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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Mermaids Need Holidays Too



I'm spending the holidays in Thailand this year. The blog will be closed until 4 January 2013, at which point you will be absolutely inundated with pictures and tales from our adventures. Thank you so much to everyone who read a post, commented, shared a link, Tweeted about this blog, featured this blog, entered a competition or told a friend about this site. I really genuinely appreciate all of it. Have a fantastic festive season and I'll talk to you again in this weird, one-way conversational manner in the new year.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Virgin Active Wellness Wednesday: Happy, Healthy Christmas

The Christmas lights are up, the tree has been decorated and the shops are swarming with festive shoppers. If you're stuck in the office until the 21st, you definitely aren't doing much work. The time for Christmassy family time and relaxing is here.

If, like Nash and I, you have more than one set of parents to visit over the festive period, you've probably got a LOT of eating lying ahead of you. Christmas eve dinner with the extended family, Christmas morning present opening and breakfast with his mom, Christmas lunch with his dad, Christmas dinner with my folks... There just aren't enough hours in the day for all the eating that needs to happen.

I don't need to tell you that this is no good for your waist line. There are only so many roast potatoes your bum can handle. The trick is, to make sure there is at least one healthy option on the menu. And the best way to ensure this, is by offering to make it.

Here are a few recipes that I found online which, if I'd been Christmas-hopping this year instead of lying on a beach in Thailand, I'd definitely be keen to cook and cart to any one of the various meals we'd no doubt be feasting on.

The Main Event


Roast Pork with Cous Cous & Ginger Yogurt



Ingredients

2 pork fillets
2 tsp olive oil
3 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
4 tsp grated ginger
250g couscous
100g sultanas
zest and juice 1 lemon
small bunch mint , chopped
200g fat-free natural yogurt

Heat oven to 180 degrees C. Brown the pork in a non-stick frying pan over a high heat for 4-5 mins, turning twice. Mix the oil, 2 tsp cumin, cinnamon, 2 tsp ginger and some seasoning, then rub all over the pork. Transfer to a roasting tin and roast for 30-35 mins or until the juices run clear when the thickest part is pierced with a skewer.

Mix the couscous with the remaining cumin, the sultanas, lemon zest and juice, then season and pour over 400ml boiling water. Stir well and cover for 5 mins, then stir in the mint.

Stir the remaining ginger and a little seasoning into the yogurt. Thickly slice the pork and serve with the couscous and ginger yogurt.

Recipe from here.

The Sides


Sticky Spiced Red Cabbage Salad



Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium-size red cabbage , quartered, cored and shredded
1 finger-size piece fresh rootginger , finely chopped
2 onions , sliced
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tbsp mustard seed
100g golden caster sugar
150ml red wine vinegar

Heat oil in a large saucepan, add cabbage, ginger, onions, allspice and mustard seeds, then cook for 5 mins until just starting to wilt.

Scatter over the sugar and pour in the vinegar. Cover pan, gently cook for 10 mins, then remove lid and turn up the heat to medium. Simmer the liquid in the cabbage for about 20 mins, stirring occasionally, then stir continuously for the last few mins until all the liquid has evaporated and becomes sticky on the bottom of the pan. Tip cabbage into a large bowl and serve.

* I would make this the day before, then serve it cold as a salad on Christmas

Recipe from here.

Bitter Greens Salad



Ingredients

2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
3-4 anchovy fillets, rinsed and chopped
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
12 cups chopped mixed bitter salad greens, such as chicory, radicchio and escarole
3 large hard-boiled eggs

Place garlic to taste in a large salad bowl and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add lemon juice and vinegar; allow to stand for 5 minutes. Stir in anchovies to taste. Whisk in oil in a slow steady stream until well combined.
Add salad greens and toss. Shred 3 egg whites and 1 egg yolk through the large holes of a box grater (reserve the remaining yolks for another use or discard). Sprinkle the salad with the grated egg.

Recipe from here.

Brussel Sprouts with Garlic & Bacon



Ingredients

6 slices of bacon, chopped
1/2 cup slices spring onion
1 1/2 punnets of Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3/4 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken stock
pinch teaspoon salt
pinch teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add bacon, and saute for 5 minutes or until bacon begins to brown. Remove pan from heat. Remove the bacon from pan with a slotted spoon, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in pan (discard the remaining drippings).
Return pan to medium-high heat, and stir in bacon, spring onion, and Brussels sprouts; sauté 4 minutes. Add garlic, and saute for 4 minutes or until garlic begins to brown, stirring frequently. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes or until the broth mostly evaporates and the sprouts are crisp-tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in salt and pepper.

Recipe from here.
Merry Christmas. Have a happy, healthy festive season!

Sing up to Virgin Active and connect with them on Facebook.

This will be my last Wellness Wednesday post for the year. The blog is shutting down from Friday, 14 December to Monday, 14 January. Have a happy, healthy festive season! Thanks for all your support in 2012 x

Skinny laMinx - By Heather Moore

I have long been a fan of the Skinny laMinx brand. It's not just the beautiful designs and quality that I love, but the whole package. I have a gorgeous Skinny laMinx apron that I got for my birthday a couple of years ago, which I absolutely cherish. In fact, I am loath to cook in it in case I ruin it ( there is a 100% chance of that happening) so I sometimes put it on when I'm doing stuff around the house and it makes me feel nice.

Pretty much anything from this range would make a lovely Christmas gift, especially the napkins and table runners.  Have a look on the website for the full range and details on where you can get your hands on it. If you're Cape Town though, pop into the sweet store on Bree Street to stock up on Christmas gifts.


Skinny laMinx just released this gorgeous stop motion video which I think really encompasses what the brand is about. It's fun to watch and makes me love the brand even more.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

"Tell Me More About QMS?"

I have been falling more and more in love with QMS Medicosmetics over the past year. I first became interested in the products when I saw Tori and Fran raving about them, and decided to go for one of their facials. I walked out of that first facial a believer.


Their products are the only ones I've used that have not only kept my skin looking healthy, but made it even better. Every time I have a QMS facial, I leave with a visible difference to the texture and radiance of my skin. Combined with using the range at home, this has proven to be an incredible skincare system that I am really happy with.

I can't tell you how often people ask me, "Tell me more about QMS...is it really that great?" Well, yes. It really is. Let me tell you a bit about the products that I have been using:


Deep Cleanse- A rich, moisturizing cleanser that removes makeup and dirt while penetrating deep into the skin. This cleanser leaves my skin feeling clean, without feeling stripped of all moisture.

Refreshing Tonic- While I never really used a toner before, I must say that I really love this one. It removes any residual makeup and leaves skin feeling and smelling pretty and fresh.

24 Hour Cream- I love this product! This moisturizer replaces your day and night cream with one fantastic all-rounder product. It contains all the vitamins and active ingredients that your skin needs at any time of day.

Med Set- These three products combined to give you maximum anti-aging benefits, while soothing and caring for problematic skin.

1. The Day Protection Serum contains moisturizing, antibacterial and soothing ingredients that improve irritable skin and minimize the appearance of pores while protecting your skin from the elements.

2. The Night Repair Serum gives your skin everything it needs to repair itself during the night. While you're asleep, your skin is looking for nutrients to regenerate itself with. This product contains soluble collagen which your skin uses to build a reservoir of moisture, keeping you looking dewy and beautiful all day long.

3. The Dermabrasive Gel is probably one of my favourite products of all time. I love a good scrub, but this product replaces your abrasive scrub with a gel containing fruit acids and enzymes which dissolve the layers of dead skin without stripping you completely of moisture. It also minimizes pores and lowers your skin's sebum production.

Hydrofoam Mask- This mask feels amazing on your skin! It also smells subtly like dessert. The foam creates the most amazing tingling feeling on your skin. Packed with super high quality ingredients, it packs your skin with extra moisture and hydration. Silkproteins in the formula plump up the skin and make fine lines disappear. Jojoba oil acts as an anti-inflammatory to soothe your skin. This product is pure luxury! I'm not leaving for Thailand without it. 

Sport Active Cream- I've been saving this for Thailand. A lightly tinted day cream, suitable for all skin tones. It includes an SFP and vitamins to keep your skin slightly tinted, nourished and protected. Perfect for summer!

Cellular Sunblock SPF50+ - I am very particular about my face sunblock. It can't be too heavy- I hate being able to feel sunscreen on my face. It also can't be too oily. This lightweight formula does all kinds of amazing things like restore your skin's DNA and slow down the aging process while protecting your skin from the sun's harmful rays.

Body Performance Duo- The ultimate summer necessity. I've said many times that I don't believe products are the answer to weight-loss. Only a healthy diet and exercise will help you to lose centimeters  But products are what help to get your skin looking and feeling firm, nourished and fantastic! 

1. The Pro Body Exfoliator contains micro-fine exfoliating particles help to buff away dead skin cells while your skin gets moisture from essential oils. It smells amazing and leaves me skin feeling smooth and soft and prepares your skin for the application on the Lift-O-Firm Body.

2. The Revitalizing Lift-O-Firm Body contains ingredients to lift and firm problem areas (thighs!!), refine your skin surface and stimulate your skin's own metabolism. It contains Bitter Orange which acts as a fat burner to help break down the fat that causes your skin surface to appear lumpy. 

Honestly, it really is worth it. If you want to start with two key products and build your range every month, I suggest the Deep Cleanse and 24 Hour Cream. Then you can start building your range with the Med or Classic Set. It's best to have a facial first, so that the therapist can assess your skin and suggest which products would work best for you.

For facials, I suggest the Spa at Cape Grace which is my favourite spa ever. For a full list of QMS stockists, have a look on their website



Thursday, December 6, 2012

You Guys, Someone Said All These Nice Things About Me

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been involved with Super M's competition to send a Blogger and one of their readers to Ibiza to report back from the huge party at Ibiza Rocks Hotel in 2013. I was a bit apprehensive at first since I'm competing against the biggest Blog in the whole wide country, but if you don't run the race, you can't win right? (That was a bad analogy as I am a terrible runner and if this were a running competition I would definitely not win)



Last week, TOAM readers had the opportunity to motivate for why they think I should be the lucky guy who gets sent over to Ibiza for 4 days all expenses paid. Obviously there was something in it for them- they'd be joining me. Once all the entries were in, the top 4 were sent to me anonymously and I had to choose my favourite one. Now I urge you, sit down before you read all the nice thing my winning entry wrote...

“This girl needs no motivation. The queen of festivals, the poster chick for all things cool. Her blog makes you want to be her. Or even just be her best friend. Somehow she manages to be effortlessly awesome and totally normal in the same sentence.

She knows music. She knows festivals. She knows a good party. She is a good party.

And her blog, she takes you along for the ride. This way it's not just someone who gets to go to Ibiza. It's everyone, everyone gets to go along for the ride. Feel the vibe, hear the music, watch the world dance. Everyone wants to be there and with her writing, her blog, everyone can.

Plus, she has hair like a mermaid and that hair deserves Ibiza.”

Can you believe it? No, me neither. Here is the sweet angel who wrote those kind and ego-boosting words:


My new best friend, Kirsty Bohle 
@thejollyjammer

Now it's up to you. If you have working fingers and a heart, I need you to please take the next 4 seconds of your life to make this sweet, sweet girl's (Kirsty, not me) Ibiza dreams come true. Vote for us to go to Ibiza. And if you don't want to vote for me, vote for Kirsty. Who is the only person other than my Mom and Nash to say so many nice words about me in one sitting.






Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Virgin Active Wellness Wednesday: Crunch Time

With just eight more working days (!!!) before we hit the beaches of Thailand, it's beach-prep crunch time. I'm really trying hard to stick to a fat busting eating plan, just for the next eight days. Especially because I plan on eating my way through Bangkok for two days as soon as we land.


I'm eating according to a plan that was given to me by a friend's dietician. It is a bit intense, I'll admit, but it's only for eight days. Plus, I have a small cheat every day. And I eat normally on weekends.

This eating plan is designed to help kick start your metabolism and lose water retention and centimetres around your tummy, thighs and bum. You won't go hungry on this diet- there is a LOT of food. It's more just about surviving the cravings; I crave sugar. And carbs. Yes, every day. But if you're serious and you've been working really hard and now you just need to lose that last bit of water and a bit of fat over the next couple of days, this diet won't let you down.



PLAN:

Eliminate all tea, coffee, alcohol, junk food, sweets and eating out. In fact, you will only eat off the food plan below for 7 days, so get your head around that. Make sure you prepare your food at the start of each day or the night before to make things easier, and to seal this deal, sign this pact with a friend.

(The eating out bit is the hardest part for me- so I still eat out. I'm avoiding alcohol and carbs so I'll order a protein with salad. The tea and coffee bit is important because the caffeine messes with your metabolism. This eating plan is designed to keep your metabolism burning fat all day and to get your stomach used to eating small portions again)

7 am: 2 fruits and one fat free yoghurt (I blend these with ice into a smoothie)

10 am: a salad of lettuce/tomatoes/cucumber/pepperdews etc and two cooked egg whites (I use a lot of green veg like tender stem broccoli, fine beans, courgettes and asparagus with some green leaves for my salad and whit balsamic vinegar for flavour)

1 pm: 3T cooked quinoa, flavoured to your taste (curry/pepper etc) and 1 cup of assorted green and white veggies (I don't use any spices for my quinoa cause I actually really like it just the way it is)

4 pm: stuff 2 egg whites or half a gem squash with 1T legumes (chickpeas/lentils), combined with tasty onion and tomato mix

7 pm: use 60g of tofu or 3T cooked quinoa with tasty vegetable stir fry/salad

In a nutshell: Your fridge should have two portions of cooked quinoa, tasty legumes (chickpeas/lentils) and four cooked egg whites prepared and ready to add to a low dense carb everyday.

Spend at least 30 minutes a day working out to help with skin tone and texture.

(I also make a tasty salsa with finely chopped red onion, tomato, cucumber, chickpeas and a bit of avo when I can't take any more green salad.)

PLEASE bear in mind that this is not a lifestyle. It's a kick-start eating plan to get you beach/wedding/red carpet ready. After 7 or 8 days, your stomach will be used to small portions and you can start re-introducing other healthy foods into your diet.

LET'S ALL FEEL GREAT ON THE BEACH THIS SUMMER!

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Gift Ideas For Christmas 2012

I'm not sure if you're aware, but Christmas is happening again this year and it's less than a month away. I won't be doing much shopping this year- Nash & I are taking each other to Thailand, so we won't be doing the whole family Christmas gift-swapping. But that doesn't mean I'm not keeping my eyes peeled for amazing gifts for you to buy and/or add to your own wish list. You know they say, if you're not sure what to buy for someone, buy them what you would like to receive.

A Spa Treatment



Spa treatments are one of those things that most people LOVE, but never spoil themselves with. There always seems to be something else to spend your hard earned money on. That's why I think they are the ultimate spoil gift. The Spa at Cape Grace is my most favourite spa in town. The luxury and service are just amazing and every visit is a truly relaxing experience. Facial, manicure, pedicure... Pretty much the ultimate spoil.

Havaianas



In my opinion, you just cannot have too many pairs of Havaianas. So many colours to choose from! They are the perfect gift for any age, male or female- basically, anyone who has feet could use a pair. Lucky for us South Africans, Christmas falls over summer. These are a great stocking filler or a nice gift for a brother/sister.

Jo Malone Blackberry & Bay


I am so obsessed with the smell of this. Perfume is super personal, so I'm not suggesting that this is for everyone. But a voucher and a sample would make an amazing gift! Jo Malone products are another one of those spoils that I would love to receive, so this is definitely something that I would give.

A Thai Massage


There is absolutely nothing like a good full-body Thai massage. When you're stressed, when you're not stressed, whenever the hell you feel like it. I think a massage voucher is an awesome gift. Bear in mind though, that some people aren't keen on being touched by strangers, but I'm pretty sure you'll know what your friends and family's feelings are on this. My favourite place to go for a massage in Cape Town is Ruan Thai Spa on Long Street. The ladies are all from Thailand and hardly speak any English at all. I've been there twice and both times I've had amazing service and left feeling thoroughly massaged. They also have couples rooms if you're shopping for a partner. A 60 minute Thai massage costs R350.

Glasses
from here
In my home, we can never ever have too many glasses. I go through about two a week. I'm not sure if my fingers are made out of butter of if I'm hexed, but if I ever come to your house for drinks or dinner it's probably a good idea to give me my drink in a plastic cup. Entrepo stocks some really really beautiful glasses for people who are grown ups and know how to hold a glass without dropping it.

ANYTHING from LeCreuset


Ever heard anyone say "nah, I don't really like LeCreuset's stuff"? No, no you have not. That's because everyone likes their stuff. And why wouldn't they? It comes in every colour for every kitchen. Their range comes in a whole variety of price points (you could buy a mixing bowl and spatula set for around R350) and you can order in their online shop- they deliver for free.

A Backpack

It's summer and we all need some kind of cool bag to carry our things to the beach in. I'm really into backpacks at the moment and I particularly need one for Thailand. I am completely obsessed with these Chapel bags I saw on Lucky Pony's site

Amazon Gift Card



I just bought myself a Kindle for Christmas so I'm shopping for books to fill it up. So far I've got two; The Internet Is A Playground by David Thorne and Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. So an Amazon Voucher would not go amiss in my Christmas stocking. Obviously it goes without saying that you would know if the person you were gifting actually owned a Kindle before buying them a voucher for an e-book. Obviously.

That's all I've got for now. What is the girt that you would like to receive this Christmas?

Online Shopping Is The Way To Go This Christmas

Supposedly, this is the "most wonderful time of the year". But for most of us, it would be more accurately described as "the most stressful/expensive/exhausting/headache-inducing time of the year". Work loads are on overdrive, bodies and minds are tired and credit cards have been swiped thin. 

Hell in a red and white disguise.
The thought of having to spend your weekends dragging yourself and, most likely, your unwilling partner through offspring-infested shopping malls in search of the perfect gift for everyone in your family, office, book club and Secret Santa Society is enough to put you off Christmas for good.

But really, you don't have to ruin your whole December like this. You could be lying on a beach somewhere this weekend, listening to Christmas carols on your iPod whilst ordering gifts for your whole family on your iPad. Online shopping is something we should all be embracing, especially at Christmas time.

Loot.co.za has pretty much every gift you could need for anyone you've ever met AND they deliver, most items within 24 hours.


If you're stuck for ideas, they've got some pretty cool ideas on their Pinterest Boards for every member of your family. Check out the boards and click the image to link straight through to the item on their website.

WIN!

I'm going to be running a few competitions with Loot.co.za over the next few months, so make sure you enter if you want to win some fantastic DVD's. 


Loot just sent me this AWESOME Christmas Gift: Downton Abbey, The Complete Collection.
The DVD Box Set includes Season 1- 3 plus the Christmas Special. Hello Downton Marathon! If you haven't watched any of this series yet, I'm not sure what drama series you've been entertaining yourself with. But I can assure you, it can't be as good as Downton.

Set in the Yorkshire Countryside in the 1930's, Downton follows the lives of the upperclass Crawley family and large staff of servants. The series has won both Golden Globe and an Emmy Awards and has had a record number of 27 Emmy nominations. 

The show is beautifully shot and offers a welcome break from the sex-fuelled, gratuitously violent American shows we seem to have so much of. The characters are incredibly well written and the subtle British humour is an absolute treat. I am completely obsessed with this show. The best part of any box set is, of course, the special features. Obviously, this would be the ideal Christmas gift for anyone with eyes and a DVD player.

I've got one of these fantastic box sets to give away to one lucky TOAM reader. Here's how to enter:

1. Visit the Loot.co.za website and have a look through the products on the site
2. Let me know which product you would buy for your boyfriend/girlfriend in the comments section
3. Lastly, Tweet the link to this competition and include @NatalieRoos and @lootcoza 

*Competition only open to South Africa
*Competition closes Tuesday, 11 December 2012
*Also make sure you check out the Loot Facebook page where they run awesome competitions every
  week!








 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Summer Transformation Competition Winner

I had so many amazing entries for my Summer Transformation competition that choosing the winner was almost as tiring as running a 10km race. Not that I'd know, of course. I got stories from tired students, over-worked moms, under-appreciated girlfriends and everyone in between. As I said before, some of the entries were touching, others were inspirational and some were even funny. All were moving.

I really feel so connected to all the women who shared their stories with me- I guess speaking to a stranger about your body insecurities is a pretty intimate thing. So thank you to everyone who entered. I'm not just saying this- I really do wish that I could give every single one of you a Summer Transformation of your own.

I spent a lot of time reading and re-reading all the entries, but in the end, I knew there was one clear winner. Congratulations Sophia, your story inspired me so much. I really believe that you have got the right idea about being happy and healthy. I love that you managed to change your whole life and find so much happiness in making good decisions for yourself. You are a bit of a hero of mine, I'll be honest.

Sophia kindly gave me permission to share her moving and inspiring story (although she did admit to being a nervous about it-this is the first time she's ever shared it!). I really think that anyone who reads it will understand why I though that Sophia deserved her very own Summer Transformation.

Hi, let me start with my journey, 2 years ago. Weighing in at a whopping 105kg. Not knowing I was a 105kg, as I refused to step on a scale (didn't even own one). Being in a bad relationship. Not having the guts to break away. I was comfortable. I've always been the fat friend- so I've never felt skinny. Had no idea how it felt. 

My weight started escalating to 105kg since I can remember, 'No worries, there's always a bigger size jeans available' I kept on telling myself. Boys didn't look at me as I had a boyfriend-why bother then. Then on my birthday 2 years ago, 3 April 2011, I realized how unhappy I really am. I made a choice and dumped the boyfriend- quite the shock to the system as I've never dumped a guy, I've always been the dumped girl. Having some time on my hands with no boyfriend, I joined the gym (first time ever). The gym took my measurements that evening, and I still remember crying my eyes out on the way home. "105,9kg & 44% body fat! What!!! (insert multiple swear words here) I'm a girl, weighing how much???"

I started slow, but absolutely loved it. I was in so much pain from stiff muscles. "What is this thing you call a muscle?" Slowly I started changing my eating habits, as you notice that you need energy and vitamins to train hard and not want to vomit your lungs out. Small changes at a time, no strict diets. Just lifestyle changes. The weight just slowly started falling of, and kept on going as I kept on going. 

When you started your summer transformation, I realized; here it is. Go for the last 10kg's. I joined a Crossfit group, and entered myself into a 10k run. I had no choice but to prepare myself.

Today I'm very proud to say that today I'm weighing in at a lovely 66,3kg (I'm quite the tall girl, 1,76m). Almost 40kgs down. Finished a 10k run in 1:06. More than halved my body fat percentage. I started throwing jeans out, not because they were too small, but because they were too big. 

Everyday I make a promise to myself that I will never ever let myself get close to where I was. Someone actually called me skinny now, a completely weird word to be associated with me! Now just working on the confidence to know that I'm not the 'fat one' anymore.

I did it by myself, I did it for myself, I could not be happier. And having a lovely boyfriend now, who supports me, and is doing a 10k run with me on Saturday for the very first time, is too good to be true.

I can only thank you for reading through my very shortened version of how I turned my life upside down, only for the better. And that you will understand why I need my very own transformation with the products that supported your transformation. Hopefully one day this summer I will feel comfortable in a bikini, like you.

Have a lovely evening.
(A lot skinnier) Sophia