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step 5 serve

Make a Sweet & Tart Shrub, an Old-Fashioned Drink with a Funny Name

In the beverage world, shrubs are for drinking, not landscaping. Once commonplace during colonial times, shrubs have come back to American mixology with a vengeance. Simply a combination of ripe fruit, sugar and vinegar, modern shrubs are essentially brightly-flavored drinks for grownups. They slake thirst on a balmy afternoon, and while they can be mixed into cocktails, a simple virgin shrub over ice is utterly refreshing and satisfying.

Crafting shrubs originated as a way to utilize surplus seasonal fruit crops in the days before refrigeration or canning. Fruit and sugar were fermented together to make a slightly sour drink. The common technique now is to skip the fermentation and instead add vinegar to extend the shrub’s keeping quality, as well as add an appealing zip.

step 1 mulberries

Have an abundance of fruits or berries? Time to make shrubs!

Most any fruit can be made into a shrub, but it’s easiest to use berries or orchard fruits. Here’s a very basic step-by-step to have you shrubbing in no time. And the best part? It requires very little hands-on work.

Step One: Select and Prepare the Fruit

Here we’re using a mix of sweet strawberries and slightly tart wild mulberries. Rinse off the berries. If you’re using larger fruits such as peaches, cut them into smaller chunks. The fun of shrubs is their flexibility: you can easily use the fruit you have on hand. Our strawberries were still edible, but getting on the squishy side. Fortunately, a shrub is a perfect final destination for such close-to-the-edge fruit.

step 1 strawberries

Strawberries are an excellent fruit for making shrubs.

Step Two: Toss with Sugar

The amount of sugar you’ll need depends on how much fruit you are using, and how sweet that fruit is. The basic ratio for making shrubs, by volume, is one part fruit to one part sugar. That is, if you have two cups of fruit, you’ll need to add two cups of sugar. Feel free to adjust the quantities to fit your preference. For a more straightforward flavor that lets the fruit be the star, use granulated sugar.

step 2 mix with sugar

The basic fruit-to-sugar ratio is 1-to-1, but feel free to adjust.

Toss the fruit with the sugar, put it in a stainless steel or glass container, and cover it. At this point you can refrigerate the fruit overnight or let it sit out at room temperature for a few hours to macerate. You’ll know it’s ready when all of the sugar is dissolved and the fruit is slouchy and soft. If the sugar is not fully dissolved, just give it a stir and let it macerate for another few hours, or up to another full day.

step 2 macerated fruit ready to strain

Let your fruit absorb all the sugar before proceeding to the next step.

Step Three: Strain

Strain the liquid from the fruit. In the photo we’re using a fancy food mill, but a fine-mesh sieve or a simple plastic colander lined with cheesecloth set over a bowl will work just as well. Press down on the fruit to release as much of the liquid as you can. It will be sticky and a little syrupy. Some fruits give off more liquid than others, so your yield here could vary quite a bit.

step 3 strain

Strain your fruit using a food mill, sieve or colander.

Step Four: Add the Vinegar

You don’t want to be using harsh-tasting, distilled white vinegar in a shrub. Softer, less acidic vinegars like champagne vinegar, rice wine vinegar or most any fruit vinegar work well. Though a lot of recipes and procedures call for one part sugar to one part fruit to one part vinegar, we find that the amount of vinegar required can vary greatly. It’s wise to be conservative when adding the vinegar by using only a little at first, and then increasing the amount to taste. We got about three cups of syrup from our macerated fruit, and to that we needed to add only half a cup of white wine vinegar to get the right combination of sweet and tart flavors.

step 4 add vinegar

For best results, choose a champagne, rice wine or fruit-based vinegar.

Step Five: Chill and Serve

Your shrub will be very intense and possibly a little harsh when you taste it right away. No worries: think of it as a concentrate, or a base to be diluted. We like to let ours mellow in the fridge overnight so all of the flavors can settle in and blend. Your final result should be puckery and jammy.

The following day, taste and make any adjustments necessary by adding more vinegar or sugar. To serve, pour over cracked ice and add a little water or soda water. That’s it!

step 5 serve more

Pour over ice, dilute and enjoy!

Step Six: Get Creative

There are a ton of shrub recipes out there that you can follow if this general method is too loosey-goosey for you. There are also many cocktails you can dream up to use with your finished shrub syrup (including one laced with moonshine, a cousin of the kombucha-based booch ’n’ hooch). You can find plenty of shrub recipes on Serious Eats, or in the book Shrubs: An Old Fashioned Drink for Modern Times. As summer progresses, you can experiment with cherries, apricots, plums or even pineapples. Whatever the case, once you taste the vivid flavors of a homemade shrub, we’re sure you’ll never go back to boring sugary fruit drinks again.

by Sara Bir

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Instant Holiday Gift Box Upgrades

xmas sticker box

Dress up your Heirloom Finds jewelry boxes to add creative pizzazz to your gift giving.

Your Heirloom Finds jewelry arrives boxed and gift-ready, but if you’re wanting to add a little more seasonal splash, here are four ideas using odds and ends you may already have around the house.

Sticker Bonanza

Xmas sticker box in process

These bright office supply stickers add fun pops of color to our white jewelry boxes.

The colorful, inexpensive round labels you find in the office supply section of discount stores make fun mosaics. Simply adhere like fish scales to the lid of your box.

Sheet Music and Vintage Jewelry

xmas sheet music box

Sheet music, a pretty ribbon and a gorgeous vintage clip-on earring combine to make one classy package.

This lonely clip-on earring lost its mate years ago, but now it makes an elegant adornment on this box wrapped in old sheet music.

Glitter Tape

xmas glitter tape box

Sparkly craft glitter and double-sided tape create instant glitz.

If you have double-sided tape and loose glitter, you can shimmer up your own glitter tape. Simply arrange the double-sided tape on the lid of the box, then (carefully) shake on the glitter. Make sure to lay down large sheets of newspaper underneath to collect the excess glitter. You can also do this with confetti.

Mini Snow Globe

xmas snowglobe box

Crafting a DIY snow globe adds classic holiday fun to this Heirloom Finds jewelry box.

Take the clear plastic top from a vending machine toy and repurpose it into a tiny snow globe, using glitter or white paper as snow. Attach the plastic dome on with glue, let it dry, and enjoy the nostalgia.

And remember, gifts are supposed to be fun to give, not stressful. If fancy wrapping isn’t your scene, don’t sweat it! The most meaningful gift you can give is your presence of mind when spending time with loved ones.

by Sara Bir

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DIY Jewelry Holder: Warped Record Bowls

Create your own jewelry display with vinyl records.

Any lover of LPs who’s been a little careless and left records in a sunbeam or inside a hot car knows how easily vinyl can warp. And while that’s a bummer, it’s a big plus for a person who likes fast, fun, and useful projects with retro appeal. In about five minutes (most of it inactive), you can transform a forgotten album into an eye-catching bowl to hold and show off your most colorful baubles.

Step one records in box

First, find records to warp. This entire box was only one dollar at the Goodwill, but we’ve also used beloved records that became too scratched to play enjoyably.

Step two record Captain and Tenille

The best records for warping are from the 1970s and 1980s, when manufacturers began pressing vinyl thinner; they’re easier to shape. This copy of Captain and Tenille’s Greatest Hits was a perfect candidate.

Step three Record on baking sheet

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. This may seem low, but we promise it gets the job done fast. Then, put your record on a baking sheet and keep it in the oven for 3-8 minutes, until it’s pliable (the length of time will depend on the thickness of the record and the accuracy of your oven). Set a timer and don’t leave the kitchen—records can go from cold to off-gassing toxic fumes in a short period of time.

stepfourrecordstep five record in bowl

Next, swiftly press your record into a heat-proof bowl. Or, drape it over an overturned bowl. Work quickly—the records firm up fast.

step six record out of bowl

After a minute or two, your record will be cool enough to handle. Try this not just with LPs, but with 7-inches, too (old-fashioned 45s have a large hole, so look for singles with small holes). If you can find neato colored or clear vinyl to warp, all the better!

The finished design makes a perfect catch-all for your jewelry collection.

This is a project you can take in many different directions, such as building a tiered stand. But we love the simplicity of plain bowls. They’re great for holding fruit, trick-or-treat candy, keys, or any odds and ends you’d like to corral into one spot.

by Sara Bir

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Add Color to Your Spring: Time to Plant Bulbs!

Heirloom Finds Jewelry bulbs crocus

Imagine a flower that will thrive after six frosty months in the ground, with you not lifting one finger. That’s the glory of spring bulbs. Daffodils, crocuses, tulips, hyacinths, and many more well-known favorites in this category. They’re the ideal entrée for a beginning gardener, because bulbs contain all of the food and nutrients that flowers need to bloom. It’s like a handy little kit for picture-perfect blossoms. If you can dig a hole, you can plant bulbs and enjoy their joyful springtime presence for years to come.

Planting bulbs also puts you in a colorful frame of mind as leaves and trees begin to brown all around you. So it’s not just about investing in the promise of cheer for the spring thaw, but infusing color in your life all year round—exactly what we’re all about here at Heirloom Finds.

It only takes five steps, with hardly any active time.

Heirloom Finds Jewelry bulb tulip

  1. Pick your spot.
    Bulbs like well-drained soil, and they love sun. Chose an area with well-drained soil that’s not under an evergreen (deciduous trees aren’t a problem, because when your bulb sprouts, the tree most likely won’t yet have its new leaves.)
Heirloom Finds Jewelry bulb packages

Daffodil and Crocus bulbs ready for planting!

  1. Buy your bulbs.
    Oftentimes around the early fall, stores offer bags of bulbs for a decent price. If you can find loose bulbs for sale at a hardware or garden supply center, look for daffodil bulbs with a cluster of two: this is really two bulbs joined at one root, but you’ll only pay for one bulb.
    A mix of colors in different spots is nice. Petite grape hyacinth adds a splash of purple. Plant groupings of crocus in yellow, purple, and white. And you can get daffodils in a plethora of shades and combinations.
    Consider your climate, too. It’s possible to find bulbs bred for warmer areas, and they’re usually planted later in the season—December, or even January.
Heirloom Finds Jewelry bulb hole

This hole is ready for some bulbs!

  1. Dig your hole.
    The rule of thumb is to dig the hole at least three times deeper than the height of the bulb itself. You can either plant lots of individual bulbs here and there, or cluster a group of four to seven bulbs together in one larger hole. If that’s the case, make a hole that’s about a foot and a half across.
Heirloom Finds Jewelry bulbs in hole

Bulbs placed evenly spaced in the hole.

Place the bulbs equally spaced in the hole with the stem end up (usually it’s a little pointy) and the root end down (it’s hairy, like the root of an onion.) If you purchased bulbs in a package, the recommended spacing and depth are usually printed on the label.

Heirloom Finds Jewelry fall to spring bulbs planted

The bulbs are all covered up. The twig serves as a reminder of where to expect the beautiful blooms come springtime.

  1. Cover it up.
    Fill the hole up with dirt, being mindful not to topple the bulbs over, and tamp it down moderately.
  1. Wait.
    If you don’t want to forget where you planted your bulbs, shove a stick in the spot to serve as a subtle reminder. Water thoroughly just after planting if the weather has been dry. But really, that’s it!

Until your bulbs come up in the spring, enjoy the fall, and read up on other gardening tips. We love Barbara Damrosch’s The Garden Primer—it’s our go-to answer book for most any gardening question. And as you’re musing over those flowers-to-be, don’t be afraid to infuse bright colors or floral designs in your cool-weather wardrobe. The weather may be less than bright, but there’s no reason for your style not to bloom!

Heirloom Finds Jewelry Fall Floral Statement Necklace

Here’s our Black Mixed Media Bloom Collar Necklace, perfect for fall accessorizing!

by Sara Bir

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DIY: Tiered Jewelry Display

DIY_edited-2

Jewelry looks best when it’s displayed, whether it’s around your neck or sitting on the top of your dresser. Since you can’t wear all of your gems and baubles at once, give it a home that will show it off to its advantage. And exercise your crafting abilities in the process by making this tiered jewelry display!

We got together with a local antique store, H. Reitz and Company to bring you this heirloom-inspired display. They provided us with three gorgeous antique plates, one pink glass goblet and a vintage blush pink salt shaker for our project. Here’s the materials you will need:

DIY6

  •  3 plates (These can be old China you find at a yard sale, leftovers from an old plateware set, or Grandma’s hand-me-downs.)
  • 2 goblets, candlesticks or topless salt shakers (All you need is a vessel that is flat top and bottom.)
  • 1 tube of silicon caulk (Typically, crafters use hot glue for this task, but hot glue tends to grow brittle with time.)

DIY2

Step 1: Be sure that the plates and goblets are free of any dirt or debris before starting. Then, apply silicone caulk to the edge of bottom of a goblet and attach it to the top of the largest plate in the center.

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Step 2: Apply caulk to the rim of the goblet and attach it to the bottom of the second largest plate.

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Step 3: Attach the bottom of the second cup, or salt shaker, to the top of the second plate with the caulk.

DIY

Step 4: Attach the final, and smallest, plate to the top of the salt shaker with the caulk.

jewelry display

Step 5: Display all of your beautiful baubles for all to see!

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How to Rock This Year’s Back to School Looks

Heirloom Finds Tortoise Shell Crystal Burst Pendant Necklace

Get your new Trapper Keepers out! What’s the most important thing about the first day of school? It isn’t finding out where your locker is, or the desk you wind up sitting in. Everyone knows it’s what you wear—not because of how it makes you look, but because of how it makes you feel. A great outfit puts a positive spin on everything to follow, giving you a confidence that builds and builds all year long.

We asked Sarah Saho, a 15-year-old incoming sophomore at Warren High School in Vincent, Ohio, to show us easy ways to weave this fall’s key trends into back-to-school looks: pastels, statement chains, sporty attire, and iconic prints and pendants. Here she wears our tortoiseshell statement necklace that combines the chunky chains we’ve been seeing on runways with a crystal floral pendant. The tactile appeal of special jewelry can provide a calming respite during a dull lecture. “When I’m bored in class,” Sarah says, “I like to look down at my jewelry and just think about a memory that it gives me, or just enjoy how cool it looks.”

Heirloom Finds Jewelry's Rock, Paper, Scissors pendant necklace

Sarah showing off her unique Rock, Paper, Scissors pendant necklace.

That’s not to say Sarah’s a slacker—she’s one of the most confident girls we know! An aspiring actress, Sarah modeled for us before opening night of a youth production of “Fiddler of the Roof” (she played Yente the matchmaker). “I’ve always been interested in acting, ever since I first saw a movie,” she says. “I started to act around fifth grade. I love being on stage. I really hope acting stays with me.”

Heirloom Finds Jewelry Pastel Agate Bohemian Wrapsody Cord Bracelet

Sarah sporting some pastels with her aqua Converse and our Pastel Bohemian Wrapsody Bracelet.

Sarah loves her Converse All-Stars and owns many pairs. These minty Chucks showcase the passion for pastels we’re seeing a lot of this year, just like our cute beaded bracelet.

“A lot of people get accustomed to the normal fashion for teenagers, like jeans and a t-shirt with a name on it,” Sarah says, “but I don’t care as much for a brand. I like to have my own style.” One of Sarah’s favorite places to shop is T.J. Maxx. “You can find more unique things there, and at a lower price.”

Heirloom Finds Jewelry Gold Tone and Crystal Double Strand Necklace

Sarah takes a pensive pose in our Shining Golden Tribal Shield Necklace.

Teen Vogue is one place Sarah looks to for fashion inspiration, but there’s another: her mom’s closet. “I wear my mom’s stuff all of the time, and I actually get compliments. Either she’s up to date, or I’m old-fashioned.”

Heirloom Finds Jewelry Tree of Life magnifying glass pendant necklace

Sarah shows us the dual function of fashion and magnifying that her Tree of Life Pendant Necklace can do.

When Sarah saw our tree pendant, she “thought of a family tree. Family is one of the most important things to me. I love my family so much. Four or five of us live on the same road.”

Sarah’s a movie fanatic, and she cites Ferris Bueller’s Day Off as one of her favorites. “It’s so fun. I like the friendship bond they have and the adventure they go through. They’re graduating from high school and trying to figure out their lives, and I like that part of it, too. And I love Sloane’s hair and her white leather jacket with the fringe.” Sarah says she likes a “casual ‘80s look.”

Heirloom Finds style feature Sarah Saho in a ballerina pendant necklace

Sarah layering a petite statement necklace with our Ballerina Dancer Pendant Necklace over a graphic tee.

Sporty print shirts and jerseys like this “Save Ferris” shirt have that casual ‘80s vibe and nod to the current trend for high-fashion sportswear. And the ballerina pendant reflects the trend for playful iconic jewelry and iconic-print clothing.

We think Sarah would look great in whatever she wears. And that’s because she’s so personable and upbeat. She knows who she is, and she’s comfortable in her own skin – and it’s that attitude that puts those back-to-school butterflies at rest like nothing else can. (Cute jewelry certainly can’t hurt, though!)

Heirloom Finds Jewelry White Crystal Bloom Ring Stack Set

Sarah mixes a graphic tee with a floral skirt and our White Blooms Ring Stack.

By Sara Bir

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Beat the Heat with Fun and Flirty Beer Cocktails

Beer cocktail with Heirloom Finds Jewelry's Turquoise Fringe Fling Necklace.

Beer cocktail, First Blush, styled alongside the Turquoise Fringe Fling Necklace.

They call these the dog days of summer. If sunny seasonal fatigue sets in, there’s no need to let it bring you down.  Liven things up with elegant and easy beer cocktails. They’re ideal for unwinding in sticky weather, and they won’t slow you down because they dilute beer with refreshing, hydrating beverages. (Translation: You can enjoy a few and not get wasted.)

Though creative possibilities have made beer cocktails all the rage with cutting-edge mixologists, ours are straightforward and simple, requiring only a few ingredients. The better to get you sipping!

When you mix citrus and beer, you really can’t lose. In Britain there’s the Shandy, a 50-50 mixture of fizzy lemonade and ale or lager. Similar drinks go by Panaché in France and Radler in Germany. We like to skip the carbonated stuff and use freshly squeezed lemonade instead. It pairs splendidly with a crisp pilsner (psst: it doesn’t even have to be a fancy one).

The michelada, a Mexican classic which adds spicy heat to pilsner beer and lime, fights fire with fire. On a hot day, a hint of chilies and salt cool down a weary traveler.

Keep a wide berth from the recent spate of canned, ready-to-drink Shandys and Micheladas. They are to beer cocktails what Tang is to orange juice. The biggest key to successful beer cocktails is to mix them yourself, at home, with fresh ingredients (for instance, use real lemonade, not Crystal Light).

We created a beer cocktail just for Heirloom Finds—the First Blush, naturally. It’s fruity, not too sweet, and gorgeous to look at. Of course.

Beer cocktail in a pitcher named after Heirloom Finds Jewelry's blog, First Blush.

Garnet-hued beer cocktail named after the blog, First Blush.

The First Blush Beer Cocktail

Instead of citrus, we rely on the tart zip of dried hibiscus blossoms. Since they’re not easy to find, we brewed a batch of Celestial Seasonings Raspberry Zinger tea, which you can get at nearly any grocery store (the zing comes from hibiscus) and chilled it. Mix away for a garnet-hued drink to let you savor the last weeks of summer in comfort and contentment.

4 bags Celestial Seasonings Raspberry Zinger Tea
4 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
Bottles or cans of decent Pilsner beer (we like Full Sail Session Premium Lager or Yuengling Traditional Lager)
Lime wedges, for serving

Bring two cups of water to a boil. Add the tea bags and steep for six minutes. Discard the tea bags. Add the sugar and two cups of cold water and refrigerate until chilled.

To serve, pour one part herbal tea to one part beer in a glass and garnish with a slice of lime. Offer the remaining beer in the can or bottle along with the drink so guests can top off and adjust as they like.

Beer cocktail styled with Heirloom Finds Turquoise Beaded Fringe Necklace and a butterfly.

Even the butterflies love the cocktail and the Turquoise Fringe Fling Necklace!

…and here’s a more sweet-tart option for those of you who have access to dried hibiscus.

First Blush Hibiscus Blossom

Popular in Latin American and the Caribbean, drinks made with hibiscus flowers are tangy, colorful, and invigorating. Dried hibiscus (called “sorrel” in Jamaica) is available in natural foods stores and Latin American markets. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add 1 cup dried hibiscus, remove from heat, and let steep for four hours. Strain, add sugar to taste (we recommend about half a cup) and chill. To prepare a drink, mix one part hibiscus drink to two parts light-bodied pilsner. Garnish with a lime wedge.

By Sara Bir

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How to attach a lobster clasp bracelet

Jewelry Hack: 3 EASY STEPS to Fasten Lobster Clasp Bracelets

This article is for all the ladies, or gents, out there that have fought to get that tough-to-fasten bracelet with the teeny tiny lobster clasp onto their wrist.  But struggle no more. We have a solution that does not involve asking the neighbor lady to help you get your gems on.

What if we told you that all you need is a standard office supply item that we’re certain many of you have around your house or desk?  A simple, everyday paper clip!  The jumbo clips work the best, but we will show you that a standard size will do the job as well.

STEP 1: Take the paper clip and unfold it into an S shape.

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STEP 2: Hook one end through the jump ring or chain while holding on to the other end with the opposite hand.

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STEP 3: Bring the clasp around to latch.

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Success!

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Paper clips are a handy jewelry accessory to have around.  The small paper clips are even great at keeping your fish hook earring pairs together while traveling, so you won’t be rooting around in your bags to find the match.  We hope you enjoyed this edition of Heirloom Finds’ Jewelry Hacks.  Until next time, Happy Shopping!

 

 

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How to put on a bangle bracelet.

Jewelry Hack- Chunky Plastic Bangle Bracelets

Having issues getting that super cute hard, plastic bangle bracelet over your wrist?  Wouldn’t you like to be assured that it has nothing to do with wrist size.  I repeat, it has nothing do to with your wrist size.  No, you don’t need to lose ten pounds to fit into that cute bangle bracelet.  It is simply an operator error.  But never fear, this trick to getting these babies on is going to blow your mind.  A fashion jewelry hack, of sorts.

Our Assistant Copywriter Melanie was our proud guinea pig for this tutorial.  There is no doubt that she has the tiniest wrists among us all here at Heirloom Finds, so it was an easy choice.  And, guess what, those plastic resin bangles did not fit over her wrists, either!

See.

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Alright, so let’s cut to the chase.  How do you get these things on?!

First thing you want to do is turn the bangle to the side at about a 45 degree angle, give or take, as demonstrated in the picture below.  If you are putting it on your left arm, you turn the bangle to the right.  Right arm, turn to the left.

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Then you slip the bangle onto your hand while it is turned at an angle, and slide it in between your thumb and pointer finger.

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Keep going…

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Once the bangle gets down to your wrist area, turn it so it is facing up.

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Voila!  Simple and painless, ladies and gents.

Now that you know, next time you see someone struggling to get their bangle bracelet on, help a gal out.  You will surely blow their minds with this awesome jewelry hack!

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