- Find Your Inspiration ~ It is important to gather inspiration before you begin any makeover project. I like to draw up a mood board and have a fairly clear idea of what I would like the space to look like. A good place to start is to review a selection of Interior or Home Magazines, to help you create a mood board or use Pinterest, which is a virtual pin board, to gather images. It is helpful to decide on a colour scheme that you like, which I find helps inspire the creative process. You can also use everyday items in your own home such as pots, coffee cups, tea towels or soft furnishings, to help you formulate design ideas.
- Determine Your Priorities ~ Decide which aspects of the makeover are most important to you, whether it be design or functionality or a bit of both. Have your priorities clearly outlined before you begin the makeover. Our recent kitchen renovation was prompted by the new cooker and hood we had bought, so although design is important to me functionality and good quality equipment is a high priority.The room you are making over will largely determine what your priorities are. Never rush a makeover project, especially if is a place you spend a great deal of time.
- Enjoy the Process ~ Have a bit of fun with your design choices, add some colour to the space. Make the space inspirational and unique, a place you can enjoy spending time in. If you keep the basics fairly neutral then you can add colour in your cabinets, wall colour or soft furnishings. It is a great idea to have a feature wall, which you can create buy either painting it a completely different colour to the rest of the room or bring in a different texture by using wall paper or art work. A great website to find colour inspiration is DesignSeeds, where you will find stunning color palettes to help create your unique space.
- Up-cycle ~ Try to re-purpose items in the space you are renovating where possible! We reused some of our original kitchen cabinets in our scullery, after doing our kitchen makeover. Other ways to up-cycle is to give a coffee table a new lease on life by having it antiquing rather than replacing it! Either have it done professionally or have a bit of fun and do it yourself. See this post on one of my favourite blogs, a beautiful mess, on “how to make a lace patterned coffee table”.
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- Chicken, Red Pepper and Ginger Stir Fry ~ Like me, I am sure you have days when the last thing you feel like doing is cooking – well this is a great recipe for days like that. It is very tasty and packed with veggies, so super healthy as well! The most time-consuming part of this recipe is the preparation but once that is done, cooking takes no time at all. You can also cook the pasta or noodles ahead of time, which makes this a perfect mid-week dinner! For the full recipe click here…
- Spaghetti and Meatballs ~ Beef mince is a definite week day staple ingredient in our household and although I often make Spag Bol, this is a great way to use mince and be a bit more inventive! You can even get the littlies to help you roll the meatballs! The recipe is quite simple and the meatballs are cooked in the oven, not fried in a pan, which makes the recipe more healthy. For the full recipe click here…
- Spicy Chicken Wrap ~ This is a recipe I cook all the time, the kids love it and best of all it is quick and easy to prepare! A wrap is a great way to create a flavour-some meal, which is both tasty and healthy. Wraps are great for everyday meals and they also work well for packed lunches. The only thing to remember when serving these wraps is to have loads of serviette’s on hand for those of you, like me, who like to eat a wrap with your hands – it can get very messy! For the full recipe click here…
- Prawn and Chilli Pasta ~ I love prawns and this pasta recipe is so simple to make and utterly delicious! It is perfect for a weekday dinner and if you make your tomato sauce in advance, it will take you no time at all to prepare. You can serve it with a green salad and crusty ciabatta bread. If you like you can always reduce the amount of chilli you use if you are not a lover of hot food or add more if you are. For the full recipe click here…
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- The West Coast – My favourite spot up the West Coast, Jacobsbaai, is probably a bit of a biased choice, as it is where our family holiday house is but the West Coast is such a magical, unspoiled piece of Coast line you cannot help but love it! Spending just a few days there is wonderfully relaxing and good for the soul! Jacobsbaai is approximately an hour outside of Cape Town, in the direction of Vredenberg. As I mentioned we have a beautiful family holiday home there, decorated in distinctly beach style decor, which allows the space to be both tranquil and luxurious! It truly is a beach-lovers paradise and wonderful for family holidays. It is also the place you will witness the most stunning sunsets! Other popular holiday spots up the West Coast are Langebaan and Paternoster.
- Franschhoek – Is one of my favourite holiday destinations in the Western Cape. It is approximately an hour’s drive, travelling on the N1, from Cape Town. “Franschhoek” meaning ‘French corner’, is a beautiful town steeped in history and renowned for good food and wine. It is wonderfully romantic and the perfect spot for a weekend away to reconnect with a loved one but equally good for a family holiday. Accommodation in the area is plentiful, with many quaint guest houses, self-catering cottages as well as luxurious boutique hotels; offering travelers many options when visiting the area. One of the most enjoyable places we have stayed at, was Rose Cottage, on the most picturesque Burgundy Bourgogne Estate. The cottage is four-star, self-catering luxury; it has an open plan kitchen, lounge dining room and an exquisite master suite.
- Hermanus – Is a beautiful sea-side town, in the Overberg, which forms part of what is more commonly known as the “Whale Coast”. We love visiting the area and if you are lucky you may even get to see a few whales while you are there. If you are planning a trip to Hermanus, the end of September is a good time to go. You can enjoy the renowned annual Whale Festival, which is a great deal of fun! It can get very busy during this time of year, so pre-booking accommodation is essential. There are many great restaurants to choose from – most of them, with a view of the sea.
- Knysna - The Majestic Garden Route is definitely a very popular holiday destination in South Africa, especially for families. Knysna is one of our favourite Garden Route spots and is approximately six hours by road. Although a long trip, the Garden Route is wonderfully scenic and there are lots of things to see along the way. We enjoy staying on Leisure Isle when we are holidaying there and if you are fortunate enough, you can rent a home directly on the Knysna Lagoon. It offers the peaceful tranquility of island style living, with the most amazing views and the town is a mere 10 minutes away by car. The area is great for families – children can happily bike ride around the island or potter on the Lagoon when the tide is out. Another popular location in Knysna is Thesen Island, a Martha’s Vineyard style development and a very popular choice for holiday rental. We have stayed there in the past but I still prefer the peace and tranquility that Leisure Isle offers. The marina on Thesen Island sports many wonderful shops and restaurants and a boutique Hotel, catering to a holiday makers every need.
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This is an update of a post I did last year, some of my photographic tips are similar but I have learnt so much over the past year, which I thought I would share with you.
- Spending money on good photographic equipment is definitely a priority, especially when you are starting out but it does not mean you have to break the bank! Start with the basics but get it right, I chose Nikon D40x but like most gadgets it comes down to your personal preference. Once you have invested in a good camera body you can add to it and build up your kit. It is great to have a few lenses in your kit, which one you use most often is usually determined the type of photography you pursue. I have a kit lens, which came with my Nikon when I purchased it, I also have a 55-200mm zoom lens but the lens I use most often is my prime lens, 35mm f/1:18.G.(which is great for low-light or indoor shots). The prime lens was fairly inexpensive but takes the most awesome shots of food and close-ups of products, with great Bokeh effects – perfect for my blog reviews and features. Which lenses you buy is greatly determined by the type of photography you choose to do, get some professional advice if you are unsure.
- Most people who own a digital camera never take it off auto function but do not be afraid, take your camera off auto function and experiment. Doing a camera course would probably be the best way to learn but as a busy mom, I have found time is on short supply for me, so most of what I have learnt is self taught or Googled. It is always handy to have the camera manual on hand when trying the different functions out. The main thing is to try, you may have to take 100 shots to get the perfect one but that is the joy of digital photography, you can merely delete the photographs you do not want. A website that I have also found useful for photographic tips has been Medianovak, see a post here on Photography Rules Are Made to be Broken. I have also included this “cheat-sheet” from Pretty Presets, another great website, which you can download here.
- There are many tools that can assist you in creating the best enviroment for taking your photographs, especially when it comes to lighting but in my opinion nothing beats natural light. Learn how to use natural light to your advantage, particulary when it comes to food photography – use light streaming in through a window to capture a more natural shot of your subject. Something I have also learnt is to play with colour, use it to enhance your shot and create depth in your image. I found a wonderful post on Food Photography and Styling by Samantha Linsell, which has been very helpful to me, especially with my new foodie website “a beautiful life”.
- Editing software is one of those fairly controversial topics and I know that some people take Photoshop a bit too far but I feel that editing software definitely has its place in the industry. I am not saying that you should take photographs and then edit them to within an inch of their life. Instead use these tools to enhance what is already there. Much like makeup – sometimes you may not need much or any at all but other times just a touch makes all the difference! Some of the editing software that I have found useful is Photoshop Elements, Faststone Editing Software and Picmonkey. Software such as Photoshop you will need to purchase, which means an initial cash outlay or you can use something like Faststone, which is open-source and free, all you will need is a PC to download it. Another website I can across recently is Pretty Presets, which also has helpful editing trips and Lightroom presets to download. Most importantly remember to have fun, photography is an art form and art should be fun!
Above is an example of a photograph edited using Picmonkey, which changes the mood of the image and gives it a completely different feel from the original. As I said earlier have fun with it!
For great photographic equipment and advice these are my top suppliers: Orms Direct and Exposure Gallery
Images: ©FAR Photography
As you may have guessed fashion is a great passion of mine and I love pouring over the latest fashion offerings, by the Top International Designers.
I have always said that one day when I grow up(hopefully sometime soon) I will own a Elie Saab creation!
These are My Top fashion Designers:
He is definitely my favourite designer, I love his dreamy almost fairytale style of designing. Elie Saab’s signature has to be his exquisite beadwork and his use of lace and tulle. He named his Spring 2013 collection “An Ode to Delicateness”, with illusion necklines and sheer sleeves, his creations seem to almost float down the runway.
Marchesa’s 2013 RTW(Ready To Wear) collection has a definite exotic Indian flavour with hints of Bollywood - elaborate threadwork, sari draping and fringe are front and centre. The collection features rich tones such as Chartreuse, peacock, bordeaux, or eggplant tones tipped with gold. The structured sari gown below is my favourite – I love the rich tones and stunningly sexy lines of the dress.
The name Oscar de la Renta has always been synonymous with high fashion and his 2013 RTW collection delivers on all fashion fronts. The collection has something for everyone, from day suits in doily lace and the unusual use of fuchsia Astrakhan, to party dresses in feather-embroidered tulle. Super feminine and so pretty!
Zac Posen’s 2013 RTW Collection has a definite Vintage feel to it with 1940 Skirt-suits and old school floral day dresses but my favourite part of the collection are the exquisite gowns! I particularly love his use of satin and tulle to create a dramatic contrasting silhouette.
Who is your favourite Fashion Designer? If you would like to read more of my Top 4 Series click here