DIY Dia de los Muertos Shrines on a Stick

I wish I'd come up with this great idea, but this blog post is just to point you to this clever tutorial by The Crafy Chica. I'll be making some of these this week, so look out for my 'nailed it' pics...

Dia de los Muertos Altar Preparation

Preparations are beginning for our Dia de los Muertos party this year. Step one is to set up the household altar. The shelves that I used to use have since been pressed into service in my kitchen, so I need to come up with something new. In the meantime, I'm gathering all the important goodies for the altar so I'm ready to set it up. I need photos or symbols of my loved ones. In the past, we've also had the children draw pictures of lost loved ones. Food is a must, including where possible, the favourite foods of those we're honouring. A Pan de Muerto is a great food offering. Salt is always included on the altar. Then we need papel picado and lots and lots of flowers. I still haven't managed to acquire a sugar skull mould, so I use plastic skulls from the party shop, decorated to look more calavera-like.

You can build separate small altars for particular people if you like. A few years ago, I created a small shrine for my great-aunt Kathleen, which I usually include on my main altar. Because I have a busy household, filled with children and pets, it's easier to put everything on one main altar, though it's not entirely traditional.

You can find some nice tutorials for building your own altar at The Mija Chronicles and Celebrate Day of the Dead. I'm off to Food Lovers Market to buy up all their marigolds...

Gorgeous altar by Steef V on Flickr.

Summer is here. Party Time!

Summer in Durban is actually not the best time for parties. We start out with a few *really* unpredictable weeks, where we seem to whip through three seasons in a day. Sunny, hot weeks morph into monsoon-like weekends willy-nilly. The wind blows (not as bad as Cape Town, but we're spoiled here so a bit of wind is a big deal). But then, on the other hand, we have these long, balmy days and all the rain means that the flowers are out *in force*. The place is jam-packed with pink, purple, red and about a million shades of green. Durban puts on her party dress in summer, and that makes me want to throw her a party. Maybe one that looks a bit like this...

No Gym for Me Thanks. I'm a Bellydancer.

For the past several years, on and off, I've studied bellydancing with two of Durban's finest teachers. We started off up in the Highway area with the amazing Alison of Bellyfusion. Alison continues to be an incredible inspiration to me and to my daughter. We're also privileged to have worked for the past couple of years with the Dynamic Senta of Maya Dance. Senta is very active in the South African dance community. Where she gets her energy from, I have no idea, but she's quite a dynamo. My daughter is studying her Foundation grading in bellydance through Senta, and plans to become a qualified dance teacher by the time she finishes tertiary education (several grades to get through first, then grading as a teacher, so it's a long process).

When I bellydance regularly, I can really feel the difference. My back feels stronger and my joints are much less stiff. As I get older, this shit gets a lot more important. I've been in class with women of all ages, and we all agree that bellydance is probably the best way to keep everything moving smoothly. If you're not that into gym and want to get into something that keeps you active and fit but is FUN, then do look out for a bellydance class near you. A lot of gyms offer classes too, if you already got sucked into that membership and are now wondering whether you can possibly stand the awful rowing machine one more time. Plus, you get to dress up in all sorts of jingly belts and jangly jewellery and feel like the Queen of Sheba.

Media is Not Go0d or How Awesome is Patti Smith?

I repinned this pic ages ago and recently came across it while tidying up my Pinterest boards. I've been crazy about Patti Smith since I first got into American punk many years ago. To me, she is the quintessential crazy, wild, alive, kind, intelligent, adventurous, gorgeous punk woman. Her work continues to blow me away, and I couldn't think of a better role model for my daughter. Plus, she says it like it is. Like this:

Get Your Geek On

Hello lovelies. I'm trying to be good and start posting more regularly again. Bronwen is putting me to shame with her regular and wonderful posts on the Once blog. If you don't already follow it, make sure you do.

So for today I want to share a little geekery. I'm a bit slow on the uptake but I've recently taken to podcasts in a BIG way. I'm loving This American Life, just about everything from BBC Radio 4 (A History of the World in 100 Objects is a win for the host's marvelous accent alone), and Gweek from Boing Boing. Yesterday, however, I discovered the Geek's Guide to the Galaxy from Wired. Yes please! George R. R. Martin talking about Game of Thrones. Robert Kirkman on The Walking Dead. Neil deGrasse Tyson. Simon Pegg. Ken Denmead (Geek Dad). Richard Dawkins. Neal Stephenson. William Gibson. Lauren Beukes. Michael Chabon. It's a treasure trove, I'm telling you.

We are all connected

This weekend sees the opening of Bronwen's newest exhibition, titled We Are All Connected, at the Bird's Gallery in Melbourne. If you are one of those lucky South Africans who saw one of her exhibitions or, even better, bought one of her works, before she left our shores, you know that Bron's technique has been refining over the years to a point where her work is a layering of evocation that is like a mist over a photorealistic image. Ok, that probably doesn't make sense, but that's how it feels to me. When I look at the works from this exhibition, I think of dreams. How one moment from a dream sticks in your memory all day long, but the moments leading up to and from that are hazy and mostly composed of emotion.

I'm going to stop rambling. If you're in Melbourne, get down to Bird's Gallery to see the exhibition. Tell your friends about it. Enjoy.