What better way to spend a lazy sunday morning than walking around on a flea market, if possible abroad, like Paris or London? And how ugly that bottle of mouthwater looks in your bathroom, surrounded by your favourite perfume and shower lotion.
How about combining the two? What you get is a beautiful solution:
Rummage on a flea market until you have found a perfectly sized vintage crystal bottle, like the one they used to decanter liquor and perfume in
Clean it like crazy
Then carefully empty your ugly bottle of mouthwater in it and put it in your bathroom.
From now on you will smile every time you have finished brushing your teeth…
Surround yourself with what you love
I really believe that this is not only a good criterium for leading a happy life but also for making our world healthy again. We are surrounded by so much stuff and so much of it screams to be bought but ends up in cupboards that overflow. Or broken within a few weeks of use.
Unless… we try to choose one thing per item that we really need and that makes us happy just by looking at it. If I love the way my bottle opener looks and feels in my hand, it will make me enjoy every time I have to open a bottle. Plus I will probably only have one great one instead of three faulty ones. The same applies to a sponge. Or a toothbrush. Or a towel.
For my birthday my boyfriend gave me the most beautiful tiny teapot I have ever seen or touched: light blue, unglazed with a very fine texture, pretty details like a miniature spout and a round ball-like filter. The makers are TOKONAME, a Japanese brand of pottery that is trying (and very much succeeding at it) to renew the traditional Tokoname ware from Aichi.
All the steps you need to create a perfect cup of tea, are really worth it. It’s like drinking happiness.
Use a good quality water, in Holland you can use Spa blauw
Buy good quality green tea: I have recently discovered the shop Hug the Tea in The Hague, from two young and very sweet sisters who are very knowledgable. Their sencha, kukicha and guricha is really good.
Only boil the water you will need
After boiling let it cool to the perfect temperature for your tea (it depends on the variety)
Use one full teaspoon per teapot
Wait for one minute until it brews
Pour the tea into each teacup alternately little by little, so that the quantity and taste of the tea is equal in each cup. Remember to pour until the last drop.
You can repeat the steps but at different temperatures (again, this depends from the variety) for as much as three times, with the same leaves
*Another beautiful brand: the core of their business is the brush binding manufacturing at Sandsborgsvägen, Sweden – here 5 visually impaired craftsmen from different cultures make brushes according to an old Swedish tradition. They also work with visually impaired craftsmen in Estonia. Everything they sell is handmade.
This must be the easiest DIY on earth. Inspired by Sali Hughes and every perfectly manicured woman on the planet.
You will need: nailpolish in your favourite color (mine is Colour Lacquer by Guerlain in La Parisienne red), a plain white ceramic hanger with finger like hooks (you can find a similar one here), a steady hand.
With small strokes, paint a small nail shape, as if it was a miniature version of your little finger.
Let it dry.
And just because I love to gif…
Lovely items used: 1 Colour Lacquer by Guerlain in La Parisienne • 2 Ovenwant roze by Tas-ka • Koira Ja Kissa yellow tea towel by Lapuan Kankurit, designed by the amazing Japanese designer Makoto Kagoshima (check out his work!)
My mum belongs to a distant generation who irons once every few weeks: on ‘iron day’ a huge pile of wrinkly items, like shirts, skirts, towels, duvet covers and even flannels awaits turns into neat and flat piles while listening to the radio or watching tv. THE WHOLE DAY. I have never ironed a duvet cover (let alone flannel!) and just thinking about spending more then twenty minutes ironing… fills me with despair.
After organizing my closet I did find out that I had worn certain items because of their wrinkles. My regular steam iron could not tackle them or some materials were just too delicate. I turned to the internet to find a solution and after reading a lot of blogs from vintage shops and stylists, watching countless youtube videos and comparing notes, I discovered a travel size steam iron. A pink one. One that looks like a rather lovely vacuum flask and can be put in a small cabinet. One that does not require an ironing bord. Meet the Jiffy handheld steamer, made in the USA.
Yes, it was expensive. But it was worth it. I love it. My boyfriend loves it. Our clothes love it. And best of all: the wrinkles hate it! Just unscrew the cap, pour in some water, plug it in and wait a minute. All you need to do is hang your jeans, dress or shirt somewhere that allows you to stretch it a bit with your free hand, you then just move the Jiffy up and down and the wrinkles will disappear like magic. I love it so much that I have taken with me to family trips, to coffee dates with friends, to work… Yes, I am hysterical about it and I wish I could tell my eighteen-year-old about it. Gosh, how much more put together I would have looked with ironed clothes in my twenties.
If you are in Europe, you can buy the Jiffy from Amazon. The pink one costs a bit more than the black one but it’s so worth it.
Audrey Hepburn is probably everyone’s film and fashion icon. Smart, witty, kind and extremely beautiful. Due to constant processing and styling, she did have some problems with her shiny and healthy hair. So one day, in 1974, she booked an appointment with Philip Kingsley, the hair guru. As she had booked the appointment with the name Mrs Dotti (as she was married to Dr Andre Dotti) he only realised after seeing her that she was in fact Audrey Hepburn.
Audrey was after something that would keep her hair looking fantastic on set so Philip went to work in his Green St. Laboratory and formulated Elasticizer – the world’s first pre-shampoo conditioning treatment.
Audrey fell in love with the product and used it her whole life. She even ordered pots to be sent to her in Switzerland so she never ran out. This unique pre-shampoo element ensures that hair is left intensely conditioned, but also full of bounce and life.
I will be 37 in a few months. It sounds as surreal as 2016, which to me still sounds like a science-fiction date. Being 37 is just as sci-fi. My birthday has always been and stayed a very special day. For the last 36 years I have been waking up excited and happy, wearing a sometimes visible, sometimes invisible crown all day. Will it be like that this year too? I really hope so.
In order to prepare myself with as many happy ingredients as I can, I have been looking for the perfect birthday dress for quite some time. Last year’s I was dancing around all day in the wonderful ‘Anouk‘ dress from Mrs Pomeranz. The print was created by children’s illustrator Genevieve Godbout, who also designed the print of one of my favourite dresses by Nadinoo in collaboration with Anthropologie. So this year I decided to go back to Nadinoo and Genevieve for a new favourite dress: the button-up dress with a lovely apple print.
If you have never heard of British designer Nadia Izruna’s label, then you are in for a treat. Her love of clothing and the desire to sew up cheerful, well-designed womenswear spurred her on to start her own label in 2009, Nadinoo.
Moving to the English countryside has had a huge influence over the mood and colours of her latest collection. ‘The Good Life’ is all about relaxing into a slower pace and appreciate all that is good in life. The 100% cotton cloth is printed by a small English print house.
All dresses (and aprons and pillows) are designed and handmade in our countryside studio in limited runs with a focus on quality and craftsmanship. The collection is seasonless, which means I will be able to wear it for years to come: the perfect birthday dress. Goodbye, disposable clothing. Hello, well loved wardrobe worthy of care and perhaps one day passing it on to my niece.
Nadia is really wonderful and she even changed the fitting slightly so the dress would fit me perfectly. And it did… Just look at how the dress was wrapped: all good things made with love should be wrapped like a gift.
Curious about the birthday dress runners-up? Here they are:
A table that hides things, a pouf to put my feet up after a long day, a couple of matching pillows and a happy carpet: I am so happy with how a few purchases can make you feel as if you have moved house!
Turning Table by Theresa Arns for Menu: the easiest way to keep the living room nice and tidy. A word of advice: turning the table is addicting!
Cardboard lamp shade by Props & Backdrops, made to order by the lovely Viola, sliding installation by Leew and Mimimou
Sofa The Rits by Bertjan Pot. Pinterest had slightly blinded me for a while, so after saving enough to buy this sofa, it turned out to be slightly uncomfortable to sit on. After a year, we had decided to sell her with pain in my heart but inspired by my love for the fifties we actually took it off the market and asked artist Tije de Jong to shorten its tapered metal legs at the top to recreate a mid-century shape. The super perpendicular shape was transformed in a more natural slope which made the sofa super comfortable and inviting!
Candle Torch large in coral by Petit Friture. I just fell in love with its quirkiness during a weekend in Brussels in the must-visit shop La Fabrika.
‘Landscape‘ pillow by Leah Duncan. It is screen printed with water-based yellow, blue, teal and pink ink on soft 100% off-white linen. I could not find an image of mine but here you see the ‘Morse code‘ design which is on top of my must-buy list too.
There are things we only buy as a gift for someone else. Like a beautiful screen-printed matchbox. I wouldn’t even dare to put it on a wish list. But when I received this sweet and lovely gift from fashion designer Lisan Groters, I sighed of happiness. This square little box makes the ritual of putting the candles on in the evening something I now cherish. Thank you, dear Lisan. If you want to make someone happy, go and buy one.
My favourite shop in Amsterdam, Leafde, is no longer open but every time I cuddle on the sofa with this warm and soft wool blanket from Lapuan Kankurit, I think of them. The shop closed because we are shopping more online than visiting the shops in our cities. Because we prefer buying ten cheap things from Zara, H&M or Tiger instead of one beautiful, durable item made from natural materials, with care and love. This blanket reminds me how important it is that we surround ourselves with people AND things that make us and the world happy. Or as Marie Kondo would say ‘things that spark joy’.
Pouf Sit On Me Off White Round by OYOY: you can sit comfortably on the pouf, put a tray on it , move it around easily through its lovely leather handle and use it to put your feet up. A pouf like this is IDEAL to make a house kids proof and if kids are not on your mind, you should buy it too. OYOY is a very nice company too. Bought from here in Holland but pick’n choose from any of these depending on where you live.
PS The lovely elephant jar was given to me as a gift by the bubbly and inspiring Lottaland, the ceramic coasters are made by me, the mug is one my favourites made by Höganäs Keramik, the yellow plant pot is an old pudding form and the rug is from Anthropologie!
It’s 2016 and we all should stop buying basil from Morocco, sweet potato from the US or grapes from Chili when all these things grow closer to home too. But how do you step out of the economic cycle driven by supermarkets without cutting on things you love eating?
Well, there are several options. You could use Google to find out if you can find farmers close to home. Or you could contact your local supermarket and find out if they are willing to change their supply chain. After all, they want to keep their customers happy. But you could also simply grow your own.
Is growing your own ‘simple’? Is farming or foraging something you can do living on the third floor in an Amsterdam apartment with a small and windy balcony? Yes, it is and yes you can, thanks to a technique called ‘hydroponic’. The Plantui is created in Finland and it allows anyone to grow food plants up to 2 meters in height, from kale and tomatoes to basil and violets. Without any SOIL. In your LIVING ROOM. Really amazing.
The shape reminds me of a design version of a mushroom and it’s built with technology that recognizes the growth period of each plant and automatically adjusts its light (from bright pink to a rainbow of colors) and watering schedule to your crop. When it’s time to go to bed for us, the Plantui switches off its light and by the time we wake-up, the light is on again. For me, it’s more hi-tec than a computer.
It is magical watching nature grow from something as tiny as a seed, and it’s also a lesson in patience: it takes 4 weeks to harvest kale and rocket and around 10 weeks for thyme and violets.
Buy from here or here. Or ask your local garden shop to stock them!
PS They have a very nice customer service too, which for me is very important.
In Pretty Honest, Sali Hughes draws on over 20 years of wisdom, advice and expertise to show real women how to make the most of makeup’s physically and emotionally transformative powers.
It’s part instruction manual (foundation and concealer, what on earth should I be using you for? Do I put my serum underneath or on top of my moisturizer? What should be in my essential beauty kit and what is just nice to have?) and part a love letter to make-up and being proud of who you are, which makes it so wonderful to read.
It covers everything: from teenage skin to mature beauty, botox to bridal make-up, sickness to good health.
Things Sali taught me and products she inspired me to try:
She just turned 40 and is remarkably beautiful. It is a good thing to have inspiring, strong and beautiful women to look up to. Just read her reaction to this moron on twitter. It’s a brilliant lesson for me.
There is a red lipstick for everyone and wearing one is can transform you from Clark Kent into Superwoman. I love mine from Guerlain, Chanel and Kiko.
ASTALIFT JELLY AQUARISTA is a wonderful and strange red serum from Fuji (!!!), using patented camera film technology that results in the tiniest microparticles of collagen ever used in skincare.
The texture is strange, like putting gelatine on your face and you really have to use the tiny spatula it comes with. My skin looks really, really good. Everything looks plumper, smoother and even my skin tone is much more healthy than it usually is in winter.
DOUBLE WEAR ZERO SMUDGE LENGTHENING MASCARA by Estee Lauder: I have written about this mascara before and it is still my absolute favourite. Thanks to its tubing formula it does not smudge or stream
LONG-WEAR CREAM SHADOW STICK by Bobbi Brown’s A long-lasting, do-it-all eye shadow that’s a stroke of genius—just swipe and go. This budge-proof formula stays put for at least 8 hours. My favourite colour is Golden Bronze. PS Italian budget make-up brand Kiko always has a very similar long-wear shadow stick for a fraction of Bobbi’s. I tend to go back to BB but it’s nice for a crazy colour you will not wear much.
MASON PEARSON HAIRBRUSH A hand-crafted Mason Pearson leaves hair gleaming, without snag, drag or discomfort.
ULTRABLAND FACIAL CLEANSER by Lush. A thick cream made from honey, rosewater, iris and almond oil. for a rich, gentle cleanse. It’s thorough, rich and gentle. Just massage it in your skin, also on your eye make-up, and take it off with a too with a hot flannel. Leaves my skin super soft.
PRO LONGWEAR PAINT POT by MAC. A long-wearing blendable cream shadow that can be worn alone or with other products. I use camel which really evens my eye lid skin after which I have a blank palette for cat eye flicks or a ’natural’ make-up face.
BLUSH by NARS: a sheer powder blush in a range of natural shades. Yes, I agree with everyone on the planet, Nars’ blush is unbelievably good.
LIGHT-EXPERT CLICK BRUSH by Terry. Founded by Terry de Gunzburg, the French cosmetic guru behind Touche Éclat. it gives you a near-perfect base that stays put all day and doesn’t make you shiny. It successfully covers spots and blemishes, contains hyaluronic acid, which helps plump up fine lines, and silicone to give you a super-smooth and dewy finish. How to use this? Watch
The beautiful pj’s from Yawn arrived wonderfully wrapped: there was even a tiny box of tea inside. All the prints are quirky and sweet, I fell in love with catnap and storm at sea. The fabric is so soft and warm… I could wear my pyjama all day long.
Buying a luxurious nightgown that is really just for ME and MY OWN comfort and cosyness, felt like the most grown-up thing I have ever done (next to buying a red Chanel lipstick). Choosing between a nightshirt and a pyjama was the hardest part.