Archive for the ‘2011’ Category

V&I How To: The Trimmings and the Trappings

Saturday, December 17th, 2011

Of the laundry list of impractical skills we’ve garnered over the years, gift wrapping is among those at the top {right next to Irish step dancing – yes, it was during the River Dance craze and no we don’t want to talk about it}. From gently coaxing paper into neatly folded corners to tying elaborate bows, you name it and we can do it. And since we’ve been doing so much of it lately, we thought we’d take a quick break and give all of you a step-by-step guide on one of our more fancy looking bows. We know, not the most riveting read for a Friday afternoon, but there’s pictures and we promise in the end that it’s entirely worth the effort. Don this bow on any funny paper-wrapped gift and you’ll go from a wannabe to a bonafide gift wrap goddess {or god, for all you gents} in no time.

Before we get to the nitty gritty, a few preparatory notes:

-we suggest using a wider, more substantial ribbon for this bow. We are big fans of the skinny, double-faced satin stuff {male translation: the skinny, shiny material one}, but unless you’re willing to start with about 50 loops, in the end the finished product will look a little less than festive.

-the final product will be about as wide as the flattened set of loops you make to begin the project. Want a big bow? Make big loops {and vice-versa}.

OK, let’s begin.

1. What you’ll need: hands {and a spiffy manicure replete with a “party nail” a la this blog and via Miss Monica, one of our polish-obsessed Oxford Hall girls}, a spool of suitable ribbon and scissors.


Note: the labeling of our ribbon scissors may sound a little {OK a lot} obsessive, but try cutting this bow with that dull pair of Fiskars your mom saved from Kindergarten and you'll understand why we designate a special pair just for these purposes.


2. Without cutting off a predetermined length, begin wrapping loops of ribbon around one hand {see notes before beginning to determine the proper size for your loops}. Keep the ribbon as aligned as possible while wrapping, and aim for evenly-sized loops. For a good bow, we recommend around 15 to 20 loops.


Have you figured out yet that this is just a shameless excuse to show off our manicure?


3. When you’re done, the finished product should look something like this. Voilà!



4. When cutting the end of the ribbon, aim for have it to end right around where the ribbon begins. This will make any loose ends disappear once you fluff the finished bow.



5. Once you’re done, pinch the bow in half so that the end and the beginning of the ribbon are under your fingers.


Yes, this is only step five of a twelve step process. Hang in there!


6. Fold the ribbon in half at the pinched point. Then, grab your trusty ribbon scissors and use them to cut off small triangles off each side at the bended portion of the ribbon. Careful not too cut to much – you want to leave enough ribbon behind as a sturdy center for the bow.


Don't aim to make a point of the ribbon when cutting. Instead, aim to leave about half of the ribbon's width when trimming off the sides.


7. This is what the end result should look like. If your ribbon is cut too skinny in the middle, it will be a weak foundation for the rest of your bow and, depending on the fragility of your ribbon, could lead to breakage.


As Goldilocks would say, this is juuuuuuust right.


8. Unfold the cut ribbon. It should slightly resemble a figure 8 {tapered in the middle and wider on the ends}. NOTE: From here you can proceed in one of two ways. You can either cut a short length of ribbon to make a stand alone bow {which can always later be attached to a box using adhesive or another ribbon}, or cut a longer length of ribbon that will fit around whatever package you are wrapping and also secure this bow. For a stand alone bow, cut a short length of ribbon – approximately two to three inches – and position it around the tapered middle of your loops. For a bow that you will immediately attach to a package, cut a length of ribbon that will fit around your parcel with a little leeway and position it around the middle of your loops as well. For either option, then carefully tie a single, tight knot around the center of your loops.


Almost there!


9. For a stand alone bow, carefully trim the ends off the short ribbon you used to make a knot around your loops {if you leave them long you risk them showing in the finished bow}. For a bow that you will attach to your parcel, leave the ends as they are. You can trim them as need be once you ribbon your package.



10. Begin to slowly pull each loop of ribbon out of alignment with the rest. It is easiest to pull the outermost loop to the furthest outside position, so that it is almost perpendicular to the rest of the loops. Continue with the next loop and so on and so on.


We'll call this the pull and fluff step.


11. Once you’ve finished one side of your loops, it will look something like this. Repeat the same steps on the next side. Once you’ve finished pulling and fluffing, you’ll need to continue fluffing a bit, so that the loops spread in all vertical and horizontal directions and form a pretty pouf. Height is your friend here, so make like a pageant queen from Texas and tease that bow!


Pull, fluff and repeat.


12. From here, you can either affix the bow to your package using the long lengths of ribbon {if you chose that route} or simply enjoy the pretty, fluffy thing you just made on its own {if you did a stand alone bow}. And that’s fancy bow 101.


Ta-daaaaa! We're fancy, huh?

Better with Butter

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

In a 2009 airing of the “Late Show” with editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine, Anna Wintour, David Letterman pressed the infamously icy fashion icon as to what the average woman – spendthrift habits strangled by the recession – would do if her fashion budget had been reduced to $20 for an entire year. In the shot heard around the world, she smirked and replied: “well, she could buy a lipstick.”

Questionable grasp on the day-to-day decision making of the average woman aside, Anna Wintour’s comment got to the heart of the human response to the economic predicament by pinpointing the trait that everyone {editors of monumental fashion periodicals included} has had to draw heavily upon since the economy decided to turn belly-up back in 2008: creativity. From stretching budgets to “staycations,” no one has made it through the last three years without relying on some creative thinking {add sleepless nights and luck to that list, while you’re at it}.

Viv&Ingrid is no exception to this rule. To say the least, the past three years have been rough on retailers, and we’re thankful every day that we’ve enjoyed continued success and have been fortunate enough to open our new retail storefront despite the chokehold on the economy. We’ve been working hard to continue providing our loyal customers with classic, affordable jewelry and top notch customer service in the face of the recession. Since opening Viv&Ingrid at Oxford Hall, we’ve extended these efforts to stocking our store with happy little luxuries from vendors with interesting stories at a price point that won’t cause your checking account to go on strike.

Which is why we knew we hit the jackpot when we found Butter London. A self-proclaimed “three-free” company {their products do not contain DBP, toluene or formaldehyde – say that three times fast}, Butter London is an innovator in the nail business, working directly with designers to translate the latest trends into chic, very wearable nail lacquers. To top it all off, some of our in-the-know customers tipped us off to the fact that they don’t test on animals, so that mani/pedi is also Fido and Fuzzy-approved.

So if you’re looking for an alternative to the $20 lipstick, come give Butter London a try. Changing your look is only a manicure away – and with over 50 shades to choose from, there is a color for every mood. From the perfect, sultry hue of red to evoke your inner vixen {aptly named Come to Bed Red} to unique neutrals when you’re feeling more prim and proper, there is a shade {or ten} for everyone to love. And at $14 a pop, your wallet just might love them too.


What's in a name? From left: Jaffa, Tramp Stamp, Chimney Sweep and Marrow.



La vie en rose (chocolate).

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

On the short list of things that make us blissfully happy, squeezed in between treasure hunting at the Alameda Point Antiques Faire and Iced Green Tea Lemonades {with an add shot of peppermint, of course} is Maison Bouche chocolate. What could be better than a real life version of Antiques Roadshow or icy, green tea-y goodness, you ask? Ummm – try crumbled butter cookies enrobed in velvety, rich dark chocolate. Need we say more?

Based out of Oakland, Maison Bouche takes its name from the 18th century French Court kitchen services, and appropriately so. With decadent flavor combinations ranging from fleur de sel to rose with candied mint leaves, we think Louis XIV himself would have approved {jury is still out on if your favorite pair of skinny jeans will feel the same way}. To boot, owner Diane Beaty hand delivers each order to our store, always to much applause and fanfare on our part {yes, we clap for chocolate}. Even better? Pop in on a Saturday and you’ll find one selection of her delicious confections out for sampling – yes, that’s right, we’ll ply you with candy while you shop.

See you this weekend? Yeah, we thought so. 

Bikini or butter cookies? What to do, what to do... Errr - we hear one pieces are making a comeback.