Tea for two

TOKONAME | mimimou.comSurround 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

teapot TOKONAME :: small wooden plate IRIS HANTVERK* :: starred cup LE PETIT ATELIER DE PARIS :: spoon 4TH-MARKET :: guricha HUG THE TEA

*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.

The end of a wrinkly era: the Jiffy

Jiffy steamerMy 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’s hair

Elasticizer

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.

Buy Elasticizer, now. Make yourself happy.

Grow your own with Plantui

Plantui
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.

Phone off, kettle on, pyjama time…

Yawn
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.
Yawn sleepwear
Order yours online now and enjoy.

If you love shoes, you will love this

fearless feet festI do not enjoy buying sweaters. Or tops. I even hated buying trousers so much, I stopped wearing them altogether. But oh, boy, I really do enjoy buying shoes. I even have a shoe ritual: whenever I buy a beautiful new pair (ie something I do not actually need but rather enjoy as much as someone else might enjoy an original work of art or a postcard), I put them in my vintage shop counter for a few weeks so I can admire them in their perfect, unworn state. Every now and then, I take them out and look at how they have been constructed and skillfully put together. I am definitely a shoe person.

Although shoes are a lovely thing, that is not what this post is about at all. No, this post is about having beautiful feet to go in them. Continue reading If you love shoes, you will love this

Summer toe-time

Footner
After Autumn comes Winter which is then followed by Spring. Somewhere in Spring there is that infamous Shift: I can no longer hide my feet in pretty tights and shoes but will have to bare my legs and show off varnished toe nails in pretty sandals.

The problem is that after a looooong period (I live in rainy Amsterdam after all) of cold, I tend to forget I have feet at all. By the time the weather has kindly reminded me of them, I stare of them in horror. Are those cracked and rock hard really extremeties mine? Can I swap with someone else? The answer to those questions is usually yes and nooo.

But fear not as this year all is different and Spring is greeted with a tender smile towards my feet. Yes, I have discovered the Footner. What is the Footner, I hear you ask. Well, it’s a pair of plastic sock filled with a magic gel which you will have to put on one time for just one hour, while reading a nice book about an old man and the sea. As Santiago falls back to sleep and you can put Hemingway away, take off your socks (I usually wrap a towel around them, as I always think that heat makes things work better, like it makes humans happier) and wash your feet. Tadaaa! Your feet will feel soft again.

The only downside is that the story doesn’t end here so please do not forget to put on your Footner before the Feet Shift comes. After a few days your feet will start crumbling like parmigiano, depending on how much dead, coarse, calloused skin you have. all the dead, coarse, calloused skin will peel off in large pieces, revealing soft, young-looking feet. Please do wear socks in bed or keep the hoover next to it. Also remember not to put your feet on tables or walk around with bare feet.

Wait one to two weeks and the result will be soft, young-looking feet. Seriously. I could not remember seeing my feet pink, ever.

Pump up the (hair) volume

L'Oréal Paris' Elvive Fibrology
Ah, you Disney Princesses, because of you I have always wanted to have long hair. As hairdressers tend to chop more than you ask them to, it took me five long years of cutting it myself. It turns out my hair is so thin it tends to dance in solo frizzy strings around my head instead of lovely bouncing on my hips. I am a sucker for hair products, as long as it promises to de-frizz hair and give it thickness, I buy it. One thing I have learned? They never work. Perhaps on other people’s hair but mine is every time an exception.

The lovely Sali Hughes is one of the few beauty people I trust completely. When she wrote about a new line from L’Oréal which was supposed to make your hair thicker after one wash, I almost ran to the shop.

I have only bought the conditioner so far as the shampoo contains SLS (baaad for your hair) and yes. It works. My goodness, it works so well. My hair bounces on my hips, it gets less tangled, it seriously looked as if it has doubled in size. Oh, yes, I am officially in love with L’Oréal Paris’ Elvive Fibrology (or Full Fiber, as it is called in the Netherlands). You will too.