Friday, 21 March 2014

skin: it's time for some anti-chemical warfare

Lately the blog world seems to be full of posts about skin. Adult acne, oil cleanses, Kim Gray’s shameless consumption of overpriced skin solutions. I thought I would add my 20 cents (because two doesn’t cover it) into the mix.

I also battle with hormonal related skin issues, like Natasha and many other women. It’s definitely a shoe-in for the Spa for Embarrassing Illnesses, but there it is. We can’t control it. Certain times of the month my skin is clear and glowy and wonderful and others it’s a mess. I feel like that girl from the advert with the lobster flapping on her face. Like most women, I do the only thing I can and resort to foundation. I prefer the mineral kind, especially in a humid East Coast summer. Underneath the make-up though, you know those evil little red bumps are lurking and waiting to unleash their appearance once that foundation comes off. Make-up doesn't treat the cause.

A few months ago, I decided to try and eliminate all the chemicals from my cleansing regime. Mainly to satisfy my hippie urges, but also because I had begun to suspect that we are all in an awful cycle of using chemicals to clear up the problems the chemicals caused in the first place. When I say chemicals I mean ingredients like petrochemicals (that are basically oil by-products) and formaldehyde (similar to the stuff they use to preserve BODIES). Once I starting doing a bit of research, I saw this thinking all over the net. Using garlic juice, ginger juice, coconut oil, olive oil, raw egg, raw oats and honey…you name it. All natural items we would normally consider to be food. Turns out the things that are pure enough to put IN your body, are pure enough to put ON your body. While I’m not sold on smelling like an Italian bistro all day for the sake of a pimple, I do agree with the logic. And we’ve tried everything else right? Peeling eyeballs and no sun exposure can’t be the only answer surely? My skincare regime currently consists of a weekly oat and honey mask. The bonus of this is I recycle any leftover oat and honey moosh by feeding it to my Spaniels. Full on. Then I only use Victorian Garden Lemon and Geranium cleanser as a face wash, with a plain old face cloth. I don’t even need a moisturiser any more, partly because it’s summer and partly because my skin is no longer stripped dry after I wash it. Plus all the natural products smell AMAZING. You feel like you’re at a spa every morning of the week. When winter rolls around, I will probably use this tea tree moisturiser. My skin has taken a few weeks to stop freaking out. The same as when I changed to organic shampoo, it’s like your skin and scalp need to shed all the chemical build up first before the natural ingredients can work their magic. The results are beautiful though.

// I am no skin expert, and this post is not sponsored by Faithful to Nature or the Victorian Garden. I just love their products and enjoy spreading a little of that love.

// photo from here

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

aerodynamic dog socks

Man alive, I love dooce. I sent the Hub this picture of hers this morning, with “Look. DOG SOCKS!” His response was that they look more like broken paw protectors – I suppose as opposed to the dreaded cones favoured by vets. He then said they don’t look very arrow manic. Achieving an auto correct fail on email is a new low I thought. Auto correct your flippin spelling on Outlook I thought. Turns out he is IN THE MIND OF HOWARD. Arrow manic means and I quote: You know... Where the air goes past your body like you are made of arrows...Dying.

OK this needs context. Twice a week we take our pups to the promenade to go runnings on the beaches (actually it’s trotting on the concrete NEXT to the beaches, but those faces just say RUNNINGS ON THE BEACHES!!! Exclamation marks included). As responsible dog parents we were worried when Coco and then Howard got little raw patches on their paws. We thought it might be from the friction of running on the concrete and paving of the promenade. Of course our thought process went to the logical solution…dog socks. Or dog Nike trainers. Because eina. Turns out the raw paw situation was more to do with it being autumn and a Spaniel’s penchant for charging into bug infested piles of leaves and less to do with the runnings on the beaches. We were off the hook. However, the dog socks just stuck. When next you see Coco and Howard trotting past the pier, they will be wearing these. It’s our duty as their parents to embarrass them right?

// photo above of Chuck from dooce, photo of Howie and Chloe is all mine

Sunday, 16 March 2014

the people who run the world

Have a secret society. 

A secret society where they dress up in drag, because of course very few women are allowed, or it wouldn’t be a legit secret society now would it? It's called Kappa Beta Phi, for no other reason I can see than that if it's debaucherous the ancient Greeks must be somehow involved. Only real Wall Street kings are invited, people like former Bear Sterns CEO and Chairman Alan Greenberg and ex-NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg. Can I just say that I called it? Banking is fraught with this kind of nonsense…James. Get out immediately! Before you get sucked in and find yourself at age 40 at the Four Seasons dressed in a purple tutu with another man’s red soled heels on your feet. We all know that the man with all the gold (oil) runs the world, and these men have a LOT of gold. Shiny, shiny dollar-denominated gold. And they wonder why we ridicule and dislike them. To be frank, I don’t care what they get up to, they are consenting adults and (hopefully) no-one is getting hurt - if you discount the pride and dignity of the tutu-d newbies. I just find it funny that these powerful people can be so clearly bored. I suppose having the power to rule the world loses its sheen after you’ve staged your third coup in Venezuela or provided your thousandth kilo of arms to the Sudanese. So inevitably you resort to lording your power over your lesser minions, and MAKE THEM WEAR FEMALE CLOTHING. Turns out my mother was right, being Joe Soap has its advantages. I may not be able to change the political landscape of a small South American country, but no-one can make me wear a tutu if I don’t wana. And I don’t wana.

// photo of Basil Rathbone from here, he was a South African born actor famous for playing the villian and the morally dubious.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

you know you’re South African when

You drive like a taxi. Not a yellow taxi placidly down Park Avenue or one of those black London taxis you see around Cape Town these days but a SOUTH AFRICAN TAXI. Overloaded, driven with a spanner because the entire steering column broke right off around 1998. Like most of Africa it’s drive like a lunatic or die. 

You say ja a lot.

Someone must just DARE to say something bad about South Africa…this includes expats, Americans, Australians, Kiwis, Europeans and mostly the Brits. You will take them DOWN. 

You complain about South Africa constantly. The government, the weather (how DARE it not be sunny and windless every day of the year? This is South Africa!), the roads, the potholes, the taxis (see above), the way FIFA took us for billions in 2010, the crime, car guards, SARS, the uselessness of the government…or did I mention that already?

But someone living outside South Africa must just DARE to say the same thing. You will take them DOWN.

You know the difference between now now, just now and now.

You remember the time that politician broke a chair during an interview on national TV and the news anchor pretended nothing had happened (watch the video here, funniest thing EVER, funnier than that Youtube sensation cat who smashes the printer)

You remember the time Julius told an international news correspondent that he was a “bloody agent”, a “thingie”.

You now use the term “bloody agent” in everyday conversation. For example: “I can’t believe you ate that last piece of lemon meringue pie you bloody agent”.

You laugh more than you cry.

You have debates with your friends regularly about whether Pick n Pay, Spar or Checkers is cheaper. And everyone will debate to the DEATH that their local store is the cheapest.

You have never said the word barbeque unless in a joke about Australians around the braai. Yes that is the proper word for grilling meat over an open fire. BRAAI.

You like nothing better than to pack up the entire contents of your home into a 4x4 bakkie and mission off into the wilderness.

You know what a bakkie is.

You eat roughly 200 cows, 4000 chickens and 95 pigs a year. And maybe a buffalo, a donkey and a few goats.

You are spirited, warm, friendly and feisty as all hell.

No matter how much you complain, you love your country and in the case of some kind of cataclysmic event would have to be physically removed with a winch.

//photo from our honeymoon on the Garden Route using my Nikon D5000

Monday, 10 March 2014

congratulations. you use your brain equally.

I took this 30 Second Brain Test today, assuming “Well done, you are an over-analytical, bean counter left brain” was a foregone conclusion. Think again. Take the test, just for fun. I’d be fascinated to know if it’s what you expected. I got, as the title of this post suggests, bang in the middle. Actually, 56% was RIGHT brain can you believe it? And I did the test at work (shhhhh) in the middle of analysing some sales data for a presentation next week. So I was in full-on accountant/left brain mode at the time and the results surprised me.

A wise CEO once said in a speech at my previous employer that we have four parts to our lives. Four compartments if you like. And if these are not in balance, that’s when restlessness and anxiety and unhappiness take root. He said we have a physical, mental, spiritual and emotional part in each of us and these all need to be given their time in the sun. If not, and one dominates, we start to lead dysfunctional lives. That message has stuck with me for years, mainly because said CEO had also done Cape Epic and was on his way to a new career in Europe. He was a hugely successful human being and someone to pay attention to. He also tended to neglect his family, which I think showed that not even he had it all figured out. Regardless, the message was a good one. In the last few months I have been focusing on getting my balance right. For too long, I think my mental and emotional parts were dominating and causing me to stress and spin out. So lately I’ve been doing more dawn runs on the promenade with my pups, and weights at the gym (if you want results those jolly kettle bells are the way forward by the way) and in the last two years I have become involved in my local church. I’ve found this balances out my emotional and mental state. Praying and having God to rely on soothes my worries and a solid workout charges up those endorphins and eases stress. I would like to suggest that if you are having a hard time in your life, and things feel out of kilter, think about those four parts and which of yours needs some work. It definitely helped me, and apparently even my brain is in balance these days.

// poster from GoodnightOwlDesigns on etsy

Saturday, 8 March 2014

the happy list

One of my absolute favourite, favourite bloggers is called dooce. Actually she’s called Heather, but her blog is called dooce. She is hilarious. She lives in Utah among all the Mormons (she was brought up as one) and has two beautiful young daughters, one of whom is thoughtful and reads a lot and the other who can only be called bat shit crazy. There are no other words for her. Dooce also has a dog called Coco so I mean we are practically sisters right?

Recently Heather, very circumspectly, blogged about her battles with anxiety and her foray into the self-help realm to get her anxiety under control. What came out of this was this a post, an earnest post about what makes her happy:

“But that’s just it. This isn’t about dreaming. This isn’t a bucket list. It’s a collection of small things that I can do frequently to add some much needed levity to my everyday life.” 

I found reading the comments below this wonderfully earnest post so therapeutic as women from around the world put up their lists of the small happiness to be found in life. Here is dooce’s happy list:

 1. Laughing with my kids
 2. Listening to and sharing new music
 3. Visiting new places
 4. Photographing new places
 5. Catching up with friends in person
 6. A great meal with friends
 7. Warm weather, loud music with the windows rolled down in my car
 8. Long phone calls with my mother

And here is mine:

1. Cuddles with Howie and Coco on the bed
2. Scrunching up the leaves of my lavender plants and releasing that calming fragrance
3. Home group
4. Reading my latest library book
5. Sushi and series on the couch on a Friday evening with the Hub
6. Holding hands
7. Dreaming of exotic places and future holidays
8. Boiling water using my precious Le Creuset stovetop kettle and then making the perfect mug of Earl Grey tea
9. Trying a new recipe, even if it's a hopeless failure

It's nice to have this list to hand when I'm tired and grumpy and need a pick me up, because most of the things on this list are so simple and ORDINARY. That's what struck me most about the happy lists of others on Dooce's blog, it's the small things make us happy and keep us going...not the huge exam results and big parties and milestones. What would your list look like?

// photo of dooce's Coco in the snow - just because it's so ridiculously hot and humid at the moment, and the sight of snow is a balm to my sweaty life