Maybe you know me, maybe you don’t. This blog post will give you a bit of an insight as to who I am.
My name is Shae Leigh Schwenk and I was born in Cape Town.
I grew up and spent most of my childhood in the Upper Highway Area of Durban (Kloof/Hillcrest) and have since, over the last year, moved to a very small ”Milk Bucket” of KZN known as Creighton where I now live on a massive dairy farm which supplies milk to Clover, as well as left over milk to the Creighton Cheese Factory where cheese is made (self-explanatory, really). We have approximately 6000 Heifers on the farm at all times- and this includes all the teeny tiny baby moo cows!
I did not even know that this small town existed until I met my boyfriend, and after moving here with him, I have never looked back. Life is great here.
Enough about where I live and more onto Who I Am:
If there is anybody who knows anything about me, you know at least one of these few things:
I am OBSESSED with chickens. The ones who wake you up by screaming at 4am and poop your breakfast!
I know all of the words to almost any Afrikaans song you can think of – maar ek kan nie een woorde praat van hierdie taal nie.
I have such a passion for baking. I have been in multiple cooking and baking competitions throughout my life and I had planned to go to International Hotel School BUT decided against putting myself in student debt for the rest of my life and it seemed life had other plans in place for me!!
So that is just a very few things about me and I am sure you will learn a lot more as I progress with my blogging, which, by the way, I am doing mostly for myself to be able to look back on when I am older.
The reason i have decided to start a public blog rather than just a personal diary or such is because I want to influence people. I want people to connect with me on my level and be inspired by the things I have to say or share. I feel I have so much more to give to the world than to just keep it to myself in a journal beside my bed.
So, if you think you could get at least something good out of this blog of mine, then be prepared to entire this crazy world of mine!
Our drive to Kosi Forest Lodge took us just over 7 hours and we expected the roads to be bad and full of pot holes. To our surprise, it ended up being the best road we had both ever been on. Mostly completely straight, almost freshly tarred the entire way and an absolute pleasure of a drive.
Upon our arrival to the Lodge, we were greeted with smiling, friendly faces. While all our bags were taken to our room for us, we were given a ”cool down” cloth to wipe our hands and faces with and given a complimentary refreshing drink as it was quite a hot day. We were then told more about the lodge, meal times and activities we would be apart of and then we were showed to our room.
Our room was so unique. We had our own balcony as well as an outdoor shower & bath area. We also had complimentary rusks, Old Brown Sherry, a tea & coffee station as well as some ice cold bottled water waiting for us once we got there.
Once settled in, we went up to the main area for lunch, which was delicious! We both had the quiche with salad and the waitress spent some time teaching us to make a type of pesto from chilli, nuts, olive oil and balsamic vinegar which we could then add to our salads or put on top of the freshly made rolls on our table.
Our arrival day was very relaxed and we didn’t rush into any activities because we had just been on a 7 hour trip and wanted some peace and quiet for a while (which we definitely got- we were SO relaxed!).
That same evening for dinner, we had a 3 course meal which started with a sweetcorn soup, followed by kingklip, beans and rice and for dessert, a banana and caramel waffle served with cream.
On our second day, after almost missing our first activity because our bed was just SO comfy, we headed out to the river with our guide, PQ, to go canoeing in the lakes. Our first stop was in lake 4 which is the breeding lake for the hippos and crocodiles. We were unable to get to any other lakes with the canoe as it had previously rained heavily and the paths were blocked. Because of this, we spent extra time in lake 4, taking in all the scenery and hearing all that PQ had to tell us about the hippos, crocodiles and birds. We were lucky enough to spot 2 Palm Nut Vultures. These huge birds feed off of the husks & fruit of the Raphia Palms.
After canoeing, we headed back to the lodge for breakfast which was your standard selection of cold meats, cheeses, muffins, fruit salad with yoghurt & fruit juices, followed by your choices of bacon, eggs, toast, mushrooms, hash browns, tomatoes and sausages.
Something great about this lodge is there is no rush, no sense of time, you just go at your own pace and unwind. Dean and I decided to head to the pool area shortly after breakfast for a swim, the pool overlooked one of the dams and we were able to watch the hippos and flamingos from inside the pool. This for me was such an incredible experience because I had never seen a hippo before that day. I spent the entire day at the pool and only left for lunch and then came back until dinner. It was also an amazing spot for watching sunrises and sunsets and to see all the incredible wildlife!
For lunch, we were served a bacon and mushroom pasta with a salad to share and freshly baked bread with butter and jams.
Dinner that evening was my favorite meal and a big surprise for us too! The starter was a creamy carrot soup, followed by a perfectly cooked steak with caramelized red onion, carrots and potato bake and for dessert, a chocolate brownie. Now here was the surprise; whilst all the other guests received their desserts, Dean and I waited a bit longer than the rest of the guests to be served and when our waitress finally arrived, we got a huge chocolate cake to celebrate our birthdays. This was such a surprise and such a sweet gesture from Kosi Forest Lodge. They really made our birthdays special! (Oh, and the cake was delicious! And yes, we shared it with all the other guests and they loved it too!)
On Monday morning, our final day at Kosi Forest Lodge, we had to wake up really early to go out on the boat with George, our guide, for us to see the hippos up close before we had to end our trip.
We were so lucky that as soon as we got onto the boat, we spotted 3 hippos; the father, mother and baby.
We were also lucky enough to see some flamingos and other birds as well as the fish traps used by the local people in Kosi Bay to catch fish.
I could not believe how clear the water was and we could see all the fish swimming below us.
We once again had a big breakfast and then packed our bags and headed back home.
Its now been almost 2 weeks since our Kosi trip and I am still missing it so much.
If there is one thing about this lodge that you will pick up instantly is the friendly staff.
I really commend Kosi Forest Lodge on their attention to detail (such as the sand being raked every single day from our room to the lodge) and their incredible staff. They really made our stay so much better and we felt at home with all of them.
We both thoroughly enjoyed our stay and we cant wait to come back.
Thank you Kosi Forest Lodge & Isibindi for hosting us!
**Disclaimer: Although hosted, all opinions and views on our stay are completely my own and my honest opinion.
Our stay at Antbear was nothing short of incredible. There are no words to describe how relaxed you feel as you turn onto that dirt road, let alone after putting your bags down on the floor of your room and lumping yourself down onto the extremely comfy bed and taking that big, deep breath.
It has taken me quite a while to do this post because I honestly could not think of where to begin, there is just SO much to tell you about and as I begin writing about one thing, my brain runs off and i start thinking about the next and then I get frazzled.
I think that the best way to start, would be to tell you where the name “Antbear Lodge” came from.
The owner, Andrew, originally purchased the land over 20 years ago, where there was no running water, no sewerage system or even electricity. Himself and his wife, Connie, as well as his father, began building the lodge from scratch. They made the buildings from straw bails, cob and stone that was locally sourced and used materials that other people would throw away.
One day, Andrew and his father walked by one of the old, empty and rotting rooms (now room 14) and they climbed through the window because the door had rotted, the floor was made of wood and as they stepped inside, the old rotten floor had collapsed beneath them and out came running an Antbear(Aardvark). This is where the Lodges name came from.
The ethos of this lodge is ‘Up-cycle and sustainability.’
Currently 14 local people are employed here and the staff are all so welcoming and friendly and are always up for a conversation! The amazing receptionist, Andile, was so knowledgeable and answered any questions that I had for her. She also spent a good 2 hours showing us around and giving us the full tour!
I cannot begin to tell you just how incredible our meals were. Every meal was a 3-course and Chef Brad never failed to amaze us each time.
For breakfast, you have the many options to choose from as a buffet style, which included their home-made butter, yoghurt, jam, bread and cheese.
Dinner was something you could expect to receive at the Oyster Box Hotel. I cannot actually explain how delicious these meals were, so I will just show you pictures.
Something that fascinates me still, is that everything we ate came from the farm in some way. There is a massive organic veggie garden, lots of fruit trees, cows, chickens, ducks, turkeys, you name it. If there is a specific item that they do need to outsource for, they only purchase these items locally.
Dean and I were lucky enough to get to stay in the incredible cave room at Antbear. When speaking to Andrew about how the cave room came about, he told us the story that took over 3 years to develop into what it is now. The cave was originally a reed bed filter(recycles water) that was built on the side of a large rock. Andrew then converted this into a wetland, thinking that it would bring along animal life, however, all that it brought with it was the horrible drain smell. So, he got rid of it and put a concrete slab in its place and a retaining wall and made it into a tea garden for the guests, but there was no shade, so they added a roof on top of that and some extra concrete around it and it then almost resembled a cave, which is what they then turned it into and now the luxury cave is a must see!
The key-word here is ‘attention to detail’. That is the first thing that comes to mind as soon as you step into the reception area, any room, ablution etc.
If you have an eye for art, you need to make an effort to see all the amazing wood work for yourself. Everything is made from scratch, including the toilet paper holders, toilet brush holders, tables, chairs, stairs, chandeliers, cupboards, EVERYTHING.
I can not even begin to try post all of the photos I took as there are simply too many, so I will post my favorites instead.
All in all, this was by far my favorite stay and the best lodge I have ever been to. I will definitely be returning for another break and for the magnificent food!
Here are a few more pictures:
If you have ever been to Antbear, please let me know how you found your stay to be?
For the entire month of July, I felt really left out of the whole #PlasticFreeJuly & the ways that everyone was somehow positively contributing towards the environment, whether it by be eliminating plastic straws, investing in bamboo cutlery sets etc. and so when I was contacted by Patch Strips SA and I was offered a set of strips to test and review, I was apprehensive at first, mostly because I would actually have to wait to get hurt in order to use their products, but I was excited to get on board with the amazing plastic-free initiative, even if it was in a small way.
I realized how smart their idea was because plasters are the LAST thing we think about eliminating, yet they play such a big role in contributing to our plastic waste reduction. Normal every day plasters generally contain Thimerosal (a type of mercury) and latex. The Patch Strips are made from bamboo and are hypoallergenic, organic, 100% biodegradable, contains no plastics or toxins, are latex free, vegan friendly and cruelty free (oh, and affordable)!
What I love most about these bamboo bandages is bamboo is a rapidly renewable resource – it grows so fast and uses less water, it produces a lot more oxygen and requires no pesticides or herbicides and thus, is so much better for our environment.
The plasters currently come in 4 different options:
1) Nude:Natural Bamboo for cuts and scratches.
2) Nude Kids: Coconut oil for scratches, abrasions and grazes.
3) Black: Activated Charcoal for splinters, infections and bites.
4) Green: Aloe Vera for burns, blisters and soothing.
If you have kiddies who are accident prone and always end up hurting themselves one way or another, or you would just like to play your part for the environment, then I highly suggest you get your hands on a pack of these amazing plasters. To make your life even easier, You can win yourself a set of the 4 different packs above by subscribing to my blog by clicking here and scrolling all the way to the bottom as well as commenting below with one way YOU contributed to #PlasticFreeJuly last month. (You can also send your answer to me as a DM on Instagram to be entered!)
Winner will be chosen by random draw on Women’s Day, 9 July 2019 and announced on this post and on my Instagram, @shaeschwenk.
For more information head over to their Instagram page: @patchstrips_sa or their Facebook page: PATCH Strips SA.
One thing I want my blog to do is share brands and products that I genuinely love and support, so I will be sharing a lot of my local finds that I really love with you. What is better than #SupportingLocal?
I have known about Wow Jude for a few months through the wonderful world of social media, however I had never tried any of their products for myself. When Judy decided to be a sponsor in one of my latest giveaways, I was so excited because I could then get to see and test out these face cloths for myself and see what all the hype and fuss was about!
Well, I get it now. You wont even be able to fully comprehend how well it works, I mean, it’s just a face cloth, right? Wrong.
I have a horrible habit of forgetting to buy make up remover, so at the end of the night, I am sitting with my Nivea cream and a roll of toilet paper, patiently trying to remove all my make up and I am SO glad that I don’t need to do this anymore!
Of course, I had to put this ‘magical’ face cloth to the test on my waterproof make up. I used lipstick, mascara, 3 different eye-shadows and some concealer. All I had to do was rinse the cloth under warm water, squeeze it out and hold it over the make up for a few seconds and then wipe away.
I kid you not – everything was 100% removed instantly except the lipstick which i had to wipe 2 or 3 times to remove it completely. How insane is that?
There is no need for scrubbing or spending 15 minutes just to get that last bit of mascara off that has run underneath you eye and is being stubborn.
If you haven’t already got yourself one (or 10) then I would highly suggest getting your hands on some and trying it out!
You can contact them through facebook: WOW Jude – Facial Cloth or through Instagram: @wowjude_facial_cloths.
This brand is so close to my heart simply because I have been a customer of theirs since finding them at the Cow House Market in Pretoria in 2017 while I was there for the week.
There is nothing that I love more than being in the kitchen; baking or cooking up a storm. And what better to pair with my love of creating dishes than with a Lav Lime sauce?
Their variety is huge and there is no product of theirs that I have not enjoyed.
I have an entire side cupboard in my kitchen just for some of their sauces/salad dressings!
If you had to ask me what I love most about this brand, besides their flavours of course, is their attention to detail. Their product packaging is beautiful and what I love most is the descriptions on each jar/bottle. These descriptions tell you exactly what to use the specific sauce or salad dressing on/with.
Lets face it, nobody knows what meal to pair a Lime Balsamic dressing with. But thanks to these descriptions printed on the bottle, It tells you exactly what works well with it!
If you are looking to add some variety to your kitchen or even a birthday/wedding gift, have a look at @_lavender.lime on Instagram, their website http://www.lavlime.co.za or on Facebook, Lavender & Lime.
I really love this brand and will forever support them.