Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Tree Natural Concept Cafe and Yoga Studio

Last week in a tiny gap of a hectic day, I popped in for a whirlwind visit to Tree Natural Concept Cafe in Umhlanga. I'd been following them for a while on Instagram and their mouthwatering, healthy meals and treats had my hopes pretty high, and they didn't disappoint. They're tucked away on the corner of Lighthouse Drive and Ridge Road, and walking through their little gate and into their space feels like entering a sanctuary of calm away from the bustle outside...

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Tree is a yoga studio and health food wellness concept store, run by couple Brett and Dom, who come from music, TV and advertising backgrounds in Cape Town, and Nic who together with Brett comes from an athletic background and also has a passion for yoga and food. I love the way Brett describes how Tree began...

Once arriving back to KZN and with all three of us being very passionate about food and yoga, we decided to merge the two businesses and create a “wellness concept” - yoga and health food have such synergy and a symbiotic relationship that it was an obvious decision for all of us. Tree was then born - we wanted to create a place where people could arrive and feel nourished through fitness, yoga and our delicious and healthy food. The vision was to create a brand that becomes synonymous with health and wellness. We plan on perfecting our product here in Umhlanga and then growing nationally. Its very rewarding for all of us being part of something that has such a positive impact in so many peoples lives. We like the idea that we can create a little bit of extra happiness for all our students and patrons every time they enter the Tree space.

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I had the Acai Berry Smoothie Bowl and my friend had the Foundation breakfast - both were super delicious and satisfying. We were then encouraged to try the wicked looking chocolate protein muffin... and my word, was that good! It had a pleasantly surprising unusual taste from all the healthy ingredients - its gluten and sugar free. It was seriously delicious, including the cream cheese icing. Within 5 minutes of leaving I realised it really shouldn't have been shared and regretted not getting my own to take away. They also have healthy waffles, biscuits, crepes and more - guilt free! They've got great variety on the savoury side, too. 

Here's a little more info on the food and thought behind it from Brett:
“Our food has a few basic principles. Most importantly though, no two people are the same, so what works for one person might not work for another. There are endless reasons for this, even within the partners we all react to different foods very differently. Therefore we are not a certain diet specific menu. Instead we believe in fresh, locally sourced, high nutrient and super foods that have no refined sugars or are GMO free, we also believe in sustainability and creating a menu that is good for the longevity of the planet. We have designed our menu so whether you are banting, gluten or lactose intolerant or vegetarian you have excellent choices at Tree. We are passionate about flavour so its been a big thing for us creating a menu where you are not sacrificing flavour for nutrition. Healthy can be delicious, just try our cupcakes or waffles :) Having a healthy relationship with food is important for everyone, correct eating is the most important thing you can do for your body, food is medicine and we really have tried to build a menu where we are making difference in peoples lives.”

Aside from the great food, decor and general vibe, they also have two resident French bulldogs, d’Artagnan (aka Dartie) and Bijou, who are the furbabies of Brett and Dom. They were pretty busy socialising and being good hosts so couldn't stand still for a good pic, but made up for it in friendliness. Adding furry friends to any occasion makes it 100 times better, so having them around is a definite bonus!

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Some favourites on their menu include Darties almond waffle, protein chocolate cupcakes, twist wrap, cat coleslaw salad, acai berry bowl, the Top Deck smoothie and the broga smoothie. Just some suggestions to start off with since everything on the menu looks so good. View the full menu here

A great way to fully enjoy their wellness concept experience would be to join Misha, the head yoga instructor, and her phenomenal team in the Tree heated yoga studio. They have a growing and loyal following from Sharks rugby players, big wave surfers, top businessmen and woman, world class athletes, Mums, Dads etc. They even offer kids yoga (Yoganastics), Pregnant yoga (Preggie Power) and sculpt (Tree Fit) where you will burn over 1000 calories in a high intensity class!

Anyway, that's enough, go experience it for yourself! They're open from Monday to Friday 06:00 to 19:00, and 08:00 to 15:00 on Saturday and Sunday and you can find them on the ground floor of the Protea Building on the corner of Lighthouse Road & Ridge Road, Umhlanga Village. Check out more on their Facebook page, Instagram and Website

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Monday, 24 August 2015

5 reasons to start a daily project

Hi friends! So remember I mentioned starting a series on my freelancing experience? And then you never heard about it again? I realised I'd been putting so much pressure on myself to "make it amazing" and do it really well that it was preventing me from actually doing it. I've decided to just post little bits of info in mostly quick, shortish posts in the interests of just getting shit done and taking away my procrastination excuses. So here's one that's been parking off in the drafts folder for a few months...
5 reasons to start a daily project - Happiness is... Daily Doodles

I started a daily doodle project on my Instagram account in December last year, which I wanted to keep going for the whole of 2015. This isn't a new concept, many others have done this and other similar projects, but I thought I'd share with you why I'm actually doing it, because as you might imagine, it's quite a commitment to add onto an already busy schedule.

Constant improvement through daily practice
Generally, the more you do something, the better you get at it and the easier it becomes. So many of the podcasts and articles I read talk about this kind of daily practice and how beneficial it is if you really want to get better at something.

Making creativity a habit
When your work depends on creativity, you can't sit around waiting for inspiration to strike. Creativity needs to become a habit, almost a switch that you can flip. Sitting down and forcing myself to come up with something new every day helps me with that and keeps new ideas coming in. Creating a bit of a routine or ritual around it also helps your brain get into the right mode, for example have a set time when you do your daily project, sit at the same desk, prepare a nice cup of coffee beforehand, etc, or whatever suits your taste.

Idea generation
When you have to choose themes and come up with something new every single day, it requires a bit of thought that you otherwise wouldn't be doing. I mean sure, you're having to have ideas about your paid work, but it's kind of different isn't it? With that work there's a brief and client feedback, etc, that guides your ideas, whereas in your own project you have to come up with your own boundaries. I feel like this daily wracking of my brain for a new idea keeps things fresh and makes me more aware of things.

Opening up to vulnerability
Every day is different, some days with less drawing time than others, and sometimes this leads to a rushed piece of work that's not at the level I'd like it to be. But the commitment to posting daily means it needs to go up anyway, which means I have to swallow my pride and allow people to see work that I've created that I'm not necessarily completely proud. This helps to break down the procrastination tactic of not moving forward with work until it's "perfect" and helps me put out more work. I think a lot of fellow makers will relate to the idea that putting work up publicly is a bit like standing on stage in your underwear, every single time you do it. This helps makes that a little less scary.

“...putting work up publicly is a bit like standing on stage in your underwear...” - tweet this!

Build a community
People who follow on Instagram know that I post daily (most of the time :P), generally around the same time, and hopefully start looking forward to posts if they're enjoying that particular month's theme. I love the interactivity and feedback that people sometimes share, and if you're a follower, share more! Remember that thing I said about standing on stage in your underwear? Support is hugely appreciated :) And I usually respond to each comment.

5 reasons to start a daily project - Happiness is... Daily Doodles
5 reasons to start a daily project - Happiness is... Daily Doodles
5 reasons to start a daily project - Happiness is... Daily Doodles
5 reasons to start a daily project - Happiness is... Daily Doodles
5 reasons to start a daily project - Happiness is... Daily Doodles
5 reasons to start a daily project - Happiness is... Daily Doodles
5 reasons to start a daily project - Happiness is... Daily Doodles
5 reasons to start a daily project - Happiness is... Daily Doodles

Do you really do them each day or do you do a bunch in advance and just post them daily?
I do them each day, because doing them in a batch would defeat the above purposes of the project. I try to work a day in advance to reduce stress and in case I end up only working on a day's illustration too late to post, but life is busy and that doesn't always work out.

How do you manage to keep it going?
Truthfully, I don't always. I think I skipped May, because things just got too busy with "real" work, and this month hasn't been very consistent either for the same reason. Most of the time I try and make the time, I add it into my schedule, plan ahead and treat it like work. There've been times when I'm working in-office with a client for the day and then spend my lunch break getting it done, or sometimes they happen at 2am. I respect those that can manage to keep it up regardless of anything else going on, but if there are times where I feel like forcing myself to do it will compromise my work quality or health (in terms of lack of sleep or unnecessary excessive stress), then I allow myself to skip it and try to catch up if possible.

Start your own daily project
A daily project doesn't have to be illustration. You can create one from anything you enjoy but don't usually get time to do, or something you'd like to get better at. Here are some tips:
• Set aside a time and timeframe for it, like "work in the garden for half an hour a day before work".
• If there's preparation that needs to be done or things you need to get for it, make sure to organise that beforehand so that when you get to your allocated time you aren't wasting time setting up, you can just get straight into it.
• If you're a planner type, make a schedule for exactly what you'll be doing each day (on your Happiness is... free printable calendar! ;)
• You don't have to post it on social media, but if you do it can help with accountability and support to encourage you to keep going.
• Basically remove any barriers that might get in the way from you actually getting started, and just do it!

Hope you enjoyed this post! My new "quick post" decision will hopefully get me posting more often again, so stay tuned. If you have anything in mind that you'd like me to talk about in future, comment and let me know! Or comment anyway, just to say hi :)

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