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Yours *TrulyJuly*

I do everything content.

As a non-South African living in South Africa, I experience many names I’m being referred to:

Foreigner, Whitey and even Alien.

In Germany, all of these terms would be deemed discrimatory.

Here in Cape Town, I just have to take it.

It’s even official:

Even in a lease contract, non-South Africans are being referred to as aliens.

Surely we can all agree that we come from the same planet.

So maybe there’s a better word.
Like non-South African pretty much sums it up.



Having recently submitted a new visa application, I was asked if I wanted an SMS alert when the result is back in Cape Town. It only costs R20.

I denied and asked how else I would be notified about my visa outcome. I was told I’d have to log in to check for updates myself.

I wondered why I wouldn’t receive an email, but left it as that.

Turns out, I do receive email updates for my visa application.

Just so cryptic, with ‘CRM Admin’ as sender and more weird CRM code in the subject, plus repetitive with almost identical emails in a short period of time, that my email provider regards it as spam.

Luckily I check my spam folder regularly.

Who would’ve thought that instead of receiving no notifications, I’m now being spammed by too many!


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Encounting an error is not a pleasant experience, but to be confronted with a blank page as a result is worse.

Or, in tech terms: A usability fail.

This site offers no help to get out of this error situation.

It completely interrupts the user flow.

Coming to this page is a dead end, with no links to click and no text to comfort.

Good Practice Tip: Even a 404 error can be fun.

There are great examples how to turn a painful 404 error into a fun experience.

Don’t waste a perfectly good opportunity to connect with your customer.

#Good #Practice #Tip by #YoursTrulyJuly



My pet rat sisters Milka and Sisi are oldies but goldies by now.


They are not so mobile anymore and mostly hibernating in Cape Town’s chilly winter.


So I treat them to ‘breakfast in bed’.


They don’t have to leave the warmth of their nest and happily share their sorghum amasi treat.






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Today I’m attending an event that made me feel very special and exclusive when I read the signage leading to the event room:


“Woman in Technology”



The Cape Town International Convention Centre mispelled the event title.


It’s of course “Women in Technology”.


It shows that even the simplest of written text, like a poster sign, still needs proofreading.


#GoodPractice #Tip by #YoursTrulyJuly


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For security purposes I often get asked by apps if my account information is still up to date.

Diligently I check and update accordingly.

So I did when I was prompted by Microsoft: I thought adding my phone number could be a good idea.


Microsoft, for whatever reason, takes 30 days (!!!) to update your account info.

Good news? Somebody explain to me why Microsoft takes 30 days to update security info in the first place!
Good news? Somebody explain to me why Microsoft takes 30 days to update security info in the first place!

For 1 month I could not login to my Microsoft account just because of this ridiculous waiting period.

Microsoft locks me out of its services because I have to wait 1 month for my security info to update.

While this might not affect Outlook or Skype, it did hinder my work as I could not download the Microsoft app I wanted.

So watch out when these silly security alerts come along.

Some have serious consequences!

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Getting official documents for visa application ready can be a nightmare.


More so if you need them, like, yesterday.


Having had to submit a completely new visa application, as I was not allowed to transfer my visa to my new passport, I was faced with getting a radiology report within 2 days.



The radiology report form that needs to be filled in as part of the visa application.

The radiology report form that needs to be filled in as part of the visa application.


Where to ask?

Again, taking to the streets of Cape Town brought me the answer:

It was at our local supermarket where I always have a chat with the staff, that someone from Kenya had experienced the same ordeal and was happy to share this useful information:


The UCT Faculty of Health Sciences offers same day radiology reports.

Simply go to their Radiology Department and ask them for the report for Home Affairs. They have the form there and know the drill.

Of course, this service comes with a fee: R500 for what should normally be done for free – but for that, you’d have to wait.




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As a general rule I don’t sign up for newsletters and such to keep my inbox free from clutter.

However, as shown in the screenshot below, I could not proceed with the registration when I unticked the opt-in option.

The error message: “This field is required.”

So I’m forced to keep the opt-in checked, otherwise I cannot register.

Also a way to get subscribers.

Seeing this is accompanied by some copy errors that show why it’s so important to proofread, I guess it’s not surprising how blatantly this usability fail goes against consumer protection.


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Part of the daily rattie routine starts with a check up on the pet rats in their nest.


The picture that greets me in the morning is always the cutest:

When rats feel safe and allow themselves to properly fall asleep, they do so looking especially snug and comfy.


Accordingly, waking up takes a moment or two, and again makes for the most endearing moments:

Eyes still closed, a yawn, a stretch, a shuffle and a cute look.



#Rattie #Bliss          #RatsMakeGreatPets


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I love going to the beach with our 4 rescue dogs.


4 dogs is quite a lot and when I take photos, chances are, there’s a dog in there somewhere.


Sometimes I just want to capture the scene, like this picture of Stairs that Sink in the Sands.


The truth is: I go through a lot of puppy photobomb shots before I get to snatch the actual image:


View this post on Instagram

#Beach #Walk with the dogs: #Photobomb #shots. #AdoptDontShop

A post shared by TrulyJuly (@creativecommunications) on




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Free the Nipple is a topfreedom campaign created in 2012.

The campaign highlights the general convention of allowing men to appear topless in public while considering it sexual or indecent for women to do the same, and asserts that this difference is an unjust treatment of women. The campaign argues that it should be legally and culturally acceptable for women to bare their nipples in public.


In South Africa, it is illegal to expose female breasts in public, according to the Criminal Law (sexual offence and related matters) Amendment Act 32 of 2007.


However, when I entered the UCT Faculty of Health Sciences to get my radiology report done for Home Affairs, I was surprised to see this information sign to ensure women inform the hospital staff if they are pregnant before getting any x-rays done:



For this being a schematised silhouette of a woman, it is very detailed, showing a distinct nipple.


If I had been the designer, I had simply moved the strikethrough over this illustration’s boob, to cover it decently.

Instead, the strikethrough is just beneath the boob, revealing it all, including the nipple.


South Africa subjects itself to criticised censorship of nudity, with a double standard between male and female nipples.

But in public spaces, like hospitals, you get the full monty.  😮





Another one bites the dust…

Free image hosting becomes less and less possible it seems.

While Google offers free limitless video and photo hosting, other image hosting providers are cutting down or shutting down.

TinyPic is shutting down. You have until end of 2019 to save your pics.

Time to save your images!  #SaveYourPhotos



When my Login doesn’t work, I don’t necessarily know which part I did wrong:

From usernames to email addresses to passwords, – I’m registered with so many apps I cannot easily recall them all, let alone the right combination.


Thanks to AI I shouldn’t have to:

The underlying database knows the correct login, so why not give more specific feedback, as shown below.


When I type in my login details, I'm given specific feedback along the way, so I know right away which parts of the login I got right, - in this case my username - and what went wrong - in this case my password.

When I type in my login details, I’m given specific feedback along the way, so I know right away which parts of the login I got right, – in this case my username – and what went wrong – in this case my password.


Knowing which part of the login I got wrong, obviously shortens my time of trial and error.

And so it does for anyone who wants to hack my account…


But usability needs to start somewhere.

And it’s definitely more helpful to get specific feedback about which part of the login didn’t work.

Especially with kind words offering a solution: I can always reset that password.




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Sometimes mother nature takes back what is hers.

And it always looks impressive.


Like this gangplank, which is swollowed up by the dunes.

You don’t even notice that the wood disappeares beneath your feet, it feels so natural to walk on the sand.


View this post on Instagram

#Beach #Walk: The stairs that sink in the sands. #LoveCapeTown

A post shared by TrulyJuly (@creativecommunications) on






If you are as diligent with your calendar as with your contacts, there’s an easy hack to add birthdays to your Google Calendar:


Google automatically shows the birthdays of your Google Contacts address book in its calendar.


All you need to do is enable the birthday calendar by selecting it in the My calendars dropdown menu: 


In your Google Calendar open the dropdown menu under ‘My calendars’ and select ‘Birthdays’.




It was meant to be a healthy rattie treat: Clovers I pick for the makeshift rattie garden, to bring fresh greens into the wintery hibernation time.


But pet rat Sisi pulled it all into the rattie nest. It seems clovers make for a great substitute to ripped paper or shredded bags.


So it comes that Sisi is sleeping on a bed of clovers:




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Now that #PlasticFreeJuly is coming to an end, your commitment doesn’t have to.


Continue to  #Refuse  #Reduce  #Reuse  #Recycle and prevent 1 billion items from reaching the ocean by 2020.


I just chose Planet. Will you?

I just chose Planet. Will you?


The National Geographic is running an awareness campaign, challenging you to choose Planet or Plastic.

You can design your individual pledge, picking which plastics you #ChooseToRefuse.


#Reduce  #Reuse  #Recycle  #ChooseToRefuse  #NoPlastic


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Everyone’s got an app for that and with easy third party login via Facebook or Google, it becomes tricky to remember all the platforms previously registered for.


Yet, when landing on a new site, I often get prompted to log in OR sign up.


So it takes some time to try out my email address and password combinations, only to give up and try to sign up, only to be alerted that this email address already exists, so I’m back at the beginning.


All the while it is the app that knows if my email address is already in the database.


So why not have a single button for login or create an account:


While I type in my email, the backend can check if an account has already been created for this email address and guide me accordingly to either sign in or sign up.


One button to get in: Either log in or create an account.

One button to get in: Either log in or create an account.


#GoodPractice #Tip by #YoursTrulyJuly



I love the idea to move Christmas to winter on the southern hemisphere like it’s supposed to:

The pagan origin of Christmas was celebrating the winter solstice.

This is now becoming a thing with concepts such as Christmas in July.

Just as well, because any celebration to emerge out of hibernation for is worth it.


However: Christmas in July is not the correct half year mark. That would be June, as in the 6th month of the year.

I encounter this mistake often, as shown in the screenshot:

From Christmas in July to Christmas in December is 5 months.

From Christmas in July to Christmas in December is 5 months.


You can count it on one hand: Because July is the 7th month of the year, it takes 5 months to December.

So the correct date to celebrate Christmas in winter on the southern hemisphere would be in June.


But since it doesn’t match the winter solstice in any case, I think we can simply celebrate both:

21st June: Winter Solstice

25th July: Christmas in July


When it comes to winter, I say to any added festivity: The more the merrier!
Let’s bring light and warmth into the cold months of the year.




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Jesus was not born on Christmas Day.

There is biblical evidence that Jesus’s birthday is very unlikely to have been during winter.

It is rather the adoption of an already popular pagan celebration of the birthday of the sun.

When exactly Jesus was born is unclear.
The estimated time points to summer, so it might’ve even been in July.

Either way, everything associated with Christmas, such as snow, decorating an evergreen tree, eating warm and filling foods, bringing light into the dark, relates to winter.

And any excuse to add a festivity to the southern hemisphere winter is welcome.

So: Happy Christmas in July!

Happy Christmas in July!

Happy Christmas in July!






Twitter has redesigned its desktop website, and the internet responded.


For 7 years the Twitter’s desktop interface was not updated. An overhaul was long overdue.


The desktop version now looks more similar to Twitter’s mobile app, adding features from its mobile app to improve its desktop experience.


However, one feature that I enjoyed on Twitter desktop is no longer available: Find Friends.

It was a neat way to import your contacts from other platforms and connect to the resulting Twitter profiles in one go.

wikiHow explains nicely this now outdated feature: Find Friends by Email Contacts.


Searching around where this functionality has gone, Twitter Help tells me I can sync my device’s address book contacts.

However, I’m still waiting for my complete contact list, as I’m met with constant scrolling to get to the end of my contacts, which then gets disrupted with the error message: “Something went wrong.” and I can start all over again:

Twitter's 'Find Friends' service has gone and the 'Manage contacts' option is not working out for me.

Twitter’s ‘Find Friends’ service has gone and the ‘Manage contacts’ option is not working out for me.


Twitter has a history of gradually disabling other platforms’ API access:

It used to be possible to upload contacts to Twitter from Gmail, Yahoo!, or AOL.

Initially it was allowed to follow Twitter contacts on Instagram.


I would’ve thought it’s in Twitter’s interest that I can follow all the profiles I’d like to follow.

But the redesign is another step towards alienating Twitter from other social networks, making this really difficult.




Hi, how are you? Wow, you’ve grown since your mural got painted on our wall! Like a little gentleman.


Are these all your dogs?




All four of them?




Where you’re taking them?


For a run on the mountain.


All four go into the car?


Yes, in the boot.
If they stayed there!
Look, our puppy Lola already jumped to the front.
She probably wants to drive! But she’s not allowed.


But… Can she drive?


No! No, she can’t. That’s the problem.


I know a cousin, he couldn’t drive, but he went anyway and had an accident.


You see? That’s what happens.
You shouldn’t be driving if you haven’t actually learned it.
Or, if you’re a dog…




While we all should try to reduce the negative impact we have on this planet, we can also start to make up for our wasteful lifestyle and bring back to life what civilisation has destroyed:


How To Restore the Earth


Ecosystem Restoration Camps are the solution, as we learned in an inspiring talk by John Dennis Liu.


Such an inspiring talk! Make sure you make the next presentation on 23rd July!

Such an inspiring talk! Make sure you make the next presentation on 23rd July!


John outlined how to regenerate vast destroyed landscapes on the example of China’s Loess Plateau and continued to restore throughout his talk, – this time hope amongst the audience.


He explained that we don’t need permission to save the planet: Let’s not wait for the big world organisations. We can simply start ourselves.


He experienced how doing good brought people together on their own inititiative, with their own funding.


John pointed out that large scale projects need to be tackled by a large team of unified stake holders, such as community organisations, local authorities, relevant NGOs, NPOs and charities, guided by a representative council.


He advised that Ecosystem Restoration Camps only work if we accept each other as equals.


In conclusion John showed us the not-so-secret secret handshake amongst camp members that confirms this vision with every greeting.


You have to hear John’s story of hope in person.

There’s another chance to see John live:


Hope in a Changing Climate: John D. Liu – The Great Work of Our Time: Tuesday 23rd Jul 2019 6:30pm at Spier Wine Farm in Stellenbosch.


Book your tickets now on Quicket.




It is so tricky to get a good photo of all the cute things pet rats do.

I’ve taken thousands of pictures of rats, but #PortRATure remains a challenge.

With ratties you have to be always ready to capture the next endearing moment, like this one:


Rattie Treat: Sorghum Amasi Meal


When I served my hibernating ratties a nicely cooked sorghum meal topped with amasi just outside their rattie nest, Sisi started slurping:




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Our rescue dogs live in total bliss:

They are allowed to sleep in our bed and in this cold winter weather appreciate cuddling in our thick duvets.


It’s funny to watch the way they sleep.

Puppy Lola sleeps like a human: She likes to rest her head properly on a pillow.

About to nod off, she is only bothered by my attempt to film her, before she relaxes and falls asleep:





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Sometimes, as if it’s not tough enough having to meet the demands of a bureaucratic system,

messy design makes you almost click the wrong button…


This form is a mess and represents several usability fails in its formatting and design.

This form is a mess and represents several usability fails in its formatting and design.


Usability Fail 1: Both buttons are in the same colour and design

When a Primary Action Is Positive (for example ‘Send’ or ‘Submit’)
The primary action associated with a form needs to carry a stronger visual weight. Secondary actions should have the weakest visual weight, because reducing the visual prominence of secondary actions minimizes the risk for potential errors and further directs people toward a successful outcome.


Usability Fail 2: Action buttons are weirdly aligned

If your form uses a one-column layout, your button will be more visible to users if you align it to the left of your text fields.


Usability Fail 3: Wrong order of actions

With the buttons visually separated, putting the action to continue (e.g., OK, Save, Submit, etc) on the right is more likely to match your users’ expectations.

On multi-page forms, you’ll have more than one button. You’ll have a ‘back’ button that takes users to their previous page. And you’ll also have a ‘continue’ button that takes users to the next page.

Because these buttons behave like pagination, they should follow pagination conventions. Continue button goes on the right while the Back button goes on the left. This maps to the direction users want to go when they paginate.


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Chances are you’ve come across this inconspicuous delicate succulent, but dismissed it as a weed.

A weed it is in the sense that it thrives even in challenging environments, but there is much more to this sturdy miracle plant as some hail it.

View this post on Instagram

In comparison to Purslane: Spekboom #UrbanGardening

A post shared by TrulyJuly (@creativecommunications) on


Portulacaria Afra is known by many names:
Porkbush, Elephant’s Food (English); Spekboom. Olifantskos (Afrikaans); iNtelezi, isiDondwane, isAmbilane, iNdibili, isiCococo (isiZulu); iGqwanitsha (isiXhosa).

And many nicknames: elephant bush, dwarf jade, miniature jade or small leaf jade.

It is a species of the Portulacaceae, a family of flowering plants, also known as the purslane family.


5 surprising benefits of Portulacaria Afra



The Southern African cuisine uses Spekboom in salads, soups, and stews to add a sour or tart flavour. Apparently a small sprig of Porkbush steamed with a tomato stew imparts a delicious flavour.

Elephant Bush contains a good amount of minerals: manganese, cobalt and magnesium. It also contains iodine and selenium in large quantities.



The Elephant Plant was traditionally used medicinally for a variety of minor ailments:

Traditional uses also include the increasing of breast milk by lactating mothers. The leaves are used to quench thirst, sucking a leaf is used to treat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke. Crushed leaves can be rubbed on blisters and corns on the feet to provide relief. The leaves are chewed as a treatment for sore throat and mouth infections while the astringent juice is used for soothing ailments of the skin such as pimples, rashes and insect stings. The juice is also used as an antiseptic and as a treatment for sunburn.



Porkbush is being used beneficially in rehabilitating and restoring semi-arid and thicket habitats.

Due to its unique photosynthetic procedures, Spekboom can thrive in desserts just as well as it would in rain forests. This means that it can be planted anywhere in the world to help clean the environment and restore lands that are considered destroyed.



Spekboom has become the poster plant for climate change because of its ability to absorb more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than most other plants.

Its credentials are confirmed by the South African National Biodiversity Institute, with a stand of Porkbush having “the ability to remove more carbon from the atmosphere than an equal amount of deciduous forest” – like, for instance, the Amazon rain forest.

A Spekboom can remove up to 100 times more carbon from the atmosphere than a pine tree of similar size can do.


Very low maintenance

Elephant Bush has the ability to raise water to the surface near other plants. The plant can thrive in harsh conditions, hence its ability to withstand certain environmental hurdles. Spekboom is of great help in low maintenance gardens. It is highly drought-resistant and can survive on just +-350mm of water per year, making it the ideal choice for waterwise and eco-conscious gardeners.

Large plants survive the winter frosts by growing dense enough to provide their own natural cover. Drought-tolerant and fire-resistant, Spekboom will endure desert sun and heat, and can help fireproofing a garden. Cuttings root very easily in most potting media.




Of course: The bicycle.

I can tell from experience, as I #CycleToCommute.


How often did I race my flatmates home after meeting up after work in London.

I was the only one on a bicycle.

Most people used public transport, so it meant a race against the tube.

Even if I walked with them to the tube station and took off from there, I always was the quickest one home. If there was an interchange in their tube journey, I knew I could take it easy.

Even the night bus was no match: While it may take off with more vroom, at the next traffic light I’d be overtaking it. As soon as it circumvened from the most direct route it meant: ‘See you later’ for me.


When I cycle to commute I always race some car. – It just makes the journey more fun. However, I so often encounter traffic, that the winner of the race is all too apparent as I cycle past the rows of cars stuck stagnant in traffic.


But don’t just take my word for it, there are many examples showing the bicycle wins in a comparison of different modes of transportation.

The space the same amount of people take up in traffic on a bus, bicycles, and cars.

The space the same amount of people take up in traffic on a bus, bicycles, and cars.


The fact that the bicycle is a completely carbon emission free way to get from a to b makes it of course a clear winner.






What a cute idea!


Crochet a cute rattie bookmark.

Crochet a cute rattie bookmark.


Crochet a Book Rat!

How adorable is this cute crocheted rat bookmark.

You can learn the crochet instructions for the amigurumi rat for free!


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Every walk at the beach is pure joy.


I often stop to just take in all the beauty Cape Town has to offer.


I’m not the only one:

Even our dogs stop in their puppy play and take in the vastness of the view.




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Take the 4 R pledge today!

Take the 4 R pledge today!


It’s #PlasticFreeJuly, which encourages us to #ChooseToRefuse #SingleUsePlastic.


It’s tough to avoid plastic, it’s simply everywhere. And it’s even tougher to save the planet.


But we need to start somewhere. We all can do our bit.


Take the 4 Rs pledge:

REFUSE disposable plastic whenever and wherever possible.
Choose items that are not packaged in plastic, and carry your own bags, containers and utensils. Say ‘no straw, please.’

REDUCE your plastic footprint.
Cut down on your consumption of goods that contain excessive plastic packaging and parts. If it will leave behind plastic trash, don’t buy it.

REUSE durable, non-toxic straws, utensils, to-go containers, bottles, bags, and other everyday items.
Choose glass, paper, stainless steel, wood, ceramic and bamboo over plastic.

RECYCLE what you can’t refuse, reduce or reuse.
Pay attention to the entire life cycle of items you bring into your life, from source to manufacturing to distribution to disposal.



#Reduce  #Reuse  #Recycle  #ChooseToRefuse  #NoPlastic


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A biometric passport photo has strict specifications.

A biometric passport photo has strict specifications.


When you need to apply for a South African ID or passport, your biometrics are taken at Home Affairs or a Home Affairs equipped Bank Branch.


But when it comes to visas or foreign passport renewals, you mostly need to supply a biometric passport photo.


Where to take a biometric picture in Cape Town:


Cameraland Cape Town: 68 Long Street, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town, 8001 – R50 for a set of standard passport photos.


Audiolens V&A Waterfront: S7105 Victoria Wharf Shopping Center, Breakwater Boulevard, V & A Waterfront, Cape Town, 8002 –
R70 per set per person.


Orms Cape Town: Shop 5, Roeland Square, 95 Upper Canterbury Street, Gardens, Cape Town, 8001 – R80 per set of passport photos.


Wizardz Print Gardens: Shop LB6, Gardens Shopping Centre, Mill Street, Gardens, Cape Town, 8001 – R80 for 8 photos.



Pet rats are Master Shredders!


It is cold in Cape Town’s winter and my ratties are mostly hibernating.


Checking up on them, I’m always amazed at the amount of work they spend shredding paper, turning whole newspapers into finely ripped strips.


It’s like the tiny ratoots are hidden away in a sea of fluffy paper snippets:



But alas, with the next cage clean, it’s all going to go.


And so, with a whole lot of fresh newspaper, the shredding starts again.




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When I buy fish, I ask for it to get filleted and keep the bones.

That makes two dishes: The fish I fry and from the bones I make bone broth.


The longer fish bones boil, the softer they get.

When the fish broth is done, what remains is a mushy mix of bones turned jelly and fish meat.


Removing all remaining big fish bones, this makes a great treat for dogs!

View this post on Instagram

#Puppy #Treat: Fish Stock

A post shared by TrulyJuly (@creativecommunications) on


Homemade fish stock, like any bone broth, is a super food for humans and pets alike.


It also tastes really good, as our dogs are enjoying this special treat: 

View this post on Instagram

#Puppy #Treat: Fish Stock

A post shared by TrulyJuly (@creativecommunications) on




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We’ve heard about all those data breaches.

It always makes big news, especially when the big corporates got hit.

They own gazillions of sensitive information: when they get hacked, a big number of passwords get leaked.


One of them is probably yours.

That means anyone can log in as you into your social media, your apps, your online accounts,

and access your finances, your friends, your photos.

Or they might just lock it all down and demand a ransom.


So wouldn’t it be better to know?

Being internet savvy also means proactively checking if your login details are safe.


How to check if your password was stolen

Step 1:

Check if any of your email addresses have been leaked: Have I Been Pwned.

Step 2:

Check if any of your passwords have been disclosed: Pwned Passwords.


Have I been pwned? Check if your account has been compromised in a data breach.

Have I been pwned? Check if your account has been compromised in a data breach.


If you do find out your account got pwned, treat it like your wallet was stolen: Replace all your passwords and security codes.




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If you thought about reducing your contribution to the plastic pollution, but didn’t know where to begin, here’s a great challenge to join and start off with:

Take the Plastic Free July challenge!


Take the #PlasticFreeJuly challenge and #ChooseToRefuse #SingleUsePlastic!

Take the #PlasticFreeJuly challenge and #ChooseToRefuse #SingleUsePlastic!


Plastic Free July is a global yearly challenge where millions of people give up single-use plastic during the month of July.

It aims to raise awareness of the amount of single-use disposable plastic items in our lives and challenges people to do something about it.

Plastic Free July provides resources and ideas to help reduce single-use plastic waste everyday at home, work, school, and even at your local café.


You can choose to commit for a day or the entire month or forever.

You can target the top 4 worst plastic items: plastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic straws and plastic coffee cups, or #ChooseToRefuse #SingleUsePlastic altogether.

You can make changes at home, at work, and in your local community.


Whatever you do, start today! Make the pledge now.


#Reuse  #Reduce  #Recycle  #ChooseToRefuse  #NoPlastic


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Lola the township rescue. I couldn’t have wished for a better dog.

I’m totally smitten by this gorgeous little lady.

During Cape Town’s colder winter days, Lola’s fur is so thick and soft, your hands sink into plush warmth. I just want to dive right into it and nuzzle up close.

Puppy Lola is the bestest.


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Winter time in Cape Town is no excuse not to go to the beach.

There’s always a beautiful day popping up in between the cold fronts, when the sun is shining and the winds calm down.


And as it is with cold water: It only takes a few moments to get over it and then it’s refreshing.

As we had been on the other side of the dunes, the equally beautiful but more tranquil fynbos landscape, I wanted the dogs to get a good wash and in we went, into the icy surf of mellow waves.


That’s where I took this picture:

It is so cold, even Table Mountain remains under a blanket of clouds.





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I always look out for little treasures when going for a walk at the beach.


Especially with the sun glaring eye searingly low during winter, turning the ocean into a glittering sea of dancing sparks, also the sand reflects the sun beams with twinkles all around.

Every now and then something flashes and catches my attention.


Like this damaged gemstone: A milky quartz broken in half.

Washed smooth and round from tumbling in the waters, it looks silky white on the outside.

But the rigety edge of the cracked surface reveals the true beauty of this stone:

Depending on the angle it reflects the light, it flares up with a blaze of glistening brilliance. Flickering and gleaming, simply mesmerizing to watch.


Beauty in the detail:

We can see its beauty because it’s broken.


Milky Quartz gemstone: Because it's broken we can see its beauty.

Milky Quartz gemstone: Because it’s broken we can see its beauty.






After the recent Cape drought crisis, it has become second nature for us to save water.


Water restrictions are still at Level 3, meaning 105 litres or less are allowed per person per day.


A great way to reduce drinking water consumption is by collecting grey water and rainwater.


With Cape Town’s recent major rain falls, even causing some flooding, we collected a lot of rainwater in a very short time.


Where to keep it all?


Of course, the bath tub comes to mind: For the first time ever, our bath is full with water to the brim!


Since we restored and renovated an over 100 year old Victorian house, our bath tub has been sitting pretty much empty.

Filling it with buckets of rainwater makes you realise how much water it actually holds!


#WaterSaving: Our bath tub only gets used to store rainwater.

#WaterSaving: Our bath tub only gets used to store rainwater.


Depending how you collect rainwater, it’s pretty much clean.

You just need to make sure the first flow of rainwater that is washing off the dust and dirt from roofs and buildings is avoided.

After that, any rainwater you collect is clear and absolutely fine for flushing the toilet, washing your clothes or general cleaning like mopping the floors.


With so much rainwater at hand, it’s a real luxury to not need to let our toilet water mellow.


Because if I’ve learned something from the drought crisis, it is this: Clean running drinking water is an absolute luxury!




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It’s getting cold in Cape Town with lots of rain.

Now is the time to snuggle up close and keep warm.

My pet rats – as the cuddle masters they are – have prepped their rattie home and perfected their nest to be super cosy.

And it’s really warm in there! Sometimes I stick my hand in to check up on them and I’m always amazed how mega warm they have it in there.

I’m glad to feel both my rattie girls are as fluffy soft cuddly as always.

Because in these cold days I hardly see them anymore!

They are hibernating. Well, honestly, there is no reason to leave the nest.

So a quick hello and back to bed is all I get from my ratties:



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I use South Africa’s public health care system, because it’s free and offers excellent service. Of course, waiting times are annoying, but medical advice is helpful.


Recently I discovered a women’s clinic around the corner, which I decided to give a try.



I got an appointment within a couple of days, but was told to come in early on that day and wait until called to be seen.


That’s usually the part where the queueing comes in.


Not so here: I was sent around for a couple of tests, with relative short waiting times in between.


One of the tests was an HIV test.



It is my philosophy to be sure about my HIV status, so I was glad to accept this free service.


Without further ado we chatted while I had a tiny blood drop taken from my finger and we continued chatting.


After a couple of minutes the nurse picked up a little white test stick and tells me I’m HIV negative.


In South Africa getting tested for HIV is quick and completely free at government clinics.

In South Africa getting tested for HIV is quick and completely free at government clinics.


I was baffled: THAT had been the HIV test? With the result in minutes?


We’ve come a long way!


I remember how back in highschool when we talked about why we chose biology as a major in our A-levels, one of the replies was: To find a cure for AIDS.


And now we’ve done it!


Being HIV positive is no longer a death sentence, and with testing this quick and easy nothing should stop anyone from knowing their status.


#HIV  #GetTested  #KnowYourStatus  #HIVprevention


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Always busy promoting that Rats Make Great Pets, I research many a things rat related, switching between English and German.


Looking for an adequate translation of ‘pet rat’ into German I come across some interesting Google suggestions:

Google Translate gets it wrong: 'pet rat' is not 'Hausratte'.

Google Translate gets it wrong: ‘pet rat’ is not ‘Hausratte’.


An example how bad translation can make a wrong word commonplace.


The noun ‘pet’ is a lovely short word of endearment in English.

In German, it is: ‘Haustier’. A long awkward and rather impersonal term meaning literally ‘house animal’.


Yet, I see a lot of ‘Haustier Ratte’ around the internet:

Google wrongly corrects my spelling due to wrong translations on the internet.

Google wrongly corrects my spelling due to wrong translations on the internet.


This is just one of many examples how the internet lowers the standard of language use.


First of all, it’d be ‘Haustierratte’.

German likes to join the words together that belong together for quicker understanding. However, it also creates long words, very long words.

Like ‘Haustierratte’ would be one of those long awkward words.


The ‘Tier’ in ‘Haustier’ becomes redundant as we specified the animal as a rat, so the shortened version ‘Hausratte’ springs to mind.

However, ‘Hausratte’ is already taken as the overall classification of the Rattus rattus and is therefore wrong as a translation for ‘pet rat’.


Luckily, German has a word for ‘domesticated rat’: Farbratte


Wikipedia automatically redirects Haustierratte to Farbratte.


Farbratte literally means colour rat.

As opposed to wild rats, which are all agouti, a brownish greyish coat all over.

The colours of domesticated rats vary wildly in shades, markings, and body and coat type.


Funny enough, Farbratte would be translated into English as Fancy rat.

So we’re back at the beginning: There is no real translation for ‘pet rat’ into German…


Maybe then ‘Haustierratte’ is fitting, for me it represents something like this:

Haustierratte: This is what I picture a house pet rat to look like: All prim and proper, tending to her home.

Haustierratte: This is what I picture a house pet rat to look like: All prim and proper, tending to her home.






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Only a couple of days after our Woodstock cleanup, the vicious circle starts all over again:


Already people are sleeping rough on this abandoned plot.


It seems as soon as a place gets cleaned up it's just going to get abused by more people.

It seems as soon as a place gets cleaned up it’s just going to get abused by more people.


They spill over from 7 Oxford Street, where people are even sleeping on the roof.



We are not even yet with the cleanup of 27 Greatmore Street: There is a whole lot of wood and boards and shrubbery we need to get rid of before it turns into a fire hazard.


27 Greatmore Street still needs much more work.

27 Greatmore Street still needs much more work.


But with history repeating, is this just some sisyphus work?




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To think back when Gigi came to us as this malnutritioned handful of a puppy, plagued by rickets disease and epilepsy.


What a pretty little lady she has become.


From ugly duckling to beautiful swan, a story true for all rescue dogs I know.


Adopting this little cutie pie was one of the best things I’ve ever done.


Puppy Gigi loves to cuddle all the time.

Puppy Gigi loves to cuddle all the time.


I can't stop cuddling her too.

I can’t stop cuddling her too.


Gigi is one of the best things that happened to me. #AdoptDontShop

Gigi is one of the best things that happened to me. #AdoptDontShop




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Today’s bin day and thus MOOP Swoop Day.


After our recent Woodstock cleanup it looked all still quite neat.


However, checking beneath my car resulted in a big surprise:

Weirdly enough, the only thing I found under my car was a bunch of books!


#MOOP Swoop Find: Somebody had left these books under my car.

#MOOP Swoop Find: Somebody had left these books under my car.


How odd!


They were all wet, so they must’ve been there for more than a day.


And what interesting reading taste! I’d love to know whose books these are.


Well, if anyone is missing a collection of 4 books comprising:

“A Call Girl’s Best Sex Tips”, “Women on SEX”, “The Girl Who Played with Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” –

They are drying in the sun in our garden.


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What is it about places being abused as dumps and toilets just because they appear abandoned?

Instead of utilising these spaces for the community, some lazy people bring down the entire neighbourhood by dumping, and I’m not just referring to waste, but also literally shit.

27 Greatmore Street has turned into a health hazard with rat, cockroach and fly infestations, and a fire hazard with all the rubbish piling up.

27 Greatmore Street is a dump and toilet: Full of waste and feces.

27 Greatmore Street is a dump and toilet: Full of waste and feces.

We’ve had enough of the City of Cape Town and the owner Mr Allie dodging responsibility:

In South Africa, if you want something done, you best take care of it yourself, it seems.

We’ve been regularly trying to keep Woodstock clean: Every bin day I collect all rubbish flying around our hood until our bin is full.
But it takes more: We also do bigger cleanups a couple of times a year.

This one was a major cleanup, in 2 days’ work we collected about 60 rubble bags full of waste.

And we’re nowhere near clearing the abandoned plot: Over the years of neglect, about 2m of rubble and rubbish accumulated, posing serious damage to the surrounding houses through rising damp.

Woodstock Cleanup: It takes personal initiative to get Woodstock clean.

Woodstock Cleanup: It takes personal initiative to get Woodstock clean.

Well, the worst is done – for now.

Hopefully by securing and watching the abandoned plot, it won’t get so bad again.

Now we need more bags to continue!


#Reuse #Reduce #Recycle #ChooseToRefuse #NoPlastic

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When you download your photos from your camera to your computer, they might just get imported with their original image file name, e.g. IMG_number.


For good practices it makes sense to follow a naming convention and rename your pictures with a meaningful description.


However, doing this by hand is just an impossible feat.


Windows Hack: How to rename your pictures in bulk


Step 1: Select all pictures in the folder and press F2. Ensure your mouse hovers over the first file.

Select in the folder all images you want to rename and press F2 while hovering over the first picture.

Select in the folder all images you want to rename and press F2 while hovering over the first picture.


Step 2: Type the new name for the first image.

Replace the original file name of the first image with the new name.

Replace the original file name of the first image with the new name.


Step 3: Hit the ‘enter’ button and all photos get renamed to the name of the first picture, adding the counting numbers in brackets.

When you click 'return' all photos selected get renamed in consecutive order.

When you click ‘return’ all photos selected get renamed in consecutive order.


Done! 🙂




Laughter is the best medicine... Unless you have diarrhea.

Laughter is the best medicine… Unless you have diarrhea.


Especially during the cold seasons more people tend to get ill and more people huddle together indoors.

Bugs spread easily and with the rise of the superbug can be dangerous.

Read here: How to prevent a superbug infection.


If you do catch gastroenteritis, there’s not much you can do besides treating the symptoms, especially if it’s a superbug and resistant to antibioatica treatment.

To be on the safe side consult a doctor or pharamacist. You can get medicine that helps with the diarrhea, the dehydration it may cause and nausea.


You can also try some homemade remedies:


How to survive a stomach bug


–  Rehydrate, but not immediately after vomiting

It’s important to make up for the loss of fluids caused by diarrhea.
But if you’re vomiting, let your stomach settle first: It is irritated already, don’t put anything more into your belly for at about 1 hour.


–  Try small amounts first

If you feel nauseous but have appetite, try small amounts of liquid first. Wait 10 minutes to see how your stomach reacts. If the vomiting have passed you can try the same with food.


–   Replenish electrolytes

Electrolytes are essential minerals that you lose with the excess fluid from dirrahea. Coconut Water is a great source of natural electrolytes.  If you can eat food, try bananas, watermelon, avocado for an extra boost of electrolytes.


–  Combat the nausea

Brush your teeth and scrape your tongue to get that fresh feeling.
Lemon, ginger, chamomile, mint help with the nausea, make a tea and smell the fumes to find out if your stomach can take it.


–  Skip digestive irritants

Give your body a rest from dairy products, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, fatty, spicy or sugary foods.


–  Eat bland foods and drink clear fluids

Slowly ease back into eating:
Start with bone broth, which is nutrient-dense, easy to digest, and can heal the gut.
Stick to bland foods, e.g. rice, oatmeal, boiled potatoes, crackers and only drink clear liquids, e.g. water, herbal tea, dilluted juice.


–  Take a good rest

Treat yourself to a hot bath or a day in bed. Your body is exhausted from the cramps and nutritinal loss. Take a break and look after yourself.


–  Recharge with probiotics

Now that your digestive system has been flushed clean, help your gut recover by ingesting probiotics.
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are beneficial for your digestion.
Probiotics can be found in naturally fermented foods, e.g. yoghurt, kefir, buttermilk, pickles not using vinegar, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, kombucha, natto.




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