Category Archives: Lifestyle

My dream living room is a quirky one

I never thought of myself as quirky, but as I have grown as a Designer, I find myself more and more drawn to the unusual.

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One of my designs – a desk lamp made out of a used book-end (Lilly Loompa)

So much so, that I am trying to break away from the traditional in so many areas of my life. Some may think I am a rebel, but maybe I just don’t like the conventional. Conventional is boring!

My most recent stint to fuel my hunger for the off-beat, is my home. My family and I live in a shipping container, called “House Madeline“.

It is far from complete, but it is a labour of love. We have been living in this home for close to 2 years and have recently shipped it to our home province, the Western Cape, where we live in it now.

As mentioned, it is far from complete. We have big plans to make it a comfortable, yet stylish home with personality! (maybe my personality…don’t tell my husband!)

Another design inspired by the environment I find myself in…Jozi Art (Lilly Loompa)

I want our house to reflect our true style and personality. I want it to be filled with items that make me happy and pieces that tell a story…just like my furniture pieces. So I have some ideas of what our living room should look like:

Crushing on Marissa Tomei’s apartment

I love Marissa Tomei’s style (not to mention that she is my hubby’s TV crush!). I really like the animal-skin tripod chair and the lamp, they add a uniqueness to her apartment.

I love retro furniture, especially this couch!

Again, above the natural elements speak to me! The nguni skin rug and the leather couch make the space feel warm and inviting.

The artwork is unique but unified by framing it all in black

Light and airy spaces are essential for me.

Patterns, texture and plants are also non-negotiable!

I have recently seen a beautiful couch on Arhaus. I have decided to build a mood board around it:

Neutral colours for the base furnishings

 

Continuation with neutral colours and pops of turquiose

Colourful accents

Obviously these are ideas of what I would want to see in our living room. As a Eco-Designer, I have to stay true to my values and principles by re-using and buying green products. But I will use this as my guide for inspiration.

Have you designed your dream space? Are you living in it right now? Would love to hear from you! 🙂

Sources: Lilly Loompa, Arhaus, Nkuli Mlangeni, Marisa Tomei 

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Weekly Photo Challenge: (Extra) ordinary

Extraordinary ~ {Beyond what is ordinary or usual; highly unusual or exceptional or remarkable}

We frequent the Kruger National Park quite regularly. In fact for the last 11 years I think we have been there at least 15  times.

In June of this year we visited again. In all the years we have been going there, the sighting below is quite rare.

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Lion 3

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Lion 5

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A whole pack of lions in broad daylight. They came so close to the vehicles it was nerve-wrecking and exhilarating at the same time!

First the lionesses and cubs made their appearance. Then the males came. Lazily strolling through the park while nosy cameras went wild.

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The perfect holiday

Holidays could possibly be the best thing ever. Perfect vacations are meant to be care-free and unworried. It could be sunny days spent in some exotic place…far away from the norm of life, or even cold, snowy days warming up by the fireplace.

Some people live for the December or Christmas holidays. They are typically very special times spent with family and friends. Some of us go home (if we live in another city or country), or some of us choose to travel to a holiday destination preferably close to a body of water.

We just had a perfect holiday. When we left Jozi for Nelspruit, our faded skins were craving the cool splash of chlorine or salt water. We fought the scorching hot days by lazing in the pool and allowed the sun to kiss our skin. We slept in most mornings and had late nights eating good food with good friends, laughing and sometimes debating current issues. I started reading several books but haven’t finished any. I ate whatever I wanted to, whenever I wanted. I hardly checked my phone or replied to messages…not to mention social media. Some days I brushed my hair, other days I didn’t. In fact, how silly of me to pack my hairdryer and straightening iron to a hot, humid province like Mpumalanga. I am not ashamed to say, I went curly the whole holidays. Isn’t that the point of a holiday…breaking away from the norm?  Travelling is meant to broaden your mind…and also giving it a rest.

Although I am sad that I didn’t spent the holidays with my family (who I will see in a few weeks time), it still was perfect. I am grateful for our hospitable friends who have now become family, and so graciously opened their beautiful home to us Jozi-slickers. 🙂

Holiday snapshot

Holiday snapshot

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On top of Africa: Almost touching the sky

Skyscraper ~{A very tall building with many stories}

Last week for my hubby’s birthday, we decided to have breakfast in the city.  Although I have been in the Carlton Centre a few times, I have not taken any leisure time to really explore.

The Carlton Centre, with 50 stories, is the tallest building in Africa, and has been for the last 39 years. Yes, not much to brag about when you take into consideration that the tallest skyscraper in the world, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.  At over 828 metres (2,716.5 feet) and more than 160 stories, our little Carlton Centre seems minute.

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Burj Khalifa

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View of the city from my home

Anyhow…excitement ran high as we made our quick ascend to the 50th floor.  The views are spectacular!

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Western region of the city. Ghandi square is clearly visible.

Hubby visited Chicago a few weeks ago and this was the picture he took while on top of the Willis Tower.

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View from Willis Tower, Chicago.

I know, our buildings look like Mickey Mouse playhouses.  However, our city is also strong.  In the space of a century, the Johannesburg city has been rebuilt four times: first it was a tented camp, then a town of tin shanties, then of four-storey Edwardian brick buildings, then a city of modern skyscrapers. (http://www.jda.org.za/fast-facts)

A few surprising facts you didn’t know about Johannesburg:

  1. Even though Johannesburg is well over 120 years old (founded on 4 October 1886 during the gold rush), it is still one of the youngest major cities in the world.
  2. There is only one other city on the continent that is bigger than Joburg, and that is the bustling metropolis of Cairo in Egypt. Johannesburg is the second biggest city on Africa.
  3. The Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital is the largest acute hospital in the world, with 2 964 beds, is the only public hospital serving the 3.5 million people in Soweto, Johannesburg.
  4. Johannesburg is the world’s biggest man-made forest, with over 10 million trees. This number is set to grow, as City Parks launched the Greening Soweto project in 2006, with the goal of planting an extra 200 000 trees in the famous township. Not only do Joburg’s trees combat the greenhouse effect, they help reduce noise in this ‘urban jungle’.
  5. Johannesburg is the world’s largest city not built on a coastline, or on a lake or river. That’s why Joburg is also called the world’s biggest ‘dry port’. More than half of the cargo that arrives through the ports of Durban and Cape Town arrives at the container terminal at City Deep.
  6. With the rich archaeological site known as the Cradle of Humankind on the outskirts of the city, it’s not surprising that 40% of the planet’s human ancestor fossils have been discovered in the Jo’burg area.
  7.  At 269m high, the Hillbrow Tower is the tallest structure in Johannesburg. It used to have a revolving restaurant at the top, before it was closed down in 1981 for safety reasons. It is a prominent feature in the city’s beautiful skyline.
  8. The Johannesburg Zoo based in Parktown, is over 100 years old, and houses the only two polar bears in Africa – Geebee (who came from Canada) and Wang (who came from Japan).
  9. OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg – named after the famous former leader of the African National Congress – is the biggest and busiest airport on the continent of Africa. It is estimated that 28 million passengers pass through its terminals every year.
  10. While Johannesburg has a reputation as one of the most dangerous cities in the world, it takes an average of only 60 seconds for police to respond to a crime scene in the central business district (CBD). There is a CCTV system that covers every street corner and scanning vehicle licence plates.
  11. There is also a Johannesburg in California, although it only has a population of 176 people (2000 census). It was named by miners who had worked in the gold mines of Johannesburg, South Africa.
  12. It takes one-minute longer to boil an egg in Johannesburg than it does in the coastal cities of Cape Town and Durban. This is because Joburg is 2000m above sea level, and the air is not as dense.
  13. The Shaft of Terror, located at the popular amusement park of Gold Reef City, is a vertical-drop roller coaster that has the distinction of being the tallest and fastest roller coaster in Africa. It has a 47-metre drop, and a G force of over 6 Gs!
  14. Johannesburg is the home of Kwaito music, a catchy genre of African house music that was born in the 90s and has become a South African phenomenon. It is most famous for its catchy lyrics that embody post-apartheid township culture.
  15. While Johannesburg is also known as the City of Gold, or ‘eGoli’ because of its beginnings as a gold-mining town, it is known fondly to locals by the shortened ‘Joburg’, or now more popularly as ‘Jozi’.

There you go! More views of my beloved city…

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North-western view. Far at the back you can see Auckland Park and the Sentech Tower

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Antique telescope. It still has Afrikaans print on it and the old cents. It is still in working order but you do not have to pay to view…which is a bargain!

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Eastern view. In the distance you can see the area where I live.

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Rooftops

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The two most iconic buildings of the Jozi skyline. The Ponte Tower and the Telkom Tower

Besides the fact that the top floor needs an urgent revamp, this experience was so refreshing.  With that said…it was extremely clean…the decaying floors shone like diamonds.  The Carlton Centre is an understated gem.  It cost only R15,00 ($1.50).  Super cheap and unexpected.

The visiting hours are 07h00 to 19h00 everyday.

Next expedition is to go at night to get some nice pics of the skyline when the lights are on!

Go on and try it!

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What makes a city? Do people really matter?

I was pleasantly charmed by a movie I watched recently.  “Midnight in Paris” by Woody Allen, is set in Paris and Owen Wilson plays the character of Gil Pender, a screenwriter trying to write his first novel.  While exploring the city by night, he mysteriously transports to the 1920’s and meets all his favourite writers, musicians and artists.  He falls head over heels in love with the city.  However his fiancé does not share the same sentiment and ironically he falls out of love with her.

Midnight_in_Paris_Poster

Now, I have never really had a deep desire to visit Paris.  Maybe because I thought it was overrated or people fussed about it too much.  In any case, hubby and I had an opportunity to backpack through Europe a few years back.  We were set to spend 2 nights in romantic Paris.  We tried finding our hotel but really struggled to get around because no-one would respond to us in English.

We ended up leaving “romantic Paris”…we couldn’t find any romanticism.  We ended up walking around for hours.  I build up this grudge against the Parisians and immediately decided they were arrogant and snobby.  There was no way we would spent our hard-earned money there.

Quite disappointed we left Paris

Quite disappointed, we left Paris

We left and spent an extra two nights in Barcelona!  Wow, what a city!  Ironically we had a total different experience!  We had a lovely, warm reception, and people made an effort to help us.  It quickly became our favourite place, and I would go there on the drop of a dime.

Now 8 years later, I’m rethinking everything…especially after watching this movie.  Also, a friend of mine and fellow Blogger, Wade Manning, moved to Paris recently, and I really enjoy reading about his experiences.

In hindsight, I realise I was a bit ignorant.  I could have made an effort to learn the basic: Bonjour Monsieur, parlez-vous anglais?”  But I also ask myself why they could not make an effort to be more friendly?  Why must they be so snobbish?  Maybe our decision to leave prematurely robbed us of some brilliant experiences.  And that is what travelling is about…learning about new places, people and cultures.  And we chose to abort “living the French way”.  We never got to eat any French food or visit the Eiffel Tower… none of that!

So I pose the question:  “What makes a city? Do people really matter?”  My conclusion is…yes, people matter.  People can either make or break your trip.  Coming from sunny South Africa, I am proud to say that our people are said to be some of the friendliest in the world.  I have met countless tourists and visitors and they would always commend us.  “Ubuntu” is what and who we are.

Desmond Tutu explains what Ubuntu is:

One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.”

Children of South Africa

Friendly children of South Africa

I love that…and I try to live that.  Our general culture in South Africa is one of Ubuntu, and yes you do get rude and angry people who choose not to live by this concept.  And this is true for every country in the world.  Maybe we just ran into the wrong people on that disastrous day we arrived in Paris.

Time is a healer.  I think I’m ready to embrace and give Paris another chance.  As Owen Wilson’s character sums it up in this quote from the movie:

Adriana: I can never decide whether Paris is more beautiful by day or by night.
Gil: No, you can’t, you couldn’t pick one. I mean I can give you a checkmate argument for each side. You know, I sometimes think, how is anyone ever gonna come up with a book, or a painting, or a symphony, or a sculpture that can compete with a great city. You can’t. Because you look around and every street, every boulevard, is its own special art form and when you think that in the cold, violent, meaningless universe that Paris exists, these lights, I mean come on, there’s nothing happening on Jupiter or Neptune, but from way out in space you can see these lights, the cafés, people drinking and singing. For all we know, Paris is the hottest spot in the universe.”

I think I’m ready to experience this now.  Paris is now once again on my list of places to visit, and this time I will go ready and armed!

Paris, nous voici!!

So again I pose the question:  “What makes a city? Do people really matter?”  What is your feeling?

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My weekend…

I had another eventful one…

It started early by Thursday evening.  Friends invited us to the Night Market on Main.  It happens every first Thursday of the each month.

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Besides food, the market has lots of vendors selling interesting goods

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Amazing vibe…

Being out for at night for a change felt good…I almost felt young again! 🙂 Ironically I live about 3 minutes away!  Guess where I’ll be next month on the first Thursday evening!  Be sure to check it out if you are in the vicinity.

On Saturday I hosted my very first baby shower at our house.  A friend of ours, Natalie, will be giving birth very soon to her first child, Benjamin.  I love to entertain…and loved preparing for this special occasion.

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I made paper flags and hearts to create a festive look.

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Home-made nougat as thank-you gifts

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I love hand-picked flowers.  It’s cheaper than buying.  I loved the fact I could use my cute keepsake polka-dot teacups my Granny gave to me a few years ago.  She will turn 100 years in July!  Wow!

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Natalie and her identical sister, Nastasha. Tasha was instrumental in pulling the event off!

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The ladies giving Natalie some tips.

Then, in true South African fashion, we had to end the festivities with a braai!

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It was a wonderful day.  The weather was great and most of all…Natalie enjoyed herself.  Thanks to everyone who helped in making this shower special for Nats!  Shani, Ilse, Marilyn, Jo-Anne and Tasha…you go girls!

Then what would Sunday be without going to church?  After that, I took my usual afternoon nap and then prepared for movie night.  This time we invited friends over and watched the very heart-wrenching documentary, Miracle Rising, a documentary tracing South Africa’s difficult path to freedom and democracy.

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Miracle Rising details the timeline of South Africa’s crucial moments during the transition from apartheid to democracy. (Gallo)

I am thankful…for history and how it has shaped us.  I am grateful for those who lay down their lives for our freedom.  I am grateful…

It was a great, full weekend spent with friends.  Now to prepare for Chelsea’s 6th birthday this coming weekend!  Phew!  🙂

PS: I guess I’m moving up…the birthday cake is being flown in from Cape Town! Mommy-in-law is flying in and will have the chore of being courier.  Thanks Moeder! (Afrikaans for Mother) 

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Urban

Urban ~ {Located in or characteristic of a city or city life}

I love this picture.  I took it while in transit in Jozi CBD.  I love the activity of the hawkers and remember seeing people braiding hair close by.  Also love the very cool earrings the girl is wearing.

As some of you might have read, I am part of a group of adventure-seeking, hungry-for-history, hikers.  We explore the city of Joburg on a bi-monthly basis.  This one I took while on one of those hikes.  It is a bucket-list wall where you can chalk down your dreams and aspirations.  These boys live in the city and this is their playground.

One of the many skyline pictures I have been taking these last few weeks.  This is my view from our new home in Kensington.

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I think I found the one…

What does it mean to be settled?  According to the Word-Web dictionary it means:

Established in a desired position or place; not moving about”

For the last decade I have been moving about. From one house to another…19 times in total.

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Sometimes we moved caused we sought adventure…other times we were driven out of a house because our empty bank account could not make up the bills.

However it might be…moving became part of my life, whether I liked it or not. In the beginning it was easy because it was only me and Ashley. Then after 5 years, came Chelsea and shortly after, Kirsten. Obviously it became more challenging. Kids need stability in general. They need routine to function and require some sort of norm to feel safe.

There we go again…

Chelsea in her short lifespan (almost 6 years old) has moved a staggering 8 times! Now that I’ve numerated it, it shocks me!

Anyway, so our journey has taken us from south to north, to west, to south again, west again, everything in between and now lastly east. We sound like a circus…but really we are not. We are actually very stable people…believe it or not. We have learned to adapt quickly and settle quickly wherever we end up. Priority is to make life work in our new home as soon as the first day. I hang pictures…get the flow right and find a creche for the kids.

Business must go on…so computers get plugged in, printers get connected and while I do that, I do a load of laundry. I might cook that same night, depending on the amount of boxes I still need to unpack…otherwise we just grab takeaways. The next day I might start painting a room and decorating it just to make me feel normal.

Life must go on…I must not allow circumstances to dictate my state of mind.  But sometimes, many times,  the moving gets to me.  It gets me under.  I long for stability…a place to call home.

I sometimes envy people that have lived in one place for more than 2 years…and I tell myself: “surely my lifestyle can’t be normal?”  I am not a roamer, a free-spirited gypsy…I am in fact very normal (well that’s what I tell myself).  At some stage I almost started to crave moving.  It became a rush for me.  The thought of moving to a new place, new people, new surroundings made my life more exciting, giving me an edge.

So we moved into a fabulous house about 2 weeks ago. Apart from unpacking a few more boxes, we are fairly settled.  I haven’t found a creche yet so the kids are still at home.  This house is artistic and inviting.  It has wooden floors and picture rails.  I wake up in the morning to the city skyline of Jozi.  It is such a blessing.

It is snowing in Jozi today.  Snow is a rare occurrence in Gauteng, with snowfall having been experienced in May 1956, August 1962, June 1964, September 1981 and on June 27 2007.

September 1981 has the greatest snowfall on record, with statistics showing snowfall accumulating up to 10 centimetres across the province. (http://mg.co.za/print/2012-08-07-snow-in-joburg)

Surprisingly snow fell in Gauteng today

They say one’s home should be an extension of your personality.  I can safely say…I think I’ve found the one.  I’m home.

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Urban hike # 2: Another awe-inspiring walk through history

These hikes are really getting intense!  They are so inspiring and informative, and yes it takes me weeks to get info together and sort pics to write about!  Sorry for delay! 🙂

On Saturday, 23 June we tackled yet another route of my new-found, beloved city, Jozi.

I seriously have a hard time writing in detail of my experience…it is just to overwhelming but in a good way.  I will attempt to give you an overview in picture once again.

We were welcomed with a misty, cold morning but nevertheless excitement were all around.  We gathered at a coffee shop at Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newton.

Misty downtown

Reflections

Beyers Naude

We arrived at Beyers Naude Square, which houses the City Library.  Beyers Naude was the leading Afrikaner anti-apartheid activist during the struggle.  Although I wasn’t born a Naude, we share the same surname and I have a lot of respect for what he stood for.  Ironically I share a name with his daughter, also called Liesel Naude.

Taking pictures is strictly forbidden in the library, so that is unfortunately all I could get.  It has been refurbished and looks like a library that can compete with the best in the world.

The Sun breaking through

How’s that for snail mail?

Interesting buildings

We could be walking the streets of New York.

Home of Markham (the men’s clothing store) built in 1897

Dirty building

Big blue buildings

These buildings are gorgeous…however, I can’t remember their names or history!

Ghandi square

Mining district

As we headed through the mining district we became drenched with rain.  My feet were soaking!

First mine-shaft

Can you believe this is how it looked way back?

Then we headed back to Newton.  On our way we passed through the first Chinatown.

Malay camp

South African Police Office

Here is where a lot of bloody Apartheid-related interrogations took place.  This building must house a lot of nightmares and secrets.

After this we headed over the Mandela Bridge over to Braamfontein to the Neighbourgoods Market.

Interior of Neighbourgoods Market

I really enjoyed the vibe at the Neighbourgoods Market.  I have visited the one in Cape Town a few years ago (which I enjoyed more) but I must be honest, the food at the Jozi market was totally overpriced and not tasty at all!  However, it is a nice place to meet with friends over a coffee.

After nearly 4 hours of walking and learning we were done!  Phew!  Another successful and awesome walk!

Samantha, Uncle Roy, Edwellan, Andrea, Ashley and I

That is only a drop in the ocean of all pictures I took.  Thanks to Uncle Roy for always being available!  Next hike is planned for 28 July.  Cheers to that!

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Walking through history…another hike

Our monthly hikes are unintentionally becoming information sessions.  Sittings where we learn history, (and not necessarily what we learned at school)…real and relevant history.

The last hike was no exception.

Map of the reserve

Gathering around the “gifbol” (poison ball)

The valley

The morning sun

Crossing the river

Remains of an early Tswana village

Typical rock formation for mining purposes

Marais farm

Gathering in front of Marais farm

History of farm

Walking towards the end of the trail

This hike was exceptional.  I wish I could write about the totality of it…it is just too much information.  I don’t even know where to begin.  We literally walked through history.  Thanks to Noel Thornton for being such an inspirational guide.  You really invigorated my hunger for history!

If you want more information on the history of the reserve visit their website:

http://www.knra.co.za/history.htm

PS: Our next hike is this coming Saturday, 23 June.  Really revved up about this one as were doing another city hike.  If you’re interested let me know.

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Don’t judge a house by it’s cover!

Having lived in over a dozen houses in the last 9 and a half years, I think that unofficially qualifies me an expert? 🙂

I realised the other day, I haven’t really posted anything about our current dwelling.  I think I unknowingly omitted writing about it as we once again have a short stay here!

Having experienced such a lot of homes in such a short span of time, I have developed a nick for finding a gem here and there.  And yes, I found one here!

From the first glance, this is just an ordinary house on the street.  In fact, it is no looker! I actually will go as far as saying…I hate the exterior!

Exterior of house

This is a typical house in Johannesburg.  This type of house was build for mine workers that lived and worked in the city.  You find this building style all over Joburg.

The house is very surprising in a lot of ways.  I remember the first day I came to view it.  Firstly it was on the market for rental for 4 months.  That already fitted our requirements as we just need some time to find our perfect (permanent) home! Also the rental was a ridiculous amount.  That got me sold!

Then the interior really blew me away! I recently found out the house is almost 70 years old…and it really looks good!  Let me show you:

Kitchen

The kitchen is nothing fancy…but has that old-world feel.  It has just plain white cupboards and vinyl on the floor.  However, it is warm and we find ourselves relaxing here most of the time.

Kitchen & Dining Room

The living room still has the original oak floors and its looking good!

Oak floors

The rooms are huge and the ceilings are high.  I think the ceilings are my highlight! Pressed tin ceilings and crown mouldings in all the rooms and bathroom! I can stare at it for hours…the detail is amazing!

High ceilings

Peach tree in the back

Then there’s the huge backyard.  Perfect for little ones…especially the peach tree.  I spoke to the owner who grew up in the house and she vividly recalled climbing this tree as a child.

This house has the X-factor.  You cannot exactly pinpoint what you like about it…but you immediately feel at home.

X-Factor ~ {(informal) an unknown or hard-to-define but important special property}

I love this house…I really do.  It has great bones and seem to have great memories.  Makes me want my own house now more than ever.  Be patient Lizl, soon!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Blue

Blue ~ {Of the colour intermediate between green and violet; having a colour similar to that of a clear unclouded sky}

One of my absolute favourites things to photograph is the sky, specifically clouds:

Blue sky – Paarl, Western Cape

Kleinmond, Overberg, Western Cape

Rockhaven Farm, Grootwinterhoek, Porterville, Western Cape

Melkbosstrand, Western Cape

Driving home, Jozi

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Urban hike: A walk through Jozi city

A few Saturdays ago, I went on what I would describe as a spiritual walk through Jozi city.  It was awe-inspiring.  I haven’t enough words to describe my experience in detail.  But I have hundreds of pictures to try to explain what I went through. (don’t worry I won’t share all of it!)

Early morning meeting

We all met up at a central place before leaving for the city.

Driving into the city

Getting ready

Roy Fillis

Our hiking group is very informal.  With our first hike earlier this year, the idea was formed to do an urban hike.  Two sisters, Gillian and Nicole are fellow hikers and suggested we ask their Uncle Roy to facilitate a hike through the city.  Uncle Roy loves history and is so passionate about the city.  He grew up and schooled in the metropolis and till today lives there.  His love for Jozi extremely tangible and contagious.

He briefed us on the plan for the day and you could feel the excitement in the air.  Hurriedly we made our way through the streets of Jeppestown.  All while Uncle Roy telling us interesting stories about years gone by.

Confusion

Can be easy to get lost!

And there she was…

Ahead lies the city!

David Webster’s Memorial Park

David Webster (1945 – May 1, 1989) was a social anthropologist in South Africa who was murdered by covert forces of the Apartheid state.

Webster was shot dead outside his house by a hit squad of the Civil Cooperation Bureau, a covert government agency. The hit squad was paid R40,000 (at the time, equivalent to about US$8,000) for his murder. Ferdi Barnard, the man who pulled the trigger on the shotgun used, was later tried and found guilty in 1998; he was sentenced to two life terms plus 63 years for a number of crimes, including the murder of Webster. (source: Wikipedia)

David Webster’s home restored to its former glory

After we admired his beautiful house we headed down to Coca Cola Park, home of Ellis Park Stadium.

Interesting artwork/sculpture

After a few “Kodak”  moments…

The group

We passed through some interesting streets and sights.  Including this shop front.  It was covered with a photo of a street somewhere in Denmark.  The photo looked so real, it looked like the Jozi street vendor was part of it!

Jozi Street Vendor

Then we headed on to Joubert Park, home of the Johannesburg Art Gallery.  Uncle Roy arranged a visit to the gallery that was totally fantastic!  Here are a few pics:

Art

Out of a fire came art

Burnt postcard

Stunning gallery interior

Operating hours JAG

Be sure to visit the Gallery.  It is a definite gem and a good reason to visit the city!

By then, we had been walking almost 3 hours.  Our legs were wobbly and we were hungry! Our initial plan was to visit Hillbrow and the Mining District, but there was just too little time.

We left the Gallery and went on our way.  These were some of the sights we saw along the way:

Block of flats

Another dirty building

Mural on building

We then decided to end of this trip by visiting the Maboneng Precinct.  (I also wrote about another visit here)

Maboneng Precinct

Interesting coffee shop

Girls having fun!

Me with my friends, Melonie Karriem and Andrea Abrahams having some fun in the very funky security booth.

Graffiti in the alley

We are done!

We were literally done! We were really jaded but in awe of a great day!

This was the area we covered, more or less.

Area covered

If you want to contact Uncle Roy for a similar walk, here follows his details:

Roy Fillis

+27 83 8673158

royfillis@gmail.com

Also contact me if you want to join us for the next one!  It was truly a remarkable day.  This was just a drop in the ocean.  I still have hundreds of photo’s I haven’t showed you.  Thank you Uncle Roy, you outdid yourself!

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A theatrical weekend and a dose of salsa!

What a great weekend!

It started with the DIY shoot with photographer, Kim McFarlane, for the 4changemag on Saturday morning.  Read about me joining this very exciting magazine as the resident DIY writer.

Then in the evening we went to see the very controversial and gripping true story of Ellen Pakkies, a seemingly ordinary woman, living in a notoriously violent area ironically named “Lavender Hill “, in the vicinity of Cape Town, murdered her beloved son Adam, or “Abie” as she called him, a crystal metaphetatimine (tik) addict.

Vinette Ebrahim (as Ellen Pakkies) & Christo Davids (as Adam Pakkies)

We left the theatre in a bit of a shake.  The show was extremely intense and raw…but every bit successful for just that reason.  The struggle and fight against this vicious ill of our time is intense and raw and we need heavenly intervention.  If you want more information, follow the show and their performing details on Facebook.

Then on Sunday as per usual we went to church and received yet another Spirit-filled and God-inspired word! Wow…powerful and intense word.  The Sunday lunch was another highlight of the day but a bit rushed as we had to get ready for another theatre production by our friends, Solomon Cupido and Bradley Olivier at PopArt in the The Maboneng Precinct , Johannesburg East.

PopArt Centre

Comedy duo, Bradley & Solomon

I haven’t laughed so much and so hard in such a long time! Well done guys! We cannot wait for the next one! And oh, I must mention I am very proud to say these boys are from my home-town, Paarl and I took the poster pic!  Watch out Trevor Noah!

“Tuff times”

Maboneng, a Sotho word meaning “place of light”, is a fitting name for a district that has fast become a centre of creative energy for Johannesburg’s urban artists. With a mix of art galleries, and retail and studio space on offer, the precinct draws the inner-city public, as well as the chic, art-going crowd of the city’s northern suburbs, bringing life back into downtown Johannesburg.

City skyline

The energy is electrifying.  Sidewalk restaurants, kids playing and graffiti lines the street.

Kids playing

I love this very cool “Before I die” wall of art.

Interesting wishes

After the show we decided to go chill at The Rooftop Bar of the Canteen Restaurant at Arts On Main. What a refreshing experience! I felt like I was instantly transported to Havana, Cuba. The atmosphere was thrilling!

The bar is the home of salsa, where scores of lithe dancers spend their Sunday afternoons swaying to the hypnotic rhythms of Afro-Cuban tunes.

Sexy salsa!

Salsa – A Latin American style of music, influenced by jazz

It got my feet itching and I suddenly have an urge to learn Salsa!  Wow, truly an amazing and authentic experience.

All in all…a magnificent weekend!  Thanks to all my friends who help made it happen! Big ups!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Together

Together ~ {In contact with each other or in proximity}

Today was a great day.  Together with a group of fellow Joburgers we did an urban hike through the city. I cannot remember when last I was this overwhelmed and excited about something.  The city has a wealth of history.  I cannot wait to write about the day…watch this space.

Together, forever

Shadows together

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Another day in Parys…

…and yes I have the spelling right.  It is not Paris, France but Parys, Freestate, South Africa. Hubby and I visited this quaint little town in 2010 for our 8th wedding Anniversary, and I guess we fell in love all over again. 🙂

A mere hour’s drive out of the city…it is a great getaway!  This time round we invited a few friends along and made a day-trip of it.  Here follows a photo essay of the day: (some pics taken while in transit)

An appropriate greeting...Welcome Cafe

The Eiffel Tower

The local butchery. We stocked up on some good organic meat.

The butchery interior

The streets are lined with quaint little shops...

Cute shop

The Vaal River

The mighty Vaal river

The Vaal River  is the largest tributary of the Orange River in South Africa. The river has its source in the Drakensberg mountains in Mpumalanga, east of Johannesburg and about 30 km north of Ermelo and only about 240 km from the Indian Ocean. It then flows westwards to its conjunction with the Orange River southwest of Kimberley in the Northern Cape. It is 1,120 km in length, and forms the border between MpumalangaGauteng and North West Province on its north bank, and the Free State on its south. (source: Wikipedia) We ended off our day with ice cream at the local gourmet bistro, Hoi Poloi.  It has a very quirky style with a lot of French influence.

Very steep stairs

Bistro interior

Lounging at the back of the bistro

Below the bistro is what looks like an upholstery boutique and a collection of vintage cars.  Check out the antique doors!

Antique doors

Another stunning door!

Bistro view from the bottom up

A vertical garden...how interesting!

Hands down one of my favourite small towns in South Africa now (amongst Franschhoek, Dullstroom, etc).  It has so much to offer in terms of shopping, eating and sight-seeing.

“Parys, ne peut pas attendre de vous voir à nouveau!”

(Cannot wait to see you again, Parys!)

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My latest fad…lampposts (part 2)

A few weeks ago I published a post on my favourite new craze: lampposts.

Continuing with the fad…

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WordPresser Documents Her Mission to Overcome Agoraphobia

WordPresser Documents Her Mission to Overcome Agoraphobia.

Another lesson for me to actually stop saying I want to do things and actually start doing them! Very inspiring!

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Port Elizabeth, the friendly city is growing on me…

We visited the windy city in January this year during the holidays.  If only for two nights…we really had a great time.

We visited with our friends, Timothy & Verna.  Thanks guys, we really had a great time and look forward to welcoming you in Jozi for a visit soon!

(Most pictures taken while in motion in the car)

Colonial buildings

Old Mill building

The old colonial historic mill building was produced for Premier Milling corporate client.

King Edward Hotel

King Edward Mansions open 21 November 1904.  It became a hotel in 1911 and the name was changed to “The Edward”  in 1961. Ashley and I had a very romantic weekend here in March 2008 when we attended Timothy & Verna’s wedding.

Campanile

Located near the Port Elizabeth harbour’s entrance, the Campanile was built as a memorial to the arrival of the early settlers of the region in 1820. The 52 m high Italian-style bell tower, which stands in Port Elizabeth’s Strand Street was built in 1923, and features a carillon of 23 bells which makes it the largest carillon of bells in the country.

Looove lampposts

Ferris wheel on Summerstrand

Airplane coming in

My dream vehicle...

Ashley and I have a dream of touring through Africa with the girls in 2013. We want to do it before Chelsea goes to Grade 1 in 2014.  This would be the type of vehicle we would need…vvvrrroooomm.

Bluewater Bay

I was quite surprised at the effort the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality makes to initiate greener living.

Small wind turbine

This turbine was located in Summer strand and it generated enough energy to power the grid of festive lights on the left.

Solar heaters in low-cost housing areas

We drove through quite a few residential areas where solar heaters on the roofs were the norm.

One of the most surprising experiences were the absolute state of safety our friends lived in.

Open windows

We left for a day trip to Addo National Park and they left their windows open. No burglar bars or fencing!  Our laptops and valuables were all on the dining room table and they were very relaxed about it.  I grew up in Paarl, a very safe town but still I wouldn’t leave the windows open without burglar bars!  Now living in Jozi it is even worse.  I just realised in shock how my sensible approach to safety can quickly become borderline paranoia.  The quality of life made me a bit jealous, but not enough to want to move here.

Port Elizabeth is truly a great city.  There is no rush, no traffic and then there’s the beach.  Aaaah…the beach!

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My weekend…

It was a busy one.

Friday – we had supper with friends, (two sisters) Shireen & Anthea in Benoni.

Saturday – WAS MY BIRTHDAY!!!  I am yet to get excited about my birthday, there was just so much happening I decided not to have a party.  Rather I chose to attend a traditional African wedding in Soweto.  It was so refreshing and lively as only the Sowetans can do!  I love the spirit of Ubuntu at gatherings like these.  It is so tangible.

“Ubuntu is a concept in the Bantu Language.

It is about the essence of Humanness.

Simply put: ‘people are people through other people’

I am human because I belong. This concept acknowledges both the rights and the responsibilities of each citizen in promoting individual and societal wellbeing.”

.

Loved the decor!

The event was at Hope’s mother home.  They closed off the street and the guests walked down a red carpet.  Thanks for making us part of your special day Tebogo and Hope!  We hope to join you for your white wedding in February in Cape Town!  I couldn’t catch a photo of the bride and groom as my camera died on me!  Sorry! Read more on African weddings & traditions here.

Saturday evening – Went to another birthday celebration of a dear friend Samantha.  This party was also a combined farewell to friends of theirs.

Sunday – After a blessed time at church we attended a birthday party of 5-year old Roxy Botha. Thanks Mel and Reggie for making us part of your day!  We love meeting new people and we made some great friends at the party at Delta Park .

That was my busy weekend.  I definitely feel a year older after that!  I made a new friend at church, Melonie.  She jokingly asked me about the amount of weddings I have attended so far.  Maybe I should change my blog topic to that of weddings…what do you think?

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I owe you…

For the last 4 years I have been trying to detach myself from the debt system. The system is like a Sea Wasp or Marine Stinger, its tentacles mean death. Once it’s got a hold of you…there is no letting go…unless you make a decision to detach yourself.

The global debt bubble is bulging and pretty soon it will pop and things will get messy.

In South Africa, the household-debt-to-income ratio is around 78% leaving an average of R22 out of every R100 that South Africans earn each month (after tax) to buy food, clothing, toiletries etc and pay for school fees, water and lights, insurance, entertainment, holidays etc… no wonder the rate of household saving has declined to virtually nothing. (Gary Wilde)

From personal experience I know how difficult it is. Ashley and I lost almost everything in 2006 when a make-believe investor stole all our hard-earned profits. Since then it has been a struggle to get by.

People are starving and are jobless. It is a never-ending cycle. Although the government has put out a plea to the people to start saving more…it is extremely difficult under the circumstances. People also lend out of desperation.  It is a reality… we have a backlog in this country. Don’t get me wrong, I am not being pessimistic, I am being real. I am not making excuses but our past has had a huge impact on where we are today.

Ashley and I decided to make a conscious effort this year to save. I opened a savings account and collectively we saved a mere R150 per month. To some of you it might seem futile, but we were determined. About a month ago, we were forced to use it as one of our clients decided not to pay us. Immediately everything spiraled and we had to draw from our savings. I am sure that story seems familiar.

Now I agree that in general we are not trained too well in financial planning.  In fact, I think it should become part of the school curriculum.  Our kids need to be taught how to budget and work wisely with their money so they don’t repeat the cycle.  As a parent I have to teach my kids responsible spending.

But where do you start?

Due the state of the economy, high taxes, the increased cost of living, interest rates, government corruption, banks, creditors I was forced to make drastic changes to start living more responsibly.  Allow me to share some of them:

  1. Budget…budget…budget.  I cannot stress this enough.  “If you don’t plan, you plan to fail” (Gavin Cupido).  You need to outline your expenses and know where your money is going.
  2. Don’t buy on credit.  I know it’s difficult, but if you cannot afford to buy it cash, then don’t.
  3. Cut on luxuries.  We had to cut out holidays, eating out, buying expensive foods, toys, etc.
  4. I plan my meals so I can plan my grocery bill.  Let me tell you it works.  I try to be disciplined and I only buy what’s on the list.
  5. We live more consciously by managing our electricity.  Luckily we have a pre-paid meter so we can keep tabs on our usage.  We have also bought an inexpensive gel-stove which I cook on.  It also saves a lot on electricity.

These are just some of the changes we had to make.  Our life is far from perfect.  We still have a lot of catching up to do but these alterations have already made an impact.

If we don’t make a conscious effort to budget and save pretty soon our kids will be singing this song of debt (on the Barney tune):

I owe you

you owe me

we’re becoming a sad family

with a great debt bubble

and no hope for me and you

won’t you start saving so I can live too.

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10 bad habits I have

  1. I hate doing dishes.  Most nights I leave the dishes till the next day.  The irony is I have a dishwasher,  I am just to lazy to even pack them.

2. I have a very short temper.  Especially when Ashley and I argue or disagree.  I am usually very defensive.

3. I am not a morning person.  Ashley just commented it’s the first time in years he saw me smile when I woke up.  I contribute this to the fact that I slept right through.  Usually Kirsten wakes me up in the middle of the night.

4. I don’t live nearly as healthy as I can.  I never exercise and I eat what I like.  I know it’s wrong and I am trying to be more conscious of what I eat.

5. I don’t hang or pack my clothes away at night.  I just dump them and don’t think about it till the next day.  I’m just lazy that way.

So if I don’t pack my clothes away at night for a whole week…this is what my dressing room looks like.

Yes I know…it looks terrible. But I am only human.

7. I am always right. At least I feel I am always right, especially when Ashley and I disagree.

8. I don’t like to say I am sorry when I was wrong. Once again, mostly when it’s an issue between me and Ash.

9. I don’t like to plan ahead. I have a diary but I rarely plan my days. I just take them as they come. Bad, I know.

10. I am a huge procrastinator. Here is the definition of a procrastinator by The Word Web dictionary: ‘Someone who postpones work (especially out of laziness or habitual carelessness)’. That’s me.

So, I just disclosed some of my many bad habits to you today. Feel free to send me some of your habits (good or bad). It is actually quite freeing! You should try it!

 

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On top of the world

Today was a beautiful day in Johannesburg.  Ashley and I had an appointment in Parkview with a potential client but we had some time to kill beforehand.  So we decided to get some takeaway lunch and hopefully find a place with a nice view to enjoy it at.

Now when we stayed in the Western Cape, we were totally spoiled for choice.  Whenever we had time on our hands we could go to the beach, we could walk along a river or one of our favourite spots was Table Mountain.  We would sit there and listen to the dulled hustle and bustle below…but felt quite far removed from it.

Ashley always bragged about the great view Northcliff ridge offered.  So today seemed like the perfect day to do it.  We meandered slowly up the hill and admired the great mansions.  We arrived at the public area of the ridge, an area of around 11 hectares which is controlled by City Parks and Johannesburg Water (JW).  It has a large water tower, a distinctive landmark, on the very top of the ridge, built in 1939.

72-year old water tower

I was not actually prepared for adventure as I was wearing smart (and slippery) pumps.  So Ashley had to literally pull me up.  It’s an easy climb to the viewpoint…and he wasn’t joking.  It is breath-taking!

360º view of Johannesburg

Northcliff ridge is Johannesburg’s second highest koppie at around 1 807 metres.  The city consists of a number of ridges and one of the most northern ones is Northcliff ridge, the site of early 17th century Stone Age settlements.  Here are more pics:

Tower

More views

Pathway in the sky

Shrike in the air

The tower has become a perfect nesting place for swifts but the ridge is also home to larks, kiewiets and shrikes.

Squatters also make the ridge their home when they get a chance. The result is that graffiti, broken bottles and occasional fires are a problem in the area. Although the gate is locked after sunset, people do gain access to the ridge and problems with alcohol and drugs have been reported.

But although the ridge is visible from most northern parts of Joburg, it is not as attractive as it used to be. Twenty years ago its soaring cliff faces and base was free of human habitation, and the tower stood tall. The ridge was originally called Aasvoëlkop, a reference to a time when its crevices were home to vultures, now long gone.

Unlike its counterpart, Melville Koppies, which was declared a nature reserve in 1959 and, when in 1963 an Iron Age furnace was uncovered, became a national monument, Northcliff ridge was never recognised despite the discovery of Stone Age artefacts on it. The artefacts have disappeared, as have the two Iron Age furnaces that were discovered on Hearn Drive, just below the ridge.

Read more here:

There is something captivating about being on top of hills, mountains and koppies.  Sometimes you literally just need to be on top of the world to feel on top the world.  It was perfect.  Great company, the sun on my face and a boerewors roll to chow on!

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This was our day…

Today is June, 16th, a significant day in our history as a country.  You can read the full history right here.

We went to see the production, Alice in Wonderland, at the People’s Theatre at Johannesburg Theatre. This was really exciting as this would be the girls’ debut to theatre.

Show is about to start!

The guys and girls after the show

Our dear actor-friend, Solomon Cupido (on the left), is part of the cast.  Soon you would be able to see him in the new movie, “Ek joke net.”  which opens on 24 June at Nu Metro Cinema’s nationwide.  Check it out!

So after the show we decided to get together and have a braai since we were in the holiday spirit.  Solomon’s family were also visiting from Paarl, so before the braai we decided to take a whirl-wind tour of Soweto like we always do.

Wow…what a day it turned out to be?  We didn’t realise it would be such a brilliant day. We started out in Freedom Square in Kliptown, moved over to Regina Mundi church, then to Hector Pietersen Museum.  All these places were packed with people attending commemoration events…it was emotional and humbling.  Here follows our day in a photo story:

Jozi on the move (pic taken while driving in the car)

The Walter Sisulu Square (Freedom Charter)

Sundial in Freedom Tower

Freedom Charter

Eternal Flame (sadly not in working order)

Regina Mundi Church

Impressive interior of the church

Stained glass windows

Statue of Jesus in foyer

The story of Soweto

Hector Pietersen Museum

Struggle

Freedom

Democracy

Sjoe, I am still reeling.  It is so humbling to think and remember all our heroes of the past. I thank you…I thank you for your suffering and sacrifice.  Actually my words don’t do you justice.  Let me just keep quiet and remember you.

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Recollecting and remembering myself

As we reflect and bask in the glorious aftermath of a very successful World Cup of 2010, I am reminded of my very bad memory.  Excuse the pun.

What again?

Whenever my sister and I would reminisce about growing up, she would sometimes mention people’s names, or situations that we found ourselves in, then I would hit a blank. Totally…

I find that especially now that we have moved away from our family, it is even worse. Maybe the saying: “out of sight, out of mind”, applies here.  I forget birthdays and anniversaries, etc.  In fact, last night at 23h15 I found myself in a panic.  I was getting ready for bed when it suddenly it dawned on me that it could’ve been my parents wedding anniversary!

Oh my!

Obviously it was too late to phone them, and I would have been too embarrassed anyway. And for me to make the same mistake twice in one year, I fear would just be too much for my Mom!  On 29 April at about 08h20, on my way to work, I call my Mom to wish her a great birthday.  She disappointedly reacts: “My child, my birthday is tomorrow…”  Oh my…

Ok, at least I wasn’t late…at least I didn’t forget it.  I just had the date wrong!  I forgot the date my Mom, (the one who gave birth to me) was born!  OOPS!

So I need your help.  If you are a family member of mine, or a friend, or my Mom, please send me your birthday and anniversary dates.  

I used to have a birthday calendar, but alas it got lost in the move.

Please guys…I fear I might forget your important day and that just would not be good for my self-esteem.  It would just be too much for me.  I cannot promise a personal phone call…but with all the means of communication of late (email, sms or Facebook) I will try my utmost best to at least wish you well on your day of remembrance.

I will also try to follow my Gran’s advise of drinking parsley water…(I also suspect my lack of exercising plays a part)

Ok, what was I about to do now?

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