What I’ve learned from 2014

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It’s mid February already (scary I know)! ¬†2015 is well into full swing and I’m surprised to have already learned a few key things since looking back on my year of 2014. ¬†I am sure the learning will continue however a quick list of the most significant revelations are:

  • I won’t die if I don’t have the latest & greatest things. ¬†And I don’t seem to be influenced so easily and are making much more informed purchases.
  • Family always comes first…no matter what!
  • The fullness of your life isn’t measured by how many parties you attend, how many friends you have or how big your bank account is.
  • Social media should be used in moderation…and cautiously.
  • Technology is great however don’t let it make you complacent…or impatient!
  • Having a career & a business is a privilege … But don’t forget number #2

Looking through this list even as I type this, I know will resonate with me for a long time to come.

What things have you learned in 2015?

2015…welcome!

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I am not a New Year resolution type of person. I don’t believe in waiting until the eve of a new year to make life changing decisions or goals. Fine…should it be the case that you reflect and use a new year to set some goals, terrific! ¬†However again, I stand by the fact that you should constantly review your ‘best of’s’ throughout the year and also, constantly set or reset goals throughout the year. ¬†shutterstock226324081-304xx3905-2603-0-401

Same goes for the inspirations to be kinder, happier, fitter, etc. ¬†It’s great if a new year is a gateway to this new behaviour but again…I hope it would last throughout the WHOLE year. ¬†On the same token, being kinder, nicer, greater etc etc hopefully isn’t something you try to enact, fail to commit and then wait for NYE 2015 to restart your inspiring goals.

I love ringing in the new year! I love spending it with family and friends and celebrating. However for me, my goal setting and achievements never stop. My growth, my evaluation and reflection are constant. ¬†A new year isn’t the be all and end all of change. ¬†So happy 2015…let it be a great year and I hope, your development, achievements & success is something that you achieve¬†throughout!!

 

 

Christmas is for giving!

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iStock_000014394121XSmallOur family don’t go crazy when it comes to ‘gift giving’ over Christmas. ¬†We decided a long time ago that we didn’t really need presents once all the kids in the family grew up. So for the last 10 years or so, we’ve celebrated Christmas by spending it with family, eating, drinking and being merry. ¬†We also partake in the annual ‘Secret Santa’ gift giving tradition.

For those who are unfamiliar with the concept. Each person picks a random name and buys a present for that ONE person only. ¬†We also set a limit however I will admit, we all normally exceed the limit a little bit. Normally, each person would also make a ‘gift lift’ suggestion to assist ‘Santa’ and also ensure the purchase of gifts that ‘nobody would ever use’ are avoided. ¬†We’re all about saving them dollars and limiting consumption.

Anyway this year, I was really stumped for gift ideas. I didn’t/don’t really¬†need anything. ¬†Do we ever? However, I didn’t want to leave a blank ‘gift list’, essentially making my Santa’s job even harder. So I found myself in a bit of a conundrum?! What to do?

Thankfully…with the growing awareness of fairtrade, conscious living, ethical, eco-sustainable brands etc etc (buzz words I am sure many of you have heard of late) there were a selection of great products out there that are not only cool and practical however also give back to worthy causes. So, in the spirit of giving, I’ve compiled a list of my favourite brands for Christmas and even future gifts:

 

1. Clothe you Neighbour¬†–¬†Clothe Your Neighbor as Yourself is a nonprofit brand that lets you decide how 100% of the profit is given based on the cause you care about. ¬†Check out their really funky clothes and accessories. I have my eye on the jumper and messenger bag.

2. Days of August –¬†¬†Sustainable designed accessories and jewellery. ¬†Their colour wheel necklaces are to die….

3. Sea Shepherd¬†– The classic Sea Shepherd merch that is not only cool…totally worthy of the cause! I am saving for the one piece swimmers :)

4. Sseko Designs¬†–¬†Sseko Designs is an ethical fashion brand that hires high potential women in Uganda to make sandals to enable them to earn money through dignified employment that will go directly towards their college educations and ensure they will continue pursuing their dreams. ¬†Their loafers are a must have.

5. Frank Stationery –¬†For you stationery lovers out there –¬†Frank Stationery: Socially conscious stationery.

6. Sackcloth & Ashes – Homewares – S&A vision –¬†We are a company that sells¬†high-quality blankets in the United States. With every blanket you purchase, we will give a blanket to your local homeless shelter.

 

Another go-to resource that may come in handy is the ‘Give Generation’ twitter and site that provides a comprehensive list of some of the best, newest and lushest brands available that will surely satisfy your socially conscious + lifestyle needs.

Happy shopping!!

Making home made pasta: 101

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I’ve been an avid MasterChef fan of late; which seems rather ironic to my family since I am not the best in the art of cuisine.

I enjoy food however lead a fairly chaotic life that I rarely have time to plan a meal any more complex then meat and three veg. ¬†However, I was inspired! After watching a relatively delicious cooking episode that involved home made egg pasta….I wanted to give it a go. ¬†It looked pretty fail safe. ¬†A bit of flour, some eggs, a bit of kneading…voil√†….pasta. ¬†Yeah…not so much.

It was a tough day, full of excitement, uphill battles, disappointments and then excitement again. ¬†It also¬†taught me a lot. ¬†In light of my new love for cooking, I thought I’d share what I have learned during my first attempt at making pasta.

  1. Do not undertake an ‘arms’ session at the gym a day prior to making pasta. ¬†KNEADING was the word of the day. ¬†I kneaded that dough like my life depended on it. ¬†Thank goodness my little arms were not sore from the gym or over-exhausted because there was no way I would have survived the 1 hour session of kneading.
  2. Be well rested and prepared. You will need to be well rested and relatively functioning to undertake the making of the home made pasta.  In my personal opinion, this would not be a dish you would try and make after a big night out.  Kneading and pasta making is not for the hungover.
  3. Choose the right pasta recipe for you.  I noticed there were several home made pasta recipe variations. Some with whole eggs, some with egg yolk only, some with 5 eggs and some with 10.  Know what ingredients you need and most importantly know what pasta you need to make.  This brings me to point 4.
  4. Plan. ¬†Have an idea of what pasta you want to make. ¬†As in…spaghetti, pap deli, ravioli, rigatoni, lasagne, fettuccine, pene and the list goes on. ¬†It’s best to know I found, because¬†this could also determine the best pasta recipe for you. And knowing what pasta you want to make can also influence your other ingredients.
  5. Be patient.  Pasta is definitely not a quick-fix meal.  After your kneading of the pasta dough comes the waiting and sitting of the pasta dough.  Some recipes call for 2-3 hours in the fridge for optimum pasta goodness.  I was relatively prepared for waiting however could only stretch it out to 1.5 hours; anything less and your pasts efforts would be thwarted. So be prepared to wait.
  6. Know your equipment. I knew the use of the trusty pasta maker machine would be a challenge for me, and I wasn’t wrong. ¬†However, after attentive coaching from my sister, I was well under way to rolling and stretching the best pasta out there. Again, this required the utmost time and patient and….point number 7.
  7. Be persistent. ¬†You will fail! Rolling out pasta is not easy. ¬†So I learned. ¬†It takes a couple (20+) goes of rolling out the perfect sheet of pasta and I want to emphasis point 1, 2, and 5 again. ¬†Because cranking that little rolling arm on the pasta maker is not as easy as it looks. ¬†You will get tired. ¬†You will want to give up…but don’t…your perfect pasta awaits you.
  8. Innovate. ¬†As a first time pasta maker, I wasn’t as entirely prepared as I thought I was. ¬†You will need to hang your freshly pressed, stretched and cut pasta to dry. ¬†We did not have the suitable equipment to do this…until we became inventive and used our old clothes horse as a pasta hanger. ¬†I had a slight panic attack around the germ factor (germaphobe here) however I just figured all the germs would be killed in the cooking process. ¬†All was well!
  9. Share. ¬†After all that hard work I can understand how you may want to devour all your pasta to yourself after all the blood, sweat and tears you’ve just put into it (:/) however…don’t be g reedy and share your efforts. ¬†Let others know how awesome you are at making home made pasta and allow them to try your wonderful creation. ¬†Sharing is caring.

And that wraps up my top tips for making a good pasta dough. ¬†I’d love to hear if anyone else struggled as much as me or am I just special like that :)

 

 

Try everything…twice!

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We always here the age old advice of, “Try everything once!” While¬†I have always agreed with this, I’ve learned that sometimes, you need to try everything twice…at a minimum.¬†

Of late, I have become an avid boater and fisherman. ¬†Who would have thought right? If you would have asked me my thoughts on the matter 1 year ago or even 5 years ago, I would have said something like this, “Who would want to go fishing…sitting and waiting for hours, getting attacked by mosquitoes and after 4 hours, coming up empty handed.”

However, this was my opinion after my first experience fishing. ¬†It went something like this….I was taken to a local creek, during peak summer season. It was stinking hot. I had¬†limited supplies (fishing and snack wise). ¬†I had no insect repellent and was left to my own devices. ¬†Of course I didn’t enjoy it. ¬†But recently, I was taken on a mini boat trip around our local waterways and was shown the ropes of how to fish. ¬†My fellow fisherman, took the time to teach me how to correctly hook bait, cast out and lure in a fish. ¬†A lo and behold…I caught my first fish. ¬†And it was a beauty. And I was addicted! ¬†Now, I try to¬†go fishing every weekend I can. ¬†Not too mention, I am out in the beautiful sun and surf, enjoying what my home town has to offer.

And it got me thinking…if I hadn’t tried this activity twice, I would never have discovered just how much fun fishing and boating could actually be. ¬†The circumstances were completely different to the first. ¬†My fisherman buddy helped me out; and the location was the big open sea (well not too big as I also get sea sick). ¬†And this was also another reason that held me back for so long.

I had one bad experience where I went on a whale watching tour and wasn’t prepared for the big open waves. On that day, I spent most of the 4 hour tour holed up in the toilet or on the stern (back) of the boat throwing up. ¬†Another example where my first¬†experience potentially tainted my future experiences. ¬†From then on, I was convinced that if I step foot on water (in the boating sense) I would surely end up violently sea sick and nauseous. ¬†Not the case. ¬†Well…yes, if I go to open water again. ¬†However, not if I stay on the shallow shores of the broadwater :)

So¬†my point is, try everything at least twice. ¬†If the first time didn’t work, try it at a different angle. ¬†Look at what it was that didn’t work for you and change it up.

I can’t believe I have missed out all these years on something so exciting and enjoyable!! Open your mind and options…because you’ll never know what you could be missing out on :)

Ahoy….

 

What is the protocol on returning presents?

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So, this might be a touchy subject for some people however I feel it’s a topic that needs to be discussed. An acquaintance¬†recently mentioned to me how they bought a friend¬†a going away present for a recent bon voyage party however, not more than 3 short weeks later, that said person was in fact returning to their old faithful destination. ¬†Things just didn’t work out. Too cold or something?

My acquaintance was really cranky about the whole situation because¬†they had invested quite a bit of money in the going away gift and purchased a GPS device for the leaving person to navigate with in their new home town; quite a thoughtful gift I thought. And then it got me thinking; I too had a similar situation happen to me a while back. ¬†Apparently, this was quite a common occurrence. ¬†So it got me wondering…should people return gifts given for celebratory events?

In my situation,  I attended the engagement party for a friend of mine.  I purchased a really nice tea set.  It was limited edition. It took me hours to pick out the set that I thought would be perfect for the couple.  2 months later the couple ended their 4 year relationship and expected nuptials.

I was devastated for my friend and organised to visit her to lend a crying shoulder if needed.  A crying shoulder was not needed.  In fact, my friend was so elated when I saw her that I assumed she must have been on really good anti-depressants and wanted to know which ones? But in all seriousness, she was completely different from the girl I spoke with months ago who was eagerly anticipating her engagement  to long time boyfriend.  This girl was so relieved it was over and organising an overseas holiday?!

I was a little confused to say the least? Then I too become frustrated. ¬†After getting over the shock and concern for my friend…being that I was probably the most concerned and shocked party out of the both of us….a¬†niggling little question started to surface within my mind. ¬†What was happening with all the gifts? All the well wishes and gifts friends and family just bestowed upon the couple….what was happening to them? ¬†More importantly, where was my limited edition tea set?

If the couple decided to part ways and separate assets and belongings, I couldn’t imagine the bf putting his hand up for¬†the tea set. ¬†So did she have it? And if she did…I couldn’t see what use a limited edition tea set would be to my friend who would be gallivanting around the world? Can you? And surely…if it was only several short months since the engagement, wouldn’t sending gifts back to the gift givers be the right thing to do?

What is the protocol on keeping gifts once received for celebratory events that fail to come realisation? All those photo frames….that will no longer house the images of the happy couple? What about those? Or the mountain of vases to nestle the flowers my friend would have received from her loved one…and those? Or the plethora of crockery and tea sets that were given to them to eat¬†their meals with and sip on tea in the twilight together…huh??? What about the tea set??

So I am again brought back to my initial question, should gifts be returned in the above examples? I think yes. ¬†I understand perhaps that it would be impossible to return¬†every¬†gift. ¬†For example, perhaps money would be challenging to return, especially if any ‘wishing well’ funds were used to pay off the event in question? Or perhaps, gift vouchers or even entertainment vouchers¬†as such. ¬†But what about physical, tangible products?

Think of the gifts!!!!! Really, after hearing about the bon voyage incident and then reminiscing about my similar situation, it just got me thinking how the meaning of these events have become lost and clouded in a bunch of red tape and gift registries. ¬†I have always seen these occasions as an opportunity to celebrate with friends and family, remember the good times and bless the upcoming ones. ¬†The gifts…they just took over the limelight and have now¬†devalued¬†these precious moments I believe.

 

I had a date with lace doilies and leather….

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Instagram is a lovely thing…it allows us to stalk…I mean view other people we don’t even know and have a glimpse into their world. :) ¬†Even better, it also allows us to find great little niche businesses and people who have some great talent to share. Over the weekend, I found the insta account of Amy Lawrence. ¬†If you haven’t had the pleasure of hearing about Amy Lawrence she makes, “intriguing knitted neck wear”. ¬†It really is something you have to see to appreciate.

For me, I love knits. ¬†I own about 1 million knitted jumpers and cardigans because I just can’t get enough of them. ¬†So to stumble across Amy¬†who creates wonderful knitted accessories…is happiness!

The inspo!
Image courtesy of instagram / @amylawrencedesigns

 

Part of her other range that also caught my eye is her BITZA range. ¬†Basically these are up cycled lace and crochet doilies that have been reworked into cute creations of lace, leather, cotton and ribbon. ¬†Again, something you have to see to believe. I was so taken away with these designs…that I was inspired to make my own. ¬†Let me tell you, it was a fiddly task that required the utmost patience and perseverance…however I managed to stick it out and make 2.5 lace pieces for myself.

I am glad I found Amy’s page as it reignited my love for crafts and beautiful textiles. So much so that I visited my beautiful mother’s sewing studio and raided her secret stash of silk ribbons, lace and other goodies to restart my collection. ¬†Thanks mum!!

The weekend was spent toiling away and creating the below pieces that I am¬†quietly proud of. ¬†Of course, it pails in comparison to the wonders of Amy Lawrence designs however for a novice…I think this DIY project turned out okay.

 

 

Images courtesy of: amylawrencedesigns.co.uk & instagram