Monday, October 08, 2018

I recently had the amazing privilege to go on holiday to North Vietnam. As with all holiday trips I needed to think of gifts that I could take home for my loved ones. Gifts that were both unique and well suited to their individual personalities.

With this in mind, my daily walk-a-bouts included scouting for gifts. Having come from the beauty industry I was overjoyed when I found Jade Rollers in the Sapa market. Needless to say, I bought one for myself and a few as gifts for the girly girls in my life.

So what's the fuss about the Jade roller you may ask? Well, it's actually trending at the moment. It's a facial tool for home use, used to calm and soothe the skin ... but let's break it down more why don't we.

Jade Rollers - Here's the low-down

Yep, it's this little green number!
So first up you get single sided rollers and double-sided rollers. I could only find the single-sided rollers so those are what I bought. I paid about 20 Dong each (in Vietnam) which is about R16. Considering you pay upwards of R350 for them here in South Africa it was a bargain.

What are the traditional properties of Jade?

Jade has been used for centuries in East Asia to promote and maintain health and beauty. The ancient medical wisdom considered jade as a healing gem for detoxifying and healing stressed organs, for strengthening the body’s natural defences, and for boosting healing powers. It was also commonly pumiced and used in skin care, it has long been a favourite for skin health.

What are the rolling movements all about?

The benefits of jade rolling still seem to be up for debate however many will agree that any form of massage is going to be beneficial to the skin. It, therefore, stands to reason that the benefits would include: 
- stimulation for good circulation
- a healthy glow
- a natural, chemical-free way to promote healthy skin
- anti-inflammatory
- depuffs the face 

How should you use your roller?

Much like lymph drainage of the face, the technique follows the same movements always working towards the lymph nodes.

I personally love my roller, I tend to wash my face in the evening and apply my facial oil/serum and then follow the paths as above. I can't say that I have dramatic results but it somehow feels soothing and just ... a treat I suppose.

I'd love to hear what you think? Drop a comment below if you are brave enough.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

When it comes to teeth and gums, size definitely does matter. You just have to look at the vast array of toothbrushes and other oral equipment to know that. In fact, there are people known to obsess over oral hygiene, and then there are us normal people just looking for a quick fix and in healthy moderation.

So what am I flapping on about you may be asking? Well, it's simple really - Sunstar GUM and the lovely peeps over at IVO Health have launched a broader range of their toothpicks called soft-picks. I personally love them as they are gentle and do not splinter off in the teeth like those cheap and nasties.

Sunstar GUM Soft-Picks 

Sunstar GUM Soft-Pick to suit every tooth and gap Soft-Pick's now come in small, regular and large - each in a different colour for quick reference. With the signature, rubber bristled top which comfortably slides between the teeth to clean out any plaque or dreaded food debris.

So why use these as opposed to normal wooden toothpick's (gasps!)?

The soft rubber bristles gently dislodge food and plaque, whilst giving the gums a gentle micro-massage. They are soft on both your teeth and gums whilst still cleaning the teeth effectively. Even more important, is that they are safe to use on orthodontics, bridges and implants, and for those with sensitive gums.

- Curved to follow the natural shape of the jaw
- Soft, flexible rubber bristles
- Available in 3 sizes
- Latex, wood, and metal free

GUM Soft-Picks Advanced are convenient to use on the go – there’s a handy travel case in each pack great to keep in your handbag. The last time I whipped mine out on a plane, I remember the person next to me who asked for a toothpick saying "ooooh fancy" ... if only they knew. Seriously though - there is no excuse to have gross specks of your last meal sitting in your teeth... get yourself sorted!
GUM Soft-Picks Advanced are available from Clicks, selected dentists, Dis-Chem, Pick n Pay and pharmacies at a recommended retail price of R89 (for a pack of 30 including a handy travel case).

Saturday, September 15, 2018

So this is going to be another intimate life post. I am definitely moving away from just reviews as I am tired of the blogging "rat race" - I sure hope you'll stick around. As you all know my journey over the past two years has been somewhat of a challenging one. I was officially diagnosed with stage 4 Fibromyalgia and my life took a serious turn for the unknown.

Whilst Fibromyalgia can flare up at any moment it does, in fact, have company, it's companion is chronic pain as a result of inflammation. My days used to be filled with this constant underlying pain, it kept me from sleeping, it left me irritable and at the end of the day, I just looked exhausted. My weight piled on again as my immune system took a turn for the worst - and that was life on a daily basis.


The good news is, however, that as you learn to live your "new life", so you have to adapt your way of eating (like the anti-inflammatory diet), and if you have a great doctor like mine you have to be open to trying different medications. Eventually, you find the one that makes you feel the "best version" the new you, and there is no turning back.

So first up, what is the definition of chronic pain?

"Chronic pain is often defined as any pain lasting more than 12 weeks. Whereas acute pain is a normal sensation that alerts us to possible injury, chronic pain is very different. ... Chronic pain may arise from an initial injury, such as a back sprain, or there may be an ongoing cause, such as illness."

What many don't realise is that with an autoimmune disease the cycle of pain is dependant on your stress levels, and can wax and wane as you live from day to day. There is no predictability to the pain and when the pain is present, it makes life for the sufferer (my) life pretty unbearable. This pain often leads to the person(me) withdrawing from social life, struggling with constant fatigue from pain, and a chronic lack of sleep. In the long run, it can lead to isolation, which in turn leads to depression.

Here is an example of a pain/fatigue cycle 

What you do learn after a substantial amount of time struggling with chronic pain, is just how strong you really are. You learn to assess and analyse every aspect of your life, from what you eat which can trigger a flare-up, to emotional stressors that you can try to avoid.

One thing that is certain is that pain-killers are not a long-term solution, and can potentially open the door to addiction if you are not under medical supervision.

I am lucky, as I said in that I have a functional medicine doctor who is just amazing, and we are constantly testing new medications to see which works best for me in eliminating the pain and inflammation. I am currently on Cymgen 30mg and it takes about 80% of the pain away, however, I still have a problem with neuralgia. Often I can be holding a cup and not even feel my hand, it goes completely numb, followed by a sharp painful burning when the sensation returns. This moves around my body and is not limited to one arm sadly.

I also struggle with restless legs which made my a recent overseas flight almost unbearable. I found myself standing for nearly 4 hours of a 13-hour flight - but I survived and had a great holiday in Vietnam.

So that's me and my chronic pain and a broad overview. I would love to get more comments and interaction so please share if you struggle your thoughts or any questions? 

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Having not been able to travel for the last 17 years due to circumstance, finances and all the other challenges, it was really quite a mind shift to get ready to once again start globetrotting.

One thing I did notice though is now that I am in my forties, I did not find it nearly as scary as before. In fact, the holiday was pretty much purchased and planned solely by myself, no agents or anything! Pretty impressive for an oldie like me (well I think so anyway). So what all did it entail to get my rather generous tush to Hanoi?

Clearly, the East is a place that leaves many asking why there? But, why not? I think often it is the history of war and discontent, that leaves people dubious to travel to what seems a rather "exotic" and "dangerous" destination. The sad reality is that these countries are now so poor and downtrodden thanks to past regimes, that they desperately need the tourists to help uplift and rebuild both their countries and the economies.

They are such a humble and kind community making it easy to travel, but also because of the favourable exchange rate - more "moola" more fun right? This means that you can often pick up great packages on platforms such as Daddy's Deals or Hyperli for a steal ... which is exactly what I did. Is it safe? Yes, it is in my experience. I bought my package through Hyperli who guarantee your purchase, a wise move which puts your mind at ease. The package I bought was with Halong Tours and our online concierge was Sunny Nguyen.

Hello Hanoi!

Enough of the serious stuff though, onto my travel and exploration through the bustling and busy city called Hanoi.

Hanoi is busy... very busy! Day or night there is this underlying hum that will either drive you stir crazy or fuel your desire to be bustling (along with about 80% of the general population). The smells are both wonderful and putrid depending on where you are and what day it is after rubbish collection (picture 38-42'c and 90% humidity stewing for a few days... blegh!). You soon learn to dodge the street bins and favour walking on the side of the street with food stalls which tempt your nostrils and taunts your tummy.
The heat is inescapable and breath-sapping at times, but funnily your body just seems to cope, adjust and keep going. The skies are seldom clear and blue, but rather hazy thanks to the high humidity. The shops advertise their wares both on the pavement and in the cavernous stores. The street food restaurants spill onto the pavements with their plastic chairs and tables... the ones made for kiddies.

Yep, you have to drop down onto these little numbers and pray you don't split a seam or let rip with a sneaker (nb. lazy sphincters come with age, no lies). It also bears mentioning that this practice is illegal, which means if the cops show up the chairs get thrown in the store, everyone runs and they all get a free meal - for reals. In fact, our tour guide amused us by mentioning that this was how he saved money when studying... naughty naughty.

The electricity and wiring on the streets, make our local townships look like a well-planned electricity hub (albeit illegal), in Hanoi, you will notice the wires are everywhere. At different heights and accompanied by huge junctions, and fuse boxes within reach ...dangerous is an understatement - and yet, somehow it all just seems to work.

The main form of transport is the scooter (or as we know it "the poegie"). You will notice anything from tv's, fridges to washing machines whizzing by on the back of these scooters, and even up to 5 people on 1 scooter (I kid you not!) Traffic lights which exist are generally ignored, there are no police or traffic cops to speak of. In other words, it is a hooting frenzy of chaos and confusion, each for their own whether car, bicycle, scooter or truck and when in doubt stop and hoot! As for foot traffic, the same rules apply.

The humans of Hanoi

Hanoi is a city diverse in culture and yet the social classes are very obvious - but never will you see a beggar, nope they look after their own. It is quite normal to walk out of your hotel and see farm village folk selling the fruit and veg from either a bike or straddled across their shoulders (please support them). These folk are humble and walk hours on foot to sell their wares and take home some supper and a few pennies. You will see the (street) restaurant owners and shop stall owners alike sitting on the pavement, and surveying the world as it passes by - that is until someone walks in. The Viet culture is a bartering culture, so don't be shy - but do be kind. Then there are the elderly who sit and seem lost on the sidewalks while the world passes them by, sometimes they'll be drinking coffee or playing cards but often they just look a little distant. Lastly, there are the educated and the scholars, they are dressed to the nines, they are super ambitious, and are looking to make their mark on an up and coming country. They are super efficient and run many of the franchised stores and tourism sectors.

The shops of Hanoi

Hanoi, as I have said once before, is a city of contrasts, and the shopping is no different. You get downtown Hanoi which is the tourist hub, it is comprised of tiny little side streets buzzing with people, scooters, bicycle taxi's and loads of "china town" type shops. The goods are hanging both inside and bulging outside onto the street, often making it hard to navigate the pavements and people pushing past.

Then you get the side streets of Hanoi, these have your franchise shops such as Highlands Coffee and Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) with a few little local hidden gems in between. They are often dark little alleyways which make my South African heart race, but fear not, Vietnam truly is very safe. In the outlying area's there are very few shops to speak of, and the equivalent of a 7Eleven is called "Circle K" and they are tiny with only the bare necessities. The rest of the time you get these little street shops (see below) and that is how many of the people do their daily shopping.

The main streets, however, have these have great restaurants and some pretty boutique shops, coffee shops and tea shops, all of which make great gifts by the way.

Then there is the city centre... man, oh, man! 

Hectic is the word that comes to mind! In fact, when you climb in a taxi you might want to just close your eyes and say a little prayer because a taxi drive in the city equates to an extreme sport. 

If it's brand shopping you are looking for Hanoi city centre is the only place that you will find anything resembling a mall. Yes, they do have the big brands think Victoria's Secret, H & M etc., if that is what you are looking for. Happily, it was not on my to-do list... sorry, not sorry.

So that's it for now, coming next is our walking food tour through the old quarter of Hanoi - bye for now!

Monday, August 13, 2018

As you all know by now, nothing screams my name more than an aromatic cappuccino and a delightful treat to tickle the taste buds. Having already spoilt my senses at Coco Safar when they were located in the Cavendish Square, I was dying to spoil myself and mumsy at their new bigger, bolder and far more brazen premises in Green Point (Seapoint .... oh heck I never know the friggin difference ... but it's along that drag).


So the new Coco Safar was said to boast a coffee shop, a Capsule Emporium and Espresso Bar, a Couture Pâtisserie, a tea brewery and bar and much more ... whats not to love right? So off we headed with the "fandamily" (aka my cousins and aunt) and mumsy.

Do I smell coffee? 

The Capsule Emporium
At Coco Safar, they offer quality coffee at various strengths to suit your palette. They also are front-runners when it comes to the world’s first home compostable, oxygen tight Bio-Capsule offering their clients a sustainable capsule experience (at a price however as these capsules are by no means cheap). 

However, if you have a discerning palette and choose quality over quantity ... you are going to love this place. The Emporium collections offer you a wide selection of fine freshly roasted coffees curated from the finest speciality beans and regions around the globe, so do give it a try at least once before you pass judgement ... chances are you will be back!

The Espresso Bar
A state-of-the-art Espresso Bar provides a myriad of reasons to travel out of your way to get your coffee fix, not to mention the world’s first Spirit Idrocompresso espresso machine with lever technology, exclusively made for Coco Safar in Holland by Kees van der Westen. Time to sit ...sniff ...slurp ...aaaah! Nothing like a good cuppa joe. As with many of the best things in life, don't be in a hurry this place is always packed.

The Luxury Café
The Coco Safar Café with its French style and retro-chic setting are all about understated luxury and indulgence. There is a seductive and timeless ambience of the store which belies its rather characteristic sense of old-school colonial "poshness". The food is exceptionally well presented and very tasty, but once again it is rather pricey for what it is.

While I don't mind the occasional splurge, I do have to be honest and say that this will not be my corner cafe on a weekly basis. For a coffee (or two) and a breakfast, you are looking at about R120 - R200 per person and yes, that is without cake ... and let's face it, who wants to come here and not eat cake, right?

The Couture Pâtisserie
As the French would say "oh la la" and indeed they would be right. Coco Safar's Pâtisserie will leave you spoilt for choice and biting your lip with indecision. It's prettiness personified and even more so when plated (although this will set you back another R30-40 bucks). Coco Safar does, however, offer you an incomparable couture pâtisserie experience. The offering is inspired by the great French tradition, our pâtisserie and viennoiseries and are dreamt up by the pastry artisans spanning Cape Town and New York.

So no matter what you do, if you live in Cape Town or are visiting, you need to add this unique coffee experience to your "to-do" list. But, whatever you do ... do not take your mom in law with you, she might just rock up a hefty bill as a little revenge or payback (tee hee). Oh yes, and leave the kids at home!

Personally, I love the prettiness and had a lovely morning at the new Coco Safar.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Many have asked why Vietnam? I wish I could tell you that there is a sane and well thought out answer and yet ... there isn't!

I simply felt in my soul that it is a place I want to visit. You see I love people and cultures, I love getting into the heart of a country, not just the pretty fluffy stuff but actually walking the streets, wandering through the markets and sampling the traditional and native foods and cultural mannerisms.

I am the spontaneous type and while I like my trip to be planned and to know that I will be safe, I also like the spontaneity of exploring alone, getting lost, getting frustrated and succumbing to the fact that not everything is in my control. After all, if we never miss our creature comforts how will we ever truly appreciate the uniqueness and distinctive defining qualities of a faraway land?

So it was along these lines that I started to plan my first overseas holiday in 17years at the beginning of this year ... destination North Vietnam (Hanoi, Sapa and Halong Bay)!

So let's, first of all, discuss the budget, after all, that is the deciding factor no matter what the destination. The purse strings are always tight unless you are one of the fortunate who don't have to fret the bank account (lucky you!). For me as a single woman, paying a bond, a car and all the insurances and day to day living expenses ... let's say it can get tight some months.

That being said, I knew that if I didn't start making a plan, life is somehow going to pass me by and leave me one day saying "what the hell happened" or worse yet "I wish I hadn't waited". You see life passes by in the blink of an eye and if there is one thing my dad's frail health has taught me ... it's that tomorrow is never guaranteed!

At the beginning of the year, I really felt prompted by God and the word I got was "LIVE", I later went to a wedding and on the keepsakes there were messages and once again mine said "LIVE". I have pretty much put my life on hold since getting divorced and have dedicated myself to the church and to my family, it was clearly time to choose me ... and take a chance.

As a result, when Hyperli advertised travel packages to Vietnam, it pulled at both my heart and purse strings. After rolling the idea around in my head I spoke in passing to another single friend and before I knew it I had a partner in crime. I purchased our deals online for less than R5000 (7 nights and 8 days) each and there was no turning back.

The flights we had to wait on so that we could accumulate some funds to purchase our tickets and so we perhaps paid a little more than I liked in the end. Originally we could have got flights at about R11 000 if we had bought 6 months ahead of time, however, we landed up paying R12 700 in the end (minus our taxes, visas and insurance).

So I want to share the whole experience in bite-sized portions because it is a lot to write and a lot to take in. But, in the meantime here is the nitty-gritty of planning the holiday and what you need to look at spending.

Okay, so this was a mind shift for me who has travelled quite extensively. In Vietnam, you get your Visa on arrival in the country. There is a separate counter before customs, you head on over, take your papers which include:
- 2 x photo's
- 1 x paperwork
- 1 x Visa approval letter (from your tour agent costs approx $20 USD)
- $25 USD for the Visa

Take a seat and watch for your image on the TV screen as they call you up to pay. Once this is done you can proceed through customs.

There are so many options however I must stipulate one thing, DO NOT SKIMP ON THIS! Vietnam is a country with zero medical infrastructure, and anything more than a broken leg will require airlifting to a major hospital. Cover yourself, you never know when you become an unlikely victim of Murphy. Oh yes, I used JETKLIK which was R800 for both of us.

We spent our last night on our own in a quaint Air BnB called The Little Prince home, we wanted to experience a night in a local apartment and do a few touristy things on our own before returning ... and it was great. Our hostess Yhen Nhi was super friendly and always quick to respond making it a great experience.

So there you have it, for now, watch this space for more.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Lashes, lashes where are you? Yes, folks mine are all but invisible and so thin that they make lash building a whole new art form ... it's true!

So it makes sense then that I am on an eternal quest to find the ultimate "lash building" mascara, one that will not only give me visible lashes but also be visible to all those around me. If you are a woman you will know how hard this feat it no matter how well versed you are in the application of mascara.

So what exactly is it that I look for in a mascara?

Well, my personal requirements are:
- flexibility (I hate a clumpy mascara which sheds all day)
- solid colour deposit ( black must be black people)
- buildability (I need to create them lashes because mine are fine and blonde)
- wearability (it needs to last all day and at least be smudge proof)

Let's take a look ...

 Avon Ultra Volume Lash Magnify Mascara - Review

So the lovely peeps at Avon sent me this mascara as a gift and it had me intrigued, so much so I abandoned another mascara already in use (not a favourite, but that's for another post) in order to try it out.

It looks impressive I thought ... so let's hope it delivers!
The packaging is pretty much the standard broad tube currently trending, but with its black veneer and rather lush gold print, it does offer an air of importance and elegance ... something about a little black number ... right?

The applicator is rather large for me non-existent lashes and it takes some clever aiming and great concentration to avoid smearing my upper eyelid with mascara. As with all mascara's after a day or two I acclimatised to the wand and it was much better.

The mascara requires multiple layers in order to build and achieve that false lash look. What does impress me is:
- the amazing colour deposit
- the fact that the lashes remain separate
- it does not clump

In conclusion:

All in all, Avon Ultra Volume Lash Magnify is an affordable mascara with great buildability and coverage I would definitely repurchase this baby. Even better is the fact that it is the first Avon mascara to not burn my eyes ... yasss!
Retails for R149.90

Could we have a waterproof option too please Avon?
And if that wasn't enough, browse the latest brochure with its seductive pages of fragrances (yes they are beautifully displayed) and go spoil yourself for goodness sakes!


Here's what's on my wishlist ...

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Hey peeps

I am sooooo sorry but it seems I really lost my mojo again. I wish I could put it down to any one thing, but in reality, I think it is just "Digital Overload" and the need to escape my daytime reality.

Now don't get me wrong, I love my job ... but being exposed to social media all day ... every day can slowly drive you nuts if you let it! You get to see the good, the bad and the ugly of people across society. You get to see politics at play, trolls at war and innocents who are spouting happiness and rainbows ... but at the end of the day, none of it is tangible and it all seems to fill your headspace with other peoples crap!

Life as a reality

That is why when I get home all I want to do is fling open the doors, breathe in the fresh air, cuddle my kitties and unwind. Yep, I want to pretend we still live in the 90's where your attention was not on demand but rather requested, where your opinion was not voiced but rather discussed and lastly where assumptions and judgements are not the order of the day.

The truth, however, is that this is now the world we live in and very much the reality of those of us who work in a digital space. I do however long to just unpack my thoughts over here and I have so many ideas... but the motivation falls flat every time! Forgive me but I am sure that I will find my mojo again and a modicum of balance. I hope that you can bear with me ... please do not desert me, I promise you are treasured and valued more than you know!

Upcoming adventures

So as I claw my way back to blogging and sharing life, love, reality and dreams let me share that I am getting super excited about my upcoming holiday. I am going to Vietnam ya'll!!

Yes, that is right! No, it is not some rich fling, it is in fact, the first actual holiday I am taking in 17 years and I have worked damn hard for every penny. It has taken loads of sacrifice and as a result, I know that I will treasure and value every second ... are you keen to come along? 

Would you like to see what I explore through my camera lens in my upcoming adventures?

So I promise to make more of an effort in the coming months ... thank you again for your patience. Coming up next is a review of one of the latest Avon mascara's.