9. Making Things

This category covers things that we make and tells you how you can make them too.

  • My second birth story

    Léon is nearly eight weeks old and finally in bed for the night, as is his big brother. Witching hour (s) is in full effect in this house as Jean and I tag team depending on our children’s needs. So far, Léon has been a little easier than his brother was but still intense as he discovers his body through colic pains and the world through developmental leaps. I’m tired. Exhausted actually. Hormones and fatigue aren’t a great combination. I’m quite high functioning but my emotional regulation leaves a little to be desired. I can find myself oscillating between being content and laughing to tears and frustration remarkably quickly. Despite…

  • My birth story

    Louis is now six weeks old and fast asleep beside me. He makes loud grunting noises as he sleeps, sometimes interspersed by soft squeaking and cooing. He’s lying on his back, tightly swaddled to contain his startle reflex. He frowns and smiles, letting out a little cry occasionally when the wind in his tummy gets too much. Last night he fed nearly every hour. We’ve been told he’s going through his first developmental leap, so he’s needing lots of mummy time and feeds. I found myself gently crying after a feed and toilet trip. I was tired. I had started thinking about my birth after feeling how tender my scars…

  • How to make no-dig gardens

    A few weeks ago I built some no dig garden beds in our new home that we are renting and planted them out with small cuttings and seedlings. After living in Bolivia for the past 2 years, growing at altitude and indoors, in pots, I am excited to back at sea level in the sub tropics, converting grassed areas into abundant food production gardens. Here, my plants are growing so fast that I feel like I should be able to see them gaining height real time. This is how I built my no dig gardens: Each layer is around 10cm thick but it all settles to a height of approximately 20cm once finished. When…

  • Bolivian Story: Gabriel Coimbra, bringing nature to urban Bolivians

    I met Gabriel whilst volunteering at Red Monkey, a vegan restaurant in La Paz, Bolivia. At first I knew him as the guy washing dishes and tidying up but I soon learnt that there was so much more to this young man from the Amazon! One day he gave me some soapnuts he had collected… I hadn’t seen these since we were living in Europe, in the eco stores. I was so excited to use them to make soapnut liquid as an all purpose cleaner and natural pesticide for the white flies on my tomatoes. Another time I tried his Andean wild herbs bath salts as well as various other…

  • Bolivian Story: Alejandro Barrios

    I met Alejandro whilst volunteering at vegan restaurant, Red Monkey, in La Paz, Bolivia. Ale was in charge of baking the bread and making the vegan cakes. I was fascinated by making cakes without eggs, milk or butter and I knew they must be good because Ale is the happiest, most laid back person there… high on life and baked goods! Actually, Ale’s wonderful attitude to life, his joyful presence and playfulness is what kept me going back on Thursdays to help out in the kitchen. I’m so grateful for the time spent with him, exchanging, learning from him and teaching him my sourdough skills too. I hope you enjoy this short interview…

  • Bolivian Story: Maria Calzadilla

    One sunny day I went to a Mercadito Pop [a fair] and discovered an amazing electric blue felted hat I just had to have to protect me from the harsh sun we get here at the high altitude of La Paz. The lady designing and selling these unique hats was Maria. I noticed straight away she was a woman caring about design. You know those sort of people, right? They look effortless. They always have something ever so slightly different hanging from their ears or neck, but never too over-the-top or in-your-face. This is Maria – comfortable, unique, creative and warm. She’s the sort of person who wears what she…

  • Bolivian Story: Daniela Lorini

    One day we visited the Christmas fair at the American school and discovered some unique, beautiful mirrors, paintings and coat hooks being sold by Daniela Lorini. She was there with her partner, Arnaud, selling her art works which stood out among the collection of crafts there. We started talking and before we left Dani asked for our contact details. At the time I thought she was just being polite but they were different. They remembered us and invited us over for dinner in the new year. We instantly connected. I started hanging out at Dani’s place one day a week – sometimes helping with her art and other times simply…

  • Bolivian Story: Diane Bellomy, Artesania Sorata

    Soon after we arrived in Bolivia we met Diane Bellomy. Diane’s work was very interesting to me since she owns a Fair Trade business called Artesania Sorata, producing and selling hand dyed and handmade alpaca clothing, accessories and home wares that are generally made by women. Here in La Paz there are very few places that sell genuinely handmade, genuinely Bolivian or genuinely Fair Trade alpaca wear, despite the numerous shops in the tourist street Calle Sagarnaga claiming some of these. So, before long I started volunteering unofficially around 3-4 days a week, for around a year. During this time I met many of the women working for Diane, learnt…

  • How to vermicompost: composting with worms

    We are packing. We are moving to Australia, starting all again. I find myself a little teary occasionally as I say goodbye to all our babies – our plants, bacterias and yeasts I’ve nurtured carefully over the years here in Bolivia. Kombucha SCOBYs, kefir grains, sourdough starter, worms and apple cider vinegar mothers all to be distributed to caring souls wanting to improve their health. I think about the future, starting them all again. I’ve had so much pleasure with my weekly routines – feeding the worms, watering the plants, kneading the sourdough, bottling the kombucha… Anyway, I’m a sentimental little thing sometimes, even over non-human microscopic babies. Our worms…

  • Bolivian Story: Crisil

    We decided to visit Bolivia’s largest glass factory that uses only recycled glass to produce some of their wonderfully organically shaped round glasses like the ones shown in the below photos. We were in for a very warm welcome and tour thanks to Marcelo who, along with his father and brother, run the factory in Cochabamba. Actually, it was his father who founded the Fair Trade business in 1993. After having a small workshop transforming plastic, someone suggested he could easily do glass instead and at the time the Dutch government was offering funding… and so it was born! Now they have around 100 employees who do shift work during…

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