Friday, February 20, 2015

On the power of great writers and saying farewell ...

Earlier this month, South Africa lost one of her greatest writers. I remember reading 'A Dry White Season' at age 13 and how it changed everything for me. Growing up in Apartheid South Africa, Andre Brink's books were a voice from the other side - he shone a light for white South Africans onto the reality of what was happening politically. Although his writing was often brutal and shocking, a simmering undercurrent of violence in his stories, I have read most of the books he wrote, even though some of them still haunt me. That is the point I believe. He tackled the issues in our country head on, and for a young impressionable white girl growing up fairly protected, he exposed the underbelly of human hatred and intolerance in a way no one else has, for me, in quite the same way. 

I will always be grateful for that first book, and to my Mother for handing it to me. For the Afrikaans teacher who came afterwards, reading banned poetry and books that were not on our conservative syllabus. For the Drama teacher who took us to protest theater and read us Athol Fugarde and made sure we questioned. Everything.

There are many articles in tribute online, here is just one of them.

After the past week with the chaotic State of the Nation address in South African parliament, there is still a very long way to go and the battle is far from won. 

An interesting blog post on the Disco Pants today.

And this speech, which has done the rounds on email and the internet. Wonderful.

A friend sent me a link to this festival coming up in May. I think I need to go.

And i am flying home for the first time in three years ... just a very short trip, on my own, which feels huge ... 

So much on my mind.


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Tips for the Winter Blues ... with things that are good for your soul.

During the summertime when everything is green and hanging in the heat, afternoons are lazy-naptimes on the grass and I dream of air conditioned spaces, it is hard to remember just how cold winter can be. And now the ground is covered in snow with more on the way in a few days time and the skies are grey quite often and the temperatures are COLD.

But there is a lot to celebrate about winter too, and it can be a really precious time of year. It's a quiet season, a good time for introspection and a bit of hibernating (in a good way) ... not to say I don't like socializing and seeing friends, but actually I like the solitude of long quiet days as well. Somehow it's good for me and especially now, as I try to figure out the next chapter for me and how that will look, I welcome the peace of quiet snowy days.

Today I wanted to share some simple thoughts on getting through the long cold winter here in the Northern Hemisphere, especially now, in January and February when the festivity of the holiday season has gone and the weeks of cold are still stretching ahead.

* Winter is a wonderful time to think about the space you are living in ... as I mentioned in my last post, this is a good time of year to declutter and really think about the way you live in your home ... are the spaces working how you want them to, could you do with a little less 'stuff' and a little more space ? With no big rush to be outdoors or heading to the beach, winter is a good time to get on with projects indoors and making home feel beautiful is top of my list for sure. As I wrote about in my last post, I've been working on this for the past month - definitely a long term project, it's taking time ... but little by little I'm starting to feel happier with the spaces around me.

Get inspired by sites like:

San Francisco Girl Bay

Apartment Therapy

The Design Files (my current favourite place to go for beautiful home inspiration)

French by Design

* Make time to curl up with a good book or a magazine, a big cup of tea or hot chocolate and a soft throw ... even if your days are full of the demands of family life, it's important to make time for yourself ... even if it's just for an hour now and then.

* Have family movie nights with a movie everyone can enjoy ... snuggle up in PJ's with pizza and blankets. Make hot chocolate and bring out the board games. (Yes. Pizza and hot chocolate feature quite a lot in my winter itiniary).Board cames can be for just the grown ups too !

* If your kids are still little enough (and even if they're not), throw on a cd after dinner and have an impromptu dance party. Make everyone have a turn to dance on the coffee table.

* Eat by candlelight and use the best dishes. Or let the kids bath by candlelight. Just because. (Obviously this is only a novel activity if you are not living somewhere with enforced load shedding or a lack of power on a normal day).

* It's the perfect weather for making crafts

Take some books out of the library for ideas ... or .... 

* Set up some boards on Pinterest to get inspired about Spring, new places to travel to, art and DIY projects, plan a party, redecorate a room, or just get inspired about life with whatever makes your heart sing. It's my happy place. Always. Create your own boards, find people who's pins you love and feel inspired by and follow their boards. Search for ideas ... the possibilities are endless.

I found her today. Love. I am a little obsessed with succulents and deserts right now. It must be the weather.

* On the subject of being online, this is a great time to catch up on blogs you love, and to find new websites to be inspired by. (Or start your own!) I found these two photographers recently and think their work is just beautiful.

Paul Massey - Interiors, Portraits, Travel. A visual feast.
Kara Rosenland - Australian photographer, stylist and traveller

* Nurture yourself with good food. Freshly baked bread, soups, stews simmering for hours. Muffins. Plates of finger food. Bake a cake.

The Pioneer Woman.

Who doesn't love Jamie Oliver.

Bird and Cleaver is just one of the beautiful blogs for food inspiration.

* Online / e-courses are huge in the States and are a wonderful way to broaden your horizons without leaving home they work so well because they can be fitted in around work and family commitments and can usually be done at your own pace over the course of a few weeks. This is a good time of year to test the waters. Take a course about something you've always wanted to try but maybe haven't felt brave enough to do in the company of others. Many of the courses have a great online community through Facebook groups so there's a lot of room for discussion and encouragement. There are courses in photography, blogging, scrapbooking, painting, writing ... after a long wait, I am finally taking Do What You Love's e-course and it's already made me see things a little differently. Some hard questions being asked, but then that is the whole point.

* You can never have too many lights. This year I decided to leave our Christmas lights up till winter ends and they make me smile every single night when I turn them on. Hang strings of lights up in the house too to brighten up the long cold nights.

* Bring in fresh flowers - bright spring colours to chase away the winter blues.

 * Get out of the house. If a day trip or a new road is not possible, take your camera for a walk and find something beautiful in the cold. 

As i was writing this blog, look who made an appearance at the window. I didn't even need to leave the house to go for a walk for this winter photo.

Love. Living. Near. Deer.