The Golden House by Salman Rushdie : Book Review

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The Golden House, the thirteenth novel by Sir Salman Rushdie, is yet another fable of dark, twisting realities, profuse with tales of love and loss sprinkled with a bit of the zeitgeist of present day America. It is a plethora of film noir, of Greek mythology, of crime capers and of mad Roman rulers. Rushdie delivers wonderfully as is expected from him by now – poetical prose, peppered with quirkiness and just a bit of black humor.

The plot follows closely the lives of the Goldens through the eyes of their resident spy / neighbor / filmmaker René. Set against the backdrop of  the Obama era years, from his first inauguration up to the election that brought Trump to power, we see their lives transmogrify, from glory to defeat, from identity crisis to death, from omnipotence to feebleness and from naivety to realizing the immorality within.

The novel begins with the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States and the arrival of the Goldens in Gardens, a secluded Eden in Manhattan. Nero Golden, his three sons, Petronius, or Petya, Lucius Apuleius, or Apu and Dionysius, or D. These were the names they picked for themselves when fleeing a personal tragedy from a country that could not be named (but could be guessed, easily). The names itself are haughty and powerful and speak of richness and authority . The Goldens in their golden house – honest to the point of vulgarity. Everything is grand and glittery. (Almost) Everyone is larger than life. The parties are the classiest, the people are the crème de la crème; even the ladies of the night are classy in their own way. It echoes slightly of The Great Gatsby, though there’s no Daisy and no Nick Carraway. (We do have René, but he’s no Nick).

The sons aren’t content with just changing their names, however. Petya struggles with overcoming agoraphobia and invents immensely successful computer games; Apu finds his artistic side and turns out to be really good at what he does; and D goes on a journey of gender identity and self-realization. To add a sense of fatality, in walks a scheming Russian beauty, making the cast complete. And we have René, our young, innocent, sheltered dreamer who despite the best of his intentions gets irrevocably tangled up in his subject matter. The method of his entanglement was the one thing that I found sorely disappointing. It was as cliche as it gets, something so mundane and common that to find it within the pages of The Golden House was absurd.

There’s a mystery about the departure of the Goldens which even though was supposed to be a huge plot reveal, didn’t feel like so because of the constant foreshadowing. But it isn’t the plot here that is the hero, though it does have its sublime moments. Just as well because magicians like Rushdie aren’t known for their plots, but for their way with words. Its the words that delight us, “intelligently amuse” us, and even when the world within the Gardens erupts, and plunges us into despair – its the words that are our savior. The suicide letter of one tormented character, the resignation letter of another have the capability of moving us much more than hundreds of other novels.

“I need to think and the city is full of noise.”

I cannot think of a more perfect quote that reduces our lives to nothing but a quest for inner peace. Its amazing how Rushdie lets his words flow so smoothly from the lyrical to the practical, throughout these 380 pages.

Some of the best passages in the book, however, are not about the Goldens or René . They are about the city that can not be named, with its imposing hotel that cannot be named, within which thrive the beautiful unknown people that somehow seem more real than other characters in the novel. They are about the Joker (real name Gary “Green” Gwynplaine, based on Donald Trump) in the White House, the one whose very presence in the power seat of America shows us the truth of this country. They are about a country being torn apart by its own treachery.

“America’s secret identity wasn’t a superhero. Turns out it was a super villain.”

Never have truer words been written before.

Think of this not as a novel but as a journey with a nihilistic destination.

*Disclaimer: I got this book as part of  Flipkart Blogger Review Program. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Skyfire : A Review

Disclaimer: I got this book as part of Flipkart Blogger Review Program.

It’s been long since I’ve read a thriller so this one was much anticipated. Skyfire by Aroon Raman isn’t your typical thriller. (or maybe it is- depends on the kind you’ve been reading).

The beginning of Skyfire seemed too Dan Brown-ish and then some. And then it seemed like a cliche out of all the “change society” movies. But then, the book picked up its pace. And the plot got better, if a bit too twisty -though sometimes the author took way too much in building up a scene. Though the plot does neatly moves from acid rain to missing orphans to Dharma Initiative.

I do wish, however, that guessing the identity of the main antagonist wasn’t so easy. I liked how the author didn’t whitewash the reality of how life really is for a lot of street kids in India (and probably all over the world). The three main characters were really well written, and that to me is just as important as a good plot. And a plot that consists of reformed street kids, strange kidnappings, a mysterious robot, acid rains and elite government initiatives is a pretty damn good plot in my book!

I wish I could write further, but I don’t want to spoil the plot anymore for everyone. Lets just say that if you love reading thrillers and rooting for the good guys, no matter what the odds, you’ll love it.

Fiction/Thriller | Rs. 299 | 240 pages | Available on Flipkart IN

When Love Finds You : A Book Review

Disclaimer: I got this book as part of Flipkart Blogger Review Program.

A brief synopsis first.

When Love Finds You by Yashodhara Lal is a book mainly about Natasha, a career woman who takes pride in her work and doesn’t let anything stop her from achieving her professional goals. So obviously, she’s shown without a family or any other loving relationship. (Because clearly one cannot exist with the other). She’s sometimes portrayed as rude and obnoxious, though truth be told, she’s simply being honest and forthright. She doesn’t bullshit around and doesn’t appreciate it either. She works hard, harder than others in fact but it seems that she doesn’t get duly rewarded for her diligence. Or sometimes even acknowledged.

I liked how the author dared to include sexual harassment and the existence of glass ceiling in our polite, educated office environments. How a work place should be about sensible, mature adults striving to achieve success but instead it gets murky with greed, patriarchy and pettiness.

The book had a few other things going right. It felt good to read a book about an unapologetic career woman who’s not in fashion or cooking industry. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s nice to read books that don’t portray women as interested only in shopping or cooking or falling in love. And these were the much appreciated points in this book.

Lets talk about the cons now. Most of the first half of the book is about her power struggles at her work place, especially after two new male bosses are hired. It was slow and boring in-between, what with going too much in depth about their sales and products and targets etc. It was totally unnecessary and made the book tedious to read. The first and second part were stretched out too much, with a lot of situations and characters feeling completely unnecessary by the third part of the book.

To keep things interesting, we have a nagging neighbor (obviously to show us eventually that our girl does have a heart), an arrogant male boss with the requisite posse of girls fawning all over his superficial charm, a fitness instructor to provide comic relief – but failing miserably, and a love interest. I just wish that this was true, that they kept things interesting. But unfortunately it was not the case. The plot line, the development (or lack of) of the characters – everything was almost predictable.

My final verdict of this book is that its not worth it.

Fiction/Romance | Rs. 175 | 304 pages | Available on Flipkart IN

Of Inspiration Boards & Freebies

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I have some news for you. The good kind. And the other, grey-area-kind. Which means this will be a long post. You have been warned. But it also means there will lots and lots of beautiful photos to ogle. The decor porn kind. I know you are hooked now, aren’t you?

First of all, the other news. Not sure if it’s good or bad. There’s a slight chance that we will be moving house someday soon. Maybe the next month, or maybe the next year. And of course, instead of worrying about the logistics and the hurdles and the general headache such moves ensure, all I can think of is, “How will I do up my next house?”

I know, crazy, right? I’m worried about being allowed to paint walls (if it’s a rental) and what sofa to buy and how to make a budget so I don’t go overboard….you get the drift. To reign in the craziness (just a bit) and to keep calm in the chaos, I have put up an inspiration post. It is the done thing, after all. Right after creating a Pinterest board and calling up all your closest friends to whine and scream about it. Just to calm down.

The Living Room:

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I love the casual setting. The choice of colors. The simple prints.

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Now, I don’t love the entire look. I doubt I have ever come across a photo of any room that I love completely, and which is doable. Or livable. Here, that rug is just the right hint of modern. And how adorable is the sofa? Its just begging you to jump on it! And that wallpapered nook? Sweet surprise.

The Kitchen:

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Such soft, happy colors. Sigh!

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If anyone ever said “glamorous” and “kitchen” in one sentence, I wouldn’t believe them. Till, this. Its more glamorous than my best outfit. Better than my sexiest heels. The tiled walls. The bar stools. The chandelier! I would probably change the chair, but that’s it.

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Not that I own tons of beautiful white crockery, but if I did, this will be the perfect display. Getting giddy over all those colors!

The Bedroom:

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This is pure sex. The play of the deep purple and dark grey against the metal. This will be great for handcuff-lovers (all puns intended). I would much rather have a tufted headboard though.

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Ooo! The colors! This just makes me smile! The beautiful sky blue wall, the cheery floral-patterned lantern, the pom-pom lined bedding, and the colorful Indian/Moroccan(?) stools masquerading as bedside tables. So inviting, especially in hot Indian summers.

The Bathroom:

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I swear I swoon every time I look at this. Those beautiful mirrors, the copper washbasin, the pendants, the marbled walls and counter top. Luxury. Eye candy. Perfect.

All images from: here.

And now for the good news.

(I am a bit late with this announcement but I was waiting for a certain package to arrive. Now that its here, let me holler).

The fabulous people at The Keybunch in association with The Purple Turtles sent me this gorgeous set of t-light holders. I won them in their Diwali Décor contest, where we had to share our home décor photographs and they picked up three winners. Here’s the photo that got me the prize: (yes you have seen it before here but let me shamelessly replug, please?)

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Do check to their post announcing the winners – the décor photos of the other two winners are very inspiring! And while you are at it, browse through The Keybunch site. Looking at all those brilliant, beautiful posts makes me want to get up and do up a house or two.

And here are the beautiful t-light holders. Aren’t they pretty?! Sigh! I can’t wait to find a place for them in my home.

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Love the brushed metal texture. As you can see, they are NOT teeny-weeny. Quite big, actually. Also, be a dear, and ignore the wrinkles in the fabric, okay? Many many thanks to the wonderful people at The Keybunch and The Purple Turtles.

What are you favourite inspirational home decor photos? Do you have a Pinterest board you love? Share! Comment.

Till next time, stay safe. Be awesome. 

Diwali Decor

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There’s something about the constant bombardment of sales and festive offers and “Flat 80%” that puts me off nowadays. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I am against festivals or shopping (or discounts!). Nothing like that!

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It’s just that, sometimes when I look around the house, and see all the stuff we have, it overwhelms me. Yes, a lot of it is necessary. Yes, there are times that I want to wear a brand new, dazzling saree with the latest in blouses and jewellery and what not. There are times that I want to deck up my house in beautiful bright curtains, to buy that precious blue and white pottery, that fabulous wooden chopping board. And I do end up buying a lot of things. Over some period of time, though, I’ve started trying consciously to buy fewer products. Less is more, after all. I want my house to breathe. I want to have breathing space, in my house, in my cupboard, in my life. The more we accumulate, the more stuff we have to take care of – stuff to be dusted and cleaned and repaired and stored. Every single thing we own takes away some of our precious time. I’m not saying that a Spartan lifestyle is what I am looking for. I love beautiful stuff way too much to ever give up completely on it, but if I can stop myself from buying everything that appeals to me, I know that the future me will thank me for keeping it simple.

This Diwali, despite the discounts in the air, and the emails and advertisements temptingly displaying new flashy, snazzy stuff, I tried to buy as little as possible. Instead, I focused on “recycling” and DIYing stuff.

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We did buy a few new décor items – these beautiful tea light holders. They were slightly expensive, but they look fabulous with the lights and their lovely bright jewel tones add a wonderful color to the entire table vignettes.

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I went the usual way with the decoration – beautiful silk and brocade fabrics – the richer the better. I bought fabrics so I could make tablecloths and cushion covers out of them. It kept the cost down and I can easily recycle the fabric in the future. They work great as a base, like a table cloth, and you can add contrast (but in harmony) by adding another layer of fabric as a table runner. I simply folded and stapled/safety pinned whatever rich fabrics I had to use as table runners.

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Then its simply a matter of adding candles and diyas and flowers in beautiful colorful containers. Be it bowls or tea light holders or vases.

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My amazingly talented husband (he also took these beautiful photographs) painted this paper lamp – from bland white to brilliant rainbow hues. The transformation is to be seen to be believed. The colors are so vivid and mesmerizing, I don’t think I will ever keep it away. Its too beautiful to be locked up post Diwali.

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Don’t you just love how happy and bright and festive all those colors are together?

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How did you decorate your house this year? Do share in the comments below! And, Happy Diwali to all you gorgeous people!

Fabric Haul

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September will be over in a matter of weeks, yet the sky here is still overcast. Not that I mind. If I could, I would let it remain cloudy and rainy forever (very bad for the farmers, I know – I already feel guilty). But this beautiful overcast sky causes issues with photography.

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I recently got these beautiful fabrics as a gift from a very thoughtful friend (my love and squishy-whishy hugs to you!). I was having trouble trying to find decent fabric shops here in Bombay, so she brought some for me.

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Here they are, in all their (overcast) glory:

Warli Blue

Beautiful blue Warli art cotton fabric. I am already making something wonderful with this, which means there will be a tutorial post here soon.

Spiral Art Polka Table Fan

Sigh! Beautiful, no? I am falling in love with all the prints and the possibilities of creating something out of them are endless. Saree blouses, cushion covers, skirts and dresses… so many choices! Hopefully, this will keep me busy for the next few weeks.

I would love to know, have you brought any fabrics recently? Plain or printed? What do you plan to do with it? Do share!

Craft Gully – A Review

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Once upon a time, buying craft supplies online in India was an impossibility. There were no websites, other than ebay (that too only its U.S. branch) where one could buy the essentials for one’s crafty needs. I hated that – especially after looking online at how easy it was for people based in U.S./Europe to buy craft stuff from the comfort of their home. Oh, how I envied them! Luckily for us, now there are numerous craft supplies websites and one can find almost anything online.

This post, and the next few posts are going to be my personal reviews of these websites. Please note that these posts are in no way sponsored. Neither are they endorsements of the said websites. Its my review of the websites to see how good they actually are in terms of range of supplies, availability of said materials, and ease of navigation etc.

The first shopping portal that I am going to review is Craft Gully. It looks neat and is easy to navigate. The search bar works well and there are no dead-ends or empty categories. Also, one can easily zoom in at the pictures and get an idea at how the products look – a necessity, really, but not available on every website.

Other than the various products available, Craft Gully also has ebooks, templates and catalogues for download. All for free!

Other than craft supplies, there’s a whole section dedicated to paints – acrylic, glass & fabric. They also keep kits for paper quilling, art kits and stitching kits. Oh, and you can also buy books (though currently there are just four books available – insert sad face – I hope they add more).

Ok, so here’s the real stuff. Sit back comfortably because this is informative AND really long.

Craft Gully Products

Image credit: Craft Gully

Craft Gully has the following product categories (and we will look at them one by one): Quilling Supplies, Accessories, Paper, materials for glass painting, jewellery making, punch craft, clay modelling, crochet & needlework, scrapbooking, embellishments, flower making, and tapes and adhesives.

Glass painting has very few supplies, limited to glass colors by Fevicryl and four glass stencils. A pity really, because this is a craft I would like to see more range in. We really need more than those basic colors. I’m tired of painting all glass surfaces same old red, green, yellow and blue.

Jewellery Making has a huge variety! I was mesmerized by pages and pages of beautiful stuff! They have got beads of different shapes, sizes, materials and colors; bead caps, beading needles, various charms, connectors, tweezers, wire, earring clasps and studs, eye pins, various clasps, jump rings, blank pendants, wire cutters, pliers etc. Phew! I think this basically covered everything one needs to start making their own jewellery, no? Seriously thinking of trying my hand at this.

P.S.: They have categorised some flatbacked pearls and kundan stones in the Scrapbooking category (why?!) and not here. So if that’s what you need, go see in the other category.

Punch craft has a lot of embossing tools, paper tags, envelopes, googly eyes (?) and just ONE paper punch. No, really. Just. One. Paper. Punch. Which is sad because it would be nice to get a good selection of paper punches. Especially since the category *is* Punch Craft. This was a disappointment.

Clay modelling has very few products and three out of those five are currently out of stock. So the only things available are air drying clay and a shaper tool. Again, a sad state of things.

Under the Crochet & Needlework category I found some embroidery threads – all by Anchor, bells, buttons, sewing kits, crochet needles, pom poms (yes!), a tiny sewing machine and stitch kits (again by Anchor). The range of stitch kits is actually good – they have 2 and a half pages dedicated just to this and the cost ranges from Rs. 205 to Rs. 415. But a lot of these are Out of Stock, too. I wish they had some cross stitch stuff too, other than the readymade kits.

Scrapbooking has, obviously, a nice range of craft papers, die-cut shapes, fabric tapes (which I adored), flatback pearls, kundan stones in various colors (they should have also been in jewellery, by the way), magnets, stickers, tiny paper flowers and leaves (which seem slightly expensive but I love the range provided – so many colors & variety!), paper wreaths (wow! how adorable are these!), pearl stick-ons, photo corners and various rhinestones (again expensive – a pack of 5 for Rs. 27?!).

On a side note, even though the site has categorised everything nicely, I wish they had bunched together all the related stuff under sub-categories. Like various kinds of paper & beads separately as that would make browsing under a category so much easier. Then one doesn’t have to go through pages & pages of beads when one simply needs to see various types of craft paper.

Also, a lot of this stuff is also available under the Embellishment category (so I will be repeating myself), which kind of makes sense.

Under Embellishments, we have tiny acrylic/synthetic flowers, ball chain in various colors and length, charms, crochet tapes (OH MY GOD! Want those NOW!), decorative wire, fabric tapes (same as those in Scrapbooking), die-cut shapes, glitter, jewelled embellishments, kundan stones, stickers, tiny paper flowers and leaves (good range), paper wreaths, pearl stick-ons, photo corners and various rhinestones.

In Flower Making, we have artificial flowers, craft scissors, decorative wire, Duplex paper in different colors, foil coated wires in a range of colors, satin leaves (most of them were currently out of stock), tube moulds, paper flowers, paper wreaths and paper leaves, pollen strands in various lovely colors, pre taped wire in a few basic colors, stocking cloth in a variety of colors – even shaded and flower making tape again in a range of colors. Pretty good!

Accessories has a lot of stuff spilled over from other categories. We have 3D outlines, ball chains, buttons, various tools, papers, hot glue gun, key chain rings, magnetic sheets, foam pads & sheets, curly ribbon, cutting mat, cutters, magnetic tape, metal earring hooks, mobile phone danglers, paper flowers, pipe cleaners, pom poms, resin flowers, rhinestones, scissors, glue pen, stick-on tape, and envelopes.

Papers is self-explanatory. It has 65 items, a lot of which are out of stock. Still, a good range.

Tapes & Adhesives has Crochet tapes, fabric tape, stick-on tape, flower making tape, crystal coat glaze, glue drops, fabric glue, foam pads, glue gun stick and hot glue gun.

Quilling has a huge variety of supplies. I have never pursued this craft, so I am really not an authority on how good the range is, but it does seem exhaustive.

All done! Overall, a great site. Payment options are online only, so no C.O.D. I find paying online better though I know a lot of people prefer Cash on Delivery. And best of all, they offer a 30 days replacement guarantee for all products.

I hope this post is helpful to my fellow crafters. Did you find this post useful? Would you like to see more such posts (or should I just stick to DIY posts)? Do let me know in the comments below.

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Something Good!

So, I have been away for really long. Not that I haven’t been crafting. But nothing seems good enough to post here.

And then I received an email today from the good guys at Fashion Playtes.  They have compiled a list of 25 craft blogs for tween girls … and my blog made it to the list! Yay! This has inspired me to post more frequently from now on.

Do check out other blogs on the list – some very useful tutorials to explore.

DIY Jewellery Organisers

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If you Google jewellery organiser or look up some options at Pinterest, most of the stuff you will see will be about displaying your jewellery on your dresser or in drawers or framed on walls.

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(Click on the photos for their link. Via Pinterest)

Beautiful ideas, no doubt, but they are not always feasible. I live in a rental and cannot go around hanging things on the wall. Plus, its really dusty here in India, so displaying jewellery is totally out of question.

I have a lot of jewellery ( I hoard it!) which I hardly wear but I prefer to keep it well within reach. I needed something which will let me glance at my jewellery at one go, especially rings, but keep them safe. Also, my neck pieces had to be stored somehow so as to not get tangled.

I stored my rings in two clear plastic boxes. There were a lot of ideas online about storing rings, and I borrowed a lot.

For one box, I rolled up foam into 4-5 tubes/rolls, and glued them onto a piece of cardboard (cut to size of the box).

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Then I ran out of foam. And there was still one more box to be organised! 😦 I thought of rolling up pages out of old books, but I love books and couldn’t bring myself to do that. So I tore out pages from fashion glossies (2-3 year old) and created rolls out of them. You can use felt or fabric (like velvet) for the purpose. I wanted to create it from whatever stuff I already had.

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And then, the best part: placing your rings in the boxes and admiring how beautiful they look!

Now the second problem: my necklaces. For this project, I used stuff I already had with me. So basically, both projects cost me 0 money 😀

You need:
A file binder/organiser, hole puncher, pieces of cardboard (I always store cardboard which comes with new shirts/mail boxes. Its great for craft), safety pins, glue, scissors, stapler, ribbons, ruler, gift wrapping paper
and your choice of embellishments.

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1. Cut the cardboard pieces 2-3 inches smaller than the file. 2. Cover them with beautiful paper of your choice on both sides. 3. Punch holes in them (you might have to press really hard if the cardboard is thick) making sure that the holes are carefully aligned with the file. 4.Take strings/wire/thread/twine/ribbons of your choice. Staple them from one end of the cardboard to another, keeping as close to the top as possible. This will help in holding the necklaces. 5. String two more ribbons around the width of the cardboard as these will help keep the necklaces from getting entangled. Add safety pins to the top ribbon or string. Hang your favourite necklace from it. Repeat steps for all neck pieces.

Note: I hung 4-5 neck pieces per cardboard page. Some of them are chunky hence I cannot use for than 4 pages in this binder. If you have a big collection, you will need to create more such files to store your jewellery.

Its been a week now and I must say I smile every time I open my wardrobe and see my jewellery all beautifully organised. I can open my “file” anytime and go through my neck pieces. I can see all my rings at a glance. Dressing up is so much easier now!