Tuesday, April 15, 2014

How we dealt with Flu 2014 naturally! ~ Mariella

We got The Flu 2014! It sucked! We didn’t enjoy it at all. However, compared to stories from the moms I spoke with in the parking lot at school, we had an easy time of it. It seems most of them put their children and themselves on antibiotics. This completely bewilders me as we rode the storm and come out of it stronger, not weaker. Here’s how we battled this years Flu naturally:

  1. Bed rest
 This wildly under-estimated piece of logic did wonders for us. Although there was little else for it as I didn’t really have it in me to get up until it was all over!

  1. What to give up:
 We took it seriously so we excluded many foods in order to starve the bug in record time; wheat and sugar (which we don't eat anyway!) and dairy (including butter!) We did however find it interesting to note that my husband consumed a lot of fruit and honey whereas I didn’t eat any. His flu lasted 5 days, mine lasted 3. Not sure what to make of that one.....

  1. Garlic, Lemon and Chili
 Packed full of flu fighting vitamins, antibacterial and antiviral and immune-boosting properties, I found these three made up the bulk of our arsenal! We juiced them whole, ate them raw, made tea with them. Rice cakes with Coconut oil, marmite, avo and slices of Garlic and chili is now my new favourite snack! I found an almost alchemical reaction with the chili, in the height of the flu, I could eat as much as I wanted without feeling the usual burn, as I got better, my tolerance shifted becoming less and less! Intriguing stuff!

  1. Septogard
 This is a fantastic natural antibiotic that we keep in the house. We had approx 8 a day.

 5. Oscillococcinum by Heel

This is my backup remedy of choice, if any of us have the flu, which we rarely do, we take a course of this product. It targets flu in particular.

  1. Diet:

We upped the green leafy vegetables and raw dinners along with soups filled with herbs from the garden.

All elementary really! We included homeopathic, herbal and dietary remedies. If this flu finds you, just remember, if we could do it sans antibiotics, you can too! The trick is to catch it early. And if you avoid antibiotics, every year you’ll just get stronger!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Date Season, Stones and a family road trip!

I needed a family holiday! Throw the kids in the car and go. So when the thought presented itself to go hunting for stones for Moonstone, our Crystal and Mineral shop in Plettenberg Bay at the same time as fetching dates for our Market at Old Nick Village, it was decided! Incidentally these things happen to come from the same place, the Northern Cape of South Africa. Here is a photo essay of our adventure in this utterly stunning country of ours which is filled with lovely people, magical place, and more dust roads than you'd think! 

This is Wuppertal. a small thatch roofed white washed village in the Cederberg mountains in the Western Cape founded in 1830 by two German missionaries of the Rhenish Missionary Society. In 1965, after the Rhenish Mission had gradually scaled down their activities in Southern Africa, a decision was made that Wupperthal should in future become part of the Moravian Church, and it remains a Moravian mission station to this day. Seeing the little town of approx. 3000 people cradled in a small valley just in time for sunset was like discovering our own Brigadoon in the mountains which no one knew was there! Was it a dream? It was beautiful, the streets were clean, the people friendly and we walked around until after dark taking in the wonders of this intriguing little town.

We met Jason selling fish in Doringbaai, a small town on the West coast and he pointed us to a camp site on the beach in Springfontein where we spent the night. we woke in a shroud of mist, a brief respite from the heat of the inland we were soon to return to. The road from Lamberts Baai to Springfontein is untarred but easy and beautiful with sea views and a sense of riding in the bush, not above it on big intrusive roads 

Springfontein Sunset

Springfontein sunrise!

Our mission to the Henkries Date farm took us along never ending dust roads and Mrs Olivier kept the office open for us long after closing time.
In between selecting dates and making sure we'd had tasters of each delicious juicy batch, she told us about the farm. It's 50 years old. During the Anglo-Boer war, the British hid in those hills and had nothing but dates to eat. Their continued complaints of being hungry, hungry, hungry morphed into the region's name, 'Henkries' and their wide discarding of dates seeds resulted in the first date palms along the Orange River which eventually turned it into a date growing area! 

Mental note, unripe dates do not taste great!

Orange River at sunset.

The little town of Goodhouse, in the Orange River valley. A small flat town baked by the sun with one road in and one road out.

There are still places in South Africa where you can pull off the road and camp without being in fear for your life! We found a hill, black from the relentless sun and camped under the full Northern Cape night. We watched the full moon come up over the landscape, turning it twilight. 

From the hill above where we camped.

I took this photo while my husband was changing a tire! I learned much in the good hour of waiting and trying in vain to be of assistance that there are many ways to do things. I watched my family while we waited. Alluring clouds on the distant heavy horizon seemed suspended at one altitude like a flock of birds, too cautious to land on the piping hot midday ground. My son drew the giant rats in the audio book we listened to and my daughter did ballet in the infinitely empty road to the heavy voice of Lorde over the speakers. No body got uptight, no body lost their cool. There's always a choice!

Amazing haunting Koekerboom Trees on a small alternative route to Pella.

Rose Quartz in the Bush, Bright pink in the sun against the brown rock.

I think I was the only one who thought the advertisement of snake meat was hilarious, no one else seemed to catch the joke! 

On the way home we drove through De Rust, a sweet sleepy town with a pretty main street bursting with creative little coffee shops and galleries.

Breakfast in Oudtshoorn, another sleepy town in the Klein Karoo.

I remember going home when I was a child. I willed the car to slow down, to turn back, to take a little longer! 

But going home to a place you love is different, our country is beautiful and quietly whispers to be explored. We should know what all of it looks like, it's our home!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Something for the ladies: About the Mooncup!

I’ve been procrastinating about writing this post for a while but, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. Today I will be chatting to you about the Mooncup. Please be warned: If you do not want to know, step away from the blog!

For anyone who is unsure of what a Mooncup is, it is a reusable menstrual cup, around 5 cm long and made from soft medical grade silicone. It sits a little lower than a tampon and collects menstrual fluid. It took me about five months to accumulate the courage to try my Mooncup once I’d finally mustered the momentum to buy it. But after calculating that I would use in excess of 10 000 tampons throughout my lifetime which would all take about six months to biodegrade, sanitary towels taking infinitely longer as they contain plastic, opposed to one or two mooncups, I made my choice. Did you know that around five million sea birds and about 100 000 marine mammals die per annum from swallowing plastic? I also considered the toxins I was exposing my body to on a monthly basis, Chlorine bleach, rayon, dioxon, associated with cancer, and let’s not underestimate the dreaded lurk of toxic shock syndrome hovering overhead should you forget to change tampons timeously! But now that I’d bought the thing, I had to use it! 

When I opened the box my first thoughts were, ‘Maybe they have it in a smaller size, and are those volume lines on the side?’ I was really rather intimidated! They expected it to fit and fill up! I can remember the first day I started using it as if it were yesterday!

After struggling to insert it correctly for what felt like eons, I had a far more extensive knowledge of my own inner workings than I’d banked on ever needing. It took a while! Emptying it and reinserting it in a public bathroom for the first time later that day was another matter all together! I turned my cubicle into what looked like a crime scene! Thank goodness I’m not squeamish! Then I had to smuggle my way past anyone else in the bathrooms to the taps and hope they didn’t look at my hands! It was rough going but I persisted in the name of environmental and physical health and I triumphed at the end of the day! I am now a very contented Mooncup user and would advocate it to any woman. No more oops’s and running out of tampons and pads, no more chuck away mentality. You do have a more intimate relationship with your menstrual cycle but if you’ve ever caught yourself thinking, ‘Mmm I wonder how much blood I really lose every month’, you will finally know! 

Here’s some advice I’d wished someone had given me:

-Make sure you choose a day when you know you’ll be home.
-The idea is to fold it into a much smaller thingie and then have it pop open in the right place, sealing the area off. But sometimes it doesn’t seal so you have to try again. And sometimes no matter how hard you try it doesn’t seem to seal, don’t despair, you’ll get it right with time. 

-A little tug will make sure its liquid tight and twirling the end of it around and around a few times in your fingers once it’s inserted will help you ascertain if all is snug in there!
- A friend once said she felt as if she were sucking her insides out every time she removed it! When it’s time to empty it, press your finger against the side of the cup to release the suction and it will come out easier. 

It really does become part of your life, and saves you money quicker than you think. Check out Mooncup’s Website, the music video is classic!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

We went to a fruit farm!

I've been away, in the mountains, out of reception, away from the world. On our way back to civilization, we stopped at a road side shop to inquire about fresh fruit as we were travelling through endless orchards. The guy on the other side of the counter directed us to a 'packing house', so off we went.

If you've ever wondered how the dried fruit in the bag you just bought got there, here's a picture story of everything that happens between point A and point B.

This is a giant cold storage unit. It was completely filled with fresh peaches, plums, nectarines and pears. The prices were excellent compared to the shops but unfortunately the farm doesn't do orders and certainly doesn't post! They harvest from their own lands and buy in from the surrounding farms, dry on sight and wholesale everything in one go, if you live next you pop by every week and stock up.

The processing area is relatively small but all of the fruit gets chopped up and processed in here and then immediately goes outside. 

These machines were so nifty! They were like something out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! The peaches roll down a little ramp and get individually separated. Each and every one then gets lifted up by means of an electronic arm and inserted into a slicer which cuts the peach in half and drops the pip.  

The peaches then exit via a conveyor belt to a peeling station where the peaches get graded and each peach is peeled by hand! 

The peaches get thoroughly sorted. They make sure that no rotten ones get through.

Then they get placed side by side onto drying trays which get piled up onto a dolly and taken outside.

There were trays of peaches drying outside in the sun for about one kilometer around the packing house. It was a beautiful yummy sight to see, they also grow tomatoes so the landscape was formed of red and orange and bright orange rows! 

It's so cool to learn how your food happens!

Monday, January 27, 2014

All about Magnesium and Me! ~ Mariella

As a teenager, I suffered from night cramps in my calves. The pain was shocking, always blasting its way through some dream, like having a bucket of cold water thrown over my sleeping form! After a few years I learnt to stretch my calf muscles through the pain and go back to sleep. Also, I was seen as a ‘lazy’ teenager, always lethargic, uninterested, untidy, not one to concentrate for long. Blood tests revealed that I was low in Magnesium and supplements were issued. They didn’t improve things to a great degree.

One day, years later, while standing in the queue at a health shop, I remarked on how I grind my teeth. The shop keeper overheard and said, ‘You’re short of magnesium, Mag Phos tissue salts should sort it out!’ My grinding stopped and so did the calf cramps. Years later I went for a hair analysis test which showed that I was still, in fact, Magnesium deficient, so I was put on a super potent Naturopath-brewed supplement complete with homeopathics and tissue salts and told to take 4 tablets a day, 2000ml! The body expels copious amounts of Magnesium when under stress, I was told.

(The U.S.A. Office of dietary supplements says, ‘Too much magnesium from food does not pose a health risk in healthy individuals because the kidneys eliminate excess amounts in the urine.')

It took about a month for the changes to show, my home was neater, I suddenly had more 'time' on my hands for exercise, my memory was improved, I could remember names and numbers, I didn’t freeze in the middle of conversations anymore. I felt keener and sharper. I did a little research.

Here are just a tiny few ways in which Magnesium can benefit your health:

(Again, it was a good quality supplement, 4x the dosage of what I was taking before and a well-read Naturopath who knew his stuff which made the difference to my health)

-Keeps your heart healthy

-Promotes healthy nerve impulses, muscle contraction, and normal heart rhythm.

-Helps strengthen your bone structure

- Helps regulate sleep

-Helps healthy muscle growth

-Loosens tight muscles and reduces lactic acid

-Keeps teeth strong

-Relieves constipation

-Magnesium aids insulin secretion, facilitating sugar metabolism. Without Magnesium, glucose is not able to transfer into cells. Glucose and insulin build up in the blood, causing various types of tissue damage, including the nerves in the eyes.

Symptoms of Magnesium deficiency:

-Behavioral disturbances

-Irritability and anxiety


-Impaired memory and cognitive function

-Anorexia or loss of appetite

-Nausea and vomiting


-Muscle spasms, cramps, weakness and fatigue

-Hyperactive reflexes

-Impaired muscle coordination


-Involuntary eye movements and vertigo

-Difficulty swallowing

-Increased intracellular calcium


-Calcium deficiency (remember, taking a Cal-Mag doesnt count as the Mag is there only to help the body absorb the Cal)

-Potassium deficiency

-Irregular or rapid heartbeat ( I’ve had this, rather distressing)

-Coronary spasms



-Personality changes

-Magnesium plays an important role in carbohydrate metabolism and its deficiency may worsen insulin resistance, a condition that often precedes diabetes, or may be a consequence of insulin resistance.

I’ve heard from more than one Alternative healer that South African soil is deficient in Magnesium and therefore a deficiency which we as a nation may be more likely to exhibit. If you grow your own veggies, composting beetroot leaves will increase the Magnesium in your soil. Here’s a list of foods high in Magnesium:

-Almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts

-Green leafy vegetables like spinach

-Black beans and lentils

-Potatoes and sweet potatoes

-Brown rice, millet, quinoa







-Dark chocolate (oh goody!)

We all have those dietary things which we struggle to hold in balance, Magnesium is one of mine. And it took me until now to resolve it to the degree that I started to feel the difference. I learnt through this that if there’s something going on its always something (real deep, I know!) pay attention to your body's signals, the sooner you do, the sooner you can improve!