Sophie and Lili dolls, please

I saw these Sophie and Lili dolls in my Instagram feed the other night, and fell in total love. They’re created by mother and artist Jennifer Vallez. Like all girls, each doll has its own unique personality. They’re custom made according to specs you choose – so you can even create a lookalike of your own daughter. They’re lovingly crafted using contemporary and bold fabrics and are timeless in their simplicity. They look so soft and Jennifer says on her site that they’re huggable and washable. Each doll embodies what a best friend should be – a companion, a confidante and playmate. I also LOVE her illustrations, which can also be customized so you can have a a doll-like portrait made of your family. Perfect for mothers and daughters to capture that special relationship between you.

She also creates boy dolls, including super hero ones. The boy dolls can also be customized according to your son’s skin tone, hair cut, colour and personality! I’m really sad that I’ve only found this now… I know that my boys would have loved these dolls as littler kids. I think they’re ‘just’ past that doll phase, which has me feeling a different set of emotions all on its own. Sophi and Lili ship worldwide and accept PayPal and all major cards like Visa and Mastercard etc. I can’t figure out where they’re based, but I’m saving this on the blog as an “in case we decide to have another baby that might end up being a girl”. You know? This is their website.

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all the things I want from Re-fined – a new online shop!

There’s a new online shop on the scene, and I quite like it! Re-fined has put a whole lot of South African designers together to create this beautiful space. It’s like Design Indaba / Kamersvol except all the best designers are nestled at your fingertips. This is what the site looks like. Pretty sweet!

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There are so many gorgeous design products to choose from. Think beautiful art, furniture, décor and accessories, fragrances and take-another-look objet d’arts just for a start. There’s also clothing, jewellery, stationery and even a section dedicated to ‘Little People’. The re-fined ‘Partners’  include much loved local designers such as Melvill & Moon, Wild Rhubarb, Avoova, Santos and more. I’m really excited to see how this brand grows this year. It’s a great concept, and everything is so beautifully presented. I’ve done a bit of a ‘virtual shop’ and selected a few of my favourite things that I want for our home. They have so many unusual pieces that you won’t find in mainstream shops. Happy decorating, friends
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so long and thanks for all the fish

This year was filled with incredible blessings and opportunities. Sometimes I feel like there is a theme to each year – set lessons to be learned and things to be accomplished. Things decided by someone else holding the strings that often has very little to do with us, you know? Looking back at 2014 I just feel… exhausted. Astonished. Proud? Sad. Perhaps these were the most notable achievements, celebrations and heartaches this year.

1. First thing that comes to mind is losing our precious Roger. That’s what you get when you treat a pet like family, with love. I miss that damn rabbit every single day. I don’t know why I loved him quite as much as I did, but some creatures jump right in to your heart with a blanket and magazine and just sort of stay there, you know? Something really stirred with his loss. I went from THESE ARE ALL MY EMOTIONS to “do not TOUCH, look at or come anywhere near my emotions!”  Losing him also brought back all these other feelings and memories from other people and things that I’ve lost over the years. When something you really really flippen love walks out, it’s like all the dead come alive again. Think Pet Cemetary but better cinematography.

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2. The Birdhouse jumped right out of my hands and flew away until I almost couldn’t see it anymore. Man this year was busy and I feel like I really, really grew. My previous employed positions were managerial and mostly in leadership roles, so I had to delegate a lot. And you know what? Over the years, delegating makes you lazy. I got so bored. When I started out a year ago I had nobody to delegate to, and a very nervous looking bank balance. I had to build new skills, research, educate myself on the very basics again and really get elbow deep in my business in order for it to grow. I worked hard, heck we all did. I built a nice team of contractors, freelancers and interns and eventually Graeme got involved and invested in my business too.

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3. Graeme resigned and started manufacturing and designing furniture full time with Graeme Bettles Design. How he managed to keep up with the demand this year is a modern miracle. His business savvy and skill set and expanded and grown this year too. Learning is incredibly thrilling, and new ventures are contagious. He’s in the process of launching something really big right now, but we’re urging each other to take a breather over the festive season. It’s an absolute must!

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4. I got fit. I didn’t realize just what a lazy and unhealthy bugger I was until I started running. I ran a 21km, joined a gym and really fell for all of it. I love gym, treadmills, running, eating mostly healthy things and feeling great. I have quads, abs, biceps and all these other things that used to just jiggle when prodded. Getting toned has really increased my confidence. Even if I always stay and fluctuate 5 kg here and there – it’s pretty cool when your body parts are a bit firmer and healthier looking – something I only understood and appreciated once I got in to it.

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5. Jack-jack-jack-jack-jack (said in a really high pitched voice really fast and in concession like that). That’s my boy. Then DAY-zee! Man I love our dogs. I love having dogs, in the house, in the garden, on the bed, on the couch, in the forest, at the beach. Having these dogs is maybe my favourite thing that happened this year. We were stuck between getting Staffies or Collies – our two favourite breeds. I’m so glad we went with these two, which we also call “Our black and whites” or “Itchy and Scratchy” PS I’m still upset that Graeme wouldn’t let me call Daisy “Jill”. Jack and Jill, you know? Come on it would have been awesome.

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6. I didn’t do a lot of things I said I was going to do. I had all these big plans and overseas travel lined up, but I had to make a few tough business decisions and ultimately, I followed my gut and chased a few pitches and leads that I thought would be more rewarding in the long run. Always follow your instincts because your little angels / spirits / dinosaurs / whatever you believe in will guide you when you start over thinking everything too much. However, it did SUCK to miss a few things that I was really, genuinely excited about. We’ve still got lots of life to live, so we’ll get there and tick all the boxes at our own pace. Still really sad that we missed out on so much this year!

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7. I hit (was punched in the face by) my 30s this year. I rolled in to it with a new perspective on health, a strong marriage, happy kids and a new home. That was pretty awesome. But you GUYS – I get super sad around birthdays because to me it just means less time with my family and the boys. I love that we had our kids young, I mean when we’re 40 the boys will be 16 and 15. I’ll take it! I’ve noticed a few creases on my forehead this year which is quite upsetting. If anyone reading this blog would like to sponsor me for botox / facelift / chemical peel in which case my email address is… KIDDING! (inbox me) I have to mention that it’s really true that you stop caring about inconsequential nonsense as you leave your 20s. I’ve parted with upsetting situations, challenges and people with hardly a flippant wave this year. The truth is – people will hurt you, use you, upset and abuse you but you’re the only one who gets to decide how it affects you. I’ve adopted a bit of a no-nonsense approach to many aspects of life this year. As long as you’re happy, who the hell cares. Related: I found a lot of happiness this year!

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8. I gained more confidence with my writing this year. I’ve also started writing for a few websites and publications. It’s much of what I do full time.  I write for our clients, and this year my words were published by Parent24, Women’s Health, Getaway, Mail and Guardian, Ackermans and Grootbos on travel. Adjusting my voice and style for a diverse audience has been a challenge, but it’s something that I’d really like to build on in 2015. I’d like to move in to business, politics, news and finance writing. Perhaps health too. I don’t have a picture to depict this so please see below: a picture of me on a bicycle.

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9. I think I’ll always remember this as the year that Noah and Benjamin really, really bonded! People said that having 2 kids is super hard until the youngest turns 4. I have to say that it’s true. Right now, with Noah at 5 and Ben at 4 we’ve noticed such an incredible difference. They’re really bonding now and cementing a friendship that will last their entire lives. Watching them love one another and grow together was an incredible experience this year. I love these boys.

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10. We finally, finally moved to the Suburbs. Being in a leafy, green and family neighborhood has really changed our lives this year. We have squirrels in our garden, birds, trees, fruit and vegetables. Grass. Flowers. I’ve always loved gardening. Even when we didn’t have grass, I created little potted gardens and filled our home with greenery. I think that’s what I appreciate most about the suburbs. The boys can ride their bicycles along the porch, feed the fish, play in the garden and throw a ball for the dogs. It’s so special. I feel better knowing that we’re in the school district for the boys. Next year is going to be pretty insane. I haven’t photographed our home or anything like that. I guess I don’t really see the need? We just enjoy being inside it. So much.

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So that’s it for 2014! I’m so excited for next year and all our little plans and changes on the way. I love looking at the calendar, not knowing what those days will hold. I don’t really make resolutions but I hope to read more, be more present every day and learn more about our world. I’m furthering my studies next year, publishing a few books and launching an additional business. Graeme’s got a whole lot planned but we’ll get chatting about it in the new year! Right now, I’m wishing my (and your) family health, safety, joy and togetherness this festive season. We’re headed to Kwa-Zulu Natal for my dad’s 60th and catching up with all our friends in the Midlands, Durban and Empangeni. The boys are going to sleep in my old room that I slept in when I was 5. Play in the park across our house that I played in. Walk to the same shop I walked to when my parents sent me to get bread and milk. I can’t wait to go home with my new family. Now put your feet up, open a book and open your heart to everyone around you. Merry Christmas everyone – make it wonderful!

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Coricraft is ‘ready to go!’

I love Coricraft. The quality of their furniture and their contemporary, classic country style is just SO us. I love how they’ve taken timeless design and given it such a modern feel. If I could, I would (and eventually will) cover and fill our home with Coricraft luxury. They’re affordable, so we’ll just keep collecting as we go. Everything we have of theirs just makes the house feel so warm and fancy – not to mention beautiful! We’ve made so many mistakes with furniture over the years (we all have) but this kind of quality and durability is unmatchable. I especially love their couches and slip-on covers. Nothing better than popping those covers in the wash instead of hiring upholstery cleaners every month. I’ve added pictures of some of my favourite and must-have Coricraft items that I think you’d love too. Father Christmas can you hear me? (by “Father Christmas”, I actually mean Graeme)

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Because we’re talking more ‘housey’ things lately, I wanted to quickly tell you that they’ve launched a  ‘Ready to Go’ collection of couches, chairs, dining sets, beds and mattresses. Even better is that they’ll deliver immediately – so you’ll have enough time to get your home all dressed up for the festive season and all those guests and in-laws. Graeme and I have spent 8 years together, collecting little trinkets and saving for big pieces. Our living areas are so important to us, and we want our boys to feel proud of their home when little friends come by for play dates.

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Coricraft has savings on a selection of slipcover, fully upholstered and genuine leather couches, or stylish living, dining and bedroom furniture that is literally ‘ready to go’ and will be delivered to your doorstep on the next available truck. Funny story: when we moved in to our new home, we really really wanted to get ourselves a King Sized bed as a little housewarming gift to ourselves. We popped in to dozens of shops and made at least 20 phone calls in and around Cape Town to buy a bed. Turns out, most of those bed shops are just glorified showrooms, with beds and headboards only being delivered within 6 weeks of payment. I guess it didn’t help that we wanted king size. Eventually Graeme and I had to have a bed set custom made, and we slept on a mattress half the frame’s size for weeks while waiting on our order. It was really, really funny (not so much back then though)

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Coricraft also has a bright and colourful collection of summer accessories available. Think lanterns, candle holders, scatters, baskets, mirrors and occasional pieces, to complete the look. You know by now that home decor accessories ARE what makes a home, and gives it that cozy, lived in and loved feeling. I’ve got my budget set on this Motpellier Summer Linen Headboard. I mean… my goodness. I love this old country french style.

 

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Apparently Coricraft’s ‘Ready to Go’ and a crazy savings campaign will run for a limited period from now until 24 December. You can shop the range here > Coricraft Online ! Now put that Christmas bonus toward something that will last and bring years and years of enjoyment.

<Please note that this is not a sponsored post. We’re just spreading the happy, Christmas vibes in your direction!>

 

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Little Benjamin is 4. A Peppa Pig party

Our little Benjamin turned FOUR on Saturday. Little Buns loves Peppa Pig and George. You can’t really find any Peppa Pig goodies in South Africa, so it was a bit of a struggle. I ordered some goodies from ebay which didn’t arrive in time – eeeek! So Graeme designed some sweet bunting, toppers and cards and I found a few free printables online too! Shew. I found most of his goodies at In Good Company – our favourite party shop! The whole family got involved to help create a little Peppa theme and everyone helped with the party treats and decor. I am a bit of a nightmare when it comes to planning things like this. I think I had the whole family on edge with my stress levels 🙂 I burnt the cake, my fondant cracked and I did it all super last minute BUT little Benjamin loved his little party which is all that matters!

 

We had such great friends over and their little kidlets too. Everyone really got to enjoy the space and the house. The jumping castle was a total hit, Buns loved his cake and got spoilt something silly by all his little friends. He had 12 little friends and 18 big friends at his party. I didn’t want to add pictures of all the little kiddies without permission, but he had a super good time – I think they all did!

 

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Old Mac Daddy – Elgin, Western Cape

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Last weekend we were invited to spend a night at Old Mac Daddy in Elgin, Overberg. When you hear “trailer park”, your mind makes all sorts of unglamorous assumptions. We were completely overwhelmed by how beautiful, luxurious and quirky it is. Creativity is the cornerstone of this mini caravan resort. It’s like sleeping in a little 50s art gallery in the most beautiful setting – the Elgin Valley. So beautiful in fact, that the Old Mac Daddy project won a Gold Loerie Award in the Three Dimensional and Environmental Design Category – Interior Design Temporary Structures. Read more about the concept, designers, architects and process here. Really, the trailers are beautiful, – each designed by an artist, designer or creative living and working in Cape Town

 

Old Mac Daddy offers 10 trailer units, two lakeside units and the family-sized Daddy’s Villa. Each has themed bedrooms and earth-friendly living spaces. A big designer barn is the communal area where all meals are served. There’s also a Grolsch bar, Brinny Breezes restaurant and a swimming pool!

 

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Traveling with kids? Our boys LOVED it there. There is so much for kids to do. There’s a big jungle gym between all the trailers, and there’s a really big playroom next to reception. It’s a really spacious 2-part room that’s half indoors, part outdoors. There you’ll find another (tractor-shaped jungle-gym), a chicken coop, tables, chairs, arts and crafts, a television, books, table tennis and boardgames. It’s right below the restaurant so that busy little kids like mine can go play while mommy and daddy do all the boring grown-up stuff (like laze in the pool chairs at the Grolsch bar). You can also book a nanny (R40 – R45 an hour) to take care of your precious little people. They’ll even serve your kids’ meals in the playroom. We had a really hard time getting our boys OUT of the “fun room” so be prepared for resistance!
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There is so much room to run around. There is SO MUCH to do and explore in the area. The Elgin Valley is incredibly beautiful. If you want to fill your child’s lungs with freshly squeezed air then hurry along because you’ll all have a great time.
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Does trailer-living make you feel a bit claustrophobic? All the lakeside suites have additional living areas and decks, which ads lots of space – especially for families! They also have really big bathrooms with loads of light. The view from your private deck is just incredible. Graeme grew up with caravan-enthusiast parents, so he warned me that the trailers might be a bit hot or stuffy. NOPE – they’re air conditioned. Really, this is luxury camping like you’ve never experienced – right down to the fully stocked SMEG bar fridge. Our trailer’s theme was “Give Bees a Chance”. It’s adorable! I have no idea where they found all the tiny little decor details. You can see pictures from all the different themed caravans on their site! I mean, the one has a wrestling ring as a bed. The other a cupcake. It’s crazy fun!
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Are you keen to go? Does it sound a bit… expensive? They’ve got so many great deals going at the moment. Their standard rates are:

Rate per trailer: Weekends: 2 people sharing: R1350 per night (breakfast included)

Rate per trailer: Sunday – Thursday: 2 people sharing: R790 per night (breakfast included)

 

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It’s important to note that children between 2 and 16 years of age are charged at an additional R175 per child! And Terms and Conditions always apply – check the rates on their website for more info. Give them a quick call – 021 855 0241 or email them reservations@oldmacdaddy.co.za to get more info or book. It really is worth going through on a Sunday – they’re just an hour from Cape Town and they’ll even pack your breakfast to go! Got kids? They’ll even pack them some sandwiches on request. I know right?

 

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Important tips for parents when booking: Pack water wings / tubes for your toddler so you aren’t too stressed around the pool area. Also loads of sunblock! Book a nanny at the same time of your booking so they can organize all of that for you. There are great activities in the area and they’ll help you plan. Personally, I loved Almenkerk Wine Estate (SO child friendly) and the Peregrine Farm Stall for take-away picnics, deli treats, great wines and Springbok Pies. I loved these places so much that I’ll be doing a separate post all-together on how amazing they are.

If you’re looking for a weekend or mid-week getaway that is unusual, quirky, luxurious and breathtakingly beautiful then this is for you. The Elgin valley is filled with rolling hills, fresh air, apple trees, vineyards, farm stalls and honest country beauty. If you want to do a day trip, the Old Mac Daddy restaurant, Brinny Breezes is fabulous! Follow them on Facebook and Twitter for more info! You’ll love it if you go – and I really hope you do!

 

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Please note that all pictures are my own! …and some by Graeme —> (He made me say this). Look out for more posts as several stunning bloggers were also reviewing. Follow the #secretSunday tag on social media for more pictures and to see what everyone else got up to!

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Urban Walls – decals you’ll love

We’ve recently moved in to a beautiful new home. The kind of home where I want to live for years and years. It’s old, with wooden floors, a fireplace, lots of light and space. I’ve found some fun in creating pretty little nooks and living spaces for our little family. Areas I can unwind, where we can play and feel creative and inspired. I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve been finding all over the place. I really love Urban Walls. They’re based in Canada, and ship internationally. It’s important to note that Import duties, taxes, and charges are not included in the item price or shipping cost. These charges are the buyer’s responsibility. International orders can take 3 – 4 weeks to arrive.

 

Don’t you just love these? All images are from their blog, which is just beautiful. Take a look at their site over here for the most beautiful office, home and nursery decals. You’ll notice that I’m looking at a lot of nursery goodies lately. I’d love to have another little baby in the bunny house at some point. Maybe. I just don’t know. The new house has a beautiful spare room with lots of space, which is really pulling at my mommy strings. Like really. In the meantime, enjoy this gorgeous inspiration with me!

 

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Nina say happy 5th Cinderella Birthday party

My friend Vanessa is a photographer and blogger over at Ninasaycheese. We became friends a few years ago over a mutual love for beautiful things and our children. Vanessa always throws the most beautiful parties for little Nina. They’re in Joburg so we can’t join in on the fun, but I get a bit giddy every time we receive an invite to one of Nina’s parties (every year, dankie Vanessa!) because I LOVE watching and following the fun from afar. Here’s Nina’s 5th birthday party, and I promise you that this gorgeous girl is even MORE beautiful in person, with the sweetest and kindest little feisty personality. I love watching you grow little girl, you’re lucky to have such a creative and involved mommy. She’s the best! Happiest birthday from all of us – Noah and Benjamin too! Read more about Nina’s party from the insanely fun & creative Vanessa over here.

 

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