Easy Entertaining

One thing I’ve learned of myself as I’ve grown older is that I love entertaining our family and friends at our home. Over the last year I feel like I’ve really found my groove, in the sense that I have a good idea of what will work and what might be too ambitious to take on.

I never really thought about my own style of entertaining as relaxed, until I came across Kate Spade’s book which listed ridiculous suggestions like exchanging all the light-bulbs in your house to a more flattering wattage and writing “hello gorgeous”  in red lipstick on the mirror. Can you imagine trying to clean the mirror afterwards?

In contrast, my parties are usually hosted in slippers and they might not be the fanciest, but they feel special to me and hopefully my guests too. I certainly don’t have it down to the T, but I think I’ve narrowed down which things are really worth spending your time on so that you can enjoy the party with your friends. Chances are, that is all your guests care about too!

Vacuum

Parties are messy, there is no getting around it. So there really is no point in doing a full house deep clean, but at the same time no one wants to see your dust bunnies. If you feel that it is incredibly noticeable and you have time, giving your house a quick vacuum will put you at ease. When I’m feeling fancy I might even mop up some spills with a piece of damp toilet paper!

Clean bathroom

If you’re running short on time and the vacuuming isn’t an option, at least give the mirror and basin a wipe and flush a bit of thick bleach down the toilet. You don’t want your guests to be grossed out in your home.

Tidy

Some people are naturally tidy, others aren’t and it doesn’t really matter to your friends and family. Just be sure to maybe stash the wet laundry somewhere other than the dining room and create some space on the table for dining. Anything more than that really is optional.

Ensure you have alcoholic & non-alcoholic beverages

My husband and I aren’t big drinkers, so we usually make sure to have some non-alcoholic yet special drinks on hands for when friends visit. If our friends ask what they can bring, we usually suggest a wine they’d like to enjoy with the meal. That way guests that like a wine with their food has their favourite on hand and designated drivers and secretly pregnant guests don’t have to make a fuss about requesting a non-alcoholic drink.

When I’m feeling really fancy, I’ll even put a bottle of ice water on the table filled with fresh mint so that everyone can stay adequately hydrated. This is imperative for board game nights!

No one likes a hangry guest

I don’t know why, but it is quite common in South Africa to be invited to a braai at 16h00 only to be served dinner after 20h00. Hungry guests never make good conversation, so try to serve the main meal within two hours of your guests’ arrival or be prepared with plenty of snacks!

Serving

This obviously depends on the style of event you’re hosting, as sometimes we serve our friends takeaway pizza out of the box, but I feel like people appreciate it when they can help themselves comfortably. How you interpret this depends on what you are serving and the type of event you’re hosting. So if you’re inviting around people for the first time, help them by setting out the glasses they can use and keep the wine they bought on the table (not hidden in the fridge).

Also when serving salads and other side dishes, be sure to go with a slightly larger bowl and don’t over fill it as it might be uncomfortable to try and help yourself without making a big mess! Been there, done that and got the t-shirt.

Do something fancy (if you want to!)

Sometimes I remember to put some aroma oils on the lamp ring burner and my home smells amazing, other times I forget. As long as the food smells amazing, I don’t think guests even notice! Fresh flowers, beautiful candles and carefully set tables are all appreciated when it feels effortless or passionately done but they aren’t necessary. If the food is good (heck, even if it is just okay!) and the company is great, whatever else you add to it will just be the cherry on top!

How do you entertain? Obviously we go to a little more trouble at birthdays and Christmas, but generally I try to keep a balance between being casual and doing something to make our guests feel special. I hope they like attending our small get-togethers as much as we like hosting them.

Continue Reading

Bathroom Makeover: Part One

I thought instead of sharing the horrifying before pictures, I’d start the post on a high with our inspiration. When we first moved in our bathroom had few redeeming factors, among which were the natural light from the window and an extractor fan. That was pretty much where it ended. The cabinet was cherry laminate wood and mouldy, the bath was way too big and took up most of the room. I could barely reach the towel rail that stretched over the bath, toilet and behind the door and entering the room was tricky. You kind of had to enter the bathroom, walk into the only gap between the bath, toilet and cabinet to close the door and that space wasn’t even large enough for a full bath mat to lay flat.

Here is a picture of our nightmare. At least the bath and toilet were white – it could have been much worse! The wall tiles were a textured peachy-cream and the walls were painted butternut. We put up a temporary blind for privacy and patiently counted the days until we’d have enough saved for the whole reno.

Besides actually finding a way to fit everything in, the next biggest challenge was deciding on our style. The first “renovation squabble” was around marble – I love it and he thinks it belongs on the kitchen counter. If I had my way, we’d have white subway on the walls and calacatta marble tiles on the floor.

Both me and my husband like the classics, but we also like modern touches and found ourselves attracted to patterned floor tiles. We were stuck for some time, before we finally decided on an all white bathroom (hexagons on the floor and subway on the walls) with light grey paint. We liked the more graphic flooring options like that beautiful white and grey option above, but felt that we needed something a little more timeless.

By the time the plumber was able to come around, we’d found a cheaper hexagon floor tiles (at about half the price of the original all white) with a touch of black and decided to ditch the grey wall in lieu of classic white.

The Architectural Digest image at the top, which had been pinned on my Bathroom Pinterest board a million times, became my inspiration.

As I mentioned, the layout was also a little bit of a head-scratcher. There weren’t a lot of options, but by simply changing the regular swing door to a sliding door (not pocketed) we were able to really increase the usable square footage in the bathroom. See the rough layout below.

Although there are still a few things I’d like to change, I am so happy with the end results and can’t wait to share it with you next week. Have you ever tackled a bathroom make-over?

 

 

Continue Reading

Notes on At Home Dermaplaning

If you are even remotely interested in the beauty industry, chances are you’ve heard of dermaplaning. It is is one of the latest beauty techniques that involves a trained aesthetician shaving your face with scalpel, which of course sounds so appealing (NOT!). Basically it removes all peach fuzz and dead skin cells and it is not invasive at all, comparable to a more extreme microdermabrasion. I’ve heard a tonne of international beauty bloggers talking about it but haven’t really heard anything about it from our local scene. So when I spotted these face razors (called Brow Razors) in Dischem I jumped at the chance of trying the treatment at home.

The Tools

International bloggers all recommend these from Amazon, but I just picked up these brow razors from Dischem. They were around R25 for three and I suspect I’ll get around two uses out of each. Initially I thought they weren’t sharp enough as I tentatively tried to shave my face, but as I gained confidence that I wasn’t going to slice my face open, I began applying enough pressure and speed to my strokes to get results.

The prep

Resist the urge to add something for lubrication and only do this on clean, dry skin as you might be removing some of the top layer of your skin. You really don’t want anything to clog your pores. The friction is minor as the hairs are generally very fine on your face so the risk of actually hurting yourself is minimal. I only experienced slight discomfort, not unlike shaving your underarms.

Timing

I like to do this in the evening as it does leave my skin slightly red and irritated, not nearly as extreme as when I do exercise though! I find it a good idea to do it inbetween other exfoliations and definitely not on the same evening as sensitive skin won’t be able to handle it.

The process

So I usually start where I have the most peach fuzz, which for me is between my brows and hairline (also the reason I never bring foundation up to my forehead). I hold the blade at a 30-45 degree angle and then work in short strokes down my face trying not to go over the same area too often. You might have to pull the skin taught with your other hand, especially on fleshier parts like your cheeks. Every now and again I give the blade a wipe as the hair gathers around it and continue. You don’t have to do your entire face and should definitely skip your eyes and lips.

Once I’m done with my whole face, I follow with a toner (to remove all the dead skin cells left on my face) and follow with serum and a moisturiser.

Results

I’m left with smoother skin that easily absorbs all the beauty products I apply and my make-up applies noticeably smoother. As mentioned earlier, my slightly red and irritated skin was happy as can be the next morning. Depending on how hairy you are, you can repeat the process roughly every two weeks.

Comparing at home to salon dermabrasion

I haven’t had a salon treatment, so I’m not the best to answer this but from what I’ve read I think an at-home treatment is milder and more focused on removing hair versus the entire top layer of your epidermis. It does do a good job of removing dead skin cells and leaves my skin noticeably smoother, but you might get even better results with a trained professional. However I’m so happy with the at home results, I can’t imagine I’d ever want to pay for a professional.

My skin is generally very sensitive so I was surprised and happy to find that I had such a mild reaction, it really looked like I’d just gone a bit crazy with the face scrub. Have you tried at home dermaplaning or does it all sound a little gimmicky to you?

Continue Reading

Testing Basics: Slouchy Black Tee’s

I recently found myself on the hunt for the perfect slouchy black tee, as summer is around the corner and all that. I bought one last year from Mr Price and found myself constantly grabbing it from the washing line, before it was even properly dry, so knew I wanted to invest in at least one more. I don’t like spending a tonne of money on these as they often need replacing, so kept them all under the R200 mark. Below you’ll find some really unflattering pics of me and my review of each that might save you some time should you also be on the hunt for the perfect basic tee.

The Crew Neck Tee by Mr Price

Although I clearly favour a V neckline, this was surprisingly my favourite out of them all. The fabric draped beautifully and didn’t hug any curves or add extra bulk (which I certainly don’t need!). I would have liked this more sans the pocket though, as it would be easier to layer necklaces over it or dress it up. I’ll definitely keep an eye on Mr Price as they seem to get in a few options each season, so holding thumbs for a V-neck version. Undecided on whether I’ll keep this as it is a great back-up and very affordable, but I’m trying to buy less.

Price: R69,99

Size: Large

Fabric: 100% Viscose

The High-Low Basic Tee by Edgars

This was my husband’s favourite and I was actually also quite surprised at how well it fared considering I really don’t like the fabric. It is semi-see-through and feels as though it is going to pill easily, so it is far from my top pick but the cut is pretty flattering. It is slightly longer at the back which makes it perfect for the half-tuck, doesn’t stretch over my chest (which is often the reason I have to up-size) and the neckline doesn’t plunge too low.

Price: R99,99

Size: 10

Fabric: 65% Polyester and 35% Rayon

The Ecologically Grown Cotton Tee by Zara

Similarly to the Woolworths version, this one is largely made out of cotton and the stiffer material doesn’t drape as well. Usually cotton would be my first choice in a tee, but with oversized options I like it when it has a heavier fabric as it drapes and tucks better. I can’t fault the fit however, it would be perfect with a jean and I surprised myself by quite liking the lower cut as it isn’t too revealing. I picked up the stripe version in this as I wouldn’t want to tuck that one am quite happy with myself. To note though, I have a feeling it is going to shrink a little bit so erred on the side of caution with the large although the medium also fit fine. Will keep you updated as I wash the striped version.

Price: R129

Size: Large

Fabric: 100% Cotton

The Fashion Tee by Woolworths

Considering almost all my existing tees boast a Woolies label, I was surprised by how much I disliked it. I have to admit that I tested both the large and medium, and this (the large) is the most flattering out of the two and it is still miles off from being considered remotely flattering. The medium just didn’t fit my bust at all and this one was clearly too large over the shoulders and belly, creating a curtain-y effect that even my husband/photographer commented on. I’m rushing to return this. (P.S. If you prefer a round neck, I spotted other versions of the Fashion Tee in a better fabric which might be a great option although I haven’t personally tested them.)

Price: R129

Size:

Fabric: 50% Modal and 50% Cotton

P.S. Excluded from my test was this one from Cotton On as I couldn’t find it in my size (but the other colours all fit lovely), this one from Superbalist as I forgot to order online in time and this one from H&M as my nearest store is still too far for such experiments.

So in conclusion, the Mr Price t-shirt took the top prize with the Zara one in close second (I went with the stripes in the end) and the Woolies and Edgars ones were promptly returned. Do you have a go-to option or have you tried any of the ones I excluded? Would love to hear what your favourites are!

 

Continue Reading

How To Make Mondays Bearable

I know I’m not alone in saying that Mondays are literally the WORST! By the end of most Mondays I am ready to crash on the couch and start the weekend all over again, but alas we need to carry on. So I’ve come up with a few simple things I do to make Mondays more bearable.

Make dinner in advance

I love cooking more than enough food on a Sunday so that we have leftovers for the Monday evening. Dishes like lasagne, pies and pastas are great. This way I can have a delicious meal ready to pop in the microwave. Plus we also save on dishes.

Plan something fun for Tuesday

Whether you need an evening of takeout and Game of Thrones or a dinner with friends, having something to look forward too always makes the day go by faster.

You could make plans for Monday night, but I like to chill it out and rather head out on Tuesdays.

Treat yo’ self

Whether it is a special cappuccino or a DIY nail polish, rewarding myself after a particularly hectic Monday makes it ever so slightly better. It is the little things!

To-do list

Making a to-do list is a great way to start any day, but sometimes sneaking in a few easy to complete tasks helps start a great trend for ticking off the items and getting sh*t done.

Go to bed early

Making sure you start the week well rested not only ensures a more productive day, it also means you start the day without having to press the snooze button multiple times. Now if onky there was a way for me to get to bed on time.

When all else fails, just get a cat or two! They make everything better. Hope your Monday flies by!

Continue Reading

Winter Accessories

DSC_5113_00001

Can we just all take a moment to acknowledge that this year has really flown by before diving head first into this post. Like seriously, it is the last week of July already! Which also means that we’re just about halfway through winter. It is usually around this time that I start getting bored with the season and my wardrobe. It might be because I favour a monochrome wardrobe, but lately it just feels lacking. I’ve somehow fallen into a trap where I wear variants of the same outfit day-in and day-out.

So I thought it is high time I shake it up with a few accessories I already have in my wardrobe.

The newest item to my wardrobe and definitely the most attention drawing in my line-up is this leopard print winter scarf. I was searching high and low for the perfect classic yet not old fashioned print and finally found this at Woolworths (can’t find it online). It is massive and incredibly soft (so doubles as a blanket) and also works with grey.

Then I also decided to swap my non-descript big black handbag for a smaller one with more detail like the quilting and gold hardware. I love feeling more structured when so much of winter is oversized and comfortable.

DSC_5109_00001

I’ve also taken my hat out for a spin a few times. Granted it isn’t the most practical item for a day in the office, but as the wind has been pretty chill this winter I’ve definitely worn it more. I can confirm that in some instances you do feel overdressed, but always in a good way! Plus I am sure everyone assumes you are stylish, even though you might be wearing a sweater that has pilled.

Unfortunately this liquid lipstick from Essence has been discontinued, but any matt red or power shade of lipstick (and nailpolish for that matter) can really make you feel extra zush. Whenever someone talks about the power of makeup, I think of red lipstick. Find a bolder shade that you’re comfortable with (preferably in a long-lasting formula) and keep it at hand for when you feel in need of some magic.

Lastly are these eye catching sunglasses I scored for less than R30 online! I found the same ones in YDE for R200, so guess the young designers are all based in China? Anyway I think they are fun and perfect for those sunny winter days. Plus they offer a pretty good disguise for when you just feel gross and your hair is all frizzy from the rain (what just me!??) I was going to throw a straightening iron in the mix, but even a GHD can’t guarantee me good hair days!

 

Continue Reading

How To Avoid Crocodile Hands this Winter

 

DSC_5095_00001

I usually start off with one of my year-round essentials for great cuticles – a good cuticle oil. I’ve used and liked this one from the Body Shop before (the smell is heavenly!) but whilst this one from Sally Hansen isn’t as convenient it is just such better value. Regular application keeps my cuticles from becoming dry and white, making it easy to keep them at bay.

I usually follow this up with a thinner Vitamin E-based hand cream. Something like the cult classic from Vaseline usually does the job. It just immediately soothes and gets absorbed, leaving my hands feeling wonderfully soft. I’ll often pop something like this on during the day as well as it doesn’t leave my hands feeling greasy and it isn’t gross to touch anything afterwards.

I then follow this up with a more intensive cream, like the ones pictured above from Woolworths. They feel almost like a butter in the sense that they are definitely oil based and take a while to absorb, which makes them great for P.M. applications.

So this is my three-step routine for soft hands. I also try to put on gloves when facing extreme cold in mornings, just for extra protection. How do you tackle dry hands in the winter?

Continue Reading

Three Ways To Add Colour To Your Home

830ebe95a2dc88456c63b6095c4d2370

[Alexander James]

One of my biggest design problems, and one that some of you hopefully share lest we be the only dreary and drab ones, is with regards to the introduction of colour into our home. I blame it on one too many sensible purchases and the fact that I love grey it is one of the few colours my husband agrees on (why couldn’t it be blush pink!). Anyhow sometime last year I realised that our home basically reads like a paint strip going from white to black with all the shades of grey in between.

And whilst I love monochrome homes, it simply wasn’t something we were aiming for and a well curated black-and-white home requires more restraint than we had applied. So in my attempt to make our home feel more well rounded and slightly more colourful, I’ve found three ways to introduce colour into a space.

Continue Reading

Lemon Drizzle Cake

DSC_5088

I had never actually had a lemon drizzle cake before, so maybe I’m not the best judge, but from my husband feedback I’ll chalk it up as a big success. I had to share this, as it is one of those super quick recipes that you could easily whip up on a whim. I also appreciated the fact that I already had all the ingredients in my pantry.

DSC_5068

Cake:

Ingredients:

  • 60 ml Margarine
  • 180 ml Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 50 ml Lemon juice
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • 310 ml Flour
  • 2 tsp Bakingpowder
  • 100 ml Milk

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180*C and prepare a baking tray or mini-loaf tray by spraying with Spray ‘n Cook.
  2. Beat the margarine until smooth and gradually add the sugar, eggs, lemon juice and lemon zest.
  3. Sift together the flour and bakingpowder.
  4. Add half the egg mixture and the milk to the flour and start mixing it in.
  5. Fold in the rest of the egg mixture.
  6. Spoon the mixture into your baking tray and cook for 20 – 25 minutes, depending on whether you are making one large tray or mini-loaves.

Lemon Drizzle:

This could easily be adjusted according to your taste, but I find that a good dose of lemon juice really cuts through the sweetness creating the perfect combination.

Ingredients:

  • 185 ml Icing Sugar
  • 50 ml Lemon Juice (Can adjust according to taste)
  • Zest of half a lemon

Method:

  1. Sift the icing sugar and then add all the lemon juice.
  2. Slowly add a teaspoon of boiling water at a time until you reach the perfect consistency.
  3. Stir in the lemon zest and drizzle over the loaves.

DSC_5072

Continue Reading

A Garden Route Sho’tleft

Knysna Featherbed dock

I want to preface this post by saying that I am, along with the rest of the country, incredibly devastated at the disaster that Knysna and the greater Garden Route has experienced due to the fire. I can’t personally imagine what it must be like to loose all your personal belongings, everything that has sentimental value to you, and to have to do a dangerous and uncomfortable evacuation not just of your home, but the general area. What I do know is that Knysna needs our help to rebuild and that whilst donations do help, ultimately a large part of the area relies on tourism for an income, which they now sorely need to rebuild and recover. Please don’t let the destruction keep you away, the incredibly beautiful area still has so much to offer. There are still so many amazing properties available to book in area largely unspoilt, so there is literally no excuse. In case you need further motivation, scroll down.

Knysna Heads

I was incredibly lucky to be invited to join SA Tourism earlier this year on a journey through South Africa’s Garden Route. This is an area of our country that I was largely unfamiliar with as I’ve only driven through the region when we attended a wedding in Port Elizabeth. On that trip we spent one evening in Knysna on a very tight budget, so I was keen to return and see what the area really has to offer.

First stop was Port Elizabeth, where we took a quick historical tour. When I drove through on the highway the first time, it didn’t look like much. But Port Elizabeth is steeped in history and has quite a few historical buildings of architectural note.

Port Elizabeth Public Library

We did a walking tour of PE’s central district, called the Donkin Heritage Trail. The highlight on the hour-long walking trail was definitely the beautiful Victorian buildings and statues, but I was surprised by how little I knew of the city’s rich history. Our guide was passionate and definitely made the experience so much more special than it would have been if I’d just read about everything before hand. So I’d highly recommend you get someone to show you around and take you into the Opera House and the beautiful Cathedral Church of Saint Mary the Virgin.

This was followed by a quick stop in the surfer’s paradise that is Jeffrey’s Bay, where we had a lovely lunch overlooking the ocean at the Kitchen Windows Beach restaurant before moving on the millionaire’s playground that is Cape St Francis. I had my first taste of calamari at Port St Francis. Everyone else raved about it, but at the ripe age of 28 I figured out that I am not big on seafood.

We ended off the first of three days with a sunset canal cruise in Cape St Francis (thanks to BriSan on the Canals) before retreating for dinner and bed in one of the self-catering homes in the Cape St Francis Resort. I must give a shout-out to the Joe Fish Restaurant as I had a very memorable chicken and spinach dish that I still sometimes crave and have tried to recreate multiple times.

The next morning we set out for the Tsitsikamma, an adventurer’s dream. We started the day off with ziplining at Tsitsikamma Falls Adventures, something I was very happy to observe from the sidelines. So I enthusiastically observed from the deck and wiped my sweaty palms on my pants any time someone went over the edge. I did however participate in the segway tour and was surprised to find how easy it was with the proper training provided before hand.

Although we definitely didn’t have enough time to do everything the region has to offer, I feel like these activities gave a glimpse of its natural beauty. I’d love to return and complete a few hiking trails. If you’re planning a trip, I can highly recommend the quant Tsitsikamma Village Inn where we stayed as it is perfectly located for a night out with beer tasting and a 60’s diner right next-door. The inn consists of various smaller buildings, all recently converted into comfortable bedrooms with on-suites and each beautiful with a unique architectural style.

Knysna view from the top of the Featherbed Reserve

For our final full day, we went to Knysna, where I mentioned earlier I’d been before. As students we were on a strict budget back then and no boat cruises made the cut, so this time I made up for the missed opportunity and went on no less than two! The first cruise for the day took us over to the Featherbed Nature Reserve (the eco-experience) where I completed an hour long hike in jeans and sandals (we weren’t prepped), but the breathtaking views kept me distracted from my blisters. Sadly large parts of the reserve, including the restaurant, has apparantly been damaged in the fire. Luckily the Cape’s fauna and flora can take quite a beating, and often excell because of this.  The morning’s trip over was folllowed by a short break at the Harbour before we embarked on a sunset cruise (a Paddle Cruiser Experience). This is where I’d like to add that their piña coladas were amazing and I’d encourage everyone to at least try one. In keeping with my seafood aversion, I skipped the raw shell fish known as oysters.  We spent the night at the Premier Resort The Moorings, which offers all that you need in a place of such beauty and incredibly is also rather budget friendly.

Garden Route coast

Our final day in Knysna was spent in George, before our afternoon departure from the small airport. On the afforementioned trip we did a short hike in the Wilderness and on this occasion I got to paddle up the river in the beautiful area thanks to Eden Adventures. We didn’t even mind the fact that it meant we’d have to board the plane wet!

If I were travelling on my own dime, I’d definitely consider driving back from George to Cape Town as it is such a beautiful route and with boarding times and everything taken into consideration, it is probably not even that much shorter. I honestly can’t wait to return to this beautiful region and neither should you!

Continue Reading
1 2 3 37