Sunday, January 3, 2016

Five Things to Tell Yourself Today (and Every Day)

Being the beginning of 2016, it is as good a time as ever to start positive daily habits which will support and encourage you in the year ahead. As easy as it is to depend on relationships to lift our spirits and make us strong, I truly believe that the best gift you can give yourself is the equipment in all you need to be happy and positive each day, so that any other boosts you receive are simply a bonus.

1. Recognize The Small Steps I Take!

As I woman, I find myself so much on the quest for perfection that I forget to appreciate small milestones which, although an indication of success, do not quash feelings of inadequacy. If your goal for 2016 is to lose weight or get fitter (for example) it's easy to be overwhelmed by the end goal instead of focussing on the journey and the small adjustments in your mindset that it will take to get there. And when you really think about it, it's absurd that you dwell on something that seems difficult and will easily put you off even trying, rather than on tiny things that are 100% in your control and ultimately form the building blocks to your success. So next time you choose a healthier meal, go for a run or squeeze in an ab class (to continue with the health example), recognize that you are already successful in your goals as you are actively going about doing something to achieve them.

2. Stop Comparing Myself.

Social media makes it easy for us to spend our days dwelling on a lifestyle that we don't have - making us feel like we aren't on the right path in terms of money, relationships or career. The truth is, that everyone is fighting their own battles, and these are never self evident online. We don't post about our failures, embarrassments or challenges, and neither do the people we aimlessly aspire to be - for their body, boyfriend or makeup collection. Whoever said that "comparison is the thief of joy" couldn't be more right. It squanders energy on a pursuit which is negative and really damaging to our precious self esteem which usually doesn't require any further hampering.

3. Be Grateful and Gracious.

Gratitude allows us to focus on the positives in life, which we are actively then able to leverage into creating more positives. By recognizing your strengths and the beauty of what you have, it makes it easy to wake up positive and happy each day, which is integral in achieving your dreams. If you think to yourself - I feel so strong today, thank goodness for my health and capable body - it cultivates appreciation for yourself, helping your self image, not to mention underscoring the value of your relationships. It's so easy to forget how unpleasant it feels to be sick or unwell, but it's important to realise how integral your health is to a good lifestyle, before your body has to remind you! At the same time, it's worth remembering that being grateful doesn't mean bragging about material things, but rather being gracious and remembering that not everyone is lucky enough to have what you do.

4. Take Breaks to Breathe

When you have a lot on your plate, it makes it hard to prioritize on what is most important, and it becomes hard to focus on one thing at a time. The best way to be more productive, rather than frantically rushing from one task to another, is to make a master list which covers everything you need to do (work wise and for your personal life) and then when you take a break, you are able to refer back to the list and see what progress you are making! The more you use To Do lists, the better you are able to use breaks to regroup and move onto your next task. And never underestimate the merits of a long bath! 

5. Taking Care of Myself Helps Me Take Care of Others

This is the most amazing realisation to make. There is no point in committing to endless social engagements, helping your family, doing volunteer work, being a supportive friend and partner, only to become a fragile and frazzled version of yourself. It is not sustainable in the long term to go flat out until you become unwell, exhausted or unkept. Happiness is contagious, and no matter how hard you try to force it, it will elude you until you genuinely feel fulfilled as a person. You can then lift those around you to become better versions of themself, without doing it in the hopes that they will help you back. You need to be able to give selflessly and require nothing in return for it to be meaningful help. So work out what it takes for you to feel content - whether it's a good nights sleep, a good book and a bubble bath, or a facial.

What do you tell yourself daily to feel self-loved and happy? I'd love to know!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Best Cape Town Gift Stores // Online and Off

Looking for gifts in Cape Town and tired of the run of the mill chain stores? Here are five of of Cape Towns finest specialty stores which are guaranteed to win you brownie points and secure you gifting goddess status. 


Online or Unit G3 Salt Circle Building, 19 Kent Street, Woodstock, Cape Town
Think: Screen printing and beautiful typography on a variety of homeware products such as cushions, aprons, laptop and tablet sleeves. 

Present Space 
50 Kloof St, Gardens, Cape Town 
Newly Opened: Shop Number G72, Willowbridge Store
Think: A showcase of local designers with products spanning from beautiful ceramics, to crochet pot hangers, to intricate jewellery. This is a one stop shop for thoughtful gifts which are kooky and clever! 

Oh Lief 
Online or stocked by a number of stores in Cape Town including Wellness Warehouse on Kloof, not to mention Woolworths (Canal Walk, Cavendish, Tygervalley, V&A, Blue Route and Adderley Street) 
Think: Organic products which are environmentally friendly and made with love! Incredients include beeswax and exotic oils like baobab, avocado and lemongrass, to create body waxes, oils and hand washes in flavours like Green Rooibos, Lavendar & Roman Chamomile and Grapefruit, Sweet Orange and Tea Tree! I have the Grapefruit body wax and it smells divine!  

Skinny La Minx 

Online, On Superbalist or 201 Bree Street, Cape Town
Think: Textiles, tea towels, wallpaper courtesy of designer Heather Moore. The products are aptly described to "bring pattern and practicality" into your home. 

We Heart This 
Think: Beautiful jewellery, wooden boards, prints, leather bags, pouches. They don't have a physical store but only charge R60 courier delivery in Cape Town. 

Want to be a part of this chic list or know of a shop which should be? Contact me! 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

How to Travel Thailand on a Budget

Keen to travel but can't afford to splurge? Thailand really is the perfect destination. The South African rand is roughly 2,5 to the baht, making it a totally affordable option for the young and restless. I went in April of this year with three of my friends and can honestly say I will look back on the two week stay with the fondest of memories.

What was the itinerary, you ask? We decided our must see's were Phuket, Railay and Phi Phi. Often, you'll find that travelling from Cape Town quickly becomes expensive, but we were lucky enough that our flights (booked through STA travel) weren't routed through Joburg. Instead we flew Qata airlines via Doha. Despite having an eight hour layover in Doha on the way there, the journey was relatively painless, mainly because we were placated by the amazing shopping in the airport! I for one bought a Harrods (yes, Harrods!) wallet in the airport for the equivalent of R500. And flying into Phuket is like nothing I have ever experienced before - it was so drop dead gorgeous, you forget all about the exhaustion that was starting to set in.

We were of course met by a heatwave as we got off the plane, which kind of made it that much more exciting and tropical. Although we knew we were going at an incredibly hot time of year, we didn't realise just how hot. On one of the days we were in Phuket, the tour guide proudly reaffirmed that it was the hottest day of the year. Anyway, one of the mistakes I would advise against is trying to exchange currency at the airport. I was offered a ridiculous exchange rate which is badly inflated in comparison to the other exchanges in and around Phuket. Also, not all of them take rands and the few that do will sometimes only take "new rands" (with Mandela on it) or as I like to call them, Randela's!

We stayed at Peach Hill Hotel & Resort in Phuket for five nights. It is a short walk or tuktuk ride down to Kata Beach. Definitely the highlight for me were the selection of beautiful pools that you can swim in as well as proximity to amazing Indian restaurants! Interestingly enough, we ate way more Indian food in Thailand than Thai food.  My favourite were definitely all of the paneer curries - I was in foodie heaven! The first couple of days we lounged, explored Phuket tuktuk and did a day of snorkelling. I had never snorkelled before and, after being warned of all sea urchins, started to wonder if I would enjoy it. I absolutely loved it though, and the guides (despite speaking poor English) are so sweet and show you how it's done! Regardless of your swimming ability, it's amazing just to float on the surface with a life jacket open underneath you, as flailing limbs aren't ideal for not disturbing the fish. I was absolutely mesmerized and didn't want to get out of the water! On one of the last days that we were in Phuket, we did a boat tour around the surrounding islands, which although nice, was heaving with tourists and the smell of boat petrol hung thick. The least spectacular of the whole trip was James Bond Island, whose next door island is a depressing market frantic with tourists.

Other cool things we did in Phuket included visiting Big Buddha and Wat Chalong Temple. 

We also ventured to Patong Beach for an extremely eventful evening out! We walked down the infamous Bangla road to laze on the beach for a while, and were offered wristbands into a club called Illuzion. Needless to say, after drinking a bottle of rum as predrinks, we were all too keen to see what Illuzion was about. And it definitely did not disappoint! It was so thrilling to be in a nightclub with incredible dance music and acrobats suspended from the ceiling! We caught a taxi back to Peach Hill after a long night of dancing, and woke up early the next day with a lot of great albeit hazy memories after one too many vodka red bull buckets (One is in fact too many :) ) to leave to Krabi. 

Getting there was a scary ordeal - we caught a mini bus, and the driver insisted on overtaking on blind rises and running through red lights, which seems to a be a frightening norm in Thailand. 

Peach Hill was the only accomodation we had booked for the trip - we wanted to play Railay and Phi Phi by ear - so looked a lot at TripAdvisor for accomodation ideas and found an amazing hotel in Aonang for us to stay at called Aonang Eco Inn. We booked for two nights but ended up staying much longer - the staff were so kind and they also rent scooters (which, after a zip around the parking lot, I was too nervous to drive on the road!) 

The shopping in Aonang was absolutely incredible - I far preferred it to shopping in Phuket and managed to get all my gifts for my family here. The snorkelling was also better here than Phuket (couldn't believe there could be anything better!) so all round we were incredibly happy during this part of the trip. Incredibly, there were some insane Italian restaurants in Aonang, so after a long day of shopping you are able to indulge in a delicious Alfredo! The haggling in Thailand certainly takes a lot of getting used to, but in Aonang I found myself finally getting the hang of it, and have a beautiful sarong and typical Thailand pants to show for it. Another one of my favourite moments in Thailand was getting to the top of Tiger Cave Temple - 1200+ steps later. It was so calming climbing all the way to the top, although the heat did make it a challenge. 

After an unexpectedly long time at the Eco Inn, we caught a ferry to Phi Phi - the party island of Thailand. It is certainly paradise for young party goers, and we were so excited for the night of fire poi that lay ahead. I didn't enjoy our accomodation in Phi Phi but simply because it was right on the beach so very sandy and noisy - so I could definitely have better anticipated that! We also discovered our aircon not to be working and so had to move rooms shortly after checking in. Regardless though, it was totally suitable given we only spent one night in Phi Phi and caught a ferry back to Phuket the next day to fly home. 

All in all, I have to say that Thailand was an absolutely incredible holiday. Sure, I went with lovely people, but I think it would be hard not to enjoy the food, people and beaches of Thailand. If you are willing to brave the tourists, taxi drivers and in some places, bad littering, it is otherwise incredible. The whole holiday couldn't have cost us much more than R16 000 which, considering the amount of snorkelling we had done and food we had eaten, we were pleasantly surprised by. 

Photography // Saturday Shoot

On Saturday I was very lucky to witness my very talented bestie, Di Jordan, at work on a photoshoot. She and two other photographers had each chosen a model to do a grunge photoshoot with in a beautiful studio at Eden on the Bay (Tableview, Cape Town) called The Square Cube . They are actually currently running an opening special until 31 January 2016 and I would highly recommend it - it's light and bright with everything you need. I was helping with hair on the three stunning models and had so much fun doing big, messy hair on them. 

Watch this space for the final pictures! 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Nails before Males // Belvedere Sorbet Gelish Mani Review

Being a huge fan of all things girly, it was always hard to justify going to get my nails done at the salon. I have had Gelish done on occasion for weddings and such but really the thought of getting trapped in a cycle of having to get it soaked off each time annoyed me. Anyway, out of convenience, I booked a Gelish with Angela at Sorbet Belvedere (Cape Town) which is just around the corner from my house. She honestly does it so much better than anyone else and it lasts between two and half and three weeks without chipping which is definitely a first! She is also super creative and makes great colour suggestions when you are overwhelmed. Best advice is to go on a Sunday when it is quieter and very relaxing. Also - if you (like me) hate the soak off idea, I think in Gelish's defence (testimony in the pictures below) - the fact that they are UV cured mean your nails actually grow - honestly can say that mine never seem to get past a certain length! I would strongly recommend this branch specifically - but love Sorbet in general. The telephone number for the Belvedere branch is as follows: 021 671 7631

In need of some Pinspiration for the holidays? I love these! 

Another amazing find this week was that of Hey Gorgeous - they are the most amazing online store. It seems like they are soon to open retail franchises too - sigh! To be able to do that would be a dream come true. I recently ordered the Sonic cleaning brush for my aunt and it arrived in no time. Will be sure to ask her for a review ;)
Here are some more of their fab products - can we just take a moment for the Turkish Delight Whipped Body Mousse?

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Best Youtubers in Cape Town

It never ceases to amaze me how many talented creatives there are in Cape Town. And in my opinion, there's no richer medium that Youtube! So I thought it would be apt to pop together a list which combines two of my loves - Youtube and Cape Town. Check out who to follow if you are in the mood for a laugh, some shopping advice or social commentary.

1. Theodora Lee 

Subscriber Count: 200,000 ; 7.5 million Views

Theo is a real ray of sunshine on a rainy day. She sets out to empower girls with sisterly advice about everything from boys to harder hitting issues like sexual harassment and cheating.

This year, she moved in with her boyfriend, fellow Youtuber Andrew Tainton and often they make totes adorbs videos together.

Why not visit her website to see more of her lifestyle, advice and travel content.

Favourite Video? Meep so hard to choose. For something a little different, I loved their travel video from their Asian Adventure.

2. Georgie Goullee 
Subscriber Count: 2,800; 132,500 Views 

Georgie's tag line reads "I love telling stories. Would you like to hear one?" Yes. Yes I would. Georgie is a down to earth vlogger who posts about exploring this beautiful city of ours.  She did 14 days of "Daily Activism" - fun excursions to celebrate Cape Town in all its splendour include planting trees, visiting penguins and going to Newlands forest with her boyfriend Sacha.

Favourite Video? Kira Drops her Sausage 

3. Warren Haydon 
Subscriber Count: 10 000 ; 196 000 Views 
Warren is a "coffee fuelled" adventure junkie. When he isn't at uni, he makes videos - and very funny ones at that! A definite one to watch, his comic timing and frankness is guaranteed to put you in a good mood.

Favourite Video? South African Slang. 

4. Anton Taylor 
Subscriber Count: 8 500 ; 1.3 million Views 

Anton has some really winning claim to fames - namely being the Former Internation Man of Movember and the Co-Creator of the hilarballs Jozi Shore. He is refreshingly honest, anything but apathetic and loves creative writing. That and his weight loss journey is truly inspiring (note to self: stop eating KFC). I love that his social commentary isn't preachy or verbose - he just tells it like it is, with a humourous spin.
Favourite Video? Don't Be a D*ck at Daisies 

There you go! From me to you - my favourite Youtube bloggers in Cape Town.
Have an amazing four day week if you are in sunny South Africa!

xx Meg

Friday, January 30, 2015

Feature Friday // Roxy Hutton of CityGirlSearching

Welcome to the second Feature Friday where I feature upcoming self starters, photographers, designers, entrepreneurs and game changers -  all looking to make a name for themselves and inspiring those around them at the same time.

The first Feature Friday showcased Anna Atkinson from Anna-Louise sleepwear

My second Feature Friday is the stunning Roxy Hutton over at CityGirlSearching.She is a twenty something year old South African photographer, blogger, stationery store owner and teacher currently living in South Korea.

I met Roxy when I was at Rhodes, and attended many of her intense spinning classes - is there anything she can't do? She is just the most bubbly, sweet person and is just too creative for words. 

1. Roxy and her pup Shadow
2. Rox and her hubby Dale - their farm wedding pics are just too beautiful. You just have to see them.
When/how did you decide to start your stationery store?
The stationery store has the most gorgeous, cutesy stuff on it. It will make you want to go to South Korea like yesterday. 
Roxy does a mean manicure! 

When/how did you decide to start your blog?

I started my first blog (FarmboyandCityGirlHitAsia) as a way to document my life in South Korea when I was first teaching English in 2010. When I moved back to South Africa in 2011 I felt like I needed more of a creative output, and I wanted to focus on more of the pretty things in life. And so CityGirlSearching was founded. I started reviewing places in and around Johannesburg, as well as doing makeup reviews and recipes and sharing more of the beauty I was inspired by in South Africa.

My love for stationery compounded when I first walked into one of the millions of unique stores here in Korea. On just about every corner you’re bound to find stores filled to the brim with pencils, notebooks, washi tape, letter sets, note cards and so much more. I knew that I needed to find a way to share what I had found here, and of course to try and get rid of the boxes of stationery I had already collected! And so my stationery store was born.

Your photography is incredible (check out Rox's portfolio here) – where did you learn to take such amazing pictures?

Thanks you for those kind words. I learnt all the basics from my husband who was the one to contribute all the travel photographs to our first blog. When he had had enough of photographing flowers and nail polishes I picked up the camera, armed with a lot of patience and set about trying to re-create pretty images I found online. Pretty soon I learnt enough to make and style my own photographs and have found a new passion too.

What does your typical work day entail?

I teach English to Middle School girls here in South Korea and so the majority of my day is spent teaching and lesson planning. Every morning my husband and I are up at the crack of dawn to walk our little rescue pup, Shadow. Then it’s a quick breakfast and then off to school. After work it’s out again with pup on a hike around our town before dinner.

What do you love doing on the weekend?

I often collaborate with my stylist friend, Storm, on styled shoots involved paid clients and friends. We set up Pinterest boards during the week and then head off in my car to scout out locations. I also work with Storm to host DIY days with here in Korea, as a way of bringing together like-minded people.

What is the best advice you've ever received?

This is a tough one.  I usually find advice the most helpful after I’ve learnt a hard lesson. As the only way to really learn something is to do it, do it wrong, and then learn what to do better next time. So I guess I would say the best advice I’ve ever heard was to never stop trying, and to never be afraid of putting yourself out there and making mistakes.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I’ve always wanted to be a teacher (I don’t plan on teaching English here in Korea for the rest of my life) but I definitely want to head into teaching little ones when we get back to South Africa.

What inspires you?

God. Travel. Early Mornings. Exercise. My husband. Warm sunshine on a cold winters day.

You have traveled extensively – where is your favourite place?

This is a hard question! There have been definite highs to each and every place we’ve travelled to, and just as many low points (getting food poisoning and then the flu on an island hopping adventure in the beautiful tropical islands off the Philippines…missing our flights back from Vietnam and only realizing we had maxed out our credit cards when  we tried to book later flights…catching sand fleas in Malaysia and having scars and bruising for 6 months due to the most insane itchy bites on my legs) and yet I cannot contain my excitement at the thought of our next travel destination. You learn so much about yourself and your partner/friends when you travel, and it’s one thing that you will never, ever regret doing.

Your pooch is adorable! Can you tell us about him?

Thank you! We rescued what was then a little black and brown bundle of fluff from the middle of the road late one night. Here in South Korea dogs are often abandoned (there is very little population control down on street dogs) and a lot of dogs are kept in cages and bred for meat. Our little Shadow was destined for the soup pot and so there really was no two minds about keeping him once we laid eyes on him. He has since grown into a very mischievous and handsome boy, who loves the snow and most especially, loves dirty socks! We aren’t sure what he is exactly, we thought he was a Korean Jindo (a special, but common breed  of hunting dogs here in Korea) but he is looking and acting more and more like a husky everyday. So we are going with the term ‘Jinsky’…a bit of a Jindo/Husky/Pavement special. If you’d like to you can find more of him on Instagram using the hashtag #ShadowTheJindo.

Thank you so much Roxy for agreeing to be featured!

Follow Roxy on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest

Most importantly - don't forget to check out her blog and stationery store