Thursday, 30 October 2014

Camping At Kogel Bay

Last weekend, a bunch of us camped for a night a Kogel Bay, which is just past Gordon's Bay. Half our group met at our house on Saturday morning, we packed up two cars and set off for our camp site. 

When we arrived, it was a little windy blowing gales. So we set up all our camping stuff in the wind and just as we were finishing off, our neighbours decided to start their generator so that they could play some pretty average music (loud enough to drown out the generator!) and continue with what looked to be a very drunken weekend. Needless to say, after a group huddle and a quick discussion, we decided to move our campsite to a slightly more windy, but much quieter site. But at least it was far from our neighbours with their terrible music - definitely a decision that made the rest of our weekend much better!

Most of Saturday was spent chilling, with a bit of a beach session before we started a braai and spent the rest of the evening chatting, playing a tune or two on the guitar and trying not to be blown away.

On Sunday morning, most of us were awake early and after a cup of coffee, we went down to the beach to see the sun creep across the waves once it had risen above the mountain behind us. After a quick breakfast we packed some bags with water and snacks and spent an amazing day on the beach - the water was swimmable, the sky was blue and the weather ideal for a day on the beach.

Clouds pouring over mountiain
Blanket over the mountain
Early morning beach and mountain scene
Early morning sea view
Early morning beach and mountain scene clouds blanket over mountain
Sea and mountain view
Sunrise over the mountains
Sunrise at the beach
Me taking a photo of you, taking a photo of me...
My friend Jono taking pictures for Giraffe Toes photography
You can check out his website here (and order prints from him if you like!)
Waves spraying from the wind
Windy waves
Sea anemone with blue inner
Bright blue sea anemone
Colourful Sea anemones
Colourful sea anemones
We found a friendly puppy on the beach who just wanted to play!
Catching a frisbee
Catching frisbee
Friends playing on the beach
Playing at the beach
Playing frisbee on the beach
Intense games of frisbee took place

Some info on Kogel Bay Resort Camp Site:
  • It's about 70 km from Cape Town to Kogel Bay Resorts and the drive is about an hour from Cape Town (depending on traffic through Somerset West).
  • The camp site is pretty basic, with no electricity, but comfortable enough for a night or two.
  • One thing to keep in mind is that the guys bathrooms (so I was told) were all open showers. I'm not sure if it was just this block, or if all blocks are like that, but if you're a guy and not used to boarding-school type open showers, you may want to find another place to shower...
  • The cost is around R140 per night for one camp-site.
  • Each camp-site fits up to 6 people and up to 2 cars.

~~~~~ Follow Practical Cookie ~~~~~
~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pintrest ~ Instagram ~

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Basil Growing Tips

The weather has been warming up recently, which has been wonderful! To celebrate the start of summer, I decided to start my herb garden again and also plant a few flowers so that my veranda will look happy and colourful (hopefully relatively soon!)

Basil is one of my favourite herbs to use and it's relatively easy to grow. Over winter, my basil died and I was pretty sad. I've since found out that most people generally re-plant their basil in spring every year (what a relief that it wasn't my black thumb green fingers that killed them!). A few weeks ago, I went and got myself a tray of six basil seedlings as well as a packet of basil seeds.

I planted my seedlings in last summer's basil window box. Then I used some leftover seedling trays, filled them up with leftover soil and put a few basil seeds in each pocket. I watered my basil seedlings and basil seeds in the seed trays and I was recently able to pick my own basil for use in some of my dishes!

I wouldn't say I'm an expert in growing basil, but I am pretty happy with my basil so far, so I thought I would put together some beginner tips on how to grow basil:
  • To make it easy for yourself, buy basil seedlings and re-plant them into a container (or your herb garden). If you prefer to use seeds - I would suggest you plant seeds around mid-September. (I planted my seeds at the same time as my seedlings - mid October. But I think mid-September, or as soon as it starts getting warmer, would probably be the best time to plant).
  • Make sure your basil plants are in a place where they will receive lot of sun. Basil likes the sun, and as long as they have enough water, they'll be happy.
  • Water your basil plants regularly - I usually water them on a daily or every other day basis. As long as when you poke your finger into the soil, the soil feel damp, you'll be OK.
  • Leave the bottom leaves and pick leaves from the top, often! This promotes growth and the new leaves, so I've heard, are meant to be sweeter and better tasting. It also stops your basil growing crazy tall, which, if you have limited space like me, is a winner!
Good luck with your basil growing!

~~~~~ Follow Practical Cookie ~~~~~
~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pintrest ~ Instagram ~

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Engineering In Style: Katherine

Today I'm really excited to share Katherine's story with you and give you a bit of an insight into what a Civil Engineer does. Take a squiz below!

Katherine from Engineering In Style
Hello All!  My name is Katherine and I am half of Engineering In Style.  I am a Civil Engineer currently working in the Iron and Steel industry.  When most people hear engineering, they think of design engineers that spend a majority of their time at a desk.  I work in project management, focusing primarily on construction management.  What does this mean?  It means my day can vary drastically depending on the status of my projects, but I never spend a day running calculations.  When a large improvement or new facility is built in my company, my department hires the engineers to design it, critiques the design, sets the project budget, hires the contractors, and manages the construction and startup.  Some days I spend out in the field talking to ironworkers and boilermakers, other days I’m in the office reviewing drawings, sending emails, and making phone calls.  What I love about my job, is I have to go from knowing absolutely nothing about a facility, to being enough of an expert to manage the people designing and building it.  It really is fun, and I love a challenge!

On Engineering In Style, I write mostly about what I do outside of work.  A lot of what I do during the day is information I can’t share with the general public, not to mention I have more than enough hobbies to write about!  To follow my shopping addiction, DIY attempts, cooking adventures, and random musings (and to see Cath’s guest posts), check out, follow us on twitter @engineerinstyle and Instagram @engineeringinstyle!

~~~~~ Follow Practical Cookie ~~~~~
~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pintrest ~ Instagram ~

Monday, 20 October 2014

How Can We Get More Women To The Top In Organisations?

I've been thinking a lot about HeForShe recently and what equality between the sexes means. Today I want to explore what it means for people in a professional setting, as I watched a TED Talk recently that put some things in perspective.

In her September 2014 TED Talk (see below), Susan Colantuono starts off by saying that "women represent 50% of middle management positions". Here we have an example of gender equality in the workplace, but only if you're in middle management.

Susan then asks "why are there so many women mired in the middle and what has to happen to take them to the top." We could argue that we don't see women in top management positions due to sexism in the workplace. However, if 50% of all middle management positions are held by women, surely this means that women are not being penalised due to their sex?

According to Susan, there are different elements of leadership, however only certain of these elements are communicated because some of the other elements are "a given" and are assumed to be known. Generally, what is communicated to people rising up the ladder is that they need to be able to successfully engage with people in order to inspire others and themselves to reach the goals set for them by the organisation. It is communicated that good leaders empower others, manage conflict well, are able to negotiate and are good communicators. 

For many middle management positions, that is all that is needed. However, to get to the top, there is some extra information that men take for granted and thus this is not communicated to women who are wanting to get to the top. It is taken for granted that the following concepts are already known to people (men and women) wanting to pursue top management positions. To use Susan's own words: 

"What about people who understand your business, where it's going, and their role in taking it there? And what about people who are able to scan the external environment, identify risks and opportunities, make strategy or make strategic recommendations? And what about people who are able to look at the financials of your business,understand the story that the financials tell, and either take appropriate action or make appropriate recommendations?"

For men, the above ideas are already a given. 

Later on in her talk, Susan mentions a comment by an executive who had mentored both a man and a woman, which sums up the above concepts perfectly. "I helped the woman build confidence, I helped the man learn the business, and I didn't realize that I was treating them any differently."

And so, to go back to my earlier point, when it comes to top management positions, women are held back, unintentionally, because they are not told about ALL* of the requirements that are needed in order to get to the top.

I think that the solution to this is to start opening up the communication channels and exploring what the women in top leadership positions are doing that allowed them to get to the top and sharing this knowledge with other people, men and women, so that in the course of their day to day jobs, both men and women can be aware of ALL* the requirements to get to the top.

* ALL in the context of Susan's talk

~~~~~ Follow Practical Cookie ~~~~~
~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pintrest ~ Instagram ~

Thursday, 16 October 2014

A Visit To Darling

A few weekends ago, we went to Darling with Frosty's family and we had such a lovely weekend away. We drank some wine, went to Evita se Perron where we saw the show Adapt or Fly and we also took a bit of a drive to see the last of the Namaqualand flowers (I think it was the Waylands farm that we drove around- thank you Waylands!).

In other news, Engineering In Style have posted my second guest post on their blog, so you can click here to go and take a look to find out more on How and Why I ended up studying engineering. (If you want to follow their blog take a look at their facebook page too!)

And now, for some photos...

A view out the window of our veranda
I decided to get my camera out and play one of the evenings
Lasers in photograph
Then Frosty brought out his laser...
night photography with green laser
We had fun playing with long exposures and making laser patterns in the pictures! 
Water flowing out pipes into trough
We went to Darling Olives to do a Wine and Olive tasting - so yummy!
Angry bird on its nest
I had some fun with the Cape Weavers
Cape Weaver view from below
We spent some time watching them build their nests and it was incredible!
Pink flowers
Before lunch at the Marmalade Cat, we went to find some flowers. I got some lovely pics and
then at lunch, there was a great menu that told us the (local?) names of some of these flowers.
This one is called Bokbaaivygie.
Purple and pink flowers
Purple flowers in a field
More Kelkeiwynne
Orange yellow flowers
Anyone know the name of this flower??
Me in the flowers
Field of flowers
I'm unsure of these names too!
Orange flowers
Any suggestions for these flowers?
Purple flowers through a fence
A field of violet!

~~~~~ Follow Practical Cookie ~~~~~
~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pintrest ~ Instagram ~

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

What I Think HeForShe Is About

A while ago I shared a link to a talk given by Emma Watson on the UN Women HeForShe campaign. I mentioned that I hadn't thought about feminism in depth before because I hadn't really needed to. Following that line of thought a bit further, I think the other reason that I haven't researched feminism more is because, all too often in our current society, feminists are portrayed as women who think they don't need men. I don't believe this either. I believe we need both men and women, working together and supporting each other in order to allow all people to reach their full potential.

I think the key difference that separates this campaign from other movements is  that men are the target of this campaign. Throughout history, women's rights have been fought for primarily by women. These women have needed to appeal to men in order to be allowed to vote. To be allowed to study. For rights to own property. By bringing men on board, HeForShe are directly targeting the people who are able to drive this change the fastest. Because, let's face it, currently in this world, many leadership positions and positions of influence are positions held by men. I am of the opinion that if the people who hold positions of influence start changing their mindsets, so will those that admire the influencer also change their mindsets. Women can drive and campaign for equal rights as much as possible, but if we don't have both men and women on board, we will never be able to reach equality.

The HeForShe campaign really appeals to me. I like that, at it's essence, it's a campaign about equality. Equality for women and men. This is what makes the HeForShe campaign different. It's a campaign that is asking societies to stop treating women as objects and start treating them as people. It's asking that society allow men the freedom to express emotion without fear that this is seen as a weakness. It's a campaign that is asking that people show each other respect. This campaign is asking for people to change their mindsets. And changing mindsets is quite possibly the most difficult task of all...

HeForShe equality for men and women

If you're interested in finding out more about this campaign, you can go to and sign up. 
(I've done it. I even ticked that little box. If you don't know what box I'm talking about, go to the site and find out!)

There are so many other thoughts and aspects to this that I want to explore - if you don't want to miss any posts, you can lik my facebook page or follow me on Bloglovin.

~~~~~ Follow Practical Cookie ~~~~~
~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pintrest ~ Instagram ~

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Guest Post: Engineering In Style

To borrow a term from one of my favourite bloggers:
"You Guys!"
I am really excited about today's guest post - it's the first guest post on Practical Cookie that is written by other bloggers, so I hope you enjoy it! This is an intro to their blog and I will be posting other guest posts by them in the coming weeks - so don't forget to come back to find out more about the two lovely ladies at Engineering In Style. And if you pop across to their blog in the next 24 hours, you should find a familiar face there!

Hi Everyone! 

We are Katherine and Samhita. We blog over at Engineering In Style! We both live in the beautiful city of Chicago and work as Engineers by day.  We decided to start a blog a year ago (celebrated our first birthday earlier this week!) because we wanted to change the way people viewed engineers. We love our jobs (most of the time), but we also have a pretty incredible life outside of work.  We felt that blogging would be the best platform to spread our message and reach the most number of people.  Through blogging we have met people from all around the world (such as Cath!) and have had a chance to interact with other women engineers who share similar stories and experiences as us. In the next few weeks we’ll be sharing with you what we each do at work, what we love and hate about our jobs, and why we absolutely love living in Chicago. Feel free to reach out to us via twitter @EngineerInStyle. Look forward to hearing from you!

Samhita & Katherine

Sumhita and Katherine

~~~~~ Follow Practical Cookie ~~~~~
~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pintrest ~ Instagram ~

Monday, 6 October 2014

Engineering Guest Posts

Since I've started blogging, I haven't found many people who fit into the same niche as me (female engineers who blog). This is partly because I haven't known where to look. And so, the other day, when I plugged in "Engineering" as a search term to Bloglovin, I was really excited to find a few blogs written by female engineers. Yipee!

One of these blogs, Engineering In Style, features an engineer every month. When I saw this, I was really excited. They're based in the USA, so when I saw that some of their tags included "South Africa" I was even more excited. I thought, I don't have anything to lose, let's see if they would like to feature a South African engineer as a guest poster - and they're keen!

In the next few weeks, I'm going to be posting some guest posts from Sumhita and Katherine on Practical Cookie and at the same time, they'll be posting some stuff that I've written for their readers over at Engineering In Style. I'm really looking forward to sharing what they have to say and getting another session of guest posts on to Practical Cookie (as well as being as guest poster on another blog!). Go and check out their blog and keep an eye out for my (first ever) guest posts. And if you forget to look, don't worry, I'll remind you! 

~~~~~ Follow Practical Cookie ~~~~~
~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pintrest ~ Instagram ~