New Things Are Coming! January 23, 2018 15:13
Just a little preview of what I've been up to and what to expect for Valentine's Day. Can't wait to show you everything!
South African Brands I'm Loving Right Now December 29, 2017 09:00
At some point in my life, shopping became known as research, so I feel no guilt when I'm at a market and have to browse around, doing very important "research".
I love meeting the people behind brands and knowing something about the person responsible for creating things I buy.
Here are two brands I fell in love with at Kamers Irene.
This year I met Adhiambo Mula (Adhi) from Galago. The name comes from the scientific name of the "bush baby" and like the animal, they are intrinsically fun, quirky and African.
They have a variety of shoe styles, including pumps, plimsolls and some incredibly striking espadrilles, but they're probably best known for their "build your own" sandals.
Sourcing beautiful leathers and vibrant fabrics, and handcrafting them in multiple ways, they provide great combinations for you to create your very own, custom sandal.
In our conversations, I've tried to convince her of the virtues of slippers, so I'm crossing fingers and toes that there are some bright shweshwe slippers sometime in the future!
Leefi was inspired by family and founded in 2015. The name is derived from the owner Odette whose parents call her Lefie (Afrikaans) which means life. She is now joined by her sister Sulandè and together they create eco-friendly cork handbags and accessories.
Simple, Handmade Christmas Gifts December 21, 2017 07:00
I close my online orders today for the festive season, but don't despair if you haven't got gifts for everyone. There's hope yet!
My parents never wanted to spoil me growing up, so I very rarely got toys and pretty things like my friends. Sounds kinda sad, but it isn't really.
I ended up spending hours making the things I wanted instead, and quickly realised that I much preferred the process of making, than of having.
So in that spirit, here are a few ideas for some thoughtful handmade gifts:
This cordial is so delicious and you can control the sweetness by adding more or less to sparkling or still water. I've packaged mine in little individual portion bottles, but obviously you can package them in whatever size cute bottle you can find.
I have an obsession with glass jars and bottles and cannot bring myself to throw any out, so they come in very handy when I can reuse them for gifts.
Here's the recipe:
Juice and rind of 12 lemons
3 tsp each citric acid; tartaric acid; epsom salts
2.5l hot water (not boiling)
Mix all together in a giant container (I use my biggest pot), and leave overnight. Decant in the morning.
I don't drink alcohol, but I believe it's also delicious with a shot of vodka.
Paper tissues have loads of little fibres that can irritate your nose. I love using washable hankies, old school style!
It's kinder to the environment and you can make them really pretty quite easily.
I used some scraps of really good quality, soft cotton I had lying around. You can make them as big as you like, but I find that a good size is 25cm squares.
Cut your fabric to whichever size you like. Then using your machine on a narrow and short zigzag stitch, make a rolled hem all around the raw edges. This means that the needle will go into the fabric on one side and then off on the other. It'll fold the fabric and neaten up the edge. You might need to play around with a few scraps to get the size and tension just right.
The using a small zigzag, stitch your lace all the way around. You can go as elaborate as you like! I've opted to use some leftover Anglaise from my first collection.
Victorians were obsessed with digestions and so developed this delicious and (relatively) healthy biscuit for tea. I can't really vouch for the accuracy of their theory, but I love that they're not overly sweet and feel quite substantial when you eat them.
1 1/2 Cups wholewheat flour
1/3 cup oat flour. If you don't have, you can just throw a half cup of oats into your food processor and blitz until it's flour.
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup treacle sugar
1/4 cup coconut oil
+- 1/3 cup non-dairy milk
Mix everything together except the milk. Then slowly add until there's a non-sticky paste consistency.
Roll dough to 3mm thickness. Cut using cute cookie cutters. Place on a baking tray and bake at 180 degrees celsius for 15-20 minutes.
If you enjoy them with chocolate, melt a slab of good quality dark chocolate in a double boiler. Cool til it thicken to a consistency where it'll still pour, but not run off your cookie.
Happy making! I'd love to hear how you went with your handmade gifts and what ideas you have for others!
Gift Guide: Sister December 15, 2017 07:00
I'm the eldest of 3 girls and my sisters moved to the UK around 10 years ago. I've only seen them intermittently over the years and no matter how hard I've tried to keep updated, life always gets in the way at some point, and I lose touch for a while.
It feels like there are massive gaps in my sister archives, especially since they left before social media was a thing.
Needless to say, I miss them terribly. I would love to wake up on Christmas morning and hop into bed with them and exchange gifts. (Can you still do that in your 40's?)
So in the absence of my real sisters, I stole a set of twins for this shoot. Zoe and Erica are 16 years old and such warm, friendly young women.
They actually belong to someone really special to me, who was present at the time of my husband's passing, and with whom I now share a living space. Makeshift families are a real thing!
I found an amazing artist who's work I have had my eye on for over a year. I was so happy when she agreed to collaborate with me on this Sleepy T project. They make perfect gifts for sisters!
They come in these nifty little boxes...
...which are made from sugarcane which are compostable and can degrade in as little as a month.
Even though the artist, Thea, from Mist Collectibles, has never met my cat Audrey, I swear she modelled Moon Cat on her!
So if your sister is around, open this box of loveliness with her this Christmas, or order it separately and have it couriered to her door.
Then hold her tight and tell her how much you love her.
Gift Guide: Mom December 08, 2017 07:51 1 Comment
I've noticed the older I get, the less I want stuff just for the sake of it. I'm really happy to just get a hug or a catch up over a cup of tea for any occasion, instead of something just for the sake of it.
But what I always love is something shared: whether it's an experience, or some item that has significance to me and the giver.
As part of this blog post, I thought it would be nice to do a shoot with my mom in matching pyjamas. I had the idea that if we both wore similar sleepwear, we would go to bed and wake up with happy thoughts of each other.
But it turns out the shoot ended up being a gift in itself. My mom lives about an hour away from me and in the chaos that is life, she doesn't really know much about my day to day life. It was so wonderful to have her step into my world and share a small slice of what goes on in my working day.
The lovely Peter Dreissel took these pics at his studio and he has packages for mom and daughter portraits. We had so much fun doing this shoot, I'd highly recommend you give it a try!
Family Tradition: Matching Festive PJs December 01, 2017 07:33
I know, I know: super cheesy. And yet, there's something I find so appealing. There's something that just says: we're in this crazy world together. Let's fill it with our own, special brand of crazy.
Firstly, there's no one to witness your shame as you waltz around in a ridiculous two-piece. It's just you and your immediate family. And if you can't be silly with your family, who can you be silly with?
Secondly, it's that feeling of togetherness, that team spirit. You have each others' backs. So often we're butting heads with our family - there's always a little drama or annoyance that won't go away. Your uniform is a visual reminder of who's on your team.
I have dreams of a family strewn on the couch, eating popcorn and drinking hot chocolate, not knowing where one begins and another ends. A tangible feeling of togetherness.
I can think of nothing better than waking up on Christmas day in a bed with excited children bouncing up and down, opening Christmas gifts in matching PJs. Heaven.
Be Kind To Yourself November 17, 2017 08:23
We have many tools at our disposal to make ourselves feel better on a physical or material level. When we feel we need to nurture ourselves, what springs to mind are little treats and spoils, eating healthily and exercising.
However, the very need to be kinder towards yourself usually stems from anxiety or stress, and when it comes to mental health, we don’t really know what to do. We generally ignore warning signs and only ever seek help when we can no longer function properly anymore, and we go into crisis.
I spoke to counseling psychologist, Lorenzo Stride, about his tips for being truly kind to yourself.
“Pay attention to your body as emotions somatise in the body.”
Inexplicable stomach aches, heart palpitations, sleeplessness and sweaty hands that your doctor can’t diagnose, may be an indication of anxiety or stress. Of course there comes a point when you need to see a professional, but in the meantime, here’s what you can do to help yourself.
Journaling is something that has helped his patients tremendously, and I completely agree. It externalizes feelings we generally bottle up inside and gives them somewhere to go. It helps you unpack your emotions and understand them better. It’s a way to really explore a so-called negative emotion and express it without the danger of unnecessarily hurting someone or harming a relationship.
If you are angry with someone, it’s a great idea to journal before confronting them so that when the time comes, the situation is much less emotionally charged and can be dealt with more constructively.
Take care of your body and physical appearance
Besides the benefits of fresh air, exercise and a healthy diet, taking care of your body reinforces the belief that you are worthy of being taken care of – that you have value. If you value yourself, you are less likely to engage in behaviour that is inauthentic or destructive.
Find a friend to talk to
But find the right friend to talk to. Someone who is calm, neutral, and most importantly, will be gently honest with you. Someone who won’t encourage damaging actions, but who will support a reasonable way of thinking, and even lovingly point out where perhaps you haven’t behaved at your best.
Understand how you best replenish your energy
Different things are energizing for different people. I cannot imagine anything better than spending an evening totally alone at home. But then, I’m deeply introverted. An extrovert, for example, would need to spend time with a large group of people to feel invigorated.
By understanding what depletes you, you can give yourself precisely what you need to replenish your resources.
Don’t pretend to be ok
While wallowing is not helpful and will likely frustrate everyone around you, pretending you’re ok when you’re not is simply being dishonest with yourself and your loved ones. When you have an infection, you take an antibiotic. If you’ve broken your leg, no one expects you to “get over it”. If you have kidney stones you don’t make-believe they’re there. The same should apply to your state of mind.
Recognise there’s a problem and then take steps towards healing.
Ways We're Mean To Ourselves November 10, 2017 09:00
I have been practicing pole dance for a few years already and love the strength required to make this art look effortless and beautiful. I was lucky to come across Vertical Vixen in Northriding for a number of reasons.
Firstly the focus is on safe practice since pole dancing can be risky if you don’t train sensibly. But perhaps even more important than this, the studio has a feeling of supportiveness and acceptance – an essential atmosphere when you consider that you will likely be wearing a crop top and shorts for the whole class.
This is no mean feat in such a competitive industry, and it’s largely thanks to owner, Julie Fowler, who recently celebrated the 10 year anniversary of opening the studio.
Pole dance is athletic and sexy, and taps into so many insecurities. Often, it’s not that we lack the strength to master a trick, but rather the mental strength to overcome our hang-ups.
In order to create a happy training environment, Julie is hyper aware of our negative self talk. In her ten years running the studio, she’s heard all the many ways we put ourselves down and hold ourselves back.
- We don’t believe in our own abilities, we self-doubt before trying or we give up before attempting anything.
“What is the point, I know I won’t be any good.”
“I’m not strong enough.”
“I am not fit enough.”
“I am not thin enough.”
“I’m too fat.”
If we only gave ourselves half a chance…
- We are always critical of ourselves – from our weight, shape & size to the clothing we wear etc.
- We compare ourselves to others and then we are unhappy with what we see.
- We feel that something external will make us happy – fitness /
clothing / losing weight / buying those new shoes, but happiness really does stem from within.
We evolve all the time, true self love will keep you happy in a body that may not be strong, that may not be the same shape as that model in the magazine. True self love lets you know “its ok to be you”.
We do not embrace our own uniqueness, and struggle to love ourselves honestly.
- We shy away from our own bodies / from ourselves – we cover up and hide under layers of “stuff” we think will keep us safe. This could be emotions / personality traits alongside the clothing that we wear and the people we chose to share our space with. If we share space with people who really don’t care about us then we never really have to reveal our true selves.
Being aware of these things is important so we can recognize them for what they are, which is the first step towards choosing a more constructive train of thought.
Love yourself. Love others. Just dance.
Julie has been at the forefront of bringing pole dance out of the shadows and into the mainstream in South Africa. It is due to the collective efforts of such special instructors all over the world that pole dance is now well on it's way to being recognized as a sport.
Loving Local: The History Of Your Favourite Prints And Styles November 03, 2017 08:53
We live in a dynamic and boldly colourful country, and these qualities are reflected in our local trends. Being interested in history, I thought I’d dig into the past a little to see where our favourite trends originated.
Basotho Heritage Blankets
Recently Louis Vuitton appropriated this trend, selling them for a cool R33k, and regardless of your feelings on this, one can see why this style would hit the international arena.
Almost 100% wool to protect the wearer from the elements, they are made with bold colours featuring various symbols. The most widely used is that of the corncob which signifies fertility and wealth.
Most uniquely, there’s a pinstripe that runs through the fabric that’s about 1cm wide. This was originally a flaw in the weave, which was simply left as is and is now characteristic of these beautiful blankets. When worn traditionally, the strip runs vertically, signifying growth.
Their origin can be traced back to one incident where a European trader presented the then king with a woolen blanket, which he preferred to his leopard skin karosses. At the time there had been many natural distaters which continued through the 20th century, leaving the wildlife and livestock depleted, and not enough ways to keep warm in the Mountain Kingdom. The woolen blankets replaced the usually animal skin karosses and became a part of everyday life.
The denim or tartan of South Africa, this fabric gets its name from King Moshoeshoe, also spelled Moshweshwe, who popularized it in the 1840s.
Originally dyed indigo, it is characterized by its intricate, geometric patterns.
Traditionally used to make skirts, dresses, aprons and wrap around garments, you can now find designers using this fabric in countless applications.
It is printed on 100% cotton using an acid discharge and roller printing technique on a fabric width of around 90cm. There are many knock-offs out there, but the original can be recognized by feel, smell, taste, colour, logos and starching which washes out.
When it comes to ethnic inspiration, there’s probably nothing more widely used in fashion than beadwork. Beautiful, striking and colourful, it’s easy imagine this traditional adornment being incorporated into any collection.
People have struggled to classify African beadwork as either art, craft or communicational system. It clearly requires a certain amount of craftsmanship to construct these elaborate accessories, but they’re also worn for their aesthetic beauty and to convey a person’s social standing.
The art/craft/language is thought to have originated thousands of years ago, but there’s no hard evidence to its source. The earliest artifacts were found near Cape Town and pre-date the African Bead Trade era by around 75000 years.
They’ve been made from bone, shell and seeds, and more recently from glass and plastic.
5 Effortless Acts Of Kindness October 27, 2017 09:00 1 Comment
I teach hatha yoga and attend philosophy classes at the Sivananda School of Yoga and my journey there has seen me grow and change dramatically from the wild, twenty-something girl that first joined.
I feel so fortunate to have found somewhere that I feel accepted and nurtured, and a place whose teachings and philosophies resonate with me.
Through all of my life changes, this was a place I experienced such kindness, which to this day still takes me by surprise. With my theme for November being Ubuntu, the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity, I thought it fitting to speak to one of the residents of the ashram, Swami Karunananda, about kindness.
Here are her 5 effortless acts of kindness:
“BE the embodiment of love."
This I found needed a bit more explanation because it’s really hard to know how to do this, when one can’t even define love. She simply answered; “Find love within yourself and radiate it to all.”
While this is still very tricky to maintain throughout the day, those few moments that you can find that state of upliftment are really quite euphoric.
“SAY only kind words.”
This is something I struggle with often, but I find that taking a deep breath before reacting or responding, has prevented much unnecessary upset.
“THINK only kind thoughts.”
Yes sometimes in conflict situations and when you’re rushing to get someplace on time, it’s very difficult to think charitably about the person in front of you, but it’s important to remember that everyone is on their own journey that you know very little about. What they present to you isn’t necessarily their truth. Thinking bad thoughts says more about the person thinking them.
“LOOK beautiful – smile!”
This world can be a hostile place and seeing a friendly smile can do wonders for restoring faith in humanity.
“LISTEN to others.”
We all have a need to be heard, possibly more than anything else. Not to feel invisible and insignificant. Really listening, without simply waiting to respond, is one of the kindest things you can do.
Do you have any ways you like to show kindness?
Ways To Cover Up At The Beach October 19, 2017 13:15 1 Comment
There can be no doubt that South Africans love their December beach holidays, and preparing your beach wardrobe is essentially important.
I love waking up, throwing on a swimsuit and cover up and heading out for the day to explore and laze around.
But with sand and sun, I find my skin gets very sensitive and I really cannot bear synthetic or hard fabrics rubbing against me. This is where sleepwear comes to the rescue.
Here are a few of my sleepwear/beachy hacks.
This nightie is so lightweight that it just makes sense to put it over sun-warmed skin. Your pretty bikini can shine through, but you'll still be covered and ready for a cocktail.
It'll dry quick as a flash and folds up really small so will hardly take up space in your bag.
The Amy Kimono
For a more glamorous look, you could throw on the Amy kimono. This will give you more cover from the harsh sun, but will drape beautifully around you, keeping you cool.
In addition to being glamorous, you could also be silly and pretend to be a butterfly.
These pretty kimonos are currently only available on direct order while stocks last, so email me for more details: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The shorty pyjamas are a no-brainer. Simply pop the shorts on if you need to stroll from the beach to get an ice-cream.
These shorts are great for a full range of movement: jumping, twirling and cartwheeling.
4. The Briana Night Dress
Made from 100% cotton, this is a soft, romantic way to complete your beach look. Sheer and absorbent, this nightie will catch the breeze as it whips around you.
These lightweight night dresses are currently only available on direct order, so email me for more details: email@example.com. Available sizes are XS, S, M, L, XL, while stocks last.
Photo credit: Peter from Boudoir Fusion Photography
Style Diary: DJ Vardz Wears Her Sleepwear On The Street October 13, 2017 11:06
Recently I got to know the vibrant, outgoing Vardz and chatted to her about being a female Hip Hop DJ.
She relates very strongly to a more authentic Hip Hop sound, which is how she broke into the scene – at a time when genres were more clearly defined.
Now there’s such a melting pot of styles, which you can’t easily differentiate, so while she’s versatile, she steers clear of clubs and more commercial events, preferring to play at concerts and festivals.
It’s not often you meet a female DJ, let alone a female Hip Hop DJ. Says Vardz, “There’s still a bit of a stigma around women in this male dominated field. Women are still expected to prove themselves.”
And it’s particularly difficult to prove yourself as a hip hop DJ since there isn’t as big a market for it, especially with a younger, club going crowd. Having said that, it’s become really difficult to know what will please a crowd before a gig, so it’s imperative to be diverse and give them what they want.
After spending some time with this firecracker personality, I decided to challenge her: She had to wear her PJs out for a day.
Of course she hardly thought this was a challenge! She picked something that linked perfectly with her personal style and boldly stepped out into urban jozi. This was her experience:
“Ok so I wore it with confidence, so I never felt like anyone was looking at me weirdly. These days fashion is so personal and everyone is creating their own style for themselves. There’s a movement to create whatever you want, so people are just like: well ok, that’s your thing. It was easy and fun to do and I just didn’t overthink it. I could easily see myself wearing my star pjs to a gig.”
You can get your set of Danny Star pjs here.
Follow Vardz on Instagram.
Pieces That Make Your Wardrobe Stand Out October 06, 2017 11:52
I love the simplicity of a capsule wardrobe, but sometimes I feel it takes away from the self-expression that makes dressing up every day so much fun.
Yes, the micro-decisions in your life are reduced, allowing you to focus on more important, life-changing things, but it seems as though some of what makes you you is essentially lost in the process.
It’s important to have at least a few items that boldly say, “This is who I am”, without saying a single word. Even if it’s just in the form of a few accessories, or a print you pair with a staple. Something that perhaps defines your silhouette, so from a distance someone could recognize you immediately without even seeing your face. Perhaps it is a pair of statement earrings that immediately expresses your mood on a particular day.
Whatever it is, expression through your style should still be fun and uniquely you.
Here are a couple of my favourite defining pieces.
This ballerina skirt I made of 4 different shades of blue and green to give it a complex, deep colour. I love how whimsical is makes me feel.
I found this dress wandering around LA. It hails from the early 80s and I love how soft and ladylike I feel when I wear it.
Thank you to Peter Driessel of Boudoir Fusion Photography for these amazing shots.
What Clothes Do You Need To Let Go Of? September 29, 2017 08:30
I love fashion history. What I find particularly poignant is how clothes reflect the times. We think that fashion is superficial and frivolous, but it’s an important tool of expression and communication.
If you look back over the 1900s, women’s fashion has been affected by wars, economic growth, feminism, and countless other factors. For instance, in the 1920s after the Great War, women’s hemlines rose dramatically from where they had been for centuries because their place in society had changed. They were fulfilling men’s roles and work, so gone were cumbersome dresses in favour of loose-fitting, shorter, more practical styles. The same thing happened during the 1940s where the cuts were trim and quite masculine – also in part due to the shortage of fabric.
Then in the 1950s, along came an economic boom and Dior swept us away with his gorgeous full skirts and nipped-in waists. Women could be more “feminine” (as it is generally perceived) and were able to afford large amount of fabric.
Today, I can see the same things happening in my own life. After the passing of my husband, my style became very androgynous. I couldn’t fathom wearing a pretty dress or a wide skirt. My colour palette was much more monochrome and I only ever wore flat, practical shoes. For the first time now, I can conceive of hauling out one of my bright floral maxi-dresses.
I think our style changes all the time with where we are in our lives. The trouble is we suffer from nostalgia: either about what shape our bodies used to be, or the memories associated with a particular style.
Of course there will always be that one item that you hold on to – the special piece that you know will inevitably come back in style and I’d never advocate a wild tossing spree (although I’ll always suggest purging your closet of ill-fitting, poor quality garments). But there comes a time when we must let go. We must look at where we are in our lives, and what that life requires. We should examine our hearts and appreciate how we’ve grown and how our lives have developed, and then get rid of anything that doesn’t feel authentic anymore.
Annabelle Talks About Creating a Green Space in Her Bedroom September 22, 2017 08:16
The warmer weather has me itching to Spring clean and bring the beautiful outdoors inside.
I was recently trawling one of my favourite bloggers, She Said SA, and found her post on making over her bedroom. She has so many beautiful plants in her room, I couldn’t resist finding out more about her space and the process.
Have you always had a beautiful space to sleep in, or was this makeover your first really special sacred space?
I've always been really into design and interiors, I was lucky enough to have to opportunity to do a bedroom makeover when I was a teenager and got to choose my paint and the colour of my cupboards and then over the years I filled my childhood room with bits and bobs from my travels. I still love my room when I go visit my parents it's the most beautiful shade of calming green. When I redid my bedroom in my apartment it was the first opportunity I had had as an adult to create a space exactly the way I wanted, my tastes had changed a little (not too much) so it was fun to explore that.
Did you find it was healing to take such care creating a beautiful space to sleep in?
I actually struggle with sleep, I suffer from anxiety/depression and it plays havoc with my nightime routine so I need all the help I can get! I love having a special space that helps calm me and that is a bubble away from the world. I don't think everyone needs a bedroom makeover but if you can create a safe space it's priceless! My husband and I also made a rule that we're not allowed our computers in the room and so on so that helps!
How do you feel now about going to sleep and do you find the energy you put into your room has created an atmosphere of peace and nurturing?
Hahah I'm probably the worst person to ask about this, as mentioned I really battle with sleep. I try to mediate before sleep but sometimes even that doesn't work. Still working on it!
How has having a beautiful room affected your relationship?
I don't think it's the room so much as the rules we've created about the room, so no working in the room no discussing anything too serious. We try keep it as our relaxing and happy place, because everyone needs one of those.
You have so many beautiful plants in your room. How did you choose the right plants for the space?
My room is West facing and gets afternoon sun so it made it pretty easy to fill with shady plants that don't need much care. Always choose a plant according to what light it gets otherwise you're going to have a whole lot of sad plants on your hands.I also keep citronella near my windows to get rid of pests.
How has having so many plants indoors affected your state of mind?
I know there's a lot of science behind having plants in and around your house. I'm sure this has a positive impact on me, the thing that I notice the most however is that they're beautiful to look at and I Love caring for them, so in terms of that it's awesome!
A Romantic Moonlight Picnic September 15, 2017 09:00
These warm balmy evenings have me hankering for a moonlit picnic. I contacted the lovely Germarie Bruwer who I met a few years ago on a trip to Bali. You may have heard of her award winning blog, Homeology? If not, I’d suggest you check it out. So much amazing inspiration!
Here’s a little bit about her and her tips for setting up your picnic under the stars.
You have a young family so I assume you have very little down time with your hubby. Have you managed to take advantage of the warmer evenings by spending some time outside when the kids have gone to bed?
Absolutely! Once our boys are down for the night, we love to sit outside on the patio with a glass of something cool.
What is your favourite thing to do on a Spring evening?
As the evenings get longer, we tend to spend more time outside with the kids: sunset trampoline-jumping is a firm favourite ;-) I also enjoy to sit outside on the grass and just enjoy my garden, listening to the sound as night slowly takes over from day, letting things unwind around me.
If you were to have an impromptu pyjama party slash moonlight picnic with your husband, how could you set it up quickly and easily?
We have a selection of picnic blankets stashed into an oversized basket right next to the patio doors. A bottle of wine, and some cut up fruit and cheese on a wooden platter is quick to put together and can be enjoyed without cutlery or plates. And a couple of solar lanterns of course – nothing hints at romance like soft lighting!
If you wanted an uber romantic date under the stars, how would you create the space?
Set up a small intimate dining area for two in the garden. This could be a table with chairs, or a blanket with some comfy pillows and a make-shift low table with crates and palettes.
Add some fairy lights overhead, strung-up in the trees or dress the shrubs and pot plants in the vicinity with them. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even create an outdoor chandelier to be the focal point of your setting.
While candles are great, I prefer solar lanterns or tea-light hurricane lanterns to create the mood.
Plan your menu carefully: cold dishes are much easier to serve and will allow you to spend time with your date instead of running around trying to keep food hot.
Plastic glasses are for children, so even though it’s a picnic, serve drinks in glasses.
Have a few blankets handy in case the temperature drops mid-date.
Remember the bug spray! Few things kill the mood faster than annoying critters.
Natural Essences To Help You Sleep September 08, 2017 12:22
In my quest for bringing the fragrant outdoors, in, I've started researching essential oils. I have a very sensitive sense of smell and find it incredible that scent can so easily affect my emotions and moods.
Besides wanting to bring the smell of Spring blossoms into my home, essential oils can be used to aid with sleep.
Our sense of smell is estimated to be 10,000 times more acute than our other senses and sensitive to some 10,000 chemical compounds. Once registered, scent travels faster to the brain than either sight or sound.
When we inhale the fragrance of an essential oil, the odor molecules travel up the nose where they’re registered by the nerves of the olfactory membranes in the nose lining. The odor molecules stimulate this lining of nerve cells and trigger electrical impulses to the olfactory bulb in the brain. The olfactory bulb then transmits the impulses to the amygdala - where emotional memories are stored - and to other parts of the limbic system of the brain.
Always choose good quality oils that haven't been adulterated with synthetics, for instance. The purer the oil, the more effective.
Oils that help with anxiety and sleeplessness are:
There are a few different schools of thought on safely using essential oils, ranging from application to inhalation to dilution. For sleep purposes, you can:
1. Inhale by simply placing a few drops in your palms and smelling deeply, or place it in a diffuser to fragrance a whole room.
2. Use as a massage oil diluted with a fragrance free oil carrier.
3. Add a few drops to your bath.
4. Place a few drops on your pillow.
Twelve Inspiring Quotes On The Love Of Nature September 01, 2017 08:48
It’s Spring in the Southern Hemisphere and I’m so excited to have the sun making her journey back to us. I’ve been feeling frustrated and cabin-feverish with these last few cold snaps, and my heart is longing to be outside.
It’s no wonder I came across the concept of friluftsliv. This is a Norwegian word, first seen in print in 1859 in a poem by Henrik Ibsen, which literally means “free air life.” It captures a deep understanding and closeness with nature, describing a way of life that is predominantly spent outdoors, appreciating the great wilderness that surrounds you.
And that’s where I’d like to go! A place with wide open spaces and the smell of nature. And I’m not the only one. Through the centuries, many people have spoken about their love of nature, and the need to be outside for their souls.
Here are twelve of my favourite quotes on the great outdoors.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
Just living is not enough…one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower.
Nature always wears the colours of the spirit.
Trees are the earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven.
5. Lord Byron
There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more.
Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light.
Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullabye.
For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.
Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.
10. Richard Bach
What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.
11. John Muir
The mountains are calling and I must go.
The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.
Feel Great Naked - some self-care tips August 25, 2017 09:00
If anything could be considered subjective, it’s definitely how you feel naked. We beat ourselves up over so many things, but being naked really strips down all the layers (pun intended) and leaves us completely vulnerable. Perhaps that’s the beauty of it – that there’s no armour to hide behind, no emotional toughness, just you and your personality.
And then of course, the “I’m naked and all my flaws are on display” thing comes up. I think it takes someone with confidence of steel not to feel overexposed at least in some way, and even then I’m not sure I’d buy it. Or perhaps these are all just my own issues…
So while I love being completely natural and I enjoy being naked, I also have my own little home-spa routine. Once a week I like to spend some time grooming. Here’s my (very personal) routine, which (surprise, surprise) I do it while lounging around in my favourite kimono.
- I usually start by putting a hair treatment in my hair. I love the Dr Hauschka Strengthening Hair Treatment which works its magic on my hair and scalp while I carry on with the rest.
- I never go for manicures or pedicures. This may or may not have something to do with me being a perfectionist (but you didn’t hear it from me) and I feel I do a much better job than anyone else could. I have my own fantastic cuticle cutter and pusher which make this job (somewhat) fun. I file, trim, clip, buff and push until I don’t have any snags. I follow this up with my own exfoliator which is basically melting coconut oil over a low heat, then adding fine grain sea salt. Once that’s cooled and hardened, I beat it so it’s all frothy, and store it in a mason jar. I use this every day and it leaves my hands feeling soft and moisturized.
- Next I apply the Skin Creamery Facial Cleansing Powder as a mask.
- I run a lovely deep bath and add some delicious smelling essential oils and Epsom salts to ease my muscles that usually have to work very hard for me – I love exercise and am very active.
- I scrub up with Mies Body Scrub, and wash with Kalyan soap.
- Then of course comes all the depilation. I shave the old-fashioned way, using a safety razor. I’ve found it so much better and more cost effective than any other method. Hair removal creams just smell awful and waxing has always given me ingrown hairs, no matter what I tried.
- I wash my hair with Africa Organics Baobab Shampoo.
- I make my own body butter which feels so luxurious, I want everyone to try it. I melt over a low heat, equal amounts of cocoa butter and coconut oil, and add my favourite essential oils. Just bear in mind the cocoa butter smells very chocolatey, so use oils that’ll complement it. Once it’s cooled and set, I beat it up until it’s frothy and store it in a mason jar. Yum!
But besides all these external things, what makes me feel best naked is a brisk walk, preferably with my dog, and eating seasonal fruit and vegetables. And even beyond all that, what makes me feel fantastic naked is knowing that my body is a magical feat of engineering that should be honoured and treasured no matter what aesthetic I feel pressured to impose on it.
My Top Reads On Authentic Women August 18, 2017 09:00
There is nothing better than a day spent indoors reading in soft, luxurious fabrics, being kept awake by a steady supply of hot tea. Some books whisk us away to a fantasy world, while others have the power to inspire. Lately, I am inspired by true stories of authentic women who are brave, real and unapologetic. Here are a few of my favourites.
Hilarious, cutting edge and sometimes a little crass, Caitlin Moran’s classic modern feminist read tackles everything from bullying and periods to childbirth and progressing through the workplace. It’s laugh-out-loud funny and compassionate, with many truths that will resonate with you as a woman, no matter what life stage you are going through.
Tina made it in one of the most cutthroat industries in the world – standup comedy. Her path to success is compelling and inspiring, with many funny anecdotes along the way.
If you haven’t read Wild yet, you’re in for a treat. After the death of her mother, Cheryl divorces her husband and goes on a grueling sole expedition along the Pacific Crest Trail. As she struggles extreme elements, exhaustion and other threats, she revisits the moments in her past that have both formed and broken her. In order to move forward and heal, she has to face the hardest challenge of all: forgiving herself. This is the kind of novel that will have you sobbing when it ends!
In this memoir, the author of Bad Feminist, Roxanne Gay, writes a searing account on her relationship with her body. Roxanne’s weight has been a struggle her entire life – affecting her ability to find clothes to wear, eat out or sit comfortably on planes. She writes unflinchingly about society’s often disgusted reaction at her size, despite her myriad of achievements. Ultimately, it is a battle cry against a society that has deemed one kind of physique attractive and a refusal to be nobody but herself.
I am a firm believer that beauty, self-care and feminism are fitting companions. As one of the UK’s most iconic beauty writers, Sali has found that many women believe the opposite. Through her own anecdotes, she shows how beauty can be a powerful expression of self-confidence and power. Many of the chapters include wise and engaging tips on how to feel your best through all stages of your life. This is underpinned by the firm belief that a woman needs to look after herself first.
As the founder of one of Australia’s most exciting publishing empires, Lisa seems to have it all. But as a first-time entrepreneur, she had her fair share of struggles and mishaps related to money. Whether you are running your own business or working for someone else, Lisa will inspire you to make the link between your emotions and your finances, and take back your power. Because, let’s face it, the cornerstone of every strong woman is a full bank account that is hers and hers alone.
I hope these reads inspire you! Which fearless female reads would you recommend?
Featured in image, The Joanne Nightdress.
The Beauty of Handmade Products August 11, 2017 13:31
I love something handmade. I love knowing that a human being has touched and worked with materials to create something beautiful. I love that the humanity can be seen and felt in the products and that the personality and moods shine through. They’re always slightly imperfect which to me, makes them absolutely perfect.
Being a designer myself, I have the privilege of meeting many incredible creatives – entrepreneurs and artists who are passionate about what they do and love crafting products that can be treasured.
When I buy anything that is mass-produced and part of a big business, I never feel the same sense of satisfaction as when I buy from a small South African business. I always have buyers remorse to some extent. But when I buy local, particularly if I’ve met the maker, no matter what, I’m happy to have supported them. It feels like my few rands spent really make a difference to someone, instead of being a tiny drop in a massive corporate bucket.
Lately my spoils have been body and face products rather than fashion. I work from home, so for the most part, I wear my pjs. Some people may think that’s a little lame, but hey! Business ideas are motivated by many different reasons!
These are my proudly South African, support local, brands I buy regularly:
I’ve known Marlese for many years now from our previous lives as performers. It’s been incredible to watch her grow this small business into something really amazing. This body scrub is my absolute favourite. There was a certain amount of genius in her making an oil-based scrub that leaves your skin soft and moisturized immediately after use.
I have this full range in regular sizes and in travel sizes. I can’t even try to explain how good it feels to use this product. My skin looks amazing and has done perfectly well in the harsh Johannesburg winter. There’s an integrity about this product that you can just feel. And it’s such a simple range, you don’t have to expend precious energy trying to figure out which products will be best for you.
I recently discovered this eye cream and I love it! It’s light-weight and absorbs immediately without running or irritating my eyes. It’s refreshing and really well priced for the amount you get. This will last me for ages!
What Pole Dancers Know About Self-Love August 04, 2017 09:00
Some of you may know I have a background in dance. I’ve always loved expressing myself through music and losing myself in the movement. Whenever I’m having a bad day, after a delicious piece of cake has inevitably failed to cheer me up, I know I can count on dance to lift my spirits. Basically I dance for my sanity. And then of course there’s the side benefit of it being really great exercise!
As a dancer, my legs have always been very strong and I know I can trust them implicitly. A few years ago I figured I should do something about my upper body strength.
And that’s how I discovered pole dancing.
I was hooked from my first class, possibly because it reminded me of one of my favourite childhood pastimes: swinging around the washline.
But I love it for so many reasons. In regular dance classes (meaning poleless), once you’ve chosen your particular style, there is a certain curriculum you have to be able to get through, which often requires a certain body type and structure.
With pole, your body type does not matter. There are some things my body, despite my many years of dance training, will never be able to do. Everyone can find their signature and their nemesis move.
And let’s not kid here. Pole can be dangerous. You’re lifting your own body weight and you’re often upside down, so you have to trust yourself and the magnificent feat of engineering: your body.
There’s also a reason pole dancers are scantily clad because you need your skin to use as traction on the pole.
Everyone feels self-conscious in their first class. After a few times though, you realize you’re in a safe and non-judgmental environment, and you happily shed the layers.
Ask anyone who has poled, and they’ll say the same thing. They quickly learn to let go of looking at their bodies cosmetically, and instead appreciate what their bodies can do. Uniqueness is celebrated. They recognize the value of their bodies and training, and measure themselves according to the fabulous tricks they can perform and are working towards.
It has without a doubt been the most empowering form of exercise and self-love!
A Thing Worn July 27, 2017 10:19
I’m sure this has happened to everyone: you’re mooching around in your pjs, easing yourself into your day, minding your own business, when suddenly the piercing sound of the door bell obliterates your peace.
You desperately scramble around trying to make yourself presentable (this only applies if you aren’t wearing your coveted Claudia Moruzzi sleepwear), and in the end you answer the door flustered and do your best to keep up appearances.
The trouble is you were ill-prepared. You didn’t have your beautiful kimono handy.
The kimono has a rich and long history. The word itself means “a thing worn”, and originally applied to all clothing. The kimono as we know it today came into being in the Heian period (794-1192). During this time, the straight-line-cut method was used, which involved cutting the fabric in straight lines and stitching them together. This way it could fit many body types and could be easily folded with minimum creasing.
Kimonos have a distinct T shape, with collars, wide sleeves and a hem that falls to the ankle. They’re wrapped around the body and tied with a sash called an obi . An elaborate variation is the furisode, worn by unmarried women on special occasions, that has dramatic floor-length sleeves.
A good kimono is literally a work of art and could cost more than a family home. These are precious heirlooms that are handed down in the family. They’re woven, dyed, decorated and stitched by hand.
When they need to be cleaned, they’re unpicked, air-dried and hand stitched back together again.
Of course there are much cheaper and lower maintenance versions available these days, and there’s a booming trade in second hand kimonos. One thing that can’t be skimped on though is the obi, or sash used to tie it. They can be up to 30cm wide and 4m long, with inserts to help retain their shape when tied.
Kimonos have had a renaissance in the last few decades as people everywhere have realized how breath-taking the silhouette is. Where traditionally they have been worn with many layers, we can wear them on their own so they can shine in their own rightful glory!
So what should you wear under your kimono?
This is an easy way to glam up your pjs if you haven’t yet invested in a good set. It will instantly make you look stylish and put together, even if you’ve just rolled out of bed.
Over your swimsuit
If you have a plain swimsuit I’d throw on a pretty printed kimono, and with a multi-coloured swimsuit, I find plainer colours work best. No need to fuss with shorts and T-shirts. The kimonos are so lightweight that they won’t irritate hot skin at the beach or pool. You could even tie the belt behind your back instead of wrapping it, so your cozzie peaks out.
Over sexy lingerie
Easiest way to entire your significant other! You don’t have to prance through the house in your underwear alone. You can wear your sexiest teddy underneath, and go about your usual routine, occasionally flashing a bit of it so he’ll know you have something special planned. Great way to build tension (and probably also get him to help with household chores so it gets done a little faster).
Nada / Niente / Zip
Wear absolutely nothing underneath! No one needs to know but you. It’s very liberating!
While my kimonos are nowhere near as high maintenance as traditional Japanese ones, they do still require a bit of TLC so they can grace your wardrobe in style for years to come.
Handwash them in cold water and use a cool iron to extend their lives.
Just a warning though. Please please please try not to cook in your kimono! Those sleeves drag right through everything! I learnt the hard way.
5 Books To Read In Your PJs July 21, 2017 09:00
I was raised by a very strict Italian father. We were allowed to make noise and play only at very specific times and for the rest, we had to be quiet as mice. There was no running around visiting friends indefinitely.
I spent most of my days quietly in my room, doing homework, and when that was done, voraciously reading just about anything I could get my hands on. If I could be transported to another life or any adventure, I was happy to bury my nose in it and go. When I had finished them, I often felt a sense of loss – as if I’d lost a few very good friends.
It is impossible to narrow down my favourites to just a few. For these purposes I’m excluding the classics because I’ll just assume you’ve read them already!
Here are 5 of my most recent favourite books that stayed with me for long after I’d put them down.
Recommended sleepwear: The Olga Playsuit in Dove Grey
“Perhaps the seeds of redemption lay not just in perseverance, hard work, and rugged individualism. Perhaps they lay in something more fundamental—the simple notion of everyone pitching in and pulling together.”
How inspiring and based on a true story!
Set in the dust bowl of America during the Great Depression, it follows the stories of 9 working class boys, particularly Joe Rantz who was the only surviving member by the time the author started his research, who went through incredible hardships simply to survive his childhood.
Improbably this team from Washington beat the Elite teams of the East coast and Great Britain, winning themselves a spot at the Olympics. They went on to snatch the gold medal right out from Hitler’s nose.
Recommended sleepwear: The Danny Shorty Pyjamas Stars
“To reiterate, no matter how much pepper you eat, it won’t undo the ludicrous amount of salt you ate before it.”
Hands down the funniest book I’ve ever read. I normally haul this out when I’m feeling like a pick-me-up. It just never gets old.
More than 50% of the book is illustrated – delightful, simple pictures that accurately depict the complex emotions Brosh is trying to convey.
The text is haunting in its honesty and delves into her struggles with depression in a way that is poignant and enlightening. She holds nothing back.
I’ve been on the waiting list for new book for years now. Really hope it’s published soon!
Recommended Sleepwear: The Joanne Nightdress
“Why would you be given wings if you weren't meant to fly?”
A story about a 16 year old girl who is born with wings, but is unable to fly. She ventures out in the world, desperate to fit in, but completely ill-prepared for the strange behaviour of seemingly normal people.
It’s beautifully and magically written with characters whose hearts and yearnings are exquisitely human.
Recommended sleepwear: The Eva Long PJs in nude/aqua
“I always thought it was what I wanted: to be loved and admired. Now I think perhaps I'd like to be known.”
In a quiet village a woman says goodbye to her husband as he leaves for the front. In Paris, her beautiful and rebellious 18-year-old sister falls in love with a partisan and starts fighting the Nazis from within France.
This is about the untold stories of women at war: fighting their own battles in German-occupied territory. It tells of the resilience of human spirit and durability of women.
Recommended sleepwear: The Amy Kimono in teal/coral
“You know what I like about New York?” he said. “There are so many weird people that nobody takes any notice. We all just fit right in.”
Don Tillman is a 39 year old geneticist who’s never been on a second date. Thus the Wife Project was born.
Don draws up a questionnaire to filter out unsuitable candidates, but along comes Rosie, who fails in almost every score and who sends his well-ordered life into chaos. An Asperger’s type, Don just cannot come to grips with the alien emotions he suddenly feels.
I'm always looking for book recommendations. What are your favourites?
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