It is not a secret that modern days come with a lot more stress. A lot of our jobs went digital and as a result we got stuck behind a desk for the bigger part of the day. In todays daily routine social media subjects us to the opinion of so many more people than just friends, family and neighbours. We started eating unhealthy because we feel like we don’t have enough time and ordering food or throwing it in the microwave is so much easier. But come on, enough is enough.
Get enough sleep
Sounds easy enough, but is one of the hardest things to tackle. How many times have you promised yourself to go to bed early and ended up turning off the light way later than you set out to do? But that alarm goes off the same time every morning. Not many of us have the luxury to sleep in when they had a bad night of sleep. Try to get at least 8 hours of sleep. Not everybody needs this amount of sleep, but it is a very good ball park and especially when you are dealing with stress, it is a good goal to set. You can buy a lot of good sleep trackers to give you insight in your sleep. I use the Fitbit Charge 3. It will remind me to go get ready for bed and will show me how I slept, so I can adjust accordingly.
Start your day off right
The way you start your day is at least as important as the way you finish it. Most of us wake up with an alarm and hardly make it out the door in time. We skip breakfast, barely hit the shower and rush off to work. But whether you work in an office or from home, we know that skipping the most important meal of the day is a bad habit. Starting the day stressed will flood your body with stress hormones. So try to get out of bed with enough time to do a bit of stretching or yoga, give yourself time to shower and get yourself a descent meal you can sit down for.
We can concentrate less on the task at hand when we divide our concentration over multiple tasks. It will also cost you more energy to do things simultaneously. So to give your mind some peace and focus on one thing at a time. Really think about what you are doing and finish before you move on to the next thing. It can still happen that you start doing multiple things at once again, but bring it back to one thing as soon as you realize it.
This can be as easy as wearing something more comfortable or making sure your chair at the office is adjusted the right way. Sit up straight, have a glass of water at your desk and step away from your screen every once in a while. I also like to have a plant at my desk. It sounds silly, but it makes a big difference to me. Not only do plants produce oxygen, they are nice to look at and bring a bit of color to your desk. Do choose a plant that is easy to take care of, because a dying plant is everything but positive and can bring stress instead of reducing it.
Let’s say that humans were meant to catch their food or to roam around looking for it. In today’s daily life we sit at a desk or on a couch and stare in the same direction all day. We don’t have to look for food or run to catch it and we hardly get our hearts pumping. Starting your day with some stretching exercises can help you be ready for your day. It will release to right hormones and endorphins and will get your blood flow going. Where we used to talk about yoga as a thing for hippies, we now know the health benefits and the fact that it reduces stress. And if you go to the gym to get your cardio on you’ll soon realize that you will be more comfortable in your own skin. That is before even talking about loosing weight.
Walk after lunch
It is tempting to go straight back to your desk after lunch. But a little walk outside after lunch goes a long way. Getting away from it al, even if it is a short period of time gives you room to think, clear your head and stretch your legs. Breathing in some clean air will prevent you from getting headaches and since walking boosts endorphins, it reduces stress hormones. Walking with a friend or colleague can reduce your stress levels even further. It gives you the time to vent a little and talk about something other than work.
When we take time to reflect we can process our emotions and take care of our mental health. Meditation is one way to do it. Just sit down quietly and reflect on your daily life. I like to do guided meditation, but that is not a necessity. Guided meditation helps you by guiding you through your thoughts and brings you back when you start to wonder. You can find free guided meditation on YouTube or Spotify, but I use the app Headspace. This way I get daily reminders to slow down.
Be organised and declutter
Looking for your keys, your favourite shirt or important papers. It is easy to make a mess, but the more stuff you have laying around, the more impulses it gives you. So tidy up a bit. Clean up your closet, throw away stuff you don’t need and have a fixed place for stuff you use regularly. If there is stuff in your house that needs to be fixed, fix it or get it fixed. Same goes for stuff at your desk. Throw out papers you don’t need anymore and don’t keep food plates at your desk and don’t keep food wrappers laying around. It is a good excuse for a little walk to the canteen or kitchen and get yourself a drink.
Eat and drink healthy
A good body health is linked to a good mental health, so it is crucial to take good care of your body. Processed Sugar is highly addictive and not only bad for your teeth, but bad for your entire body. They are what is causing those nasty food cravings. It is a good start to stop buying sweets and buy fruits and greens as a replacement. I’m not saying you immediately have to start eating kale (although it’s not a bad idea), but you can simply start by replacing chocolate with the dark chocolate, chips with apple slices and dip some cucumber in hummus if you have cravings between meals.
When it comes to drinks it is a good idea to skip soda. There is so much processed sugar in cola and other soda pops, that replacing it with water or tea will make a big difference in a short amount of time. If you don’t like to drink regular water you can infuse it with strawberry, mint and many other fruits and herbs. I’m sorry to say that alcohol is bad when you are trying to reduce stress. Not that an occasional drink should be forbidden, but the body has to work hard to get the alcohol toxins out of your system. And if it has to fight alcohol, it will have less energy to fight other toxins.
We tend to see only the things we want to have and forget the things we already have. So when we fail to achieve something we stress ourselves out way more than we initially should. But come on. Just because you don’t look like a Victoria’s Secret model when you wake up or can’t play the piano like John Legend the first time you touch it doesn’t make you a worthless person. If there is a goal you would like to achieve, make a realistic planning for it. Just don’t expect to suddenly be as successful as Oprah become a billionaire overnight. Achieving something takes time. And don’t forget to adjust your planning every once in a while if things don’t go as planned. Be as kind to yourself as you would be to a friend.
Go to the spa
The spa is one of those places where you literally have to do nothing but sit. You can get a nice massage or sit down in the sauna and relax. The heat of the sauna relaxes the muscles and stimulates the release of endorphins, our little stress reducers. The sauna also helps you to flush toxins through sweat and helps you to detox your body. That is where that healthy after sauna glow comes from.
By giving our bodies the time to heal itself it will build a better immune system and you’ll start to sleep better. Smoothies are a go-to for a lot of people, but everything in a smoothy has been chopped up to bits. It will release energy faster, but not gradually, because the body doesn’t have to break it down first. That is why you might experience an energy dip when you are detoxing on smoothies. You will get in all the healthy ingredients, but you will spike blood sugar levels. The best way to detox is to start eating unprocessed food. The shorter the ingredient list, the better. You don’t have to entirely avoid sugar, fat and salt, but be conscious of your intake.
We stare at a screen for the bigger part of the day. That can be a computer screen, a telephone screen or a tv screen. If that describes your entire day, it might be good to go offline. We are so used to all the impulses we get from social media and advertisements that we don’t even realize it until we stop. My eyes where physically hurting the last time I did a digital detox. It is good to turn off the screen and not being told what to look like or what to buy. No matter how good or bad the intentions of the sender.
Do something positive
For every task you have to do that brings you stress, do something that gives you energy. That can be different for everyone. For one person it is reading a book, for the next it is taking care of plants. But give yourself the space to enjoy something you like. Try a new hobby, call a friend or visit a museum. It doesn’t really matter, as long as it balances out the stress. Help yourself by making a list of things that you know will give you positive energy. Then do one thing every day. Enjoy!
Single use plastic water bottles should be a thing of the past. Choosing a good replacement can still be a bit of a challenge. Do you pick a simple bottle or do you go for a more smart option? This time I tested the Larq self-cleaning water bottle.
A €95 is a tough price for a water bottle, so let me explain why this bottle is nothing short of amazing. The Larq water bottle is self cleaning because of its UV-C LED light in the bottle cap. This UV light kills 99.9999% of bacteria in water. This is very useful when you are hiking, but even if you are in a place with good tap water, bacteria can be transferred into our bottles by simply drinking from it. If you forget to clean your bottle on a regular basis, it will start to smell pretty bad.
The Larq bottle vs a regular drinking bottle
Let’s say you do clean your bottle regularly. It is hard to fit your hand into your bottle, so needing to clean it often will make you less thorough. You will think it is clean, but is it really? Okay, so the dishwasher then? Yes, that is a good option, but it will wear your bottle down quicker. Have you ever eaten pasta with tomato sauce and then dropped your bottle in with the same cycle as your plates? Did you enjoy the color that the sauce gave your bottle? Hard to believe your bottle comes out clean after a wash like that. A stainless steal bottle will be a better option in that regard.
The Larq bottle is made out of vacuum-insulated stainless steel that will keep your drink cold for 24 hours and warm up to 12 hours. According to Larq it’s better not to put any of their products in the dishwasher, but simply rinsing the bottle after you used it with anything other than water is good enough. There is no groove or cape to fit your hand, but you can buy a sleeve to fix that problem. For me, it wasn’t really an issue, but I do like the way the sleeve feels and because it has a little handle attached to it I tended to carry it around a bit more. Go hydration!
How the Larq bottle works
There is a water resistant USB port on the cap of the bottle that makes you able to charge it. Once you charge simply fill the bottle with water. In the cap there is a little UV LED light that kills bacteria, viruses and other micro-organisms that can make you sick. Screw your cap on the bottle and push the button on top to start its cycle. The battery will last up to one month on one single charge.
The cap of the bottle has a ring light that tells you the status of the bottle. It will turn green to let you know it is charging. Push it once to kill bacteria the regular way and it will flash for one minute. If you are out and drinking from an unknown source, push it twice to activate adventure mode. It will clean your water for 5 minutes to get the best results. The light on the cap will shine blue to let you know it is cleaning. Take the cap off the bottle during cleaning and it will turn orange to indicate safety mode. This way you will not be able to hurt you eyes with the UV light.
To sum it al up. There are seven status indicators:
Breathing green light: currently charging;
Steady green light: fully charged;
Breathing sky blue light: purifying and cleaning in Normal Mode;
Pulsing blue light: purifying and cleaning in Adventure Mode;
Pulsing orange light: Safety Mode (will flash when cap is activated outside of the bottle);
Steady yellow light: Low battery;
Red/Purple light: Something is wrong; complete the Warrant Claims Form and a customer service rep will reach out.
There is also a traveling mode that deactivates the Self-Cleaning Mode. This comes in handy when you want to save battery life. To activate this you hold the button for 5 to 10 seconds until the light flashes white. To turn it back on, hold it for 5 seconds to make the light flash white again.
Whats in the box?
The box itself is nicely designed and next to the bottle itself you will find a description on how the product works. Behind the bottle you’ll find the micro USP type C charging cable. The sleeve is sold separate and came in a little pouch. No plastic was used in the box, which you can expect, because we are trying to avoid single use plastic by buying this product in the first place.
Let me start off with a little disclaimer: Larq did not send me this bottle to test it. I was curious enough to buy it myself but was a little sceptic about it at first. But after a couple of weeks of testing it I’m really happy about it. I get that the price is a little steep, but I think it is worth it. Just the fact that my bottle is not stinking after using it makes it worth its money. I really do believe that the water I drink from it is cleaner than in a non-smart bottle. And with a battery life of a month, having to charge it is not an issue for me. It is durable, it keeps my water nice and cold and the company is also working to help people who are in need of clean water.
I always have wanted to go to South Africa. Me and my boyfriend Jurgen had talked about it more than once, but a couple of weeks ago we decided to do it. I mean, who doesn’t want to see the Lion King in person (and not behind bars)? So we planned out a 3 week trip and I’ll tell you how we did it. Hopefully it will give you some inspiration of what to do, where to stay and where to go. As a bonus, I’ve listed some packing essentials and my photography gear. After reading this, you’ll be prepared on everything you’ll need to know when traveling to South Africa. Beware: you’ll see some breathtaking pictures.
We had a direct flight from Amsterdam to Johannesburg with KLM. It was around 10 in the evening when we landed and we took an Uber to our b&b. As a tourist, you have to be careful and always put all your stuff in the trunk. Your Uber driver will tell you this. Uber is widely available and it will give you the option of knowing where your driver is when he comes to pick you up, so always go with this option if you don’t have your own car. Driving is on the left side of the road, so for most of us, it is the easy option anyways. The difference between poor and rich is dramatically high in South Africa. If you have luggage or even a bag with you in the car, it is possible people trying to sell you stuff at traffic lights will try to steal it. Traveling safe is a point of focus here.
We arrived at Remote Corner and after we got in, the Uber driver took off. We were told that breakfast was between 7 and 9, but because the sun is up early (around 5) this was not really a problem. At breakfast we enjoyed the stories about Africa and the surroundings from our hosts Darryl and Helen. We asked where we could enjoy some coffee in the neighbourhood and they told us we would really like the Four Seasons hotel, which is close to the Johannesburg Zoo. It was safe enough for us to walk there and we looked for the Westcliff Stairs. These steps are amazing to photograph and they give you a very nice view over Parkview, a suburb of Johannesburg. Later at the Four Seasons hotel we sat down for a coffee, but we enjoyed it there so much that we stayed for lunch as well. We met up with a couple of friends and we went to Northcliff Ridge Ecopark where we had this amazing view of Johannesburg. For dinner we went to Hell’s Kitchen, a nice low key biker-kind of restaurant where we could sit outside and where we had way too many shots. So that is how you experience Johannesburg with a local. ;)
It was day 2 and we decided to take it slow for obvious reasons. In the morning we got an Uber to the Apartheid Museum. The museum shines a light on the life of Nelson Mandela and what apartheid meant. That white people and black people actually lived separated lives and how it all came to be. There is a viewing of the history of apartheid and colonisation. At the entrance you can choose which path you wanted to take: The road for white people or the road for black people. The overall museum is laid out really well and it tells the story in such a manner that it made me feel really uncomfortable about how suppressed people were because of the color of their skin. At the time we were there, there was a really cool black and white photography exhibition.
The next day we went to the Mandela house. We called an Uber and we drove past Ellis Park Stadium, the soccer stadium where the Dutch lost in the finals against Spain. The Uber driver wanted to know how we felt as Dutchies seeing the stadium and how close we came to winning. When we arrived in Soweto the Uber driver stressed that there was one road where it was safe for us to go and we needed to stay on that road. The street where the Mandela house was located was turned into a tourist attraction, with little market stands where people sold all kinds of souvenirs. I got myself new sunglasses because I had already lost mine and some earrings made out of wire. The house itself is small, as you would expect. Before it was turned into a museum it had burned down, but because the walls are made out of stone, they remained and was it fairly easy to rebuild the house. We made a tour through the house and it was possible to take pictures without getting other people in the frame, but it was a bit of a task. It is very humbling to walk in the same place as where Nelson Mandela stayed for years. It has a magical feeling about it, as he meant so much for the people of Africa.
Day 4 was our driving day to Motswari Private Game Reserve. We had rented a car which was delivered to us that morning and we headed out on the road. We were a bit nervous at the beginning of this trip, because we heard some very scary stories about people who got stranded and did not get out of their situation alive. But overall the trip was more than fine. The main thing we had to look out for were potholes. A lot of them are repaired, but there are still a lot of them remaining. And you don’t want to be stranded on the side of the road where people who look like they are coming to help you actually have bad intentions. For gas we stopped at Total Petroport at the N4 road. When we went to the toilets there we walked up to this breath taking view where animals were laying in the shade and drinking from a pretty water pool. At this point it sunk in: we were about to go on safari!
Around 4:30 PM, we arrived at Motswari Private game reserve. Just a little after the guests had left to go on their afternoon safari. It wasn’t really a big problem that we were late for the safari, because we were going to be there for 5 more days. We walked up the camp and we were amazed by everything we saw. Literally everything was amazing. There are animals walking around the camp and everyone was so incredibly nice. It really is like a little piece of paradise. A little bit later we had dinner with the guest who had returned from the safari. You have the option to sit by yourself, but normally you sit with the people from your safari. At that point, we had not gone on safari yet, so we sat with random people and heard about their safari day.
Motswari Private Game Reserve is more than you can ever imagine. Even elephants walk through the camp and all you have to do is being on time in the correct spot. Early in the morning you will be woken by the staff. They will gently knock on your door to wake you and you’ll be given 45 minutes to get to your jeep. In that time, you can come to the veranda to enjoy some drinks and muffins. In the jeep there is room for 9 guests and you’ll be driven by a guide driver and there will be a guide on the front of the car. The morning game drive will take 3 hours. After the first 2 hours there will be a little break to enjoy some drinks before you’ll get back in the car for the rest of the morning drive. Back at camp there will be breakfast waiting. One time there was a group of at least 70 elephant passing the camp. Be careful of these animals, they are still wild creatures.
During the day you can go on a bush walk, where you’ll walk around the bush with a guide and cover smaller ground. We ended up not doing the bush walk, but relaxed by the beautiful pool. The huts also have a bathtub and once there were warthogs passing by the window. It is really amazing to see wildlife walking around all relaxed.
Around lunchtime you’ll be called to the veranda with a drum. Lunch will be served by the staff accommodated with beautiful songs. It is a show to see and you can choose from all kinds of food.
In the afternoon it is time for the next game drive. The rhythm is the same: You’ll drive around for 2 hours and then you’ll have a drink. The morning coffee has been replaced with evening gin and tonic, beer or soft drinks. During drinks the sun will set and it will turn dark soon. The last hour of the drive is in the dark and you’ll realize your guides are very skilled in finding the different animals.
There are so many types of animal you’ll come across. Within two days we saw the big five. We were most excited to see the leopards and rhinos and we saw multiple. Most people stayed one or two days, but we were so fortunate to stay for five days and see so many animals. There are many places in the greater Kruger that are cheaper than this place or you can go and drive yourself, but Motswari is worth every single penny. The drivers and guides are amazing. They are skilled at finding the animals and they know just how to position the cars to get the best angles for your photo’s. They take such good care of you all day and they give you so much information on all the animals you come across. It is so relaxing and so exciting at the same time, it is unbelievable. I didn’t know it before, but it was really a dream come true. You’ll probably have enough with 2 days, be happy with 3 days, but you will not have any regrets if you stay 4 days or longer. If you are traveling to South Africa, save money on everything else and spend your money here. It will be worth it.
Day 10 – 13: Cape Town
It was time to make our drive back to Johannesburg. We drove straight to the airport, handed over our car and went on our way to Cape Town. Later that evening we picked up our new rental car and we arrived at our hotel: The Greenhouse Boutique Hotel.
Every morning we would go to Origin Coffee Roasting. They have a very good breakfast and lunch menu and their coffee is delicious. Their ambiance is also really relaxing. It would be best described as a hipster / loft type place with nice seats and sweet baked goods. They also sell coffee and tea pots and t-shirts. I ended up buying a t-shirt for a friend of ours.
On our first day in Cape Town we headed out to Boulders Beach. It is famous for its penguin colony. You have to pay a small entrance fee to see them, but once you are in, you’ll see a lot of them. There is a pathway past the nests and it leads al the way to the beach. There you’ll find the penguins swimming and sunbathing. Be sure to go early, because it can become pretty busy with tourists. The penguins are pretty photogenic, so bring a camera.
Cape Point Nature Reserve
After going to Boulders Beach we went on to see Cape Point Nature Reserve. It is the most south / west point of Africa. (Not the most south). It is this beautiful nature reserve where you can find ostrich and baboons. Drive carefully, because tourists may stop out of the blue because they saw wildlife and they forget they are on the road, so keep a safe distance. When you reach Cape of Good Hope, there are probably already a lot of tourists there. People wait in line to take a picture with one of the signs. You can walk up the mountain and have an incredible view of the ocean. I heard it is possible to see some wale, but we didn’t see any that day. There is a cable car up to the highest point. Tourists are driven in by bus and there are a lot of busses there, so be patient. We decided not to go up, but we still ended up with a lot of great pictures.
If you think about going to Robben Island, buy your tickets beforehand. You can buy tickets at the gate, but it will take you way longer to get on the boat then when you already have tickets. So it is way faster and it will save you some frustration. To get to Robben Island, you go to the dock at Waterfront. There you make a boat ride that will take you somewhere around 20 minutes. When you get to the island, you’ll be getting on a bus. This bus will tour you around on some parts of the island. A guide tells you about the history of the island, that it was an island where a lot of seals rested from being in the sea. That is actually where the name comes from: robben is the dutch word for seal. The island was also used as an island to keep people who suffered from leprosy away from healthy people on the main land. That is why there is also a leper graveyard on the island. Then there is the prison, where one of the former prisoners will show you around. He will tell you about his time in the prison and what it is like and he will show you Nelson Mandela’s cell. It is a nice addition if you went to the Apartheids museum and Nelson Mandela’s house in Soweto. From the prison it is a 5 minute walk back to the boat, which will drop you back off at Waterfront.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is one of the most beautiful botanical gardens in the world and once you set foot in this park, you’ll know why. Even for people who are not into flowers or plants or trees, it will stun you with the beautiful views. No wonder that a lot of people go here to lay in the sun and picnic. I felt like a kid in a toy store and even though the light was not at it’s best when we were there, I still got some great pictures of plants and animals, which wander freely around the park. We enjoyed it so much that we went here two days in a row. It is so nice to sit here, talk and just slow down and relax. There is a little shop at the entrance where you can buy the regular souvenirs that you can buy anywhere in South Africa, next to some special flower themed books and home decor.
If you are looking to go surfing or just want to get a breath of fresh air at the ocean, Muizenberg Beach is a great place to sit down in the sand. There is a nice square where you can park your car and there are enough places where you can get something to eat. When we were there, they were shooting a film, which was very entertaining to watch. It is a great spot with nice lighting and obviously everyone goes to check out the iconic changing houses a bit further up the beach. If you don’t like to sit in the sand, but do like to watch all the surfers, there is a boulevard with benches where you can sit and enjoy the surroundings.
We said goodbye to Origin Coffee Roasting and we went on our way to Franschhoek. It is not surprising this place is called Franschhoek, which translates back to ‘French Corner’, because it looks a lot like France with all the wineries. We stayed at Val d’Or Estate, which is this nice estate neighbouring a wine field. The garden has a pool and a nice pond, where a lot of birds build their nest. The staff was also very nice and pointed us in the right direction when it comes to restaurants. We choose to go to Franschhoek in stead of going to Stellenbosch, was simply because we thought it looked a little greener and a bit less crowded. But that is different for everybody.
Franschhoek wine tram
The day after we arrived in Franschhoek we took a trip with the Franschhoek wine tram. We took the pink line (there are multiple lines) and we went to Grand Provence Estate, Eikehof Wines, Rickety Bridge Winery, and Haute Cabriere Tasting Room. With every visit we did a wine tasting where you can taste the different types of wine. Most of the time this will be three red wines and two white wines. Each stop is set to take 30 minutes, but if you want to sit down and relax it is better to skip a slot and sit down for an hour. You will be transported with the tram, a bus or a tractor. We started at Grand Provence. There is a cheetah outreach where you can learn about cheetah’s. At Eikehof there is an ostrich and at the time we were there, there was an owl with 3 little ones. We sat down and had a delicious meat and cheese platter. At Rickety Bridge we had a great lunch and we ended up at Haute Cabriere for the last tasting. Normally you spit out the sip of wine you tased, but we have not seen many people do that. And at every stop you can have something to eat, so why should you?
Le Bonheur Reptiles and Adventures
Because we found a snake in our hotel room, we went to Le Bonheur to learn more about reptiles and crocodiles. Finding snakes can be very common, just call your manager to have it removed. But actually finding one made us realize we didn’t know a lot about snakes or what to do when you get bitten. So we went to Le Bonheur and did a tour. A lot of the crocs there came from other parks and some were even saved from death. You’ll learn that crocodiles are actually very dangerous even though they don’t move much to save energy. The tour we got was very educational and we were able to ask anything we wanted and got pretty good answers.
Babylonstoren Wine Estate
One of the wine estates that is particularly instalicious is Babylonstoren. This estate has everything you might think of. From shops to greenhouses, cactus gardens and flowers and wandering chickens. Babylonstoren has it all and is very popular with influencers. The place is beautiful and if you are looking for a nice wine estate to make gorgeous pictures, this is the place you’ll need to go. It is also a place to sit down and relax and just enjoy countryside nature.
For our last days we drove up to Hermanus to do some whale watching. We drove the car down the whale trail and stopped every once in a while to stare at the ocean in the hope we would see some whales. We didn’t see much besides some boats so when we arrived at our last guest house, Whale Away, we were asked if we wanted to go on a boat trip to go whale watching. The chance we would see whales would be significantly greater, because we were there in October, exactly the time when the whales swim past Hermanus. So we booked a trip for the next day and walked from our hotel to our restaurant. The path we took goes past the shoreline and we saw some dolphins and seals.
It was early in the morning when we were on our way to Southern Rights Charters, the company that would take us out to sea. The sunrise at sea is the most wonderful thing I have ever seen. With the mountains in the background, it looked as if the world was being recreated. I’m not even kidding! It really looked like heaven on earth. It didn’t took long before we found some wales. We were fortunate enough to find a mother with her calf and she was teaching it to slam its tail on the surface of the water, to prepare it for the big trip to the south. Photographing on a boat was a bit of a challenge, but even if you do not want to take your DSLR with you on a boat, I’ll have the option to buy the video the company makes with a drone. We did and it was worth every cent.
After spending the morning on the boat we wondered a bit more around Hermanus and walked passed some of the marked stands in the center. This would be our last day and besides whale watching there is not much more to do in Hermanus to sit back and relax so we did.
From Hermanus we drove back to Cape Town. There we took the plane to Johannesburg. We had a couple of hours overlay so we went for dinner with our friends and before we knew it we were back on a plane to Amsterdam. It was a trip we would never forget!
This was really an amazing vacation and it is one of the few places I would really love to go to again. There are still so many places I would like to see in Africa. If I would have had more time, we would have driven up to Port Elisabeth. For what we did do: There is not one thing I would have done differently. Johannesburg felt dangerous sometimes, but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. I really feel like it was a great experience. For those of you who would like to know what we packed and what my camera was, I made a couple of lists for you.
We all know it: when you want to be healthy, you need to eat healthy. But with all the choices you have at the grocery store, it can be very difficult to eat right. It is way easier to just warm something up or eat a snack that is loaded with sugar than actively prepare your food in a healthy way or read all the labels before you buy something. We don’t have time for that, right?
For the biggest part, that’s true. But I have come to learn it is just a matter of habit and learning how to cook. That is the reason why I want to add another segment here on this website. There are a lot of cool products that can help you live (and eat) better. I know I’m not the first one to realize this or to write about it, but it seems like a lot of fun, so why not? Let’s give it a go, shall we?
Recently I ordered a some of products from MyMuesli. This Germany based company specializing sells muesli and granola next to dairy free milk and tea. They also sell a couple of accessories to go with these products.
For the last couple of weeks I have been looking for a good way to bring my granola and yoghurt to work. But we all know that when you throw the ingredients together, the granola will become mushy. I travel for 45 minutes to work each day, so by the time I get to work, my granola is ruined.
There are a lot of container products available, but the cup I got from MyMuesli is just better than the rest. The cup is divided into two containers: one for your yoghurt and one for your granola. They both have their own separate twisting lid and the top container is transparent, so you can see which granola you brought with you. They are available in three different colors: magenta, white and black. And best of all: they are dishwasher safe!
The second product I got is the 2go bottle from Tree of Tea. This glass bottle has a little container in the top, where you can put your tea in. Basically genius, because your tea will be mixed from the top and there is no need to stir it. If you prefer fresh-from-the-garden tea, you can always put some leafs in the bottom of the bottle. Just place your container on top of it and your bottle is sealed off. The bottle is double walled, to keep your tea warm. If you are anything like me, you have a habit of making tea, forgetting about it and drink cold tea as a result. I haven’t managed to do that yet with this bottle!
I use both my cup and my bottle on a daily basis at work. And even some of my colleagues got the 2go cup to make a habit of not skipping out on breakfast. If you want to order yours, go to mymuesli.com. They regularly have great freebees that come with your order.
Artistic people have restless hands. Give us a pen and paper and we scribble away. We are constantly figuring out how curtain shapes work, how lighting is supposed to fall upon an object and what different textures are supposed to look like. Don’t forget it is a fast and easy way to work out your ideas. It makes us think about elements we can not (easily) erase like we can on our computer screens. It forces us to start over: the ditch and redo method. We can see the process we have made over time. It is very educational and the result can be incredibly stunning.
Do you use a dummy to work out your ideas? Do you have the feeling you need to draw when there is pen and paper near? Tell me in the comments down below.
We all have that show or movie we just can’t get enough of. Sometimes we love it so much, we spam our friends and family with that pure awesomeness and we want them to experience it too. We fall in love with the characters and characteristics. And even then, we can still be overflowing with so much feelings we get creative. Very, very creative…
Personally, I love the Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and the Marvel series when it comes to fan art. Let me know what your favorite series are, in the comments below.
Your bathroom can really be a beacon of relaxation. When we were little, we used to sing and play in the bathtub. When you grow older, you start to solve problems in there. In any case, it is the place to be calm and relaxed and be surrounded with the nicest smells.
A friend of mine has always been obsessed with bathrooms. Every time we went somewhere, she’d go to a bathroom and tell me all about the decor when she came back. Every time I step into a public restroom, I think about what her opinion would be: ‘Oh, she’d really love these towels and flowers!’, or ‘She would be so upset if she saw this!’.
A lot of games are based on warriors or not so strong character types becoming great warriors. Most of the time, they are as deadly as they are beautiful and they vary from nobel soldiers with shiny armor to bare skinned barbarians with clunky weapons. Each of these beautiful digital paintings show their own story about a type or warrior and what they have been trough.
In the comments below, let me know what your favorite type of warrior is and why.
Your grandmother may remember the time when they potted their food. They had potted ham and potted… well, anything really. They used to slay an animal and put the meat in a glass preservation jar along with a lot of salt so it wouldn’t rot. Back then, they used pottery in the form of earthenware or stoneware or simply glass jars. Not many people still do this, since going to the store and buy fresh food is much easier and arguably much tastier. I did manage to find some very nice looking jars that reminded me of our neighbor in France: a 86-year old woman, who brings us pâté in a preservation jar when her son has shot some wild animal. It makes me hungry already. Enjoy!
Compare your own handwriting to that of your grandmother and the conclusion may be that once people where paying more attention to the art of it. Nowadays we type everything on a keyboard and I for one have to ‘push through’ if I have to write more than a couple of sentences. But recently I have studied calligraphy and have found the beauty of creative lettering. Below I have listed a couple of gorgeous examples of calligraphy for your inspiration. Enjoy.
The last couple of months designers have been really busy with flat design, which is being called one of the design trends of 2014. But it has come to my attention that among these flat icon designs still are some very handsome designs that are Skeuomorphic. I’ve found some very life-like food related designs that make you hungry by just looking at them. Enjoy and bon appétit!
Aquascaping is the art of underwater gardening with aquatic plants, rocks, stones or wood, in an aesthetically pleasing manner within an aquarium. What makes aquascaping so hard, is that you’ll need to recreate the natural environment within (usually) a small space. Most of the time, aquascapes house fish, to help with building a natural environment, but it is possible create a aquascape with plants only. Big names in the aquascaping world are James Findley (UK), Oliver Knott (DE) and Takashi Amano (JP), who all contributed their knowledge to the aquascaping culture.
The Iwagumi lay-out style
There are lot of layout types of aquascaping. Iwagumi is a styles that originates from Japan, where stones are the backbone of the aquarium. Iwagumi typically has only a couple of plants, and around three or four type of stones: Oyaishi (primary stone or father stone), Fukuishi (secondary stone), Soeishi (tertiary stone or accompanying stone) and the Suteishi (or sacrificial stone). In a planted tank, the Suteishi stone often disappears after the plants have completely set in, but it still plays an important role in the structure of the lay-out.
The Dutch Lay-out style
The Dutch style, which is originating from the Netherlands, features a wide range of plants and colours. Wood and rocks are hardly ever present or visible, but the depth, color and contrast make it a very interesting layout.
The Nature lay-out style
The Nature style focusses on both natural landscapes and snapshots of natural environments. This lay-out is pioneered by Takashi Amano. It focusses on the design elements which are also used in Iwagumi lay-outs.
It is not easy (however not impossible), to make layouts like these. It takes a lot of planning and patience, which makes aquascaping a real form of art. Especially in the beginning, it takes a lot of searching for the right type of materials for the lay-out, finding the right plants, choosing the right fish and a lot of water changes. But once you found the correct balance in your tank, it is a really beautiful addition to your home or office. It is also a very good therapeutic activity, which allows you to play around with design rules like the golden rule. I especially think it is good for designer, illustrators and photographers like us, because you learn to look at it from a different perspective.
For more insight in aquascaping, the Green Machine, a company founded by aquascaper James Findley, has very detailed and well explained videos.
Google is doing very well at the moment, and they will be bringing us a lot of new technology in the following months. Google was already making us curious with the new project Glass, which will likely be released somewhere next year, and they’ve extended their Google Docs with Google Drive, which is a competitor of Dropbox. Now they are taking on the competition with Apple by having their own virtual assistant, Google Voice Search. Remember when Google was just a search engine? Well, they haven’t forgotten about searching.
The Google Voice Search app is already available on Android and will come to the iPhone really soon. I’m dying to try it out and see if it is actually better or worse than Siri.
If you’ve seen the Glass demo on Google I/O, you’ve seen a couple of people wearing the glasses jumping from plane, landing on a building, cycling to the edge of the building, than jumping from the side of that building to land on the third floor, and cycling to the conference hall to jump on stage. I have to say that I thought that to be very impressive.
It is good to know that Google suggests that these glasses are strong enough to record extreme sports. And we probably have all seen the clip with the guy walking through the city to end up in a video call and play the ukulele. So we know a couple of features it has, but I was still wondering if it could be more than this insanely cool gadget. The next video shows a mother with a newly born baby in America, who is calling her husband in France.
How into Google are you?
I am known to be a tech lover, and if I had my way, I would build my house to be like Tony Stark’s in Iron Man in no-time. I know that this app isn’t anywhere near a complete house where everything is voice controlled, but having this in your pocket is nice. Especially for those who don’t have the iPhone 4S, and because of that, don’t have Siri. I would also like to get my hands on the Google Glasses. In my opinion, seeing someone wearing the glasses still looks a bit odd, because the glasses are not symmetrical, but I think it isn’t that hard to get used to.
Let me know in the comments what you think of Google and what you think of their new products.
Paul Davey is an illustrator from Manchester, Jamaica, and works under the alias Mattahan. He paints beautiful images of black people, and every painting has its own story. The paintings are based on his own life and the things he relates to. The most important thing, according to Paul, is that the painting needs to provoke a reaction from him in order to be satisfied with it. He not only an illustrator, he also does comic art and he makes icons.
Kelli Anderson is a very talented designer from Brooklyn, America. She is very crafty with paper. She not only pushes the boundaries with designing, she also tries to fully explore every aspect involved. In this incredible TEDxPhoenix talk, she talks about the ‘disruptive wonder’, a mechanism for revealing the extraordinary talents of ordinary things.
Paris for pleasure seekers
Her latest project is a map of Paris, in collaboration with Herb Lester. With great use of texture, the illustrations are very well made. With 30 locations highlighted on this map, it covers everything that Paris is known and loved for.
The record player wedding invitation
Another great project of hers, is the wedding invitation she did for her friends Mike and Karen. This wedding invitation is a record player, which plays an exclusive song, made by the bride and groom. The record player is made entirely out of plastic, paper and a metal needle.
What I really appreciate in Kelli is that she values the craftsmanship of design. She has a letterpress in her home, which she uses for various projects. She is very curious and is willing to give everything for her projects.
David Delin is an illustrator from France, with a huge love for his art. He makes beautiful artworks, and there is no surprise that I needed to feature him here. He focuses mainly on Typography, Illustration and general Graphic Design. Magazines like Advanced Photoshop and Digital Artist UK, among many others, have featured his work. Enjoy!
Everyone has books in their bookcase that they never touch. Let it be an old dictionary, or an encyclopedia, they are collecting dust. You could just trow them out, but you can also… make landscapes out of them. Canadian artist Guy Laramée must have had the same idea when he was looking at his book collection. Guy is a man of many talents. Not only is he a very accomplished painter and sculptor, but Guy is also a highly regarded musician, composer and stage director.
With over 30 years of experience, Guy makes these beautiful book sculptures, with some containing over 10 books per sculpture. The examples you see here, are from the The Great Wall collection, Biblios collection and the Guan Yin collection.
It is very important to choose your colors wisely. Choosing the wrong colors can make a design dull and looking a bit off, so consideration is in order. There are various color combinations you can use to achieve a natural effect. The most known is the color wheel.
It is interesting to see how the color wheel, or color circle, has come to be. There are actually different types of color wheels, but the one you see here is the most descriptive of how the circle actually works. The color wheel shows the relation between the primary colors, the secondary colors and the tertiary colors. The primary colors are red, blue and yellow. The secondary colors are colors you get when you take even amounts of a primary color and mix them together. So when you take red and blue, you get purple. Blue and yellow makes green, and yellow and red makes orange.
These are the basic elements of the color wheel. If you take two primary colors you get a secondary color, if you take a secondary color and a primary color you get a tertiary color. Put all of the colors together, and you get brown. But there is no way of making a primary color with a secondary color or a tertiary color. So if you are an artist working with paint, you can make every color if you have red, blue and yellow. If you only have red, blue and green, there is no way to make yellow.
Being in harmony simply means that something is in such a way that it makes sense. With colors that’s no different. That is way it is so important to choose the right colors. For that you can use color harmonies.
The monochromatic harmony uses various values of the same color family. This means that there is made use of different tints, tones and shades of the same color.
With analogous colors relationships, colors are located adjacent to each other on the color wheel.
The complementary colors are at opposite sides of the color wheel. That makes red the complementary color of green. These colors enhance each other.
Split-complementary colors are one color on one side of the color wheel, and two others equally spaced from its complement, resulting in three colors.
Double complement harmonies include two sets of complementary colors that sit next to and across from each other on the color wheel forming an X.
Tetrad colors are four colors equally spaced on the color wheel. This means that in a 12 steps color wheel every color is touched by the corners of a square. This might be the hardest color combination to use. The best way to handle this combination is to choose no more than two dominant colors.
Triad colors are three colors equally spaced on the color wheel.
Diad schemes are combinations of two colors located two steps apart on the color wheel, skipping the color in between.
Of course there are other great ways to get color inspiration for your designs. Some designers depend on the meaning of colors and their harmonies and choose their colors beforehand. Other designers first build up their elements before they pick their colors. A known trick for picking colors is to pick colors from a photo.
The surroundings of a color are very important. A color can get a different contrast when laid next to another color and can be seen completely different.
Take these shades of purple. The rectangle in the middle of each color is exactly the same as the other. Only the left rectangle appears to be a warmer color than the rectangle on the right.
Take the butcher department in the supermarket for instance. A lot of the time you find little green plastic leaves between the different pieces of meat. This makes the meat more red, which would indicate that there is still blood left in the meat, which would suggest that the meat is fresh. Would you take the green away, the meat would get a more brownish color, which would suggest that the meat has lain there for a couple of days. So placing the little green fake leafs between the meat, makes the red more stand out. And a stronger red equals more sales.
It is very important to know what the symbolism behind colors can be. A good example is the recent color change in the McDonalds emblem. McDonalds used to use the color red and yellow. Both primary colors. It indicates the core value’s of the fast food giant. Yellow stands for positivity, sunshine, playfulness. Red stands for energy, excitement and courage. Lately, McDonalds changed these colors to yellow and green, because the company wanted to be associated with health. The fast food industry has very bad reputation when it comes to health, and just changing the products wasn’t enough. People walking past McDonalds should feel like going in isn’t going to clog their arteries with fat. With the color change from red to green, going into McDonalds feels like it still gives you the option of choosing between a nasty burger and a healthy salad.
Every color has its own symbolic meaning. It can be very contradictory and some colors have more associations than others. Most associations are very strong, and it is hard to break that connection. So it is easier to take colors for their associations than trying to change them.
There are also religious connections to colors. In India they celebrate Holi, the festival of colors, which is a new years celebration feast. During this feast, the Hindus throw scented powder to each other, to celebrate the colors of spring.
American and West European cultures are very similar when it comes to colors. These cultures define colors in the following way:
Red evokes aggressiveness, passion, strength and vitality. It is recognized as a stimulant and draws attention. As an accent, it has the ability to immediately focus attention on a particular element.
Orange evokes fun, cheeriness and warm exuberance. It is a close relative of red and most people either hate or love this color.
Yellow evokes positivity, enlightenment and happiness, but can also stand for cowardice. It can also stand for the youth in children.
Green evokes tranquility, health and freshness. Next to blue it is a favorite color to most people. It is often used in interior design, because we are used to seeing it everywhere. Green is considered the color of peace and ecology, while it can also be an indication of illness and negative emotions. For some countries it is also the color for money.
Blue evokes authority, dignity, security and faithfulness. It is the overwhelming favorite color, and maybe that is way a lot of application icons are blue. The color is seen as trustworthy, dependable and committed. Next to that it is the least gender specific color, it has an equal appeal to both men and women. Still, baby blue refers to boys.
Purple evokes sophistication, spirituality, costliness, royalty and mystery. It is the color which is most liked by creatives and is a very adaptive color. This color takes over the characteristics of its undertone.
Pink evokes femininity, innocence, softness and health. It has a lot of the same characteristics as red, without being to aggressive. It is often associated with romance and is the gender color for girls.
Brown evokes utility, earthiness, woodsy-ness and subtle richness. It is the color of the earth and is associated with all things natural and organic. All colors combined make brown, and that is why it is a very difficult color to use in designs.
White, grey and black are not really defined as colors, since they are shades of brightness. But that doesn’t mean that they are not symbolic.
White evokes purity, truthfulness, being contemporary and refined. Doctors wear white coats, and a white picket fence surrounds safe and happy home. Brides traditionally wear white gowns, symbolic to their virginity.
Grey evokes somberness, authority, practicality and a corporate mentality. It is the color of intellect, knowledge, and wisdom. Grey is also a business color and it is perceived as long-lasting, classic and redefined. It is also a very perfect natural, which is why designers often use it as a background color and why a lot of digital artist use a grey background to draw their paintings on.
Black evokes seriousness, distinctiveness, boldness and being classic. It is also very authoritative and powerful. Evil characters in movies are often dark, while the good guys are light. Black represents a lack of color and emptiness. It is a classic color for clothing, possibly because it makes the wearer appear thinner and more sophisticated.
The symbolism of colors can be differ in different cultures. The symbolism can even differ from periods of time and can even have a different meaning in the same culture. The color red is often used in stop signs in European and north American cultures, while at the same time it can stand for love and hate.
There are a couple of sites dedicated to color use. Adobe has its own kuler web application and the website colorlovers.com is a creative community where you can share your colors, pallets and patterns. They can really come in handy, so be sure to check them out.
The true Star Wars fan has to go to the STAR WARS Identities Exhibition, which is in Montreal Canada. This exhibition will stop in 12 cities during its six-year tour. At this exhibition, you follow Luke and Anakin Skywalker, from their origins on Tatooine, to the friends and mentors they meet during adolescence, through the choices they make that will define them as adults.
The exhibition features amazing props, customs, models and artworks, which allow you to see Star Wars in a whole new way. There is even a quest where you can shape your own Star Wars character, and you’ll be placed in the center of all action.
A couple of day’s ago I went to see the Avengers. And I honestly believe that you need to go see this movie. I love Tony Starks humor, which made me watch Iron man all over again. In case you missed the trailer, you can watch it below. I also included a featured, but for more content, which include Tony Stark burning Richard Castle form the tv series Castle and screaming fans amongst more clips of course, you can go to the Marvel Youtube account.
Over at Toys “R” Us, they released a series of wallpapers for the fans. All the posters are 1280×1024. Just click on them to go to the full size.
Which of the Marvel characters would you like to see teaming up?
I great thing about the Marvel movies, is that they show a little clip at the end of the movie, to show you what is about to happen next. I’m not going to spoiler anything, but I would love to know what you think is going to happen next, or even better, what Marvel characters you would like to see teaming up. Let me know in the comments below.
Sérgio Almeida is a designer from Aveiro, Portugal, who is focussing on animation, illustration and design. As a promotion to the d&da students awards 2012, he made the ‘My Design Is’-project. For this project he made illustration cards, which describe his designs. Along with the cards he made a video where you can see him making the illustration poster. The illustration is a self-portrait and every part of it portrays a visual description of what design is to him. In the end the illustration reads:
A couple of weeks ago Jean Paul Gaultier announced that he is going to be the new creative director for Diet Coke and with this he released a new limited edition bottle work and campaign. The print ads, shot by Jean Paul Gaultier’s friend Stéphane Sednaoui, featured two models in a day & night theme holding a the limited edition bottles and a cardboard with JPG face. The bottles will be available in 9 countries in Europe and a third limited edition bottle will be released later this year.
With this bottles comes also the mini series “The Serial Designer”, starring Jean Paul Gaultier and several marionettes. The marionettes all have a problem related to fashion, when JPG comes to the rescue. He drinks Diet Coke and gets energized and overflowed with ideas for the perfect outfit.
Kickstarter is a beautiful place to find funds for your project, and a lot of amazing projects went to production because of Kickstarter. But never have I seen a project being funded this quickly. The Pebble, a digital watch that can connect to your iPhone or Android phone, needed to collect 100,000 dollar to go to production and collected the money in only two hours! The project still has 36 days to go before the investment period ends and the counter shows somewhere around $744,000 at the moment. And this number is going up rather quickly.
With the Pebble, you can go cycling, control your music, go running, and obviously do a lot more. With a SDK, developers can build their own app to support the Pebble. It has a build in accelerometer, a vibrating motor, an ARM microprocessor and a nice e-paper display. It connects trough bluetooth and has a battery life of 7 days.
If you would like to have a copy of the watch, as long as it is a Kickstarter project the watch will cost you $99. When the Pebble goes to production it will cost something like $150. It surely does have a lot of potential if you ask me, and I am seriously considering buying one. I think it is awesome that you can see who is calling you, just by looking at your watch. What would you like to do with a Pebble?
Take a look at these amazing illustrated buildings by Lucas Galoto on Béhance for the Facebook game Towner developed by MetroGames. Towner is about creating your dream city. You have to build different types of buildings to attract people to live in your city.
All the different famous buildings that were illustrated for this game look really amazing. Some of the buildings made for this game are the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore, Saint Basil’s Cathedral and many others. Obviously not all buildings are after famous buildings, but it is fun to recognise the famous ones and detect the style of the artist.
It took me some time, but it is finally here. When I started blogging a couple of years ago over at the CRD website, I mainly made inspiration galleries, like most blogs do nowadays. But I soon realized that that wasn’t enough. I wanted to meet new people and ask them about their experiences. So I’ve interviewed a couple of designers and developers and they told me their insights. Due to some site difficulties I stopped writing over at the CRD website, but I did wanted to keep on blogging, only this time on my personal website. So that is when I developed this site.
Currently I’m working on a book and a documentary for my graduation project. I’ve interviewed a couple of people from the Netherlands and from England and I have to say that it is tremendously interesting to hear different opinions on design. The book I’m writing is about the perfect portfolio for freelance graphic designers and will have chapters on design for screen and print, marketing, communication and social media, technology and applications and of course content. The documentary is an addition to the book and shows different people from different fields in the design business.
More news is that I’ve also been offered to write for Other Focus, which I gladly except. The articles there will show some overlap with this blog, but I will keep this place for my personal posts. There will always be topics that just don’t fit on Other Focus, so that is why I have this place.
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