Friday, March 20, 2009

Gifts for Marilyn and a few musings

It's March and I'm STILL working on uploading all my projects from December! Despite the madness of traveling from Germany to California and back (as you can attest from my previous blog post) we had a terrific time while we were home. As I mentioned previously, we hadn't been home in four-and-a-half years and while Joe has been back to the States for training, the kids and I haven't visited since 2004 so it was interesting to see how things have changed. Some things were the same (clam chowder in a sour dough bowl at Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey is still fabulous and did I mention See's candy?) but other things like the mass commercialism of strip malls that plague California are a sad sight to see, especially in light of the current state of our economy which is partially due to massive credit card debt. What's funny living overseas around so many Americans is the way some people talk about things in the States with a sort of hushed reverence, "Target, do you remember how wonderful Target is?" almost as though Target was a deity. Believe me, I spent my fair share of time (and money) in Target over the holidays and I loved every minute but it also made me realize how much I enjoy the opportunities I have living overseas. We were in Williams-Sonoma one night and I laughed to see some of the pricey "gourmet" food items available for inflated prices, as some of them are just regular items you can buy at any grocery store overseas. "Fleur de Sel" which is a specialty French sea salt, was $10.00 for a 2 oz. jar at a gourmet store and I purchased a 1 kilo bag at a German Weihnachtsmarkt for 5 euros! Anyway, there are times when it is difficult living so far from home but when I realize how many wonderful opportunities I have right where I live, it makes me long for the conveniences of home just a little less and appreciate things like living four hours away from the Eiffel Tower just a bit more.
Okay, musings are done! The goodies shown are gifts I gave to Marilyn, my dear friend whom I've known a short time but who has been such a blessing to me. Marilyn and her husband drove our family to Frankfurt at oh-dark-thirty to make our flight to California, watered all my plants while we were gone, and cooked us a lovely dinner/re-stocked my fridge when we came back from our trip, so the least I could do was make her a lovely gift as a thank you/Christmas gift. The top photo shows a small wrought iron rack I purchased at Nanu Nana, a quirky store in downtown Kaiserslautern that sells an interesting menage of decorator and gift items. I raided my hoard of Das Depot satin ribbon and loaded the top with lots of pretty bows and used last year's Stampin' Up! Christmas gift wrap to wrap a few craft supplies I picked up in California. I have a similar rack and love to use it for holding baked goods or silverware and napkins when I entertain.
The jar you see has a bit of a funny history. There's a village about 20 minutes from our house that hosts a good-sized flea market on the first Saturday of every month. I love going to this flea market because it's such a hodge-podge of traditional German wares like baskets, antiques, collectible toys, all thrown in with your typical flea market/swap meet type stuff for sale. Last November, Joe took me on a date to the Homburg flea market and I kept seeing these French canning jars which were about 50 euro cents a piece. I knew I could do something cool and crafty with them, so I started purchasing a few here and there. My sweet hubby ended up lugging around 30 glass canning jars for me, even going so far as to take a load all the way back to the car to empty some of the jars so I could buy more. The front of the jar has a pretty raised insignia with the name of the French company that makes them. I altered Marilyn's jar with velvet ribbon around the rim, and printed the tag on the computer. I had a few leftover scraps from the SU! Bella Rose Designer Paper pack that were perfect for the lid and behind the tag.

It's difficult to see in this photo but I added Cotton Candy Stickles to the flowers for some added bling and a pearl center to the main flower on the lid, with a few dimensionals to add some depth to the top. You have to be careful where the tag is placed on the jar so that it doesn't get damaged every time the jar is opened. The jar is stocked with Marilyn's favorite Toblerone so I knew the jar had to withstand alot of opening and closing...Ha! The gifts may not be the most expensive or exciting things she's ever received but giving the gift of something handmade is giving a little piece of yourself to someone else and that can be more precious than something more costly.
Thanks for reading my lengthy post and I hope this project inspires you to look around at thrift shops and dig in your cupboards for items you can revitalize with a few embellishments or a touch of paint to make into a special gift for someone.

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