• smaller house bigger life

    If you haven’t heard of container houses or read about the exciting project that Sophie and Cameron Smith in Cape Town are up to, then you’re going to be so glad you’ve stumbled across this here little blog post today. You know people who talk the talk but won’t walk the walk? Well, Sophie and(…)

  • domino – the new single from the scribbles of whisper

    The lovely Sam Dormehl of The Scribbles of Whisper sent me over their brand new single, Domino. It’s the perfect chilled tune to start off your week. Give it a listen – and a watch – the video was filmed on their recent trip to India and is a feast for any wanderlusting eyes. These guys(…)

  • bunnies on the farm

    A week or so ago, my friend Tash, her husband Graeme and their two little cherubs, Noah and Ben, came to stay for a couple of days. I was SO excited to meet these little boys whom I have read and heard so much about. Although Tash and I have only met in real life(…)

  • hartford house serves up a fabulous vegan lunch

    So the day before New Years Eve, and before all our visitors descended, the husband decided to take me out for a nice lunch to celebrate the year that was 2014. Also, I had been giving him shit because he was spending more time with my brother on the golf course than at home with(…)

  • a spot of hobbiting

    It’s funny how sometimes the best thing to do is to sit quietly and observe. It may seem that I’m a bit of an opinionated, loud-mouthed old fart because my blog has always afforded me a voice when I’ve needed it. Truth be told, I’m not a fan of conflict and am more of a(…)

  • otherworld – apparel for adventurers

    Well, Happy New Year  to all you special kids! I hope you had a fabulous festive season with your loved ones. I’m not into talking about reflections on 2014 or resolutions for 2015, as this is the year of letting go and just letting it be. I foresee some big changes ahead and we’re also(…)

  • the “v” word

    I’ve spent a lot of time this year, and the year before, pondering and writing about the problems which humans, and South African humans, in particular, face. I’ve written about race and child sexual abuse and women’s rights and prostitutes and I’ve celebrated great people and I’ve been on healing journeys and I’ve been on(…)

  • a poet called erin hanson

    You’ve probably pinned her words on Pinterest before. Perhaps you’ve wondered who this e.h. is. I know I have. You most certainly will have come across her most famous lines: There is freedom waiting for you, On the breezes of the sky, And you ask, “What if I fall?”  Oh, but my darling, What if you(…)

  • how to survive christmas

    I know that you know that we all know that this time of the year can be painfully, maddeningly and dangerously stressful. I think it’s the enforced family time and the overrated fun-level expectations – always a recipe for disaster. Here are my tips for a stress-free Christmas. Gifts I begin every new year thinking(…)

  • where i’m at

    How do you say you’ve been lost to someone? And that perhaps you’ve been lost for a very long time? Sometimes you get glimpses of home and shards of yellow light shine back onto the places you’ve been and the things that have happened to you and just for a moment you understand the beginning(…)

smaller house bigger life

2cheap1If you haven’t heard of container houses or read about the exciting project that Sophie and Cameron Smith in Cape Town are up to, then you’re going to be so glad you’ve stumbled across this here little blog post today. You know people who talk the talk but won’t walk the walk? Well, Sophie and Cam are two people who are freaking walking their walk – big time. Sophie is a brilliant photographer and her husband, Cameron, is a rock climbing guide. They are into remaining debt-free, up-cycling and keeping things simple – especially when it comes to material possessions. So when they found themselves in need of a new place to live at the end of last year, they decided to build themselves a house out of a container. Yep, you heard right, a shipping container. But where are they going to put all their stuff???? I hear you scream. Well, that’s the whole point – their ain’t gonna be space for all that stuff, and I love how Sophie explains the reasoning behind their decision.

 

Although our home won’t be big, living in a small space makes you really use space wisely, stop hoarding, and stop buying more stuff that you don’t really need. Think about it – if you have less space, you will have less stuff! Before we went to Canada, we gave away and sold a lot of our stuff, but we still managed to drag a lot of it to Cape Town to cram into our parents’ shed. Since we have been back, we haven’t touched most of the boxes – in fact, we have actually even packed up some of the things we initially unpacked because we just weren’t using them. We have realised how little we really need to be happy. As long as there is lots of shelving for my explosive clothing and plenty of hidden storage for our climbing and camping gear, we get by on the basics.

I think I need to live in a container too. I’m married to a hoarder – we need two spare rooms in our house just to keep all Andrew’s stuff (I mean, really, who needs two sets of golf clubs and three golf bags?). It’s getting a little ridiculous and so Sam and Cam’s ideals are looking very appealing to me right now. Their ability to load up their house and just move on off if they need to is also very, very attractive to a commitment-phobic Aquarian like myself. But the story is not mine to tell – hop on over to Sophie and Cam’s blog, Smaller House, Bigger Life and read all about their journey so far. I’m so excited to see the end result and it’s such fun being a part of the process and keeping up with Sophie and Cam’s updates. You can also follow Cam and Sohpie on instagram: @smallerhouse_biggerlife. Enjoy reading all about it – I suggest you start with their very first post – 2015 –  a year of new beginnings.

Oh, and check out this article too while you’re at it – a bunch of gorgeous houses all over the world made from containers. Just wow.

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domino – the new single from the scribbles of whisper

1888825_831896220207897_6288549857979100892_oThe lovely Sam Dormehl of The Scribbles of Whisper sent me over their brand new single, Domino. It’s the perfect chilled tune to start off your week. Give it a listen – and a watch – the video was filmed on their recent trip to India and is a feast for any wanderlusting eyes. These guys are awesome – they do everything themselves from writing, filming, recording and editing to mixing and mastering their own tracks! I’m probably going to have this soulful number on repeat today as I try and sift through the mountain of work that has accumulated over the past few days (and yes, my laptop is still out of order). Have a wonderful week lovelies… this is my last one of being twenty-nine! Eeeep.

You can follow The Scribbles of Whisper on Facebook and Instagram to keep updated with news and tour info.

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bunnies on the farm

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A week or so ago, my friend Tash, her husband Graeme and their two little cherubs, Noah and Ben, came to stay for a couple of days. I was SO excited to meet these little boys whom I have read and heard so much about. Although Tash and I have only met in real life like three times, we chat daily on whatsapp, twitter and Facebook and I feel like we’ve been friends for years and years. Andy and I met Graeme while we were in Cape Town back in August 2013 and they get on well as Andy was a student teacher at  Graeme’s high school back in the day. So while I knew the grown-ups would get on like a house on whisky-flamed fire, I was nervous that these little boys would not dig me. Or Andy.

Well.

By the time they left, I was ready to kidnap them and call them my own. Noah and Ben are the sweetest, kindest kids. Their imaginations are wild and their compassion knows no bounds. Tash and Graeme are such chilled parents, yet attentive at the same time. If anyone could convince us to have kids, it’s these two – and purely through example. Noah is vegetarian and so we hung out at the dinner table a lot. He is also an Aquarian, so basically he’s my like my spirit child. He’s so intelligent and curious about how the world works and I loved chatting to him and hearing his opinions on life. Totally get why parents film their kid’s every movement – I wish I had saved some of Noah’s pearlers! And little Ben… ah man, he is his mom’s carbon copy, a sweet soul with an imagination like no other. He loves TV and stories and kicking bad guys in the groin. My heart literally melted when Tash did up the buttons to his cardigan (which he had been using to flap around like a dragon) and he cried out in dismay; “mom what are you doing?? You’re tying down my wings!” Bless. We took the kids to the dam and to play archery; Andy took them on a tractor and on the quad bike; they saw cows and went fishing and it was just magical to interact with their wide-eyed innocence. I think Andrew had more fun than the kids, but that’s neither here nor there. We lay awake the night after they left, discussing if it was at possible to order kids at that exact age, potty-trained and all.

Oh, and as for us adults? We totally sat around being respectable and drinking tea.

The end.

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hartford house serves up a fabulous vegan lunch

So the day before New Years Eve, and before all our visitors descended, the husband decided to take me out for a nice lunch to celebrate the year that was 2014. Also, I had been giving him shit because he was spending more time with my brother on the golf course than at home with me – his beautiful, witty, non-golf-playing, book-worming wife. I mean, really. Priorities. Anyway, taking heed of my new lifestyle and dietary changes (the one where I don’t eat animals or their bodily fluids and secretions anymore), Andrew called around all the fancy constellation-ridden hotels in the area to enquire about vegan meals. The only place willing to help us out at such short notice was Hartford House in Mooi River. And not only would they help us out, but they would provide me with a legit three course fancy meal! Apparently they have these requests all the time and will cater to almost any dietary requirement under the sun. So a BIG thank you to Travis and his team, from the bottom of my fluffy little tree-hugger heart.

My starter was a beetroot and walnut salad which turned into a wild and crunchy flavour party in my mouth and totally whet my appetite for my main – a delicious and very filling mushroom risotto served with onion rings and pickled onions. The flavours were delightfully subtle and I was so satisfied afterwards (read: full to the point of gluttony) that the mixed berry sorbet dessert was a more than welcome refreshment for my sweet tooth. Once again, two thumbs-up to Hartford House for an amazing experience. After lunch we took a walk around the beautiful gardens and I got snappy with the camera. Everything is SO green in the KZN at the moment and it feels as if we’re light years away from the brown and blue palette of winter. Not complaining. This summer has been remarkably less wet than the last one and we have even squeezed in a number of sunny pool and dam days. I’m just anxiously hanging out here waiting for two weeks of non-stop soggy weather and a house reeking of wet-dog… but so far, so good. Long may it last.

During our lunch, I asked Andrew what his best part about 2014 was. He replied: “…improving my golf handicap.”

Sigh.

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a spot of hobbiting

It’s funny how sometimes the best thing to do is to sit quietly and observe. It may seem that I’m a bit of an opinionated, loud-mouthed old fart because my blog has always afforded me a voice when I’ve needed it. Truth be told, I’m not a fan of conflict and am more of a passive resistance warrior, preferring to use my pen as my sword. I’ve learnt over the last year or so that it’s far better to sit back and watch the interactions of others rather than get involved and end up upset for no reason. Debates are great; arguments are often useful, but there are occasions sometimes when you are pulled, unwillingly, into the fighting ring and it is hard to bite your tongue and back down. But it’s ok. It’s part of the process and sometimes the best thing to do is hobbit (which a slight variation of hermit and involves hairier toes! – thanks Colleen at Midlands House of Healing for the advice and concept). Retreat. Reassess. Cut out the negative. Journal away the anger. Meditate. 

My husband bought me an *amazing* camera for Christmas and I have been spending a lot of my hobbiting time learning how to use it. My lovely lover man did his research and found, in his opinion, the number one “blogger’s camera” – a Sony A5000 which is the smallest camera with an interchangeable lens on the market. And I LOVE it. The dogs and chickens and cattle and even poor Abby Cat cat are all becoming unpaid Instagram supermodels as I snap away every day. I wish so so much that I had had this camera on our recent European trip… but it’ll be there for our next adventure. For now, here are some of my most favourite images to date.

Have a wonderful, happy and healthy week everyone.

xxx

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otherworld – apparel for adventurers

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Well, Happy New Year  to all you special kids! I hope you had a fabulous festive season with your loved ones. I’m not into talking about reflections on 2014 or resolutions for 2015, as this is the year of letting go and just letting it be. I foresee some big changes ahead and we’re also planning some other-world exploring, of course. But for now, I’m settling into living in limbo and embracing the space I spend my days in.

As for traveling and adventuring, I had to pinch myself when Otherworld contacted me to do a post on their lovely travel apparel. Based in the US and created by the wonderful Ashley Smith – a bit of a global gypsy herself – Otherworld Apparel is a collection of beautiful kimonos which can be worn everyday in a number of exciting ways. With gorgeous designs inspired by the various prints and images from Ashley’s travels, the kimonos are lightweight and made of the best quality silk and cashmere material, making them the perfect garment for any traveller, In fact, I wish I had had mine for my European trip back in September. The kimono (I have the Jardin Majorelle version in Teal) is perfect for any occasion and can be worn over a dress for a night out or as a scarf in chilly conditions. It can also be worn as a lightweight veil, shawl or shrug when visiting religious sites, which often require one’s shoulders to be covered on entry. And for the little boho goddesses, the kimono can also be worn as a sarong over even as a headscarf – click here to see the various other ways in which this kimono can complement your wardrobe.

The best thing about the Otherworld kimono is that it weighs nothings and folds easily – taking up minuscule space in your suitcase or hand luggage. It’s so versatile that you could wear it almost every day – over anything from a pair of skinny jeans to a slinky bikini. I absolutely love mine and plan to don it on every little journey I take this year – whether it’s an overseas trip or a simple stroll to the shop! To celebrate the launch of their range, Moroccan Rapture, Otherworld is offering all my readers a 20% off discount voucher for the month of January 2015 – so take advantage and treat yourself or a fellow wanderlust-ing friend. Free Global Shipping is included.

[Discount Code: MIDLAND20]

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the “v” word

I’ve spent a lot of time this year, and the year before, pondering and writing about the problems which humans, and South African humans, in particular, face. I’ve written about race and child sexual abuse and women’s rights and prostitutes and I’ve celebrated great people and I’ve been on healing journeys and I’ve been on intense physical journeys. While I’ve been trying to scratch below the surface of how and why humans are so unkind to each other, I’ve also been sidestepping the biggest and pinkest elephant in the proverbial room.

As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields.

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself. 

– Leo Tolstoy

To say I’ve been putting off this post, despite no lack of encouragement, is an understatement. For some reason, in this world of ours, compassion to animals, compassion to our planet and compassion to our children’s future seems to not be of popular concern. It’s almost considered weak and undesirable. Vegetarianism is a dirty word and Veganism is a crazy cult. I have never been met with so much resistance and opposition to what I thought would be a rather simple, not to mention personal, decision to not put animal products into my body. It seems everyone is taking my little dietary choice rather personally – which is something to think about all on its own. And what’s worse is that when I explain that it’s not actually because of any allergies or ill-health, but because I simply don’t want to be a part of the senseless slaughter of animals anymore, I’m looked upon like I’ve done gone and lost my marbles.

Let’s get real. I’m a farm girl. I grew up around headless chickens running around the garden as they were slaughtered for dinner; I’ve hugged piglets, I’ve bottle-fed calves and lambs and I’ve seen my parents raise and fatten two oxen every year (usually named “Deep” and “Freeze”) for our consumption. I’ve collected eggs, I’ve watched cows and horses mate and give birth since I was a little girl (most farm kids figure out the birds and the bees pretty early on in life); I’ve had pet cats and dogs and hamsters and rabbits and birds and snakes. I understood where our meat came from and I knew that animals were put through pain for me to eat. I’ve seen that pain. You see, growing up on a farm also makes you realise that animals do actually have a comprehension of pain; animals do feel suffering. You can see fear and sadness in their eyes, just like you can with any human being. And you can hear them scream or cry or whinny when they are hurt. Their sense of smell and their instincts are far more intense than ours – just yesterday morning Andrew weaned ten calves and we arrived home in the afternoon to find that their mothers had broken through FOUR sets of fences and run across the entire farm to get back to their crying babies. I don’t know about you, but that signals to me some sort of emotional and mental presence similar to humans. The thought of slaughterhouses and killing farm animals for food never really sat well with me if I let myself think about it too much – but like we all do, I just didn’t. I pushed those thoughts to the back of my mind, reminded myself that animals were dumb and humans were better than them, and continued eating steak and burgers and wors rolls and roast chickens and salmon and cheese and eggs and milk and everything under the sun. I’m married to a chef – let’s just say Meatless Monday was never a thing in our house.

Last year, we reared a little black Brahman calf whose mother had died when he was a couple of days old. He was so tiny that you could pick him up in your arms and carry him.  From the beginning, Marmite was doomed because he was male – and we already have four bulls on the farm. We bottle-fed him and he lived in a spare stable with the horses as his neighbours and with the red-light on for warmth. When he was strong enough, he wandered around the stable yard, chased the dogs, sniffed Abby Cat and followed Victor the tractor-driver around like he was his mom. He also obsessively licked a drain pipe for hours on end (probably a sign of stress – cows are herd animals and  not only had he lost his mom but he had also been separated from the herd and made to socialise with a bunch of beings who didn’t speak his own language – can you just imagine how frustrating that must be?) and I remember saying to a friend how stupid he was. YES, I SAID THAT. Bearing in mind that Marmite used to run to you when you called him. Quite smart for a cow to recognise his own name, right? Almost dog-like.
As soon as Marmite was strong enough, he was put into the weaner herd with calves his own age. For a couple of weeks, he’d still turn his head when we called his name, but soon he integrated completely. It was nice to know he was on the farm and happy with his mates. Fast forward to two weeks ago and we were out for dinner with my dad when Andrew casually slipped into the conversation that he had sold a bunch of weaners to the feedlot, including Marmite.

Marmite

I KNEW all the rules as a farm child. I knew cows were not supposed to be pets. I knew they were supposed to be dumb. I knew they were bred to be eaten. I knew deep, deep down that Marmite was never going to a prize bull and live out his days in the meadows flirting with heifers. But still, something in me clicked when I imagined him being loaded up onto the cattle truck – scared and alone and uncertain of his doomed future. It was like the line between pet and food had officially been erased out for me. I no longer saw a difference between not eating Lulu and not eating Marmite. I could no longer justify it and I could no longer call myself an animal-lover if I continued to eat them. It was that easy. Black and white, no grey lines. The very next day, I got in touch with my friend, Rose, who sent me an initial reading and viewing list of information about giving up meat (thank you Rosie – eternally grateful). At first, I intended to just cut out red meat. But the more I watched and the more I read, the more I realised that chickens and fish and dairy cows are just as vulnerable as the animals killed in slaughterhouses. I watched Earthlings first (because it was for free on YouTube) and it blew my mind to smithereens. The screams those little pigs made as they were “thumped” (thumping is when small or deformed pigs are held by their legs and their heads are smashed onto a concrete floor, sometimes repeatedly, until they die) were the exact same screams I heard every morning on my daily walk when I made my way past the piggery next door. The way the cows were treated in Earthlings – the way they were branded and their horns cut off without anaesthetic –  I have seen farmers do that with my own eyes; I have seen cattle crying out and getting stuck in the crush. I couldn’t fool myself any longer that just because I lived in a farming community in South Africa, that our methods and facilities were any different than the atrocious ones displayed in Earthlings. Guys, when you see stuff in supermarkets marked “free-range” or “organic” or “grass-fed” – this doesn’t mean the animals didn’t experience pain as they were transformed into your food. It in no way should make you feel any better about your food or that it reached your plate cruelty-free. Trust me. Farming livestock is kak. It is brutal and selective and harsh and it takes no prisoners. The kindest farmer will still cause pain and even that prize breeding bull will one day, after fourteen years of mating and supplying you with healthy calves, be sent to slaughter and end up on your plate. Farm animals are commodities and if they’re not making money anymore, they’re got rid of.

If you follow me on Instagram, you will know that I often post pastoral pictures of our farmlife – pretty landscapes, dogs swimming in the dam and calves frolicking. Yesterday, for the first time, I posted two videos of the newly weaned calves mentioned above running nervously around the crush as they began to realise they were separated from their mothers. These calves will be sold to feedlots as weanlings and then fattened up for slaughterhouses. It’s the truth and I know I took a big risk posting it – either I would be met with a host of heartbreaking comments like: “wow, that hamburger will look great on my plate” or a mass unfollowing – because people don’t want to see what’s going on. Sure enough, I got a bunch of un-followings and that’s okay. I know people don’t want to think about how their yummy burger at Hudsons was once a little calf separated from its mother or how that Nandos drumstick was once a chicken reared in it own faeces in a shoe-box sized cage. I used to be that person.

There is a massive “foodie” culture about at the moment, and I am a huge part of it. Chefs are celebrities, restaurants have replaced pubs as hangouts, and it’s cool to know your chenin blanc from your pinot noir. Meat errrryday – bacon for breakfast, chicken for lunch, steak for dinner and junior cheeseburgers inbetween. We are eating more meat then we ever have. Unfortunately, the greedier we have got with our palates, the more animals are suffering. Everyone’s a Jamie or a Nigella, everyone’s instagramming their fancy pork belly, everyone’s eating, eating, eating. And we forget that we’re consuming sentient beings – we’re eating their fear, their adrenaline, their hormones, their antibiotics and their diseases (did you know that massive amounts of cortisol and adrenaline are flooded into an animal’s body when it is killed – no matter how “humane” the slaughter?).  Is it any wonder that we’re the sickest, the fattest and the most stressed we’ve ever been?

Anyway, this is not my place to tell you what to do with your body and your life – this is a place to tell my story. So after watching Earthlings, I immediately cut out all meat – even chicken and fish. I continued to eat cheese and milk as usual until I watched this amazing lecture, where I learnt that dairy cows have it far worse off than beef cattle (if we want to draw comparisons). For ten days now, the only animal protein I have allowed into my body is the odd egg from my own happy little chickens who run around the stable yard and lay eggs in the roost Andrew built them. So I’m not entirely vegan, but I’m comfortable with my choices and happy in the knowledge that my eggs come from a happy source and that no chickens were injured in its making. Although slowly, I will admit, the idea of eating a chicken’s period stuffed full of cholesterol is starting to disturb me. We will work with this one. I also want to say out-right that my decision was not “brave” or “risky” and I don’t feel like I’ve made a massive commitment to an impossibly hard thing. It’s honestly the easiest and best decision I’ve ever made; I’m so happy about it and in no way do I feel deprived – there are so many alternative options and meat replacements out there. I’m eating more than ever and it’s entirely guilt-free! I have a feeling that I will end up on a completely plant-based diet and I have no qualms with that – I intend to make this an exciting foodie journey and I look forward to treating my tastebuds to new tastes and adventures. Without getting into all the environmental factors (you can research those below in the links provided), let’s just say that I firmly believe that not eating meat will significantly lessen my carbon footprint. Also, I’m not sure that I could call myself an environmentalist anymore if I was still a consumer of animal products.

I was afraid to write this post too soon, as I’m still learning and exploring and finding my way around this new way of life and it seems that people who haven’t yet made the connection like to attack vegans and “catch them out” on any little thing. I’m two weeks in and feel the pressure already – I feel that anything I say or feel or write needs to be defended and it is a little exhausting – but totally worth it. I will tell you one thing though - I feel lighter and more healthy than I ever have. My digestive system has improved, my skin feels firmer and I have so much energy. I feel like I need less and less sleep and I’ve found out that this is because your body uses so much less energy digesting plants than it does digesting hunks of flesh. You know that feeling you get after a heavy Sunday roast – that feeling that you need to lie about on the couch like a fat python? All gone. It’s no wonder so many athletes are turning towards a vegan diet –  I honestly wake up feeling like I could run 10kms every morning.  The best thing about this entire change – because it was not about health for me in the beginning – is that I can look at myself in the mirror and be at peace with the path I’m walking on this planet. If I ever have children, I will know that I’m trying my best at attempting to provide them with the best possible future they can have on this earth and I know that no animal will ever die senselessly for my own greed. I can cuddle my dogs and cats without having to push aside any guilt regarding other animals –  I love them all equally and enough to respect all of their lives on this planet.

I firmly believe that God, whoever she may be, gifted us with our intelligence and made us guardians of all life on this planet – including, if not most importantly, the animals. And yes, many years ago, we used primitive tools to hunt down an animal which would feed a starving clan of people for weeks. We don’t need to do what we’re doing anymore – not on the levels we’re doing it, at least. We’re greedy and arrogant and selfish and the worst thing is that we’re hiding behind a veil of secrecy and lies, we’re denying the truth and even more heart wrenching, is that we’re still somehow, in some sick way, justifying it.  There is never a justification for taking the life of another being for your food – not when you’re living in your nice little apartment in Sea Point with access to a supermarket stocked full of healthy veggies, beans, breads and everything else you may need. I can honestly say right now that humans and animals are the same thing to me and roasting and eating a suckling pig is pretty much the same as roasting and eating a suckling human baby.

The way I see it: every single individual should be made to kill their own meat if you really want to consume it. If you want to eat beef or chicken, or pork, or lamb, you should be made to go to a slaughter house, pick out your desired live animal from its little pen, stun gun it yourself, hang it up by its feet with your own arms and then slit it’s own throat with your bare hands. I don’t think many people would be cool with doing that every time they fancied stocking up their freezer. I have a feeling we’d all be consuming a lot less meat if we were faced with how that steak really gets to your plate. And at least then we wouldn’t need to lie about our “humaneness” and wonder about how things have got so bad; why we are raping our children, killing our brothers and sisters and stealing from each other. I think that if we all look deep, deep down inside yourself, we know the truth. We all do. And the simple act of honouring our guardianship of the earth and our animals, replacing our greed and addiction for meat with love and compassion and remembering our place on this planet, will go a long way in stopping the inhumanity amongst ourselves. And that’s just my humble opinion.

On a more personal front (like I could get any more personal with this post), for years I have been on a spiritual journey of sorts. I’ve been to kinesiologists, I’ve taken up yoga, I’ve cut out alcohol, I’ve meditated, I’ve become an exercise freak and you’ve all read about my amazing healing sessions with the amazing Colleen of Midlands House of Healing. All of these experiences have been completely wonderful and I believe that they have all lead me down this road and enabled me to make this decision so easily. This is the missing puzzle piece. I finally feel like I can practise the kindness and compassion that I  preach through what I put into my body. This deep respect for my fellow beings has given me the peace to be fully present in every moment, completely guilt-free and completely conscious. I can now understand why most of the greatest spiritual leaders did not consume animals. Taking on the energy and emotions of another being, feeding on their pain and fear, has a massive effect on your own energy. I feel calmer and more in tune with myself than ever before. Kumba-yaaa mother fuckers!

In the end, we all live in the present moment. You can make a difference to your life, the lives of millions of animals, the planet and your fellow human beings with a simple decision you make three times a day. It’s as simple as that –  it starts with YOU and the choices YOU make to show that you’re a conscious member of this human race.

If you are going to ask me any of the following questions in the comment sections, I urge you to please watch the videos below before you do – all the answers you seek are there.

Where are you going to get your protein/calcium/iron/vitamin B12 from?

Aren’t you going to get fat eating all those carbs?

What’s going to happen to all the farm animals if we stop eating them – are they going to become extinct?

Are the farmers all going to become bankrupt?

Are you still going to buy leather? (NO!)

What do I feed my pets if I’m vegan?

Would you eat an animal that was dead already if you found it lying around?

Isn’t it really expensive to eat vegan?

Earthlings – free on YouTube

101 Reasons To Go Vegan - free on YouTube

Best Speech You Will Ever Hear – free on YouTube

Debate: Should Everyone Go Vegan – free on You Tube

Don’t Eat Anything With A Face – free on YouTube

Food, Inc – free on YouTube

Making the Connection, Why Vegan – Part 1 and Part 2 – both free on YouTube

Forks Over Knives // Cowspiracy // The Ghosts in our Machine

Some of these videos are intense – but I urge you to please educate yourself before you judge. And remember, remember, remember that we are all innately compassionate, lovely beings. Don’t let this get you too down – because it’s simple – we can change the way animals, and ultimately humans  are treated, simply by by creating a new demand in the market; if we demand that our food, clothing and products are cruelty-free, big corporations will have to pander to our demands to stay afloat. Protest with your mouth and your wallet. Yes, there is a lot of bad happening in the world, but there is also soooo much good happening too. But you won’t be able to help and make a change unless you allow yourself to acknowledge the bad.

As for other resources, so far I’ve found Pinterest and Easy Peasy Alchemy really great for vegan recipes. Vegan SA is a helpful website for searching for Vegan products and meat and dairy alternatives (also they list all the vegan wines in SA – very important!) and I’ve also downloaded the Cruelty Cutter app which enables you to scan the bar codes of products with your phone while you’re shopping to check that they are cruelty-free. I’ve also recently purchased The Kind Diet by celebrity vegan, Alicia Silverstone, which is so far a great read. There is still so much more for me to learn, but I’m so happy to do it – in fact I haven’t felt this motivated and excited about waking up every day for a while. It’s like I can see clearly now the meat fog is gone! Ha.

Note: I have noticed how much abuse animal lovers and vegans get online (see image below – really ridiculous comments I saw posted on a recent image of a veggie burger on Vegan’s instagram profile… the sad thing is that they are so common), so if you’re so inclined to comment something nasty or sarcastic at the end of this post, please remember that I reserve the right to delete any malicious or hateful comments made on this blog.

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This will probably be my last post for the year – so I hope you all have a wonderful and present festive season with your family and friends. See you in the New Year, I’m sure, with that mandatory post of appropriate goals for 2015 or something to that effect! Thank you so much to all my wonderful friends and followers who have been so supportive during this time, it really means so much.

Big love, Kez xxx

The beautiful image of Marmite used in this post was taken by Lauren Setterberg of Glossary – original source here.

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a poet called erin hanson

You’ve probably pinned her words on Pinterest before. Perhaps you’ve wondered who this e.h. is. I know I have. You most certainly will have come across her most famous lines:

There is freedom waiting for you,

On the breezes of the sky,

And you ask, “What if I fall?” 

Oh, but my darling,

What if you fly?

erinhansonHer name is Erin Hanson and she is nineteen years old. The young Australian’s poems are all over the inter-webs thanks to the wonder that is social media. Through Tumblr, Instagram and Pinterest, e.h. has made herself quite the cult following. Scrolling through her blog feed you’ll notice declarations of love for both the poet and her poems from readers all around the world. I spent a good hour or so reading her work – and I could go all English literature teacher on your ass and start analysing form and structure, but who cares? She may not always rhyme, she may lose rhythm at times, but man, the way this girl uses imagery speaks straight to my little writer heart. The poems below are some of my favourite so far – and I’ve only read a blip of her work. Take a read. If you like what her words make you feel, hop on over to her blog, the poetic underground or her Instagram, @thepoeticunderground to read more. If you fall further in love, you can buy her books here too.

And now next time you come across a beautiful piece of writing on Pinterest or Instagram with only “e.h.” scrawled at the bottom, you will know that young Erin Hanson wrote those words. And that in doing so, word by word, she is bringing a little bit of light and wonder into the world. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go dig out an old notebook and write something beautiful.

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All images and poetry property of Erin Hanson – www.thepoeticunderground.com

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how to survive christmas

I know that you know that we all know that this time of the year can be painfully, maddeningly and dangerously stressful. I think it’s the enforced family time and the overrated fun-level expectations – always a recipe for disaster. Here are my tips for a stress-free Christmas.

Gifts

I begin every new year thinking that I’m going to purchase individual and thoughtful gifts for my loved ones during the course of the year, but then come then 23rd of December and I’m stuck in a queue at Pick ‘n Pay buying everyone I know iTune vouchers. On this note, iTune vouchers are NEVER a bad idea. Everyone likes new music and fun apps for their phone. What we don’t like is time spent in shopping malls, wondering aimlessly for hours between shops and then panic-buying ugly mugs from Cardies just before closing time. ONLINE SHOPPING PEOPLE. If you get most of your orders in before the 5-10th Decemebr, I’m pretty sure you will be good to go. Also, the post office strike is finally over, so lets all breathe a sigh of collective relief. Takealot is my all time favourite virtual shop at the moment, primarily because they have just launched their brand new Fashion department housing labels such as Zoom, Adidas, Nike, G Couture and All About Eve – just to name a few. You can use and collect eBucks on Takeloat, as well as earn Discovery points and air miles. Winning. Other great sites to try are SuperbalistKalahari, Netflorist, Macaroon and Hello Pretty. I’m also thinking of perhaps making up a “Made in the Midlands” package for my parents and filling a box with local Midlands produce such as a bottle of Abingdon Wine, cheeses, jams and curated hams. You could do the same for whatever area you’re in – just pop in to your nearest deli and see what local produce is on offer. Also, while we’re talking about wine and Abingdon, Laurie Smorthwaite at the newly established KZN School of Wine is now offering WEST accredited wine courses – an awesome gift for all wine-enthusiasts. Hint hint.

Your favourite thing

Now there are a lot of things about Christmas that we all hate – overcrowded malls, awkward conversations with your second-cousin-twice-removed and cheap Beacon chocolates, just to name a few. But usually, there is at least one thing about Christmas that warms your heart – whether it be carols, decorating the Christmas tree, setting the table, making mulled wine, drinking mulled wine, cooking, wrapping presents or hand making beautiful cards. My best thing about Christmas is finding a carol playlist on YouTube and playing it on repeat whilst singing along and chugging back a bottle of champers. My mom bought this killer CD from England back in the day of little kids singing carols, and listening to it always takes me straight back to the wonder of a childhood Christmas. The thing is, Christmas is something that we all have to endure, so unless you’re married to a Jew, we’re all in it together. Find something you love about Christmas and do it. Repeatedly. 

me time

By God, if the whole world doesn’t wants to descend upon your home during the festive season. Cape Towners and anyone with a beach house – I’m sympathising with you here especially. If you’re anything like me, it is vitally important that you carve out some me-time during this endless guest-insanity.  Obviously, I’m talking spas and massages. A couple of days ago, I went for a four-handed massage at Midlands House of Healing with Colleen and her lovely intern, Richard. Yep, you read right – two people, four hands, one body – YOUR body. It’s like a threesome that you don’t have to put any effort into. Wonderlik! Reiki is also great for relaxation and ensuring that your energy field is ready and able to tackle all the fun that comes with Christmas – nagging relatives, screaming kids, and my absolute favourite: questions of “when are you getting married?”, “are you trying for a baby?” and “how’s the love life?” that you will be sure to be dodging. Smile and wave, boys and girls, smile and wave.

exercise

You KNOW you’re going to be eating and drinking a lot. It’s an inevitable and totally unavoidable part of the season. Counteract the bulge with a run/walk/cycle every morning. Wake up early and try squeeze in some yoga if you can – if only for your sanity. Make it fun and get the whole family involved in activities such as pool cricket or lawn bowls (she says lying poolside, sipping her gin and tonic). But seriously, try to work up a sweat in any way you can at least once a day for a good twenty to thirty minutes. Holiday sex, anyone?

kids

If, at any stage of the season, you feel yourself slipping into complete and utter chaos, find some kids and spend time with them. Let them re-awaken the joy of Christmas for you and let them remind you of what it’s all really about. You see, Christmas is not only about wine and Nigella-perfect gammon and endless queues at the mall. Come on people, Christmas is about Santa! Reindeer! Presents! Mistletoe! Sleighs! I’m talking making advent calendars, spray-painting pine cones, writing letters to the elves, watching old Christmas movies, decorating trees and baking biscuits to replenish old St Nick on Christmas Eve. There is nothing like Christmas seen through a child’s eyes, so borrow a niece or smuggle a baby sister and spend some time with the little blighters. Let them help you re-discover that season sparkle before you turn into a cynical old hag. Wait, what? 

And if all else fails, give everyone IOU notes in their cards and book a solo meditation trip to a Tibetan monastery.

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where i’m at

How do you say you’ve been lost to someone? And that perhaps you’ve been lost for a very long time? Sometimes you get glimpses of home and shards of yellow light shine back onto the places you’ve been and the things that have happened to you and just for a moment you understand the beginning and the end and your heart sees that this silly middle is just a part of the journey and then you know… you know so very, very well that you will return there.

But then it’s gone.

And the tears fall because you can’t bring that glimpse back. You can’t bring back the peace that makes everything, all at once, so lovely and so certain and so safe.

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Unless otherwise stated, all words and images are copyright to Keri Bainborough and the Midlands Musings blog. Please contact me if you’d like to use any of the text and graphics featured on this blog. Disclaimer