Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Yes to hand-crafted products!

A few years ago, I first heard about Etsy, an online marketplace for every hand-crafted product imaginable. Ever since that day I have been addicted to the site, and I have to warn you that once you start browsing around, you’ll have a hard time leaving! It’s mind-blowing to see the unthinkably beautiful prints, jewellery, handbags, dollhouse accessories, stationery and trinkets people come up with. Try typing in a keyword (say, ‘chocolate’, ‘cake’ or ‘cookie’ – do I detect a pattern here?) and watch in awe as hand-made creations pop up by the dozen.

One of the Etsy shopholders I’ve had the pleasure of dealing with is Tizzalicious. Today I’ll be sharing some of her beautiful products with you. I also asked her some questions, which you can read below.

FoL: Tell us about all the different things you make. Do you have a specific trademark product or specialty?

Tizz:  I make jewellery and accessories, but also things like magnets and softies. I don't have a specific trademark or product, but one thing all my items have in common is that they are colourful! Another common theme is cuteness :-)

FoL: How and why did you get into crafts?

Tizz:  I have been making things for as long as I can remember. My friends and I were always making jewellery or sewing Barbie clothes on my mom's sewing machine. I even remember selling some jewellery at a flea market when I was very little. Then about five years ago I sold some jewellery on LiveJournal, and that's when I decided to get more serious about it, and open a shop.

FoL: What inspires you? 

Tizz: This is always such a hard question! I get inspired by a lot of things, pretty pictures I see online, anything retro, the sun (I am always feeling productive and creative on a sunny day!), etc.

FoL: What are the price ranges of your creations?

Tizz: The prices in my shop vary from about 4 - 25 USD.

FoL: Where can we buy your products?

Tizz: My products are available at, my Etsy shop, my DaWanda shop, and a few retail stores, which you can find here

I absolutely love gingham, so I’m tempted to say those red Gingham Studs are my favourite. But the little apples (Red Polka Dot Apple Brooch and Pink Apple Magnets) have totally stolen my heart!

What do you think of these lovely creations? Do you enjoy buying hand-crafted items? Where do you get them from? Do you make things yourself? Let me know!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Like a soccer ball, only better

The Fifa World Cup is just around the corner, and you can choose to ignore it (or complain) or you can join in the excitement! Because even if you’re not a soccer fan, you’re probably a fan of home-made ice cream. Enter the Play & Freeze™ Ice Cream Maker: the home appliance that looks like a soccer ball but produces dessert. 

You don’t even need electricity for this fascinating gadget. Just put ice and rock salt into one end and the ingredients for an ice cream recipe (the basic one needs just cream, sugar and vanilla) into the other. Then shake it or roll it for two sessions of ten minutes each and Bob’s your uncle. This ludicrously exciting invention by Industrial Revolution Inc. is available from Firebox or Amazon, and you can read more at the product website.

I started looking around for ice cream makers after Mallory from The Salty Cod told me she wanted a new ice cream maker for her birthday. (You’ll find some really cool ice cream recipes on her blog.) If, like Mallory, you prefer a predictable result from an appliance that doesn’t look like sports equipment, try a Krups Ice Cream Maker or the MagiMix Le Glacier Turbine. In South Africa, both are available from yuppiechef. Read more about the best ice cream makers in an article from The Independent here.

For less fattening but equally pleasing delights, try some of these products!

Sweet parfait necklaces by Baby Loves Pink

Velour ice cream cones with 100% polyester filling from Bombadill 

Etsy and Fluff both ship to South Africa, so take your pick and get ordering! 

Wow, now I feel like ice cream.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

SA’s best kept décor secret

I don’t know why on earth I didn’t know about HomeChoice before, but I’m sure glad I do now! While browsing around on the web for local homeware suppliers last week, I came across their website and was really impressed. Not only do they offer beautiful and stylish bedding for every taste and colour scheme, but you can pay for your order – which you can conveniently place online – in up to16 instalments. You get 14 days’ free home approval, and apparently there’s also free delivery protection and product replacement protection included in all orders at no extra charge. Now, if this already sounds good to you, wait till you see their product line!

But first, you can WIN R1 MILLION by entering their ongoing competition here, and what’s more, they’ll send you a free mail order catalogue. I’m definitely going for that!





Mary Jane

Flower Patch

I love it when online stores like these make an effort to style their products in rooms – almost like a serving suggestion. Just look at these lovely examples. That pewter bird on the chest of drawers in the Camden room adds a nice sparkle, while the magenta orchids provide the Trent room with a splash of bright colour. My personal favourite sets are Mary Jane (because it reminds me of Cath Kidston) and Camden (because I adore purple).

Aside from bedding and curtains, HomeChoice also has luggage, crockery, home appliances, towels and more.

There are special offers available on their website all the time. At the moment the special welcome offer for new customers (that’s you) is the Manhattan duvet set (1 duvet cover, 2 standard pillowcases, 2 matching curtain drops and 2 tie-backs) from R399. Despite the name, it’s got a nice African feel to it, and this is what it looks like:

Other current specials include: 2 free continental pillowcases when you buy the Camden or Carla Standard Set, and a free bath towel when you buy a 7-piece Mosaic Towel Set (cream, peach or wine).

Which products do you like? What colour scheme is your bedroom at the moment? Tell us – we’re all ears.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Exotic handbags

There’s something very inspiring about a family business. And what better example than S. C. Vizcarra, a luxury accessories brand that was established in Manila in the Philippines in1925. Their handbags are hand-woven by artisans from natural leather, wicker or abacá (a banana fibre native to the Philippines). Before frowning at a fruit-derived handbag, though, you should take a look at this beautiful selection from their Cruise Collection…




According to their website, each bag is a unique creation that takes to 2-3 days to produce. But what amazes me is that the natural leather bags are each woven from one piece of leather, making them seamless. And to top that off, all their bags are lined with silk! Here are some bags from the Classic Collection, just to show you:



The label started out with Segundina Cornejo Vizcarra, founder of the company, opening her needlework studio in Manila in 1925. Her specialty was hand-embroidery on piña, a native pineapple fibre famous for its strength despite its delicate appearance. Segundina’s daughter, Vicky Vizcarra Amalingan-Sales, continued the family tradition of producing finely crafted objects, and last year her granddaughter, Rita Nazareno, added a new product line called ZACARIAS, named for her sculptor grandfather. Read the full history at

Here’s an interview with Rita, who is in fact also an Emmy-winning producer with a Master’s degree in film and video and two Master’s degrees in design management for fashion from the London College of Fashion. She is now based in London, while her mother Vicky runs things in Manila.

Rita, you took over the label from your grandmother, the original S.C. Vizcarra. Has it been difficult to fill her shoes? What was the most important thing you learned from her?

My grandmother – Lola Gunding, as I called her – was an amazing woman filled with a great deal of compassion coupled with creativity. She came from a poor family, but had this gift for embroidery and the good fortune of having people who believed in her talent. My mother also has this compassion that I am in awe of.
It is definitely a challenge to fill my grandmother's shoes, and equally, my mother’s, whose work has helped the company evolve into what it is today. But I think they’ve taught me well and I've observed them enough to be able to pave my own way and continue the work of S.C.Vizcarra – and keep it relevant and important for years to come.

 What is your label's philosophy, and how does it apply to your products?

When my grandmother started the company in 1925, she had always espoused fine hand-workmanship and design. I remember when I was very young, I would watch these little old ladies whom my grandmother employed from the very beginning – I called them all 
lola, which means grandmother in Tagalog – intricately sewing the delicate pineapple fabric, gossiping while sewing, of course. There was such camaraderie and a family atmosphere that still goes on today. We also continue to promote and offer fine craftsmanship of hand-woven products with design that transcends trends. 

What inspires you, both in your work and as a person? 

One of the bags I designed is based on an Isa Genzken cement sculpture while another is based on the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. I really get inspired by going to exhibits and travelling.

How should one go about choosing a new S. C. Vizcarra bag? 

Our bags are finely hand-woven with some bags taking up to 7 days to make each one. They are not trend-driven and we have classic and elegant designs, while the very new ZACARIAS by S.C.Vizcarra brand pushes hand-woven bags into the modern and innovative realm – nodding to contemporary art, architecture and design. There are day bags, evening bags, varying sizes and a wide range of colours. There really is something for everyone.

How can we get in touch with you or order your products?

We do private orders and would love to hear from anyone interested. We can be reached via email at On our website you can view some of our handbag collections as well as our home accessories. 

I’m concluding today’s post with some of the exciting new bags from the ZACARIAS collection. Which ones do you like? I have to say I’m totally in love with that lime green Dorothea bag!


ZACARIAS Marsupial


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Get your home ready for winter!

It’s still so hot that I can’t believe it’s almost time to get the plush blankets and hot water bottles out again. Don’t get me wrong, I love winter – it just seems very distant at the moment! You may not be a fan of the cold season, but @home’s new winter collection may just change your mind. Just take a look at these beautiful furnishings!

Don't you love all those jewel-coloured cushions and throws? That brown clock looks really funky too.

All images are from the @home winter catalogue. There’s lots more to see, so I strongly suggest you go page through the whole catalogue. And if you need any more convincing, you can win an elegant Breville coffee machine by finding the 'coffee machine' hidden in the catalogue and clicking on it. (An entry form will pop up.) Good luck to everyone and let me know if you win!

If you’re lucky enough to have an @home branch near you, they also have two in-store promotions on at the moment. Apparently if you buy one of the Nespresso Le Cube coffee machines, you get a Nespresso Aeroccino for free (sounds like a good deal if you drink a lot of coffee-based drinks), and if you buy three patterned bone china mugs for R19 each you get a fourth free. (Most households I know have a pretty high mug-breaking index, so more mugs are always a good idea.)

Where do you buy most of your home furnishings? Chain stores? Flea markets? Do you make them yourself? I’d love to know.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Feel free to judge these books by their covers

A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read. 
(Mark Twain)

My apologies to Mr Twain this morning, because I definitely don’t agree with him there. Most of my favourite books are classics and I’d choose them over contemporary books any day. I’m especially fond of works by Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. So imagine my delight when I discovered this beautiful new collection of Penguin Classics created by designer Coralie Bickford-Smith. Each book has a cloth cover with foil patterns stamped on, colored endpapers and ribbon markers. 

(Click to enlarge)

The collection includes:
Cranford (Elizabeth Gaskell) 
Great Expectations (Charles Dickens)
Oliver Twist (Charles Dickens)
Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë) 
The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde) 
Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen) 
Sense and Sensibility (Jane Austen) 
Emma (Jane Austen)
The Hound of the Baskervilles (Arthur Conan Doyle)
Tess of the D’Urbervilles (Thomas Hardy)
Wuthering Heights (Emily Brontë)
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass (Lewis Carroll)
Treasure Island (Robert Louis Stevenson)
The Odyssey (Homer)
Lady Chatterley’s Lover (DH Lawrence)
The Woman in White (Wilkie Collins)
Madame Bovary (Gustave Flaubert)
Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
The Sonnets and A Lover’s Complaint (William Shakespeare)
Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)

All of these are available from at around R200 each. There’s also an interesting interview with Coralie about this collection here.

(Click to enlarge)

How do you feel about the classics? Which contemporary writers can you recommend? Let me know – I’m such a bookworm. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Poetry is the fabric of living

I absolute adore poetry, especially works by classic authors (anything pre-1900 is good). Think William Wordsworth, Emily Dickenson, John Milton and of course our beloved Shakespeare. But I’m also a fan of Poetry, a South African homeware, gift and clothing boutique. To give you an idea of the wonderful things they offer, I’ve selected some of my favourite products from their current collection. These are available from their stores countrywide as well as from their online shop/website.

(Click to enlarge)

Doorknob Creme & Black R50

"Love" Embossed Heart Tile R90

Napkin 45x45 cm R25

Drinking Glass R35

Frangipane Cake Plate R200

Yvette Floppy Hat R70

Photo Album Small R199

Wild Fig Pillar Candle R109

Olive Oil Soap R20

Black Ginger Hand & Body Cream R59

5" x 7" Photo Frame R99

Leather Shopping Bag R699

Frangipane Sangria Jug R180

What do you think? Wouldn’t these make fabulous gifts? I really like those glasses - they're available in several colours. I can just see myself serving my home-made tropical lemonade concoction in them! 

And on the subject of poetry, let’s have a beautiful sonnet to finish off today’s post.

Sonnet 43

How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,--I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!--and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

 - Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sonnets from the Portuguese

Monday, March 22, 2010

A decidedly non-mad hatter

Ever wondered who actually makes the beautiful hats and headpieces that the rich and famous (and sometimes we ordinary people) wear to races and formal events? Well, they’re called hatters and they’re generally not mad. In celebration of the recent release of the film Alice in Wonderland I would therefore like to introduce you to Johanna Guerin, who got into millinery out of sheer curiosity and has been doing it for almost 12 years. Her creations have been worn at world-class events like the Dubai World Cup and Royal Ascot, and her experience shows in her beautiful, meticulous designs:

Johanna, who is your average client? 
Brides, wedding guests, race goers.

Have you had any famous clients?
All of my clients are famous when they’re wearing my hats! But seriously, apart from Tara Moss and numerous local TV personalities, none that I'm aware of. [For those of us not from Oz, Tara Moss is a Canadian-Australian author and former model.]

When and why should one wear a hat?
Whenever you feel like it, whether you’re vacuuming the carpets (it makes a typically mundane exercise just that little more fun) or attending a gala event. Hats/headpieces not only finish an outfit, they can also suggest the importance of an occasion and indicate the effort the wearer has extended as a mark of respect to a particular occasion. Like any element of fashion, hats/headpieces are also a form of self expression.

Which styles are popular at the moment?
I have a tendancy not to take too much notice. If I’m making a hat for a client, it's all about them – what they are wearing and what suits them. If I’m making a hat for stock, it’s all about my own creative style.

If I buy just one hat in my lifetime, what should it look like?
I think a hat should in some way reflect its wearer. We all feel differently from one day to the next, and change in small ways over time. Therefore you can’t buy just one hat!

What inspires you?
Texture, colour, music, theatre, costume, anything 1920s/30s/40s, the circus, my daughter, dancing, the clouds, etc.

How long does it take to make a really good hat?
I would allow a couple of days, assuming I’ve got nothing else to be doing. In saying that, if you are going to have a hat made, give your milliner the courtesy of 4 weeks’ notice.

Any advice on buying accessories in general? 
Accessories are a great, easy way to add an element of current fashion to timeless style. They are the final touch to a look, binding all elements together. I’m a big fan of mixing textures and tones. As I’ve said, I also believe accessories in general should reflect the personality of the wearer. There is no point in wearing something that makes you feel uncomfortable whether it be because of a bad fit or simply because it’s not your style. Wear what makes you feel good and what makes you smile.   

Johanna caters for clients worldwide and her hat prices range from $100 to $500 (R700 – R3500). Get in touch with her by visiting her website or sending her an e-mail
And if you get a move on, your creation will still be in time for the Vodacom Durban July, which takes place at Greyville Racecourse on 31 July 2010.

Aren't these absolutely magnificent? I found it exceptionally hard to choose my favourites from her website gallery, but I managed to narrow it down to eight, and if I really REALLY have to choose just one it would be the scarlet one at the bottom left, above. Vaudeville meets Phantom of the Opera! 

Which is your favourite? Will you be attending any races or weddings this year? Planning to wear a hat? Let us know!

Friday, March 19, 2010

We heart bright colours

As more and more industries look for sustainable alternatives for their products, I’m proud to feature a company that actually produces sustainable jewellery!

WSW Alert! LeJu

Founded by Lenny Trines and Juan Munoz, LeJu designs and makes jewellery from vegetable ivoryIf you also don’t know what that is, here’s the lowdown: it’s a seed from a type of palm tree in the Amazonian rain forest. Obviously, using vegetable ivory is a much better option than real ivory because elephants don’t have to be killed for it. Other tropical seeds are also sometimes incorporated into LeJu’s designs, and the result is that people have jobs while the trees stay standing.

Aside from the fact that I think these pieces look REALLY cool and would totally jazz up, say, a plain white shirt, the vegetable ivory also hardens with time, so your jewellery becomes more valuable the older it gets. Here are my favourites from their current collections!

If you’re already intrigued, just wait until I interview these guys. I’m sure they’ll have some very interesting things to say! In the meantime, why not admire all their creations and pick out some for yourself on their website? You can also send them an e-mail if you have any questions.

Speaking of sustainability, I was shocked to find out that I really don’t know anything about where the stuff I buy comes from. For example, I’ve never even considered that the major manufacturers of chocolate bars may be directly responsible for the destruction of rain forests. And here I was thinking I’m not doing anything wrong! Read this – it’ll wake you up. Then click on some of the Related Articles at the bottom of that page and prepare to change your outlook.

Have a fantastic weekend guys!