At fifty cents each, several back issues of Marie Claire Idees magazine, published in France. I'd heard of the English-language Marie Claire published in this country and while I've never read it, I suspect it's not much like this Idees (ideas) version.
So, what's Marie Claire Idees like? A lot like Martha Stewart Living, only heavier on the DIY and less on interior decorating and gardening. There are features on new products, and columns on health and beauty, fashion, and travel as well, but it's primarily the DIY content that drew me in. The projects look wonderful (if quite laborious in many cases) and the photography is pure eye candy.
Since summer is on the horizon, I'll show off an issue devoted to that season. My issue is from June 2009.
Above, flowers are embroidered with silk ribbon on linen, with wheat pieces ringing the finished work. Maybe a bit fussy to make, but doesn't it look pretty?
By the way, if you've done a number of crafts, the photos are good enough to usually tell what supplies and techniques were used. But just to be clear, I used Google translator too.
An article called A la Lettre! needed no translation, since the projects shown were along these lines:
Above, a kitchen table top has "1 kg de pommes coupees en quartiers" painted onto it. "A little over two pounds of apples, cut into quarters" is what we'd see if this was an American recipe being immortalized. I know that the apple tart is a time-honored French dessert, so I'm guessing that's what the painted words refer to.
It's too hot to bake in June, you say - you'd rather be at the beach? Marie Claire Idees has you covered:
Well, if your beach includes a close-by outdoor shower(that would be handy, especially for washing salt water off), then paint the alphabet on a large canvas to create a privacy screen for that shower. The magazine suggests that this decorated canvas could be hung up at home as well. Indeed, it would look great displayed in a cottage!
Another article features cerises - cherries to us. Many charming projects, like this:
A serving tray featuring cherry-shaped mosaics - cute. The cherry-lover could also applique that fruit design onto a tablecloth or crochet look-alikes on a girl's dress.
The cherry-themed projects all have a sort of country charm to them, but then that article is followed by several pages devoted to rather fanciful party decorations featuring large gold circles. Some of the largest decorations are seen here:
Unfortunately, there are no directions given for decking out a tree with various sizes of gold circles, but this would be enchanting for a garden party. According to the article, we are encouraged to also use gold circles to decorate a tablecloth, chairs, or punch bowls. Martha Stewart herself could have done no better!
But admittedly, the food "sculpture" article was more my speed:
"Radis souris" - radish mice. Whole cloves are used for eyes, the root end of the radish forms the "muzzle", thin slices of radish create the ears, and a bit of the radish top in stuck in the back for a tail. Marie Claire comments that kids tend to not like radishes due to their spicy taste, but these radish mice will make them smile. That may be true, but of course this bit of food sculpturing doesn't lessen that spiciness!
For summer get-togethers, a lemon half mimics a boat; cute "sail" made from floral and gingham fabrics. Since the sail is labeled with a name, I presume this "petit navire" (small ship) was designed to mark places at a table.
Martha Stewart might very well have placed this simple project in the "Good Things" section of her magazine. But to be honest, I found looking through Marie Claire Idees much more fun!
This particular issue is the newest one in my thrift store lot. I don't know if the magazine has changed much since then, or if it's still as fanciful as shown here. Radish mice? Giant gold circle garlands dangling from trees? A line from a recipe painted onto a table? These are only a fraction of the creative pursuits in the magazine.
In a parsimonious mood, I left some of the Marie Claire Idees behind at the thrift store. I'm now sorry that I did - this June 2009 issue was a lot of fun to look at, even if some things might have got lost in Google translation.