When is it time to throw in the towel?

This week has been particularly upsetting in the lives of South Africans. As our president re-arranges his cabinet to better support him, the corruption and nepotism increases. Good, honest people who are simply doing their jobs and trying to keep South Africa afloat are being fired. Zuma is beginning to sound more and more like a tyrant and his power increases every time he adds new members to parliament and the cabinet.

What are we to do as citizens who care deeply for this beautiful country?

Are we to watch it crumble?

We know that as a nation, we all share an incredible testimony of determination and perseverance. How can we live through Apartheid and rise out of that, simply to fall again 23 years later?

 

Having travelled and seen for myself how truly blessed I am to live in such a beautiful, vibrant and friendly country, I for one, do not want to simply watch as we sink further and further into corruption. I want to see South Africa thrive. I want to see a country where we all live well and live knowing that we are in good hands. When we vote for our government, we are giving individuals power to act on our behalf. We are entrusting them with big decisions. We are hoping for greatness and every success. I know this is idealistic, but it’s not impossible. It’s really not. If you had to think about it, how many people do you know personally that are passionate about this country too? Surely we can all gather and make things right. Fighting for justice is a continuous process. It shouldn’t stop at 1994. It should always be a priority.

 

I am not okay with Zuma remaining my President.

I do not accept the fate of a failing country.

I do not tolerate this corruption.

 

I vote for change. Let’s stop being lazy and indolent.

Let’s start being game changers.

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Make it Rain

At the moment, South Africa is in the midst of an extreme water drought. This is no longer just an abstract concept. It is physically affecting our day to day lives.

The dams are practically empty. Extremely strict water restrictions are in place. Water meters have been physically adjusted to reduce water pressure. This is not an idle threat.

I have been working for a water saving company for the last eight months which specializes in irrigation, water harvesting and water conservation technologies. We have recently signed on to be the distributors for Africa of an amazing water saving product that honestly has the capability to really make a change in the water crisis. It has been such an exciting product to be involved in. We have had massive opportunities come our way and have begun to do some really important and meaningful work.

What is this great product?

Introducing Hydretain South Africa. Hydretain is a biodegradable and organic way to reduce your watering by up to 50%. It’s basically a root zone moisture manager. What does that mean? Hydretain regulates the moisture levels in the soil in between irrigation and rain. Hydretain is revolutionary in its technology and the way that it works. It doesn’t store water, it creates water. Yes, really. Hydretain is incredible in the sense that it takes the humidity in the soil and converts it into micro-droplets of water which accumulates into larger droplets and then creates reservoirs of water in the soil that the plant can now use. Hydretain takes moisture that would have been evaporated and converts it into plant usable water.

It doesn’t store water, it creates water.

With having this product at our disposal, we have conducted several varied trials to test it out and push the boundaries a bit. We have seen incredible results. Important results. The kind of results that are pertinent to the crisis in South Africa.

We have worked with a few farmers in the greater Durban area and have revolutionized the way farming can be done. We challenged our ‘trialers’ to give us the worst conditions for farming to prove just exactly how powerful this product is. We were given land that had clogged, impermeable soil and a section in the farm where the sprinklers never seemed to reach properly. To contrast these two rows of spinach and cauliflower, we compared it to the spinach and cauliflower in their optimal soil and watering conditions. We were so impressed with the results! Not only did the Hydretain-treated section thrive, it out-perfomed the plants in their optimal conditions whilst using far less water. They were watered twice a week whilst the control was watered daily. With less water being used, that also now allows the farmer to get more value for his money in the sense that he can get more product for the same resources. He’s actually saving money too because he no longer has such steep water costs and water pumping costs. He’s also saving time and labour which frees him up to work on other things on the farm. This then got us thinking… what if this was done all over in South Africa? What if all the farms used Hydretain? Imagine how much water would be saved if all of agriculture was saving nearly 50% of their watering!

We decided to take it a step further…

We got involved with the Department of Agriculture and worked in collaboration with the farmers in the area to introduce Hydretain to the daily process of farming. It has been both an exciting and frustrating time for us. For me personally, it was also incredibly humbling.

Isulabalimi has been one of our greatest assets in getting the ball rolling…

Isulabalimi Trust states the following as their mission: To facilitate the development of existing and new emergent farmers, co-operatives, rural and township enterprises in order to increase their meaningful participation in the main stream economy of South Africa.
In brief, our buzz words are, “ radical socio-economic development in South Africa.”

We realised that teaming up with them would help Hydretain grow in popularity at an exponential scale. They have created a system that empowers the black farmers in the greater KwaZulu-Natal area by creating a gap in the market for their product whilst reducing their losses and efforts. They have also enforced certain standards that allows the farmers to qualify for the programme and with our successful trials, farmers have now been prescribed Hydretain. This has been such a rewarding venture and we look forward to seeing the fruits of our labours.

Another area where we have had great success is in residential and public lawn areas. We have worked with parks and gardens to trial Hydretain and see how much of a difference it makes. Not only has Hydretain saved their watering costs by at least 40%, the grass and plants are healthier, greener and have established a better immunity to diseases and drought stress.

Ornamental plants which have been treated by Hydretain and left to wilt sprang back to life as soon as they were watered whilst the untreated plants died. We found this to be a very useful characteristic when our customers went away for the Christmas break period.

Overall, we have been very busy networking and have been incredibly busy trying to make a difference. We face some challenges though…

It has been really difficult trying to introduce people to the concept of not watering as frequently as they are used to. In their minds, if they don’t water frequently enough, their plants will die. They find it hard to trust that the product will work even though there is hard evidence that it does.

Another difficulty has been the farming community which is reluctant to break away from traditional farming. By introducing Hydretain, you are interfering with the way things are done and have been done for many generations. Many people are reluctant to change from their traditional way of farming. The product is different to the way things were done by their parents and grandparents etc.

This product honestly has the ability to make a difference if implemented across South Africa and the watering guidelines are adhered to. There are so many advantages to using the product that I haven’t even mentioned in this post.

Share this post. Share this idea. Let’s support making a difference and doing something to change the situation in South Africa. 

Many well wishes,

Lauren

A Message to the Single

For years I had evaded dating. I avoided it. I ran from it.

I’m not entirely sure if I was running from commitment, If I was running from the risk or simply running because I didn’t truly believe in it.

In all honesty, I have yet to meet a man that has impressed me enough to consider devoting so much time and energy to them. I feel like a lot of us are still dwelling in the young adults’ awkward stage of life and haven’t yet emerged from it with a bit of wisdom on our side to do dating properly.

There was one man that I dated. He was lovely. He was gorgeous and smart and creative. He and I shared the same interests in a lot of things. We only lasted four months. When people asked me how he was, my answer was very simple… “He’s fine. He’s great!”. What’s he like? I never really knew how to answer that. In that very moment I knew it was actually a red flag. Why was I dating him if there wasn’t anything distinct that I loved about him? Why did it feel like he loved me way more than I loved him? Did I love him?

Now that I’m back to being single, life is actually far easier. I am no longer putting someone else’s needs ahead of mine. I love helping people, but I’ve realized that you can’t do that at the risk of neglecting yourself. I was so caught up in his day, his needs, his stresses. My day wasn’t of interest to him. When he did ask after me, it wasn’t really genuine. It was polite.

It’s time to stop being polite. It’s time to be honest. It’s time to be raw. 

I have been a huge fan of Grey’s Anatomy for many, many years. It honestly is addictive! One of the biggest things I have come to realize is how it is so focused on winning the guy. I will always love the show but one thing I love more is this…

“Don’t let what he wants eclipse what you need. He is very dreamy, but he is not the sun. You are.“- Shonda Rimes

How does one move away from a place of looking for love, to a place where we focus on working on ourselves instead?

We need to be brutally honest with ourselves and work on ourselves. We need to be bettering ourselves, growing ourselves, improving ourselves, loving ourselves.

“On the day when it will be possible for woman to love not in her weakness but in her strength, not to escape herself but to find herself, not to abase herself but to assert herself — on that day love will become for her, as for man, a source of life and not of mortal danger.”

Simone de Beauvoir, philospher

I haven’t got an answer just yet, but if you need me, I’ll be traveling.

Vanilla Bean & Rosewater Cake

This is one of my current favourite cakes.

I found the recipe on Pinterest, of course, but I have added the recipe here too.
This cake is tall and proud and holds well despite being so light and moist!

Prep Time: 20mins | Bake Time: 1hr40

Ingredients:

  • 375g Butter, softened
  • 2,5 Cups White Sugar
  • 5 Large Eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 tbsp Vanilla Bean Paste
  • 1 tsp Rosewater Essence
  • 3 Cups Cake Flour (All-Purpose)
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • 125g Light, Sour Cream

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 165•C /330•F
  2. Grease and Line an 8″ round cake tin
  3. Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, cream butter.Gradually add sugar and beat for 2 mins.
  5. Add eggs to butter and sugar and beat well.
  6. Add vanilla extract, vanilla paste and rosewater essence.
  7. Add dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with milk and sour cream.
  8. Beat for another 2 mins to make sure everything is combined well.
  9. Pour batter into a cake tin and bake for 1 hour 40.
  10. Cool cake in the tin for 20 mins.

Be sure to leave the cake to cool entirely before icing the cake. I halved the batter into two cake tins and baked them for about 20 mins and then kept checking on the cakes to check they were cooked. This allowed for a yummy buttercream filling in between the layers.

The Original Recipe has a Rosewater Buttercream Icing but I decided to add a yummy peppermint icing instead. There isn’t a particular recipe I use for this icing as they are much the same. You can do a quick search on Pinterest to find a good recipe.

Hope you enjoy this cake as much as I did!

Hello World

I decided to spend 2015 as an au pair with Au Pair in America in hopes of concluding what I wanted to do/ study/ what direction I see my life going. It was quite the experience…

I’m not one to sugar coat things…being an au pair can feel like one of the worst jobs in the world and makes you want to hop onto the next available mode of transport to make your grand escape. At the same time though, it is also an extremely fun and rewarding job and makes you feel appreciated.IMG_0407.jpg

When people ask me whether or not I would recommend being an au pair it’s hard to give them an answer. It has a lot of factors to take into consideration. I was lucky enough to work for three different families in my year which allowed me to see more with regards to traveling. I think my advice is this… don’t let where you stay be your deciding factor. You might want to choose a family according to their address but the way I see it, you will be spending more time with the family than you will traveling and exploring the area. I would much rather work for a kind, gracious family than live in a cool area. You spend most of your time with those people.

What’s nice about being an au pair is that you do get to travel quite a bit. If you make an effort, you can really see a lot of America! One huge perk is that you stay in a house that someone else is paying for and eating food that someone else is paying for. This leaves you with about $200 per week to splurge on entertainment etc. I saved as much of that money as I could so that I could travel whenever something exciting came up.

The traveling in America is so fantastic because you have a vast expanse of land to explore.It will be quite hard to see it all but you can definitely make a dent if you use your money wisely! One of the things that bothered me when I was abroad was how many Americans hadn’t ever left their state. There will always be people who do make an effort to travel and to really see their country but the majority had barely ventured out. I thought about it a lot and I’ve concluded that it’s a mindset locals have. If you live in that country, then you assume that you have your entire lifetime to eventually get there and see all the places that people rave about. The sad thing is that a lot of those people reach the end of their life not having seen or done what they had intended. I believe that’s the mindset of most people. I don’t want to be one of those people, nor do I intend on leaving things for better timing or better company.

I will be consistently saving so that I have the resources to travel, be it South Africa or be it international. The right time rarely comes around. Most of the time not everyone can join you. I think it’s about enjoying the experience regardless of the time or the people.Most of the time, I think the results pleasantly surprise us.

In the future I would love to share more about my favourite city, Durban, as well as introducing you to a few other cities that I have had the privilege of exploring.

Thanks for listening.

Where?

Where did I travel?

I wanted to quickly make a list of a few places I have recently traveled to so you know what to expect from this blog in the next little bit…

  1. New York City, New York
  2. Atlanta, Georgia
  3. Miami, Florida
  4. Orlando, Florida
  5. Indianapolis, Indiana
  6. Columbus, Indiana
  7. Bloomington, Indiana
  8. Louisville, Kentucky
  9. Nashville, Tennessee
  10. Cleveland, Ohio
  11. Chicago, Illinois
  12. Cincinnati, Ohio
  13. Virgina
  14. West Virginia
  15. Raleigh, North Carolina
  16. Niagara Falls, Buffalo City, New York
  17. Denver, Colorado
  18. New Mexico
  19. Thatcher, Arizona
  20. Las Vegas, Nevada
  21. The Grand Canyon, Nevada
  22. San Francisco, California
  23. Redding, California
  24. Washington D.C.
  25. Baltimore, Maryland

South African travels in the last 6 months:

  1. Durban, KwaZulu-Natal
  2. Jeffreys Bay, Eastern Cape
  3. Cape Town, Western Cape

As well as Bela Vista, Mozambique

 

Looking forward to sharing these adventures!