Author: Moira

Mid-season wardrobe therapy

“Chunky and cosy” no longer sounds as good as “light and summery” during this time of year. Time to get those blacks and grays out of my sight and bring out the summer dresses. But before packing my winter clothes away and taking out my summer ones, my aim for this summer is to get rid of a large chunk of my wardrobe, for peace of mind’s sake. I am donating some to friends, and the rest I will give to charity. I dream of a minimal wardrobe with only the things I love, and a little extra space for newly purchased clothes.

Getting rid of your clothes

When you’re in your teens you buy anything you fall in love with at first sight, whether it fits your body style and whether it is good or bad quality. It really doesn’t matter. As you start to reach your late twenties (like yours truly) you start to cringe at some of your purchases. I have been removing excess clothes year after year, but this year I want to outdo myself.

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You hear a lot of advice about how to throw away stuff from your wardrobe, but unfortunately you cannot stick to one equation. If you really love your clothes, you have a story attached to each and every one of them. You know the exact time and place where you got them, and even the places that you wore them to, so it can be difficult to get rid of them (unless you’ve never worn them!) Then there are emotional attachments such as clothes belonging to family members, vintage clothing, clothes bought from awesome holidays abroad etc.. etc.. Emotional clothing that you never wear should just be stored away in a box somewhere. These are memories, not practical clothes, so they’re only taking up space in your wardrobe. As for other clothes that have no emotional attachment, I usually store them away for a season, or more (if I really cannot depart from them). If I don’t miss them, I donate them. If I miss them (and so far, I never did) I bring them back to the wardrobe.

My mum told me recently, “Don’t buy any new clothes unless you remove an item you already have.” I actually think this is one the best advice I’ve heard with regards to throwing away old clothes, plus when I get the courage to remove something, I end up removing more than one, which is good of course.

This year I have accepted that certain clothes that won’t fit me now will have to go. If I lose weight, it’ll be an excuse to buy new clothes. I have also accepted that clothes that do not suit my shape, no matter how expensive or beautiful they are, will be given away to friends who have a more suitable body type. Plus it’s nice to see one’s unused clothes being loved and worn by someone else!

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My wardrobe mid-organisation.. still a long way to go

Organising

Prior to organising your wardrobe, make sure you have good storage boxes and good quality hangers (I like the wooden ones). It’s no use buying high quality clothes when you cannot take care of them properly. I usually treat my everyday / indoor clothes differently from the rest. Although I still fold them and store them neatly, I don’t like to show them off. I want to feel good when I look at my closet, so I want to look at my best clothes, not my crappy ones! A good idea is to put clothes that need fixing aside, this can be anything from missing buttons, broken zippers, even ironing.. and don’t hang them before they’re good to go.

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Beautiful storage boxes to store away the little things.

Organise your clothes by occasion rather than by shape and item. It makes choosing outfits easier when you’re in a hurry.

Decide what to hang and what to fold wisely. Items such as jeans for instance, are good for folding, so don’t waste any hanging space on them. Other items might need ironing if folded, and certain tops lose their shape when hung. You usually know what to hang and what to fold by the way they are displayed in the store, but this is not always the case, and with online shopping it’s a complete guess. Although common sense should tell you whether the clothing material will wrinkle quickly or not.

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The top drawer is great for organising accessories (although I still need to go through mine, sorting through accessories is another story altogether!) Bottom one is great for trousers that tend to crease, and delicate scarves.

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Got most of these sunglasses for around 50 Euro cents form a car boot sale, old luggage/box also from the car boot sale, and it seemed the perfect place to store these.

Decorating

Some people like to decorate their closet and wardrobe by hanging jewelry and scarves to make it more feminine and decorative. I would be very careful because this process is exactly like setting up a still life or designing a display. When you see these kinds of things on magazines, they are done by a professional, so if you’re the kind of person who is prone to clutter, just put it all away, save for an item or two.

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This is my decorative corner, where I keep a fresh water pearl necklace; a gift from my mum, some purfumes, a Man Ray postcard and a frame that I got from ‘Patches’ a local hand-made & vintage market.

I’ve read tons of articles about how to organise one’s wardrobe and the phrase I keep reading over and over again is ‘Keep what makes you happy, throw away the rest.’ I think this sums up everything nicely; if you find yourself being annoyed at certain items, put them away for a while. It will clear your wardrobe, and your mind 🙂

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Food Journal: Quinoa, Prawns and Mexican Salad

The first time I tried quinoa I was quite impressed with its flavour and also its versatility with various dishes. Today was my second try and I started by looking at Food Gawker ‘s mexican salads for inspiration. I started seeing beans, peppers, corn, quinoa.. hmm something was brewing in my head. At one point I saw prawns in one of the recipes and that’s when I knew I could do something with these ingredients.. Here’s some pan fried prawns cooked in garlic and paprika, served with quinoa and a mexican salad. It tastes amazing.. and it’s also super healthy 🙂 (Serves 2-3)

Ingredients:

Bag of frozen headless prawns

1 cup quinoa

3 medium tomatoes

3 small green peppers

Can of corn

Can of red kidney beans

2 cloves of garlic

bunch of parsley

1 lemon

1 1/2 tablespoons paprika

butter / sunflower oil

Parsley-flavoured white cheese (replace with feta cheese if you wish)

2 eggs (optional)

Method:

Cook the quina by putting 1 cup of quinoa in a small saucepan, add 2 cups water.. bring it to a boil, lower the heat & cover for 15 minutes. Then turn off the hob and leave to set (covered) for 5 minutes.

In the meantime put the headless prawns in a bowl with cold water to defrost (unless they have defrosted already) this should take between 30 mins – 1 hour.. change the water every now and then when it becomes too cold.

In a salad bowl mix together: chopped peppers, chopped tomatoes, kidney beans, corn, chopped parsley and a squeeze from half a lemon. Season as needed.

Fry 2 cloves of garlic in butter / oil, then add prawns & sprinkle with paprika.

In the meantime, serve the quinoa on the plates, and in the same saucepan cook the eggs until hardboiled (if you wish to serve eggs).

Leave the rest of the lemon on the plates so one can add more lemon juice if they wish.

Finally sprinkle white cheese/ feta cheese on your mexican salad and you’re done!

Enjoy 🙂

RunWays with Block Colours

The Spring/Summer wardrobe is normally associated with florals whether subtle and dainty or bold and dramatic. Pretty dresses and decorative accessories are also a typical staple for the sunny months. When I was looking through this spring/summer designer collections I was in fact expecting to find the usual patterns and florals, and I did, however I found myself being attracted to block colours, structured geometric shapes and lots of texture.

Block colours are fantastic because they are so much more flexible than patterns, so for someone with a budget, I find it’s better to splurge on something that can be worn in a multitude of ways. Some might argue that they are not as daring as graphic prints and patterns, however I do feel that this really depends on the shape of the piece of clothing. An asymmetric or unusually-shaped outfit can still be bold and daring, and with no graphic distraction from the form of the outfit. Block colours allow for the focus to be put on the lines and curves, the fabric and its texture.

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Dior Femminine & Bold Blocks, vogue.co.uk / topshop.com / modcloth.com / asos.com

As I’ve just mentioned, the great thing about blocks of course is that they can be worn with almost anything, so you can go for a mix of patterns this season, and then get a really cool block-coloured piece of clothing that can be worn with any of these patterns. Of course, choose your colours wisely, and this doesn’t necessarily mean stick to one colour scheme or go for safer colours, clashing colours offer interesting surprises if you know what you’re doing.

Blocks can be understated & elegant in simple pastels, or bold and over the top in neon colours and matched with hip prints. Curvy girls might shy away from these kinds of straight-cut dresses and tops, however not all of them are shapeless. Waist clinching block shirts and dresses are  a great way to flatter a curvier figure, whilst the so called ‘shapeless’ dresses are better suited for slimmer boyish shapes.

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Waist clinching blocks, vogue.co.uk , topshop.com , asos.com

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Chanel’s chunky accessories, Stella McCartney’s laid back shoes, and a variety of beautifully simple & elegant bags

Below: Block inspiration from “Style’s Inspiration” Board on Pinterest by Chiara Bollecchino

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Food Journal: Sweet Potato, Mushrooms & Pancetta

I had one of those days when I had absolutely no idea of what I wanted to cook. I was tired, so I didn’t want to make something that would take ages, I was also in the mood for some comfort food. At the green grocer’s I spotted sweet potato. I had pancetta and mushrooms at home… I was getting some ideas 🙂 After a google search on how to pan fry potatoes, I found a couple of recipes that suggest frying them in butter and brown sugar. This sounded a bit too much, especially when some recipes recommended 2 cups of brown sugar. I only added 1 teaspoon with mine, the potatoes are sweet enough!

This recipe serves 2, and here’s what you need:

1 large sweet potato

chopped pancetta (for 2)

Around 6 large mushrooms

1 medium onion

Grated Parmigiano Reggiano

2 Eggs

Dried Rosemary

Salt & Pepper

Method:

Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add roughly chopped sweet potatoes (do not leave whole otherwise it will take longer to cook through).

In the meantime, start cooking onion and mushrooms in a bit of butter.

Once a fork can easily go through the potatoes, remove from the pot, chop into smaller chunks and add to the onion & pancetta mixture.

Add a teaspoon of brown sugar on top of the potatoes, give it a stir, then add the pancetta, salt and pepper.

Cook the mixture on medium heat until the pancetta is done.

When it’s cooked through, serve with a fried runny egg on top and grated Parmigiano. You could also serve this with toasted baguette or any sort of bread but it’s filling enough on its own.

I also love to plate these kinds of comfort foods in small terracotta dishes 🙂

Quinoa and Chicken Salad

The other day at work I saw someone eating what looked like barley / oats. I’m always curious when it comes to food so I asked what this type of ‘barley’ was. “Quinoa, it’s a super food, it’ s really healthy” was the answer. Quinoa! Of course! I had seen a video of one of my favorite directors (David Lynch) where he was cooking quinoa and raving about how good it was, but I never gave it a second thought.

Now I was intrigued. My colleague described quinoa as “Like couscous, but nuttier”. So quinoa is what’s on the menu for today, amongst other delicious ingredients of course. For this week’s journal I’m bringing you a super awesome superfood recipe! I’m ashamed to say that this is the first time I have tried quinoa, perhaps because it was never a common food in my mediterranean upbringing. There are limitless ingredients that you can add to quinoa. I wanted mine to be healthy, and low in carbs, here’s what I came up with:

Quinoa & Chicken salad (serves 4)

Ingredients:

A Bag of fresh spinach

Chickpeas (add as desired)

Can of corn

4 chicken breasts

Mushrooms (add as desired)

2 cloves garlic

1 spring onion

Bunch of parsley

A few slices of Prosciutto or Parma ham

Parmeggiano reggiano for grating

Method:

Cook the fresh spinach in a little bit of water (only fill about 1 inch or less of the saucepan) and a bit of salt

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In the meantime cook the quinoa.. ( Click here for a really good recipe for cooking fluffy quinoa, easy peasy 🙂 )

If you’re too lazy to click outside the article, basically you need to toast it for a few seconds in a bit of olive oil, then add water. For each cup of quinoa, add 2 cups of water (1/2 cup is enough for two people) Cook for 15 minutes on low heat, covered. Turn off the heat and let it set for a further 5 minutes (still covered). Fluff with fork and it’s ready to eat!

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Ok in the meantime, roughly chop the chicken & mushrooms.

Cook onion and garlic in olive oil, when browned add chicken and mushrooms.

When the chicken is cooked, add parsley, corn and chickpeas.

Season with salt and pepper.

There’s quite a lot of ingredients in this dish, and trick is to layer them nicely. I suggest first stirring the quinoa into your chicken mixture. Serve this on the plate first, add the spinach, layer the prosciutto (don’t flatten it if you want a dramatic effect 😉 ) Finish off with parmeggiano shavings.

That’s it! Enjoy your delicious, healthy quinoa and chicken salad (that will leave you feeling full & no bloated stomachs) 🙂

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Project Deconstruction: Digital Illustration

You know besides being bloggers for Design Sorbet, we are first and foremost creatives. Ruth is a drawing ninja, Eleonora is a media guru, Sarah has kickin screen printing skills, and I do animations and digital illustrations. So project deconstruction is an excuse for us to show you our work, but because we’re a design blog and because we want you to be able to take something with you from our blog, and do your own thing, we want to show you the process & development behind each project.

Today I will guide you through the process of digitally colouring and adding light to one of my favourite illustrations that was created for a friend of mine. But before I want to give you a bit of background info on the subjects that are central to my drawings. A digital designer that I admire once told me ‘When you get good at something, let it go and do something else’. He wasn’t referring to dropping drawing and become a construction worker of course, but to challenge oneself as an artist. When I started drawing I was never fond of children and animals, I found them harder to draw than anything else, and also slightly boring. You can guess what happened next; I started putting (especially) children at the core of my illustrations. The focus was not just children however, I was (and still am) interested in children and their sexuality. Finding a subject that interested me of course, helped me to want to undertake this challenge more than ever.

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A project that I did with fellow blogger Ruth Ancilleri. This was a part of a collective exhibition against censorship in Malta. The viewers were invited to look through the hole in the box…

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…Inside they would see what looked like two girls undressing in a girl’s room(this is actually not how the box was inside originally, this picture was taken later when some of the items had broken due to their fragility).

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An illustration of a girl standing naked surrounded by various objects symbolising childhood and adolescence.

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This is the illustration that we will be deconstructing today; two boys holding hands in one of the boys’ room. One of the boys is moving the curtain to the side and they are both looking out, perhaps to see if there’s anyone watching, spotting something outside or simply to wonder at the world. That’s the poetic side for you, now let’s get down to the technical stuff! Since my work is semi-digital, the deconstruction is mainly what happens during the digital stage. Please note that this is not a Photoshop tutorial, however if you are interested to learn Photoshop (a visual graphics application) Mashable have compiled 12 Beginner tutorials right here. If you have any other questions about technical details, feel free to ask in the comment section.

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This is the original illustration with a hint of water colour. The boys’ clothes and their rooms are all inspired by real clothes and objects in children’s rooms that I find online and in books.

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The image is opened in Photoshop and the extra background cropped. I always keep a copy of the original in case I want to revert back to it.

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Pencil usually loses some of its sharpness when it’s transferred into data. The first thing I do before I start any colouring is adjust the levels to make the dark areas darker, and the light areas lighter.

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Time for some colouring. I tried to stick to colours that are low in saturation; mostly blues,beiges and hints of orange and yellows. In this case I have done the colouring all on one layer and using a very rough technique.

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After the colouring, I usually add highlights and shadows on separate layers. Here the black was added roughly and then erased depending on where the light hits the subjects and environment.

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Light was the focal point in this project seeing that my light source is in the middle of the composition. I really wanted to get the highlights right here. I started adding while colouring on a separate layer to emphasise the areas that are directly hit by the light.

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Still wasn’t happy with the light, so added even more light in a circular motion coming out from behind the curtain to imitate the radiance of the sun (notice the back lighting on the characters as well)

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and still messing around with light! The final touch was adding a lens flare effect (something I rarely use) but I wanted the light to really blast through the window, to give the feel of when one has just woken up and is blinded by the sun. The lens flare effect was then retouched through lots of erasing (to avoid the fakeness of it)

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Now I was thinking I wanted a slightly nostalgic environment, so I lowered down the saturation slightly.

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With me so far? Hope so 🙂 The final touches are basically getting the overall colour balanced and to my liking. I added an overall brown layer using the soft light transparency option. This obviously gives the drawing a brownish tint.

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…and finally, another layer but this time a greyish light blue/green once again using the soft light option, to make the overall colour slightly colder.

4 Inspirational Books to get you going

For our journal this week we’re bringing you three books and a magazine that are sure to get you up and going, whether it is to create your own business, start your own blog or live a happier life. These reads have been tried and tested by yours truly, and one of them was actually what pushed us to start this blog! Enjoy 🙂 and feel free to add more to the list in the comments!

booksLinks: Crush it  The Happiness Project  and the author’s blog  The Simple Things  Blog Inc

Something Special featuring “Impress When You Dress”

Following our last article ‘My Eight Legged Love‘ which might have caused some of you to feel slightly jittery, for today’s post we have something a bit more on the girly-side.  Our ‘Something Special’ features one or more of our (or your) personal favourite possessions. We give you the details and the story! For today’s something special we have chosen one of our followers who is both a fashion enthusiast and an illustrator, Gemma from Impress when you dress

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Objects:

A few of my favourite fashion headbands from my collection…

What’s so special about them?

The reason I’ve chosen to do a post on my headband collection is because I feel my slight obsession with headbands has become a part of my identity. I started my obsession when I first decided to have my hair cut into a pixie style last year. I felt more insecure after having my hair cut so short, not because I didn’t like the style, but with my school uniform I felt I was unable to look as feminine with a shirt and tie and wanted to maintain my girly style. This led me to browsing through a number of shops for a range of hair accessories that were acceptable for school and my everyday wear. At first I only had one or two headbands … since then I have counted I have up to 48 headbands! So here’s a few of my favourites!

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What’s the story?

Glittery Flower Headband – This headband is a particular favourite of mine for summer because it matches nearly all my summer wardrobe! I bought this in a small boutique in Alcudia, Spain when on holidays last year with my mother. I love it as I can hide any of my messy bed hair with it and it instantly makes any ordinary outfit look a little more glitzy and glamourous!

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Skull Headband – This headband I created with a skull broche I bought from a boutique I bought in Cardiff, and an ordinary studded headband from River Island. I like this headband as it looks really rock chic when worn with a skater skirt and rock t-shirt – it’s great for concerts.

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Diamond Grey Headband – This diamond grey headband was a bargain buy in the river island sales in January. It looks great with any type of outfit and sometimes I even manage to get away with wearing it to school with my uniform!

Want to see more? Here are some of Gemma’s other pretty, glitzy and flowery headbands:

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Surround yourself with flowers

A few weeks ago I was reading a post on Apartment Therapy where there was a great suggestion about how to decorate with flowers around the house. I’ve been using this method since! First of all, flowers are a brilliant way to brighten up a dull day, especially a winter day when all is gloomy and grey. A bright bouquet in the kitchen window sill just makes everything that little bit better. Anyway let’s get to the tip! Apartment Therapy suggests that you get a nice big bouquet of flowers, and rather than putting it in one big vase, splitting it into many different containers. The containers can be anything from small vases to vintage bottles and recycled glass jars. This way you have multiple small bouquets that you can put around your house; on your desk and on the coffee table, on your dresser and in the entry way. You can even decide to display them next to each other, however I’m a much bigger fan of splitting them in different rooms. You can still have the main bouquet, I like to keep this in the kitchen. Apartment Therapy also refers to flowers as a gift to your house, and they do make a difference.

(Click on the pictures to be directed to the source)

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