Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Art Of The Brick Cape Town

Cath in front of Art Of The Brick Poster

 A few weekends ago Frosty and I went on a date to go and see Art Of The Brick at the Watershed (V&A Waterfront) in Cape Town. I had a vague idea of what to expect, as I had done some research into this exhibit by a guy called Nathan Sawaya. 

After pursuing a career in law, one day Nathan decided that he'd had enough and instead he started to focus on something that he had been doing since a kid: building Lego sculptures. We got to see a great selection of his sculptures in Cape Town and the exhibit was much bigger than I had originally thought it would be. With sections for general sculptures, classic sculptures, art throughout history and more personal explorations, I was amazed by what he was able to reproduce using Lego blocks.

Frosty sitting with BrickMan

I really thought that he used his platform to expose people not only to Lego Art, but to art throughout the ages was great. It was an awesome way for me to remember all my matric art concepts that I haven't thought about for ages and to give those without much of an interest in art (aka my date) a bit of a taste for art. 

If you still aren't convinced, here is a taster of what you will see as you walk through the exhibition (there are a LOT more than what I've featured here and I would recommend with all my heart that you go and check it out yourselves!). 

Lego Animals

Lego Man and Pencil

Disqus Thrower Lego

Lego Buildings

Lego Buildings

Red and grey man coming to pieces

Lego man being held back by hands

Lego man peering through the wall

Some more details:
Cape Town exhibit: 12 December 2014 - 28 February 2015
Joburg exhibit: 13 May 2015 - 12 August 2015
Ticket Prices: R85 to R140 (depending on the type of booking you make)
Ticket Sales: Computicket (the Archive Building in Joburg and Watershed Building in Cape Town)

Edit: For more information on Nathan Sawaya, you can visit the website.

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

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

The #SouthAfricanTag

I was recently tagged by the author of Closet Freedom in a #SouthAfricanTag in order to give exposure to more South African bloggers and build up the blogging community in South Africa. I really liked this idea and I'm also very proudly South African, so here are my answers to the questions for the #SouthAfricaTag. I've re-worded a few of the questions, so if you would like to take part, visit this post from Closet Freedom to get the original questions.

If you'd like to participate, please do so and leave a comment at the bottom of this post so I can get to learn a bit more about you! In addition to this, to keep the tag moving I'm tagging Candice and Jodi across at The Turquoise Teapot (you can change question 1 to tea ;) ) as well as Gaelyn from Heart of Iron to take part.

1. How many cups of coffee do you have per day? What type of coffee and why?

Usually I only have one cup of coffee per day. The first thing I do when I get to work in the morning is brew and pour myself a cup of whatever filter coffee is in our coffee jar at work, then I plan my morning and go through e-mails before getting a real start on the day. If it's the weekend I will sometimes have a second cup in the afternoon, but if I have too much coffee I end up feeling jittery and nervous, so I try to limit myself (in which case I'll drink tea instead).

2. Favourite part of your Sunday dish?

Sunday dishes vary every week, sometimes it's a meal out and sometimes it's a braai at home. But I would say that no matter what I'm eating, my favourite part of Sunday dishes is sharing a meal with family or friends!

3. What sports team would you spend most of Saturday watching while enjoying a classic South African braai?

I'm not the biggest sports fan, but I would most probably end up watching the rugby while enjoying a braai on a Saturday. Although, when Soccer World Cup fever hits every 4 years, I do enjoy getting into the spirit and following a team through the tournament! So I would probably do that over World Cup time.

4. Favourite 
and most annoying South African word/phrase ?

Favourite: "takkies" and "magies vol, ogies toe".
Most annoying: "jirre" and "now now".

5. South African treat?

Wedgewood nougat - you can't beat it (and it's made close to where I grew up!).

6. Which SA DJ rocks your socks?

Good question - probably Ryan O'Connor from Kfm because I listen to him every morning on my way to work.

7. Favourite SA personality? Why?

I'm not a huge "celebrity" follower, internationally or locally, but I would say that Trevor Noah is my favourite at the moment as he uses humour to address South African issues in a way that all South Africans can relate to and laugh about.

8. Favourite province? Its main attraction?

This is a difficult one. I think each of the provinces has so much to offer and it's own unique flavour. I haven't travelled to all of them yet and don't think I could choose a favourite, but I would like to say that the provinces that surprised me the most when I visited them last year were Mpumalanga and Limpopo. Completely different from what I was expecting!

9. How many South African languages can you speak?

Embarrassingly, I can only really speak English fluently. I can stammer please and thank you in Afrikaans and Zulu, along with a smattering of other phrases, but that's about it.

10. Favourite South African Song?

Dance Sum More by Mango Groove. Actually, I love all their music and I had as much as possible of their music on a South African playlist to remind me of home when I went to the USA just after graduation.

11. TV show watched by most South Africans that's also a must-watch in your family?

We don't have a TV (it's wonderful, more people should try it) and so I have no idea what's happening in the world of TV shows! However, when we do sit down to watch a series, Big Bang Theory is one that keeps us giggling for hours (the engineers in us love the nerdy science jokes that they crack)!

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

Monday, 19 January 2015

Black and White Photography

One of my friends, Sean, challenged me to post 5 black and white pictures just before I went on holiday last year. We've both been taking more of an interest in photography and it's been great to see some of the awesome images he's been taking! I took a while to complete my pictures (holidays were way more important) but along the way I've learnt a bit more about making a black and white picture look good which has been pretty fun. I also ended up using a lot of my holiday pictures in this black and white challenge, and so I think it was worth the wait.

My favourite black and white photo(s) are the ones that I took of water falling into a silver container while we were camping. I used the rainy day as an opportunity to learn a bit more about my camera and (after some post processing in GIMP*). I was pretty chuffed with the end result. I originally only posted one of my raindrop pics for the challenge, but I decided to show them both here as I really battled to choose between them!

Three Rhinos Grazing in Black and White

Fishing in a river black and white photography

Bat and her baby in black and white

Water falling 2 in black and white

Tree and shadow in black and white

Please bear with me as I'm starting to experiment with adding a watermark to my images!

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

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Night Time Photography

Over Christmas and New Year, I was away at Balloch and I spent some of the time learning a bit more about my camera and how the different settings interact. I had such fun doing this and on some of the evenings I experimented with night photography - here are some of my favourite night pictures that I have taken straight from my camera*.  

Trees at night with flash
Trees at night with a long exposure, large aperture,
relatively high ISO and a flash.
Mountains with clouds at night time
Mountains with clouds at Balloch.
A long exposure with high ISO and large aperture.
Balloch mountains at night with stars and lots of clouds
Balloch mountains at night, with fast moving clouds.A long exposure with high ISO and large aperture.
Big cave lit by fairy lights
Balloch Cave at night.
A long-ish exposure, large aperture and relatively large ISO.
Night time photo of tent and moon behind trees
Camping at Balloch, with the tent lit up at night.A long exposure with high ISO and large aperture.
Clouds and the moon at night
The moon in fast moving clouds.A long-ish exposure with high ISO and large aperture.
Tree, rocks and fast moving clouds in a night sky
The night sky surrounded by rocks and trees with fast moving clouds going past it.A long exposure with high ISO and large aperture.
The one thing I learnt while playing around with night time photography is the importance of your ISO setting. This number should be quite high in order for your sensor to sense as much light as possible. 

Don't forget that a high ISO setting can lead to grainy pictures, so play around with various settings in the high range. When combined with long exposures (anything from 10 - 30 seconds) and a large aperture, again to allow for maximum light collection, you should be able to take some pretty decent pictures at night. Finally, make sure you use a tripod or put your camera down where it won't wobble, otherwise your pictures will come out blurry.

If you are interested in staying at Balloch, here are some details:
    facebook page

I'm learning about GIMP as I go along and once I've done some editing I'll display some more pics, with edits.

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

Thursday, 8 January 2015

How To Build A Self-Watering Flower System

Remember when I told you I was growing Basil (along with some other herbs)? Well, so far so good, they're all looking healthy and I have even managed to get a jar or two of home made pesto out of my basil which has been delicious!

Just before we went on holiday, Frosty and I decided to build our own "self-watering" plant system in order to (hopefully) to keep our plants from dying while we were away. 

Granted, the first attempt culminated in a completely imploded water container (the plastic was too soft). Our second attempt was a lot better. We're still seeing a bit of suction on our water container, but at least there was some water in the container when we left - now we have to just hope it lasts.

Here's how we built ours: 

So, this is what you'll need:

1. Some sort of water container (we used one of those hard plastic 25 litre containers, but glass or metal would probably be better). It should come with a spare lid that you can use and dedicate to your system.

2. Enough piping to reach all your plants.

3. Female pipe adaptor and "L" connector.

4. Various "T" pipe connectors (depends on how many offshoots you need to make).

4. Some plumbing tape.

5. Something to heat up the pipe (optional, but does help).

6. Your plants all need to have shallow bases.

7. Something to rest your container on, once it's been put together.

This was our first attempt - you can see how the plastic bottle has collapsed into itself. It wasn't particularly successful for a number of reasons. We think we put the bottle too high off the ground and the plastic of the bottle was too soft. Effectively, the water going out sucked the container into itself as the container was too soft to suck air back into the container. 

What is meant to happen is that the container needs to be strong enough to let some water out and then suck some air back in, up the pipe and into the container once the water drops below the level of the pipes in the plant bases.

This was our second attempt, which was a little better (and will hopefully mean the plants survive while we are away!).

We positioned this second container much lower than the first one and also got a container that was made out of slightly harder plastic. You can see there is a bit of collapsing, but not as much as the first container!

We are heading back to Cape Town on Sunday, so hopefully our makeshift water system will have helped our plants to survive while we weren't there. I'll let you know the outcome when I get back!

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

Sunday, 4 January 2015

A Reflection on 2014

Night picture of people camping in big cave with Christmas Lights
Camping at Balloch Cave Dec 2014.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you! I've been away for the last two weeks without any internet connection or cell reception and it was absolutely wonderful! Of course, this has meant that I've been very quiet on the blogging front, but now I'm back and ready to see what 2015 will bring. 

With a week of holiday in KZN still left, I thought this would give me a good opportunity to reflect on 2014 and do some quiet thinking before I get back to work and Cape Town.

With this in mind - here's a recap of my year for 2014:
  • January - I commenced 2014 with a great road trip around part of the country and got to explore some amazing places!
  • February - I spent an amazing weekend away at Mabula and reflected on the good and bad of long distance relationships.
  • March - I moved from Benoni to Cape Town, started a new job and took part in the Grape Escape my first weekend back in the Cape.
  • April - I got to explore a bit of the Karoo when we visited for a friends wedding and explored a bit of Cape Town along the Pipe Trail Walk.
  • May - Attended a wedding at Balloch and explored Clanwilliam.
  • June - I gave Practical Cookie it's own mascot, visited the Berg and went to Italy for work! Also, I celebrated my birthday - a busy month in June.
  • July - Practical Cookie celebrated it's first birthday!
  • August - Hiked to Wolfberg Arch in the Cedarberg with my Adventure Time pals and I posted a series written by a friend of mine on the 7 Deadly Sins of Falling in Like.
  • September - I experimented with taking pictures of the moon and saw Emma Watsons #HeForShe speech which has still got me thinking.
  • October - I guest posted over at Engineering in Style which was very exciting and we had a weekend Camping at Kogel Bay.
  • November - I took part in the indieBerries Instagram Challenge (which was such fun) and also took part in an epic cycle around Cape Point.
  • December - I didn't blog very much, but I did enter the Africa Geographic Photographer of the Year Competition and spent Christmas and New Year in Balloch. This year I even managed to convince my parents to come camping, so photos of this will be following shortly!
What was your 2014 like and what are you hoping 2015 will bring you?

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