Q. My niece is turning 21 at the end of the month. I was thinking of giving her a necklace with her birthstone on it. What is the January stone?
A. The deep red garnet is the stone you're looking for. Garnets were said to be the favorite of the ancient Egyptian goddess Isis, and symbolized faith, truth and friendship.
Q. My friends and I like to dress a little differently from the crowd. Our favorite thing is to take cheap tank tops and jeans and decorate them in some way to give them a designer look. We've been doing this for months and have about run out of ideas. Can you suggest some ways we can "personalize" our clothes?
A. I can do better than that. I can refer you to a new book that contains 101 ways to customize your clothes. It's "Fast Fun Fashion" by London designer Petra Boase (Carlton Books, $16.95). It's packed with terrific decorating ideas -- most of which should be easy to do for old pros like you and your friends.
It comes with full-page color illustrations, easy-to-follow directions and these design categories: ribbons, trimmings and feathers; beading, sequins and studs; applique and embroidery; printing and painting; and dyeing and bleaching. There's also a section on accessories.
The projects should keep you ahead of the trend curve for months to come.
Q. I have a 12-year-old granddaughter who wears size 11W shoes. I have tried to find shoes for her in many stores but few carry size 11, and those that do rarely have them in wide. Do you know where I can find shoes in her size that look youngish and don't have heels? She's only in the sixth grade.
A. It's difficult to find styles suitable for preteens in large sizes. Wide widths are even harder to locate, no matter what the size.
These catalogs also may be useful: Appleseed's (800-767-6666); Shoe Craft Tall Gals (800-225-5848); Wellington House (800-624-8258).
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