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An American friend of mine is coming to visit in June and I cannot wait to meet her. Her name is Sheila, we met through blogging, and you can check out her blog here. She is just the most inspirational lady! It’s going to be awesome!

So, she was wondering what to do in Johannesburg, as she’ll be here for a day or two and I thought that there could be no better way to tell her about the stuff to do than write it in a post.

South Africa is known for its game, so of course I’m going to start with the animals.
1.         The Lion Park, Lanseria
It boasts some pretty awesome wildlife, including bontebokke, meerkats, cheetahs and of course lions. You can interact with the cubs, go on a gamedrive, have lunch at their café and peruse their curio shop. They also have a very curious giraffe and ostrich, which you can feed!

Check out their website here and my posts on the park here and here.

2.         Joburg Zoo, Zoo Lake and The Bowling Club
The zoo, which covers 55 hectares of land, has every animal you can think of! You can even go for a run (when there is a marathon), or just have a chilled picnic on the zoo lawns while listening to the animals. Right across the road is Zoo Lake, which is the embodiment of chill. Visit the Moyo Restaurant, feed the ducks or enjoy the afternoon at the bowling club – cheap booze and good vibes! 
 
3.         Arts on Main, Neighbourgoods and 44 Stanley
Scattered around the city, these three markets offers the best of local eateries, culture and crafts. Arts on Main and Neighbourgoods are smack bang in the city. These are must see places, even if it is just for the people who frequent them. When visiting Neighbourgoods, make sure to check out the Nelson Mandela Bridge! Check out my posts on them here, here and here.

4          Greenside
Not just is it a stunning leafy suburb with a few parks to hang out in, including neighbouring Delta Park and Emmarentia Dam, but it is also one of the best party spots in Johannesburg. Glen Eagles Road has some great restaurants and clubs and it is always hustling and bustling over weekends.
Occasionally, these parks also have music festivals to attend! 
5.         Parkhurst
On that same note, the nearby suburb of Parkhurst is also a must see. 4th Avenue is packed to the rafters with the greatest eateries in the city – The Wolfpack, Craft, Espresso and Jolly Rogers are but a few to mention. People frequent the area for long walks with their dogs, so don’t be surprised when you see a few dogs in the restaurants.
 6.        Sandton, dahling
Snobs galore and hosts a huge shopping centre, Sandton City – which has been dubbed the richest square mile in Africa. That’s all I’ll say about it. Also has a Nelson Mandela statue. Worth a looksee. 

Outside of Johannesburg, but still close enough to count
7.           Lory Park Zoo, Midrand
You get to play with leopards! ‘Nough said! But, you can also gawk at all the beautiful birds, have a braai, growl at their pumas, lions and tigers or have some fun with the other animals in this small, yet amazing zoo! Check out my post about Lory Park here.

8.       Hartbeespoortdam
Only about an hours drive from the city, there is much to see and do at this beautiful dam with it’s mountainous area – from going on the dam; to mountain biking; to going on the cablecars – it is well worth the daytrip to this lovely area.

9.          Bush Babies Monkey Sanctuary
Also in Hartbeespoortdam, the naughty little monkeys at the sanctuary will steal your heart! 

Boasting a breeding pair of Verneaux Eagles, a waterfall, indigenous plants and lush gardens, the botanical gardens is the perfect place for a family picnic! It also has a number of other bird species, a few tortoises and interesting art pieces to keep you busy.
Is there anything that you think I missed that my friend must-must see? Please comment below!


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Yesterday, I found this video of the filmmaker Tatia Pillieva, who asked 20 strangers to kiss on camera. I found it so awkward that I kept on pausing every two seconds, just to work through my own anxious feelings. (Believe me, you didn’t want to sit next to me when I was watching the Grey’s Anatomy episode of April’s wedding aftermath – that took me forever. Flip had to pause every two seconds because I was shouting at the tv so much. I just couldn’t bear it. My ANXIETIES!)

This awkwardness made me think back to the first time Flip and I ever kissed. It was on our first date, we were standing in my foyer of my flat, saying our goodbyes for the evening, and suddenly Flip just grabbed me, dipped me and kissed the hell out of me. I was telling a friend how grateful I am that this was actually how our first kiss happened, that we didn’t have to go through any awkward stances and chitchat like these lot did above – I mean, I honestly wasn’t expecting this really shy guy to kiss me out of the blue – but he did. And my friend said: “just like he did at the wedding.”

And then it hit me – our first kiss in our marriage was probably an exact replica of our first kiss ever. Except for the wedding part. And the white dress part. Pretty awesome, right?
 

Coincidentally, we are married five months today. I can’t believe five months has already gone by. The old adage that the first year is the most difficult has definitely rung true on a few days, but there is no-one else I would rather spend my days with. I love you Flip!



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Top two pictures from Visi

On a soaking wet Sunday, I somehow convinced my husband to go to a market I have never heard of before. (Yes, I am a bit oblivious to life in general). We didn’t have any other plans and decided to give The Collective, at 3 Desmond street, in Kramerville, a visit. I was expecting something like Neighbourgoods, but instead was surprised by a very small, not-at-all crammed market with mostly clothing and jewelery.

Now, The Collective is a pop-up market and “includes beautiful local and international clothing designers, jewellers, ceramicists, fabric makers, furniture designers, vintage clothes collectors and home ware specialists.”

The eats included Paul Ballen’s amazing ice cream (which I wanted to buy with all my might, but it was just too cold), croissants, eggs Benedict and coffee.

We didn’t stay long, just perused the stalls and got out, escaping to the heat of our car as quickly as possible. I think if it was a warmer day it would have been fuller.

On of the stalls that particulalry caught my eye was Black Betty Design, with its dainty little rings and necklaces. I’m looking for a very delicate chain bracelet and thought that they might have something, but alas. Their other designs are to die for though!

The range also makes use of polki diamonds, which is just beautiful! This is what they have to say about it.

Diamond cutting changes a rough diamond into a chiseled angular stone. Since Polki Diamonds are basically uncut, they have far less fire or brilliance when compared to chiseled diamonds. Their beauty is subtle. These diamonds are mined from the earth and retained in their natural form with virtually no modification. Raw and virtually uncut.

Every Polki diamond is unique and we wanted the designs to highlight this ancient stone’s organic, raw and imperfect qualities. These imperfections are highlighted by coating the under sides of our diamonds in sterling silver before they’re encased in 14 karat gold and then captured into various settings. This process ensures that all the rough lines are accentuated and reflect through each stone. Fourteen karat gold is the perfect metal to case these stones in because of its pale gold colouring which complements the grayish Polki hue. The casing mimics the shape of each stone which once again captures its naturally raw shape. The setting of each piece has carefully been designed to throw the entire spotlight on the diamond, settings are delicate and simple, uncomplicated just like the naturalness of the stones.

Polki diamonds are evergreen and are right for all ages and occasions. These very beautiful diamonds are very honorable when received with a pure heart…

The art of using Polki Diamonds in jewellery has been a tradition for centuries in the states of Rajasthan and Gujarat in India. In Rajasthan, wedding jewellery and family heirlooms are considered incomplete without these uncut beauties.

The Polki Diamond maintains it’s value in all markets internationally and are a great investment.


 photo blackbetty.jpg
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Hey there! This is part two of our staycation, that I forgot all to write about. The last installment was about the Van Gaalen cheese farm, just outside Hartbeespoortdam. Today, I bring you other things to day while at the dam.

Did you know that Hartbeespoortdam also has cable cars? Not just Table Mountain you all. Many of us northerners might know this, but not a lot of people know that it has also been recently renovated. The last time I went up there was in primary school and the cable cars were scary and shoddy. You had to be either too young {and subsequently uneducated} to go up there, or entirely out of your mind.

The cable cars were non-operational for seven years while a private company not only upgraded the system, but also the mountain it was built on. You see, in primary school there wasn’t this awesomely cheap bar where you could chill the whole day and view the little town below to your heart’s content.

What to do:
Once at the top, you can – besides gawking at the views or freaking out about the paragliders above you and asking random strangers to send you the pictures that they had just taken with their cellphones – attempt to walk the Dassie Walk. Although not long or tedious, it is a bit of a stretch if you go there on a very HOT day. We trekked it anyway.
 

The Dassie Walk not only offers you an almost 360 view of your surroundings, with markers and a little bit of history of every viewpoint, but also shows off the fauna and flora of the Magaliesburg. If you were lucky, you could spot some dassies. We spotted a tree agama (or Bloukop Koggelmander in Afrikaans.)

These little lizards, which can be about 13 cm to 30 cm long are beautiful with their blue heads. But boy do they pack a punch. I’ve been bitten by them quite a few times and they hurt like heck!
 

What to eat:
If you are peckish, you can either order a picnic basket – that is prepacked for you – or drop in at the Cafe Buggatis at the top, or the bottom. There is also this fantastic little self-service shoppe at the top, which on this particular day, was selling massive pizza slices. As we already had a huge breakfast at the cheese farm, we snacked on the FREE chips in snackbowls and some biltong bought at the bar.

What to drink:
The bar at the top was stocked to the brim with alcoholic and non-alcoholic options. But a firm favourite of this HOT day, was slushies mixed with vodka. We sat at the bar, as all the tables were already occupied. 

I also learned on this day that I am a huge sucker for placebos, as I got tipsy on Rock Shandy. I thought it had alcohol in it okay? Turns out it is just bitters, soda water and lemonade.  


Tickets sell at R160 for adults and kids R90. If it is a really hot day, make sure you have a bottle of water handy while standing in the queue, as the inside of the building is hot as all hell.

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She locked herself out of the house again, wondering why she even bothered attaching a bright orange lanyard to her keys. Must have left it on my desk again, she thought. But she is in desperate need of a pee, and has to drive to the petrol garage down the road for this purpose.
She is on the phone with her mother, talking about espaliering the plant in front of her house. How does one go about, is it complicated, do I need to cut it, is the gist of the conversation. It is cut short. “Mom, I have to go, there is an old man lying in the road.” She stops her car, leaves it idling, her possessions lying on the front seat, up for grabs to any passersby. He is lying next to an island in the road, struggling to lift himself up, like a turtle that had been turned on his back. It might be a trap, she thought to herself, but knew it isn’t as she picks him up. “Thank you ma’am,” he says, struggling to his feet. He isn’t drunk, but something’s wrong. He is unsteady, unbalanced, could barely walk.
“Do you know his family?” a passerby asks. She answers no, and asks the same question back at the stranger. “Yes, but I do not have their number. He lives in the squatter camp.” She nods, says that she will take him to the hospital first. “Take me to Dr Marcus,” the old man says. The scene of him lying in the road, a truck nearly hitting him, keeps playing in her mind. How long have you been lying there, she asks. Since four this afternoon, he answers. She is struggling to keep the tears back. It was half past six.
He gives her directions and they end up at a familiar Italian restaurant. The doctors’ office next to it is already closed, but the pharmacy is open. “I have to get out of the car, get some fresh air.”
The pharmacist knows the old man, says that he works in the parking lot, he’s a car guard. “Can I get you anything,” she asks him. “Just some water, and headache tablets. My head hurts from the fall,” he answers. He sits down on a drum. “Tonight, I work,” he adds. An argument between the old man and the woman ensues. No, he says, I have to work. “My children need to get to school in Hammanskraal, I need the money,” he says.
She refuses. “I’ll buy you food and give you money, you are not working tonight, you are ill and need to get home.” He admits to being at the clinic earlier the day, where he also fell. “I was on the ground for two hours before I got up,” he adds. Did no one help you, she asks. No, comes his answer. His old face is full of grief and wrinkles. How old are you, she asks. Fifty seven, he answers.
“I used to be in the police, but in 1976 I quit, because they were killing my brothers.” She swallows back the tears. She takes him home; the sun is starting to set. At the squatter camp, people are gathering around her car, but no one is willing to help. Instead, she gets looks of hatred. “Is he drunk,” someone asks? No, she says, he is sick. “Yes,” another says, “I saw him going to the clinic this morning.”
The old man named Tony tells her to leave. “Your windows are open, they will steal your things. They will hurt you.”
“Can I take you to your house?” she asks.
“Only if you want to, but I wouldn’t risk it. You must leave.”
She drove off, not knowing the fate of this man, only praying that he will be safe and that he will survive. She didn’t get his phone number. He couldn’t remember it.
This is a true story. It was last week Thursday. I couldn’t stop crying when I left. I pray that this man is okay. 
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Can bunting ever get old? I doubt it. It is such an easy, cute and pretty way to spruce up any party. We definitely thought it was something that had to be at our wedding and soon my mom (the most amazing woman on earth) started gathering materials to MAKE bunting for the garden area at our reception hall.
There’s only one thing I regret about bunting at my wedding, and that is the fact that I didn’t have more.
 
Making it yourself is also a great way to cut costs and provide some bonding time with your mom (and in my case, my sister-in-law). Grab your bridesmaids to help you with the cutting process, and it will also be easier and quicker.
 
Here’s what you need:

Hessian (our bunting was 10 m and 6 m long, respectively, so if the hessian is 3,5 m wide, you will only need about 1 m in length. You can find the fine hessian at your local haberdashery.)
A very sharp and sturdy pair of scissor
Patience
A couple of hands to help you cut (your hands will tire)
Bias Binding 
A sewing machine
Doilies or white paint – depending on how you are decorating your bunting.

Method:

1.  Cut a template out of carton. We used a piece sized 25 cm in width, and 30 cm in length.
2.  Cut the two top corners 0,5 cm shorter.
3.  Mark with the aid of the template the hessian in the following manner:
     For  10 m bunting you will need 30 flags.
4.  Cut the flags out and line the raw edges with Ponal or similar glue to prevent fraying. When using ordinary material, one can use fray check to prevent fraying of the material.
5.  I used bias binding to link the flags.  
     Start about 60 cm from the end of the bias binding.
     put the bias binding flat with the raw sides facing you.
     Place the raw edge of the top of the flag in the centre of the bias binding and stitch the flag to the bias binding a bout 0,25 cm from the edge of the flag.
6.  Leave an 8,5 cm space before attaching the next flag. Leave another 60 cm  bias binding at the end of the last flag.
7.  After attaching all the flags, fold the bias binding double lengthwise and stitch along the complete length of the bias binding. 
 
We rounded the bunting off with pretty circle doillies as well as heart cut outs, because it was our day of love!

Did I throw the bunting away? Oh hell no. It is now used to decorate some windows in my house

Wedding pics: Kikitography

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Weight loss in an office environment is never easy. You sit on your butt in front of the computer all day, there is always some sort of celebration, where cake and pizza will be present and eventually, you can just feel the kilograms packing on. Well, you don’t need to feel utterly hopeless. I’ve found some solutions to this in the past few years.
Tips for losing or maintaining your weight in an office environment:
1.    Drink lots of water. Besides the obvious benefits of making your skin look healthier and younger, and the fact that it suppresses your appetite – taking care of those munchies – it also makes you go to the loo more. No, listen; this is a benefit in its own. Not only do you flush all the toxins from your body, but you walk more, which burns more calories. Ta da.
PS: refilling a bottle of water on your desk every time you went to the loo also ensures that you get enough water. Just don’t overdo it, because that has repercussions of its own.
2.    Pack your own lunch. This will probably be a healthier option than Steers or pizza and will also be a lot cheaper than the health foods at your local superette. {A friend of mine also suggested that we make turns every other day to pack for both of us. That way you also won’t get bored with the same thing every day.}
3.    Instead of phoning someone on the other side of the office, get up and walk to their desks. It burns calories.
4.    As I mentioned above, there is always a birthday or some or other, where people will bring cake, pizza, sausage rolls, fizzy drinks and so forth. If you have the willpower, kindly decline the calorie-oozing offerings. You will already be admired for it. If you really can’t decline and are so hungry that you start licking your desk, have as little as possible. Your body will thank you for it.
5.    Now, this might not apply to everybody, but it did to me when I was still a roaming journalist and it has the same principle as above. When you are at an event and there is food on offer, either steer away from the feast, or choose the healthier option.
6.    TAKE THE DAMN STAIRS. God gave you a good working body and you choose to take the elevator? The shame! (Hypocrite right here, I take lift just as everyone else does.)
7.    Have some healthy snacks in your drawer. {Personally, I don’t do this, because I don’t know how to stop snacking, so I just prevent it from happening, but sometimes I will steal a healthy snack from a colleague or two. And by stealing, I mean begging.}
8.    Find someone who will hold you accountable. This morning, I quit coffee and I told everyone in the office about it, because I want them to chastise me when they see me reaching for a cup. It might also work with other things, like junk food or chocolate.
9.    Instead of sitting at your desk during lunch hour and eating there, ask a colleague to walk to a nearby park with you. We have one just down the road, which is lovely to walk to and relax in.
10.  Don’t forget to stretch. You will find that you are a little more relaxed and not as stiff at the end of the day.
There are obvious other things that you can do, like jogging to work – or biking – going to gym before work {firm favourite}, but if you just try these 10 things for a week, you might already see a difference.
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