Growing up in Italy, I was brought up with vegetables and fruit. As a child, I was thought how to to pick up the ripest tomatoes (smell) and the sweetest melons (smell, look, weight and tap). We were also supposed to know all different variaties of a tomato and which one to use when (salad, pizza, pasta).
With that background, it’s impossible to enjoy a cold and sterile Dutch supermarket so I feel lucky that Jan understands my need for buying 35kg of fruit and vegetables a week, at a wonderful Turkish supermarket called Helal et Gida. He has learned to pick the loveliest aubergines and zucchini, how to smell and look at things. How to lift 8 bags up to three flight of stairs weekly…
We only buy ‘products’ with one ingredient (except cheese, pasta and bread which are allowed to have a few more, but only natural ones) and make everything ourself. This is wonderful but it also requires a lot of space. After months of using pans and plates to spread out our weekly groceries, I came up with the idea of making a small vegetable stall for the kitchen. Jan loved it and we started designing.
The idea is very simple: get yourself enough crates to store your veggies, choose the length of your sides accordingly AND make sure there is enough space between the crates to take out a melon or a pumpkin, a wooden bar for bananas, a few boards for the bottom and wheels (it makes it so much more practical). How cute would this look in a Jamie Oliver or Ottolenghi restaurant, but more importantly, EVERYONE with children should have one. It’s so much more fun to choose what you want to eat when all is displayed in such an inviting way.
I have called it the Frutteria. In Italian you usually call a vegetable shop a fruttivendolo (frutta + vendolo = a seller of fruit); the suffix -eria means that it is a shop so I liked that option more.
Anyone interested can contact us but you can go ahead and make this yourself, I would love to see this in every household one day.
A few tips for everyone interested:
- Recycle a magazine or use teatowels to cover your crate. It absorbs moisture and if you happen to miss a rotting apple, the wood from your crate is not infected.
- We did not paint of varnish the frutteria as we wanted to keep a rustic look and it keeps contamination to a minimum
- The part of the fruit or vegetable that is attached to the plant, always tells you the most about its freshness. Keep those visible and choose accordingly
- If you want to make sure you get enough vitamins, minerals and other good things from your food, vary in color.
- Keep the frutteria out of the heat or sunlight, it helps keep it all fresh
- An old farmer on Tenerife taught me to keep your potatoes in a towel, they do not like light (well, actually they do but it turns them into a plant)
- Anything leafy should be eaten first
- Melons can ripe after picking but will rarely get sweet. Choose the right one by smelling (should smell sweet), touching (never soft, never hard, always a bit elastic), looking (no weird patches and around its leafstalk you should see a small crack) and tapping (it should be heavy and give a muffled sound).
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.
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.
Our bodies are all shaped differently. That is why it’s important to know what looks good on you, and not what is in fashion. Style is something personal and is all about having fun with a good-fitting wardrobe. Sometimes there is a clash between things you like and things that make you look like the most beautiful version of you. My clothes clash: cute, doll-like sixties a-shaped dresses. If possible with large buttons and a humongous collar. Yeah. I love those. But these dresses only look great on O-shaped girls (‘apples’) with skinny legs. They should never be worn by girls with a petit upper body and ‘strong’ (let’s call them that, it sounds nice) legs.
But at least I can still draw them. In coral. With dark tights and matching booties. Mmm…
Dress inspired by Orla Kiely (yes, I own this one…) :: shoes by Pierre Darre’
Did you ever play with Barbie? I loved her. The stories my sister and I made up were all very similar but Barbie’s wardrobe changed by the minute. It would take us an hour to dress her up, one minute to let her do her Barbie life things and then we went back to changing her wardrobe for the next minute of her life.
Ruth Handler was right when she noticed children love playing ‘adults’ with their toys. At the time, most children’s toy dolls were either babies or toddlers. Her husband, co-founder of the Mattel toy company, disliked the idea of an adult doll, as did the rest of Mattel’s directors. During a trip to Europe in 1956 with her children Barbara and Kenneth, Ruth Handler came across a German toy doll called Bild Lilli. The adult-figured doll was exactly what Mrs Handler had in mind and once back in the US, Ruth had won over Mattel’s Important Men. She redesigned the doll and gave her a new name, Barbie, after Mrs Handler’s daughter Barbara.
The first Barbie doll wore an amazing black and white zebra striped swimsuit and signature topknot ponytail with a fringe. She was available as either a blonde or brunette and her clothes were created by Mattel fashion designer Charlotte Johnson. The first Barbie dolls were manufactured in Japan, with their clothes hand-stitched by Japanese homeworkers.
What do we learn from this story: your curiosity is sacred, travel is important and you can only wear a coat with short sleeves if you have long gloves.
Inspired by this image :: Dresses with a similar feel by Boden in red or bright yellow
The Breton stripe was introduced in 1858 as the uniform for the French navy. Inspiration is everywhere, that is probably why most (good) designers love traveling and collecting things.
After a trip to the French coast Coco Chanel was so inspired by the sailors’ uniform that she used the Breton stripe in her Nautical collection in 1917 and it has found its way to the wardrobe of everyone since: from Audrey Hepburn to James Dean, from my studio mate Valesca to my fashion girl, everyone own a version of the Breton stripe.
High waisted jeans and Breton striped shirt inspired by this image :: shoes by Bloch :: red beret vintage :: small red handkerchief
There is no color capable of catapulting you in the spotlight like a nice red. I found myself buying a bright red Guerlain lipstick after a stylist announced in horror ‘You don’t own a red lipstick? Every woman needs a red!’. Stay away from red on a day you feel like a squashed banana but embrace it on any day you feel like the world is your stage.
Dress inspired by this image :: shoes by Christian Louboutin :: lipstick Guerlain Rouge Automatique 121
When I was a little girl, I used to dream of having a magic wand to turn my fantasy clothes into reality. Many years later I discovered Orla Kiely et voilá: there it was, my dream wardrobe turned true!
Dress Queen Of Hearts Jacquard from Orla Kiely :: Shoes inspired by Chie Mihara Calma in coral
Antoine de Saint Exupéry’s Little Prince came from a planet scarcely any larger than a house. He shared his little planet with good plants, bad plants, a couple of vulcanos and one beautiful rose.
The image of this small asteroid covered in green with one magnificent flower sticking out of it, has always made me smile: wouldn’t it be magical to live on such a planet?
One day, while on an urban exploration of Amsterdam, there it was, my first string garden: a little ball of soil, covered in moss, with one, tiny plant growing on top. I wrote about the moss ball, or Kokedama as it is called in Japan, in a previous post but I have waited the whole winter before venturing on making one. In the end I even turned this event into something special by inviting friends and teaching them too how to add a bit of magic to the world: because that is truly what they do. That’s why I want to teach this to you too. Continue reading Make: Kokedama