South Africa #2 – Cape Town

Hallo!
It was Saturday again and I had the time to write the second part of my South African guide.
That is, after a 3-hour coffee & and cake session with my gran…

To keep you up to date, last week I covered the first of three weeks of travel in South Africa.
I began with a “general South Africa intro” adding the when, who, how and when of our trip. (So if that interests you, check it out!)
Week #1 was Port Elizabeth to Cape Town – AKA, The Garden Route. Make sure to check it out if you’re heading this way!
To sum things up – This trip was South Africa round two for me. On the first time I was backpacking alone, and after falling in love –  I brought my family along!
The two trips were was completely different, so my South African guide includes recommendations from both, occasionally referring to backpackers or families only. (:

So Without further of due, let’s dive into the second week of travel – Cape Town!

My South African Guide- Cape Town

Cape Town Guide Outline:

  1. Accommodation
  2. Things To Do
    1. Nature
    2. Markets
    3. Cooking Classes
    4. Other (Cool) Things
  3. Resturants & Cafes
  4. General Tips

*I put some extra HTML skills to action to make a linked outline of the guide’s content, I hope it makes things more convenient! (:

Accommodation:

For Backpackers
  • Long Street Backpackers – Placed right in the middle of the city center, LSB is my choice for being a great peoples-hub. Lots of travelers aim for it for the location. I ended up meeting most of my friends between its walls, and that’ definitely what made my trip to the great experience it was!

    Long Street Cape Town

    Some of the friends I met at LSB, partying in my last night in Cape Town

  • Never@Home –  If you’re aiming for something a bit quieter, go for this clean & homey backpackers. It’s located right in front of Green Point park, close to the V&A, and even closer to Giovanni’s, a place you can scroll down to read about.
  • 33 South Boutique Backpackers – Located a bit far from the city center, in Observatory.
    I got there after 2 months of dance-less travel when I wanted to take daily dances classes in a studio near by. I quickly discovered there was much more to do than dance in”Obs”! The main street is full of cool vintage shops and the place itself was a great for chilling at.

    observatory vintage shops cape town

    Vintage shopping in Obs

*Sadly, I don’t have a family-appropriate recommendation for accommodation in Cape Town.
As a family, we stayed at an air B&B that I do not recommend.

Things to do:

nature
  • Table Mountain –  If you’re up for a hike I recommend taking the Platteklip Gorge route, it took us, the youngsters in the team, about 2 hours to reach the top. My parents arrived an hour later after waiting in line for the cable car (yes, it’s long!).  It’s better to climb in the morning (7-8 a.m.) when the clouds don’t hide the view and you reach the top when just a few tourists are around.

    Table Mountain

    Ohh, worth mentioning – it’s pretty chilly up there on Table Mountain!

  • Lion’s head –  Another exciting climb, shorter and a bit more challenging than Table Mountain. It’s a beautiful point to watch the sunset from, but when we climbed as a family my father didn’t believe how irresponsible I was for going down in complete darkness. In retrospect, I agree, and apparently the statistics as well. Quite shivering to find out how many tourists fall at night, so aim to get to the top an hour before the sun goes down!

    Lion's Head Cape Town

    Beautiful view from the top, even when the sun is fully up!

  • Kristelbosch – Another type of nature, more relaxed. The botanical gardens are probably what you’ll see as soon as you type “Cape Town” online.
    It’s great for a morning picnic, tea time or… A concert!
    Yep! Last year I saw Of Monsters And Men performing here, right underneath Table Mountain, and it was a blast!

    Kirstenbosch Garden

    one of the routes in the more “jungly” gardens

    • Simon’s Bay & Cape of good hope – A full day drive out of the city I recommend to hire a car for!
      Cape of good hope is the nature reserve at the tip of the continent, where you see the two oceans meet. It’s nice to go for a hike from the old lighthouse to the point that is called “Cape of Good Hope”, it takes about an hour and a half.
      Simon’s Town is on the way and it is known for Boulders Bay, the penguins’ reserve.
      To tell the truth, the penguins aren’t that exciting, you walk on a deck and it kind of feels like a zoo. But! The town has some nice restaurants and it’s a good stop for breakfast of lunch on the way to Cape of Good Hope.

      Cape Of Good Hope

      The view from the lighthouse, Cape of Good Hope

      Simon's Bay Cape Town

      One of the penguins in Boulders Bay  that walked right up to the walking deck

    Markets
  • Old Biscuit Mill Market – The best food market I’ve been to, no doubt!
    Dozens of colorful booths filled with different kinds of cuisine, Indian to French to complete fusion. It’s also an arts & fashion market, with stalls of local brands and vintage pieces, and has a stage with live performances.
    Runs every Saturday, from 9 till the afternoon, definitely something you don’t want to miss!

    Old Biscuit Mill Market

    One of the pastry stands

    Old Biscuit Mill Market

    Enjoying the live music on the market

  • Bay Harbour Market – Another fun food& art market that takes place in Hout Bay on weekends. Check out the booth in the front called Raw Jasmine, it showcases many cool art pieces made from cork,  probably my favorite material. (A bit of my cork obsession here) The place also hosts live shows on evenings, so come early if you want to sit down!
Hout Bay Market

#BayHarbourMkt

  • V&A Food Market & Water Shack – Might be full of tourists, but still a good place to stop for lunch, or even a whole afternoon on a rainy day and add in the water shack.
    V&A Food Market Cape Town
Cooking Classes
  • Ginger & Lime – A small cooking school that hosts different classes a couple of times a month. The price is great for on-budgets cooks like! Compared to the prices of cooking classes at home it’s practically like eating out, and the experience is much better! From the wine you get when you enter to the food you make yourself, I highly recommend!

    Ginger and Lime

    Baked Bree with figs cooked in wine, the dessert we made in the French cooking class


  • Masala Dosa – Another cooking class worth checking out, on the Indian side.
    It takes place in a restaurant’s kitchen and will teach how to make curry from scratch, from raw spices. Curry is quite a hit in South Africa who has the largest Indian popularity out of India, so don’t dismiss it for being a foreign cooking class you can take anywhere else! I learned a lot about spices in this class, Do you know what cinnamon is for example…? 

    Masala Dosa

    To book, call the restaurant about two weeks in advance!

Other Cool Things
  • Pink Flamingo Rooftop Cinema – The most magical open air cinema!
    It hides on the top of the Grand Daddy Hotel in Long Street.
    Rather go there and get a pink cocktail and a candy bag and understand for yourselves.
  • Wine tasting – Cape Town is a known wine region with more than 600 wineries around.
    On my first visit, I went wine shopping with friends and enjoyed them on a picnic in Signal Hill. That’s one great option.
    Another, which we did on my second visit, is booking a guided wine tour.
    And that’s the fancier way to do it!
    But after trying, I think it’s worth the investment, It’s quite magical to sip wine in old farms!
    I highly recommend Tsiba Tsiba Tours we went with.

    Wine tasting in Cape Town

    Tasting Merlos and Pino Noirs at one of the farms

  • Kalk Bay to Mossel Bay – A fun sunny walk from one cute suburb to another.
    You can start with a coffee in either of the towns and take the 40 min walk to the other, stopping on the way for some sea and sun and definitely a pic with the famous colored houses.

    Kalk Bay to Mossel Bay Walk

    Little colored houses on the beach, could you reallt ask for anything else?

Restaurant’s & Cafés

  • Giovanni’s – My top choice for food in both of my visits!
    A small and crowded Italian delicacy located in Green Point.  The walls filled with pastries, cheese, juices, cooked meals, and salads, everything fresh and home made or imported from Italy!
    Eat on their balcony or buy yourself the best picnic in town, as we did a couple of times:

    Giovanni's cape town

    Eating our Giovanni’s picknick after climbing Table Mountain

  • The Mess –  An amazing modern kitchen that makes small tapas sized meals, each better than the other! (Baos filled with halloumi and avo was my favorite.)
    Highly recommended for a fancier night out.

    The Mess

    Pic from http://bit.ly/2wRzRLM

  • Addis in Cape An Ethiopian restaurant serving traditional dishes with western alterations. The little alterations, like having a rice injera or using fewer spices,  were really great, I tasted things I didn’t have the courage to before! Add this to the music, service and setting arrangement and you’ll end up with a magical evening. 
  • ShiftA coffee shop located quite close to Giovanni’s, on Main Rd, Green Point. I reccomend their croissant sandwiches that pair perfectly with the freshly roasted coffee. A great place to type, or read a paper, or just start your day on a relaxed tone.

    Shift Cafe

    Pic from http://bit.ly/2wdl3Vw

  • El Burro –  A Mexican restaurant (on Green Point, as well). The atmosphere and service were great, it felt like a modern take on a classic Mexican place, in both food and design.

General Tips

  • Visit in summer – November till February is the summer time in Cape Town, and after visiting in both summer and winter (July), I can definitely recommend summer time!
    The weather is better, concerts and food markets take place all around the city, and it’s even safer! (We found that after our car was broken into, the locals I talked told me it’s common knowledge that there is less policeman in winter).
    So go in summer and bring your swimsuits along!

    Cape Town In Summer

    You don’t want to know how this place looked in winter… (grey&sad)

  • Markets & Festivals  – Right, it’s mostly during summer time, but sassy events take place in winter as well! and you might miss most of them if you don’t search the web/ ask around.
    The Cape Town Magazine is a good place to keep track of them as well as a Facebook search in the event section with “Cape Town” marked as location.

    Green Park

    Jeremy Loops concert in Green Point park, summer 2016

  • Safety – Cape Town is completely awesome! But… It can be a scary town.
    I think that it’s more appropriate for backpackers than families. Because adults know how to avoid danger better.
    Use Uber (that are cheap) instead of public buses, walk in groups at night and take the fastest route to your hotel or a car if you draw cash.
    Be cautious and you’ll have a better, theft free, vacation (:.
  • Traveling Alone – Even though I wrote a whole safety paragraph a second ago, traveling in Cape Town alone was a great experience! The city is quite a backpackers hub and it’s much easier to find people you enjoy hanging out with. Every thing turns out better when you can really choose the people to spend the time with, climbing hills to going to the beach.

    My Cape Town Gang

    My lovely Cape Town Gang, who I’d probably woudn’y meet if we were in a smaller town.

And…That’s it for my Cape Town top picks!
You’re more than welcome to contact me on the contact page/ socials if you want more info!

I must share that the month since I came back was hectic.
We came back home to discover a toxically molded apartment. Then, after an intense 2-week search moved into a new one. That drained most of my energy and money (and the reason you haven’t seen a coffee shop review lately).
Things were so busy I didn’t even write a birthday post! (What a sloppy blogger!)

But now, things are back to normal, Fww..!
I absolutely love our new apartment and it’s right by the University, which is nice. (You can check it out on Instagram till I post a proper post!),

Till the third South African post,
Many Kisses,
Rotem

South Africa #1 – The Garden Route

It’s actually been 2 weeks since I came back from South Africa, but I was so busy apartment hunting I didn’t find the time to do anything more than work out, go to the office and… hunt.

So, in a short delay, a couple of hours after a new rent agreement was signed. I found the inner peace to type my top recommendations for South Africa future visitors – Kruger to Cape Town!

South Africa Trip

Who should read this?

  • Food lovers
  • Those who like to hike at day & have a hot bath at night (Those who like nature but aren’t crazy for tents)
  • Young 20-ish folks as I
  • Families with teen-aged kiddos

Who should not?

  • Those who love trekking (the ones crazy for the thing)
  • Meat lovers – sorry, I traveled among them, but I can’t tell about the experience first hand.

Meet the team:

Traveling South Africa

At the crocodile bridge, Kruger

From Right to Left: brother, father, brother, mother, myself and my boyfriend.

A diverse group: 2 extreme lovers, 1 extremely interested in wine, 1 surfer, 1 vegetarian and 1 book worm. In total, we were more than 25 meters tall, yet somehow managed to fit into one car.

Why South Africa?

This is South Africa round 2 for me.
Last February the travel team included myself, a big bag, and friends I met on the way. A classic backpackers trip. It was fun.
In 3 months I totally fell in love, determined to come back and bring my family along.

Cocktail

It worked, though traveling with my family was totally different… They aren’t as keen on food, fashion or international friend as I. So – I decided to include recommendations from my last trip as well.

When?

First time I was here in the South African summer – February to April, this year we visited in July. I think summer is much nicer in Cape Town & The Garden Route, but for Safari’s – “wintery” July. South Africa’s dry winter season is great for animal spotting, the weather in Addo and Kruger (both safaris) was just divine!

The Route

  • One week from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town (AKA The Garden Route)
  • Another week in Cape Town
  • And last, a week in Blyde River Canyon and Kruger National park

Ok, ready?
Let’s start with week #1:

Garden Route Top Picks

Accommodation

For Families –
  • Harbour House in Leisure Isle Knysna – A beautiful air b&b apartment on the lagoon, perfect for a big family like ours. It included a great host, big kitchen, on-the-lagoon location and… 4 bicycle pairs!
  • Swallow’s nest in Storms River – Another accommodation well built for families! Continental breakfast included!

    Storm River accomedetion

    Nice & Cozy, fit perfectly with the stormy weather that hit the area while we were there

For youngsters –
  • Wild Spirit in Nature Valley – A whole new experience. The place is some kind of magical farm I can’t explain in words. This would be my top recommendation for backpackers.
    Tree house
  • Dijembe Backpackers in Storm River – Stayed there last year and enchanted by the rustic homey feel & comfy log beds…  They also have a wonder-goat named Buzz, who was enchanting himself:
    Goat

    that is, till I found out he ate one of my tops when it was drying outside.

    They also have a free breakfast pancake stand & a wall filled with visitor illustrations! Try to find mine if you visit!

    Wall sketch

    An art piece my new friend Simona & I left on the wall after kayaking in Tsitsikamma

  • Albergo For Backpackers in Plettenberg – Clean, well designed and located perfectly.
    A good place to stay if you’re planning a couple of calm days by the beach.

    Seagle bird

    I haven’t got any pictures from the backpackers, just from the time I spent at the beach!

Things to do

  • Addo – The Garden Route safari option, highly recommended to anyone who likes elephants (and that’s everyone, right?).
    Addo, Elephants
  • Tsitsikamma – A beautiful nature reserve with a bunch of trails, stay till sunset and you’ll be breathless.
    tsitsikamma at sunset

  • Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour – I was skeptical but went with my brother’s flow and it turns out sliding from one tree to another is quite cool when your 30+ meters high! Worth booking ahead.

    Tsitsikamma Canopy tours

    Brothers & Father time

  • Robberg trail –  This would be my top recommendation for a day hike. It’s a beautiful half island, home for many (apparently very stinky) seals, birds and, if you’re lucky, whales!

    Robberg Trail

    Imagine this through a whole island surrounded by swimming whales and seals

  • Rent bicycles in Knysna – I am a known bicycle lover, but this was far from my usual urban-rides. We went through half flouted meadows, ocean beaches, and beautiful houses. Absolutely magical.

    Lagoon cycling

    Don’t let the pic fool you, it wasn’t all nice and flat. I started with 4 layers and finished with 1.

Resturants & Café’s
  • Marilyn’s 60’s Diner Not for the food, but for the vibe! Go there, put on a wig and an Elvis costume and you’ll understand.

    Afro Wigs

    Costumes & 50’s music is a good recipe for fun!

  • Tsitrus Café This was the perfect place to eat pumpkin soup on a rainy night. Filled with crafts and a super friendly crew, this is a great place for a non-pretentious dinner/ lunch.

  • Wu’s Chinese and Sushi – As mediterraneans, we’re not used to the South African amounts of butter and cream. Wo’s really gave us a relieving break from those two, being an authentic butter-free Asian. We dined there twice and I highly recommend their bean curd soup! 

  • Bella de Karoo – A magical farm in the karoo, right on the beginning of Route 62. They served the best farm bread I tasted, hands down.

    Bella de Karoo

    The hosts mentioned they also have accommodation, worth a check if you’re heading to route 62! (Oudtshoorn isn’t so pleasant at night)

General tips

  • Long drives – be prepared and Have books & snacks in hand. If you’re traveling alone or in a small group consider taking the buzbus, I used it when I was backpacking, it’s a good way to travel without a car.
  • Many supermarkets – except storms river, we never had a problem stocking up. If you want to cook your own food, buy snacks, or have picnics outdoors you won’t have a problem.
  • Poverty –There are a lot of baggers and street salesmen. South Africa is still a 3rd world country, though it hard to believe when you’re traveling in the modern, beautiful Garden Route. This shouldn’t scare you, but you should come prepared, meaning – don’t be overwhelmed by it. (I wish I emphasized it more to my mom before we took off, she wasn’t prepared for visiting a 3rd world country at all, she thought South Africa is similar to Europe.)
  • Affordable Traveling– The other half of the poverty coin. South Africa is very budget friendly for both families and backpacks! You can dine in fancy restaurants & enjoy attractions for a funny amount. Theirs something nice about having a guilt free vacation in that sense.

That’s it for South Africa #1!
Next week an all Cape Town post will be coming up, alongside with a post about the cute Origem café I’m currently sitting at.

Stay tuned and don’t be shy to shoot me South Africa questions through the contact page & socials!
Kisses,
Rotem

 

Back to life, Back to reality

Hallo!
I’m back from my 3-week vacation in South Africa!

And though I tend to use song names as post titles, in this case coming back was literally coming back to the Tel Avivian reality.

You see, as I walked the stairs to our apartment, I noticed something smelt fishy.
By fishy I mean –  did a street cat died in the hallway?
It was really stinky.
When I opened the door, I discovered the smell comes from the apartment itself, and it was no dead cat… It was mold. A very bad case of mold.

Most of our wooden furniture covered with a greenish coat, 2 of the walls were spotted with black dots and the kitchen… My lovely kitchen! It was the worst. Both in smell and looks. (I will spare the nasty description from you…)

I thought we live in the perfect old beautiful building, but it turns out the infrastructure just couldn’t cope up with our summer leave. Tel Aviv is just too moist!

Since I’m allergic to 50% of the things in the world + an ex-asthmatic, I can’t continue living here for long. Even after we cleaned all the mold we could (with masks, it looked quite hilarious), there seems to be a true problem with the walls and we need to move out.

Here again, we’re facing the devastating real estate reality of Tel Aviv city.

Moving out

Picture from 7 months ago

I swear, if this would happen a year ago I would probably cry my heart off, but it seems that in the year that passed I developed some kind of emotional stability. Amazeballs.
Let’s see if I can keep it up in what is also known as mission impossible #1 – finding an apartment in Tel Aviv.

If this was a TV show you would have seen hundreds of couples and roommates running around in matching colored headbands, challenged to find a normal apartment where the sink doesn’t link brown water and the rent is less than 6000 ₪.
Thing is, no one wears matching headbands, it’s an undercover Facebook race and we don’t seem to win it so far!

Here are some highlights from our 4-day apartment-hunt:

  • “Great apartment for those who aren’t at home during the day” stands for “the building is under construction”.
  • “intimate” apartments are small apartments, usually meaning less than 45 square meter, and the only Intimacy you will find there is the one between the bedroom and the kitchen sink.
  • An apartment looks great? Scroll to find out the kitchen is shared with 1-3 other neighbors! And don’t let the determined real estate agents fool you,“shared with a chef/ a tenant that knows to cook amazing food!” says nothing about the frequency they wash their dishes.
  • Real estate agents in itself is something that annoys me. What once used to be a real occupation is now a Facebook post writing job. The service includes just a Facebook message and a tour with 3829 other people. Why should I pay an additional 8000₪ for that??

A picture from SA that sums the way I about Facebook real estate agents at this point:

I hate real estate agents

Credit to my boyfriend, who makes sure I’ll remember the hungry/ tired moments of this trip too

To make things more realistic, my phone passed away this morning.
RIP.
I might have been too excited to come back to the gym, didn’t hold my phone right and it fell all the way down from the high stair-climbing machine.
Just came back from the mechanic who told me it’s fatal…

What I like about my reality is – it’s all okay! Thank god I’m not a designer assistant anymore, and I can afford to pay movers and buy a new phone.
And it was time to get a new phone anyway, right? We could all tell that the pics on the blog were a bit too blurry. That could be my 23-birthday present to myself (17 days count down!).

Yep, so I’m back to reality.
Back to write again, back to manage the happiness, back to platies classes & running.
Sure feels good to be back in Tel Aviv!

I’d love to hear your thought & tips about urban apartment hunts!
And if there’s a Tel Avivian apartment owner in the crowd…. Contact me urgently!

Kisses,
Phone-less-Rotem

*The phone death also effected the amount of photos in the post. Sorry for that. Going to buy a new one after work!
** Will write some kind of a best-of-SA post soon! Be hold!

Out Of Office #19 – Cafelix

Good Morning!
I’m all goosebumps and chills because today I’m visiting a well-known café for the first time.
Cafelix.

You won’t believe how much I heard about it, and till yesterday I thought it’s a one-of-a-kind coffee shop in Florentine ( a southern area I don’t usually pass by).
But…  Yesterday one of the guys from my office walked in with their branded cup.
“Did you start your day in Florentin?” I asked, “No” he answered, “there’s a Cafelix branch just outside my building”. What? I didn’t know that! His building is extremely close to mine…

So, I googled it, and one morning later…here I am!

Cafelix review - entrence - the jungle blog

Lots of bikes, looks inviting to me!

Checklist

  • Bicycle Parking – V (Tons of parking places on the street, you can see on the pic)
  • Charging Plugs – V
  • Wifi – V  (The password was cute, that’s something that always makes me smile)
  • English Menu –  Verbal menu for all (So I guess it depends if the barista that serves you the coffee is fluent or not)
  • Price Range –$$ (cheap, $$ – regular, $$$ – fancy)
  • Food –  Pastries, cookies, and sandwiches from some of the best places in town
  • Service – Everything is served with a smile, self-service from the bar
  • Kosher – X
  • Vegan Friendly – V (Vegan options)
  • 10bis– X
  • Newspapers – V
  • Smoking – V (outside)
  • Final Score for Working/ Studying – 8/10
  • Bottom line: Great coffee & great music, -2 only because it’s hard to find a place to sit down (sharing a table is almost a must). 

Food

The rustic barista island that takes up 1/3 of the place inside is filled with cookie jars, cake racks & a sandwiches crate (wrapped and ready to be taken on the go).

Cafelix review - racks of cookies - the jungle blog

Told you that a bit of illustration is going to be added in each time (:

As I waited for my coffee I scanned the pastries, trying to choose one for breakfast. Some of them looked very familiar, soI asked the nice barista about their origins. Apparently, Cafelix imports goods from all over town. Some of the pastries came from a bakery in Jaffa, others from a vegan pastry chef. The list was pretty long.
The result: a great variety of morning snacks to choose from!

Cafelix review - poppy seed cake - the jungle blog

The ~vegan~ poppy-seed pastry I chose.

Coffee

Now, this was the Wow moment I heard about. The Ca-pang!
The coffee was absolutely perfect.
Strong, flavorful & other words to describe the coffee cup of my dreams.

Cafelix review - coffee - the jungle blog

They had almond milk (yay! I can drink coffee and my throat won’t itch the whole day!) and I asked for my fave – a big almond-based cappuccino. That’s not what I got though.
The barista told me: “You’ll have the best aroma if you’ll go for a medium”. I took his advice.
And he was absolutely right – It was perfect!

Service

At first, I didn’t understand if there’s a waiter or if I’m supposed to order from the bar.
3 min of observation brought me to the conclusion the second option is correct.
The barista I mentioned earlier as a coffee aroma expert was really nice. Constantly smiling, very helpful. So even though there was no to-the-table service, the service was excellent!

Cafelix review - Barista bar - the jungle blog

Things I noted to myself

  • The urban Cafelix myth was correct – one of their walls is filled with cups of returning customers! Part of the barista training here is to know all the regular customers’ orders by heart. Impressive.
  • A good place to work from when I want to have coffee and answer emails, not a good place for private conversations/ creative time.
  • I need to invite my espresso-expert dad here next time he comes to town.

Ans back to reality – I’m sitting here for 1.5 hours now.
People are constantly eyeing my empty plate from the long line in front of the bar.
I think it’s my cue to paddle back to the office.

Have a wonderful day,
Rotem

DIY (Affordable) Cork Wall

Welcome to part two of my crafting projects reviling!
As I mentioned in the first post, on the last couple of month  I have been working on some budget friendly projects to make the new apartment we moved to into a home.
One of my favorite projects was making a cork wall, replicating a pin I saved a long time ago.
(My version is a bit different, adjusted to be affordable)

DIY Cork wall - The Jungle Blog

 

The Inspiration

Ever since I traveled in South Africa I’m very fond of cork.
I met a local designer that made amazing bags from it and that opened my mind to the fact it can be used for more than sealing bottles.
These days I even have a wallet made of cork (a  really good leather-alternative! You can find it on this Etsy shop).

A couple of months ago this pin popped into my Pinterest feed:

The cork wall inspiration

Originally from – http://bit.ly/1QNkaYf

I really liked the idea!
When we moved in I immediately spotted the perfect wall for such a thing – the shady, colorless, part between the entry hallway and the living room.
It needed some warm colors and I thought a cork wall would help me to bring them in.

The problem

Cork is expensive.
It would have cost me around 500₪ (120$) to buy cork sheets for the wall I wanted to cover.

The solution

Cork coasters!
Much cheaper & look quite cool lined together, like a cork-brick wall.

Affordable cork wall - GIF

Materials

  • A ruler
  • A pen
  • A good pair of scissors
  • 20 5-piece cork coasters packages –  bought at a dollar store for  100₪ (25$) total.
  • 4 rolls of strong double sided tape – bought at a dollar store for 20₪ (5$) total
  • Pins
  • A bunch of pictures and little hangable souvenirs

The process

  1. Measure the wall you want to cover and write down the measurements before you head to coaster-shop.
  2. Buy the coasters at a houseware shop or a dollar store.  Choose coasters you like and measure them to know how many packages you’ll need to cover the wall.
  3. Test the tape by gluing the bottom first coaster to the wall. It should stick right away and be very hard to remove once it touched the glue.  If you want to extra sure leave it overnight and test it again in the morning.
  4. Glue the coasters to the wall row after row, going right to left or left to right to make sure the alien squares in the different rows (you can go for a more bricky look with non-overlapping lines).
    Cork Wall DIY - Gluing

    My hand just looked like a claw in this pic so I added it and I actually really liked the result. Might see this kind of illustration again on the blog.

    I cut the last coaster in each row to fit the corner, you might need to do that too. Measure the gap between the last coaster you laid to the end of the wall\ corner.  Then mark the length using a ruler and a pen and cut it with scissors (coasters are quite easy to cut).

    Measuring coasters for the cork wall

    The only ruler I had was my sewing one

  5. Add pictures using pins.
  6. Be proud of yourself and never tell your impressed guests how easy it is to create the board!

    Cork Wall - the result

    Ta-Da! (So hard to take a flattering picture of this dark corner though…)

Notes

  • I bought 2 extra packages and ended up using them. It’s easy to accidentally tear some of the coasters, so I recommend you buy some extra materials.
  • I think this coaster-wall method could also work with Other materials, such as wood. Just make sure you also switch to a stronger glue, cork is very light and glue sticks to it quite good. If you’re planning to use something else check a hardware store for a better fitting glue.
  • Adding Racks wasn’t part of the original plan but my boyfriend suggested that when I was half way done and we agreed it would look good. I added rows till the rack-hight, taking into account the parts or the rack that connect to the wall. Then he added them in with the drill (no idea how to it), we cleaned, and I continued adding squares to the top.

Well, that’s it.
The wall is currently right in front of me, typing from the sofa in the living room, and I think it’s beautiful.

I hope you got inspired to make one of your own!
Kisses,
Rotem

Out Of Office #18 – XOHO

Good Morning!
It’s 07:40 and I’m sipping coffee at XOHO, an amazing spot I discovered on a night walk.

What walk?
Lately, my boyfriend and I have been substituting our pre-sleep episode watching ritual for a new one –night walks in pajamas.
I’m not sure if it began because of the Brooklyn nine-nine season break or because of the spring allergy I had in my eyes. Anyway, it’s here to stay, cause it’s a delight.
We take a different road each time, walking through streets I don’t usually use because of my bike. I love the exploration, even the streets I cycle through regularly look completely different at night. And in addition, I find new places – like this one!

Xoho review - the jungle blog - outside

Xoho’s front balcony at 07:30, before it got filled with customer buzz

The CHECKLIST

Bicycle Parking – X (I think I took the only available spot) 
Charging Plugs – V
Wifi – 
English Menu –  V
Price Range –$$ (cheap, $$ – regular, $$$ – fancy)
Food –  Healthy vegan friendly menu with Californian touches
Service – Great!
Kosher – V
Vegan Friendly –
10bisV
Newspapers – V
Smoking – V (outside)
Final Score for Working/ Studying – 10/10

The ATMOSPHERE

The crew knows Hebrew but communicates mostly in English and combined with the illustration filled rustic design and the fresh cinnamon cookies smell… I had a throwback to California.
Even before I tasted their amazingly moist apple & walnut muffin (that felt as if it landed on my plate straight from a San Francisco memory) I knew I’ll become a returning customer.

Xoho review - the jungle blog - illustrated walls

Isn’t it marvelous? One of the illustrated walls.

Want to know how cool is is?
On my left – 3 girls were planning a music festival.

Xoho review - the jungle blog - chats

The festival-planing gals

On the right – stood a wall filled with funky art prints and colorful notebooks.

Xoho review - the jungle blog - art wall

Yes, I did buy an art print when I finished to type.

 

FOOD

I mentioned the muffin above, but it’s really worth the extra mentioning.
It was a 10/10 – a must for all baked-apple lovers.
Moist, crumb-sprinkled, the perfect apple/nut ratio.
The whole experience for 15₪.

Xoho review - the jungle blog - muffin

I wanted to order a whole muffin basket and take it to the office with me! Yet, I didn’t, because I’m living modestly and saving for my closely approaching psychology studies… (!)

COFFEE

Xoho has a great version to my current favorite – a fluffy almond milked based cappuccino (16₪).

Xoho review - the jungle blog - coffee

Notice the cool use of old cans as tableware holders in the background

SERVICE

Another 10/10.
You might feel like I’m over grading here, but the waiter was one of the best I met so far.
A balance of kindness, interest and space giving.
Well played Xoho, you have a great recruiter in your team!

Notes to myself:

  • It’s a hip funky place to take my so-much-cooler younger brother for breakfast. He’ll have many vegan options to choose from and maybe he’ll stop hating Tel Aviv.
  • A great illustration inspiration spot! (If you’re not regulars I might need to mention I draw a weekly comic for my company and I seek inspiration at all times.)
    I even bought a piece of Xoho for my office:
Xoho review - the jungle blog - desk pic

Doesn’t it upgrade my boring desk?

I hope you’re having a great morning as well, no matter where you’re starting your day!
Xoho – definitely a place to visit, foreign or local, you can’t help loving it. (First time I gave a perfect score!)

Some useful links: Xoho’s Instagram, website and Facebook page. (In this order because I just created an Instagram account and I’m very excited about that!)

kisses!
Rotem

Crafting from the side – Peg boards

Hola!
4 days after the killer food poisoning and I’m back to normal, exploring the city!
Though maybe my senses are still a bit off, I haven’t chosen so well this morning… (currently typing from a mediocre café not worth telling you about.)

But, since I’m here, already out of office, it’s a great chance to talk about a subject I have been neglecting lately: DIY.

It’s not that I haven’t been making stuff lately, I just didn’t write about it. Probably because none of the creations was a quick one-afternoon project. I have been working on big projects for my house. As the title says, those are things I did “from the side”, in a very slow progress.

When I added the pictures I came to the conclusion the post is too long, so I split it into 3 parts –  peg boards, wall decor and small sewing projects.
Here we go with number one:

Peg Boards

A couple of months ago I saw a picture of a pegboard filled kitchen. It looked amazing- both industrial & modern and a great storage solution.
I wanted to add one to our apartment.
Thing is, it wasn’t that easy to find pegboards. They are either sold in design shops for a very high price or by suppliers who sell only in big quantities. Not something that a mid-class working girl like me could put her hands on.
But, after 3-4 weeks of searching and asking around, I found an affordable solution!

A building materials store not far from our house was willing to sell me second-hand boards that used to be in their shop. They were so cheap I bought 3! It cost 25₪ (6$) per board.

Bringing them home was a bit of a mission impossible, but I found a way to get them through Dizengoff Street:

Peg board brought home on a bike

Now, let’s head to the first project I made and I’ll explain how to handle these things!

#1 Pegboard Project – MY DIY CRAFTING SPOT

Having a crafting table is something I always dreamed about.
Growing up in a house with 3 destructive boys it didn’t work out.
Now, that I have my own house, I made an affordable version of the beautiful crafting spots I saw on Pintrest, and this is how it turned out:

DIY cheap crafting spot

All it’s missing is an inspiration board (next DIY?).

how do you make a building materials shop board into the main feature of your dream crafting spot?

You follow these steps:

  1. Clean – go over the boards with a dry mop to get rid of the dust. Then use some kind of cleaning material or cleaning wipes for a final cleaning touch
  2. Color – I used Liquitex turquoise matte spray paint and the results were fantastic! It only took  2 coats to look finished. I really recommend the spray I used but the brand doesn’t really matter – just don’t compromise on the paint. It’s a piece of furniture you’re going to hang in the house, you don’t want it to look cheap or chip overtime.

    Coloring the peg board with spray paint

    Yes, I should have put a paint surface before I colored… Now our fake lawn is decorated with 2 turquoise rectangles

  3. Hang – Different boards are built differently (even in the batch I bought) so it’s better to ask for hanging advice when you buy it. Anyway, you’ll probably need a drill. If you don’t have one you probably don’t know how to use it. So you can take a risk, borrow and try to hang it or ask your neighbor for help, like I did.
  4. Order racks/hangers – or buy them in a store. In most places, people didn’t understand what I asked for and even if they did they had none in stock.
    After 5 shops I gave up the hunt and bought a 60-piece pack online.
    I made a mistake you shouldn’t repeat – I didn’t measure the distance between the peg holes before I ordered. When the hooks arrived we used a pliers to make them fit the board. It still isn’t perfect, yet holds what it needs to hold:
DIY Pegboard on budget

It’s so convenient all my tools are hung

 

#2 PEGBOARD PROJECT – My JEWELRY RACK

This might be one of my favorite spots at home.
I want to be a cool minimalist ,but… I have a lot of colorful jewelry I am emotionally attached to. When we moved in I put them in a box and that wasn’t convenient. The box tool a lot of space in the closet and kept them out of sight, in a way that kept the jewelry unworn.
So this is the perfect solution for me:

Affordable jewelry rack

The board pairs perfectly with metal birds we got from my boyfriend’s mom

The painting process was similar to the one I mentioned for the crafting spot. Even though it was originally white, I colored the board. It made it matte and hid some of the scratches and blemishes it carried from being hung in the shop.

Well, that’s it for post number one on the getting-back-to-sharing-my-creations series,
I’ll be glad to hear what you thought!
Hugs & Kisses,
Rotem

*Ohh, and since I got a personal request, here’s something for you to pin:
On budget DIY pegboard

Mid-Night Hospital Visit

Heya, Good morning!
Today I’m not writing from a coffee shop, I’m writing from the sofa at home. Surrounded by a bunch of pillows, ginger tea in my cup, the neighbor’s cat peeking through the window bars.
I’m trying to heal my body from the shock it experienced on Friday night.

Excluding my trip in Africa, it was my first visit to the emergency room.
First time I was in so much pain I called a taxi in the middle of the night (after calling mom, of course). It was the first time I was connected to an IV,  waiting for a diagnosis.
The whole night was far from pleasant, and even 2 days later I can’t eat properly, which makes the whole experience even less pleasant.

You can’t foresee these kinds of events, but I could have definitely been more prepared for it. I learned one can take some pre-steps to make emergencies bearable.

How to Be better prepared to a Medical Emergency:
  1. Have a taxi app or number on your phone – We spent 15 min downloading and authorizing one last night while I was in pain. Could have been helpful to have something installed and compatible with our credit cards beforehand.

    Taxi number inhand

    Ready for the next unpredictable event!

  2. Medical line assistance – I could have avoided the ER night trip by talking to a nurse or a doctor on the phone. My HMO provides the service, but I didn’t think straight because of pain, I wanted someone to check me and give me a cure ASAP, so we skipped the call. Now, after I’ve been in the emergency room, I promised myself I call the hotline before I run to the hospital.
  3. Have some basic medicines in your drawer –  Just having a pain killer or antiemetics would have been super helpful last night, even for the in-between moments till arriving at the hospital. So today, after my check up with my doctor – I went to visit the pharmacy. I’m not a fan of pills, but last night convinced me everyone should have some pain killers in their closet.

    Medicine worth having in the drawer

    This is what my doctor recomends – a pain killer, something for the stomach and something for the throat. I think I;m covered now.

  4. Always take a sweater – If you do end up running to the ER,  know that emergency rooms tend to be cold (and you really want to avoid covering up with the hospital blankets). My boyfriend gave me his hoodie in a very heroic act, but I saw the goosebumps he had all night. That made me commit to myself I’ll bring something warm next time.
    Always take something warm to the hospital

    As for my illness –

    I woke up at 2:00 a.m. feeling nauseous. It wasn’t the regular kind of nausea dizziness, it was painful. I was shivering and I felt as if I am going to faint.
    I never felt this way before.
    My hunch was that eating bread would help. But after grabbing a slice I felt worse, much worse. So I did what any rational adult would do in pain – I rolled myself into a ball on the sofa and started crying.

    That woke my boyfriend up.
    He didn’t look too worried till the crying scene moved to the bathroom floor. He looked up “home remedies for nausea” online, since we didn’t have any medicine at home (not even Advil). That didn’t bring up any helpful results. I might add that at this point I was sure I was pregnant – I mean, morning, sickness, a kind of nausea I never felt before..? I thought my mom would have some kind of instructions to stop the pain, but she was confused as well and told us to head up to the hospital.

    That’s when I found out having a quick way to connect a taxi could come in hand.

    40 min later, we were in the hospital, standing in line to get signed in.
    Now, let me tell you why it’s worth consulting with a medical authority before you arrive at the ER – if your head is still attached and your heart is beating you’ll have to wait. A lot.
    It was Friday night and a ridicules amount of drunk teens was filling the hospital. We sat on the bench and I felt like the world is going to end before they’ll have a bed for me. Everything hurt, I was crying, and my boyfriend went to check what’s going on.
    An old woman that sat on the same bench as us hugged me and said it’s all going to be all right. It was such a bizarre moment, but at that point – a much needed mother-like hug.
    Being in pain in the waiting room is even worse than being in pain at home.

    4 hours later, connected to an IV, medicine in my veins, the final diagnosis was food poisoning. That’s it. All this pain and the cause was that simple.
    I had some food poisonings while I was traveling, but it appeared 1-2 hours after I ate and was way less painful.

    Another thing was (and still is) – I can’t put my finger on the cause.
    We had a little investigation: It must have been dinner because my boyfriend and our dinner guest had a stomach ache as well. The things we all ate were – sweet potatoes, bread, snow peas and wine. At this point, we suspect the snow peas. They aren’t a regular meal on our table, and they smelled really bad only one day after they were made. That’s strange because they were cooked, but currently it’s our leading guess.

    Now my body is in a bit of an over-shock. I have lost a significant percentage of the fluid in my body and that left me weak. I drink tons of tea and juice, as the doctor advised, to get sugar back to my blood.
    Tomorrow I should be back to normal. Finger crossed I’ll be able to walk without falling like I did today after a two streets walk to the Doctor’s office.
    But in case I do need help, now I have a taxi app awaiting all all times!

    Have a great day,
    Kisses from the sofa,
    Rotem

 

 

Out Of Office #17 – Lehamim

Good Morning!
It’s 9:05 and I’m starting my day at a Tel Avivian classic – Lehamim Bakery”.
The kind of place I had to mention at some point, a very known Institute in this city.
Also, a great choice for those who love the smell of bread (Lehem, in hebrew).

Lehamim - Entrance

I’m sitting in the main Lehamim branch, located in Hashmonain street.
It’s the best branch as long as I’m concerned because they bake for all the other shops.
They have the biggest variety and almost never run low on stock. I also like the fact it’s open 24/7 except Saturdays. And the fact you can sit in front of the kitchen and watch the bakers in real time.

Lehamim - racks

That’s one of +-15 racks. You can imagine the variety.

CHECKLIST

  • Bicycle Parking – 
  • Charging Plugs – V
  • Wifi – 
  • English Menu –  V
  • Price Range –$$ (cheap, $$ – regular, $$$ – fancy)
  • Food –  Modern Israeli kitchen with a huge variety of pastries and bread
  • Service – Pleasant and smile-filled
  • Kosher – V
  • Vegan Friendly –
  • 10bisV
  • Newspapers – V
  • Smoking – V (outside)
  • Final Score for Working/ Studying – 9/10

I walked through racks, sat down, and ordered a cup of fresh orange juice ().
It was nice and fresh, bringing me back to sanity after a crazy-hard morning pilates class.
The egg sandwich they recommended () arrived quickly after that.
Someone in the kitchen was very generous with the eggs, spread and veggies! I enjoyed every (warm) bite. As expected from such a known bakery in town, the seed-filled-crunchy-crumb-bread was great as well.

Lehamim - sandwich

Looks casual, but the bread makes it more than that!

Then, I ordered a cappuccino.
I give them an extra point for serving it with a little salty parmesan cookie.
My only comment on this one was that it was lukewarm when it arrived, I prefer my coffee very hot.
But rather than that, it was a good strong flavored coffee, approved by my standards.

Lehamim - Coffee

Always serve coffee with cookies. That’s a recipe for customer success Lehamim!

Timing comments – I think the best time to visit this place is  Tuesday, from 9 in the morning till the afternoon, when an antique market is run in the square facing the bakery. I find the colorful view inspiring and the market draws interesting people to the streets around the block.
Also note – the worst time to visit is Friday morning. That’s true for any place in Tel Aviv, but specifically at this place – it’s packed!
If you want to get service come on weekdays or very early on Friday, around 7-8 o’clock.
Another timing thing worth knowing – there’s a 1+1 sale on bread from 21:00 o’clock, in this branch only.

Lehamim - Pic From Balcony

Pic the market is set up

Now, I want to tell you about a little realization I had yesterday.
It happened because I had a serious creativity block during the day. I didn’t go away and I sought help online. A short research brought up a Refinery29 video about the subject by one of their cutest hosts, Lucie Fink. It was quite kitschy, I admit, but it made me understand what is my source of inspiration.
It’s my out of office mornings! The days me and my laptop begin by exploring the city through coffee, pastries and sandwiches.

Ideas just pop into my head when I take the time to drink coffee by myself.
I leave with sketches for the comics I publish weekly on my company’s website (something I do as the social media gal). I have notes with new spices I want to add to my rack or dishes I think of between bites. I also get lots of fashion inspiration from the stylish women of Tel Aviv, refreshing given the fact I work in a closed office with 8 un-stylish men.

So here I am today and I already thought of some creative marketing Ideas that would probably never pop in my mind if I wasn’t sitting in front of a colorful market, hearing a side conversation of two filmmakers from my right.

Those little visits really add something to my schedule and in case you haven’t tried it yet maybe you should give it a try! I say it’s worth getting over the social anxiety of sitting by yourself. (:

Lehamim - Pic from Inside

Isn’t this environment inspiring?

Ahh. The whole time I was sitting here I was thinking about the fact I’m going to study psychology next year. It’s been a week since I got expected and I’m still pumped!
I hope I can preserve these once-a-week-mornings as a student.
Maybe I’ll even work in a small coffee shop?
It’s way less glamorous than a hi-tech student position but it will make the smell of coffee and pastries part of my life. Hmm.. Thought.

Kisses from the not-yet-student that has to head back to her office!
Rotem

Picture from Lehamim's street

me & my fabulous Pilates mat

Quick Buttercup Pumpkin Lunchbox

This week was the #NationalVegeterianWeek, basically – my time to shine.
Yet I was so busy studying for the psychology test I was sure I won’t have time to write anything that isn’t related to cognitive abilities or theory of mind.

But, 24 hours after the test and 24 hours before the national week ends, I managed to sit down and type!

As a vegetarian, I’m always overlooked by vegans who see themselves as much more moral or meat lovers that think I’m insane (like my dad, for instance).
Therefore, I wanted to share a recipe for the occasion, taking part in this community celebration in some way.

I decided to cook something special and use a material I don’t usually have in hand – buttercup pumpkins.

I usually skip them because they’re very hard to chop, but I found a method to do that!

In a classic recipe for buttercup pumpkins, they are cut into halves, roasted and filled with some sort of grain (pre-cooked & seasoned).
But, since I was a busy student this week I wanted to find a shorter version for this process.
So why not fill the pumpkin with something that doesn’t need to be cooked?
A salad, for instance.

The result: a light satisfying lunch that doesn’t make you fall asleep between 14:00-16:00 (when everyone in the office suffers from post-lunch tiredness).

Quick Buttercup Lunchbox

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 2

Serving Size: 3 pumpkin halves and half of the salad.

Ingredients

  • -3 butter cup pumpkins
  • -1 spoon olive oil
  • - salt
  • - black pepper
  • - a handful of baby leaves
  • - half a red pepper
  • -2 tomato
  • -1/2 onion
  • -1/4 purple cabbage
  • -2 cucumber
  • -10-15 cashew nuts
  • -2 teaspoons olive oil
  • -2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • -2 teaspoons honey/maple syrup

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 200c
  2. Chop the pumpkins - see notes for a tip to make this step easier.
  3. Roast Pumpkins - lay the halved pumpkins on a baking sheet and sprinkle with olive oil, pepper and salt. Cook for 30-40, until soft and a bit brown.
  4. Chop salad - slice the tomato, onion, cucumber and cabbage and mix them with the baby leaves.
  5. Prepare dressing - Mix the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey, adding salt and black pepper to taste.
  6. Mix salad - add the dressing and the cashew nuts to the chopped veggies.
  7. Fill the pumpkins
  8. Enjoy!
http://tlvjungle.com/quick-buttercup-lunchbox

Notes

  • Chopping- I found it easier to chop the buttercup in the following method:

    The hardest part is the one connecting to the branch, by skipping it the whole thing becomes much easier

  • Additional herbs- You can add chopped rosemary, thyme or a dry herb mix to the buttercup before you roast it.
  • No cashew? – Swap them with pecans, pine nuts or walnuts.
  • Packing for the office – If you’re taking this meal to the office like me, I advise to pack the cooked pumpkins and veggies in one “main box” and the dressing in another. It’s easy to heat the pumpkins in the micro, adding the dressing to the main box and shake it with the salad, avoiding over soaked vegetables.
  • A nice filling alternative – It takes 5 extra min but was completely worth the time if you have spinach in the fridge. Chop 1 onion and caramelize it, add 3 garlic cloves and 1 min later – add the spinach. Cook for 5-6 min till the spinach looks ready to be eaten. Cool and add 10-15 cashew nuts.
    Voila – you’re done!

    The result

I hope you enjoy this recipe,
I sure enjoyed writing it from my sofa with a home-made turmeric mask on my face! ( Another recipe I have to share!)
God, I love week ends.
Kisses,
Rotem