Friday, May 09, 2014

It's almost Mother's Day! (Did you make a present for your mom yet?)

It's almost Mother's Day!  Mom loves handmade gifts that come from the heart, right?  You could bake her some fantastic cookies, invent some ridiculous new mimosa to serve at your Mother's Day brunch, sew her a darling new apron from a vintage Hawaiian shirt...yeah, I'm on this.  You know where you can find scads of books, resources, and even classes on everything from container gardening to crafting to crochet to cooking?

I think you know where.

Anyway, there are some scrumptious looking new finds for would-be and committed crafters on the shelves this Spring.  Allow me to introduce you to a few.

by Danny Seo

Mom hates waste.  There are starving children somewhere and finishing your peas matters.  Danny Seo also hates wasting things, including things you may still be using for their intended purpose.  He wants you to make pretty, functional wares and decorations out of "stuff you already have".  For some of the projects, "stuff you already have" only applies if you happen to live in an Ace Hardware, but in a craft book of 200 pages with nearly a craft per page, one can forgive a little stretching of the made-up term "upcycle".  I mean, there has to be some filler, like the crafts that are less "trash to treasure" and more "trip to Lowe's to trash".  I personally LOVE the faux bear skin rug made from another, non bear-shaped, rug (is this just "cycling"?) and the *darling* bird cage chandelier made out of fake birds, a cannibalized IKEA paper lantern and chicken wire. Namely, stuff I definitely do not already have (except a bunch of fake birds--of those I have plenty).  The Starry-Sky Artwork project is a really cool way to make your collection of ugly hotel landscape paintings really *pop* (yes, I'm serious). He even has a 10 second project to use that tangled wad of Christmas lights you swore you'd store neatly this time but didn't. Hoarding mason jars and river rocks?  Mom, I'm looking at you.  Danny Seo has a project for that and you only need strong glue.

Upcycling has a bunch of really cool projects, and a few head-scratchers, but everything is well styled and photographed, and there are some cute crafts for kids to do too.  Definitely worth checking out if you love projects and hate throwing things away.

Eat & Make
by Paul Lowe

Sweet Paul is sweet. And I mean sweet. My mom would love himThis book is just charming! Cover, styling, author, and all.  What is it about those Northern Europeans that they have such photogenic homes?  I am admittedly a sucker for vintage clothing, vintage linens, vintage dishes, etc, but for some reason when I put it together it looks more like Wes Anderson got drunk and went blindfolded to a flea market and then got into a fist fight with Rachel Ashwell (of Shabby Chic--the original upcycler) over the perfect ashtray. *Ahem*  Eat & Make is primarily a cookbook but with complimentary crafts, mostly for table settings, thrown in.  The book is divided by time of day with a slant toward brunch-y foods and lighting, the recipes being a sort of "quick Swedish fusion" that goes well with vintage speckled enamel crocks and quirky "upcycled" aprons. I literally can't get enough of the creamy, yummy photography, the clean and bright white interiors, and just the general, Scandinavian-wooden-wheel barrow-natural-farmer's market-ness of it.   And I can't wait to make his Morning Biscuits, Snug Eggs, and Merry Marys.  I don't even care if his idea of "upcycled" candlesticks are just tapers crammed haphazardly (fire hazardly!) into big metal nuts.  They look so off-beat romantic when photographed in extreme close-up on his rough-hewn barn door table!  Check this book out for the menus and the pictures.  Don't make any of his candles unless you want to burn down your kitchen.  Mom would NOT approve.  She will however approve of the gorgeous grapefruit, red cabbage, and goat cheese salad on the cover.  She thinks you should eat more fruits and veggies.

Freakin' Fabulous on a Budget
Clinton Kelly

This book is a kick.  It provides simple instructions about how to quickly and cheaply transform your boring life into an instant cocktail party. Picture this: Anne Hathaway starring in a romantic comedy about a girl who has to pretend to be the sort of ad executive who throws effortlessly fabulous cocktail parties all the time when in fact she is a temp who can barely afford her communal studio apartment, ramen noodle dinners, and 4 cats. "Sally", played by Ms. Hathaway, frantically dashes around her 200 square foot apartment wearing curlers in a montage of dip-dyeing her grubby white bathmat into a designer ombre masterpiece and whipping up some goat cheese and red pepper mousse (on a budget), wrapping her drab, white lampshades with burlap, and altering her ill-fitting thrift store rags into hot off the runway looks tailored to her perfect body. Hilarity and romance ensues. Roll credits. That's the upcoming film adaptation of Clinton Kelly's Freakin' Fabulous on a Budget.  Don't believe me?  Check it out.  You'll see.  And mom loves to be fabulous.  You know what else mom loves?  Thrift.

What we take away from most craft books now is "NEVER. THROW. ANYTHING. AWAY." What they don't tell you is what to do with the stuff you mustn't ever throw away until you have enough (fill in the blanks) to fashion into a new thing.  To answer this question I propose a pre-craft interior decorating book.  I'll call it "decor-cycle" and it will be nothing but well-styled, super close-up photographs of vintage-modern interiors decorated *tastefully* with old tires painted white and filled with wine corks--wine corks just hanging out *tastefully* until I have enough for a bulletin board, trivet, dog bed, bathmat, and miniature refrigerator magnet succulent gardens.  And if I never happen to get around to the bulletin board, trivet, dog bed, bathmat, and miniature refrigerator magnet succulent gardens, I still have a *totally chic and tasteful* arrangement of wine corks in my living room.  I am *not*, however, sitting on my charming vintage sofa (old futon) sipping wine and chucking the corks into an old tire. I will *not* end up on Hoarders. To all the moms out there, including my own mom who taught me to love making stuff out of other stuff and took me to the library every week to check out craft books, Happy Mother's Day!

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