I really love Gumtree and you should too. SA's favourite online garage sale!

One thing we all know is that kids are expensive little angels. They also need lots of THINGS. Gadgets for travel - car seats, prams, camp cots, booster seats, carriers and nappy bags. Leaving your home to pop to the shops becomes an expedition only second to climbing a large mountain. The problem with kids is that as soon as you have everything you need, they outgrow it all and move on to the next set of gadgets: Push buggies, booster seats, walking rings, bikes, scooters, tricycles and bicycles with bells and baskets.  Some of these things amount to a fortune and most of the items won't even be used for more than a year. I love buying second hand things on Gumtree. A quick wash or disinfectant and it's brand new. At these prices, you can spend that extra money on the things that really matter. View the kids section here.

For feeding, babies start with sterilizers and breast pumps to bumbo seats, high chairs, food processors, steamers, blenders and clip-on seats. One second you're nuking bottles in the microwave and then you're elbow-deep in butternut puree. Your little baba will grow faster than you could ever imagine and as she does, she (you) will need even more things. Things, things, things. You can find a beautiful, sometimes vintage feeding chair from R150 on Gumtree.

Our family was very generous and gave us many necessities like a pram, baby seat and compactum.  The rest, we mostly scoured on Gumtree and looked for bargains. As the boys outgrew things we swapped out. Put the walking ring on for sale, and bought a feeding chair. Sold the compactum and bought a bookshelf. Put the cot on and bought bunk beds. Looking around our home right now, at least half our furniture is sourced from Gumtree. Our couches, chairs, my dressing table, hallway table, the washing machine and the boys' bunk beds. We have found great deals, bargains, rare finds, antique pieces and great fix-er-uppers. Like many South Africans, Gumtree is a great online resource.

Over the past two weeks we've been shuffling some furniture around. We sold an old cabinet to a really sweet lady that needed it for her daughter's room. Graeme re-homed our weed-eater ( I mean we have a paved garden. I cursed him every time I tried to find room in the boys' cupboard) (WHY do we even have a weed-eater!!?) and right now we're finding a home for an antique table that we don't have space for. You can post free ads on Gumtree. It's super quick and easy. You don't have to give out your personal details - folks can just reply to ads and you get notification mails. Very secure.

Of course, as in real life you also need to be conscious of security online. Have someone at home with you if something is being collected. Be wary of transport costs, shop in your area and accept cash where possible. Ensure that transfers reflect in your available balance before handing anything to it's new owner. Over the past five years or so, we've only dealt with super nice people, but always keep your bases covered nonetheless.

I can easily spend hours on Gumtree and have a knack of finding things that we don't even need. I'll be looking for a coffee table and two minutes later I'm looking at cars, swimming lessons and puppies. You can either search an item by name and your area, or you can look at all the goodies on offer per category. It's like this big online garage sale, and who doesn't like a good bargain? Here are some really cool car beds I found for the boys tonight that we absolutely must have.

Over the next few months I'll be sharing a lot more of my finds and adding links to things I think you'd like. In the meantime: find what you're looking for on Gumtree and have fun!

An open letter to my 20s. Hello, goodbye and looking forward to the future.

I haven't been sharing much lately. A combination of reasons really. Mostly... There's nothing to say. Things are, well - incredible.  I'm hesitant to even talk about it. Like saying "Candyman" in the mirror five times to summons disaster. 

But there are no disasters.

See, the thing about your 20s is that you will make most of your mistakes. Your 20s is when you start your life. Your first job, serious relationships, first flat / house and for most - this is when you will get married and have your first children. That's quite a lot to cram in to ten years. In your 20s you'll suffer your first big heartbreaks - lose relationships, get hurt, and break up with friends that you've outgrown. 

As I approach my 30s, I looked back and realized that since 20 I have

  • Changed careers 3 times from Picture Editing, TV Production, PR and Social Media. To my boys: Take your time finding what you want to do, but do something. A lot of little somethings and nothings will eventually lead you in to your big everything.
  • Changed cities 3 times from Empangeni -> Durban -> Johannesburg -> Cape Town. I remember when I left Empangeni for Durban, I walked around carrying pepper spray for a good few months. I was so terrified of the city and all the people, it was weird.

  • Was in 3 serious relationships with boys that I thought I would settle down with for keeps. All great guys, that have happily settled in to their lives. Relationships that never really felt right, even when they were.
  • Got married to the right guy and fell in love with him several times as we very quickly changed, drifted, got lost and fell in to each other over and over again. We have decades and lifetimes left to journey together, and I have someone that knows every single thing about me, and loves me anyway.

  • Made mistakes that hurt a lot of people. Now that I have felt hurt and experienced pain, my memories dart back to "I can't believe I said this to that person 8 years ago" or "I can't believe I broke that boy's heart that way" and I feel overcome by such heartache, but I can't get those words or actions back, and it hurts sometimes.
  • Experienced 2 very different pregnancies that blessed me with 2 perfect and wonderful children. Motherhood has centered and grown me in ways that nothing else has, or ever will.
  • Almost lost my marriage twice - lost it to the point that I didn't think we'd get it back again, but we did. You don't give up - not on someone that you love. Not on something that you believe in. Putting your pride aside. Pushing through pain. Not walking away when things are at their hardest. The overwhelming, soul-clenching gratitude when you've broken the heart of the person that you love most, and they still love you and want to be with you. When you've given someone your best and your worst. When you stay together through it all.

  • Broke up with 'best' friends. Girls that I'd met in my early 20s, that I outgrew or who went on to live completely different lives than the ones we'd started out at. And friends who weren't really friends at all.
  • Started 3 small businesses in my early 20s that all failed. I had it so completely wrong and learned things that you'll never find in a textbook
  • Made career mistakes by accepting positions that offered no challenge. Learned to accept the right briefs - not just the paycheck. Being in an awful job that you're not passionate about will only render a bad reflection on you.
  • Had several feelings about my body, ranging from disappointment, shame, love and acceptance. Well... the acceptance part is a bit on and off lately. We're working on it. 

  • Had dozens of different hair cuts, developed my personal style and found clothes, looks and fragrances that suit me - not fashion. Looking back on all the hair I've had - I know that this style and color suited my face shape and personality the most. I've started buying more expensive garments, less frequently - and building a wardrobe for keeps.

  • Became aware of my health. From having NO hangovers and working all nighters to 2 day hangovers, fatigue and first wrinkles. 
  • Learned how to forgive myself. For missed opportunities, bad decisions, huge mistakes and hearts I broke. 
  • Met and developed a whole new person that was hiding inside of me - a Mother. I grow with this part of myself every week, every year. I don't think I'll ever have this figured out, but I love being one - I LOVE being Noah and Benjamin's mommy.
  • With motherhood I learned to be comfortably imperfect. Forgotten play dates, missed deadlines, flopped birthday parties, losing my patience, my temper, switching off and getting it all wrong sometimes. 
  • I started saving. In my later 20s, I put a portion of my salary in a fixed account every month. This has been our umbrella on many rainy moments. Thunderstorms.
  • I started exercising. I found a skincare regime that worked. Learned how to apply make-up properly and take care of myself a little bit better. At some point "mostly eating healthy" is not good enough anymore. I need to shape, tone and strengthen my body in to something marvelously healthy. I want to be proud and hold my eyes up high. I want my husband and my boys to be proud too.
Me at 26, about to move to Cape Town. This was when I started wearing 50 SPF on my face every day)

  • Somewhere between your 20s and 30s you become a woman. You become more nurturing, generous,  confident, sensual and gracious. I have a lot more patience and understanding now than I had when I started as a mother, a friend, a business woman, a wife.
  • In my 20s I worked really, really hard. All night, all weekend, public holidays, shut-down periods. I was hungry. Starting at the bottom didn't matter. Binding documents for people. Making coffee, taking minutes, fetching take-out for my boss, washing dishes - I did it all. I begged for opportunities, I didn't say no to anything. In my 30s, I won't be making anyone coffee. Maybe Graeme. (maybe)
  • I started a strong, successful and fast growing company (or three) that are all thriving and lucrative. 
  • Most importantly, in my 20s I learned to like myself; like really accept myself. I found out who I was, what I wanted, what mattered, and what is genuinely important. Suddenly other people's opinions don't matter as much, you aren't affected by jealousy or hurt by criticism. I became so content with myself and enthralled by the people that love me as much as I love them. 
Photo Paul Clark

I don't know what my 30s hold. I feel like things have really settled and only started now. Like the big shuffle and bustle after a career, a strong marriage, comfortable home, happy family and financial stability has been achieved. My 20s were exciting, exhausting and FUN. Something is at it's very end right now, and has been for quite some time.

With this - I guess I won't be writing too much about my feelings or thoughts on motherhood. Right now I really want to enjoy what we have and be more present - more involved and to enjoy our travels. Growing our businesses, playing with the boys, improving my fitness, saving for our dream house and maybe even publish those children's books I wrote. 

Will my 30s see me as a published author? A marathon runner? A mother to a number three? A home owner or a travel writer? Who knows what's coming for all of us, just right around the very next corner. Life is just incredibly exciting. I'm so grateful.

Reaching #MyFitnessGoal with my TomTom GPS Watch for Oyster Festival

I'm very lucky that I get to run here - Sea Point Promenade
I recently got the TomTom Multi-Sport GPS Watch. Before, I was trying to track my distance with my phone via phone straps and tried apps like RunKeeper, which didn't really suit me. I was self conscious and worried about my phone falling out. I like to run free, and I don't run with music. Reason being - you can't run with music in organized races or marathons, so I don't want to get used to it now, and then struggle in the Momentum Cape Times Knysna Forest Half Marathon that I'll be running in July. 

This is why the TomTom suits me perfectly. It's light, comfortable and allows you to see your running, cycling or swimming metrics at a glace. See more and achieve more by setting goals and even monitor your heart rate to find a pace that suits you. The TomTom watches also have an extra large display and one-button control. Before I set out to run, I set a goal of 4 miles, and kept glancing at my watch as I went along telling myself "okay you're half way - you're almost there - you're doing fine" which makes TomTom my perfect training partner. Soon I'll be on a strict training schedule for my half marathon where I'd need to reach particular goals each week, so this watch is invaluable. It also saves your history, so you can really get in to it and track your progress as you build your strength and fitness. See more - achieve more. 

I was SO set on reaching my target on Wednesday. When we got back to the parking lot, I was only on 3.7 miles so I ran around all the cars for a little while and even in circles just to get 4.0 on the clock. And LOOK, I did it. It was hard, and slow with some walks in-between, but I reached 4 miles - 6.4KM!!!! I am really just so proud.

You can set your TomTom to KMs which I've since done. But here it is - 4 miles (6.4km) and 517 Calories DONE
My husband Graeme joined me and was really supportive. He is much fitter than I am, and gave me some great pointers. I felt frustrated because my MIND wants to run non-stop with the grace and ease of the others on the promenade, but my body and fitness was struggling to keep up. I earned two baby blisters from this run and was a bit stiff the next day, which is SO motivating because it means I'm doing it right and working hard at #MyFitnessGoal. Thank you for putting up with my occasional  grumpiness and frustration dearest and most patient Graeme.

I have three months or so to go before I run the Half Marathon at Knysna Oyster Festival and have a lot of work ahead of me. I started as a beginner a few months ago, and couldn't even make it around our block without gasping for air or suffering a cramp of sorts. It was ridiculous. I'm still not really fit, but every day I'm getting a bit stronger, a bit faster, a bit thinner (hey-hey) and healthier. Getting my heart rate up, toning my muscles and using my body to it's current capacity. When you set up your TomTom, you add in your age, gender, weight and height. This way, they're able to calculate and show you how many calories you burnt with each run. Running feels GOOD. It's fun, and I love being outside. 

Running is also free! No expensive gym membership or bulky equipment taking over your living space, so I really don't mind investing in good products to make my new little passion a bit more comfortable. Things like sports bras, a few new shorts and neon socks, shoes and of course - the TomTom GPS watch to monitor my stats and progress. You can start out with the TomTom Runner (R1999) or the Runner with Heart Rate Monitor (R2599) or if you're in to all sorts of active sports, then the Multi Sport with Bike Mount and Heart Rate Monitor is R3499. Find your TomTom GPS Watch at Cape Union Mart or Dion Wired. Also purchase it ONLINE with TakeAlot here 

Thank you to every single person that has helped me and offered advice so far. I love the running community and how helpful and receiving everyone has been. It doesn't matter if you can run 2km or 20km - every runner that I've spoken to has been incredibly nice and helpful. I think when you start, you worry that you won't be able to keep up with others or will embarrass yourself, but for me the only embarrassing thing is not taking care of your body and health. After years of insecurely snubbing those 'fitness types' (husband included) that go to gym or hit the promenade at 6am, I am crossing over to their side and it's nice here. Like, "I feel amazing" nice. Thank you to my friends (Jeanne-Marie jy ook!) and Twitter friends that have been coaching and advising me on all those little things as I learn. This is just the beginning!

Our weekend travels: Betty's Bay and Stanford in the Cape Overberg. Do it.

We spent this weekend in the Overberg, visiting my mom in Betty's Bay and taking a trip out to Hermanus and Stanford. We'd been to Stanford before and every time is brand new - another little antique store you haven't seen, another restaurant you haven't tried or little gravel road you haven't followed before. It's tricky traveling with two busy boys, so after several recommendations we decided to visit Madre's Kitchen and Stanford Hills.

Madre's Kitchen is VERY beautiful. Honestly, it is hands-down the most picturesque restaurant we've ever been to, like something out of The Secret Garden - the way you imagined it as a little girl. The boys disappeared to the pond, hills, trees, geese, jungle gym and trampoline immediately. They were thoroughly delighted. 

We didn't eat here. It was a busy day with school holidays on the go, so they were running out of food and the waitress wasn't sure if we'd be able to order specific dishes. Talk about popular. We had a great play - really it is SO beautiful here, you have to go just to see it. We'll go again another time, maybe when they're not as busy.

That's little Benjamin running around like a happy squirrel

My most beautiful lesser spotted monkey-noo!

After a quick glass of wine, we headed to Stanford Hills (further up the same dirt road) - The Tasting Room. They have similar facilities with a trampoline, pond and jungle gym. They also have little boats and a jetty on their pond. Stanford Hills is exactly what we were in the mood for. It is so relaxed there - the environment was festive, attentive and accepting. There were dogs running around, a good vibe, the menu was fantastic and well priced. The wine selection was great, their Sauvignon Blanc was crisp, fruity and refreshing. They didn't have a healthy meal option for the kids that day, which we find at a lot of restaurants. Their blackboard menu does change often, so maybe it's different on other weeks.

All of our food was incredible, healthy and in good portions. Graeme had a Curry Infused Sweet Potato Gnocchi and I had the most delicious Humus & Vegetable wrap with warm, cooked spinach inside - served with a side salad.  Granny and Gaga had their burger which looked absolutely mouth watering with a huge, home made patty and packed with fresh ingredients. The boys had Fried Chicken Strips with Chips that was beautifully presented in a paper cone and served with a dippy sauce. I would like to see more restaurants offering healthy dishes for kids like kiddies wraps, tuna wholewheat pitas, maybe a butternut lasagne - something like this. One of my favorite things about The Tasting Room is that they have separate, kid-size tables and chairs in the restaurant for kids to sit on their own. The boys were much more comfortable this way - because who wants to sit at a table with a bunch of boring grown-ups anyway?
We really enjoyed The Tasting Room. Our bill comprised of a bottle of wine, 5 fresh meals and hot chocolate for the boys. For 6 of us - the price tag was less than R400. Throw in loads of entertainment, nature, activities and open space for the kids and Stanford Hills will be seeing a lot more of our little family - as soon as possible.

Then back in Betty's Bay, my mom and Lester had a little surprize planned for the boys. They had bought them an incredibly generous gift: a Quad Bike! I couldn't tell you a thing about it or the engine size but Graeme was pretty darn excited too. G used to own dirt bikes and ride Motorcross endurance races and won a couple too. He is probably CRINGING at me getting all these titles and terms wrong right now. He loved pulling out his old hear, riding goggles, gloves and helmets for the kids (and himself). We have never seen the boys QUITE this happy before - have you?

Smaller Graeme. Smaller Tash.

Jump out of this photo and hug me RIGHT now.

"I don't need this!" Yes you do "Take it offfff mooooom" Nope.

It was an incredible weekend. We love Betty's Bay and being with our family, sitting at the dining table together, playing with the boys and of course my mom's home cooking. Don't get me started on the beef stew she made on Saturday. I did miss running this weekend. I've had a horrid flu and chest infection, but hopefully I'll be in the clear to get back on track soon. If you're keen to go to The Overberg with your little family, just follow #discoverOverberg or #loveOverberg on Twitter and you'll find loads of comments, advice and links.

The Easter kids activities are next level at The Table Bay Hotel, Cape Town

Calling all Easter holiday-makers! If you're coming to Cape Town with kids from the 18th of April, then I really super hope that you'll be staying at The Table Bay Hotel at the V&A Waterfront. Treat your kids to The Table Bay's very own and exclusive Oscar's Club. Your gorgeous kids will be fully entertained from Friday 18 April to Monday 21 April from 10:30 to 15:30 daily. The very best address for family travel this season.

Activities, crafts, cooking and entertainment include: Bunny Bunting DIY, Easter Biscuits Baking, Bunny Mask Craft, Chocolate Play-Dough Making, Bunny Paper Cups Craft, Outdoor Fun, Puppet Shows, Interactive Stories, Music, Drama, Dancing, Bunny Basket Craft and of course - The Annual Easter Egg Hunt. Find out more about the Oscar's Kids Club here and follow The Table Bay hotel on Facebook and Twitter for updates.

This luxury Cape Town hotel boasts 329 fully air-conditioned rooms that range from luxury rooms and family rooms to superior luxury rooms and suites. All Table Bay Hotel rooms are fitted with walk-in cupboards, marble finishes and writing desks. Room service is available 24/7 and a turn down service is issued twice a day.

We'll be staying in the Superior Luxury Family Room over Easter Weekend and thoroughly look forward to it. With the boys fully entertained and engrossed in play, we'll be able to sneak off to the various restaurants on site, indulge in their Winter High Tea or take a quick (complimentary) shuttle to the V&A Waterfront right next door. You also might find me at their very own Camelot Spa which is open from 09:00 to 21:00 daily and open to non-residents too. Look for me at the indoor, heated swimming pool, the steam room or being deliciously pampered in general. Glorious. 

We can't wait to explore and report back on this incredibly famous hotel - affectionately dubbed "The best address in the Cape".

MUST see small towns in South Africa: Laingsburg. Karoo, Western Cape

I recently traveled to Laingsburg on business and promptly mixed in as much pleasure as I could. I LOVE the Central Karoo and all the interesting little stops, history, eats, antiques and landscapes. I would pack up our little house and move this whole little family over there if I could. It is just so beautiful and just my kind of 'middle of nowhere'. There is nothing more exciting than an open road on the way to somewhere that you have never, ever been to before. You never know what's coming around the very next bend.

Lainsburg is rich in history! My mom told me to look out for the flood line on the main road of this teensy little town. What flood? On 25 January 1981, Laingsburg was almost completely swept away in a matter of hours in one of South Africa's biggest natural disasters in history. A quick extract from the Laingsburg Tourism website:

The Laingsburg flood of 25 January 1981 is known as the most serious disaster in the history of South Africa.  On Friday, Saturday  and Sunday the 25th rain fell continuously in and around Laingsburg, a small town in the Karoo between Cape Town and Beaufort West.  At first the rain was gentle as a result of a low pressure system.  But from Saturday afternoon to Sunday a high pressure system brought heavy thunder showers to the catchment area.  Up to 425 mm rainfall was recorded that week-end, whereas the normal rainfall per annum is only 175 mm.

By 08:00 on the Sunday morning the Buffels River, on whose banks the town is built, was in flood and overflowing into the town.  Simultaneously there was a confluence of two rivers, the Baviaans and the Wilgerhout, flowing from the area to the north known as the Moordenaars Karoo, which caused a high volume of water to accumulate at one time. This water entered the main stream just in front of the railway bridge towards the south of the town causing a natural blockage.  Pressure against the railway bridge is estimated to have been 8000 tons per second. The level of the Buffels River rose dramatically at about 12:00 and by 14:00 the town (CBD) was under water.

Residents of Laingsburg, who were used to seeing the Buffels River in flood from time to time, thought that it would soon subside again, not realizing that this was a devastating flood that would hit the town with masses of water coming from an extensive catchment area.  Moreover, the railway bridge and the road bridge over the N1 caused a huge obstruction as trees, plants, rocks, animals and many other objects blocked the flow of the river.  Within seconds, the town was turned into a dam.  People climbed onto the roofs of their houses or into trees and fled to higher ground wherever possible, but everything happened so quickly and so unexpectedly that many lives were lost.  When the gravel embankments leading to the bridges gave way, the water ran at a tremendous speed carrying everything away.  In the blink of an eye, houses, people, almost the whole town disappeared.

The loss of life in Laingsburg was a hundred and four men, women and children.  A hundred and eighty five houses, a home for the aged, school hostels, four rondawels and twenty-three business premises were destroyed.  Survivors of the flood tell stories of how they were washed down river, some clinging to anything that would float, how they clambered to safety along the banks or found themselves floating in the Floriskraal Dam among heaps of debris, 21 km from town.  The number of bodies that were recovered was 32 and 72 were never found.

We stayed at a little bed & breakfast called Golf View. A very sweet place with beautiful gardens, great hospitality and everything you need - including a delicious Karoo farm breakfast! You can view all the accommodation options in and around Laingsburg here. It's about 2.5 hours out of Cape Town, so please put this little picturesque town in your travel calendar! 

The town is so small it pretty much only has ONE restaurant if you exclude the take away spots at the petrol station. It's called the Laingsburg Country Hotel and you will be delighted. It was like stepping back in time - the walls are covered in old family photos, plates, antiques, crockery, brass pots and all sorts or kitsch and wonderful things. Not many patrons, but a seriously great menu with delicious Karoo Lamb Potjies, cheese cake that will set your heart on fire and apple pie just like your granny made it when you were a kid.

I really love small, middle-of-nowhere sort of places. Visit the Laingsburg tourism website, follow them on Twitter, Facebook and the hash tag #dicoverKaroo