22 October 2015

Santa Shoebox Project

I'm taking part in the Santa Shoebox Project for the first time this year. 

I'm putting together boxes for two teenage girls. It's been fun going shopping for teen girls, but I really struggled in the clothing department. I have the sizes of the girls, but body shapes can differ so much so I decided dresses would be the safest option. I decided to get casual dresses so that they can get a lot of use out of them.

One of the required categories is "Toys". This can also seem like a difficult section, but the Santa Shoebox Pinterest page has very helpful boards with suggestions for al the different age groups. I bought a handbag and some cosmetics for both the girls.

I'll share some photos of the finished boxes on Instagram if you're curious to see what I got. I hope I can fit everything in! :)

Update: I bought way more than can fit into the boxes so I'm going to get pretty tops instead of dresses. I wanted to pledge an additional box, but the quota has been reached for Hermanus so I'm going to take along the extra items to be added to boxes with items missing.

You can read all about the project below. 83% of the target of 100 000 boxes have been pledged so far. This year you can even buy a pre-packed box online making it so easy to contribute even if you don't have time to pack a box yourself.

The Santa Shoebox Project kicks-off on the 1st of September, with the goal to collect 100 000 gifts for underprivileged children across the country and Namibia this year.

Over the past nine years, this inspiring non-profit organisation has collected almost half a million (456 004) ‘Santa Shoeboxes’ for children from vulnerable social backgrounds. With the support from sponsors PEP Stores, StorAge, Laser Logistics, the CTICC and Pick ‘n Pay, this year’s target is once again 100 000 gifts, which will be dispatched to a thousand orphanages, children’s homes and care centres across the country, and as far as Namibia, just in time to place a smile on as many young faces over the festive season.

With ‘Giving for Good’ as this year’s theme, the Santa Shoebox Project offers people from all walks of life the chance to participate in a profoundly valuable and personal experience that enriches both the lives of those doing the giving, and those on the receiving end. This year the goal is to go beyond this challenge with innovative new initiatives that take ‘giving for good’ beyond the boundaries of the shoebox drive, aiming to make positive changes in the lives of these children – for ‘good’, through a number of new pipeline projects. These includes a Virtual Box on-line shopping option managed by Pick ‘n Pay, providing an opportunity for individuals outside of the main centres to take part too, and for corporates to get involved in sponsoring Santa Shoeboxes in larger quantities.

Enter into the spirit of the Festive Season and register on-line at www.santashoebox.org.za. Donors may choose the name of a child or children they’d like to give their Santa Shoebox/es to. Age appropriate gift boxes then have to be filled according to the guidelines provided on the website. These include some practical necessities such as toothpaste and toothbrush, face cloth and soap, as well as sweets, educational supplies, a toy and a clothing outfit.

The Santa Shoeboxes will be collected at central Drop-Off points all over South Africa at the end of October. The Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) will once again be the central Drop-Off zone where Capetonians may deliver their gift wrapped Santa Shoeboxes between 23 and 25 October, and donors and their children may look forward to lots of fun and live entertainment throughout the weekend. (Details and directions to be provided on the website)


With ‘share the joy of giving’ as the essence of the project, the Santa Shoebox Project offers people from all walks of life the chance to participate in a profoundly valuable and personal experience, enriching the lives of both those doing the giving, and those on the receiving end. Donors are encouraged to involve their own children in the process of personally selecting the name of a child from one of the centres or children’s homes, and putting together his or her individualized, age appropriate Santa Shoebox gift. Uniquely, this means each participant knows the first name, age and gender of the child. Gift boxes have to be filled according to the guidelines provided on the Santa Shoebox website, and include some practical necessities such as toothpaste and toothbrush, face cloth and soap, as well as sweets, educational supplies, a toy and an outfit of clothing. Donors and volunteers agree that it is this personal touch that endears the project to adults and children year on year.

Register online now as a donor to receive newsletters and 2015 notifications: www.santashoebox.org.za

Christmas cards

I'm very excited about our new Christmas cards. I'm so proud of how much my photos have improved since we started Terrapin and Toad. The old photos really need to be reshot and updated. It's finally starting to feel like summer in Hermanus so I'm going to have lots of sunny days to take new photos.

15 October 2015

Photos from Belgium

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Hey guys.

I haven't had a chance to blog over here, but I did share some of my travel photos on Terrapin and Toad, so I'm going to share the same post with you today. We've been super busy working on new products and we had visitors so it's been a crazy couple of weeks.

My trip to Belgium feels like so long ago. I can't wait to go back again. My memory card was damaged, but luckily I backed up my photos online. I still need to sort through them. Here are some of my favourite paintings from the Museum of Fine Arts in Gent.

The Picture Lover by Henri De Braekeleer

With Mother by Anders Zorn

The Day after the Shipwreck by Paul Jean Clays

Mountainous Landscape at Marche-Les-Dames by Francois Lamoriniere

Landscape near Saint-Jean-le-Thomas by Léon Germain Pelouse

Sunset on the Heath by Adrien Joseph Heymans

Winter Scene in Ghent by Pierre Francois de Noter

Albrecht Dürer Visiting Antwerp by Henri Leys

The Wedding Dance by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Christ Carrying the Cross is a painting by Hieronymus Bosch

08 September 2015

Asian broccoli salad with peanut sauce

I don't have more photos of this salad because I wasn't planning on posting about it, but it was just too good not to share. I've been in a rut when it comes to salads. I just can't think of anything exciting to make and I'm so bored of eating the same salad every day. Last week I bought a few heads of broccoli on sale and found this recipe on my salad Pinterest board.

This Asian broccoli salad with peanut sauce turned out to be just what I needed. Different vegetables, new salad dressing and exciting textures. Unfortunately edamame isn't easy to come by here so it's not going to become a regular.

A photo posted by Natasha Venzke (@bamboo_blossom) on

31 August 2015

Mango with coconut sticky rice.

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Martinus and I have been telling each other that we need to make mango with sticky rice ever since we visited Thailand three years ago. This year we finally got around to it while mangoes were still in season. I used this easy recipe from The Kitchn.

The first time I followed the recipe exactly. The rice is steamed and there's two different sauces, one is mixed into the rice and one is thicker and goes on top. After that I made a few changes and it was delicious each time. I couldn't get hold of Thai sticky rice, but sushi rice works just as well. I also used black rice a few times. I left out the sauce that goes on top several times and didn't miss it at all. This recipe is so easy that I even made it for breakfast a few times.

If you love mango and sticky rice or you want to try a new exotic dessert, try this recipe.

24 August 2015

What I'm packing for two weeks in Belgium - Random

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Hey guys. I wrote this post before I left, but I'm waiting to board my flight home now. I did a pretty good job with the packing, but I'll do a post about what I'll do differently next time.

This is everything that didn't go into the toiletries and clothes posts. These are my favourite types of posts to read, all those little things you might not have thought to bring along. I don't think I included any brilliant tips, but it's always nice to compare lists to make sure you don't forget anything important.

I'm going to be in Belgium for two weeks so other than my prescription medicine and passport, nothing I forget will be a big deal. I could either get by without it or buy it there. I've read the advice to take half as much stuff and twice as much money so many times now. It's not the most practical advice for budget travelling, but I think it's good to remind yourself that there's no need to worry too much. Try to be prepared so that you don't have to waste money, but remember that mistakes can be fixed.

Martinus bought a sim card while he was in Germany and there's still some airtime left on it, so I will be using that in Belgium. There's so many options these days. There are special travellers' sim cards, local sim cards and the option to use your regular sim card with roaming charges, It's best to research which option is best for you depending on where you're going. If free wi-fi is widely available you might not even need a sim card, but I like the option of making calls in an emergency.

Prescription medicine
Pain killers
Sleep aid (I don't use sleeping pills, but pills that help me relax so that I can fall asleep easily)
Plasters (Adhesive bandages/Band-aids)

On the plane
Ticket info
Accommodation info
Travel journal (My grandma told me to write down what I do each day on holiday years ago, but I always think I'll remember)
Sleep mask
Neck pillow (I decided to get a firm bulky one because I don't want to wake up lying on a stranger's shoulder. This is one aspect where travelling with someone else is much nicer.)
Ear plugs
Headphone adapter
Earphones (For when my ears hurt from the headphones)
Lip balm
Hand moisturiser
Face moisturiser (Look for unscented products because lots of people are allergic or sensitive to certain scents)
Antibacterial wipes/spray
Eye drops (I have really dry eyes)
Nail clippers and nail file (I always seem to need them when I don't have them)
Book and bookmark
Granola bars (Just in case. I don't usually take along snacks on a plane because I'm one of the few people who actually like plane food.)

Phone charger
Powerbank (Remember to charge it. My phone charger has two USB ports so I can charge the phone and the powerbank)

Handy items
Duct tape
Clothing pegs
Safety pins
Zip-lock bags
Laundry bag
Reusable shopping bag

Flash light
Door stop (An easy and cheap way to prevent your door being opened.)

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