Friday, 23 February 2018

Bullet Journal Update

If you haven't yet heard of the Bullet Journal, check out my "introduction to the bullet journal"blog post and my post where I set up this journal and then come back here. Know the basics? Then let's jump in and see what my journal has been looking like the last few months. As you can see vs my previous posts, I've been having more fun with coloured pencils, lettering and trying to improve my handwriting, as well as trying my hand at monthly mood mandalas! I also have just done a flip-through of my journal on my Insta stories which I've added to my profile as a highlight, so you can check that out too (I'm @whimsyisforever).



Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Beauty products to help cut your water usage

For my readers not from South Africa, you may not be aware that Cape Town is currently having a record water crisis and may soon run out of water. We went past the level 1, 2 and 3 water restrictions and now every few weeks the government has to invent a new level. (Where are we now, 6B or something? I've lost track.) As things currently stand, residents are limited to 87 liters of water per person per day, reducing to 50 liters per person per day from 1 Feb (although the water-conscious are already using < 50 liters). However, only about 40% of Cape Town residents are using less than 87 liters and so our water is running out. Fast. By the beginning of April, our taps are getting turned off and we'll go full-on disaster mode, lining up to get our allocated water rations.
For now, all we can do is try save as much water as possible.

Obviously, by now we've (unless you're a major asshole) stopped watering our gardens, topping up our pools, having full baths, bothering to keep our cars shiny and generally using large amounts of unnecessary water. We've stopped flushing our toilets with drinking water and instead use grey water collected with buckets in our showers and sinks. We wash our dishes and clothes less, have ridiculously short showers and generally try to save every single liter we can. I thought I'd share some of the products I'm using to help keep my water usage as low as possible.

(A note to add that while Cape Town is currently the water crisis poster child, many parts of the country have water restrictions to some degree. No matter where you live, we can all stand to be more aware of both our water usage and our environmental impact.)

Obviously, number one should go without saying: dry shampoo. I have straight, fine hair and combination skin, which adds up to hair that needs to be washed every day. (And now with the drought, I can confirm that my hair isn't the type that "adjusts" to only getting washed twice or three times a week.) Nevertheless, I can stretch washing my hair to every third day with Batiste dry shampoo (and probably further if we have less water and I have to just get used to not having beautifully clean hair). My all-time fave is the tropical scent. Be sure to lift your hair and spray at the roots, as well as not not spray too close (i.e. follow the instructions on the can) to make sure you don't get a white-grey precipitate of rice flour in one place.

Now that my hair is so long (tailbone length) eliminating greasy roots is only half of the problem. My hair needs daily conditioning. Since rinsing out a traditional conditioner every day is out of the question, it's leave-in conditioners to the rescue! My two faves at the moment are the L'Oreal Elvive Extraordinary Oil Oil-in-Cream and the Matrix Biolage Keratindose Renewal Spray. After using my dry shampoo, I add one of these two to the lengths and ends of my hair, put my hair in either a bun or a braid and let it do it's thing. (I mean, you could leave your hair loose, but long hair plus Cape Town summer wind is a no-no unless you love brushing knots out!)

For facial cleansing, I've tried lots of makeup remover wipes but I find them drying. I much prefer using a micellar water. In the morning (if I'm not showering), I use Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water for sensitive skin and at night I use the oil-infused version to effortlessly dissolve makeup and gunk.

BONUS: Use micellar water to spot-clean your makeup brushes so you don't have to wash them as often. Simply swirl your dirty brushes on soaked cotton pads until the cotton no longer changes colour.

At the moment, I've having stop-start showers (more on that at the end of the post) every second day. I spend most of my time inside and don't do much activity on non-shower days. To stay fresh in between however, I go old-school and use a washcloth and a small bowl of water. However, if there is no water, baby wipes are the way to go. I relied on these so much last year when I went camping in the middle of nowhere with no running water! Make sure you stock up before day zero hits. Also, ensure you buy fragrance-free, alcohol-free baby wipes (look for ones branded "sensitive") if you are going to be using these anywhere near your lady bits!

(Oh, and don't forget some good old-fashioned antiperspirant and deodorant. Why do so many of those viral whatsapp messages seem to make it sound like we need to invent alternative deodorants??)

Then of course, cut down on the number of times you open a tap by switching to hand sanitizer as much as possible. I carry a mini bottle with me at all times. My favourite is the Oh So Heavenly brand as they smell lovely (especially the variety pictured) and don't dry out my hands. If you do find that your hands dry out with repetitive use of hand sanitizer, make sure you use a nourishing hand cream like Helping Hands from Lush.

And finally, some bonus items. A spritz of facial mist really helps keep my face feeling hydrated in this hot weather and I am still in love with the Vitamin E Face Mist from The Body Shop (my bottle is almost finished, so I better go get another one stat!). And for pure vanity: L'Oreal Magic Retouch. My hair is naturally dark blond but I dye it dark brown. And I doubt with the declining water supply that there will be enough water to wash dye out of my hair every 6 weeks for the foreseeable future, so there are going to be some roots hanging around. Although I don't have any grey yet, blonde roots plus several days of dry shampoo does look rather unattractive after a while. This little spray is great for covering up roots, even if your natural hair is grey. A little spritz on the hairline and/or part and no-one will know!

And that's it for now! Let me know in the comments section what's your favourite water-saving hack!

Oh, and about those 90 second showers: people keep asking me how I can wash my hair in that little time. Obviously, buy a water-saving shower head if you haven't already. Then, embrace the stop-start. I like that my current shower head lets you turn the flow off on the shower head itself, since I have separate hot and cold water taps. I get into the shower, turn on the water and take 30 seconds to get my hair properly wet. I then turn off the water, lather up my shampoo (roots only, no lengths!) and lather up my body with shower gel and wash my face. I then turn the water back on and rinse for 30 seconds. I then apply my conditioner, detangle my hair (makes rinsing a lot easier!) and shave before a final 30 second rinse. All-in-all, the process takes about 5 minutes but I only have the water on for 90 seconds instead of leaving it on the whole time.

Friday, 1 December 2017

DIY Painted Wooden Sign for Christmas

Hand-painted wooden signs are all over Pinterest, from wedding must-haves to Christmas decor. I recently painted a bunch of signs for my bff's wedding and thought it was time to try the technique again for Christmas. (Incidentally, the sign I'm painting today is on the back of this one I made for the wedding.) I love that these signs look like chalkboards but you don't have to worry about the writing rubbing off. 
The truth is, you don't have to have gorgeous handwriting, stress about even spacing or pay someone else to make them for you! They're surprisingly easy to make with relatively inexpensive supplies.This is a perfect craft to get the season started.

You will need:
Something to cover and protect your worksurface from paint.
A piece of wood. Get the cheapest you can find at your local hardware store  (for almost nothing they can cut your wood for you too) or upcycle something lying around the garage.
Black and white acrylic craft paint. 
Large and small paintbrushes. Cheap ones are fine here.
Containers for water and/or mixing paint.
White chalk.
Optional: Gold or silver acrylic craft paint.

Note: If you want, you can use a white paint pen instead of a brush and paint. Personally, I prefer the look of the brushstrokes and painted-by-hand look but it is completely up to you.

Start off by cleaning your piece of wood of any dust. Paint the entire piece with black craft paint and a large, wet paintbrush. If your paint is on the thicker side, thin it out a bit with water (I've used a washed-out yogurt pot as my mixing bowl). If you would rather have a natural wood look, you can try using a wood stain to darken your wood without covering it.

Leave the black paint to dry completely. If possible, pop it outside in the sun to speed things up. If there are any sheer spots once it has dried, add a second coat.

Grab your favourite font (I'm obsessed with brush lettering so that's what I went with for this one) and print out the quote you want to paint at the correct size. I used MS Publisher to create a page 30 x 50 cm (the size of my wood) and then taped the printed sheets together to create the correctly-sized quote. Play around with the size of your font and the spacing on your computer until you are happy before printing. Make sure to only place tape or glue on the front of your pages, not the back.

Now to transfer your template to your wood! Rub your white chalk behind your words liberally. Then place the template on your wood and trace your letters with a blunt pencil or ballpoint pen. (As you can see, I haven't done this obsessively neatly as this is just a guide.) The chalk should transfer to your dark wood. If the chalk outline is too faint, add more chalk to your paper and outline your letters again. If you make a mistake, you can just rub it away.

Now for the fun part! Grab your white craft paint and a small paintbrush. Based on the consistency of your paint, you may or may not need to add water to get a nice flowing paint. Follow your chalk lines to outline your letters and then fill them in. If you are a bit more confident with a paintbrush and brush lettering, you can use a larger paintbrush and paint your letters normally, using the chalk as a guideline for spacing and placement (this is what I did for most of mine).

Carry on going until you have your full quote.

If you want any flourishes, print them and transfer with chalk again (a quick google search gives you endless flourish options). If you are like me and forget to flip a flourish for symmetry (whoops!), don't worry, just rub the chalk off with a dry cloth or brush and do it again.

Grab your brush, trace the lines and colour in.

Optional: For a final festive touch, paint the edges of your wood gold or silver.

Brush away any chalk peeking out on your sign with a dry cloth or brush and that's it! From start-to-finish, this 30 cm x 50 cm sign took me 45 minutes (excluding drying time).

Have yourselves a merry little Christmas! If you attempt to make your own sign, please tag me (@whimsyisforever) in any pictures you post on Twitter or Instagram!

Monday, 6 November 2017

Travel Diary: Great Zimbabwe Ruins

During my recent trip to Zimbabwe I was thrilled to visit the ruins of Great Zimbabwe. The ancient city was far larger than I had thought and we spent quite a bit of time walking around looking at everything. (Also, the "ancient path" up to the hill complex is steep and I am clearly unfit!) We were also completely alone for the majority of our time at the site which was really enjoyable! After leaving Harare late morning, we reached the ruins at around 4pm and stayed about 2 hours until the sun had gone down. The ruins are really remarkable, and standing beside the formidable stone walls fills you with awe. For a brief rundown on Great Zimbabwe, here's a bit of info from Wikipedia.

From Wikipedia: Great Zimbabwe is an ancient city in the south-eastern hills of Zimbabwe near Lake Mutirikwe and the town of Masvingo. It was the capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe during the country's Late Iron Age. Construction on the monument began in the 11th century and continued until the 15th century.[1][2] The most widely-accepted modern archaeological theory is that the edifices were erected by the ancestral Shona.[2] The stone city spans an area of 7.22 square kilometres (1,780 acres) which, at its peak, could have housed up to 18,000 people. It is recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Great Zimbabwe is believed to have served as a royal palace for the local monarch. As such, it would have been used as the seat of political power. Among the edifice's most prominent features were its walls, some of which were over five metres high. They were constructed without mortar (dry stone). Eventually, the city was abandoned and fell into ruin.
The word great distinguishes the site from the many hundreds of small ruins, now known as "zimbabwes", spread across the Zimbabwe Highveld.[5] There are 200 such sites in southern Africa, such as Bumbusi in Zimbabwe and Manyikeni in Mozambique, with monumental, mortarless walls; Great Zimbabwe is the largest of these.[6]
The ruins at Great Zimbabwe are some of the oldest and largest structures located in Southern Africa, and are the second oldest after nearby Mapungubwe in South Africa. Its most formidable edifice, commonly referred to as the Great Enclosure, has walls as high as 11 m (36 ft) extending approximately 250 m (820 ft), making it the largest ancient structure south of the Sahara Desert.