Merry Christmas from South Africa!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

May you and your families be blessed in this festive season.

A baked Christmas

Friday, December 20, 2013

I decided that I would like to do something different this year, and instead of buying people presents that might end up in the back of a closet, or gather dust in some forgotten corner of the house, I will bake my Christmas presents.

I know that it will be enjoyed, in the moment and will be remembered for a while. 

Now, I already know what I'm baking and giving to whom, but I wanted to share these wonderful inspirational recipes with you. Perhaps I can inspire someone else to bake their pressies too!

Yes, I know, Hot Chocolate isn't a baked good, and not great for the SA Weather. 
But hey, why not change it up and make yourself a hot chocolate milkshake.

Rondavel Soaps {giveaway winner}

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Hey everybody! The day is finally here, I'm announcing the Rondavel Soaps giveaway winner. I've been quiet in the meantime, down and out with upper-respiratory tract infection. And let me tell you it sucks. I woke up o Friday morning feeling iffy, but stubborn old me still partied away until the early hours, because it was our year-end function.

This means that I'm currently on leave and have some time to recover, thank goodness. I really just hate wasting summer like this. I feel like a bird, couped up between tissues and blankets, when I should be flying! I have to add that it's getting better, heck, today I even had some energy to apply make-up. I'm also not sleeping most of the day. Sunday and Monday was just two long naps. Hopefully I will be my old self by Christmas.

But you know what really sucks? Being sick keeps me from the one thing that makes me feel better about myself - the gym. I can hardly walk around in our house without being out of breath, so I know the gym is at least ten days away. Hello fatty!

Anyway, let's get back to the winner here!
Drumroll please...

Rondavel {interview and giveaway}

Friday, December 13, 2013

Happiness is not a goal, but a by-product - Eleanor Roosevelt

I'm sure this quote applies directly to the couple I am featuring today, Kate and Chikondi, the owners of Rondavel Soaps. They have such an interesting story about how they started their business and I couldn't wait to share it with you! 

Chikondi and I were living in Malawi, from when our first son, Jesse, was six months old. After reading the ingredients on many baby products - packed with petroleum-based byproducts - we decided to start making our own bum balm for his nappy changes.

This was so effective (with only two ingredients: macadamia nut oil and raw beeswax), and popular with friends, who suggested we start making other natural products like soap, using Malawi's rich and wonderful natural resources. With a combined background in Nature Conservation, Botany, Chemistry and farming, this was a great challenge, and I really enjoyed working with small-scale farmers and rural communities where marvellous plants like Baobab trees are found. Jesse is now eight, and we returned to South Africa (now with three boys) in June 2012 to spend more time with family and try the soap business here where the market is so much bigger than in Malawi!

What sort of products do you make? Do you also provide services?
Other than wonderful handmade soap, we also make lip balm, eczema balm, beeswax candles, and I am thinking of a gentleman's old-fashioned shaving range, but our main focus really is the soap. Soap is such a fantastic medium to experiment with, for example, using goats' milk instead of water to make a creamy, ultra-moisturising soap, infusing indigenous plant materials and oils into the soap, like Honeybush tea and Cape Chestnut seed oil.

 Designing and making the packaging is also exciting, with great potential to give a 'feel' to the soap before you use it. At the moment we are trying to keep up with demand, so don't provide any particular services, although we do make custom soaps for customers who order a whole batch, like a Backpackers Lodge in the Drakensberg who we make an all-purpose hair and body soap for. They like that is biodegradable and doesn't affect their wetland water purification system.

Where do you find inspiration for your creations?
One thing that living in a remote country like Malawi taught us is to Look Around! Inspiration is everywhere. And the more close to home, and to your heart, the better. I have a great love and attachment to South Africa's rich flora and wild places. This inspired our Local Landscapes range, where we centred the theme, and the ingredients, for each soap around a particular area we have visited and loved. For example, our Cape Chamomile and Geranium soap is inspired by the Fynbos of the Western Cape, with wildcrafted and indigenous essential oils sourced from S Chicken Naturals, an old family business in the Cederberg that source and cultivate plants like Cape Chamomile and Buchu sustainably.

How do you perceive the South African creatives/design landscape?
Compared to Malawi, the design landscape here is immense! It was a wonderful surprise to see how much it had changed and grown in the eight years we had been away. I have lived and travelled in the US and the UK, and personally think that there is a wider variety of materials, ideas and inspirations in developing countries like South Africa, and although the tilt can be Western, I think the vernacular is being interpreted in exciting ways here.

What are some of the challenges of being your own boss?
Well, we both think we are the boss, so that is challenge in itself! No, it is wonderful sharing a passion for Rondavel together, but we never seem to get away from talking about work, or both get time off together. One day I am going to count how many times a day we say the word 'soap'!

What is your favourite colour/ material to work with, and why?
Does creamy handmade soap count? For packaging I enjoy working with the natural textures of recycled papers (we use recycled sugarcane fibre paper for the Landscapes series). I also love using strips of local Shweshwe fabric like ribbons, and combining them with my watercolour illustrations of memorable places.

What would you do if you won the lotto?
Shout Hooray! And then buy a big doublecab diesel bakkie, throw the kids, camping and soapmaking equipment in the back and head off around the country using only the backroads. We would explore beautiful places, relax, and make soap with the aromatic ingredients and involving willing locals we find along the way!

Where to from here?
Don't ask me! I find it hard to think big, at least in business. Chikondi is better at planning our future growth, I am just happy that more and more people - here and around the world - are using Rondavel soap and loving it! In the short-term, when the mad Christmas rush is over, I will be working on some new Landscape thinking Bushveld with Acacia ingredients, and a Mistbelt forest inspired soap - since that is the area where we live!

What has been your proudest moment since you started?
There have been lots of small-but-meaningful Proud Moments along the way: from using a bar of our first batch of successful soap, to seeing my drawings on printed soap wrappers, to seeing Chikondi in The Mercury, a Durban newspaper that wrote a story about Rondavel in their Network section. Lots more to come, I hope!

All pics supplied by Rondavel

Aren't they so inspirational? I just want to start making things now!
And, guess what, you can win a hamper of their goodies!
Kate and Chikondi have been so sweet to giveaway 
this enamel bowl filled to the brim with their goodies! 

You will get the following flavours:
Baobab and African Bluegrass
Naartjie and Mieliemeal
Cape Chamomile and Geranium
Karoo Lavender and Honeybush
Blue Mountain Sage
Aloe Ferox and African Basil

All you have to do is fill in this rafflecopter form! A winner will be chose next week Wednesday.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

In search of the big tree {Tsitsikamma}

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

"But memories got left behind while you kept walking on; every time you had to retrace your steps further to return to your memories, and sometimes it was better not to turn back at all." 
- Dalene Matthee

Most South African school children are familiar with Dalene Matthee's work. An author, based in Knysna, she published historic novels of the forests around Knysna and Tsitiskamma in the Western Cape. Flip did 'Kringe in die Bos' in matric, while I did 'Fiela se Kind'. In the first book, it handled about a woodcutter and his relationship with an old elephant bull called Ou Poot. That's about as much as I know about the story. I think I should buy the book. Elephants used to roam free in the area and Flip kept saying that they might come out at any second from the undergrowth.

And looking at all the broken trees - more likely from trees than elephants - I couldn't help but thinking the same.

While driving through this picturesque area on our honeymoon, we saw something called the Big Tree. We decided to go and trek the tree. I think I'll let the pictures say the rest. It is so magical. So untouched.

This tree is estimated to be between 600 and 800 years old, 
stands 36,6 m tall and has a trunk circumference of 9 m.

My weight loss journey.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Glossophobia. The fear of public speaking. Listed as one of the top phobias in the human race. Something which I evidently do not fear, as I have a blog. But, seeing photos of yourself and publicly sharing that. That is one of my greatest fears. The closest I could get to a name for that is eisoptrophobia - the fear of seeing your reflection in mirrors.

There are a number of reasons I don't like to have my picture taken, or to show pics of myself (something that has changed now). But it includes low self-esteem, years of having to hear how unattractive I am from school bullies, and lastly, a warped body image. Someone once told me that I have body dysmorphic disorder, because I see myself differently to how they see me, but although I don't have this disorder so badly that I cut myself from social events entirely, I am always extremely self- and body-conscious when I am present in a large group of people, particularly in a large group of girls. It might sound extremely vapid and heck, maybe everyone feels this way every now and again.

But I have, since high school, believed that I am fat. Even when I wasn't. However, when I was really overweight, I was miserable, retracted myself from social things, and just felt really depressed. Despite feeling like this, I still ate whatever I wanted, because I had this silly mindset that if I just eat healthy for one day, I would lose weight. And I always felt that if I lost one kg, I was skinny again. Boy, was I wrong!

After our engagment, on 24 November last year, I decided to change my body for the better. It wasn't the picture that was taken on the day that gave me a wake-up call, but thinking that, if I didn't start doing something right that minute, I would end up being a fat bride and I would hate myself for the rest of my life if I looked bad in my wedding photos. I guess I do sound entirely narcissistic here, but it is my truth.

And to be totally honest, it took me a really long time to realise that this is a lifestyle change -  a forever change - and not just something that will last till just after the wedding.

The Diet

I have tried millions and gazillions of diets - that two week German one, where you lose a thousand pounds in two weeks and then keep it off forever. No, you don't. As soon as you stop go back to your old ways, you gain again. And how!

There was Weigh-Less too. I could never get past the first two steps, because weekends are there to break the rules and to break away from your grueling diet from the week, right? Wrong. Besides, I was always hungry and found that it was difficult to stick to in terms of cost - the diet changed all the time and Flip couldn't follow it with me.

Also, the coleslaw diet. Enough said.

So, when I saw a school friend have tremendous success with the Ascot Diet, an all-natural homeopathic diet, which includes injections and a number of weight shedding supplements, I started following it, and it worked! In the beginning, I was upset when I didn't lose weight. But do you think I actually started eating healthy and right, or excersised? No, no I didn't. I wanted the injections and supplements to do all the work for me.

At some stage, I realised this was not going to work and started taking my diet seriously. I started exercising five to six days a week, not just once every two weeks. I started seeing great results and started feeling good! I was getting closer to my goal weight!

See some success stories here

Taking it too Far

But, as the saying goes, too much of a good thing... I might have taken it too far, cutting out all dairy, all starch, red meat and alcohol. I also started drinking lots of tea that has senna it it. I'll let you google the properties of senna. I lost some more weight.

While I still avoid cheese and yoghurt, most starch, most alcohol and prefer chicken or fish above red meat, it wasn't sustainable in the long run. A woman needs dairy to mitigate osteoporosis and for a whole bunch of other reasons. I also banned crisps, sodas, cookies, sweets and generally bad snack food from the house.

That ban still stands.

Negative Feedback

While we're being honest here - I've had some negative comments on my weight loss. People told me that I am too skinny and even Flip telling me that he won't deal with anorexia, every time I told him that I've lost another kilogram. Firstly, anorexics don't eat at all. I eat, just much much less than I used to. Anos don't eat ice cream or chips, or rusks, or anything. I love food!

And I don't have any other eating disorders. I was a person who comfortably spilled over a size 14 jean, bordering on size 16, who now has to wear a belt to keep her size 10s up. Do they, the people who gave me negative feedback, still expect me to be large? Of course I'm going to look thinner, but I would still not go as far as calling me anorexic or skinny. I still have some fat reserves, which will eventually make way for toned muscles.

But I'm not Done

I won't ever be done. I will keep on eating healthy and keep on exercising, because I never want to be overweight and miserable again. What makes me really sad now, was looking through the pictures during the last year. I had a whole warped image of myself. I thougth I was doing alright, I was getting svelte, but now I noticed that I wasn't. I still had large arms, a round face, an extra tire around my waist.

This, these pictures, now also serve as a reminder of why I am working so hard every day. I have lost 12 kg (26.4 pounds) since last year November and I plan on keeping it off. I plan on being healthy and looking and feeling great!

 Is it cheating to not share a bikini before/after? Maybe one day I will have the guts to do that.
Here's to healthy living!

Blogger Secret Santa {my pressies}

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Heeeeey! On Saturday, I received my blogger secret santa presents from Huibri, who blogs over at Sew Long Blog. You seriously need to hop on over to her blog right this minute, because it is just over the moon amazing. But be sure to hop on back here, otherwise this post would have been for nothing ;)

Huibri, you present could not have come at a better time! Oh boy, was I excited when I opened the parcel to see not one, but a whole bunch of individually wrapped parcels. I felt like I had failed in the wrapping department after opening yours (sorry to my secret santa gift recipient).

Huibri put so much effort into the wrapping, with little words on them to make me wonder what was inside and make me even more excited!

Inside, I found the most awesome baking goodies any girl could ask for! There was a sweet Moo Cow timer, that just killed me with cuteness, stationery for writing on food, sprinkles, a cake pops mould and some cupcake holders. Too cute!

 Thank you Huibri for my awesome gifts! They are just the best!

As I said, it couldn't have come at a better time, as yesterday was my birthday, and with my newly unwrapped goodies and newly found passion for baking, I wanted to bake a cake. I used the timer and sprinkles for my adventure in the kitchen. {Also, I used a vsco cam filter on these pics, which make them look like they come out of a 70's cookbook. I love it}

As I said on instagram {find me @waitingformeg} I let my staffie, Mila, decorate the cake.
It came out messy.
{not really}

It was delicious though.

Theme created by PIXELZINE