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When I was about 21 I had a mole removed, a malignant mole. It wasn’t done by a dermatologist or a plastic surgeon, but just a regular house doctor.

The mole was on my lower shoulder, between my shoulder blade and arm and as it ‘healed’, I could see that something was terribly wrong. It didn’t stay within its borders, the scar made an awful red, swollen and itchy bulge. This was how I became aware of keloids. Literally translated, keloid means ‘crab claw’ – an attempt to illustrate the way the lesions expand laterally from the original scar into normal tissue.

Little did I know that over the next four years, this one little scar would do some deep damage to my self-confidence and the way I would approach life. I would never wear anything without sleeves, because I would be too self-conscious when people stared or asked me what this thing on my shoulder was.

When asked what caused it, people would literally zoom in on my scar, some would even go as far as touching me. It was quite sensitive, so this did not sit well. I would tell them that I was mugged on the streets and I fought back, in the process getting shot through the chest. I have a similar, smaller scar in the exact same spot on my chest. “This was the entry wound, and this big one at the back – that was the exist wound.”

People would freak out. You are so brave, they would say. But eventually I would start laughing and tell them that it was a mole that could have been cancerous. “Oh, just cancer.” Ja, like cancer is no big deal.

It became part of my identity. “You would look great in this dress,” a friend would say. Yes, but what about my scar, I would reply. “Just cover it up.” This scar had such an impact on me that it was the biggest influence in my choice of wedding dress. I wish I had removed it before the wedding, but I was scared – scared that it would come back even more red, angrier, more itchier.

I also became jealous – jealous of pretty girls with pretty backs who could wear anything they fancied. I wanted to wear cute dresses and cute sleeveless tops. I wanted to be like them, a woman comfortable in her own skin. But I wasn’t, so I just kept on covering up. In summer, when a jersey was not plausible, I would actually put a plaster over the scar, in an attempt to hide it. I needed cover.

And with cover also comes disguise. Wearing layers, it was also so much easier to disguise a little wobbliness – which would grow into a big weight gain. My confidence was at an all time low. I really hated my body.

But on December 1 last year, two days before my birthday, I had plastic surgery – nothing serious, just some scar revision. Some, like it was nothing –done in thirty minutes, easy-peasy. But those thirty minutes forever changed my life.

For the first few weeks I had to walk with a plaster on my wound, and I was going nuts about the healing process – was it going well? Or was it a monstrous gross swollen ugly scar?

Now, a month later, the swelling has subsided and I have to go for regular steroids injections to keep it from becoming a keloid again – but it is a smooth, five or six centimeter brown line, which will eventually go white again.

Again today someone asked me, because I am now wearing a fabulous sleeveless dress from Cotton On: “what happened here” and instead of going bright red, feeling ashamed, and covering it up with my hand or a jersey, I just rolled my eyes, shrugged and said: “It’s a scar, no biggie.”

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Inspired by folly, raw emotion, expansion, blowy romances, typewriter writing, fantasy world dwelling, fun fair happy living – as she puts it on her website – Lelanie Slater delved into the world of stationery, with its myriad of opportunities and dubbed it Ampersand Social Stationery. “Ampersand is a logogram for the conjunction word ‘and’ (&). I chose this as the name for my store because of my firm belief in creativity as an infinite resource, that is best savoured in partnership and that definitely grows stronger, wilder and happier when shared. Ampersand Social Stationery is all about inspired living, creative collaboration and more to life,” Lelanie says.

“My products are unique, quirky, fun and still functional. My hope is that the products and courses I teach will inspire & facilitate many creative break-throughs, enlightened moments, fabulous collabs and a general sense of happy, creative living for my customers,” she adds.

 Ampersand’s course, titled The Artists Way, Creative Recovery Course, is a 12-week programme that takes you on a journey of self-discovery and helps you to blast through creative blocks, in order to fulfill your potential, reach new heights and live a happier, more fulfilled life.

The course combines inspiring essays with playful and imaginative exercises to make The Artist’s Way an extraordinary book of learning-through-doing. This course will leade you to authentic growth, renewal and healing.

 Students meet at the Linden studio, in Johannesburg, for two hours each week to share creative experiences. 

YOU CAN WIN! Simply tweet: My New Year will be made with a R200 stationery voucher from @ampersand_ss and @waitingformeg http://waitingformeg.blogspot.com/2015/01/ampersand-social-stationery-feature.html

Share this post on Facebook for another entry! Also comment on this post to let me know that you have entered!  

 

 

1. How did you start and how long have you been doing this?

I am a total stationery addict. I have been whiling away great chunks of my life with doodling, journaling, book-art, collaging and other stationery fueled stints for as long as I can remember. I have always had a desperate longing to live a creative life. Yet it can be daunting to find productive creative work that still pays the bills. A few years ago I participated in The Artist’s Way creative recovery course. My teacher helped me on my way to creative recovery and now, five years later I have finally made my dream a reality with the opening of this store. The online store launched 1st July 2014 and there is talk of opening a brick and mortar store in the New Year. I was so impressed by the course and felt it had to be shared, so I started teaching my own courses an have been doing this for the last 3 years.

2. What sort of products do you make?

My products are not hand made by me, they are sourced from all over the world. I went on a sourcing trip to Hong Kong earlier this year and met with amazing suppliers from all over the world at the International Stationery fair there. My products come from London, the States, the Virgin Islands and Hong Kong to name only a few places. The products are all stationery and office related. The aim is to provide practical everyday necessities with a twist. My dream is for these to inspire the users.

3. Where do you find inspiration for your products?

I find my inspiration everywhere. But mostly within; I always try to listen to my heart. I try to steer clear of popular trends and try not to get to caught up in social media. The whole aim is for the products to be unique, fresh and inspirational. When I start sourcing I generally don’t go with a specific theme in mind. I start by looking for products that I think I want to stock. As I go through the process, I am inevitably drawn to certain colours and looks. For example, the 2015 range has mostly pastel colours with strong floral and geometric details.


I have just embarked in a collaboration with a South-African stationer who is helping me create a bespoke Ampersand stationery range. I can’t wait to see where the process will lead.

4. What are some of the challenges of being your own boss?

There are many challenges to working for yourself.
You need to be very disciplined, to make sure you don’t get distracted.
Finances and bookkeeping are always tough, if you are not trained for it. I get the professionals in to help.

5. How do you perceive the South African creatives/design landscape?

I think South-Africa has amazing creative minds. It might be our rich, natural wealth that inspires our creations. I am happy to see that we have started to move away from the very ‘traditional’ African patters and designs in the last few years and that creative are really pushing themselves to break through creative stereotypes of African design to come up with unique, challenging and engaging ideas.

I recently exhibited at Tierlantynkies, and I was so proud to be part of such a creative group. I was blown away by the unique ideas and the wealth of creative knowledge.

6. What would you do if you won the lotto?

I would definitely open my brick and mortar store. I would also take my husband on an amazing overseas adventure. My travel list includes seeing the Aurora Borealis somewhere in Northern-Finland, visiting Tokyo, returning to my favourite city – Hong Kong and a visit to Reuion Island for good measure.

7. Where to from here?

My dream is for the store to become a creative haven. I wish for a brick and mortar store in Linden, where like minded people can come to participate in courses and workshops, where they can purchase all their stationery necessities and just connect with other like minded people, on that deeper level that we as creatives crave. I am planning on expanding the ranges and adding my own unique, Ampersand stationery range.

8. What has been your proudest moment since you started?

This is possibly the hardest question to answer, there have been so many milestone. But my heart truly burst with pride upon seeing my store come to life at the Tierlantynkies market. It was so humbling to receive such good feedback from market goers. When starting something like this, you always wonder if people will share your vision and excitement. So being well received is the most rewarding thing.



Find Ampersand here:

Twitter: @ampersand_ss

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ampersandsocialstationery

Instagram: @lelanieslater

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/ampersandss/

Online Shop: http://socialstationery.co.za/shop/

Blog: http://socialstationery.co.za/blog/

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Whoa 2014! You were one crazy jallopy of a ride and I am I glad to finally unsaddle you and put a new saddle on the young mare named 2015. I hope the new year is a gentle, easy and enjoyable year with many more highlights than lowlights. The past year was honestly one of the toughest years of my life, and although I am not going into details about everything, I have had to battle many personal challenges., such as loss, cancer, BEING MARRIED, finances (who doesn’t battle finance?). Many of these challenges will continue into the new year, but it should be easier.

But despite all these awful and harrowing lows, I still had some really high highs!

 I recounted our visit to Van Gaalen Cheese Farm in Hartbeespoortdam and we visited the Mabalingwe Nature Reserve.

Although we didn’t travel during the month of love, I did show you how to make your own bunting and how to lose weight in an office environment. Further, I recounted our visit to the Hartbeespoortdam Cable Cars, and told you a story of an old struggling man. I gave a mouse a bath, gave tips for travelling on a strict budget, went to Kaapsehoop, went to the Fourways Farmer’s Market, Queen street in Kensington, and spent a weekend in Irene, Pretoria and celebrated our first MARRIED anniversary.

 May 2015 have many highlights for you and your family and may you be blessed with an abundance of love and joy!

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Pic: jakfruit.tumblr.com
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I’m a bit of a romantic. An undying, hopeless one at that. While I like most areas of my life to be simple, my decor, my dress sense, my no-fuss hair, I do love a bit of a romantic side of life and I love being spoilt by intricate, well-planned events or presents (Dear Flip, are you listening?). And well, what better place to show your romantic side than the bedroom!

No, I’m not talking about Victoria’s Secret Lingerie, or rose petals leading up to the bed or even banana hammock *wink*, but fairy lights. I think it is the easiest, most simple way to create the most romantic space in your house. And a bedroom is supposed to be romantic!

The easiest and most fuss-free way to create this idyllic atmosphere is through lighting. Dim the lights, light some scented candles, and hang a curtain from the roof with some fairylights behind it. I love how beautiful it makes the room and that it truly look like something from a fairytale. It also ties in nicely with Christmas just being around the corner.

If the do-it-yourself process of hanging a curtain from the roof is a bit daunting, simply drape the fairylights over a mirror. Everyone has a mirror in their bedroom.

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Fairylights images: 1/2/3
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Invest in the nicest bedding ever. You spend almost 229 961 hours of your life sleeping, so why not do it in luxurious Egyptian cotton with 5 000  threads – or whatever? You don’t have to buy it every month, but you should invest in it at least once in your life. A headrest – or a proper bed – is also something that should also be considered. Having some nice threads on your bed instantly makes it more inviting and as a result, more romantic.

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Bedding image
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Ban all technology from your bedroom! Yes, it is tempting to put a tv in there, but I feel so sorry for women who tell me they have a tv in their bedroom. This is your private, safe space – not the living room. There is no bigger romance killer than a television that steals your husband’s time. And having a laptop in bed might be convenient – workwise – but rather leave your work for working hours.

Make it pretty with plants and pictures. I love succulents, and my entire house is filled with the beautiful little plants. Group them together on a nightstand or arrange them on a windowsill. Make the space your own. Print out your wedding pictures,  your engagement shoot or your pregnancy shoot – all those little intimate little moments between you and your spouse and arrange them on the walls.

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Succulents image
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I read a few articles before writing this one, and one of the most prominent tips was to keep your bedroom clutter free. I know all of us ladies are so guilty of stacking everything on the night table, or letting our hairdryer lie around. If you’re anything like me, you also have heaps of washing scattered all over the floor. Make it a new year’s resolution to keep your bedroom clutter free. Your husband will thank you for it – and you will thank yourself for creating a more serene environment.

If he leaves wet towels all over the place, pick it up, spin it a few times and whip him on the butt. He won’t leave wet towels again.

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The idea started with making something that was seen to be “old fashioned” new and modern again. With passion in their hearts for crochet and the happiness they feel when  creating something beautiful with cotton thread, Elsje van Zyl and Jane Delport turned their addiction to crocheting into a business in 2012, and CottonNest was born. “We love to share our passion with everyone who comes across our products and that is what we strive for. We aspire to bring something different to the hand-grafts industry of South Africa,” Jane says. 
The short and sweet version CottonNest – handmade crochet products in a modern vintage style, purely for the love of it.

1. How did you start and how long have you been doing this?
Crotchet as our hobby started a long time ago, but CottonNest, our business, is 2 years old this year. So we are still learning every step of the way and enjoying every part of the journey.

2. What sort of products do you make? Do you also provide services?

We pride ourselves in knowing that our products are purely handmade and 100% local. We make crochet earrings, with the finest cotton thread. Brooches, assembled by our own hands, every single one different & unique. Dummy clips for every baby & style, like nothing you’ve seen in any kiddies store. And our new products is leather bracelets with a crochet bangle. We also make customised products on order only. The wedding brooches are very popular and the dummy clip for a special & unique baby shower gift.

3. Where do you find inspiration for your creations?

We have a lot of creative energy and draw a lot of our inspiration from each other. We both have very different styles and that makes our product more acceptable for a big range of clients from all ages. Our creations are inspirations from our different points of view, and then we just add all the right ingredients and Voila! a product is born. We have never produced a product that both of us didn’t agree on.


4. What are some of the challenges of being your own boss?

People tend to copy from each other, and our biggest challenge is thinking of something new every single day, to stay ahead of everyone else. Creativity is not a hobby it is a way of life.   


5. How do you perceive the South African creatives/design landscape?

Creatives and designers are creating new frontiers in our country, and we have the ability to make a change and take chances.  South Africa is all for entrepreneurial innovative ideas and because of that we can also produce our product in the market with self-confidence.  People are moving back to hand made and environmentally friendly products, instead of commercial mass produced product.  That is one of the aspects which makes CottonNest’s product so popular.


6. What is your favourite colour/ material to work with, and why?

We try to use 100% cottonlocal yarns and wood to make our products. Our colours ranges from vintage pink, ivory and natural colours to bright red, navy blue and gray.  We love to combine textures and different materials to make a perfect unique product.



7. What would you do if you won the lotto?

We would take our business to the next level by empowering woman and help them to be independent.  We would also like to travel and see what the trends is in other parts of the world and maybe do some marketing for international clients. 


8. Where to from here?

We were selling our product mostly in Pretoria but we have taken the decision to take CottonNest to the rest of SA in 2015. We are selling to selected retailers across the country and the demand for our product increased exponentially the last year.

9. What has been your proudest moment since you started?

When we were approved by Tierlantynkies Market in 2012.  We have been with Tierlantynkies since 2012 till now and selling our product there was very special.  We got amazing feedback from customers on how they admire us for taking the time to make such special products. 


GIVEAWAY TIME!
Stand a chance to win a R250 gift voucher from CottonNest! All you have to do is go to their website (click here) and tell us what your favourite item is by commenting here! For extra entries, like their Facebook page at CottonNest, share this post on Facebook or tweet the following:
Christmas came early with @waitingformeg and CottonNest! I want to win a R250 voucher: http://waitingformeg.blogspot.com/2014/11/cotton-nest-feature.html

 Add in your comment that you have liked their page, shared and tweeted!
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If you are one of the lucky people who get to visit the coast this year,  you will obviously need some goodies to take to the beach with you. Someone on the radio said this morning that it is far cheaper to have a coastal holiday than stay at home and have to pay the electricity bill – which is off half the time anyway. So there might be loads more people at the sea this year, and of course, you want to look fabulous! I again used Superbalist.com to find all the goodies you need for your beach essentials.

SUNSCREEN // Listen, even if you are not as pale as I am, even if you are a nubian beauty, or have the most envious olive toned skin, you need to wear Sun Screen! Base Lurhman feels so strongly about it that he wrote a song. Skin Cancer is real people, and you don’t want to age prematurely, so even if you are indoors, WEAR SUNSCREEN! You can find them at any supermarket or Clicks.

SUN HAT // Along with the sunscreen, protect your face and still look fabulous in a beautiful sun hat,. You will only thank yourself later, when you don’t have to apply aloe gel to a red, sore face that will be peeling in a week’s time. This beautiful multicolour Courtney sunhat from Forever New is perfect!

BIKINI // Hallo, what is a beach without the perfect bikini? This Maisy Floral Bustier Bikini is just gorgeous and hints towards bygone eras, with its bustier top. Superbalist also stocks beautiful American Apparel bikinis, did you know? Like this Jungle Leaves bikini. With jungle prints being all the rage right now, you will spot not! And they are far cheaper than you might think. Check it out!

SUNNIES // I’ve said this once and I’ll say it again – you can never have too many pairs of sunglasses and you can never leave the house without them! To keep the glare at bay – and also prevent crow’s feet wrinkles – grab these cute Lundun Wayfarers.

BEACH BLANKET // This stylish Beach Blanket will keep the sand away from all those pesky areas in your bikini.

BACKPACK // You need to take your holiday reading, sunscreen, cellphone, wallet, maybe lunch and all your other necessities with you, but you don’t want to carry it all in your hands. This is why this pretty little mint backpack is the perfect accessory for your lazy beach days.

Did I miss anything? Feel free to comment!

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There are exactly 50 days left over in this year of 2014. Fifty days! Can you believe that? This also means that the holiday season is on its way and all us Joburgers will be invading the coast like Independence Day (the movie, you know? Ugh, forget it).

I’m also counting down the 46 days until we depart for Cape Town, via my little car. I am so excited that I am preparing everything now, even though I have plenty time! I made a short list of the roadtrip essentials needed for a comfortable 12+ hours’ drive with goodies from Superbalist, because when you are so busy prepping a bikini body in the gym, there’s no time to go to the shops. Yay for Online Shopping!

SUNGLASSES // This is the most important travel partner of all time – besides good music and a good travel buddy. Come rain or shine, I never leave the house without a pair of trusty sunglasses, because even if it is overcast, the sunnies can help cut the glare from the sharp light. Added bonus: if you have been travelling for 12+ hours and have not had time to refresh, you can just hide your tired, mascara smeared eyes behind a pair. These Bellpop Lundun sunnies are perfectly wide, and only R199.
COMFORTABLE SHOES // I love wearing shoes that I can just kick off at any moment (much to the detriment of my fellow passenger – no, not because I have stinky feet, but because I then prefer to stay barefoot and get out at every stop barefoot – which they find embarrassing.) But you must also look cute in your comfortable shoes. I am in love with the Mecca Sandal from Zoom. Stylish and in my favourite sandal colour.
THE PERFECT TEE // If you did not pick up that I am all for comfort during travelling from my choice of shoes, then let me put this in concrete. I am all for comfort when travelling! So a shirt, that feels like pyjamas, but looks super cute, is a MUST. Who can resist this cute Frenchie inspired t-shirt? Not I!
CELLPHONE CHARGER // Because duh, how else are you going to instagram your roadtrip pics if your battery is flat? Get a double port charger, like this Kanex charger, then you don’t need to argue with your travel buddy about whose phone needs to be charged more. (If you only have an one-port charger and there is one girl and one boy in the car, it goes without saying that the girl must always have right of way to the charger.)
A NOTEBOOK // To jot down random thoughts, journal things that happened on the trip, keep up with your expenditure – especially if you have a budget, write down all your plans, addresses of places (in case google doesn’t work, and believe me, there are places in SA that still does not have signal), shopping lists, and a list of things to do that you can tick off as you go along. Listen, I cannot stress enough how important a notebook is. You cannot go wrong with this Tabbed Notebook, which categorises all your thoughts.
A PILLOW // Chances are you will nod off quite a few times when taking a long roadtrip, which makes a pillow the perfect accesory. This travel inspired pillow will not only keep your head up high, but also make you feel happy with its cheerful colour!
TRAVEL DUFFLE // Now,  not only does this Travel Duffle from Burgundy serve as a stylish bag for your clothing, but you can also take it to the beach, to the shops, everywher. And, if push comes to shove, it could be the perfect body bag – you know, for when your travel buddy drives you absolutely nuts.
What’s on your list?
Check in tomorrow, because I’m sharing some more essentials! 

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