Mexican Country Style, The New Hacienda and Hacienda Style

MexicancountrystyleBooks abound for decorating country style, using vintage finds, making the old new again. There’s new country, French country, even Midwest Modern, coined in an Amy Butler book I’ll review soon. But for now, say “adios” to all those familiar trends and hola! to Mexican country/Hacienda style.

      Karen Witynski and Joe P. Carr, award-winning authors, designers and photographers and collaborators with Pittsburgh Paints® on The Hacienda Style Color Palette have published a thorough series of hard- and soft-cover tomes to help you get the Mexican abode – or Hacienda- of your dreams.

      Mexican Country Style, 1997, $24.95; The New Hacienda, 1999, $19.95 and Hacienda Style, 2007, $39.95, all published by Gibbs Smith, Utah, are but three of their eight volumes in the last decade depicting the deep southwestern and native style of Mexico.

     Hacienda_courtyards_2 If you live in the western half of the U.S., then Hacienda (a Mexican estate or plantation)style may not be such a new concept, as it is a familiar form of design in Texas, Arizona, California and the like. But, if you are in the Midwest, on the east coast or in the southeast, you may want to grab one or more of these books if you’d like to add some native New World style.

      Wytinski and Carr are owners of Joe P. Carr Design, a gallery in Austin, TX, where they spend their time when not in Mexico. Their quest for design treasures and their writings from the resultant travels have earned them La Pluma de Plata (The Silver Pen) from Mexico’s Ministry of Tourism, for The New Hacienda.

      The duo has been at the forefront of Mexican design for more than 25 years and have designed and renovated both homes and haciendas and commercial projects in the U.S. and Mexico. They have been featured in Architectural Digest, House Beautiful and on HGTV’s Takeover my Makeover.

      With all of these respected credentials and eight books under their belts, Wytinski and Carr don’t need a review from a Johnny-come-lately-to-the-style like me. I will say the books are a joy to look at whether you favor this style or not. The photography is beautiful, so that whether you are into design, travel, re-living your high school Spanish class or just appreciating the art of life, you can find something here to enjoy.

    Mailgooglecom_2   They are a satisfying size, at 130 to 200 pages each, and Hacienda Style easily makes for a coffee table selection. The only cuidado (caution) I would give is if you are looking to reform your NYC brownstone or your Indiana 3BR/2BT ranch into an adobe  abode, you won’t find a lot of practical photos- unless your ranch has 20- or 30-foot ceilings and your walk-up has an open-air kitchen.


But, as with so many design books and the resultant reviews, those who are quick to critique them as impractical must remember these books are for visual inspiration, suggestion and in this case, education and documentation of a style spanning four centuries: Mexican hacienda style.


- Guest Author, Gina Smith

{All contributed content Gina Smith © Lilly*s of London*ish}


Teach Me: Audio Dramas by Lamplighter Theater

Hello my faithful readers! The VI family is adjusting to a new home school schedule as we school year-round. It has taken some time as we're incorporating many hands-on, life living educational opportunities which requires us to be on the road.

As the truth would have it, I love being on the road. My heart aches to be one the road with my husband and three precious children. Travel and sight seeing is one of my most favorite things to do. It is funny how each family sees "on the road". For us, it is pure bliss. I have three children who do not mind long car rides and entertain fairly easily. 

For longer trips, we enjoy audio books as a family. On our recent ten hour drive, good friends of ours lent us some of their Lamplighter Theater audio books. If you haven't listened to an audio drama of a book, you are in for a spectacular treat. Ten hours flies by as you sit in your seat and get lost in delightful stories of character, heroism, and faithfulness. 


Teddy's Button_Lamplighter

Imagine getting lost in this story,  "There were guns blazing, shells flying, and swords flashing and hacking away!" Teddy recounts the bravery of his father's heroic deed. But rivalry between a soldier's son and a sailor's daughter drives Teddy to his breaking point til he learns of a new battle, a new enemy, and a new Captain, whose orders are to fight all battles with the banner of love! Lamplighter Theatre is delighted to bring you one of our most treasured stories of all time and an instant classic in the Lamplighter Collection."

This is a favorite among Lamplighter Theater collections, but we listened to many more that were added to our top ten favorites of all time including; Sir Knight of the Splendid Way, The Hedge of Thorns, The Captive, The Unexpected Return and Charlie's Choice, just to name a few. 

If you're interested in learning more about Lamplighter Theater, visit their website Lamplighter. Get a taste of Lamplighter Theater every week when the play a new episode on their radio theater program on iTunes  or hear a snip it of each audio drama on their website

Another wonderful feature of the Lamplighter Theater is that they've printed heirloom quality reprints of these classic books for you, so you can begin building a collection for your children and grandchildren to come. 


Do you already love and enjoy audio dramas or audio books? Please share your suggestions with us in the comments! We'd love to find more stories to listen to this summer. 


Disclosure: This review and feature was published on our own love for these audio dramas. We were not paid for this review or feature. 




Off the Shelf Book Review: Epic Rubber Band Crafts with special guest Angela Johnson

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    "The author of the best-selling book Totally Awesome Rubber Band Jewelry is back with 15 more super-sweet projects for sensational rubber band jewelry! Packed with original ideas for both girls and boys, Epic Rubber Band Crafts shows how to use a Rainbow Loom®, Cra-Z-Loom™, or FunLoom™  to make stylish bracelets, necklaces, headbands, accessories, and action figures that will have everyone in school saying WOW!

Whether you have made rubber band loom accessories before, or are brand new to the craze, this book will be your ultimate guide to creating the coolest and most colorful gear around. Discover how to put two or more looms together for fabulous results on bigger projects. Kid-friendly step-by-step instructions, hundreds of color photos, and easy-to-follow numbered diagrams make it a snap to get great-looking results. Plenty of fun sidebars, tips, and tricks are provided to keep any loom enthusiast occupied for hours.”  – Epic Rubber Band Crafts official book description.


    One of the toys of the season last Christmas (and probably toy of the year), was the Rainbow Loom. My 9 year old got one, and we gave a few as gifts. Had these been around when I was in my “pot holder looming” stage years ago, I am sure I would have begged for a rubber band loom. They are super fun! My son loves his, but he is stuck on the basic bracelet pattern. So, when we were given a chance to try out the new Epic Rubber Band Crafts Book by Colleen Dorsey, we were super excited.


     After reviewing this book, I am sure it will make it to Amazon’s top 100 list. The variety of ideas was one of the first things I noticed. The book isn’t just pages of different ways to loom bracelets, but really unique ideas like hair accessories, zipper pulls, and actions figures. Ideas I haven’t seen anywhere else.

Some of the crafts even incorporated beads giving them a special touch . My son’s personal favorites were the penguins and cell phone (or in his case, ipod) cover. I liked both, but have to say, the penguins are just adorable!


    Once we picked our favorites, we set out to create. I was a bit nervous on how this would go. When the loom was first opened on Christmas, much frustration followed. I couldn't even understand the directions, much less a child. My son ended up having to ask his older cousins to show him how to use the loom. They showed him how to make the basic bracelet, and that’s where we've been since.

If the basic design was that difficult, how would we ever figure out these more complicated ones? The creations are complete and he never asked for my help! The step by step directions are clearly shown through illustrations, photos and described in a way he easily understood. The end results really were “totally awesome” and I had a happy kid!

If you have a loomer in you house or on your gift list, this book would make the perfect gift!



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A special thank you to our special guest writer, Angela Johnson, owner and editor of Parenting In Northern Kentucky. The site is a NKY connection to all things family. 


Disclosure: All opinions expressed above are my own and are in no way influenced by companies or brands mentioned within. I received a copy of Epic Rubber Band Crafts in order to review. All images within the post are owned and copyrighted by Epic Rubber Band Crafts' author, publisher or other affiliation.


Teach Me: Book Review Heroes of History by Janet & Geoff Benge

    Our family was recently sent a few of the Heroes of History Books by Janet & Geoff Benge. My oldest son has read every single book with delight, and couldn't put them down. His favorite, so far has been Theodore Roosevelt.  We  enlisted the help of one of our "junior reviewers" to review one of the books for us. He choose Ronald Reagan.
    I liked the book and it made me feel like I was right next to him on his adventures.  The book kept me very busy and my mom liked that.  While I was reading the book I found out that he was a movie actor, jelly bean eater, super funny and cool.  Mr. Reagan was nice to everyone and he lived to be 93 years old.  It was a super great book and I want to read more by these authors.                                                                                                  By:  Canton P Bellaire 
Thanks Canton for your great review! We appreciate it. 
Other members in my family have taken to these books as well. My husband has read Alan Shepard as well as Ronald Reagan.  We feel these books are an excellent addition to any home library. The stories are engaging, often times the authors use the famous heroes of history's childhood which is not something you see in history books . It is interesting to read what their childhood was like and how they arrived at the position they're in. 
A special thank you to YWAM Publishing for supplying these books for our review. My opinions were not bought . Even though this feature is sponsored we wouldn't share anything with you, our important readers that we wouldn't use in our own home. Thanks so much for reading! Visit ourDisclosure/Disclaimer Page for more information. 

Off the Shelf Book Review: Taken by Brock Eastman

Vintage Indie would like to send a warm welcome to our special guest Ann Hibbard of The Joy of Writing. We are so pleased to have her as our guest reviewer covering "The Quest for Truth" series starter, Taken by Brock Eastman.



We are a family of avid readers from youngest to oldest. One of the difficulties with children who are strong readers, however, is finding books that challenge their reading abilities while still respecting their maturity level. Focus on the Family product marketing manager and author Brock Eastman provides what I consider to be an excellent resource to meet that need.


Eastman's "The Quest for Truth" series jumps off to an exciting start with the book Taken. The history of mankind has been long lost, leaving only myths and legends to shed any light on humanity's origin, including their home planet. But a few archaeological finds lead a handful of archaeologists to believe that they might have found information about Ursprung, the planet legends indicate to be the birthplace of mankind. Unfortunately, the same finds convince less scrupulous individuals that there is profit to be had from the discovery of Ursprung. And they will stop at nothing to obtain that profit.


My eleven-year-old daughter and I read Taken together, and we are now both officially hooked. I will admit that I was concerned about the science fiction nature of the book. My daughter has a mind inclined toward fantasy, but has not been exposed to much science fiction. I, on the other hand, have no natural inclination toward fantasy, but I do enjoy the occasional sci fi and fantasy movies and TV shows. Although I know without a doubt both of us missed many technical details, neither of us had any difficulty following the story or learning about the technology. The Visual Glossary at the end of the book proved very helpful to us both. Be warned, however. There are spoilers in the glossary!


It is important to note that Taken is not an independent read. There is no closure whatsoever in this novel, and it is my suspicion that the remaining books in the series will be the same, right to the very end. That can obviously be both a positive and a negative.


I also should mention that the primary society represented in Taken is one that appears to have lost knowledge of the Christian faith. While only hints exist in Taken, I get the impression that a great deal of the discoveries in the series as a whole will revolve around spiritual awakenings. In the meantime, however, even the "good guys" are not operating with an understanding of God's presence and help in their lives.


I am excited about Taken and its sequels for several reasons.

  1. The story is intricate. This book can be read and reread several times, with new details being gleaned with each reading. That is very helpful in our family of readers.
  2. Taken seems to be a story which holds equal fascination for boys and girls. Obviously there will children of both genders who will not be interested in this sort of fiction, but I see boys finding just as much excitement in the book as my daughter and I have.
  3. The writing style spans a wide age range. It's not simple for older readers, but it's also not overwhelming to younger ones. I would recommend pre-teen and up, although a strong nine or ten-year-old reader could probably also enjoy the series.
  4. There are components of this story that are excellent for stimulating discussion on faith, history science, technological advances, ethics, and other topics. I have also enjoyed asking my daughter questions about details of the story itself to encourage her to think through clues that are being left. We differ on some of our suspicions and are both anxious to see who, if either of us, is right.


As I said, my daughter and I are hooked. We greatly anticipate diving in to book two of the series!



Thanks again to Ann Hibbard for her time reviewing this book, please visit her website for her encouraging writings.  

Truth in Review/ The above book  Taken was provided free of charge for our review. We were not paid for any content in our review or sponsored feature. The review is that of our personal opinions. - Gabreial Wyatt, Editor. Visit our Disclaimer/Disclosure Page for more info.


Teach Me Book Review : Doorposts Hidden Treasures

Digging into the Book of Proverbs with Your Family

Author: Pam Forster

Our Bible verse today, In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct[a] your paths. Proverbs 3:6. The words sound so simple, but the meaning is power beyond anything I could imagine for my children. Digging into the book of Proverbs with Doorposts Hidden Treasures has been such a wonderful addition to our home schooling.

The spiral-bound book is laid out in an easy to read/teach format with the "hidden treasures" those being illustrations submitted by families and children for a Doorposts contest, located towards the end of the book. The book prepares you from beginning to end on how to read and apply the the illustrations to get your family to dig deeper into the book of Proverbs. While it doesn't include every single Proverb as I believe would make for a very large book, it covers the chapters nicely.

We utilize the book with our elementary grade children by reading each chapter aloud, while the children listen and gaze at the illustration. Once the reading is over, they try to pinpoint what verse the illustration is talking about. Once we think we have a good idea what the hidden treasure is, we follow the chapter by chapter notes and study suggestions. I love this part of the Bible time with the children as it helps us to really read, and understand what God is showing us through similes and metaphors and also to pick up on the writing style the author is using in Proverbs. 

I also love that this book is not only set up for your very small children age 3, but also offers many ideas, suggestions and ways to use this book with your older children. There are special activities, and object lessons to use as study tools as well as a few charts to help organize your thoughts and what you've learned. 

I recommend this book to you and your family, if you've been looking for a resource to get you and your children digging into God's word in a more personal way. Of course this doesn't need to be apart of your home school, but is a great addition to any family time or devotionals. 

I would like to thank Doorposts for sending us a copy of Hidden Treasures for our review. We are truly grateful for resources like this to bring families closer. A special thank you to the author Pam Forster, who's worked diligently to create resources like this and many others for families. 

Truth in Review: Doorposts provided us with this book in exchange for our review.  We were not paid for any contents of our review or required any certain text within the review. We speak truly from our hearts and hope that you and your family will gain trust from Vintage Indie reviews so that you may enjoy learning opportunities like this one and more.  All reviews posted by us are truthful in content and not bought. Gabreial Wyatt, Editor in chief. 

Visit our Disclaimer/Disclosure Page for more info.




Off the Shelf Book Review: Raising Real Men by Hal and Melanie Young

Raising Real Men Book CoverHal and Melanie Young are the proud parents of boys, and lots of them. Six, as a matter of fact. They've added a couple of girls along the way, but they surly have enough experience with boys to write and entire book on raising them. With a loving presence and the will to reach the heart of their boys, they've devoted a whole book for "Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boys". 

I had to pause for a moment and check my eyes when I read the subtitle of the book. Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boys. That's exactly what I needed. You see, I'm a momma of two sweet boys and I often times wonder how exactly will I survive. OK, so it isn't as bad as it sounds truthfully, but boys well, they're just different. I know because I'm not one of the male kind. My eyes, my heart, and my womanly feelings often know what my boys need, but not exactly understand why they need what they need. 

Hal and Melanie, helped me to get into the heart of manhood. When I look at my boys, I don't see them yet as men. I see them as children before the Lord, but not men of the Lord. There were so many view points in this book that hit the nail on the head for me. For one, ignoring society's view of boys and a burden to parents. This broke my heart, but it also made me realize that Hal and Melanie were right. Society does point a bad view of boys at times. With their extra energy and the sometimes rough way of doing things. Truth is, boys are challenging but God made man in His own image and that includes my boys. 

They also tugged at the heart with this simple statement, convenience isn't part of the job description of parenting. No kidding, right!  How about every time you arrive at your next shopping destination on errand day, and every child must see use the bathroom. It is truly amazing how much time we've spent in the restroom at the grocery store.  

Digging further in the book, we haven't even touched the surface of Chapter One. My favorite parts include; 

1. Boys are built to be manly. They need training leading and discipleship. 

2. Boys need heroes. Do your sons have more worthy role models? That would mean defining what a hero is. Warriors, scholars, men we can point out to our sons who are worthy of the title hero.  "First and ultimately, dad!" He should point the way to Christ, and ultimate example of a man.

All of these examples are just a tip of the iceberg for why I recommend this book for those of you who have boys or for anyone wanting to try to understand them and not put them in a "box". I truly enjoyed this book and I was able to understand a little bit more into the hearts of my boys. 

A special thank you for Timberdoodle Co. for providing Raising Real Men for the review for other topics on parenting helps or for other topics for boys like boy-friendly outdoor learning visit Timeberdoodle Co. 

Truth in Review: Timberdoodle Co. did provide me with a copy of Raising Real Men free of charge.  I was not paid for the review or require any certain context within my review. All reviews posted by me are truthful in content and not bought. Gabreial Wyatt, Editor Visit ourDisclaimer/Disclosure  for more info.   


Off the Shelf Book Review: The Kitchen Herbal by Jessie Hawkins

Herbs are on my mind. Herbs for medicine, cleaning and of course cooking. I've been deep into books this summer covering all things herbs. After meeting Jessie Hawkins founder of Vintage Remedies at the Cincinnati Home School convention my mind has been in full force with wanting to enhance my families life through plants.



I was thrilled with the opportunity to review Jessie Hawkins' The Kitchen Herbal. This book is the perfect starting point for a beginner looking to expand the use of every day herbs for health, wellness and culinary uses.

Photo Copyright © Glen Richards Photography

Usually, when starting out on the journey towards any subject we sometimes dive in, overload our brains and loose interest because of it. The Kitchen Herbal doesn't overwhelm. It is simple but sophisticated with its objective. The herbs used are those that most of us have growing in our garden, kitchen windowsill or are readily available to pick up at the local grocery store.

Photo Copyright © Yellow Rain Boots

I'm no stranger to some of the common herbs, one of my favorites is Sage. If you look up Sage in The Kitchen Herbal you'll find an introduction to the herb Salvia Officinalis, the latin name for Sage. You'll also be welcomed with further information on this good-for-you herb. Did you now the word Sage means "to be saved"? Isn't that interesting! Did you also know that sage has always been considered a cure-all herb, benefiting just about every ailment and culinary dish it encounters? How cool is that! Sage also offers calcium, iron and vitamin A. Again, new to me.

Not only does The Kitchen Herbal aim to expand your knowledge on the medicinal uses of each herb, it also provides you with yummy recipes like Garlic Sage Butter, Baked Eggs with Ricotta and Sage, Butternut Squash and Sage Sauce, Citrus Sage Couscous, Cranberry and Sage Relish and Garlic and Sage Mashed Potatoes! Plenty of uses for just one herb.

Of course sage isn't the only herb highlighted in the book. There are seventeen others to get the ball rolling for you. I'm truly happy to add this book to my kitchen library. I can't wait to start cooking and using herbs even more in our daily lives. 

If you're interested in the book, head over Vintage Remedies to check it out.


Thanks again Vintage Remedies and staff for providing this wonderful book for review. The links to Vintage Remedies in the review are affiliate links. Click here to read why, we are now an affiliate.


Off the Shelf Book Review by Contributing Editor Gina Smith: Blogging for Bliss by Tara Frey

Blogging For Bliss Cover

      What’s not to love about Blogging for Bliss by Tara Frey, (Lark Books, 2009, ISBN 978-1-60059-511-0, 156pp., $14.95) ? Not only does it feature our own Vintage Indie blog and creator and founder Gabreial Wyatt (p. 123), but it also features several dozen other eye candy blogs in a handy softcover square.

      Want to know how to start your own blog? It’s all there, whether you want to blog for fun or profit- from promoting your own business to accepting advertising on your blogs. Frey digs into all the major blog programs: Blogger, Typepad, Wordpress.

      She knows whereof she speaks, having had an on-line journal since 2004 and a popular virtual on-line shop, Bella Pink. He blog is known as Typing Out Loud or, . Frey may be familiar to some hard-copy readers, having been featured in Romantic Country Homes magazine and has been a contributing editor for Romantic Homes magazine where, among other things, she highlighted not-to-be-missed blogs.

      Calling blogs “the personal journals of the 21st century,” Frey takes her Bliss book readers on a journey of some of the most notable and widely-read blogs from around the country and around the world.

      I enjoyed the book simply for the introduction to blogs I had not seen before, and for the beautiful showing of blog banners, both new and familiar. If you want to find more favorite places with the same kind of sentiment as Vintage Indie, Bliss will serve as your handbook. Good thing it is softcover; I have it dog-eared already from checking out all the beautiful blogs she profiles. You’ll want to be at your computer while looking at this book! And keep it right there handy for future visits.

      Newbies will appreciate her helpful glossary of e-mystifying terms, like domain mapping, IP address and Icerocket;  links to helpful resources for bloggers, explanation of those cutesy abbreviations like OTOH and TAFN, and HTML, with simple codes for beginning bloggers.

      Bliss will also help you explore the various platforms in depth, choosing a home for your blog, and the all-important style, colors, widgets and fun blog accessories to achieve a personalized and custom look, even if you are not computer savvy.

      A big attraction of Frey’s blog has always been her photography. In her book she discusses how to take--and edit--blog-worthy photos, with a discussion of proper equipment as well as public photo-sharing and storage sites.

      Lastly, if you just want to understand more about the popular no-longer-just-a-phenomenon called blogging, Frey offers blog etiquette tips about comments, spam, and general manners for both bloggers and readers.

      It’s an indispensable little book for what we here at Vintage Indie think is an indispensable form of communication. Try it; you’ll like it. Blogging for Bliss, and blogging, whether as a reader or a writer, add much to the human language.

(All book images are from my personal purchased copy of Blogging for Bliss, Gabreial Wyatt)

- Contributing Editor Gina Smith aka Lilly*s of London*ish and Hunt and Peck started making jewelry about six years ago and has since tied this in with a love of vintage finds, Blythe, crochet and altered art in her etsy shop. Growing up in an antiquing family gives her a background and appreciation for all things vintage, especially dinnerware, jewelry and Americana advertising prints and products

{All contributed content Gina Smith © Lilly*s of London*ish}

Off the Shelf Book Review - The Artist Within A Guide to Becoming Creatively Fit, by Whitney Ferre’

Review by: Gina M. Smith

The Artist Within

At first I thought I was just busy. Then I thought I was just procrastinating. Then I started to feel  guilty for taking so long to review this book. Then I felt even guiltier when I realized the book just wasn’t my cup of tea. But maybe it will be yours.  It is called The Artist Within A Guide to Becoming Creatively Fit, by Whitney Ferre’, 236 pp.,  2008, Trade Paper Press, an imprint of Turner Publishing Company, $15.95.

                Book reviews are certainly subjective- subject to the reviewer’s (or reader’s) personal tastes, unless one is reviewing specialized subject matter and has the necessary credentials.  This is a friendly blog, not the New York Times’ best-sellers list. And Vintage Indie is grateful for the books we receive to review. So rather than being too subjective, I’d prefer to stay as objective as possible here, because this could be the book that changes your life, as the author hopes.  Or as Ferre’ says, “This book is the mustard seed that can grow into a really big thing.”

                Ferre’ founded The Creative Fitness Center, which has been recognized on HGTV.  Ferre’ says of her creatively fit movement: “it is an idea that warrants our national attention. We need a community that feels confident in its ability to create change. We need a national community that is creatively fit.”

                She says the book is geared toward anyone, writer, architect, entrepreneur, painter or business leader.  I have to carefully remind myself of her disclaimer as I try to gently write my review. “This book is not for artists. This book is no more for the Martha Stewarts of the world than for the Alan Greenspans. This book is for all the people who can’t even draw a straight line.”

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Off the Shelf Book Review - Complete Embellishing Techniques and Projects by Kayte Terry

Complete Embellishing Techniques and Projects by Kayte Terry Creative Homeowner: Home Arts, 2008 spiral bound (ISBN-10: 1580114016), 176 pp. $24.95

Review by Elizabeth Holcombe

Comp_Embellishing_Book Review

The best trait of any craft book is to have clearly written, step-by-step, illustrated instructions and useful, clever projects. Kayte Terry’s Complete Embellishing Techniques and Projects does not disappoint. Lavish illustrations and easy to understand instructions present every embellishing technique the home crafter would ever need to adorn clothes, purses, shoes, and home accessories. The projects are fashion forward and fun!

The first section of Terry’s delightful book is a primer illustrating every embellishing technique from ribbon embroidery to glass etching. There are no elaborate or hard-to-find supplies or tools required for the over 30 projects. You will be able to give new life to old garments in many ways. Your home will brighten with just a few minutes or hours worth of work with easy to access materials.

Terry’s use of pattern and color in these projects is inspirational to the home crafter who feels a little less than confident perusing the yardage at her local fabric store. Step outside of the box by mixing and matching colors and patterns. Terry’s examples are bold and brilliant! Follow her lead and you can’t go wrong!

These projects make perfect gifts as well! Do yourself and favor and check out Complete Embellishing Techniques and Projects by Kayte Terry. It is an essential keeper for your craft library!

To purchase this book, visit the Vintage Indie Book Store.

Elizabeth Holcombe Fedorko, aka Bethsbagz, began her checkered crafting career when at four she realized using paste on paper was better than eating it. Inspired by vintage dime store treasures, vintage fabric, and a no-fear attitude toward color, Beth crafts totes, pin cushions, wreaths, and corsages into her Dime Store Chic creations. Beth would love you to take a peek into her whimsical world at her blog.

Off the Shelf Book Review: French By Heart by Rebecca S. Ramsey

Will wonders never cease? Talk about the ultimate ‘indie’ achievement! The meaning behind these statements becomes clearer when I tell you I am talking about the book French By Heart, (320pp., Broadway Books, April 2007, ISBN-10: 076792522X) from first-time author Rebecca S. Ramsey, the whimsical blogger behind Wonders Never Cease 

FrenchbyHeart_Book Review

Most families of five-plus-cat (and including a baby) wouldn’t find themselves moving from the deep south of the US of A to France for four years. Most stay-home moms probably wouldn’t find themselves navigating a new continent after just one week while hubby is off on a business trip. And surely hardly anyone would have the chops to write about it all and get a book deal.

But Becky Ramsey isn’t just anyone. She’s an amazing writer, clearly an intelligent human being with a self-deprecating sense of humor, a full-time mom, a regular blogger, and a good-natured observer of the world and its peoples, even when they are a little too close for comfort in her own tres francaise front yard. Becky is also one of my blog friends (disclaimer here about the good review to follow), and I was thrilled when she asked me to review her book for Vintage Indie and sent me an autographed copy.

Free copy aside, I promised her and myself that I’d be as brutally honest in my review as she was in describing how it felt when her overbearing French neighbor of four years pointed out that Becky was getting a little “poochy” in the tummy. I’m not sure of the French word for poochy! But apparently horror with an extra pound or two is a universal problem that knows no language barrier.

This is just a darling story, a darling book. Let me say that from the beginning. Whether you choose it because of a love of France, a curiosity about international living or travel, an interest in first-time books, or for the charming memoir or even the charming cover, you can’t help but enjoy it.

I was aghast at a couple of the reviews on Amazon, by readers who apparently take things much too seriously. Although the Ramseys were relocated from Greer, South Carolina to Clermont-Ferrand, France for four years for her husband’s job with Michelin, the book is hardly intended to be either a Michelin travel guide or a handbook for displaced families.

It’s just a charming memoir, people. Lighten up! What I enjoyed most about the book is that because of some of the unbelievable hazards of the language barrier, customs that don’t translate ‘across the pond,’ and the concept of a ‘nosey neighbor’ which translates all too well, the story reads like it could have been written by Everywoman, or Everymom. I could totally picture myself in Rebecca’s “clunky black clogs” among the tres chic soccer moms at the French schoolyard.


Continue reading "Off the Shelf Book Review: French By Heart by Rebecca S. Ramsey" »

Off the Shelf Book Review - Altered Art Circus: Techniques for Journals, Paper Dolls, Art Cars and Assembles by Lisa Kettell


From the cover inward . Altered Art Circus: Techniques for Journals, Paper Dolls, Art Cards, and Assemblages by Lisa Kettell  (Quarry Press, 2009, 128pp. ISBN-10: 1592534872 ISBN-13: 978-1592534876, $24.99) is a treat for the senses!

But before I go any further, I have to issue a disclaimer.  Yes! I am one of the featured artists in the gallery of this book but no apologies forthcoming for the following good review. It IS a good and fun book, and I cannot stop looking at it. And, yes, I do look at other pages besides my own- at least half the time!

All of the projects are simply amazing eye candy creations and demonstrate the whimsy and wonder of the author, artist Lisa Kettell, who was profiled right here on Vintage Indie . Lisa’s projects are easy enough that you can recreate them yourself, and fun enough that you can do them with children. Or if not, then just let the book bring out the child in you! There is a generous section of copyright-free art to get you started, and then there the gallery of ideas from contributing artists.

Unlike other art how-to books, however, this one retains Lisa’s magical, mythical style with projects like “Alistair’s Closet of Mystery,” “The Traveling Bumbelinas,” “Miss Spellbinder’s Magic Cookbook” and “Trixie-the-Pixie’s Journal.” Each one gives you a sneak peek into the colorful imagination of the author as she adds a bit of historical whimsy to each project.

For instance, who knew the Bumbelina sisters, Ada, Chloe, Maisey, Maude and Winnie, had a traveling circus with their father or an end-of-season masquerade ball? And what about Pierre LeRouge’s traveling circus-slash-opera? It’s all there, if you let your imagination work like a child’s once again.

Even if you've never made an artist trading card before, there is a how-to section for ATCs. By far, my favorite projects are the circus wagon cars and the embellished circus animals. As sort of the namesakes of the book, they are enchanting, imaginative, colorful and delightful. You'll find yourself heading to the craft store for rubber animals in no time. I did.

Other how-to projects include a tussy-mussy, wands, jar fairies, crowns, shadow boxes and more. There are little bits of “real” history throughout, such as an explanation of artist trading cards and their history and the history of pointed hats.

Even if you never make a thing, this book is one for your inspiration shelf. And even if you still don’t feel like an artist after you read it, I bet you’ll feel just a little bit younger and whimsical.

- Contributing Editor Gina Smith aka Lilly*s of London*ish, started making jewelry about six years ago and has since tied this in with a love of vintage finds, Blythe, crochet and altered art in her etsy shop. Growing up in an antiquing family gives her a background and appreciation for all things vintage, especially dinnerware, jewelry and Americana advertising prints and products

{All contributed content Gina Smith © Lilly*s of London*ish}

Off the Shelf Book Review - Stitched in Time by Alicia Paulson (Great Gift Idea)

Books make a great gift for birthday's. Check out our latest Off the Shelf Book Review by our contributing editor Gina Smith. This one is a must have for all of the sewing divas in your life.

That Alicia Paulson is a sneaky one. First, she charms the west coast with her store, Ella Posie. Then, she puts her MFA in writing to use on a blog that sucks us in: Posie Gets Cozy 
.  And even the closing of her brick-and-mortar store mesmerized us as now the whole country could see her wares and buy them at Rosy Little Things.


      No surprise, then, her book STITCHED IN TIME: MEMORY-KEEPING PROJECTS TO SEW AND SHARE FROM THE CREATOR OF POSIE GETS COZY is a smash. (Alicia Paulson, Potter Craft, 2008, 160pp., $22.95 or Amazon, $17.90,.

      Alicia’s blog readers love to ooh and aah over her embroidery and sewing projects, her luscious photos of recipes made and Portland scenery seen. Heck, her corgi Clover Meadow could probably have her own blog. That’s how much people like to read Posie Gets Cozy.

      And so it is with Stitched in Time. Alicia’s fans are buying the book for many reasons. Oh, of course, the projects are charming and au currant.  There’s something for everyone: sewing, embroidering, appliqué. Some probably even bought the book hoping for glimpses of Clover or Alicia’s too-cute-for-words Nurse Husband Andy or darling niece Arden.

      I bought it, and I don’t even sew! Or embroider. Or do any of the things described in the book. Well, except blog and take pictures. Alicia even discusses how to be better at that. In truth, I bought the book because I thought Alicia might write in even more depth than she had in Hallmark Magazine recently about the life-changing accident that nearly cost her mobility. In the article she described how the lengthy recovery from the accident led her back to stitching and, little by little, to a new way of life.

      As with many bloggers, I found Posie Gets Cozy the blog by following a link on a fellow artist’s blog and so on and so forth until I landed at Alicia’s. I was hooked with the eye candy. But when I read that she has a master’s of fine arts degree in writing, I was sucked in even further. I spent hours going backwards through her blog to read her posts. To a writer there’s no better blog than one that is well-written. Even those with the most beautiful photos, artwork or sentiments and soul-searching posts still lose something with grammatical errors and typos. Posie Gets Cozy is the cream of all its crops.

      She has blogged most poignantly about anything and everything: not only her accident (hit by a garbage truck while walking) but the sudden illness and loss of her precious dog, Audrey, while she was writing this book. When I read on her blog she would be writing a magazine article, I waited months for it to come out so I could buy it. Which I did. The laid-bare emotions as she talked about her ordeal, although intended to promote her stitching book and her web business, assured her many fans simply of her homespun, folksy, down-to-earth, honest writing style. Including me.

      But back to the book. As amazing as I find all of the above, it is even more amazing to note that the book was not only written by Paulson, who simultaneously designed and created all the projects within, but she also prepared all of the project photography, sketches, photo styling, jacket photos and even her own photo! Who can say that? Most artists who get book deals will find themselves helped along by an editor or ghost writer and will most certainly have all of the projects photographed by the publisher’s studio and sketches done by a contracted graphics person. So Stitched in Time is truly amazing.

      If I could sew, the slumber party/sleepover pillow case is my favorite project from the book, with its large call-home phone number done in colorful rick-rack. Family-oriented project artists will enjoy the family tree, brag book, photo mobile, growth chart, placemats, coasters and birthday banner. There is also a discussion of basic sewing techniques, hand-sewing, embroidery and appliqué stitches, supplies, glossary of terms and resources.


Paulson is already at work on her next book. Maybe I’ll learn to sew by then. Even if not, I’m sure I’ll still be ordering it as soon as it comes out. Or pre-ordering it, like I did for this one. Well worth the wait!

Featurebutton_06 - Contributing Editor Gina Smith aka Lilly*s of London*ish, started making jewelry about six years ago and has since tied this in with a love of vintage finds, Blythe, crochet and altered art in her etsy shop. Growing up in an antiquing family gives her a background and appreciation for all things vintage, especially dinnerware, jewelry and Americana advertising prints and products

{All contributed content Gina Smith © Lilly*s of London*ish}


Off the Shelf Book Review - Tiny Yarn Animals by Tamie Snow

TinyYarnAnimals copy   

I’ve been kvetching to myself for weeks about reviewing this book: Tiny Yarn Animals by Tamie Snow (62pp, Home Trade Paperback Original, $12.95, ISBN: 978-1-557-88530-2). It was released in August by Penguin group, and Vintage Indie was fortunate enough to receive a copy to review.

      The review has been on my to-do list, and the book has been alternating between my in-box, my in-pile and my in-awhile-ago pile. However, that rotation has nothing to do with the quality and content of the book.

      As the back cover says “small in size, big in charm” of the book’s subjects: Amigurumi friends to make and enjoy. In fact the 20 projects are so darn cute, I’ve been saving my review until I actually had time to make one.

      But, in fairness to the author and to the publisher and giving only the tiniest of credence to Nostradamus-like predictions that books will some day be extinct, I have finally caved in and can tell you, dear reader, that the projects look darling and the instructions appear easy, but that I can reasonably say as an intermediate to advanced crocheter (I’ve made a real sweater and have worn it).

      But enough about me and my crafty procrastinations. Author Tamie Snow is the owner of RoxyCraft and her patterns have been featured in Bust, Vogue Knitting and Get Crafty.

      She has created unusual characters, not your average bear, Boo-Boo. The octopus, fish and penguin are my personal favorites. But thanks to the large color photos, there’s a lot to love here, including lemurs and beavers and hippos, oh my! Lovers of current pop culture icons, like the ubiquitous owl and frog, will appreciate those patterns, and there’s still the traditional bear and dog.

      The patterns are short and sweet; there are photos and diagrams for the beginning crocheter, and there are complete and easy assembly instructions. If you’ve never done Amigurumi, it’s simply Japanese for “stuffed toy,” and it fits right in with the whole Japanese concept of cuteness or “kawaii.” Think Hello Kitty(R) and beyond.

      In fact, like me, think about actually making one of these critters. They’d make great holiday gifts, and beginning crocheters on up should have no trouble completing one with Snow’s charming guidance. If you do make one, let me know. Meanwhile, on to my New Year’s resolutions……        

Featurebutton_06 - Contributing Editor Gina Smith aka Lilly*s of London*ish, started making jewelry about six years ago and has since tied this in with a love of vintage finds, Blythe, crochet and altered art in her etsy shop. Growing up in an antiquing family gives her a background and appreciation for all things vintage, especially dinnerware, jewelry and Americana advertising prints and products

{All contributed content Gina Smith © Lilly*s of London*ish}

Off the Shelf Book Review - Creating Vintage Style by Lucinda Ganderton

Occasionally, those of us who decorate with vintage need some sort of approval for our eclectic ways. The truth is, this is who we are. As a matter of fact, I believe even top designers have been doing it for centuries. Family heirlooms often play important roles in design. No matter how you say it, we are all mixing old and new.

Creating_vintage_style_cover_2 For those of you who would like a little more assurance in “who you are” as far as design and style, then the book Creating Vintage Style by Lucinda Ganderton is just for you. (RYLAND PETERS & SMALL, ISBN 978-1845971250,110pages,$16.95) Creative Vintage Style gives you the design backbone for pulling off this style effectively. Everything becomes much more clear after you’ve read this book. For example, Creative Vintage Style suggests not to over design your own vintage style living space. Taking inspiration from the interior itself.

Chapters include Living Rooms, Kitchens & Dining Rooms, Bedrooms, Bathrooms, Children's Rooms, Workrooms and Outdoors. Each chapter features key elements giving a more in depth look at planning and purpose giving beautiful color examples. Next there are more in depth details about including fabrics along with a DIY project for each and final thoughts with finishing touches.

I really enjoyed the photographs in this book.  They are bright and practical, and give you the confidence in creating this style in your own home. You can find this book in our reviewed section of our Amazon Store here. (sponsored link)

Green & Natural Living Kickoff! Off the Shelf Book Review - A Guide to Green Housekeeping by Christina Strutt

Aguidetogreenhousekeeping_2This weeks Off the Shelf Book Review is what has inspired this weeks topic of green and natural living. A Guide to Green Housekeeping by Christina Strutt (CICO Books March 2008, ISBN9781906094485 192pp,$19.95)

As I sat and read this book in its entirety from cover to cover I felt an overwhelming weight lifted off my shoulders. I think I realized I was trapped in a germ-aphobic what you read is what you get society. With everyday tasks like shopping, we are faced with product labels that are deceiving, packaging created to lure you in, but not environmentally friendly. Also, realizing that visual stimulation is a huge aspect of the marketing world, but not something so important that we loose sight on the simpler things in life. Most of these feelings came from the introduction and the first few chapters alone.

One of my favorite statements in the whole book came from the introduction as well " The most important and potentially life saving gift we can give our children is to teach them to have respect for, and to be aware of, the life-giving properties and life-enhancing nature of ... nature." Within the last year or so I've really become aware of my surroundings. What's going into my children's body, what's being placed on their skin and most importantly the effects of it. A Guide to Green Housekeeping is a valuable tool to help you make yourself and your family aware of their surroundings. It really helps you to understand the harsh changes taking place in our environment, and what you can do to protect it.

Living a Calmer, Healthier Life, Recycle and Reuse, Clean Naturally, and Garden Organically are the main topics in this book. As a work at home mom, Keeping House was my favorite chapter. In her series Cleaning without chemicals, I was amazed at the tips and tricks that have probably been used for ages, but have since turned into a chemical laden process. There is hope for those of us who hate tackling things like oven cleaning and window washing without heavy duty chemicals. Christina shares with us her personal tips and tricks for getting the job done. Am I crazy for saying I couldn't wait to get home from vacation to try them out? Well, hopefully not too much as I'm happy to report cleaning this way for me has been not only healthier for my family but therapeutic as well. Other topics such as Kitchen Hygiene, Laundering Clothes and more are also included to complete the Keeping House chapter so you can make full use of nature in your home.

The second chapter, Energy For Life, is another great tool for reducing energy in the home. From a slew of Lifestyle Changes to Kitchen Practices, you'll be proud of what you and your family can do together to reduce the amount of energy used in your home and the reward that comes with lowered bills.

I've been on another mission of sorts this year with my family. I was happy to have The Kitchen Garden chapter make this a much larger reality to me. Living off the the fruits of our labor came into play with my families first garden this year. This is something I've wanted to do for a long time. With no direction accept for a few searches via the internet, we planted our little patch of veggies and have been slowly nurturing them into their full potential. If you've had hesitations in growing your own little garden this chapter will prepare you for growing your own fruits and vegetables and give you the benefits of doing it as well. With topics like Compost and Green Gardening you'll be enjoying fresh produce before you know it.

This book will remain a staple in my home and I'll also be passing it on to family and friends. A Guide to Green Housekeeping is a practical guide with a bounty of resources you will feel confident about using in your home. (available for purchase at our Amazon Store)

Summer Reads - Marie Antoinette - by contributing Editor Gina Smith

If, like me, you like your summer beach reads  to be enthralling, romantic, mysterious, dangerous, sassy and exciting, well, what could be better than a little non-fiction? Huh?


I can eagerly recommend several biographies of Marie Antoinette for summer reading that you can’t put down, and the Vintage Indie tie-in will be all the glimpses you’ll get, both in illustrations and your imagination, of the beautiful period fashions, furniture and architecture.


    If you want to go especially light, The Private Realm of Marie Antoinette by Marie-France Boyer (Thames & Hudson, LTD, 1995, $19.95 soft cover) packs 123 mostly color illustrations and photos in its 111 pages.


Translated from French, the brief words in the book show some 200 years later some Francais still think Marie was not the saint and martyr many believe her to be. But as much as the styles of her time as well as her own image influence so much art, craft and collecting today, the book can be viewed as an important resource.


There are many actual pictures from Versailles as well as the Petit Trianon, the Hameau (hamlet), Fontainebleu and the Laiterie (dairy) and Rambouillet. Like me, you may be amazed to see a photo from an indoor bathroom of the late 1700s. Who knew?


There are many other photos of actual artifacts from the period, as well as ornate locks said to have been made by Louis XVI himself.


       For a strictly biographical, but very detailed read, I recommend Antonia Fraser’s Marie Antoinette The Journey (Anchor Books, 2001, $16.95 soft cover). Fraser, a respected biographer and wife of playwright Harold Pinter, is known for her meticulous research. The 458pp are followed by 53 pp of notes.


Fraser’s version, upon which Sofia Coppola’s movie was based, is a much more practical version examined with the sympathetic eye of a modern woman. It is much more kind and at the same time more engaging than the translation from French of Evelyne Lever’s 2000 edition, Marie Antoinette, the Last Queen of France (St. Martin’s Griffin). I started with Lever’s version and found it shockingly harsh.


The Fraser book remains my favorite of all the ones reviewed here, and I found myself not only re-reading pages, but wishing that it would not end, and certainly that it would not end the way we all know that it does. You’ll have to pinch yourself to remember you are reading non-fiction, with all of the incredulous goings-on of the day, including public birthing of royals for one.


Following the Fraser book, I was so enthralled with the period, and realized I was so lacking in knowledge- my 11th grade US History teacher nor my college education did any justice to the concurrent period of the American and French revolutions. I decided to search the Internet for related books. You, too, can Google Marie Antoinette on Amazon or even Ebay and find any of the books mentioned here. I actually bought three of my five secondhand.


  My next adventure was Caroline Weber’s 292 pp Queen of Fashion (Henry Holt and Co., 2006, $16, soft cover). Call me a geek, but I even enjoyed looking through the 97 (yes, 97!) pages of notes and bibliography (scouting for more juicy reads).


Weber, an associate professor of French and Comparative Literature at Barnard College, Columbia University, takes the position that Marie Antoinette’s fashion choices not only were a topic of the day during the French Revolution but also, in large part, played a central role in politics, religion and war.


One can tell Weber has written for Vogue and understands the fashionista’s point of view, and she is therefore well-qualified to discuss this pop culture phenom’s impact on the pop culture and fashion of her time. The book reads like a fashion show ‘Look Book’ and has detailed illustrations. There really aren’t any actual photos of original garments, except for one corset, because virtually nothing survived the Reign of Terror.



The Private Life of Marie Antoinette by Madame Campan (1500 Books, LLC, 2006, $18.95 soft cover) is a translation of the 1823 account by Marie Antoinette’s lady-in-waiting.


It would seem by fact of the author to be the most accurate, since it is written by an eye witness, but of course this author is most favorable to the Queen, and some of her positions are disputed by other writers. I found it to be very believable, not one bit syrup-y, and Campan specifically points out what she thought were some of the downfalls of the King and Queen. By the end of the book, you have to wonder how Mme. Campan, herself from a noble family, survived the thousands of executions of nobles and royals that were taking place.


One area that Campan never mentions is the purported liaison between Marie Antoinette and Swedish Count Axel Fersen. Fraser indicates quite blatantly that she both believes and hopes it to be true, for the Queen’s sake. It is amazing to me how many scholars, and even artists and bloggers are still debating this point more than 200 years after her death in 1793.



A delightful, yet fictional account can be found in The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette (St. Martin’s Press, 2005, $13.95 soft cover) by Carolly Erickson. Erickson is also the author of the non-fiction work To The Scaffold. The “diary” is described by Erickson as an “historical entertainment,” which I guess is the same as historical fiction, maybe with some happiness thrown in, which after reading these five volumes I sorely wanted to do myself.


I imagined Erickson also was so touched in researching this oft-misunderstood, misquoted figure that she wanted to write the story the way it could have gone, might have gone…up until the execution, that is. So be warned, beach readers, the same unfortunate outcome is still in the fictionalized account as well, but there are some juicy scenes with Count Axel that make for a titillating, yet still very believable read.


- Guest Author, Gina Smith

{All contributed content Gina Smith © Lilly*s of London*ish}

You can find these books for purchase in our Amazon Store under "Summer Reading"


Off the Shelf Book Review - Tinsel Trading Company Beautiful Bedrooms with Ribbons and Trims,Sterling Publishing

   Criticizing a book by the owner of Martha Stewart’s favorite store would earn me virtual tomatoes thrown at my email at the speed of light. Having anything negative to say about the most wonderful store in the US of A would make me seem, well, negative.

So, I’ll just say this once: if you’re hoping the first book by Tinsel Trading Company’s Marcia Ceppos will give you an inside look at that fabulous store, you’ll be very disappointed.

If, on the other hand, you clamor for anything written by  Ceppos and her partner, buyer and stylist Rosemary Warren, then you will be quite satisfied with Beautiful Bedrooms with Ribbons and Trims, (Sterling Publishing, 2006, $24.95).

Me? I kept having to remind myself the title was about bedrooms, not about the fantastic store that I dream of visiting, the store where my friend Lisa teaches her fantastic classes, the store with so much! ribbon it necessitates its own space, The Store Across the Street.

So, if you want to see inside Tinsel Trading, you’ll have to be content to crane your head and imagination into the few tiny pictures in the Table of Contents and Introduction. The Foreword is written by none other than Ms. Martha. I found myself reading and re-reading the history of Tinsel Trading, as started by Ceppos’ grandfather in 1933. Besides ‘the store’ and The Store Across the Street, there is also The Store Next Door, all geographically conjoined in Manhattan.

But back to the book. There are 72 projects organized by season, from vignettes and window treatments to pillows, slippers, lampshades and more. Instructions and supply lists are included. The projects are not all by Ceppos and Warren but by a slew of designers, including Kaari Meng (The French-Inspired Home and French-Inspired Jewelry, both previously reviewed here), Anna Corba and Melissa Neufeld, all familiar names to paper-crafters.

    Most all of the projects have a primarily shabby chic feel, to me anyway. ‘Vintage’ would be another good word to describe the feel of the projects. Many rely heavily on passementerie, or the French art of using elaborate trims. Again, I’d like to see all those trims in big, luscious store interior photos, but, oh oops, I promised I wouldn’t complain any further.

I didn’t find any of the projects very difficult, nay perhaps not even challenging. As an example, one project included embellishing your white wicker hamper with silk flowers. Ditto comforters, pillow shams, straw garden hats and just about anything else.

In that sense, the book might serve as a validation that your decorating flair is on par with Martha’s favorite store. For that, buy the book? Up to you. I’ll say no more.


- Guest Author, Gina Smith

{All contributed content Gina Smith © Lilly*s of London*ish}

You can find these books for purchase in our Amazon Store under "Reviewed at Vintage Indie"


Off the Shelf Book Review - Bazaar Style Author Selina Lake with words by Joanna Simmons & Photographer Debi Treloar

Summer is heating up and contributing editor Gina Smith and I have some fabulous "must read" book reviews for this summer. The first review is Bazaar Style.


Bazaar Style,2007 Author Selina Lake with words by Joanna Simmons Photographer Debi Treloar ($29.95, 144pages 250 color photographs. ISBN 9781845976262)

I often find myself wandering the aisles of a local antique mall or show with the hopes of finding just the right piece, just the right addition to my home, only to return empty handed due to lack of vision. Bazaar Style gives those who are less fortunate in the design area hope; hope to incorporate the pieces that we treasure with the new items that we find in our every day style.

Interior Stylist Selina Lake makes decorating with vintage finds look easy. Her background in surface pattern design, combined with the writings of Joanna Simmons, allows this dynamic duo to make this an easy to read resource.  That foundation of design and style, coupled with photography by Debi Treloar, also makes it an inspirational feast for your eyes.

Travel with Selina to discover the many different elements of Bazaar Style, including sections on furniture, textiles, lighting, accessories, display and color. For example, the section on Wall Art shows us that art doesn’t have to lie within a frame. The idea of using clothing and fabric give new meaning to wall décor. They show us that Bazaar Style loves to tweak conventional by decorating in unordinary fashions. 

Many of the designs offer a bohemian and ethnic approach, but it’s full of little details and useful tips for things you may find in your very own local flea markets and antique shows.  One of my favorites from the book is a fine china teapot and cup used to display and store jewelry.

I found myself looking at hand-me-down sheets of floral print and a white gifted duvet cover in a whole new light after reading Bazaar Style.  What once was old and not stylish was given new life in my home.  I like the excitement of knowing that the tattered piece of furniture the rather “ordinary” may pass up is waiting for a gentle touch up making it good as new to me.

Bazaar Style offers endless amounts of ideas for things already in your home. They also show you where to go and how to shop for inexpensive touches.  Collectibles and Display, another element in this book, is the core of Bazaar Style. It gives you freedom to open closed doors and unearth hidden collections and gems in your home, in which you would ordinarily keep behind doors.

This book is a must have for anyone who loves to decorate with vintage elements.

Head over to the Vintage Indie book store to purchase this book (sponsored link). Visit the "Reviewed at Vintage Indie" category for books already reviewed by us.

Featurebutton_01_4 Review by Gabreial Wyatt, Editor



Off the Shelf Review - The French-Inspired Home by Kaari Meng


I know. I know. It wasn’t too long ago that I was gushing about French-Inspired Jewelry by Kaari Meng. Well, gusher warning ahead. I finally had a chance to read her first book, The French-Inspired Home ($24.95, Lark Books, 2006), and I found it equally wonderful.

So what does any of this have to do with vintage? Let’s just say, and apparently Meng agrees, that French and vintage aren’t that far apart in the dictionary. Decorating mavens know the French are famous for their ability to re-purpose lowly objects, to bring the outside in, to incorporate family heirlooms and to simply do something old in a fresh, new way.

Meng tells us lay people how to do it in this, her first book, drawing on her store French General in
Californiafor inspiration and photo opps as well as her time spent accumulating treasures in France. And not only are the photos gorgeous, illustrator Melissa Easton deserves a mention.

The book is divided into rooms, such as bedroom, studio, laundry room and more. Her ideas for storage and organization are not merely to get things in their places, but to make something of it, while doing it. Why shouldn’t we decorate with things we love? Meng uses notions, millinery, vintage linens, fabrics and ephemera in new ways.

The garden section also include recipes for some yummy but useful herb concoctions, and the archives section offers up artwork to be copied for vintage-looking labels, tags, place cards and more. There are also step-be-step instructions for several of the projects.

The only criticism of the book, which I read in another review, was that the writer felt the book did not include enough whole room scenes. It does not. But, I don’t view that as bad. This book is about vignettes, settings, little corners where you can add a touch of French charm. And if anything, perhaps whole-room decorating will be the subject of her next book. Bring it on!

Kaari Meng’s store French General can be found in


, CA. She has been featured in Mary Engelbreit’s Home Companion and Martha Stewart Living. Meng has sold her designs through Anthropologie and has been an artist for Hallmark. You, too, can get in on the action, as Paula’s Kit Club features a Meng-designed DIY jewelry kit by monthly subscription at


- Guest Author, Gina Smith

{All contributed content Gina Smith © Lilly*s of London*ish}

Off the Shelf Review - Vintage Vavoom, by the editors of Romantic Homes

Vitagevavoom_review_2 Vintage Vavoom (2007, Clarkson Potter, $35.00, 218pp.) by the editors of Romantic Homes magazine might just as well be called Vavoom! This just-right-sized book packs a wallop for lovers of all things vintage, and we are nothing if not that here at Vintage Indie.

      As soon as I knew Jacqueline deMontravel, the editor of Romantic Homes, was spearheading this, I was on high alert for it to come out. For those of you who put down your Romantic Homes several years ago after one too many cabbage rose and Victorian lace vignette, fear not.

      The magazine has been rehabbed into an of-the-moment, authoritative handbook where new and vintage collide in a romantic whirlwind of breath-taking rooms, little shops, gardens and get-aways. Add to that the contributions of editors-at-large like Sandra Evertson and Tara Frey, and RH is one of my top real zine picks each month. And, the book is no different, just bigger and by that, better.

      Gorgeous photography again takes center stage. I did not see a lot of reprints from the mag in use. That’s always good. There are also great instructions, shopping lists, tips from designers, even tips on HOW to shop (as if!).

      From the opening advice of creating a notebook, each chapter includes “workshops” as they are called, to help one get decorating and collecting ideas down on paper, complete with encouragement to sketch.

      All styles and time periods are given equal appreciation here, from the kitschy 1950s to the Wedgewood and Flow Blue of the late 1800s. Chinese is represented as is nautical, western, classic/traditional, colonial and more in the many themes depicted for both decorating and collecting. Advice is also given for cleaning and preserving treasured vintage items, such as linens.

      Perhaps my favorite chapter is on color-everything from a bold palette to bold splashes with dots and stripes to an even more delicious group of photos of all-white displays. Ideas for every taste make for a one very appealing book. It’s a must-have for any decorating library.

- Guest Author, Gina Smith

{All contributed content Gina Smith © Lilly*s of London*ish}

Off the Shelf Review - French Inspired Jewelry by Kaari Meng


The story of how I came to purchase French-Inspired Jewelry by Kaari Meng ( 2007 Lark Books, $19.95, 143 pp., ISBN 13:978-1-60059-096-2) is not a very exciting one, but it can serve as a disclaimer for this and any other book review you’ll ever read by anyone. Forget what the reviewers say; phone a friend.

I first saw the lovely cover in a beading magazine, I believe. The cover art and jewelry alone motivated me to search out the book. Since I belong to three book clubs, naturally I looked there first to purchase. My Crafters’ Choice club offers reader reviews, so I checked those out.

What I found for both this and Meng’s other book, The French-Inspired Home (to be reviewed soon, because I ended up buying that, too!) was discouraging to say the least. Readers thought the pictures were stingy as well as directions and that the projects were not realistic.

Funny thing as I was about to put my plastic money away, one of my on-line jewelry friends blogged about this very book and said she couldn’t wait to read it. Now, mind you, this indicated she HAD NOT read it yet, but this is someone whose jewelry I covet (and purchase), whose style I admire and hence, whose opinion I trust. So I bought the book.

Am I glad I did! Nearly every spread has a full-page color photo on one side, so see what I mean about naysayers? Ask someone whose style and taste you emulate or admire. By the way, let me give a shout out to ‘that’ person for me Lorelei  . So what does all this chumminess have to do with vintage?

The book is chock full of new ideas for vintage finds, such as beads, buttons, lace, old photos, millinery, old labels, advertisements, playing cards, game pieces, fabric, maps, coins and more. That’s a lot of ideas for a $19.95 book-very reasonable, I think. It also addresses vintage colors, vintage findings, collecting and stringing.

And even better, the jewelry is not your run-of-the-mill charm bracelet and dangle earrings. There are tons of unusual pieces: hair combs, rosary, sash, cuff, headband and more.

The presentation alone gives many creative ideas for photographing, selling and displaying one’s wares, all in such a tres chic, tres Francais way. I even found the introduction charming and compelling.

The chapters are organized by theme such as La mer, Le Marche, Le Cirque and more. Just the eye candy in La Mer alone was enough to put me over the edge. I just cannot stop looking at this book! I don’t know what better endorsement I could give than that.

But remember, trust a friend not a reviewer. So, if Vintage Indie is your friend, you know what to do! And you don’t even have to thank us!

- Guest Author, Gina Smith

{All contributed content Gina Smith © Lilly*s of London*ish}

Off The Shelf Review with Gina Smith - Vintage Style Jewelry


With the enduring popularity of DIY jewelry, beading and of course, all things vintage, it’s no surprise Bead and Button magazine just published VintageStyle Jewelry, Inspired Designs from the 1850s to the 1950s ($9.95, Kalmbach Publishing Co., ISBN 978-0-89024-739-6).

      The wider-format book-magazine features a special pull-out color pictorial history of jewelry as well as more than a dozen projects incorporating vintage pieces, antique buttons, self-made findings and new supplies.

      I most enjoyed the feature about and cover project from Diane Hyde, a former graphic artist-cum-jewelry designer who only just took up beading in 1995. Her rapid ascension to a nationally-known, award-winning beader and designer is inspiring enough for us Etsy and DIY wannabe-hers, but I also found in her recommended reading list some books I’d like to check out further.

      Following the interview are step-by-step instructions for her 1920s-style personalized pendant with easily-understood directions and photos that make it seem like “hey, I just might be able to do this!”

      As for the other projects, I had to keep reminding myself the title of the book-zine does say “inspired,” so those looking for pics of a lot of actual vintage jewelry will not find it here. The pull-out, while well organized, is short on photos, too. Even the restoration tips article is brief and not long on visuals.

      With all this in mind, I decided to check out the editor’s letter- not something I usually rush to first. The message reminded readers that the mission of the parent magazine (Bead & Button) is to “introduce contemporary, original jewelry designs,” also noting this special edition is intended to “apply a new ‘attitude’ to classic styles.” Aha! That explains it. So, depending on what you’re hoping to find, I’d recommend some bookstore aisle-reading before you commit to purchase.

      I found three of the 15 projects that I might actually do; the rest were heavy on peyote stitch and other seed-beading adventures. If you love that kind of tiny work, you may want to add this to your reference library.

      As for me, I may be an unsophisticated kid when it comes to publications, but give me pictures! And, if you’re going to call something “VintageStyle” (which they do, making it into one word), then give me vintage!


Next up on the jewelry shelf review: French-Inspired Jewelry by Kaari Meng. And, stay tuned for my review of the new Vintage Vavoom by the editors of Romantic Homes magazine.

- Guest Author, Gina Smith  

{All contributed content Gina Smith © Lilly*s of London*ish}