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Christmas Craft Along – Week 4

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This week I want to talk about where to buy handmade gifts here in Prague.  One of the things I like about living here is that there are still numerous tiny, privately owned shops that sell things you can’t get in big chain stores.

First of all, in Prague 2, is a place called Momo that specializes in little handmade things, mostly fabric based and earrings.  The proceeds from this shop go to help local orphanages, so not only are you supporting local craftsmen, you are also helping children.

Not far from Momo is Cafe Rozmar.  Cafe Rozmar is actually a nice cafe/restaurant, with food ranging from decent to excellent at reasonable prices.  I mention Rozmar here because they are a charity cafe and proceeds from the cafe go to supporting their work with children transitioning from the orphanages to independent life.  They also employ some of the people they are helping. So, if you are looking to give someone a gift certificate, while not completely handmade, I do recommend one from Rozmar.

Scattered around Prague are also a number of festivals and markets which sell handmade goods, and getting stuff at these is just a matter of being at the right place with enough pocket money.  I have yet to find where all these markets are listed, as they range from farmer markets to holiday markets to festival markets, so I tend to stumble upon them quite by accident.  However, I always manage to pick up a little something, whether woodwork, beadwork, lace, or other needlework.

Another place to find handmade gifts in Prague is in the Catholic churches with monasteries and cloisters attached to them.  For instance, St. Thomas on Mala Strana sells its own beer (proceeds go to repairing the roof) and at least twice a year hosts a bazaar where a local group of nuns sells their traditional Czech handcrafts. Other churches have similar bazaars, but, like the festivals and markets above, it is a matter of stumbling upon them with enough pocket money, as they are not centrally listed somewhere.

I cannot blog about handmade gifts in Prague without mentioning Charles Bridge.  There are numerous artists and vendors on Charles Bridge, selling woodwork, paintings, music, glassware, and other things.  Some of the vendors are actually the artists, others are not.  I have a love/hate relationship with Charles Bridge, like most people who actually have to live here in Prague.  There are so many tourists there, even in the dismal winter, and the prices are always way more than similar things off the bridge.  That being said, Husband is getting a cd of this band, who really are great fun to watch and listen to.

Finally, I would also like to mention Manufaktura, but with some reservation.  The good things about Manufaktura are that they sell a lot of traditional things handmade by Czech artists (handprinted cloth anyone? how about a straw nativity scene? wooden toys?)  and there is also a certain level of quality control involved, so you are relatively guaranteed that you are buying something well made.  On the other hand, Manufaktura is jaw-droppingly expensive for Czech, so it is only tourists that really shop there.  It follows that I can’t speak to how much of the price actually goes back to the artists, but at least there are a number of Manufaktura stores around Prague that take debit/credit cards, so you don’t have to stumble upon them with a pocket full of cash.

Prague offers a number of places to buy handmade gifts and items for the home and life, which is one of the more endearing aspects of living here.  Though I do miss my charity shops in Britain, I do value being able to support local shop owners and artists.


Favorite Cosmetics Catalogue

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Yesterday, I was prattling on about how I found some wrapping ideas in my favorite cosmetics catalogue, and that it wasn’t Mary Kay or Avon.  Truthfully, it’s not really a cosmetics catalogue, but since I don’t wear much make-up, it is as close as I get to cosmetics.  That said, my favorite company is Lush, and here’s why.

Lush is dedicated to creating delicious soaps and things from non-irritating, plant-based ingredients.  The store can be a bit heady, smell-wise, but their individual products smell divine.  I love their shampoos bars, face scrubs, and lotion bars.  I have pale, sensitive skin, so I have problems with most mainstream products, but not with Lush.  If I do have any problem, I can return the bottle and exchange it for something else.  Also, they are very generous with their samples, so I can find out ahead of time which face creme leaves me greasy.

As to the price, yes, a number of their products are expensive, like their bath bombs, but I don’t think the lotion and shampoo bars are any more expensive, especially since they tend to last longer than mainstream products (this does not hold true for their soaps).  Their face scrubs and face cremes also last quite a long time and are competitively priced.

So how does this tie into the Home Front?  Cosmetics and beauty products were hard to come by, since most factories were producing things for the war and the ingredients had to be imported.  In addition, things like bottles and tubes were also hard to come by towards the end of the war.  Soaps and shampoos made from local plant ingredients would have been popular, especially if they didn’t need additional packaging.  At least, that is how it plays out in my mind = )

A day by the sea…

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We did something very British today; we spent the day (or at least part of it) by the sea. Since Mother-in-law is visiting, we wanted to take her somewhere outside of London, and someone on our street recommended Rye.

Rye is an old medieval town with quaint architecture, lots of antique shops, and lots of places for tea. I am pleased to say, I was able to order my first GF cream tea!  Fletcher’s House offered cream tea with a choice of fresh GF plain or fruit scones, made in house. I have to say, I was impressed. I’ve never had a proper cream tea before, so I can’t say how it compares, but I think the thrill of finally having one was the highlight.

From Rye, we went on to Camber, which is on the sea. Daughter frolicked in freezing water and rolled around in sand, while I stood by debating how I was going to clean her up.  True to a British day by the sea, she left with blue lips and goosebumps.

It was nice though, all in all, a fun day out. I don’t know if I would drive all the way down to Rye for their cream tea again (there must be a GF cream tea closer than that, right?), but I do recommend Rye, for those who might be in the neighborhood or simply craving a GF cream tea.