#GreensGoTroppo – all about our Mauritian adventure

If you’ve had any interaction with me at all, both in real life and online, you’ll know that I’ve just had the best vacation E.V.E.R! It’s all I spoke about for months beforehand and it’s all my sweet dreams are about now.

A couple of months ago, Belinda, based in Dubai, decided that the very best way to celebrate her milestone birthday was with her family on a tropical island. Cue a ton of excitement from all of us and a mad panic to renew passports and get kids’ unabridged birth certificates. That, in itself, is the subject of an entirely different blog post.

July seemed a very long way away back then, but time flew by and before we knew it, the big day had arrived and the Dubai Green and the Jozi Greens were jetting off from ORT to meet the Perth Greens in paradise.

Ready, steady, fly!
Slightly dishevelled!

We stayed in the most fabulous resort – Beachcomber Trou-Aux-Biches – worth every single star of its 5 star rating. The 13 Greens shared two villas, each beautifully furnished with ALL the creature comforts including a private pool, outdoor showers and more Nespresso than even my caffeine addicted body needed. The beds were incredible – Jon reckons he should have worn his fitness tracker to roll over and kiss Jess goodnight – they were big, like super king size! The whole hotel, from the villas to the restaurant restrooms, was scented with the most unbelievable fragrance. I found out later that it’s a Beachcomber fragrance called Royal Orchid.

Basically, our days were spent as follows:

  • Wake, Nespresso, dress in appropriate resort wear – ie bathing suit, shorts, sarong.
  • Buffet breakfast where you have no choice but to try ALL the food then swear you’re not eating until supper.
  • Beach/pool, read, roll over, repeat.
  • Decide you’re peckish and might head up to the restaurant for a bite of the buffet lunch. You have no option but to try ALL the food. Wonder if you’ll possibly be able to eat dinner?
  • Back to the beach/villa to read nap.
  • Sundowner drinks and the butler arrives with a plate of pre-dinner snacks. Amazingly, you’re able squeeze one or three of the spring rolls.
  • Dress for dinner and a golf cart to take us to one of the numerous hotel restaurants – Italian/Thai/Indian/Gourmet Seafood/Themed buffet)
  • Drinks and chatter after dinner at one of the villas and blissfully to bed.

The Greens did mix it up a bit by snorkeling, canoeing, pedal boating, stand up paddling, a glass bottom boat trip and a trip into Grand Baie and a few walks to the Trou-aux-Biches village for some retail therapy. We could find pretty much anything we may have needed at Chez Popo supermarket.

That’s not me…

So snorkeling. Can’t say that was my favourite thing ever. I am a massive scaredy-cat when it comes to swimming, especially sea swimming. So the first time we went out on the snorkel boat, I decided I wasn’t even going to try. Then FOMO struck as I watched everyone bobbing about, so I borrowed a pair of flippers and tried to climb off the boat. Panic and nerves set in and I just couldn’t do it. The next time we all went snorkeling, I decided to try again, this time with the safety of a life jacket. I actually got off the boat that time. But I was too busy popping my head out the water to find Nemo. I had to make sure the boat hadn’t sailed away without me! I am quite comfortable to now admit that snorkeling is not for me. I am quite happy to marvel over the wonders of the ocean floor from a safety of a glass bottom boat.

We decided to celebrate Belinda’s big birthday on Friday night and we were treated to a barbecue in our villa, cooked by one of the chefs and served by our amazing butlers. The hotel staff made the most incredible effort and it was a special night. We spoiled Belinda with some bling in a teal box and a photo book of memories. I think the photo book that we created for her was a hit! 

Wasn’t the table setting just gorgeous?

On Saturday we had to say a sad goodbye to the Aussie Greens, so we had to take a traditional family selfie before they left.

After that, we were all very subdued. Cocktails were necessary…

And on Sunday – it was all over. My only regrets – that the hotel shop had sold out of the Royal Orchid fragrance diffusers – the little memento I was planning to buy myself to evoke memories of my week in the tropics. Oh and that I didn’t get to meet our celebrity neighbours.

Yes – I almost forgot to tell you – we had celebrity neighbours, just a few villas away! Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway are staying at the resort to film a movie. Sadly, I only got to spot the back of Anne – but other family members got really good sightings and Jess even made eye contact with Ms Hathaway. I did consider doing some real stalking, but that would be a bit uncool, you know?

A resort holiday is absolutely indulgent from the minute you set foot on the resort, but everyone agreed that by far the biggest treat of all was spending a full week together as a family. The cousins bonded, as did the mom, siblings and siblings-in-law, and we all treasured the quality time together.

I am also so grateful for the opportunity for my kids to experience an overseas trip. Travelling broadens your horizons in so many ways. I am pretty sure an overseas gap year is definitely on Ewan’s to do list now! He’s even talking about wanting to be an exchange student.  And I have a travel bucket list as long as my arm, so it’s time to start doing some planning and budgeting!.

P.S. I wanted to call this post How the Greens got marooned – you know… marooned on an island and a play on the colours – geddit? Instead I chose #GreensGoTroppo – that was our chosen holiday hashtag for all pics we shared on social media. “Troppo” is a nod to the tropical island experience and Aussie slang for going nuts. And since we shared the week with the Aussie Greens, it seemed appropriate!

Ta-daaa

I’ve hinted a couple of times about a big and exciting change happening in my little corner of the blogging world.

Finally, after much deliberation and procrastination, I have taken my blog to the next level. From a .wordpress.com site to my very own domain. And here you are… www.inhilshead.co.za!

I am so, so happy be able to share this space with you! A lot of time and love has gone into creating a space that’s all mine, from the design to the written content.

So what’s going to be happening InHil’sHead in the coming months? I guess the best way to describe this space is as a lifestyle blog… about my life as a busy, working mom, trying to live my best life. From my food and life hacks, to parenting, my efforts at fitness, the books I read, the places I go and the thinks I think. And everything in-between. I even have my first giveaway lined up – super exciting and I can’t wait to share it! I’ll be sharing my monthly column with you too – a light-hearted look at parenting tweens and teens. I have so much news to share about what I’ve been up to recently – expect loads of tropical island pics!

Oh – and my old posts are all here too, so you’re welcome to take a look through those while you’re here!

Click subscribe below so that we can stay in touch! You can also follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. And please, please let me know what you think in the comments below!

Loads of love,

Hil xxx

My Top 5 TED talks

I don’t know if this makes me super-geeky, but one of my favourite ways to pass the time, especially when I’m looking for a bit of a pick-me-up-slash-kick-my-ass-into-gear, is to head into the black hole that is YouTube and watch a TED talk or four. 

They also make for pretty cool podcasts to listen to while driving. The nice people who curate the podcasts on my iPhone have made sure that the podcasts are suitable for audio only and you don’t need the visuals to enjoy them.

Going to a TED conference is on my ever-growing bucket list, so I was very keen to hear Carel Nolte of CN & Co give some feedback on his recent trip to the main TED event in Vancouver. 

I was amazed that Carel was the only South African in attendance at the event this year! Unless you count Elon Musk who was one of the main speakers.

I was also intrigued by the idea of TEDx events – which are independent TED-like events held all year round, all over the world, provided you have a license to host such an event. I’ve always thought that a TEDx event would make for the most awesome corporate conference! 

I have a couple of TED favourites and I thought I’d share them with you: 

  1. Liz Gilbert’s talk on creative genius. 
  2. Brené Brown on the power of vulnerability.
  3. Amanda Palmer’s Art of Asking – I’ve also blogged about her audio book
  4. Sarah Kay’s amazing poem. Oh man – Sarah Kay is just the most amazing poet – I could listen to her forever!
  5. Shonda Rhimes on saying Yes!

If you haven’t discovered TED yet… then where have you been? 

And if you have… please share your favourites, I’d love to hear about them!

If only social media were a bit more… social!

I’m a social media junkie – I’m not going to even try and pretend I’m not. Any attempts at “detoxing” from the constant stream of information that I allow myself to constantly be exposed to, has failed dismally. But then again, I’m not very good at detoxes from sugar, wheat or caffeine either. Judge away. 

Back to social media though… I’ve noticed a trend in the last few years about how much less we seem to actually interact now, compared to the early days.  

We used to do so much more than “like” things. I seem to remember a lot more talking, banter, debate, feedback. 


Nowadays it seems like all I, and a lot do others do, is “like”. A heart here and a thumbs up there. I’m totally guilty of this. How many blogs do I follow, and how rarely do I say anything to the bloggers I like and respect? 


 And yet, as a blogger and socialmediaphile (yes, I totally made that up), nothing makes me happier than a real wordy comment on my IG pic, blog, tweet or FB share. Yes, views and likes are cool… but tell me what you think? What you really, really think?

Like I said – I’m absolutely guilty of this myself. Maybe it’s a symptom of information overload and too little time to take it all in? There’s just so much happening on the WWW that I spend the time I allocate to it skimming the details. Maybe what I follow needs to be more carefully curated? But FOMO is real y’all!

I’m going to make it my mission to have quality engagement with friends and acquaintances on social media. Really try and build networks. Less emojis and more real words. 

Tell me what you think? What you really, really think?

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Forgive me friends, it’s been much more than a month since my last spillage of words onto a page. 

Crazy, last minute, deadline driven attempts to focus on exams has taken precedence over normal life. In fact, if you ask anyone in my house… it’s pretty much been each person for themselves, while I’ve been camped out at the dining room table, nose in books/laptop, drinking copious mugs of tea for sustenance. In fact I’m amazed that that they were still loving and kind to me on Mother’s Day! I don’t feel like mother of the year at the moment! But they’re sweetie pies and we’re family and we adore each other through studying and fun. 

Even my kitty is over this constant studying… 

 

Anyway exam end is in sight and the results will be what they will be. And I have big plans for when this exam season ends… 

Are you sitting on the edge of your seats waiting for details? 

My big plans (for now) involve finishing a painting, reading books that are entirely ficticious and fun, binge watching a series or two on Netflix, and rebranding this blog. 

Yes, time to rebrand! If you have known me for any length of time, you’ll know that my interests are vast and varied. I’ve been giving the the rebrand of my blog some thought for a while now and I want it to be about more than running, momming or studying or any one thing. 

I’m thinking along the lines of “ordinary girl trying to live an (extra)ordinary life” vibe because essentially that’s what I’m trying to do. I want to be and achieve so much more than existing. 

I love people and their stories and I want to blog about things which will hopefully provide a bit of a laugh, some inspiration and even some motivation. I want to talk about all the things that I’m trying to do to help me live my best life!


I’m certainly not promising blogs climbing Everest or adventures through the Amazon or anything so extreme, unless someone feels like sponsoring a trip. In which case I’ll blog away! 

So while I consider how this rebrand is going to look, hit me up with some exciting 
ideas for names…

Statistics. Or maybe Greek?

One of the modules I need to take as part of the degree I’m working on is Business Statistics. I avoided it last year but I couldn’t avoid it any further because it’s necessary for some of the second and third year subjects I’m taking. 

So here’s the thing. I don’t have a numbers brain. My head works in words and pictures, designs and colours.


I passed matric math, but it certainly wasn’t my strongest subject. Not by a long shot! And now, 21 years later, I’m taking a numbers based subject at university level. I figured if I wanted a shot at passing, I would need to attend lectures.

The classes started last week and I was pleasantly surprised at how easily I followed the class last week. The lecturer was passionate about the subject, patient in his explanations, with a dry sense of humour. I left feeling quite excited about my prospects in the class. Okay, maybe not excited. But pleasantly surprised. I think my exact words when I got home were “I’m not as dumb as I thought I was!”

I was far less nervous about attending last night’s class. For the first half of the class I was still happy with how much I was able to comprehend. When other students needed help with the “less than” and “more than” symbols, as well when to round up or down, I decided that at least I hadn’t forgotten everything I learned at school! 

I was even a bit smug, because when we took a break, two of my class mates asked me to help with one of the concepts they hadn’t quite managed to grasp. 

Maybe it was the tiredness of a long day catching up with me but when we returned to class, it was a different story! 

It was as if Stan, our lecturer, had started speaking a foreign language. Suddenly he was sprouting formulae with square roots and Greek symbols and letters divided by letters and I literally felt my eyes glazing over. I had the distinct feeling that I was hanging on to my understanding by a mere thread. That if my mind wondered for more that a second that I’d lose the thread completely. So much for my smugness! 

Fortunately, I know that I wasn’t the only student looking dazed and confused and the lecturer called it a night soon afterward. 

I’m seriously hoping for a recap next week! I can’t really have lost the plot so early into the semester? 

The only constant thing

It’s been a big, hard week for my big kid! So much change, so much to get used to! While I have no doubt that in time, we will all find our way in this new teenage world we’re navigating, it doesn’t make the right now the easiest place to be. 


Which got me thinking about all the times in life I’ve been through the same thing. There were those five schools I went to. Oh and the move from Jozi to Witbank and then a move back to the big city a few years later – which just happened to tie in with the year I went to highschool! 

Then there was me joining the working world. Lordy, that was big! I distinctly remember not being sure whether I was allowed to leave my desk to go to the loo without permission from my boss – and her laughing at me when I did finally get desperate enough to ask! And then my second job – okay, admittedly it  made somewhat easier by having a bit of prior work experience and the fact that I made an awesome friend on that first day. Who just happened to be the guy I married a few years later. 

There was moving out of my parent’s home into a flat share and then later into my own place. And after that, sharing a home with Nick. Learning to budget for monthly groceries, deal with house maintenancy stuff. Hey – when Nick first did a grocery shop, he bought the most enormous tin of instant coffee and bag of cake flour. The flour grew weevils way before it got turned into something edible and we had bad coffee for months and months! 

There have been a bunch of work changes since those first two jobs. Most recently it was when the comfy little company I worked for got bought out by a big corporate. I knew it was a good move with great opportunity but my word – those first few days in the new place! I remember feeling so strange and uncomfortable as I walked the passages. The hundreds of unfamiliar faces. The uncertainty of how any of the processes worked, even something as simple as ordering a meal in the canteen. Now, just over a year later, I walk down the same corridors and cheerily say “Hi” to colleagues and friends (assuming I’ve had  my two cups of coffee by then)!

The thing is, I’m a reasonably confident girl when I’m comfortable in my space. I can be chatty and friendly and even a bit funny. But put me in a space which is new and intimidating and I’m suddenly quite shy and reserved. I’ve only recently tried to learn the art of “fake it till you make it”.

Probably the biggest change of all was becoming a parent. The belly and all the physical preparation for a change which was so much more complex than just adding a new person to our household. And then the rapid and constant change that parenthood brings! I remember remarking, in frustration, that no sooner have I gotten the hang of one stage of mommying my baby when they would suddenly have a growth spurt and some new challenge would present itself – growing teeth or spitting out apple purée or peeing behind the couch. 

So yep, this change that’s happening now, this big new world – it’s hard! But it’s the way life works – he’ll find his feet. And just when he thinks he’s got it all waxed… 

H. 

Foodie Fabulousness: Banting Granola

We’re trying to eat healthily in this house… well the adult contingent is, at least. You know, start the new year right and all. 

I’m trying to eat clean and follow a low carb, sugar free diet, as close to the letter as possible! I absolutely have to get serious about eating well because my weight has been moving steadily,  completely in the wrong direction for the last eight or so months. 

Nick doesn’t necessarily eat LCHF, but he tries to stay away from eating too much bread and eats well to fuel all the running he does. At the moment he’s training for the Two Oceans Ultra and those long runs make him HUNGRY!

One of the keys for my success will be having easy food that I can grab for work – particularly since I eat at least two of my three meals a day at the office. Having a pantry full of low carb options leaves me with choices and not feeling bored and frustrated.

So with that in mind, I bring you my take on The Real Meal Revolution’s 

Banting Granola


Nuts and seeds -I used a 500g Banting mix of nuts and seeds available at Dischem for about R115.00 – it contains walnutspecansalmondsmacadamia nuts, pumpkinsunflower seeds and coconut shavings. You can really make this mix up to your own taste. 

I like to bulk my mixture up with extra coconut shavings and seeds. The coconut crisps up really nicely when you you toast the mixture. 

Cinnamon – I love cinnamon – truly one of my favourite scents and flavours. I add cinnamon very liberally. You could add other spices too, like ginger or allspice. 

Butter and coconut oil – A good couple of dollops. 

Sweetener : honey, xylitol or whatever your drug of choice is.

Pinch of salt – not sure if this is entirely necessary but I find most things taste better with a tiny pinch of salt. 

I like to crush the bigger nuts a bit, just so that they’re not big, whole nuts. Give them a blitz in your food processor or pestle and mortar if you have some anger issues to deal with. 

Toss the whole lot – nuts, seeds and coconut – into a big, deep baking dish. 

Sprinkle the cinnamon liberally. 

Sprinkle the salt – not liberally, really just a pinch! 

Add your sweetener – sprinkle in the xylitol or drizzle over the honey. I used the tiniest drizzle of honey because I’m trying to go sugar free and eat clean so no artificial sweeteners. At the same time, I do think the granola is nicer with a little bit of sweetness. 

Dollop a couple of spoons of coconut oil and/or butter on top of your mixture. 

Place under a hot grill. This is where you need to be careful! This mixture burns super quickly so I place under the grill for 30 – 40 seconds and then mix it all up. Rinse*, repeat until the whole mixture is toasty brown and fragrant. Don’t walk away while you’re toasting your granola! Just don’t! I speak from experience. 

Leave to cool and store in an airtight container. 

I eat my granola with double cream yoghurt, and perhaps some blueberries or strawberries. It’s delicious and easily sustains me until lunchtime. My only advice here is to not eat it every single day – mix it up with other low carb brekkies like eggs etc. And watch your portion sizes. I use about 30 – 40g of granola and about 100g of yoghurt.

Nick’s Not-Low-Carb version is amazeballs:

Oats, yoghurt, bit of milk and a dash of cream, chopped fruit, all mixed up, with a liberal sprinkling of granola on top. Refrigerate overnight so that the oats soften in the yoghurt, milk and cream. Ready to go, first thing in the morning. 

Please share your go-to work day lunches and brekkies! I can always do with extra ideas! 

Love, 
Hil

* Please don’t literally rinse – this is just a phrase 🙂

Matric results day: My 2 cents worth

Congrats to all of the 2016 matriculants who got happy results today!

When I was in highschool there used to be a TV ad about a bunch of kids getting their matric results by hanging out in front of a newspaper office at dawn in a beat up old volksie and cracking open bottles of coke (?) in celebration. I seem to think it was coke? I was always quite disappointed that I didn’t do that. I wonder if anyone did?

My dad drove me to my school that day. I’d already landed my first insurance job by then, so I’d taken the morning off to collect my results. The receptionist wouldn’t hand them to me and I had to go into the principal’s office to request them. I was terrified. But it was only because they couldn’t trace one of the text books I was supposed to have handed in.

I passed. My dad dropped me at work. I took the bus home. I’m sure we celebrated but I can’t remember those details. Oh and my mom insisted I sort out the text book misunderstanding with the school myself because I was officially all grown up now. Adulting 101.

The thing that I’m reminded of today is how fortunate I was to fall straight into a job. I often have wished that I had taken more time off, but in retrospect it was probably a good thing that I grabbed that first job. I’d been for the interview while I was still writing finals. When they asked if I would be happy to start mid-December, I said yes. I was willing and eager and took the gap given. Maybe if I’d been less eager to start, they would have been less eager to employ me? That first job sucked in so many ways, but it led to my second job. The one where I met Nick and created a real grown up life.

I was lucky. Not everyone landed a decent job with only a matric back then and it’s even less likely to happen now!

If studying further is not in your immediate plans or beyond your budget then take whatever else you can find! Seriously guys, just do SOMETHING. It all counts toward a bigger picture and you never know where a seemingly menial job may lead you. Who you may meet and impress along the way. Even unpaid volunteer work or interning can lead you to places you can’t imagine. And work hard at whatever it is you find to do. You’re never too good for the job you’re in!

You need to know that Grade 12 is not the end of your education. It’s the end of a phase, just like pre-primary and primary school, but it’s not the end! It will continue. And it absolutely must continue if you want to keep moving forward. Take any opportunity that you may stumble upon to improve yourself. I’ve been fortunate to work for companies that have paid for me to study and I’ve completed a couple of insurance related courses which have helped me in each subsequent job I’ve applied for. I’ve now reached a point where not having a degree has proved to be a huge barrier in my career aspirations so at the ripe old age of 39, I’m one third of the way to getting a Bachelor Degree.

Oh and you may not know what you really want to do for the next five, ten, twenty years of your adult life. I certainly didn’t. I’ve had a thousand career ideas and it’s only in the last few years that I have gained a little clarity. Apparently I’m not a freak and it’s quite common… So while you’re figuring it all out, do whatever comes your way and do it to the best of your ability.

I could ramble preach chat for hours on this subject because it’s really close to my heart, but I won’t.

Good luck kids!

Love

Aunty Hilly 🙂

Bringing 2017 “into Focus”

Tomorrow I go back to work – my official start to 2017! We’ve had a lovely few weeks as a break, and now it’s time to face the real world again. That means it’s also time to consider what I want out of the year ahead! 

Sharon over at www.theblessedbarreness.com posted her word for the year and it got me thinking about mine. What immediately sprang to mind was the word “FOCUS”.
It’s time to focus on achieving my goals!


I’ve got to focus on my studies! I’d love to graduate with my degree at the end of 2018 and this means I need to do some some serious work in the next two years!  
I must, must, must focus on my fitness and my health. I’m officially sugar free (as of yesterday) and tomorrow I will lace up my running shoes and test my wonky tendons on the road again. I want and need to run again for a thousand reasons! 

I want to focus on doing more of the things that make me happy – writing, creating. Taking moments to lie on the grass, enjoy a cup of tea, read a book. 

Focus on being present for my family! 

Focus on finding joy and magic in each day and making the year I in which I turn 40 a fabulous one! 

I could go on and on about the things I need to focus on, but then you might lose focus and stop reading, so I’m going to sign off and focus on finding something to wear to work tomorrow! 

xxx

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