raori

living handmade


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The Edible Garden Project 2015 – part 7. Livin’ it!

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Before and after: heavy wooden structures filled to the brim with flowers and food.

It took some time to get everything going and working, so much actually, that I had to quit my beloved raori for a while. But here we are now. No more hard work, just a functioning Edible Garden filled with flowers and food. This is what I wrote one year ago:

The plan is:

– to try to grow as much food as we can by ourselves.

– to eat mainly vegetarian (although Max and the kids will eat meat occasionally).

– to buy what we can’t grow in bulk and locally grown (flour, oats, cheese, butter, milk).

– to have our own eggs (there is a chicken coop in our garden already!)

– to cook and bake everything by ourselves and really avoid processed food.

– to create a peaceful, organised and beautiful garden full of flowers and food.

And I’m happy to tell you that our plan worked! We are livin’ it and lovin’ it. Our dinners are based on what is ready to harvest, and the entire family is happier and healthier than ever 🙂

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livin it-5See my little corn field? We bought an extra freezer to be able to store it all over the winter.

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livin it-8Remember that awful grey and boring entrance to our little back yard farm? This has now been replaced with climbing beans and soft grass.

livin it-9Fresh eggs every day is the best!

livin it-10Organised Square Foot Gardening: easy to manage and care for.

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livin it-16There is something very precious about harvest from your own garden. This was Elsa’s breakfast.

livin it-17We have a huge Cherry tree at the back of the garden. In June it invites you to climb up to harvest or to have a quick snack.

meet the family-5Even babies enjoy picking vegetables.

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livin it3-1Garden dinner on the terrace: all made from Garden food: Chard in garlic and olive oil, leeks in lemon and parmesan, baked potato… yummie!

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bread-1The most basic human cooking knowledge: to learn how to bake bread. This has been the most important skill to learn. Max’s bread is the most delicious bread I’ve ever had.


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Cardboard TV – why not?

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We cancelled our TV subscription a few years ago. We we’re just fed up with the constant stream of never-ending advertising and brainless TV-shows, so we stopped. Especially concerning our kids: when a movie is finished you can turn it off and do something else, but on a tv-channel, there are no breaks. Ever. We thought we would miss having a TV, but weirdly enough, we don’t. Instead of watching TV at night, we found ourselves with a lot of free time to do what we love, create. And the kids use their imagination much more.

However, we are still really in to video games and movies, so the TV stayed on for that reason. We always wanted to do something fun and creative to our old TV-set, so last week, my clever husband finally figured out what to do with it. The result is an original TV made out of cardboard, with matching cardboard speakers. I love the way it looks!


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DIY – little love box

My husband is one of those men who doesn’t want anything for his birthday. So every year I find myself totally lost. I do know however, that he likes handmade things and he really appreciates sweet thoughts (like eloping without the kids for a small weekend or a handmade bag or some very nice sushi for dinner or… well, you get the point!) When I ask him if there is something special he wants, most of the time he tells me: “oh, just give me a kiss!”And this year was no exception, but this time it gave me an idea….
I’m gonna show you have to make “a love box” !! A sweet little something, super fast and pretty much free to make. A little paper box filled with love! In my case, I have written some thoughts on long strips of pretty paper, thoughts that I have about him … oh, I won’t go into details, but it goes something like: “I love looking into your beautiful eyes, I could stare at them all day…” stuff like that.
Here is how I made the box:
We have a lot of different cheese here in Belgium, and many of them comes in pretty wood or paper boxes. That is exactly the kind of “garbage” paper box that we’re looking for here. Something that is made to be thrown away, but brought to life. (I love that!).
I flipped through my huge pile of old design magazines and found this Belgian graffiti fashion shoot that I thought had potential for my little project. I grabbed a Pritt stick (glue) and started tearing small pieces of the photo shoot pages. It was the background I really liked. First I glued the entire top of the box, started to add small pieces, and as I moved on, I glued on the pieces instead before I tacked them down.
The edge of the box was beige brown and I thought it would look better white, so I painted it with fast drying acrylic paint before I continued to glue down my ripped pieces. I found a nice drawing of a man I thought looked like Max and some women that I liked, I glue the man on the top, cut out letters for “Max” and glued the women on the bottom. For a great finish and longer lasting quality, you could add a layer of Mod Podge on top of everything, but it’s not necessary.


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Making a wedding dress

There is something very romantic and sweet about making a wedding dress for someone… I’m always so happy to be given that honor. It’s also a lot of nerves involved when I make a wedding dress; it has to be perfect for that big day! There is no room for mistakes on white silk and lace…
When I make dresses like this to measure, it’s really “old style”. What I mean is that this is how clothes used to be made at the tailor’s; a sketch, a photo, choosing the fabric, maybe trying on something similar, but not being able to see the actual garment until it’s finished. There is certainly something exiting and beautiful to make clothes like this. It makes me think back on the long history of my profession and why I love what I do so much! I think the best part in working “old style” like this, is that the bride can decide fabrics, style, feeling, length and fit all by herself (with my counseling of course!) This particular dress was custom made for Stacy in Colorado. You can check out the photo shoot she made with the dress in Thailand on her blog.


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Closet clean out

Tomorrow I will become 35 years old. Thirty-five years old! How did that happen? It feels pretty good though, getting older and wiser…
Although, I’m finding myself slightly lost at the moment… It’s been five years now that I have spent changing diapers, never having time for myself, hardly time to shower, grabbing the only clean piece of clothing I can find, playing with Duplo and getting dirty, seriously- getting dirty as in: you.have.no.idea.unless.you.have.kids.yourself. The substances I’ve been covered in… uhhhh, you really don’t want the details! Anyway, my point is that I’m done with this baby life now. The kids are in school now and I can start living again. And as any girl, I seriously needed a make-over / wardrobe rehab.
I’ve been doing a closet clean-out for a few days and it’s a really inspiring thing to do if you like that sort of thing. I really do. Clean out your closet, organize, give away, re-make old stuff… This blog is partly about environmental fashion, and I think that environmentally, the best thing you can do is to know your style. If you do, you will never buy unnecessary items that will end up in a dust pile eventually, but you will only buy garments that fit your body and can spend some money on good quality (handmade things for example!) It’s true what the stylists say- we only use 20% of our closet, the rest could go away to charity or could’ve been saved in money and production in the first place. Sale at H&M, for example, is dangerous! We go in to look for what we need, and we come out with lots of cheap items, bought on impulse.
So that’s what I’m trying to do at the moment. I already have a box of DIY-items. Clothes that I love, but are just wrong in fit or slightly broken. I have less than 30 garments left now in my closet, but I feel very free and I found lots of nice styling combinations that I never thought about putting together before. Hope you will give it ago as well, if you don’t end up giving away half your closet, at least you get a huge energy boost, ego-kick and some new ideas for styling. My best advice before you start this huge project is to make a little sketch like this:

It will help you guide you through your closet clean out. It can be pretty hard to see yourself and if you make a few sketches of what you tend to wear in your life, it will be easier to set some “ground rules” in your personal style, and it will finally help you to throw out or give away those tops and pants you have kept for years without actually wearing them. Above are the outfits I wear the most and as I’m crazy about lists and “creating within frames”, I’ve named them to remember the different styles. If I found something in my closet that didn’t fit the above styles- it went straight into my eBay second hand shop or to charity. Never mind if you feel like you can’t draw – it’s just for you, so anything will do. Have fun!

Steps to clean out your closet:

– Take out everything from your closet and your drawers, even underwear, stockings, bags, hats, shoes and jackets (get them if they are stored in the hallway). Put it on the floor or on a table. Separate it all into different piles if you wish- cardigans and sweaters, t-shirts, shirts, pants, skirts, dresses etc. – Literally clean out your closet. Wipe drawers, take out hangers and storage boxes. Try to imagine how the closet should be arranged for you to quickly find a nice outfit. Knickers, pants, t-shirts, tank tops, socks in drawers, dresses, thin jackets, skirts, tops and blouses on hangers is the way I do it. – Try on everything! This will take you some time, but it’s worth it, you will feel much better knowing that you only have close that fits you like a glove and that makes you look gorgeous! -Start by hanging back the items that you feel really makes you you! Cause “no one is you’er than you” as Dr Seuss says. That is the clothes that you probably wear most of the time- what makes them special to you? Is it the fit, set silhouette, the style, the color? – Clothes in the the wrong size, or if you haven’t used it in 6 months (apart from winter or certain summer clothes), if it hangs too funny on your body, doesn’t flatter or just doesn’t make you feel “damn, I look good in this” toss it in a “get rid of it-pile”. Be tough! For things that needs some fixing, throw it in the “DIY-mend pile”. Some clothes might be out of fashion or in the real world, or slightly broken or with a tiny stain… these items can be re-used in the bedroom as a stylish pajama for cold nights instead.

the get rid of it-pile
 – give away to charity (don’t throw anything in the bin, even broken clothes can be re-used or appreciated by someone)
 – sell on Ebay or cheap to friends FB (the stuff with a little bit of a value, vintage)
 
 the DIY or mend it-pile
 
– the items you can re-make by dying it, copy (harvest a pattern), up cycle or adorn with beads or embroidery for example (I will show you lots of ideas later on)
 –  the items that you can mend yourself with a little sewing, or that needs to be take to a tailor, dry cleaner or shoe-repairer.
Once you’re done with these steps, you should have a clean closet of only a few very nice items that all go very well together and that fits you perfectly. These are probably your basic items, your staples. The 20% that makes you look gorgeous! These are the kind of clothes you should look for when buying clothes in the future.
 


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Making the Burning Burta Maxi dress

This is how I make my favourite dress, the Burning Burta maxi dress. I looooove this dress, each piece is made to order and measure made, so there is always a new challenge for every dress I make. The cutting out takes a long time on my knees!! (my cutting table is not big enough), but the dress is quick to put together, using French Seams and Haute Couture hemming, see the sewing tutorials above. This particular dress is for a raori girl in Australia. I cut the lining and the main fabric at the same time as the pattern pieces are the same size, saving me also a lot of time. I always add the seam allowing onto my pattern pieces, it’s so much easier to add patterns notches as well (markings to match up when you sew). I never use pins for straight lines, I just make sure the markings add up. Oh, normally I iron the fabric before I start as well 😉
If you want to check out this dress in my shop, click here.