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On Wednesday, August 13, late afternoon I had a missed call on my phone. I had just come out of a meeting. It was my mom. I phoned back, expecting that the call would be to arrange something for her birthday, which is two days later. “Hallo mommy, how are you”? Not good comes the reply. My mom never answers a question like this. I can hear the tears are welling up, her throat is closing up. Did someone die? Did she put my 14-year old dog to sleep? Is my dad okay?

I have cancer. 

Just writing those three words still feels so surreal. My head goes empty, I feel woozy. No, not cancer. Anything but cancer. I fucking hate cancer. This cannot be happening to MY mother, this should not be happening. I didn’t need to ask what sort it was, mom just said I found a lump. My whole world fell apart.

Stay cool, stay calm, stay collected I tell myself while on the phone. For my mom’s sake. But as the news sinks in, it hits me hard, I am winded. I broke down. I am lucky that we have a sound studio in our office. I used it as a safeplace to let out all the anger and sadness. “Phone your mother,” I text my brother. Why, he replies. “Just phone her,” I answer.

Half an hour later he phones. Are you okay, he says. I nod, knowing full well that he cannot see my nod, but I think he knew I was nodding, too heartbroken to speak. “Don’t worry, this is not a death sentence. People beat cancer all the time.” That’s what you think, I think. I know what cancer does to people, I witnessed it with my own eyes. I cannot go through this again, not with my own mother.

Saturday. I saw my mom for the first time since the news. She looks radiant, positive, whereas I am walking with a black cloud above my head, no silver lining. (How do you write about a parent who has cancer and its effects on the people in the wake of this news without seeming utterly selfish and egocentric? I’m not the one with cancer, I’m not the one who has to undergo treatment or who has to get an operation, but it hurts like hell, it kills and eats you inside, steals your joy.) “Don’t cry. This will all be over soon,” mom says while she envelops me in a hug.

She has her operation to have the lump removed two weeks later. In solidarity, I put pink streaks in my hair as opposed to shaving it off, something I had done at the age of 21, when my aunt was diagnosed with cancer. Even after the procedure, she was positive, she was healthy and she looked good. I had to go overseas. On my return, little foxes started appearing, with their bushy tails on fire and setting alight to the meadow of positivity my mom found herself in.

Smoke was starting to cloud her vision, just like the dark cloud was already blanketing my thoughts for weeks. Mom recounted stories of how people noticed that she was missing a breast. How the woman in her regular grocer would stare at her – why do people do this? Why do they stare at people who look a little different? My sister-in-law confirmed that, even though my mom says she’s fine, she really was not fine. “She never leaves the house, even when I ask her to come somewhere with me,” she says. I’m fine, mom retorts.

Her first session of chemotheraphy was on a Friday, I take leave from work to be with her and support her through this poisonous hell that has to be willingly injected into her body. Soon she comes out, much sooner than we expected, tears welling in her eyes. “I can’t have chemo today, I have an infection. I just want this to be over with, I just want this to end.” Her next session is to start in two weeks time, to give the infection from the operation a chance to clear up. The doctor won’t risk giving chemo at the same time. Gone is the positive and strong mom I saw earlier. Now reality kicks in.

Fast forward to November 6. Mom has been admitted to hospital and discharged a week later. The chemo did not sit well with her, she wants to quit it. We were also in an attempted mugging and there was a fatal hijacking in our area. It all builds up.

Dad might have cancer.

In this minute, I did not even have the energy to cry. I knew it would come out sometime, but I just didn’t have the energy.

I knew there was a lesson to be learnt here somewhere, but I would just like to stop being tested for a day or two. I would like to breathe and not worry about anything. My head just kept on spinning.

By December, my mom had gone through, and thank God survived, another serious stint in hospital. There were talks of blood transfusions and some scary medicines. And then the doctor told my mom that he would not continue with chemotherapy as it will kill her before the cancer does. If the cancer did.

It was a four-month wait, but this week my mom went back to the doctor’s office and she was clean! There was no trace of cancer in her body. And I have to say that even though she lost some of her hair and shaved her head before everything could fall out, I have never seen anyone look more fabulous with a pixie cut than my mom.

I praise God for healing her, because it was only through His grace and love that she is now stronger, sexier and healthier than ever. To God be all the glory!

 {Image from this Etsy Shop}

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I once read a quote that stated “If travel was free, you would never see me again” – and oh how this rings true for me. I was born with wanderlust, which gave my poor parents many of their grey hairs, as I would always wander off – be it in the Pick n Pay when mom bought groceries, or when we went to visit my godparents gamefarm. I could explore for hours!
In fact, my wanderlust is so bad that my husband often likes to tease me. “When I go on holiday somewhere, my idea is to relax, sleep late, watch some tv, swim, just chill and you know, have a holiday. When my wife goes on holiday, it’s not a holiday, it’s an expedition. Every morning, we have to get up early and drive and see everything there is to see.”
I was recently asked about which unusual places I would visit in South Africa, it wasn’t long before I knew exactly which towns and cities I would splurge on and book a flight for! The problem is that there are sooooo many places I would love to go to or have been to that I had to arrange it somehow. Thus, here is my list of the must see unusual places in our beautiful country – by province.
 
 
Northern Cape
Now, hear me out. Usually when people say Upington, the first thing that pops into people’s heads – my own head until recently – is a big whole lotta nothing and dust. Wrong!
Did you know that Upington is in fact next to the Orange river? And that only 120 km outside this nowhere dorpie, you would find the Augrabies Falls? Just imagine camping under the stars on Mars, but still being able to breathe – well that’s what this arid district promises.
 
 
{Augrabies pic via
 
Mpumalanga
I wonder if the people of Nelspruit even know the beauty of their surroundings? Now, it might not be such an unusual place to go, as it does get a lot of the Kruger National Park traffic, but it’s what is around Nelspruit that makes this town in the lowveld a must visit. There are daytrips in every direction and so many waterfalls to see.
About 30 km in every direction you will find the most spectacular little towns. Sabie, with its rainforests and romantic lodges is one of my favourite places in the country. Make sure to check out the super romantic Timamoon – I’ve heard of quite a couple of proposals here, but it could also double as a sexy kickstart to a honeymoon.
You can also visit the Sterkfontein caves. But an absolute must see is Kaapsehoop. The town with about 120 people, has the only wild horse population in the country, and gosh are they beautiful!
Just outside Lydenburg, you’ll find Forest Creek Lodge, where you can stay in a loghut and take a bath in the middle of a forest or order a picnic basket.
 
 
 
{Kaapsehoop} 
 
Mpumalanga is by far the most romantic province in our country.
Western Cape
Skip the obvious and head down the coast towards Namibia. Little towns like Velddrif, Yzerfontein, Saldhana and Paternoster, with its charming fishermen village vibes, cheap and delicious lobster and vast stretching beaches – I’m thinking Yzerfontein in particular here, you will not regret exploring this region.
If you are feeling even more adventurous, head inland to Donkieskraal in the Sandveld.
 
 
{Yzerfontein} 
 
KwaZulu-Natal
St Lucia – which means the bay of light – is one of those place that never leave you. It’s a paradise for those who love both the sea and the bushveld, as it is one of the world’s scuba diving gems, but also has the St Lucia game reserve right on its doorstep. And, when you make it through the reserve, you will end up in idyllic Cape Vidal.
If you head in the opposite direction, you will find the little town of Pennington, nestled between Port Shepstone and Scarborough. From here, you are also left with a number of daytrip options, such as the spectacular Oribi Gorge. If you have an insatiable taste for adrenaline and adventure, you should try the big swing, or bungee jump. You can also camp out in the gorge, and gaze at the trillions of stars. Just don’t go sleepwalking.
 
Further inland, you will also find the Jozini Dam, which has been likened to the Caprivi delta, in the Zambezi. I have only driven past here on the way to Mozambique, but it looked like a place I must visit, with its lodges built against the steep dam wall.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
{Cape Vidal}
 
Eastern Cape
As remote as can be, this province absolutely has my heart. One of its most charming towns is Hogsback, a place that is at the top of my bucket list to see in South Africa, followed closely by Coffee Bay – you know, the Hole in the Wall. I have heard so many stories about the fantastic backpackers in the old Transkei that I cannot wait to pack my bags and explore the laid back towns.
 
 
 
{Hogsback pic via}
 
Limpopo
Forget about the Waterberg and head as far north as you can before heading into Zimbabwe. You will find the old Venda, and the very unusual Thohoyandou. Besides being the town where the Venda king built his palace, you will also find the Khoroni Casino, for those who like to play a little.
I would recommend this town for the most adventurous travelers and bushveld lovers.
For the Free State, I would recommend visiting Parys, right next to the Vaal River, or visiting the Golden Gate Nature Reserve, just outside Clarens. The reserve looks like it is from another planet!

In Gauteng,you must definitely check out the Tswaing Nature Reserve, where a crater fell a bazillion years ago. It is one of the oldest meteor sites in the world and well worth the visit, even if it is just for a hike.


So cancel your already planned trip to the popular spots and explore the unknown! Get to know the spaces in between that make South Africa truly unusual.

Don’t stop there, there’s an entire continent to explore just north of here!

{Tanzania pic via}

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Established in 2011, Ilundi began out of a need to find a well-priced, quality-manufactured leather bag to carry textbooks in. With no shortage of talent, Safia Stodel started designing and making her own bags. Soon, friends and family ordered designs, and she started supplying local boutiques with her handcrafted leather goods, while working out of the small converted garage she also lived in. 

Now operating from Woodstock, in Cape Town, the 100% South Africa company currently supplies two national online boutiques, eight boutiques within South Africa, and two boutiques abroad. And if she won the lotto…oh my heart, you’ll have to read on to find out.

Being a sucker for local design and showcasing local entrepreneurs, The Sun House had to know more about the company. 


 

1. Safia, I love your work. Please tell us what sort of products you make and if you also provide services?

We handcraft leather bags and accessories. Products are hand stitched, hand woven and hand punched. We fuse modern technologies and silhouettes with artisanal leather techniques to produce unique, interesting pieces. 


2. Where do you find inspiration for your creations?
I draw inspiration from many different aspects of my life. My surrounding environment has influenced my designs a lot. Nature, art, books, Japanese minimalist aesthetics, the urban landscape and vintage craft books all play a part. I am also inspired by the transient and abstract. Certain cut out clutches from the Geometria range, for example, have been influenced by a fictional tropical paradise that I imaging myself being transported to on wintery days
.
 

 

3. What are some of the challenges of being your own boss?
Putting enough time aside to work ON the business and not only IN it. Also, when the business grows I always find it challenging to let go of the control of certain roles and just surrender.
4. How do you perceive the South African creatives/design landscape?
I am incredibly proud to be a part of the South African creative and design landscape. It is filled with such incredibly unique, innovative and awe inspiring designs and talent. What inspires me the most are the stories of South African creatives who have embraced the traditional and artisanal ways of making, creating sustainable businesses that empower others along the way. 

PS: Safia is being modest, but Ilundi was showcased at this year’s Design Indaba and it was a firm favourite.
 
5. What is your favourite colour/ material to work with, and why?
Natural vegetable tanned leather is my favorite as it is such a versatile material. It can be pigmented, spray dyed, and hand dyed. If left natural and treated with oil, it develops a dark caramel petina with age and softens beautifully. It is perfect for embossing and branding with heat. It can be moulded to shape, and stitched, folded or riveted together. 



 
6. What would you do if you won the lotto?
I have always been passionate about identifying and honing talent that is otherwise overlooked. If I won the lotto I would love to start a craft, design and entrepreneurial training centre to empower disadvantaged youths and assist them in transforming their talent into viable careers. 

7. Where to from here?
We plan to expand the brand to Europe. 
 
8. What has been your proudest moment since you started?
Representing our country on various worldwide online design platforms. Also, our very first international order was pretty amazing for us at the time!
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I decided to turn a new page as a wife and actually start cooking for my husband and myself. Normally,  he would be the cook, but he has fallen into the convenience trap of making a stew or getting take-out – neither very healthy and you get tired of the same old dish all the time.

So thanks to the Huisgenoot – which I buy religiously every week – I have turned into a good old chef. You see, they have weekly recipes that include a Meat Free Monday and a special Friday recipe. Even better is that you save a whole lot of money if you are only two people, as the week’s ingredients/meals tally to R300 and you can pack the left-overs for lunch the next day. Oh, and the weekly recipes comes with a shopping guide, so you know exactly what you need to stock up on.

The BEST is that it is healthy!

For this salad, you will need – well, first heat your oven to 200 C.

Chickpeas:
1 x 410 g can of chickpeas, drained
45 ml (3 tbs) olive oil
1 -2 red chillies, diced
2 crushed garlic cloves
10 g coriander leaves
1 lemon’s zest and juice
salt and pepper

Method:
Mix all the above ingredients – do not break the chickpeas – and let it rest for 15 minutes.

Tortillas:
2 tortillas
30 ml olive oil
salt and pepper

Method:
Cut the tortillas into thin slices and douse in 30 ml olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Next, lay it out in a pan sprayed with Spray and Cook or Bake and Spray or whatever you like.
Put it into the oven until it is golden brown.

Salad:
Salad leaves
Avo

Spread the leaves in a plate and chop the avo any which way you like. Spread the chickpeas over the salad and add the tortilla chips for that extra crisp. Serve immediately.

Side note: I found the recipe to be a little bit tooo spicy, and a little bit tooo sour, so I think the taste can be slightly improved by using only one chilli and only half a lemon. In its defence, this recipe is super quick and super delicious!

Bon appetit!
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On Friday, I betrayed my trusty old steed, Bliksaspaai, and got into the lap of a cherry red Volkswagen Up! Even though they are similar in size, my 2005 model lacked sorely in comparison, and I didn’t feel too bad about leaving it behind in the garage. It was just for one day!

And although this little firetruck Up! is only 3 m long – guys, it is tiny on the outside – I found myself having to scoot my seat closer to the pedals to reach. And I am a tall 1.78 m!

And despite its really small demeanour, this car is JAM PACKED with features. I was lucky enough to get an Up! with a sky roof, which is almost the coolest thing since Prince. It has aircon, a bloody decent radio with MP3, or Aux, capabilites

And guys, get this, especially for those who can’t multitask, if your radio is blaring and you put it into reverse, it automatically lowers the volume of the radio. As soon as it’s back in first gear, the radio starts playing at the volume you had it.

This is THE perfect car for the city, especially where there is limited parking and also, sigh, parallel parking. Luckily, it comes with rear park assist, which beeps to warn you if you are about to bump into something. And the boot, ladies, the boot is huge! You can still shop up a storm and fit all your goodie bags in the rear.

Now, while I might not be a petrolhead, I did find one thing about the Up! that I didn’t like, it didn’t go fast enough and its acceleration was quite slow on the uptake. I guess this makes it all the more perfect for city slickers, as you are stuck in traffic most of the time and don’t need to go fast. Besides, who cares about city traffic when you in this cool little thing! 
I sure love this nippy little car!
#UBERUP
As you may have seen or heard on the radio, taxi company Uber is offering free rides in the Up! between March 2 and March 8. Your chaffeur might even be a famous face! Party, party, party!
All you have to do is sign up for Uber and download the free app, next you need to enter the promo code UBERUP to unlock the unique UberUp view. Toggle over the VW icon and request a ride as one does. 
This is valid in Joburg, Pretoria, CT and Durbs and only for trips that are about 20 km in distance. What are you waiting for? Get Up!
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Yesterday, Flip and I set out to trek the 12 km Krokodilberg route, which forms part of the Hennopsrivier Hiking Trail. I read about this lovely route on a blog last week and just had to take on the challenge. Although, I will admit that we were both a bit ambitious and while we aimed to complete the 12 kilometres, we only made it to 4 km.

I blame the heat – it was near 38 degrees, even though we set out quite early in the morning. But the 5-hour hike was cut short by midday, when we both sat under a tree – me panting, dehydrated and nauseous. Now, I was fully prepared for dehydration, I had two big bottles of water at hand and some snacks, but no matter how many gulps I took, I just couldn’t take one step in the right direction. Luckily the trail is prepared for wussies like me and we only needed to trek about 1.5 km back to the nearest escape route.

As a matter of precaution, I would suggest you either hike the trail in winter, or start hiking at 7 am sharp in summer, so that you are out of there before the beating sun comes down. Also, I think it would be wise not to hike during a heatwave. As my mom put it yesterday, the whole family was hanging on chairs like ‘vrot velle’ as it was simply too hot to move.

A highlight of the trip was that there is no cellphone signal out there in the hills and we just had a chance to catch up and talk about life and everything in between. A low point was when I walked into a thorn bush and got ‘stabbed’ in four different spots on my arm and one spot on my chest. This morning I actually realised that I had a thorn in my chest when I saw an angry red spot. One spot on my arm is now bruised blue and has lost feeling. I might die.

Luckily this piece of spectacular nature also comes with a river, so for the really courageous ones there is always a bit of cooling down – however, the current is quite strong, so I would not recommend jumping in, unless you can swim the Midmar.

For the more timid ones, like myself, there is a picnic area with a lush swimming pool. Listen, I jumped in clothes and all – with the exception of my shoes and socks – because I couldn’t bear the heat anymore. Next to me, a dainty girl in an even daintier bikini was attempting to slowly climb into the pool and complained about how cold the water was. I just sighed with relief.

The hiking trail, which is about 40 min from Johannesburg on the R511, cost R60 per person. It also had a few stops of interest, like a hanging bridge, Pruimpie se Gat and a few spectacular look-out points. Make sure not to miss the cable car over the river!

If you still feel up to it, you can visit Hartbeespoortdam, which is about 30 km away {I think} and make a day trip out of it.

Me? I took a nap.

For more information on the hiking trail, visit www.hennops.co.za/otherattractions/hikingtrail.aspx

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Everybody’s favourite pet food manufacturer Hill’s has made the month of love extra cute! When you buy food for your furries – which are definitely my first love {don’t tell my husband} – make sure to grab a bag of Hill’s, as you will receive a pet food storage bin for free when you buy two selected bags of Hill’s Science Plan or Ideal Balance food.
These super cute and super gorgeous foodie bins in sizes of 5 kg and 15 kg – worth R250! and R500! – are a practical and did I mention super cute way to store bulky bags of food. We currently have a bin that cannot seal, and let me tell you, the mice are having a jol!

At least Minkie is a little ratter and she catches a mouse at least once a week. Unlike cats {cat food also counts for this promotion, you guys!}, she is nice enough not to bring the mouse trophy to show us how good she did. She just leaves them in the kitchen, or outside, somewhere, which I usually find when eating – appetite gone in seconds.
YOU CAN WIN A FOODIE BIN!
 Just tweet the following:
Get your free foodie bin when you buy 2 bags @HillspetSA! cc @waitingformeg
http://waitingformeg.blogspot.com/2015/02/win-get-hills-foodie-bin-this-feb.html


No Jetrhos were harmed during this photoshoot.
Doesn’t he look like a moonchild?
 

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