Walking Books June 22, 2018 00:00 1 Comment
I'm a crazy happy reader. I'm always reading several books at once. A spiritual or self-help, a novel and an audio book are always competing for my attention.
I'm away walking the Camino, so I haven't wanted anything too heavy - literally and figuratively :). More about the Camino another time...
This is what has been accompanying me.
The Language of Flowers By Vanessa Diffenbaugh
This was a lovely, easy read about a young girl with a troubled childhood who is taken in by a florist, Renata, to help work in the store.
The best part of the book however, is that flowers themselves almost become characters in their own right.
It delves into the Victorian meanings of flowers and what they say when arranged together. One could give a bunch of flowers or a posy, and everything would be said by the flowers themselves. No note required.
Simply a lovely book.
Born A Crime By trevor Noah
I got this on audible, narrated by Trevor himself, and found it IMPOSSIBLE to stop once I'd started.
It covers his life in a township and anecdotes from his life that paint such a vivid picture, you almost feel you're right there with him.
I know I'll listen to this again and again. It makes me miss home terribly listening to all the stories.
Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen
This one is next on my list to read.
The book got mixed reviews so I'm not really sure what to expect except a lot of erotica by the sounds of it.
So What Are You Actually Paying For? June 15, 2018 00:00
Sometimes it's just so much cheaper and more convenient to pop off to the mall and buy a set of pjs. I did this myself for many years.
If you have ever sewed anything yourself, it might have crossed your mind how it can be possible to pay around R500 for a full set of pjs, when you take into account the price of fabric and trim, and the colossal amount of time it takes to stitch it up.
Try to imagine the life of a person working for a fast fashion company. Imagine how little you must get paid and under what appalling conditions you would work in to get clothing that cheap.
And in the end, who benefits from your money? Usually a nameless, faceless corporation.
Let me break down for you what you pay for when you buy a Claudia Moruzzi pyjama set.
Wholesale fabric is certainly less than what you'd pay at your local haberdashery, but it is still expensive. If you take into account that a kimono uses nearly three and a half metres of fabric, this starts adding up.
Depending on the type of fabric and the quality, prices vary greatly. For my range, fabric generally costs between R50.00-R75.00 per metre. Of this fabric, some of it will have tiny flaws which needs to be discarded, pushing the average price up higher depending on how much needs to be ditched.
Buttons cost about R2.00 per button, excluding the fabric used to cover them. Each garment has between 8-12 buttons, and an extra one stitched inside in case one gets lost and needs to be replaced.
The piping used to trim my Winter range costs just over R3.00 per metre - more if I pick custom colours like I did with my last collection. Each garment can use up to 6 or 7 metres of piping.
Certain pieces of fabric that need reinforcement so they don't become misshapen like collars and button stands, need to be fused. This can be done very cheaply with paper fusing, but I've opted for a better quality, softer, woven fusing which is about quadruple the price of paper fusing.
Add that to labels, elastic and wash/cares, and you're looking at about another R50.00.
The construction of the garment depends on the intricacy of the design, the time it takes, how easy the fabric is to work with, and weirdly, how many buttonholes each garment has, as these are done by a specialist.
Here the sky is the limit. I've paid anywhere between R90.00 and R300.00 per garment, but the average is R170.00. It is easy to find somewhere that manufactures ridiculously cheap, but the trouble is that the workers aren't adequately reimbursed, and here, you certainly get what you pay for. Where a garment is hastily and cheaply put together, you can be sure it'll fall apart pretty soon.
With the garment finished, we can now start adding on general costs like packaging, social media marketing and advertising, model fees, shoot location fees, photography, research and salaries.
Whatever is leftover after all of that, gets reinvested for future collections and new exciting designs.
Why Buy Local? June 08, 2018 09:00
There's a lot of fuss about supporting local business but why should you? What is the benefit to you anyway?
Of course this is a subject close to my heart, being a small local business. But the bug to support locally had bitten way before I launched in 2015.
I remember spending a lot of money on items of clothing, homeware, gifts, etc. that were sometimes cheap, often not, and not really connecting with my purchases at all.
Not that I think one must have a strong connection to material possessions, but if you're going to be decorating your person or home, or getting a present for someone, then there should at least be a sense of appreciation and gratitude for that thing.
I wasn't getting that from anything I bought. Unless it was so expensive that I'd saved for months to get it, it could've been replaced as easily as I'd bought it.
When I got my first South African designer dress, I was completely smitten with the fact that I'd met the designer. She was a real live person, and I could imagine her working on the design and putting so much passion into every aspect.
I still have and treasure that dress today, 6 years later.
I want you to have the same feeling every time you wear your Claudia Moruzzi design.
I want you to know that every inch of fabric has been examined for flaws. I want you to know that every person behind the pjs has a name and a family they support by stitching your kimono.
I want you to know that I pay so much attention to detail, that I sometimes dream of covered buttons.
I want you to appreciate that every person along the way has been paid a fair fee for their skills, and that there is an overwhelming sense of gratitude every time another order comes through.
Photo credit: Peter Driessel Photography
A Journey From My Dreams To Yours June 01, 2018 00:00
As a designer, only a very small portion of my time is spent actually designing because being a small business owner as well, there are so many things that require attention.
Here's a little breakdown of how your PJs make their way from my dreams, to yours.
About twice a year, I sit down and sketch some designs. This usually happens many months before you eventually see them online.
I usually draw around 20-30 versions per style, before finally deciding which one I like best.
These sketches are then translated into technical drawings which get handed over to my pattern maker. While I can make my own patterns by hand, old-school style, (uber time-consuming) I don't have software in which to capture it. I've discovered it's just much more efficient to send it off to be made up.
In the meantime I get some plain fabric and trim similar to what I intend using, and send that along with the sample pattern to my manufacturer.
The process from handing over the technical drawings to receiving the sample, can take anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks.
When I get the completed sample back, there's a process of fitting and refining to get it absolutely perfect.
Once everything is just right, the pattern gets graded into different sizes.
While that's on the go, I can finally go choose fabric and trim (love). I decide on a colour palette and search throughout the country to find pretty fabrics that feel like heaven against the skin.
We are finally ready to manufacture. This can take anywhere from between 2-6 weeks.
While all this is going on, I'm also busy setting up lifestyle shoots for social media, responding to comments, emails and queries.
I manage my own pages and really love this part to be honest. It takes a massive amount of time, but I feel I can connect much better with you when it's my voice you hear directly through my images, videos and captions.
Once the manufacturing is complete, I pick my models and set up the studio catalogue shoot for all the images on the website.
As soon as I receive the pics back from my photographer and friend, Peter Driessel, I load them online. Surprise, surprise! I manage my own site!
I try to send out a newsletter once a month or so to keep you updated on any specials, pop-ups and new styles, and once a collection is ready for you to shop, I definitely want to share the news!
All your orders come directly to me, and either I or my assistant, Precious, packages your items. I adore this part, so she doesn't often get a chance to do it unless I'm out of town :)
In between all of this craziness, I still manage to walk my dog every week day as well.
That's it in a nutshell.
Who Made My Sleepwear? May 21, 2018 12:50
I'm so thrilled with all the campaigns encouraging awareness around the fashion industry.
In the spirit of this, I thought I'd take you behind the scenes to where your sleepwear is manufactured.
It is a small factory which takes pride in developing skills from scratch, and whose machinists have been there for many years.
Roderick is a general assistant, but deals mainly with cutting and fusing. Many collar and cuff fabric pieces need to be reinforced with an iron-on fusing so they don't go out of shape.
He has a wife and a 4 year old boy.
Paulina with the hundred-watt smile has been a machinist for 6 years now. She stitches the fabric and trimmings together.
She has a husband and 3 children aged 18, 11 and 1.
Paulina has one child - a 7 year old boy who has recently started school.
She is shy and soft-spoken, but has a very serious job: She's quality control! Everything has to pass her strict standards before coming back to me. She's been doing this for 5 years.
Ismael and Alfred
Ismael (left) is the grandpa of the business. Generally the second in command at the factory, he's been doing this for 26 years! He has a wife, 5 children and 2 grandchildren.
Alfred (right) has been cutting for 3 years and has 2 children, aged 7 and 4.
They both deal with pattern markers and cutting of fabric.
Abbie is a machinist, so stitches and overlocks raw edges. He works at the speed of light - he's been doing this for 18 years.
He has a wife and 2 kids.
Dima, the production manager, is a designer herself, and after struggling with other manufacturers (every designers' bug bear), discovered she was really passionate about being involved with a company that offered excellent service and delivered on time.
Wendy is the doyenne of this initiative. A kind-hearted soul who has been in the business for decades. For now she deals more with training and client liaison.
Photo credits: Peter Driessel Photography
To ALL The Mothers May 11, 2018 00:00
Mothers are incredible creatures. I've often heard them say that their hearts beat outside their bodies, in their children's chests. It amazes me how selfless and unconditional that sort of love is.
But I don't think it's biology alone that makes a mother. There are so many who become mothers to pets, pupils, and patients, and that love and relationship can be as real as any connected by blood.
So this is a shout out to all mothers out there - to everyone who loves another being unconditionally, cares deeply about them and feels a mystical connection with them. Whether this is a child by blood or adoption, with or without fur.
You are appreciated.
Your love is recognised.
Your love is real.
Photo credit: Peter Driessel Photography
Burn the pretty candles, use the good crockery and wear the lovely pyjamas. April 26, 2018 13:07
I love interacting with buyers and overhearing their conversations. It is invaluable to me in terms of refining designs and collections – yes I actually do take on board what is being said!
But I also often hear things that make me sad. Things like:
“My husband won’t want to see me in something that sexy.”
“I can only get that playsuit when I’ve lost at least 5kg.”
“ I wouldn’t sleep in something so nice.”
I always wonder why. Why do we buy pretty candles and amazing crockery, so that they can gather dust waiting for that special occasion that never arrives? Why would we only buy good clothes to wear in front of other people, instead of investing in something that makes us feel treasured, even when no one is looking?
Is it a case of believing that we need to wear a mask, so different to who we are in private? Or is it that we have a deep-seated belief that we’re unworthy of beauty?
Alexander Wang is quoted as saying, “Anyone can get dressed up and glamorous, but it is how people dress on their days off that is most intriguing.”
I would say that while fashion is a form of self-expression, it isn’t a true reflection of who we believe ourselves to be. How you treat yourself in your most intimate space is the most telling.
Beauty and happiness is your birthright, and is a choice we make. So burn the pretty candles, use the lovely crockery.
Wear the lovely pyjamas.
Photo credit: Pieter Driessel Photogrpahy
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.