It’s a dogs life

Living in Joburg definitely has its limitations(money making traffic riddled city aside), and I’m constantly reminded how hard we have to work to find new and interesting places to visit. Walkhaven is one of those hidden gems that I have absolutely fallen in love with, and if you are ever looking for a beautiful spot in the countryside to bring your fur-mily, then this is it.

Rupert Gypsey and Holly – carpoolin’

Rupert and Bella braving the dam water

Situated in the infamous ‘wedding strip’ in Muldersdrift, and a mere 18kms from Fourways, Walkhaven is exactly that – a haven for you and your pet. From the moment you drive down the dusty road you are greeted by the sight of hundreds of humans and their wagging tailed friends. Walkhaven consists of 2 very large dams (sorry humans, swimming for pooches only) and vast open spaces, walkways and long grass. The perfect place for your furry kids to run free (Rule 1 at Walkhaven – no leads) and explore to their hearts content.

For the humans there is a lovely restaurant on the deck, plus several picnic benches dotted in and around the vicinity. The restaurant has delicious food, and on Sundays a massive buffet breakfast.

You would think that with so many dogs running around unleashed there would be absolute chaos, but the lack of restrictions allows the curious canines to explore, lick, sniff, swim and greet other pooches without feeling threatened or controlled.

My two dogs, Rupert and Bella, adore the place and after a few hours in the sun at Walkhaven they come home muddy, smelly, wet, but very very happy.

Need to know :

– R25 entrance fee per person. dogs are free.

– Complimentary water bowls all over Walkhaven

– Can bring your own food, drinks and picnic hampers

– Dogs tend to lose any hearing/training skills/sense of discipline when around so many other exciting friends. Be warned

– Dress casual, it’s muddy and wet and a whole lot of fun.

– Walkhaven is open Saturdays and Sundays from 7 am – 6:30 pm

 

The start of the walk

Bella en route home. Absolutely exhausted (and filthy!)

Dirty dogs!

Aunty Candy and Bella

Can we walk now ma? Huh? Can we??

 

 

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Toodles, Tofu!

I recently made one of the biggest changes in my life, and that was to convert over from a fish eating vegetarian (no meat, no poultry, no eggs) to a semi meat eating member of society. I’m just as surprised  by my change over as anyone else, because for as long as I can remember people have been trying to get me to eat meat. Any meat. Biltong gets waved under my nose at any given opportunity, boerewors rolls get chewed loudly in my ear and in moments of drunkness weakness people assume I will cave and fall into a big meat eating frenzy.

That’s why, when I finally took my first bite of meat about 3 weeks ago, no-one was daring me to do it, in-fact no-one really gave a damn, which made it a whole lot easier to do. (stress under pressure and all that)

After a meat free 20 years I took my first bite of something that wasn’t out the ocean or made from soy. Why? I was so so bored of bland flavours, soft textures and a boring repetitive diet. Training for a marathon has also sapped me of all my energy, and my body has begun to crave more and more protein. I also felt I hadn’t used my incisors in 2 decades as the chewiest thing a vegetarian gets to eat is a mielie. One of the biggest factors though, which got me eating meat again, is that there are now so many more ethical options available to me.

The reason I stopped all those years ago (apart from my dad slaughtering my pet sheep, true story) was the idea of how the animal was killed and the process from ‘farm’ to table. I have heard horror stories and was far too sensitive, back then and even now, to contemplate eating something which had been bred, pumped full of hormones, never seen sunlight nor touched the ground – in some cases – then killed, purely for my eating pleasure.

The choices which I refer to earlier are meats (although I’m still only on chicken) and eggs which are not only free range but organic too. If you read the difference between the two you will understand that ‘free range’ is not necessarily the best option. It seems though, that neither is organic, and that’s why I particularly loved this from Woolworths. Knowing my meat comes from a healthy and natural environment, makes it that much easier to stomach. Pun intended.

For those of you looking to change your lifestyle, or simply embrace the earth and go a bit greener, my suggestion would be to know what you eat. Read labels, do your research and try go organic. I even try grow all my herbs and vegetables at home, pesticide free.

If you are a fish eater wanting to make the right choice, there’s a simple way to do it. Simply SMS the name of a fish to 0794998795 and you will receive a message back giving you the status of the fish. green is good, red is bad. Simple.

The Fish Sms line allows you to check for the 'greenest' fish

It may seem like an absolute mission to suddenly change your diet and eating plans, but if you can make one small change, and everyone can make one small change, just imagine how much difference that could make.

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Style me pretty, on a budget.

I recently had a surprise visit from an old friend in the States, and with that in mind decided to ‘spruce up’ my guest bedroom. We all have one of those rooms in our house, where the door remains shut for fear of anyone peeking inside and seeing unopened boxes, wrinkled laundry and an an ironing board, right?

My concern for this room was that I would be working on a very strict budget, so I really needed to be creative and clever when it came to making it look semi decent, on a R400 limit

I decided to keep the main fixtures of the room intact, the bed, curtains and and the side table as these would be too expensive to replace. The curtains are a somewhat mousy beige and the linen is all white, so I decided to work with these two colours and bring in other colour accents with the decor.

I painted a square mock headboard on the wall behind the bed (Dulux Moss Green), which really created some depth, and then centered a beautiful wall vinyl of birds on it, which I had been given as a Christmas present.

For some wall ‘art’ we simply hammered in 6 Hilti Tool nails (ladies and gents, best R99 DIY product, ever) and hung our hats in rows of 3. A quick visit to an ‘al cheapo’ home decor shop and I was one lamp shade, new sheet and a scatter cushion closer to creating a guest bedroom.

Not exactly a suite at the Hilton, but not bad for DIY on a budget!

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Time to run

At the end of last year, my friends Lauren and Don as well as Barry and myself decided to enter the Two Oceans Marathon (well, the half marathon, Barry will be doing the full because he rocks and has the fitness levels of a super athlete, no jokes). Barry, also being the spreadsheet wunderkind , developed a training program for us, and off we set on our daily runs, happily chatting our way through the first week or two of easy 3 and 4 kilometre sessions.(That would soon change)

Having just recovered from a foot operation in October, I was only allowed to start physical exercise in December, and was fairly nervous about my fitness levels which had crashed and died. Thankfully both foot and fitness levels recovered fairly decently and the raining got off to a good start.

We are now just under 5 weeks away from the big race, and our training schedule has become a lot more intense, and pretty much takes up all of our free time in the evenings. Look, I realise we aren’t doing anything that extraordinary (read Iron man, climbing Kili, Comrades etc), but for 3 people who have never run more than a 5km, I think we have come really far and I am exceptionally proud of the perseverance and dedication we have all given this – especially since the people around roll their eyes when we mention ‘training’ and pretty much all of our close friends couldn’t care less.

Another perk to all this training is the awesome kit we get to experiment with, and being a bit of a gadget girl there are several items I could not do without when training. If you are looking to get into running, or any other form of exercise, I suggest investigating some of these handy items.

The first item is an incredible tool called ‘Runtastic‘ which is an app for most phone models (iOS, Android, Blackberry). Runtastic tracks distance, speed, time as well as provides a host of other information. The app even speaks to you during your run, tracking your distance and motivating (sometimes) along the way.

The device which I use the most is my Polar heart rate watch and foot pod. the watch tracks heart rate zones, calories burnt and time and the footpod allows me to track distance and speed – all very helpful during a long training session. there is also nothing as motivating as seeing how many calories you’ve burnt and just how far you’ve pushed your body.

 

Speaking of calories burnt – this next app/website has proved invaluable during my training and has really helped me to focus on my eating. My Fitness Pal is an app which allows you to track your daily food intake as well as exercise, and works out calories eaten.It also predicts weight loss and weight gain depending on your daily calorie intake. The niftiest thing about the app is that, when used on your phone, it scans images of barcodes (yes, even local!) and lets you know nutritional content. The app also encourages you to invite friends, and view their progress. Nothing motivates one as much as your BFF becoming a skinny bitch before you, right?


Other handy websites I have found are Runners WorldWomens Health and Shape magazine. These tools combined with a personal will to succeed, amazing running friends and a dream to cross that finish line have all been huge motivators!

Here’s to the early mornings, early nights, sacrificing Phuza Thursday and sticking to a goal!

Early morning run time
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A 1950’s affair!

Last weekend we hosted a rather unusual bachelorette for my bestie Amy. This was no ordinary bachelorette in that the amount of time it took for us to come up with an idea that wasn’t kitsch, cliched or (god forbid) club orientated was extraordinary. Amy has unique taste, and a style surpassed by none, so trust me, had we draped her in phallic objects and stuck a set of Playboy bunny ears on her head, we would have been fired form bridesmaids duty, and possibly never spoken to again. Thankfully I had a lightbulb moment (yes, it happens) and decided that a 1950s ‘un-perfect housewife’ theme would be fairly fitting for the bride-to-be. Thanks to Google, some talented designer friends, talented seamstress friends, talented ideas friends (you get the picture) a very patient boyfriend, some equally handy fellow bridesmaids and my skills with a tube of Pritt and some scissors, the day (and night) turned out to be a roaring success. Even Amy says so.Just ask her.

For the evening part of the event we all hopped into a taxi and went to a beautiful champagne bar and restaurant called ‘Amis’ (completely planned, of course!) With 19502 movies playing on the wall, gorgeous decor and a retro theme, it was just perfect. We ate too much, drank delicious bubbly and ended the day off on a perfect note.

Bring on the wedding!

Here are a few pics from the event, and some ideas if you’re ever planning a good old fashioned do.

Homemade party favours with a personalised poem made by Amys sister

I Googled ’50s images and strung them on ribbon with clothes pegs. Very effective!

Not everyone loved the photobooth props!

Again, I printed 50’s signs and glued them to skewer sticks, which I then placed all over the venue.

Red and white striped lollipops and 50’s slang wine glass tags. Amy got ‘Circled’ which back in the day meant ‘Getting Hitched’.

Thanks to some ingenious blogs I found these cool photo booth templates which I printed and cut out

Amy doing a ‘down down’ the old fashioned way

I found this amazing old school wedding photo which I used as cheese labels. My best was ‘Something old something new something borrowed something blue‘ Get it?

Completely co-incidental that Amy’s dress (made by our very talented friend Ilona) matched the photo booth backdrop. FYI I bought a huge roll of wrapping paper and simply stuck it to the wall to make the backdrop.

Aren’t these signs the cutest?

The Bridesmaids

All the guests signed a pottery bowl which we will glaze for Amy

My parents garden provided the perfect setting for a day of 1950s good ol’ fashioned fun!

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Saving the rhinos one Tweet at a time

This is a blog I recently wrote for Cerebra (hence the wee work punt at the end) – which I am adding to my personal blog post as well.

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I’m not sure when last you actively tuned into the TV or radio news to catch the day’s headlines. Nowadays, relevant and breaking information is simply a tweet away. And with Twitter (followed closely by Facebook and YouTube) becoming the go-to news source, it’s not surprising that it’s also becoming a serious noise maker when it comes to causes and plights.

The latest issue to surface in South Arica is that of rhino poaching. A pretty relevant topic considering that gram for gram, a rhino horn is worth more than gold, and over 443 rhinos were killed in our country in 2011 alone.

On 11 January this year, news broke that eight rhinos had been poached at the Kruger National Park in one day – with the news came a flurry of outrage across all these social media platforms. Twitter saw the words “Kruger National Park’ trending, with thousands of people proclaiming their distress and anger at the issue, creating hashtags such as #GiveItHorns and #StopRhinoPoachingin2012, arranging Tweetups and writing blogs.

The question is – does noise on a social media platform have any relevance, and does it help the cause whatsoever?

I think it does, and here’s why: The people using Twitter to communicate are savvy forward-thinkers, with opinions, connections and a strong sense of community. A few people have even confessed that if it wasn’t for these platforms, they would be unaware of the goings on around them. The power of millions of people on one platform crying out for justice is a lot stronger than, say, the email petitions of several years back, or the ‘ag shame, it’s horrible, but what can I do?’ comments we are all used to.

Recently, PharSideUK released a chilling video on YouTube, silently narrating the horrors of the rhino horn trade. A mere four days later, that video had over 217000 views. The word ‘rhino’ has been mentioned on Twitter thousands of times in the past three days, and subsequently Facebook, blogs and other social media platforms were flooded with news, information and stories, all stemming from a single, sad incident.

This makes me think about the fierce emotions us South Africans expressed during the passing of the Secrecy Bill late last year. Again, thousands of Tweets, Black Tuesday petitions and Facebook updates were cast, yet the result was not a positive one, and ironically, all that noise resulted in a soon to be silence.

This is what happens, when you leave it up to the masses. If you had an agency to streamline this, you would have one or two hashtags, a leading opinion and a clarified goal. Working within guidelines and a structure would allow Twitter noise to turn into a broadcast message and help us all work towards a common target. With causes such as rhino poaching and speaking out against a secrecy bill, it’s pertinent to get the masses involved, but if the masses aren’t of one voice, the impact is lost.

Together, we can make a difference, both to the plight of the rhino but also to the participation in your communication campaign. Pop in to our Cerebra community for a chat, and find out how we can make your voice heard.

 

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Eat That Frog

During a recent mentor-ship session at the office, somebody brought up the problem of time management and getting things done. I didn’t think too much of it, as I’m that person – the one who writes endless to-do lists, answers emails as they come in and manages to dot every ‘I’ and cross every ‘T’ before the end of day school bell rings. Then it hit me – I do everything in my power to finish the small things – yet I ignore the large task as if they were the proverbial elephant in the room.

I’m certain I’m not alone with this. Sure, its very easy to get to mails, answer calls, and be very reactive to certain jobs. What I struggle with is being proactive about the big bad scary tasks, especially the tasks which I unsure of, scared of (Excel, anyone?) and which I have the most time to complete. It’s true what they say – the more you have to do, the more you get done.

During the session, we were shown a video titled ‘Eat That Frog’. The frog represents the largest, meanest ugliest item on your list. Trust me, once you eat that frog, everything else seems much easier to swallow. Sounds easy in theory right? It’s challenging in practice – just because you know you have to eat that frog, doesnt mean that you can. I have been using the motto for the past 2 weeks, and even though its a tough task, every day it gets easier and easier. In the meantime,  I say, identify the frog, cut the frog into manageable size chunks, and Bon Appetit!

 

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Hello 2012!

I was really supposed to write this post in 2011, heading up towards 2012, but alas time got the better of me and I failed to do so. So, instead of writing a blog leading up to the new year, I’ve decided to write a blog looking back.

Its scary to think that exactly 10 years ago, after recently matriculating, I boarded a plane to Minnesota (Minesoooda for those familiar with their characteristic drawl) to go live and play for a year as a Rotary Exchange Student. I wont be writng about that year – that would be a whole book – but remembering those times have made me think a lot about what’s changed in the pst 10 years. Heres a few starting with the year 2002 ;

– In 2002 digital cameras were a scarce novelty, and the ones which were around had a camera resolution of 1.2 megapixels (which resulted in a grainy VGA type image, similar to those taken off the early cellphone cameras – which weren’t even around in 2002! I remember buying 35mm film for my camera and developing them at certain pharmacies and CNA stores.Afterwards, if you never inserted the new 35mm spool in correctly, you got no pics. Simple as that.

– Social networking sites such as Facebook or even Youtube didn’t exist – and the closest thing we got to seeing our mates online was Thunda.com, a website dedicated to snapping pics of people at nightclubs.

– Skype was not around – we relied on email servers such as Hotmail and Yahoo to communicate.

– We did not BBM, Whatsapp or communicate via anything other than traditional SMS. The only time I ever SMS now is to enter competitions, or to chat to my gran 😉

– Smartphones and Tablets were merely a pipe dream. The thought of touching the screen of your phone to activate it was unheard of – and a mobile device which could carry all your contacts, email, take photos and (gasp) videos, as well as locate you via GPS?! Impossible!

– Google maps only came years later – today we dont even blink an eye when calculating the distance from Rosebank to Rondebosch, or sneakily spy on our neighbours using Google Earth.

_ Speaking of Google, it’s only 12 years young! Can you remember a day when you didnt click on that almightly search engine to find the recipe for devilled eggs, or enquire how to build your own car?

– Again, speaking of cars, even though the movement towards hybrid and electric cars has been very slow to, ahem, take off, who would have thought that our friends would be building garages in 2010 with plug sockets big enough to charge their electric vehicles?

– Ladies, what did we do without the GHD? (Good Hair Days, long may they live!)

– Willow Smith was born in 2000. She will be 12 this year. She is richer than most of us combined. That will be all.

– At the end of this post I will be linking it to Twitter. Ah, what is Twitter the 2006 version of you asks? My point exactly. (FYI as of 2011 this ‘sms of the internet’ had over 300 million users.)

– In 2006 Amy Winehouse’ ‘Rehab’ gained international sucess. In 2011 she died. What did you do in the last 5 years to make yourself as notoriously infamous as she did?

– With human greed comes a severe impact on Planet Earth. By 2011 several species of animals became extinct, including the Baji Dolphin, the West African Black Rhino, the Golden and Holdridges Toad, the Spix’s Macaw and the Pyrenean Ibex. Dont assume that your future children or grandchildren will know what an elephant or whale is.

– The first official BluRay disk was released in 2006. I’m clearly several years behind and have yet to embrace that trend.

– I stumbled upon an episode of an old favourite yesterday, the TV sitcom ‘Friends’. Ah Rachel and Ross and all their…pixelation!? It’s hard to believe we watched TV that was so blurry and unclear for so long. We didn’t know any better until HD (High Definition) came along in 2008 thanks to Multichoice. Heres an article written in 2007 on a local tech site about when HD would be hitting our shores; http://mybroadband.co.za/vb/showthread.php/70573-How-long-till-South-Africa-has-HDTV

– Hands up if you haven’t embraced the eBook yet? Amazon think you should. They released their first generation Kindle in November of 2007, and it sold out in 5 and a half hours. The device remained out of stock for five months until late April 2008.

What items have I left off here that you can remember? I would love to hear your feedback!

Saying the word 'floppy disk' always resulted in school girl giggles.
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Kudos to a dog blog

A few weeks have passed since I have written a blog (sies) and that coupled with that fact that I have severe writers block/am generally uninspired, the promise of something new and exciting being written here in the next few days is not very high. So it is with that in mind that I have decided to steal, and share a hilarious blog post which was sent to me today, and is very relevant to me right now.

As a new puppy owner, one of the hardest things to do is train said puppy…which leads me to often wonder if he has slight mental problems. After reading this blog, I felt much better.

Good for a great laugh – enjoy!

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/07/dog.html

PS – here is a relatively cute video of Rupert (my dog) stuck on the stairs while going through ‘stair training’ and howling is distress. Ag shame.

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