell you it is always a special gift choice to give or receive. Looking at pretty purses got me thinking about my all-time favorite pair of dress shoes that I have had for several years now. I wear them any chance I get, which isn't nearly enough. I almost feel I should apologize to them.

Mind you, I do get almost as much pleasure looking at my Lualdi shoes as I do wearing them. They are one of my most comfortable heels which is saying alot these days and with the mix of chartreuse, blue, pink, gold, rust and............
                                                                                    unexpected red heel, these Italian beauties go with just about anything in my closet. You can see they have been well-worn..........

..........and they are certainly well-loved. I am sorry I don't wear you more.

Top images from Mary Frances/Bottom 3 photos by Sande Chase ~ A Gift Wrapped Life

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sweet Pea and Grosgrain

Officially, this is my 200th post but don't tell anyone because I do want the post to be a bit more special and include a May Giveaway. Maybe something thoughtful and profound. And so this is my unofficial 200th post as sometimes life gets in the way and even blogging goes on hold. The official 200th post will be sometime in the next week, as soon as we see our Dad through a major and unexpected spinal surgery tomorrow. Before I left for the hospital this afternoon I had to get a few orders wrapped and delivered and thought I would show you one.......I call it Sweet Pea.

I know you rarely see me gift wrap in what is referred to as a monochromatic color scheme. Nor do you often see me use grosgrain ribbon as I certainly favour double faced satins for the most part. I actually do enjoy working with grosgrain, it can be simple but striking. I will try some other variations in grosgrain ribbon in upcoming posts. It is an easy ribbon for most to use, it always ties easily, makes for a crisp, neat bow and is one of the most affordable ribbons.You can't ask for too much more than that from any ribbon.

What you have heard me talk about multiple times is the use of offcuts, those leftover strips of wrapping paper that are generally long and narrow. If you look closely you will see that I used an offcut as a wide folded strip over the gift wrap for dimension and as a guide for placing my three lengths of 1" grosgrain ribbon. The offcut is taped to the bottom (with double-sided tape so nothing is visible) and also works nicely to hide the folded sides. I simply brought the ribbon under the offcut strip and positioned the trio of grosgrain bows, one on top, two to the bottom. You could do any variation you like depending on the size of the package. This was a fairly large box so using three lengths seemed to enhance the presentation because I was using narrow ribbon. Gift wrapping is all about proportion, just like home design. Then again, sometimes rules can be broken and isn't that the fun of it?

It is official, I love the name Sweet Pea. This was a gift for someone so I do look to add something cheery and pretty. I thought this die-cut card was lovely with this green gift wrap presentation, but then made a inside copy error in my rush. But as you know, I will simply cut the image off and save it for another time as a gift card. There is a few other card variations I will attempt in upcoming posts. I have a rather long and interesting list of gift wrap techniques to challenge myself with shortly so the upcoming gift wrapping posts look to be quite creative and hopefully inspirational. Many have asked me to resume my Gift Wrap 101 tutorials and they will be coming back, along with the Small Comfort Series.

And just so you don't think I have totally lost my mind by leaving out embellishments of some nature. I added these petite white flowers to see which style you preferred. Feel free to tell me your preference. Maybe all this time you would have preferred more monochromatic gift wrapping. And to the lovely follower who emailed me in the last week asking for help in selecting and buying good ribbon, I will be emailing you back with some suggestions as soon as this hectic week is over.

My blog posts may be sparse over the next week though sometimes blogging can be a nice stress-release break between hospital breaks, so who knows which way it will go. Thank you in advance for your patience and see you soon. I hope you will look forward to my official 200th  post and the May Giveaway celebrating this blog milestone. A most grateful welcome to New Followers and I am honored that you have joined me here at A Gift Wrapped Life.

All photos by Sande Chase ~ A Gift Wrapped Life

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Diane James......a lasting gift

Though I adore the real thing, as a designer I know that faux flowers have their place in any well-appointed home too. I went around and counted and I do have 14 silk arrangements of varying size and style. From a large forsythia arrangement in a black tole container in my living room to a petite rose arrangement in our guest bedroom, they graciously add colour and shape to many corners and settings in any home. Of course these days I use silk flowers to adorn gifts, but I do think these gorgeous silk flower arrangements by Diane James would make for the loveliest of gifts for a variety of occasions. I know there is a great debate on real vs. faux but I have never had a problem with faux flowers when they are of beautiful quality and realistic style. I am not the only designer to think this of course, high profile designers such as Michael Smith, Barbara Barry and Mario Buatta turn to Diane James for silken arrangements in their well-appointed interiors as well.  So I am in some very good company. I look at these arrangements in another way as well (especially the petite styles) as a beautiful bedside gift for someone recuperating at a far distance, for a special birthday, or as a most gracious housewarming gift. Something to remind them of you and your good thoughts on a daily basis.

You could head over to Bergdorf Goodman, Gracious Home or Neiman Marcus for a Diane James faux arrangement or order online at Diane James Home. Here Diane James has fashioned a table setting at Neiman Marcus with faux flowers. Makes me want to have a lovely garden party.

~ A Table Setting for Mustardseed & Moonshine in Neiman Marcus ~

The Diane James Home website is well-designed and neatly organized by size, colour, season, and flower so finding the perfect arrangement and price is easy and most visually pleasant. Diane James Home also has a floral inspired blog The Buzz which shares divine design ideas and sources with a botanical twist.

All photos from Diane James Home

Monday, May 10, 2010

Beautiful Blooms.....Paper Sculpture

photo by Bruce Weber ~ styling by Camilla Nickerson

I ran across this exuberant and gorgeous display of paper flowers while looking at the May 2010 online issue of W magazine. Oh my.......what have we here? We have the work of New York artist Eloise Corr Danch and as you will see she has an extraordinary ability to fashion flowers into a visual feast of colour. Makes me want to sharpen up my paper cutting skills.

This may be old hat to New York dwellers who would have seen this fashionable display of paper flowers in the windows of Macy's New York flagship store at Herald Square last spring, but then again maybe not (this could never get old hat) and this exquisite head dress has inspired me in answering my own floral question this season.......what colour of real flowers to plant over the next few weeks? All of them, every single colour I can find. 

The windows for the Macy's 2009 Flower Show featured more than 2,500 handmade paper flowers painstakingly fashioned into swirling garlands and 20 ornate head dresses in all 23 windows. A daytime view.

I would have loved to walk the 23 windows and study this swirling mass of intricate flowers of every colour and shape in this nightime view. What I would love to know......where did all the flowers go when the installation was finished? Wouldn't they make for the most fabulous of gift embellishments? You can visit the website of Eloise Corr Danch and see more of her incredible portfolio and her list of corporate clients such as Antropologie, the Canadian Joe Fresh, Macys, Sony Group Entertainment, RUFFIAN, Saks Fifth Avenue,  Leah C Couture Millinery and many others. Eloise studied fashion illustration in France at The Paris American Academy under Chanel illustrator Davids Rees. This spring she is collaborating with the British decor company Farrow & Ball to create sculptural flowers using their new wallpaper collection ~ The Chelsea.

Top photo photographed by Bruce Weber-styled by Camilla Wickerson/remaining David Zuckerman photos from Eloise Corr Danch website.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Just in are feeling frivolous

Just in case you haven't seen this fabulous Valentino shoe........
and just in case you have an extra $4,700.00 laying about, I actually looked it up
when I saw it at the blog HOME.

Just because I am loving this pale blue from Akris Spring 2010.....

Just because I can't pick a favorite.......if I had a choice.
I am not looking this one up.

Just in case you are wondering why Carla Bruni can do whatever she wants........
Just wear the tiniest bit of Chanel.

Just in case you don't understand genetics.......
and that some bodies always need a bit more coverage no matter how many miles you cycle.

Just because this Collette Dinnigan dress looks comfortable and stylish
for a summer wedding.......of which I have two this summer.

~ Flowers by Bornay via The Lisa Porter Collection ~

Just because you are the best readers and followers........
Have a gorgeous Mothers Day weekend.

Photo 1 via blog HOME/Photo 2 and 3 via Harpers Bazaar/Photo 4 via Vanity Fair/Photo 5 via Neiman Marcus/Photo 6 via Instyle/Photo 7 via blog Lisa Porter

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Old School Bookcovers and Gift Wrap in One

A couple of weeks ago my friend and I were having a conversation about mid-life musings. As you know, I am not a spring chicken so this subject comes up a fair amount these days. Heads up young ones...... after 50 you are going to be surprised where your head goes. I can't speak for everyone but I certainly have found it to be the most thoughtful time of my life. It does seem to be a time of "sorting", sorting through and establishing where you stand on your marriage, your friends, your health, your kids, your job, your whole life in general. Bit by bit it gets "sorted" into a place in your life, the one you can now see is going faster than you have thought possible. What works is going to stay and improve, what doesn't work is going or gone. I had the best laugh when my friend said "I thought life after 50 was going to be easy, I am more confused than ever". I knew exactly what she meant. Been there..... doing that.

This friend and I exchange books on our birthday, we pass along our best reads or in this case a book about our favorite subject......musings of middle age. I thought the content was good, the cover not too exciting for a book gift so I thought I would try an old-school method of folding a book cover and gift wrap in one. I know you have seen this, just a little gift wrap reminder. Just make sure the gift wrap paper isn't too thick, you do want nice, crisp edges.

You might have to be over 50 to remember book covers. I really don't know if they teach that type of folding skill in schools these days. This technique works better on soft cover books or if you remove the dust jacket from any hardcover. It certainly makes for a lovely gift wrap and book cover all-in-one and I think I might do a whole section of books in my dressing room in this lovely vintage Paris Street map design.

I wanted to try the blue version of that green flower I used last week and was able to ribbon wrap the firm stem, almost like a flower wand. I also put a Paris label on the cover so if she decides to keep the cover she can write in the title. As I mature, I also notice I buy more books with short stories and selected writings. That's the other thing that happens after 50 and I hate to tell any fellow booklover this sad are not going to be reading way into the night anymore. You will nod off by page 5 and it is my only mid-life disappointment. Everything else gets "sorted" nicely....... as it should by now.

All photos by Sande Chase ~ A Gift Wrapped Life

Monday, May 3, 2010

Vintage advertiser with a cool story

~ Diamond and Gold Lion Necklace by Craft ~

When I was browsing through the website for my new advertiser, I will admit I got lost in the story behind Fabulous Facets and delightful owner Lynda Hartwell. The afternoon turned into the early evening, then the late evening and I was still opening up pages and reading all the history behind many of the pieces found in the ever changing collection of estate and costume jewelry at Fabulous Facets. As a customer of Fabulous Facets commented after receiving a vintage necklace delivery "When I put it on, I felt like I could see in the mirror all the fabulous women who had previously worn it". Though that stylish customer wore it to an Academy Awards gala, we all have events where a unique piece of fabulous jewelry can carry the evening.

As we know, anything with a bow is always going to catch my attention.....tell me more. Believe me when I tell you there are dozens of pieces where you want to know more and picturing how any of these remarkable pieces could work into your wardrobe. This Marcel Boucher Bow Brooch is from 1939 (the height of the Golden Age of American costume jewelry) and Fabulous Facet owner Lynda suggests it be used to dramatically gather multiple strands of pearls and describes the result as way sexy I think she might be right. I think it would be a most sexy showstopper and with a fascinating story to keep your admirers entertained. I have been wanting to try this dramatic idea for the longest time.

Above are the patent drawings for the way sexy Marcel Boucher Bow Brooch. Lynda Hartwell knows her stuff and it certainly contributes to the romance of owning a unique piece of jewelry with a history behind it.  Her educational background is in anthropology and archaeology and she has participated in several archaeological digs in 5 US states. She tells me she has been literally digging up stuff since she was eight, venturing into the woods to excavate old cellar holes left behind from 18th century farmsteads. She studied geology at Yale to follow in the footsteps of her wildcat oil speculator father, but developed a passion for beauty and fashion from her mother who was an interior designer.

Trifari Enamel Leaves and Gold Sculptural Necklace
1960 ~displaying what became known as frozen movement.

Self-described as a jewelry archaeologist, Lynda tells you the amazing stories behind jewelry design and the history of each piece she sells on her website. Make no mistake, she is passionate and knowledgeable about her subject. Want to know what a jewelry collectible called a Jelly Belly really is and how it developed because of wartime restrictions? Want to know what the jewelry term vermeil means? Want to know what type of interesting jewelry men collect? That enamel piece gorgeous would that be with one of today's trendy jumpsuits? So Studio 54 don't you think? Big hair too.

~ Dolce &Gabbana Linked 18K Plates Cuff ~

Once in a while Lynda will list a contemporary piece if she things it is an important one. Most of her collection is from 1770- 1970. As part of the 2008 Dolce and Gabbana Couture line, this cuff is a stylish take on the punk rock style. The runway style cuff is no longer available, except this one which is waiting at Fabulous Facets of course.

Harpers Bazaar ~ a 2008 article which discusses the investment potential of acquiring vintage jewelry.
Now look below. See the bracelet?

~ Kenneth J. Kane Art Deco Bracelet ~
Mint condition. Fabulous Facets has a large collection of Kenneth J. Lane jewelry.

~ Original Pierre Bex Rhinestone Elephant Brooch ~ France

~ Diamonte & Gold Collar de Couture ~

These are a few of my favorites, but only a small part of the selection at Fabulous Facets. Go take a wonderful long browse, not only will you learn the fascinating background of quality vintage jewelry, I hope you find a few sparkly favorites of your own. And Mothers Day is just ahead....right?

Welcome Fabulous Facets!


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