Two Weeks Post-op

By Belinda

Baby Spartan, having a cuddle.

It was not really my intention to share about my post-op journey on this page – not yet at least. I wanted to wait until all my healing was complete and I was on my feet with the plaster off. However, being confined to bed, for the most part of these past two weeks, has allowed for much introspection.

I spent one night in hospital after a total foot reconstruction. Thank goodness it was only one night. There is nothing quiet, healing or rehabilitating about hospitals, at least not in my experience. The staff prod and poke you at all times of the day or night, ignore your calls for help, but when you finally fall into a deep sleep, they suddenly have the urge to poke you with yet another needle for pain relief! Needless to say, it was not a good experience for me.

Let me tell you about my foot. I shared in a post about two months ago, that I have a genetic condition called Hallux Vulgus. This is a gross deformity of the foot, where all the associated bones of the big toe are displaced. It can and does in most cases, cause you to have bunions. At the tender age of 29, (funny how that sounds like a really young age now?), I had bunion surgery, but at the time, the orthopaedic surgeon, saw no need to straighten the bones in my big toes. Now, some 23 years later, I’ve had to undergo further surgery. What lead me to the orthopaedic surgeon this time, was intense pain under my left toes in the soft tissue. I love to walk/hike, and this was becoming an excruciating experience. I couldn’t wear closed shoes or hiking shoes. The sonar confirmed what my podiatrist expected – I had a neuroma or two, sarcasm intended! So this surgery wasn’t just shaving off some bone. I had a wedge resection of my large toe and a screw placed there to keep the bone in place. The long metatarsal was shifted inwards using a plate and screws. There were two neuromas and the surgeon said he would first open up before he decided which one he would remove. He ended up resecting both as he said if he left one, I would not have the pain relief I so desperately sought. He also did an osteotomy on the outer part of that foot, where my little toe is, to help narrow my foot somewhat.

Lord Grayson, feeling particularly loving.

Although the surgeon had explained in explicit detail, all he was planning to do, I remembered my healing after both bunions were done at age 29. I don’t remember having so much pain. I was also considerably younger, possibly far more mobile and agile. It just didn’t occur to me that the healing process would be as difficult as this has been. I have had so much pain! If my foot moves just slightly, pain shoots up and down my large toe. I’m acutely aware of pain on the top of my foot all the time. It’s been awful.

But all complaining aside, these are some of the things I have discovered about myself. I am resilient. I had no idea how much I would push myself to do the required exercises regardless of the pain, in order to keep my left ankle mobile and strong. I have immense inner strength. My husband left to go to Mozambique two days after arriving home. After about a week of raging anger and frustration at his seeming bad timing and absolute resolution of not changing his plans, I made peace with the fact that I have never had a particularly fussy and caring husband. He takes care of me and the family, but he’s not ‘caring’ in the way I thought I needed especially in that first week. But I realised he loves me deeply and what I perceived he ‘did to me’, is actually how he functions. He’s not ever going to win the prize for “Compassionate Husband of the Year”. It’s just not his nature. He is task-orientated and focused on what needs to be done and he follows through with that. I’ve never come across as the helpless wife, so I don’t even think it crossed his mind I would ‘need’ him. And I really haven’t needed him. Everyday, I’ve had someone here to assist me, and when I could let go of the disappointment I felt toward him, I could see just how strong I actually am. He’s been home two days now, and to be fair, he’s been great. He’s been helping me prepare for my market tonight, sorting out groceries that haven’t been bought for the past two weeks, and just getting stuff done – which is indeed his forte.

All three scamps on the bed with me!

So, I continue to learn so much about myself. Although mobility is severely restricted as I live in a double storey house and both attempts at the stairs, have led to small falls, I’ve had to be very careful. I can’t afford for anything to go wrong with this operation. As yet, I can’t place any pressure on my left foot, but I do have to exercise the leg and ankle and wriggle my toes every two hours (I do it far more often than that), to keep muscles and joints strong.

My pets have been a source of both comfort and joy, and stress. The kitten got out on the window ledge he other day, and has now discovered a new escape route. I leapt out of bed and placed slight pressure on my foot to save him on Day 5. It was excruciatingly painful! So when he comes to visit me, the window gets closed. The dogs are great until they hear something move downstairs, so they can be a bit of a pain sometimes with their barking and jumping on and off the bed, but somehow they are aware they shouldn’t come near my foot.

My two children who still live at home, have been phenomenal. They both work a full day, but they have taken turns each night to take care of dinner. They haven’t always felt like cooking, and when they haven’t, they would take it upon themselves to order in or pick something healthy up from the local Woolworths on their way home. I’ve been so grateful to them. My house cleaner comes in four days a week and literally checks on me so regularly, helping me with meals, water, to the bathroom and back, up and down the stairs. She has been an angel. And finally, the one day my house cleaner wasn’t here last week, a friend came to sit with me for most of the day, attending to needs such as getting a meal ready, making me tea and bringing me water. Who knew that once I was using the crutches, I could carry NOTHING? And yesterday, Matilda arrived and it was the first day I wasn’t completely focused on my pain. I hadn’t realised that by the time she left, I’d taken no pain medication for the entire day except for Paracetamol in the morning.

So I’ll end with this… This has been one of the most difficult times of my life, but I sincerely believe the Universe has presented me with this opportunity to go deep within and do some more work within myself, to realise how far I’ve already come as a woman, and to set some goals for our future, especially where the business is concerned. I’ve needed to be alone and quiet in order to go deep. I might not enjoy this season, but it has been so necessary.

Belinda xo

Five Sustainable Gift Ideas

by Matilda

Belinda contacted me a little while back and said that we are going to do a YouTube video on sustainable Christmas gifts. Thank you, Belinda, for giving me a subject to write about for our blog.

We all love giving and receiving presents, but at what cost? When January rolls around we are broke and our holiday spirit has been crushed by all the waste. We don’t have to buy expensive gifts, that people probably don’t even need. Here are my five gift ideas that will help us to be more mindful of the environment and our budgets when we think of gifts.

A Kombucha starter kit is the gift that will keep on giving. This is the ideal gift for your health conscious friends and family. All you need is a glass decanter, tea bags, sugar and a Scoby with its starter tea. If you don’t have a Scoby, just ask around, someone will know someone who has one for you. Include handwritten instructions on how to care for your Scoby and how to make the Kombucha tea. Also, add a bottle of your own brew – just to give the recipient a taste of what they can expect from their starter kit.

Read my blog post on how to make Kombucha –

I am writing down all my favourite recipes for my daughter. I hope she doesn’t read this before Christmas (it would be such a spoiler). This way she has all the best and tested recipes with notes in one book. This is a great gift for someone who likes cooking and baking. It is even more special, because it is handwritten.

Recycled glass containers will make your eco-conscious friends’ hearts beat faster. We were all very reliant on plastic containers and plastic wrap in our homes, but there is a big movement away from that unsustainable lifestyle. This gift will help to make the transition from plastic to glass easier.

Microgreens are very healthy and easy to grow. If you have friends or family who love to grow things, this is the gift for them. Microgreens are super easy to grow and don’t need a lot of space. They are also packed with nutrients and anti-oxidants.

Learn how to grow microgreens here:

Lastly for the person that has everyting – a gift voucher. I know, I know, it is sooo boring. It feels as if you didn’t put any effort or thought into this gift, but sometimes you just can’t find the right fit for a difficult person. Don’t get just any gift voucher, though. Get one from a sustainable shop or any thrift shop. I would love to go to a second hand store and dig up some treasures. Hint, hint.

I am sure that Belinda will want to do a blog post on this subject too. Her ideas will be totally different from mine, because we are so different from each other. So, stay tuned for more kick-ass sustainable gift ideas.

Matilda xo

Thrifting – Ethical Shopping vs. Cheap Shopping

By Belinda

My thrifted navy pinstripe suit.

I started thrifting at the beginning of the year, and have already written a post titled, “My Journey to Thrifting.” What I’d like to focus on today, is whether thrifting, really is all those good things we think it is… Ethical, sustainable and conscious? I am by no means an eco-warrior, but you have to live under a rock, to not see the environmental impact, the textile industry is having on our planet – not to mention the ethical issues raised with fair trade and practices within factories, for the workers. Whenever you buy anything new from the rail, think about where it came from. If the price tag seems too good to be true, it is! You might not be paying what the garment is worth, but someone somewhere, is!

Does buying pre-loved mean I pay less? For the most part, yes. But I can also look for high-end or designer pieces, which will most definitely cost me more than what I would be buying on the high street, but I wouldn’t have ever been able to afford buying them new. Have I found really cool pieces? Oh yes! I purchased a Ralph Lauren 100% linen blazer for R25!!! That’s less than US$2! I think that’s a great bargain. So for me, it’s not about buying cheaply, but all about being more mindful and wiser with my money. I’ve said before, I want to travel and that costs money, so whatever I can save by buying pre-loved, I put towards travel. Now how can that be a bad thing?

One of my more recent purchases from a consignment store. (Brand: Witchery).

At the beginning of the year, I started my low-buy, where I would only purchase one item of clothing per month, one pair of shoes, one accessory and one piece of make-up. I failed miserably this past month. I did do the “September No-Buy” initiated by Oxfam and I think that not buying anything at all for the month, created a vacuum within me, that only shopping filled! Am I proud of this epic fail? Absolutely not. But I admit to it, and will learn from it. I don’t often feel guilty after shopping, and this past year, has been especially good for my soul as I’ve meticulously worked from a list, and shopped as far as I can, more ethical brands.

So, when shopping second-hand or pre-loved, am I as strict with myself? No! I don’t place the same restrictions on what I buy pre-loved. When I thrift, my whole attitude toward thrifting, is that I am keeping clothes out of landfill for longer, and also giving them a second chance at being loved. I have a strange relationship with clothes. They are not just bits of material used to cover my body. For me, they are living organisms (yes, I know you won’t agree with me), but I feel as if I have a relationship with my clothing and I hate to keep clothes in my closet that I don’t wear. So as much as I thrift, I also gift clothes to friends and family, but more recently, I’ve started a second-hand store and I sell my less-loved items to someone who might love them more and therefore, use them more. Matilda recently joined me in this venture, and our little business is growing considerably.

My geometric scarf, purchased just before our winter.

So what are my rules then when it comes to thrifting? I don’t have any, except that just as with any piece I bring into my closet, the piece I buy must be able to go with at least three other items I already have. If it can be multi-purposed, like this scarf, which can be used as a belt, or to tie my hair up with, all the better. I’m less strict with thrifted items in terms of sustainability of the piece. It doesn’t have to be only natural fibers. It can even be a fast fashion piece, as long as I don’t wear it as fast fashion. For me, it must fit in with the rest of my closet and style, and must become as loved as the items I keep. Just as with buying new though, I am selecting more classic pieces, items that won’t date, and then regardless of the fabric, as long as I know I love it, and will wear it for a long time, I add it to my wardrobe.

I do have a rule of buying from a list. I have a carefully, thought-out list of items that I want to add to my closet, and if I can purchase them at all pre-loved, then I do that. It’s an absolute thrill to find an item from a thrift store, pay less for it, and understand there’s a story behind it, than to purchase new. I am loving this journey and know that even though I’ve only been doing this for less than a year, this is something I will be doing for the rest of my life. My outlook towards fashion, has forever been changed – and in a good way. This way of shopping is growing in popularity, but even if it wasn’t, I love feeling I am doing my bit for the environment, however small, and that makes me happy.

Belinda xo

Reflections… My first birthday without my mother.

By Belinda

My Mother and me on my wedding day.

To paint a picture of bliss between my mother and I, would be totally telling a lie, but so much has become clearer since her passing last November.

It was my 52nd birthday on Tuesday. For the most part, I spent the day with my husband. There were no friends, no busyness and no ‘clutter’ in my day. In the evening, we met with three of our children, their significant others, and our granddaughter, for the loveliest dinner. As I sat at the table, the banter of conversation going on around me, I was overcome with love and deep emotion. Joy was paramount in that myriad of feelings, swirling around my heart. My husband and I, have worked so darn hard, to make these two, separate families, become one, united, not-so-perfect, but hugely functional unit.

Earlier in the day, I had much time to reflect on the fact that this was the first birthday ever in my life, that my mother wasn’t alive. She hadn’t always lived close to me, so we didn’t always spend time together on my birthday, but every morning up to and including my 50th birthday, she would always give me a call and sing “Happy birthday” to me. As a child, I grew up with three younger siblings, and for as long as I can remember, whilst living in our parental home, she would sing each of us awake on our birthdays.

So on Tuesday, I missed her call. Last year, she was living with me in my home on my birthday. She was in the darkest of places in her mind, which was ravaged by Alzheimer’s. The progression of this disease was rapid. My father, unable to cope any longer with her care on his own, reached out to us for help. She came to live with me in July 2018, and passed away on the 15th November, so on the 22nd October, there was no recognition, on her part, of who I was. I never celebrated my birthday last year at all. We did the obligatory dinner with my family, but my heart wasn’t feeling it.

To give you a little perspective, I had always had ‘birth weeks’ in the past. I would celebrate with different friends and family over a week-long period. Why? That’s the question I now ask myself. Did I feel unseen, unheard, and my birthday was my way of drawing attention to myself? I think, in part, that was true. For a brief period of the year, it could be about me.

Today, this could not be further from the truth of my life. Last year, no celebrations, besides with my immediate family. Did I feel less loved? Not at all. I was so busy taking care of my mother, that spending time on myself, was the furthest thing from my mind. And yet, through it all, in giving so much of myself, in loving her, I experienced the most peace. Yes, it was a difficult time. To deny that, would be foolish and inauthentic. But one clear observation for me, is that I deeply value, honour and love myself. So much so, that I no longer ‘need’ that from others. This is not to say I won’t ever celebrate my birthday with friends. The day this post goes live, I’m having some girlfriends around for dinner and drinks. But each one of them, has become so meaningful to me, and I’ve selected just a few, uncomplicated friends, to spend the evening with.

So this year, there was much time, in the quiet of my birthday, to reflect upon the first of my birthdays, without my mother’s presence. Something I was acutely aware of, was that her fragrance lingers in this family always. I woke up to two of my children, singing me “Happy Birthday” in bed. It was a sweet reminder that my mother’s traditions, live on in this family. She had taught me something, and I had in turn, passed it along to my children, and when my precious little granddaughter awoke, she too proceeded to sing “Happy Birthday” to me! She’s not yet three! What a beautiful and tangible remnant of my mother’s heart, that continues to live on, despite her passing.

Upon reflecting, I realised that no matter the absence of her physical presence, the essence of who she was, who she is, envelops us and permeates our being, with such sweetness and powerful love. Her gentleness, her fierce love, her strength, her wisdom, her innocence, her simplicity, her uncomplicated self… It all lives on. Even as I write this, intense awareness of her ever-present, forgiving heart, is so palpable. She did not have an easy life, but still she chose to always love. Many times, I didn’t understand her. I was results driven and always needed to know what the next step in life was going to be. Her seeming inertia, was a source of immense frustration to me… until, I am learning that she knew how to allow things to be. She never told me what to do. She shared her opinions gently, and sometimes, those opinions were STRONG! But she never assumed that anyone should take her advice. I am learning, that what I perceived as weakness, was actually a relentless core of inner strength. Her life wasn’t easy, but few knew of her struggles. I can now look back on what she taught me. I am ready to learn and adopt some of her ways, her inner characteristics, her deep sense of self. Qualities I had once deemed pathetic, I’m now beginning to admire. She indeed depicted the expression, “Still waters run deep.”

Belinda xo

French Toast Our Way

by Matilda

Growing up, we used to eat French Toast with marmite and tomato sauce or syrup if you fancied something sweet. Yes. We had no class at all. I didn’t even know that cream cheese existed until I was about twelve years old. My children don’t like any of the classy or less classy condiments that can go with french toast, but they love it our way.

First of all I want to come clean. This way of eating french toast is in no way healthy – it is a treat. White bread that is a bit stale, works the best. I remove the crusts from the bread. Just because that is the way we like it. For the egg mixture I use one egg per two slices of bread. This depends on how big the eggs are and the thickness of the slices of bread. I add a dash of vanilla essence and whisk. I suppose that real vanilla would be better, but we are not foodies. I like things easy.

Melt butter in a non-stick pan and use a low heat setting. Too much heat gives you a crunchy golden outside, but soggy, yellow mush on the inside. Dunk the crust-less bread in the egg mixture and coat the bread liberally with the whisked egg and vanilla essence.

Fry the coated slices of bread until they are golden brown on both sides. This takes a while, because I do it over low heat. By this time my family has followed their noses to the kitchen and are standing around annoying me with: ” is it ready yet”?

Now for the icing on the cake, or the sugar and cinnamon on the french toast. Sprinkle your eggy bread with sugar and cinnamon. How much? Let your taste buds decide. This is how my kids love french toast. They say it reminds them of doughnuts.

This is such an easy way to give everyone a treat and I always have all the ingredients at hand. Enjoy!

Matilda xo

Unexpected Friendship

By Belinda

I love that we laugh a lot!

For most of my life, I have placed extremely high value on female friendships. I think I am one of those women, who is fiercely loyal and who expects the same from her friendships. As I have aged, and also due to my divorce and subsequent remarriage, I lost many friends. For many years, this hurt me deeply and I persisted with many women to try and maintain some level of friendship.

I don’t know when exactly it happened, but I did have a subtle light-bulb moment – a moment when the person I was becoming, had begun to mean far more to me, than my female friends. It felt that to keep certain friends in my life, would cost me the ferocious and strong woman I believe I was always meant to be. I no longer wanted to sacrifice her! She was too important to trade for another’s acceptance, and that was surely the way it would have had to be, had I pursued friendship above myself. I had become too much for those women who used to be in my life. Too opinionated, too headstrong, too loud, too courageous, too outspoken! But I loved this ‘me’ I had uncovered. And I was no longer willing to tame her so certain people could feel comfortable around me.

There is nothing more beautiful than finding that someone who knows you’re complicated, but accepts you as such.

I do believe I am now the person I was always meant to be. My memories of my childhood are often dotted with uncles (especially), who told me I was too loud. I knew what I wanted from a very young age, but that was not accepted in my family I was born into. I often heard I should not ‘answer back’ to adults in my life. One word that comes up in my childhood memories, that I remember with shame, is that I was ‘cheeky.’ Looking back, I felt unheard. That was my biggest wound as a child. No one listened to me.

This was possibly not the truth for everyone in my life, but certainly for a large portion of my childhood, I did not feel understood. I know I’m not alone. I have a daughter who reminds me so much of myself at different stages of my life, and I am so grateful that she has found her voice. It’s sad for me to admit it, but I perpetuated what had happened to me. I parented my two daughters very much the way I’d been parented – and they would have none of it. I am so glad and eternally grateful, they spoke up more than I ever did. My eldest is especially outspoken and head-strong, and that makes me proud, that despite my parenting, she came into her own at an earlier age than myself.

So very grateful for the gift of true friendship.

Enter, my healing friendship. Matilda and I, have been friends now for just over 11 years. Way back when I first met Matilda, she never shared her opinion with others. I got to know her through a home-schooling group. We were a group of 6 moms with 11 children between us that we were currently home-schooling. Matilda was quiet. She used to teach the Science group. The kids adored her. I think between all of us, there were only 3 girls, the rest were boys, so the science group was particularly fun for them.

I have always admired her. She never gossips, or speaks meanly of or to anyone. Matilda is someone who finds the bright side of life most of the time. Little did I know then, that she too, felt unheard. I had already worked through much of that in my own life, and there was a time that I was becoming ‘too much’ for this group of women. After I left my first husband, it became impossible to remain part of this group. I did try for many years to follow, to keep connections with some of them but it was not reciprocated, except for Matilda.

Imagine my surprise when she started to share with me, her own struggles with religion, her own questions about the type of church we used to belong to. (We were in different but similar styles of churches.) We began to connect on a different level, one that was not about breaking down the system we had both by then, decided to leave, but more about LIFE and what it was becoming to mean to us. We were discovering and learning and questioning and growing – and there was no judgement from each other. Till this day, we believe different things, but we are open to hearing the other. What a beautiful gift this is! To be heard.

Great minds think differently and are ok with that!

Little did I know that we would seek each other out more and more. Eventually, after trying to build with all those women, I found myself more and more drawn to spending time alone with Matilda. It was such a natural progression, very organic and unforced. I don’t think it was a friendship either of us actively pursued, but it felt like we were drawn to each other, because of all the unanswered questions we had. Also I think we found in each other, the safety of being heard without retribution.

To this day, I look forward to the new things she teaches me. I’m not afraid to disagree with her, because she accepts my point of view as mine. She doesn’t feel the need to take on my views and beliefs as her own, and the same is true from my side. I love that she stretches my mind with all her curiosity. She has taught me so much too. For that I am deeply appreciative. She can call me out when she thinks I’m wrong and this does not cause friction. In fact, I welcome her opinions. They are valuable to me. I know she can sometimes be brutally honest, but I am able to receive this, as she places the same value on our friendship as I do.

This unlikely friendship has taken me by surprise. I cannot assume to speak for Matilda, but when I met her, never did I think we would ever be as close as we are today. I have found in her, a heart turned toward me, a mind filled with more questions than answers, a voice that speaks kindly and a woman who’s opinions mean very much to me because I know they come from a pure place. I have found the type of friend in her, that I hope she experiences in me. She really does bring out the best in me, and challenges me to become a better person too.

Belinda xo