• on putting it all out there: a note to katie

    “What people are ashamed of usually makes a good story.” F. Scott Fitzgerald. A couple of months ago, an old childhood friend sent me a message asking me for advice on how to handle being a blogger (lol); or more specifically on how to deal with that weird feeling of nervousness/excitement/nausea that all personal bloggers(…)

  • eating vegan in the midlands

    Who ever thought that would be the title of one of my blog posts? Not me, for sure. But here we are, four years down the line and so many, many things have changed in my life – all for the better thankfully! So eating out vegan is generally not an easy affair in South(…)

  • the minimalist life – what I learnt

    Last month I completed the 30 Day Minimalism Challenge. The only task I did not complete was to stay offline for one day – unfortunately when you work for yourself, you can’t take leave that easily and it’s even more difficult when your work requires you to be online pretty much 24/7. I did manage(…)

  • a few favourites (and a note on choosing love)

    This week has not exactly been an easy one in South Africa. I woke on Wednesday morning to messages and pictures sent to my phone of the horrific atrocities going on in the Durban CBD which rattled me to the core. I quickly got caught up in the madness… it was hard not to. The(…)

  • a few favourites

    It’s that time of the week when I have to write that post I have committed myself to and which I already forgot to write last week (I blame all the chocolate and hot cross buns). Anyway, here’s whats been keeping my heart singing lately. wildflowers We went camping (lol) in the Drakensberg this week(…)

  • project minimalism

    In a bid to declutter and un-busy my life, I have decided to do the 30 Day Minimalism Challenge this April. Like all other good things, I came across this challenge on Pinterest a little while ago, and saved it under my secret board of challenges for a rainy slash inspiring day. Well, the time(…)

  • a few favourites

    Due to my dismal posting lately, I’ve decided to do a weekly blog of things/food/books/thoughts that I’m loving at the moment. Just to touch base with you guys in a way that I don’t feel compelled to vomit everything I do and think onto the keyboard. Time is getting more and more precious lately and(…)

  • change your mindset for a week – go meat-free

    As you know, I’ve been vegan for almost four months now (that’s a third of the year!!!). If you didn’t know (lol. yea, right) or are new to this blog, then click on over to this post to see why I became vegan. Someone asked me the other day if I had experienced any health benefits(…)

  • life and stuff

    Hey hey. There has been some serious silence over here for the past few weeks. Life has been busy and life has been soooo good. For some crazy reason, everything I seem to be asking for this year, I get. It’s like the Universe, the angels and God are all on my side, which is(…)

  • how to be vegan – a guide for newbies

    Since becoming a herbivore a few months ago, and after writing this post, many of my friends and followers have become vegetarian and vegan or have consciously started decreasing their meat and dairy intake. This makes my heart so happy. Although I do know it’s a very tough process, especially out here in SA where(…)

on putting it all out there: a note to katie

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“What people are ashamed of usually makes a good story.” F. Scott Fitzgerald.

A couple of months ago, an old childhood friend sent me a message asking me for advice on how to handle being a blogger (lol); or more specifically on how to deal with that weird feeling of nervousness/excitement/nausea that all personal bloggers have when publishing a post that they have (literally) poured their heart and soul into. Katie Jenkins writes about life. She is not, as far as I know, a lifestyle or a foodie or a fashion blogger. She writes from the heart and she writes the kind of stuff that I love to read about. One of the first posts I ever read of hers was called Coming Out. It was all about her grapples with her Church and it involved a lot of open questioning of her Christian faith. It was an intensely personal post and an incredibly brave topic to write about and I remember being absolutely floored by it. I must admit, I also thought, oh, here comes trouble - because I recognised so much of myself in her raw honesty, and goodness knows haven’t I learnt about some of the consequences that come with writing and living as honestly as I can. Katie’s message to me was worded so wonderfully that I have to quote her here (hope you don’t mind Miss Jenkins):

I started my blog to practice writing, assuming I’d be too shy to share the link with anyone… that was about 10 months ago and now I’m addicted to that feeling of vulnerability. Ha. Can you give me any tips or advice?

I just love your use of the word “vulnerability”. I couldn’t put it any better in this context. When you write about real things like your actual lifestyle (not just the Coricraft couch and the Levi jeans you’ve been paid to wax lyrical about), about your emotions, your opinions, your pain, your joy and your fears, you open yourself up on another level – to both complete strangers and, perhaps even scarier, to the people who know you. Posts about relationships, spiritual growth, race, health, religion, sex and people can be amazing and enlightening and bring about more a-ha moments than a weekend Oprah omnibus. These posts can bring readers and followers together; they can spark thoughts and connections and learning or they can simply make one think, “oh hey, I’m not alone. Someone out there thinks what I think and has had the balls to say it and you know what? I’m gonna fly my freak flag and not be ashamed to say it either.”

Still one of my most successful posts to date has been the one about us not talking about what we really want to be talking about. Over 10 000 individual humans read and shared that post in one day, all over the world. Man, it blew my mind to think that the wonderings of little old me behind my laptop in the southern tip of Africa caused such a connection to happen. But that’s whats words do; that’s how powerful they can be. Remember that. When I wrote this controversial post about strippers and how we are supporting sexual slavery, I was terrified to press publish. So many girls I knew and was friends with at the time seemed to be fine with their men going to strip clubs. I just simply wasn’t (and still am not). I was ridiculed in real life when I said I didn’t like strip clubs and so, when I wrote that post, I expected nothing but backlash. It didn’t matter though: I had to get it off my chest. I had to explain myself – even if it was just to myself. But than an amazing thing happened. Sure, a couple (ok, one) readers called me out, but 99% percent of them completely agreed with me. I received the most comments I’d ever received on a blog post up until that point, as well as personal emails and messages from women thanking me for saying what they were all thinking, but were too scared to voice. I often receive comments from people telling me that my writing makes them feel less alone. And to be honest, it’s a mutual feeling, because writing and interacting with my readers (who are obviously the funniest and most intelligent readers of them all) makes me feel less alone.

So that, my dear Katie, is the fun part of putting your deepest and darkest thoughts out there. Making connections and friendships with people all over the world whose hearts pump to the same beat as yours, will continue to bring you joy time and time again. But, as with all good things, there is a shadow to the light. Some may not understand that in expressing your thoughts and sharing your fears, that is how you learn how to deal with them. That this is how you learn how to live life, your way. This is the way of the artists and the writers, the musicians, the designers and the filmmakers… Putting yourself out there, up for criticism and judgement is how art works. You can choose not to, of course. But then you might as well keep your art and drawings to yourself in a  journal next to your bed. This is the paradox that artists have been dealing with for centuries. Any person who makes a living out of telling stories, out of speaking about life and all its complexities, will face both praise and wrath. At times you may feel like a complete narcissist, at other times, you will be filled with self-doubt. Sometimes people you know may take something you have said as a personal attack against themselves and how they live their lives; sometimes complete strangers will get the wrong end of the stick and attack you and how you live your life. Things can get personal and if you’re not always writing about rainbows and butterflies, they can sometimes get ugly. Learning to deal with the shadow that comes with exposing yourself is what will help you survive the vulnerability and the criticism, and yes, even the mountains of praise – all of which inevitably come when you’re speaking your highest truth. How do you deal with the shadow?

We are mirrors. Remember that any criticism against yourself or your work usually comes from a person who recognises that same fault in themselves. It is good to remember this too when you find yourself being hurt of offended by someone’s else’s words or actions.

Words can have consequences. I always like to sleep on a piece before publishing it – especially if it is one that covers a controversial topic. Thrash it all out for sure and get in down on paper (or screen) as soon as you can. But then go to bed. In the morning, things are always cast in a softer, warmer light. I often find that when I wake up, I’m far more compassionate and sensitive to my own feelings, as well as the feeling of others. Re-read the text and edit out any overtly angry words or statements. Edit edit edit. Chip away at any heaviness as much as you can. If you really are in doubt about what you’re putting out to the universe, send the piece to your mum (thanks mum!) or a good friend for an honest opinion. I am terrible at spell-checking my own writing, so asking someone to give it a quick read over before you share or publish usually helps in that regard too!

Delete delete delete. You will get some really ridiculous comments sometimes, especially as your readership grows, as I’m sure yours will. Trolls love the internet and most especially they loooooove leaving anonymous comments on your blog (really? Your email address is xxxx@gmail.com? Surrrrre.) I’ve been told that my husband and I look like inbred siblings in a comment before. I mean, WTF. I’m not even ginger! Don’t get hung up on really negative comments like I did in the beginning – just delete. Straight away. Don’t even bother replying. It’s your blog and you can write about whatever you want to.

Cut your losses. Friends, followers and readers will come and go. Your family will always love you. They have to. Heh heh heh. No seriously though, don’t get too hung up on pleasing everyone. People can smell a contrived post from miles away. Stay true to you as best you can and remember, in the great words of Neil Gaiman:

The moment that you feel that just possibly you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of you heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself… that’s the moment you may be starting to get it right. The things I’ve done that have worked the best are the things that I was least certain about – the stories where I was sure that they’d either work or, more likely, be the kind of embarrassing failures that people would gather together and discuss until the end of time. They always had that in common. Looking back at them, people explain why they were inevitable successes, but when I was doing them, I had no idea. I still don’t. And where would be the fun in making something you know was going to work?

So that brings my to my next point and I’ve actually written an entire post on this before, Getting Naked. If you’re truly in this writing business for the sake of art and expression and engaging with others on topics you feel passionate about, don’t be afraid of exposing yourself. Yes, you can be addicted to the vulnerability and yes, you might will rock a few boats, but hey, you could always choose to follow the crowd and be normal instead. But that’s not why you started writing, is it?

And that’s about it, Katie. This was supposed to be a short email and it’s resulted in a blog post. I just want to thank you for re-igniting a flame within me. In writing this to you, I have certainly re-assesed some feelings and thoughts I have had about my own writing, and the reasons behind why I continue to do it. It’s kinda been a cathartic exercise, I won’t lie! Enjoy the process – every bit of it. Embrace the vulnerability, it makes you stronger - both in your work and in your real life relationships with others. I promise. In a nutshell: you’re awesome. Write about whatever you like. Life’s too short to not think, to not question, to not explore or, worst of all, to be boring. Go out and change the world… and yourself.

{Ok everyone, now you can hop on over to www.ktjenkins.com and read Katie’s blog – she’s brilliant! xxx}

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Images by the talented and lovely Lauren Setterberg.

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eating vegan in the midlands

Who ever thought that would be the title of one of my blog posts? Not me, for sure. But here we are, four years down the line and so many, many things have changed in my life – all for the better thankfully!

So eating out vegan is generally not an easy affair in South Africa – yet. Eating out vegan in the Midlands, which is a predominantly livestock and dairy farming community, is pretty much an impossible task. But take heart, things are changing and people are sitting up and taking notice. Also I find if you ask nicely, you shall receive nicely. If push comes to shove, take a notepad with you, scan through the entire menu, and pen a very nice letter to the chef asking him for a combo dish of all the non-vegan items. Here are my favourite places to eat out as a vegan in the Midlands:

Alex Poltera is one of the young and upcoming stars on the South African cooking scene and is the executive chef at Fern Hill Hotel in Hilton. What I love about him is his interest in vegan cooking and his enthusiasm for making me different meals every time I visit The Snooty Fox. He’s made me chickpea flatbread and green tofu curries and the most delicious homemade veggie burger patty. Alex himself has noted that the number of vegetarians and vegans visiting the restaurant has increased and has taken steps to include vegan meals on his winter menu – which launches today! So refreshing. I know where I’ll be eating lunch and dinner most of this season. In fact, Andrew and I are going to The Snooty Fox for date night tonight. Happy vegan tummy = happy vegan wife. Last week, Alex treated me to a starter of tomato and basil soup with coconut cream balls (my absolute best! I’m a sucker for anything tomato and basil and the coconut cream balls are just next level), the homemade veggie burger (I opted for the mushroom “bun” instead of a normal bread bun) and a chia and coconut fruit pudding.  His beetroot chocolate cake is also something to write home about and cry into with tears of joy. I must say that good vegan dessert is a rare find in this area – while most places can concoct you a vegan main meal, very rarely do you find any vegan treats on the Meander – so thank you Alex for providing something truly amazing on the Midlands culinary scene – you’re pushing boundaries and tearing into the future and we thank you!

DSC05657a DSC05671a DSC05687aHartford House is my second go-to place for vegan meals – although vegan option are not on the main menu per se (which changes day-to-day), the kitchen is willing to cater to any dietary needs and I have had two delicious vegan meals there. I would probably still ring in advance to let them know, although I don’t think it’s completely necessary.DSC00726

Sapore Restaurant makes a delicious vegan pizza (just ask the staff there for Keri’s vegan pizza) that includes spinach, mushrooms, capers, garlic, olives, avocado and cherry tomatoes. I have one a week at least! Also, their Pomodora pasta can be made more substantial with the addition of mushrooms and peppers and whatever other side veggies you fancy on the menu. Sometimes I take a Fry’s burger patty or Frys “chicken” schnitzel with me and ask them to put it on a bun and they are more than happy to make me a vegan burger. Their chicken couscous salad contains red kidney beans so you can also ask them to hold on the chicken and feta and pile on extra beans for s a healthier dish. Also, a little birdie tells me that they may be putting a creamy avocado and cucumber zucchini noodle recipe on the specials board soon…Processed with VSCOcam with h3 presetLa Lampara has also sorted me out with yummy vegan meals on numerous occasions – just let Pinot and Caroline know in advance. Their pea risotto is to. die. for.

Cafè Bloom is also always a safe bet for vegetarian lunches – their harvest table is crowded with delicious veggie dishes – you will just have to pick off the cheese! Their cakes and treats are not vegan as far as I know. I do have an amazing vegan cheesecake recipe that I may be passing on/taking with me as I really do miss a slice of cake with my coffee at my favourite coffee shop.DSC05736aBlueberry Cafè have some great salad options on their harvest menu, as well as a vegetarian burger which you can make vegan by asking them to leave off the cheese and hold up on the butter. I do pop into the Spar and grab my own bun on my way though as the Blueberry Cafe buns are made with egg, so just keep that in mind when ordering.

bc-218All in all, the bottom line is that you don’t have to starve or stay at home as a vegan if you visit the Midlands Meander! And slowly, as more and more people switch to a vegan lifestyle (did you know that there is even going to be a Vegan Expo in Cape Town in November? I can’t wait!), restaurants in the area will hopefully begin to cater to our appetites and pockets.  Have a wonderful Tuesday everyone – I’m already salivating in anticipation for Alex’s vegan fare tonight! Date night done right.

*All images by me except for image of Blueberry Cafe image by Samantha Maber.*

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the minimalist life – what I learnt

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Last month I completed the 30 Day Minimalism Challenge. The only task I did not complete was to stay offline for one day – unfortunately when you work for yourself, you can’t take leave that easily and it’s even more difficult when your work requires you to be online pretty much 24/7. I did manage to “zone out” a bit when we went camping for a few days. I kept my phone in the car and would only check it now and then instead of constantly being a slave to the beep. Other than that, I thrashed through those tasks like a boss. The tasks below are the ones which really made me contemplate and rethink the way I’m living my life.

Unfollow and unfriend

YES. I’ve been meaning to do this one for a while. There are a couple of people I’m “friends” with on Facebizzle who I have literally walked past in real life and smiled at only to be met with a blank stare. So pretty much my deleting rule was “would we make the effort to say hello to each other if our paths crossed in real lives?” As for unfollowing on Twitter, I unfollowed anyone who was no longer following me (tit for tat) and any weird spybot looking profiles, as well as companies who tweet excessively – or my absolute favourite, people who tweet quotes every twenty minutes and are quite obviously running their twitter profile from hootsuite with the intention of gaining as many followers as possible. Ain’t nobody got time for that. I felt so much lighter after this task. As you get older, you begin to realise that not everyone likes you – in fact, some people think you’re batshit crazy. And that’s ok. You begin to move away from people-pleasing and wanting everyone to think you’re the best thing since vegan cheese. It’s too exhausting. So filling my timelines with the happy thoughts and opinions of people who “get me” or whom “I get” or people whom I just love the bajangles out of, was wholly satisfying. I recommend this task to everyone – do it today.

Let Go of a Goal:

Oh man, this one was tough. Pretty much my goal since I was about nine was to write a novel. I have notebooks filled with different plots and characters and storylines but no book. I remember reading White Teeth by Zadie Smith when I was in high school and being completely floored by the fact that she had penned the whole bloody beautiful masterpiece before the age of twenty-five. It became my goal to write something similar by the time I was twenty-five. Twenty-five came and went. The goal post shifted to thirty. Oh, hey thirty. I’ve let go of this one, hard as it was. Perhaps I’m not meant to touch people’s hearts and gain international fame through a novel. And that’s okay.

Identify Your Stress Triggers:

Basically, I’m boring as all hell. Spontaneity freaks me out. Let’s not go skinny dipping and say we did. Not being able to exercise, unexpected visitors, unhappy family members and friends, not working single-taskedly (is that a word?) and fairly intelligent people who refuse to broaden their horizons stress me out no end. I’ll spend days festering over these stress triggers. The big lesson here is to learn to let it go – to realise you can’t control everything – especially the happiness of other people. Some people just dig being miserable and complaining about everything. The solution to all their problems can be right in front of them and they’ll sidestep it as gracefully as a six foot Kiwi rugby player. I know, I’ve been there. Meditating in the morning has helped me control this a bit – I put myself in a bubble and promise to not engage in anything that triggers these stress points. Choosing to follow a vegan lifestyle has, unfortunately, created some stress triggers. But I’ve learnt to pick my discussions when confronted aggressively – some people will engage thoughtfully and perhaps even take something away from the conversation, others will put up their defences and attack for no reason. The latter you just have to sweep over and change the subject as firmly and nicely as you can – there is no point to wasting your energy or getting upset and banging your head against the proverbial brick wall. The great thing about identifying your stress triggers is that you can take active steps to manage them better. When you get a chance, write down your own stress triggers and then formulate the solutions you can take to manage them better. These are my solutions, which I have largely stuck to.

  • LET IT GO
  • Single Task your working day – write a list of things to do and focus and tick off one thing at a time
  • You are not responsible for other people’s happiness – only your own.
  • Less time spent on Social Media
  • Be accepting of others
  • Speak and write your truth always – the people who love you, will still love you

Evaluate Your Commitments

I was pleasantly pleased with myself at my lack of commitments – or should I say my lack of begrudging commitments. The point of the task is to write down your various commitments and then attempt to eliminate the ones you are not happy about fulfilling anymore. You know the ones – the ones that fill you with dread at the mere thought of. My scant commitments include my marriage (love him), family time (love them), work (I’m lucky to do something I love), living a vegan lifestyle (which is all about the love) and looking after my body through exercising and meditating (which I genuinely love doing when I’m not dying of pre-menstrual madness). Every single one of my commitments is a pleasure. I’m not part of any groups or clubs or PTA’s and I doubt I ever will be (sorry future kids, this mama ain’t putting in any hours at the tuckshop). I don’t dig big groups and I’m not the best at organising things that don’t interest me. I think I’m lucky enough to know this about myself at this age, but it’s taken a few stressful situations to understand that wanting to use my free time to chill at my home on my ace ball or just with my man, mum or a good friend or two is not selfish… it’s just far better for my soul.

So those four tasks were the ones that most brought home some lessons or re-inforced and shed light on things about myself. Tasks such as cleaning out closets, decluttering my digital life, downsizing my beauty collection and clearing out my junk drawer were all physical clear-outs that helped with the general focus of cutting out all the crap and taking the time and space to concentrate on the important aspects of my life – whatever they may be.  I found myself journalling more, watching less TV and just being mindful of the way I spent my days and on who and what I expend valuable energy on. I’d quite like to complete this challenge every month to be honest, or at least twice a year – just to keep everything in check and remind myself of the big stuff. If you’d like to give it a go, hop on over here and download the task sheet. Let me know how it goes!

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a few favourites (and a note on choosing love)

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This week has not exactly been an easy one in South Africa. I woke on Wednesday morning to messages and pictures sent to my phone of the horrific atrocities going on in the Durban CBD which rattled me to the core. I quickly got caught up in the madness… it was hard not to. The violence then spread up into Pietermaritzburg, Howick and even Lidgetton. The scary thing is, some of those pictures doing the rounds were false and taken from the 2008 Xenophobic attacks, which caused many people to speculate that the stories were sensationalised. Even scarier was that were also reports and personal testaments on social media from people saying that they had witnessed actual attacks and that things were, in fact, far worse than what we were led to believe by the media; that many attacks were (and still are) going completely unreported and that many of our own KZN police officers were not only supportive of the Xenophobic activities, but found the foreigners’ peril to be humorous and completely justified.

In a country where our government has already taken steps to censor what we’re exposed to through the media, it’s difficult to know what to believe. Some people are cursing the negative stories shared on social media and other people are telling us to wake up and smell the coffee before it’s too late. While I don’t want to become a complete ostrich and bury my hand in the sand, at some point I also need to recognise exactly what I can and can’t do as an individual person. I can choose to get caught up in the madness, to fall prey to the dark history of fear and violence in my place of birth, to join in on the rhetoric of our country being awful, to echo the calls to white pride and to throw myself down the slippery belief of our country spiralling into ruins. I’ve said these things, I’ve flirted with these trains of thought… I’m not going to pretend and sugarcoat it – I kissed this beast on the lips for most of this week and very nearly went to bed with it.

Choosing to engage in the madness is a direct result of our own fear and anger and yes, we all carry so much of both in this country. Fear cannot be fought with fear. Anger cannot be fought with anger. We know this. We really do. We’ve learnt this so many times and I’m not sure how we have returned to this way of life so fast. Some may say I’m an optimistic fool, but I choose love. Yes, I may observe the madness; yes I may share and speak of the things that I feel need to be spoken about; I will sign petitions, I will donate and help where I can, but I will no longer engage in negative rhetoric that does nothing but stoke the fires of racism and hatred in this country. We need to dig deeper past the current popular narrative, past the “us” and the “they” and remember that the human capacity for greed and violence runs far deeper than the colour of our skin. We only have to look toward the Apartheid and Nazi governments to remind ourselves of this. The perpetrators of Xenophobia are hurt people, as are its victims and its observers. We are all hurt. Think of this before you speak in anger; think of this before you spread or share negative articles and stories that lump masses of people into groups in which they don’t belong. Before declaring the superiority of your own race, religion or ethnic group, or the backwardness of another, remember that that is how genocides, holocausts and wars are started. We need to all tread carefully and respectfully in the coming days and as much as we possibly can we need to stop placing the evil actions of a few individuals onto the weary shoulders of our entire nation.

With every word you speak and every action you take this next week (and indeed, from now on), try and do it from a place of love and compassion. Look everyone you meet in the eye and smile, even if they look at you like you’ve lost your mind. It will be hard, I know, but we need to consciously keep practising this love every moment of every day. You may feel that you are not doing anything to solve the problem, but if we all choose loving words, loving thoughts and loving actions over the following weeks, we may just begin to put out those flames of tension and hatred that have threatened to engulf our country. Just do good. Think good. And love real good.

Phew. On that tree-hugging bombshell, let’s move onto a few of my favourite things.

This video has had me in fits of laughter. In short, don’t ever invite Jon Snow to a dinner party.

Grilled Aubergine Stack with Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Sauce

I’m obsessed with aubergine and have it for breakfast, lunch or dinner at least three times a week. I pinned this Grilled Aubergine Stack from Wellness With Taryn‘s blog a couple of weeks ago and decided to make it this week. Guys, the roasted red pepper and tomato sauce is officially my new kryptonite. I’ve made it twice since Wednesday and I would dip my own mother in it if I had to (but I’m vegan, so don’t worry mom, you’re safe – lol). I’m not a fan of sweetcorn, so I made the Spicy Roasted Chickpeas from Deliciously Ella’s cookbook (if you don’t have this cookbook – vegan or not – order it now! It’s amazeballe, as my friend Nicola would say) to go with the aubergine stack and it was a match made in heaven. I plan on eating this meal at least once twice a week from now on. Hmmm… maybe I will make it for dinner.

IMG_5901Wake Up and Dream Journal

I came across these beautiful journals made by Sharon Kensley of Wake Up and Dream in the new issue of Visi and I had to have one. Like, yesterday. I stalked found her on Facebook and pestered her for details on how to purchase one of these beauties. Turns out can buy these gorgeous journals made out of secondhand books and recycled paper on Faithful To Nature Organic Online Shop. And just so you know, mine arrived in less than 48 hours. Booyah. I plan to journal some epic shit in this book. Or maybe just normal, mundane stuff. We’ll see.

IMG_6025Meditation and Yoga

Ja, ja, ja – this again! I promised myself that I would meditate or do yoga (or both) every day this week. I did this Vinyasa class on Tuesday morning and was so stiff that I could only do it again on Saturday morning! Now I know why little Miss Chè-face at @indieyogalife is looking so buff! Just so you know, Chè, I stalk your yoga flow videos and one day I will do a handstand. Pretty chuffed that I managed the plow and a shoulder stand this week though! My hamstrings need major work, but I’m confident that my flexibility will improve once the stiffness subsides. I’ve meditated every day this week which has been soooo beneficial. I cannot explain the difference it makes in my day… everything just seems more manageable. I think of meditating as the process of creating a little bubble that I place myself in every morning – a bubble through which I observe and engage with the outside world, but where I can still feel safely myself and unattached from the craziness. It really is rather blissful. Like Xanax. But natural.

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Paris

We’ve added Paris to our UK tour in July! Mainly because Andrew wants to go to Eurodisney (that kid loves a theme park). And I really want to explore the city a little more. I have a feeling it will be one of those places I return to over and over again, perpetually both in love and in hate with it at the same time (see this post). And yes, I’ve already looked at all the vegan and vegetarian restaurant options. If you have tried and loved any on this list, please let me know. Also, any recommendations of pretty neighbourhoods to explore (other than Montmartre) would be much appreciated. And I’m so excited to be taking my new camera to Paris – snap city!

IMG_1597Have a fabulous, love-filled week!

xxx

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a few favourites

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It’s that time of the week when I have to write that post I have committed myself to and which I already forgot to write last week (I blame all the chocolate and hot cross buns). Anyway, here’s whats been keeping my heart singing lately.

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We went camping (lol) in the Drakensberg this week and I couldn’t get enough of all the pretty little windflowers everywhere. Thanks to my entire family for their patience as I halted our hikes every five mintues to take pictures. Totally worth it though.

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It’s not often that we go away with family anymore – peeps are re-married and us kids are all grown-up, having their own kids and living their own lives. And so it was really special to go camping with Andrew, my dad, stepmom and stepsister. The beers/port/whiskey/gin/Pimms came out and we cuddled around the campfire listening to my Dad’s stories of his time in the army and when he lived in Texas. I wish I had recorded it all to play to my grandkids one day, because I NEED to remember this stuff, you know? Yes, I AM getting sentimental as I get older. It was awesome and we all had a good laugh at some old army colonel’s expense. Said colonel had it in for my Dad. Dad nicknamed him Pienk Vark (Pink Pig) and did everything possible to irritate the crap out of him. I always thought I had inherited my other-wiseness from my mum… turns out I got a rather decent dollop from my pop too! We also played a noisy round (ok, maybe four rounds) of Kings in the pub and Andrew and I taught my little sister how to play Fives Alive. So, you know, if she goes to Rhodes, she’s pretty much set. (BIANCA, GO TO RHODES).

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Speaking of Pienk Vark, I’m a little obsessed with piglets at the moment. Especially piglets in water. The piglet obsession started when my mom sent me a message saying that she wanted a piglet. Haha. Next thing I knew, I was on some random website cooing over pigs in baths. I won’t be getting a pig just yet – I have a zoo as it is, although that would suit a little piggie down to the ground – they are very social creatures and love playing with other animals – which is why sow crates break my heart… but if my Operation Release The Pigs In The Disgusting Piggery Next Door happens in the dead of night anytime soon, I might rescue a couple. If you’re keen to join me in this operation, mail me. I need cameras and brave souls.

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The nights and days are slightly chillier, the leaves are beginning to yellow and bathmats on bathroom tiles are gold. I bought some fluffy slipper/boot things whilst camping and have pretty much lived in them since. They will be my perfect partner for working at my desk this winter. I also made a delicious sweet potato, broccoli and marrow soup with quinoa and red kidney beans the other night and the excess has been zip-locked and frozen for yummy last minute lunches and snacks. Once your body adjusts to the evening temperature drop, winter in the Midlands is one of the most stunning climates to be in. The nights are still and cold and the stars are so close you can touch them. The days are crisp and clear and you can see the Drakensberg in high-resolution from just about anywhere… not to mention the beautiful yellow and brown hues of the land juxta-positioned against the stark blue winter skies. Ooo! I do love winter! Just as long as it doesn’t snow. Also, I can wait to make this yummy super-creamy vegan hot chocolate.

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the hair cut

I haven’t cut my hair since I bobbed it for our European trip last year so that puts me officially on two haircuts in two years now. I’m so low maintenance it’s frightening. But I think I’m in need of a trim and maybe even a fringe and a little ombre action. I can spend hours searching for hair styles and colours. This is my favourite-can’t-stop-thinking-about-it style and colour at the moment. Maybe I’ll just continue dreaming and rocking the mousy wild locks. MUST. PHONE. HAIRSTYLIST. ON. MONDAY. Or not.

old postcards

My husband is a hoarder and a clutterer and a misplacer-of-things and everything else you can think of that equals messy and untidy. If you’re thinking of coming to stay with us – don’t. He has accumulated SO MUCH kak in our spare room that I can’t even see the bed, never mind make it up for any guests. There are golf bags (about four of them, I’m sure), sports bags, a snow board and boxes and boxes filled with invoices and slips and tickets stubs and letters from old girlfriends. The other morning he spent about ten minutes trying to make a dent in that room and came out with a tiny pile of stuff (literally like two books and a magazine) that belonged to me, declaring that “You see???!!! It’s not only my rubbish in here!” Anyway, in that (very little) pile was an old postcard from my friend Andrea from when she lived in Italy and was beaching it up in Rimini. Isn’t there something so magical about old postcards? There is an entire box of them at the little antique shops next to The Farmer’s Daughter and I can spend hours going through and reading old messages (creepster). There are entire websites like this one dedicated to the sale of old postcards! Perhaps one day my great grandkids will read Andrea’s postcard to me and giggle. I think we all need to start sending more postcards – even if it’s just from your own hometown to a friend. We need to keep history alive.

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vegan restaurants in london

We’re off on a bit of an English and Scottish adventure in July and I’m just ridiculously excited to be going to places where there are so many vegan restaurants to eat at. Did you know that the concept and term “Veganism” was officially coined in England in 1944 (not such a passing fad, then)? Edinburgh is hugely veggie friendly and my friend Rose sent me this list of vegan friendly restaurants in London. I’m hoping to tick at least three or four of them off my list. If you have been to any of them, let me know what you think and which are your best, can’t-miss-out-on-it ones! It’s going to be amazing to be spoilt for choice and to not have to order a green salad (hold the feta) and a plate of slap chips when eating out. Glory, I’m salivating just thinking about it!

recycling

I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never recycled until recently. My mom started doing it ages ago, but it seemed like such a hack – cleaning tins and plastics out, sorting and then taking it all down to the recycling centre in Howick. But lo and behold – there is a drop off point in Nottingham Road behind the toy shop at The Junction. I separate my waste into old wine boxes and try to remember to drop it off whenever I go into town. It really is so easy. Becoming vegan has opened up my eyes to all my consumption patterns and I really want to tread as lightly on this earth as I can. I can’t believe how much I used to waste things for my own greed/laziness – including precious little lives. It’s a really great feeling to be walking your talk as much as you possibly can. Now excuse me, I have to go rescue another mouse from the evil clutches of the Abby Cat. Have a wonderful week everyone!

much love xxx

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project minimalism

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In a bid to declutter and un-busy my life, I have decided to do the 30 Day Minimalism Challenge this April. Like all other good things, I came across this challenge on Pinterest a little while ago, and saved it under my secret board of challenges for a rainy slash inspiring day. Well, the time has come people and today we start! You can read the original post by creator, Anuschka, of Into Mind, here. The rules are simple:

You don’t have to do the assignments in the order presented, but do one every day for thirty days.

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Since my job entails being online pretty much 24/7, I’m going to probably have to go completely offline during a weekend (and let my clients know in advance), so I’m swapping number 1 out for another day and starting with number 30, which is:

evaluate your last five non-essential purchases.

Scary. Here we go….

5. Magazines – I like to fool myself that buying and reading the latest Grazia, Elle and Visi magazines are work-related because I need to keep up with the trends (which is true, to an extent, in my line of work), but… I should probably rather do a magazine swap with a fellow magazine lover and save some cash/space. I have saved every copy of Elle magazine since it first came out in April 1994 and those magazines take up a lot of valuable room! I donate all my other old magazines to the local farm school for the kids to read and cut-out off for their projects, so at least some good comes out of this addiction?

4. Clothes – Another massive weakness. I can’t go by for one month with buying something new to wear. My clothing purchases over the last month have included a pair of loafers, dungarees, a beanie, a poncho and a faux lather sling bag. And maybe a couple of long-sleeved shirts. Eina. This was all bought in excitement at the coming winter season (yes, winter is my favourite season, especially when living in the Midlands), but I really need to probably limit myself to perhaps one essential item of clothing a month. I’m looking forward to assignment number 12 and re-evaluating my closet and sizing up I need vs what I want to and dream of wearing on a daily basis. And I need a new pair of wine boots. (You see??? The impulse is real)

3. Box Office Movies – Yikes. I spend like R200 a month on renting movies. I need to cut down, I know, but at least I’m not pirating them from the inter webs (have you noticed how I’m clutching at silver linings for all my bad habits? lol). I do need to spend more time reading and less time watching television though, especially when its crap movies I’m spending my money on. It’s tough when your husband has square eyes, but I’m just going to have to find myself a reading spot away from the tv this month… bring on assignment number 20.

2. Books – I mean… come on, are they really unnecessary, though? I love buying books from the shop and from iBooks, but man they are pricey. There is a library in our village, and I should probably check it out. Mission for the month. Here’s holding thumbs that there’s more on the shelves there than Mills & Boons and Danielle Steel.

1. Coffee dates. I must say that since going vegan, I have started eating out a lot less (purely because there aren’t many vegan options up here), but, maaaaan, I can still spend some cash on good coffee and good food made by somebody else. I’m also usually too nervous/shy to ask people to meet me at my house rather than at a cafe or restaurant because I live down the beaten track, rather far from anywhere. But perhaps I need to be more diligent about this in future. I have an amazing Breville coffee machine in my kitchen, which I really should utilise more! And a great recipe for vegan carrot cake… Coffee at my place, anyone?

So that’s Day One of the Minimalist Challenge done. Feel welcome to follow on or join the challenge yourself – I’ll be posting from the blog and from Instagram (@keribainborough) with the hashtag #thirtydaycleanup. I’m about to print out the printable version so that I can tick off the assignments as I go. My desk and my cupboards, and to be frank, my life, is in dire need of a clean-up and I can’t wait to get stuck in! Oh, and let me know if you want to be my magazine swapping buddy. I need one real bad.

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a few favourites

Due to my dismal posting lately, I’ve decided to do a weekly blog of things/food/books/thoughts that I’m loving at the moment. Just to touch base with you guys in a way that I don’t feel compelled to vomit everything I do and think onto the keyboard. Time is getting more and more precious lately and so I have to learn how to be more succinct when I have to. Here are some of my current favourite things:

1. Colouring-in. Yep, you heard right. I’ve got my mum, my godmother and numerous friends hooked on colouring-in and it’s all thanks to Andrea and her You Biscuit Colouring Poster. Studies have found that colouring-in is actually good for you and helps relieve stress (read here and here) so there is absolutely no need to feel weird about spending your evenings colouring-in. Add a glass of pinot noir into the mix if you’re worried about looking immature. And if you couldn’t give a kak, make that a glass of pink Nesquik and revel in playing with your inner child again.

DSC044412. Speaking of Nesquick and other milk-related stuff, I am in love with almond milk, and more specifically, the cocao-flavoured almond milk I bought from the Super Natural stall at the Morning Trade Market last weekend. There is honestly nothing like it. Also, since I no longer consume dairy products, finding a feta cheese substitute was number one on my list because man I was addicted to that stuff. (read this article if you want to know why cheese is so addictive – it’s literally like crack for the human brain). This macadamia nut cheese recipe on Wellness With Taryn’s blog has been an absolute lifesaver and has been the recipe I have dished out to newbie vegans with chronic cheese cravings the most. It really adds a cheesy flavour and comfort to any salad or stirfry and has the same crumbly consistency of feta cheese. I even crumble it on top of soup. If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to dairy milk feta cheese, you must give it a whirl.

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3. I’ve never been a little averse to a onesie in winter and I’m hundred percent investing in this navy blue hooded one with thumb loops (so David Beckham) from Tous Les Jours. It’s also that time of the year when my skin starts getting dry and I need to change from using product for normal skin to product for dry skin. I am still using and loving the locally made Tous Les Jours skincare products and I just love it – my skin feels so firm and looks so radiant and a stranger told me the other day that she thought I was twenty when initially meeting me, not thirty! (LOVE HER).  I think a combination of eating a plant-based diet and using all-natural products on my skin is doing me pretty well. You can order this natural, made in the Midlands skincare range online here. Or you can enter the Tous Les Jours Facebook competition and stand the chance of wining a pair of their new winter jammies AND a skincare hamper. What have you got to lose? Entries close Wednesday noon.

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4. My earth angel has moved! Colleen from Midlands House of Healing is setting up a beautiful off the grid home on Satori Farm Lodge (an eco-friendly lodge made out of hay bales – yes, you heard right. HAY BALES) and I am loving the amazing views on my journey through the Dargle Valley to see her. I’m set to stay over in a couple of weeks time to experience the full Satori experience, as well as one of Colleen’s amazing and restorative reiki massages – watch this space!

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5. If you’ve read this blog for a long time (good on you for still sticking around!), you will remember that I used to practise quite a lot of yoga. Not fancy classes or anything, just yoga in my house on the mat in my living room. I first got into it when I was at high school and used to tag along with my mom to her classes (ah… my lovely mom, who was raw juicing and stretching and reiking way before everyone else) and then I got back into it in 2011/2012 through Mandy Ingber’s Yogalosophy. Over the last year or so, yoga has been pushed to the side due to the Bikini Body Guide and other life things, but lately my body/mind/soul has been screaming to return to stretching out the old limbs again. Che’s awesome yoga account on Instagram and her experiences at the Yoga London teachers’ training course has left me super inspired to do mine too. And this post by Freya has also left me excited to get back into it. The thing about yoga – she is always waiting for your return. I spent twenty minutes on my mat yesterday, just going through some basic poses like chair and bridge and warrior and my butt sure knows about it this morning! But man, did I have a good day afterwards and I can’t wait to get back on it today. Also, I really need a pretty new yoga mat. Please send any brand recommendations this way.1423488761926Processed with VSCOcam with h3 preset

6. As you know, I became vegan because of Marmite, the orphan calf. Something clicked, the cogs in the wheel turned and I no longer wanted to consume or use animals for my own needs/greed/entertainment et cetra. You know the drill. It was a happy, easy choice and I was SO excited about it, but as time has gone on, I began to understand why everyone warned me that becoming vegan was going to be hard. It wasn’t because of the food or the eating out – it was purely because of the constant uphill battle with judgey judgers. Hells bells, there are some unforgiving people out there – both vegan and not. A lot of people who are drawn to becoming vegan or vegetarian are afraid to because of the “vegan police” as they have been dubbed. And these police are both vegan and non-vegan people – let’s clear that up, straight away. They sit like vultures, watching your every move, waiting for you to fuck up and accidentally eat a little piece of cheese or wear your old pre-change leather shoes and then they pounce on you with all the intent of a bloodthirsty predator. Some of my friends have quietly stopped eating meat but are scared to say anything for fear of the vegan police wrath. I was rather weary of them too. Until I read Mainstreet Vegan by Victoria Moran. This is one of the most informative books I have read so far on how to go about being vegan and I recommend it to anyone who has recently done so or is thinking of making the change. There are entire chapters on eating out as a vegan, on being an animal activist (or not), on which vitamins to take, which plant foods contain the most proteins, vitamins and nutrients and there are lovely recipes in there too. And there is a chapter on the vegan police. The bottom line is that if you are aware and conscious of what is going on around you; if you have opened your eyes up to the truth and you are trying your best to lead a compassionate, kind life and are making the best choices you can regarding your consumption of animal products – be gentle on yourself. Remember that you are going to screw up. We are all human. We all make mistakes. Please don’t judge others and most importantly don’t judge yourself. There are so many different ways to make a change and there are so many different kinds of vegans and vegetarians out there. You don’t need to label yourself and then walk on eggshells (lol) for the rest of your life. Fuck it – you have opened your eyes and are doing the best you can to make a change, which is more than can be said for some others.

Below is a great chart from an article I found here (you must go and read it) and although many members of the vegan police may turn their noses up at it, I firmly believe that any change is better than no change. So if you take a look at the chart below and decide that you could be one of these, then great! Damn the vegan police! Although I do still consider myself as an ethical vegan first and foremost (and would obviously love the whole world to be this way), I also started out slowly as a virtual vegan. For the first month, I used to occasionally eat eggs from our own free-range chickens. And you know what? Last week Andy wanted to make us his homemade pasta for dinner using one of our chicken’s eggs and I ate it. Guys, I was just so ecstatic that he wasn’t eating meat and that he was actually making me a veggie pasta with no cream, that I wasn’t going to turn down his offer for the sake of one cruelty-free, homegrown egg. It was my first egg in over two months and I more than likely won’t touch another one (knowingly) for many more months and I’m okay with that. A lot of my friends are Parisian Vegan (LOVE that name and God knows how hard it is to eat purely vegan when you’re out with friends, especially in South Africa) and Jamie Oliver could be described as a Weekday Vegan (he is now up to three meat-free days a week – how awesome?!). I would love for my husband to be a VB6 (Vegan Before 6) and hopefully he might just start heading that way after completing his meat-free week. Every little bit counts. So stop worrying and judging and start living life and loving yourself and other beings the best way that you can.

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7. Kids kids kids. I have been unbelievably broody lately – I think largely to the following of this awesome new Instagram account called Happy Sleepy Folks (thanks Tamzin for the recommendation) which belongs to this twenty-two year old mama called Kristen Hedges who writes so well and has such a great outlook on life and motherhood (the post she wrote below is my favourite). I’m dying for a copy of her book, Something Like The Desert, and her blog and IG account (@happysleepyfolks) are just a dream to get lost in. And then Lauren’s post on whether she should produce sproglets or not has also struck a chord. When I wrote my reply to her in the comments section, I might have well been talking to myself. Let’s see what life has in store for us.

Hsf copy18. Although having a baby may just get in the way, or perhaps add to, the list of goals I have written out for myself. I didn’t do a new years resolutions list this year, because back in December I was stuck in limbo and really had no idea where my life was taking me. Things are a little clearer now and so this weekend, I sat down and write out some goals I’d like to achieve over the next year or so (no pressure). They’ve all got to do with bettering myself, improving my talents and setting into motion some business ideas I’ve had swirling around in my head for years… I’m so excited to get on it! For the first time, I have a clear vision of what I’d like to achieve in this lifetime and I can actually see the baby steps that I will need to take to get me there. And I know that the money will come, just as it should, because the universe is on my side and I’m following my heart. And if it doesn’t… then man, there will always be another way.

And on that corny note lovers, I hope you have a peaceful, loving and productive week.

Muchos love xxx

Yoga image by Freya at www.nishaantishu.com

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change your mindset for a week – go meat-free

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As you know, I’ve been vegan for almost four months now (that’s a third of the year!!!). If you didn’t know (lol. yea, right) or are new to this blog, then click on over to this post to see why I became vegan.

Someone asked me the other day if I had experienced any health benefits from eating a plant-based diet (and I write this with a tickly sore throat as my body acts out against the beginning of the winter as it does every year – being vegan does not mean you’re never going to catch a cold again, unfortunately) and although I did not choose to stop eating animal products for any health reasons, I have noticed a few changes in both the body and mind which I am finding highly beneficial. These include, and are not limited to,

  • better digestion (poops all day, every day – whoop whoop)
  • clearer and firmer skin (who needs botox)
  • healthier, stronger hair
  • a feeling of lightness in the body (probably associated with point one)
  • so. much. energy… I need less hours of sleep and wake up raring to go
  • a greater sense of empathy and connection to others (both human and non-human animals) and,
  • a deeper sense of purpose in life

Not to mention the tough skin and sharp comebacks you have to develop to to take all the teasing! Yesterday was my dear friend Gemma’s birthday and she and her husband Geoff hosted a beautiful big vegan braai. We all brought along vegan dishes and Gem made the most delicious blackbean patties, vegetable kebabs and a massive chocolate brownie cake. It was so good and we all loved being spoilt for choice and being in the company of like-minded people (we actually outnumbered the meat-eaters for once which was quite funny…. don’t worry, they still ragged us!) and it truly was a lesson in just how much food you can eat and how fun you can have without involving any animal products.

So, it’s Meat-Free week this week, supported by the lovely Jamie Oliver, who is starting to feature more and more vegan recipes on his blog – bless him), so if you have been thinking about giving the light side of life a try, this is the perfect opportunity to do so! And even if you’re not anywhere near ever going vegan or vegetarian, this is still a great exercise to try and a wonderful cause to support – click on over here to the Meat Free Week website for more information and to sign up. No meat week means no animal flesh – from red meat such as beef, pork, lamb to white meat such as chicken to fish. But you can still cover everything with cheese if you feel that no meat is way out of your comfort zone. There are so many lovely vegetarian recipes on the Meat Free Week website, on Pinterest, on Jamie’s blog, on Deliciously Ella’s blog and in every other crevice of the internet – you need not be uninspired while cooking meat-free this week! And if you’re really struggling, try out meat-replacement products from Frys, Woolworths and the Wellness Warehouse. Give it a go – I want to see your meat-free recipes on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter – tag me (@keribainborough) and hashtag your meal #meatfreeweek to join the thousands of other people partaking all over the world. Remember to sign up on the Meat Free website to show your support too – you can sign up as an individual or get your whole office/family/sports team involved and sign up as a group! It’s going to be fun! Dooooo it. Here are some reasons why you should (you can totally tweet or post these facts on Facebook too):

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Have a good week everyone! I hope you can join us to make it a cruelty -free, earth-loving, conscious-clearing one!

Kez xxx

PS: All the food featured below is vegan – how cool? Sorry about the blurry images – I was just so excited!

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life and stuff

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Hey hey. There has been some serious silence over here for the past few weeks. Life has been busy and life has been soooo good. For some crazy reason, everything I seem to be asking for this year, I get. It’s like the Universe, the angels and God are all on my side, which is pretty ding-dong-dang awesome. Long may it last! I’ve got so much going through my mind regarding so many topics lately and I want to write about them all and discuss them with you guys, but man, time is something I do not have much of lately. It’s funny, because when I worked a 9-5 for a boss, it seemed like I had all the time in the world to blog, and now that I work for myself, every spare non-working moment is spent plotting and planning and learning the skills I need to improve my business. I mean, you should see how many unread posts I have on my Bloglovin’ feed. It’s unheard of.

As for these photographs below (still loving my new camera), we were in Franschoek and Stellenbosch for Tatum and Phil’s wedding week at the end of February and we stayed at a lovely little wine farm in Francshoek called La Bri. Their wines are so good – you must try them – especially the clever white blends. Thanks to Irene, the awesome winemaker, for our personal tour of the cellars and for treating us so well – much appreciated. We were the only people at La Bri and stayed in this lovely little Cape Dutch cottage, which is basically my dream house. I mean… it was all elegant business in the front and fun party at the back with a beautiful courtyard, lots of  space to lounge around and a view of those majestic mountains. Heaven. We also stayed in the Eleanor Cottage on Hartenberg Wine Estate in Stellenbosch which was another copy-and-paste-for-later little cottage for me. As I get older, the thought of a big house freaks me out. I want a house with two bedrooms max. The more space we have, the more kak my husband seems to leave lying around.

We managed to sneak away from Franschoek for a few hours and I headed straight on over to Raw and Roxy in Woodstock for a delicious vegan lunch. I’ve heard so much about this place and have been dying to go. I was not disappointed in the least. We feasted on yummy fresh juices and shared the tapas platter for lunch and finished off with vegan “Magnum” ice creams… which were just as great as everyone said they’d be. The owner, Beatrice, is so kind and even gave Andrew his juice for free after he taught her something about internet banking (don’t ask, Standard Bank and me do NOT get on well). I would love a Raw and Roxy up in here – anyone got the time to start one? I’d come every day, I promise. While we were in Francshoek, we visited the Huguenot museum (my maiden name is le Roux, which means my ancestors are French-Huguenot, not Dutch, which explains my crappy Afrikaans accent) and it was awesome to go check out all the stories and trinkets. We were rushing a bit though, so I will have to go back there again soon and take my time looking around. I’m dying to look around the graveyard. Andrew hates graveyards and thinks I’m crazy to enjoy looking at grave stones. Am I? Does anyone else love to imagine the lives that were lived by the people buried beneath? Just me?

Have a great weekend, guys. Hopefully catch you in not another two weeks again.

xxx

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how to be vegan – a guide for newbies

Since becoming a herbivore a few months ago, and after writing this post, many of my friends and followers have become vegetarian and vegan or have consciously started decreasing their meat and dairy intake. This makes my heart so happy. Although I do know it’s a very tough process, especially out here in SA where we are rather far behind the rest of world. There has been ridicule, taunting, arguments, disbelief and many declarations of “you’re wasting your time, nothing is ever going to change.” But to the people who have joined me on this journey, for whatever reasons, namely Bryni, Andrea, Tara, Nicole, Talya, Chereen, Jade, Tash, Leigh, Gemma, Kristi, Candice, Tamzin, Nick, my mum, Angela, Sam and Andy – this is for you. So, ultimately, this post is intended for newbie herbivores, or any meat-eaters who feel that they may like to come on over to the light side. If you are prone to getting angry or offended by the vegan vibe, perhaps please don’t read any further.

Okay, you’re still reading. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

1. You may begin this journey for health, environmental or moral reasons, but in the end you’ll stick with it simply to annoy all the haters. And there’s a lot of them. If you’re lucky, you will have a supportive family and partner. If not, check on over to point 5.

2. Be prepared to eat and think about food a lot – its preparation, its taste and exactly where it comes from. For now, this obsession is only because it’s so difficult to come across good vegan food products in our South African shops and restaurants. But don’t worry, when the rest of the world catches up, vegan food will be in abundance and available everywhere and your obsession with making that perfect nut cheese will fall to the wayside.

3. Vitamins. You will probably be getting a far wider array of vitamins and minerals than you used to as a meat eater, but only IF you consume lots of veggies, beans, whole grains, leafy greens and fruit – just like doctors recommend to all humans – omni or not. Yes, there is indeed such a thing as an unhealthy vegan and it ain’t got nothing to do with protein deficiency. So much junk food is vegan-friendly. SO MUCH. From crisps, dark chocolate, cookies and french fries to vegan convenience meals and jelly tots. Use these in moderation. Just because you’re not eating meat and dairy, doesn’t mean you are now free to eat all the kak. Do your research. Refined sugar is still bad, yo. Treat yourself occasionally, but also stick to organic greens and grains and legumes as much as possible. Take Vitamin B12 and iron, calcium and zinc supplements if you’re not. Don’t be that person who makes all the rest of us look bad because you get really sick eating vegan junk food and then one visit to the doctor later and you’re eating meat again because veganism made you “so ill.”

4. Grow a thick skin on the street and cry yourself to sleep in your bed at night. Once your mind and soul is open to the truth of what really goes on in the world and you have made the connection between man, nature and animal, you will, at first, be devastated – especially if you’re doing it for moral and ethical reasons. Every time you see someone slicing into a steak, your tummy will churn; when you drive behind a truckful of pigs on their way to the slaughterhouse, tears will run down your face… and god forbid you see someone feeding their toddler a lamb chop whilst stroking the family dog at the same time. This is the initial stage of “awakenment” – when you simply can’t believe what’s really happening in the world and how everyone turns a blind eye to it, either unknowingly, or even worse, knowingly. You will also find that as you detox the numbness and heaviness associated with eating meat, you WILL become more empathetic and emotional (there are whole entire podcasts on this topic – click here for Joyful Vegan). Just keep it together in public – because vegans have a bad enough rep already… and then go home and scream into a pillow. And cry. And eat Oreos. As time goes on, you will come to accept that everyone else needs to make that connection in their own time. Some of them may never make that connection. And that’s ok too. Remind yourself that veganism as a chosen lifestyle is growing in numbers by the day and that very soon laws will have to be passed in every country in the world to shut down factory farming and testing on animals. Even Jamie Oliver, the king of all food and cooking everywhere, has said that plant-based foods are the future. He knows it. So many others know it. You know it. Think of yourself as a pioneer and keep doing your thing.

5. Join online vegan communities. These are my best. Especially if you’re like me and live in a remote farming area where people eat red meat for breakfast, lunch and dinner and have never heard of tofu or quinoa. Contrary to popular belief, and my own belief before I became a herbivore, vegans are actually really cool people. They’re intelligent and compassionate beings and are always super-duper excited to teach newbie vegans the ropes and impart their knowledge upon them. Of course they sometimes get a little emotional about their cause, especially when faced with comments like “but where are you getting your protein from?”, but on the whole they really are lovely. I’m not saying there aren’t some areshole vegans. Of course there are. But there are also some arsehole meat-eaters. I don’t think we need to base arse-holery on a person’s dietary choices. Take the time to get to know other vegans and appreciate their unwavering support.

6. Old meat-eaters are tough on the spirit. Not all of them, obviously – but a lot of them. They grew up hunting, fishing, killing and devouring everything that moved and they also pretty much began the royal mess on earth that we are all living in now. The older generation – the ones who started the McDonalds drive through and animal assembly lines – are the ones who will not entertain any reason for your giving up animal products and will call you “ridiculous” and “silly” straight to your face. If you try to explain to them that the entire earth will benefit from the reduction of animal agriculture, they will get mad and smoke may actually come out of their ears. They just don’t get it. Also, they don’t know how to use YouTube and educate themselves, so that’s an excuse. In fact, it’s probably a far better excuse than the younger generation who know where to educate themselves, but whom still choose to ignore all the information out there for fear of change. Another thing I like to remind myself of when faced by a meat eater onslaught of judgement and ridicule is Karma, baby. And unfortuantely, in these cases, it usually comes in the form of heart disease and diabetes.

7. Beauty, hair, skin and household products found at health shops are usually vegan and cruelty-free. Ask an assistant if you’re not sure. Most makeup is tested on animals (yes, Bobbi Brown, you have BROKEN my heart). Don’t be disheartened. There are a lot of great companies out there providing vegan products and more and more are emerging by the day as the demand for cruelty-free vegan products grows. Also, just a hint to any entrepreneurs out there: there are a number of gaps in the market here in SA when it comes to vegan products – you should get in there early. Check out www.vegansa.com if you’re unsure about any products or food and drink items. And if you know of a product that is vegan, but is not on the SA Vegan list, submit, submit, submit. The more products on that list, the greater pressure other companies will feel to make the change and get with the times. Also, don’t be shy to tweet and ask companies if their product is vegan – the more demand we place on companies to supply us with cruelty-free and vegan products, the better we will make the world for our children.

8. There will be days when you are despondent. When you are faced with people with the silliest reasonings and angry people with hurtful comments and believe me, you will just want to throw in the towel and move to that desert island everyone always brings up in those ridiculous “but what if” arguments.

Breathe. Be still.

Remember why you’re doing it. Whether you chose this path because of ethical, health or environmental factors, revisit the reasons why you’re here. Re-watch the films, re-read the books and remember, most importantly, that you too, took time to get where you are now. Remember that everyone is on a different journey. Try to spend time with the people who understand and respect your path, or whom are on a similar journey to you. There will also be times when the plight of animals and the destruction humans inflict upon the earth gets to be so much that your head and heart feels like they may just explode. Remind yourself that the animals live completely in the present, just as all the spiritual teachers urge us humans too do. They trust and love freely and without debt and we have so much to learn from them. They are, above all, forgiving, even in the darkest of moments. It’s only ourselves as human beings and guardians of the earth that we need to forgive.

2b40b4cc4bbe06763fcc3f9e0f90c2ddIllustration by Naoise Dolan

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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